Obama in Detroit for Labor Day

Here are a few shots of the crowd assembled to see Sen. Barack Obama on Labor Day in Detroit.

The candidate takes the stage.

The candidate takes the stage.

The speech begins.

The speech begins.

There were thousands of people downtown — more than I’ve seen for any event. He spoke for only about 10 minutes, and included lots of talk about unions and solidarity, and a moment of silence for potential victims of Hurricane Gustav. It was hot, in the upper 80s. This was as close as we could get: Despite reports that it was a free and open event for the public, you actually needed a ticket to get into Hart Plaze were Obama spoke.

Oh, and the person aiming the camera on the podium had some issues during the introductions before the senator came on to speak. For several minutes, the video on the big screen for the crowds in the Jefferson Avenue cheap seats showed footage about 10 feet to the left of the podium, causing the crowd to chant, “Fix the camera!”

Three cheers for Three-Buck Chuck

For your reading pleasure, a try this item from the Freakonomics blog on the New York Times site. The kernel: Price and quality of wine do not necessarily go hand in hand.

I’m not a wine snob by any means. Nor am I particularly educated about wine. But, I know what I like. And I like Charles Shaw varieties from Trader Joe’s as much as many more expensive wines I’ve had. Plus, at $3 a bottle, I’m not going broke to support any kind of wine habit. I’ll drink to that.

Twice the device

Thursday I woke to my iPhone blipping with a text message from my brother. “Dude. iTunes update the app store is open. Updating now.” It’s 7 a.m., and he once again out-Macheads me.

After trying to sleep for another hour, I dragged myself to the computer to update iTunes and check out the software I’ve impatiently waited on for months. Hundreds of programs teased me from the store’s pages: I could download them, but couldn’t use them without the accompanying 2.0 firmware. So goes my love/hate relationship with Apple.

Then I got an email, again from my brother, telling me about a leak of the firmware. Zoinks! I downloaded, updated and got my app on in short order. My two word review: limitless potential. The handful of apps I grabbed stretch the device in whole new directions. Facebook has tight integration, and you can even upload photos to your profile directly from the iPhone. AIM rocks. VoiceNotes is OK; I may shop around for a different voice recorder. Remote is cool as hell. And PhoneSaber is just plain kooky fun. I could go on (and probably will once I find more cool software). Point being, all these were freeware. There’s even better programs with price tags.

I’m glad I updated Thursday, after reading about problems Apple and AT&T had during the official Friday rollout. I read tonight on Macrumors that the unofficial version I installed may have been meant for the 3G devices, but it’s running like a charm, so I’m in no hurry to get the proper version. I’ll wait until the hullabaloo dies down, and in the meantime enjoy twice the device I had earlier this week.

Taking in an orphan

Today while running, I cased out a Japanese maple sitting on a curb a few streets from my house. Discarding such a potentially beautiful tree seemed alien to me: Is it diseased, or just gangly? You tell me. The picture, unfortunately, does it justice.

A tree with potential

After the run, Mrs. Blocletters and I cruised by in the Saturn. We drove back slowly, the tree sticking precariously out of the open trunk. Now, it lives in the backyard awaiting planting.

The owner apparently though better days had passed this poor guy by. If I have anything to do with it, his sunniest days are yet to come.

Update: Alas, it might’ve been salvageable, but … It was too ugly for the front yard, and there wasn’t a good space for it in the back yard. Out to the curb. Maybe next time I’ll think things through before I go curb-raiding.

Welcome aboard

Consider this a rebirth, of sorts. My brother/collaborator and I fashioned Blocletters.com more than four years ago. He did the heavy lifting in the form of database programming and other coding, and I got the easy part: the ideas.

Now, we introduce version 2.0. If you have an RSS feed to the old site, you can subscribe to this one by clicking “RSS Subscription” on the right side of the banner at the top of the page. If you’re finding the site for the first time, I hope you’ll subscribe (or at least make it a point to come back now and again).

And, if you are a new reader, you can find out a little about me here. I can also save you a click with a little introduction. I work as a copy editor at the Detroit News. I write headlines and photo captions, and wrestle with stories to force them to conform to grammar and style rules. My current fascinations include: politics, the media, coffee, beer, mead brewing, Apple products, cooking, bread baking and running (in no particular order). I tend to write on those topics the most so, if one of them tickles your interest, I hope you’ll read on.

Again, welcome, and I hope you’ll like the new site. Look around. The archives include all the posts from version 1.0. Going forward, I have a whole new bandolier of tools available: video, audio, comments and photos. I hope to take full advantage.

Peeing in your own sandbox

Riots tore through Cedar Village near Michigan State University campus over the weekend. Somehow, rioting just seems a little immature if you don’t have a social outrage to fuel it. Poverty. The fact that millions in America don’t graduate high school. Social injustice. Alcohol, as reasons go, just doesn’t fit into that class.

News reports indicate that party-goes begged East Lansing Police officers to break out the tear gas, apparently just for the experience of getting gassed. Como se dice, get a life?

I’m not having a really hold-your-head-high Spartan moment.