Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Down by the Riverside

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So, it seems like everyone around here exploded into full-blown summer mode this past weekend. Normally, there's some kind of festival or show going on around metro Detroit, but over the past several days, countless activities have been vying for the attention of Michiganders near and far. For me, this involved choosing between art festivals, carnivals, boating on the lake, outdoor music venues, you name it. And if you know me, you probably already know that I just decided to do a little of everything.

One of my favorite highlights? The Detroit River Days festival, an annual event that does a nice job of combining aspects of Detroit's downtown culture and Michigan's water-loving population.
Nestled right up against the Detroit Riverfront, River Days offers a perfect balance of family-friendly activities, from a Ferris wheel and Radio Disney freebies to street performers and Boys II Men (which we missed because the band was scheduled for a later time slot). Brad and I were kind of worn out from two days of running around, so it was nice to just be able to stroll along the riverfront, stopping here and there to take a look at everything.

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Brad. And Canada.

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This puts every sand castle I ever made to absolute shame.

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Art abounds. Left: Stained-glass chicken on an artsy (not real) carousel.
Right: Um. I can't remember what this is called, but I like it.

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Chalk.

Of course, the festival probably wouldn't be complete without seeing a few interesting characters. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the lady we passed on our way in to the festival (two words: rainbow mullet), but I suppose these hardworking, young gents will do.

riverdays7.2    riverdays7.1 Left: Street magician. He didn't talk and he frightened me.
Right: He threw fire in the air. Like he just don't care.

I also have to throw out some big, ol' props to the stunt jet ski team, whose show occupied a good chunk of our time. I didn't know jet ski stunt shows were a thing, but apparently splits, complete underwater submergence, and riding on your head are all possible. That is, if you're capable. And just a little nuts.

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This guy's peddling his legs like he forgot that his bike isn't up there any more.

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Left: View of the Renaissance Center from the Detroit Riverfront
Right: The USCGC Bristol Bay

Around dinnertime, Brad and I got to go on a quick tour of the USCGC Bristol Bay, the Coast Guard ship that hangs out on the Detroit riverfront. The inside of the ship was boiling since the doors were propped open and the air conditioner was turned off, but once we found our way out of the narrow corridors and onto the ship's outside decks, the view and change of perspective was worth it.

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Looking out of the ship at the Canadian coast.

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Me, hangin' with the Coast Guard. Ain't no thang.

I really need to get my passport renewed, because a trip across that water is just calling out to me. Think one of my new Coast Guard buddies might be willing to give me a ride to the land of the maple leaf?

Yeah, I'd better get to work on those renewal papers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Gentlemen, Start Your Engines"

You'd think that moving to a northern state would mean saying goodbye to southern traditions. In reality, I've found myself participating in more "southern" activities lately than I ever did when I lived in Virginia. Go figure.

My latest below-the-Mason-Dixon-Line-originating excursion came Sunday, when Brad and I went with a bunch of friends to the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. I had never been to a Nascar race before, so even though I'm not really into watching motorized contraptions drive around in circles for hours, I was kind of excited about seeing what the whole experience was like.

All week, the local weather stations had been preaching sunny, 90-degree weather for Sunday, so in preparation, I got out the shorts and packed about fifteen bottles of sunscreen. The weather stations, however, turned out to be big, fat liars. When we got to Brooklyn, this is what greeted us:

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Cloud, cloud, everywhere a cloud.

The sky was heavy for most of the morning, threatening to pour down on us if anyone blinked the wrong way. Finally, the rain made its appearance, alternating between huge plops and fizzy mist. Good thing I brought my rain gear--oh, wait, I didn't. Heh, heh.

Despite being drizzled on for several hours, however, we had fun tailgating and hanging out in between our little convoy of trucks. There was a slight hitch when a power inverter failed to charge a crock pot of buffalo chicken dip, but that was solved pretty quickly. I guess when you hang out with a group of engineers, there's no real need to panic about anything--it's basically the same as chilling with a group of MacGyvers.

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Crock pot . . . cords . . . something under the hood of the car . . . that's my expert analysis of what's going on here.

The rain finally stopped sometime after 1:00 p.m. (the race's original start time), so we moseyed closer to the track to scout out vendors and free stuff. Unfortunately, most of the tables had already packed up, but we did get to hang out with some humongous tractors.

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Left: Big tractor.
Right: Our friends, Melissa and Kat, demonstrating the hugeness of the wheels.


Pretty soon, the rain clouds decided that they had had enough of dumping all over us, and moved away to let in the sun (and heat). Nice weather just in time for the race to start, even though we were a little bit late getting to our seats. At least we got to see the jet flyover, which, if you ask me, is probably the coolest part of Nascar, anyway.

Brad: "That makes me want to join the Air Force."

I promise that we did eventually make it inside the stadium (Is stadium the right word? Arena? Race place?). And man, two miles of track sure does make for a big oval.

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I couldn't fit the whole track into one picture, so maybe you can just enjoy this lovely view from the bleachers of the RV cluster inside the track.
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Left: Brad, being all happy that he's at a race. Right: Me, with my pointy sunglasses and earplugs.

Nascar races, as it turns out, present an interesting challenge: the cars are incredibly loud, and you can't hear anything anyone says unless you pull out your ear plugs and let them scream right next to your face. And even then, it's like a slightly-disheveled game of telephone. The result is a surprising feeling of solidarity, despite the fact that you're sitting among thousands of people.

So, being the resourceful (mind-wandering) person that I am, I decided to entertain myself with other activities. This included, of course, accepting Brad's challenge to successfully photograph the Goodyear blimp with my iPhone. It worked . . . kind of.

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Here, the Goodyear blimp plays a supporting role to the MIS track.
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And here, you can almost read the side of the blimp.
I spared you the vertical version of this photo, which featured a very shiny-headed bald man.

At one point, Brad and I went back to the car to put away some food we'd forgotten about and to get our camera. When we got back, I realized that I had forgotten to put the memory card back in the camera. That did, however, kill about another 20 to 30 minutes. And then there was the mile-long hot dog line. Now, I'm starting to wonder if I actually saw more than a half hour of race the whole time I was there. At least that would explain why I didn't get cranky from boredom.

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People cheering during the final laps of the race.

As you may already know, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came away as Sunday's victor, claiming his first win in four years. Tony Stewart (a.k.a., the guy my dad chose for me to root for) came in second, and everyone else didn't matter. Okay, that's not true, but those are the only drivers I paid any attention to towards the end.

When the racing was done, we didn't even attempt to mess with impending traffic. Instead, we hung out for another hour or so, enjoying a little more picnic time while we waited for more cars to clear out. Luckily, we got out long before sunset, and made our way back home via roads of mutilated traffic cones and nonsensical detours.

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Just a few of the poor cones that littered the road after facing race day traffic.

See you later, Brooklyn.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Self-Centered

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Out my back window.
All I had was my iPhone and the glare of a window--so I Instagrammed this sucker so you could see her better.
Hey, I do what I can.
So.

In case you can't tell, that's a picture of the mama deer that's been frequenting our back yard, edited in the quickest, least professional way possible so that you might be able to see it better. I saw this pretty girl earlier today while looking through the window off my back deck, and have since seen two or three of her polka-dotted babies running around. I didn't get a picture of them, but if you want an idea of what they look like, here you go:


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Okay, okay . . . it was more like this:


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. . . Except a little more orange and minus the pretty flowers. But I think you should get the point by now that they were pretty cute. And speckly.


Annnnnd, on to the remaining topics of today.

If you've been losing sleep over my slightly less-frequent posting schedule lately, please don't worry. I have no intention of getting lazy and dropping this blog by the wayside . . . I've just been uber-busy with . . . *drumroll, please* . . . my new website.

Yup, I'm making a new one. Central to its theme--blue circles and lots of self-absorbed talk about Yours Truly.

A lot of you probably won't believe this, but I've found writing about myself to [surprisingly] be one of the most difficult topics there is. Sure, I can go on and on about my day, what I've seen and where I've been, recap stories and go on and on about my opinions of which ad campaigns should've done more research . . . but when it comes down to playing myself up, I get a bad case of writer's block.

About Me section? Lists of accomplishments and life story? Those should all be the easiest questions to answer, particularly when no one knows me better than I know myself. I suppose, however, it's the nitpick in me that wants to get every last thing just right. Sure, I'll get the writing down on the page, but I've gotta make sure it describes me to a T--otherwise, how is everyone else going to get exactly what I'm about?

Do any of you find it difficult to play yourself up? Please let me know I'm not alone (or at least give me a little pity wave). We can be pals and write puffed-up bios for one another.

Okay, mind break over. Time to get back to work. And maybe some baby deer watching.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Whirlwind Weekend

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Photos (left to right, top to bottom):
1. Our townhouse development likes turning the sprinklers on after midnight. And they flood everything in sight.
2. Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. I have yet to go to a game, and am waiting (im)patiently.
3. Brad's mom, Alex, Phillip, and Brad waiting in line for ice cream during their visit.
4. Crocodile Cloud
5. Saturday evening at the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit
6. Boat races on Walled Lake

Do you ever have those weekends where the days sort of blur together and you can't quite figure out why one day seems like three?

That was me this weekend. A family visit, downtown Detroit, 90-degree days, country music, lake water, and daylight until 10 p.m. have had us running around to make the most of every moment--and so far, it's been a great summer kickoff.

Of course, weekends have to end at some point, but it's nice to know that summertime stretches each one out just a little bit longer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Of-the-Moment Media

It's been a while since I last wrote a post related to advertising or media in general, so I figured now (in the middle of the week, before I head off into the unknown again) would be a great time to put together a few snippets of what's caught my eye lately (and yes, I really do spend my free time absorbed in this stuff).

Show of the Moment: The Pitch

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If you're a regular Mad Men watcher, then you've probably seen AMC's new follow-up show, The Pitch. Airing directly after Mad Men on Sunday evenings, The Pitch follows real-world advertising companies in closely-documented competitions to win new clientele. Meetings occur, all-night work sessions are a given, and ultimately, one team is crowned the victor while the other sulks quietly in the corner. Unfortunately, many Pitch viewers have already discovered the formula for predicting each week's winner (i.e., whoever looks like they're winning during the entire episode will actually be the loser), but seeing all the creatives at work is still gratifying. And psst: if you're a social media junkie like myself, log onto Twitter while you're watching. Following #thepitch during the show's airings is almost more entertaining than watching the hour-long program itself.


Person of the Moment: Tina Roth Eisenberg

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Also known as the "Swiss Miss," Tina Roth Eisenberg came to the United States in 1999 to work among some of the world's most prominent design-oriented creatives. After years of helping elevate companies such as Thinkmap and Visual Thesaurus, Eisenberg eventually opened her own design studio and moved on to several other projects, including organizing Creative Mornings, a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative professionals based in cities all over the world. Fascinated by this intelligent, entrepreneurial woman, I started following Eisenberg and her recent projects a few weeks ago. In particular, I enjoy her Instagram feed, which frequently features snapshots of her world in the creative industry and shares fun ideas used for Creative Mornings gatherings.

One of Eisenberg's Creative Mornings (CM) exercises features blank Venn Diagrams, overlapping to make the word "magic." What two things together create magic for you?

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Do-Good Campaign of the Moment: Geek the Library


I heard about this one from Novi Public Library's Facebook page. "Geek the Library" is an initiative to increase public library funding and awareness, highlighting the importance that the library system has in our world. A student researching for an important paper, a job-hunter utilizing valuable internet resources, a mother introducing her child to stories beyond "Once upon a time"--all of these people have different stories and different reasons for using public library services. And ultimately, topics of study can range from ancient history to zombie fiction. Everyone considers him or herself an expert or "geek" in some field--what do you geek-out for?

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Book of the Moment: Ogilvy on Advertising

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An oldie, but goody. Every ad-type out there knows of the legendary David Ogilvy, ad exec and innovator. This book is comprised of his invaluable advice, complete with tried-and-true examples of some of his most successful campaigns (and otherwise). Of course, because it was published before the digital age, Ogilvy on Advertising doesn't touch on today's Facebook and Twitter era, but the fact that it is rooted in timeless strategy is enough to make the publication a classic teaching tool. And get this--even non-ad geeks will find the material entertaining. Case in point? I watched my engineer-husband pick up this book the other day, reading without mindlessly flipping through the pages. His words? "This is actually pretty interesting."


So, have any of these things popped up in your day-to-day? If there's anything in the media realm that you've recently had your eye on, let me know!
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