Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal

Welcome to Inside the Newsroom @ A2 Journal, a blog written by the newspaper's staff at A2 Journal, a new, weekly, community newspaper covering Ann Arbor. This blog is a place for members of the newspaper's staff to write their thoughts, observations, opinions and other informative pieces they put together while covering the rich history, interesting people, institutions and traditions that make Ann Arbor such a unique community.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aug. 31 - Lisa's Musings (on making the world a better place) and Every Day Life

Have you ever felt that there are too many people in your life, asking too many questions, requesting too many things, and not enough of you to go around?

Isn't there a song with similar lyrics?

Anyway, I try to be as helpful as possible, really I do. But there just aren't enough hours in the day, let alone the work day, to get back to all the people who want something from me.

So, I put as much of a dent in the email as possible this morning and left here for a story feeling pretty discouraged.

Then I walked into a very inspiring place called the Peace Neighborhood Center in Ann Arbor where neighbors help neighbors when they can't help themselves. And, I met eight very enthusiastic U-M School of Social Work grad students poised to learn how to make the world a better place for everyone.

I'd heard of the center, but never been inside, and after speaking with its director, I left feeling as though there is a place for people to turn if they are having a problem and don't know how to solve it.

So I hope lots of people go to the Peace Neighborhood Center's 10th Annual Thanks For Giving Benefit Dinner" on Nov. 18 and help the center raise funds for all the wonderful programs it offers to people from kindergarten to senior citizens.

If you'd like to learn more, go to

Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Aug. 30 - Lisa's Musings (on National Holistic Pet Day) and Every Day Life

Bet you didn’t know that today is National Holistic Pet Day.

Now you do.

And according to a press release about this “day,” dog owners are bringing their canines to yoga class while cat owners are having acupuncture performed on their felines. What, no pet psychics?

Also according to this press release, more and more people are feeding their pets a natural diet “rich with functional ingredients.” Whatever that is.

And, Dr. Al Townsend, DVM says, “The easiest way to do this is to feed your pet meaningfully with a food that goes beyond natural, and includes ingredients that activate a higher level of health for the animal.”

I’m not sure what this means, either, but I bet there’s something holistically wonderful about it, and my dogs are being deprived of something important, but, they seem happy enough.

Besides, I do feed a “raw” diet and they eat better than I do, so if that’s “meaningful,” then I’m doing something right.

This release suggests massage, acupressure and meditation to achieve peace, serenity and mindfulness not just for this “special” day but for a lifetime of good pet health for your pets.

Am I making you feel like a bad pet owner yet?

The good vet has some pretty impressive credentials, though. He’s a grad of the U-GA School of Veterinary Medicine and has received the “coveted” Golden Stethoscope Award for his contributions above and beyond the call of duty in bringing veterinary care to the dogs of the Iditarod.

Ah – I hadn’t read down far enough, Dr. Al is stumping for Holistic Select Pet Food, a brand I’ve never heard of. But, apparently this food includes “Nature’s Power Ingredients,” – a combination of enzymes, direct fed microbials, botanicals and phytonutrients that “provide superior nutritional benefits to enhance the whole body health of pets.”

Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a lot of mumbo-jumbo going on here.

However, I did “share a bonding experience or exercise together” when the pups played ball in the basement where it was cool. With the way these pups chase toys, they’d have overheated in 5 minutes outside today.

So, see what you can do about achieving that balance in your pet’s life by feeding them meaningfully, and if you figure out what that means, let me know.

Or maybe not.

I don’t want to give my dogs any ideas about demanding their own yoga instructor.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Aug. 29 - Lisa's Musings (on hummingbirds) and Every Day Life

As a reporter, it's a good bet that I learn something new almost every day. Sometimes it's useful knowledge; other times not so much.

Today, I learned that I probably do not have a future as a nature photographer -- if that "natural" subject has to cooperate for it to work. Trees, flowers, even bees, I can handle them, but hummingbirds, well here's what happened.

After a nice chat with two nature photographers at the Sunday Artisan's Market today, I decided I wanted to shoot some photos of "my" hummingbirds. You know, the ones I provide food to at least twice a week. On my dime. The ones that are always eating and hovering at the new feeder I bought for them this year.

The ones I stand in the living room and watch all the time.

Those hummingbirds.

So, inspired by the professional photographers I met today, I decided to take the camera, a cup of coffee and a book out to the front porch for some quiet time with nature.

I positioned myself at the perfect angle to the feeder to snap away for pretty blog photos. And I waited and I waited and I waited.

Engrossed in my book, one hummer came calling. She took one look at me, hovered for the time it took me to realize there was a hummingbird at the feeder and flew off. Missed opportunity number one.

So, I quietly sat there, camera poised, listening to the birds, and my dogs periodically bark at the deer on the far side of the house that I couldn't see. I'm not even sure how long I sat there, but long enough for my arms to get tired holding the camera in that position. So, I rested it on my legs and listened intently for that distinct hummer fluttering sound.

And voila -- there she was again. But before I could lift up my camera, she was gone.

Missed opportunity No. 2.

So, I waited some more ... long enough to surprise a chipmunk that came around the corner. I'm not sure who was more scared -- the chipper or me because we both jumped.

More waiting. More barking. More bees at the feeder, but no hummers. I was probably out there for two hours.

Since the lovely light I'd had was gone, I gave up and went inside, and as I turned to close the front door, there she was, feeding away.

And I think I detected a hummingbird sneer.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aug. 28 -- Lisa's Musings (on parades in photos) and Every Day Life

I love a parade. Especially the Chelsea Fair Parade.

But what I love even more? Shooting photos at the Chelsea Fair Parade.


And look for the video tomorrow.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Aug. 27 - Lisa's Musings (on cover cats) and Every Day Life

Regular readers know I'm a dog person, but in my other life I'm the editor of a cat magazine. I know, the dogs can't believe it, either.

And for the second time in 21 years, one of my photos graced the cover of the magazine. I'm kinda excited because it looks REALLY good. (I'll see if I can get a pdf of it from my designer now that it's been mailed to readers and post it in the future.)

Plus, the cat lives in Ann Arbor. I happened upon this kitty while out on assignment for A2 Journal. Which was also the case with my first cover.

Now, I'm pretty darn good in picking content that my readers like, but covers? Not so much. The owners of I Love Cats and I have never quite seen eye to eye (or whisker to whisker) on what images make a good cover.

But this year's been different.

Not sure why. Either I'm finally "getting it" after all these years, or they are coming around to my way of thinking -- because my finger snapped two of the six covers in 2010.

And I'm rather proud of myself for this little feat.

I feel like the cat's meow.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aug. 26 - Lisa's Musings (on National Dog Day) and From Every Day Life

Today is National Dog Day but don’t tell my two because I didn’t get them anything.

I didn’t take them to National Take Your Dog to Work Day – I think it was last month – either. Because technically, they are constantly a part of my work day.

Driver sleeps under my feet when I’m working on my laptop, until he wants to do something, then he puts his front feet on my leg and licks me in the face. It’s impossible to ignore dog love.

Ryan does his best to force me to get up and walk around a few times a day by whacking at the door to go out in the dog yard or by barking at deer while out on the three season porch. He likes to do it early in the morning – before I’ve had my second cup of coffee, so I usually have to get up and tell him to stop barking. I’m not fond of barking dogs.

But back to National Dog Day. It’s really a day to celebrate dogs that are in need of rescue, family dogs and dogs that work to save lives.

And, although my two could be considered family dogs, these guys actually do stuff – like dog shows, so, not sure if that would apply.

Besides, in this house, pretty much every day is Lisa Dog Day because these two make me smile, many times a day.

Perhaps I should have bought them something because they truly are my greatest gifts.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Aug. 25 - Lisa's Musings (on hangin' w/the band) and Every Day Life

I got up early this morning to see the Michigan Marching Band practice at Elbel Field.

Little did I know I'd have the opportunity to spend two hours with Scott Boerma, director of the marching and athletic bands.

I spoke to the director of the greatest band in the land for TWO HOURS. This was big.

I've said it before but some days as a reporter are really, really amazing. And this was one of them. I'm almost afraid to write the story because I want it to be so good because what I learned was so interesting.

And I can tell you that Boerma was also one of the nicest people I've met in ages, graciously answering all of my questions, and giving me a whole new perspective on what it takes to orchestrate those amazing pregame, halftime and post-game shows.

I had NO idea.

I watched the newbies -- the freshman -- about 180 of them, learn the fundamentals of both traditional step and high step. And I can promise you, these kids will be tired and sore tonight.

Every little detail must be performed with military precision from the way an instrument is held to each step taken.

My legs hurt just watching them learn the prefect foot placement and leg angles for that high step, which delights fans at home games.

I have a totally new perspective and respect for just how hard the band members work for that chance to march on the field in The Big House. And what good shape they must be in to make it through all those routines.

Sure, I had an idea, but OMG, they work as hard as the football team.

I don't want to give away too much or use all of my really cool photos because I want to save the good stuff for my story in next week's paper but suffice it to say today was one terrific Go Blue - Go Band Day.

I can't wait to tell you the story.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Aug. 24 - Lisa's Musings (on quarters) and Every Day Life

So, I start my day finding out it's not a good idea to let a pigeon drive a bus or stay up late.

Also, a naked mole got dressed and a pig didn't really make an elephant sneeze.

If you have young kids, you probably know what I'm talking about. If not, here's the explanation. These are books by Mo Willems.

They were very cute stories and I sang "the wheels on the bus" along with the 100 kids who listened to a fabulous storytelling librarian Megan Battle at the Ann Arbor Public Library this morning.

She should have been an actress. With the voice of a lark and the acting ability of an Oscar winner, she really missed her calling. Or maybe not, I could tell that she really enjoyed what she was doing.

And she had fans, too. Several mothers told me they rarely miss one of her storytimes and I can see why.

So, I head back to the surface lot to pay my $1.60-something parking fee and all I had was a $20. And what does the machine do? It gives me change in QUARTERS. Do you have any idea how many quarters are in $18 and change? I don't either. But it's a LOT.

If I'd been at the casino, I'd have been happy. But I wasn't. I was in a parking lot and I was NOT happy. Nope. Not AT ALL. I mean, seriously. Quarters?

I still haven't figured out what to do with all of them. I know, they're money, but they are heavy money, and who wants to lug around $18-plus in quarters?

I could take them to one of those change machines, but a friend told me they take 7 percent to eat them up and spit out dollars. So, I'd lose money.

I could roll them up and take them to the bank, but that's time consuming, and time is one thing that's a premium in my life these days.

I don't have enough time to do a lot of the things I want to do and rolling up quarters, driving them to the bank, parking, walking them inside to deposit them then driving back home, isn't high up on my list of fun things to do.

So, if you have any ideas what to do with all these quarters, I'm open to suggestions.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Aug. 23 - Lisa's Musings (on pet weather) and Every Day Life

This blog is for the pet that has everything.

You can get Fluffy or Fido a personal weather “petcast.”

Really. Seriously. I kid you not. is offering personal weather “Petcasts” that offer hourly flea and mosquito activity for your area.

So, here’s how you “fetch it up.”

Should you want to get your pet his (or her) personal weather report, (and I'm sure some of you will) go to input your pet’s zip code, size, age, and hair length and away you go.

Petcast features include dog and cat comfort indexes based on weather activity – I’m not even going there.

Dog and cat care guides with information and tips ranging from pet nutrition to behavioral habits, and the oh-so-popular hourly flea and mosquito activity report.

Plus, there are interactive pet videos, photo galleries, and free pet screensavers.

My retrievers (or the one that actually likes to retrieve) will seriously pout if I don’t sign them up, I’m sure. But no one’s going to tell them, right?

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aug. 22 - Lisa's Musings (from The Big House) and Every Day Life

I don't think Rich Rod can buy a break these days.

At Fan Day today, U-M security couldn't open the gate to get him to his designated autograph signing spot. So, he took things into his own hands (and feet) and climbed the brick wall next to the gate.

With a U-M cop close behind.

I'll give him credit for being a good sport about it though, as he remarked, "I won't be able to do this 10 years from now." Followed by a huge grin.

Speaking of huge smiles. I don't think Denard Robinson stopped smiling all afternoon as he greeted fan after fan and happily mugged for photos. This year, they split up the QB's and Tate Forcier was at one table and Robinson was several tables down the way.

Fans quickly discovered where he was and Robinson's line seemed to go one forever.

Now, I don't know either of these student athletes, but on appearances alone -- it sure looked like Robinson was having a blast. Forcier not so much.

And I can tell you, standing in line did not deter the fans in the least bit. They were all smiles no matter how long they had to wait.

There was all kinds of excitement in the air at this event. Especially when fans were allowed a rare chance to go down on the field.

The newly renovated stadium looked beautiful. A lot nicer inside than out. And even the weather cooperated. It was almost early fall-like.

There's just something magical about the weeks leading up to the first game of a new football season.

No wins. No losses. Just optimism.

Go Blue.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aug. 21 -- Lisa's Musings (on Saturdays) and Every Day Life

As I typed in the date for this blog, it occurred to me that I'm 52 1/2 years old today. Yup, in six months, I'll be 53.

I sound like a little kid who says I'm 4 1/2 or I'm 6 1/2 -- that 1/2 is VERY important to them, so when they make a big deal out of it, I include it in my story or cutline under their photo.

I'm not sure how important the half year is to me, but, it's Saturday, and my brain is pretty much running on mush today (as I take a day off) so it sounded like something worth noting.

In other pretty unimportant "news", I did, indeed, celebrate Cupcake Day belatedly by purchasing a dozen little tasty morsels from The Cupcake Station. Now I need to figure out how good they'll taste if I freeze a few of them.

With the new freezer, I'm really getting into this freezing/preserving thing.

I'm up to six bags of corn, four bags of raspberries and some peaches, so I'm ready for winter. Like the squirrels who hide the tastiest nuts in the fall.

I beat the birds this time around and "harvested" the first two ripe ever bearing strawberries from my hanging basket plant. And after tasting them, I'm not so sure that I outsmarted the birds. I think they were so disgusted with the first ones they got, they crossed the fruit off their feeding list.

The local berry farmers have nothing to worry about. I'll continue to turn to them for my strawberries. The consistency was all wrong and they tested mealy.

So, the next "crop" that are almost ready for picking -- they're resting on leaves and not the soil. I'm hoping that makes a difference but I'm not too optimistic.

We'll see.

Well, it's almost 10 p.m. and I have a busy day tomorrow. I'm covering U-M Fan Day at The Big House.

So Go Blue.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Lisa's Musings (on blog readers) and Every Day Life

I love my readers.

If not for them, I’d have exited this journalism game a long time ago, but they keep me on my toes and remind me why I work the long hours for little pay.

It's e-mails like this that put a smile on my face and re-rev my engines when they are just about on empty.

Following yesterday’s blog about Bad Poetry and Cupcake Day, I received this:

So Lisa wrote her blog today
About bad poetry

She's told them time and time again
And does it politely

But no one listens, and I'm sure
There's times she'd like to say

Words to make a sailor blush
Yeah! That'd make her day!

But editors must behave now
And so her only hope

Is that cupcakes will appear
And that will help her cope.

I laughed so hard after reading this, I asked permission from the author to use it today.

So Kim Longworth, this post's for you. Welcome to the whacky and wild “blogisphere,” or something like that.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aug. 19 - Lisa's Musings (on Bad Poetry and Cupcake Day) and Every Day Life

Now, I know I've been busy, but somehow I missed Bad Poetry Day AND Cupcake Day.

It was Aug. 18, and both days escaped me. Had I had time to go through all 200-plus emails that had arrived yesterday, (before this afternoon) I'd have known.

And I'd have certainly celebrated both because I'm sent a LOT of really bad poetry while wearing my I Love Cats Editor hat. But none as a reporter for A2 Journal (thank goodness.)

And I'm not really sure why people feel the need to send me cat poems when my writer's guidelines CLEARLY state that I do not publish poetry. I think it's even in bold type.

But I still get cover letters with the bad cat poetry that says, I know you don't publish poetry but ... I'm sending it anyway. Or, this poem's different. Or some variation thereof. Or, the poets emplore me to make an exception in their case.

So, tell me, batman, what's an editor to do?

And what part of I Don't Publish Poetry isn't plain as day?

But I respond anyway. Because this is something I've always done. Since Day One. It makes them feel like I bothered to look at their mail, I guess.

I thank the writer for thinking of I Love Cats with their work but I don't publish poetry. Most times I attach a copy of my guidelines as a gentle reminder that if you didn't read these before submitting something, perhaps you should have.

And now, you have no excuses if you decide your next submission should be 2,000 words when I only want 500 words. But I digress.

Now Cupcake Day is something I can really wrap my brain (and fingers) around. I'm quite frankly very surprised that I didn't get an e-mail from one of the many cupcake places in the area to alert me. I checked.

Had I known, I'd certainly have celebrated this day.

Now that I think about it, I could do it belatedly. Like tomorrow.

Instead of TGIF, it could be TGFC ... Thank God For Cupcakes.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aug. 18 - Lisa's Musings (on hump day) and Every Day Life

It's Wednesday, and I'd really like it to be either Monday, (so I could start the week again and do it differently), or Friday, (so it would be over, and I could say I did the best I could, but I'm done).

I'm monkey in the middle, so I'm not sure which I'd prefer.

It's been one meeting after another this week (and I'm on the last one tonight).

Neither of the first two were very good -- story-wise. Both of them were pretty much a snore and a waste of time. But it was time spent. Had I known ahead of time that no surprises were in store for me, I could have been doing other stories, but now it's too late.

Am I making any sense here?

I guess what I'm saying is that some weeks are better for stories than others and this one wasn't a very good one, but it could have been had I played my cards differently.

So, since there's only so many hours I'm willing to work in a week these days, I'll do what I can for the remainder of them, and hope next week works out better.

Yeah, yeah, that's what I'll do.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aug. 17 - Lisa's Musings (on proof in the photo) and Every Day Life

Ah, the comfortable power of the seat cushion.

I look almost happy to be sitting the Ann Arbor City Council chambers Monday night, don't I?

Well, in the interest of truth in journalism, I asked Ryan Stanton from Ann Arbor DotCom to take my photo. (So, a shout out to him for helping me with this blog.)

OK, I look kinda goofy sitting there on my new seat-and-back cushion, but you get the picture, right?

And, all the council members, and a few members of the public, were impressed. Maybe even envious. I did hear a few "sweet," comments.

The thing is, and I'm not complaining, mind you, but I hardly had a chance to get it warm because, are you ready, the meeting was over in about an hour.

Sure, it looked like a light agenda, but with this group, ya never know what might be lurking in the wings just waiting to drag the meeting out for hours and hours.

Not so Monday night, although I was also warned by one council member that this would probably the only time we'd get out this early until next August.


But I'll be ready for that first meeting in September, armed with my new butt-and-back comfort aide.

I wonder if it will make it on TV.

One thing's for sure, though, I know it will be well broken in by the time the meeting's over.

Now, if I can just stay awake ...

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Aug. 16 - Lisa's Musings (on buying NASCAR stuff) and Every Day Life

I actually can't wait to go to the Ann Arbor City Council meeting tonight.

No, I have not lost my mind and no, aliens have not invaded my body.

Really. I promise.

But when I plunk my butt on those really, really uncomfortable, awful horrible, hard seats, I'll have a secret weapon. And it's got the No. 14 on it.

While at MIS this weekend, I broke down and bought a seat cushion. Does this mean I'm admitting I'm getting old?

And, no, not a Michigan one, which is what everyone would expect me to buy. But not at MIS. Nope. I bought a bright red-and-black Tony Stewart one. And it even has a back hooger if I want to open it up.

I'll probably catch some flack about it, because from a distance it might look like something an Ohio State fan might own, and long-time readers know I've not been my usual bleed-maize-and-blue, excited-about-Meechigan-football fan, of late.

So, no, I have not crossed over to the dark side. I'm still a Michigan fan.

I also bought one of those silly Digger T-shirts, too, but I won't be wearing it to the meeting.

It's black shoe night. And maybe a red jacket, but I'll have to double check that it doesn't clash with my new seat cushion.

I have a reputation of dressing properly to uphold.

Go blue. Go Tony.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Aug. 15 - Lisa's Musings (on taking a few days off) and Every Day Life

I guess big news happens -- even when I'm not around to cover it.

I took a few days off for race weekend and what happens? The superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools resigns while I'm off the grid.

Am I bummed I missed the story? Yeah. And I know my editor wishes I'd been around to chase it down.

But ya know what, it's OK. I'm happy that I took a break from everything involved in newspapering. I needed it. With very few exceptions, I've been going full tilt for more than a year, barely taking a day off here or there.

And everyone needs time to step away from e-mail, phones, facebook, etc. etc. etc. and just have some fun.

Yeah, I blogged while I took a few days off, but did I pay attention to anything else involved in the news? Nope.

And I'm good with that.

In fact, I need to do more of it. Most people take at least two days off a week. And as hard as try, I never seem to follow through on that plan.

Maybe missing a story like the one I did on Friday is why.

But ya know what? The sun came up Saturday and Sunday. The world did not end because I missed a story.

There's always tomorrow and you can be sure I'll be all over it.

But for the rest of today ... it's all about the weekend.

Monday will be here soon enough.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aug. 14 - Lisa's Musings (from MIS 2) and Every Day Life

Race weekend Part II.

More scenes from the Michigan International Speedway during NASCAR weekend.

Bring on Race Day.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Aug. 13 - Lisa's Musings (from MIS) And Every Day Life

A look at NASCAR fans in one of their favorite environments ... at MIS.

More tomorrow.

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