2009.03.18 In the name of science

Written by David Green.

Here’s an old one from March 1, 1989, back when I was capable so staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning. I can’t make it past 1 a.m. anymore, which is why I’m turning to the archives to fill this space.

It’s 2:16 in the morning and I’m trying to make sense of a few By The Way notes I’ve been carrying around in my pocket. I was away for a few days and I’m still catching up.

I won’t say that I went on a short mid-winter vacation. There’s always too much razzing when you go on vacation. “What? You took a vacation again? Don’t you ever work?” You know the lines. So here’s what really happened.

I was part of a bizarre psychosocial experiment during the latter half of last week. Brother Dan was in from Seattle and brother Tom and family were in from St. Paul. Joining my family, we all traveled to the cold north country near Boyne City. We were frequently forced to put on skis and travel through the woods.

Nine people descended upon a formally quiet household to investigate the dynamics of overcrowding. Researchers will be sifting through their notes for months evaluating what happened at this bizarre encounter.

We didn’t take many notes, ourselves. It was just a fairly normal time together without too many strange things happening.

A highlight of the visit occurred at Boyne City’s massive Avalanche Hill. People ride sleds and tubes down a hill as tall as a water tower, approaching breath-taking speeds that cause frostbite to form rapidly.

Our hostess, Paula, showed us how it’s done by demonstrating the famous Chiropractor Flop onto a skating rink. She climbed a ways up the hill, jumped on her tube and took off. She reached the bottom rather quickly and then traveled up and over the snow retaining wall surrounding the rink. She was airborne a good six feet off the ground before slamming onto the ice. She refused requests for a repeat performance.

The strangest incident happened while most of us were asleep. Tom went on a bathroom visit and discovered a bath towel in the toilet. A bowl and fork were nearby. He left and went outside. Dan later discovered the grisly scene and removed the towel from the bowl, purportedly dripping water all the way to the bathtub.

Discussion the next morning placed the blame firmly on our hosts’ cats—none of us was about to admit having any part in it. It was also the cats that caused Colleen to lose sleep. Her cat-o-phobia made her lie awake, expecting a cat to jump on her face while she was sleeping.

The greatest mistake of the trip was reading the sign on I-75 that informs the reader that he is halfway between the equator and the North Pole. Rosanna went into a tizzy about visiting Santa Claus.

There were Ben’s incessant knock-knock jokes, Dan’s search for Michigan maple syrup in the syrup capital of Shepherd, and bickering kids in a six-hour car ride. But overall it was a great trip. The snow was deep enough for Ben to dig a tunnel in the front yard, plenty deep for skiing—and that’s why I went north.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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