Monday, August 31, 2009

My Town Monday: Name Game

Livingston County, Michigan is what is knows as a cabinet county. It is one of 10 counties in Michigan named for then- President Andrew Jackson and members of his cabinet. There is a Jackson county.

Livingston County includes a town named Brighton. Many settlers to Michigan in the early 1830s were from New York, searching for new farm land. There is a Brighton, New York. Most likely Brighton, Michigan was named after Brighton, New York, as settlers often named their new towns after some aspect of their former residence. When I google anything for Brighton, I type Brighton mi to ensure I'm reading about the right town.

To the east of Livingston County, there is a city named Novi. There's a cute story behind this name. Apparently, on the Grand River Trail between Detroit and Lansing, Novi was Stagecoach Stop Number 6. That was the only name this place had. It would get written using the shorthand for Number, which is No. and the Roman numerals VI. Get some one with sloppy handwritting, leave out a period and No.VI becomes... Novi.

In the southern part of Livingston County is a little hamlet named Hell. Yep. I live just north of Hell, Michigan. There's several stories about how this town got it's name, but the most common is that the guy who first settled there was approached by state officials asking what the name of the town was. Allegedly, the curmudgeonly old feller replied, "You can call it hell for all I care."

Michigan also boasts such fun town names as Climax, Christmas, Paradise, Parshalville.

What fun town names do you have?

Visit the My Town Monday Blog for more links and to share your own town!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Me v. ActiveSync

Once upon a time, before Palms were big and Laptops were small, I purchased an HP Journada. It was an oversized handheld computer that ran WindowsCE with stripped versions of Office. And-- the reason I picked this little device-- it has a nearly-fully size keyboard.

I loved my little Journada. I named him Snoopy, referring to how the cartoon Snoopy would type away into the night atop his doghouse. And I would type away wherever I was.

The Journada had this "nifty" program called ActiveSync. In theory, it would convert all the WindowsCE versions of files to normal Windows versions. In realty, it resulted in much cursing and finally in me just saving all my files as RTFs and using a flash card to transfer the data. In these early days, ActiveSync was a little buggy and a lot slow. My main problem was that it would refuse to sync, even though nothing had changed in the day since I last cybernetically connected the two devices. It would refuse, refuse, refuse. I'd unplug, plug, curse, kick, pull out hair, beg, clickclicklclick, run the troubleshooter. Then, sometimes, magically, the two devices would connect and sync happily. Sometimes, not. Hence the use of the Flash Card instead. And I didn't have to wait for the files to convert.

Eventually, I abandoned my Jornada. It was the dawn of Flash Drives and the Jornada just didn't have the software to run off a flash drive. With a flash drive, unlike my compact flash card, I could take my files everywhere and always have them ready to go. So, the Jornada was put into a box and the ActiveSync bid a joyful farewell.

Until now.

ActiveSync is back on my computer. My new phone, which has Windows Mobile 6, includes ActiveSync for syncing calenders, contacts, documents and files. Well, it's been a few years, so it can't be as bad as it was. Heh. So I thought.

The good news is, after several hours and some internet research, my ActiveSync is happily installed and, so far, working as intended. Why so many hours? Because Microsoft Products don't play well with Limited User. Yup. I run my computer in Limited User mode to reduce the chances of some data-munching or zombie-making virus. This is a Windows-included setting. But I couldn't install or run ActiveSync on my Limited User account.

My web research (google: activesync limited user) found that in order to install the ActiveSync on my Limited User account, I have to turn the Limited User to Administrator, install the software, then switch the account back to Administrator. Really. Microsoft products... are the worst when it comes to playing nice with Limited User accounts. Which is probably why so many people run as Administrator.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like Microsoft products. But I'm not going to pretend they're perfect. Neither is the Hubby and I still keep him around. ;-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Word... to Go

I got a new phone this week. My graduation present for completing my graduate certificate. Decided to get a fancy one. Or rather, I fell in love with the idea of having Microsoft Word with me at all times. Everything else was secondary.

After all, my last cell phone is six years old.

I've never really been interested in the newest or fanciest gadgets. Even the iPhone didn't impress me. Now, if someone had told me that I could have my MSWord with me at all times, that gets my attention.

I purchased the LG Incite. It runs Windows Mobile 6, with Mobile Word, Excel, OneNote, and a PowerPoint Viewer. It also has GPS and internet, but those require the data plan that I'm too cheap to buy. While there's some coolness factor in looking up things online wherever and whenever (esp. to prove to Hubby that I am, indeed correct), it's not cool enough for me to spend much money on. Esp. not $20 or $30 a month of what is, for the cell company, pure profit.

The phone has a camera and a full touch screen interface. It charges off USB and (eventually) AutoSyncs with my Limited User Windows XP Account. And in the first 12 hours, I had my phone crash. It mysteriously shut off and required a soft reset to even turn on. Weird. But then again, my old phone had a habit of randomly taking a vacation day. I'd go all day then go to check my missed calls and see that, oh, it was... off. Besides, it's an electronic device. They require regular appeasement of the technology gods-- along with a healthy dose of know-how.

So far, I love my phone and the possibilities. As a writer, the idea of always being able to write, no matter where I am, are just lovely. While I always carry a pen, I don't always ever carry a purse. And finding places to write in a manner that's legible compounds the problem. We won't talk about how my handwriting, which wasn't great to begin with, has degraded the more I just type things on the computer.

Oh-- the other reason I like the Incite better than the iPhone? I'm a PC. ;-) Not a Mac.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Town Monday: Dairy Queen

Posted: 23 Aug 2009 05:12 PM PDT

There are four Dairy Queen locations in Livingston County.

I grew up about 5 minutes from the one in Hamburg. Unfortunately, since it was on a busy road and this was in the days before the Lakeland trail, so I wasn't allowed to walk or bike there. Curses. This location has always been a Brazier, meaning they sell burgers, chicken, and other things along with their ice cream. (Well, one of my friends maintains that that it's not "ice cream," it's "soft serve." Anyway.)

In downtown Brighton, there's a Dairy Queen near the Mill Pond. When they put in the Tridge and the walkway along the edge of the Mill Pond, they wisely connected the Dairy Queen to the path. This seriously cut down on young folks hopping the cemetery fence to reach the sweet treats. This Dairy Queen has room for about 10 cars in it's parking lot and a drive-through with room for about half that before it starts backing up on Grand River. In the summer, it's best to park by the Mill Pond and walk. And it'll burn off those Blizzard calories.

Hartland has a DQ as well, on the main drag. This is the only local DQ that I have not been to.
Hartland's kind of off on it's own, but that's a separate post.

But, overall, the best Dairy Queen ever is the Howell location. This Dairy Queen is located in an old building on the corner, beside the county Courthouse. The building was constructed in 1889 and may have been a druggists shop. Then later it was a jewelers. Then a druggist again. Then a shoe shop. Some where along the way, it became a Dairy Queen.

Inside is small with just a couple tables. And sitting there, you look out on the lovely streetscape of a historic town. Across the street was Howell's hotel.

As I mentioned last week, the county Courthouse lawn is often home to concerts and other events. Howell's farmer's market is nearby. It's right in the downtown, where the shops, the Howell movie theatre, the opera house, and only a few blocks from the library. It's a popular place.

<< Howell Hotel

But my favorite part is the architecture. In fact, I love the architecture in down town Howell. I mean, look at the sloping ground... I love how the building kind of shifts at ground level to step down the hill! They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Check out the My Town Monday site for more links. And feel free to joins us-- share your town!

Windows Live: Keep your friends up to date with what you do online. Find out more.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: I have a cool stove...

The problem is my stove knows it's cool.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Town Monday: The County Courthouse

It used to be called Livingston Centre. Now, the city is called Howell. It's small, for a city, but still the largest town in the county. Howell is halfway between Michigan's largest city-- Detroit-- and the state capital in Lansing.

It is also the county seat. In the vicinity of Howell is the Livingston County Sheriff's Department, the Livingston County Jail (LCJ for the wiggers who think they're tough after spending a few hours or days in there) and the county courthouse.

The courthouse was originally constructed in 1847. Before that, court was held at the Eagle Tavern, which also housed a bar (obviously), the post office, a grocery store, and the other important county functions. Legend has it, the drunks would be ecorted out in the morning to make way for court session.

The first court house constructed was a wooden building. When constructed, it was not only the courthouse, but housed the jail and sheriff's residence on the main floor. Also, it served as a religous buildings for, as it says in the Howell Bicentenniel, "all but the Presbyterians who had their own building." County and jury rooms were on the second floor. It was replaced several times.

In 1889, the wooden courthouse was deemed unsound. A proposal was submitted to build a new courthouse, at the cost of $30,000. By this point a new jail and sheriff's residence had already been constructed. The new building was constructed on the same land as the old, sitting one block east of the center of downtown Howell (formerly Division and Grand River, now Michigan Ave and Grand River. Howell doesn't have a "Main Street.")

The county courthouse is a grand and imposing building. Those doors really are ginormous. I'm thinking 10 feet tall, maybe.

<< Back view of the courthouse. The cars are parked right next to the building.

The courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was restored in 1979, with a narrow majority voting to keep the old building instead of tear it down for a new and "better" building, which was the trend at the time.

Beside the courthouse is an open air amphitheater. More county offices are houses int he building next door, as the 1890 structure isn't quite sufficient in size. Though, you can't quite compare with the grandeur of walking into the County Courthouse.

The courthouse lawn is often used for outdoor concerts and other events. And right on the corner is a Dairy Queen.

<< Courthouse on the right. View of Grand River, Howell, 1908. The trees were smaller then.

I've only been in the courthouse once. That was to get my marriage license. I could have spent all day nosing around that building, which is as spectatular inside as it is outside. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the inside. It is still used today and hopefully will continue to be used in the future.

They just don't build them like this anymore.

Click here for more My Town Monday posts!

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Town Monday: Yum Yum Tree

Nestled in downtown Brighton, there's a little restaurant called the Yum Yum Tree. It's easy to spot, being painted red brick and having a bright, cheery red and white awning out front.

The Yum Yum Tree is conveniently located right near the Mill Pond. This building stands next to the old Brighton Town Hall.

From what I can tell in my research, the building was built in 1871. Like many things in history, there's no straight line. Especially for a not-particularly important building. According to the 1895 Plat Map of Brighton, this spot was where The Bank was. It's only marked as Bank. In the 1880 History of Livingston County, it states that there was one bank, owned by B.H. Lawson in Brighton. Other historical records show that G.J. Baetcke purchased the bank from Mr. Lawson in 1891. My historical research was severely hampered as the library is only open for a few hours on Sundays. And they won't let me move in and live in the local history room... maybe it's the way I drool when they unlock the door.

To enter the Yum Yum Tree, go around to the side. There's a nice sloped entrance there, replacing the front entrance, which has steps... as it seems was common on old buildings. Inside the Yum Yum Tree, the original wood floor is there, looking worn but nicely so. There's also a neat trap door that I don't have anything but wild speculation for. (A bank... with a trap door in the floor... hmm. Anyway.)

The Yum Yum tree has been around for over 20 years, a staple in Livingston County. They have a full menu, but some people honestly never get past the ice cream counter inside the entrance. Especially since this building is right off the Mill Pond, which, if you recall is home to the Imagination Station playground. There's some other fantastic deserts there, such as the Mount Brighton, named after the local ski hill and the Turtle Sunday (which I recommend. Yum.) They've been voted the Best Desert in Livingston County for 20 years.

The full menu includes some fabulous food, though it's hard to pay attention to food, even if they are delicious Belgian waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. There's two big distractions awaiting patrons as they sit in the old booths.

The first distraction is all the stuff on the walls. My favorite are the historic photos of down town Brighton. It's so cool to see what things used to be like. There's also vintage decorations and warm-fuzzy wood plaques and old advertisements.

The other distraction is the coolest thing I've ever seen in a restaurant in all my days. The train. Near the ceiling, there's a small train that circles the dining area.

It chugs along past little wooden buildings... hey, wait a minute... those look like... yup.

The little wooden buildings even include downtown Brighton. You can see the red building that's the Yum Yum Tree and the Town Hall next to it. Okay, that's too cool for words.

But that's not all. The train goes through a tunnel over the cash register.

There's six trains that are changed out during the year. The little train goes about 3.4 mph as it travels the 140ft of track around the dining area. The train has little whistle. Whoowhoo!

If you happen along in the Brighton area, you have to stop at the Yum Yum Tree.

reposted with permission