Car Country

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Being in the Detroit area recently, I wasn’t surprised to see an endless parade of car companies and their suppliers. I was a bit surprised to see how much of a majority American cars still commanded on the road. Even with a global economy and tough times for automakers and their employees, people are still fiercely loyal. One license plate frame summed it up succinctly: “I work for Ford, I drive a Ford.”

Michigan

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Michigan While in town for Adam and Emily’s Wedding, I took a few days to see the sights of Michigan around Detroit. The Henry Ford had been recommended, and I soon found out why it’s not called just The Henry Ford Museum. The museum is only part of a sprawling complex including a historical village, charter school, and research institution.

The museum’s collection includes artifacts and inventions from American history, from furniture to cars to entire houses. Buckminster Fuller’s Dynamaxion house, a model of sustainability and efficiency was far ahead of its time and way ahead of investors, who didn’t see how it could make them money.

Another fascinating part of the day was a tour of Ford’s Rouge River plant. With the bad rap domestic automakers get these days, it’s a good reminder of how much Ford and other Americans revolutionized automobiles and the industrial world at large. The tour focuses on the history of the massive Rouge plant and it’s transition to a more environmentally friendly and flexible manufacturing facility.

While their Dearborn truck plant uses a green roof, natural light, and storm water to reduce its footprint, one can’t help but wonder if the money would’ve been better spent improving the fuel economy of the pickup trucks it produces. Still, as an engineer who harbors an unrealized desire to work on hardware, it’s always eye-opening to see real manufacturing operations.

View the Michigan photos

Adam and Emily’s Wedding

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Adam and Emilys Wedding My friend Adam from Cornell tied the knot with Emily in a nice outdoor ceremony. There were plenty of toasts afterwards with everything ranging from unintentional laughs to Shakespearean sonnets from the best man, Duc, an English PhD student. On the lighter side, after wings at Hooters earlier in the weeks, Duc got the girls to sign a Frisbee for Adam with things such as “good luck; if it doesn’t work, come back and see us.” But seeing Adam and Emily together, I don’t think he’ll be needing that offer!

View the Adam and Emilys Wedding photos

Welcome to Michigan, Have a Beer

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I had a pleasant flight into Michigan today for Adam’s wedding: a late morning departure meant no rush and a long weekend meant no luggage to check. Flying in over Lake St. Claire, I realized just how overdue I am for some scuba diving; my first through on seeing some dark blotches in the water was coral reefs, before I realized it was just shadows from the scattered clouds.

I was somewhat disappointed to find the zoo closed due to a power outage, but got a nice surprise at the hotel. While signing up for Wyndham’s ByRequest program to get free wifi; I vaguely remembering being asked for a drink and snack choice, but hardly expected someone to actually bring me a Corona and peanut M&M’s!