It begins: Masonry, Electrical, Painting, Flooring, Plumbing, and more

It’s been a long winter. After the closing, we sort of meandered about, walking through the house with bewildered looks on our faces. When everything needs fixing, and everything is a project, you don’t know where to begin.

We had to break down the house into “10-year, 5-year, Major Now, Minor Now, and Maybe” projects. We don’t have much of a renovation budget; it’s really nerve-wracking when you read some of the other blogs and comments from people who are renovating Detroit homes and seem to have endless capital with which to renovate. Those people are not us. That joke that goes around, based on those ridiculous home renovation TV shows: “Meet Dave and Brittany. Dave is a professional shellfish polisher and Brittany is a part-time lettuce grower. Their budget is $9 million.” never hit closer to home.

In an ideal world, we’d just point every contractor to the house, hand over our debit cards, and say “do your thing”. Unfortunately we don’t have the financial situation to allow that sort of creative freedom.

FLOORS:

It’s tricky because you want to do the floors before you move anything in, but you also want to make sure you do other work that could damage the floors even further first. So, floors must be somewhere in the middle: We want to do the most destructive work first, and paint, before we get the floors restored.

Measuring Wood Floors

Randy Penhorwood measuring floors for restoration quote

We decided to work with Randy Penhorwood from Penhorwood Floors again. He did an amazing job at the Sullivan House and truly has a passion for old wood floors. He came in, did some floor-whispering, and left excited about the quality of wood, the patterns, and his ability to make things shine again. His quote was extremely reasonable and we didn’t hesitate to say “go for it!”. Schedule is undecided so far, pending how all the other jobs line up.

PAINT / PLASTER / WOOD

Last month, Nicole found a contest hosted by Motor City Paint in partnership with the Detroit Historical Museum. The contest was to name 25 new colors that Motor City Paint was releasing. They are inspired by historically accurate colors of Detroit and are focused on restoration projects like ours.

We went to the Historical Museum one cold Saturday afternoon and spent 20 minutes writing down super goofy names because I’m dumb like that. The contest had three components: The person with the most Facebook likes would win a $1000 grand prize house-painting package. Another $1000 grand prize would be given out to a random person who entered, and then the 25 people whose color name ideas were chosen would each receive a $50 gift card from Motor City Paint.

Paint Color Naming

Old Yogurt was a favorite

I posted the contest entry on Facebook and shared it with my friends and associates. It was mostly for laughs, as you can see.

A month later, I got a Facebook message from Brian, the Motor City Paint guy. We won the “most likes on Facebook” part of the contest. To say that I was shocked is an understatement.

As it turns out, the $1000 grand prize is worth far more than that, because the $1000 covers labor: Motor City Paint is providing all the paint for free. What an incredible gift!

Motor City recommended one of their painting contractors, Lakeside Paint & Plaster. We will be meeting with them shortly to discuss initial work. Since the prize is free labor, we were thinking of getting the more costly and difficult painting done by experts; possibly the hallways, banisters, and stairways as well as the small parts of the exterior that are painted wood. Bedroom and other easier painting is stuff we can do ourselves.

Motor City Paint color swatches

Checking out the offerings at Motor City Paint

We picked up a swatch book from Motor City this past weekend and started the arduous and stressful task of color choices; we have no solid plan yet but whatever colors we choose have to go well with the dark natural wood that already exists in the house.

MASONRY

Lincoln had excellent work done by RC Marsack, so we didn’t hesitate to call him back for our own projects. Turns out, this is a big one.

The entire front walk, the decorative brick pillars in front, the front porch steps and slabs all need to be repaired or replaced. The chimney needs work, both fireplaces need to be repaired, and the back porch (which is mortared stone) is in significant disrepair. The exterior finish (pebble dash) has cracking and even some gaping holes on all four sides of the house. The main slab of the front walkway is a solid piece of limestone that needs to be canted away from the home (currently it is sunk towards the house, which is great if you want rain to pour towards your foundation, but we’re not like that). Ralph spent a solid hour walking around with a clipboard, discussing various projects with us. We came to the conclusion that the only way to do it is to do it once and do it right. The quote came back and while we were prepared to see a big number, it’s still shocking when it’s right in front of you in black and white. Ralph does good work, though, and for the amount of labor that needs to be done his quote was quite reasonable, so we’re going to proceed.

ELECTRICAL

We got a personal recommendation from a trusted neighbor that Dave Munroe from Caledonia Electric was the way to go. The house is currently a (bad) combination of knob-and-tube and some modern wiring, all hooked into a relatively new 150 amp breaker panel. It looks like some work had been done in the last ten years but not all of it.

Dave came out for an initial consultation, agreed with our spitball assessment that the electrical system was questionable, and let us know that the first step should be mapping out which breakers control what. We could either pay him to do it or do it ourselves. We opted for the latter.

Testing circuit breakers

Nicole was super excited to be stationed at the breaker panel

So it was that we ended up on a Saturday afternoon, flipping breaks and yelling across the house at each other.

Testing light sockets

Brian was super excited to be stationed at the light sockets

We got most of the breakers identified, but one serious conundrum popped up during our exploration. I was standing in what will become the office; the room off of the main room. Nicole flipped every single breaker, yet the lights never went out. Convinced that either I was being an idiot or she was, I yelled down at her to try again. Same result.

I asked her to flip the main. The lights went out. Through a process of elimination and logic-problem solving, we finally discovered that two entirely separate breakers had to be turned off to get the power to cut out… a wiring problem for the ages. Breakers 8 and 12, we hate you.

HOT WATER AND PLUMBING

Another problem to be solved is replacing the old 50-gallon water tank with the broken temperature control wheel. We opted to go with the trusted Soley Heating & Cooling. We have an appointment with Kim Soley soon to get a quote on converting to tankless as well as testing the central air unit and making sure the furnace is clean and in good working order.

Overall it’s been a busy month, and yet it feels like nothing has been “accomplished”. Kyle, my son, has moved in to be a caretaker of the house while we renovate, and he’s been doing a good job of cleaning up the remnants of past occupants. It feels a bit more “lived in” and we can start to see where one day it will feel like a home… our home… but for now it’s just basically an overwhelming project that is starting to be broken down into one to-do list with expensive quote attached after another.

Into Detroit … again

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had an update here. Admittedly, a lot of it has to do with the slowdown on actual renovations of the Sullivan House; looking back, we did so much work so quickly that it becomes a blur. We accomplished an amazing amount of renovation in a very short time, and most of that was driven by necessity. However, once you no longer have an urgent need, momentum drops quickly. There hasn’t been much going on, therefore there hasn’t been much to write about.

We do, however, have some pretty big news for 2018.

For those who have come along on the journey of the renovation of this house from the beginning with us, the living situation makes perfect sense… but for those who may have come along later to this community and joined us along the way, it may be a little confusing. A brief bit of history, therefore, might serve as a handy refresher.

Lincoln moved in with me in 2007 as a business partner in our joint venture, Icrontic. As it turns out, we make really good housemates, and we continued living together through lots of major (and minor) life events. Lincoln had lived with me for five years when he bought the Sullivan house, started this site, and began renovations. During those five years, each of us met our future spouses (Nicole and I got married in 2013; Lincoln married Aaron in 2017), and the four of us moved into the Sullivan House and renovated it and made this community to document our journey along the way.

During the six years in the Sullivan house, Nicole and I have been content but it’s never been “our” place. It is Lincoln and Aaron’s house and we are tenants. Maybe we’re far more invested than “normal” roommates would be since we also poured blood, sweat, tears, and money into this place, but there’s still a point that comes when you look around and just feel like… you’re living in someone else’s house. It was easier to stay put and be content while my kids finished their teenage years out and grew up (and moved out), and while Nicole got her business going and I established myself in a new career field, but—as all good things must—eventually it had to come to an end.

We started searching for houses casually in the “if something jumps out at us, we’ll do something” sense, but really it was a commercial property that kick-started our search for the next phase of our lives.

A building went up for sale down the street from us: a two-story former muffler shop that was weird and a terrible mess. We ended up putting in an offer on the place with a dream of living above a space we would rent out (we were the “Woodbridge couple” mentioned in that article), but since Detroit commercial real estate is in a wild place right now, we got outbid by a pretty significant amount of money, and went back to just “thinking” about looking for a place.

In November, after Lincoln and Aaron’s wedding, it felt like time to start the search for real. I reached out to my old friend Jon Zemke and asked him if he had a realtor recommendation, and he immediately recommended Nika Jusufi as a Detroit real estate expert. Jon knows as well as anybody that when you need to deal with real estate in Detroit, it’s a weird and unique animal and you need an expert to help you navigate the weirdness. Nika was that expert.

She started off by meeting with Nicole and I and getting to know us. After getting to know a little bit about our quirks, she began sending us listings she thought we would be interested in. By the middle of December, Nicole had come across a listing that intrigued her and she told me she wanted to look at it. In the ice and snow, we went to look at the house, located on Lothrop St. in a neighborhood called LaSalle Gardens.

The immediate thing that drew her to the house was the awesome woodwork on the interior (some of it in the Arts & Crafts style), and the weird black picket fence and dark grey pebble exterior. Pulling up to the house, we could see that the neighborhood was really fascinating, with huge houses, lots of space between them, big old trees, and tons of interesting and unique architecture. The house itself was on the smaller side of things compared to some of the mansions around it, but it oozed individuality, and we were drawn to it.

House in LaSalle Gardens, Detroit, Michigan 2018

The initial inspection was, in some ways, better than we had anticipated and in some ways worse. The house needed a lot of work. It needed new windows, a new roof, and lots of updates inside. There were some structural issues, and some questionable prior renovations. But there were also some absolutely priceless features, such as intact original French doors in the main room, original hardwood floors in decent condition, lots of original decorative woodwork, prior conversion from radiators to forced air (and central air conditioning!), a partially finished basement with updated glass block windows, some fantastic original decorative plaster work (particularly in the dining room), and tons and tons of potential.

We brought our trusted friend Andy (from Handy Andy Services) to come out and give us his opinion. He had some grunts, groans, shrugs, some hmmms and wows, some smiles, but mostly he trusted that we understood what we would be getting ourselves into with this house… again. We were no novices to this level of renovation after all, and besides—this house was in far better condition than the Sullivan house was when Lincoln bought it.

We sat on it for a bit. We looked at a different house, but ended up coming back to this one. Finally we put in an offer and after some negotiations we agreed on a price we were comfortable with.

Now, we are post-inspection, the title search is complete (and clean), and we have a closing date: February 7th, 2018. In six days, Nicole and I will close on this house and begin a brand new renovation project in a new neighborhood. My son Kyle will be living there as a caretaker during renovations and we hope to have the house in at least livable condition by June. We’re looking forward to starting a new chapter of our lives, meeting new neighbors, making new friends, and getting to know yet another awesome part of Detroit.

We’re going to miss Woodbridge deeply. It’s a fantastic neighborhood filled with amazing people and lots of great stories. The Sullivan house is certainly not going anywhere and we were privileged to be a small part of its long and glorious history. Lincoln and Aaron are still going to be renovating, and now this site will have two projects to discuss as we continue our adventures in Detroit.

You can keep up with the renovation log in the discussion forums.

Microsoft Store coming to Detroit

A job posting on Microsoft’s Careers page lists a position open for “Store Manager” in Detroit, Michigan. This is interesting because while many new restaurants and bars have opened, there’s been a dearth of new higher-end retail shops in the city for the last several years—especially downtown. According to the Detroit Free Press, Moosejaw is the only “significant” new retailer to open downtown since CVS in 2006.

Microsoft Retail Store Interior

Image from content.microsoftstore.com

The job posting claims the location is Detroit, Michigan. Sometimes, this means metro Detroit, but I think in the case of Microsoft Careers, they actually mean Detroit—they list other Michigan cities specifically (such as Southfield, as shown in this job search). It’s reasonably safe to assume that a retail store opening in Troy (say, at Somerset Collection) would say Troy, MI. Furthermore, a listing of other Microsoft retail stores around the country shows that in other large metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, the individual cities are indeed shown on the listings. Continue reading

A shooting in Woodbridge, and why I don’t feel unsafe

2013 shooting in Woodbridge, Detroit

Tonight, at least ten shots were fired from an SUV, and a man was killed on the sidewalk, about a thousand feet from my front door.

Lincoln jumped up from his chair and ran downstairs, asking if we had heard the commotion (we didn’t). He heard the gunshots and saw the SUV speeding south down Avery.

I called Wayne State Police and was told by the dispatcher that they already had several calls about the incident and they were on it, and did I have a description of the vehicle? I did not and they thanked me for the call. By the time I hung up, there were four police cars arriving on the scene; this is less than five minutes after the shooting. Both Detroit and Wayne State Police were on the scene, and EMS was on its way.

I immediately went to a private Facebook group for our neighborhood and asked if anybody knew what happened. Within moments, responses started flooding in. Continue reading

Some parts of the city are a warzone, and the bad guys are winning

Goldengate Street, Detroit.

Detroit is fascinating, wonderful, and terrible. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, and we hear gunshots at night, and there are car thefts and vandalism on our street, but none of us have any regrets about where we’ve moved, and so far at least, the positive far outweighs the negative.

But it’s not like that for everyone. We’re lucky that this neighborhood is among the safest in the city. We’re lucky that we have neighbors that watch out for suspicious activity and that watch out for each other. We’re luck that when we call the police, they show up immediately. Other parts of the city are not so fortunate as us.

A discussion on Reddit today reminds us that while positive growth is happening all over our city, other parts are a terrifying warzone, and the bad guys are winning. We can’t close our eyes to this and pretend everything’s okay—it’s not. Not by a long shot.

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Getting stuff delivered in Detroit with Konbini

Konbini employee delivering groceries in Detroit

Yesterday I was followed by a Twitter account named @Konbini_CC. The words jumped out at me immediately: “Detroit’s Delivery Service”. I dug in a little deeper and discovered that Konbini is a service that promises home delivery of sundry groceries and packaged food items anywhere in our neighborhood as well as Corktown, Lafayette Park, New Center, Downtown, and Midtown.

A few things really stood out and they are things that I believe will make this work:

  • The items themselves are reasonably priced and available in individual quantities.
  • The entire system is all e-commerce and you can use debit or credit cards
  • The delivery fee is reasonable
  • They deliver until 3am

This is a novel idea for a small business, and it’s one that I think will work in this area. It’s like other quirky, modern small businesses (such as Detroit Greencycle curbside recycling pickup in Woodbridge) that have popped up to serve the burgeoning group of connected consumers in these growing areas of the city. Continue reading

Walking

You see a lot of entertaining things when you spend time walking around the city.

Today we took a four mile walk with our dog. We went from the house to the corner of Woodward and Warren, down Woodward to Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, and then back to Woodbridge via MLK Jr.

Walking in Detroit

Along the way, we saw a lot of entertaining and interesting sights. The first thing I noticed it that there is some kind of new art project/tagging project going on. On random sidewalk blocks and spots on the ground throughout my entire path, I saw black squares spraypainted with yellow crosses. I have no idea what they symbolize or what the message is. Continue reading

Detroit and the food desert myth

Fresh food in DetroitNot that long ago, I got into an argument with a professional acquaintance. It started off as a discussion, but the things he was saying were so blatantly false that I began to get angry. I don’t often get angry, but when people spread misinformation about something important to me, and refuse to admit that they might have their ‘facts’ wrong, it really sets me off.

The issue in question was the age-old “There are no grocery stores in Detroit” conversation. This colleague was from Grand Rapids, and he was telling this to people from all over the country. A room full of people from all over the US were hearing this guy talk smack about Detroit and how there was no food here.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. “That is just plain false…” and we began getting into it. At one point the words, “Why would the media lie about that?” came out of his mouth. Continue reading

Asbestos go bye-bye

All geared up for asbestos abatement

When one buys an historic home in an historic district, one generally acquires certain materials that were used to build said home in the era in which it was produced. Those materials, as has been revealed by modern medical science, are listed now in this more enlightened era as “hazardous” materials. I speak of things like asbestos and lead.

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On hipsters in Detroit

Hipsters take over Detroit

“Hipsters go home” was the comment on Reddit in /r/Detroit in response to an article on Huffington Post entitled “Detroit: From Ruin Porn to Cool Again“.

This is a common theme in discussions on Reddit and in other online forums. A few times a month, someone comes in to the Detroit subreddit asking about the city (I’m moving to Detroit, what’s good?) and living there (Is Detroit really as bad as they say?). Almost inevitably, there will be someone mentioning the “hipsters” and how they’re bad/good/awesome/terrible for the city.

There seems to be an undercurrent of loathing for these hipsters that are somehow ruining everything that was ever cool about Detroit. I can’t tell if it’s bitterness that suburban kids who used to party in the city couldn’t make a go of it, or if it’s somehow racially motivated (there are black hipsters too!), or if it’s just the general attitude that comes with any revival or change movement. There’s a lot of resentment, regardless. Some of it takes the flavor of “We’re doing just fine without you, stay out” while others seem to be of the mindset that hipsters are only here for the short-term, and once they realize how gritty the city actually is, they’ll bail to fairer shores.

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Fever pitch

It’s a downhill boulder now. Boxes are packed up at our old house, we’ve moved several things already, and contractors are at the house almost every day working on getting things ready. Oven delivery

Today we accepted delivery of a new stove, and a masonry contractor came out to give us a quote on chimney repairs. The Soley guys are just about finished installing the ultra high-tech condensing boiler system that makes our basement look even more like a mad scientist laboratory. They’ve also re-plumbed the hot water line in the house, replacing a bunch of useless old galvanized pipe, and removed the old water tank.

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Zero hour

It’s getting down to the wire. Renovations are ramping up to a fever pitch. As of this moment, we have calls out to Comcast, a plumber, a scaffolding contractor, a masonry repair contractor, and a roofer. The new boiler system is halfway installed, and the majority of the interior has been primed with at least one coat of primer.

Boiler

Boiler!

The problems we had with primer peeling off in massive sheets are gone, as oil-based primer has solved the issue. The last “frighteningly high-up” surfaces have been covered with primer, and the kitchen is nearing completion (paint is done, sink is installed, light fixtures are up, and fan is installed). Continue reading

Setback

For the last week or so, we’ve been sanding, prepping, spackling, and priming the front foyer and front main hallway of the house.

It took four days and nine coats of primer to turn the formerly pink plaster walls white:

Primer on walls in Sullivan house

White walls!

It was exciting. The walls were old plaster, dyed pink from some previous wallpaper (most likely), and a bunch of us put a ton of work into patching, sanding, and priming them. It took nine coats of primer (two of PVA primer and seven of Killz) to get to these smooth white masterpieces, ready for painting.

The hallway complete, we started sanding and priming the round tower room in the front of the house yesterday. Perry and Kyle helped prime and we got one coat on the entire room.

Today Lincoln, Nicole, and I returned to continue priming. I poured the primer and got ready to apply a second coat to the foyer.

That’s when I noticed the blister.

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Turning a house into a home

As the months drone on, with some weekends bringing big improvements and some none at all, we find ourselves in a rut. “Going to the house” becomes something of a chore. It’s just a thing we do, as the passions fade and the work never seems to end.

Some days, we go to the house and do almost nothing at all except walk around looking for something to do. The most miniscule things derail us: Oh, a wire didn’t get run, oh a tool was lost, oh we didn’t buy a tool we needed, oh we’re waiting for this… or that… or this…

Since this project began, one thing has been consistent: The times we really got a ton of work done were the times we were motivated and kickstarted by friends and family; when people show up to help, things really move quickly.

The rut manifested as the house becoming a job, or a “project”, in our minds. Other than ploddingly slow progress on the bathroom and kitchen, it still hasn’t felt like much more than a big job site. The things we do are things that don’t accelerate the move-in date. We repair walls. We move stuff from one room to another in a large-scale game of musical chairs. We do landscaping. We run network cables. We’re not contractors, and our expertise isn’t in things like HVAC systems and electrical.

What we needed was a morale boost.

What we needed was a party. Continue reading

The Detroit Egg debut tasting party

Detroit Eggs, after baking and before coating and frying

Detroit Eggs, after baking and before coating and frying

A couple of weeks ago I got a strange invite on Facebook to an event called “Detroit Egg tasting party at my house”. That’s a weird one, right?

The invite was from Norm “DJ Meph” Witte III, one of our very own contributors. The Detroit Egg was his baby, and he was ready to unleash it upon the city.

Here’s how the story goes:
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Cleaning up Woodbridge with the AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps board up 5259 CommonwealthThe other day a flyer was rubber-banded to our porch. I assumed it was either a grass-cutting pitch or a politcal thing, but it was neither; rather, it was a flyer asking for volunteers to come help with a “board-up” on the next street over.

A board-up is when a group of people get together to board up an abandoned or burned-out house and clean the lots. On the north end of Woodbridge, there were a couple of burned-out houses, and they were not only eyesores but also places where people could get hurt.

But why?

Why board up an abandoned home? Why cut the grass? Why trim the hedges and pick up the trash?

It sends a clear signal: We care about this neighborhood. We care about what it looks like. We care about the way people treat our block. We care about the way homes are treated here, even if they’re not ours. Continue reading

The school decision

Last year, when I first started hinting to friends and family about my intentions to move to Detroit, the reactions ran the gamut from fully supportive (Detroit is coming back!) to absolutely against (you’re completely insane).

Most reactions were somewhere in between those two extremes. Many friends and family members warmed up to the idea after reading this blog and spending more time (after their initial emotional and visceral reactions) really looking at what the City has to offer.

There has been one common theme among almost everyone, however—from diehard supporters to head-shaking detractors—everything will be okay as long as you don’t send your kids to Detroit Public Schools.

I can’t talk about DPS without bringing race into the conversation. The sad truth is, in my experience—and many have criticized me for “over-simplification” on this issue—when people say “Detroit is bad”, what they really mean but will not say is that “Detroit is black”.
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Heavy rain in Detroit

The past week brought days of heavy rain in Detroit. It was gloomy and dark, and the cold came back.

Heavy rain in Detroit

The rain was significant. The backfill dropped six inches

This was a perfect opportunity to test out all the basement foundation repairs we made earlier in the month, though, so it’s not all bad. After two straight days of downpour, I went into the basement with bated breath.

Every area that we patched was dry.
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Marche du Nain Rouge 2012

Marche du Nain Rouge The 2012 Marche du Nain Rouge happened today in Midtown.

The Marche du Nain Rouge is a 300-year-old tradition in Detroit centered around the idea that French settler and founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, encountered a little red dwarf, or “Nain Rouge”, and struck him with his cane. The Nain cursed Cadillac and his colony. The Marche brings revelers out to chase out the Nain Rouge and undo the Curse.

While the legend is old, the tradition and parade are new. It was “re-started” in 2010, with 400 revelers turning out to chase the Nain Rouge. This year, more than 3000 showed up.
Marche du Nain Rouge 2012 Mustaches against le Nain
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Sponsor shout-out: VitaminWater and SmartWater

Very soon after we closed on the house, my old friend Josh from Coca-Cola reached out to me and said he’d be happy to send the work crew along some VitaminWater and SmartWater to help keep us hydrated.

Little did I know he’d be sending cases of it out.

Thanks to the awesome sponsorship, all of our friends during the huge Icrontic week-long renovation adventure had drinks at the ready. And hey, since this March has been the freakiest hottest Michigan March I’ve ever lived through so far, they needed it.

VitaminWater at the IntoDetroit project

Some of the crew take a break with delicious refreshment

We had bottles of VitaminWater Zero in three different flavors and SmartWater. Luckily, the fridge works so they were cold and available whenever anyone needed one. Our contractors and friends were all appreciative of Josh’s generosity.

Thank you Coca-Cola and Glaceau for the awesome sponsorship. Our house now contains a little piece of love from you guys!

The blessing of the Icrontic community

Icrontic and IntoDetroit

Just some of the crew that showed up to help this week

This past week has been a blur, and it almost defies explanation to people who don’t know us or our friends yet.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out our page “About IntoDetroit“. It explains a lot about where Lincoln and I come from and what the Icrontic community is.

The best way to say it is this:

The Icrontic community is the greatest group of friends that have ever formed up around a website.
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Sponsor shout-out: NewerTech Power2U

One of the nice things about our other gig, Icrontic, is that it puts us in touch with a lot of high-tech companies. I usually go to the Consumer Electronics Show every January to cover it for the community as a member of the press.

This year, I got to take a good look at a very intriguing product called the Power2U by Newer Technology. The Power2U immediately struck my eye as something intensely useful for the modern homeowner: It’s a standard 15amp UL Listed power outlet, but it also has two 5V USB charging ports built in. That means you don’t need to take up outlets with wall-warts to charge your USB-based devices.

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Woodbridge neighborhood crime watch text alert group

Woodbridge Crime Watch groupGroupMe is an app that has been around for almost two years now. Last year, I went to SXSW and used it to keep in touch with the extended group I was travelling with. It was a huge help to have a unified group messaging system that worked with a variety of devices.

Recently, I saw that Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies wrote a blog post about using GroupMe as a neighborhood crime watch alert system in Corktown, and I decided to start one for Woodbridge.

This fantastic idea is entirely Jerry’s. I’m just hoping to share the love in Woodbridge. As we’ve written about here, we’ve been the victims of petty crime and any information we can share as a community can only help us keep our neighborhood safer.

To reiterate some of the great points Jerry made on his blog post, let’s talk about what the group should and should never be used for:

Good Examples:

  • Someone just stole my car on the corner of X and Y.
  • Someone is breaking into my house at 555 Neighbor St!! Someone come help!
  • I just saw someone smash a window and get into a red van on the corner of Bad Boy and What You Gonna Do. License plate # 123 ABC

Bad Examples:

  • What’s up everybody? Enjoying a crime-free weekend I hope.
  • Help! I can’t find my keys!
  • OMG This weather is crazy right? lol.
  • lasstt caaallL @ Woodbridge Pub woooo!

In order to join the Woodbridge Crime Watch group, please send me a message on IntoDetroit with your mobile number and first and last name. Once you’re in the group, you can use a computer, a smartphone (Android or iPhone), or any phone that can send text messages.

If you witness anything going down, crime-wise, post to the group and call the Wayne State Police at (313) 577-2222 or 911. With a service like this we can start to identify patterns that will help law enforcement and help reduce crime in our community.

Redoing the bathroom

Remember back when we were testing the plumbing in the bathroom and said that the only “good” option was to raise the bathtub four inches?

Scratch that. We found a better option; we’ve re-designed the entire bathroom layout.

Our contractor, Andy, cursed and muttered under his breath, and had a few choice names for us (undoubtedly in cockney slang that we wouldn’t understand anyway), and then with a grin, shrugged and tore into re-plumbing the entire bathroom drainage system.

It took him a couple of hard days, but now we have an ideal bathroom layout.

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