Ann Arbor is a college town, and is generally pretty quiet except when there are big football games. That makes this neighborhood a bit of a zoo, but it’s not too bad.
However, in the year and ten months I have been here, I have never seen anything quite like what’s going on right now. I live a block and a half from Michigan Stadium, where the university will be holding the commencement ceremony on Saturday. I understand that such a thing will necessarily make Saturday crazy around here, but it’s already crazy — much crazier than usual, and today is only Thursday. The main street which runs through town has been closed with police roadblocks, and this has diverted car and bus traffic onto the side streets, so I am seeing and hearing (and feeling) city buses and huge trucks lumbering right past the house.
And the helicopters! Wow. They are flying low and circling, and they don’t look like any I’ve seen before. I went out just now with my camera and took a few photos. There were at least four flying in formation — a couple of single-bladed choppers like this:
A2_singlecopter.jpg
And at least two double-bladed ones like this:
A2_twincopters.jpg
Even during the football games (including the manic Big Game against Ohio State), I’ve never seen any commotion like this — especially two days before an event.
Much as I have tried to get her to listen to reason, poor Coco thinks the neighborhood is being invaded, and she is in a panic state and will not stop incessantly barking at the constant and unusual noises.
As to exactly what is going on, if I had to play detective I would speculate that all of this abnormal fussing going on two days before the event has something to do with the fact that the commencement speaker is to be Barack Obama. But how do I explain to Coco that all this commotion which is bothering her is not a conspiracy against her, but is happening only because various agencies are doing their job? How do I tell her that it will be worse tomorrow, and that Saturday will be something again?
Unlike the football games (which are always sold out) they have enough left over tickets that they’re going to be providing them to the general public.
And — get this — the UM students are hoping he’ll avoid politics!

With graduation just days away, University of Michigan students anticipating President Barack Obama’s commencement speech hope he’ll inspire them and stay away from politics.
“I feel graduation is more for students, and I don’t want it to be overshadowed by a speaker,” U-M sophomore Emily Bonchi said.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an ethanol plant in Macon, Mo., Wednesday.
While the subject of Obama’s speech is unknown, that hasn’t stopped students from speculating about his topic and voicing their own ideas.
“I would like to hear about Obama’s personal success and less policy,” said U-M student Alex Bade, who is graduating with a degree in civil engineering. “I want to hear Barack Obama the scholar, not the president.”

I’m with them, because I hate politics. I hope he doesn’t try to lecture them about the need to save the environment or be “community activists” or something. Like, I was sitting here minding my own business and avoiding politics while dutifully experimenting with various Linux distributions (including Puppy, my latest love), and worrying about large hard drives in older laptops with BIOSes that don’t have 48-bit LBA support, when Coco’s barking reminded me that the president would soon be in my neighborhood, and that all politics is local or something. Perhaps I should tell Coco it’s time to think globally.
Speaking of local politics, a group of Latinos are walking all the way from Detroit in order to rally for “immigration reform”:

Latinos are planning to rally in Michigan this weekend for immigration reform — including a group of students who left today from a Detroit high school and are walking to Ann Arbor in advance of President Obama’s talk on Saturday, said community activists.
Elena Herrada said the students left at about 9 a.m. from Western International High School in southwest Detroit and plan to be in Ann Arbor to ask President Obama for immigration reform. Obama is set to speak Saturday at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

What’s the matter? Aren’t they happy with the immigration reform that’s already taking place in Arizona?
(Putting on my detective hat again, I would guess not. But wouldn’t you think they’d be grateful to have a president who’s accused in some circles of being an illegal alien? Sheesh.)