The simple joys of homeownership

Score! I just found out that both the title company and the mortgage company paid our taxes this summer! Now I just have to track down the $2,700 refund that the City issued somebody's bank for the overpayment, and get it back...

Driving driving driving...

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Thanksgiving locations:
* Wednesday: Ypsilanti -> Chelsea
* Thursday: Chelsea -> Ypsilanti -> Royal Oak -> Romeo
* Friday: Romeo
* Saturday: Romeo -> Ypsilanti
* Sunday: Mendelssohn Theater, doing light hang for UMGASS' HMS Pinafore (shows all next week!)

On Thursday morning, took a wander into downtown Chelsea for a look at the latest developments, and ran into some other Ypsi types. ("Me? I grew up here! What are *you* doing here?") They'd biked out to get a cup of coffee at Zou Zou's, but found it closed, so were eating their clif bars on the benches in front of the police station. Anyways. It having been probably 18 months or so since I last took a wander down Main Street, I decided to have a look as long as I didn't have anybody with me to be annoyed by my poking around.

Where have all the pop stars gone?

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It occurred to me shortly after the midterm elections that I hadn't noticed anything like Eminem's Mosh (and with alternate ending in the run up to the election. I wondered why - was it just decided not to work? Or was it too hard to find something to grab hold of for a Congressional election.

I've now decided that, no, it *was* done - but, yes, both of those explanations are true, at least this time around:

I recalled, shortly after, Exhibit A, Neil Young's Let's Impeach the President.

Repair, don't replace: advantaging local labor over cheap energy and infinitely mobile capital

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Mark Maynard and MM.com reader Jim ask how we can convince our US Representative, the incoming Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, John Dingell to take global warming seriously. Mark says,

While I realize that, given his constituency, he may not be as gung-ho as I am to see fuel-efficiency standards substantially raised and a gas tax implemented (both which would seriously piss off his automotive industry base), I have to think that there may be some wiggle room with regard to what he can get away with. Given the growing awareness of both the true cost of our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and the environmental implications of burning fossil fuels, the cost of supporting such legislation, especially if done in concert with a multi-billion-dollar initiative to fund alternative energy research at the federal level, may not necessarily mean political suicide.

A new claim to fame...

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Glancing through my referrer logs, it appears the search engines really love my posts on Prop 4 and Prop 5. I seem to be, in fact, the #1 hit on MSN search for 'michigan proposal 5'. Google puts me at 9th for 'michigan proposal 5', which is high enough for that single search phrase to net me more referrals in 2 weeks than any other site has provided in the past 2 months, except for YpsiDixit, MarkMaynard.com, ArborUpdate, and the time that MacSurfer.com picked up one of my posts.

My daily average hits to date for November are at 4x the level for the previous year, with Nov. 6 and 7 spiking up to 7x and 9x the previous year's daily average, respectively.

Brookings on "The Vital Center", rebuilding the Great Lakes Region

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A reminded to myself to read this later, and a pointer to all of you whom I know will be interested: The Vital Center: A Federal-State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region.

From the executive summary:

With one foot planted in a waning industrial era, the other in the emerging global economy, the region is teetering between a future marked by growth and innovation, and one that conforms to the “Rust Belt” label applied to the region due to the decline of its factory-based economy.

The time is now for Great Lakes leaders to articulate a meaningful agenda for what the states of the region and the federal government can do together to ensure that this economic giant steps in the right direction.

The UGLi really is.

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Via Ed, a post of Hot Library Smut. Yum.

Michigan 2006 Ballot Proposal 5 - Education Funding (NO)

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Like Proposal 4, this year's Proposal 5 is a crowd pleaser. I expect it will pass handily. Like Proposal 4, however, it will be passing without my support. My objection to this proposal is exactly opposite that I have to 4; Proposal 5 is entirely too small for the problem it means to address.

"But Murph," you say, "How can a proposal that requires half a billion in additional State funding to K-16 education immediately, and annual increases of at least inflation, to be 'small'? This is huge!"

Not for the problem it's addressing.

Michigan 2006 Ballot Proposal 4 - Eminent Domain. (NO)

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In general, I'm skeptical of Constitutional amendments. Ballot proposals in general are suspect - why vote yes on this particular solution? Is it the best solution, or just the first one that well-intentioned supporters put together without considering the consequences? Beyond even that, I tend to see the Constitution, whether of Michigan or the United States, as something that's supposed to change only very slowly. Why is the Constitution the proper place to make this change, and not the legislature? Or the judiciary, if the problem meant to be fixed is a matter of bad law? Any Constitutional amendment put before me, therefore, has a high burden of proof to meet before I even consider the content.

Eat local stories of the week

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There have been two stories about food this week that have raised my ire.

First, at a community garden workshop held by Growing Hope, I learned that the local "Plant a Row for the Hungry" campaign raised 10,000 pounds of fresh produce from local gardeners. That's a lot of food! Now, the largest part of that actually comes from the State's Huron Valley Women's Correctional Facility, where gardeners donated their entire harvest, of over 7,000 pounds of produce. Why the entire harvest? Because the prison's contract with their food supplier wouldn't let them use the food grown on site in the prison's kitchens. Of course, the food wasn't wasted, because Food Gatherers was there to take it, but I had read this weekend that the State of Michigan spends 1/5 of its general fund on the correctional system - about as much as it spends on higher education. It is ridiculous that the State was so incapable of being flexible that it couldn't use the food onsite.