Cities of Intellect, and the perqs of living in one

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Yesterday, after seeing the News' article about one of our area poly-political families, I decided that the Arborwiki page on Al Wheeler needed a little attention. In the course of googling up additional sources, I stumbled on a paper on affordable housing and homelessness advocacy in Ann Arbor in the 1970s and '80s.

"President-Elect Barack Obama." Squee!


It's been four days since The Election, and we haven't woken up, had martial law declared, gotten mired in recall battles and court cases, or otherwise had the results taken away from us. So it's good and safe to say that Barack Obama will be our next President. Some scattered thoughts:

It's so nice to have a President we can be proud of, and not have to flinch whenever he speaks. (I was truly dreading hearing four years of McCain's "My friends" on NPR.) President Obama clearly has the Presidential persona down, yet also has a human side. (And for that link, I don't even have to use the moments that made me tear up, like his grandmother's dying two days shy of seeing him elected, his acceptance speech promise of a puppy, or his comment on "shelter dogs being mutts, like me.")

"So, a Republican probably?"

Yesterday, I went to the shiny new Obama campaign office on Michigan Avenue and got a yard sign.

This morning, we found our sign ripped in half, and, for good measure, a broken window. Not all the way through - just the outer pane - and on the second story, so clearly vandalism rather than attempted entry. Somebody just lobbed a rock at it - presumably, college students stumbling home from the parties at the end of the block.

The police officer taking our report over the phone said, "So, a Republican, then?" Cara said, "Oh, I'm definitely volunteering at the campaign office now!" Me, I'm just cleaning up broken glass and taping the sign back together in quiet defiance.

Channeling my childhood engineer

When I was in elementary school, I was en route to a civil engineering career. I was the kid who spent rainy days digging little canal systems through the playground with sticks to drain the puddles underneath the swingsets and at the bottoms of the slides. (You'd think the other kids would thank me for this valuable service, but, alas, elementary school doesn't work that way.)

I'm always reminded of that on days like today, when we're getting hurricane-boosted steady rains after 2 months of dryness. I get to go around and check the perimeter - make sure all the downspouts are functioning and the rainbarrel overflows are connected, dig out the spots where the driveway swale has silted up, and watch as puddles drain away into the wildflower garden. (Someday I'll get to digging real french drains around the house and a rain garden in the low spot out back, but it always seems low priority in dry weather - and I'd have to find a new excuse for playing in the rain!)

I would have expected more fanfare. And by "fanfare", I mean "gloating".


In reworking ArborWiki's page on the Ann Arbor Greenbelt, I came across an item from Concentrate that noted,

When Ann Arbor initially proposed its Greenbelt Program, local developers worried that it would create competition, scarcity and drive up the cost of building sprawl in Washtenaw County. Now developers are starting to sell land to the Greenbelt.

The Ann Arbor City Council approved spending $626,000 in city money to buy 139 acres of rural land in Superior Township from Biltmore, a residential development company. ... The land is in two parcels along either side of Prospect Road near Vreeland Road.

Ceiling fan re-installation: 4 hours [beyond expected].

Two summers ago, Cara's dad replaced the ceiling fan in our living room with a shinier, beefier one. The original ceiling fan hadn't been particularly well hung - it was installed with a plastic circuit box that was wired (meaning, as a support mechanism) with copper wire to a pipe running above the ceiling. Lovely. So he got a ceiling fan support kit, with an expandable support bar that jams in between joists so that you can stably hang a fan from it.

As our tv room rock band room's ceiling fan was looking similarly questionable in its structural integrity, I decided it needed to be rehung. Went out and got a support bar and everything.

Gas price mapping

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How the World Works' post Triumph of the City Dweller points to a new mapping tool from the the Center for Neighborhood Technology showing relative residents' gas costs within metropolitan areas, both absolutely, and as a share of the regional median household income, for 2000 and 2008. The outcome? Downtowns win!

Now, yes, as Andrew Leonard points out, "Flash forward to 2008: The entire map is SCREAMING RED" ... with the few outliers of low household gas spending speckling downtown. it emphasizes things are rough for almost everyone - but that would seem to show a compelling need to address people's inability to go about their life without spending a crazy amount on gas.

Our networked, gaslit future?


While up north, Michael and I spent a significant amount of time discussing peak oil, global warming, and related issues. Michael asked me, as someone professionally interested in The Shape Of Things To Come, what I thought our societal future held.

Hedging my bets by placing predictions far enough out that no one alive today could call me on them, I stated a prediction that, 100 years from now, our land use, transportation, and agricultural patterns would strongly resemble those of 100 years ago, but that we would maintain something like our current level of communications infrastructure. "So, steampunk, then?" stated Michael and Margaret simultaneously.

7 songs meme

JP requests, I provide. (Don't abuse it.)

Apologizing for posting a meme is the new posting a meme, so I'm not going to apologize. I like this one.

The instructions are to pick seven songs you're really into at the moment (variations on the meme include focusing on songs that remind you of summer) and write a little blurb about why you like each.

(some songs...)

You're it.

I tend to obsess on a single album at a time, so picking seven songs with any variety is difficult. But here's what I got, heavily influenced by KEXP's online feed, for which I blame Elias. Links to YouTube, since such is life that the easiest way to link to a song is to link a music video, either official or fan-produced.

A quick trip to the yoop.


This weekend, we took a quick jaunt to the UP; the motivating factor was that the newly-Dr. Cohn is about to leave town for a post-doc, and had never been across the bridge in his 6 years in Michigan. (We then found out that Miss Margaret was also a blushing virgin of a troll, despite a Michigan childhood, and made her come along too.)

Some scattered thoughts on the trip: