"Murph, you are an amazing housewife."

Went to the farmers' market today and bought a(nother) bushel of apples, "second rate". Seconds really seem perfectly fine to me; the only downside is that you have to have a Plan for them, because you can only buy by the half-bushel. The price comes to $13 for 30-some pounds of apples, or approaching 3 lbs / $1. A pretty good deal.

I came home and set about turning them into applesauce (6 quarts canned plus some set aside for eating), drying apple rings (using food dehydrator borrowed from Juliew after request here previously), and allowing my housemate to snag apples to eat.

While I was dipping jars of applesauce into boiling water, my sister called and thanked me for the pickles I sent up with my parents, produced back in August.

Michael and I then discussed the trend of intelligent young progressives picking up things like gardening, food preservation, bicycle repair, community creation, etc, with the partial intent to be prepared for peak oil or other sharp changes in prevailing socio-economic conditions. I noted that I'm not so much thinking we'll hit a post-oil economy any time soon, but I definitely think we're approaching a time of much more expensive energy, and we may as well not be caught unprepared. In ten to twenty years, if things get fuxored beyond repair, we want to have some buffer for getting through the short-term and the skills to spread for maintaining communities in the long-term.

In addition to long range mild apocalypse fantasies, of course, it's also just fun to be Competent.

Job search...

Locations and types of entities I've applied to in the past week:

  • Detroit - public

  • Northville - private
  • Taylor - private
  • Ann Arbor - private (no position posted, but I'm trying anyways. I'm told I have a good reputation there.)
  • Detroit - public
  • Pontiac - public
  • Toledo - non-profit

Getting a job in Northville or Taylor would probably involve commuting from Washtenaw County. Detroit, Pontiac, and Toledo would involve a good chance of moving.

Common Census maps

The Common Census maps of self-identified city-region membership seem to be getting major play, as I've heard about them from several unrelated sources in the past few days.

Scott gets double points for invoking Jane Jacobs' view of city-regions; he's also got fun thoughts for me to respond to -

"The size of a city doesn’t seem to correlate to the size of its influence region, though most of the large areas (which are mostly rural and in the west) seem to have relatively small cities at their center"

Dude, you've driven through Montana! To make a gross generalization, the size of cities is fairly well correlated with their proximity to other cities - there's a blinding difference in population density between the small-city-large-region parts of the west and the big-city-small-region coastal areas; the BAMA cities are all so close together that, even though they're all big, their regions quickly butt up against other cities, while mountain state cities tend to be the only game in town.

"DC sort of wraps around Richmond, VA"

This is what I find most interesting about the map; places where local identification exists, but is weak enough that people to one side of this pocket identify with a significantly bigger city on the other side. It's a fun gravitational model of city-identification. If you're going to go far enough to hit the smaller city, you may as well go so far as to hit the major city beyond.

I'd like to see something where you can rank several cities. "List all of the cities that you feel influence your location." I'd probably list Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Chicago for that one.

"they really should merge 'twin cities' and 'Minneapolis' or at least call 'twin cities' 'St. Paul.'"

I think they should list all three options. Interesting to see how close in to the Twin Cities you have to be to identify with one or the other - you'd probably get a small pocket around each one with the individual city, donutted by Twin Cities identification. I think there's probably some bias introduced in what options are provided to you; somebody might look at the list and say, "Hmmm...Minneapolis? Or Twin Cities? Minneapolis? Or Twin Cities?" and, unless they lived in St. Paul proper, wouldn't bother to think of it on equal footing with the other two. I'd like to see more of a name-comparison model, where you enter a city name, and, if it can't understand you, it gives "did you mean" options to attempt to clarify.

Four year lapse in judgement aside, still not such a bad guy.

Salon says about Colin Powell:

Lawrence Wilkerson, the former head of the Marine War College who had served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, revealed the inner struggles of the Bush administration in a speech before the New America Foundation on Oct. 19. A "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" ran U.S. foreign policy for a president "not versed in international relations and not too much interested." Wilkerson defined the Bush doctrine as "cowboyism." Condoleezza Rice as national security advisor was "extremely weak" and more interested in "her intimacy with the president" than in acting as an honest broker. Cleaning up after Bush's tarnishing of America's image in the world was an impossible task. "It's hard to sell shit," said Wilkerson.

Powell, Wilkerson's principal, has remained publicly quiet since his September outburst, in which he said that his speech before the United Nations arguing the case for the existence of WMD and an invasion of Iraq, which subsequently was revealed to be filled with disinformation, was a "blot" on his record and continues to be "painful now." Behind the scenes, however, Powell has been active in countering the Bush torture policy, which he opposed from the beginning. Powell sent personal letters and made telephone calls to Republican senators urging them to support the amendment to the military appropriations bill that would end the torture policy. As a result of Powell's lobbying, 90 senators voted for it. It was a stinging rebuke to Bush, who has threatened to veto the entire military appropriations package if the amendment is attached.

Powell's still among the Republicans I would consider to be not a bad President.

Bono sold his soul for an SMS

Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with addressing bottom-of-the-pyramid poverty and AIDS; I was a fairly early signer (signatory? or is that just nations?) to the One campaign, and I'm glad that Bono is using his extremely large soapbox to push such things, if only in a very info-lite fashion. However.

I'm pretty ambivalent about the U2 concert we went to last night. Were I to consider only the music and the show, I'd say it was very good. Though the entire decade of the '90s was ignored (but for "One", which no longer counts, having become a brand name), and I'm one of those people who thinks Pop was a much better album that the two since, I was otherwise pretty happy. Opening with "City of Blinding Lights", closing with "With or Without You", and representing Boy with three songs in between are all good choices.

What I didn't like was the political message that I got out of it; call me a strict constructionist, but I felt like songs were being used in ways not fitting to their original context.

I started out merely amused, as the overwhelmingly white audience in Auburn Hills cheered wildly when Bono addressed us as "Detroit", but the irony started to annoy when "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was declared, "this is your song now". Yes, thank you, we appreciate your post-9/11 solidarity, but I really don't think that's the only or best "separate societies" parallel that can be drawn to a "Detroit" audience. Bono's call to "coexist" is not something that's newly an issue around here, and I lamented that Jew/Christian/Muslim was the only social division Bono felt a need to address. But, hey, I can forgive.

At least, that I could forgive. The next bit really rankled, though, with "Bullet the Blue Sky" dedicated to "the brave men and women of the American military". Yes, Bono, that's wholly appropriate. Take a song about American complicity in Central American military atrocities, and turn it into a salute to the American military? Now, let's say you use this as an opportunity to push a "hate the war, but pray for the warrior" type of message. A "war is terrible for all involved" sort of thing. A criticism of America, "peeling off those dollar bills, and slapping them down - one hundred. two hundred." Dollar bills to the Taliban, dollar bills to Saddam, and now dollar bills to Halliburton.

The follow-through was totally botched, though. The choice of "Miss Sarajevo" as the next song was spot-on - but Bono softballed the message. To anybody not already outraged by turning "I can see the fighter planes . . . see the sky ripped open . . . to pound on the women and children" into a military salute, I expect any criticism to have been totally lost. Bono lined up his soapbox just right, and then squandered it.

Except, he didn't. He was just setting up a different soapbox. From "Miss Sarajevo", we launch into a rousing, feel-good round of "Pride", and then Bono sets the hook. He reminisces briefly about Zoo TV, when they could just reach out and call anybody..."Speaking of which," oh no, is he schilling what I think he's schilling? "who's got a cell phone?" he turns the arena into "a true 21st century moment" with a constellation of backlights. And, yes, he's schilling what I think he's schilling. Pander to the audience, make us feel righteous and patriotic and compassionate, avoid criticism, and all so that he could solicit text message signatures to the One campaign. Naturally, "One" follows, but at this point I'm thoroughly upset enough that it has no positive meaning, and simply becomes a commercialistic jingle, the string of lyric abuses emphasizing that "One" is now just an empty theme song.

Now, as I said, I'm solidly behind the One campaign. But if the cost of getting people to sign on is stoking/stroking American militarism? That's not a good trade-off. Especially since half the people in the arena probably couldn't tell you anything about the One campaign - all they know is that Bono told them to send a text message, so they did. Oh, and maybe it has something to do with world hunger?

I think I may have outgrown U2's concerts.

Food dehydrator wanted

Does anybody have a food dehydrator I could borrow within the week? (I am specifically not looking to purchase one, since I want to make it disappear again after using.)

Help wanted: sepllchecker

Latest entertainment from the job hunt front:

Full-time position responsible for the administration of the Pubic Works Dept. that includes directing the maintenance and repair of City municipal streets and public properties. Requirements are Assoc. Degree in engineering, public admin. or a related area and ten yrs of experience in public works or general municipal construction of which 5 yrs should be at a senior supervisory level, or any equivalent combination of experience and training. Must possess a valid Michigan’s driver’s license and have knowledge of Michigan Act 51 programs. EOE/AAE

I'll take pity and not say what municipality this is from.

peak oil and "progressive" real estate

What was to be a quick note to Steve Bean about a prominant peak oil sighting turned into the rather more extensive bit following:

Last week I was at the UMich / Urban Land Institute's 19th Annual Real Estate Forum; the keynote speaker was Chris Leinberger, who was just hired as the director of UM's new Real Estate Certificate program (a joint Business / Law / SNRE / Urban Planning / Architecture program).

In his talk, he mentioned peak oil, and did a pretty good job of pitching it in a way a bunch of developers, property managers, consultants, and local officials could understand. The gist of it was that oil discovery peaked 30(?) years ago, and American oil production peaked 20(?) years ago, and demand has anything but peaked - it is continuing into an almost exponential growth curve as the developing world claws its way towards American levels of automobility. Even if you don't believe that absolute oil production will peak (or has peaked), the ratio of production to demand has definitely peaked. Which means that availability of cheap oil is something that the American real estate business needs to forget about.

Leinberger refers to his school of thought as "progressive development" - as separate from "traditional" (pre-war) or "conventional" (post-war) development. I'm not sure I really see anything "progressive" about it; while he gives lip service to ideas like income-integrated housing, a lot of his "vision" seems to be about shoehorning WalMart into a walkable environment.

The part I'm most pleased with about him, though, is his idea of real estate lifecycle. As he calculates it, our current real estate financing and value-estimating methods mean that a developer looking at a new project generally considers it to have zero value a mere 17 years down the line, with return-on-investment peaking around 12 years(?). What he wants to see are means of value-estimating that consider long-term value, with ROI peaking around 40 years, at a much higher value, and never really going to zero, and financing structures that accommodate this valuation. Getting developers and investors to think of long-term value will help to create more attractive and (material and energy) efficient buildings that consider and contribute to the place around them - because the place is part of the value.

I gather that, insomuch as he is a "Professor of Practice", and not an academic professor, research is not going to be as large a part of his job description as administration and charisma (schmoozing) will be, but he apparently has some experience in policy-type research, so I think he intends to do some sort of work towards crafting structures for such valuations...

"You must be thinking of a different Jesus"

Salon.com posts captions for a picture of Bono and President Bush...

Ah, the planning youth...

"Legal Aspects of the Planning Process", at least, requires students to attend at least one Planning Commission Meeting during the semester. It's really quite entertaining to realize that's what's happening, and think back upon a time when I, too, was so new to things that I didn't know better than to sit in the middle seats, where everybody watching the meeting on tv (all three of them) could tell how bored I was.

Scoot about six feet to one side or the other, folks, and you can make all the faces at the Planning Commission you want.