Mystery solved - and totally gross.

Some of you may recall our complaining about "mouse smell" a few months back, originating from the basement. Mmm, sweet smell of death.

In fact, I disassembled nearly our entire heating system and rearranged the entire basement in the process of trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. No luck. (I was positive it was in a heat duct, since the smell was not there when I woke up that day, but the heat turned on while I was taking a shower, and something started to bake.) It subsided after a week, during much of which we were not-here, but there's been a bit of a lingering aroma.

Fast forward to now. I've got contractors installing a flue liner for our chimney, so that we stop getting condensation through the brick into our walls. Taking apart the furnace and water heater flue leads, the contractor called, "Hey, come here - you're lucky you didn't croak, man."

I should know better.


For those who have a touch of both hypochondria and arachnophobia, the internet is DEFINITELY NOT a good tool for answering the question, "What kind of spider did I just find (and adrenally smoosh) in my basement?"

Fortunately, I have enough self-control to venture only as far as Extension articles, and avoid both google images and wikipedia.

That is all.

All food groups covered!


Having missed last week's opening day of the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers' Market, I pushed my lunch back to two today, when the market opens, to see what they had. I was therefore ravenous on getting there, but someone from an office in the Key Bank Building was circulating with leftover sandwiches from a meeting! Thus fortified, I was able to go about my shopping.

Chest freezers are magical.

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Over at Eat Close To Home, Emily is both wondering whether to buy a chest freezer and also commenting on the one-wayness of the blogger-commenter relationship. So I'm going to go old-school - I was blogging before comments existed, yo - and post here, rather than there.

My family bought a chest freezer sometime in my childhood. Every year, we got a lamb and a quarter(?) of beef from my godmother, down the street. When we moved out of the North Campus Co-ops to Jorvik, my parents gave us that freezer - and bought themselves a smaller one. When we moved out of Jorvik and bought a house, my parents gave us a small chest freezer as a housewarming present. (...with a lamb inside it. Yummy.) (We donated the parents' -> Jorvik chest freezer to Growing Hope.)

Covering the mortgage, part 2

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To get a little less abstract than the previous post on the application of housing law during financial meltdown, I think I've satisfactorily chewed over a connection I've been working on.

A week ago, I attended the Global Suburbs conference at UMich (in no small part masterminded by Dale), and caught part of a talk on land ownership and housing costs in Lahore, Pakistan. If I followed correctly, one comment that was made was that Pakistanis had fairly recently received access to financing tools such as the 30-year mortgage, allowing many people the potential to purchase homes who never would have been able to previously. This increased buying power led to increased demand, contributing to rising prices.

There's a parallel here. Over the past decade, Americans have received access to financing tools such as the ARM, the zero-down mortgage, the interest-only mortgage, the no-documentation mortgage, and all sorts of bizarre hybrids. All of these were essentially justified by lenders on the grounds that mortgages were a can't-lose proposition, as well as the adoption of collateralized debt instruments, and allowed many people the potential to purchase homes who never would have been able to previously.

Covering the mortgage through the long emergency

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For snarky, mildly academic news commentary on the long finance meltdown the country is in the middle of, my reading of choice is Salon's How the World Works. Combine that with a Salon feature today on oil prices, and you start getting to immediate questions for my profession:

The bottom line: Oil prices are high today, not due to a temporary disruption in the global flow of petroleum as in 1980, but for systemic reasons that are, if anything, becoming more pronounced. This means news headlines with the phrase "record oil price" are likely to be commonplace for a long time to come. ...

New-mown astroturf


A couple of comments on old posts popped up in the last week. They look like ads going for link placement, but they look like real people wrote them, and two of them were from the same person on quite different topics.

So, users mgins and bothwell, I've published your comments, but I've removed the links, figuring that's an appropriate punishment.

The comments in question are 1, 2, and

Oh, all right - hand me the kool-aid.


Just a courtesy note - I finally got sick of my other webmail client and decided to just forward my existing addresses to gmail. I've actually had a "murph.monkey" account there for a few years, but never used it; so if you see that address, this is why.

Meanwhile, you can still continue to send to my or addresses if you prefer.

Even more visible than a solar city hall


...would be a wind farm along the freeway.

But it looks like Wyandotte's going to beat Ypsi to it, with $2m(!) in federal grants lined up for the first turbine of five.

Online with Wireless Ypsi


Eventually, the Wireless Washtenaw project aims to network the entire County, intending to "provide an economic development tool", "attract and retain young professionals", and "reduce the digital divide". Eventually.

In the meantime, Wireless Ypsi is forging ahead, thanks to some of the usual suspects. As stated in the Ann Arbor News,

"Most of the time, when you don't have institutional involvement, things happen much quicker," Robb said. "We didn't need committees, we didn't need an advisory board, we didn't need anything. ... Seriously, in three weeks, we've done what (Wireless Washtenaw has) promised to do for four years."