Summer jobs one million!

Okay, maybe only summer jobs two. One is working for the Center for Economic Diversification Assistance in the Business and Industrial Assistance Division of the B-School, or some such mess of names, working on feasibility studies for local food networks in southeast Michigan and the Grand Traverse area.

The other is an internship with the DDA. Consider this full disclosure that I am now (er, as of next week) in the pay of the DDA, but was not before. (Actually, causality is the other way around - I probably wouldn't have bothered to apply for the DDA internship if I hadn't become interested in that entity during the greenway furor.)

and and and and

Just got the final project results back from Peter Allen's Real Estate class; our proposal was named "Best Political and Social and Community Value and Runner Up, Best Overall".

Once I get everything into a single PDF, I'll post. If somebody's got a spare million lying around, we can start building.

Yay! Snow!

Flickr's annarbor tag is packed with pictures of the several inches of snow we got last night. (April 24.)

As a counterpoint to the chorus of crankiness that you will have inevitably heard (or voiced) over this, I have to say that this is honestly part of what I like about Michigan - I've never been anywhere else where the weather is so predictably unpredictable.

“I’m not really an activist.”

Scott points to one of the things that has been annoying me lately. Once up[on a time, people *tried* to claim the label "activist".

(I could, of course, produce an entire rant on the shame of a society that has produced the concept of an "accidental activist", but I won't, because it will just leave me unhappy.)

Doug Cowherd meets the planners

On Wednesday, we invited Doug Cowherd of the local Sierra Club in to sit down and talk to planning students - the latest in a set of such discussions this semester to expose planners to the local stuff. Dale has an extensive post on the discussion, which I basically agree with. I recently sat down with Margaret Wong, who has been the other visible figurehead on the opposite side of the recent greenway/DDA discussion from me, and my opinion of her is basically that she's good people and that she and I want the same general things, but that there's some disconnect at about the last 10% that needs to be worked out. Dale notes that Cowherd is beyond smooth, and I agree - I can't make any judgement about whether or not he's good people or even present an opinion on what he wants, because his rhetoric-fu is way too finely honed.

I was fairly quiet during the discussion, largely because I felt it wasn't really a discussion; it was a hyper-confident, fast-talking, and seemingly well-informed Cowherd talking circles around Dale, Dave, and anyone else who tried to say anything that in any way differed from his model of Ann Arbor. Even when it came to the point where he was making assertions about projects at the previous night's Planning Commission meeting - which I had been at for four hours, thank you very much, and he quite obviously didn't really know what he was talking about - I tried to discuss one point, got shut down, and just sat peevishly through the rest, since it was evident that I would never get a deviation from course, but just some twist of what I had said that would lead into a reassertion of the bought-ness of Ann Arbor's decision-makers. I just didn't feel like playing into that, so mostly just sat and listened instead. Dale uses the phrase "skillfully parried", which is appropriate; this had the feel of a game with score being kept, rather than a conversation.

Some of Cowherd's tactics are notable. He challenged us to come up with a single project that had been shot down by the Sierra Club, which allows him to point out that there hasn't been any, and that, maybe people use environmental arguments against projects, and maybe even use them incorrectly, but the Sierra Club can't control people who are on its mailing list, and that it doesn't have the manpower to correct greenwashed fallacies, so c'est la vie. He (and the SC) supports good development downtown every bit as much as supporting a greenbelt or opposing bad development, but the SC can only get involved in projects that member-volunteers find interesting, and if nobody finds arguing for good development interesting, you can hardly blame him for it, right? He's got a finite amount of time. Neighorhood groups have never successfully opposed a development, and he dares us to name one. Even those of us who are locals (Dave and I) have only been paying attention to this stuff for two or three years, of course, and have a limited array to pick from, every one of which he can answer. (I didn't even bother to bring up accessory dwelling units, which we had already discussed, as an example, because he would have categorized that as "not a development, therefore not something developers pressed their Puppet Councilmembers to pass, and he had already said, "Oh, I support ADUs - if only the political climate would allow it, I'd be calling for it. Really." I also considered bringing up the Upland Green proposal discussed at the previous night's Commission meeting, at which the developer was asked if he had considered multi-story, ped-friendly buildings instead of yet-another-sprawl-restaurant, and the developer said, "If I thought there was any chance of proposing multiple stories and not being shut down by the neighborhood, I'd be happy to." Cowherd's answer probably would have been, "Well, I can't help what the developer's perceptions are," and would have joined in lamenting the poor proposal. Actually, it's likely he would have called this an intentional tactic by the developer meant to build sympathy for his plight in the face of vicious neighborhood groups - and that the Commission's question was possibly even scripted by the developer in order to give him a chance to cast himself as a victim of NIMBYism! Since I didn't bother bringing this up, I don't know what Cowherd really would have said, but that's just the way everything was going.)

Now, it could be that I'm just bitter and defensive because Cowherd called me part of a giant Orwellian PR machine. (Not explicitly. He referred several times to the giant PR machine of the developers and their bought Councilmembers and the one-sided press, and then referred to "things people send me occasionally that they've found online," as "amazing, simply Orwellian." Two guesses what he's referring to.

Anyways, I was hoping I'd come out of this confident that Cowherd and I are on the same side, and that there are just a few kinks and disagreements over tactics and priorities that separate us. (Having seen the way he talks at the Women Progressive Activists forum the previous week, I wasn't optimistic, but I could still hope.) No such luck. His verbal armor is seamless, and he can definitely talk circles around me (there's a reason I'm a blogger and not a radio host), and the afternoon at no point resembled a "conversation".

Tower of Song. Or Babel. Or Song-babel.

If you are on LJ and friended by la_chispa or nfnitperplexity, you'll be able to see their versions of this. If you're not, you can join me in once more decrying the "friends-only" feature of LJ for wrecking the internet.

Pick 5 songs that you figure folks will know. Give Babelfish excerpts of the lyrics to mangle from English to German, from German to French, from French to Portuguese, and from Portuguese back to English. Post the results and see if people can figure out what songs they were. Since I don't have comments these days (you may recall a prior post discussing comments wrecking the internet...), you should post your answers to your own page when posting your five picks for people to guess. (Don't have your own page? I suppose e-mail will do.)

1. I do not mention myself to your sleep, I do not constitute them suspended me and speaking in it, where it has been thus much time, as he was deep, yeah it always knew them, to take it probably and looks at thus the fancy that I can declare

2. Volume a couple of the Uppers, low I for medium to the one to calmar of a couple, but nothing purpurroten does not compare with these pillules blue and yellow that I am myself increase in explosive way had the mountain, so early how much or two times however what have however to count, nothing with blue and yellow these pillules purpurroten compares

3. if it gives the danger, small foreigners to me and I believe blood, me danger, small foreigners I give them and me cured your illness it is nothing in my dreams, but some ugly memories there to hug me as the Ozeanbrise

4. OH - of sugars, OH cries out-voso - child, the ruptures of your eyes clean, know them that I must be strong vocês and the day, as the night is a long feeling as wastefulnesses, forms me are so dark, the clean feeling in the black color is, not see or not to see they can

5. Furieux all we candles this night for Singapura, us are thus, as well as Hutmacher to the country of the head inclination drank here that he is satisfied for a Tawny, festmachn, distant with all the Chinamen, IDO the sewers of Paris me throughout a color wind danced, gebaumelt of a handle of the bitter sand to reexamine me to say to have you

Bonus track, not included in the five due to not being made funny enough in the Babeling process:

6. I am the model of a modern general, have information of vegetables, the animal and the mineral, I know the kings of England, and consider the fights that, are historical of the Waterloo of the maratona, for categorical account

Lawnmower vindication

Last year, I planted sage, rosemary, garlic, and lavender outside of Valhalla, and watched them sprout . . .until somebody decided they looked like they needed mowing. Oops. Since then, the grounds kids have planted a couple of raspberry shoots, mulched heavily, and put up tomato cages to protect the raspberries, and what's coming up but (so far) six garlics and one sage, pushing their way up through the mulch. So some lucky future generation of Valhallans gets to have at least part of an herb garden.

Meanwhile, my grape tomato sprouts seem to be doing moderately well in their window tray, though Kelli's super-cool yellow California baby tomatoes are not. Some frying occurred, and my sprouts were further along and hardier, so it looks like the new house garden is going to be about 15 grape tomato plants, 2 yellow tomato plants, and 2 yellow bell peppers (there were only 2 seeds in the packet, so fortunately we hit 100% germination).

I'm a cruel, cruel person.

Sometimes I just feel a need to blast people. It's not very nice, but I feel like my target deserved it.

Tragically, I couldn't actually make the donation in her name. The Washtenaw Housing Alliance allows confidential gift donations, but the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, which I felt more directly applicable, doesn't give an option to make the donation in a name other than the name on your credit card.

New house related procrastination

As previously noted, a bunch of Valhallans are exodusing out to a duplex in the South Student Ghetto (or, technically, a litttle south of that neighborhood; when I took an exploratory trip down our street I saw more kids in the aerial of the neighborhood with local attractions marked, zoomed out just to the point where I could fit both Leopold Bros. (a little less than a mile NW) and Trader Joe's (a mile and a quarter SE) on the map. One of the key features of the new house (currently referred to as Jorvik) is proximity to things.

What is the sound of one planner snapping?