Monthly Archives: October 2004

Ann Arbor 2004 Pumpkin price wars

We got our Halloween 2004 pumpkin from Farmer Glen at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. We see him every week and he’s our regular supplier of tomatoes in season. I was happy to pay $6 for it.

Discussion on the arborparents mailing list about pumpkin shopping have turned up a bit of a last minute price war on pumpkins: Whole Foods has a big supply of organic pumpkins at $2.99 and $3.99, and Hillers also has $2.99 pumpkins.

It’s been warm this fall so our carved pumpkin might or might not last the week – the ants and squirrels found it right away, and it remains to be seen just how much gnawing and nibbling will happen before trick or treat time.


RFID and the Ann Arbor District Library

Some questions that come to mind while looking at the RFID chip affixed to the front inside cover of my book from the Ann Arbor District Library.

(More RFID stuff to track if you’re interested is here at the rfid feed.)

Who was the vendor for the system, and who all got considered for it?

What was the cost per book to implement it? Have there been visible savings from the program yet?

From what distance can the tags be read? What data is on the tags? Do the tags uniquely identify the borrower, or just the book?

Do the readers at the doors read the RFID chip, or something else (like the old sensitized metal strip)?

If you put a book in the microwave oven, does it destroy the tag? If you put the book in a mylar bag, can you still read the tag?

How much does a reader cost, and can I get a handheld one to help me find lost library books at home?

Can you implant a chip in Saul’s stuffed dog, so that I can find him when he gets lost?

I’m sure there are more, that’s a start….



Michigan voters, view your exact ballot online with Publius

(Thanks Nano for forwarding this along.)

Dear Friends in Michigan,

Ever get to the voting booth and realize you had no idea how many
things you’d get to vote about? Wish you could know which judge or
state school board member or county clerk based on prior knowledge,
rather than just how much you like his or her name? Want to know
exactly what proposals and representatives will be on *your* ballot?

I’m writing everyone I know in the Michigan to tell (or remind, as the
case may be) that you can view your EXACT ballot online NOW. A
non-partisan organization called Publius provides this wonderful
service w/the Michigan Sec’y of State. Publius is very easy to use:

1. Go to

2. Enter either your name or your address. (Note that entering your
name ensures you know where you are registered to vote).

3. View the exact ballot you will see on election day.

There are also links to some of the candidates’ websites and campaign
finance information. More information is being added daily, so you can
also sign up to automatically get an e-mail when all the info is

I am trying to educate myself about all the proposals and candidates,
even those in the seemingly obscure positions, so if you want to talk
about any of them, feel free to get in touch w/me.

I hope every single one of you votes in this election!


Why I’m not renewing my subscription to the Wall Street Journal

To the editors of the Wall Street Journal:

After some reflection, I have decided not to renew my subscription to your newspaper. Please allow it to lapse at the end of the current subscription.

I’ll miss the good writing on the front page, Walt Mossberg (and trusty assistant Katie) and their technology column, and the Marketplace section. If I can find the paper at my bank or at the coffee shop I’ll probably read it now and again. But it’s no longer a must read, and it’s too expensive to have it pile up unread. (After all, even Warren Buffett buys his newspapers one at a time at the news stand.)

One problem with the Wall Street Journal is that it’s really hard after reading a good article to share it with friends. (Others have noted this problem with not just the Wall Street Journal but with other fine periodicals like The Economist.) If I can’t share an article, then some private usefulness of reading it quickly dissipates. Clipping it and making photocopies to fax just doesn’t match my current workday very well – I need to be able to email off a link and get a conversation started.

When you reconsider and offer up the main stories of the paper on the web so I can link and share, let me know. Til then I’m on the lookout for a different daily national paper.


Edward Vielmetti

“Find in a library” Vielmetti

There’s a new database searchable through Google. If you type in a search for “find in a library” Vielmetti (or your favorite search terms) you will get back (mostly 🙂 results from OCLC Worldcat. This is a union catalog of books from all over, and once you type in a zip code you’ll get only regionally relevant books.

It doesn’t have the “read inside the book” or “read user reviews” utility of Amazon, but it’s a great way to do Google searches on your local library. They have a link-to-library-catalog function in there too, though you’ll have to retype the search. Pity they didn’t pick up on Jon Udell’s Library bookmarklet automation of that step.

Michigan voters, I urge you to vote NO on Proposal 2

Many Michigan companies, especially companies with employees in Ann Arbor, offer benefits to domestic partners of their employees. This helps keep them competetive in attracting talent vs. companies in other states like California where these benefits have been around and common a lot longer.

Proposal 2’s language may make these benefits illegal under the state constitution. (The wording is not clear, it will probably take an expensive court challenge.) Michigan businesses that want to offer these benefits will be denied that right, and Michigan residents taking advantage of these benefits will have to seek other healthcare plans or go without.

I have been going through the buy your own healthcare insurance mess for the last two months and it is not fun. Individual coverage is hard to get, not very good, and relatively expensive. If Prop 2 passes, it will make some people uninsured.

I urge you to vote no on Prop 2. Yard signs are hard to find, but in Ann Arbor at least there are some at the American Friends Service Center behind Friends Meeting on Hill near Washtenaw.

And here’s a link to link in your own coverage: mi-prop-2.