Cats with computer access

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. We have all heard that story about the cat that got the absentee ballot in the mail. If you haven’t heard about it

cat in bag

the cat belongs to a “friend” who is never named.

Here in Minnesota, the only way that cat could get a ballot is if it requested the ballot as a registered voter or if someone else ordered a ballot for the cat. The cat would need a social security number or a Minnesota driver’s license number.

I have asked for information about the owner of the cat but that is always a closely guarded secret. We are just supposed to believe the story. We never find out if the cat’s voted or if the ballot was counted. We never find out who the cat voted for.

If a cat did vote that would be voter fraud. The people who are outraged by the fraud are totally unwilling to turn the cat but they instead protect the cat’s identity.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that the story about the cat is made up.

Voter suppression is a much bigger problem than voter fraud is. For the 2020 election Please put your plan in place for voting.

Consider early in-person voting or using an absentee ballot and dropping it off at your county election office or mail it back by Mid-October and track it to make sure it is counted. Personally, I can tell you that neither snow, nor rain, nor dark of night nor fascism can stop me from voting.

Vote like your life depends upon it and if you happen to hear about that cat get a name and address.

Ten years ago seems like 20 years ago

I wrote this ten years ago today. It was a very different time but there was a recession then too but there wasn’t a pandemic and so we got to go to the fair.  My memories of it go way back to my childhood. I remember my Grandfather who was a farmer showing me the livestock and my father taking me to machinery hill. There are so many more memories. The fairgrounds changed over the years but still look and smell much the way they did when I was 5 years old.

From August 27th, 2010: 

Last night I went to the  Minnesota State Fair.  I am a little slow getting my post out this morning because I kind of overdid it.  I ate things that a grown-up probably should not eat.  I walked a few miles and took a lot of photos.  There is nothing like the state fair. I tried to find one photo that sums it all up but I couldn’t so I have two photos.  But we can pretend it is just one.  I wanted to use three photos but I thought that would make pretending harder.


People actually pay money to go up in the air so that they can be hurled around.  Their screams can be heard throughout the midway. I don’t do up but it is fun to watch.


The giant stuffed pig is a popular midway prize this year.  The barkers are out in full force encouraging people to put their money downplay the game and win the pig.  Some people do actually win a pig.  What would you do to win a pig?

The weather was amazing last night and just being there was fun.  The fair changes a little every year yet it is one of the few things that are just like it was when I was a child.  I had to see the animals and the half-ton pumpkins with the ribbons.  All you can drink for a dollar milk booth is still there as always and MPR has a booth that says “lake woebegone” on it and I saw people carrying those free yardsticks that the farm bureau gives away.  There is a wide variety of food that comes on a stick.  Life is good!

Not like the last recession & foreclosure crisis

The current recession isn’t like the last one, at least not yet. Home prices are going up instead of down and as I mentioned yesterday home sales are continuing to go up. There is more new construction too but not affordable new construction in the metro area.

There may be some foreclosures in the future.  FHA loans are just one type of loan but are a path to homeownership because they require smaller down payments.

The number of FHA loans with late payments rose to almost 16% in the second quarter, up from about 9.7% in the previous three months and the highest level in records dating back to 1979, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday.

There is a federal forbearance program and an excellent resource for people in Minnesota who are struggling to make those mortgage payments. The Minnesota Home Ownership Center.

The delinquency rate for conventional loans, by comparison, was 6.7%.

The picture was taken during the housing crash.

How to make a lot vacant

I am going to call it a rebound

After the steep decline in home sales during the beginning of the lockdowns, home sales went up. Some call it a housing market recovery but I think it was a rebound. Home sales have been strong for the past several years. If there were more homes to sell we would have a healthy real estate market.

Our entire economy kind of fell off a cliff. It is likely that unemployment will remain in the double digits for many months.

There are people who see having to stay home as a semi-permanent feature in our lives and are buying bigger houses to accommodate in-home classrooms, offices, and gyms. The trend continues to drive home sales and housing prices up.


Foot traffic infographic

Could this house be a killer?

A couple I knew both died of cancer.   One was 58 years old when he died of mesothelioma and the other was 73 when she died of ovarian cancer.

There’s no known safe level of asbestos exposure, and medical research indicates these fibers can cause severe lung diseases and cancer in 10 to 30 years after the initial asbestos exposure.

They lived in an old house that was renovated in the late 1970s.

The Minnesota department of health website is my go-to place for explaining asbestous to my clients.

People think of old pipes and boiler systems that are covered with asbestos insulation and do not consider the many other places it can be found.

Here are some of the places asbestos can be found in a house:


Appliance components

Ceiling products

  • Ceiling texture (Popcorn texture)
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Ceiling tile mastic

Cement-asbestos board (Transite) products

  • Chimney flue lining
  • Ducts
  • Pipes
  • Shingles
  • Siding
  • Wall panels

Electrical products

  • Cloth wire insulation
  • Electrical panels

Flooring Products

  • Asphalt floor tiles
  • Floor tile mastic
  • Vinyl floor tiles
  • Vinyl sheet flooring (linoleum)

Heating and Cooling System products

  • Boiler insulation
  • Ductwork insulation
  • Furnace insulation
  • Gaskets
  • Heat shields (paper and corrugated cardboard)
  • Pipe insulation
  • Tank insulation

Paints and coatings


Roofing Products

  • Base flashing
  • Felt
  • Shingles
  • Tar or “Black Jack”

Table pads


  • Attic and wall insulation
  • Fireplace decoration
  • Gardening products

Vinyl wall coverings

Wall applications

  • Caulking and putties
  • Spackling compounds

Wallboard or sheetrock

Wallboard joint compound

Window glazing

There isn’t any way of knowing if the house killed the couple and the new owners won’t know anything about previous owners who both died of cancer.
Don’t let this scare you away from old houses. We probably won’t know for a few decades which products that are being used in new construction are hazardous.

Use indoor voices in the street

I like to sit on my porch in the evening and read or write or both. There is a home near mine that is on the


market. I am amazed at how many people talk loudly while standing in front of it. A couple of nights ago I listened while a couple hashed out how much they were going to offer.

I think they are offering too much but it sounded like they were going to put an escalation clause in the offer so maybe they won’t have to pay too much.

At one point there was a couple inside the home touring it while another couple was outside talking about buying it and asking a nearby neighbor a question.

I can’t see any advantage in sharing what is going to be in an offer or your desire to buy a particular property but I can see some disadvantages.

When people use their indoor voices outside they can have a conversation without sharing it with the neighborhood.

A day after I heard overheard the conversations one of my clients expressed an interest in the property. If she had decided to make an offer I would have known just how to advise her.

People like to discuss offers with their Facebook friends and their church friends too. I have seen both situations cause a lot of drama for home buyers and sellers too.