Archive for October, 2009

How technology can stop high-speed chases

High-speed police pursuits often end in collisions, which sometimes  end tragically with the deaths or injuries of innocent victims. But GPS satellite and cellular technologies are now being combined to stop the bad guys in their fast tracks.

GM’s OnStar service was used most recently to stop a carjacker in California. On command, OnStar — based in Michigan — disabled the gas pedal of the stolen vehicle in California and enabled police to nab the suspect after the chase.

“Considering the violent crime that this suspect was wanted for, I was just amazed,” Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas said.
via Associated Press

New car options are featuring more and more sophisticated technology — including safety features such as GM’s Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service with OnStar. The services are able to link both the driver and the vehicle to receive remote help.

An LATimes technology blogger notes that it was dumb to steal the car equipped with the technology, but dumber to fall into a pool while running way from the police.


How to plan a funeral

This item sounds a little creepy, given the Halloween season. But it’s interesting nonetheless.

“Funeral planning is much like planning a wedding,” says Funeralwise co-founder Larry Anspach. “It has many of the same elements, only it is a celebration of a life past instead of two lives going forward.”

via Create A Great Funeral Plan

If you can  get over the discomfort of the comparison, consider clicking over to the funeral planning calculator at It provides instant funeral price estimates that are illuminating.  The site is consumer-oriented and lifts the veil on a subject that is often kept in the shadows. It also offers other services including a do-it-yourself funeral planner and an e-commerce store.

Funeral issues are on the minds of Iwanna classified users every week. gets hundreds of searches of Cemetery Lots.

Floating house debuts in New Orleans

The Float House, which debuts this week in  New Orleans, marks a fascinating innovation in manufactured housing in the wake of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. It is designed to survive up to 12-foot floodwaters and be mass produced.

This innovative base, or “chassis,” integrates all mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sustainable systems, and securely floats in case of flooding. Inspired by GM’s skateboard chassis, which is engineered to support several car body types, the FLOAT House’s chassis is designed to support a variety of customizable house configurations.

Via architects

The house was designed as part of the charitable “Make it Right” eco-friendly building organization of Hollywood movie star Brad Pitt. The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent feature here on the Float House.

Although the Float House doesn’t have much use in the mountains of Western North Carolina, it does make you wonder if someone could design and produce a “slide” house — one that might survive a tumble down the ridge line.

Float House by Morphopedia

Float House by Morphopedia

Is Asheville buyer’s market for homes slowing?

New data on shows about a third of the homes for sale in Asheville were listed with price cuts in August.


Asheville listings with price cuts

That’s a 0.4% improvement from July, and an indication that the buyer’s market for homes may be easing in Asheville. But the median price cut was slightly higher than July (about 6%) and the median list price per square foot declined again.

The Zillow blog promised more details next week, but it noted that homebuyers nationwide lost a bit of negotiating power in August.

New Zillow data from surrounding metro areas may provide some perspective.

Greensboro shows the largest percentage price reductions in North Carolina at an average of 5.3%. Over a quarter of the homes in that market had recent list-price reductions. Greensboro’s home value index is 4.4% lower than a year ago.

The Tri-Cities Tennesse area, known as the Johnson City MSA, came in at an average 4.1% price reductions. Its Zillow Home Value Index year-over-year is down almost 9%, which is closer to the housing value trend Asheville has been experiencing. We reported last month that the buyer’s market for real estate was raging on in Asheville.

Charleston leads South Carolina in declining home prices, according to the data. Spartanburg and Greenville rank in the middle of the list of 144 metro areas, with average price reductions in the 3.5% range.

Average days on the market are over 100 days in each of the metro areas mentioned above – sometimes well over 100 days. Zillow reports Asheville’s days-on-market in August as 110.

The biggest house price declines are in Florida. Zillow reported that 14 of the top 20 metro areas had the biggest discounts in list prices.

The good news for sellers is that the first-time buyers credit is helping stretch the traditionally strong summer home-selling season this year. Video from is below:

‘Furniture’ becomes a hot topic in Google Trends

Thanks to a morning television show segment,  the subject of furniture has become volcanic in Google Trends today. Especially on the radar is Boyle’s Furniture Outlet in Charlotte, which was specifically mentioned in the program for its rock-bottom clearance pricing on its website — for instance, getting a $500 chair for $99.

The Today Show segment also singled out consignment and estate sales as good ways to find extreme furniture deals. In the Carolinas, however, furniture has always been a hot item in Iwanna’s free classifieds. Readers can find hundreds of furniture deals every day in Asheville and Greenville by searching

How to avoid hitting deer this fall

The Insurance Information Institute — a non-profit communications organization supported by the insurance industry — has just published a list of steps to help motorists avoid deer-vehicle collisions this fall. Some of the tips include:

Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before or after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.

Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.

Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not proven effective.

via Warning to Motorists: Fall Is Peak Season for Deer-Vehicle Collisions.

North Carolina didn’t make the list of states with the highest incidence of deer-vehicle collisions, but West Virginia did. And its  mountainous areas closely resemble the terrain of Asheville and Western North Carolina, where deer ramble in abundance every fall.

For those who are more interested in encountering deer, the North Carolina deer-hunting season in Western has been in full swing for several weeks. Hunting-related searches are picking up on including searches for deer camps, guns and bows. North Carolina’s archery deer hunting season runs through tomorrow (Oct. 2). Muzzle-loading season for deer is the week of Oct. 10-16, and rifle season begins  Oct. 17 and runs through the end of year.

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October 2009
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