Saturday, March 6, 2010

Genius by any other name.....










Sistine Chapel





















Pieta












Creation
of Adam















David





535 years ago, Michelangelo Buonarroti was born.
We are all richer for it.

Silver linings?

The $64 question is, "Is government helping or hurting
borrowers?"

Matt Valley offers his take here.

I suspect the corollary question (Is the government
helping or hurting lenders?) is more important.

What drew me to his essay is the final paragraph:
"Every dark cloud has a silver lining, and the current
crisis is no exception....'When borrowers are frightened,
they do smart deals'."

Sure hope so.

Thoughts...

"Press on steadily, keep to the straight road in your thinking
and doing, and your days will ever flow on smoothly. The
soul of man, like the souls of all rational creatures, has two
things in common with the soul of God: it can never be
thwarted from without, and its good consists in righteousness
of character and action, and in confining every wish thereto."

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Friday, March 5, 2010

What, me worry?..








Alfred E. Newman




Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It's fear about fear,
fear that means nothing.
-Seth Godin

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.
-William Inge

Worry is a misuse of imagination.
-unknown

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only
saps today of its strength.
-A.J. Cronin

We probably wouldn't worry about what people think
of us if we could know how seldom they do.
-Olin Miller

Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, for
tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough
trouble of its own.
-Mathew 6:34

Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a
couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But
train yourself not to worry: Worry never fixes anything.
-Ernest Hemingway

What were you worried about this time last year?
Can't remember?
-unknown

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never
happen. Keep in the sunlight.
-Ben Franklin

I’ve seen many troubles in my time, only half of which
ever came true.
-Mark Twain

Don't worry, be happy
-Bobby McFerrin

The City gets it right......

The intersection of Church and Third today.



































Many of us remember the mess when the old combination
storm/sanitary sewer collapsed in front of the County
Building over ten years ago, leaving a huge sink hole in the
roadway. The sewers in, and around, the downtown area
date to the 1870’s. They were designed and built to handle
both storm water runoff and sanitary sewer. They are large.
While it would be nice if I could be that functional at 140
years of age, these lines do fail. That will not be happening
here today.

A number of years ago, the City of Newark invested in a camera
system to inspect the old sewer lines, recently upgrading that
to a digital system. A recent virtual inspection showed major issues
with the sewer line in Third Street at Church. Yesterday, work
crews from the Water and Street Departments began fixing the
problem, before it matured into a serious collapse. Local
government doing its job pro-actively. It is worth noticing and
saying “thank you”.

If inactivity is the enemy.....

Tom Clancy has written several seriously good books.
The following was taken from Debt of Honor:

"You see, what makes an economy isn't wealth, but the use
of wealth, all the transactions that occur every day, from the
kid who cuts your grass for a buck to a major corporate
acquisition. If that stops, everything stops.....

.....You look for activity, not inactivity, as an indication of a
trend, but inactivity is the real danger here. If I decide to
sit still and no nothing, then my money doesn't circulate. I
don't buy things, and the people who make the things I
would have bought are out of work. That is a frightening
thing to them, and to their neighbors. The neighbors get
so scared that they hold on to their money- why spend it
when they might need it to eat when they lose their jobs,
right? And so on, and on, and on. We have a real problem
here....."

We have gone from feast to famine. After too much real
estate development- not a good thing (see the February
8th post about having a developer driven economy), we
went to no real estate development- probably a worse
thing.

After not seeing much, if any, development activity in the
past year or so, its a relief to see some on the horizon.

The drawing below is the approved site plan for the new
Verizon Wireless store (actually it will be a replacement
store, not a new one) to be built in front of the old Value
City building on Hebron Road in Heath, Ohio.

It is only a 4,250 square foot building, but it will be the
first of at least three new buildings built on Hebron Road
this summer. It will be very refreshing to see construction
crews hard at work again. Construction will start this
month. Activity!! Yea!!


Wouldn't it be nice if.............

Jeff Thredgold, my favorite economic futurist, posts
his wish list here.

Thoughts.....

"Most don't consider their thinking or their inner dialogue to
be of great consequence. To them it is silent and secret, and
it does not seem to impact their experience of life particularly.
That is not so. External reality instantly changes to reflect
not only what your are saying and doing, but what you are
thinking and feeling silently within. Everything you say,
every thought, even a passing glance at people in the street,
generates a minute subtle emotional response within you.

Then consider the impact of your silent thoughts. What
emotions do they create within you? When those thoughts
are projected out into daily life, what effect are they having
on what you see or on how life comes to you? Are those
inner thoughts and feelings collapsing and destroying your
live, or are they sustaining and building things up?"

-Stuart Wilde, Infinite Self

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guidelines for real estate investing continued......

Guideline # 22: Just because they will lend you the money
doesn't mean you should borrow it.

I am bewildered by the underlying philosophy of the really smart
people who run our country.

"Many commentators have noted the effect of home mortgage
refinancing and equity extraction on economic growth,
particularly consumer spending, over the period 2000-2006.
For example, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
(2002) stated:

'Especially important in the United States have been the
flexibility and the size of the secondary mortgage market. Since
early 2000, this market has facilitated the large debt financed
extraction of home equity that, in turn, has been critical in
supporting consumer outlays in the United States throughout
the recent period of economic stress.'"

Those interested in erudite sounding scholarship can read more
here.

How "extracting" equity to pay for consumer spending can be
considered "economic growth" is a mystery to me. What did
they think was going to happen when the equity was all gone?

Of course, we should all remember Guideline #22. We did this
to ourselves (this being the current economic mess) by buying
into mass hysteria. Nothing, which includes real estate, goes up
forever. Some independent thinking, with a little discipline,
goes a long way.

"A foolish consistency is........

.....the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen
and philosophers and divines." So says one of my heroes,
Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Self-Reliance.

Faithful readers will have noticed that I like old buildings.
I believe the old buildings should be saved. This concept
will be pursued further in a future post about the Avalon
Building. But for now, let us just say there may a time
when no building is better than an old building. While
reasonable people can disagree, I think the following is one
of those times.

The Peoples Market House sat on the site of the old
Ohio Canal between Third and Second Streets in downtown
Newark, Ohio. The postcard below depicting the
building is postmarked September 23, 1919. Most locals
may remember it as the "Holland-Upham" building.














In the summer of 1997, the Licking County Commissioners
and a local foundation teamed up to acquire the property.
After some dithering, the building was razed. This is
what it looked like yesterday.
















Admittedly not very attractive. Interesting that
a parking lot would have five trash toters. But..
if we take a little higher view of the situation:















Get your magnifying glass out. The top center is
the Courthouse, the bottom center is the old
Pennsylvania Rail Road Station, now the Foundations
Building. In between those two sites you will note
the parking lot that stretches from Third to Second
Street.

The property is 50' wide and 416' long. Perfectly
configured for a parking lot, if it ever gets paved and
striped it has room for 80 spaces. It is in the perfect
place too. Parking where it is needed.

The razing of the old Peoples Market and the opening of
this property for parking marked the end to the era of
"no parking spaces available" in the downtown.

A noble sacrifice on the part of the Peoples Market.

Thoughts....

"The winds of circumstance blow on us all....We have all
experienced the blowing winds of disappointment, despair
and heartbreak...Have we not all sailed upon the same sea?

What guides us to different destinations in life is determined
by the way we have chosen to set our sail. The way that
each of us thinks makes the major difference in where each
of us arrives. The major difference is not circumstance, the
major difference is the set of the sail."

-Jim Rohn, The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I pray he is right....


"Below the surface, like icebergs and ducks, out of sight
of the traditional media and traditional politics, there is a
movement gaining force. It is micro-change. It is
entrepreneurial and vibrant. The projects are often small.
Think of them as Petri-dish size experiments. They involve
small groups of like-minded individuals who want to make
a difference, have some impact."

Alan Webber, dba Rules of Thumb, has a wonderful post here.
Waiting for Washington is a suckers bet. We need to grow
ourselves.

More guidelines for investing.....

Guideline #29: Don't eat your seed corn.

The first successful investment is a gratifying experience.
All of a sudden there is this extra money, cash flow, sitting
in your check book. It is very cool.

What you do next will go a long way towards determining
your economic future.

If you spend the cash flow, your current living status will
get a bit better. Not a bad thing.

If you re-invest the cash flow with discipline and a plan, you
can build an unshakable foundation of wealth. A much
better thing.

One of the easiest ways to re-invest is to pre-pay the
mortgage. Steady extra principal payments work magic in
reducing both your debt and future interest payments.

Thoughts.......

"When Henley wrote the prophetic lines, 'I am the master of
my fate, I am the captain of my soul', he should have informed
us that we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our
souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.

He should have told us that our brains become magnetized
with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds,
and, by means with which no man is familiar, these 'magnets'
attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life
which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts."

-Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

209 years ago, a historic occurrence....

.....the peaceful transfer of power from the Federalist John
Adams to the un-Federalist (aka Republican-Democrat)
Thomas Jefferson. These were men with strong
disagreements about the nature and application of
government. Yet..........

MRS. SAMUEL HARRISON SMITH WRITES TO
MISS SUSAN B. SMITH

March 4, 1801.

"Let me write to you my dear Susan, e'er that glow of
enthusiasm has fled, which now animates my feelings;
let me congratulate not only you, but all my fellow citizens,
on an event which will have so auspicious an influence on
their political welfare. I have this morning witnessed one of
the most interesting scenes, a free people can ever witness.
The changes of administration, which in every government
and in every age have most generally been epochs of
confusion, villainy and bloodshed, in this our happy country
take place without any species of distraction, or disorder.

This day, has one of the most amiable and worthy men taken
that seat to which he was called by the voice of his country. I
cannot describe the agitation I felt, while I looked around on
the various multitude and while I listened to an address,
containing principles the most correct, sentiments the most
liberal, and wishes the most benevolent, conveyed in the most
appropriate and elegant language and in a manner mild as it
was firm. If doubts of the integrity and talents of Mr. Jefferson
ever existed in the minds of any one, methinks this address
must forever eradicate them."

The First Forty Years of Washington Society, Margaret
Bayard Smith, Gaillard Hunt.

(the italics are mine)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yearning to breathe free.....

"Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component
of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is
an end in itself....Economic freedom is also an indispensable
means toward the achievement of political freedom"

-Milton Friedman

Couldn't agree more.....

This interesting quote comes from the home page of
Newark Catholic High School's web site.

"Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and
freedom of thought."
- Bertrand A. Russell (1872-1970) English philosopher,
mathematician, and writer.

Happy 106th Birthday Theodor Geisel
























How can I ever repay Dr. Seuss for the countless hours
of entertainment he provided my kids and me.

Personally, I never liked the Cat, with or without his hat,
but I love green eggs and ham.

Guidelines for real estate investing...

Guideline #28: Exchanging.

Unlike residential real estate, when you sell an investment
property you create an immediate tax consequence. Whether
it is a capital gain or ordinary income depends on the time
frame involved, come April 15th you will be settling with the
Internal Revenue Service. The fact that you intend to
re-invest in another investment property is immaterial. The
tax is due.

Unless...an IRC Section 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange comes to
the rescue. The government recognized the necessity of equity
preservation for the continuation of business, and so established
a method for that to happen.

The rules are fairly simple: the seller intending to re-invest in
property held for "trade or investment" cannot have "constructive
receipt" of the sale proceeds (the money gets held by a "qualified
intermediary"), must formally identify the property they will be
re-investing in (the "replacement property") within a 45 day
time period after the sale of the original, or "relinquished",
property, and must take title to the new property(s) within
180 days after the sale of the relinquished property. If you
follow the rules, the exchange will effectively defer any tax due
until such time that the investor finally sells. This is generally
considered a good thing.

It should be noted that using the 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange
is not a do-it-yourself venture. You will need professional
help.

Thoughts.....

"Since belief is all-important, it behooves you to guard your
thoughts; and as your beliefs will be shaped to a very great
extent by the things you observe and think about, it is
important that you should command your attention. And
here the will comes into use; for it is by your will that you
determine upon what things your attention will be fixed."


"You are not mentally developed by what you read, but by
what you think about what you read.........We never move
forward until we begin to think. Read less and think more.
Read about great things and think about great questions
and issues."

-Wallace Wattles, The Wisdom of Wallace D. Wattles

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thoughts...

"Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought
he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also
fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly
mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice
and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine
Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he
descends below the level of the beast. Between these two
extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their
maker and master.

Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have
been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more
gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence that
this- that man is the master of thought, the moulder of
character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment,
and destiny."

-James Allen, As A Man Thinketh

Happy 66th Birthday Roger Daltrey
















I was never much of a Who fan. Which is sort of strange
because there is some great music there. Saw them
perform the rock opera Tommy live at Denison during the
Raccoon Creek Rock Festival the winter of my freshman
year. An eye opener for a sheltered youth.

The whole festival was held in the old field house, with
its dirt floor. If I remember correctly, Daltrey
disparaged its acoustics, saying it was like "playing
in an aircraft hanger".




I did like his 1973 solo effort,
Daltrey.

You will be pleased to know.....

that I won't be writing poetry anytime soon, although.....

A poem for Monday....

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes!
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when they heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare from thy fearful symmetry?

Hugh improves on William Blake. Enjoy

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I don't know how I got so lucky....

but somehow I have an
original 1891 copy of
Russell Cromwell's
Acres of Diamonds on
one of my book shelves.

Cromwell was a
Philadelphian. That is
where my roots are.
Probably was my Dad's.
Having it just makes
me feel better somehow.



Cromwell gave his "Acres of Diamonds" speech some 6,000
times. He used the money he raised by speaking to help
found, and fund, Temple University (where my very successful
sister got her law degree). The book also includes pictures and
success stories of hundreds of both famous and not-so-famous
folks.

The essence of "Acres of Diamonds" is that we should "dig
in our own backyard", that opportunity for wealth and
advancement is where we are- if we have the wit to look for it.
No need to travel half way around the country to look for it. Oh
well.

An excerpt from this 602 page classic:

"It is no disgrace to be defeated if we are not conquered....
..Nothing can utterly conquer the man who is determined
to be happy in the doing of his best. He will fight on for
the love of doing his duty, and can sing in defeat as in
victory. In fact a great man is great only in his
supremacy over surrounding circumstances."

-Russell H. Cromwell

Gone, but not forgotten.....

That was then....

The ten story Newark Trust Building on North
Third Street

From a post card (with its One Cent Benjamin
Franklin postage stamp) dated 11/22/1907













And then.....

With the addition of the adjoining six story building,
from a post card dated 8/25/1916.

The site was occupied by the Meyer-Lindorf Dry
Goods Company in the 1920s. Soon after it became
Kings Department Store.




















And then....

From an undated post card in the late 1930s?
Guessing the date from the cars, but I am not so
knowlegeable about those.














This is now..........

The ten story Newark Trust Building was razed
in the mid 1980's. The six story building was renovated
for office use, and then the three story addition was
connected to it.
















It just not the same without it.

Thoughts....

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the
works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than
these shall he do; because I go to the Father."
- John 14:12