Saturday, March 20, 2010


"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,'
that would suffice."
-Meister Eckhart

Attention grabbers....

"In the beginning, God....." and "Call me Ishmael." have to
rank as two of the best known openings in the history
of written English.

Surely somewhere in the list of the top twenty-five best
openings I would have to include Scott Peck's beginning
to his 1978 classic, The Road Less Traveled.

"Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a
great truth because once we truly see this truth, we
transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-
once we truly understand and accept it- then life is no
longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact
that life is difficult no longer matters."

They don't build 'em like they used to......

and isn't that a shame.

These photos all date to the early 1900's.

New York City, Jefferson Market Courthouse

Minneapolis, Northwestern Guaranty Loan

Toledo Post Office

Port Huron, Michigan Maccabees Temple

Indianapolis Commercial Club Building
Thanks Shorpy

Friday, March 19, 2010

And to think architects questioned the

design of the Longaberger Basket building.

While I give them points for creativity and uniqueness,
The Turning Torso building in Malmo, Sweden leaves
me feeling a bit queasy.

Thanks Perry

Reasons why I like living in Newark and Licking County....

Reason #37: Bike Trail Bridges as Public Art. The
thought and care that went into selecting and then
building this integral part of the bike path system
just seems to make a good walk better.
It is worth noticing and honoring.

The covered oak timber framed bridge over the diversion
channel on the east side of the OSUN/COTC campus.

Just a stones throw away, the Squire Whipple bow string
truss bridge. Originally built in 1877 to span Wills Creek in
Coshocton County, this iron bridge was salvaged, saved,
re-located, and re-built in 1997.

Maybe this is a tunnel and not a bridge, but it is still cool.
Ceramic tiles from 5th grade students from the Newark
City Schools decorate the walls of the tunnel under
Granville Road. For a 1997-98 school year project, this
artwork is in remarkably good condition.

This stone bridge is not old, but it is sort of cute. It spans
a portion of what used to be the Raccoon Creek bed before
it was relocated when State Route 16 was constructed
through the City.

The Gallman Road Bridge was made of wrought iron in
1887. It originally spanned the St. Mary's River in Mercer
County. It also was salvaged, saved, re-located, and re-built.
It now crosses the Raccoon Creek behind the Hospice of
Central Ohio office and is visible from Cherry Valley Road.


"Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with
grateful hand."

No editorial comment required......

Thanks Perry

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Maybe we just can't help ourselves.......

From Axel Madsen's biography, John Jacob Astor:
America's First Multimillionaire:

"In the meantime, Kendrick had run the Lady Washington
to Hawaii and then, with a first cargo of sandalwood, to
Canton. The Chinese loved the fragrant wood and
sandalwood became a part of every transpacific cargo.
Hawaiian kings ordered their people to cut the trees.
Entire forests were decimated. By 1827, thirty years
after the start of the sandalwood boom, it was rarer in
Hawaii than in China."

Another historical perspective here and background


"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter
everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments
of awe that change forever how we experience life and
the world."
-John Milton

Your mission, should you decide to accept it......

I am so glad he did. From 1967 to 1973, Peter
Graves (as Jim Phelps) led his Mission Impossible
team to some of the best television ever produced.
(I still cannot decide whether I liked Martin Landau
or Leonard Nimoy better as his main sidekick, no
question though about Barbara Bain as Cinnamon
Graves was born as Peter Aurness March 18th, 1926.
He is brother to James Arness, better known as Matt
Thanks for the memories and happy birthday!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I first thought about blogging because I was tired of the
negativity being posted in the local newspaper blogs. It
seemed like their snarlyness was infecting the community,
and maybe me too. It seemed there could, and should be,
a positive voice out there. Friend Pat turned me on to
Cultural Offering, and all of a sudden I had both an
inspiration and a role model. Kurt encouraged me, told
me not only that I could do it, but also that the doing
of it would be fun as well. Pat helped with the start-up. I
am grateful to both.

I have not truly explored the blogosphere, but I have
followed Kurt's links, and then their links. It is like having
a first class tour guide. The sites I have visited have been
intelligent and good natured. I find myself saying "wow" a
lot. I am truly thankful for these new influences. Amazon
must be as well. The following is the list (not all read yet)
of books now on my desktop that I probably never would
have found if not for this adventure:

Linchpin by Seth Godin, Indexed by Jessica Hagy, Ignore
Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh
McLeod, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Seek God
Everywhere by Anthony DeMello, Just Before Dark and
In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison, Zen Habits by
Leo Babuta, Rules of Thumb by Alan Webber, and The
Three Marriages by David Whyte.

I like the path I am on. I think I am spending some
quality time with some quality influences. I am having

Two months certainly doesn't give me bragging rights,
but I think I will keep doing this for a while.

In the meantime, let me share Hugh McLeod's
artwork for today. What a great way to approach

Editing is always the hard part....

Trying to sate my 18 year old
son's ravenous appetite,we
stopped by the Johnny Rocket
eatery near the OSU campus
on Saturday. At our booth was
one of those small jukeboxes
that play one song for a nickel.
Thinking I could irritate my kids,
I selected Alley Oop by the
Hollywood Argyles. We left before
it played, which was truly OK by
So imagine my pleasure Monday when Cultural Offering
posted his top suggestions for jukebox songs. His loyal
readers have added some other great suggestions.
Here is my list to add to the fun:
Johnny Cash- Hurt
John Mellencamp- What if I Came Knocking
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band- Mr Bojangles
Del Shannon- Runaway
Yardbirds- For Your Love
Mountain- Theme For An Imaginary Western
Spencer Davis Group- Gimme Some Lovin'
Skeeter Davis- End of the World
Outlaws- (Ghost) Riders in the Sky
Animals- House of the Rising Sun
Ray Charles- Hit the Road Jack
Zombies- She's Not There
Youngbloods- Get Together
U2- Sunday Bloody Sunday
Marshall Tucker Band- Running Like the Wind
Phil Collins- In the Air Tonight
Joe Nichols- The Impossible

Gone but not forgotten......

Dave Longaberger passed away eleven years ago today.
His contributions to our community are incalculable. The
employment, the opportunities, the philanthropy- it is
hard to know where to start.

I think what we miss the most is his vision, his attitude,
his strength of character, and his creative energy.

The following is taken from his book, Longaberger: An

"My vision is the good, old-fashioned kind, not nearly as
exciting as a divine revelation. My vision is the result of
hard work and burning determination. I've put in long
hours, and I've done a lot of thinking about solutions to
my problems. I think back to my past experiences. And
I think about where I'd like to be in the future and what
it will take to get there. I allow my imagination to wander
without limits. I think outside the box. This is where
people have said, 'There he goes again. Popeye just went
off the deep end.' Let them say what they want. I refuse
to allow them to restrain my thinking or dictate what I do."


"Gratitude helps you grow and expand; gratitude brings joy
and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those
around you."
-Eileen Caddy

To thine ownself be true........

One of my favorite authors, Michael Lewis, is out with a new
book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

As writing goes, I am not sure it is his best effort, although
his best is very good indeed (i.e. Liars Poker, Blindside, The
New New Thing, Moneyball, Coach). It might be the
subject matter (Wall Street and sub prime loans) of the
book,which I had a hard time wrapping my brain around.
It also might be that the other subject matter (the lower
levels of human nature; i.e. greed, fraud, ignorance, mass
delusion) of the book is frightening to me, and I have not
enjoyed a scary story since Cave of the Living Dead left me
sleepless for three nights when I was 12.

Anyway, we have been talking lately about investing.
Lewis has the following to add to the conversation:

"Burry did not think investing could be reduced to a formula
or learned from any one role model. The more he studied
Buffet, the less he thought Buffett could be copied; indeed,
the lesson of Buffett was: To succeed in a spectacular fashion
you had to be spectacularly unusual. 'If you are going to be a
great investor, you have to fit the style of who you are,'
Burry said. 'At one point I recognized that Warren Buffett,
though he had every advantage in learning from Ben
Graham, did not copy Ben Graham, but rather set out on his
own path, and ran money his way, by his own rules......I also
immediately internalized the idea that no school could teach
someone how to be a great investor. If it were true, it'd be
the most popular school in the world, with an impossibly
high tuition. So it must not be true.'...Investing was
something you had to learn how to do on your own, in your
own peculiar way."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cognitive surplus.......

What a great concept. It is the answer to "where do you find the
time to........."? If you have sixteen minutes and want to listen to
something hopeful, click here. You will learn what gin and
sitcoms have in common. You will learn that 200 billion hours
of TV watching happens annually in the United States. And
you just might come to view "cognitive surplus" as an asset,
not a crisis.

Thanks, Seth.

Madness by any other name.....

When did an IOU become a cash equivalent?

The Newark Advocate picked up an Associated Press story
yesterday and put it on Page 4 of Section B.

The gist of the story is that Social Security Administration
is now officially underwater. Current receipts from taxes
are no longer sufficient to pay out the current benefits.

All that money collected over the years is not sitting in a
bank account somewhere. It was spent on other "worthy"
governmental expenses and replaced with an IOU, a
government bond backed by the full faith and credit
of the United States of America. The amount of those
bonds held by the Social Security Administration?
A mere $2.5 TRILLION. I wonder where the money
comes from to redeem those IOU's and keep all those
other "worthy" governmental programs running?

My favorite part of the story is the closing quote talking
about those IOU's: "They are as solid as what we
owe China and Japan".

Imagine my relief.


"Some people are always grumbling because roses have
thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses."
-Alphonse Karr

Sacred Cows still defended to the death.....

In a January 31st post about the Realtors Political Action
Committee (RPAC), I lamented about the non-negotiability
of sacred cows.

The March Ohio Realtor would seem to indicate that
philosophy has not yet changed. This from a column by
The Ohio Association of Realtors President Doug McCloud:

"Mortgage Interest Deduction/Capital Gains:
We'll aggressively oppose any and all proposals that would
reduce the value of the mortgage interest deduction or that
would erode the $250,000/$500,000 capital gains
exclusion on the sale of a principal residence."

I like my mortgage interest deduction better than most
tax payers (my sweetie and I have two principal
residences) and one day we hope to use the capital gains
exclusion. are we ever going to solve the looming
deficit and debt issues facing our Country if we all
"aggressively oppose any and all proposals that would
reduce the value" of each of our sacred cows?

Just wondering.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In summary, all 33 Guidelines for Investing in Real Estate....

1. Do it.

2. Know why.

3. The money is made when you buy.

4. Value is derived from usage.

5. Location, location, location.

6. Know what you are, and are not, buying.

7. There is no bad real estate, only wrong owners.

8. Survive your first investment.

9. If it is too good to be true, it probably isn't.

10. These are business relationships, not friendships.

11. Good management makes good investments.

12. Budget for management.

13. Budget for vacancy/credit loss.

14. Cash flow sometimes equals deferred maintenance.

15. Roofs leak, just a matter of when.

16. Budget for taxes, income that is.

17. What you do, or don't do, matters.

18. Have a professional team.

19. Read the fine print.

20. Leverage is a two-edged sword.

21. Pyramiding is not to be undertaken lightly.

22. Don't borrow just because they will lend you the money.

23. Pay attention to your financing.

24. There is a lot of land.

25. It is an investment, not a tax shelter.

26. Hold it, or add value.

27. Flipping is speculating, not investing.

28. Don't sell, exchange.

29. Don't eat your seed corn.

30. Don't sell the little piece before you sell the big piece.

31. Have a plan for the future.

32. Cash flow is king.

33. The IRS always bats last.

This is my list. Yours may be different. It has
been fun thinking about it.

If you click on the "investing" folder under "labels",
you will find a short explanation of each of these guidelines.


" Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not
in the head."
-Lionel Hampton

Monday's Poem......

Love After Love

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other's welcome,

And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Don't think of it as an exit strategy.....

Guideline #31: Have a plan for the future in mind.

Friend Tony told me that the first or second rule in investing
was to have an "exit strategy". When he first posited that, I
nodded my head and said "of course". The more I thought
about it though, the more doubts I had about it. As Teacher
Furman often said about investing in the stock market, "its great
advantage is its liquidity, you can take your losses at any time".
Doesn't appear to me that Warren Buffet has an exit strategy.
Then there are the examples of some extremely successful
local real estate investors who haven't sold anything for thirty
years, and have no plans to sell now. Their estates will handle
the exit from their real estate holdings.

Exit strategies are surely tougher to execute in real estate,
for Mr. Market will on occasion decide not to cooperate.

Friend Pat solved my problem by suggesting that an "exit
strategy" was nothing more than a plan. A plan that
elaborates on Guideline #2 (know why you are investing),
assumes that you pass Guideline #8 (survive the first
investment) and takes Guideline #17 seriously (what you
do matters), and then projects out five, ten, or fifteen

I like that approach. Our plan has evolved. We invest for
both cash flow and capital appreciation. We like creating
things that are not there now. I like fixing old buildings,
my partner likes putting up new buildings. A time or two
we have speculated. Mostly we look for opportunities
that appeal to us. Truth be told, our best investment
opportunity ever just came looking for us one day when we
were busily working on something else. Economic
circumstances have on several occasions called for
adjustments to the plan. That is just part of the adventure.
We have fun and feel good about what we are doing, and do
not plan on stopping any time soon. I suspect our children
will execute our exit strategy.

Game changer.......

Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879 and
emigrated to the United States in 1933.

My sweetie loves visiting Washington D.C. Her
favorite sight to see in Washington is the Einstein
Memorial. It is kind of hidden by trees, but is
situated generally across the street from the
Vietnam Memorial. It is worth the searching out.

The following Einstein quotes are part of the

"As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall
live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance,
and equality of all citizens before the law prevail."

"Joy and amazement of the beauty and grandeur of
this world of which man can just form a faint notion …"

"The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one
must not conceal any part of what one has recognized
to be true."

Seth points to theartistfarm....

For good reason. Here and here.


It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High;
To declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning,
And Thy faithfulness by night.
-Psalm 92: 1-2