Saturday, May 8, 2010

The rate of group participation in our recent..........

......economic melt down was very high. Pointing fingers
and placing blame might be a fun activity, but in truth we
don't have enough fingers to point to accurately place the
blame. Mirrors would work better. A bubble like the one
we just went through (are still going through) is the work
of the many, not a few.

Great essay here. Cool excerpt below.

"However alluring, the notion of purchasing a home without
making any investment was a capitalism stripped of its
fundamental truth—that one needed capital to pursue it."

The hand of God.....?
















I just love these pictures. Explanation here.

Something magnificent IS taking place here.......

"I am convinced that the world is not a mere bog in which
men and woman trample themselves in the mire and die.
Something magnificent is taking place here amid the cruelties
and tragedies, and the supreme challenge to intelligence is
that of making the noblest and best in our curious heritage
prevail."

-Charles A. Beard

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Internet is a funny place.........

Started out just trying to verify a quote of Charles Beard's four
lessons of history, but veered off into some unexpected places.

Beard (1874-1948) was a big proponent of economics as the
causal engine in history. He read economic motivations (class
warfare) into the Constitution. He read economic motivation,
instead of the question of slavery, as the primal cause of the
Civil War. His tracking of history was influential, until, out of
an isolationist bent, he took on FDR and WWII. Beard's
influence subsequently waned. Still, he wrote some great
stuff. He concluded a 1935 essay, That Noble Dream, written
about the historian's quest for "objective truth" in the
American Historical Review, with this:

"Through the discussion of such questions, the noble dream
of the search for truth may be brought nearer to realization,
not extinguished; but in the end the members of the
American Historical Association will be human beings, not
immortal gods."

It is a good reminder. While reading Beard's essay, I recalled
one of my history professors saying that "history gets written
by the winners". Thinking I should know who first opined that
led me on an inconclusive Google search- although it did turn
up this great quote from Churchill:

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."

Churchill, one of my all time favorite people, did write the six
volume The Second World War. He was pretty much central
to the whole war, so, in theory, his account could be considered
gospel. But, any account of the Second Great War that leaves
out the story of Enigma (the fact that the Allies had broken
the Nazi's communication code and were reading their mail)
has to remind us that the writers of history "will be human
beings, not immortal gods".

All this brings to mind a quote from the speaker at last
week's Rotary meeting:

"People and organizations should seek to be informed
by history, but not constrained by it."

I'm pretty sure I don't agree with her politically......

TEAMWORK









......but I love the
cartoons she posts.









Thanks Ellie

The last daily bit of Emerson for a while....

"Life wastes itself whilst we are preparing to live."

Essay Prudence

Friday's Impression.......

















Impression, Sunrise Claude Monet 1872

An art critic, trying to be uncomplimentary, gave a name
to the type of work that Claude Monet his friends were
completing: "Impressionism".

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Henry David Thoreau............

....died on May 6, 1862.























A rare and unique individual, Thoreau was, among other
things, a thinker, a writer, a poet, and a philosopher. Hardly
apolitical, Thoreau was a fierce abolitionist, a tax resister, and
a war protester (he spent a night in jail for refusing to pay the
poll tax because of his opposition to the Mexican-American
war and slavery). He was a naturalist, a transcendentalist,
and was not so fond of development and progress. He was
an experimenter with life and a veritable quote machine.

When asked shortly before his death if he had made his
peace with God, the 44 year old Thoreau responded, "I did
not know that we had ever quarrelled."

It happens every Spring................
















Baby ducks following Mama Duck in the Log Pond Run
Diversion Channel.
Pretty certain that the Channel was designed not for a
wildlife habitat, but it sure has become one.
Mother Nature has her way, again.

Yeah, what she said...............















Thanks Leah

In their wildest dreams.....................















could Orville and Wilbur Wright ever have
imagined this?

Taking a break from Emerson......

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his
crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon
hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad
luck," they said sympathetically.

"Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three
other wild horses.

"How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.

"Maybe," replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed
horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again
came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

"Maybe," answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft
young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was
broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated
the farmer on how well things had turned out.

"Maybe," said the farmer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A daily bit of Emerson.....

"Thus do all things preach the indifferency of circumstances.
The man is all. Every thing has two sides, a good and an
evil. Every advantage has its tax. I learn to be content."

Essay Compensation

Reasons why I like living in Newark and Licking County

Reason #25: NASA, the Newark Area Soccer Association

Not quite 20 years ago the Newark Area Soccer Association
was created by volunteers in an attempt to provide a positive
soccer experience for local children. I would say that they
met their original goal, and then some. Today, NASA, with
some paid staff, offers eight recreational soccer leagues for
different age groups, from Under-8 to Under-19. NASA also
sponsors a number of more competitive"select" travel teams
that play under the "Xtabi" banner. Oh, they offer both a
Fall and Spring schedule and summer clinics. It should
also be noted that not only does NASA teach youngsters to
play soccer, they also teach coaching and refereeing.

By any definition, NASA is a success story.

Their facility is located at the end of Baker Blvd in Newark.
It now contains 22 soccer fields of differing (age appropriate)
sizes and the "Alford-Reese House of Soccer". The playing
fields are of high quality- good grass, level, well drained,
and used constantly.

None of this happens without some serious investment in
time, energy,and capital. A huge list of volunteers and
parents have helped to build this organization over the
years. In addition, the amazing generosity of the local
Foundations is on display (see the last picture) once again.

NASA and our entire community has benefited.

This past weekend NASA sponsored the "2010 Buckeye Cup",
a tournament for boys and girls teams in the Under-9 through
the Under-14 age groups. 80 teams entered the tournament.
80 teams. Wow. Most of the teams were from Central Ohio,
although there were entries from Wapakoneta, Cincinnati,
Findlay, Livonia (Michigan), and McKees Rock (Pa.).

The weather mostly cooperated, if you don't mind a little rain.

There were highs and lows, but it is hard to beat the
exuberance of kids at play.


































































My cashiers never moved this fast.......

24 hours at the Wal-Mart check out, here.

More advantages of living in Ohio....


Thanks Ellie

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Birthday George Will......
















Prolific writer, speaker, and thinker. A Pulitzer Prize winner,
a sayer of interesting things, a possessor of a vocabulary
that keeps me reaching for the dictionary, and a wearer of
bow ties. If I hadn't grown up rooting for the (at that time)
hapless Philadelphia Phillies, I would make some comment
about the significance his being an ardent, lifelong fan of the
Chicago Cubs.

Not sure how I could find a brief excerpt that captures the
spirit and essence of the man, but here is a brief excerpt
anyway:

"In 1893, three years after the Census Bureau declared the
closing of the frontier, (Woodrow) Wilson had pondered the
changes that were challenging the old American faith that
freedom is, in large measure, a function of space- that
freedom consists partly of being unable to see the smoke
from your neighbor's cabin or to hear the sound of his ax.
In 1893 Wilson wrote, 'Slowly we shall grow old, compact our
people, study the delicate adjustments of an intricate society.'
In classical political theory, compactness was a pre-condition
for a successful republic- a small population compacted in a
small polity. The audacity of the American experiment was-
is- its attempt to have a republic that is big, but in which life
nevertheless is conducive to the virtues requisite for self-
government, the virtues of self-reliance and self-restraint.
However, in the century since Wilson brooded about the
emergence of 'an intricate society', our big country has
acquired a big government that seems to foster dependence,
and that inflames incontinent appetites, including appetites
for government provisions of illimitable wants."

-Essay on The Cultural Contradictions of Conservatism


George Will was born on this day in 1941. Our language,
and our political culture, is all the richer for it.

Becoming indispensable.....









Thanks Nan









Here are a few excerpts from Seth Godin's Linchpin: Are
You Indispensable:

"I grew up in a world where people did what they were told,
followed instructions, found a job, and that was that."

"Now we live in a world where all the joy and profit have
been squeezed out of following the rules."

"Outsourcing and automation and the new marketing punish
anyone who is merely good, merely obedient, and merely
reliable."

"The cause of this suffering is the desire of organizations to
turn employees into replaceable cogs in a vast machine. The
easier people are to replace, the less they need to be paid. And
so far, workers have been complicit in this commoditization."

"The key piece of leverage was this promise: follow these
instructions and you don't have to think."

"Here's the problem....If you make your business possible to
replicate, you're not going to be the one to replicate it. Others
will. If you build a business filled with rules and procedures
that are designed to allow you to hire cheap people, you will
have to produce a product without humanity or personalization
or connection. Which means that you'll have to lower your
prices to compete. Which leads to a race to the bottom.
Indispensable businesses race to the top instead."

"What we want, what we need, what we must have are
indispensable human beings. We need original thinkers,
provocateurs, and people who care. We need marketers who
can lead, salespeople able to risk making a human connection,
passionate change makers willing to be shunned if it is
necessary for them to make a point. Every organization needs
a linchpin, the one person who can bring it together and make
a difference. Some organizations haven't realized this yet, or
haven't articulated it, but we need artists."

"Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a
new connection, or a new way of getting things done."

A daily bit of Emerson.....

"Our strength grows out of our weakness. The indignation
which arms itself with the secret forces does not awaken until
we are pricked and stung and sorely assailed. A great man is
always willing to be little. Whilst he sits on the cushion of
advantages, he goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented,
defeated, he has a chance to learn something; he has been put
on his wits, on his manhood; he has gained facts; learns his
ignorance; is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got
moderation and real skill. The wise man throws himself on the
side of his assailants. It is more in his interest than it is theirs
to find his weak point."

Essay Compensation

Just for today......

"I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to
enjoy what is beautiful and to believe that as I give
to the world, so will the world give to me."

Monday, May 3, 2010

A bad day to be in a hurry........

The annual neighborhood garage/yard sale was this past
weekend. Business appeared to be brisk. Veritable
gridlock on the roadways.




















Real estate investing in the year 2003........

.......I'm sure it made sense to some people, but it sure
confused me. For example:
















On July 17, 2003 Newark-Deo LLC sold the property at the
corner of Deo Drive and North 21st Street to Zimmerman
Ford, Inc. for $4,070,000. On the face of it, a pretty
straight forward real estate deal.

The property involved was a brand new Walgreen's
Drug Store. These have been coveted investments, selling
at historically low cap rates, which equates to historically
high selling prices. (See previous "investing" posts for a
discussion about cap rates.)

The developer paid $800,000 for the 1.5 acre site in 2002
and built, with a lease in hand, a 14,000 square foot drug
store building at an estimated cost of $70 per square foot, or
$980,000. All totalled, the developer most likely had less
than $2,000,000 invested in the project.

Once the building was completed and the lease commenced,
the developer sold the property to the investor and took his
sizable profit. Everybody was happy.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I was not privy to any
of the non-public record details of this transaction. So, some
of this is conjecture on my part.

If we assume that Walgreen's signed a twenty five year net
lease (net means that Walgreen's pays all the costs of
ownership) at $20.00 per square foot, then this
investment will return the owner $280,000 per year. A
tidy sum. A 7% return on the investment. Not bad today.

There is no mortgage recorded in the public record, so we
further assume that the transaction was all cash. So far,
so good.

My question is, what happens at the end of the lease?

With the changes we have seen in the real estate world
over the past twenty years, is it safe to assume that
the property will be worth in 2028 what the investor paid
in 2003?

With the changes in the world of medicine, will we still
be buying drugs from pharmacies in twenty-five years,
or will it all be done on-line?

Will Walgreen's business model be as successful in 2028
as it is today?

Will 1.5 acres in Newark, Ohio, improved with a twenty five
year old 14,000 square foot building be worth $4,000,000
in the year 2028?

Even with inflation in our future, it seems highly unlikely.
What seems more probable is that the property becomes
worth less than $2,000,000. That opinion is based on
watching other 25 year old former retail "trophy"
investment properties like K-Mart and Big Bear stores
sell for fractions of their replacement cost once the
original tenant was gone.

If at the end of the lease you lose half of your original
investment, the luster on that 7% annualized return on
investment begins to fade.

What the investor paid for here was really the value of
a piece of paper- the lease, but what they were really
buying is real estate.

Confusing a real estate investment for a security
instrument , similar to stocks or bond, led some really
smart investors to dramatically overpay for their
investments.

Everybody has different investment needs and objectives.
This investor may have reasons why this was the smartest
possible thing that they could do. However, if the past
offers any hint of the future, they probably should not
brag about their rate of return until the investment has
been sold and the taxes paid (Guideline #33). I suspect
they will have a difficult time getting their original
$4,070,000 cash investment back.

I've always thought that the return of the investment
was just as important as the return on the investment.

Monday's Poem..........

Welcome Morning

"There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry 'hello there, Anne'
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that i set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young."

-Anne Sexton

A daily bit of Emerson........

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives
at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is
suicide; that he must take himself for better, or worse, as
his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no
kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his
toil bestowed on that plat of ground which is given to him
to till."

Essay Self-Reliance

Just for today......

I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax.
During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a
better perspective of my life."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday's Verse..........

1. There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not
'harder' or 'bigger' than another. They are all the same. All
expressions of love are maximal.
2. Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that
matters is their Source, which is far beyond evaluation.
3. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real
miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense every
thing that comes from love is a miracle.
4. All miracles mean life, and God is the giver of life. His
Voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all
you need to know.
5. Miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They
should not be under conscious control. Consciously
selected miracles can be misguided.
6. Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something
has gone wrong.
7. Miracles are everyone's right, but purification is
necessary first.
8. Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are
performed by those who temporarily have more for those
who temporarily have less.
9. Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of
love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the
exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love
both to the giver and the receiver.
10. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a
misunderstanding of their purpose.
11. Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of
communication of the created with the Creator. Through
prayer love is received, and through miracles love is
expressed."

The Course in Miracles, Chapter 1: 1-11

One of the all time great ball players.....

...Ty Cobb helped his Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis
Cardinals in extra innings with his hustle, verve and some
superb base running. Branch Rickey, the Cardinals manager
at the time, later made these observations while thinking
about Cobb's exploits:

"I commenced to ask myself what it was that made a man a
distinguished ballplayer. Take two men of equal ability; one
of them will always stay in mediocrity and another will
distinguish himself in the game. What is the difference?

The more we compress and confine the element of luck- luck
has it place in games; it is in the English language; it is in the
dictionary, and we ought to keep it there- and put it in a
small area, just to that extent do you enlarge the area for the
exercise of a man's own functions in controlling his workings,
his destinies, and his game.

The more that a man exercises himself and asserts his own
influence over his work, the less the part that luck plays. It
is true in baseball that the greatest single menace to a man is
his willingness to alibi his own failures; the greatest menace
to a man's success in business, I think, sometimes is a perfect
willingness to excuse himself for his own mistakes.

What is the greatest single thing in the character of a successful
enterprise, in the character of a boy, in the character of a great
baseball player? I think it is the desire to be a great baseball
player, a desire that dominates him, a desire so strong that it
does not admit of anything that runs counter to it, a desire to
excel that so confines him to a single purpose that nothing else
matters.

That thing makes men come in at night, that makes men have
good health, that makes men change their bad technique to
good technique, that makes capacity and ability in men. That
makes a team with 80 percent possibility come from 60 to 70
percent, that makes them approach their possibility; and with
a dominant desire to excel, that simply transcends them into
a spiritual force.

The greatest single thing in the qualification of a great player,
a great team, or a great man, is a desire to reach the objective
that admits of no interference anywhere. That is the greatest
thing I know about baseball or anything else."

A daily bit of Emerson......

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can
bring you peace but the triumph of principles."

-Essay Self-Reliance

Just for today.....

"I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly,
but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests:
hurry and indecision."