Saturday, August 14, 2010

Feels like a Jack Johnson evening.............

From our friends at 'Keeping Current Matters'........

"The number one skill an agent can possess is the ability to
negotiate in today’s extremely volatile real estate environment."

I suspect the ability to negotiate is the most important skill for
an agent in all environments other than the over-heated
order-takers market (circa 2004-2006).

Full essay here.  Favorite part of the essay here:

"Warning: If the agent buckles on commission rate or
duration when negotiating the original listing with you,
do not hire him/her. At that time, they were negotiating
for THEMSELVES and THEIR families. If they didn’t
negotiate well then, they will not negotiate well for you
and your family......."

Twenty some years ago, H. Jackson Brown, Jr............

....wrote a list of 511 "suggestions, observations, and reminders"
to give to his son who was heading off to college for the first time. 
The list got published. He called it Life's Little Instruction Book
I've had a copy for a long time.  Periodically I will pick it up and
read a few pages, just for the refreshment.

Here is the page I turned to tonight:

99.   Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.

100.  Read the Bill of Rights.

101.  Learn how to read a financial report.

102.  Tell your kids often how terrific they are and that you
trust them.

103.  Use credit cards only for convenience, never for credit.

Good stuff.

An excerpt from Wendell Berry.................

     Oh he was something to look at then! He admits is now with a
candor too impersonal to need modesty.  There were days in his
early manhood when it seems to him he walked in the air. He
stood and moved with a lightness that was almost flight.  His
hand moved effortless as his eye.  He looks back upon himself as
he was, exulting in his great strength, indulgent of his eagerness
and desire, as he might, had he been so favored, look upon a
grandson.  But he has had neither son nor grandson.  It is the
blessing and the trial of his old age that his mind goes back to
inhabit again and again the body of the man he was.
     In 1888 he was twenty-eight years old.  Three years before,
both his parents dead, the older children dead or gone from the
home, he bought from its other heirs the land his father and
grandfather had farmed, and on which he had been born, and,
several years yet away from his marriage, he lived alone in the
old house; an elderly Negro woman, Aunt Ren, the wife of the
hired hand who had been his father's slave, came in daily to cook
and to keep the mostly forsaken rooms.  The place was run
down, with bank's interest having fed heavily on it during the
father's last years, and the debt against it was large.  But in
those days Jack was free of other obligations, he was strong,
he had the sort of overreaching intelligence that pleases itself
with the difficult, and so the hardship and debt did not burden
him.  What moved him then was a sense of the possibilities that
lay yet untouched in his land.  The rest of his own life seemed
to him to lie there, unborn in the dark soil of the old farm.

-The Memory of Old Jack, Wendell Berry

Our President must not have been a History major..............

"In remarks following the Senate vote, the president went much
further than Mr. Paulson. He was unequivocal in his view that the
recession 'was the result of recklessness and irresponsibility in
certain corners of Wall Street that infected the entire economy.'
He went on to state that 'because of this reform, the American
people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall
Street's mistakes.' "


The above passage comes from Dr. Sam Chandan's blog-
here.  The comment, and his response to the comment, were
as useful to me as the blog entry.

Chandan concludes his essay:

"For the intrepid amongst us, a reading of the Act reveals that
it does indeed hold the potential to ameliorate a number of the
 most obvious failings of the financial system. At the same time,
it is sometimes so vague that it opens the door to a regulatory
regime that may prove ruinous to entrepreneurship in credit
markets as well as traditional commercial real estate financing.
Patience is the order of the day: only time, and the outcome of
considerable lobbying, will tell how the law will manifest in

Friday, August 13, 2010

Feeling the need to hear a little Mountain.......

If we only trusted them to be able to do this...............

" makes tons of sense to borrow money in order to do things
that are genuinely useful or that mobilize genuinely idle resources."

Full essay here.

A mental health break...........................

.............with Andrew Sullivan- here

Back to school special...........Plato in 3 minutes

".....Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of
variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals
and unequals alike."   -Plato, Bk VIII, 557-558c

The Master of Suspense...................

.........Alfred Hitchcock was born this day in 1899.  With fifty films
in six decades, no one was better at making an audience squirm-
and like it, again and again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time for a little bit more from Stan Getz

So, why do we keep looking towards Washington?..........

"Politicians are in charge of the modern economy in much the
same way as a sailor is in charge of a small boat in a storm."

Greg Mankiw points the way to the full quote- here

"This drivel has spread all over the blogmire"........ all-time great quote from Linda Lowell, writing at the
HousingWire, as she dismisses the stories that the government
would be reducing balances of  "underwater mortgages" as utter
nonsense and "deliberate rumormongering"- full essay here.

Second favorite quote here:

"The peace did not last long. Like a pathogen harmless to
domestic animals, but fatal to humans, measured discussion
by better and worse informed, but still professional analysts
jumped to the blogs. Where possibilities were reduced to
actualities, blogheads and twitbrains substituted rumors
asserting that the government was preparing a nuclear-option-
style solution to bail out homeowners and goose the economy
in time for the elections."

I didn't do it.  Honest......It wasn't me.

Next time you believe you really are in control, think of these..........

As an admirer of Jamie Dimon.............

................this story caught my eye.

Some fun excerpts here:

"The financial system experiences a crisis “every five to seven
years,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie
Dimon told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in January.
By that measure, the next crash could come by 2015 -- years
before new banking reforms are in place.

"The Dodd-Frank Act requires 67 studies and 243 new rules
to be created, according to law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell

"Lawrence Summers..... said .....that fixing the financial system
could be compared to reducing fatalities in automobile wrecks.
Mandating seat belts, guard rails and speed limits proved more
effective in reducing damage caused by crashes than trying to
prevent reckless driving, he said."

“'In the same way, we need approaches to financial regulation
that seek to make the world safer for ignorance and cupidity,
which are inevitable, rather than relying on our ability to correct
them,' Summers said in the New York speech. "

"Delaying reform until '2018 is like doing nothing because you
know the world will change many times between now and
2018,' said Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the
International Monetary Fund who is now a professor at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of
Management. “You should worry a lot about the next round of
the cycle.”

Oh, thanks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The very talented Mr. Paisley...........

This could work.........................

....if Congress wasn't so addicted to fiddling with the tax code
for social engineering and campaign fund raising purposes. 

Megan talks taxes here, and points to a plan, here.

"The whole universe is in a glass of wine".......

Richard Feynman delivered a series of lectures in the early
1960's designed to bring physics to the layman.  These lectures
were eventually published as the book, Six Easy Pieces. In
gratitude, and with respect, an excerpt is copied here:

"A poet once said, 'The whole universe is in a glass of wine.'
We will probably never know in what sense he meant that,
for poets do not write to be understood.  But it is true that if
we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire
universe.  There are the things of physics:  the twisting liquid
which evaporates depending on the wind and the weather, the
reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms.
The glass is a distillations of the earth's rocks, and in its
compositions we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the
evolution of stars.  What strange array of chemicals are in the
wine?  How did they come to be?  There in wine is found the
great generalization: all life is fermentation.  Nobody can
discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as  did
Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease.  How vivid is the
claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches
it!  If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of
wine, this universe into parts- physics, biology, geology,
astronomy, psychology, and so on- remember that nature does
not know it!  So let us put it all back together, not forgetting
ultimately what it is for.  Let it give us one more final pleasure:
drink it and forget it all!"

The Trend Czar hits the nail on the head............

Jonathan Miller, one of my favorite bloggers, paints a realistic
picture of residential real estate and our economy today - here.

Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings............

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734), a graduate of Queens College,
Cambridge, was a British physician, preacher, writer, thinker,
and collector of wise and witty sayings.  Google has done
us a favor by digitizing the Gnomologia.   Some folks believe
that Ben Franklin may have pinched some of these sayings.
Here is a fair sampling:

All things are difficult before they are easy.
Bacchus hath drowned more men than Neptune.

A good Life is the only Religion.

The Mob has many Heads, but no brains.

Education begins a Gentleman, Conversation completes him.

Get the facts, or the facts will get you. And when you get
them, get them right, or they will get you wrong.

He that plants trees Loves others beside himself.

Religion without Piety hath done more Mischief in the
world, than all other Things combined.

Health is not valued till sickness comes.

Let not thy Will roar, when thy Power can but whisper.

A good Conscience is the best Divinity.

They that worship God merely for Fear would worship
the Devil too, if he appear.

He that has one eye is a Prince among those that have none.

He that is everywhere is nowhere.

Action is the proper Fruit of knowledge.

Even doubtful accusations leave a stain behind them.

What Reason and Endeavor cannot bring about, often Time will.

Serving one's own Passion is the greatest Slavery.

Seeing's believing, but Feeling's the Truth.

One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.

The more laws, the more offenders.

If you command wisely, you'll be obeyed cheerfully.

Much law, but little justice.

He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.

With foxes we must play the fox.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And A Very Happy 63rd Birthday to Ian Anderson.............

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

Reason #17:  Weathervane Playhouse

Weathervane Playhouse just wrapped up its 42nd year
of providing summer stock theatre for our community.  What
a year it was.
Weathervane symbolizes everything that is good about our

Four years ago the Weathervane Board of Directors kicked off a
capital campaign to raise funds for much needed improvements
to the Price Road facility.  They set an ambitious goal of raising
$2.4 million.  As this blog has noted many times before, our
community is a most generous place.  However, due to
competition with other capital campaigns and the economy in
general, the goal was not met.  They did raise (with Dr. Tom
Hall working overtime), in cash and pledges, about $1.1 million
from contributors, large and small.  That is not an insignificant
amount of money.

The Board of Directors then prudently scaled back the building
plans to focus on the absolute most necessary improvements. 
Here is a list of what was accomplished:
-enclosure of the main theatre and lobby
-adding heat and AIR CONDITIONING
-adding hand rails and carpeting to the stairways of the theatre
-expanding the size of the Childrens' Theatre
-adding brand new restrooms
-placing new roofs on both theatres
-adding a new patio and sidewalks, landscaping and painting.

All this work, which started in the early Spring of this year,
was completed under budget, without the burden of any
debt, and was finished about five hours before the curtain
rose on the first show.  Kudos to contractor Tony Fox and
to my partner David Anderson who helped bring a successful
conclusion to the project. (Just because I'm biased does not
make me wrong.)

The newly enclosed and air-conditioned Playhouse

The Childrens' Theatre

As a long time Weathervane attendee, I can attest that
air conditioning changes everything about summer stock
theatre- for the better.

Summer stock is essentially theatre with a smattering of
professional actors working side by side with local talent.
The talent this season was first rate.  The voices were
fabulous.  My Fair Lady, Miracle Worker, The Producers,
Alice in Wonderland, and Hairspray were the shows this
year.  All of the shows were exceedingly well done.

On June 13th the Weathervane community was devastated
by the death of its managing artistic director, Mathew
Trombetta.  Mathew was talented, highly energetic, and
contagiously enthusiastic.  He was all about growth and
improvement.  He loved his adopted Licking County and was
quickly becoming embedded into the fabric of our community. 
A tragic loss on many levels.

Yet, the theatre world has a saying,'the show must go on'. 
And it did.  It must certainly have been difficult for the cast
and crew, but they raised their game and the emotional edge
made their performances stunning.

The Mathew Trombetta Memorial Garden

The history of the Weathervane Playhouse is worth reading.

The tenacity, resilience, vibrancy, and integrity of the
Weathervane organization is worth noting and praising.

Our community is truly blessed by the talent and the
spirit of the people of the Weathervane Playhouse.

SOLD OUT.   A well deserved honor!

Hairspray, the movie.............

They won't let me post it.  You have to go here.

It is almost as good as the Weathervane performance
last Saturday night.

And politicians wonder why they are not highly respected.............

Last week, little old Newark got to play in the national news.
Senators McCain and Coburn decided that it made sense to
cast doubt on the wisdom, efficiency, and appropriateness
of the Obama Administrations stimulus package.  They went
public, to much fanfare, with their report. 

"There is no question that this stimulus bill has had a positive
effect on the economy to a certain degree, and what our
criticism is, it could have had far greater effect," Coburn said.

"Of course the recipients of these taxpayer dollars will
complain and justify the reason for receiving these funds,"
McCain said. "The question should be posed, how many jobs
did this create? And obviously with these projects, little or none."

According to the big road signs, Newark, Ohio is the beneficiary
of some of the stimulus money.  It is pretty clear to me, as just
a casual observer, that a significant amount of machinery is
relocating utilities and building a road that will greatly enhance
the traffic flow in our community.  I haven't been by the site
lately during the daylight working hours, but I am going to
assume that real live human beings have jobs running, and
maintaining, all that heavy equipment.  The road is getting built,
the payroll generated here will be significant.

A basis characteristic of the stimulus package is that, for it to
have an impact now- when it is needed- projects that were
already in the works were the ones getting funded.  Infrastructure
projects have significant lead times.  I am sure that there could
be projects developed that would employ greater number of
people, but if there is a lead time of two to three years on the
project, it doesn't really help now.

Anyway, back to our story.  Newark got picked on because
of the negative impact on a specific property owner.  What
happened to that property owner should never have
happened.   This blog has talked about eminent domain
before.  It is my opinion that the State should be generous
when it takes property.  The State should also compensate
more fairly for the impact on the remainder of a property
when they do not take it all.   I suspect the State is trying to
save taxpayer dollars by being stingy, but it violates any
sense of fairness to the property owners involved.

So because the City and State were trying to be responsible
stewards of the public treasury, they were not as generous
as they maybe should have been with a property owner.
It is not a good situation, and screams for a second look at
how government compensates private property owners for
an eminent domain taking, but it has absolutely nothing to
do with the stimulus package.

By linking Newark's situation to their attempt to discredit
the Obama Administration, all McCain and Coburn did was
raise doubts about the integrity of their entire report.

McCain Coburn report here.  Scroll to page 12 for the
Newark, Ohio story.

The Newark Advocate gets it right- here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Redemption song...............

The wisdom of Gapingvoid

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

I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to window run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

-Emily Dickinson

We are enjoying the lull in the action.............

Calculated Risk has an interesting post on the "tightness"
factor in the multi-family housing sector, here.  The post
revolves around the following graph:

If I am reading the chart correctly, the multi-family housing
market was lousy from 2001 through 2004, got better by
2006, then fell apart again until just recently.

If "tightness" means lower vacancy rates and the ability to
increase rents, based on our local experience, I would have
to say the graph is right on.

It is funny how the world works.  In the years between 2001
2004, anybody who could fog a mirror could get a mortgage
and buy a house.  Many apartment dwellers did just that, and
vacancy rates swelled.

At the mid-point of the real estate mania, vacancy rates were
so high that developers just stopped building apartments.  No
tenants, no new apartment buildings.

With no new product being developed and with a growing
population, vacancy rates gradually began shrinking, a market
signal that normally leads to new construction.  However,
before that happened, the real estate bubble burst, the financial
system went through a time of paralysis, and financing for
apartment construction was just not widely available.

Quickly following the bursting bubble came major growth
in unemployment, which lead to an immediate and sharp
increase in vacancy rates.

Because of these factors, the multi-family sector of the
investment real estate world was the ONLY sector that
did not get over-built in the recent mania.

Because the apartment market was not over-built, it has
recovered  faster than any other sector.

As an investor in apartment buildings, I have to say that
if there is any silver lining in the recent problems with
commercial lending, it's that is has kept those pesky
developers from building more units and making ours
more difficult to rent.

Thinking outside the box indeed.............

I suspect they still have a bit of work to do before this idea
becomes economically viable.  I hope they keep working.  I
did start feeling better about the idea when at the very end of
the video Scott acknowledges that he is using duct tape
to keep the road panel together.

More fun from

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More Toad the Wet Sprocket..............

Live at the Midland Theatre on September 17th....................

A Verse for Sunday...........

4.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

5.  Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The
Lord is near.

6.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be
made known to God.

7.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all
comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus.

8.  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is
honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever
is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any
excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your
mind dwell on these things.

Philippians 4: 4-8
The Open Bible

Economic Development 101: ....Who wants to participate?

We can sit on our hands and wait for Washington,
or we can do it ourselves.  Let's start now.

Thanks Jessica

Zanesville does itself proud........The Y Bridge Arts Festival

Spanning the confluence of the Licking  and Muskingum Rivers,
the Y Bridge in Zanesville, Ohio is a thing of beauty in its own

Friday night my Sweetie and I went to the Y Bridge Arts Festival.
One leg of the Y is closed to vehicles and covered with tents for
the one hundred, mostly local, exhibitors. 

Zanesville is blessed with a thriving "arts community".  On the
first Friday evening of each month, all the local art galleries- and
there are a bunch- stay open late and offer refreshments.  We
go sometimes.  It is always fun and there is usually a crowd
wandering through the downtown.

This is the second year for the Y Bridge Arts Festival.  It is
truly a great affair.  The place was packed with smiling people
enjoying themselves.  Commerce occurred as art work was
being purchased as well.

This is one crowded bridge.

Part of the milling crowd.

My Sweetie's friend Debbie is part of Z.A.A.P.  She
also had some of her paintings on display.

Yard Art anyone?   My sweetie thinks he is cute.

A sampling......

The working model for the 12' tall sculpture of Vulcan
that Alan Cotrill created for California University (of
Pennsylvania).  Picture of finished piece here.

One of my heroes, sculptor Alan Cottrill

The Muskingum River looking east from the Y Bridge