Saturday, November 20, 2010

Trying to rank the greatest guitar players......... probably a silly game.  I just know that Duane Allman, born
this day in 1946, has to be on the list somewhere.  More here.

Teachers....and Learners....

"A woman comes in to talk about one of her papers.  It is a
farewell letter to her best friend, who is moving cross-country.
The letter is solid.  She reads it out loud.  I don't say very
much.  When she finishes, I ask, 'How do you feel about her
leaving?'    She starts to cry, then to sob.  She can't talk.
When she slows down, I say, 'Put that on paper.'
'You mean we can put our emotions in our paper like that?'
I smile.

"She comes back the next day, with a new letter.  She begins
to read, and stops, because the words move her too much.
She gives the letter to me.  I begin to read.  I, too, have to
stop.  When I can again speak, I say, 'This is good.  This is
really good.'  'I get it,' she says."


"I'm writing as fast as I can.  I cover board after board,
moving from the front of the room to the site of the
Great Chalkboard War to the back.  Still they keep calling
out.  Time is running down.  The man who asked this so
often asks, 'What's the point?' 
   I write that down. 
   He says, 'No, what's the point of what you're doing right
   I turn to him.  I don't know what to say.
   Suddenly the woman who wrote the farewell letter to
her friend slams her hand down on the desk.  She cries
out, 'I get it.  The point is that he can't tell us the point.
The point is that we have to get it ourselves.'  
   I walk to the empty desk next to hers.  I sit.  I place
the chalk on her desk.  I say, quietly, yet loud enough
that all can hear, 'There's nothing else I can teach you. 
Good luck.  Have fun.' "

Derrick Jensen, Walking on Water

Thanks for the introduction Rob.

This time I'm rooting for the "very smart lawyers".......

The Dirt Lawyer has a tale to tell:

"The long and short? Mega Chicago restaurateur Phil Stefani
guaranteed a $7 million construction loan used to renovate
the building where his office is located, and which is owned
in part by Stefani and others, including the well-known local
developer Keith Lord.. The loan is past-due and the lender,
Harris Bank, is pushing what he described as tough new
terms for an extension, including new equity and prepaid

Why is the project under water? In large part, because its
anchor tenant, Amcore Bank, went under. But here is the
real kicker. Amcore was also the lender for the project!
When it was shut down by the FDIC, the feds rejected the l
ease at Stefani's building and handed over the loan and
Amcore's operations to Harris. Harris is putting
on the squeeze because the lease of its predecessor in
interest tanked the value of the property.

You can read about the rest of the case going on in the
Crain's article, but that story sort of left me out of sorts.
It seems like the banks get to have their cake and eat it, too.
Call it an application of the Golden Rule, I suppose. And I
have seen other similar situations where banks or government
entities really play hardball for one overarching reason:
because they can. But Stefani has some very smart lawyers
here, and I'll be interested in seeing how this plays out."

Even casual readers..........

........will have noticed my fondness for the web site
Astronomy Pictures of the Day.  Many of the pictures available
at that web site were taken via the Hubble Telescope.

Edwin Hubble, a note-
worthy American
Astronomer, was
posthumously honored
by having the telescope
named after him.

Hubble was born on
this day in 1889.

More of his story here
and here

Friday, November 19, 2010

Life as a balancing act.........

Professor Wade points to the balance beam- here.

Life.  Some things we just have to sort out along the way.

Teaching..........and Learning........

"The true educator is not one who simple teaches facts, but
one who teaches a child to think for himself -  to find answers
to his own questions based on the principles he was taught,
and not be solely dependent on a teacher or a parent to solve
a dilemma.  If your answers are constantly supplied by some-
one else, you may have the comfort of never having to take
responsibility for a mistake.  But if you learn to think for
yourself, you receive the deep gratification of having acted
on your own initiative...."

-Toward a Meaningful Life,  Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Let's get started............

"The perfect is the enemy of the good.  When you spend so
much time looking for the 'best' choice that you never
actually do anything, you're sabotaging yourself.  No matter
what you're trying to accomplish, simply starting the
process plays a larger role in your success than any other

-from J. D. Roth's Your Money: the missing manual.

"we do not know"

"What, then is the meaning of it all?  What can we say to
dispel the mystery of existence?

"If we take everything into account - not only what the
ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn't
know - then I think we must frankly admit that we do not know.

"But in admitting this, we have probably found the open

"This is not a new idea: this is the idea of the age of reason.
This is the philosophy that guided the men who made the
democracy that we live under.  The idea that no one really
knew how to run a government led the the idea that we should
arrange a system by which new ideas could be developed,
tried out, and tossed out if necessary, with more new ideas
brought in - a trial-and-error system............Even then it was
clear to socially minded people that the openness of
possibilities was an opportunity, and that doubt and
discussion were essential to progress into the unknown.  If we
want to solve a problem that we have never solved before,
we must leave the door to the unknown ajar."

-What Do You Care What Other People Think
Richard P. Feynman

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The "shadow" inventory............

Our friends at Keeping Current Matters offer a pretty helpful
explanation of  the "shadow" inventory we keep hearing about.
They also tell us why residential real estate prices- on average-
are still heading down, not up.   Story here.

Miles and miles and miles.......................

Alan Shepard, born this day in 1923, was the first American
in space.  While the May 5th, 1961 flight was sub-orbital, it was
a huge deal.  If memory serves, we watched the launch on TV
in school.  A very exciting and nervous time.

Shepherd also visited the moon on the Apollo 14 flight:

Fun quote from Wikipedia:

"According to Gene Kranz in his book Failure Is Not an Option:

When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he
sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had
replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by
the low bidder.'

The world according to Chris Guillebeau......

"...slow and steady change can produce big improvements when
done consistently over time."

" entrepreneur is someone who will work 24 hours a day for
themselves to avoid working one hour a day for someone else."

"Of all the things that are difficult to accept, this is definitely one
of the most difficult of all.  Here it is: your own competence is
you best security.  You can find your own way out of any
recession or external event.  This isn't about positive thinking,
visualization, or anything 'woo-woo'.  You don't have to put on
a Native American headdress and pray for rain.  Instead you
need to change the way you interpret events, and then take
action to change your circumstances."

"When we really get serious about our insecurities, we
usually find that three specific fears emerge: the fear of failure,
the fear of success, and the fear of change."

"Most remarkable people are not remarkable by nature.
Instead, they made a few key choices along the way that
helped them overcome their fears."

"As a general rule, if you don't know what to do on any given
day, spend at least some of your time helping someone else."

"When faced with a choice between abundance and scarcity,
choose abundance.  Scarcity is the default mode of operation
for most of us.  It's a hard habit to break, but almost always
worth it.  Scarcity involves hoarding, and abundance
involves sharing."

"Instead, our lives become most meaningful when we combine
our own desires with an active strategy to help other people
at the same time."

"....when times are tough, you'd better get creative."

-all quotes are excerpted from The Art of Non-Conformity
by Chris Gillebeau

"He doesn't try to conduct every note...."

Eugene Ormandy, the reason my parents had season tickets to
the Philadelphia Orchestra, was born this day in 1899.  A brief
outline of his life is here.

Enjoy genius.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A voice of experience...............

"Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught
hell for."

-Earl Warren (1891-1974), former Governor of California and
Chief Justice of the U.S.

Some light-hearted play................Part 1

Some light-hearted play............Part 2

"....The rubber swan is mine................"

Us older folks may remember Vaughn Meader's best selling
First Family record albums and his impersonations of John F.
Kennedy.  The humor may be dated, but it still makes me laugh. 

President Kennedy was once asked what he thought of
Meader's impersonation.   Ever the wit, Kennedy responded that
he thought Meader sounded more like brother Bobby.

You be the judge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The 14 Step program...................

Nicholas Bate offers a 14 Step program for success.  As with
most of his work, it is not the typical list.  Full list here.  Free
sample here:

10.  Help those around you. The universe will ensure you get
       your return.

Ideas captured here:
He is a most generous man!

On the local front.............

.............the economic development effort continues. 

The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority is constructing
a 43,000+ square foot office building.  The building will be
completed in mid-2011.  The good news for our community is
that a local architect and a local engineer designed the building,
a  local general contractor was the low bidder and thus was
awarded the construction contract.A serious attempt has been
made to use local sub-contractors. As a result, a gigantic
percentage of the $3,500,000 construction cost should re-cycle
through the Licking County economy.

Interesting information about the building here.

About half of the building is under lease.  Negotiations are under
way with a second significant tenant.

The most interesting facet of this project- to me anyway- is the
inclusion of speculative "clean room" space.   Boeing is currently
the Port Authority's major tenant.  A substantial amount of the
workload taking place in Boeing's facility involves "clean rooms".

It is hoped that the creation of this clean room space will draw
entrepreneurial high tech start-ups to our community.  Stay
What the finished project will look like:

What it looked like today:

Mortgage Interest Deduction re-visited.........

Steve Harney, a sage commenter on things real estate (see the
 KCM blog here), argues below for retaining the mortgage
interest deduction:

"It has been proven that home ownership is critically
important to American culture. A home is more than just a
financial investment. It is a parents’ investment in their
children. It is a family’s investment in their community. It is
the people’s investment in America. With housing attempting
to recover from its most trying time, it seems ludicrous to
remove one of the most enticing reasons to own a home."

"Even if we just look at this from a purely financial
perspective, it makes no sense. There are thousands of families
struggling to pay their mortgage every month. Many of these
homes are in a negative equity situation. Many in this situation
have already decided to strategically ‘walk-away’ from their
mortgage obligation. Others are sacrificing in different areas
of their families’ lives in order to continue to pay their
mortgage. Taking away the mortgage tax deduction could be
the straw that either financially or emotionally breaks that
camel’s back. How many new foreclosures will be created?
How will that impact the values of neighboring properties?
This makes no sense financially."

This is one of those cases where I have to respectfully disagree.

Several points, opinions actually:

    1.   The mortgage interest deduction is always appreciated
          in my household come April 15th.

    2.  The tax code is the "great manipulator" of human

    3.   Deductability of interest encourages and subsidizes debt.

     4.   Ever rising- rapidly rising- housing prices significantly
           jeopardize "the American dream of home ownership".

     5.   The subsidy from mortgage interest deductions has played
           a key role in the increase of housing prices, especially at
           the top end of the market.

This blog has consistently argued that the Realtor community's
unyielding defense of this "sacred cow" simply encourages the
defense of all sacred cows, thereby making structural changes to
a tax system that really, really, really needs structural change,
nigh unto impossible.

There is no better time than now. 

Will the elimination of the mortgage interest deductions lead to
more foreclosures?  My guess is some, but not many.
It is those folks whose income has been drastically reduced by
the recession who are most at risk of foreclosure.  A deduction
against income may be irrelevant in many of those cases.

Yes, there will be an impact on values. But what better time to
deal  with it?  Home prices are falling now. Buyer's are- at least
in our neighborhood - aware of this. They will only buy if they
perceive value.  Uncertainty clouds perceptions.

The economy will not greatly improve until all of the excesses of
the bubble years are wrung out of the market. The sooner we
get it over with, the sooner things will improve.

The greatest benefit to home owners, prospective home owners,
and the real estate industry will be the return of our economy
to a stable foundation that allows for sustainable growth.  A
stable foundation is not based on the Tax Code.

Given all the challenges facing the economy, it sure would be
refreshing to hear that the real estate industry is willing to take a
leadership role in solving some rather serious structural problems. 

Unyielding defense of the mortgage interest deduction will most
assuredly leave us with more of what we have now. 

It's that vision thing.

Barney, Barney, Barney...........................

Monday, November 15, 2010


"Judgement is given to men that they may use it.  Because
it may be used erroneously, are men to be told that they
ought not use it at all?"
-John Stuart Mill

"How selfish soever man may be supposed to be, there are
evidently some principles in his nature which interest him in
the fate of others, and render their happiness necessary to
him, though he derive nothing from it, except the pleasure
of seeing it."
-Adam Smith

"I made a list of the happiest times in my life, and I realized
that none of them involved money.  I realized that building
stuff and being creative and inventive made me happy.
Connecting with friends and talking through the entire
night until the sun came up made me happy.  Eating a baked
potato after a swim meet made me happy.  Pickles made me
-Tony Hsieh

"Bottom line, there's nothing new.  As in all aspects of life,
expectations based on anything other than reality will
always lead to disappointment.  Reasonable expectations
are the key to peace of mind."
-Thomas A. Barrack, Jr.

"It's more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use
long difficult words but rather short easy words like
'what about lunch'?"

Still not the right question.......

Frank Rich, whose writing style I usually enjoy and whose
opinions I generally don't share, opined in the NYT about the
demon inequality.  Here.  Excerpt here:

"The president’s argument against extending the cuts for the
wealthiest has now been reduced to the dry accounting of
what the cost would add to the federal deficit. As he put it to
CBS’s Steve Kroft, “the question is — can we afford to
borrow $700 billion?”

That’s a good question, all right, but it’s not the question.
The bigger issue is whether the country can afford the
systemic damage being done by the ever-growing income
inequality between the wealthiest Americans and everyone
else, whether poor, middle class or even rich."

This calls for the wisdom of Ten Years After's Alvin Lee:

Lyrics here:

Everywhere is freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity
Tax the rich, feed the poor
Till there are no rich no more
I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you
Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, Monopoly
I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you
World pollution, there's no solution
Institution, electrocution
Just black and white, rich or poor
Them and us, stop the war
I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you

Tax the rich, feed the poor, till there are no rich no more. Sounds
like a plan, but then what?  That pesky inequality thing may be
solved, but how has it helped anybody and how has it cured the
fiscal crisis brought on by governments making promises and
future commitments that just can't be kept?

Raising taxes on anybody can only bring lasting societal benefits
if it is part and parcel of a program that includes wholesale
changes on the expense side of the ledger.

Bring on Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles of President Obama’s
Fiscal Responsibility Commission.  They would love to change
the world and they, at least, have an idea of what to do.

A Poem for Monday............

       To Have Without Holding

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in the open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again.  It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
you float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

-Marge Piercy

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Texas Blues.......................

Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990) was one of the great ones.  Enjoy.

A sight for sore eyes.................

In Praise of..........................

....................North Dakota.

     Part One- here

     Part Two- here

In the presence of the Lord............

Blind Faith.................................Steve Winwood ,Eric Clapton,
Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech.

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

1      And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these
     sayings will not taste death."

2      Jesus said, "Let one who seeks not stop seeking until one
     finds.  When one finds, one will be troubled.  When one is
     troubled, one will marvel and will rule over all."

3      Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the kingdom
     is in heaven,' then the birds of heaven will precede you.  If
     they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede
     you.  Rather, the kingdom is inside you and it is outside you.
        "When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and
     you will understand that you are children of the living father.
     But if you do not know yourselves, the you dwell in poverty,
     and you are poverty."

The Gospel of Thomas
Translated by Marin Meyer


All pictures from the Astronomy Picture of the Dayhere