Saturday, December 4, 2010

Can't you see..........................

The bottom line...................

And now a word from our sponsors..........

When it comes to the "old fashioned way",  there are none better
than John Houseman.
Please forgive the film quality.  Best I could do on short notice.

Steve Felix..................

..............occupies a vastly different niche in the commercial real
estate world than our small little company does, but I like reading
his blog anyway- here.  

If I am reading him correctly, he believes that big players in
investment real estate are now going to have to make money
the "old fashioned way".  They are going to have to earn it.

Here are some excerpts from his latest post.  I especially like the
first two paragraphs:

"There is fierce competition for certain ‘core’ assets, driving
prices up, cap rates down and when those transactions close
the winners are wondering if they really won or not.

"Yesterday, someone used the phrase, “patient money.”
It was the first time I’d heard it in a while. But to me, it’s not
just the money that needs to be patient, it’s all of us as things
are just not going to move as fast as we would like them to.
We’re going to have to invest more time, more money, more
creativity, more discipline in growing all of our businesses.
We're going to have to invest more patience! The days of wine
and roses (except here in the Napa Valley) are gone. In my
opinion, it could be decades (if ever) before we see a market
like the one that we came through.

"Institutional investors are also sounding like they’re
willing to go up the risk spectrum to value-add type deals but
pushing them over the line into the opportunistic world is a
little harder.

"Having said that, there are some really big opportunity funds
that have been raised this year and their challenge is to find
the opportunity to invest in.

"Like I said, it’s not your father’s real estate investment world
anymore. That went bye-bye with the Oldsmobile. Like it or
not, we have entered a new era. We have to learn to adapt.

"And, as look-back books written in 2030 may suggest, what
we’re going through is a good thing. It’s just that we’re too
close to the situation to know that it’s good for us. Like a lot
of things in life, perspective is everything."

Not without studying..........

Tyler Cowen asks the question, "Could You Have Passed the 8th
Grade in 1895?"     Cut and pasted below:

...Take a Look:

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, Kansas.
It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky
Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS and
reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of
    do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of

7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein
      that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How
    many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts.
    per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the
     necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per
     month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 %.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at
     $20 per m?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 %.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance
    around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln,
     Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates:






Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic,
    orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph,
     subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e'. Name two
     exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a
     word:  Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono,super.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and
    name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir,
    odd,cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane,
    fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate
       pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of North America.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver,
    Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez,
    Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns
    to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the 

Friday, December 3, 2010

In the Garden of Eden...................

"Oh, won't you come with me And take my hand"

Friday Funnies................

Dated but still funny.  Watch till the end......................

Thanks Winston'sCat

Design Perfection....................

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when
there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing
left to take away."

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

On Keeping it Simple..............

Excerpt from Made to Stick:

    "No plan survives contact with the enemy.  No doubt this
principle has resonance for people who have no military
experience whatsoever.  No sales plan survives contact
with the customer.  No lesson plan survives contact with
    "It's hard to make ideas stick in a noisy, unpredictable,
chaotic environment,  If we are to succeed, the first step is
this:  Be Simple.  Not simple in terms of 'dumbing down' or
'sound bites.'  You don't have to speak in monosyllables
to be simple.  What we mean by 'simple' is finding the core
of the idea.
   " 'Finding the core' means stripping an idea down to its
most critical essence.  To get to the core, we've got to weed
out superfluous and tangential elements.  But that's the easy
part.  The hard part is weeding out ideas that may be really
important but just aren't the most important idea."

Disruptive technology....................

........the terrible beauty of the free enterprise/capitalistic system.

Reading the following paragraphs, I thought- has it only been 9
years?  Who knew we needed-or wanted- any of this stuff?

"As the holidays approach, one of the most asked for gift
genre’s surrounds (i)ndividual gratification devices – iPad,
iTouch, iPod, iPhone, and iShuffle. Since Apple’s initial 2001
device series début, a breadth of new consumer behaviors
and technology solution industries have been developed.
Moreover, robust “App Stores” have been created to
promote adoption, spur entertainment sales, and lock-in
loyal consumers with premium content and pricing."

"With nearly 300 million iPod’s, over 60 million iPhone’s,
and 10 million iPad’s (from zero in just 9 months in 2010),
the widespread consumer utilization of “i-like” devices has
forever altered the interfaces and interactions within the
global consumer base of 25-45 year olds. This is a profitable
bracket within a growing affluent segment that has an
average yearly income above $50,000."

Full essay here.  The tale of the ipod here.

The courage of the free..................

"A people may prefer a free government, but if, from
indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public
spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for pre-
serving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly
attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to
cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or
temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual,
they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of
a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to
subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or
less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to
have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to
enjoy it."

-John Stuart Mill

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two friends having fun.............

How did she do it?

Our family went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Part 1 last week.  Enjoyed the fine movie making, even though
Harry was having a rough go.  Having read the book, I'm fairly
confident that, regardless how daunting the task looks now, good
will triumph over evil in Part 2.  

One of the amazing things to me about the whole Harry Potter
thing is how well and thoroughly J. K. Rowling weaved together
her story and characters through all seven volumes.

Did she know about horcruxes in Book 1?   Ka-Ching! suggests
the answer is yes with this post (pasted below) and this drawing:

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Plot Sheets

"One of the questions all of our great storytellers now have to
answer on a daily basis is, “Where is it all going?”

"Think of the writers of Lost. All anyone ever wanted to know
from them was if they actually had everything planned out.
Another person who has had to answer that question is J.K.
Rowling, the billionaire author behind the Harry Potter
franchise. Book after book, her story unfolded and critics
would ask questions like, “Did you know about horcruxes
when you were writing Sorcerer’s Stone?” Well, an awesome
insider look at Rowling’s mind has just surfaced. It’s a piece
of loose leaf paper where she outlines several chapters of
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and, looking at this
page, it’s quite obvious that Rowling knew exactly what was
going on with everything in her books."

Disagreeing civilly..............

John Ruskin, in his book Unto This Last, writes this about the
practitioners of the "science of political economy":

"Observe, I neither impugn nor doubt the conclusion
of the science if its terms are accepted.  I am simply
uninterested in them, as I should be in those of a
science of gymnastics which assume that men have
no skeletons."

Not sure I agree with the Professor's reasoning............

..........but I'm pretty sure I agree with his conclusion.  Post here.

Conclusion here:

"Neither renter nor owner markets are national, but I am
hard pressed to think of a time when owning on a cash-flow
basis looks so reasonable relative to renting."

The Head Butler...................

............serves up some Canned Heat.  Good stuff.  Here.

Interesting line here:

"1968. Woodstock. If you were there, you saw a commanding
performance. If you saw the movie, you saw no Canned Heat.
The film was overlong, you see, so Warner simply cut every
group not on the Warner label."

(ed. note:  The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held August
15-18, 1969.  I was not there.)

Here is a video of Canned Heat at Woodstock:

Volume up!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hey Kurt.............

..........speaking of fermentation.   I find myself in possession of
a freshly brewed Rockmill four pack.  How about rounding up the
usual suspects for a sampling of an almost local brewer's finest?

A little older........Steve Winwood and Traffic

We would be remiss................

..........if we did not wish Woody Allen a very happy birthday.

To help celebrate, enjoy these two clips from Sleeper.

Could this perhaps be the reason I am not really fond of bleu

Gone fishing...............

Catch Your Limit says:

"Just when you don't think you have the time to retreat is
when you need to retreat the most."

"You may not really be fishing, but the time you invest in
pushing PAUSE and telling the world you’ve GONE
FSIHING, just may help you catch your limit. I’d rather
have life’s cooler contain a few good 'keepers' than a
boatload of junk fish and 'throwbacks'."

"Work hard. Play Hard. It’s been a tough year – we could all
use joy and laughter – it’s incredibly therapeutic."


Bill McBride and his fabulous charts...........

.......point out the problem in the new home construction
industry.   Excess inventory.  Not much business. 

The first chart shows a historic relationship between sales of new
homes and sales of existing homes that I was never aware of. 
That relationship was severed in 2006 as the housing bubble
sprang its first leak, beginning what McBride calls the "Distressing
Gap."   His full post is here.

The second chart shows the likely reason why that historic
relationship was broken, and will likely stay broken for a while.
The second chart shows the unprecedented building spree that
the production building industry went on between 2000-2007.
(Housing starts had been on the upswing since 1994, but they
really took off in 2000.)  By 2004-05 they were cranking out
houses for buyers that were simply just not there.  We will be
paying for that spree for another little while.

first chart

second chart

Liberty vs Security.............

"The deeper peril for democracy seems to lie in the effect of
war upon its institutions and on the morality of its people.
As Hamilton writes in The Federalist: 'The violent destruction
of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and
alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel
nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and
security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy
their civil and political rights.  to be more safe, they at
length become willing to run the risk of being less free'."

As excerpted from Great Ideas by Mortimer J. Adler

A few thoughts............

"Let he who would, learn this:  that everything, even dust
and feathers, goes by Law and not by chance or luck."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Prosperity is not in the possession of things, but in the
recognition of supply, and in the knowledge of free and
open access to an inexhaustible storehouse of all that is
-Charles Fillmore

"True giving is not something we do for someone, but
it is our consent to let the flow of God flow through us
to that person."
-Eric Butterworth

"In my life the worst experiences that I have gone through
have without exception eventually proved to be the
greatest gifts.  They were my teachers, and each one
contained in it the seed of something astonishingly good
for me.  Took me a while to find it sometimes, but it
was always there."
-Wes Hopper

"Your thoughts are the tools with which you carve your
life story on the substance of the universe.  When you
choose your thoughts, you choose results."
-Imelda Shanklin

"By thought the thing you want is brought to you.  By
action you receive it."
-Wallace D. Wattles

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No, not really........................

.........although I have enjoyed some of the books you wrote.

Thanks Tigerhawk for pointing the way again.

Young Steve with sub-titles

Don't Worry, Be Happy...............

A few quotes from Shawn Anchor's  The Happiness Advantage:
 "...happiness is the precursor to success, not merely the result.
And that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance
and achievement"

".... it turns out that happiness gives us a real chemical edge
on the competition. How? Positive emotions flood our brains
with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that not only make
us feel good, but dial up the learning centers of our brains to
higher levels. They help us organize new information, keep
that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster
later on. And they enable us to make and sustain more neural
connections, which allows us to think more quickly and
creatively, become more skilled at complex analysis and
problem solving, and see and invent new ways of doing things.

Thanks Mark

Don't worry, be happy.......Part 2

Sean encourages happiness- here

He sets forth the challenge here:

Here's your challenge. Write down ten things that you think of
when you think of happiness.

Now, instead of just thinking about what creates happiness for
you in your mind, go out this week and make it happen with
your actions.

And he concludes with his signature line:

"Have a great week building relationships, solving problems
and having fun."

Thanks Sean.

There must be something special about this date........

Happy Birthday to some of history's most interesting...........

Jonathan Swift   1667

"No man was ever so completely skilled in the conduct of
life, as not to receive new information from age and


Mark Twain 1871

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The
world owes you nothing. It was here first."


Winston Churchill   1874

"I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being
anything else."


Brownie McGhee  1915

"Logically, when you talkin' about folk music and blues,
you find out it's music of just plain people."


Bill Walsh  1931

"If Walsh was a general," said ESPN analyst Beano Cook,
"he  would be able to overrun Europe with the army from


Abbie Hoffman 1936

"The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it."

I don't know what this means.............

.........or if it is accurate. they say, "you decide."

Sourced here

The Black Swan on residential real estate.........

After dissing a report from Morgan Stanley, the Black Swan
suggests the path to recovery is to scrub all of the appreciation
from 2000-2007 out of the housing market.  Full post here.

Short version here:

"If you want a real solution to the housing depression, we
have to have lower prices plain and simple. Morgan Stanley
talks about a demand-supply mismatch, but this is not the
truth. The problem is that home prices are still overpriced,
and until prices fall, demand will not return. The solution is
to allow the market to fall another 10-25% or until the
market reaches an equilibrium. Unfortunately, this solution is
not politically popular. But it is what needs to happen before
we will ever see a bottom in the housing market. The market
will work, despite government and Fed intervention; the only
question is how long they can delay the process."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to John Mayall

John Mayall, of Blues Breakers fame, was born this day in 1933.
Read all about him hereListen to him here:

"I’d rather ride a tsunami than build my own sand castle."

Guy Kawasaki tells me it was a good decision to start a business
Facebook page.  Here.  Whew.

Just started and still learning, but here it is.

"As your influence expands....To the high financial strata....That established credit now commands.....

Are the Big Banks good or bad?   TigerHawk answers -  Yes.

And suggests we watch this classic clip:

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


I’ve made a list of questions
to which I no longer expect answers,
since it’s either too early for them,
or I won’t have time to understand.

The list of questions is long,
and takes up matters great and small,
but I don’t want to bore you,
and will just divulge a few:

What was real
and what scarcely seemed to be
in this auditorium,
stellar and substellar,
requiring tickets both to get in
and get out;

What about the whole living world,
which I won’t succeed
in comparing with a different living world;

What will the papers
write about tomorrow;

When will wars cease,
and what will take their place;

Whose third finger now wears
the ring stolen from me — lost;

Where’s the place of free will,
which manages to be and not to be

What about those dozens of people —
did we really know each other;

What was M. trying to tell me
when she could no longer speak;

Why did I take bad things
for good ones
and what would it take
to keep from doing it again?

There are certain questions
I jotted down just before sleep.

On waking
I couldn’t make them out.

Sometimes I suspect
that this is a genuine code,
but that question, too,
will abandon me one day.

-Wislawa Szymborska
as translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

For those investors who kept "their powder dry".........

.....and avoided buying anything during the 2004-2007 mania--
investment opportunities are lurking in residential real estate for
those with cash. 

From the Housing Wire, an indication that investors are now
actively working the single family market:

" According to a recent Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance
survey, 30.5% of home purchases during the month were
financed with cash, up from 24.4% in January. The survey
attributed this jump to the amount of distressed properties
on the market being purchased and a decrease in the number
of first-time homebuyers."

From Mathew Ferrara:

"It looks like the clean-up phase of the real estate downturn is
entering full swing. This means investors start moving in and
snatching up super-distressed properties to hold, flip or rent.
That’s what investors do, not buyers, in the classic real estate

Read Matt's full post here.

I always thought I would wish for more wishes too.......

An advice column for college sophomores accompanied this
drawing.  I have already forwarded the link to my young
son.  Straight talk here.

Thanks G.L.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Sweet Lord.............

The Secret of Community...........

In his book The Scent of Love Keith Miller proposes the reason
why the early Christians were such phenomenally successful
evangelists.  It was not because of their charisms - such as the
gift of speaking in tongues - and not because Christianity was
such a palatable doctrine (to the contrary, it is about the most
unpalatable doctrine there is) but because they had discovered
the secret of community.  Generally they did not have to lift a
finger to evangelize.  Someone would be walking down a back
alley in Corinth or Ephesus and would see a group of people
sitting together and talking about the strangest things- some-
thing about a man and a tree and an execution and an empty
tomb.  What they were talking about made no sense to the
onlooker.  But there was something about the way they spoke
to one another, about the way they looked at one another,
about the way they cried together, the way they laughed to-
gether, the way they touched one another that was strangely
appealing.  It gave off what Miller called the scent of love. 
The onlooker would start to drift further down the alley, only
to be pulled back to this little group like a bee to a flower. 
He would listen some more, still not understanding, and start
to drift away again.  But again he would be pulled back,
thinking, I don't have the slightest idea what these people are
talking about, but whatever it is, I want a part of it.

-An excerpt from The Different Drum by M. Scott Peck

A Verse for Sunday....

18.  Now in the morning, when He returned to the city, He
       became hungry.

19.  And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and
       found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it,
      "No longer shall there be any fruit from you."  And at once
       the fig tree withered.

20.  And seeing this, the disciples marveled, saying, "How did
       the fig tree wither at once?"

21.  And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you,
       if you have faith and do not doubt, you shall not only do
       what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to the
       mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea' it shall happen.

22.  And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."

Mathew 21:18-22
The Open Bible

The wonder of "I don't know"...........

Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.
The following was excerpted from her Nobel Lecture.

"I've mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer
evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It's
not that they've never known the blessing of this inner
impulse. It's just not easy to explain something to someone
else that you don't understand yourself.

"When I'm asked about this on occasion, I hedge the question
too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive
privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and
will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration
visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen
their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It
may include doctors, teachers, gardeners - and I could list a
hundred more professions. Their work becomes one
continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep
discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks
never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges
from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's
born from a continuous "I don't know."

"At this point, though, certain doubts may arise in my
audience. All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and
demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly
shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform
their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they "know."
They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once
and for all. They don't want to find out about anything else,
since that might diminish their arguments' force. And any
knowledge that doesn't lead to new questions quickly dies out:
it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life.
In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and
modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society.

This is why I value that little phrase "I don't know" so highly.
It's small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to
include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses
in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended."


"When we walk in the Lord's presence, everything we see,
hear, touch, or taste reminds us of Him.  This is what is
meant by a 'prayerful life'."
-Henri Nouwen

"To be still, and know that 'God is' and that 'God is there'
requires something exceptional of us as humans.....For me,
and I suspect for most of us, to be still and know God
requires of us more mental and physical effort than we
think.  Intensive study, prayer, retreat are not 'options'
or luxuries, but essentials if we are 'to be still and know
that God is.'  I am learning these basics, and I am
trusting God will give me the grace and time to live it."
-Karen Layman