Saturday, December 31, 2011

On perfection...............

Irrevocably controlled.............

     "Opportunity has spread its wares before you.  Step up to the front, select what you want, create your plan, put the plan into action, and follow through with persistence.  'Capitalistic' America will do the rest.  You can depend on this much - capitalistic America insures every person the opportunity to render useful service, and to collect riches in proportion to the value of the service.
     "The 'system' denies no one this right, but it does not and cannot promise something for nothing, because the system, itself, is irrevocably controlled by the law of economics which neither recognizes not tolerates for long, getting without giving."
-Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

On excess baggage.............

"It is much easier in America to earn a lot of money than
it is to accumulate wealth.  Why is this the case?  Because
we are a consumption-oriented society."

".......many status oriented artifacts can be a burden, if not
an impediment, to becoming financially independent.  Life
has its own burdens.  Why add excess baggage?"

-Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko,
The Millionaire Next Door vintage wine......

Frank Sinatra.................................It Was A Very Good Year

Thanks Kurt


This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster
and the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

coruscate     v.      to give off flashes of light; glitter; sparkle
as in:
The ice covered branches coruscated as the sun peeked
through the cloud cover.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mainstream Media's favorite time of the year....

thanks will

Megan McArdle talks real estate............

A day after admonishing us folks to save more, she offers up
some suggestions on where to invest those saved dollars.  One of
her suggestions is rental residential real estate.  Full essay is here.
Given her advice about real estate, one would think she has had
some experience.  It is advice worth pondering.  A few samples:

However, real estate can be a great way to diversify your
portfolio if you are careful about it. The stock market may
be down, but your tenants will still be paying you some
rent every month.

a. Don't flip. I shouldn't really need to explain this now,
should I? Buy for rental income, not capital gains.

d. Budget for repairs.

e. Budget for empty months.

f. Do regular inspections No matter how lovely your tenant is,
they may be destroying your house without even knowing it--
not changing air filters, attracting pests, letting leaks grow.

h. Expect to manage it. A solid real estate investment can
earn you ten percent a year--but you have to work harder
at it than you do leaving the money in the market.

j. Check potential tenants thoroughly.........Lazy landlords
get hurt.

m. Know how many properties you can manage. First of all,
know your limits. There are benefits to scale (you can have
a handyman on retainer if you have enough apartments, and
he'll probably give you a discount). But there are also
drawbacks--each apartment takes time.

o. Landlording is a business............ Do not buy because you
like a property; buy because it will offer you a reasonable
return after expenses.

It's a simple portfolio, and it won't make you rich without
working. On the other hand, we should all be pretty sick
of get-rich-quick schemes by now.

On knowing what we don't know.............

An excerpt from Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture:

    Shatner stayed for three hours and asked tons of questions.  A colleague later said to me:  "He just kept asking and asking. He doesn't seem to get it."
    But I was hugely impressed.  Kirk, I mean, Shatner, was the ultimate example of a man who knew what he didn't know, was perfectly willing to admit it, and didn't want to leave until he understood it.  I wish every grad student had that attitude.
    During my cancer treatment, when I was told that only 4% of pancreatic cancer patients live five years, a line from the Star Trek movie The Wrath of Khan came into my mind.  In the film, Starfleet cadets are faced with a simulated training scenario where, no matter what they do, their entire crew is killed.  The film explains that when Kirk was a cadet, he reprogrammed the simulation because "he didn't believe in the no-win scenario."
     Over the years, some of my sophisticated academic colleagues have turned up their noses at my Star Trek infatuation.  But from the start, it has never failed to stand me in good stead.
     After Shatner learned of my diagnosis, he sent me a photo of himself as Kirk.  On it he wrote:  "I don't believe in the no-win scenario."

About those resolutions...............

Mathew Ferrara suggests we think about the ground work
needed to make them real before we commit to them - again. 
Full post here.  Excerpt here:

"First, the best resolutions build upon our existing strengths. They might involve trying something new or pushing our limits, but they must build upon a solid foundation. Think about something you know how to do, enjoy doing, then decide to turn up the volume. Do more of it. Do it better, or faster, or more consistently. If you can send a rocket around the world, aiming it for another planet isn’t that much harder. Set yourself up for success by leveraging your existing knowledge, skills and motivations."

The Bulls and Bears weigh in on residential real estate.........

Some bulls:

Hedge funds run by Caxton Associates LP, SAC Capital Advisors LP, Avenue Capital and Blackstone Group LP have been buying housing-related investments, betting on a rebound. And formerly bearish research firm Zelman & Associates now predicts a housing pickup, as does Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

A bear:

"The smartest money in the world has been carried out on stretchers betting on a true recovery for housing," says Mark Hanson

The above quotes were channeled by the Calculated Risk blog
from a WSJ article.   Faithful readers will remember that we
believe the market recovery for new construction of single family
housing is still a year away.  We are heartened, however, by
this chart from CR.   This is good news!

Be it further resolved........

The word for the day....................

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster
and the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

velitation    n.     a hostile encounter; skirmish or dispute

as in:

The velitation in Washington over government spending
shows no sign of abating.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In this part of the world, we are celebrating Michael Wade's commitment to the blogosphere. Thanks Michael!

Be it resolved...............

Quotes worth pondering...................

"Gauguin complained that “thought does not exist” in
Impressionism. It doesn’t, but the Impressionists had no goal
except to open people’s eyes; and they opened enough of
them to reinvent art altogether."

"As my eyes lose their focusing strength, I can appreciate
the vision of impressionistic painters. There’s a softening
of not just what we see, but what we are, when we enjoy
the later years."
-Mme. Schezro, adding the second paragraph to this post

"A man standing in the broken shards of his life doesn't have any use for people picking up each piece and wondering aloud if this bit wasn't so bad. They never understand that the whole thing was worth something once but the pieces are nothing and you can never reassemble them again into anything."
-Greg Sullivan, dba Sippican Cottage, excerpted from here.

"The wise fool can be cryptic. He'll say the best way to see something is with your ears. Initially, this may seem weird, but after you've thought about it, you might agree that listening to a story conjures up more images than watching television."
-Roger von Oech, as excerpted from here
"Of course, this is the problem with most New Year's resolutions – that the only thing between us and our goals is self-discipline."
-Penelope Trunk, from this blog post

Captured by your style..............

Atlanta Rhythm Section.................................. So Into You

The word for the day................

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster
and the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

tutelary        adj.     1.  that watches over or protects
                                      2.  of or serving as a guardian
as in:
He thanked the tutelary spirit that helped him navigate safely
for six hours though the heavy traffic on the turnpike.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Opening paragraphs..............

"From my first breath in this world, all I wanted was a good
set of lungs and the air to fill them with - given circumstances,
you might presume, for an American baby of the twentieth
century.  Think about your own first gasp: a shocking wind
roweling so easily down your throat, and you still slipping
around in the doctor's hands.  How you yowled!  Not a thing
on your mind by breakfast, and that was on the way."

-Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

The gift......................

"...knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God
ever gives us.
    "It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes.  It is so easy to take for granted the pale new growth on an evergreen, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphonyrises and falls and disappears and rises again.  It is so easy to exist instead of live.  Unless you know there is a clock ticking. So many of us changed our lives when we heard the biological clock and decided to have kids.  But that sound is a murmur compared to the tolling of mortality."

-Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life

photo courtesy of

Luddites of the world, Unite!

On listening to yourself...........

thanks Jessica

I hope you are willing..........................

Orleans.....................................................Dance With Me

The word for the day

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster

and the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

croque-monsieur   n.     a sandwich filled with ham and cheese,
                                      either dipped in egg batter or buttered
                                      on the outside, and toasted or grilled.

as in:

After shoveling snow for an hour in the freezing cold, he
was delighted to find that his sweetie had fixed him a
croque-monsieur for lunch.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Opening paragraphs..............

    "On May 18,1860, the day when the Republican Party would nominate its candidate for president, Abraham Lincoln was up early.  As he climbed the stairs to his plainly furnished law office on the west side of the public square in Springfield, Illinois, breakfast was being served at  the 130-room Chenery House on Fourth Street.  Fresh butter, flour, lard, and eggs were being put out for sale at the City Grocery Store on North Sixth Street.  And in the morning newspaper, the proprietors at Smith, Wikersham & Company had announced the arrival of a large stock of silks, calicos, ginghams, and linens, along with a new supply of the latest styles of hosiery and gloves."

-Doris Kerns Goodwin, Team of Rivals

weakness as a strength.................

thanks Hugh

On leaving children behind.................

WRM suggests its time to rethink the Bush era leave no child behind law.  I have always thought that as a society, and as parents, we have asked schools to do things that they are simply not capable of doing.  Oh, and by the way, don't you dare discipline my little angel.  And then we wonder at the results.  Full post here.  Excerpt here:

"We need to be a little bit more honest with ourselves. Schools didn’t cause America’s biggest social problems, and schools can’t cure them. A public school doesn’t take in sow’s ears and put out silk purses; a school inevitably reflects the strong and weak points of the society and culture around it.

"A neighborhood of weak families will rarely have strong schools. School reform is important and we have a long way to go, but until America finds ways to address its broken homes, we will not be able to fix our broken schools."

On bringing your own dignity.......

     "Politicians are fond of telling us that work gives people
dignity.  I agree.   Having work to do and the means to make
a living for oneself and one's family is important.  But it is
only half the equation.  What we haven't been told nearly
enough is that people give work dignity.  There are no
unimportant jobs, just people who feel unimportant doing
their jobs.   That's probably why B. C. Forbes, the legendary
founder of Forbes magazine said, 'There is more credit
and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than in
a tenth-rate executive.'"

-Mark Sanborn,  The Fred Factor

Both scary and not a moment too soon...

And it will be all right....................

Firefall.............................................Just Remember I Love You

The word for the day...................

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster

and the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

abecedarian     n.   1. a person learning the alphabet; beginning
                               student.   2.  any beginner or novice.

as in:

The teacher repeated A....B....C....D...., and soon the
abecedarian caught on and learned all of the letters of the

Editor's comment:   Surely you jest.  This is a word?  Good grief.

Monday, December 26, 2011


The really smart people at IBM have been thinking again.  Here
is the first of five "futuristic imaginings" that they believe we will
see in five years.  Not so sure about this first one, though. 
Sounds like a perpetual motion machine................

Opening paragraphs.............

"It is dark.  He does not know where he is.  And then he sees
pale light from the street soaking in above the drawn drapes.
It is not a light to see by, but only makes the darkness visible.
He has slept, to his surprise, but has wakened in the same
unease that kept him sleepless long after he went to bed
and that remained with him in the dream."

-Wendell Berry, Remembering

He's got a lot to answer for................

Born this day in 1791, Charles Babbage was a mathematician
who didn't like mistakes.  "Computers" of his day were people
who did computing, i.e. adding, subtracting, multiplying and
dividing.  Babbage noticed a high error rate in the creation of
numerical tables and logarithms by such human computers. 
Being mechanically oriented and adept, Babbage proposed,
designed, and attempted to build machines that would do such
computing correctly.  He called his first such machine "a
difference engine."  He later attempted to construct an "analytic
engine."  For his efforts he is considered a "father of the

Babbage was also an inventor (the cow-catcher attachment for
the front of locomotives, and an ophthalmoscope), a
cryptographer, a writer, and a philosopher.  His contemporaries
must have been impressed by his smarts, as halves of his brain
are still on display at two London museums.

"Difference Engine No. 2", constructed in1989–91, using Babbage's
plans and 19th century manufacturing tolerances.

Part of Babbage's difference engine, assembled after his death
by Babbage's son, using parts found in his laboratory

images courtesy of wikipedia

Caveat emptor...................

Swim the deepest seas.........................

Grass Roots.........................................I'd Wait a Million Years

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

Looking For a Sunset Bird in Winter

The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.

In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.

No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.

From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn't show.

A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.

-Robert Frost
photo courtesy of

The word for the day..........

This word for the day is brought to you by Mr. Webster
and the third edition of his New College Dictionary:

divagate   v.   1.  to wander about    2.  to stray from the
                        subject; digress

as in:

His focus blurred by one too many egg nogs, Santa began
divagating when Mrs. Claus asked him where he had been
all night.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wonders of His love.......................

Mannheim Steamroller..................................Joy To The World

Michael Bolton.........................................Joy To The World

Chris Tomlin...........................................Joy To The World

The Christmas Verse

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a
decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was
governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of
Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is
called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage
of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great
with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were
accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him
in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because
there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in
the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and
the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they
were sore afraid.

10  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I
bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all

11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of
the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good
will toward men.

15  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from
them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us
now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is
come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph,
and the babe lying in a manger.

17  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad
the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18  And all they that heard it wondered at those things
which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke  2:1-18
King James Version
The Holy Bible

Merry Christmas.................

Bringing peace to all the world..........

The Royal Gaurdsmen.................Snoopy vs The Red Baron