Deep Thoughts...

Ramblings of the easily distracted... Hey - what's that?

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Homeowner" bailouts...

I, like other responsible borrowers, are more than a little annoyed at the bailout plan for "homeowners" who are having trouble paying their mortgage. Was listening to the radio when someone called in with a suggestion to have the government take a stake in these bailouts, so that if that house were ever sold in the future, the taxpayers would get some of their money back. That sounds like a great idea.

While I'm not necessarily looking for a punitive solution here, there are clearly some folks who were responsible and lived within their means, and there were others who didn't. They lived large, and when their variable rate loans reset, were unable to meet their fiscal obligations. I appreciate the fact we don't want a lot of foreclosures (that's not going to do anyone any good), and I appreciate the need to act fast to keep people in their homes - but I really do hope that there is SOME other part of the "plan" that either involves some sort of reward for the folks who took out the conservative 15/30 year fixed rate mortgages within their means, or something like what this morning's caller proposed so that there is some penalty for the drunken spending some engaged in. Or both.

Maybe I'm just grumpy here because I missed the opportunity to buy a house I couldn't afford and have the taxpayers help subsidize it...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Interesting video of Singapore in 1938. In retrospect, those of you who have been to Singapore will find what happened in 70 years pretty amazing - talk about a transformation!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life Changing Event...

I am amazed at just how much the arrival of a 19 inch, 8 lbs 7 oz baby can change the lives of 2 normal adults. Baby Caroline was born Nov 15, 2008.

An entire room was repainted, refloored, recarpeted, refurnished & redecorated. Huge piles of new & lightly used clothes & baby accessories (diapers, wipes, wipe warmer, diaper bag, car seat, stroller, swings, cosleepers, carriers, slings, high chairs, exersaucers, etc) all sit ready. And yet when the baby finally comes home, you still feel woefully unprepared.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Too Big to Fail... and getting Bigger.

Listened to Robert Reich on NPR last night - Are corporations that are "too big to fail", just too big?

Why would the government, whose role used to be to prevent monopolies (and companies getting too big) via Antitrust laws, be promoting JP Morgan Chase's acquisition of WaMu, Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, and almost - Citi's acquisition of Wachovia?

It's an interesting read - I encourage you to read Robert Reich's blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What if the world could vote in the US elections?

Interesting experiment being conducted by the economist - they have a site where anyone in the world can vote for McCain or Obama -

Right now it seems that amongst people who read the economist, there appears to be a significant preference for Obama (8835 votes) to McCain (35 votes).

While these numbers aren't necessarily a representative sampling of each country, it still is an interesting "what if" experiment.

Painting - part 2.

Well - after having the floors redone, we decided the gray paint in the 2nd bedroom was too dull - we called it "office gray". So after looking at different colors, we decided on "Oatmeal" - kind of looks like it sounds - a light tan.

After taping up the room (the hardest part), cutting in the corners, and doing the first coat, I had 1/2 a wall left when I ran out of paint! Drat. I figured that's how accent walls must have come about.

After Sarah picked up another quart on Monday, I finished up the rest of that wall that night... Looks pretty good, I think. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Q3 08 update - wow... I really should be blogging more often...

Lets see - what happened last hundred days or so? Well, one major development - I finally got married in June - June 22 2008 to be exact. Sarah and I finally tied the knot after about 14 years together. Sarah's friend Sheryl was deputized a marriage commissioner for the day, and married us at the chapel at Yosemite, and we celebrated by having dinner that night at the Ahwahnee Hotel. The next day, we hiked Half Dome (for the second time in my life). Only one drawback: the Mariposa county fires had just started, and the view from the top was, well, a little fuzzy. One hiker we spoke to had been waiting 18 years to hike Half Dome, and it was too bad he didn't get to see the spectacular view that normally rewards hikers at the summit. I forget how tough a hike that was (18 miles or so), but fortunately we stayed at a tented cabin at Curry Village in the Valley, so that saved a precious hour of sleep in the morning. I'll post more pics of the wedding after the wife (funny how I'm still getting used to saying that) approves them. :)

Hmmm... on a sadder note, my dad called in mid August to tell me my grandmother had been diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. I got on the next available flight back to Singapore, and spent 4 days visiting with her. She had been discharged from the hospital, and was now spending her days at home. She was very thin, but was unable to eat more than a few teaspoons of soft food a day. Because I had not really spoken Chinese for the last 20 years or so, communication with my grandmother was rather slow and halting, but it was evident she wanted all my cousins and I to remain close. 4 days after I left to return to the US, she passed away. (almost 2 years to the month after my grandfather passed away.) I am glad I got to see her one last time - she was lucid, happy to see me and despite the language barrier, pretty talkative. The picture my dad used in her obituary is shown to the right. She was 80, and had 6 kids & 15 grandchildren.

On a slightly less depressing note, I finally got around to getting the damaged wood floor in one of the 2 bedrooms in my house repaired. While we were initially quoted ~$5K by a flooring store to replace the entire floor, we opted to go with an independent contractor who is replacing only the damaged boards - all for less than 20% of the cost. You be the judge: the first picture shows the floor prior to refinishing; the second shows it after one coat of Urethane (2 more to go). I think it's a great improvement - and huge bang for the buck! Only real drawback is having to move all the crap out of the room - including my old 32" Sony Tube TV! I've got to craigslist that thing.

Onto more recent news of general interest - I'm rather stunned at the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the latest casualty in what started as the relatively innocuous subprime fallout. After Bear Stearns, Fannie & Freddie Mac, BofA acquiring Merrill Lynch, and now Lehman Brothers and AIG, I think all this puts the spotlight squarely on the lack of analysis on what I like to call the "failure domain". With the rush to market complex financial derivatives, I don't think anyone really thought about what could happen with the failure of a single component. As an aside, some time ago, a storage company was pitching significant space savings by storing one copy of a block of information common to multiple files & have pointers referencing back to that single copy. On paper it looked great - until one file server went down. Then instead of having one bad file server, your entire file system for the company would be corrupted. The analogy here is this great wizbang file system are all the complex derivatives people bought into, and there just wasn't any attention paid to what happened if any one of the individual components failed. I know it's rather a simplistic example, but I think if we thought enough about storage to worry about what happened if one file server failed, I'm really quite stunned to think that no one in the financial sector thought to quantify the implications if one aspect underlying derivatives were to suffer a catastrophic setback.

Time to invest in gold, perhaps. Or maybe real estate. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Currently reading: The Art of Racing in the Rain

I'm about half way through this book - which is written from a dog's point of view. So far, pretty interesting reading. Link to the site with a short synopsis: