Monday, March 25, 2013

Renaissance Now

I saw this article in my local paper this morning about a proposed community garden project in Fort Edward which is the town I'm moving to. Thought I'd share it with anyone who happens to misclick a link and stumbles in here.

When members of the Village Baptist Church and others in the community started discussing a community garden, it was a simple idea, aimed at giving people a place to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and to supplement the Fort Edward Community Food Pantry.

The first dirt has yet to be turned, and the project is already becoming something larger than planned.

I wasn't aware that this was happening and am somewhat unfamiliar with the community, though it is a small town and hopefully that won't take long.

“This really fits in with what we are doing,” Ed Carpenter, a village trustee, said at a meeting of the Village Board earlier this month. “The planning is going well, and we are getting ready to move forward. The site is perfect for what we want to do in the village.”

Carpenter, one of seven members of the committee headed by the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Hurst, the church’s pastor, was referring to the village’s overall Renaissance Plan, which focuses on a series of specific zones within Fort Edward. It is designed to improve the community and bring more people downtown.

I'm looking forward to learning more about the Renaissance Plan and possibly getting involved in this in some way. Mostly put this post up in order to be a reminder to myself of its existence so I'll check up on it again in the future.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Not That I'm a Greedhead

But it's always nice to have a little extra cash when living in a capitalist society where the government is unwilling to provide for your every need. Unfortunately, Obama hasn't turned out to be the socialist we were promised other than handing out a few phones. That reminds me I never got one of those either. Anyway, in order to better cope and have more dough to donate to liberal causes which will undermine capitalism and bring on the free-loader life where I no longer have to work I've found this article with tips from the "ultra-wealthy."

I've long tried to emulate Warren Buffett because he is a Democrat and has handled his wealth without becoming a total jackass like Donald Trump, the Coors family, the Walton family (not the one on TV) and the Koch's. How many rich people stay in Omaha, Nebraska and drink Coke instead of Dom Perignon?  I did get some laughs out of the Hunt brothers when they went bust after trying to corner the silver market, though. I think they might be dead now and dead rich people are OK.

Onto the wisdom from the mouths of the rich:

1. An equity position is necessary to get wealthy.

Ninety percent of the super-successful say this is true, versus fewer than half of the masses. More importantly, 80 percent of "business brilliant" people say they already have an equity stake in their work.

Definitely important to have some "skin in the game" as they say.

2. I'm always looking to gain an advantage in my business dealings.

About 90 percent of "business brilliant" individuals say they are always trying to grab an edge, compared with just about 40 percent of the middle-class.

There's one to work on, I'm definitely too laid-back on this front.

3. Doing things well is more important than doing new things.

Getting wealthy usually means you've taken an ordinary idea and executed it exceptionally well.

I thought this one was very interesting. I had always assumed that some sort of innovation was needed. Good to know it's not because I'm not particularly creative.

4. I hire people who are smarter than I am.

No problem there.

5. It's essential I really understand my business associates' motivations.

Another one to work on.

6. I can easily walk away from a deal if it's not right.

This seems kind of obvious, but maybe sometimes hard to actually do. Psychologically I think we may get invested in the notion of a plan succeeding. Hopefully, the real estate I'm buying is a deal that is "right."

7. Setbacks and failures have taught me what I'm good at.

Those who are "business brilliant" have, on average, more failures than members of the middle-class. But they use those failures to help them succeed on the next attempt. Just 17 percent of the middle-class say they learn from their failures in this way, which is really a shame. Everything worth trying contains an element of risk, after all. If you fall on your face, you might as well learn from the experience to help you succeed on your next try.

I can certainly say this is true of my investing. During the 1990's I "invested" in tech stocks where I had no idea what the fuck the company did. I was buying high and selling low. Then began my love affair with Buffett and I began to invest in companies that actually produced something and it was something I understood. This was the 2000's. Then toward the end of that decade came the stock market crash and I was holding a portfolio that was about 100% in stocks. Another lesson learned. I did manage to wait for the equity market to come back some before shifting a large portion into bond holdings. Don't panic is another lesson that could be on that list. For good measure I got rid of all my individual stocks. My holdings are now in ETF's and indexes. An investment in Bank of America showed me the folly of individual stocks.

So, until we get a truly Marxist president and turn this country into a virtual paradise it's worth following the rules of life as it exists.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Support The Underground Economy

I am a former homeowner and soon to be homeowner again. When leaving my former house I left a lot of stuff behind. As an apartment dweller there's not a great need for things like extension ladders. Now that the renting phase is coming to an end there is a growing need for tools. It would have been inconvenient to have lugged them around, but I don't want to pay full price either. The solution is, of course, to seek out those who are in the position that I was those long years ago and find garage sales.

Besides the natural benefit of paying less for the replacement tools than I would if buying them new is the feeling of helping out those who need to shed some possessions before moving on to the next phase of their life's adventure. There is also the thought of keeping solid waste out of our landfills. And last, and not insignificant, is robbing the taxman of some money. Despite my filthy, degenerate liberalism, I do still try to avoid taxes whenever possible.

Today's haul brought me a miter box and saw, a prybar, hammer, speed square, combo square and mattock to join my previously acquired hacksaw. Not really sure if I will need the mattock but I've got it if I do. Gardening is to be a big part of the next part of my life's adventure. I had a small hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measure and some small stuff. My house-to-be is on the small side and is going to need at least a shed built and I'd like to add a small woodframe greenhouse as well.

OFF POST TOPIC: My office here is having a "contest" to pick the most favorite book. My five nominees (mostly first things that came to mind) were:

1) 1984 - George Orwell
2) Player Piano - Kurt Vonnegut
3) It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis
and to avoid going all dystopian all the time
4) The Deep Blue Goodbye - John D. MacDonald
5) Single and Single - John LeCarre

The only one I have much hope for is 1984. The others are a little obscure. Could have gone with Slaughterhouse Five, Elmer Gantry and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or some such. There are brackets and additional voting though.

Regarding MacDonald, anyone who has missed the Travis Magee novels should really give them a try. His is the lifestyle I envy most, though I could never bring myself to live in Florida so will have to keep my derelict self abiding here in the empire state.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We're Number 30?

Apparently, New York State is number 30 when it comes to happiness. I thought my own sense of abounding joy would bring it up into at least the to 20.

New York was the largest of eight states in which unemployment did not fall in 2012. Many residents who were employed did not like their jobs either.

Well there you go. That's you people's problem. Working. Being between situations like I am would make you a lot happier.

Just 84.3% of respondents told Gallup they were satisfied with their jobs, the worst figure in the U.S. Also, only 76.4% said their supervisors promoted trust, the second-worst such figure.

Like I said.

New York was also ranked among the worst states for the percentage of respondents who stated they had experienced enjoyment — and not sadness and anger — in the previous day.

Well, now I feel sad for all of my fellow NYers. Total buzzkill!

I'm off to see if I can spread some joy cuz this survey is really disheartening. The only good thing I saw was that the unhappiest states of all were Southern and red states. Yeeha!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Coming Home For a Stay

I'm back once again from fighting for the forces of nihilism against all that is good and decent in the world. It's a dirty job and you get a lot of slime on you. Hoping to make this as permanent a vacation as the one I'm attempting to take from my former position of baker extraordinaire at Price Chopper supermarkets. Yes, now it can be told. Anyway, if I write much here, I'll attempt to focus on the local and justify my use of the Hometown label.

I'm presently attempting to move from being a renter to homeowner. In that effort, I went to my local bank where I maintain a checking account and told them I was interested in obtaining a mortgage. The loan officer finding that I had no real estate agent informed me that she knew several in the area and would have one of them give me a call. That seemed very helpful until I found that the agent she had call me was her husband. They all got the heave-ho, although my measly checking account is still with them. Conflict of interest much?

Moving on from there in my quest for financing I landed at Wells Fargo here in Glens Falls. I do have an IRA that is held by them so I thought it appropriate to approach them for the loan. Since I am presently unemployed I expected that they would laugh in my face at my request for funds. If only! They took my application seriously and also took $381 for an origination fee. I thought this was moving along nicely in my direction.

Then a week ago the agent in the GF branch requested copies of my 2012 tax returns which a week previously the Saratoga branch had told me would not be required. Along with the question of how often my former company pays out on my pension, this set off some warning bells. I took a lump sum on the pension so that was a one time good deal. Quite sure that answer didn't help.

Thankfully, I do have (hopefully) sufficient funds to enable me purchase the house I'm looking at outright which I should have done in the first place saving time and money. I have eschewed the rock and roll lifestyle for the cheapskate lifestyle for some time now. So, Wednesday this week I called the GF office to try and get some idea of the verdict on my application. Thinking the agent must have been busy on the previous day, I called and left another voicemail on Thursday morning. That afternoon I gave up on him and called the Saratoga branch. They informed me of the death of my mortgage request.

The moral of this story is that if you can possibly afford to pay cash, pay cash. If you need a mortgage avoid Wells Fargo. BTW, the paperwork went out today to move that IRA to a financial institution with more class.

Live cheap, live well!

UPDATE: Today is Saturday and day 4 of Wells giving me the silent treatment. Not that I expect them to call me on a weekend. But, my real estate agent called yesterday and I talked to her about going forward with financing the purchase on my own. Happened to mention the $381.98 I paid Wells. She reminded me that they  had given me a prequalification on the mortgage. Yes, that's right and then denied me it. So, Friday afternoon I called and requested my money back (to another, number 3, voicemail). I'm really having a ball with this. Anyway, $370 was for an appraisal. Not sure why they would appraise a house that they're not giving me a mortage for. And $11.98 was for a credit report. I want the money back for that, too. The credit report said I pay my bills and they still denied me the mortgage so apparently it's worthless and they can pay for it. I'm calling my legal team of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe on Monday.

I don't think prequalification means what they think it means (or it doesn't mean what I think it means).