Friday, August 31, 2007

My nephew Frank is featured in today's New London (Conn.) Day. It's a feature story on the sights off of Conn. Route 169, which is a state highway that starts in Norwich. You can also see my brother Mark (Frank's dad) in the picture.

Kristie Butts, Lisbon, owner, cuts the hair of Frank Levanto, 2, Lisbon, as he sits on his dad's (Mark) lap. Kristie has been cutting Frank's hair since his first haircut. The entire family comes in to get haircuts about every four weeks. Hair Salon, Taftville.... (Adena Stevens/staff photographer) from New London Day, August 31, 2007. "Busy Days in the Quiet Corner"

Here's the link to the full story in the paper:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yanks are hosting Boston this week. I watched game one of the series last night. While it was on ESPN2, that feed was blacked out in Boston, so I had to watch it on NESNHD. Since I have been watching the Yanks all year on the MLB package, it's interesting to listen to to the Boston announcers comment on the Yanks-- often making wrong assertions.

Classic one from last night: Joba Chamberlain came in for one inning of relief in the 8th. It's pretty well known in New York that they are grooming Joba to be a starter next year. The Boston announcers kept speculating he might replace Mo-Mo Rivera as the closer. This is a nice analysis, except it's wrong. But I know that since I have been following the bombers all year.

I was at the Cape this past weekend with Jen and Nikko and Jen's family at their house in West Yarmouth. Add Seagull Beach on Cape Cod to my list of beaches I have visited. I got to meet Rich, the Pancake Man!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Point O' Woods Beach, South Lyme, Conn., August 9, 2007
I wrote an entry about the recent NY Times article on Silicon Valley executives who think they aren't rich enough. Here's an interesting online disucssion about the article.

I fall into the camp of seeing the article as being rather accurate. I don't think that necessarily makes the subjects in the article pathetic as much victims of the society we live in, and the extreme those societal pressures present themselves as in Silicon Valley.

A while back I spoke to a business partner in the Valley who asked me what car I drove. At the time, I drove a 1997 Saturn SL. He told me how in the Valley he had to drive an expensive car. He very much sounded like a victim... which I think he was.

Friday, August 17, 2007

It bothers me that many analysts are blaming borrowers for the recent stock market "correction." I am not a stock market analyst, but my limited understanding of the situation goes something like this:

-- Too many people took out risky mortgages to buy real estate.

-- They can't make their payments,

-- Their mortgages are going into foreclosure,

-- Everyone who has invested in the market is hurting because of it.

Many infer that if the risky mortgages were not taken out in the first place, we wouldn't be in this mess. The reality is much more complicated. As a reasonably intelligent person, I cannot begin to explain how confused I am when I think about buying a house. I rent now, and one day I do hope to own. But the process is rather daunting.

Facing incredible pressure to buy, I can easily see that many would sign up for mortgages simply because "it's the thing to do." And I am not talking about risky mortgages... I am simply talking about mortgages that were probably too rich for the buyer. A few years back, it was so easy to get money, and much more than one probably could afford, that everyone "was doing it." To quote Mr. Greenspan from a different context, the whole process is suffering from "irrational exuberance."

I am not an economist, but I wouldn't be surprised if things got worse before they got better. Debt is en vogue. Just look at how much the United States is borrowing. And sooner or later, it's going to catch up to all of us.

For now, I am keeping all my cash. In fact, I might buy gold.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I decided to stop subscribing to Money Magazine. A year ago I signed up, hoping the magazine would help me better invest for retirement. After trying to read it, but realizing it best suits someone who has already invested a lot and seen good returns, I decided to stop.

I now subscribe to the Washington Post National Weekly Edition. It's a political must-read, though I am concerned, given I also read Newsweek, that I might not have enough diversity in my news magazines. We shall see.
My friends who came to Conn. for a weekend picnic last week note that my family produces a limitless number of useless facts.
  • Did you know that when a fire creates smoke, the smoke signifies incomplete combustion?
  • Or that the dog toys that place treats inside balls resulted from dogs chewing on engine mounts?
I can keep going, but you get the point. Such points, which randomly come up at parties and during beach weekends, demonstrate why Seinfeld was so successful. Random.

Annmarie and Amy, with me, at the beach house (August 4, 2007).

Jen, Kim and Nikko (August 4, 2007).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It was Tuesday morning that my computer just wouldn't turn on. The second full day of my vacation, and I woke up early to write a document for work. My work lap top decided it was time to take a break. Luckily. I took it as a sign as well, and didn't attempt to fix the issue until today. I am back in Boston. It's Saturday and nice outside. I have a day and a half to get ready for the work week.

I hope my doctor doesn't read this blog ... ever. Much more to come about the week, but suffice it to say I had a lot of meat (the picture above is the grill on Sunday at lunch time). Brett and I did make fish, too. In fact, Thursday night we grilled fresh swordfish, asparagus and potatoes. But fish on the grill doesn't make for as impressive a picture.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I am on vacation in Old Lyme, Conn. this week.

Luckily, you can get the New York Times here. Good story yesterday on the front page about working-class multi-millionaires. I had friends to the cottage (Nikko and Mike, Jen, Elizabeth, Blake, and Kim), and Brett is here, and we all got a kick out of the quote under the picture that was printed with the story. "A few million doesn't go as far as it used to." I really cannot comment on this quote from my own personal experience, but it does really hit on many key points.

First, I kind of feel bad for the people in the story. They are obviously very driven, but the reason they are driven is kind of interesting. They believe they don't deserve the money-- that it kind of fell in their laps because of the Internet boom. They think if they don't work hard, they could lose it all. And then where would they be? The answer, of course, is where they started: very smart, with a good career and in some cases, a good family. Yet this doesn't seem to be enough. One quote from one of the subjects that is also a nice summary:

"“Here, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent,” he said.

“You try not to get caught up in it,” he added, “but it’s hard not to.”

In Australia, I have heard, people are content just being where they are. Is it ok to just make a couple hundred thousand dollars a year? In the U.S., of course not. In Australia.... sure.

NOTE: Article excerpt from New York Times, "In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don't Feel Rich," by Gary Rivlin, August 5, 2007.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mark it down: During the first week of the season, I told Blake (my old roommate) that the Yankees wouldn't even make the playoffs. He was citing some computer model that predicted the Yanks would win more than 100 games. I knew better.

I think there are two things wrong with my beloved Yankees. First, there is no chemistry. Second, it seems like the team is not playing with any passion. They just seem to be going through the motions. Maybe things will change, but for now, my prediction stands.


Since the Yanks are eight games out and there are no other sporting events to watch, I have started following "The Bronx is Burning." I think it should be required viewing for any Yankees fan.