Better Know a GOP VP Pick

In a naked and desperate move to court the hypothetical PUMA vote, McCain names Sarah Palin, a 44-year-old woman as his pick for Vice President.

What do we know about her? Well, she’s an book-banning, creationism-teaching, abstinence-only, anti-choice evangelical, for starters — I can hear the stampedes of supposed disaffected Democrats already!

And then there’s this:

Lawmakers will hire someone within a week to investigate whether Governor Sarah Palin abused her power in firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The legislative council approved 100,000 dollars for the investigation that will find out whether Palin was angry at Monegan for not firing an Alaska State Trooper who went through a messy divorce with Palin’s sister.

Read the Full Story at the KTVA web site.

Calabasas Fire

A fire broke out today about a mile from the office where Industry Figure Larry Helmerich and I work in Calabasas, California.

We first noticed it was “a little smoky” around 1:00pm, and within 15 minutes, it looked like this, with the whole ridge on its way up to Smoky Town (this photo taken as we bravely retreated to our cars):
Larry Helmerich, Alcatel-Lucent offices, and Calabasas Fire
Industry Figure Larry Helmerich, our office building, and a passing fire. Click to enlarge.

Intentional Community

…a term I’d never heard before.

Keri Rainsberger isn’t rich. She works in the nonprofit world for a relatively low-profit salary. Yet, as many Americans are scrimping for every penny, she hardly feels the pinch.

…”I live so far below my means that it doesn’t really register,” says Rainsberger, a 31-year-old Chicagoan with a wiry frame and unusually sunny outlook. “I don’t have to think about money.”

How is this possible?

For starters, she has no car and commutes by bicycle each workday. She also has no mortgage payment and chooses to live in an “intentional community,” a partly shared space where $775 a month covers everything from utilities to meals.

…”In one fell swoop, I pay for the roof over my head, the food in my stomach and the lights to read by. That’s a big advantage,” says Rainsberger, whose high-rise living space is part of the residential program at the Keystone Ecological Urban Center in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Her private quarters — larger and a bit more expensive than some — are about 400 square feet, divided into a sitting room, a craft room and a small bedroom. She shares bathrooms, showers, a kitchen and a large dining room with 28 other residents whose ranks include young professionals, professors and retirees.

“It’s like a college dormitory, but with better conversation,” she often jokes.

The Fellowship for Intentional Community, a Missouri-based nonprofit that began a steadily growing directory of such communities in 1990, estimates that at least 100,000 Americans now live in one. They define them as groups of people living together who share common values that are religious, economic, environmental, social or any combination of those. Sometimes they own property; others rent. About a third live in urban areas, while the remainder are rural.

Read the full story at USA Today:
“Living simply provides economic shelter”
August 5, 2008

Should you buy a home…now?

From the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles economist Christopher Thornberg believes that home prices will stabilize when homes are affordable to about 25% of the adult population. For that to happen in Southern California, home prices would have to come down 20% to 35% from their current levels, Thornberg said.

There’s no way in hell the house you buy now will be more expensive next year,” he said.

Home prices are also relatively high compared with rents. The ratio of home prices to annual rents in the Los Angeles area was 20 as of March 31, meaning the median home sale price was 20 times a year’s rent for a comparable property, according to Moody’s

The 15-year average ratio in Los Angeles is 16.4.

As a completely uncontrolled experiment to see if Mr. Thornberg is right: Zillow currently thinks that my home is worth $414K, which I think is…ambitious, to say the least.

Click here to see the recent price history; does that look like a bottom to you?

We’ll check back in a year.

Read the Full Story in the Los Angeles Times:
“Should you buy a home now?”
August 3, 2008