Saturday, December 29, 2007
"There's always one guy in the book club who doesn't read the book and spends the whole meeting trying to fake it: Bud Selig."
Friday, December 28, 2007
There are some pretty deep themes going on here and I probably don't get all of them. I re-read the last page 4 times and still don't know what to make of it.
Still, a great book, some would say, the "Best Book Ever."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
He skipped and smiled all the way back through the parking lot.
Happened at the Starbucks in Fremont about 2 miles off of the Thornton exit. Barista was 6'2'+ foot tall African American dude with corn rows.
Gosh, what a great company.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
That got me thinking to my favorite version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Definitely John Denver and the Muppets. Probably listened to it 1,000 times from the age of 4 to 8. Still holds up today. Check it out.
The Muppets - Twelve Days of Christmas
Also, let the record show that I'm a huge fan will be at these movies on opening night!
This came from Paul Kedrosky's blog.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Scary statistics if you are in the television or television advertising business.
Well, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Katie Haegele wrote an interesting piece on Inanimate Alice recently. Great read and explains the concept pretty well.
I feel very strongly that this is a big opportunity. I don't even care if I'm the one who makes it happen, I just want to see it happen. If you're reading this and are interested, give me a shout.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
“People weren’t drinking coffee. ... So the question is, How could a company create retail stores where coffee was not previously sold, ... charge three times more for it than the local doughnut shop, put Italian names on it that no one can pronounce, and then have six million customers a week coming through the stores?”Read on, dear reader.
"Whenever I meet someone who is super awesome, inevitably their first concert was something cool like Miles Davis at the Blackhawk in San Francisco, or Prince while he was touring for his "Sign O' the Times" album. And if you run across someone who is kind of annoying or wussy, nine times out of 10 their first concert will be Kenny Loggins on the "Danger Zone" tour."First of all, I will defend Kenny Loggins' honor until the day I die. Danger Zone was probably the most important song to me (except for We Built This City by Starship) for a 5 year period of my life.
Second, there is a crazy funny quiz at the end to judge your coolness based on the experience.
What did you say dear reader? Oh, my first concert was Aerosmith at the Shoreline Amphiteater. I was actually more pysched to see Collective Soul, who opened for them, because that song Shine was huge. Call me crazy but I still like Collective Soul, especially the song November. Anyways, Aerosmith had recaptured their groove thanks to Alicia Silverstone and Cryin'. Those were the days.
My lasting memory: Lot's of old, old Aerosmith fans wearing leather and black t-shirts and looking at my crew of 16 year olds with disgust.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It's one of my favorite books of all time. In fact, it got passed around my family and it ended up inspiring my stepbrother to move from being a teacher to an administrator because he felt he could do more good there. His daughter's middle name is Dagny.
I can't wait to see what Heg does with the full head of steam the book gave him.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Anywhoo, cool NY Times article on how and why women evolved to carry babies better. No wonder I can't hang in Yoga class.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The recording isn't great, but it has some great moments. Looking forward to downloading some clean tracks.
Jenny Lewis, the lead singer, is pretty awesome. I think the band sounds a little like Heart with the lead femal singer. Not as much guitaring, but I think her voice is pretty special.
By the way, if you were following my Twitter-stream (my username is "scottorn"), you would have heard about my Rilo Kiley discovery 6 hours ago.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Thanks for letting me publish it Evan.
Friends, Family, Colleagues:
Happy Holidays from Pacific Union Financial! At this time of year, I typically reflect on the events that have transpired over the last 12 months and give thanks for all of our good fortune, both with family and with work. This year’s reflections have a bit of a different tone and tenor. Anyone who reads the front page of the newspaper or who listens to the nightly news has had their attention brought to the troubles facing our industry; anyone who works or did work in the mortgage industry knows these troubles firsthand. It would be really easy to send the annual greeting card out this year with negative bullet points regarding the struggle that anyone in mortgage banking is currently experiencing, but instead, I offer a different perspective. From our challenging business environment emerges several lessons that I have learned. These lessons can’t be taught or learned in a classroom. They can’t necessarily be understood by reading a book or even this email. They have to be learned first hand, and I am still learning them. Maybe these are lessons that the rest of the world already learned that I was slow comprehend. Regardless, by sharing these experiences, I hope these awfully expensive lessons for me may be less expensive for you.
1) When times are good, even optimal, remember that they may not always be that way. Many mortgage brokers/bankers were making more money than they ever thought possible. Now many are loosing more than they ever thought possible. Some are out of business. If we were a little more prudent when the times were good, the sting may not have been so severe during the downturn.
2) Exercise patience, understanding and non-judgment. Mortgage industry professionals have collectively been very humbled by our current market conditions. Many of us (me included) were impatient with others and judged others in ways that were foolish and insensitive. Right now, the overwhelming sense that mortgage professionals or others in related professions feel is that we just want to be given a break. Just remember, you can’t get what you’re not willing to give, so give everyone a break.
3) There is no substitution for hard work. I don’t care how good you are at what you do. Plain and simple. The only reason we’re still here is because we roll up our sleeves everyday and put our hard hats on. Okay, maybe they’re not hard hats, but you get the point.
4) You must believe in yourself and believe in a better day. For all the mortgage industry professionals or anyone in another industry suffering adverse business conditions on this email, it will get better. You must truly believe that. And, you must believe that in any situation you can succeed. This is not always easy when all you read about is what a mess the mortgage business is in. Stay focused on what you can do to improve yourself and turn a deaf ear to the pessimists.
5) If you can weather the storm, you come out on the other side stronger than before. We are armed with knowledge gained through these endeavors that make us more powerful and potent as a company. We are very proud to still be in the game. Don’t give up.
6) Gray hair (or as my wife calls them, your natural highlights) may be an inevitable part of an arduous and challenging process, but no matter what, don’t try to cover them up with Just for Men. I tried. I looked ridiculous. Wear your gray proudly so that others may be aware of your wisdom.
I speak for everyone in my family and company when I wish all of you a very festive and safe holiday and certainly a very prosperous 2008. We have enjoyed working with you, being your friend, and for some, being a part of your family. Thank you for all of your continued support.
All of Our Best,
Evan, David, Laura and Alex P. Stone
Even scarier is that I've read some accounts that say those bonds had Puts embedded in them as part of standard issue. Meaning the banks might have to buy them back even if there wasn't fraud. There is speculation, and it's speculation, that banks agreed to the buy back provision (a Put) as part of the accounting shenanigans that let them take those bonds off their balance sheet.
But unfortunately, the "freeze" is just another fraud - and like the other bailout proposals, it has nothing to do with U.S. house prices, with "working families," keeping people in their homes or any of that nonsense.
The sole goal of the freeze is to prevent owners of mortgage-backed securities, many of them foreigners, from suing U.S. banks and forcing them to buy back worthless mortgage securities at face value - right now almost 10 times their market worth.
The ticking time bomb in the U.S. banking system is not resetting subprime mortgage rates. The real problem is the contractual ability of investors in mortgage bonds to require banks to buy back the loans at face value if there was fraud in the origination process.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Jeff Tweedy - Radio King - Live at the Vic 3.05.05
In fact, according to my iTunes count, I've listened to it 205 times since Nov 5, 2006.
This version is not the best. The best comes from Tweedy's Sunken Treasure DVD but this version will have to do because it's on the Internet, and I can share it with you.
Oh yeah...Radio King will be on the soon to be released Sunday Morning 11. Don't know what Sunday Morning is? Stay tuned, or ask around.
The service works like this:
1) You go to www.twitter.com and set up an account (takes 2 minutes),
2) You run an address book search and it tells you who you know already using Twitter,
3) You elect to "follow" those who you like or think are interesting. Whenever they text something into Twitter, it get's sent to you.
4) Let your friends know you are on the service now, then Text something to Twitter yourself and watch as your audience builds.
I've started playing around with Twitter a lot recently and I think it could be pretty powerful and is already super cool. Last night, I was "Twittering" from the Andrew Bird concert. If you had been following my Twitters, you would have known I was there and how epic it was, and could have run down to the concert in mid-show. Or maybe you would have just listened to a few Andrew Bird songs real-time. Or you could have introduced me to another friend who just happened to be at the concert.
Hopefully these scenarios paint a bit of a picture. It's a cool service and can be integrated into your Facebook Update that friends on that service see.
Check it out. To follow me, my username is "scottorn."
He just moved to Seattle and has been exploring it. Through his blog, we've been with him every step of the way.
It's called "314 in 206." Check it out and maybe he'll explain the title.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
His blog is informative and sometimes makes me wish I was still in b-school. Plus the guy has great taste in pants. These things sound really great for a man with my figure.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
I think freezing loan payments and interest rates, like Paulson and Hilary Clinton want to do, is very anti-capitalistic and will do a lot of harm to the banking systems. At the very least, we are creating a monumental moral hazard and the expectation that people should be bailed out of mistakes.
Also, freezing all of these instruments is going to crush the value of the bonds that these mortgages feed into. Yes, people who hold the bonds will lose a lot of money (as the cash flows get pushed out the net present value of the payments is reduced) but it also keeps the market from clearing. Earlier in the week, Citadel, a very powerful hedge fund, bought the mortgage portfolio of e-Trade for about 25 cents on the dollar. Therefore, the rest of the financial system could work off an approximate asset value for other mortgage bonds. Now that the picture is getting cloudy again, uncertainty will return and the capital markets will be tied up trying to figure out what will happen. That just slows down the healing process.
It's a really sad state that we are in, but we should try to protect against future moral hazards so this doesn't happen again and think more creatively about how to help the people who overreached...
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Most people know they used a really innovative system for selling the album. They made it available through their website and you could pay anything you wanted for it. Pretty neat. I believe the average price came out to about $4. I paid $6.
Bryan Kenna had some pretty interesting thoughts on the ramifications of this model, but he doesn't write a blog. BK - we need your thoughts...Until then, enjoy my favorites from In Rainbows.
Radiohead - All I Need
BOTM vol 2 at The World Forgot
Radiohead - In Rainbows at Song, by Toad
Well, I'm certainly not a respected economist, and I have a high % of my personal money in precious metals (which are a bet that the dollar will continue to weaken) so I'm completely biased in this discussion.
However, I think a weak dollar is a big problem. A weak dollar is a symptom of inflationary monetary policies. We're creating more dollars than there are demand for, so the value goes down. Someone has to own every dollar created, more or less, so the price of a dollar (in terms of other currencies and metals) changes accordingly.
A weak dollar is fine while things are honky dory, because people (foreigners mostly) step up and buy them and it's not so painful. However, a weak dollar is really an abdication of monetary and financial discipline. We're essentially letting the market police us, rather than policing ourselves. That's the problem, not the absolute level of prices or the dollar.
Until you've been shut out of the capital markets you have no idea how rough Mrs. Market can be in her policing ways. Ask mortgage brokers right now how it feels. For the longest time any loan could be sold off. Then one day the banks cut mortgage brokers' credit lines and the market stopped buying the loans. Tough times started immediately. Because the whole loan and credit evaluation process was taken out of the local bank branch office and a formula based system (credit score) was instituted, credit became a lot easier to access (a good thing) but there were few breaks on the system (a bad thing). We relied on Mrs. Market which on balance is good, but some responsibility would have limited the bust.
Ask biotech startups and newly public companies what it felt like in 00'. Or Technology startups in 2001-2002. I was there (in investment banking) for both of those and it was not fun. Lot's of good ideas and nice people were hurt.
The moral of the story is policing oneself is the smart thing to do. Letting the market police yourself, works most of the time, but it can end very badly.
(Sorry to sound like such a whiner and doomsdayer. I don't think the world will end but I don't think we're being very responsible right now).
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I first became aware of this type of oil production technique when a company I invested in, Newmont Mining (a gold miner), bought a huge track of land in tar sands country. The purchase was about 4 years ago, before Oil prices went crazy. Management of Newmont saw their energy costs going crazy and decided it would be a great hedge. Turned out they were right and turned something like a $100M investment into a $1B return and effectively immunized the company from rising energy costs for about 50 years. Not too shabby. That's what good management does.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
On the surface, it looked like a terrible deal. Why would Citigroup raise a bunch of money at an 11% Preferred Dividend Rate? Way too expensive and must mean they're in trouble. At least that is what I thought. Then I came across this analysis of the security by Andrew Clavell and realized it was a DECS, just like the ones I studied at Kellogg.
It was actually a pretty cheap way of raising capital for Citigroup. I felt a little dumb for not seeing this right away. Thanks for passing it on Paul Kedrosky.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Well, the good news is that all my friends have bought in places that figure to retain value - like San Francisco, Downtown Chicago, immediate East Bay suburbs of SF (not to be confused with outer suburbs), Santa Monica, etc.
The bad news is that a housing decline affects us in unpredictable ways. Check out the article below from Paul Kedrosky's blog. California is facing a monster deficit this year. Imagine cutting the state budget by 10% - that is going to be hard and very ugly. Last time we were in this position, we floated a bond that may have been technically illegal because California is not really allowed to go into a deficit. Crafty lawyers found a way around the problem last time, but can we really do that again? 10% is a lot of healthcare, school and transportation programs that are just going to disappear.
I'll leave you with an image from Kedrosky's Blog. This shows that we're still working our way through the sub-prime and adjustable rate mortgage problem. We've got a long way to go.
While I had been expecting that California would see a state revenue shortfall in 2008 of around $8-billion (up ten-fold from this year), Governor Schwarzenegger announced today that the situation will be even even more dire. Fueled largely by housing's collapse, the California state budget is now forecast to have a $10-billion shortfall in the coming fiscal year.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday ordered all state departments to draft plans for deep spending cuts after receiving word that California's budget is plunging further into the red -- largely because of the troubled housing market.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
By the way, for the longest time, my buddy Krantz, who grew up in Sacto and was a busboy there in high school, would wear a Mikuni shirt to Saturday hoops. We had no idea what it meant so we would always ask him. Krantz's response, "Oh, it means fertile young male." That always brought the house down.
Friday, November 23, 2007
But every once in a while he mixes in a really cool political point that serves as icing on the cake. He did just that this morning with his entry, "Technology Trumps Government Again." It's worth the 2 minutes it will take you to read.
I'm a big believer in technology. In fact, if someone asked me what my true religion is, I think I would respond with faith in humanity's creativity to improve ourselves. No where is that better demonstrated than in technology markets where devices, services and new ideas are constantly bubbling up to make out life better. It's nothing against Government. I believe it's better that Government is less creative, and Government programs often lay the foundation for discoveries that change the world.
Anywhoo, Fred doesn't really address this, but there is some ideal balance between Technology and Government and I think the U.S. is pretty good at managing it. But we have an Ace up our sleeves. We have those tireless entrepreneurs that Fred and others like him are funding. Willing to chase their dreams for the benefit of all of us. People are pretty cool.
I suggest adding Fred to your must read list.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Just a quick shout out to all my friends across the country - actually world - on this fine Thanksgiving Day. Last year this time, I was having the time of my life living in London with Lisa and Dan, attending London Business School and hanging out with the Walm and his crew.
Today, I'm back in the Bay Area and as Fred Larson's photo to the right shows - it's been great. Thanks everyone who helped make the last year amazing and special thanks to the huge amount of people who have helped me on my job search! It feels great to have such great friends.
Let me leave you with a cool Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) song about Thanks. It's a catchy sing along tune that Tweedy used to defuse a touchy situation in Oregon on his last tour. My favorite part of the the song? The "we can make it better" lyric.
Thanks to everyone for a great year, and let's make it even better next year!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Here are a couple samples. Day Brings is my favorite.
Unfortunately, Brad isn't huge on the Internet, so check out Secret Girl, Buttercup, and Screen among others.
Finally, Stone Gossard popped into my mind because I saw this interview he did recently. Brad is getting back together and will be releasing a new album soon. Pretty cool. Brad is also playing at Webster Hall for a benefit, which Stone was promoting in the interview. Check it out.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
They're playing the Fillmore in SF this Friday night. I'm going to try to make it, anyone with me?
Here are some of my favorite tracks.
Band of Horses on The Late Show at Culture Bully
The transformation is complete : Band of Horses at It's hard to Find a Friend
Band of Horses Hit the Right Notes at Glorious Noise - Rock and roll can change your life
Monday, November 19, 2007
Personally, I love it. Why can't politics be fun? And who dares to disobey Chuck Norris?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
That journalist? My friend Matt Belloni. Matt wrote a great article in Esquire's Best and Brightest issue on Ben Silverman, the entertainment guru at NBC. It's hard to believe that someone in such a high profile and powerful position could ever get fooled by a journalist who is nothing but professional and honest.
The NY Times picked up the story and that is where the bum rushed quote comes from. Pretty neat for Matt that his story got so much play.
Matt is as good as it comes. Check out the articles.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
I'll be listening to the New Pornographers, or maybe Andrew Bird. Wait, what about Death Cab, or the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, or Spoon. Options abound!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I know it's deeper than those two groups though. I firmly believe that it all starts with those USC cheerleaders. The recruiting brainwashing begins early. Would-be football players are watching ABC at the age of 10, trying to decide where they want to go to school some day, and then the camera flashes the Dance Squad and it's all over. That kid is going to USC, no if's, and's or but's. It's a done deal.
It's ugly, I know. But it's the truth.
Taylor, a newly converted CAL fan, has infiltrated their secret society and provides this link. Do your research people. We need to know the enemy.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I'm a big fan of Feedburner and use it to tell how many people read this blog daily and how many loyal subscribers I have (people who read through an RSS feed subscribe to the feed, it's much easier then remember to click on Kenny Kellogg). The company was acquired by Google in May for about $100M. Mad props to Dick.
While I was at Kellogg, he was kind enough to drop by once with one of his VC's to answer about a million questions from budding entrepreneurs at school. He then followed that up by having dinner with about 10 of us where he was asked another million questions. He answered every single one directly and honestly, and I think I learned more in those 3 hours spent with Dick then in a lot of my classes at school. He's the man.
One great thing about talking to Dick, reading his blog and following his twitter stream, are that he has a really funny, dry sense of humor. Even when it comes to customer service. His entry today made me laugh. Making customer service fun, now that is a talent.
November 04, 2007
If you saw your subscriber count drop precipitously in your Saturday, November 3rd summary from FeedBurner, the reason is that specific subscriber stats from Google Feedfetcher were offline because this service was apparently out late with friends on Friday night, and well, it completely slept through Saturday. It appears to have rallied, however, and amid firm declarations of "I'm never doing that again", Feedfetcher has started diligently reporting subscriber numbers to us, early this morning Pacific Time. FeedBurner publishers' subscriber counts should be closer to what you'd normally expect starting with reports that will be available on Monday morning.Posted by Dick at 11:05 AM
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Another happy birthday goes out to Mr. Gust Funnel himself. I'm sure he and the boys are celebrating properly in Chicago this weekend. Wish we could be there. Those of us on the West Coast will get our chance though, as our favorite beard sporting, red-head will be hosting a little get together before CAL vs. USC. Care to wager on which witty t-shirt he'll be sporting on gameday?
Friday, November 2, 2007
The losses were severe and life changing for many people. In my search for a silver lining, I stumbled upon this photo of the fire charging towards downtown San Diego and this New Yorker cover.
Both images capture some of the fear that the fire brought us. But the images themselves are beautiful. They can help those affected by diffusing the fear and bringing many more of us into the conversation. Art is cool like that.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Today, Ames Bros in conjunction with Pearl Jam announced they are publishing a book with all the cool PJ posters from the last 13 years. Pretty neat stuff. Check it out here.
In the meantime, here are some of the cooler posters that I impress girls with.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I'm not really sure why the Fed is cutting rates when we are a couple hundred points shy of an all-time high on the Dow Jones Industrial avg. I thought you were supposed to cut rates when the economy was slowing, and that when the economy started slowing, the stock market went down. Hmmm.
Seems like the Fed is being irresponsible to me and focused more on what their core constituents (banks) want - and less about the long-term welfare of the economy and general public. But what do I know...
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
"Scotty and I [Becker] were discussing the evolution of Halloween on Saturday. It seems - and not that we're complaining - that Halloween has become an excuse for girls to wear something "naughty." we noted that this has resulted in a phenomenon where girls seem to be able to take any costume - and make it "naughty."...For example, we saw three "naughty" referees on Saturday night. we also saw "naughty" pirates. and even, "naughty" Starbucks baristas. how far can this go? I'd like to see someone do some work to really explore how women choose their Halloween costumes. what are they trying to accomplish?"
Well ladies, how do you pick your costumes? I'm a red-blooded American male, so if things are moving towards "naughty," then that works for me.
Let me tell you one person it doesn't work for though, Mr. Joel Stein of the LA Times. He has some serious bones to pick with Halloween here. Umm, Joel, come on dude. Live a little.
Folks, let's hear your comments on this one.
By the way, I think this might be my favorite Halloween costume of all time, Krantz as Tobey McGuire in Seabiscuit.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Just this week I was lit up on the boards by none other than Tucker Callaway. Tucker has a special posting style where he turns some of your biggest strengths into weaknesses. I’m not even sure how he does it really. It’s a Zen thing.
“Orn [Kenny Kellogg] spends more time in the Yoga studio than David Hasselhoff.”
A great Post Board zinger can have you laughing for days. That's why we play Fantasy Football. It's just good times. Thanks for the laugh Tucker.
Harry, what can I say, you never disappoint. He's the man, pure and simple. If you haven't started reading Harry Potter, the Star Wars of the new generation, then you are a lucky person. Don't Fear the Youth! Start reading Harry today.
Chuck Klosterman spilled some ink on Harry Potter in this month's Esquire. Chuck is a pro and writes about 5,000x better than I do, but he wrote an article about something he hasn't read and experienced. Umm, isn't that why we have editors? Come on Chuck, you're better than that.
While you're skimming Chuck's article in Esquire, devote your full time to my friend Matt Belloni's article on Diablo Cody, a woman who worked as a stripper for a year because she was bored with her corporate day job. She knocked out a book after the experience. Cool article. She's also a blogger, and writes Pussy Ranch (no joke on the name).
On to the Wire, what can I say? It's pretty freaking unbelievable. The writers changed the whole focus of the story in Season 2, and still pulled it off. It's a must rent. Beware though, it takes a couple episodes to get into each season. The secret of the show is how well they develop all the characters. You come to really care what happens to them, even the drug dealers and crime bosses. I'm not saying they're likable, you just care. In fact, the Cops and Drug Lords aren't so different...
I'm getting towards the end of Season 3, and I'll give you an update when I finish.
By the way, if you have been debating watching the Wire, you should know that there is a certain element of personal redemption you can find in it. You see, Beth Stevens was not too happy about my John Mayer recs, but she agreed to forgive me because I love the Wire so much. Redemption on earth people...by watching TV. Awesome.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
One thing on the blog - if there is something I'm covering too much or not enough, please let me know. And as Bryan Kenna said, please reply via comments on the blog. Your emails are great but other can't see them and build upon them.
My first job out of school was doing Mergers and Acquisitions for Hambrecht & Quist in 1999. I caught the tech bubble full tilt and a giant merger I worked on, VeriSign & Network Solutions, was announced a few days before the top in the market. I was caught up in the mania as much as everyone and I still remember the analyst bullpen conversations around trading stocks. Every once in a while, a VP or Managing Director would drop by the bullpen to see what stock they should be buying. It was an amazing time.
So I watched the housing market explode with a sense that "I've seen this before." I'm not smart enough to call bottoms or tops, but I do have a great deal of experience working with debt, from my time at Lighthouse, and I can recognize a debt fueled implosion with the best of them. Well that is what we're seeing right now folks. The SF Chronicle details some pretty horrific foreclosure stats from the 3rd quarter.
The thing about debt, which housing was dependent on because so many people were putting 0%-10% down instead of the standard 20%, is that it accelerates the pain. When you have an asset that has decreased in value, but you own it free and clear, you don't have to sell. When you only own a portion of that asset, but owe payments, which you can't make, you have to sell...at fire sale prices. The sales, at rock bottom prices, are just beginning.
I bring this up because 1) I feel sorry for the folks who are going through this, and 2) The problems in housing are going to affect all of us. If you can't pay your mortgage, you can't shop for the new car, the new tv, mattress or whatever other discretionary item you've been buying the last five years.
From most of our perspectives, it's going to be a slow deterioration. For others, it's going to get nasty. I've been through one of these, in Tech, so I know how it feels. Let's try to maintain some empathy and help out those who are going through it.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The second Dutch in my life is Dutch Evans, a new blog written by my man Greg Yeadon. He's one of the funniest guys from Kellogg and I'll never forget his "gunner" routine, firing an imaginary gun turret from the back row when people were "contributing" a little too much in class.
Here's a shot of Greg and me, just so you know how dapper he can be.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I followed her down the aisle, noticed the middle seat was open next to her and went for it. We struck up a nice conversation a few minutes later and this girl told me that she was a singer but sang, "mellow music." For most people, that's not as cool as Rock'N'Roll, but you, dear reader, know that I like mellow music. Now, this whole conversation had gone without me asking her name. I'm smooth like that. I asked her name and she responded Sia. Never heard of her, bummer.
Anywhoo, we talked about the book she was reading, Tipping Point by Gladwell, my life @ Kellogg, and later on we got to talking about traveling. It turns out she was coming back from South by Southwest, an epic music festival in Austin, Texas that I had the pleasure of attending this last year. SXSW is a great showcase event for upcoming bands and the fact that she played it piqued my interest...and then I remembered this profile of her in the SF Chronicle.
It turns out that Sia sings in a band I really like, called Zero 7, but her solo career had almost ended before it got started. Despite her Zero 7 success her music label had dropped her and things weren't looking good...until the folks from Six Feet Under decided to use her song, Breathe Me in the final scene of the final episode. It's a pretty awesome song and it adds a lot to the moment. Just one catch, no one told Sia.
A funny thing happened after the show aired. Her CD's started flying off the shelves of record stores across the world. One problem though, because she had been dropped, there were no more cd's in production. There was a worldwide shortage of Sia.
And that is where she was when we talked on that Southwest flight. She had a four way record label bidding war going for her next album and she was flying to Australia to cut another Zero 7 album in about a month. Things had turned around for her and it couldn't have happened to a nicer person. She was even cool enough to leave me some tickets when she played in Chicago a few weeks later.
Sia is playing at the Fillmore tonight. I'd be there in a second but I have the flu. Sia is as nice as can be, she's very cute and she has some serious pipes. My friend Meghan Coles is going, shouldn't you?
P.S. Here is the Six Feet Under clip with the song. It's a lot cooler if you are a fan of the show.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Apologies on the lack of posts this week folks. Unfortunately, I caught the flu bug and have been out of it a bit. The only saving grace is that I've watched 11 episodes of The Wire in the last 24 hours, and let me tell you, it is amazing. I can't stress this enough. Start renting now.
Supposedly this New Yorker profile of David Simon, one of the creators of the Wire is really awesome. I haven't read it yet, but I plan to.
Finally, I thought I would bring Merrill Lynch's monster write-down to your attention. The firm is writing down about $8 billion, with a "B", of mortgage related bonds. Here is the Wall Street Journal's coverage. Merrill's existing exposure is still about $12B -$15B on these type of debt instruments, depending on whose numbers you use. Kudos to Merrill for aggressively writing down these instruments, but there is probably much more to go. At the same time, there are a lot of finance companies with huge exposure in this area that aren't being proactive. Expect write-downs up the wazoo later in the year.
No matter how you slice it, credit markets and aggressive lending have powered the U.S. economy for a very long time. It's going to be tough to sustain growth while finance companies pay for their past sins and the credit markets return to more normal behavior.
Monday, October 22, 2007
We made a bee-line for the pool table and ordered a few drinks. It's not easy to feel macho when the girl you are with orders a darker beer than you, but I think I pulled it off. As we struggled through a game of pool, Jessica started hob-knobbing with Todd & Julie, a couple waiting to play us. Who knew that Todd was a bonafide pool shark and Julie could take care of business despite claiming she hadn't played in 20 years? More importantly, they were a total blast.
A few beers, an indulgence in a feel good shot, and we were ready for Ian. Todd staked out a good spot and we spent the show digging the music, making fun of a scary, stalker-ish dude right in front of Ian and having an awesome time. After making a few adjustments to the settings on her camera, very impressive to a point and click guy like me (that's what she said), Jess took some cool photos.
|Ian Ball Night|
Here's a YouTube clip of Ian playing a portion of one of Gomez's best songs, In Our Gun at Cafe du Nord.
It's not mind-blowing, but was pretty cool when we were there. Here's version with better production value.
We had a great time. Ian was great but I think it was our new friends, Todd & Julie, who really made the evening. Thanks guys. See you at a show coming soon. You're the Cat! (Todd's go to pump up phrase for the evening.)
Here's some bonus Gomez for reading through a long post.
Gomez - Hamoa Beach (live)
Ping One Down
Bring It On - Funny Video from early Gomez days. Brings out the British humor.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I bring this up because something interesting is beginning on Twitter. For those of you who don't know, Twitter is a 1 to Many texting service that allows you to send one text status update, and all of your friends who follow your Twitter stream are updated instantly. It's kind of like real-time and short hand blogging. It's a pretty interesting phenomena and you should check it out.
Well, I've just received my second unsolicited Twitter "Add" by a band I've never heard of. Twitter let's you know who is following you, so when I saw someone I didn't know, I checked them out. Not a bad way to get exposure for your music. In this soon to be ubiquitous WiFi enabled world we live in, it can't be too long before I can stream these unknown band's music over my phone.
Once again, the creativity of bands is driving adoption of new social Internet services.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Out of the angry aether came one (yes 1) constructive comment and it was by none other than Mr. Bryan Kenna. As Kenna so abley pointed out, Mayer's best album is Try! (I really wished he hadn't used the excalamtion point for macho-ness purposes).
It's a pretty awesome album with a lot of blues on it and Mayer's guitar talent really comes out. Dude, the guy can play guitar. He's so good at guitar, that he can do it with his eyes closed. :)