Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To Bail or Not To Bail - That is the Question

I don't know where I stand in regards to bailing out the ailing American auto industry.

On one hand, it looks to me like you are throwing taxpayer money away at three companies that are bound to go under sooner rather than later, due to poor business practices, the current market conditions, the credit crunch, and the fact that their industry landscape has dramatically changed due to Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen's market share - or I should say, market dominance. What usually happens when another competitor puts a superior product on the market and utilizes savvier business practices when it comes to suppliers, laborers, and health insurance? Well, in a free market economy, the competition either rises to the occasion and develops a better product OR they collapse and go under.

On the other hand, one study roughly estimates that 3 million workers are directly or indirectly tied to the Detroit auto industry. That is a lot of people. A lot of people who could possibly lose their jobs if some cash isn't driven into the industry (no pun intended).

It's a difficult conundrum. For a good balanced view of the problem, click on the article link below. I believe that the article author does a good job of balancing both the pros and cons of the problem and clearly demonstrates that there is no easy answer to this very real problem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What to Read, What to Read?

Well, with just a few weeks left to go in the year 2008 (how is that actually possible? Where does time go? Am I living in a time warp?) I am trying to decide what book to pick up and try to finish before the year is out. I recently have read a lot of good books and have enjoyed pretty much everything that I picked up to read this year, and so want to close out 2008 with some good reads.

I have a recommendation from my best friend Rebekah to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but she did forewarn me that it is a pretty dark, depressing book. Not sure if I should try that right before the holidays, but really, when is there ever a good time to read a depressing book? So it is Number 1 on my list to consider.

I have a book by Thomas Friedman, the noted NY Times columnist, about living green and why it is essential. I read the article that he wrote that was the precursor to this book and it really inspired me as to why the Green Revolution is the next thing that we as a generation should pursue. I enjoy reading articles written by him, but he is not a quick and easy read. Reading his stuff takes time and thought and I go into my college-reading mode, taking my time to digest, analyze, and think about what is being said along the way. I also have the book The World is Flat by him that I have not read yet, but again, it will take time to digest it.

Then there is the book, The Shack that my roommate is reading right now. I have seen some of the message boards about it on and it seems like a good book, and an easy book to get through. I think that is just the way though that most fiction is for me - easy to get through. And especially if there is a good story to go along with it, I fly - I cannot put the book down until I finish reading the last page.

I could come up with an entire list of stuff that I want to read - in fact, if you scroll down the side of this blog, you can see one of my widgets from GoodReads, and see what books I have on my "To Get To" list. Or you can check out my Visual Bookshelf posted on Facebook for pretty much the same list, but with a couple different books listed.

Do you have any recommendations? Read anything brilliant lately? Something so good that you just could not put it down? Please let me know!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Check It Out

So I am going to give a little plug for our consumer-direct business, Signature WoodCrafters. This is our business venture that we started just this year and it has taken off. And yet, we still need more customers! So if you know anyone who is thinking of re-doing their kitchen or wants to transform their stairs or rails, please let me know! We truly do have the best people in the business, and they will work their hearts out to serve you! Check out a few of these slide shows to see our products. You can also visit our website,, our blog,, or follow us at Twitter, username, sigwoodcrafters!

And even if you aren't in the market, just take a look at these pictures - they really are truly stunning in my opinion :).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Forgive Me...

This is my blog, my corner of the universe, and as such I am going to take a moment, be selfish and pat myself on the back for making so many correct predictions this past year. This is not humble of me and it will be showing a side of myself that I am acutely aware of and keep under wraps most of the time. But I can't help myself because it is kind of uncanny how many things I correctly called way back in January of this year (see this link for my original post).

1 - I was right on the economy. Fact is, being in the housing industry puts you on the forefront of what is actually happening in the American economy, and I could have told you back in August of 2006 that we were headed for troubled times. But the idiots in Washington put their heads in the sand and refused to say that the economy was in trouble - on the other hand, there was no other way for them to play it. It was a Catch 22 - if the government acknowledged that something was wrong in the economy, things would have collapsed a lot sooner than they did. It's all about politics and spin and if the spin is negative, the markets will come crashing down.

2 - I was right on the Democrats winning the White House. I must admit, I don't like it - I don't like having a Democrat in the White House. But McCain ran one of the poorest campaigns I have ever seen - what happened to him? I know he has the experience and the record and there is not a person who has served his country more faithfully than he has, but he became muzzled and the experienced statesman that he is never publicly showed itself. I also accurately called that he would have a chance if he picked Sarah Palin as his VP - she had a shining moment at her GOP convention speech, but was then quickly derailed by the media, late-night comedians, and herself. And I don't think he would have had a better shot if he had picked someone else as his Vice Presidential running mate. The public bought into Barack's message a long time ago and the Republican party shot itself in the foot with all of the corruption scandals and mishandling of the power they had. I think it is absolutely wonderful how many people turned out to vote in this election - that is amazing and incredible and right - too many men and women have sacrificed their lives to give us that right, and to not vote is to do them a dishonor and disrespect our own freedom and rights. BUT, I am just wondering how many people are going to be severely disappointed when all the changes promised don't happen. The Democrats will become drunk with their power, just like the Republicans did, and Washington will remain the way it has always been. THAT is politics and THAT is the reality of the political system that we live in. "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

3 - I happened to be totally right about the Giants winning the Super Bowl - which was a fluke guess, but still the correct one! Yay for the downfall of the Patriots :).

4 - I was correct about Into the Wild not winning the Best Picture, but I still maintain that it should have.

5 - I was also correct about the bright color trend continuing.

6 - I also correctly predicted that the writers strike would last into the Spring 2008 TV season, though thankfully it did end in time for new episodes of Lost to be aired - thank the Good Lord above!

7 - I am right about the troops not being pulled out of Iraq until at least 2010. Though Obama has promised a total immediate withdrawal, the reality of the situation will not allow this to be feasible until at least 2 years into his presidency.

8- Though, this prediction came just a week ago, I did correctly predict that gas prices would fall to $1.99 on the eve of the election (Karen G can back me up on this one!), and, guess what! They did! Anyone who tells me that the oil companies do not fix their prices and do not control the politics in Washington (dad) needs to then explain to me the coincidence of the dramatic drop in gas prices during the election. I mean seriously - $1.99 gas - when was the last time that we saw $1.99 gas!? 2005? I don't care that the "market" has all of the sudden seen such a dramatic slip in demand. You tell me that the market has seen a slip in demand when prices are back to $4 next summer. I don't see a slip in demand - there is still plenty of traffic on 66 and 495 and even around the little town of Warrenton - more traffic in fact! Maybe the bubble of Northern Virginia keeps me from seeing the decline in demand, but I just don't see it. No, the conspiracy theorist in me says that the politics of oil run SO much deeper than any of us really know, and that there is more going on behind the scene. And in fact, if the gas prices were to accurately reflect the price of oil on the market, I believe that the prices should be even lower than they are.

9 - I correctly predicted that I would be moving this year! I am really excited about this - I have been keeping it kind of under wraps, but I recently found out that I will be moving (still in Warrenton, back to where I originally started 2 years ago), but I will be living on my own, which will be something completely new and exciting. I have never lived completely on my own and I'm excited/nervous to see what this new arrangement has in store for me.

And finally, number 10 - I correctly predicted that our new business venture, Signature WoodCrafters would be successful. Being involved with this start-up has been one of the hardest things I have ever worked on. Every day is a battle for survival, which is capitalism at its core. I have always tried to work hard and do my best at whatever I'm given to do, but until the work itself is a day to day struggle for survival, I have found out that I didn't know what it truly meant to work hard. It is not easy and is a battle day in and day out. Though we will probably only break even this year with this venture, that is still a victory, because I don't know many start-ups that have turned a profit in their first year, considering the massive advertising costs needed to get your name into the market. BUT, as hard as it has been, I don't know if I would trade this year for anything else. It has been exciting, taxing, draining, thrilling, hard, and totally worth being involved in. It has helped saved the rest of my coworkers' jobs, has given our company a new source of revenue, and taught me a ton - I really couldn't ask for more. I am really lucky to have the opportunities that I have at my company.

So, I ask for all of my legions of readers (all 2 of you :)) to forgive me for applauding myself and bragging about making some correct predictions about this year. And the fact that I hedged all of my bets by originally predicting that none of my predictions would come true, should negate everything that I have congratulated myself on :). And I will return back to my humble self and say with all sincere humility that it is just luck that I gave an accurate read on this stuff. To truly test my clairvoyance, I will have to accurately predict social, political, and international trends for at least two years in a row. And then if that happens, I will proudly take on Professor Larry Sabato's recently relinquished mantle of the "most accurate political prognosticator" :).