Winter Weather hits Louisville

It’s been a crazy winter, the last week. The ice storm which took out most of KY’s power only kept us out for a couple of days, but still has some friends down. It was crazy to see all of the trees weighed down and drooping, beautiful and terrible. The ice coated everything, and when the wind blew all of the ice-coated limbs and branched clinked with each other.

Here’s a great photo from a friend of mine, mitch:

ice on tree branch

And another photo from another friend, ramey:

ice on eaves and trees

Luckily, we are all alright and everyone we know is as well. Nice to be reminded how fragile our infrastructure is and how dead-in-the-water most of us are without it.

Obama’s 27 year old speech writter…

Helping to Write History
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; Page A01

During the campaign, the buzz-cut 27-year-old at the corner table helped write and edit some of the most memorable speeches of any recent presidential candidate. When Obama moves to the White House next month, Favreau will join his staff as the youngest person ever to be selected as chief speechwriter. He helps shape almost every word Obama says, yet the two men have formed a concert so harmonized that Favreau’s own voice disappears.

“He looks like he’s in college and everybody calls him Favs, so you’re like, ‘This guy can’t be for real, right?’ ” said Ben Rhodes, another Obama speechwriter. “But it doesn’t take long to realize that he’s totally synced up with Obama. . . . He has access to everything and everybody. There’s a lot weighing on his shoulders.”

Especially now, as Favreau and the rest of Obama’s young staffers begin a transition that extends far beyond new job titles. Three months ago, Favreau lived in a group house with six friends in Chicago, where he rarely shaved, never cooked and sometimes stayed up to play video games until early morning. Now, he has transformed into what one friend called a “Washington political force” — a minor celebrity with a down payment on a Dupont Circle condo

Inspiring to see someone so young accomplishing so much, through composition alone.

we refinanced our mortgage today

We have refinanced (or at least started the process) and locked in at 4.96 after paying a point (it was 5.6 without the point, lenders wanting up-front money and assurance in today’s market). We are rolling in the point and closing costs into the new loan and we’ll still be saving $140/month over our current loan (and if we hadn’t rolled in the costs, it would only have saved us $21/month more).

Obviously, this may be biased, but here’s an article that helped me make up my mind:

Say Hello to the Best Rates in History
by Victor Burek
Posted Dec 17 2008, 08:11 AM

In today’s economy things are changing very quickly and you can chase rates for a while but you don’t want to miss the boat. I would advise all readers, determine a rate that makes sense as far as what it costs and how much you are saving. Once rates hit that level, lock, close and move on with your life. Rates can and will go lower, but there is much more room above for rates to go higher then below for rates to go lower. And keep in mind, LIFE happens, things can change, you could simple forget to make 1 payment to a credit card and your credit could fall and now you don’t qualify. One month ago, rates where 1% higher then they are now, 2 months ago rates where 1.25% higher then now. So, as you can see, things can move quickly.

Birth Control Pills Affect Women’s Taste in Men

I thought this was a very interesting article

Birth Control Pills Affect Women’s Taste in Men

It’s all about scent. Hidden in a man’s smell are clues about his major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which play an important role in immune system surveillance. Studies suggest that females prefer the scent of males whose MHC genes differ from their own, a preference that has probably evolved because it helps offspring survive: couples with different MHC genes are less likely to be related to each other than couples with similar genes are, and their children are born with more varied MHC profiles and thus more robust immune systems.

A study published in August in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, however, suggests that women on the pill undergo a shift in preference toward men who share similar MHC genes. The female subjects were more likely to rate these genetically similar men’s scents (via a T-shirt the men had worn for two nights) as pleasant and desirable after they went on the pill as compared with before. Although no one knows why the pill affects attraction, some scientists believe that pregnancy—or in this case, the hormonal changes that mimic pregnancy—draws women toward nurturing relatives.

Sadness, no home for the blounts

We had gotten VERY excited about a house we were going to buy.

We made an offer, they countered, we accepted… all today (Sunday). We were waiting on the counter-offer-paperwork to sign and send back… well, instead of getting that, we actually got notified that the offer was retracted. Someone else made a better offer and we weren’t given an option to bid back.

Of course, this was after we’d told everyone and after we’d gotten really, really excited about this house. It really was perfect for us – expandable, large, great neighborhood, great character and charm… it really felt like us… the 30 other houses we’ve looked at all paled in comparison.

Now we’re depressed, we feel like we’ve looked at all the available houses in the areas we want to live in, which are large enough.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor annoyance. We’ve got our jobs, our health, our family and friends – and the most beautiful and perfect little girl… we’re doing great. But I’m still feeling very sorry for myself.


Bad time to want to buy a house

This Jan. we thought it would be a good time to start looking for houses, since the rates came down… but being slow and you know, having a child – we just recently got out and actually looked at houses.

By now the rates are over 6% for a standard 30yr mortgage. We have perfect credit and decent everything else… but the lenders are just not passing along the reduced rates.

Furthermore – the costs of houses are unstable… in some ways that’s good for the buyer, as we could haggle more effectively… but the down side of that is – if we buy a house, in 2 months, the house may well be worth less than what we paid for it. That’s the whole problem with most of the junk loans and though ours wouldn’t be as serious as the ones all over the news, it’s still an issue.

– references –

You’d think that lower interest rates would help out struggling borrowers. Yet while the Federal Reserve has moved repeatedly to cut rates, the positive effects of those cuts aren’t getting to those who need them most.

Unfortunately for many borrowers, however, the Fed’s actions aren’t
having the effect they might have hoped for. After dropping
substantially in January, mortgage rates have risen back toward the
range they traded in before the Fed started making cuts.

But just because rates are falling, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to
take advantage of them. Because of tighter credit terms, you won’t
necessarily be able to get a loan. Falling home prices mean that you
may not have equity left in your home to borrow against. It’s a bad
situation for everyday borrowers and consumers.

Many economists expect Fed policy makers to cut the central bank’s key
interest rate by 1 percentage point, but they worry even this reduction
won’t halt the erosion in confidence undermining the economy. Lower
interest rates, which aim to boost the economy by enticing consumers
and businesses to borrow and spend, provide little help if lenders
aren’t loaning money out of fear they won’t be repaid.

The Fed has cut its benchmark rate by 2.25 points since September, but
the economy has continued to deteriorate. Most economists believe the
United States has entered a recession, and many increasingly expect it
to be longer and deeper than the recessions of 2001 and the early
1990s, both of which lasted eight months.

Prescription drugs in drinking water

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas — from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit, Michigan, to Louisville, Kentucky.

I almost hesitate to have relayed this information. One more scare-story isn’t exactly what I’m into… but for some reason this story struck me as something that should be spread some… it seems like something people ought to have in the back of their head and if enough people asked about it, perhaps it wouldn’t get swept under the rug so easily. perhaps.