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Archive for July, 2008

Analogy– Rocky Balboa:Ivan Drago :: U.S. Economy:Subprime & Oil Prices

U.S. Economy vs. Subprime & Oil

Explanation: The U.S. economy faces headwinds but is still not in recession. According to the Commerce Department’s estimate released this morning, 2nd quarter GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.9% (first quarter GDP was revised 0.9%). The unemployment rate is still at a historically healthy 5.5%. Industrial production also looks good.

If I was going to tell the story of this economy over the last year or so, I’d liken it to Rocky’s epic bout against Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. In this analogy, Rocky is the U.S. economy and Drago plays the part of subprime mortgages and oil prices.

Just before the fight begins, Rocky and Drago meet at center ring, and Drago says with that intimidating glare, “I Must Break You.” As the fight ensues, Rocky is pulverized in the initial rounds. And for several months through last winter and into the spring, it looked like subprime & oil would indeed break the U.S. economy. Since then, and just like Rocky IV, the fight has degenerated into a brutal battle of stamina. Our economy has endured $150 oil haymakers and countless jabs in the form of a never-ending stream of terrible financial data.

But at the end of it all, although Rocky’s face (e.g., the housing sector) was battered, bruised and bloodied; and although his legs (e.g., the U.S. consumer) were wobbly, Rocky was resilient enough to withstand the onslaught and knock Drago out of the ring. Our resilient capitalist economy will withstand the onslaught brought by subprime & oil prices – we will go on to fight another day!

Following his victory, Rocky gives an impassioned speech to the crowd, acknowledging their initial disdain for each other, and how he and Drago came to respect each other during the fight. Clearly the analogy applies once again: without question, this mortgage & oil crisis has opened people’s eyes and established a whole new level of respect for the role of financial prudence in a stable economy and the serious energy challenges we face.

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It seems like just yesterday that the first novel in JK Rowling’s wildly popular series of books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was released in 1997. I’ve read most of the books – working on the final installment, The Deathly Hallows (Year 7), now. Yes, I’m a slow reader…one of the reasons that I love the movies as well as the books.

Just this week the trailer for the sixth movie (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) was posted online. The movie is scheduled for release on November 21st and I can’t wait! Check it out:

The buzz online is that the last movie (Deathly Hallows) will be split into two parts with Part 1 debuting in November 2010 and Part 2 in May 2011. It seems like so far away, but, as they say – good things come to those who wait!

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Jessica Roche and her husband, Karl, are transforming the former West Street Grille & Tap into the West Street Tavern & Restaurant in Nonantum, with an opening planned for July.

One of the West Street's New Owners, Jessica Roche (Boston.com Photo)

The West Street Grille & Tap was a neighborhood staple for over a dozen years in the Newton, MA village of Nonantum. Last fall, the West Street closed for business. With the great food, good prices, and the fact that it was soooo close to our apartment, Dan and I were disappointed (and surprised) when it closed.

But last week the tables turned, and the West Street was re-born. Newton-local, Jessica Roche, and her Ireland-native husband Karl, bought the restaurant and re-launched the popular watering hole as the West Street Tavern & Restaurant.

We stopped by on Friday night and the place was bopping! The inside has been totally re-vamped, but the menu is, pretty much, the same (the bacon cheeseburger was scrumptious!). I was blown away by the size of the ladies room (it is double the size as it used to be). They also added a huge new bar and three flat screen TVs (the Red Sox were playing the Yankees on Friday night, so a lot of attention was paid to these new TVs!) Not to mention, they pour a good Guinness!

I can tell that frequent walks over to West Street are in the cards for us!

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Today the Federal Highway Administration released their monthly traffic volume trends report for May 2008, and the data show a trend that is significant, although not surprising.

  • Nationally, travel on all roads declined by 3.7% for May 2008 as compared with May 2007. This marks the 7th consecutive monthly decline in this metric.
  • On a moving 12-month basis, total traffic volume fell by 10 billion miles, to 2.966 trillion miles. This is the lowest level in 3.5 years – since January of 2005 – and this metric has also declined in each of the last 7 months (the chart shows traffic volume from 1983 to 2008 – click to enlarge). 

There has never been a trend remotely like this. The current, ongoing 7-month decline represents the most significant adjustment to driving behavior in the last 25 years, if not longer. And these data are only through May…gas prices continued to rise through June and into July…the trend will continue.

Local Addendum: Traffic volume in the Northeast declined by 4.2% for May 2008 as compared with May 2007. Meanwhile, the MBTA announced that average weekday ridership in May was about 5.3% higher than during May 2007. It was the fifth monthly increase in a row. And…average weekday bus ridership crested over 400,000, which is only the fifth time in the past 101 months it had reached that level.

Decreasing traffic volume and increasing public transportation ridership are two sides of the same coin.

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It rained pretty much every day this week, so, with the promise of great weather today – finally! – Elicia and I set out for some kayaking in one of my favorite places: a stretch of the Concord River that runs right through the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge from Carlise, MA to the Old North Bridge in Concord.

This is just an awesome place for leisurely kayaking (canoe, motor boat, etc.), getting some sun, and enjoying an area that teems with wildlife! I’ve posted a handful of pictures below (click them to enlarge).

Launch point: In Carlisle, MA, where Rt 225 crosses the Concord River      Destination: The Old North Bridge in Concord, MA                                                 Time: Round-trip to the Bridge and back usually takes about 4 hours

I like to start early, just as the sun starts to burn off the morning dew that hangs over the water

I like to start early, just as the sun starts to burn off the morning dew that hangs over the water

Within minutes of the sun rising over the trees, the fog dissipates, revealing the incredible calm of early morning on the river

The fog dissipates within minutes of the sun rising over the trees, revealing the incredible calm of early morning on the river

On any given day, you are very likely to see several Great Blue Herons, either gliding over the surface of the water or hanging out on the river bank like this one.

On any given day, you are very likely to see several Great Blue Herons, either gliding over the surface of the water or hanging out on the river bank like this one.

There are more turtles than you can count...

There are more turtles than you can count...We've also seen Red-Tailed Hawks and a couple of deer, but they tend to elude the camera.

The beaver's humble abode.

The beaver's humble abode.

elicianthus buzzicus

Another native species: elicianthus buzzicus

And eventually, you reach the Old North Bridge, site of the first battle of the American Revolution

And eventually, you reach the Old North Bridge, site of the first battle of the American Revolution

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In 1960, a baby lion was purchased by a couple of guys (John Rendall and Ace Berg) in a department store (yeah – I guess they sold lions at department stores back then). They named him Christian. For years they raised him as their pet, but when Christian got too big to care for, John and Ace worked with a conservationist to reintroduce Christian back into the wild in Africa. After a year, John and Ace went back to Africa to find Christian, even though many people told them that the he would never recognize them and that it would be too difficult to find him.

Well, they did! And the reunion is incredibly touching. How do I know? Well, videos of it have surfaced  on YouTube after over 30 years since then and have gained MILLIONS of views in recent weeks! Check out a re-mixed version of the video for yourself below (just hit the play button). In addition to being on The Today Show, video footage of the reunion also appeared on The View recently. This is just another example of how powerful user-generated content and YouTube can be!

As the below video says “love knows no limits and true friendships last a lifetime.” I can’t help but tear up a little watching this video. Simply incredible. (Sigh) I can’t wait to get a dog one day 😉

 

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Analogy – Media:Obama :: Lewinski:Clinton

Explanation: Last week I heard a primetime network news person declare, “Obamania is here to stay!” It’s not the first or last time such absurd media bias will show up on my TV screen. But anyway, what is this Obamania that’s evidently sweeping the nation? Well, let’s see, according to Webster’s:

  • Mania – (1) A form of mental disorder marked by great elation and violent action. (2) An irrational and prolonged desire or enthusiasm.   

Ah! Now I understand why the media thinks Obama is the second coming of Jesus Christ – they’re suffering from mental illness. Have you been afflicted with this horrible new disorder? The media has caught it really, really bad, and the symptoms have been quite embarrassing for them. Just watch:

And the coverage has become a lot more pathetic this week since Obama’s been on his arrogant and presumptuous international coronation tour. But hey, look on the bright side – with all this Obama worship by the establishment media at least one industry is booming during these difficult economic times…I reckon demand for knee pads is skyrocketing!

Addendum: If you’re afraid you too may be suffering from Obamania, be on the look out for other common symptoms, including: a strong sense of entitlement to things you did not earn, and a firm belief that your shit doesn’t stink and you know what is best for everybody. 

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