October 23, 2008

Oatmeal Cookies

This is a great Oatmeal cookie recipe. I like to play around with the dried fruits a bit. I especially love to put my cousin's dried cherries in the mix. Enjoy

  • 1 cup shortening or butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cherries or dried blueberries or dried figs all cut up
Simply add to the bowl in order listed above. After the eggs cream it together well, after the Vanilla cream it together again. Add the flour and mix together well, add the oats mix and finally add the cherries and mix. Bake at 375 degrees for around 10-12 minutes. The come out perfect.

October 22, 2008

Second Stimulus Plan: Preventing further Mortgage Implosions

I've been thinking recently of this 2nd Stimulus plan that the press and the politicos are throwing around flippantly. A 2nd Stimulus plan after the first and after the 700-1 Trillion dollar bail out may be excessive, however, I thought I would throw out an idea to be kicked around. I haven't thought it all the way through and encourage people to poke holes in it and see where it flops.

Here goes: The housing crisis is at the heart of this gigantic problem, and according to many will be at the heart of the "fix". So how do you fix "housing" on Mainstreet and Wallstreet at the same time while encouraging de-leveraging and, more prudent banking practices and more fiscal responsibility on the part of every day citizens without completely discouraging spending?

What if we (the government and thus taxpayers) were to pay the difference between the purchase price of homes for the last 8 years and the current value of the homes, off to the banks thus "righting" all of those that were upside down in their payments.

Let me give an example: A person bought a home in 2006 for $500,000.00 and had a mortgage around $450,000.00. Today that same house is worth only $350,000.00 That person is upside down in that house $100,000.00. Whatever equity the person has lost (in my plan) would simply be lost to bad timing, a downturn in the market or whatever.

Now the government steps in and pays the bank directly $100,000.00 (the upside down portion). The bank would then be required to re-write the mortgage now for 350,000 at today's interest rate at either a 30 year amortization schedule or a 15 year amortization schedule (this item would be up to the borrower) and the mortgages get "fixed". It would be up to the home owner to apply for this assistance (similar to a refinance, albeit with the help of "Uncle Sam") to his mortgage company and the mortgage company and the homeowner would work with the government to make the mortgage. If the government would do this they would require fully documented loans and those that wouldn't otherwise qualify, too little income, to much debt (excluding current mortgage) would not qualify for the assistance and not be rewarded for their bad behavior.

Now for some details. In order to protect "Uncle Sam" the Government would take a 2nd on the property and would receive monies if the house appreciated in value from the time the mortgage got fixed till the house was sold. Hopefully over time this would give the government some protection and return on its money.

This Fix allows the banks to receive an infusion of capital from the government however, Mainstreet is getting some relief as well. The banks are then in the position to do 2 things, free up lending and de-leverage in a controlled and specific fashion. Citizens get out of these crazy 4-10,000 dollar monthly payments from these negative amortization products that have been out there. They may have a higher payment then they want but they will be able to stay in their homes and house prices across the country will adjust in a way that won't cause widespread panic and chaos. The realestate industry, lending, bonding, and construction industry would all begin to recover, albeit at a slower rate.

This fix needs to be coupled with some strict lending oversight to discourage banks from beginning the wild loan gluttony of the last 10 years.

Now for some numbers: there are approximately 13.98 Trillion worth of mortgages in the US. If we assume that 1/3 of them are upside down and in trouble that would equal 4.66 trillion dollars. Now assume that 1/4 of those mortgagees simply wouldn't and shouldn't qualify for a home, that would reduce the number to 3.495 trillion dollars. Assume those mortgages would need to be re-valued at a 20% discount. What amount would this possibly cost the government and taxpayers? Approximately 699 Billion dollars or equal to the 700 Billion dollar bail out the government just did and is doing.

I need some feedback and encourage people to poke some holes in this idea. It all came to me on my drive home and I'm not confident it works well. Fun to think about and discuss, have at it.

October 20, 2008

Waffles and Pancakes

Waffles and Pancakes are a favorite in our house and I was excited when we made a recipe using our starter. These are great waffles, light and can be cooked crisp or soft whichever you prefer.

2 cups of starter (my starter is pretty thick a 1:1 ratio of flour and water)
2 eggs beaten (important to beat them before adding them to your starter)
3 Tbsp White Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup of Buchwheat Flour
1/2 cup of white or whole wheat flour
Water till you get the mixture to a thick karo syrup consistency.

Simply add the ingredients in the order above and add a little water. Mix with a wire wisk and continue to add a little water at a time till you come to an acceptable consistency. Pour onto lightly greased waffle iron or fry pan and make some of the best waffles or pancakes I've ever eaten. Enjoy!!

October 07, 2008

Another Use of the Blowgun

I'm going a little crazy with my blowgun, but when you live in the desert it truly can be a handy thing to have.

Last night, after work and after my Dad shot my brother with the blowgun, I came home and started to do the dishes. All of a sudden there was a scream when my wife opened the front door.

We had a large visitor.

Needless to say all were fairly creeped out and I was once again called on to be the greater hunter and used my blowgun to protect my family.

In truth I probably did not need to be the great hunter but we did get to use the blow gun with the stun darts to knock out our little friend.

October 06, 2008

My Father Shot my Brother

The shot took place and Tyler sat down in shock
We picked up the jeans to see if it had gone through the bone an if we should push to dart through or pull it out.
Decided to pull it out.
Left a very small hole with very little blood.
One Big Dart and was in his leg at least 3 inches.

This is the reason you are not supposed to bring your blowgun to work and let your dad try it out. Tyler appears to be ok, we cleaned up his leg and he will monitor for infection, Tyler did have a tetanus shot a year ago. Wow!!

October 05, 2008

Crazy Economy

Well General Conference just got over and we just got done playing with the kids outside and I'm contemplating my investing objectives and I continue to feel pretty bleak on the market. I don't feel in my normal doom and gloom mood, probably because of conference and the kids, but I just don't see anything worth investing in. I would love to go long the EUR/USD but with European countries and banks starting their downturn that is not wise. I don't feel good about betting on the dollar since we are surely going to see some inflation with pumping 700 billion dollars into the market, and gold does nothing for me.

It probably wouldn't be a terrible time to put a little money in an S&P index fund since it is so far off its highs. I may want to test the theory that the market does its best from January till May. Maybe in January I will throw some into a nice index fund, pull it in May and head into currencies over the summer.

Unfortunately I don't see the economy recovering anytime soon. Too many problems, too much leverage. It is going to take banks a while to de-leverage and it is going to be somewhat painful to main street. In addition it is hard to want to be in the markets during this presidential election as it has a weird effect on things. You don't seem to get "normal market reactions". That word normal is very relative but I'm sure you get my drift.

Hope everyone is doing well and the market is treating them well. Hopefully you are in cash waiting to get back in. If you are in, hopefully you are younger and can wait out a prolonged recovery. If you are older, you are likely going to have to be a bit more aggressive in the future, once things have calmed down, to try and recoup your losses. Good luck!!

Family Times

Just a reminder to check the family photo gallery to the right for some updated pictures. We have had a great time at soccer for Kaya, and Mock Camping on my mother's new property and just hanging out as a family.Kids being Pyros

Playing in the Backyard

Banana Bread Muffins

1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 ripe bananas (mashed)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup soaked and drained oatmeal (optional)
2-3 Tbsp Wheat Germ (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin cups in muffin tin, or grease with a little butter or pam spray. Mix sugar, oil, and egg until creamy and light yellow, add bananas. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until completely smooth. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins.

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