Life


The Benefits of Buying a House
Megan McArdle

But if we owned our house, I might be able to hope that someday we would acquire a water heater bigger than a thimble, rather than hopelessly resigning myself to shallow, lukewarm baths. I might also be able to sink screws into the ceiling for a hanging potrack, install blackout curtains so that I could sleep later than 6 am in the summer, and otherwise make the house over more to my specifications. But the owners are fond of their home the way it is, so it stays.

For a long time, I didn’t care so much about this. I liked the freedom renting gave me. But once you’re committed to a city, and another person, that freedom starts looking overrated.


A previous post of mine on homeownership
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I am curious myself if my views will change when I’m ready to settle down and start a family. I’m also sure my friends will get tired of helping me move every year and I’ll have to deal with a moving company.

Below are my top 15 albums of the decade. Going back and listening to all these albums was such a thrill. Make sure to check out my Top 10 albums of 2009 too.

15. The Strokes - Is This It

14. The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic

13. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

12. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another

11. TV On The Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

10. The Hold Steady - Almost Killed Me

9. The White Stripes - De Stijl

8. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary

7. Brian Wilson - SMiLE

6. The National - Alligator

5. Arcade Fire - Funeral

4. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

3. Radiohead - Kid A

2. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People

1. The Hold Steady - Seperation Sunday

Below are my ten favorite albums from the current year. Later I’ll post my 15 favorite albums of the decade.

10. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

9. The Dead Weather - Horehound

8. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)

7. Marked Men - Ghosts

6. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus

5. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

4. Japandroids - Post-Nothing

3. Screaming Females - Power Move

2. Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies

1. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another

American Dream 2: Default, Then Rent
Wall Street Journal
By MARK WHITEHOUSE

Analysts at Deutsche Bank Securities expect 21 million U.S. households to end up owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth by the end of 2010. If one in five of those households defaults, the losses to banks and investors could exceed $400 billion. As a proportion of the economy, that’s roughly equivalent to the losses suffered in the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The flip side of those losses, though, is massive debt relief that can help offset the pain of rising unemployment and put cash in consumers’ pockets.

For the 4.8 million U.S. households that data provider LPS Applied Analytics estimates haven’t paid their mortgages in at least three months, the added cash flow could amount to about $5 billion a month — an injection that in the long term could be worth more than the tax breaks in the Obama administration’s economic-stimulus package.

“It’s a stealth stimulus,” says Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics, a consulting firm specializing in real estate and the California economy. “The quicker these people shed their debts, the faster the economy is going to heal and move forward again.”

Love the point about the ‘stealth stimulus’. I’ve never quite understood Americans obsession with homeownership. Why pour all your hard-earned cash into an asset you can’t afford? The article details a few families around the country and what they now do with the extra cash that is no longer going towards a mortgage.

I’ve lived in Charlotte going on 4 years now. I have lived in 4 different homes and locations in that time. Renting gives me the flexibility to check out areas of the city I would never have the chance to if I owned a home. A few friends have purchased homes during that time and regret the suburban lifestyle they have committed to.

Statins creating a social gap in cholesterol levels
By Amy Norton
October 15, 2009

Using government survey data from 1976 to 2004, researchers found that after statin drugs were introduced, wealthier Americans saw a sharp reduction in their average cholesterol levels — double the decline among low-income Americans.

The result, the researchers say, has been a flip in the relationship between income and cholesterol. In the late 1970s, higher-income Americans generally had higher cholesterol, whereas now poorer Americans have the highest levels.

“Back in the day, wealthier people had higher cholesterol because they were better able to afford a higher-fat diet — more red meat, butter, eggs,” said lead researcher Dr. Virginia W. Chang, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Reminds me of the white bread/wheat bread dichotomy of centuries ago. The rich ate white bread because it was the civilized, cultured thing to do, leaving brown or wheat bread to the peasant folk. The upper class was unknowingly eating the less healthy of the two options. These days if the rich can purposely choose the higher cholesterol option and just buy a drug to stay healthy.

Water drinkers may have better diets
By Amy Norton
Tue Oct 13, 2009

Using data from a national health survey of more than 12,000 Americans, researchers found that people who drank more “plain water” tended to eat more fiber, less sugar and fewer calorie-dense foods.

I drink at least 4 bottles of water a day, which is roughly 2000 mL. Water is at least 75% of my daily beverage intake. I bet I’m on the high-end of the water drinkier:carlorie bell curve though. I eat a lot of grilled chicken breast and rice, but breakfast and lunch kill me.

I haven’t had health insurance since December ’08, when I quit my corporate job to enter the world of unemployment. I started my current gig in early January ’09 with a very, very small company (heck we don’t even qualify as a small business; we consider ourselves a ‘tiny’ business) and do not receive any employer health benefits. Being a single, healthy, 25 year old guy with no children I made the calculated risk to not purchase private health insurance. I am well aware that many view this as irresponsible (Obama calls me out all the time) and am a liability to society and myself, but if there’s ever a time to do it, its now, right?

Fast forward to early September. The picture below was taken at an Atlanta Braves game. We arrived in the 3rd inning; the game was pretty boring, only lasting 2.5 hours. This was my first Braves game too, which is horrible considering I’m a lifelong Braves fan. Notice my eyes in the picture; see the yellow streak by my right eye?

Becca and me

Becca and me

I didn’t think much of it until I saw pictures taken last week from a Will Hoge concert, which I’ll post below. The skin around my eyes are still yellow. Yikes!

Me; not the best picture, but you can see my eyes well

Me; not the best picture, but you can see my eyes well

A few google searches led me to conclude I either had jaundice, hepatitis A, or everything is fine. I don’t have all the symptoms of jaundice or hepatitis, but I need some peace of mind. My biggest concern in all of this was how I would tell the girl I’m seeing that I might have hepatitis, but not the STD kind!

Turns out I’m OK. The doctor says my skin is a little pale, but I shouldn’t worry about it. He said he used to live in India and has seen hundreds of cases of hepatitis. The first symptom is your urine turning very dark, almost like Coca-Cola.

My total bill was over $170, but received a 25% discount for being uninsured. $170 would be about 2 monthly premiums for me and would likely have had a $30 co-pay too; and that assumes I’ve hit my deductible.

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