Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Moving To Bend Oregon Was Probably The Smartest Thing I've Done In A Long Time

I know Bend natives are not happy with the influx of transplants like myself who have moved into town over the past decade, but I don't really care.  I love living here.  And sorry to be the bearer of bad news to the natives, but more and more people will keep moving here in the decades to come.

Bend is a gem as long as you can bring your high paying telecommuting job with you or as long as you can bring your home equity from Seattle or a coastal California city plus your retirement nest egg to live on.  At present, it's attracting retirees and others like myself who can live anywhere as long as they have an internet connection and cell phone reception.  

I've heard a lot of people talk about the lack of high paying jobs as an obstacle to moving here.  Many Portlander who are tired of the rain can't or don't want to make the move unless they already have a job lined up.  It's pretty tough to live on tips or on retail wages in Bend.

In due time though, new industries will emerge as more and more bright, intelligent, and entrepreneurial people move here for the quality of life that Bend offers.  Plus, Oregon State Cascades will attract more people and offer many higher paying jobs that will create a demand for additional businesses that serve the growing number of people in the area.

And that quality of life thing is going to be a major factor for the future transplants.  I shot that photo above Monday afternoon while taking the dogs for a hike along The Deschutes River Trail just off Century Drive.  My cell phone is filled with photos like this as I try to take the pups on a different hike every day, all within five minutes of my house.

It's hard to beat living here, at least for me.  Seattle was great right out of college.  San Diego was perfect for my mid-twenties to early thirties.  Orange County's materialistic culture was exhausting.  In Portland, I felt like a visitor in a city trying to live up to the parody of Portlandia.  Now, having settled in Bend, I feel like I found my home.

And one of these days in the decades to come, I'll probably tell recent Bend transplants that I too was a native.  I promise that I'll lay out the welcome mat for my new neighbors in our great little town.

My Day Job Financing Real Estate Investors And House Flippers

I've been in the mortgage industry for nearly 15 years, having spent the past three years originating private money or hard money loans, which is basically short-term non-bank financing for real estate investors.  Many of our clients are house flippers who have been doing it for many years and have a good thing going.  They are smart, know the market, manage their cash flow conservatively, and usually make a nice $30,000 to $150,000 profit on their projects.

The profit potential of real estate investing and house flipping attracts attention, especially the attention of cable television producers in need of compelling programming to compete with 700+ other cable channels.  Therefore cable TV is filled with real estate house flipping and home remodel shows that compress a 6-8 month project filled with all kinds of pitfalls and triumphs into a 22 minute show that makes it look pretty easy to the layperson sitting on their couch.

And that's the hook that lures tens of thousands of people into the fantasy that they can flip houses successfully just like the people on TV.  Well, maybe they can because it's not rocket surgery.  But, it takes real estate market knowledge and experience, an understanding of construction, and capital / cash / liquidity to do it successfully.
This isn't a business that somebody off the street can just jump into with $5,000 in the bank and in three months they'll magically turn a profit of $50,000 with their new little side business.

No, it's stressful and it's all consuming.  Contractors often don't show up when they were scheduled, materials aren't readily available, mold appears in unexpected places in formerly distressed homes, permits are delayed, theft happens in the middle of the night, etc.

But that part gets glossed over in people's fantasies about becoming a successful house flipper.  They fail to see that with every project they take on, there will be numerous obstacles they'll have to overcome in order to earn that $50,000 profit.  It will be stressful and frustrating.  Maybe they'll get lucky and have a few easy ones.  But those will be rare.

It's not an easy business like it appears to be on TV.  Just like everything else in life it takes many years of hard work to build up the knowledge and capital base to make a business of it.  Things don't happen overnight even though the TV shows convey this image that even the person watching at home could do the same thing and could become an overnight success.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Having Kids And Steering Them Away From Playing Football

My closest friends and I grew up playing football, baseball, and basketball with a pretty high level of success in terms of playing on winning teams at Gresham High School. Our senior year we went 11-1, despite losing some key players along the way to injuries like multiple concussions experienced off the football field and hereditary spinal condition that put an end to their football playing days.

Each of us had the ability to play football or baseball in the small colleges in the Northwest had we been in interested in pursuing that avenue.  In fact, my friend Mike walked on at UW as a freshman, performing pretty well in their Spring Game in 1996.

What's interesting now that most of my friends have kids of their own is that they're not encouraging or steering their kids toward playing football because of all of the evidence of concussions which could eventually lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

Many people who don't follow the news are becoming aware of football's concussion issue right now because Will Smith is starring in the new movie, "Concussion".

Prior to Smith's movie, I had watched PBS Frontline's "League of Denial" twice over because it was a riveting story of what the NFL knew, when they knew it, and what they were doing to suppress the scientific data.  Frontline did a great job working with doctors, scientists, reporters, and most importantly, the living players along with the deceased player's family members, shedding light on this very important story that needed to be told.

My friends and I have had a few discussions about football, as most of us have seen "League of Denial" at least once.  The consensus is that the kids probably won't wind up playing in college and definitely not going to play in the NFL.  If they developed the talent in high school, my friends would have that discussion about the long-term risks that could arise from playing college football and that maybe the kids could channel that talent into another, much safer sport or activity (golf, cycling, running, skiing, Crossfit, baseball, basketball, etc).  

All of us had the chance to play on some excellent teams in high school, which created great memories and lasting friendships.  What we know now is that football most likely will take our kids to age 18 and then they'll have the rest of their lives to lead.  And, having a healthy, highly cognitive and functioning brain for 75-80 years is much more important than putting it all on the line for short-term glory during their teens and potentially their very early twenties.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Early Returns On The Ski Season In Central Oregon Have Been Excellent

Ski season 2015-2016 at Mt. Bachelor has been better than I expected.  As I write this post on Sunday December 27th, Mt. Bachelor has a 126 inch base after getting 4-5 feet over the past couple of weeks.  The knee deep powder days have been incredible.  

If I was the type to have a Selfie Stick, GoPro, or even take dozens of selfies on the chairlift, I'd document all the fun that I've been having this year.  However, that's definitely not me so you'll just have to trust me when I say that I've been having the time of my life skiing this year.  

The snow reports show just a little bit of snow coming before New Years Day.  Hopefully the big storms will return at the beginning of January, so I can ski the bowl off of the Summit Chair along with exploring all the terrain off Northwest Chair, which my neighbor said has the best runs on the entire mountain.  

If El Nino holds up his end of the bargain, I expect to ski 50-75 times this season.  Oh, and for those of you who loved Chris Farley, here's his take on El Nino! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Looking Forward To The Presidential Campaign Coming And Going

At this point, I'm pretty tired of the presidential election and the actual voting is still 11 months away.  Both parties have uninspiring candidates and they're all pretty much full of crap except for Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, who sadly do not have the big money behind them to win the nomination.  Yes, Hillary Clinton is uninspiring because she no longer seems like the populist first lady in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt and comes across as just another politician who will carry out the needs of the American Empire's ruling class.

Though, I did find her recent Saturday Night Live appearance pretty entertaining:

The GOP candidates are awful.  I mean AWFUL!  It's like they are all trying to be more outrageous and flamboyant and offensive than the next guy in order to appeal to the voting masses while they promise to wage more wars and give more tax cuts in order to appease their big money backers.

While promising the wealthy more unneeded tax cuts, they're promising the voters that they'll balance the budget and reduce the deficit that sharply increased under Obama (but has come back down) due to the counter cyclical deficit spending measures that kicked in during the recovery from the Great Recession where 15+ million people lost their jobs.

Sadly, giving deep tax cuts while balancing the budget is a mathematical impossibility.  But hey, who's keeping score?

The rank and file voters that they are appealing to don't care that they're being sold another incarnation of Voo-Doo economics which won't trickle down to them.  They're being told that the country needs tax cuts because the economy is struggling so badly due to Obama's socialism (which mysteriously looks just like George W. Bush's capitalism).  The economy has been recovering and could have recovered faster had Congress not blocked nearly every proposal at stimulus during the Obama years.

(Note - I'm a biased New Deal fan who felt that the federal government should have embarked on a much greater deficit spending infrastructure and temporary jobs program starting in 2009 rather than the $787 billion stimulus bill.  If the Federal Reserve could have secretly loaned the Too Big To Fail banks $16 trillion after the TARP bailouts, the US Government could have issued trillions in long-term debt at 2.00%-ish to finance much needed improvements to water, sewer, bridge, highway, rail, electrical grid, energy, environmental cleanup, etc.)

I'm guessing that we have another 11 months left of all kinds of verbal whoppers that set the the GOP candidates up to be the most far right candidate and that after the eventual winner receives the nomination, we'll see him converge back to the center to try appealing to the undecided voter who cannot see any difference between the republican or democrat candidate.

In the meantime, we'll see an unrelenting effort to demonize minority groups like Muslims, Mexicans, LBGT, Syrians, Russians, immigrants in general, the poor, atheists, Planned Parenthood, the Chinese, the left, the moderates on the right (RINOs), Hilary, and so many others that I cannot even fathom at this point because my brain doesn't operate this way.

Throughout all this nonsense, we know that the media will be eating it up and laughing all the way to the bank.  The entire thing is a charade and the biggest beneficiaries are the shareholders in these media companies who know us silly simple Americans all too well and know that we cannot not stop and stare at a car accident on the freeway.

And for some reason, as much as I don't want to pay attention, I will follow this crap over the next 11 months because I'm just as weak a human being as the next guy.  I realize that I'm being played and manipulated by the media to want to know what the candidates said, but I just won't be able to look away as much as I try.