Tuesday, December 30, 2008

$50 Raffle for a Million $ house

I was watching Market Watch on CNBC and saw this story about a home owner's quest for selling his house in this tough market. Instead of selling the house, he is raffling it off for $50 a ticket. That is a pretty enterprising idea when the credit markets have dried up and buyers are being cautious of buying high end homes.

If you ever wanted to buy a million dollar home for $50, here is your chance to take a gamble on your luck. However, before you jump in and buy the raffle tickets, check to see if you can really afford it! Its sort of a lottery, so you will be responsible for paying income taxes on it as well as property taxes. With the IRS breathing on you for their cut, that $50 bargain doesn't really look like a $50 bargain any more. However, if you can afford all the additional costs, you might begin the new year with a very happy note.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing every one a Very Merry Christmas

Wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas in Georgia

Georgia generally doesn't have a white Christmas, but it makes up for it by having many places where you can go to see beautifully decorated Christmas lights. Enchanted Garden of Lights at the Rock City is worth the 4-5 hour drive, especially if you combine it with visiting the underground water fall, Ruby Falls as well. Lake Lanier Islands and Stone Mountain Park are also very nice attractions that are
much closer.

Here is a list of places where you can go to enjoy the tranquil nights leading to Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Low interest rates

I have been getting e-mails from builders and lenders advertising ridiculously low interest rates. I have received interest rates as low as 4.75% for a 30 year fixed, and some even giving added incentives of lowering the rate to 2.75% for the first year, 3.75% for the 2nd year, and a fixed rate of 4.75% thereafter. With the home prices and interest rates down to historic low levels, it looks like a great time to buy... but with all the gloom and doom in the economy, who knows which way the wind will blow? However, there are some comforting thoughts for the Atlanta market; Atlanta has maintained reasonably low housing prices as compared to those of the bubble states such as Arizona, California and Florida. According to the CNNMoney.com's list of companies for 2008, Georgia is home to 26 of the Fortune 1000 companies, of which 21 are in the greater Atlanta area. Georgia is also home to 12 of the Fortune 500 companies. However, these are uncertain times, and buyers must exercise caution to only get into a home they can afford, not necessarily one they dream about.

A lesson in Psychology

My wife alerted me to this interesting article that she was given to read, and to write an essay based on it for her psychology class. She was pretty impressed about it as it had made an impression on her, and wanted to test it out on me. As I got to the second printed page, I made a comment that she interpreted as I "got it."
"Most cultures exhibit a particular configuration or style. A single value or pattern of perceiving the world often leaves its stamp on several institutions in the society. Examples are "machismo" in Spanish-influenced cultures, "face" in Japanese culture, and "pollution by females" in some highland New Guinea cultures. Here Horace Miner demonstrates that "attitudes about the body" have a pervasive influence on many institutions in Nacireman society."
Read it with an open mind and see if you get it too. Without giving away too much, it an article about rituals in different cultures. It will surprise you if read with a judgmental tone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Party/ Families First Charity!

In the spirit of Christmas, The Atlanta New In Town Meetup Group is hosting a Christmas party by sponsoring a family through Families First, and giving gifts to the deserving family.  The party is to be held on the 12th of December, and is a way for the new in towners to come together for a good cause. For more information, please visit their web site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A cheesy bailout

With all the stories of the banker bailouts and the auto bailouts comes this humorous story of the Italian government bailing out the cheese makers! It looks like bailing out these cheese manufacures is of national interest to Italy, akin to the bailing out of the bankers and auto manufactures here in the USA.

At least the Italian government is going to get a lot of cheese for this... while we only get the opportunity to grunt about it. When the tough gets going, at least the Italian government will be able to back the Lira with Cheese, while we at the USA gets to back the dollar with... you guessed it, with absolutely nothing, but the words This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private! I guess if they dont bailout the cheese makers, they'd probablly have to layoff a few cows, which could be very dmaging to the economy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir

BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir is the largest stone and marble Vedic Hindu Temple in the USA. It is located at 460 Rockbridge Road NW, Lilburn, GA 30047 and is a beautiful structure with very intricately carved white marble from the ceiling to floor! If you havent visited yet, it is definitely worth your time and is a must see place in Atlanta.

Simple projects for selling your home

It is important to give your home a good curb appeal, especially if you are planning to sell your home. It is definitely a buyers market and the sellers have to work much harder to sell their home when there are so many options available to the buyer. In this market, the seller has to try make the home as desirable as possible; if you find your home very appealing, so will a prospective buyer. The first impression a buyer gets is from the outside, so work at giving a positive impression from the out side in. You dont want a buyer to take a look from the out side and decide this house is not for them. Certainly, there are external factors that you cannot control, but if you try to make your home the best looking home in your neighborhood, you will have a much better chance of selling it quickly. Even if you are not selling your home, it wont hurt to maintain it as a very desirable home. Here are some tips for improving your home's appeal without putting a big dent your pocket.
  • Trim the hedges. Overgrown hedges are very noticeable, and takes away the curb appeal. Spending time to keep the clean up the shrubs is a quick way to improve the look of your home.
  • Take care of your lawn by pulling out any unsightly weeds and putting down sod or planting grass seeds in spotty areas where the grass is dead. A well cared for lawn adds to the desirability of a home.
  • If your driveway has oil or paint spills, clean it up. You can find chemicals to clean concrete at Home Depot or Lowes.
  • Check your mail box to see if it needs to be painted. Spending 15 min painting the mailbox can give a fresh new look.
  • Clean your windows. Fix any out of place gutters.
  • Do simple landscaping jobs that you can do for yourself. Plant some trees, hang a bird feeder, put new pine straw around trees, etc that will add a little bit of extra touch that shows you have been taking good care of the property.
  • Get rid of unnecessary junk that has been collected over the years. Have a garage sale and sell it to some one who finds it more useful than you. If you are going to sell your home, you will have to get rid of these anyway. Why not get rid of them earlier, so you will have more room and your home can be more presentable to a prospective buyer?
  • Doing simple home improvement projects can give a fresh new look. Something as simple as changing your kitchen faucet can make a big difference at very little cost. Another idea that might add a new look without much expense is to change to the light fixtures, adding a new chandelier or a ceiling fan.
If you are not the handy man type, home depot offers many Do It Yourself classes to show you how to do simple projects or you can check out many resources on the web. I have summarized the list of good sites I follow. If you know of others, please write a comment or send me an e-mail and I will update this list.

Home and Garden TV
This Old House TV Show
DIY Network
Ron Hazelton's HouseCalls
Manage My Home
Better Homes and Garden
Danny Lipford

Saturday, December 6, 2008

World of Robotics

With all the ongoing discussions of auto bailouts, it is interesting to see how the automotive robots are fast replacing the human workers. Once a work flow is designed, it is pretty much repetitive work that can be automated. This work flow has been automated through the use of robotics for not only its cost savings, but also in order to achieve a higher degree of precision, reliability and time to complete. Toyota manufacturing plant in Kentucky claims to produce a vehicle in 20 hours! Here is another interesting video of the Nissan Factory in UK, which claims to produce a car in 8.12 hours by the combined labor of 2680 workers. This not only applies to the automotive industry, but to any process that can be automated, as evidenced by this video of food processing plants.

And here is a very interesting robot named Asimo, made by Honda that can walk, run, and even dance!

Here is Boston Dynamics Big Dog with amazing agility.

And there is hope for the thrill seeking aspects of robots.

The morale of the story is that the need for continuous training and education in this day and age cannot be over emphasized. Whatever you current profession is, its better to learn a new skill that will prepare you for the jobs of tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dont be a sucker!

I received a letter from a company named National Deed Service, Inc. informing me of the importance of obtaining a Certified copy of the deed, and that they can get me that certified copy for a fee of $59.50 and $20 extra for a 2nd copy. While having a certified copy of the deed is useful, you shouldnt have to pay $59.50 get it. If you are willing to go to the court house in your county, you can get it yourself practically for the cost of making a photo copy.

The letter also mentions in upper case letters that "MANY GOVERNMENT RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE FREE OR AT NOMINAL COST FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES." So, please take their own advice and do yourself a favor by getting it yourself.