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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: NYC
Home country: USA
Current location: Durham, NC
Member since: Sat May 7, 2005, 11:13 PM
Number of posts: 29,409

Journal Archives

The lack of civility in this country has risen to the level of international embarrassment

broadcast around the world on live television at the Oscars last night.

It's been going on for years now. 'Karens' rudely confronting people of color, or gay, or speaking a language other than English. Racists or misogynists or elder abusers hitting people on the street, pushing people off subway platforms into oncoming trains. MAGATs hurling insults at people for being in favor of various civil rights. Stalking and killing physicians who provide abortions.

Last night was a symptom of the disease that has infected our society. The joke Chris Rock told last night at Jada Pinkett Smith's expense would have been ok if she had told it on herself. If she'd said, 'don't I look like I could play the next GI Jane?', it would have been funny. But that isn't what happened. Instead, Rock insulted her, and instead of Will Smith inviting Chris Rock to take it outside or meet him at dawn with pistols as he would have in days gone by, he just immediately acted on his anger.

What happened last night was a tragedy and represented a true fall from grace. On a night when Will Smith was recognized by his peers for his performance in a film as being the best from any leading actor in any other film all year, he chose to let his anger destroy the beauty of that moment. That is a true tragedy.

It's a symptom of the breakdown of our society. We have lost our ability to react reasonably to any kind of slight or to tolerate people with whom we disagree. Frankly, I don't see how we are going to come back from this and that represents a national tragedy.

Demand from home buyers remains robust

The number of homes for sale in February was down by almost half from the immediate pre-pandemic period two years ago, helping push housing costs up across the board throughout the transformative, two-year pandemic era. Rents are up by hundreds of dollars per month and home values up by almost a third over the same span, according to the February 2022 Zillow Monthly Market Report.

But still, despite the rapidly rising costs, demand from home buyers remains robust, with listings flying off the market and sales stronger than pre-pandemic levels.

The key metric driving these historic hikes is inventory. There were roughly 730,000 homes for sale nationwide in February, compared to 1.4 million in February 2020. Historically, inventory has generally bottomed out in December and then rebounded as sellers listed their homes in preparation for the busy spring shopping season. But this year, supply has continued to dwindle well into the new year and inventory was 11.9% lower in February than in January.

Of the 50 largest U.S. metros, those with the largest inventory deficit since 2020 are Raleigh (-69.7%), Hartford (-63%), Providence (-61.8%) and Miami (-61%). Those seeing the smallest decrease are San Francisco (-7.8%), San Jose (-17.9%) and Austin (-26.9%).


It's crazy out there and classic demand/supply dynamics. I live in Durham--adjacent to Raleigh with the largest inventory deficit since 2020--and I watch the real estate market on a regular basis. I've watched Zillow predict the value of the house I bought--to be constructed--in April 2020 rise 39% since then! Yikes. The builder of my development is getting ready to open a new phase later this summer with another 68 homes and I suspect they will be throwing darts at where to start the pricing. They are currently selling homes in nearby Cary, with starting prices for the same floor plans at more than $100K higher than where pricing started when I bought just two years ago. And most people aren't buying the bare bones houses; most of my neighbors have spent $50-100K more on upgrades!

Here's a link to another article which suggests it's going to be another two years before inventory rises to pre-pandemic levels.

Of course, Putin may have blown us all up by then.

Unlike 2008, inventory is a big part of the problem this time.

This is a good read and I recommend the entire article.

The wounds from the Great Recession of the mid-2000s are still healing, especially when it comes to housing. An estimated 10 million people lost their homes to foreclosure from 2006 to 2014, following a period of frenzied and speculative homebuying fueled by easy credit. The housing market is yet again on a tear with home prices up nearly 19% nationally compared with last year, and that has people rightfully worried that another housing bubble is brewing.

Unlike the last housing boom, one could argue that home price growth since the start of the pandemic was justifiable. The demographics of the U.S. were already supporting housing growth and the desire to own only increased as people saved more and spent more time at home. The lifestyle change brought on by the pandemic caused many Americans to reassess their living arrangements, including some renters that turned into house hunters and some existing homeowners that sold to move into a larger home.

The jump in homebuying demand hit right as existing housing supply declined rapidly for a variety of reasons, including fear of COVID-19. Homebuilders, most of whom became more prudent following the last cycle, were cautious with how many homes they were bringing to the market, resulting in equally tight new home inventory.

The supply and demand mismatch pushed prices upward, but that was just the tip of the iceberg for rising home values. Some Americans became much wealthier over the past year following a 31% run-up in the S&P 500 and a nearly 20% jump in home equity. Others became wealthier on a relative basis as remote work led to increased migration, often from higher cost areas to lower cost ones.

Further, safety measures have been put in place since the Great Recession to help prevent a similar housing collapse. Mortgage credit availability is starkly tighter than in the mid-2000s and the often more risky adjustable rate mortgages represent less than 5% of total purchase and refinanced loans compared with over 35% at the peak of the last cycle.


Duke University leading national study to assess effectiveness of Ivermectin

as a treatment for COVID-19.

This was the above the fold front page article in the Raleigh News & Observer this morning.

Doctors at Duke University are leading a national study to test whether three drugs will effectively treat COVID-19, including one that has generated controversy for more than a year. Ivermectin’s potential to treat COVID-19 has been both celebrated and ridiculed. Some consider it a miracle drug that makes vaccination against the coronavirus unnecessary. But most in the medical establishment, including government regulators, say there’s not enough proof that it works and warn that self-medicating with ivermectin can make people sick in other ways. The Duke study, launched last summer, is the kind of comprehensive assessment of ivermectin’s ability to combat COVID-19 that has been missing up to now, said Dr. Adrian Hernandez, one of the study’s leaders.

Ivermectin is one of three drugs that Duke is testing under ACTIV-6, one of a series of studies of potential COVID-19 treatments and vaccines launched by the National Institutes of Health.

The two other drugs being tested in the ACTIV-6 study are fluvoxamine, used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, and fluticasone furoate, an inhaler medicine prescribed for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

Researchers are looking for evidence that the drugs either shorten the time people feel sick or prevent them from getting worse and needing to be hospitalized.

For information about the ACTIV-6 study, go to activ6study.org/.

Read more at: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article257483164.html#storylink=cpy

The Man in the Moon tonight

May 23, 2021

Marvelous clouds passing by the moon tonight. Lots of frogs and night noises coming from the woods. And when I loaded the shots onto my laptop, there he was! The man in the moon. Do you see him? No post processing, not even a crop.

There's always something to shoot

on the way to watching the sunrise

and on the way back...

the happy photographer

At the beach--edited

I drove--all the way in the rain--yesterday to Emerald Isle (NC). It's about a 3 hour drive from downtown Raleigh where I live. The sun was out when I arrived!

Here are a few shots from yesterday

And today

the guy next door out fishing after a very foggy morning

the house where I'm staying has very wide dunes in front of it

life on the dunes

When it turns blue...

Displayed on the picnic table on the deck of the house

In a planter on the deck

Adding a little visitor this afternoon

To end the day with the rising moon and the sunset glow

The juxtaposition of the wedding

to the anger really hit me today. The fact that I could see them both but they couldn't see each other. I know the wedding guests could hear the guys on the street corner, but I don't know if they could hear the music from the wedding. Then there was the moon that if any of them looked up, they would have seen it. The whole scene really spoke to me about perspective and experience and how separately we live right next to each other.

Made me glad I'm going to the beach tomorrow.

Remembering Snowy: April 2006-June 15, 2020

I didn’t think I would have to make this decision about Snowy.

In July 2017 she had surgery to remove bladder stones at the same time I had a knee replacement. We recovered together. Fortunately I didn’t have to wear a collar to keep me from licking my knee wound and she didn’t have to use a walker to get around. But, while she was connected to the heart monitor during the surgery, it became apparent that she had a heart arrhythmia that the vet said would make her susceptible to sudden death. Be prepared, she said, because the research shows that most dogs who are diagnosed with this particular arrhythmia don’t survive past six months. That was the prognosis three years ago next month.

Snowy beat the odds, but in the end, old age and probable congestive heart failure was making each day more challenging for her to eat, to breathe, to get up and down and not lose her balance. In this time of coronavirus and social distancing at the vet, I couldn’t bring myself to take her there. So a vet who makes house calls came this afternoon and Snowy went to sleep one last time in my study, with classical music on the stereo and the balcony door open so she could smell the summer rain.

I don’t believe in heaven, but I sure hope there is a Rainbow Bridge. We had a reminder yesterday afternoon.

Snowy came to live with us in December 2009. She’d had a tough start: rescued out of a high kill shelter in Georgia by a South Carolina group which primarily rescues German Shepherds. But, she wasn’t. As far as we know, she was part Golden Retriever and part American Eskimo. That’s what I told everyone who asked. She was a beautiful dog. I’d hoped to train her as a therapy dog, but she didn’t have the personality. Indifferent to most people, she loved playing with other dogs. And the cats! She wanted Simba to be her best friend and eventually he would come and lie down beside her to sunbathe together.

The rescue group warned me that Snowy liked to play hide and seek. I had no idea what they meant until we discovered that if she got out without a leash, she was off and running. She always came back. But she’d look at me when I was calling her as if to say, “Chill, mom. I’ll be back in 20.” And she always was.

At the beach, walking in the morning, Snowy was my photographer’s assistant. She loved early morning beach walks but did not want to get her paws wet. We watched—and shot—many a beautiful sunrise together at the beach.

Last October we went to the beach, for what I was pretty sure would be her last time, because she was having so much difficulty getting up and down the steps to the beach house and from the deck to the beach. One hind leg was weak, and it would collapse. So we went up the steps with me behind her to prevent her from tumbling down when her leg would give out.

For the last two years we’ve lived in a high rise apartment building. Snowy continued to love her walks—greeting other dog residents we’d pass in the halls or while we waited for the elevator--and finally came to serve as somewhat of a therapy dog. We couldn’t go out that someone wouldn’t ask to pet her, or tell me what a pretty dog she was. Snowy generated lots of smiles from lots of people as we walked the streets shaded by big oaks in downtown Raleigh. Young and old. Black and white. Men, women, children. So many people responded to her with joy for a few moments while we passed each other on the city streets. And it made me happy to see her bringing happiness to others. Well done, my beautiful little white wolf. Mommy is going to miss you so much.

Now, no more fences, decks or leashes. Run free, my Snow girl. Run free.

Life in the City

I have written previously about various aspects of living in downtown Raleigh. Capital of North Carolina. Posted photos I've taken from my balcony.

While the city of Raleigh covers a lot of square miles and has a population of about 1.2 million, the downtown of Raleigh has a population of about 11,000. There has been a lot of development in the last few years (my 23 story high rise apartment building opened in 2015), increasing the downtown population. Lots of great restaurants. Marvelous performing arts center with three different stages. Lively music and bar scene. Recently redesigned four acre park across the street from my building where $13 million was spent to redo it. The main bus station is across the street from the park. Gorgeous new Amtrak station.

While all of these amenities have served to attract a growing downtown population--especially young professionals--homelessness has been rising, too.

This morning, on Easter Sunday, while Snowy and I were out on our 7 am walk, we witnessed the stark reality of violent mental illness. Homeless? I don't know, but would guess, yes.

We were in the park, at the end of our walk, heading towards the corner to cross the street to our building. I heard him before I could see him. Yelling. Angry. Louder and louder. Sounded like he was coming from the bus station towards the intersection we were approaching. I held back. Didn't want to get to the intersection at the same time as this person. (Snowy and I were attacked last summer when a homeless woman threw an outdoor chair at us, barely hitting Snowy. She was known to the police and arrested before our walk was done.) As the man came in to view--a black man-- I saw him throw something at one of the windows of the coffee place on the corner. A police car pulled up from the direction of the bus station--where there is routinely a police vehicle stationed-- just as he was throwing something at another one of the windows. Rocks? He really put his arm into whatever he was throwing. Here are the broken windows.

The white police officer got out of his car and put his hand on his holstered gun. At that point I started backing up with Snowy, away from the intersection. The man turned the corner, walking away from the police officer, who got back in his vehicle, and pursued the man, driving up over the curb at the entrance to our apartment driveway, blocking the man. The man just reversed direction and walked around the police car and headed back in the direction of the coffee place at the corner. Headed my direction. Then I heard the siren of another approaching police car coming fast towards the intersection and he pulled up to block any traffic that might be coming blind around the corner and turn up in the midst of this. The white police officer got out of the second vehicle. At that point, the man stopped. He stopped yelling. Unless he ran into the street, there was an officer on each side of him blocking his way. The first officer walked up to him. Took one of his arms and put it behind the man, who did not resist. Took the other arm, put it behind him and cuffed the man. Both police officers talked to the man for a bit, then he was placed in the first officer's car. Both officers pulled their vehicles in front of the now broken windows and sat there for a few minutes.

Snowy and I crossed the street towards our building. I thought about whether to volunteer to the officers that I'd seen the man break both windows, but I figured they had noticed me and if they wanted a witness, the second police officer would have approached me as we crossed the street.

Thus endeth the experience of Easter 2020.

I've been thinking about this all day. Thinking about how this coronavirus and the stay at home policy has affected the homeless. They have no homes to stay in. Nobody else is looking out for them. What are the ones who are mentally ill supposed to do? Many of them are loners, too. Nobody is looking out for them, especially if they are violent. A packed homeless shelter right now is the last place any of them should be.

I've also been thinking about how well the two officers involved handled the situation. Two white cops and a violent black man who had just hurled something with great force--twice-- to break two big store front windows. When he was cuffed, he was standing up. He wasn't thrown against the hood of the police car or forced to the ground. He didn't resist and no force was used to cuff him. No guns were drawn.

I am so disappointed in our country right now. We have so many problems, not the least of which is the lack of leadership in the White House, but so many people just don't care about anything or anybody beyond themselves. What's in it for me is priority #1 for them and they are determined to prevent tax dollars being used to benefit people they would like to just go away.

What a sad mess we are in. The coronavirus isn't going away. The homeless aren't going to disappear. The tremendous wealth inequality isn't going to magically reverse and start to equalize. Provision of health care--and particularly mental health care--tied to employment isn't going to cut it with massive numbers of people out of work. It wasn't really working before the onset of COVID-19 and now it's going to be another disaster. The system must be changed.

We need to elect representatives at all levels of government--local, state, and federal--who will implement the changes that are so badly needed. We need to have record setting voter turnout this November.

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