Around the horn on Easter weekend

The Lindsay Wildlife Museum will be closed Easter Sunday, but open all next week due to spring break.  They have an exhibit up there right now called Bring the Condors Home.  I’m always overcome with childlike amazement when an endangered specie returns from the brink as the condors did.

Tonight it’s March Madness up at the Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants.  If you haven’t been up to this place, they know wine.  No, they KNOW wine.  And they’re really nice people.  Here’s their blurb for tonight:

Fri March 21 & Sat March 22 March Madness! Come and taste our best picks of the month Tasting Fee $10 ($5 Wine Club Members) Special feature Friday night only: Dechen Designs — Treat yourself to a taste of luxury with our high-quality, hand-woven Cashmere (pashmina) wraps from Nepal. Freshen up your wardrobe with our hot & trendy silk scarves with matching handbags from India!

Sunday March 23rd – closed for Easter Holiday

Heather Farms is having their Easter Egg hunt tomorrow.

Saturday, March 22nd, 10:15 a.m. Walnut Creek Spring Egg
Hunts, Heather Farm Park 301 N. San Carlos Dr. @ Ygnacio
Valley Road, and Larkey Park, 2771 Buena Vista Ave. Walnut
Creek, FREE
 This hunt is divided into two parts, Preschoolers to
5th graders and disabled children will be at Heather Farm Park
and there will be another hunt for Preschoolers through fifth
graders at Larkey Park.  Note: Larkey Park is on the other side of
the 680 from Heather Farms.  Depending on how your kid likes
crowds, you might consider the Larkey Park Location.

Saturday, March 22nd, 8:00 – 9:45 a.m. (just before the Egg Hunt)
Walnut Creek Breakfast with the Spring Bunny, $5 adults, FREE
for kids under 12
, There will be a pancake breakfast with the
Spring Bunny at the Heather Farm Community Center. 

My favorite brunch location is Patrick David’s in the Livery in Danville.  Don’t know if they’re doing a special Easter brunch or not, it’s best to drop a dime on them first, but if you go there be sure to order that warm chocolate souffle.  It’s possibly the best dessert in Contra Costa County, and I’m not a chocolate fan.  Scott’s in Walnut Creek has a special Easter brunch, call early, they’re always crowded and with good reason.

And we’ve got a decent weather report for the weekend so it’ll be a great time to take a hike around the mountain, or a ride or a run or a nice 18 holes.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Run, Forest, Run

One of my all time favorite foot races is the Dipsea.  It is the most grueling 7.1 miles you will ever spend racing.  To say it’s an over hill over dale sort of race would be to sell it short.  It’s completion is one of the major accomplishments of my life, even though 80 year old Walt Stack beat my butt.  Tomorrow is the last day to register for this event.  You can request an application at theannualdipsea@aol.com  and they will mail them back to you.  The acceptance process is arduous, but if you get in, it will be totally worth it.

Fool’s gold

I was working in the stock market in 2001 when the dot com bomb took place. Back then people were saying you just couldn’t lose in the stock market. Then the worm turned and it was ugly. A friend of mine had a client who was heavily invested in Level 3. He was a minor executive and a true believer. He had all of his money in Level 3 stock and had margined it to build a house. He rode Level 3 all the way into the ground, and then they let him go. The talk on the street was buy precious metals. Gold was $300 an ounce. I thought it was a questionable investment strategy. Could I have predicted that terrorist would destroy the very building I had worked in that May? Could I have predicted that our government would spend what it has spent (rather than what it has) to not catch the guys who did this? Could I have predicted we would invade Iraq and be stuck there for now four years, probably much longer? Could I have predicted the mortgage meltdown, the foreclosure problem or the credit crunch? No, I couldn’t predict any of that. No one could. So no one could have predicted that gold would be $1010.80 an ounce today. Will it keep going up? Not forever. It will cycle like everything else.

There were some warning signs that the statement “It’ll just keep going up” was not an absolute in the housing market. The housing market has adjusted seriously at the beginning of the last four decades. 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001? Oops, we missed a year. We kept missing that adjustment for six years. It was not going to keep going up. Business is cyclical. Would real estate continue to be a sound investment? With good investment principles absolutely yes. Those principles include buying in a solid area with a good infrastructure. Buying with a solid down payment allowing for a reasonable cash flow after five to seven years. Buying with the intent of holding. Flipping, while exciting is just as dangerous as day trading. If you’re a thrillseeker and can afford to monitor the market like that…knock yourself out. The average investor doesn’t have that sort of time. So it’s important to find a home that’s right for your family. It doesn’t matter what the market is doing, if the house works for your family and the principles are in place, your investment will be sound. In 1991 a lot of people bought at the top of the market. The market plunged and many walked away. The ones who toughed it out, found that in 1998 they had made up all the money they lost in the early 1990’s and then some. So choose for your family and the rest will follow.