Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Renters vs. Owners

It's about time someone starting questioning why we seem to value home ownership so highly in this country. This column challenges the paradigm, which is something I've been wondering about for quite awhile, especially since I've been getting involved in and educated about urban planning. So much emphasis is placed on home ownership, and yet perhaps that's not the right perspective through which to view the values and ideals of affordable housing and healthy, safe housing for all.

Up until 2004, I was a renter my entire life, and I never really shared the "American dream" of owning a home. Why bother? As a renter, I could call my landlord or management company if something needed repairs, I didn't need to mow the lawn or take care of the yard, I didn't need to shovel the driveway or the front walk when it snowed. Why would I want to forsake this freedom for the yoke of owning a home that not only requires a mortgage but also regular maintenance and care?

Even now, I'm still not convinced of the benefits to owning versus renting. We pay more in our monthly mortgage than we did in rent, and the tax write-off doesn't compensate for that added expense. We also have additional insurance for our home, including an Umbrella Policy, that we didn't have as renters. Where's the big advantage? Supposedly, owning a home is a good investment, but like any investment, it really only pays off when you sell it, and who knows when that will be or what the market will be like at that point.

In the meantime, I prefer to look at our abode as a HOME, not as an investment, i.e. a refuge for our little trio, a place to relax, a place to make livable for our lifestyle. But we could do that just as easily in a rented apartment rather than a townhouse-style condo. And I don't want to consider every purchase we make or every change to the interior in terms of "will this add to our ROI?" "how will this affect our resale value?" If we want to make a change so that our HOME is more to our liking (e.g. redo the kitchen, enlarge the bathroom), then we should evaluate the pros and cons in terms of how it will improve our own standard of living rather than trying to anticipate how it will sell at some unknown future date.

However, I seem to be in the minority at this point. I hope this starts to change...

After all, if our culture hadn't been so focused on owning a home, then we wouldn't have encountered the current fiasco as a result of sub-prime loans and high foreclosure rates. So can't we now learn from this lesson and shift our paradigm?


Teen Pregnancy "Pact" - Umm... not so much...

So it looks like the uproar in Gloucester, MA, may be coming to a close. Ellen Goodman's column, however, points out the problem with breathing a sigh of relief at discovering that the young ladies didn't have a so-called "pregnancy pact" - does the lack of an intentional plan really make teen pregnancy suddenly acceptable for some reason??

And just out of curiosity, did anyone ever really mention the boys or men involved in this whole ordeal? Where's the call for accountability and responsibility there? Where's the blame game for the males in all this? Somehow, that part ALWAYS seems to be neglected...


So long, Schill...

Mmm... must be nice to get paid $8 million to rehab for several months and then be done with the season.

Thanks for the memories, Curt. We'll never forget the bloody sock in '04 or the 8 2/3 innings almost-no-hitter in '07. You've been a stalwart work-horse for us, and we couldn't have had the joyous and amazing WS run-up and victory in '04 without you. For those reasons, I'll forgive the conservatism and Bush-stumping (though you should have known better...).

So long, Schill...


Climate Change

We're spending a week in the Midwest (Chicago/Madison), and I'm remembering one of the biggest "cons" of all about this part of the country - the climate. Such a contrast to Sacto, where the heat is high but the humidity is low, and that truly makes all the difference in the world. I'm not sure I'm ready for this climate change, and it would definitely make the list of unappealing features of this region as a potential relocation spot whenever we choose to leave Cali.

However, I am sort of looking forward to the thunderstorms that have been predicted for tonight and tomorrow. We don't get much of that weather in NorCal, and it's something I miss. It should be especially striking to watch from the high-rise apartment where we're staying, which is just a block from Lake Michigan and has a great view of the Lake and Navy Pier.


Biking in May

I met my biking pledge of 100 miles in May and even slightly exceeded it - yay!

I'm really proud of myself for doing this, since I'm not much of a cyclist and tend to be a bit wary of biking as I don't feel terribly comfortable or adept in the saddle. But I also knew that the best way to get over this feeling was to just get out there and bike some more. I definitely feel more at ease now and noticed that I actually got a bit faster on my daily commute. I also figure the extra workout was good for my quads (and thus good for my running...). And now I'm much more likely to jump on the bike for errands, as Mr. E and I did yesterday when we trekked to the FCG and Fleet Feet and Blockbuster.

I know the heat will hit soon and I'll stash the bike for awhile until the cooler weather returns, but I'm pretty sure the bike commute will resume as a viable option later in the year thanks to this experience in May.