Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Schott Foundation


I'm slowly becoming more involved with The Schott Foundation in New York, which works to achieve equality in public education. The foundation has recently started a "Young Patron's Board" that I'm considering joining. The Board focuses on spreading awareness as well as fundraising. On that note, they are hosting a wine tasting evening on March 6th, so if you're interested and around, stop by.

As for the cause, it is interesting to learn that an entire generation of NY public school children as been neglected as a lengthy court battle has unfolded to try and provide necessary funding to underprivileged schools. Kids that started in kindergarten when these issues were first recognized and brought before the courts, are now graduating from high schools that have dilapidated woodshops and libraries stocked with books from the 1960s.

The other thing I find interesting about the Schott Foundation is that it is a grant giving organization. A charity for charities fundraiser for non-profits of sorts. It passes funds to other organizations which then work to achieve goals that are aligned with the foundation.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bow Tie


VideoJug: How To Tie A Bow Tie

Supposedly, everyone should know how to tie a bow tie; I learned for NY2K07 in Houston, but have had little occasion to put it to use since.

New Apt

I'm in the process of buying a co-op which has been a long process; rather than bore with the details of my hunt, I thought I'd share a few lessons learned:

  1. Co-op vs condo: the long and short seems to be that in a condo, you own the apt. and everything is your responsibility, while in the co-op you own shares, which entitle you to live in a certain unit (the collective shares responsibility for the building). Additionally, co-ops often have boards which oversee what happens in the building (ie building improvements & whether a prospective tenant can buy into the building). Nothing revolutionary here; I managed to find a "cond-op" so some of the restrictions aren't present, but i still get the advantage of everyone being responsible for the building.

  2. Agents - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em: my agent has been with me for three moves now. While she has helped me tremendously, I often wonder about their added value. At the end of the day she collected 2.5% of the purchase price in exchange for putting me on the list for 6 open houses, showing me one apt (to which she was late), and trying to convince me that the housing market is on fire (while I don't doubt this in NY, I also am confident in saying this is not a nation wide trend, and even here things aren't as fast as they've been).

  3. Steps: I guess I never knew the steps involved (and neither did my agent really - see above): 1) find an apt 2) make a bid 3) once bid is accepted, legal review 4) sign contract (and make down payment) 5) find a mortgage 6) close (as mentioned above, some co-ops require board approval in the process)

  4. Negotiate - if you've read Freakonomics then you know about incentives in real estate; I can only vouch for this. Once the two agents knew that i was willing to pay the ask, and negotiate on other closing costs, I had much greater success in achieving concessions.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Green Energy

After reading Tom's post about green energy and watching An Inconvenient Truth I also decided to call up my power generation company and see what was on offer; ConEdison actually offers a variety of options ranging from buying green power straight from them, to connecting you to other suppliers. I decided to go with the ConEdison offering, and now pay 1 cent more per unit, which i think will be about $2 more per month. In exchange my power will come from hydro and wind sources.

I have yet to venture into the light bulb part of Tom's project, but think that LEDs could be of interest the next time one of my bulbs blows, if the prices come down a bit.

(follow up: http://science.slashdot.org/science/07/02/20/1632204.shtml)

A few interesting things I found today:

loudisrelative - meant to track concerts at local venues and also integrate a sense of community by allowing those who plan to attend to post comments. it looks fairly scarcely used at the moment, so while the framework is there, it is lacking in actual content.

joost & babelgum - IPTV solutions, both in beta, joost supposedly released a mac version in the last few days. seems like an interesting twist to tv if they can get content. if anyone has a token to share, please feel free

(follow up: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117193265395613131.html?mod=home_whats_news_us )

tag clouds - flickr and some other websites have these, i'm still trying to make it work here, but it seems cool. i like the ranking by size aspect...