Friday, March 27, 2015

The Big Short

I had purchased this book for Don several years ago after the housing collapse several years ago.  I decided to read it several weeks ago because it seemed like an interesting subject that I did not understand.

Michael Lewis, the author, has written several books, though I have only read one of them - The Blind Side.  I loved, loved that book and thought it rather interesting that a man could write a book about football and then write about collapsing financial markets.  Turns out his other books are about business, and since he worked on Wall Street, he had the background to write financial missives.  I was impressed with his breadth of talent, and even more so after reading The Big Short.

At first, one has to plow through some technical jargon.  It took me awhile to unconfuse myself, but it was not too hard.  I had to refer back several times, but what I learned early is that I understood more about the products he was discussing than those who were ultimately selling them.  Lewis's explanation of the housing situation was simple enough for me to understand yet complex enough that someone in the field would not feel patronized.

Lewis had to interview many and gain the cooperation of more to tell his story.  He appears to have done an excellent job of presenting the facts not only about what happened but about the personalities involved.  He seems to "call them as he sees them," citing both good and bad qualities of each player in the subprime game.  I found the people in the book to be genuine, and although their greed and choices were infuriating, it was easy to see how some of them were lucky, some were stupid, some were greedy, and some were crooked.

If I had known The Big Short would be similar to reading a mystery, I would have read it earlier.  Although I knew the ending of the story, I couldn't wait to read the final page to see how the story ended.  I know that sounds crazy, but despite the fact that I knew the basics of the housing collapse, I couldn't wait to find out how it turned out for each person involved in the story.  Some gained an amazing amount of money; many lost even more.

This book is one anyone who is interested in business or who invests in the stock market should read.  It will give you pause about who is to be believed, and it will certainly make you question more with whom you invest!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Orange vs. Green

I am way, way behind on my blogging!  Although many topics have presented themselves, I have not taken the time to write about them.  So this one will go way back to St. Patrick's Day.

When I was young, my father always wore an orange tie, in honor of his Northern Ireland roots.  I never thought much about it and traditionally wore orange as well (along with green, as I did not want to get pinched.)

Once I moved to Kansas, I never heard of anyone wearing orange and gradually, I quit doing it.  I didn't have my children wear orange, I never talked of it, and the tradition slowly died away.

This year, St. Patrick's Day was on a Tuesday, the day I traditionally have lunch with a group of friends.  When Bonnie showed up in a bright orange shirt, I asked her if it was intentional.  "Yep," she said.  "My family is from Northern Ireland."  Finally, I had met someone who wears orange on St. Patrick's Day.

So then I became curious about why the tradition died out.  Turns out, logically, during the years of tumult in Ireland, the colors became a divisive force.  Rather than just be the colors of two different areas of Ireland, they were a great source of conflict.  Makes sense.  Those years were while my children were growing up, and I think because of that, not much was ever said about wearing orange or green.  It appears to still be a rather sensitive subject, and so, if I go back to wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day, I will make sure to have plenty of green on, too.

Interestingly, I was at a meeting a few days ago that talked about how the conflict in Ireland came to an end.  I had always thought it was Bill Clinton, but in reality, it was mothers who came together to stop the fighting.  The women had seen their young sons hurt and maimed by the senselessness, and finally they banded together.  I am sure Bill Clinton was quite helpful, but the power of women and their desire for peace was important in the process.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Little Caleb Hoyt

We had to wait a long time - 5 years, 9 months and 12 days - but who is counting?

Finally, twelve days after his due date, Caleb Hoyt joined our world.  March 4, 2015 at 5:58 p.m.  A magical day for the Morgan and Norton families.

After an initial bout of wailing, he calmed down and really has not cried a lot since.  Of course he has had fussy times, but so far he has been a pretty easy little guy.  His mom and dad are over the moon, as are his grandparents.  For the first few days, no one would put him down.  I think now he sleeps in his bed, and it won't be long before he is sleeping through the night.

On his first week birthday, Kenneth took this picture:

It still hasn't hit me that I am a grandmother.  I know it is going to be a fun ride with this little guy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Orphan Train

Since I have been in a book club, I have read more consistently then ever.  And while many of my friends read several books a month (yes, Victoria, Ginny, Lynn, Pam . . . I mean you), I am lucky to get my book club offering read.  But I keep at it.

I had put off reading The Orphan Train, mostly because I was so busy.  But when we took a trip to Kansas City to see our new grandson, I decided to take the opportunity to read it.

Although I am usually glad I have read the books, I have to work at finishing them.  Not with The Orphan Train.  I loved, loved, loved it!  The captivating characters, the transitions in time, the story line . . . I didn't want it to end.  As a matter of fact, I was disappointed that it did.

Although the book was fiction, it was based on a true story and was researched, including in Concordia, KS at the Orphan Train Museum.  And despite many awful stories of what happened to some of the children on the Orphan Train, this book left me with a feeling of hope - that no matter what happens, people can and will survive.

This is a book I can easily recommend - a fast but wonderful read.