July 30, 2008

July 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary Gary!

First I would like to wish a Happy 3rd Anniversary to my partner Gary.

I know life isn't always easy but being with someone you can count on makes life better. Gary and I already had met but started seeing each other the day of the gay pride parade in 2005. It has definitely never been boring since we met since we have both had major challenges and victories in our lives since we met. Neither of us is perfect and we are both on our paths of self discovery and learning. So thank you for three years with never a dull moment Gary. I love you!

Unfortunately we were both still sick today and unable to get out of the house. Gary did surprise me with some beautiful orange-yellow and magenta long stem roses. He also gave me two very sweet and loving anniversary cards. I surprised him with some Kenneth Cole tennis shoes he has had his eye on for quite some time. Since we were too sick to go out to eat we decided just to order pizza for Pappa Johns. We ended up getting our usual pepperoni and mushroom pizza. It was supposed to be deep dish but ended up being regular crust which is my least favorite. But of course it was still good just not my favorite.

For those of you that haven't heard yet, my old city of Los Angeles was hit by an earthquake during lunch time yesterday. The strongest earthquake to strike a populated area of Southern California in more than a decade rattled windows and chandeliers, made buildings sway and sent people running into the streets on Tuesday. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or major damage. The 5.4-magnitude quake considered moderate was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, and as far east as Las Vegas, 230 miles away. Nearly 30 aftershocks quickly followed, the largest estimated at 3.8. As strong as it felt, Tuesday's quake was far less powerful than the deadly magnitude-6.7 Northridge earthquake that topped bridges and buildings on Jan. 17, 1994. That was the last damaging temblor in Southern California, though not the biggest. A 7.1 quake struck the desert in 1999. The earthquake had about 1 percent of the energy of the Northridge quake, said Thomas Heaton, director of the earthquake engineering and research laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. The quake was centered 29 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles near Chino Hills, a San Bernardino County city of 80,000 built mostly in the early 1990s with the latest in earthquake-resistant technology. Buildings swayed in downtown Los Angeles for several seconds, leading to the evacuation of some offices. Attractions at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure theme parks and at the Knott's Berry Farm theme park were temporarily closed for inspections after the shaking. Minor structural damage was reported throughout Los Angeles, along with five minor injuries and people stuck in elevators. There was also flooding in one department store. Now the big question is when will the big one hit??? I am glad I won't be out there for it having lived there several small earthquakes myself while living in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The other big news is about the continued deterioration of the US housing market. Home prices tumbled by the steepest rate ever in May, according to a closely watched housing index released Tuesday, as the housing slump deepened nationwide. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index dropped by 15.8 percent in May compared with a year ago, a record decline since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index plunged 16.9 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history. No city in the Case-Shiller 20-city index saw price gains in May, the second straight month that's happened. The monthly indices have not recorded an overall home price increase in any month since August 2006. Home values have fallen 18.4 percent since the 20-city index's peak in July 2006. Nine metropolitan cities Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Wash., Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C. posted record declines in May. And the value of housing in Detroit is now lower than it was in 2000. But a possible bright spot in an otherwise dismal report, seven metros Tampa, Fla., Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Dallas and Atlanta showed smaller annual declines. Las Vegas recorded the worst drop, with prices plunging 28.4 percent in the month. Miami came in a close second, with prices down 28.3 percent. Charlotte, N.C., posted the smallest drop at 0.2 percent. Until April, the North Carolina city had been the last metro still showing price gains. I know in my neighborhood which is a historical registered neighborhood values have decreased at least 15 percent and there are many homes up for sale for several months now.

Speaking of the housing crisis, President Bush signed a housing bill Wednesday intended to rescue about 15 percent of the cash-strapped homeowners in fear of foreclosure in the next year or so. Early in the morning and out of public view, the president signed it without fanfare in the Oval Office, adding his signature to a measure he once threatened to veto. The White House said he was accompanied by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston and other administration officials. The legislation is regarded as the most significant housing bill in decades. It won approval from lawmakers eager, in an election year, to come up with an answer to the growing housing crisis. The measure includes $300 billion in new loan authority for the government to back cheaper mortgages for troubled homeowners; $3.9 billion for communities to fix up foreclosed properties causing blight in neighborhoods; and $15 billion in tax cuts, including an expanded low-income housing tax credit and a credit of up to $7,500, to be repaid, for some first-time home buyers.

The number of homeowners who could lose their homes to foreclosure by the end of 2009 is estimated by some to be around 2.8 million. Under the legislation, 400,000 having trouble with payments could avoid it by trading their loans for new, more affordable mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration. Their banks would have to agree to allow the swap and to take a large loss in exchange for avoiding the lengthy and costly foreclosure process. To qualify, homeowners would have to be paying more than 31 percent of their incomes toward their mortgages and show they could afford to make the payments on a new, smaller loan. The measure also is designed to help stabilize markets, in part by making credit more easily available amid rising defaults and falling home values. The bill permanently increases to $625,500 the size of home loans in high-cost areas that the government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy and that the FHA can insure. It would otherwise have reverted to $417,000 for Fannie and Freddie and $362,790 for the FHA by the end of the year. Bush's action seemed to indicate he wanted to play both sides: avoid being seen as not helping middle America in a crisis and avoid too close an association with a bill that many in the GOP opposed. So once again our politicians pander to the largest complaining group. But what will happen will people with HIV and AIDS needs medications next year and the funds from the government have been cut again resulting in people on waiting lists or not getting life saving medications.

We watched the two hours of So You Think You Can Dance tonight which was great as always. They are down to the last eight dancers so everyone is excellent at this point and it could be anyone's game. My two favorite girls are still in the running so we will see. We are headed off to bed soon.

I hope you had a great day. Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab