White House value, goodbye yard signs, and summer travel
A couple of firms have estimated the value of the White House as if it were for sale. A local DC firm has put the asking price of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave at $110 million, though it estimates it would probably close for around $80 million. That figure doesn’t take into account the historic one-of-a-kind nature of the deal. Zillow is more generous, estimating the value at over $220 million, though like much of the country the price has declined over the last year.
Inman’s recent review of The Seven Pearls of Financial Wisdom (on financial guidance for women), piqued our interest. We have a substantial personal finance collection of our own in our library—in both electronic and print.
Are yard signs going the way of the buggy whip in Aspen, Colorado? The Aspen Board of REALTORS® is seeking a voluntary ban on yard signs, in order to eliminate visual pollution. Some approve of the measure, others are in opposition. “The issue of real estate signs in Aspen is not a simple ‘for or against’ question. It’s multi-faceted,” said Will Herndon, President, Coldwell Banker Mason Morse. He defended a firm’s right “to serve our clients’ interests in marketing their properties to the best of our ability within governing codes and regulations of Aspen, Pitkin County and ABOR.”
Fannie Mae, the largest source of U.S. housing funds, said it would not need to request more taxpayer aid this quarter after posting a $2.7 billion profit in the first three months of the year.
Austria’s ‘upside down house’ becomes tourist attraction.
Summer travel season is just around the corner. If your holiday plans include overseas excursions, you might consider getting a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. These bank fees can add up quickly if you’re not careful. Luckily several companies offer cards without these pesky charges.
And credit cards are not the only ones with fees on the rise. Watch out for the airlines, as they nickel and dime their way back to profitability.
Peek behind the scenes at Paramount Pictures as the studio celebrates 100 years with a look at pictures from Life Magazine’s coverage of a massive ‘housecleaning’ that took place in 1970 at the iconic studio.
by Cathy Dodge, Information Specialist.
“Mindsight” by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is a thoroughly compelling and insightful book on the human mind and how it reacts under duress. When I initially leafed through the book, I noticed that the author presented a tremendous amount of information, and wondered if it might become tedious, as numerous examples of patients with anxiety, obsessive compulsive behavior, and painful or repressed memories were provided, along with the stories of their struggles. As I read, however, I found each story to be very different and uplifting, offering insight, hope, and solutions for the lives of the patients involved, leading them to greater mental health, stability, and happiness.
By combining Eastern meditation – or mindfulness – with Western neuroscience into what he calls “mindsight”, Dr. Siegel provides a unique way for his patients to tackle their problems. He discusses the well-known “fight or flight” mechanism that the human brain reacts with in times of stress, but he also introduces the idea of a third reaction – that of “freezing” – when a person is stuck in a state of terror, isolated from others and unable to act.
Under his care, patients incorporate Siegel’s ideas on mindfulness by using the power of empathy and reflection to face their problems, instead of avoiding them. By exploring the roots of their emotions and staying with uncomfortable feelings, patients discover that those feelings are simply a set of neural firings in the brain, thus making them feel less threatening.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in self-awareness, in overcoming inhibiting mental habits and fears, and in learning how the human mind works. Readers might benefit from Siegel’s methods by freeing themselves of these habits and fears, allowing them greater personal happiness and peace of mind, while also potentially allowing their ambitions and careers to flourish as a result of this freedom.
By Cathy Dodge, Information Specialist
Feng Shui, known as the art of placement, literally means “wind and water”. An ancient Chinese system of aesthetics, Feng Shui is purported to improve your life by allowing you to receive positive energy, or chi, through the placement of certain objects, sounds, scents, and colors in your surroundings.
Chi is defined as “an invisible life-force energy”, and the objective of Feng Shui is to “manipulate this energy so it flows smoothly through our homes, bringing us health, wealth and happiness,” according to author Skye Alexander.
Feng Shui employs the use of five elements in and around the home to create harmony and balance. The five elements are water, metal, wood, earth, and fire, and can be represented using everyday household objects. For example, mirrors are often used to represent water, and clay pots for earth. Colors also play a significant role in Feng Shui. Red, for example, is thought to attract happiness, while black is associated with wealth and encourages receptivity and cooperation.
Following the instructions in her book, “10-Minute Feng Shui Room by Room“, Skye Alexander takes the reader through the steps of making the home into a place that nurtures its inhabitants by using the five elements in each room, and in the area surrounding the home. To quote the author, “It gives us a formula for designing, arranging, organizing, and maintaining our homes and workplaces so they nurture us.”
Touted by some as having the ability to bring wealth, luck, and harmony, Feng Shui is also seen by its critics as nothing more than feudalistic superstition, and was banned from use in China after the founding of The People’s Republic of China in 1949. Today, however, Feng Shui is experiencing a resurgence in popularity in China, and with some in the West, amongst them New-Age spiritualists, architects, and interior designers.
To lend credence to the validity of Feng Shui, Skye Alexander cites several well-known celebrities and corporations who’ve used Feng Shui when designing homes, office buildings, and even theme parks. Among them are Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Spielberg, architect I. M. Pei, The Disney Corporation, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, and Sony. The author claims that these individuals and corporations use Feng Shui to “boost profits, reduce employee turnover, and increase harmony within their companies”.