The Misery and Heartbreak of Trying to Buy an FHA-Approved Condo in New York City and Jersey City

Over the past couple of weeks, Janna and I were given a hardcore beatdown in the housing market as we tried to figure out how, when, and where to finally buy our first home in Jersey City or New York City.  We quickly found that an FHA loan — a Federally-sponsored mortgage program where you only have to put down 3.5% of the purchase price instead of the standard 20% — is but a dip in the yonder horizon:  A great idea in theory, but an impossible dream in reality.

The 2008 housing crash ruined everything for the first-time home buyer.  Nobody trusts anybody now.  Everybody’s playing an angle.  Everyone wants a quick and fast and dirty deal and nobody wants to deal with the red tape the FHA loans now require.

As one of Janna’s Black co-workers told her, “An FHA mortgage means to sellers and brokers that you’re Black and can’t afford a real down payment.  They don’t want to deal with that.  Try again later when you have more cash for 20% down.”

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The Modern World of Ancient Sines, Portugal

This is going to be a two-part post — Sines — Ancient and Modern. I am breaking all the rules and giving you the modern first! I’m doing this mainly because when I visited Sines with this idea in mind, the old town was totally blocked off for renovations.

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The Bramble Diaries

Remember me? I am the Alentejo cat that might be getting new pets — the tall one and the red one.  They have been coming to see me most days and have been leaving me food.  I was very glad of it when it was raining all the time — they even left it on the porch so it would keep dry for me.

Now it is sunny, and I have spent my time trying to catch these two birds on the fence — so far they have eluded me! They are crafty; they steal my cat food and fly off just as I pounce.  I am patient though and, like me, they hang around most days.

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As Ed Koch Dies, His City Lives

Ed Koch died this morning at 2:00am in New York City.  He was 88.  All the Manhattan television stations are plastered, pixel-to-pixel, with memories and videos from their vast archives memorializing his large life.  Ed was my first New York City major, and he embodied everything you wanted in a public leader:  He was brash and brilliant and caring and tough and brutal when he had to be.

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Urbanization in the Year 2100

We know half the world is urban — but what will our world look like in the year 2100?  We will be compressed even further up and away from each other in skyscrapers?  Or will we begin to winnow out and find room to stretch the horizon?

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