Feb 112011
The Watsonville Plaza in the downtown area.

The Watsonville real estate market, a portion of the larger Santa Cruz County housing market, saw a decline in the quantity of properties sold as well as a decrease in the median sales price of condominiums and negligible movement in the median sales price of single-family homes. According to a December 2010 report from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, there were only 119 single-family detached homes sold during November 2010, representing a decrease of approximately fifteen percent compared to November 2009. The median price of a single-family home in Santa Cruz County was $536,000, little changed compared to year-ago levels.  For condominiums, the median price was $287,700, a decrease of more than $20,000 compared to $310,000 a year ago. In addition to a decline in median sales price, the quantity of condos sold fell to a mere 20, or a decrease of nearly fifty percent. The average prices of single-family homes and condominiums, as opposed to the median sales price, decreased and increased year-over-year, respectively. The average price of single-family homes was $572,298, compared to $619,160 a year ago, while that same figure was $364,087 for condominiums as opposed to $360,022 during November 2009.

The commercial sector of Santa Cruz real estate has suffered along with Santa Cruz and Watsonville homes for sale. According to a January 6, 2011 report from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, many small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Santa Cruz area were unable to secure lines of credit or start-up loans during the economic recession. This is largely the result of large lenders such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo proving hesitant to release credit during economically uncertain times. One major lender cut back on loans by well over eighty percent, while another slashed the number of loans by seventy-nine percent. Taken as a unit, the three largest lenders in California slashed the total number of small business loans statewide by sixty-four percent between 2007 and 2009. In addition to sparsely available credit, small businesses throughout Santa Cruz have been facing lower property values and declining sales for several months.

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Mar 162010
Palm Desert
Image by megatick via Flickr

Palm Desert is an inland city in the Palm Springs area of California. Over the past couple of years, the city saw its market – like many others nationwide – plummet, and has since seen its real estate market rise and fall, plagued by lower prices, rising foreclosures and struggling to make it back to where it was before the financial crisis set in in America.

According to the Desert Real Estate Report, in January and February of this year, average and median prices were on the rise, a trend that began in December. Average prices of Palm Desert homes for sale were up around $$500,000, while the median price actually remained mostly steady from January, and was down slightly from December.

Sales volume in February was at 49, up slightly from January, continuing a gradually rising trend in the Palm Desert real estate market that began around summer of 2009. The condo market in Palm Desert showed a similar rise in sales volume. In February, there were 43 sales, up from the month prior and continuing a slowly rising trend that began to set in around June or July 209.

Despite the rise in volume, however, the median price for condos has followed a downward trend. Since January 2009, when it was over $350,000, the median price has fallen to less than $250,000. The average price, too, has shown a generally downward sloping trend. Much of the rise in activity can be attributed to the simultaneous fall in prices, prompting many who were on the fence of getting into the condo market to jump in and buy while prices are still low.

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Jan 232010
The Inn at Loretto, a Pueblo Revival style bui...
Image via Wikipedia

Despite the many struggles the real estate market in Santa Fe has faced over the past year as a result of economic recession that began in 2008, many real estate experts have reported seeing promising signs of a recovering real estate market in Santa Fe over the past few months. Santa Fe has suffered from high vacancy rates in apartments, declining median sales prices, and sluggish real estate activity. However, in the last several months of 2009, realtors have posted numbers showing that that real estate in Santa Fe is stabilizing, a signal that many real estate experts believe indicates the beginning of the recovery of the Santa Fe real estate market.

The Santa Fe New Mexican has reported that of all the problems that the real estate in Santa Fe has faced over the past year or so, the market for apartments has struggled the most. While most experts expect the majority of the Santa Fe real estate market to improve significantly by mid-to-late 2010, the market for apartments isn’t expected to fully recuperate until sometime in 2011. Realtors have noted that despite a recent spike in single-family home sales, apartments have not attracted many buyers. Many landlords have been forced to significantly lower rents over the past year. The large inventory of apartments has been a sign of the enormous vacancy rates for rental properties in Santa Fe. Many landlords have resorted to offering significant discounts and special deals to entice buyers.

The Santa Fe New Mexican has also noted that despite the continuing struggles of the rental market, the majority of the Santa Fe real estate market has shows signs of a stabilizing market that is ready to rebound in the next few months. Although the median sales price for single-family homes in Santa Fe declined slightly during the fourth quarter, the median sales price is still 16 percent higher than that of 2008. Realtors are also optimistic that the federal tax credit will play a major role in influencing the improvement of the Santa Fe real estate, especially as the expiration date for the tax credit is due to expire in April.

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Jan 092010
A windsurfer with modern gear tilts the rig an...
Image via Wikipedia

Hawaii is definitely one of the most popular destinations for tourists. Its allure lies in its beautiful and astounding beaches. The Hawaiian Islands is blessed with unlimited glorious beaches for vacationers to choose from! Vacationers love Hawaii not just because of the wonderful scenery but also for the numerous activities to do. If you are in the process of planning a trip to Hawaii, there are a number of benefits to checking out the popular beach activities before you make the trip.

Before planning the activities for your vacation, you must first focus on the travel arrangements. This is definitely one of the most important things to do before traveling. This is to ensure that you will have a ‘perfect’ Hawaii vacation. Definitely, airline and car rental reservations are important but a good percentage of your attention should be on finding a nice Hawaii vacation rental place. Your accommodations could either make or break your vacation.

The reason why it’s important to carefully check out your Hawaii vacation rental is because of the numerous options available. Hawaii vacation rentals come in various forms. These include Hawaii vacation condos, cottages, villas, apartment rentals, and homes. There are also other features to consider like room capacity, location and price ranges. In order to narrow down the accommodation choices, you will need to choose which Hawaii Island you want to visit. Next factor is affordability; consider your vacation budget. And then finally, examine the activities you would like to do. If you would like to enjoy the beach and do a lot of beach activities, a beachfront Hawaii vacation rental may be the best choice for you.

After deciding on the accommodations, start plotting your itinerary and the activities you would like to do. It would be a waste if you just lounge around the beach or worse, get spend your vacation inside your hotel room. In terms of Hawaii activities, you may want to start with the basics. One example are swimming and boating, which are enjoyed by people of all ages, young and old. Majority of Hawaii’s beaches have clear and calm waters, which are ideal for young children and inexperienced swimmers. Boating on Hawaii waters is exciting and presents various options for tourists. There are Hawaii boat rentals available for both experienced and inexperienced boaters.

If you are more of an adventurer, there are also a number of Hawaii water activities that should be perfect for you. These activities include surfing, wind surfing and body boarding. Surfing and windsurfing are usually for those who have some surfing experience. However, there are usually instructors on the beaches where they could teach you the basic. This is, of course, for a minimal fee. Besides, it’s the perfect time to learn to surf; while on your Hawaii vacation. If you don’t like impromptu teaching, you could also search online to find the most affordable surfing lessons. Make sure that the classes are being held within the vicinity of your lodging place.

Aside from surfing and boarding, snorkeling and scuba diving are two of the most popular Hawaii beach activities. These activities are highly rated and recommended. Your Hawaii vacation would be a waste if you don’t do both. These two activities are not only adventurous and fun but educational as well. Like with surfing and boarding, lessons are available for diving beginners. For experienced divers, beach rental stations are conveniently located all across Hawaii and definitely near the popular Hawaiian beaches.

In summary, the key to a memorable and perfect Hawaiian trip is proper planning and preparation. This includes ensuring that you have the necessary and proper travel arrangements. Once the travel arrangements have been made and finalized such as the Hawaii vacation rental reservations, airline and car rental reservations and Hawaii activities. The activities that you would like to do will also need planning. If you have no experience with the particular activity you would like, make sure that you will get the proper training prior to doing the activity. Thus, if you are headstrong on learning and doing wind surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling be sure that you book the necessary equipment and classes that you may need. This should all be done before you leave.

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Aug 112009
Chile - Easter Island, Ahu Tongariki
Image by vtveen via Flickr

Aside from being one of the world’s most isolated islands, Easter Island is also one of the most mysterious. A few kilometers from Chile, this island’s history is also enshrouded in enigma. Because of this, however, Easter Island easily becomes one of the most interesting travel experiences in the world.
Traveling to Easter Island can be a journey, but this journey is not as complicated as you may think. You have the option to travel alone or with a knowledgeable travel expert. A commercial air service takes tourists to and from the island daily. Getting around this 160 square kilometer island is fairly easy and all you need is a jeep. As for accommodations, there are a few hotels and guest houses that you can stay at, and many of them offer a few meals per day.
Easter Island Culture
Easter Island is heavily associated with the Moai stone statues that are scattered around its shores, and the statues’ creation is widely disputed. Many people believe that there were 900 of them at one time, and it took little time to create them all. Of course, this is just one of the island’s many mysteries. Today, there are groups of these stone statues scattered everywhere, and they are almost uniform. Years of erosion, however, have left them with slightly unique features.
Aside from the Moai, there are numbers of masonry wonders. There are stone walls, like those found in the rear of Vinapu, that were created without mortar. There are also 1,233 stone houses that still stand on the island. Petroglyphs can also be found carved into the rocks of the island.
While it can be a journey to get to Easter Island, your arrival on the island will justify it. Not only will you be intrigued and fascinated by the mystery surrounding the island, but you’ll also explore an island that very few other people have experienced.

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Aug 112009
Image by …-Wink-… via Flickr

“When people are just travelin, they start out with the notion they’re gonna end up someplace by a certain time. They get together what they think they’ll need and head out. They stop for fuel if they’re drivin. Maybe they stop for food or maybe they pack their own so’s to limit the stops. If a detour comes up on the highway or there’s a traffic jam, they get upset. They don’t like anythin to slow ’em up. They’re on a schedule.
“A person on a journey prepares the basics as well, but doesn’t have a schedule…not as such. That person is willin, if not enthusiastic, about enjoyin every second. Might create detours just to see what’s there. Maybe pulls over to watch a sunrise or sunset. Might get out in a rain shower to feel the cool drops on their skin…taste the rain. That kind of person will stop along the way just to talk to people, have a new experience. You can tell a lot about how a person moves through life by how they travel.”
-Excerpt from “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say”
Are you journeying through life or are you just traveling by with a routine? Do you appreciate each minute and see it as an opportunity, or do you just see it as something that needs to go by. Living in the present and putting meaning in your actions helps you gain fuller life. This means getting your heart, mind and soul in tune with each other.
We have a tendency to think of things aside from the task we are doing, and often miss something funny or exciting because our minds are elsewhere. Multi-tasking, while it gets things done, separates our mind from the here and now that our bodies are in.
Dwelling on other thoughts while you should be living in the present is another instance of traveling and not appreciating the moment. Take time to listen to others, and like towns and cities we vacation to, explore the rich environments and interesting people you meet throughout your life. Remember to always ask yourself:
Are you journeying or just traveling by?

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Aug 112009
Tao Te Ching
Image via Wikipedia

There is no clear way to have a successful life as everyone approaches obstacles in vastly different ways. While there are no solutions to the current economic problem, some people continue to brave through. Despite having days where everything went wrong, these people continue to stay positive and focused on their goals. People who constantly have pessimistic outlooks often find them coming true. People who don’t, however, find successes in even the smallest parts of their lives. Here are a few tips to keep you floating even through the rough spots:
1. Love, when given and shared, can make you feel whole.
2. While life isn’t fair, be sure to focus only on the positive.
3. Since you can’t change it, let the past go. Instead, focus on what you can change: the future.
4. Lao Tzu (Confucius) once noted, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Make a plan and stick to it when struggling against adversity.
5. When you’re unsure of what to do, be cautious and take small steps. This will help you recover if anything goes wrong.
6. Life has so much to offer, and it’s even better when you share it with people. Find things you and your family like to do to have fun.
7. Persistence and focus are your greatest tools.
8. Life isn’t always easy, so be flexible as you may need to make compromises at times.
9. Some people may not like you. Instead of worrying about them, spend time focusing on the people who do.
10. Friends are powerful allies and great resources, make many of them and enjoy their presence in your life.
11. Pick your battles, as you can’t win every argument.
12. Crying is okay, and it is much better to release pent up emotion than to internalize it.
13. Keep your friends close as they often have the best shoulders to cry on. It’s better than being alone.
14. Treat others as they want to be treated, rather than how you would treat them. Everyone has individual needs, and forcing them into your mold may cause tension.
15. Live your own life, and don’t copy others. The grass isn’t always greener.
16. Remember the old adage, beauty is only skin deep.
17. When you feel like things are out of control, take a minute to breath and focus before entering a task.
18. You control the course to your dreams and goals.
19. Don’t focus on what other people think, instead focus on being you.
20. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and time will bring happiness and healing.
21. Miracles do happen.
22. Don’t spend time feeling bad about your situation, instead spend time looking at the opportunities around you.
23. No matter what kind of box it comes in, life is a wonderful gift.
24. You control your happiness.
25. Life is something you should celebrate daily.
26. Remember that the best is yet to come.

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Aug 112009
Image by ANVAR – RUSSIANTEXAN © via Flickr

If you’re looking to live a life of purpose and meaning, continue reading this article. Following are tips for those who want to offer themselves to the world and want to leave their mark of change.
1. Get clear on what you value.  What innate qualities do you value in other people, such as honesty, authenticity, intellect? What are you willing to stand for and defend?
2. Get clear on what you are best at doing and being. Everyone has innate talents and strengths. Identify yours and utilize them to the best of your ability in your everyday life.
3. Take a long hard look at your current situation. Look at your current lifestyle and determine whether or not it includes your values and strengths. Figure out how you can get your current life to change and align with your strengths and values.
4. Build a support network of people who have a positive energy and impact on you. When making significant changes in your life, you will want people who support and believe in you. One valuable strategy in this is working with a life coach or mentor.
5. Devise a way to create space in your life to focus solely on your vision. Any time in your day, from a few minutes to an hour can give you time to plan and act out your life plan.
The most important factor in living your life purpose is uncovering the compelling force within you that will propel you into action. You have to want it badly enough to do something about it. Have confidence in yourself and know that the path you choose was designated especially for you. Follow it bravely and live life to the fullest.
Even with these tips, the most important part is finding what drives you to action. Your desire for this should be great to push you to action, and confidence in what you’ve chosen. Live your life to the fullest and follow your personal path with bravery.

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Aug 062009

Life can throw a lot at you. Times get hard. Circumstances spiral out of control. King David knew a lot about struggle. And his story, detailed in the Bible, gives us an important lesson: to persevere, to triumph, to cry out to God to live “Life In Your Way.”

“[David] had written about how hard life was for him, but through all his struggles, mistakes, aches and pains, he decided to live the way God would have him live,” says Life In Your Way vocalist Joshua Kellam.

And it is with that same spirit of humility and strength through adversity that Life In Your Way delivers their unique brand of melodic hardcore, taking a cue from the diverse power of Thrice, the impassioned metallic might of their friends in Shai Hulud and the chaotic but melodic ferocity of Beloved (US).

Spawned from the same fertile Northeastern grounds as metalcore giants like Hatebreed, Killswitch Engage, Unearth, Converge and Coheed & Cambria, Life In Your Way is the latest and greatest band to carry the flag for righteous rock and spirit-filled lyrics. “There is nothing better than to be into what your friends are pouring their lives in,” says the singer. “The most important bands to us are our friends bands — One Dead Three Wounded, The Risk Taken, [and labelmates] August Burns Red.”

And the guys have certainly poured themselves into “Waking Giants,” their first album for Solid State. Swanson came up with the album’s title, which Josh says is about how “we all have giants inside that can and were made to do great things. We tend to put them to sleep more than what we are called for. The world is full of pain and sorrow that should not be overlooked. Basically, we all have the ability to focus on meaningful things that we can put time, money or whatever in to. We so often don’t.”

Life In Your Way’s last album, “Ignite and Rebuild” (Floodgate/ Indianola), the followup to their incredible debut “The Sun Rises and the Sun Sets, and Still Our Time is Endless,” put the band’s own unique stamp upon the musical landscape, a sound filled with an over- abundance of creative ideas.

“One large thing that sets us apart may be that we write many parts for each song and we rarely repeat anything,” Josh says. “And I would hope to stand apart in how we treat people. Too many bands now have an attitude with even the very people in the crowd. We¹ll always push ourselves to be on top of that stuff.”

Amazingly, Josh says that Life In Your Way put more time and energy into their Solid State debut than any of their previous efforts, and it shows. “There were hard times when we were not flowing and things were not making sense. But it always seemed to come together for us right at the last second.”

And of course, they had some help. GGGarth (Rage Against The Machine, Haste The Day) and his “main-man” Ben Kaplan were at the helm. “Ben was great and more than we had hoped for. We got to do almost anything we had wanted, like 10 guitar tracks in one part or layered singing. He and his team were a lot of fun. They helped us to make a great sounding record, which is what we had really hoped to achieve.”

Despite such humble proclamations there is a bit more on the band’s agenda moving forward: namely, to be a real light in the darkness for an underground community that too often is obsessed with negativity. “I hope we can make a difference in a scene that is dark and self- motivated,” Josh says. “If we can be known for the good music that we make and that we stand for something at the same time, it will all be worth it.”

 Posted by at 12:25 am