Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall is Here

Fall is fully upon us now. Halloween is a few days away and the elections are right after that followed by Thanksgiving and then well you all know where this is leading. 2008 is rapidly coming to its final chapters. As I wrote just a few months ago during the Olympics this is the year of great changes…..well I was right and we still have two months to go.

When I reflected on the year last time a barrel of oil was $148 a barrel now its back down to $64 a barrel. Funny how it hasn’t dropped that quickly at the pump. It sure seemed to keep up when the price of oil was going up. Since the Olympics the world has apparently gone into a slow down. Those Olympics must of worn us all down. They were amazing after all! Credit remains frozen, unemployment has risen, everyone traded in their leased SUVs or quit driving to work because they don’t have jobs and now the price of oil is down to $64 a barrel again. This all in a matter of three months. Ok so where does that leave us three months from now????

Obviously we will have a new President elected in three months. I can definitely predict that… or will hanging chads keep that from happening again?….I sure hope not. Whoever wins let’s just get this over with and move forward. Whatever party you are for, the winner will take credit for whatever happens positively and will blame Bush for anything that happens negatively. So we can’t lose either way….at least that is what I am trying to convince myself.

Oil, commodities, interest rates, stock prices….. who knows? My most savvy clients who invest millions (probably billions) don’t know which way is up right now. I’ve never seen markets this confusing. However, I am seeing a number of clients buying real estate or starting construction now – in the midst of the turmoil – and you know theses are the same people I saw step forward after the S&L and bubbles of the 80’s and 90’s and ended up being on the right side of the cycle. Land prices have fallen and there are great opportunities again. Commodity prices and labor are falling and so construction costs are finally falling – it’s like oil it just takes time to see it at the pump. The stock market – never could figure that one out. I know my 401k is now a 40k or something to that effect, but I keep putting more in every two weeks so they tell me I am dollar cost averaging. My average just seems to be lower with every quarterly statement! Retirement is no where in my immediate future anyway so I guess I am ok.

2008 has been a year we will all remember – or will do our best to just forget. I always like even numbered years better so I am not sure what that means for me. 2008 has been a better year for Candelaria Design than 2007 and we have definitely been seeing things pick up since June. As architects, we seem to be the first to see things slow down and the first to see them come back so I hope that holds true moving into 2009 – uhg an odd year.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Italy 2008 - Day 5 Panto Island Party / Venice

Our final day in Italy was fantastic. Today we took a private boat to Panto Island - no tattoo and Ricardo Montalban weren't waiting for us - but a wonderful feast, and the delightful Panto family was.

The Panto Island is located about 4 miles east of Venice and is a private island owned by the Panto Family. The island is now a family compound and is absolutely beautiful. Giorgio Panto who started the company died in a tragic helicopter crash just off this island in November 2006. I was fortunate to meet him on several occasions including just two weeks before the accident when he and Simon stopped by my office for a visit and a cappuccino. He was an interesting gentleman having started several media stations in Italy, started a political party, and of course owned and operated the Panto window and door company. He is survived by his two sons and daughter. One of his sons and daughter hosted our party - they were very gracious and most delightful.

Our afternoon on Panto island started of course with a Bellini served on the patio. Meanwhile the food was all being prepared with the main course being freshly caught derado from the nearby Adriatic Sea cooked in encrusted sea salt over a hot charcoal grille. Of course for starting courses we enjoyed a lobster/potato salad, polenta, deep fried langostinos, and just a few thick grilled t-bones. The fish was amazing - moist with a salty, crisp crust. Fantastic!

Dinner was capped off with a wonderful dedication by the youngest son to his father - there was not a dry eye in the house. Their passion, and love for their father and all he had built and created were celebrated. The business, besides a great product, was about the relationships that had been created through the years. We were all part of the Panto family and they made you feel this way. With the dedication complete the son hopped on the private helicopter and flew away just as his father had done so tragically just two years ago. What drama - totally Italian! But what a day - very relaxing and most memorable.

After a few glasses of wine, a challenging game of foosball, and a group photo we were off to Venice for the remainder of the day. It was a great trip and I cannot thank Simon and my friends at Panto enough for this wonderful trip.