Getting a Grip on Green-Home Appraisals and Insurance

first_imgOne of green residential construction’s growing pains has been the disconnect between what an appraiser might declare a new, energy efficient house is worth and what it actually costs to build.It’s certainly not a new problem, and, fortunately, it continues to attract attention. Back in December, GBA Advisor Michael Chandler, founder Chandler Design-Build in North Carolina, wrote about his experience with the issue – an appraisal on a $400,000 project whose high-performance foam insulation and solar technology were valued at 50 cents on the dollar – and the need to educate Realtors, appraisers, and bankers about green building, and do it on a nationwide scale. RELATED ARTICLES Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 1Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 2Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 3Green Building Appraisal and Financing IssuesGreen Home Appraisal WoesA Step Toward Fairer Green Home ValuationsWhen Green Poses an Appraisal ProblemQ&A: Bad Appraisal on a New Green HomeQ&A: Refinance and Appraisal of Net-Zero Home We also noted that the appraisal problem can be particularly onerous when new or recently upgraded homes are located in rural areas, where MLS listings with comparable green features can be scarce or nonexistent.Force-fitting for a loanAbout two weeks ago, Chandler’s experience with the $400,000 home – and the green-home appraisal issue in general – was reprised in an article published by the Christian Science Monitor.“We had to go back and strip out some energy features like the solar water heaters and cut back on insulation and add square footage, making it bigger and less (energy-)efficient to get to the $400,000 appraisal,” he told the paper. “Houses that are dramatically more efficient than normal, on average cost $15,000 to $20,000 more than houses built to code standard, but that’s not being reflected in the appraisals.”Since green-home construction is nowadays one of the few sectors showing signs of life for residential builders, there’s added urgency to the push for education programs that can help appraisers measure the value of green-home features and more quickly build a database of relevant data, conventions, and guidelines.The CSM story notes that progress in that area might get a boost from some lenders in the banking community, who have begun to offer $1,000 off closing costs for homes that qualify as energy efficient. The Department of Energy points out on its website that there are several green mortgage products on market, but acknowledges that they’re not yet widely adopted. However, the DOE also notes that programs being developed in Maine, New York, and Colorado are designed to inject capital into mortgage products to “buy down” the interest rate that is charged to borrowers as an incentive to finance energy retrofits.The fledgling nature of green-product insuranceAnother actuarially measured component to green-home ownership, insurance, also has been trying to find its way in the emerging market. In a story published April 7, Insurance Journal presented an overview of the concerns that accompany some of the new insurance products being written to protect green construction components, including wind turbines, fuel cells, and garden roofs.The basic issue, some insurers say, is that many green-construction products are still too new to have a well-understood risk profile. Documentation on risks associated with vegetation on roofs is starting build, in part from claims pegged to leaking roofs, for example, but the deployment of wind and fuel cell energy sources in green buildings has not been the focus of many claims so far.David Cohen, senior director of real estate for Commercial Insurance at Fireman’s Fund Insurance, told Insurance Journal that insurers also are homing in on green-construction defect issues.“What everyone always historically or traditionally associates with construction risk is construction defects. Down the road, will there be any construction defect?” Cohen asked.“I think it really depends on exactly what you’re doing in terms of your building,” Cohen said. “If you’re building to the more basic level of LEED certification, for example LEED certified or Silver level, you’re probably not doing anything exotic in terms of the building’s system or technology” and the building would pose no more risk for construction defect than a traditional building. But as builders move up in LEED certification to Gold or Platinum, Cohen added, more unproven technologies are likely to come into play. “Certainly any time you have new technology,” he said, “you’ve got that unknown potential risk or construction defect risk.”last_img read more

Emotional Abuse in Military Families

first_imgJay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhDAccording to recent research by Foran, Heyman & Slep (2014) and the United States Air Force Family Advocacy Research Program [1], emotional abuse can be an early warning sign of future physical abuse. While most people can engage in some negative behavior towards their partners, this study focused on clinically significant emotional abuse (CS-EA), which the authors defined as “emotional abuse that results in significant and impairing fear, stress, or sadness/depression” [1]. The authors wanted to determine what environmental factors were associated with CS-EA.[Flickr, Blitz Build 2012 Miami Habitat for Humanity Day 1 by EL Gringo, CC BY-ND-NC 2.0]The study used a sample of 42,744 active duty military (34,713 men and 8,031 women) and 17,226 civilian spouses (879 men and 16,347 women) who completed web-based surveys measuring environmental factors across four levels:Individual level: Self-efficacy (ability to cope with stress, manage work and family demands), perceived financial stress, physical well-being, alcohol problems, and years in the militaryFamily level: Support from spouse, relationship satisfaction, family income, marriage length, and number of children, spousal deployment supportWork level: Support from leadership, workgroup cohesion, work relationships, weeks deployed, hours worked, and satisfaction with the Air ForceCommunity level: Community cohesion, support from neighbors, formal agencies, social support, community safety, and community stressors.As expected, individual and family factors were closely related to CS-EA. In addition, other important factors to consider in clinical practice and further research are a subset of work and community factors:Greater community cohesion and support from neighbors was related to reduced risk of CS-EA for active duty military menFewer hours worked was related to a reduced risk of CS-EA for womenAcross all levels, more support from leadership was related to lower levels of risk for CS-EA in civilian women.When developing treatment plans for victims of emotional abuse, the environment of the victim and the perpetrator play an important role in the risk of continued emotional abuse and the risk of future physical abuse. Pay special attention to neighborhood relationships, perceived community cohesion, workload, and the perceived level of support from military leadership.References[1] Foran, H., Heyman, R., Slep, A., & US Air Force Family Advocacy Res. (2014). Emotional abuse and its unique ecological correlates among military personnel and spouses. Psychology of Violence, 4(2), 128-142. doi:10.1037/a0034536This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.last_img read more

‘Tourists like fish more than beef’

first_imgGoa’s Minister for Tourism Manohar Ujgaonkar on Thursday said fish and not beef was the food preferred by tourists and the Centre’s notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter will have no impact on the flow of tourists to the State. Over six million tourists, both domestic and foreign, visit the State every year.Mr. Ajgaonkar said, “Just as Goa is known for its sun and sand, it is also known for its fish, curry and rice. Goan fish curry is a big draw for tourists who love authentic Goan xit kodi [fish curry] and sea food. Other non-vegetarian dishes are always the second choice. Goa therefore has not really been affected by the beef notification.”Mr. Ajgaonkar said there was no beef shortage in Goa, but tourism industry stakeholders and meat traders are worried the order banning the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets would badly hit sale of beef. Over 30% of the State’s population compirse of people of minority communities who consume beef regularly.Francisco Braganca, hotelier and former president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said hoteliers worry that fears of beef shortage could lead traders hoarding stocks and creating articifical scarcity. He said, “I am told by many supermarket stores owners that there is no impact on the supply of beef as of now. Cattle continues to come in from Karnataka, but the beef is sold out instantly. People perceive a shortage and are hoarding beef.”He said tourists continue to flock to the State as it’s hotter in the other parts of the country.last_img read more

Zaheer leads India comeback after Watson’s slow ton

first_imgAustralia’s strong start gave way to an Indian comeback on Day 1 of the Mohali Test. Opener Shane Watson’s fortuitous, sedate hundred was followed by Zaheer Khan’s fine old-ball spell.Scores – India vs AustraliaBrief Scores: Australia 224-5Dropped on zero by Virender Sehwag at gully off the day’s second ball off Zaheer, Watson was let off again on 37 by MS Dhoni off Pragyan Ojha.After the fall of Ricky Ponting (71) and the end of their 141-run stand, Australia slowed down as Watson crawled to his second Test hundred off 258 balls. The dull finish to the day was spiced up only by Ponting’s spat with Zaheer.Ponting, having elected to bat, had some luck himself. He was caught down the leg-side off a no-ball from Ishant Sharma, who was wayward, bowled plenty of no-balls and then left the field in the noon session after a knee problem.Ponting’s run-out, thanks to a direct hit from Suresh Raina, turned things around. Australia’s scoring rate slipped dramatically, from a little under five runs in the morning, to under two in the evening.After Ponting’s fall, at 154-2 in 41.4 overs, Australia made 90 runs today at 1.86 runs in 48.2 overs. Watson too slowed down near his hundred, partly since he’s been out three times in the 90s.Zaheer had earlier in the day trapped Simon Katich in front with the in-swinging ball. The delivery would be used again with the old ball to remove Mike Hussey and Marcus North, all left-handers.Hussey played inside the in-coming ball and was hit in front, while North left a similar delivery which gently dislodged the off-bail on its way.advertisementThis is Watson’s third hundred in a week, having made two in Australia’s warm-up game against Board President’s XI at the start of this tour.While Pragyan Ojha continued to be economical, Harbhajan Singh, like Ishant, was off-colour but made up with the wicket of Michael Clarke in the evening session. World No. 1 India had had the better of Australia when the two had last met in a Test series, in India in 2008.The hosts had won 2-1 the series in which Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly retired from Test cricket.The Mohali wicket, normally known for pace and bounce, is expected to get slower and lower as the game progresses.India have left out Murali Vijay, Amit Mishra, Sreesanth for this game. Cheteshwar Pujara too would have to wait longer for his Test debut.Raina and Ojha have been retained, while Gautam Gambhir returns to the team after a break.Australia are playing by their strengths, going in with three pacers and Nathan Hauritz as the lone spinner.  Teams:Australia (Playing XI): Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Tim Paine (w), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger.India (Playing XI): Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni (w/c), Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma.last_img read more

Andy Murray beats Gilles Simon to reach Shanghai Masters final

first_imgBriton Andy Murray on Saturday secured his place in the Shanghai Masters final where he is due to play against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut here.Murray, who has won the Shanghai Masters on two occasions (2010 and 2011), overcame Frenchmen Gilles Simon on Saturday with a convincing 6-4, 6-3 victory, reports Efe.Murray and Bautista have battled it out on the court twice in the past, at Wimbledon 2014 and in Munich 2015. (Also read: Djokovic stunned by Bautista Agut in Shanghai semi-finals)The Scot failed to concede a set on either of those occasions.However, Murray will have to prepare for an in-form Bautista in Sunday’s final after the Spaniard, ranked number 19 in the world, upset world number one Novak Djokovic (6-4, 6-4) in order to secure his spot in the ultimate stage of this year’s Masters.last_img read more

Town Rejects Devens Rezoning Plan

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Voters in the town of Harvard, Mass., last week turned down a proposal by MassDevelopment to rezone a portion of Devens to lure a biotech company to the site 35 miles west of downtown Boston.Zoning changes at the former Fort Devens require approval from Harvard and the installation’s other two host communities, Ayer and Shirley. Only Harvard voters rejected the state development agency’s proposal to rezone a residential area on the western side of Devens to allow industrial and commercial uses.Harvard residents were concerned about the potential for a factory to create noise problems after a nearby manufacturing facility built by Evergreen Solar prompted similar complaints, reported the Boston Globe. Evergreen Solar went bankrupt and suspended operations in 2011; its factory is being used by another firm.The reuse project is the home of a manufacturing plant operated by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and MassDevelopment had hoped to bring a second biotech factory to Devens. Harvard’s rejection of its proposed rezoning represents a missed opportunity that would have brought $500 million to $1 billion in investment to central Massachusetts, according to the development agency.“There are very few sites of this scale, zoned and ready for development in the commonwealth,” said Marty Jones, MassDevelopment’s chief executive.Despite the setback, MassDevelopment and Harvard said they are hopeful of reaching agreement on a new zoning plan allowing for commercial development in that part of Devens.last_img read more

Disney admits it isnt very good at video games

first_img Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. Angela Lang/CNET Sarah Tew/CNET Comments Tags Best Buy Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) $999 $999 Read Lenovo Smart Clock review Sarah Tew/CNET Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90) I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. Sarah Tew/CNET Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. See It See at Amazon TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR $155 at Google Express Read the Rylo camera preview Sprint What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. $299 at Amazon Disney Star Wars,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) Boost Mobile See it $59 at eBay Share your voice Read DJI Osmo Action preview DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) $210 at Best Buy See It Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X $999 Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) See at Turocenter_img Tags Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. $520 at HP Share your voice Comments Rylo Read Google Home Hub review Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. $6 at Tidal Turo: Save $30 on any car rental Sarah Tew/CNET Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) 7 JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express Read the AirPods review $60 at Best Buy CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. The Cheapskate Apple iPhone XS Video Games Chris Monroe/CNET $999 3 Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Turo See It Amazon EA Games You can do anything you set your mind to — but also, stick to your strengths.In an earnings call Tuesday, Disney noted it’s steering clear of returning to games development, reports Variety.Disney, owner of Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, said it had a “good” relationship with Electronic Arts, the company it partnered with in 2013 but admits video game making is not the House of Mouse’s forte.”We’re good at making movies and television shows and theme parks and cruise ships and the like, we’ve just never managed to demonstrate much skill on the publishing side of games,” CEO Bob Iger said when asked about Disney potentially dipping into video games once more.Disney video game titles have been dropping like flies. In 2016, Disney shed video game series Disney Infinity, and in 2018, it closed massively multiplayer online role-playing game Club Penguin Island.EA is still going strong with Star Wars games (which it has exclusive rights to through the Disney partnership), saying Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will come this year. “We’ve had good relationships with some of those we’re licensing to, notably EA and the relationship on the Star Wars properties, and we’re probably going to stay on that side of the business and put our capital elsewhere,” Iger said.Many have criticised EA’s strategy when it comes to Star Wars and its video game releases. Its Battlefront series has been embroiled in controversy over its “loot box” strategy and as recently as January, EA canceled its long-troubled, open-world Star Wars title in development.  Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR.last_img read more

Oscars Best Picture nominee Roma sparked my own childhood memories

first_img Share your voice Tags Enlarge ImageYalitza Aparicio as Cleo (left), Marco Graf as Pepe and Daniela Demesa as Sofi in Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón.  Alfonso Cuarón I saw Academy Award nominee Roma by Alfonso Cuarón intending to peek into the memories of his childhood in Mexico City. When I left the theater, though, I had an intense need to look into my own. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Mexican youth fought on the streets of the capital for democratic change, civil rights and freedom of expression. On Oct. 2, 1968, the protests ended in the violent siege of Tlatelolco Plaza that left hundreds dead, but the demise of the movement came in 1971 (the year I was born) with El Halconazo, when government-trained paramilitaries beat up and killed demonstrators during a march in Mexico City. It’s in this time and place Roma unfolds. The movie, a deeply personal masterpiece of storytelling and cinematography, opened in select theaters in October and is now streaming on Netflix. It won the Golden Globe for best foreign language motion picture, and it got 10 Oscar nominations, including netting Netflix its first much-coveted Best Picture Oscars nod. (Read my review of Roma in Spanish here.) Roma is based on Cuarón’s childhood memories. In the film, the father leaves the family and the mother struggles to make sense of her new social and practical realities. There are four children and a grandmother, but the movie is really about their servants, Cleo (a fantastic Yalitza Aparicio) and Adela (Nancy García García). They both speak Mixtec, a language spoken in Central and Southern Mexico. “Stop speaking funny,” the youngest kid tells Cleo at the beginning. “I don’t understand you.” This foreshadows what’s to come. Cleo is the emotional, practical problem solver: She cooks, cleans, does dishes, puts the kids to sleep and lets the matriarch (an excellent Marina de Tavira) blow off steam whenever she needs to. In the film’s most heart-wrenching scene, we see El Halconazo through Cleo’s eyes. She’s pregnant and witnessing the violence in the streets from a furniture store when her water breaks and she’s taken to the hospital. A receptionist there asks the grandma for Cleo’s full name. “I don’t know her full name and I don’t know where she’s from,” she answers, crying. The transition from national to personal turmoil represents some of the most intense, impactful 20 minutes of cinema I’ve seen in a long time.  Shared memories For many, growing up in the Mexican middle class meant living in a delicate bubble. While we waited for the implosion, we lived with privileges reserved for the aristocracy, but on a more modest scale. That meant we had domestic workers — nannies, cooks and in some cases even chauffeurs — but they were paid menial salaries with no benefits, lived in our homes in miniature bedrooms, cooked dinner late at night and woke up early the next day to have breakfast ready. In return for the lack of compensation, the Mexican middle class treat their workers “as family.” Roma, in many ways, reminded me of my neglectful obliviousness. I feel mortified and regretful.  Trailer for Netflix’s Roma has no spoilers, or anything else Guillermo del Toro and Netflix team up on new horror series How ‘Shape of Water’ mixes digital effects with monster makeup Netflix TV and Moviescenter_img My Cleo was Mari, my grandmother’s cleaning lady, a strong, fair-skinned woman who lost three fingers when she was a kid in separate accidents with a pair of scissors and a firecracker. Every time I went for a visit, she’d make my favorite lime pie. She’d also cook pozole soup, and it was particularly exquisite because she’d clean each kernel of hominy by hand, meticulously extracting its black spots. I don’t remember Mari’s last name, though I was able to visit her in her village as an adult. Her home was furnished with objects she inherited from my grandmother.  Mari was “like family,” and yet she wasn’t. Growing up, the expression “like family” drove me crazy because of its inherent injustice. “They have their own family, and would rather be with them,” I’d argue. But I don’t remember how many brothers and sisters she had, anything about her parents or where she grew up. Roma, in many ways, reminded me of my neglectful obliviousness and made me feel mortified and regretful of not acknowledging Mari enough.  In The Labyrinth of Solitude, an incisive and piercing essay about what it means to be Mexican by Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, the author describes hearing a noise in his home. “Who is there?” he asks. “I was answered by the voice of a servant who had recently come to us from her village,” he writes. Her reply: “No one, señor. I am.” She’s a Nobody who doesn’t want to call attention to herself, who does what she needs to do, just like Roma’s Cleo. Related articles Someone who denies another human being their right to be, Paz writes, “is also changed into a Nobody.” Cuarón, who won an Oscar for best director for Gravity in 2014, and who wrote, produced, directed and even did the cinematography for Roma, dedicated the film to Libo, his childhood nanny. In doing so, he not only acknowledges who she was and what she meant to him, but also reasserts that Libo was Somebody. By doing that, Cuarón makes himself a Somebody too. Cuarón has said he waited to have the emotional maturity to make this movie. It’s perhaps his most personal yet, so it makes sense the director would also take total control of the camera instead of recruiting his regular collaborator, three-time Academy Award winner Emmanuel “El Chivo” Lubezki. He details his memories breathtakingly, filming in black and white: water running on the floor when Cleo sweeps the garage; slow-moving airplanes flying through a gray sky; the family watching TV together with Cleo sitting on the floor. ROMAAlfonso Cuarón directs a scene from Roma, coming to Netflix in December after opening in theaters.  Carlos Somonte/Netflix La Roma of RomaOne of the main characters in the film is the neighborhood itself. I grew up 15 miles north of Mexico City in a suburb called Satélite. But my first job was in Colonia Roma, the neighborhood that gives the movie its name. The movie reminded me of the era’s massive American-made cars, like the Chrysler Imperial or Valiant Acapulco shouldering past the minuscule and omnipresent Volkswagen Beetles crowding the roads. It also evoked the sprawling movie theaters surrounded by peddlers, who sold everything from strange-looking plastic Superman and Batman toys to multicolored balloons in indistinguishable forms. But it’s the neighborhood that’s the center of it all.La Roma is near downtown Mexico City. Its main boulevard, Álvaro Obregón Avenue, is lined with trees amid big neo-colonial and Art Deco houses. Many of the old structures have been replaced by 20-story buildings with mirrored facades, and traffic today among its tight avenues is relentless, like in the rest of the city. La Roma, the epitome of bourgeois, was battered twice on an ominous day: Sept. 19. In 1985 and 2017, powerful earthquakes rattled the city, and La Roma was one of the most affected areas with hundreds of multiple-story buildings crumbling. As a character, the neighborhood fits perfectly in the narrative about growing up middle class in Mexico. It’s a seemingly idyllic place, with a modern and European feel, but lies in the center of a city that still struggles with its identity as the former Aztec capital, the hub for Spanish colonial exploits and, today, the epicenter of Mexican hipsterism. Like La Roma, the Mexican middle class also has a conflict of identity. In general, middle-class Mexicans are convinced we’re part of the solution. La Roma is home to many bureaucrats, professionals and intellectuals close enough to power to wield influence, but far enough away to avoid being tainted by rampant corruption. But our little secret is that we’re also part of the status quo, especially when it comes to exploiting others for meager pay and questionable living conditions. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico, of the 2.48 million domestic workers in the country, 90 percent are women.While Roma is about Cuarón’s memories, it forced me to squeeze my brain and remember my hometown, Mari and all the women who helped take care of me and my family along the way. I am thankful for all the memories, and the personal reckoning, it sparked — the reason I am planning to see the film again.First published Dec. 14, 2017. Update, Jan. 6, 2018 at 7 p.m. PT: Adds that Roma won the Golden Globe for best foreign language film. Update, Jan. 22 at 8:41 a.m. PT: Adds that Roma has been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Culture: Your hub for everything from film and television to music, comics, toys and sports.Movie Magic: The secrets behind the scenes of your favorite films and filmmakers.  Comments 4last_img read more