Sunday, July 19, 2020

During this pandemic I have really enjoyed spending time in my garden more. I have planted six tomato bushes, some squash, and herbs. Also, the yellow Canna lilies along with the golden Hibiscus are blooming. They add contrast to the purple Flying Saucer Morning Glory entwined among the Jasmine along a fence line. In another area of the yard, the Stargazer lilies are just beginning to open. My garden smells like a perfume factory.
A heat wave may be difficult on human inhabitants here, but the vegetables in my garden are loving it. Earlier this morning, I picked a few squash, tomatoes and herbs. We are slated to be slightly cooler (in the low 90s) for the next couple days, before heating up once again.
Have a nice day!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

In comparison to others, there’s one thing I’ve noticed these past several years, I’m a moody blogger.  As a fellow blogging friend once commented, “Myrl, I never know what I’ll find when I visit your blog.”  She’s right of course – sometimes I post housing market statistics, while at other times it will be recipes. At other times, I post home buying or selling advice.  And, because I have a certain passion for photography, I frequently post pictures from my adventures around the Sacramento Region; or within a 100 mile radius of home! Sometimes the distance is even greater!

When it comes to posting pictures, I usually accompany the photo with information or history surrounding the scene; but not always.

It is my opinion there isn’t a right or wrong way to post a picture to a blog.  It doesn’t really matter whether all scenes have accompanying dialogue or not.

For example, let’s travel an adventure together.

Glance at the picture above.  There are no words labeling what it is.  Perhaps, had I chosen, I could have titled it “The Pier of Transport.” 

So, what do you see?  What emotions does the picture evoke?  Can you associate any old memories or experiences of your own with it?  Perhaps, it transports you away from your computer screen, on into another realm, another place, directing your thoughts and imagination away from your current existence?

Because there were no words initially describing the picture, the blog visitor is allowed to interact with the photo on their own level.  There is no interference imposed by the photo poster’s control.

Now, let’s change gears.  What if I were to reveal that the scene was captured on Islamorada, in the middle of the Florida Keys?  It was snapped during a magical evening, when calm seas had coupled with a spectacular sunset.  To add delightful stitches to an already magical tapestry the pink amphibious water car swam about the pier like an exotic fish from an alien realm.

The location of the pier is immediately adjacent the grounds of the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant, near the well-stocked World Wide Sportsman outfitters. 

With the two preceding examples, I’m demonstrating the power of photographs, both with accompanying words, and without them.  Pictures are and can be powerful communication tools.  It is not uncommon to see armies of motivational posters in corporate office buildings.  They provide a lone photographic scene, with a solitary word emblazoned upon it.  “Believe” – “Courage” – “Inspiration” – “Dedication” they may evoke.  These picture posters transport to a place where the individual’s own imagination to innovate, create, and move thinking to new frontiers.  They invoke and evoke.
However, photographs married with creative words from the photographer can provide information about the scene as experienced by the person behind the lens.  Their words can educate and inform, as well as acting as transport.

Photos with words - or without them, have the capacity to provide gifts of value.  A picture truly can be worth a thousand words, especially, if the picture navigates your mindstuff, to previously unexplored frontiers.  The photo acts as trigger.  

The photo blogger has in their power to determine what it is they are trying to accomplish with their photo posts.  If it is to educate and inform – they can write the chosen words to accompany the photo.  But, if it is to challenge the blog visitor's imagination and own thoughts - then they can post solely the picture.  Desired purpose can be fulfilled with either method!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

This morning I spent a little time flipping through channels looking for something, other than 24/7 coverage of Hurricane Florence, which is currently hammering the Carolinas on the other side of the country.
 It was during this remote control poking exercise that I came upon a small segment of the news devoted to reminding us it has been 10 years since the 2008 financial meltdown.
It isn’t the first time the reminder had come up in conversation this week. My neighbor had mentioned it while I was out on a walk. He had noticed Sacramento finally has more homes for sale than we’ve had for a while, and prices seem to be holding steady; or even dipping a bit in some areas. “Are we headed for trouble, Myrl,” He asked? “I certainly don’t think so. I believe we are finally entering the realm of a more balanced market,” I replied!
It’s no secret back in 2005 and 2006 we experienced a ravenous feeding frenzy in real estate, like no other I had experienced in my 25 years of previous real estate cycles.  It didn’t end well, and became the precursor to the financial meltdown soon after.  

Here’s what is significantly different this time around.  In 2005 and 2006, the housing market was flush with easy mortgage lending.  In the marketplace, we began learning some buyers were procuring subprime loans, with little or no documentation.  Few real estate professionals could have imagined the nightmare brewing in the mortgage lending business, which invaded Wall Street and the Banking industry.  Mortgages were marketed as derivatives, with each package creator putting their fees on top of the product and sold to investors.  So much money was being made in the mortgage industry, that simply originating loans for the purpose of a home buying experience wasn't enough for financial gurus.  
When more home loans became toxic, they began combining and packaging risky loans with the good mortgages.  A witch’s brew swirled in the credit default swaps realm.   

Credit default swaps were sold to financial investors, Insurance companies, etc.   They became the vehicle allowing $400 billion of bad mortgages, to get pumped on steroids, causing an estimated $63 TRILLION dollar global meltdown.  Wall Street had literally turned the mortgage derivatives and credit default swaps market into a global Pok√©mon card sale.
Fast forward to today!  What is different, you ask!  (1) In today’s world real estate professionals often see far more cash transactions.  In other words, homebuyers have a significant amount of skin in the game! (2) Lending practices are significantly tighter than the years leading up to the meltdown.  Many folks have experienced more difficulty obtaining a mortgage today in comparison to several years ago, when liar loans and low documentation were often the rule of the day.
While it may be difficult for some younger and first time homebuyers to compete for homes when housing inventory is low, and the marketplace is flush with cash, as it has been in the more recent past, it does provide an environment for home equity to be established. However, as we approach this time with a more balanced market providing a little more inventory, opportunity for first time and younger homebuyers, who often have less cash, is arriving.

From a personal viewpoint, my concern during the last couple years with low inventory, was home values could become artificially high, especially, when new home building wasn’t keeping up with demand. However, I’m much more comfortable where we find ourselves today, in a more traditional balanced market, which is usually the norm, rather than the exception!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It is Important to Remember Your Digital Estate

While sipping my coffee in the predawn hours this morning, I read through an interesting article presented in the finance section of Yahoo.  It asked a thought-provoking question - If you died tomorrow, who would inherit your assets?  A quote from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, states half of Americans with kids are set to die without a will!

The article listed the usual issues for consideration and planning with estates – Who gets the house, your money, etc.  BUT, it went a step further into an area many of us haven’t considered, the realm of our “digital estates.”
Increasingly, Americans are developing online presence.  In some instances, that presence may be extensive.  Do you have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn account?  What about a blog or a web domain?  The majority of popular online account services have deceased-user rules and policies, which provide the family or executor of the deceased user information about what’s required to access the account.

It may be important for your survivors to have knowledge of the extent of your online presence – email accounts, photo albums, blogs, music, YouTube, etc.  Personally, I have a trusted person in my family, who has knowledge of most of my on-line accounts, logins and passwords, but the article is prompting me to work on this area of my estate more extensively.  

It is a thought provoking piece, and may act as a strong catalyst for consideration of these areas within your digital/on-line estate.

So folks, it isn’t simply trying to decide which of your children or grandchildren will get the family silver or china anymore.  It’s about an emerging class of digital assets, which likely wouldn’t have been considered as recent as a decade ago.  The full article can be accessed via: “Half of Americans Set to Die Without a Will.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Great Place to Soak Your Bones

There is a place within a 120 miles of Sacramento, which had escaped my visit before.  I had heard whispers of it, but had missed out on realities this treasure held secreted away.  Yesterday, I was allowed discovery.

Grover Hot Springs is peacefully cradled on the east side of the Sierras at 6,000 feet above sea level.  It is a pleasant 4 miles west of Markleeville, at the very end of Hot Springs Road.

There are telltale signs on nature's canvas, along the drive out of Markleeville to the Hot Springs.  Hot Spring Creek meanders peacefully across verdant meadows in copious shades of green!  From the ground, water springs forth at a hot 148 degrees.  It contains a variety of dissolved minerals, often found in thermal springs, which create interesting features as waters emerge. 

Because this prolonged winter season dumped double the average snowfall and rain on the Sierras, bountiful evidence is provided everywhere in the surrounding landscape.  The native grasses, trees, wildflowers, seem to be outdoing themselves in a way I have never seen. 

There is still a good amount of snow in the mountains.  We experienced an unexpected adventure with it, which I will blog about in a day or two. 

At Grover Hot Springs, there are two pools.  The green color of the older pool is attributed to the mineral content from the springs.  This pool is kept at approximately 102 degrees to please visitors.  There is also a newer cool water pool on-site.

Once privately owned, the facility is now part of the California State Park System.  There is nearby camping, and day use facilities as well.

I also highly suggest visitors to the area, check out the delightful town of Markleeville.  There are quaint shops, cafes and restaurants.  From Sacramento - A perfect day-trip or one tank of gas getaway!

For more information, you can visit the Grover Hot Springs website.

The website provides great information about the reasonable fees associated with the Grover Hot Springs and Campground.  There is also a resource for maps, directions, and amenities available in the park, and surrounding area.

Think: Fishing - Camping - Hiking - Swimming - Biking - Relaxing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

California's Inaugeration Feels Like Deja Vu All Over Again

At Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium, where I graduated from high school an ancient era ago,
Californians inaugerated Jerry Brown their new Governor this morning.   This is a return trip to the Governorship for Jerry.  He served 8 years in his two terms between 1975 and 1983

Brown had ran his campaign against Meg Whitman with the promise, "NO NEW TAXES without voter approval."  California's budget woes have prevailed for a number of years now.  State money issues helped unseat Grey Davis as Governor when he was recalled in 2003.  With seven years of the Governator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the disfunctional political gridlock, of the state assembly accomplished little in dealing effectively with budget concerns.

There is one thing I can say about Jerry Brown, while sitting in and observing a meeting of his Council on Wellness and Fitness, back in the early 1980s.  The council had become bogged down for a number of hours while trying to give life to an action item.  It was then, Jerry Brown in his second term as Governor, walked through the door, early afternoon.  I watched as he quickly and skillfully was able to extract information as to where the panel was in the process.   He put them on tract, and headed the panel on the path to success as a council.

Conservatives railed because he chose to live in a small apartment directly across the street from the State Capitol, rather than live in a newly built Governor's Mansion, began during the Ronald Reagan Governorship.  The new digs had been built a distance from the capitol.  Brown was often seen driving around town in a green Plymouth Satelite, he remained popular with those that saw him as being practical and a fiscal conservative.

The new Governor's Mansion was never occupied by any California state Governor, and was eventually sold.



Brown has promised to travel California and engage in town hall meetings to determine what Californians want from their government, while questioning what they are willing to pay for.  There are already rumblings that a proposed "tough budget for tough times" will be presented as soon as March, with it possibly coming to the people via special election by June.  It will be interesting to watch how all this shakes out.

California has a penchant for the unusual and the avante garde.  I must admit I will miss our Governator, but also look forward to what Jerry will bring, this time around.  He isn't likely to be boring - His history includes a stint in a Jesuit seminary, with his intent of becoming a priest.  He has practiced Buddhism in Japan, and worked with Mother Theresa.  Throw into the mix - his one-time relationship/friendship with rock star, Linda Ronstadt, and I doubt the glitz "The Governator" brought to the capital, will cast much of a shadow on Jerry Brown.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are We Losing the Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication

Social Networking - Is it as effective of a marketing tool as we think, or are we simply evolving into beings that avoid real face to face communication?I've shuffled around awhile.  Without telling you my exact age, I will explain that I'm a pre-boomer, pre-gen-x, and just about pre anything that is left shuffling around at all.

When I was a kid, we had a phone that was on a "party" line.  Party lines weren't something you dialed an "800" number for and had billed by the minute to your credit card.  They were phone lines you shared with a few other phone company customers.  You hoped that when you needed to phone, someone else wasn't already on the line.

In 1983 when my first computer, an Apple IIE, was purchased, I had a grandson, just 2½ years old, who showed me how to use the keyboard arrow keys to make Jill jump over Jack in a game, on the computer screen.  I was amazed.   Not that the computer could do that, in the old pre Windows 3.1 environment; but that my grandkid already knew how to make it work.

So it has been with the advancement of computers, the internet, newsgroups, Facebook, blogs, and The Twitter (as Betty White calls it).

It was easy for us to embrace the idea of computers in the real estate industry.  After all, in the early years of my career, 29 years ago, the MLS was something we received in book form, delivered to our office, once a week on Saturdays.  I can still remember the antiquated first MLS computer with the Microfiche sitting on the counter, right next to it.

In 1981, there were virtually no agents with cell phones, and I believe I may have been one of the first Sacramento agents, if not the first agent, to get a pager.  I needed to feel connected.  Not so much for clients, but for my kids.
With email, we discovered the delight of communication, which was less intrusive.  We could time manage email.  We only needed to talk to people when WE wanted to!

There's been a whole new lingo which has originated from texting.  I'm wondering if the average citizen less than 40 years old, can construct a proper sentence any longer.  Everything is in a staccato shorthand version of life, being transported unseen, across the planet in milliseconds.

I sometimes wonder how we folks, that use Facebooking, Tweeting, and blogging all the time, have any real time managing our business.  I attended a wedding recently.  I heard two cell phones go off during the ceremony.   And during the reception, many folks couldn't seem to manage a complete sentence at the dinner, without being compelled to answer a text message, or cell call.  This was on a Saturday night.  Most everyone we knew was at the wedding.  And usual business hours were over.

Perhaps we are taking the easy way out.  Rather than picking up the phone to do a little old fashioned networking, which could subject us to rejection, we compose and send endless social networking tweets and posts instead.

Have we lost the fine art of face-to-face communication?  I'm curious what you think about the direction communication has taken and which we seem so compelled to follow.  What are your thoughts?