Saturday, September 3, 2011

About those Realtors...................

"There was a time when real estate agents controlled the
data in times long past.

Our value as a REALTOR® lies not in raw data.

It lies in interpretation, experience, and understanding the
process. Part sales people, psychologist, negotiator,
marketeer, and “lawyer”. Our hats are many and we
change them often."
-Jeffrey Douglass

(Editor's Note:  Don't worry Rob, I gave up the practice
of "law" many years ago)









I'm liking this.............

"Everything taken as gospel for the last 30 years should be
re-examined. Every “certainty,” like the direction of housing
and stock prices cannot be taken for granted. Buy and hold
at your own risk… unless it’s commercial real estate!"

An excerpt from the Llenrock Blog.  Full post here.




More about that book learning thing......

"If you are thinking of going to graduate school, you need to understand that the process of discovering what value you bring to the adult world is a very hard process to endure. Because you are probably smart, and you like to learn, and most jobs are not about paying you to learn. You have to create that for yourself.

"The best thing I did is that I kept my learning curve very high even outside of school. I saw where the opportunities were, and I started learning in that area, trying to figure out where I fit."

-from Penelope Trunk's always very interesting blog - here

Thoughts..............

     "I am where I am today - mentally, physically, spiritually,
emotionally, and financially - because of the decisions I have
made. My decisions have always been governed by my
thinking. Therefore, I am where I am today - mentally,
physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially - because
of how I think. Today I will begin the process of changing
where I am - mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and
financially - by changing the way I think.

"My thoughts will be constructive, never destructive. My
mind will live in the solutions of the future. It will not
dwell in the problems of the past."

-Andy Andrews, The Traveler's Gift

It suddenly got hot in here..............

Matha Reeves and the Vandellas.....Heatwave

Friday, September 2, 2011

As blog comments go, this was a pretty good one...

In response to yesterday's post "It is a spending problem,"

Eclecticity said...

"Obviously, sadly, no we can't agree.

Really haven't heard much discussion from the Dems that
it is a problem, from the President on down, and the 'Pubs
are playing Patty Cake and way minimizing the problem
like seasoned addicts tend to.

But I'm certain that that powerful (next) bi-partisan
commission will get the whole thing worked out soon.

There's lots of magical thinking that it actually will.

Which is a whole other aspect of addiction, isn't it?"

Spending more than we earn is not a Republican problem or a
Democrat problem.  It is a people problem.  Once debt is
encouraged (our economy has been based on consumer debt
for as long as I can remember) and once society's mantra is to
"have it all" and "to have it now,"  those old fashioned virtues
of patience and thriftiness are lost.  My parents and most of
their friends, who grew upduring the Great Depression, retained
those virtues.  I suspect that over the next decade, several
generations will be relearning, and perhaps even embracing,
them.  Looks to be a major recalibration.  But first.........we
have to agree that spending more than we earn is a problem.

The Mighty E raised the issue of magical thinking, which made
me think of the following quote and comic video.  Enjoy:

"We don't have a budget deficit because the left wing
believes in mandates or because the right wing believes in
markets. We have a budget deficit because the middle
believes in magic."
-Yoram Bauman

An argument for higher interest rates........

From my favorite economic futurist comes the notion that beyond
low interest rates might not be all they are cracked up to be.
Full newsletter here.  Selected excerpts here:

"The intent of incredibly low longer-term interest rates is clearly to provide greater incentive for consumers and businesses to borrow for various reasons, and for homeowners to take advantage of very attractive refinance or home purchase opportunities. Unfortunately, the combination of weak U.S. economic growth, high unemployment, anxiety about Europe, enormous and destructive budget deficits, and a general mistrust in the political direction of this nation have largely kept consumer and business borrowers on the sidelines."

"Even as the low interest rate game has largely failed to ignite the housing and business sectors, another major victim of the extremely low interest rate policy exists. It is the millions of older and retired people who have seen their interest income drop like a rock."

"I see this with my own mother who now rolls over maturing CDs or IRAs at incredibly low interest rates. She noted that she recently had an IRA mature and was offered 0.10% annually on the renewal. A few complaints finally pushed the rate all the way up to 0.40%."

"There is a case to be made that a higher level of short-term interest rates (perhaps 2% or 3%), driven by the Fed, would benefit the economy. Borrowers would still have access to extremely low long-term financing costs. In addition, retirees and savers of all ages would see interest incomes rise, allowing for greater spending across the economy…"

I understand his point, and agree with it to a certain extent.  Still
we have significant mortgage debt on some investments that have
not quite turned out the way the pro-forma suggested they
would.  The lower rates have help us immeasurably.  For that
part of this equation, we are thankful.

For the sheer joy of it all......

Billy Preston would have turned 65 today.  Via the magic that is
Youtube, we still get to watch him noodle around on his
Hammond organ, loosely playing one of my favorite tunes. Enjoy

Cascading.........

"Success in the Thank You Economy hinges on obsessively
caring about the customer, yes, but a great caring culture
stems from the top of a company and cascades through it
like a waterfall.  If you want that culture to flow outside the
company to the customer, and then get carried even farther
by word of mouth, you have to be sure that your messengers
live and breathe it the same way you do.  Therefore, the
dominant obsession for any leader running a company in
the Thank You Economy shouldn't be the competition, nor
should it be customer service.  It should be your employees."
-Gary Vaynerchuk,  The Thank You Economy

She just didn't say how many there would be....

The Shirelles..............Mama Said

How I spent my Thursday night......

...and Monday night and Wednesday night.  Volleyball season is
in full swing.  To say it dominates the calender would probably be
accurate.  For those of us who subscribe to the notion that you
should never let book learning get in the way of your education,
high school sports (at least at my daughter's school) could be
Exhibit A for that argument.   For those who care about keeping
score:  the home team won.  Go team.



Speaking of allowing book learning to get in the way of your education..........

"From age six or even younger, students are immersed in a predictable world that runs by the rules. Then you get out of school — and expect that this pattern will continue. If you go to a good law school and do well, you will become an associate at a successful firm. Do your job well, work hard, obey the rules and wash behind your ears and in due time you will make partner.

"That’s the old system; the new one won’t work that way. Creativity, integrity and entrepreneurial initiative will pay off; following the old rules and hoping for the old rewards is a road to frustration. You have to fight the tendency of the educational system to turn you into a timeserving baby bureaucrat, following the rules and waiting for the inevitable promotion."

-Excerpts from the pen of Walter Russell Mead
Full well-worth-the-time-investment-to-read essay here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rick Platt...............

...........delivering a steady and thoughtful stream of positive
reasons for being upbeat about the future of manufacturing in
the United States (and in central Licking County) - here.

For those of us who believe in economic development and in the
importance of actually making things, Rick is required reading.

It is a spending problem..........

Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over alcohol our
spending and that our lives had become unmanageable.

I have seen this handy explanation several places around the
Intertunnel, just can't remember where.  My apologies for not
being able to credit the proper source.  Anyway, to make our
Federal budget issue easier to understand, remove the extra
eight zeroes and pretend it is a household budget.  Enjoy.

U.S. income:        $2,170,000,000,000

Federal budget:    $3,820,000,000,000

New debt:            $1,650,000,000,000

National debt:     $14,271,000,000,000

Recent budget cut:     $38,500,000,000
-------------------------------------------------------------

After subtracting the eight zeroes it looks like this:

Total annual income for the Jones family:         $21,700

Amount of money the Jones family spent:        $38,200

Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card:         $142,710

Amount of spending cut:                                      $385

Ouch.  The first step to recovery from any problem is to
acknowledge we have one.  Can we all agree we have a
spending problem?  Please?

A pie chart......

















image courtesy of

Opening paragraphs.........

"Money is a thought-form.  It is a symbol of energy, and as
such, it has no real, intrinsic value.  It is neither good nor
bad, positive or negative.  It is impartial.  The guy who
wrote that 'money is the root of all evil' just flat out didn't
have any!   You can't make it through the physical plane
without it.  And whereas sometimes the love of money can
cause people to become evil and weird, it is a fact that
without money you cannot be free.  Poverty is restriction,
and, as such, is the greatest injustice you can perpetrate
upon yourself."

-Stuart Wilde, The Trick to Money Is Having Some!

It's the experience.............

"There are only two things that will convince consumers
to pay more for something when they could pay less. 
One is convenience, and the other is an outstanding
customer experience."
-Gary Vaynerchuk,  The Thank You Economy

Stormy.........



Native American proverbs......

A good soldier is a poor scout.

A rocky vineyard does not need a prayer but a pickax

The bird who has eaten cannot fly with the bird that
is hungry.

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies
in yourself.

Thoughts are like arrows: once released they strike
their mark.  Guard them well or one day you may
be your own victim.

Before eating, always take a little time to thank the food.

Judge not by the eye but by the heart.

Those who have one foot in the canoe and one foot in
the boat are going to fall  into the river.

All religions are but stepping stones back to God.

A few excerpts from Guy A. Zona's
The Soul Would Have No Rainbow If The Eyes Had No Tears

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An old fashioned kind of guy...........

Been following the posts from The View From the Ledge as
he checks in from Long Island.  Jeff reports that candles and
flashlights are still the order of the day (or night) in his part of the
world. 

Storms are funny things.  My young son and I spent last weekend
with my Mom in Philadelphia.  Irene was all the news. For 48
hours, it was the only thing on the television.  Made me
appreciate the wisdom of Michael Wade.  Following a storm as is
slowly but surely makes its way up the coast is tedious business. 
The breathless TV folk were trying to do the right thing, but once
Irene got downgraded to a Category 1, their coverage was classic
overkill.  When Irene finally arrived in the Delaware Valley early
Sunday morning, it was mostly rain.  We slept through the windy
part.  When the newspaper headlines the next day shouted about
the storm's "fury",  I figured the folks in Florida and the Gulf Coast,
where hurricanes are truly ferocious, must have been laughing at
us weak and sensitive Yankees.

Yet, 6+ inches of rain over a few hours is not to be laughed at. 
Hardships, some severe, followed in the storm's path.  Mother
Nature likes to remind us from time to time that we have control
over fewer things than we believe.

Anyway, we were talking about Jeff before my personal story got
interjected.  He concludes his last post in about the way we
would expect from him - with his grace and sense of humor intact.

"One thing you do find in these types of situations –
difficulties breed innovation."

Hope your power is back on.

Fun with numbers...........



















"With over 310 million people in the United States and
slightly over 1 million members of the National Association
of Realtors (actually 1,024,863 as of the end of July), that
means there are approximately 302 people for every
licensed member."
-Sean Carpenter

Sean's post started me wondering about the number of Realtors
over time.  Thanks to this handy chart provided by NAR, it was
some pretty easy research.

8/2/1977:   When I was first licensed to sell real estate   464,244

5/22/1982:  The start of Anderson Layman Company    615,127

4/2004:   Million member milestone                             1,002,348

10/2006:  High water mark                                         1,370,758

3/2011:   Signs of a tough business climate                  1,003,462

7/2011:   A sign of a brighter future?                           1,024,863

So, when I first got my real estate license, the population of the
United States was 220,239,425 (give or take a few), and there
was only one Realtor for every 474 people. 

It is an interesting business model.  We compete against, and then
cooperate with, each other on a regular basis.  I am not familiar
with any other industry with that characteristic.

Some of the hardest working and nicest people in the world are
Realtors. I hope you have the opportunity to work with them.

Wishing Van Morrison a happy 66th...

Was looking at all the plaques in E.'s Cool Hall of Fame.  Didn't
see Van's.  I suspect this story might have something to do with
his absence. Just wondering if the Mighty E. is feeling some
forgiveness?  If so, might we suggest a nomination?  What a fine
birthday present it would be!


On Love...............
























                   Even after all this time 
            The sun never says to the earth,
                      "You owe Me." 

                Look what happens with
                     A love like that,
                It lights the Whole Sky.

-Hafiz

photo courtesy of

A speech worth reading........


















Steve Jobs, Reed College drop out, circa 1973, gave the
commencement address at Stanford in 2005.   Full speech
here.  Excerpts here:

My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When was the last time you listened to..........

Spooky Tooth?     Copyright issues? Click through to Youtube

B-7....................

.......or, how I spent my Tuesday night.



















My daughter's school operates a twice-a-week bingo game.  Part
of parental duties may include volunteering to work the game.  As
fund raisers go, this one is fairly effective.  Some 120 players
showed up, almost all of whom are semi-serious about bingo. 
The school raised a tad over $2,900 tonight.  Go team.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A bubble of a golden hue.............

...........or, how high is up?

Bubbles of "artificial safety".....

".....we are paying an unexpected price for decades of controlled and managed economic performance in the proliferation of moral hazard at all levels of the economy. People have come to believe that governments can and will backstop the economy. This leads them to underestimate and underprice risk, and it has contributed to the series of expensive asset price bubbles of the last twenty years. People have lived in a bubble of artificial safety based on the belief that technocratic Keynesian management of a fiat money system can deliver semi-permanent prosperity without the disorienting booms and busts that made our great-grandparents so cautious and crabbed in their thinking."

-from the pen of  Walter Russell Mead

Another bubble in the making..........

Headline:
 Manufacturers of Downward Arrows Post Record Profits
















"Companies like National Plunging Arrow Corp and
Consolidated Downward Pointy Lines saw their shares
rocket as investors rushed to participate in the suddenly
red-hot red-arrow sector."


Full post, and other fun stuff, here.

Thanks Greg

Who says government can't create jobs...?

"On top of that, the financial regulations enacted by
Congress last year are causing banks to add more risk
managers and compliance staff ..."

The quote actually comes from a New York Times article titled
Profits falling, Banks Confront a Leaner Future.  The
thrust of the article is that the too-big-to-fail banks will be laying
off tens of thousands of employees, mostly from their usually
productive departments, their typical revenue drivers: lending,
mortgage packaging, and trading.

On top of the problems with their day-to-day business model,
banks of all sizes must now cope with new governmental
regulations created in response to the carnage of the bubble
years.  Regulations designed to stop what has already occurred. 
Regulations that will be truly onerous to the smaller community
banks and thrifts that had no role in creating the problems of
2008.  Timing is everything.  Interesting times to be a banker.

Thanks Bill

With practice...............















Thanks Jessica

Two for Tuesday.....The Byrds



It is a Calvin and Hobbes world...........

Monday, August 29, 2011

Opening paragraphs

     America had been awash in drink almost from the start - wading hip-deep into it, swimming in it, at various times in its history nearly drowning in it.  In 1839 an English traveler marveled at the role liquor played in American life: " I am sure Americans can fix nothing without a drink," wrote Frederick Marryat in a Diary in America.  "If you meet, you drink; if you part, you drink; if you make acquaintance, you drink; if you close a bargain, you drink; they quarrel in their drink, and they make it up with a drink.  They drink because it is hot, they drink because it is cold.  If successful in elections, they drink and rejoice; if not, they drink and swear; they begin to drink early in the morning, they leave off late at night; they commence it early in life, and they continue it, until they soon drop into the grave."

-Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

About those rules............























thanks hugh

A poem for Monday.................

                         Song Unsung


The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my
instrument.

The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly
set; only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.

I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice;
only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road
before my house.

The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on
the floor; but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask
him into my house.

I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting
is not yet.

-Rabindranath Tagore

Paintings unpainted and songs unsung.......

      This strange but all-knowing God gave to us a delicately balanced sphere called earth, and on it, he placed the intelligent human who would either develop it or destroy it.  How terribly fascinating that God would leave both projects - earth as well as humans - unfinished!  Across the rivers and streams He built no bridges; He left paintings unpainted, the song unsung, the book unwritten, and space unexplored.  For the accomplishment of those things, God created the unfinished human who, withing his heart and mind, had the capacity to do all these things and more, depending upon his own choice.  Attitude determines choice, and choice determines result.  All that we are, and all that we can become has indeed been left to us.
-Jim Rohn, The Seasons of Life

Time won't let me.....

The Outsiders: Time Won't Let Me

On magnetizing......

   "When Henley wrote the prophetic lines, 'I am the master of
my fate, I am the captain of my soul,' he should have informed
us that we are masters of our fate, the captains of our souls,
because we have the power to control our thoughts.
    "He should have told us that our brains become
magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in
our minds, and, by means with which no man is familiar,
these 'magnets' attract to us the forces, the people, the
circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of
our dominating thoughts.
-Napoleon Hill,  Think and Grow Rich!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My friend.................

Sunday's verse

34.  "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you
who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
for you from the foundation of the world.

35.  'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and
you invited Me in;

36.  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited
Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

37.  "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord,
when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and
give You drink?

38  'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in,
or naked, and clothe You?

39.  'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come
to You?'

40.  And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say
to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers
of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"

The Open  Bible,  Mathew 26:34-40

Full circles.....................

EDGAR:       The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
                     Make instruments to plague us:
                     The dark and vicious place where thee he got
                     Cost him his eyes.

EDMUND:                      Th' hast spoken right, 'tis true.
                     The wheel is come full circle, I am here.

William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3, 171-175

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sing with some very excellent friends:

Tagore...........


















Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1841, was a Bengali poet, writer,
thinker, artist, and mystic.  He was knighted by the British Crown
in 1915, but renounced the honor a few years later in reaction to
British actions in suppression of the Indian independence
movement.  More information is here.  Credit for the photo
belongs hereA few quotes are here:

God loves to see in me, not His servant, but Himself
who serves all.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.  I awoke and saw
that life was service.  I acted and behold, service was joy.

I am able to love my God because He gives me freedom
to deny Him.

While God waits for His temple to be built of love, men
bring stones.

From the solemn gloom of the temple children run out to sit
in the dust, God watches them play and forgets the priest.

Conditions......

"The only people who achieve much are those who want
knowledge so badly that they seek it while conditions are
still unfavorable.  Favourable conditions never come."
C. S. Lewis,  Learning in War-Time

I remember...........

Unshakable..........

Nothing in the realm of thoughts or ideologies is
     absolute.
Lean on one for long, and it collapses.
Because of this, there is nothing more futile and
     frustrating than relying on the mind.

To arrive at the unshakable, you must befriend the
     Tao.
To do this, quiet your thinking.
Stop analyzing, dividing, making distinctions between
     one thing and another.
Simply see that you are at the center of the universe,
     and accept all things and beings as parts of your
     infinite body.

When you perceive that an act done to another is done
     to yourself, you have understood the great truth.

-Chapter 42
Hua Hu Ching:  The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu
Brian Walker