Robbins’ Date With Destiny – An Insight

Each year for the past few, I have had the privilege of supporting Tony Robbins’ event, Date With Destiny. And every year, I try to find words to describe what these events are about — and every year I fail. Are they about motivation? Not really. Are they huge money makers for Robbins? Yes, but I believe he delivers far more value than the price of the event. Are they just a big rah-rah? Well, there is some of that, but it is a side effect rather than the Purpose. So what are these events about, then?

Let me back up. My story starts about 7 or so years ago, when I was in a place in my life where I was not really sure what I wanted to do, what I should do — and so I started talking to people for whom I had lots of respect. I talked to the owner of a large local business who had been through some hard times and come out the other side in amazingly great shape. I talked with an out of state friend who has bought and sold more than 100 businesses in his lifetime. I spoke with a very successful real estate broker. They all had interesting advice. And they all recommended that I go to a Robbins event and see what might happen.

And yet, I still wasn’t ready. The tipping point was when I watched Tony’s 20 minute talk on TED, about why we do what we do. This talk was recommended to me, out of the blue, by a friend who is not particularly successful, but she is pretty much happy all the time. She hasn’t been to any events, but knew the TED talk would interest me.

Before the talk had ended, I was on the phone booking tickets to go to the weekend event, Unleash the Power Within. Before going, though, I bought one of his books; one of the earlier ones. I would not say it was well written, but I could immediately put what I learned to use (and talked my way into 1st class on a flight).

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. First, I found out that I was going to walk barefoot across hot coals. It isn’t the process of doing it that is important, rather it is a metaphor about being able to accomplish stuff you never thought you could. Before the event started, we wrote down a limiting belief and threw it in the fire – another metaphor about limiting beliefs. Most of the weekend turned out to be about limiting beliefs, and how they can affect your life.

Robbins came to the stage around noon or 1PM. and he did not leave the stage until we went out to do the firewalk after 11pm. Not to pee, not for a break. And at 11PM he was still delivering with as much or more intensity as when he began 10 or so hours earlier. It seemed impossible, and I saw it with my own eyes.

The first half day of the event, Tony asks if anyone is suicidal, and of course in a crowd of 3,000+ there are always a few. He talks about physiology – how we stand, breathe, and move; about Focus – what are we focused on? And about the words we use. These things comprise a State, and to demonstrate, Tony finds someone who is depressed, and stands like they are standing, breathes how they are breathing, tries to focus on what they are focused on — and he says, “Well crap, you have no choice BUT to be depressed if you do all this!”

It reminds me of the peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown talks about having the right posture to be depressed.

Then he talks about something he developed called Human Needs Psychology – that we all live our lives based on 6 human needs, and what makes the difference is which two needs we value most, and what our vehicles are for achieving these needs. He often takes someone who is suicidal and looks at their needs structure. It becomes obvious pretty quickly what is going on with them.

UPW is a 4 day sprint, while Date With Destiny is a 6 day marathon. UPW covers human needs, and limiting beliefs, and there is a day of information about diet. All in all it is a really interesting event, and by itself can change people dramatically. And it is only the tiniest introduction to what Robbins has to teach. What I learned at UPW alone took my closing ratio in listing appointments from maybe 35% to closer to 65%, mostly because of what I focused on right before the appointment.

DWD is a much deeper study. Participants are asked to look at their core values. What do you value most about life? Love? Honesty? Integrity? Fun? We make a big list of all the ones we can think of (individually) and then rank them in order of importance. Similarly, we look at feelings we want to avoid – Hate, disappointment, betrayal, embarrassment, etc. Whatever list the participant comes up with. And we also rank these in terms of worst to best.

Then, we talk about what has to happen so that we feel each one. These are the rules we have subconsciously made up about our desired and undesired emotions. The really interesting part at this point is that it is easy to see conflicts, and easy to see that we tend to make it really hard to feel good, and make it easy to feel bad.

The end result of DWD is to reprogram your mind with a list more likely to make you happy, and also to implant the rules about these things. A typical rule about love might be that someone feels love only when their spouse smiles at them every day and dresses how they like and doesn’t pick a fight. So, almost never, right? A new rule about love might be anytime they see their spouse; anytime they smile at them; anytime they think about them. Lots easier!

Another piece of the puzzle is something Robbins calls the Primary Question; this is a question people ask themselves, almost without thinking about it, several times a day. Mine used to be, how can I fix it? Presuming everything (and everyone I met) was broken. A friend of mine asked himself “Why live?” and another (who had not had a relationship lasting more than a month in her 35 years) “Why doesn’t anyone love me?”

Can you see how asking ourselves questions like these, repeatedly, might lead to some poor outcomes?

And yet another big piece of DWD is all the time spent on relationships. Robbins doesn’t just talk about, but vividly demonstrates, the differences between male energy and female energy, and between light and dark energy. Robbins says that for any intimate relationship to work, there must be male and female energy. There are feminine men, and there are masculine women in addition to the conventional roles. A good friend of mine has a great relationship with his wife; it’s just that when you stop in to see them, she’s in the garage with a power screwdriver building something, and he’s making the bed, or cooking. They have that polarity, and it works great!

Robbins demonstrates that many issues occur when a masculine man has been feminized by society, or their work, or something else, so they are masculine, but wearing a feminine mask; and sometimes they put a second masculine mask on over the feminine, so they are really messed up. Similarly, society has masculinized women – from powerful women in the workforce, or women who got divorced and had to stand up and “be a man” to support their children or for other reasons – we see all these examples, in the flesh, and we can come to understand how their relationships might have some issues as a result. When I was dating (hindsight is 20/20…) I tended to be more feminine, and I dated very masculine women (national trampoline champ, national champ gymnast, rock climbing instructor…) and as I became comfortable in the relationships, I tended to lose the feminine qualities I had and my masculine core would come out, and … well, it just wasn’t pretty; two guys (two people with strong masculine energy) in a relationship. Or not.

Another piece is that passion in relationships comes from uncertainty, and from the balance of light and dark energy in the relationship. If we have total certainty all the time, it gets boring. So we need a bit of variety to juice things up! And again, Robbins provides great examples, stories from his life and demonstrations from the audience.

All this is what goes on, on the surface. At UPW there are no teams, just a room full of folks. At DWD, participants are put in large teams, and each team has some leadership people associated with it. This is where the true magic of DWD happens. The event leadership makes a huge effort to connect with every member on the team, and deal with any issue they might have that is holding them back in life. Whether it is someone who was abused, just broke up with someone, lost a loved one, had a business failure — whatever their issue is, the leadership team leaves no stone unturned in attempting to help them. We aren’t trained psychologists, but many of us are coaches, and a surprising number have had outside training either in coaching, or The Work, or are NLP practitioners or trainers. So we have gotten halfway decent at talking people through big issues.

Robbins does most of the work for us; he picks people from the audience who want to ask a question, or share something. If it is something that will serve more than just that one person, he will go deep with them, talking to them about how their behavior or outcome has been governed by their beliefs, or their rules, or their need structures, or primary question – and these discussions often cause many other audience members to have deep insights into their own issues. Then, often, someone will come up to one of us with a request like, “could I please talk to you for a moment?” and we are ready to see how we can help.

I keep going back, because I see the difference we make in people’s lives; my hallucination is that I have saved dozens of relationships, prevented at least two suicides, and given many who had given up hope something to live for. I know it is not all a hallucination because I am still in touch with many of them. I also know that when Robbins has an interaction with someone in the room, he follows up with them, often for more than a year.

One of his DVD products, The Ultimate Relationship Program, is full of video clips taken from various events, including many DWDs, and the interactions are unpacked by an award-winning psychologist, Cloe Madanes. The product is so well received that Doctors can get continuing education credits from going through it. And, he and Cloe have created a new class of coaches, Robbins-Madanes Strategic Interventionists (quite a mouthful…) We are trained to use Tony’s techniques to help people.

The seminars are not about motivation; they are about personal growth. And just as the event leadership is there to help participants grow, the leadership gets there a couple days early and we talk about our outcomes and growth plans; and we are all deeply committed to each other’s growth and learning. We all keep in touch through social media, and there are YES groups all around the country where we spread the word. I love these events also because one of my top needs is growth. Happiness often does not come from achievement, but rather from progress. This was an important distinction for me.

The education I got from UPW and DWD, and other Robbins events is probably more valuable, in terms of life skills, than any other education I have ever had (including 4 years of college, 2 post grad, and lots of other stuff). If you think you might be interested in learning a little more about yourself, drop me a note. I’m happy to share.


Arizona Takings Law on Review in January, 2014

Around Thanksgiving, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to hold argument and consider the appeal of the City of Phoenix (joined by a number of other political subdivisions from around the state) in the matter of City of Phoenix v. Garretson. This case was decided by the Arizona Court of Appeals earlier this year in an opinion that contained some anomalies, from my perspective. In Garretson, the property owner lost its “best” access point as a result of light-rail construction to a downtown arterial, Jefferson Street, cut off from the land by a concrete barrier along the south side of the light rail tracks. By no means, however, was the parcel deprived of all access. Indeed, it appears that the owner’s remaining access to Madison Street is fairly decent.
The city made two arguments the Court of Appeals didn’t buy. First, a valid exercise of city police power (assuring public safety, expressed via putting up the concrete barrier) also “cut off” the owner’s right to compensation. Second, the access to the land was not so substantially impaired as to constitute a total taking (depriving the owner of all productive use of the land) or anything close to it – hence, no constitutional deprivation of a property right demanding “just compensation.” Of course, there was no physical occupancy of the Garretson property by the city, as the barricade is within the city’s right of way. Garretson’s counsel argued to the Court that a decrease in value resulting from the loss of Jefferson Street access raised an issue of fact on the extent of damages, requiring jury consideration and, therefore, eliminating a possible summary judgment for the city.
While the Court of Appeals didn’t rule on the merits of the “taking” argument, it did rule that there was no summary judgment available on these facts. Alas, in making this ruling, the Court did imply that there was a taking in the offing. This seems contrary to authority elsewhere. In states such as California and Texas, the general rule seems to be that a property owner is not constitutionally entitled to “optimal” access, but just reasonable ingress from and egress to, neighboring publicly-dedicated streets. Only when the access becomes a joke to navigate into the site does the deprivation of “better” access rise to the level of a taking. Our court of appeals appeared to be supporting a far more lax standard.
The other anomaly in the Court of Appeals opinion is the statement beginning on the opinion’s 28th page that while “substantial impairment” of access to the owner’s land is usually a question of fact, “a trial judge obviously retains the power to make the determination [of impairment] as a matter of law if a property owner fails to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether such impairment has occurred.” Huh? So, if counsel for the owner cannot demonstrate constitutionally sufficient impairment with facts, using maps, expert testimony from traffic engineers, land planners or who/what have you, the judge can intervene to pronounce substantial impairment as a matter of law? It will be interesting to see whether our Supreme Court endorses that observation. The implications of judges having the right as a matter of law to determine substantial impairment of access are doubtlessly frightening to transportation land planners working for all Arizona government agencies.

Oral argument on City of Phoenix v. Garretson will be held at the Appellate Courthouse on Washington Street near the Capitol on January 22, 2014 at 10 a.m.

Squatting takes on new meaning

Junk and unmentionables


I have previously written about a property I have been working on (for much too long), that involved a note purchase, then a foreclosure, then eviction of squatters. It has gotten even more interesting.

When I evicted the squatters, they bought or somehow obtained a small camper, and they moved into it, along with their 50 or so cats and a small amount of the furniture and stuff they kept from the house they were occupying. They finally moved, unfortunately, across the fence onto the neighbor’s property, and proceeded to make a mess of that area as well.

A few weeks ago I hired a landscaper to clear off the debris and weeds on the property, and he had it looking pretty good! I stopped by just two days ago to check on some final work I needed done, before marketing the property, and I found that there was much debris in the yard… from the squatters.

Apparently, a couple weeks ago, when the next door property owners were on vacation, the squatters sold their two prize hogs for drug money or something. When the owners came back, a fight ensued and one of the squatters ended up arrested and in the hospital. The other squatter got summarily evicted from that property … and moved to the property directly behind that one. On the way, they left garbage bags full of feces, pepsi bottles full of urine, and tons of accumulated garbage… which they tried to haul through my property to get to the other one, leaving a trail of … waste … and garbage. I had just paid someone to clean up the property and was not surprisingly, a little upset. So the sheriff is going out to cite her for criminal littering, and I called the county health department and the zoning department to see what can be done. The current parcel owner doesn’t care and is in bankruptcy and I don’t think anyone is paying rent — all squatting. The bags of human fertilizer give new meaning to the word “Squatter”.

The Frank Dodd act -Otherwise known as the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

Most legislation is created to solve a problem; for example, if there are too many people drowning on a beach, then a law might be passed to increase the number of lifeguards, or the hours of operation might be restricted, or some other action taken to address the problem. Most legislation includes the problem, the proposed solution, the enforcement authority, and the method of funding.

The Frank Dodd act is a little different; it created a high level organization like the FAA or the FCC; these agencies promulgate rules to keep the airwaves fair, or the skies safe. Because Congress is not an expert on telecommunications, nor on aviation, these agencies hire experts in these areas and promulgate rules. And, congress votes on their budgets every year.

Frank Dodd is different. The biggest difference is that the scope of the Act is massive; it includes almost every financial service relating to consumer housing that exists, including HUD. But that is not the biggest issue. The biggest one is that the agency that was created is funded by an allocation each year, based on GDP, directly from the federal reserve system. This year’s allocation was about 500,000,000. Yup, a half a billion dollars.

And while this agency is designed to protect the consumer, it is likely to have a chilling effect on the housing market. Rental rates are likely to increase, and lesser qualified folks, and first-time home buyers are going to suffer. And… someone deeply involved with this agency is going to profit, big-time. Because there will be two kinds of mortgage, starting January 10 of 2014. The Qualified Mortgages, wherein the borrower is very, very low risk, and the Other (or non-qualified) Mortgages. These will not be able to be sold to Fannie or Freddie, and so they will be higher cost, higher fees, better returns for investors. Where will they go? They will be bought by a hedge fund owned by … someone who was deeply involved in this agency.

Just gotta love Washington.



Did you just ‘accidentally’ sell your new TV?

When we list homes for sale, most of us ask the seller if there is anything they don’t intend to sell. The standard Arizona real estate contract specifies what fixtures and personal property transfer in a sale. Most of the items mentioned are sensible, such as free-standing stoves, ceiling fans, outdoor landscaping, and the like.

But there are a few things that we don’t think so much about — such as your prized outdoor garden fountain. Yep, it transfers unless you specifically write in the contract that it doesn’t. Same for your storage shed, satellite dish, sun screens, water softeners…and drapes! Yup, your drapes go with the home unless you specify otherwise in a counter offer.

But the stickler is fixtures. What is a fixture? Generally it is anything that is permanently attached to the house, such as a sink, or a radiator, or anything that is built-in or screwed into the wall. And that includes your new flat screen TV! Most of these TVs are screwed onto a bracket, and the bracket is screwed into the wall.  So they are fixtures.

What other interesting things transfer? Your fireplace tools, pool cleaner, central vac hoses and attachments, outdoor lighting (such as landscape lighting), and all lighting fixtures.

So be sure you hire the right agent! It could be very costly for you if you accidentally sell one of your treasured possessions.


What’s up with the real estate market (Phoenix)? September 2013

Last week I had lunch at an event arranged by a friend of mine, and the guest speaker was from the Cromford Report, a report that analyzes trends in the Phoenix market. A year ago, I went to the same event and he predicted that we would have a buying frenzy in the spring. Partially as a result of that prediction, one of my clients decided to sell out their entire portfolio, and it really was a major frenzy. So from that experience and a few others, I give much weight to his comments about the market.

One of the interesting graphs that he showed was a plot of the average real estate price, starting from 1950. Most charts we see today look at 2005-current, or from 1990 – current. The longer term trend is more interesting. First, on average, the prices rise a little faster than inflation. We are currently below that target.

Second, there have been several “bubbles”, one being around the time of the S&L crisis, and the most recent one bottoming in 2011. In each of these cycles, in hindsight, it is pretty easy to see that there are hitches and bumps in the recovery process.

The Phoenix market has been really charged up lately — and now seems to be softening. It looks like buyers have started to back off, especially in the above 300k range. (I have a current listing less than 150k and it has been on the market for a month – unheard of, a few months ago!) The lower end is still strong though (my listing not withstanding). So is this a “top”, or just a pause?

The Federal Reserve announced at the end of this week, that they will print Even More Money. So this should alleviate interest rate concerns; and the Cromford Report presenter thinks that we are having a little buyer’s revolt around prices (up some 25%-30% in the last year). But he said that this was just a little pause, and we will continue to see a strong market, and increasing prices.

According to the statistics, we are very close to being in a more “normal” market, in terms of the number of homes for sale, the number pending (under contract), and the number of new listings each week. Still a seller’s market, but maybe not for much longer. It looks to be turning into a market that favors neither buyers nor sellers.

Another interesting statistic was about rental properties. Something like 20% of the homes in Phoenix are rentals. Most of us know that the lower end of the market has been dominated by hedge funds and REITs such as Colony homes, Blackstone, and others. These funds have been buying many, many homes. However, they account for a very, very small number of the rental homes! Most rental properties in Phoenix are owned by individual investors!

The effect of the funds buying in the low end has not had much effect, unless you were a buyer yourself trying to compete against their offers! It has been very difficult for a first time home buyer using financing, for example, to buy an inexpensive home.

Rental rates for single family homes have not increased very rapidly; only the larger apartment complex owners have been raising their prices. This is partly because credit has loosened, the foreclosure crisis is all but over, and FHA is willing now to allow people with a foreclosure or short sale to get financing much sooner.

Finally, he had a chart of the population change in Maricopa County since 1950, and alongside this chart, the number of new homes built each year (including apartment units). These two trends followed each other closely, until this year. This year, immigration is up, but home starts have not kept pace. It looks like there is now, or will shortly be, a shortage in starter homes. An opportunity for some builders?

So all in all, we are coming into a set of more typical market conditions, and it looks like prices will continue to rise. the below $200,000 market remains strong, and the higher end is seeing longer days on the market. Inventory is rising. This little pause we are having right now might be a great time to buy, if you have been frustrated by all the institutional buying that has been hammering the lower end of the market.


The Real Estate Profession in Arizona

When I got my real estate license, my co-blogger and friend Mike told me that I would probably be able to pass the test without taking any classes. I had been an investor in real estate for a long time, and I decided to get my license because my flips had gone from 55k homes to 155k homes, and I didn’t want to give away an extra 6% on every deal (3% in, 3% out). So I went to the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business, and for about $1,000, took 120 hours of classes (all in a row, two week crash program because I thrive on immersion), and took the test a week later, with a 95%+ score.

So could I have passed without the classes? Probably not, because there was some stuff I didn’t know (mostly that doesn’t matter in regular real estate, such as how the Baseline and Meridian survey system works, how many people are on the real estate board, what the commissioner’s powers are, etc.) although there was some stuff I didn’t know that is important (how to fill out a HUD form, how agency law applies in real estate, stuff like that).

Generally the classes were really interesting to me, and I had a blast taking them, looking forward to being down there every day. The classes were broken into a math section and a non-math section, because there is lots of math they think you need to know to be a real estate licensee. Since I have a math degree, the classes that most people find daunting, were really boring.

The other fun thing about the classes is that it appeared that lots of the students thought it was really a fashion show… but I digress.

After going through all the classes and before you take the state exam, you have to pass the school exam; I studied for the weekend (last class was on Friday) and took the school test Monday. Then it was off to the test center to take the state test.

After all was said and done, I felt pretty much ready to practice real estate as a profession. Wow, was I wrong. I had no business trying to help people sell real estate at that point. Sure, it was legal, and I had all the knowledge, right? Not exactly…

In a similar experience, I went through the (very brief) classes for, and took the state test, to be a financial advisor. I passed all the tests, and then ultimately decided not to get the license. Again, I had no business being a financial advisor at the time, even though it would be legal.

These are two professions in which the public entrusts some of the biggest, most important, most life-altering decisions to a state licensed person.

What about when you go to get your hair cut, or your nails done? How much education is required for that? And experience? This was shocking to me:

BARBER LICENSE: 1500 Hours (Call Board of Barbering)
ELECTROLOGIST LICENSE: 500 Hours (Call Board of Radiology ARRA)
COSMETOLOGY INSTRUCTOR LICENSE: Cosmetology License for 1 Year + 650 Hours
ESTHETICIAN INSTRUCTOR LICENSE: Esthetician License for 1 Year + 500 Hours
NAIL TECHNOLOGY INSTRUCTOR LICENSE: Nail Technician License for 1 Year + 350 Hours

Real estate license: 120 hours

Is it any wonder that real estate agents often have poor reputations, one up (maybe) from used car salesmen? For sure there are some great options (but not requirements) to be a much better real estate agent, such as the GRI designation and lots of others. What about brokers, as opposed to “regular” agents? Pretty much you go through the exact same set of classes over again, another 120 hours, and take pretty much the same test again. Not much difference, except you have to take a brief “broker management” class that has a few more of the legal record keeping and agent legal procedures information tidbits in it. But as for getting more information… no.

After an agent has closed 50 or 100 deals, they are usually ready to perform transactions. So how does an agent get to 50 deals? The best way is for them to have a mentor, someone who guides them through the first bunch of transactions. There will be lots of initial handholding, but after 10-15 transactions, this is minimal and there are just occasional questions. Still, unusual situations still arise. I closed a large number of transactions in the first half of the year, and there were a few surprises. I closed one just this week in which I got a surprise. This after several hundred deals… we are all still students, still learning.

The first thing that needs to happen to our industry is a dramatic increase in the requirements to get a license. This will weed out all the weekend warrior agents, and that alone will do wonders. The agents who have held a license for 10 years and have done 20 transactions are not generally busy enough to really understand the market and the business; for them to represent clients is a disservice, in my opinion.

The second thing is a required mentorship. Many brokerages are starting to require it, but there are just as many that will sign you up if you have a license and a pulse, and let you go about your business. This is because the prevalent broker models in Arizona are more about renting office space for a monthly fee than promoting agent quality.

And before a licensee heads out on their own, they need a certain number of transactions under their belt, and they need to be signed off by a mentor.

The laws regarding real estate licenses are strict; they have a moral turpitude clause in them, among other things. The department can revoke a license if they feel that a licensee is acting with poor moral character! I think this is rarely done, but there it is. Perhaps we need similar requirements for public figures such as movie stars and sports figures. More about that in another post.


Not your mother’s America’s Cup

I have been a big sailing fan for many years. I grew up with America being the only nation to hold the America’s Cup — and Dennis Conner was the winningest skipper. At least, until Australia beat us!

When they were still building the yachts according to the 12 meter rules, building the monohull boats, and flying spinnakers … I loved to watch the tacking duals, the protests, the close races. It was exciting.

During those days, a small business on the island of Saint Martin acquired a bunch of old 12 meter boats, namely Stars and Stripes from the Australia challenge, and several Canada boats. I was in the islands for the first time, and I got to take a ride on Stars and Stripes, as a “crew member” (they charge you $60 for a 1 or 2 hour “race” against the other boats, mostly for cruise ship passengers.)

When we were there, though, a hurricane had just rolled through and torn up lots of the island. And I was sitting on the dock in Phillipsburg, the day before I was supposed to leave, and this Englishman walks up to me and asks me, when are you leaving?

“Tomorrow,” I said. “Well that’s too bad, I am looking for crew members.”

“For what?”

He smiled, and explained that the Heineken regatta was two weeks away, and he needed some sailing crews to man his boats that he was entering. Well it was Colin Percy, who owned the “Sint Maarten 12 Metre Regatta” business, and he wanted me to crew … a 12 meter Armerica’s cup yacht! How could I say no?

I talked to my boss at work (at the time I was the principal engineer at a local Phoenix company that built network test equipment), and his response was pretty much “How can you say no? Go!” So I flew back to the USA for a few days to take care of some things, and went right back down to Saint Martin, and started training with the rest of the crew.

I got to crew for one of Dennis Conner’s skippers, and for Chris Dixon, who was an America’s cup skipper and a 3 time world match racing champion. Even had a drink with him, in the bar.

On one of the race days during the regatta, we had a “guest” on the boat, admiral Ellis of the USS Enterprise. He was a burly guy, so he got to be the main grinder — our tactician was a smallish Scot, Roddy Anderson, who really knew his stuff, and the whole race he was yelling at Ellis, “C’mon, man, put yer back into it!” Later I asked him if he knew who our guest was… “You mean I’ve been yelling at a bloody Admiral??” Later, Ellis invited us over to the Enterprise, he gave us a nice tour. Wow. I can say I have been on the bridge of the Enterprise!

After the race, I offered to buy the sailing crew dinner at a local restaurant. We ran into a table of really cute girls. It was Playboy magazine, they were on the island for a shoot… It was a fun night. Heck, it was a fun month.

Since then, the cup regatta has changed lots. There has been lots of time spent in courts, talking about the rules, there was a one sided race between a monohull and a catamaran, lots of crazy stuff.

This year, though, is different. The 12 meter boats were lucky to make 18 mph. These boats… 50(!!) mph. Take a look:

America’s Cup 2013


I like to fish.

I have fished with lures, with worms, trolling, casting — lots of ways. And I thought I knew, pretty much, how to catch fish.

My brother and I go out on a lake in New York from time to time, and we fish. We catch bass, pike, perch, other stuff, but mostly bass and pike. Some people think pike are a trash fish, but trash or no, it is really fun to pull a 10 pound pike into the boat. Heck, it is fun to pull almost any fish into the boat.

A few years ago (ok more than a few…) I made friends with Gary Senft, who is the bass pro at Bass Proshop in Phoenix, and is also sponsored by Nitro, Lowrance, and a bunch of other bass fishing related companies. Gary has taken me fishing, in Arizona, many times; and we ALWAYS catch a bunch of fish. He knows the lakes, he knows his methods. They work.

So this year we invited him to come stay at our New York place, and, well, do some fishing. Now he did not use lures or plugs or anything like that. In fact, he brought his “tackle box” which consisted solely of a bunch of hooks he uses on Arizona lakes, and a large bag of random rubber worms and stuff. “This will be interesting,” I thought.

At least I thought it until he pulled in some 20 fish in a couple hours on a lake he had never fished before…

Of course, now I think he is spoiled, because while it has been 119 around Phoenix, we were fishing in cloudy to partly cloudy (and sometimes rainy) weather where the high was about 80. Gary showed us, my brother and me, how he fishes in Arizona, and how it works just fine. The bass in New York apparently are the same personality as the ones in Arizona.

He had some locals invite him to compete in a local bass tournament, and I am sure he would have done well, but he had to get back to his Arizona lakes.

So now my brother and I are fishing with rubber worms and funny looking hooks… I miss using a Meps or a Jimmy  Houston weedless spinner.. but I can’t argue with success!


Joint Tenancies – A Residential Escapade

marijuana-leafI have been representing an out of state property owner for several years. Recently, they contacted me to list and sell some of their properties, mostly tenant occupied. For the most part, this is a simple process of finding investors who want to keep the property and tenant just as they are, and they will perform a minimal inspection to make sure there are no issues. A few do a regular professional inspection after a walk through if they think that there might be some issues.

We try not to disturb the tenants, requiring a signed contract before we permit inspections; this has worked pretty well, and it also has the effect of driving out the potential buyers who aren’t as serious or perhaps as experienced. Mostly the tenants are nice, and we arrange a mutually agreeable time when we can inspect, and that’s that. Every now and then, we have tenants who will not permit the inspection, and we have to serve a two day notice, and show up with a locksmith. It is rare, and in one instance we discovered that someone was illegally subletting the property. In another instance, the tenant was growing weed in the unit.

When we filed the notice to inspect, the tenant called me in a panic, now saying we are not allowed to go into two of the 3 bedrooms…. because he is growing a certain medicinal plant, all legal he says. And opening the doors will “damage” the plants.

I spoke with the department of Health and they say if he has a permit to grow them, then it is ok, the permit renews annually and if there is a dispensary within 25 miles then they won’t renew it. Oh and he can grow 12 of them. And if he is a care giver, for up to 5 other people and has care giver cards, then he can grow 12 for each of them, so up to 72 plants.

We recently had the forcible detainer hearing, and the tenant showed up with a pro-bono attorney who was actually well prepared. Our attorney, for reasons I do not understand, chose to file based on a violation of the crime free lease addendum which specifically states that the tenant will not do anything in violation of the federal controlled substances act. (Personally I would have just notified them based on an inability to inspect). 

Their attorney argued that this was a state eviction, a state matter, and if we were to evict based on a federal statute, that we should be in federal court. Our attorney argued that it is a simple contract dispute, because the tenant signed the crime free lease addendum and the landlord had an expectation that nothing illegal was going on in the unit, specifically addressing the federal statute explicitly named in the addendum.

There was lots of posturing but ultimately the judge ruled for us, and granted summary judgement, which they said they would appeal. So the story continues. I’ll write a future post detailing how this all works out.