LCD/LED TV Tech Impacts Large Events

If you have been to a ball game recently, you know about the Jumbotron. In the past, these were made up of lots of little LEDs (light emitting diodes), similar to the daylight readable road advertisement signs, but if you are far enough away, you don’t notice that the individual pixels are fairly large.

But in the last couple years, that has changed. As many of you know, I attend lots of events in support of a well known motivational speaker, and he often has some of the very best tech at his shows. They have recently grown rather dramatically, when I first went 12 years ago there were a few thousand, the most recent LA show was more than 10,000. But the event I attend most is one that has grown from about 1500 to now about 4500; and the tech has grown dramatically.

As recently as 3 years ago, the display screens were rear projection, and there was a significant lag between the live person on stage and what was shown on the screen. But that has changed.

The main display is about twenty feet across. And the two side bars are also digital displays. How do they do this? There are a couple of companies that make ‘video walls’, and you can customize them to just about any size. I am a bit of a geek, so I was looking behind the display to see how it worked. Each display is an HD LCD display that is borderless, and about 24×42 inches. And they bolt a bunch of them together (God knows what the thing weighs!)

The result is a huge, incredibly bright, responsive LCD display. And there is almost no lag between the speaker and what we see on the display. As his events grow, more and more of these displays are added – in a stadium for a 12,000 person event, there might be 12-15 of them so that each person has a great view of what is happening.

And the sound systems have improved as well! The combined sound and light show is better than any rock concert I have ever attended (and I have been to a few, including Pink Floyd, U2, Led Zep, Trans-Siberian, and others.)

So if you decide to attend one of his events, you won’t be disappointed!

The Latest Rental Property

As you, my readers, know, I work in real estate. Part of being involved in residential real estate sales is having access to the MLS, the multiple listing service. And it is a wonderful service, an online list of properties for sale, sold, and in other various states. It has more information than the tax service, and it includes new listings and lots of interesting valuation tools, like RPR, which is sort of like Zillow for realtors but better.

I know many of us spend the evenings watching TV, hanging out in the family room visiting with family and such. One thing I do from time to time (well okay lots more than that) is, while watching old re-runs of Deep Space 9 or Have Gun Will Travel, I have the MLS open on my laptop and am trolling for something interesting to buy or to show one of my investor clients. I don’t wait around for a search to send stuff to me (I do have lots of searches set up) but I get bored and try to find new and interesting ways to look for properties. Mis-spelled words, other agents who have made an error in posting a listing, properties that have been pending for a REALLY long time – lots of interesting ways to search.

A few years ago in the late spring, just before Memorial day, I found an interesting property that was bank owned, and had been on the market for some time. So I wrote a really low offer that was cash and the earnest money was the full amount of the purchase. Yep, got their attention – I didn’t get the price I offered, but it wasn’t far from it, either. Closed on the house, did some fast rehab and staged it, and sold it, all in less than a month for a very nice gain.

But about a year ago, there just wasn’t that much stuff on the market. I had sold a property and needed to re-invest the proceeds quickly (it was a Starker, or 1031 tax free exchange.) So I was looking not just in the MLS, but in several other places, including the foreclosure auction.

There are a bunch of good folks who operate bidding services, and I use one of them for my occasional auction purchase. Now, when you buy at auction, you usually only know if the property is going to sell late the day before the auction. And I was bidding (low) on a half dozen properties each day, and finally got one. Of course, I wasn’t driving to see them and so the purchase was sight unseen. I bid low enough that I was sure it would work out alright.

And it did, but as usual, there was quite the education process involved. I closed on the property, and then went to see what I had. (Yeah, I know, I probably should have looked at it first but it was REALLY cheap…)

What I found was actually a pretty decent house on a nice lot. The electric panel was missing, and it was… rough. So I called my contractor to come take a look, pull a permit, and get going. My first sign of trouble was that the zoning people refused to let my contractor pull a permit because… he was not licensed in that city (yes, it is in the valley, and yes, he has a Phoenix license…)

So he got a license (another $30 or something) and THEN they tell him they won’t give him a permit because… well, because there are “issues”. So I go to the zoning people to determine what these issues are. The home was built in the 1930s and when it was built, another home was also built on the adjacent lot. Their home was partly on my lot and my driveway was partly on their lot. So I had to move the lot line. Which involves dealing with planning and zoning (mostly just write them a big check) and getting drawings done by a surveyor.

Originally the same people had owned both lots, and in the 1930s no one really cared what you built or where it was, apparently. But we got it fixed. The issue was then, that once I had approved re-zoning plans, I needed the signature of the lot owner next door. They were nice folks, but the actual owner had dementia, was in the hospital, and was not expected to live long, and no one had a power of attorney. So… I got signatures from all the potential heirs. I don’t know if it was legal, but the city accepted it and the town council approved my rezoning request.

Then they finally let us pull the permit, and we did all the work. When I went to get the final inspection, the inspector came out and said “They were supposed to tear this house down. I can’t sign anything.” Well that was exciting.

Ultimately, though, the work was approved and we got a final inspection acceptance and a year later, the house is rented. Sure, it was lots of work, and I have probably a thousand miles on my car driving back and forth to the property and the city, but the rental cap rate is about 16%.

Yeah, it was worth it.

Flying a light jet

My Bonanza

As many of you know, I am a pilot, and for the last 15-20 years, my plane of choice (that I can afford and has a reasonable mission profile) has been an older V35 Bonanza. I love the plane, I can load 4 people plus luggage and full fuel and fly over 1,000 miles.

The freedom you get from this is amazing. I have flown from Phoenix to Lake Placid, NY, all over California, the midwest, Utah, Texas – we used to fly to South Padre Island from Phoenix every year.

But… fuel prices have risen, and aviation fuel, in particular 100LL, has become quite expensive. And flying a plane that burns 16-18 gallons an hour starts to really hurt. I went out to fly a couple years ago, and I saw that the last time I had flown was almost a year earlier. Not good. Not only not good for the plane, but just not safe.

Sure, I always did the flight reviews and such, and occasional instrument flight checks, but my attitude, in a plane like a Bonanza, is that you ought to be flying at least monthly to stay on top of things. And I wasn’t, so for this and other reasons, I ultimately sold my wonderful plane. I hope the buyer is enjoying it as much as I did. At least it is flying more.

Recently, I had a family member who became ill. They were wealthy enough that they could charter a small jet to fly to places for treatment options, and also to see other relatives, as she was unable to travel via the scheduled airlines. [And there is that freedom thing again where you can bring a full sized tube of toothpaste, a bottle of bourbon if needed, and it is on YOUR schedule.]

On one of the trips, I was privileged to be invited along, and I got to sit in the right seat of a Cessna Citation Mustang, a very nice smaller twin jet. It was interesting that it had similar capabilities to my Bonanza in terms of payload and range, the main difference being that what takes 3-4 hours in the Bonanza takes 2 hours in the jet. And of course the jet can fly over all the weather (I have flown my Bonanza at 25,000 feet but we flew at 40,000 buy lorazepam online us feet…)

In my plane, there are many options. You get to actually _fly_, although not as much as if you are in a smaller Cessna 152 or 182, often used for flight training, but – you get to _fly_. The jet is a different story. It is almost always flown on an IFR mission, which means there is often a departure procedure, a specifically designated enroute flight plan, and an approach and landing procedure. What does all this mean?

When you spool up the jet, you already know how you will enter the airspace system. Like the Bonanza, you depart, follow runway heading until xxx then fly some course … and then it changes. In the Bonanza, I was pretty happy to go my own way at 10,000 feet or even 15,000 feet, and it is optional whether you talk to air traffic control (except in instrument conditions.) But jets are happiest high, so we immediately talk to ATC and climb through 18,000 feet where we are required to talk to ATC, and follow the plan as filed with them.

Generally the flight management system and the autopilot fly the plane, and it is the job of the pilot to manage the systems. Sure, we did lots of systems management in the Bonanza also, but there weren’t as many requirements. Flying the jet is a series of specific procedures and requirements, and they must be followed.

I love the mission capabilities of the little jet, and it was very interesting flying mostly higher than the other airline traffic and being able to see all the commercial jets below us – rather than sitting under the clouds and hearing about the jets and wondering where they were – but it seemed much less like flying and much more like a management job to me.

Of course if I complain about $200 an hour just for fuel in my plane and the jet is more like $1000 an hour for fuel, well, there’s another reason I don’t plan to buy one anytime soon. The entry price of a used Bonanza like mine was 120k-150k. The little jet was more than 10x that.

But gosh it was fun to sit in the right seat for a few hours. It didn’t hurt that the pilot was one of the best I have ever flown with, either.



Pool Lighting and Flips

As a property rehab specialist, I am often looking at the swimming pool and what will happen during the ultimate buyer’s inspection.

One of the things that happens is that if there is any sort of special equipment, like a heater or automatic chlorinator, or a spa control of some kind, it will not be working and I usually am not really in the mood to repair it. And the buyer will want it repaired…

So mostly these added items are negotiated as conveying “as is”, or if it is a simple thing, I remove them (like the automatic chlorinators. I have removed many.)

Pool lighting is another matter. Most people want the pool lights to work. And I have had to repair many of them. Often, someone has unscrewed the light fixture and lost the screw so the light is either sitting on the deck, or is floating around in the pool at the end of the cord. The other problem is that they trip the GFI.

Now, I really HATE GFIs. I don’t think a GFI has ever prevented any injury (I couldn’t find any stats) and somehow the human race dealt with the lack of them for decades without any problems. I don’t think throwing an operating radio into a bathtub that has a person in it will hurt you (Mythbusters aside.)

However, it is code that there be one, and I always comply with the code. And old pool lights almost always trip the GFI.

I put in a pool when I moved into my home, and I installed pool lighting. And last year, the pool light… started tripping the GFI. I could remove the fixture and dry it out, and it would be okay for a few weeks then start tripping again. There was never any visible moisture in the light, so I’m sure it is a pinhole leak somewhere.

When I installed the light, there wasn’t a choice for LED lighting. But now there is. So a couple months ago, I found some 12 volt LED floodlights online and ordered one for the pool. Then I went into the pool panel and added a 12 volt transformer (and left the GFI hooked up). I also made sure it was running on 12 volts DC not AC. Sealed everything back up, and … yep, it works. And it doesn’t trip the GFI. Even if it did leak voltage, 12 volts is not going to hurt anyone.

They sell retrofit kits now, and you can upgrade your pool light to a multi-color one, and I think they are far safer than having a 120 volt fixture under water. So next time I flip a house, before I replace the light fixture, I’m upgrading it to a 12 volt LED one.





Is your home about to flood?

I like to think my home is well maintained. No leaks, no drips, the faucets all work correctly, the appliances are newer, the toilets have been replaced with water saving ones… I care about my home and so I like to keep up with the maintenance.

So imagine my surprise, when a couple nights ago, I heard the water running. Lots of water. Spraying. Inside the house. What the heck?

I’m really happy that I was home, because if I hadn’t been able to catch it and shut it off, there would have been a flood. A really BAD flood. So what happened?

My house was built in the mid-1980 era, and it has copper wiring, copper plumbing, the usual conveniences. In a copper-piped house, the sink faucets and toilets and such are attached to the water supply using a shut off valve. In the 80’s and 90’s,many of these valves were all one piece, with an attached metal hose than runs from the valve to the toilet (or faucet.) Most, if not all of these are multiple turn valves, ie. you have to turn the valve handle around a bunch of times to get the water to shut off.

Modern examples of the same thing are quarter turn – and while you can get them with an attached hose, most of them are just the valve. The multi-turn valves are prone to leaking, the quarter-turn ones are supposed to be better.

Here’s an example of the old style:


These are multi-turn, and the hose that is attached is a flexible buy ambien online forum metal. This type of hose is far more durable than the newer rubber hose covered with metal braid – those have a 100% failure rate in certain applications – but that’s not the issue. The issue here is the plastic end:

If you look close, you can see that the plastic end has failed. Here’s a better picture:

Yep, that is what happened a few days ago, and the full pressure from the water line was spraying in the bathroom. Luckily we caught it, and I was off to see homer about new angle stops and hoses for all the toilets in the house. (In my house the connections to all the faucets were metal, not plastic.)

What happens with the plastic is that over time, it ages and dries out. If an over-eager plumber or home owner tightens the plastic up REAL tight, it is stressed, and over the years as it dries out, it will lose strength and fail, which is just what happened. For a toilet, the seal depends on a rubber bushing, so these don’t need to be super tight. I’m sure some over-tightness contributed to the failure.

I replaced all of them with the nice angle stop valves:

And with newer braided lines:

So one end of this is also plastic, but it should last 25-30 years like the last one, right?

So if you are buying an older home, check and see if the angle stops are like the ones in the first picture. If they are, REPLACE THEM.




Time lapse from Foscam webcams


I write on all sorts of subjects, and though I do try to stay in the realm of real estate, as you can see by my last post, I write about other things as well. Last time I wrote about divorce law. Not that it had anything to do with real estate, but one of my marketing efforts landed me some new friends that worked in this field, and I became interested… so I wrote about it.

schedule_20161016-152500My family has a property in a remote area, and for many years we have struggled with internet access. I remember the days of 9600-14400 baud dialup modems, and then we managed to get satellite service, a dramatic improvement but still…

Things started to turn around about 5-6 years ago when the local telephone company offered DSL. We were the very first DSL installation in the area, and we were REALLY happy to have 3 meg down and 400k up. Well, mostly. It was pretty unreliable. It was down for weeks at a time, or so unreliable nothing would work. It was barely possible to watch netflix.

Later, they did upgrade to 5 mb down, but it was still very unreliable, despite much effort by their tech folks to make it better. Portions of the phone line run through a lake, and we are at the far, far end of DSL capability. So it wasn”t great, but better than anything else we had tried.

A few years ago I saw that an area development company was pulling fiber optic cable down the highway, about a quarter mile away. “Wow, it would be so nice to have fiber optic service to our place…” I thought.

After a couple years of schmoozing, we finally inked an agreement a few months ago, and now we have (gasp!) gigabit fiber to our place. Well, the fiber is gigabit, we pay for a much smaller service, because now it is a leased line, and if you ever priced one, well, they are expensive. The nice part is that the bandwidth is not shared, it is ALL yours, with a leased line. Oh, and you have to additionally pay a service provider to give you internet service.

When we got everything working last month, I was eager to add an HD webcam to the mix. My other cameras were installed more than 8 years ago, and they are still working! These were the old Trendnet TV-IP100 cameras with a CMOS sensor. You can check out the web page at

These cameras, the old Trendnet ones, can be configured to upload an image every X seconds, and they will dutifully upload it via ftp to a server of your choice; they also can be configured to upload only a certain number of images, and then roll over to the next image. They create PIC001.jpg, PIC002.jpg, etc. to whatever number you set, then roll over.

After implementing these cameras, I wanted to see a time lapse – so my friend Matt wrote a little animator script that steps through the images from oldest to newest, and shows a little movie. Unlike many webcam web pages that periodically create a time lapse for you, this creates onscreen-shot-2016-10-17-at-3-12-21-pme with the very latest images. The Trendnet cameras are configured to store I think 60 images, or about 5 hours of animation. If you want a copy of the Trendnet animator, let me know, but the Foscam one is more what you want. The directory structure from the Trendnet cameras looks like this:

The Foscam web cams can also be configured to upload images, but they don”t roll over or limit the number of uploaded images or anything like that, and the names don”t repeat, the image name is a timestamp. So it takes a little unix prowess to get a time lapse to work and behave well.

First, you configure the camera to upload an image from time to time. Mine are set for once every 5 minutes. The files are uploaded into a directory, and end up looking like the second directory image here.

r\nscreen-shot-2016-10-17-at-3-10-17-pmNow, that isn”t the most exciting thing, but you get the idea. These are the files we need to deal with. With the first set, the file names follow a set of repeating rules, so it is pretty easy to write a script to display each one in sequence. With the second set, it is slightly more interesting.

First, we need to limit the number of uploaded files. I wrote a shell script that scans the directory and deletes anything older than a day. So it keeps 24 hours worth of files, and it is run by cron every hour. I also have the cameras set by schedule to not upload anything between about 7PM and 6AM since it is dark. The script to delete older files is very simple:

 find . -iname ”*.jpg” -mtime +0 -exec rm {} \\;

You will want to replace the “.” with your fully qualified directory name since it will be run from cron. You can also control the age of files you want to delete with the argument after mtime.  Your crontab entry will be something like 0 * * * *, which would run your script on the hour each hour.

The next thing we want to do, is to stash the latest uploaded file into a specific filename. Most webcam services like this – it isn”t needed if you aren”t going to submit your camera to a webcam service, but it is easy to do, and again, I let cron run it every hour so the oldest photo is an hour old. The script for this one is a little more complex, note the direction of the quotes.

cp `ls -t -1 ./S*.jpg | sed ”1q”` new.jpg

So this says, first do an ”ls” command looking for files that start with S and end with .jpg (the Foscams upload a file like Schedule_xxxxxxx-xxxxxx.jpg so I use the S, so the script doesn”t match ”new.jpg” since it has no ”S” in it); The ls command sorts them by time and on a one per line basis. This is piped into sed which is told to return only the 1st line and exit. This (ls piped into sed) is within back quotes which tells the shell to execute the command inside the quotes and insert the output into the command line before doing anything else. The rest is just a copy command. So essentially this line gets the latest image uploaded by the camera and copies it into ”new.jpg”. If you have cron run this periodically, new.jpg will always have a most recent webcam picture in it.

nAgain, since cron is running this script you will want to fully qualify the directory/file names.

The other thing that I do with cron is to run another script, just like this one, just after noon every day and stash the latest file into a ”daily” directory so that I can do a monthly or longer term time lapse of the same image at the same time each day to see how it changes over the year. I just set that up, so I only have a couple days worth of data.

If you want to see the nice daily HD animation from the Foscam, click this image:


Following is a copy of the animator source, if you want to try it. It is in zip format. It was a bit long and esoteric to insert into the post.


Enjoy animating your Foscams!


A Different Take on Divorce – Collaboration

Today my post is a bit off track, but let me share with you the winding path that brought the information to my attention. It is my hope that at least one person reading this will benefit from it.

Back in the heydays of short sales, I handled lots of these underwater homes. I think I set records for the size and number of faxes I sent (because, you know, banks are not comfortable with email). They were a mainstay of my real estate business. And with my interest in counseling (Read all my Tony Robbins related posts) I was always talking with these folks, working with them to understand what was going on, trying to make the short selling experience as painless as I could.Lastova

And, I remain friends with most of my clients, and watched divorces happen or not happen, and then of course we all have friends who also went through some hard times in terms of a relationship. What a horrible thing to have to experience, surely there must be a better way than the typical war of attorneys that results? In a few cases I did see amicable settlements, but mostly it was war.

In my real estate marketing, I have been trolling for business from estate attorneys, financial planners, and a few months ago I started contacting some divorce attorneys to see if I could provide them with service. Through this process, I met Debbie Weecks, who is, among other things, a family law practitioner. She also served for 13 years as a volunteer on the Habitat for Humanity’s Family Selection Committee, and has numerous other accolades. You can check out her website here.

When I talked with her on the phone, she was kind enough to invite me to a CE class with a number of other family law practitioners and counselors and other interesting people, as an opportunity to meet my target audience, and she thought I might be interested in the subject matter. And I was! This was a CE class all about something relatively new to Arizona, Collaborative Family Law. This is a process by which the traditional war of the parties, via their attorneys, is replaced by a collaborative process.

A typical divorce involves the courts, a formal discovery process, gaggles of separate experts, lots of fighting and acrimony, and ultimately the court makes a decision which is sure to annoy everyone involved. A collaborative dissolution, on the other hand, does not involve the courts, disclosure is voluntary (though mandated when you decide to use this process), experts are mutually hired (rather than theirs and mine), and the parties decide the outcome together.

It sounds like it could be really, really difficult to come to a mutual outcome; though I have never done it, I’m betting it isn’t as hard as going through the regular war. Here’s a little better description of it, from

Divorce: the Only Moral Choice is the Collaborative Model

Statistics show that marriage is losing popularity and many couples are opting for divorce. Generations ago, divorce was perceived with stigma and while that perspective has improved, divorce is still frequently regarded as the launch into the fight of one’s life. Maybe this is one reason people are opting out of marriage altogether. Maybe marriage wouldn’t be losing ground if divorcing people began to choose a divorce that is moral and honorable in its approach.

I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen who is considering divorce to opt for a Collaborative Divorce. This choice represents a moral and ethical decision for the integrity of our society. To divorce collaboratively states that the needs of the children and their transitioning family context deserve to be treated with respect, care, loving kindness…and nothing less. This needs to become a core value for every divorcing family because the family is the foundation for our society at large.

Collaborative Divorce is a means for uncoupling that utilizes an interdisciplinary team of professionals; each trained and skilled in providing resolution and closure to the legal, emotional and financial dimension inherent in every divorce. The divorcing couple is cocooned within the safety net of their professional team and become empowered to respectfully gather and share necessary information,; brainstorm all the possible options in transitioning their assets and debts; and, respectfully make agreements each can live with as they move forward in a two-household family. They work together with their team to listen to the voice of their kids and hold their children’s concerns at the forefront.

I have been practicing in this model for more than a decade and I am pretty passionate about the notion that our society needs to move into an honorable point of view that Collaborative Divorce is organically the only way for a family to make a life-altering transition that truly serves the greater good.

If you or someone you know is considering a divorce, please learn more about Collaborative Divorce and take the high-minded path for the good of the family and for the good of society. It is your moral responsibility to do so. If you are a divorce professional (legal, mental health, or financial), please take a Collaborative Divorce Full Team Training.

I was impressed with the people I met at the CE class, and the material was fascinating to me. It was really for attorneys, though, so I won’t be getting any real estate continuing education credit for it.


2016 Financial Outlook

I was at a meeting last night where a very smart man talked about what he had predicted for last year (I was at that one also) and he was correct. His predictions for 2016 were interesting.

What was particularly interesting is that the numbers we get from the government – about almost everything – are just wrong. One example is the job gains numbers. They reported something like 130k new jobs in January, seasonally adjusted. What they don’t say is that the seasonal adjustment was 1.3 MILLION or something like that. Because they expect all the part time holiday jobs to drop off, they don’t want to count these, so they add them into the number. I don’t know about you, but when the adjustment is 10x bigger than the actual signal, there is a problem.

Another one is how the government measures GDP. It is just silly. Suppose you have a house, and you borrow 100k against it. Now you have 100k, right? That’s growth, right? Um, no, because you have to pay it back and more; but the government counts that as growth. So rather than GDP, look at GDP MINUS borrowing and a more real picture of the economy emerges. This number tracks with national power consumption (electricity). In economies that report real numbers, electricity usage tracks GDP.

Another measure of GDP is watching Caterpillar. This is more of a global measure, because CAT sends heavy equipment all over the world to build stuff. When CAT is suffering, the world economy is slow.

Lots of economists say that low oil prices are a good thing. First, the lost jobs from it are very high paying – 100k-200k type jobs. These are gone at current oil prices. And the shale producers took on lots of debt to make their companies work. And so now they are pumping oil at a loss because they have to make their loan payments, trying to stretch the cycle until prices come back.

What about the average consumer? If you make 50k and 4k of it was fuel, and now 2k of it is fuel due to lower gas prices, that’s 2k that goes back into the economy, right? No, because mostly people are using that money to pay off debt.

What about the stock market? Government meddling has caused a dangerous and artificial bubble there, too: There is a law about CEO compensation. But this compensation does not include stock holdings, grants, and options. So if 2/3 of a CEO’s pay is in stock, then they are strongly motivated to keep prices high. How do they do this? (IBM is a prime offender) They borrow money to buy back the stock. When there are fewer shares, earnings per share go up. Wall street tracks this as an important number. What they don’t track is debt to equity, which is going the wrong way. If you look at when these purchases occur, you would think that they happen when the stock is cheap, right? That would be the fiscally responsible time to do it. But, no, they do it when the stock is high, right before earnings are announced. Since they can’t do buybacks during earnings season, we see these stocks take a hit right after earnings because the buybacks stop.

So we are probably in for a flat to lower stock market this year, with some significant drops. Interest rates will stay low, and banks may soon offer to hold your money for a fee. And they are looking at strong incentives to get you to invest your IRA or 401K in treasuries, to make the balance sheet work. They might make it a requirement, if the market crashes, but more likely they will offer a 3-4% guaranteed return and exit tax free which would get lots of people to park their funds there.

The elephant in the room is what happens if/when the dollar loses reserve currency status. If this happens the standard of living in the USA will fall 25-50% and it will be really ugly. So they will work hard to prevent this. This is why we are such good friends with Saudi Arabia. They still price oil in dollars. If the House of Saud falls, this would likely change. The Euro is being used for trade lots lately, but it is likely that it (the Euro) will fail as a currency in the next 5 years. The EU compact makes it so people can move between nations freely. The refugee crisis is causing many EU nations to close their borders; it is another nail in the coffin of the EU. EU nations are failing under socialist policies, the national health care in some countries is now failing, many nations have a year wait to be seen if you have cancer and the people are revolting.

It will be an interesting few years. There will likely be another MASSIVE round of quantitative easing to prop things up. That and the IRA takeover should buy us another 10-15 years before the Rally Big Crash comes.

Worldwide debt is unsustainable. It isn’t just the USA, it is a worldwide problem. And at some point all the debt has to get unwound. It won’t be pretty. All the politicians just continue to kick the can down the road, keep the fantasy alive for another 4 years.

That’s a summary of the talk last night…. Sweet dreams!


What makes some people more successful than others?

What makes some people more successful than others?

This is a question I have been asking lately. I have some friends who are very, very successful, and some other friends who are, well, let’s just say that they could be doing better. I have had long talks with people I respect, wondering about what things are innate and what things are learned, or are a result of a decision we have made in our past.

Some things, like sexuality, for example, seem to be innate. If you talk with a preschool teacher, they can tell you that there are some boys that act more like girls, and some girls who act more like boys, even when they are two or three years old. And, some things are genetic. As a rule, Asians are better at math than most people, when you look at larger groups. Blacks dominate the NBA. Whites are good at chess. So some things are innate, genetic, or learned –

A very smart person who deals with change all the time tells me that even innate stuff can be changed, because if we want it bad enough, we can get our genes to express themselves in a way that supports what we want.(I always wanted to be a world class gymnast but I didn’t start until I was 30, I’m not what you might call skinny or light, and I’m 6’2″ tall so this goal seems unlikely, but still, I did get pretty darn good at it)

In the never ending journey to learn more stuff, I was reading Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. This is a book that discusses why our emotional intelligence is probably more important than our intelligence quotient. The book is a wonderful read, though a little heavy at times, but brings up studies that are really interesting. One of them is the Marshmallow study that was done with some four year olds in the 1960s by Walter Mischel at Standford. I won’t quote the whole thing, but here is the setup and some pertinent results:

“Just imagine you’re four years old, and someone makes the following proposal: If you’ll wait until after he runs an errand, you can have two marshmallows for a treat. If you can’t wait until then, you can have only one—but you can have it right now. It is a challenge sure to try the soul of any four-year-old, a microcosm of the eternal battle between impulse and restraint, id and ego, desire and self-control, gratification and delay. Which of these choices a child makes is a telling test; it offers a quick reading not just of character, but of the trajectory that child will probably take through life. ”

MarshRoughly a third of the four year olds were able to delay their gratification so that they could get two marshmallows. And one third grabbed the marshmallow as soon as the researcher had left the room. What happened to these two groups later in life? The kids were tracked and assessed some twelve or so years later:

“Those who had resisted temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent: personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life. They were less likely to go to pieces, freeze, or regress under stress, or become rattled and disorganized when pressured; they embraced challenges and pursued them instead of giving up even in the face of difficulties; they were self-reliant and confident, trustworthy and dependable; and they took initiative and plunged into projects. And, more than a decade later, they were still able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals. The third or so who grabbed for the marshmallow, however, tended to have fewer of these qualities, and shared instead a relatively more troubled psychological portrait. In adolescence they were more likely to be seen as shying away from social contacts; to be stubborn and indecisive; to be easily upset by frustrations; to think of themselves as “bad” or unworthy; to regress or become immobilized by stress; to be mistrustful and resentful about not “getting enough”; to be prone to jealousy and envy; to overreact to irritations with a sharp temper, so provoking arguments and fights. And, after all those years, they still were unable to put off gratification.”

As these kids finished high school, the ones who could delay gratification had dramatically higher SAT scores. The author concludes that how children perform on their gratification test is a much more powerful predictor of of their SAT scores and general success than IQ. Poor impulse control is also a good predictor of delinquency.

Psychologists generally agree that IQ does not change throughout life; but there is strong evidence (read the book!) that we can change our EQ.

Goleman talks about other things that make up our EQ, too. Such as hope, anger, fear, anxiety, optimism, and a host of other emotions. How strongly we value different emotions is a great predictor of success. Another study in the book was about insurance salesmen. A particular company tested people and was hiring new salesmen based on the profile their existing top producers shared.

Another researcher convinced the company to hire a group of new salespeople, generally unskilled (compared to the other hires) but based their employment on how strongly they scored on a test of optimism. In the first year, the “optimistic” salesmen outsold the others by almost 50%. In the second year, it was by far, far more.

If you have followed this blog much, you know I like what Tony Robbins teaches. He teaches stuff just like this. He teaches us how we can intentionally control our emotional states. One of my more recent posts (The One Decision) is about deciding to live in a beautiful state. If aspects of this state include hope, optimism, gratitude, delayed gratification, and other strong predictors of performance, what will your life be like if you choose to embrace them? Given two professionals you can hire to do a job, will you hire the happy, optimistic one that wants to think about how best to solve the problem, or the one with the black cloud over their head, who never has time, gripes about things, and shows up to do the job and wants payment up front?

Sure, it is a concocted example — and in my industry (Real Estate) I have met both kinds, and many of each! Can you guess which ones I am most likely to hope is on the other side of a transaction? If you are single (this is something I learned the hard way many years ago) what’s the best way to act to get a date? Needy? Happy? Confident? It is our emotional nature which gets us where we want to go. Given two people with similar capabilities and intelligence, the one with the stronger control of their emotions is the most likely to succeed.

Yes, sorry, another post not really about real estate. I’ll be getting back to that in the future.




Devil’s in the Details

Members of the Satanic Temple in Phoenix are scheduled to deliver the invocation at the Feb. 17, 2016 Phoenix City Council meeting. It’s probably just intended to stir up a lawsuit, as a sort of “poison pill,” having the intended ultimate impact of banning all prayer/invocations at the outset of future council proceedings. Councilpersons will be at loggerheads over this item.

It’s both a puzzling and a comedic moment. It’s puzzling because a city can, though it should not and will not (except in Colorado City), establish a religion. The U.S. Constitution’s first amendment (Establishment Clause) doesn’t permit Congress to pass any law establishing religion. While Satanists can exercise their right of free speech, for instance during the “call to the public” portion of the council meetings, they have little basis to claim that Satanism is a religion. The Church of Satan itself, however, says worshiping Satan isn’t what they’re doing; it’s mission statement stresses that they don’t believe in a literal Satan. Instead, Satan is used as a metaphor to represent their belief in the power of fantasy. I enjoy the occasional fantasy, but I don’t understand how that elevates Satanism to religion, unless secular humanism or “the Dark Side” are religions, also. If the latter is, we should hear from Darth Vader/Maul at the public buy brand klonopin online podium in the Council chambers before long.

If Satanists are not worshipping anything except fantasy, theirs would not seem to qualify as a religion in any faith-related sense. Still, in American Humanist Association v. United States, a federal district court in Oregon in 2014 ruled: “The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes.” But, this is not a first amendment rights or religion blog, so there’s little point in debating that conclusion here.

I wonder if the City Manager’s Office vetted (not censored, but previewed) what the Satanic Temple’s underpinnings of its invocation will be? Since Lucifer in the Bible despises God’s love for humankind, it seems Satan doesn’t wish us well. Will the Templars spokesperson’s invocation curse the Council Members? More than likely, the Templars’ invocation will be political in tone. According to the group’s website, its mission “is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” Perhaps the invocation will invite the Council to stop suppressing individual rights through its actions. What is likely is that this moment will turn into a circus. The opposite of one moment of reflection.