Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Recent Cell Phone Fail

I’m very happy with the Samsung S5 I bought last year. However, there’s one mistake I made for which I’ve been kicking myself for. When I was thinking about buying the next phone, I knew, KNEW I needed at least 32 gb. And yet, for some daft reason, I only bought 16. Really, an oversight, but one that’s making my life painful right now. I’m constantly deleting stuff so that I can perform updates. Part of my joy comes from running Lollipop.

I dropped and broke my phone a few months back, and the replacement came with 5.0. There’s much good, but it uses a ton of space. Almost 6 gb is used by the os. So, any cache of significant size has, well, hurt. I have a SD card loaded and have most apps on there. Still, though, with all the bloatware that ATT has on my phone and other things I can’t port over, it’s been a royal pain in the tush. Reinforces my basic premise: no more phones less than 32 gb. And I’m starting to wonder if, maybe, upon my next phone, I’m going to go 64. I’m also looking at LGs, but that’s another post.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The WordPress Beta, Blogger and the Future of Blogging

I'm a bit behind on my reading, so just got done with Om Malik's post from November 23rd:
I'm excited by what WordPress incorporated. Things like streamlined viewing, being able to view stats for multiple sites in one window, the stand-alone app, and the increased speed. All in all, WordPress takes blogging seriously and has an eye towards the future.

Over the years, WordPress earned my admiration and respect. I've come to actually love the platform. When first striking out with blogging, my ended up choosing Blogger. For many reasons I felt it was the time. The one thing I didn't anticipate on: Google's acquisition. When that happened, though, I was rather excited. Google has an amazing array of resources and tons of the smartest people on earth. However, as Om noted earlier, Google doesn't get social. Google+'s lack of vigor demonstrates this quite well. (I can also add the coexistence of Google+ and Blogger within their eco-system, but I digress.) But, looking at the Blogger platform, it's stale interface, non-open mentality, lack of customizability (in terms of templates and plug-ins...the glorious capacity of plug-ins is brilliant in it's own right), WordPress is in a different century than Blogger. And that disappoints me greatly. I expected so very much more from Google.

I fully expect Google to either combine Blogger with Google+ or just straight out kill Blogger. So, my hope lies with WordPress. I've shifted more of my writing over to my WordPress sites I need to be where the future is.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Real Estate Learnings And Wind Storms

Yesterday was an interesting one. While sitting in a clock hour class up above downtown Everett, our region's windstorm made it's presence well known. Quite the bluster! Even in the 6th floor of a modern high-rise, we could hear the wind. My friends and family came through reasonably unscathed, most injurious were power losses and fence destruction.

With the storm, traffic was significantly eventful and my poor instructor quite late. I took the opportunity to chat with many of the good folks at Everett's First American Title office. Such great people! A few folks I've known for years, but have never met. Such is the nature of modern business!

Our class covered the Escrow Process, where we focused on several key changes and issues facing this sector. One of the biggest: cyber-fraud.

I've been hearing an amazing number of cases of spoofed, or near-spoofed email addresses where funds are redirected. With this, we covered ways in which our business is responding to better protect your information.

Also, we looked at the way the CFPB's new disclosure rules are getting implemented. The mortgage industry has taken this very, very seriously and implemented (for the most part) solid processes to keep closing timelines solid. Each lender has their own process, which is complicating things. And we're having issues with certain folks not respecting the amount of time it takes the other players to act ("yeah, it closes tomorrow, here's our stuff at 6pm. Too bad you don't have time to get all your work accomplished. It's your fault, of course").

Anyway, always trying to learn more. Real Estate is vibrant and ever changing business. It is one of the things that delights me about it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Some thoughts on garages

Walking this evening, I was looking at these houses in Lynnwood. These houses from the 50s and 60s garages have itty bitty garages. Today's cars don't fit. And I remember those 50s, 60s, 70s vintage cars. They were a tad bit bigger than cars today. Clearly, garages were for storage, not auto storage.

Anyway, I've been around these houses most of my life. I'm rather fond of them, quirks and all. Actually, the quirks add delight, to me, at least.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Despairing For Humanity, Seeking Hope

Murder in Paris, rage boils over on the internet. I sit next to a Muslim friend while the vilest invective floats through my phone, rationalizing his death. The perpetuation of this murderous cycle. The cries against Muslims vary only slightly from the cries for the blood of the westerners. Their hearts are the same. Their heartbeats pulse from the same rage.

"Love your enemies as yourself", and many other such words of Jesus, ignored by his followers. Rage so dominant a drive, we lose track of compassion and dignity. 

Over the course of the evening, I couldn't stop watching or reading. I ran head long down the most horrible of rabbit-holes. Laden with brutality, with disrespect, frothing with corrosive invective. Chasing down other topics, equally ugly, our inability to dialog with other views. Both sides, neither able to express themselves gracefully, and each descending fast into the realm of personal insult. There were voices of reason, generating hope for me, for humanity. 

However, this mad blast of rage gives me deep pause. I will not be part of this brutal back and forth, of name calling. Empty posturing. Pretty much nothing of substance. I think I shall post peace centric messages: Jesus, MLK, Rumi as a response. And work to add thoughtful, graceful dialog to this swamp of outrage. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Upon The Horizon - Posted to Medium, And Other Life Update

Just posted this on Medium: Upon The Horizon. Quite pleased with this one. Came to me during my walk this evening.

It was good to be able to walk today. Last week, I wrenched my right arm and back at the gym. Rather intense pain drove me home from work early on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturday was spent planted firmly upon the couch. Sunday was punctuated by vertigo, leading me to a walk-in clinic, several appointments early in the week, a sinus infection diagnosis, and a battery of medications.

Now I'm feeling more pain-free, and dizziness-free. Satisfying progress, though incomplete. Shortly, I'll be consuming my next blast of pain meds and drift off to sleep. Looking forward to the next day, this Friday approaching.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Domains and Such

One of the first blogs I launched was this little Wordpress hosted thing: Questionsall.WordPress.Com. About a year ago, after an extended period of neglect, I brushed off the site and made it the center for my poetics. It's been growing nicely ever since. I'm rather proud of it, and want to take this project much more seriously.

I hadn't done much with it besides the basic design from ages past, so I decided to brush up things a bit. Now, though, I want to update the domain, however, I'm not sure what to choose. I own and could just port that over. Or I could try something like PoetsJourney or things along that line. I'm not sure what I like best yet. So, if you have any suggestions, leave me a comment or send me a tweet or fire up a smoke-signal or.... Your opinion matters and I'd love to hear from you.

Hmmm...maybe I'll build a poll. Hmm....

Time Management and Some Advice From Om Malik

Lately, I've been thinking about how heavily I use social media. As it's part of my function for the C&K Team, I easily can spend hours each day wrapper up in it. Lately, I've noticed I'm slipping on things I value, the most obvious one writing. The quality of my writing has slipped, as my focus has been on getting content out, not on writing the best stuff I can, on magnifying my quality.

Om Malik posted this recently: Non-Social. He's backing away from high-level engagement upon all the social media platforms. Going so far as deleting the apps from his devices, so I assume that means he's only using Twitter/Facebook writ-large from laptops/desktops.

I don't know if I'm ready to go that far (yes, he's only going dark for a week, but still...) but I feel that backing off from social stuff will give me more time to focus. I've had several folks requesting me finish some of the books I've had on the back-burner. With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) coming up, this might be a good way to leverage my time. However, I haven't put much thought into novels lately. So, we'll see.

Anyway, I have some essay ideas I'm pulling together for Medium  (I will have new content up there this weekend) and have some short-story ideas to flesh out. So, I must cut back in other places. Of course, I shan't disappear entirely. If anything, I hope to be more relevant on the internets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Expert saber sparring: Lee Smith vs Richard Marsden

I fenced while I lived in Astoria, eventually getting to work with saber. An amazing and wonderful weapon. Watching these two spar is a delight.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Other sites to find my writing

My foci have moved lately.

If you're a fan of my poetry, this page is focused on that. I'm quite pleased with the results. Less than a year ago, I had no followers. Now, over 1,400. 'Tis very validating.

My more general writing has been over here at NotJustSeattle. Over 2,200 subscribers since launch. Again, quite pleasing.

So, come over to these sites and say "hi".

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The positive focus

I strive to keep the positive focus. That's where I keep my compass pointed towards. Yet, it's too easy to get wrapped up in petty squabbles. The amount of energy sucked up by this amazes me. And it damages relationships, creating frictions and distrust. Others see your biases and believe you're seeing their view as lesser. Judging others tends to only damage relationships.

Somehow, we need to engage each other's differences in ways that build and grow relationship, not further fracture our already divided society. Keeping our discussions centered upon respect and dignity is key. Also, avoiding rhetorical failures, these key logical fallacies will be crucial. Stay on point and avoid defensive responses. Remember that the goal isn't to "win", rather fund a way forward.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Discussion and collaboration

An element of my pastor's sermon this Sunday was interdependence. Our culture puts more emphasis on being right than on effectiveness. Today I witnessed several discussions which were focusing on one liners and zingers, not on dialog and engagement. There was no respect, no interest in the other side's opinion, except as something to pull apart and deride.  Out of all the elements, though, it's the disrespect that bothers me the most.

American culture heavily values the individual, to the detriment of society. We have lost our valuation for interdependence, assuming we ever had that to begin with. All out culture's problems require us to work together. Our ability to collaborate will determine our species' survival. No pressure.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

My word of the day: multipotentialite

For most of my adult life, I've felt pulled to choose a specialty. And I've tried, dozens, maybe hundreds of times. As each time has resulted in failure, I realized, some time ago, that my varied and rich perspective is a valuable thing. Oddly, I never really considered my multi-faceted focus to be a good thing, just that good things had come from this. I admired the great work done by the specialists and really only saw myself supporting that work. Not that I had a creative and powerful perspective to add. However, after this TEDTalk, I see otherwise.

Ms. Warnick talks of multipotentialites, people with a variety of interests and passions. These people work those into skills. Something richer than simply generalists supporting the more valuable specialists. People whose brains work like mine. And, most importantly (to me at least) that this is good. That we have a great deal to offer the world. Considering the multi-faceted issues that our world faces, we have a particularly critical viewpoint to offer.

So, I offer you this video. One that has transformed my personal view of the world, my life and my definition of my "life's work".


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Always Emotion, The Stock Markets

Was just reading a lending market update which included a note about the puzzling behavior of the stock market last week. Faced with a number of positive economic indicators, the market sold off pretty heavily. Well, with my time at Fortune 500s, I’ve seen this before. I learned a long-time ago that Wall Street, the stock-markets and prices of such things is driven, on a day-to-day basis primarily by emotion. This also feeds into the quarter by quarter mentality of most stock valuation. Time and time again, in most markets, it’s those with long-term views and understanding that do well. This is true in real estate as well. If you can shift your view out 5, 10, 20 years in the future, you can escape the variability of these emotionally based fluctuations.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A meditation on efficiency

For many years now, I've been a Franklin-Covey devotee. For decades it's been live changing/life affirming in the richest way possible. At one point, I was recruited to be a training facilitator. That didn't align with my objectives, but was very flattering, and shows my commitment to these principles.

Anyway, this week brought several reminders of all that. First, my son is getting introduced to the concepts more formally. He's enjoying the fact he knows all the concepts. And it's very satisfying to hear that attributed to my teachings.

Also, at my latest team meeting, my boss broke out my beloved "Importance/Urgency" grid. (Side note: I understand that this was developed by Eisenhower, but I was introduced to this by Steven Covey.)

As we were talking, the group was talking about focusing on quadrant I, what I call the hyper-urgent. Mostly, this is the land if crises and drama. No, we don't want to live in this space. Of course it needs to be dealt with; they only become more dramatic with neglect. But our goal must be to spend as little time in this space as necessary.

Quadrant II, the "non-urgent but important" is where we need to focus, and where the others 3 quadrants distract us from. Planning, developing, growing, learning and building our relationships all help prevent the crises of quadrant I. This is the area that grows our sphere of influence, too.

Moving our focus "above the line", only on the important is the real focus, and the real challenge. It requires forethought, planning, and consideration, all of which help define "important", and keep us focused on it. All quadrant II activities. See how this works?

Friday, September 04, 2015

Some thoughts on Wil Wheaton, The Internet, Radio Free Burrito and Taylor Swift

I've been a fan of Wil Wheaton's Radio Free Burrito for years. It's hard to conceive he's been putting those things out for a decade. Anyway, today's episode: Radio Free Burrito 43: my next mistake, hits on a few things that I've been thinking about lately.

He talks a bit about Taylor Swift and how crappily she's been treated by the media, and by a certain cadre of the internet. I, too, have been discovering more in her music than I expected. And what made me take a deeper look was the grace and humor she's shown while facing down the trollish brutes. Gotta love and admire anyone like that.

When talking about Pax and the hater-vibe he was feeling, he struck a nerve that's been raw. In geek circles lately, there's this whole "gatekeeper" thing going on. I hate this mentality. Perhaps it’s because I’m an old school geek from back when geekiness lined you up for bullying (at best). When you found ANYONE who shared those interests and passions, you felt delight, a thrill in someone else "getting it". Those geeks I grew up with were a remarkably inclusive crew. Hearing people proclaiming “you’re not geeky enough” is both absurd and infuriating. You're not outcast enough? Really? Of course, I've long felt frustration with those seeking to keep others out, to find some kind of purity. The purity of the experience comes from love, from passion. It's the damn feeling, the joy in something, that makes it wonderful.

Of course, I've long been a proponent of diversity in all things. And I guess here is where I'll stand. Wil is geeky enough, Taylor is too, and I'll bet you are as well. Jeez, folks, lets all go watch Star Wars and get over ourselves.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

My newest web project: ForwardFacing

I'm moving all my more formal business and technology focused writing over to my new website, Forward Facing. The goal is for to be more of a personal site. Forward Facing will showcase my writing and web work in a more professional manner. At least that's the plan.

Part of the fun with this, though, is that is showing up in Twitter's spam/malware database. I guess the prior owners were nasty with it. Anyway, I've made the initial request of Twitter to get removed from that list. Which me luck.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Reflections On "Advice from 30 year old me to 20 year old me"

This morning’s glimmer from "Advice from 30 year old me to 20 year old me”:
"A few people will change your life forever. Find them."
Searching, seeking, a pilgrimage of personal growth. Finding such humans ensures you grow. Such people challenge you, driving you past your internal resistances.

However, I seek more; more than to simply absorb greatness from others. I seek to Be One Of These People. If one person grows from my presence: success! Afterwards, “the more the merrier”.

What, really do I benefit embodying the values of leeches and mosquitos? Sure, at a primal level, I gain. But, I also lose. Human relationship is transactional. One-sided benefit destroys relationship and eventually leaves one isolated, alone. Lost to the greedy, immature mind: synergization, gestalt. Collaboration creates things greater than by an individual. Things greater than can even be conceived by the one. A zen quality therein, methinks.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Ever Deepening Frustration With Apple

Those that know me well know that I'm an Apple guy. Well, that's waning. There are several key things that have caused me great consternation, as well as a few key sector swings that have impacted my opinion.

A biggie for me: Apple's reluctance to "play well" with others. One key example: the whole iCloud thing. Calendaring drives me crazy. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, all these use the same calendaring protocol. If I send an invite, or receive one, from one of the other systems, it works fine in mine (currently Gmail). Updates come through, changes come cleanly. Apple, of course, needs to do things their way. So, when my wife sends a calendar invite from her iCloud account, I check to ensure sure it's in my calendar correctly. And if she sends an update, I need to manually update. This drives me nutty. This is rudimentary. Nobody exists within one network's system, and the inability to "play well" with something as basic as calendaring shows a deep disregard for customer needs.

Once, .Mac's email (the original incarnation of the current cloud tool) was on par with Yahoo!, Gmail et al. (And was free too. Alas!) Well, that's gone. The iCloud email interface is nearly identical to its first iteration and Apple has made minimal effort to update their UI. Clunky and ugly; ironic for an entity that makes a big deal about their design chops.

More critically, though, Apple's dead silence on dealing with system issues angers me. A few years back, my Macbook would drop its wifi signal randomly and repeatedly. The wifi fan would sit and spin. I found the Genius bar useless. Then I read tons of discussions in forums, including Apple's own. Nobody found a solution, and Apple corp's insights, replies, thoughts or even a simple acknowledgment were completely absent. Well, my solution was simple: boot it into Windows. I did have it set up with Boot Camp and Windows worked fine (hence how I knew it was an OS or driver/OS issue, even though the Geniuses insisted it was a wifi network issue. Yeah, the library and Cafe Ladro and Starbucks and the local community college all configured their wifi with the same error). I've come across several issues over the years where it was clear Apple had a system problem, but we never, EVER saw anything publically announced by the company. Well, with huge PR debacle situations, they'd say a little "we value your concern and are working diligently on it" non-answer. Basically, silence. Then (like with the wifi issue above) an update rolls out and fixes the problem. Apple's unwillingness to engage with even their fans is just plain dumb.

As someone who spent a significant portion of his career working on sustainability and social responsibility issues, their unwillingness to engage and publically addresses serious issues with their environmental and labor practices really disappointed me. Yes, eventually they caved in and started addressing these, but it took quite a bit of pressure and resolve to overcome the Cupertino silence. At least that was the perception based on their silence.

Last fall I took a web development course. The entire course was focused on the PC environment. My instructor needed to look for Mac based alternatives for each program they used and it was left to me to figure out how to make those equivalents work. Eventually I solved this problem the same as with the wifi issue: run Windows. But it was very telling, as the last dev class I took and all the design classes I took focused on Macs. There was pity and some condensention towards the Windows crowd. That's dead.

If my Macbook were to die today, it's likely successor would be some Windows variant. Justifying the Mac tax is hard enough given the comparative systems now. Add to that the issues I've had and it becomes very hard indeed to justify buying a Mac.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cruel Words Upon A Summer's Evening

Yesterday evening, harsh words drifted through the summer air. Voices of two women, brutal in their battery, stunning in their cruelty, I wondered, "are these coming from mother and daughter?" Perhaps they're romantic rivals. There are a multitude of possible roots, and it's likely I'll never know the reality. And I'm not sure I want a deeper engagement. 
Yet the rage tinged brutality engaged thereby intrigued me, intellectually. Are the speakers aware of social corrosion taking over? Can they see the destruction brought about by their words? Do they care? And what does healing look like?
Ultimately, they're about being right, not about being effective. Damage was done, whether healed from or no. And we all lose when relationships corrode .

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Point of Frustration

Working in Real Estate, I'm currently dealing with a distinctly frustrating lender issue. The other agent (we represent the sellers) has been great. Also, the lender's mortgage staff have been great and responsive. But we have an appraiser who the descriptor "slow" is a glorious understatement. So, a few points of frustration on this. One is obvious: everything is backed up due to the sluggish progress of one individual. However, the bigger point of aggravation comes from this appraiser's routine failure to produce documentation in a timely manner. Being on-time is the rarity, as confirmed a few discussions.

It's easy to be frustrated with the appraiser, however, that's not entirely fair. When routine incompetence isn't addressed, that's a management failure. I understand that banks and appraisers need to maintain an "arms-length" relationship. However, a documented pattern of failure shouldn't, well, can't be tolerated. It is terrible customer service, and reflects poorly on the whole institution to the other stakeholders.

It's bad enough to accept mediocrity. Accepting incompetence? No, don't do it. Don't!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Thoughts on Civility and Public Discourse

Read "The man who drove us into our national ditch" this morning, by Michael Smerconish . Though focused upon a particular "shock-jock" (Morton Downey, Jr.), it touched on the whole spectrum of political rhetoric in the United States. And reminded me of recent thoughts about the current state of US public discourse. One of the points that Mr. Smerconish makes gave me deep pause: we are in uniquely extreme times in terms of political divide.

First, I'm reminded of the long-standing uncivil thread within our political conversations. Consider the Jefferson/Adams campaign of 1800 and the Jackson/Adams campaign of 1824, amongst others. Political rhetoric and person invective have been part of our public banter as long as we've been, well, us. Also look to the uncivil history of English politics to get further context at our roots.

Smerconish, though, points to research by the National Journal pointing to truly historical levels of division. I feel this too, but am not so sure I fully agree with the absolute quality of this statement. Well, at least when considered in full historical context. Let's not forget the Caning of Charles Sumner on the floor of the US Senate. As nasty as political speech has become, we haven't had any assaults in Congressional chambers lately. Ultimately, historically rhetorical venom ebbs and flows, currently flowing at the ugliest of levels.

History aside, our ugly rhetoric compromises our political effectiveness. Exacerbating this: our 24/7 election cycle. Continuous campaigns laden with brutal, and often personal, invective, create powerful challenges to coming back together. Our areas of consensus become forgotten. And our divided house fiddles in the face of the "burning Rome" issues we face. Sadly, this gets compounded by our tendency to resist action until facing deep crisis. But that's a post for another day.

  1. Forbes ran this great historical look at American political rhetoric a few years ago. I still recommend it, even with autoplay ads.
  2. While pulling this together, I found this great site: Presidential Campaign Rhetoric. Well, it's great if you are interested in the history of political communications in the United States. Sadly, it's not been added to since 2014, but it stands nicely without newer content. 
  3. Thinking larger than the US, there's a whole Wikipedia page covering legislative violence. However, the US has some un-illustrious additions to the list. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Looking at Kodaikanal Won't

Just discovered this video by Sofia Ashraf about Unilever's "response" to mercury poisoning in Kodaikanal, India. I found it powerful. I, being me, did a little digging through this.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

When I'm Gone

This is the most powerful thing I've read all week, perhaps longer. Zoehler's very gifted as an invoker of emotion. I, a delighted invokee. Take a few minutes and give this a read. Please.

When I’m Gone

Friday, July 24, 2015

Accursed Mental Scripts

I woke early, my brain rattling. My mind blaring away these negative scripts, negation of myself, my vision. All kinds of internal challenges to my dreams.

Why am I so negative with myself, but positive with others? I notice this with others, too. This really puzzles me. I deeply value and encourage the talents of those around me. Why don't I do that to myself? Why do so many struggle with this?

Then there are those who belittle everyone; the only way they can interact with others. I think these may have common roots. Perhaps it's easier to negate everything than to seek the positive within oneself. Which really is sad.

Sadly funny how this miserable malaise takes hold. This drags us back, sucking so much potential out of life. Oh, these wretched internal scripts!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Focused on the stats

Recently, my son started exploring vlogging and video creation. Inspired by the fame acquired by those YouTubers he admires, he focuses on emulating their styles. And on his stats. He finds it frustrating that his follower growth is slow. The expectation, I suppose, was to post a few videos and have followers blaze in.

I constantly reinforce my belief: focus on quality, the followers will follow. Focusing only on stats and followers is much like the high-school kid who makes all their decisions based on maximizing social leverage, that which gains them the most popularity. It's a short term proposition, and the proverbial "moving target". Ultimately, you end up shallow and vacuous, with no depth or understanding.

Many times in my career, through my whole life really, this notion comes up. Whether a business struggling to appeal to everyone, or just my own ponderings of why some piece of content hasn't taken off, I, too, look. Tis a struggle: focusing on quality over effect, upon numbers of views over engagement. It's a dangerously seductive slide that I hope to help my son manage well, as well as my clients and colleagues. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Pacific Crest Trail in Three Minutes

I love discovering clever web projects. Today, I present you the entire Pacific Crest Trail compressed into 3 minutes. I found adding 1 second of video from each day to be a very unique approach to this.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Retreating from fear

A puzzling realization: this desire to retreat from fear. Well, at one level it makes sense: fears represent danger, which one should avoid. But there are things we fear whose only remedy is knowledge. So, knowledge is power, but to gain it we often must face our fears. Ah, yes, winning the battle against reflex! This shows the importance of mindfulness.

One must be awake and in control of the mind. Awareness of those reflexes, and knowing the sad path they lead down is critical. And that's much harder in today's world where nimble reaction is highly valued. Taking time for thoughtful reflection is not. We must remember that there are some things that Google doesn't know. And those are the things that make us the most human. Which makes me think of Replicants and Blade Runner's symbolism, but that's a post for another day.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mediation on blackbelts, parenting, adoration and balance

As a parent, I've witnessed many moments of adoration by other parents. Last night, at my dojang's blackbelt awards ceremony (my wife and son both received their belts) I was struck again by parental devotion. Watching my fellow parents, with grandparents, beam with pride at their child's accomplishment was both delightful, and a little sad.

Decades ago now, I got to do some projects that helped street involved youth. In that process, I heard stories, terrible stories of (dare I say) evil parents. One of my friends from those days, an Episcopal deacon, shared with me once the power of this juxtaposition. We were sitting next to each other at our church's children's pageant. She pointed out to me the parental adoration. And her deep experience with it's opposite. This, as you would expect, colored her view of such events. I have puzzled about this, too, ever since. How does a human get to be so monstrous? Vicious sociological cycles? Some sort of deficiency within genes? But, more critically, I ponder the monumental devastation wrought. And am filled with sadness.

Such thoughts come at these moments of intense love for my son, and the other children around me. And I think about this at mother's and father's day. What must it be like to see parental adoration when it's been denied you?

To not end on such a sad thought, I bring you a few of the many organizations that work to counter-balance the misery. They truly do great and dignifying work.

This is not meant (not even close) to represent an exhaustive list.  These are the abrupt few that pop into my mind immediately. There are so many people doing kind, gentle and great work in this space that I'm deeply humbled and grateful. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Thoughts on the CFPB

We in the real estate business have been hearing TONS about the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) lately. The biggest piece for us has been the changes in the required disclosure documents that will be launching "soon". Mainly, the required documentation has been cleaned up/made less confusing (and I think they've done a reasonably good job at that part). (More details in the video below.) However, I do have some concerns.

As a fan of federalism, I am not too keen on this organization being (relatively?) clear of Congressional oversight. I highly value the mission and role of the org, but also deeply value governmental transparency and accountability. I would like to see more of that with the CFPB, even considering the partisan and often grandstanding nature of Congress. But that's another issue.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A weekend at Camano State Park

I really enjoyed camping at Camano Island State Park last weekend. We've been there before, but only for the day. It's been years since I've done any camping, and decades since I've car-camped. Even more important than my enjoyment, though; my son enjoyed his first camping experience.

Camano park apparently was a private camp at one point. Then the proprietor left the grounds to the state park service. Sounds like a glorious gift to your community. Our campsite has a grand view of Whidbey Island over the Saratoga Passage. And we were close enough to a bald eagle nest to hear them chittering at each other, and the crows shriek in protest. 

Though we brought bikes, we didn't ride much. Mountain biking wasn't really accessible. At least not where we were. We did hike a bit, crabbed and kayaked, rode a little, and napped. And were treated to a fireworks show of sorts (over on Whidbey's shore) Saturday night. A pleasantly chill weekend. Those are far too few in our lives right now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Today's Real Estate Thoughts

I am concerned about the current steep rise in overall housing prices. The sales prices are rising quickly, but that's only part of the equation. Rental prices are rising faster. Demand keeps rising and inventory is nearly constant: thus prices climb.

Part of my concern is simply access to affordable housing. As this is a fundamental human need, issues with access deeply trouble me. Another concern , though, is on first time home buyers, those just starting out. In this kind of marjet, it's hard to keep up. And the rising rents eat away at your ability to buy.

Ultimately,  though, markets balance out. Patience is crucial, I guess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fitness Journeys

One thing that strikes me, on this fitness journey, is how a sedentary my life had become. My fitbit's basic plan is to accomplish 10k steps per day. Well, today, I just got that. At 11:40 at night. That entailed pacing around me house for a few minutes. And I did an hour of taekwondo and cycled for about an hour. I may not be as sedentary as some. Yet, reaching these basic steps require significant life changes.

That speaks to an internal illusion of mine. Fitness. I see myself as the epitome of health. But I'm 20+ pounds overweight and nowhere near the peak fitness levels of my youth. Plus, that fitness was based on lots of exercise, and nothing else. My diet was atrocious. And is only slowly getting better. These are not the easiest changes to make. Decades of bad habits, brought home to roost as my metabolism calms.

At one point, I wanted to recapture the fitness of my youth.  Now, though, I want something very different. I want greater health, one of better diet, of richer health, as well as strength and endurance. I'm creating something new. This really is a new mental and physical place, a new way to live. I'm looking forward to this new journey.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Twitter and Rage

Every so often I read something on twitter which infuriates me, filling me with horror and revulsion.  I long for the power to remove such wretched souls, deleting the parasitic blight. However, I know that is not my path. Reveling in rage only fills me with misery. I seek the right response, though,  one which shows them the destruction they wreck. Perhaps, someday, such shall be found. Until then, the best I see is to act with kindness to their victims.

Inhuman humanity

This is puzzling:
Why it is humanity
That's most inhuman?

Monday, July 06, 2015

An Evening

Sunlight fades; colored bursting glow. 
Never to eek out more than a breath
From my imagination. Slightly glorious 
Fading into night's uniformity.

Random Thought of the Day

Oh, Maslow's pyramid and all that psychological think! Is there anything greater than interdependence and self-actualization? Yes, this is a rhetorical question. Right now, no. Or, better put, nothing we know of. But our culture evolves. I wonder what the future will think, looking back upon this moment, about what our perceived upper-bounds were in terms of compassion, interconnectedness, justice. I'm confident that they'll find us amusing, perhaps with a judgmental view.

Friday, July 03, 2015

New Photographer Discovery: Eric Esterle

I just came across this photo over at 500px and just fell in love.

Eric Esterle gives some great detail about the creation of this photo, and some nice insights into his post-production work.

More of his work on the web:

Apple music and upgrading to Yosemite

Ever since the Apple Music announcement, I've been eager to try it this new service. As I have a lot of Apple content, this looked like a solid win for me. And then there's the family plan. $15/mo all we can eat streaming? Perfect!

Well, I need to update my MacBook to Yosemite for the family bit. That did not go according to plan. After sitting, stalled, at 50% complete for over 24 hours, I was worried. But a brief perusal of the internet, I was confident that a reboot would solve it. With a reasonable chance it would fry everything and I'd need to reinstall everything from the OS up. Fortunately, the reboot worked and I'm up and running.

Now I just need to figure out why icloud is not accepting my password. Always something..

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The critical importance of the pdf

I've seen some creative uses of PDFs, Adobe's ubiquitous document tool. My favorite lately: printing out the fill-in PDF form, filling it in on a typewriter, then scanning and resending. A rather unique blend of old and new technology. This got me thinking about how important the PDF has become.

In real estate now, the PDF is used for most documentation. And our transaction forms (at least in Seattle) are all fill-in PDFs. The ability to edit and manage these forms is critical to business. Fortunately, there are many tools for this, and one isn't bound by the brutal Adobe pricing structure. I fully recommend this investment for every business.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Unique Real Estate Market Observation

The end of this week, leading into the weekend, I have been barraged by a huge number of "open house" and "newly listed" marketing messages. It's a completely subjective analysis, sure, but reinforces many of the messages I've been getting lately: this summer's Puget Sound real estate market is hot. 

As a seller, expect multiple offers on any reasonably priced home. (Note: strong seller's markets do not equate to a magical "I can charge anything I want" pricing strategy.) As a buyer, be prepared for being one of many and that you might need to make offers on many homes to get in. It's easy to get what I've heard called "buyer fatigue" (a great descriptor). Tenacity and realistic expectations are very helpful right now. 

Anyway, just an observation. Go and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Reflecting on a decade + of blogging, change, consistency and uniqueness

Just read Om Malik's "In 12 years of blogging, the more things change, the more they stay the same". Though I launched this site nearly 10 years ago, I've been blogging longer. Whether more than 12 years, I'm unsure. His article, though, gave me pause. Lately, I've been distributing my interests across multiple sites. The logic being to ensure content consistency. However, as Om points out, by doing such I run the risk of being just another site. Without the unique blend of content that reflects my interests, that tells my story, things become somewhat sterile and devoid of uniqueness. Blogging's strength is how it brings unique voices forward.

Now, what to do with such knowledge. One thing: work on reintegrating my web presence. More postings here, vs all the distributed channels. Also, though, I shall feel free to expand and explore all my interests here. Expanding on the unique perspective that is, well, me. So, forward I go.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Modern Business, Social Media, and @Taylorswift13

Inc. has a great piece looking at Taylor Swift and her uber-successful social media dialog with Apple. I've been very impressed with Ms. Swift. Her savvy social media execution has helped build her into a powerful brand. This is a woman who will have a powerful impact for years to come.

The article sums up the tools she used for success in this case nicely. She maintained a respectful tone in her dialog with Apple (I'm reluctant to use any other term as she made a statement and Apple, extremely wisely, took the advice). They also look at the way she's managed her relationship with her fans, with which I think she's done an exceptional job. And I adore the way she's poked fun, in a very positive way, at the media speculation and harassment that follows her.

Ms. Swift is a bright, talented and engaging woman, who I think has done an exceptional job to date managing her brand, life and business interests. There's a lot to learn from her savvy, no matter the sector you find yourself in. And if you're in the arts, there's tons.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happiness must evolve & grow

Happiness and satisfaction are not static, but constantly evolving. I need to kept growing. The shinyness fades over time, needing continuous refreshment.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Zorpia Blues

I'm seeing a bunch of emails from friends and colleagues from Zorpia. It ostensibly seems to be a social networking, but clearly is a phishing scheme. They will look like invites from a friend. Do Not Open The Messages From Them!

Here's a blog post that sums up the joy.

Along with this, always double check with the assumed sender before you click on these sorts of things. And, even if they say "yeah, it's a great site", spend a little time with Google to verify. It's really hard to undo this sort of damage.

Overcoming the rage filled life

I find it far too easy to give in to rage. Focusing on difference, allowing frustration to overwhelm tolerance, these smooth the path towards anger, if not rage. Our culture elevates this sensibility, and it's hard to break free. Every direction, seemingly, comes laden with outrage.

Escaping this requires a deliberate effort. I continue to create positive energy streams into my mind. Seek out affirming stories about good being done. One irony: what I see as good someone else will see as outrageous, unacceptable. As much as I might try to live a life of inclusivity, there are bounds. So, I accept that not all will going willingly towards the better place I envision.

I continue this endeavor, though. Focusing upon the good being done, knowing what is focused on expands. And purging as much outrage provocation from life works the other way; unfocusing on things causes them to contract. Building positive energy in my life had always felt better; a much better way to live.

Monday, June 15, 2015

TEDTalk: Teaching In North Korea

We watched this TED Talk last night. Very powerful, especially if you care about North Korea. It's very helpful to remember that those North Koreans we're talking about are people, with families, with loved ones. The ideal regime change would factor those elements in. Sadly, I expect that freeing North Korea will involve a significant loss of life.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Normal is Subjective

When this notion first drifted into my mind, it was meant to be silly and sarcastic. Yet, the more I think about it, the more striking it becomes. Most informal definitions of "normal" invoke an unconscious selection, a small statistically erroneous sample of society. Generally, this is the subculture which one interacts with. "Normal" is devoid of diversity.

Now, consider, what might be considered normal at broad, even global levels. Language, idiom, norms and behaviors at a planetary level wouldn't reflect the norms of US culture, or even Western culture. Probably some blend of Chinese and/or South American culture, if such a thing exists.

Perhaps we shouldn't get quite so wrapped up in being normal. Or, more importantly, judging those who aren't normal. I've always delighted in the weird, those people who experience the world uniquely, and are filled with confidence about their glorious difference. Brings to mind one of my favorite Kerouac quotes (On The Road): “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Me too, Jack. Me too.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Social Media Meditation

So many articles about how to make zillions on social media. I've long ago grown weary of that discussion. Don't get caught up in the "magic money" mindset: "Set up Facebook/Twitter and watch the money roll in". 

Social media provides great opportunities to engage communities. Connecting with a wider audience without much monetary cost is fantastic. However, there is the time cost to consider. Also, everyone is on these channels, as the cost is so low. Developing a distinct voice can be challenging, yet is critical. A key part of that is focus: you can't be everything to everyone. Trying such dilutes that focus, and you lose sight of what's critical. It's better to have 300 engaged fans than 10k unengaged ones. Follower and Like counting are not always the best metrics. Be thoughtful how you measure success.

Your social media meditation for Sunday. Go forth and do great things!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Thinking About The Beauty-Industrial-Complex

Consider: discontent with self-image feeds huge profits to the billion dollar beauty-industrial-complex, and significant misery to millions. We in the business world talk at great lengths about value-add. The only way I see "value-add" by this sector requires a very short-term focus.

I wonder if there's a place for the beauty businesses in a world of high-functioning people with great self-esteem. So I think of many women who use these products without demonstrating any lack of self-confidence. Are they simply hiding a deeper misery, or might there be something deeper that I simply cannot see. Probably the later. Probably.

We should consider who we can extract the more egregious agony from this sector while keeping the (presumed?) benefits. So much to meditate upon.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Changes For Google Calendar & SMS Notifications

My first thought upon reading that Google will be discontinuing SMS calendar notifications was "wow, do people still use this feature?" Well, I'm sure some do. But I haven't used this feature in years. I have a few calendar elements that send me texts, ones that have been in my calendar for ages. Though I'd forgotten about this feature, it was powerful at one time. At one point, this was an amazingly powerful tool, allowing me to get calendar notifications while away from my computer.  It was great to get a note a few minutes before my meeting with the details. I loved focusing in on whatever I was doing and not worrying about transitioning/leaving for my next meeting.

Anyway, this announcement and (non?) event punctuates an evolutionary element of tech: the move to smartphones and mobile.

Important Announcement about SMS notifications in Google CalendarStarting on June 27th, 2015, SMS notifications from Google Calendar will no longer be sent. SMS notifications launched before smartphones were available. Now, in a world with smartphones and notifications, you can get richer, more reliable experience on your mobile device, even offline.

To receive notifications on your smartphone, either configure the calendar app that came with your device or install Google Calendar for Android or iPhone. For more information on how to configure notification defaults, check out the Help Center.

Please note: Please note: This change will not affect Google Drive for Work, Google Apps for Work (paid edition), Education and Government customers.

- The Google Calendar Team

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scaling to the personal

Something that struck me this morning: the internet grows bigger, driving us to go closer. We have tools that let us broadcast to unimaginable numbers. Yet it's the personal that works. Even with thousands of Twitter followers (or more), the relationship is based on a one-to-one feeling of connection. Even large brands are trying to push into that space. It makes sense: none of us want to be just a number. Our marketing and PR tools need to be built focussed on creating that sense of connection.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Computer Dreaming

Stumbled upon this thing on Amazon: i-XL Mediaworkstation (4 x NVIDIA GTX Titan X). It doesn't look that dramatic, but the specs are pretty incredible. With a price tag of $32k, it's not for the faint of wallet.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Additional thoughts on the Texas principal forcing a portfolio takedown

I have grave concerns after reading this article: High School Forces Student to Remove Online Photos Under Threat of Suspension. Without being able to see the work in question, it's hard to form a full conclusion. At best, this principal needs a major primer in public affairs. From what I've read and seen, though, the principal in question has exceeded his legal reach, and escaped ethical boundaries.

Photos taken at public events (and a district meet/game is a public event) are the property of the photographer. Perhaps these were taken with school gear, and ownership becomes a little trickier. Maybe, but not really. Fair use is fairly clear. It doesn't appear that this young man was making money directly off these images.

For a photographer, the online portfolio is critical. It is THE vehicle, anymore, to generate awareness and recognition. This principal's actions provide a major impediment towards this young man's pursuit of his passion, to build a photography career. Which should be antithetical to the role of an educator.

Maybe there were some grounds to act. I'm struggling to see any, but I'll accept the possibility might exist. Going the heavy-handed route, though, seriously violates the nurturing role of an educator. It also displays an amazing tone-deafness regarding his role as a public servant and community leader. The potential public fallout from this (this is in Texas, I'm in Seattle. It's going viral) could have easily been avoided by seeking a win-win solution, to recognize the student's rights and concerns and goals.

Lesson: if you're in a public role, you need to consider the broad-scale implications of your actions. The ease at which misdeeds go global is mind blowing. I have a sympathy ulcer for the public affairs director for this district. Nothing like a national press kerfuffle to grey your hairs.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pitfalls of distraction

With great ease, I get sucked into random distractions. This frustrates me no end. Actually, the worst past of the feeling isn't due to the lingering tasks. I end up feeling distracted, fragmented and worn; I hate that sensation. I love the feeling of moving forward, accomplishing goals with a direction and focus.

Of course, I adore helping people, especially those I care about. The right balance, oh how I long for thee!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thinking of Focus

Thinking recently about Steven Covey's notion of focusing in your sphere of influence. Work where you are, that's how I internalize this. I've long thought of this simply in terms of effectiveness. Actually, this is far deeper. What's critical always lies within this sphere. One must complete the critical, our all else fails. We must hold our attention within. By managing within ourselves, the inner elements of our lives, other pieces come into play. When the core gets neglected, there is either fear of impending collapse, or the consequences of such collapse. Breaking free requires focus on the deepest, richest inner, most critical elements. Only upon mastering these, can other pieces of life become richer, deeper.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Today's Online Real Estate Business

We agents have been getting blasted with information about the big online sites: Zillow, Trulia and, mainly. It's really ready to get caught up in the dialog. These sites are charging how people relate to real estate. But they're but likely to change the relationship with agents. People still value the one-one connection.

The changes seem to be more about information, and it's accuracy and timeliness. Zillow, et al, are not perfect, and that's the opportunity for agents. But we have to be in our game, know the current market, what's influencing it. It's also good to know what Zillow and such say, do we can be better able to engage and educate.

So, no threats to us agents. Unless we aren't willing to stay current, keep our knowledge fresh. And, perhaps, if that's your mindset, failure should not be unexpected. I'm not sweating it, nor is my team.

Monday, May 11, 2015

13122 45th Ave W, Mukilteo

This is one of my team's listings in Mukilteo. Not far off of 52nd Ave W/Beverly Park Rd, this is just a little south of the Speedway. Part of a very well maintained community with nicely manicured lawns and friendly neighbors, who you'll actually see out walking. If you work at the Everett Boeing facility, or the surrounding support community at Paine Field, this is a very livable community with only a few minutes of commute. Biking would be quite easy! If you work in Redmond, say at Microsoft, this is easy jaunt onto Highway 525, feeding you easily on to 405. And if you commute to Seattle, it's a short drive to the Mukilteo Sounder Station or the Ash Way Park & Ride. With a recent price drop, it's quite competitively priced for the neighborhood. Take a look while it's still available.

13122 45th Ave W, Mukilteo, WA

$ Click for current price
3 BEDROOMS | 3 (2 full, 1 half ) BATHROOMS | 1978 SQUARE FEET

Great Curb Appeal On a Corner Lot, With Nice Landscaping.  Simple, open, and clean kitchen with tile back splash and black tile counter tops. Plenty of cupboard space for storage. Slider off the kitchen allows access to your refurbished deck that will be great for entertaining. Master bedroom has attached bathroom with tiled shower and walk-in closet. Living room is open and naturally lit with a huge bay window.  Cozy fire place will keep you warm in the lower sitting room off the kitchen. Additional to the spacious bedrooms is an office.

Haiku: June 5, 2019

Summer's new splendor Sunlight's now starting to wane An un-mowed hillside