Category Archives: Politics

Nuanced by their Past

election-2016It was somewhat surprising to find there not having been more calls on my new listing, but instead a number of appointments being made by other Realtors to show a handful of my listing that have been on the market for a while.  Perhaps 15 N. Ohio hasn’t hit all the websites yet or possibly many of the other Realtors are more concerned about showing existing inventories of which they’re familiar.  I’m certainly not waiting for another Realtor to sell it since I think it’s a great home for the money which gave me all the more reason to place calls to my prospective buyers looking in that price range.   I paid it forward again today by buying two AAA batteries to replace dead ones in a vacant home I have listed.  I’ve quit counting how many times I’ve replaced thermostat batteries along with those in smoke alarms just to keep them from their annoying beeps.

After walking out the door of the escrow company on one of my listings, I was glad to find the seller exceptionally happy to have closed the door on that portion of her life.  In more ways than one, selling a home that has been owned by a person or family for a number of years really does help to bring closure to the past.  I remind everyone how much our past is dead and when we have something keeping the door to our past open, it’s all the more imperative to find a way to close it as equitably as possible.  What makes it all the worse is when there’s been a divorce and one of the spouses is awarded the home.  It’s usually not long after the newly single owner has found another and they’re starting to enquire about other homes.  Most second time around spouses do not like living in the home where there’s been a previous relationship.  What few times I’ve seen it happen I think, “How could you possibly want to step into the “slot” of a previous spouse and continually be compared?”  Some would insist that doesn’t happen, but I know deep down it does even in the most subtle of ways.  A number of years ago I watched on the sidelines a man marry again and insist his new wife make her home where he lived with his first.  That very strong second wife was slowly manipulated and beaten down by him to where she became terribly co-dependent.  I believe he did it without a second thought because he managed to do it to his first wife and that was the way it was to be. He was probably thinking at the time, “Well, if I was able to do it once in this house, I’ll do it a second time.”  Now if this very strong willed woman had insisted on them buying a home together, he likely wouldn’t have had the cues, chances, or reminders to re-affirm his controlling ways.  Seeing situations like this happen makes me a bit angry and very sad, but what can we do but watch and remember?

I’ve been thinking about much of late regarding the way our presidential primaries have created the current front runners.  I know I’ve spoken before about the pendulum of societal leanings–be they far right or far left.  As far as I’m concerned being too much past the center allows the pendulum to come swinging back in the opposite direction from the “pull” of those on the opposite sweep wanting change. It hit me today why there are those who share very far right or far left beliefs and consider themselves the most worthy of change.  There was a bumper sticker stuck to the back of a parked car with four people standing outside speaking loud enough for me to hear them.  After hearing part of their conversation, after today I will now more fully understand when hearing those outlandish statements being made by politicians and no longer wonder who would ever consider such things after knowing the messages being heard by those four were greatly nuanced by their hard-coded pasts.

I would love to see the social pendulum come to a complete stop at dead center and remain there. Wouldn’t you?

Situational Vulgarity

Situational VulgarityToday was much slower than it has been over this past week with calls from prospective buyers.  Part of it was likely due to the intermittent rain that started later this morning.  I’m sure after the rains stop, we’ll be seeing some major greening up of North Iowa.  Having shown a particular couple a number of homes over these past months, I’m happy to have found several they’re showing some real interest in purchasing.  Sometimes it takes a number of views for given buyers to decide what really are the most important features a home must have to create enough of a comfort level to where they can envision themselves living for extended periods of time.  I try to remind buyers that there’s no perfect home for anyone—there’s always something that could have been done in its design to make it all the more functional for their lifestyles.

Believe it or not, each and every one of us have “original” tastes to where the wholeness of the packages could’ve had a re-fit to be more custom to our particular and intrinsic prefrences.  Not long ago I showed a home to a person who was so detail oriented and overly specific in things he wanted, I drove away thinking, “There’s no home that exists in our City that fits all his criteria—especially in the price range he’s forced to remain.   There’ll be more than one of those “must have” features he’ll have to give up before he’s even close to living in his dream home.

To my surprise I’ve been having a large number of people asking my opinion on the proposed hog processing facility that’s on our table.  I do understand some of their concerns as well as the possible spill-overs of more hog confinement facilities sprouting up all over North Iowa which we know full well how smelly they can be when the winds are in the wrong direction.  I was thinking long and hard about the path on which Mason City has been moving and I’m not sure if that facility fits the grand scheme of it all.  I’ve always looked for Mason City to evolve into a multi-spoked hub of technology, health care, elderly housing, nature orientation, specialty manufacturing, and of course an oasis of mercantile where people from all over North Iowa and Southern Minnesota will come to make a day of it.  While walking down the aisles of all our grocery stores we continue to see more natural products being offered.  Our general public is becoming more educated in knowing the benefits of eating natural, wearing natural, and living in more eco-friendly environments.  A fast paced high volume pork processing plant doesn’t fit in the hub I’ve envisioned.  I do hope the powers that be take a good hard look at all facets before rubber-stamping their approvals.

I got a good laugh today when someone lightly dismissed my having used a few crude words when in the company of others simply because of something someone had done.  I said, “You know how I really don’t like using such language and I  must be all the more careful about it not becoming a habit.”  I told her what happened when leading up to my using those words and she said, “I hope you now more fully understand why it’s OK to enter into the state of situational vulgarity because it does help to reinforce one’s determination.”  I understood the justification, but I still had a good laugh over the reasoning.  Justification is evil, but an arms-length reasoning puts us all in balance.

Keep Free Press Free

The unsettling events in our world today cause me to be ever thankful that I live in a country where we continue to have freedom of the press. In spite of the issues our country has as a whole, we are still very fortunate to live where our words are not hushed nor our news coverage censored. I’ve been anxiously watching the happenings in Ukraine where there is a population of over 40 million people who’ve recently decided to break many of their economic/political ties with their manipulative neighbor Russia and move closer towards becoming a part of the European Union. Because Russia is basically a country controlled by very few who seem to stay in power via their tweaking laws as they see fit, we find millions upon millions of the general public living in Russia who have been duped into believing something that is completely different than what is really happening in Ukraine. All of the media in Russia has been censored since the beginning of Ukraine’s breaking company with Putin and his wishes.

Now that is indeed scary. Mounds of lies are told their citizens about what is going on in Ukraine including nearly all Russian folks being informed that the new government is Nazi or fascist. Just imagine what it would be like if all of our media had to be viewed by government paid censors before it could be aired or printed.  Someone coined the phrase some centuries ago, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” When you think about it, those words are so very true. Many wars would have never existed had the general public been privy to what was really happening within their governments. The gluttony of those working towards absolute power are truly evil because of the pain they inflict on the un-informed general public. The leader of Russia is a master of deception simply because he has some grandiose secret plan in his mind. I fear leaders of countries like Russia because they seem to set a precedence for others.

We as Americans must take these happenings in Ukraine as a reminder that people who reach for real democracy within their country pay a dear price because of those who will go to any lengths to maintain their imperialistic hold on another sovereign nation.

The war that is going on in Ukraine is not a war for oil, not a tribal war, not even a religious war, but a war of democracy. Sounds a bit familiar with what happened in our country beginning back in 1776. I hope and pray that Ukraine with triumph in her battle for democracy and she too will enjoy democratic freedom including the freedom of the press.

Troubling Times Ahead

UkraineI’m sure many of you have been watching and listening to the news these past weeks in regards to the chain of events that are unfolding in Ukraine. Many great historians have said the past repeats itself and I never in my wildest dreams ever would have considered a European country being basically invaded by a neighboring State. I was under the belief we were past the days of prospering nations compromising another nation’s sovereignty. I watch these events closely because once upon a time I did much reading of world history as well as commentaries written by people living during the time.

Since the Reagan era, we have moved to globalization of economies. Nearly no country is immune to world economic melt-downs should superpowers begin severing their ties with each other. Like they say, “It’s usually the little guy that gets hurt the most.” This invasion of Crimea under the auspices of freeing the endangered Russian community that lives there, reminds me of Hitler’s justification for invading the Sudetenland for a cloaked reason of “freeing” the German population. As we all know, he went on to invade many other countries and nearly set the entire world on fire. The United States economy during those war years was being stretched to the limit. The general population had to make daily sacrifices for the war effort. One thing that is different with Europe now versus then is that the European Union is now in existence. Yes, Germany is the financial powerhouse but each member State has pledged themselves to uphold standards that will now be tested.

I can’t imagine what the general population of Russia must now be thinking. Many people have been arrested, internet sites have been closed and likely the general population must be considering, “What next?” As one of the historians said after the breakup of the Soviet Union, “It may take more than one generation for the people of Russia to truly find real democracy. It’s in these times that I’m very thankful for living in the United States in spite of the troubles we have here at home. We sometimes take democracy for granted until we see what the nodding head of a dictator can do that affects millions. If this situation doesn’t get corrected, and corrected soon, we will be seeing more tit for tat actions that will indeed affect the global economies. I wouldn’t be surprised if those few super wealthy Russians are now finding ways to transfer assets outside their borders. I always thought it funny why so many wealthy Russians send their children to schools in other countries as well as purchase lavish homes outside their native land. It sort of makes you wonder if they had long ago expected troubling times ahead.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

So very often I find in the times in which we live, people being so much of the mindset of entitlement. Every single day I see people who appear to be physically and mentally fit where they should have some sort of gainful employment. They somehow manage to become part of the government entitlement programs that give them enough for food and shelter. I know we have the duty to take care of those that have fallen on hard times, but I find it now questionable. Personally, over the years I have learned to do many things; not because I was being overly conservative, but rather that I found that I could do some things better than those that were in their respective professions. The know how of much gives a bit more freedom of choice as well as a level of comfort. I will never forget the day when I left a real estate office that I worked for about 20 years ago. The broker was so angry with me for giving my notice that some of the threats levied at me were quite hard and very spiteful. My only response was, “If I have to pull weeds out of onions for the rest of my life, it would be a better calling than remaining here one more day.” Sounds like a crazy response doesn’t it? Well, I guess in times of stress we regress. One of my jobs when I was growing up was to help weed onions that were subsequently sold at the end of Summer. I do hope that the powers that be take the time to teach rather dismissively throw money away. It not only weighs on society in general but it promotes diminished self-esteem. In the real estate market today, I find more and more young buyers paying too much for too little just because they have no idea about making real and long lasting improvements themselves. Making mistakes is just part of the curve of learning. There is an old German saying that goes, “Wer tut nichts, macht keinen Fehler.” It translates as, “He who does nothing, makes no mistakes.” Let’s continue to make mistakes so we can keep on learning.

Fool’s Gold

Every time I hear of someone taking advantage of someone else by not providing the agreed upon goods and services, it makes me bristle. On the flip side, I also bristle whenever I hear of someone who keeps wanting more and more from a company or person who has fulfilled the terms of service.

Everyone knows people who fit this flawed character. I have in past years severed ties with people as well as companies who have not provided services as agreed upon or over charged by padding their hours. Equally as well, I have walked away from doing business for people who never stop wanting from me that which is far and above the general services that my company provides. We can call this form of commerce many names. My two favorite are “holding the thumb on the scale of time”, and “double dipping”. I’m sure you all have your own pet names for these types people and companies. In visiting with a prominent business person not long ago about what I now speak. I lightly pounded my fist on the desk and said, “Why is it that everyone wants instant wealth? Why doesn’t anyone want to make money the old fashioned way? Remember? They earn it?” I now consider people and companies who do business in this fashion to be those who carry pockets full of fool’s gold. In the end they are the fools.

Entitlement vs Sustainability

Today’s conversations with the general public of Mason City was filled with comments from several buyers and sellers who were a bit heated over what they believe is the abuse of the State of Iowa’s and our Federal Government’s programs to help the needy. One of buyers who is from southern Minnesota spoke about how he and his seven brothers and two sisters had to work odd jobs as well as work for area farmers in the fields to help with the expenses at home. He said his parents would never have considered asking for handouts from the government. He said they just learned to watch their expenses and made do with what they had. He said he was even a bit thankful that he came from a family that had to make sacrifices because it helped him to learn and adapt. Getting to know him more now that I have been showing him houses, I can say he really is a worker and knows much about construction. He is about 45 years old and at a glance you would think him ten years younger because instead of exercising like so many people do now, he actually works a very physical job.

When he was telling me his story, I couldn’t help but think back to several years ago when I sold a duplex that had Section 8 tenants in it. It was an older converted home that was what I would consider in minimal condition at best. Both units were not sanitary. There were multiple cats running around as well as bags of garbage that should have been taken to the curb for removal. One of the tenants who was likely in his late 20′s asked me, “I hope the new buyer doesn’t kick me out and then I will possibly loose my Section 8 money.” What I was the most shocked about was his next comment. He said, “I love HUD, I don’t know what I would do without it.” It made me sad. To think that there are people living in the USA that believe the entitlement programs are a sort of Deus Ex Machina for anyone who has a bump in the road in the job of living. Like someone once said, “Don’t give anyone fish, but rather give them a fishing pole so that they can learn to fish for themselves.” My vote goes for those that believe in self sustainability. For me, anytime I do something that is above and beyond what is expected of me in society, it gives me a greater feeling of self worth. I have always believed that the world doesn’t owe us, but rather we owe the world.