The North and the South are like two rival siblings. They fight, they're different, they compete, but have a united front when attacked. Part of the friendly rivalry is over weather.
The part of my family south of the Mason Dixon Line thinks the part of the family north of that line is totally, irretrievably nuts, and vice versa. The southerners ask how can we drive in "all that snow". How can we keep from freezing to death? How can businesses survive? "Y'all must be nuts!"
The Yanks in the family wonder how a southerner can be immobilized by 1/2" of snow. They must not know how to drive in snow. How can they survive all that heat without heat stroke? How can workers stand to work outside? How can they be cold in 70 degree weather? Their blood must be thin!
My Native American friends have the answer in their proverb: "If you haven't walked a mile in my mocassins, you have no right to judge my ways." (Very roughly paraphrased for brevity.)
My worst winter experience ever was in Dallas, Texas. It snowed big huge slush balls instead of flakes. It rained with the snow. It was cold and miserable and wet and sloshy and then the temps dropped and the roads, sidewalks, grass, bushes, all were caked with a lovely smooth layer of ice. Ice storms are the exception in Dallas so no giant trucks full of chemical were on the streets and the town shut down until nature took its course.
Portland, Oregon, has similar winters. Winter's lush and green in Portland although less colorful than in the summer months. My Minnesota friend being a "brave and hardy" Minnesotan went to get her mail after an ice storm. After sliding on foot halfway down the block and literally crawling on her hands and knees to return to her house, she decided the "invalid" natives of her new town were more sensible than she!
"Ketuckiana" (the Indiana side of Kentucky near Louisville) has similar ice issues. Another hearty Minnesotan braved the 1/2'' dusting of snow to drive to town and ended up in the ditch! No chemical on the road combined with warm asphalt "dusted" with snow made beautiful "icing" on the roads which prohibited any stops or directional change.
We Minnesotans, on the other hand, know how to drive in ice and snow, right? Don't count on it. We just know how to REMOVE the ice and snow. The lack of driving ability is demonstrated repeatedly as cars careen into ditches when the snow first falls. Once the roads are chemical coated all is well with transportation again. We also know how to get rid of the massive snows that fall.
The pictures below show one St. Paul block being cleared of its snow burden. Whether the city contracted for this labor or the individual businesses, it sure helps the pedestrians move around more freely. Most of us don't wear mountain climbing gear for the curbside snow hills that build without this kind of removal. Once the big box is filled with snow, it's hauled away to vacant lots, parking lots, and other places to be dumped awaiting the spring thaw. These great mountains of thawing snow are the last residues of winter to disappear in the spring. Some can even be seen still melting after we've shed our coats!
Imagine my surprise after Thanksgiving when an e-mail came as a result of my Diggin' Dinosaurs series. Elizabeth Giese, a commercial real estate closer in the Twin Cities, contacted me because she and her husband are the proud owners of three of the Diggin' Dinos! How exciting! She wrote telling me of the dinosaurs' new home, two of which will live at her primary residence and the third (Comcastasaurus II) with its beach theme will live by the lake at their vacation home. I'm not sure this kind of contact is my broker's picture of networking, but I love meeting new people this way.
What great luck for me. Liz had purchased one of the two dinos which I had not photographed. My request for pictures was granted and she added a few of the truck that delivered the beasties to her home. She willingly tromped through the snow (remember our first snowstorm), brushed off the dinosaurs, and sent me the fantastic pictures in the slide below. Thanks, Liz, for going to all that work. Should I suggest your dinosaurs be "fruitful and multiply"? Probably not.
Maneuvering St. Paul streets in the winter is a full time job. Avoiding cars parked in the middle and keeping from sliding off the ice hump that forms between the tire tracks in the road is a matter for concentration. My successful machinations were interrupted when I glanced to my left down a side street. There were a bunch of fuzzy lumps on a roof which caught my eye. Much to my surprise, the trip around the block showed this cozy bunch of pigeons clustered close to the roof vent hoping to capture a bit of heat.
As an aside, I also noted that even though the roof appears relatively new, there are some missing and lifted shingles that need attention far more than the pigeons homing there!
Like Sellsius, I decided to take a vacation. It wasn't a trip or anyplace away, except I had to take a break from blogging. It's funny how even a small time away freshens the imagination when one returns.
So, here I sit at my computer. Old fogey, crone, grandma or whatever name my kids may call me this week, all apply to me. It dawned on me that keeping up with the GenX and GenY crowd is a bit tough. This week alone, I started to list the networking places which I've joined or been invited to join. It's pretty lengthy.
Places you can find me are My Space, Linked In, Active Rain, Real Talk, Blog Talk, Real Estate World and Facebook. There's Naymz and Twitter . . . twitter used to be something birds did but humans do it now. A colleague told me "everyone's there". Sorry, I'm not, which must make me a "no one"!
The latest invitation to Spock really temps me because I'm of the Trekkie generation, a phenomenon the Gen'ers can't understand. I haven't logged in there yet, but what will I find? Will it be just another site to find the same set of friends? The same flock of sheep that seems to follow the leader wherever s/he goes? But, do I dare NOT go? Do I dare be accused of being a dinosaur, old fashioned, obsolete, an old fogey, or out of touch?
Second Life is so tempting, but I don't have time. My first life that's full of business and family is as much as I can do. Spying on my kids antics on MySpace is a full time job alone! Add to that dodging sheep and food and all manner of things being thrown at me on Facebook, how could I possibly have time to "twitter" or build a new life on Second Life? Second Life has already one over one of the big real estate companies here in town. I'm so tempted, so very, very tempted, but know myself too well. I daren't go there, because I love fantasy fiction and quest games and learning and solving problems and I'd love to market my first life properties creatively on Second Life. I would get tangled up in the fantasy and the challenge. Nope, I must stay here . . . firmly planted on terra firma, my first life.
All these technological things whisper to me. "Come join, come join. Don't miss out! Come join." Discipline must prevail. So, if you're there and I'm not. Well, it's because I can't spread that thin. Think of me and enjoy your time in the cyberworld! I'm still stuck on the earth!
The Hope Now program was announced this week with "hope" that it will help some sub-prime mortgagors dig out of their hole. One of my readers asked for real numbers in how this program will help out the mortgagors in different price ranges. Although each person's scenario will be different, here are some examples of how the program will impact monthly payments.
If the mortgage balance is $100,000 with a current interest rate of 7.5% (remember the rate is based on sub-prime lending and is, therefore, higher), the current principle and interest payment only is $699.21 each month. To this amount would be added an amount for property taxes and home owner's insurance making the total payment much higher. The new interest rate on the loan is going to be 10% making the next principal and interest payment $877.57 per month. That is an increase of $178.36 each month. The Hope Now program will freeze the payments at 7.5% for an additional 5 years causing a savings of $10,701.60 for the homeowner and a loss of the same amount to the investor who is collecting the payments from that loan.
For a mortgage balance of $150,000 with a current interest rate of 7.5%, the principle and interest payment is $1,048.82. The new interest rate of 10% would make a new payment of $1,317.36. The five year freeze on the interest rate would save this homeowner $16,052.40 and create a loss to the investor of the same amount.
The $200,000 loan with the same interest rates has a current payment of $1,398.43 and a new payment of $1,755.14. The savings for the homeowner is $21,402.60 with an equal loss to the investor.
Whereas these figures are considerable, St. Paul houses going into foreclosure are creating equally large losses for mortgage investors. As a result, investors can see the wisdom of participating in the Hope Now program with the hope that less homes go into foreclosure and more homes will be refinanced or sold.
If you currently have a sub-prime mortgage that originated between January 1, 2005, and July 31, 2007, are owner occupying your St. Paul home, have not missed any payments, your interest rate will reset in the next two years, and the new payments will not be affordable, click here for additional information and to contact a HUD approved credit counselor to see if the program applies to you.
With a houseful of company last weekend, one might have thought our St. Paul home had been overrun with mice. We and our guests made trips to the bathroom at all times of the day and night bringing with each trip the proverbial floor squeaks for which old homes are notorious. (New homes have them, too. I know from experience!) There's one stubborn place just one step outside the bathroom and another at the top of the stairs that is impossible to miss without making a huge leap sideways. As owners, we've become accustomed to the squeaks and tune them out, but the house guests were very aware of "disturbing" us as they walked about!
Stubborn floor squeaks are caused by wood flooring (even the sub-floor under tile or linoleum) rubbing against the floor joists or subfloor beneath them. Footsteps press the floor down and release of the pressure allows the floor to pop back up. Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak . . .
Some home buyers actually will not buy a house because of squeaky floors. Squeaky floors rank with trains passing by and planes flying overhead as being one of life's annoyances!
There is an easy handyperson fix for these annoying floors or stair treads. Squeeeeek No More screws can be screwed into wood flooring and the underlying wood to eliminate that pesky movement. Once screwed in, the heads of the screws are snapped off leaving a hole which can be filled with a wax wood filler crayon on wood floors. The screws can also be used right through carpet leaving nothing visible once the screw head is snapped off. If the squeaks are under ceramic tile or linoleum, this solution might not be a good idea unless there's access to the floor from below.
For those interested in the Central Corridor development of the light rail system through the Capitol area, the next public meeting is Tuesday, December 18, 5:30-7:00 PM, at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, 105 University Ave., St. Paul. Updates will be presented and the Rice Street station stop location will be discussed. More details are included on the attached flyer.