Thursday, May 31, 2007


When my parents were alive, more specifically my father, he was an inveterate picture taker. Problem was once taken the pictures went into albums unlabeled, and unorganized.

When my mother passed away, several years after my father and I was tasked with closing won her condo, I found more than a half dozen photo albums, some of them dating back to before my mom and dad got married. There are pictures from when they were dating, when my dad was in the war, my mom's high school and college pictures, pictures of my grand parents when they were young. Lots and lots of pictures.

The albums went to my brother who volunteered to scan them into his computer and put them on a CD for each of us. He did a very creditable job. Afterwards he distributed the albums, or at least some of the albums to each of us. He kept those that couldn't be divided up.

When I got married I also took lots of pictures, which also got stuffed into albums in the same way my father did, somewhat disorganized and unlabeled.
When my ex and I got divorced one of the things I demanded was the right to copy all the albums. When I got them I scanned some and some never quite made it back into the albums that my ex wanted back.

So... now I had almost a dozen albums, some from my cameras, some from my parents camera, some from my kids cameras. Big three-inch, three ring binders full of pictures, plus wedding albums, and misc. loose pictures. Last weekend I put all the albums in a box and gave it to my kids to divide up.
I didn't know about my parents pictures until they had passed away and it was too late to ask who was in the pictures. Most I recognized, some I did not

The problem was I never opened then albums, and with the advent of digital cameras, CDs, computers, and flickr, physical pictures seem to have become obsolete. But they still represent a bit of family history, which I felt now belongs to my kids and grand kids. Maybe they will enjoy them more than I did

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday after Monday

Yeah, I know, Tuesday always follows Monday, but in this case Monday was a holiday, so while this is Tuesday on the calendar, for most of us it feels like Monday - the first day back at work.

My son Micah and his wife Misun, and my daughter Jessie and my grand children Jake and Samantha were all here for the weekend visiting and celebrating. Micah and Jessie and my grand daughter Daria all has birthday at the beginning of the month and it was decided that since they had the holiday weekend, the birthday would be celebrated a bit late, but together.

We spent time at my daughter Hillary's community pool where I attempted to take some pictures. As you can see my children were

not cooperating, so I tried again

and again

But alas, no luck. Getting my grand kids to stand still for a picture is like herding cats, not practical. So I will have to wait for the results from the other picture takes (Hillary, Jessie and Misun) for good pictures

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The art of putting off until tomorrow what you should have done yesterday.

I have to say that I have mastered this art. I have more projects on the to-do list, and each of them has a long list of reasons why they have never been started. None of them are particularly hard tasks, but the lethargy has a tendency to build, and accumulate, Chalk it up to a lack of enthusiasm, or spring fever, or more likely just plain laziness. Personally I like laziness.

Last August I signed up for a cruise - a repositioning cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel. They were moving the ship from its route in the Caribbean to its new home in the Mediterranean. Since they actually have to move the boat (ship?), they take passengers on this extended cruise to help defray the cost but at a reduced fare since it is a one way trip. the passengers fly home from Athens at extra cost. By cousins and brother went on this one but I begged off due to my flood. Problem was and is, I still didn't get my refunded reservation fee.

Yesterday I called to ask what happened. Well the original reason was that the card number the had had expired (and I guess no one thought to ask for a new number, after all it was a refund.) So I sent the new number and still no refund. So while on the phone yesterday I looked up my charge records from last year and lo and behold, I hadn't charged it to a credit card, I had my bank send them a check. So now I can look for a refund check. I wonder how long that will take.

My daughter Jessie and my grandson Jake and granddaughter Sam will be here on Saturday and my son Micah and his wife Misun will be here late Friday evening. Should be a fun weekend, with a group birthday party (Micah, Jessie and Daria)

Friday, May 18, 2007


It's Friday and its raining, and they are predicting rain for the weekend, so what else is now. It is getting harder and harder for the office to find people to man the phones. The budget has been slashed so much that they can only afford a morning receptionist one Mon-Fri. She stays until 1:00 PM and then goes home. The rest of the time the desk is covered by agents. But if an agent can't make his or her shift, or for what every reason, doesn't want to go in that day they either have to find a replacement, or they close the switchboard.

I get a lot of calls to fill in, but sometimes like today, two agents couldn't make it so coverage for two consecutive shifts was needed. I agreed to take the first one, but said no to the second one. I guess either someone will cover, or the office will close early.

There has been a lot of company trumpeting about how good the market has been BUT...

1) they apparently have cut the budget for the personal marketing managers (these are the folks who make up the brochures, etc. for newer agents)

2) they have cut the receptionist budget

3) they have cut the advertising subsidy to agents

4) they have increased all the fees for agent services

5) office income is way down

6) agents are leaving to take full-time positions to pay their bills. - we now have half the number of agents in this office we had a year and a half ago

7) A year and a half ago, the office took over most of the third floor and turned it into office space for the gents (some got single offices, some shared a group office and some got a cubicle in the bull pen) word has it that the manager is now trying to unload that space.

And the beat goes on.

Friday, May 11, 2007


It's Friday and I have survived another week. It has been busy, but as of yet I cannot say whether it has been profitable. I tried to call by daughter Jessie on her birthday but she was out to dinner with her family. I tried to call my grand daughter Daria for her birthday (same day) but she was out to dinner with her family as well. Not one to give up, I called Jessie the next day and spoke to her, have yet to reach Daria.

I did manage to cal my son Micah for his birthday on Thursday. He was in San Francisco for a convention and apparently enjoying his birthday.
Last month I purchased a new blood pressure tester. It was expensive, and had lots of features, but from day one it gave me nothing but problems. The low battery indicator was constantly blinking even though I changed the batteries several times, the reading was constantly giving me errors, so I finally took it back. I bought a new one, different brand, simpler, fewer features, and so far it works just fine.

I received a call this morning from one of my fellow agents, could I cover for her this afternoon. Since it is cooler in the office than in my house I don't mind going in. I won't turn the AC on until we have two weeks of warm days in a row, so far we have only had a few days in a row. Monday it was in the high seventies, Tuesday the heat went on - go figure.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cash flow

Today was my day for small chores - bank deposits, picking up some stationary supplies, and checking on my rental listing. The renter's application was accepted with flying colors, so everyone is happy, and I get my commission.

I am on the desk again today, and as I was sitting here a fellow walked in looking for a rental. Actually he asked for a list of rentals in the Nokesville/Bristow area. I cut him a list and he looked at several and liked what he saw. He asked if I could help him with them. At first I said no, but in a moment of weakness I agreed, especially since it was around the corner from where I live.

About twenty minutes later he called back and said he and his wife found one they liked, and could I show it to them. Since it is on the way home I said sure why not. Who knows maybe I have some more unhatched chickens to count.

Lots of the agents are suffering from a severe shortage of cash. Their cash inflow has all but dried up, but their cash outflow has either not changed, or has increased. Many of them have reluctantly decided to look for full-time jobs to support their families. Fortunately I don't have that same problem. Inflow/outflow yes, but there is only me to support, and so far I have my nose well above water. If I am lucky I can stay that way.

One of the ladies from the building came in to drop something off. She is a very heavy smoker, and for a half hour after she left I could still smell the smoke. It made me stop and think.

When I was young, from my early teens on till I turned fifty-ish I was a smoker. My ex didn't say anything about it until after we were married then she got on my case. But smoking, like any other addiction is tough to give up, especially in those early years when it was socially acceptable, and "cool". By the time it became un-cool I was totally addicted. There was always the idea that I could stop whenever I wanted to. The problem was that my friends all smoked and when when I was with them I couldn't resist smoking to be sociable.

Of course when you are the smoker you never really know what it smells like to non-smokers, how really, really bad it smells.. There is the conceit that a breathe mint will take away the odor. What you don't realize is that the smoke clings to everything, clothing, skin, hair, lungs, and everything you touch as well.

As a non-smoker I realize how the smoke odor pervades everything. I wonder now how even I put up with the smell.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday, Monday!!!

Usually Monday is a day not to be looked forward to, coming so soon after the weekend, but sometimes Mondays bring good things.

Today's mail brought the final part of my insurance reimbursement, not a whole lot of money, but it is something, and it clears a task on my to do list.

Yesterday while I was on the desk, the other agent mentioned that she had called in for availability on my rental listing and she was told that it had an application registered. Now this is good news because it means I get a commission on it, but I hadn't been told about it, and I didn't know whether it had been one of the many people who I had shown the place to, or clients of the two agents who showed the place.

Turns out it was someone I took there, which means I get both sides of the transaction. We are not talking about large numbers here but every little bit counts. Nice!

This morninng I got a lead from the Weichert online system. The fellow wants to see a house near here, a bank owned property (post foreclosure). Maybe he will buy it and I can make some more money - how is that for counting unhatched chickens?

It is one thing to count unhatched chickens, it is quite another to count unlaid eggs. Ah well! we shall see.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

May day

It is hard to believe that it is already May, and 1/3 of the year is already behind us. By now my brother and cousins should be visiting somewhere in Italy, either Rome or Naples, a trip I was going to go on but decided against.

My daughter Hillary should be up to her ears in fiber this weekend, because if memory serves me correctly this is the weekend for the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival, Something she has been looking forward to for a very long time, actually since the festival last year. Her knitting tournament is down to the final four and the pattern for this round is a very complicated two color intricate design. Should keep the contestants busy for a while.

Every once in a while I get ambitious and take on a project. Like most people, well, maybe only like some people, I keep very meticulous records. I keep everything, tax returns, credit card receipts, bills, statements, etc. Why, you might ask, because you never know when you might need something, like a tax audit. Tax returns, and the supporting records of course, get saved for four years, and the return itself gets saved forever.

But then there is other stuff. Records of other activities that no longer matter, such as tax returns for my company which was dissolved some four years ago, or the records for the first incorporation which is now ten years old. So I started going through the boxes of records, I had garbage bags on one side and the shredder on the other. Things with my name or signature got shredded, the rest got round-filed. I must have filled up eight to ten garbage bags full of stuff, and emptied the shredded bucket five or six times.

Now the easy thing would have been to dump it all, enmasse, but mixed in with all that paper are records that are still needed; home improvement bills, bills for appliances that I still use, etc. So I had to go through everything before disposing of it. That made a short job, very much longer.

Fortunately tomorrow is trash collect day. So everything is out by the curb, the original bags tightly sealed in big heavy plastic barrel sized trash bags, tied very tightly so nothing will blow away (I hope!)