Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Evil Admen

The Evil Admen
It’s all about the money. It’s always about the money. It’s all about figuring out ways and means of getting us to offer it up to their clients.  Is it any wonder that these salesmen for people from non-profit organizations to mining companies to shoe stores to sanitary products to toothpaste and foods spend so much time in research and testing of what makes us buy what we buy and contribute what we do.
Well it’s quite an operation to figure out what makes people want something badly enough to fork over the required amount of money. They work on the premise that buyers are liars - with some justification. For example, they might put up a display in a store of – say – shoes, and watch as the ladies walk by. Slowly they stop at the flashy display and then walk on. What the H-E double hockey sticks is that about? Not one bite.
The display is deliberately set up to attract women to buy the product but for some reason it’s not working. So they upped the ante. They put little cameras in the display aimed at people’s eyes. It was amazing what they discovered. The eyes are a window to the heart, so the evil admen milked that to the max to the delight of their clients.
Then there’s the non-profit organizations begging for donations to help feed, clothe and educate the underprivileged around the world. I don’t think they quite have that figured out yet. There are too many inconsistencies in their ads, but the main thrust is a guilt trip heaped upon the recipients of the ads. It’s a sorry story to be sure, but largely misguided and misdirected.
These evil admen are everywhere. They have their tentacles out like giant spider webs in order to not miss any potential opportunity to pick our pockets. For example, the other day I was looking up an organization called Red Bubble which is geared to independent artists selling their work. I think it was within an hour that I suddenly was bombarded with information (ads) about Red Bubble on face book. It hasn’t quite stopped yet. Well it was just an inquiry for cryin’ out loud folks. I guess I can’t really get any information unless I sign up. Well, forget it! I ain’t THAT interested.
The latest thing I noticed was that Credit Karma business. That doesn’t affect an old geyser like me, but I was curious to find what it was all about. It is after all, FREE. Oh yeah, let’s find out, I thought. It turns out that you have to sign up and then give a lot of personal information (in order for them to check your credit). What they do then is to sell that information to various people who can use it to try to sell you something or other. Hm – free huh? NOT!
I suppose it’s all legal, more or less, but it borders on false promises, errors and omissions and a whole lot of fine print designed to make a reader give up and sign in without studying the whole concept first.
Immoral, that’s what it is. And when you feel the wind blowing up your bum because your pants are down around your ankles, it’s often too late to do anything about it. Welcome to the world of the evil admen!
Oh, and another thing that makes my blood boil. Clothing and shoe manufacturers have convinced young people that it’s a status symbol to wear things with a particular brand name sewn on or into the particular piece of apparel, or stamped on a style of shoe. And then they’re charging an arm and a leg for it. If I want a name stamped on my shoe it certainly isn’t Nike. THAT’S NOT MY NAME YOU GUYS! And it isn’t Gucchi either. And the whole idea of Levis is an absolute insult. They’re bloody barn pants (in case anybody’s noticed) for crimeny sakes.
Well, don’t get me started.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

And Another Thing

And Another Thing
Well I seem to be continually harping on the activities of the world’s white population. But let’s face it, there’s a lot to harp about. A little while ago I was on about the extinction of the white race by way of intermarriage. I had alluded to the world as becoming a population of taupe colored people, much to the chagrin of some white people.
But I discovered that white people themselves have found new ways to make themselves brown, at least partly in the parts of their bodies exposed to view. They used to do it by way of stripping down as far as was considered decent and exposing the naked skin to the sun. Of course it was a dangerous and precarious thing to do. If you overdid it the first day, you ended up with ruby red skin that would blister and peel off in a matter of days. Then you’d have to take your time on the next outing, getting just the right amount of sun so you didn’t do further damage. It would take half the summer to get to a decent tan and from there it was a matter of some intense tanning to darken the color. Of course those areas covered by clothing of any sort of clothing seemed to become more white and anemic. By September, you were as dark as you could possibly be. But at least you weren’t white anymore (at least not where anyone could see).
Well, that was then. The German scientist Friedrich Wolff first introduced the ultra violet light to tanning beds in order to provide healthy tans to people year round. What a boon to die hard tanners. Tanning beds were becoming popular by as early as 1908. Over time there was a literal explosion of tanning beds that people would use to avoid the dangerous sun’s rays and affording a year round tanning ability – until it became unsafe.
Well, whatever. The point is that white guys just don’t like the color or non color they are naturally endowed with. What they’re trying to do (whether they know it or not) is to look more like people of color. Those parts that don’t look like that are covered up with clothes. Somewhere there’s a disconnect between the body and the brain in differentiating perception from reality.
Being white isn’t as much about being a certain color but rather being a certain culture (the white culture), no matter what color you are. So interracial sex for want of a better word, is what will turn us all into taupe colored people and before long we won’t be able to claim the superiority of the white man because there’ll be no white man. That’s a reasonable assumption which may or may not have some wrinkles in it while the race is dying out.  But what the heck, the experiment is well worth it. Firstly it involves sex and who ever complained about that? The only other thing that might help is a good universal power outage. That works every time.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Judas and the Sheep

Judas and the Sheep
Metaphors are kind of a mixed bag. While they make a lot of sense to us old geysers who have been there and done that, they make a lot of sense in painting a more accurate picture of what’s happening, to younger people they might be nothing more than confusing. Chances are though that the younger crowd will have picked up something from their upbringing and the picture that is painted will come into focus.
With that in mind, picture a flock of sheep having been herded around by what is called a Judas goat for a whole season. He (the goat) has led them around the pasture, showing them where the best grasses are, defending them against dogs and coyotes, and generally becoming accepted as the boss of the herd. He’s been their guide and protector, and they’d follow him anywhere. So when shipping time arrives, they have no problem following him up the ramp of the big semi trailer and into its van. By the time they all get packed in, they can no longer see him, but they hear his bleating so that’s good enough. All jammed into the giant trailer they take off for their destiny, quite content.
When they get to the abattoir, the goat leads them off the truck into a large enclosure where there’s space, and hay and all sorts of good adventure. Well, they’re shorn to start with. Imagine how good that feels. The sunshine on their now exposed skin and the soft breeze wafting over them. They want to thank the goat, but he’s nowhere to be found. They hadn’t noticed him slipping out a side gate and back into the van to get another load of sheep. I could go on and on as they are slowly funneled into a squeeze gate, zapped and hauled off to the butcher’s table, but I think I make my point.
Take this then to the political landscape. Who then among us is Judas? Who then among us are the sheep blindly following along behind him/her, believing his or her promises until they hit the squeeze gate and the butcher’s table?
The same can be said for the financial industry, and particularly for the advertising industry. They all have or are their own Judases.  And we the sheep, all we do is bleat in thoughtless approval of what our particular Judas tells us.
And when we finally reach that terminal squeeze gate, we realize we should have discussed the matter rather than just bleat our mindless approval.  Back when the Quebec situation was so dicey the CBC managed to produce a program where participants from both sides of the argument were invited to participate in a discussion. They were charged with the responsibility of solving the problem of the social divide between the two solitudes that governments hadn’t been able to do. It was a very high profile program and the two sides of the argument sat down to seriously talk to one another for whatever time it took. I think it was a matter of hours they were given.
I have to mention that the two sides were totally opposed to the others opinions, but were bent on solving the problem. They were not allowed to protest the others position but had to focus on bringing a satisfactory and workable solution amenable to both sides. If I remember correctly, there was a facilitator to help them stay focused.
The participants represented a cross section of trades and professions (other than politicians) and with the help of the facilitators stayed on topic. It was a fairly tense negotiating process, but long before the time for the program to end, the participants had come together on each of the large number of topics, not necessarily compromising but adjusting their point of view on them after careful thought and discussion.
Needless to say there was no Judas in the room. There were just people and facilitators (or as I call them: leaders).  Of course, it must be noted that this particular session had no bearing on political outcome of the problem, but hopefully it was instrumental in shaming the Judases into rethinking their positions.
The example is crystal clear. The Judases of the world are super salesmen motivated to get people to follow their promises in order to get what they want for their own benefit. Facilitators on the other hand are the real leaders causing meaningful dialogue with the general populous to arrive at a meaningful solution to most of the community’s problems. It’s kind of like the method Indigenous communities used at one time to solve their issues. Surprisingly our current Liberal Government has made an attempt to do it this way. They only thing is, they don’t have enough qualified facilitators.
Well, life will go on.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Endangered (Human) Species - The Disappearing White Man

Endangered (Human) Species:  The Disappearing White Man.

Not too long ago I posted a document suggesting that continuing intermarriage would soon wipe out the white race altogether. It was in response to the white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the other white racists. Little did I know what would happen in England of all places. But what better way to set an example to the world than that the head of the commonwealth which represents a full third of the world population recognizes that we are no longer one color – (white, that is) or one religion (Anglican, that is) or even one culture.

The only time this ever happened in recent memory between the U. S. and England was in 1936 when I was only a year old. So I don’t really remember it, but a few years later while at school, we would love to paraphrase different traditional songs to amuse ourselves in boyish fashion. For example when we sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, we would add, “Mrs. Simpson Stole Our King”. Then we’d chuckle away, much to Mrs. Shaw’s chagrin. Of course we didn’t know what we were talking about. Some British comic likely made that up and he wasn’t nearly as amused as we were. In fact, the British aristocracy as well as the government found their stiff upper lips starting to quiver at this outrageous affair and the couple eventually ended up in France where they lived out their days. Their concern was obviously lost on us.

Of course that occasion was not a color issue or culture issue, but more or less an issue of shame for the British aristocracy and a bit of a coup for the Americans. But now it seems that an evolution has quietly been taking place over the years, attacking the very heart of the white race until its demise is inevitable.

The (white) Americans were certainly upset with Obama winning the presidential election. They just couldn’t see a “Black” man in the white house. Excuse me. How can you be black if your mother is white? It didn’t matter at all to the entire population of the U.S. He is “Black”! That’s a bad thing for the white people, and an extraordinary victory for the black population, even though they are both wrong. If anything when it comes to color, he should be gray.

Well now, fast forward to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Nobody in America is annoyed at this Coup. Despite the fact that she is mixed race, divorced and a total commoner, she (not Harry) is the American darling. She has taken ownership of a royal prince and opened the door to the royal family, color and culture be damned.

On the other side of the pond, it must be remembered that nothing happens without the approval of the queen. You can bet that she went over every detail and she approved. She seems to be a far sighted woman and has welcomed Meghan into the royal family, getting things done on time and in perfect order. That will set the tone for future mixed race marriages in the Royal family and make that sort of thing more acceptable for the general population of the commonwealth at large.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - Open Houses

Open Houses
Now there’s a dangerous game. Back in the day of three piece suits and big Lincoln cars, I came into the office one Monday morning to the news that a young woman had been murdered in an open house she was holding in the Tyndal Park area of the city. I don’t really recall all the details, except that a grey haired man with a grey three piece suit had been seen there around the time of the murder. The woman had been alone in the open house at the time. I don’t remember if they ever caught the killer, but there were a lot of rule changes around open houses at the time.
The awkward thing was that I (with my graying hair) had shown up at the office in my grey pin striped three piece suit that morning. You can bet that was the last time I wore that thing for quite some time. In any event, women were not allowed to hold open houses by themselves any more, and quite a few refused to hold them at all. There haven’t been any murders like that since.
As can be seen, open houses were a risky business, what with tire kickers looking around, people with their own properties for sale making comparisons, people with nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon all coming out to see what was available.  Not only that, but other agents, hanging on to their buyers would bring them through in order to claim a commission should their customers buy directly. See, in those days things were a bit different. If your buyer happened to walk in on your open house without his/her agent, you (representing the seller) were entitled to the whole commission. You can’t imagine the number of fights that caused or calls from agents claiming that THEIR buyer was in the open house and they would be writing an offer. It got to the point that there was more going on about (possible) commissions than about selling a property.
Of course you couldn’t really blame the (potential) buyers not wanting to make rigid plans to engage an agent to go around and casually look at properties when they weren’t sure of what it was they were looking for. Not a moment too soon, the Real Estate Board instituted buyer agreements = similar to seller agreements to protect the buyers agents. The most difficult part of that was for agents to sign up their buyers, but other than that it freed everyone up from a lot of the politics and infighting. In this day of the internet it’s even more relevant.
In my day, I was never too concerned about being alone in an open house. I always advised my vendors to put away their valuables. Probably they should go for a ride so they didn’t have to answer questions from buyers. They should anticipate what a buyer would look for to be included in their purchase price, and mark it as “Sold” so there wouldn’t be a question about it later.
Of course it would be necessary to organize the furnishings in the house so the place looked as spacious as possible and neat and tidy. I would usually get to the house early enough to turn the oven on to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit and place a little container of vanilla in it so that by the time buyers came by, the aroma of fresh baked bread would hit their nostrils in an inviting way. That actually worked very well. Besides, it gave me a pleasant smell that didn’t hint of air fresheners to be in during my time there.
Mind you, if I held an open house where I thought it would be particularly busy, I had the luxury of bringing the Missus along to direct traffic and keep an eye on things while I was giving tours. Being a “dyed in the wool” retail person, she was particularly good at it and certainly saved my bacon a number of times. We actually made a pretty good team.
Regardless, open houses were a necessary part of the business and their popularity among agents was largely dictated by their success in selling that particular home or, the number of buyers one could glean from them. For myself, I would rather have spent my time riding my horses or tending my garden on a Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, that’s now all in the distant past. I’m too busy being retired.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - Dim Sum Commissions

Dim Sum Commissions
Chris Hashimoto used to brag about making better Dim Sum than her husband Ben. In fact, they used to have contests in which both of them would get into the kitchen with their flour and oil and frying pans, each claiming to outdo the other. I had chuckled at these two competitors so when an occasion arose for me to sell an Asian restaurant I thought it would be interesting. It was the business only in a leased property.
The wife was the cook and general everything else while the husband watched the till. He actually had his own business of tinting windows like on cars, showroom windows and so on. They were a lovely young couple making their way in the business world. But she was pregnant with her second child and needed some time off, so they wished to sell the business. I have absolutely no idea of how they came to us and that I ended up with the listing, but I imagine that we were the only company close by and, since I was the only one doing commercial real estate, I was it I suppose.
Well it was a lovely restaurant in a newer strip mall but since it was also a newer residential area, it was somewhat struggling. As it turned out, the owners were not inactive either. The fellow (whose name escapes me) found a chap willing to take on the restaurant provided the wife would stay on to teach him her recipes for a period of two months. It was an agreeable situation for the owners, but now they wondered about how to pay me for the listing agreement.
I had a solution to the problem. Let their lawyer draw up the agreement to purchase the business (which got me out of that end of things) and in exchange for any payment, the wife should teach me how to make Dim Sum and we’d call it even. The woman looked at my big white hands and the look on her face indicated some doubt as to the possibility. But she agreed and we made a date to do it.
We chose an early afternoon when the restaurant was quiet and got right down to business. All the ingredients were already laid out and the lady greeted me cheerfully. Was I ready to learn how to make Dim Sum? Absolutely I was so we got into it. Among other things, she’d chopped up some pork, some shrimp, and various vegetables. She had some rice with it and began shoveling them all into circular skins of dough.
“This is the hard part,” she smiled as she deftly folded the ingredients into the skin, closing and sealing it in a fancy series of folds until it was magically formed into a round thing that looked something like a garlic pod. Now it was my turn and it was a little awkward at first making all the fancy folds in the skin, but I imagined myself making perogies like I used to do and it became amazingly simple. I had made a lot of perogies as had my mother before me as had the whole Mennonite community as well as the Ukrainian community at large. Mind you, the filling was different but that was no big deal. My mother had a whole variety of fillings to hers too. They were more like Perishky that she made except for the folds and the shape of the dough. So that’s what these were then was Japanese fancy Perishky. Ha, ha, that was a blast! No wonder Chris was so good at making Dim Sum. She came from a Ukrainian background and she could out maneuver Ben’s culinary skills any day of the week if she put her mind to it.
Giving my hands a little artistic encouragement, I managed to make the required fancy twists and with the cook’s help we managed to get several dozen made. She steamed half of them in traditional Japanese style and we fried the other half. It was a delightful afternoon of cooking and chatting and cleaning the counters and when we were done no one would know that we had been there. But I came away with what was left of the Dim Sum and a warm feeling of friendship.
Of all the commissions I’ve ever received, this one ranked right up there with the best of them.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - The Alberta Connection

The Alberta Connection
I had family in the real estate business in Alberta a number of years ago. It was a volatile time in Alberta with fluctuating prices; down one day and up the next. It was a little bit like them Chinooks they get down there. One day I got a call from one of them wanting an evaluation on an investment property one of his clients had purchased in Winnipeg. The downturn in Calgary had prompted disposing of this unnecessary investment.
When this fellow had bought the property, it had been a bargain according to his reckoning. Well, you have to understand that for Albertans, Calgary and Edmonton are the centers of the universe and all the world’s wisdom flows from there. Had he done his proper due diligence in the first place, he would have found that Manitobans have a slightly different view of things. Now he had to find out the hard way.
You can bet your boots that I had a ten page summary of pictures, comparable costs and sales to hand over to support my appraisal. It all came in at about a third of the price the client had expected and I wanted to protect myself as well as my brother-in-law without making apologies.
Needless to say there was an awkward silence of some duration at the other end. I had expected that, wondering if I had alienated that whole end of the family. The thing was that I had a verbal offer from the tenant of the property who was already at odds with his landlord. It seemed as though I had walked myself into another mess (again). Would I never learn to leave this commercial stuff alone?
When I finally heard from my brother- in- law again, he expressed total disbelief in the evaluation. How could this be possible? Places in Alberta were going for much higher prices. His client was still trying to reconcile this anomaly and he needed some time to think about it. I told my brother-in-law I could likely prompt an offer close to the price shown and he promised to consider it. Finally he said “Bring it.”
The tenant, having other businesses as well, put in an offer under a numbered holding company. I encouraged him to come close to my appraised price (which was fair) and he agreed. I don’t remember exactly how the whole thing went together, but it did and my client (the tenant) continued on cooking his Indian food.
What I wanted to mention here has nothing to do with real estate, but rather the Alberta mentality which shows up in the oil business these days. The story illustrated here is exactly the same as the basis for the oil business. They discovered they had a valuable resource, started to develop it and then called on the country to allow them to transport it here, there and everywhere. They were totally surprised by the push back to their preconceived plans and couldn’t understand the unfairness of it all. It seems nothing has changed since the days of Peter Lougheed and P. E. Trudeau.
Just think what might have happened in either case if Alberta(ns) would have consulted with stakeholders first before making decisions based on Alberta wisdom. I’ll leave that with you.