THE SECOND STORY | March 19th, 2009

All the info in the world is nothing without context.

(On the other side of this glorious fully bloomed tree is one of the Harbor Bay Realty conference rooms. Each season this gem has something to offer.)

I’d rather not repeat mistakes. Some of my best lessons are learned via the School of Hard Knocks ( graduation from which is far out on the horizon). One knock I took last year lead me to meet the Blue Screen of Death. I didn’t even know what it was until son Evan explained what I was looking at on my computer. Several hundred dollars later, and with a new hard drive and the excellent work of my tech meister, we (me and my computer) were up from the knock down.

The lesson learned was to think twice about opening an email if I don’t know the sender and/or if the subject matter is not clearly spelled out. If people are new to me, or I to them, the use of the phone is quite appropriate, and for me, preferable.

So, with that in mind, an email showed up last week from a person without a last name, and with only Alameda in the subject. As I was about to toss it, I paused and thought about it. And I opened it. And nothing bad happened. And there was a real phone number in the signature.

A woman from the east coast had been given my name as a real estate agent in Alameda. She expects to be moving back to the Bay Area, to our town, and wondered if I did rentals. I explained that my work was on the sales side but that I’d be happy to direct her to our property management section of the company website and since she wasn’t familiar with Alameda, I could perhaps help her with some pre-screening once I knew a bit about her priorities.

The email conversation has evolved. I wanted her to have a sense of place and distance about the properties she was considering. As I was thinking I could mark up one of the company paper maps, scan it, and email it back to her with the overall view, I said to myself, “Self, they have already invented Google Earth.” I haven’t maximized its use in my biz, but being willing to learn by doing (my late husband Carl’s dear alma mater Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s slogan), I spent a bit of this afternoon trying to figure out how to place addresses and make a tour on Google Earth. I got the address part down, but not the tour. So I saved the thing I made and emailed it.

It is very obvious to me if I can figure out the basics and a few tricks of this amazing tool, I may just enter the 21st century. The ability to show folks from across the world items of importance to THEM, not me, is powerful. As a consumer, I have used the ‘fly at ground level’ and ‘drive the streets’ modes. That beats any map or GPS. (BTW, If any of you have sources that can increase my learning curve, I’d love to know about it.)

Back to the relocation. I asked how she got my name. It is always nice to call, send a note, or even an email to say thanks to someone who shares my name. She got it from someone named Jamie, who knows Bethany, who rides the ferry with some folks who knew me. And I can’t figure out who any of these people are. And maybe it’s not important (except for wanting to offer a genuine thank you).

That got me thinking about connections. I visualize Facebook as being a crawler….linearly moving outward and reaching some we know, have known, care to know, know but don’t care to interact with, or bond with those whom we have something in common but may not necessarily know.

Then I thought about the string that lead the emailer to contact me. I was amazed by the effort it took to complete that request for information. My hope is that I may have helped her, just a bit, find satisfactory rental housing in a more informed, enlightened, and efficient manner before she explores Alameda in person, even if that means she selects another city. Our contact may have provided info about airport noise, distances and routes to/from work, and straight talk about California and Alameda schools. I encouraged her to take some time and hang out at a couple of local coffee shops and just listen to the people. And then ask questions. Alamedans are a friendly group: opinionated and caring about their town. And an indirect side benefit to me was learning a bit more about Google Earth and how it might help my customers!

This experience has, for me, reinforced the importance of context. All the info in the world means nothing without context. And that is why great real estate agents continue to do well, whatever market conditions exist.

(As another side benefit, it so happens daughter Sutter sent me this link from one of Seth Godin’s blogs. I rather liked the message of Where have all the agents gone? Check it out.)

New Topics
-From my New Zealand info source (Sutter), came this priceless piece. May be you’ve seen it.

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Alameda’s wish list for $ from the Feds Check out the list the City of Alameda has put forth for stimulus money from the Feds.

Whoa! That loan costs a lot!Here is an excellent explanation of what costs the lenders are imposing on buyers these days. Low interest rates come with a price.

Alameda real estate this week….
Active listings 180, 178 last report
Pending listings 60, 60 last report

Tuesday Tour 15, 1 repeat

Highest priced new listing
Lowest priced new listing

New 11

BOM (back on market) 0

Price changes 7

Pending 9

Sold 5

Expired 2

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

Alameda real estate awards this week…remember this is only my perspective!

Winner of the week, cute/charming

Out of rehab (mostly)

Bang for the Buck, Get me to Rehab (but I can still live there while the work is being done – mostly)

Have a good weekend, enjoy the rain! Yea! But we had a lovely week of sunshine!

Carry on! Marilyn

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I arrived in Alameda in 1973, as a new bride...with husband Carl Schumacher, both of us from Newport Beach. He was embarking on his career as a Naval Architect (i.e. yacht designer) under Gary Mull. Please see the 'ABOUT ME' page in this website! to see how it has all turned out! I'm so blessed!