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Monday, May 23, 2016

Fed officials made it clear that they will consider raising rates as soon as June if economic conditions continue to improve. Investors currently view tighter Fed policy as negative for mortgage rates, so rates rose as the Fed's position became better understood. 

Supporting the Fed's is stronger than expected improvement in the recent housing data. 

Existing home sales in April rose for the second straight month and were 6% higher than a year ago. I

Housing starts, an indicator of future sales activity for newly built homes, increased 7% in April from March.

And Here is Your Monday Morning Coffee...

"It is even better to destroy the box than to think outside the box." ~ Albert Einstein

He was born to a wealthy family, whose dreams for him were nothing more than a "distinguished career". However, his interests were of great concern to his father.

Explosives... he was passionate about explosives. His father hoped that would pass, as there was no hope for a distinguished career involving explosives. This seemed to be a path to safe cracking.

But at age 13, he obtained some skyrockets from a friend. He had six of them, and as his mind searched for the best use of those elusive possessions he spotted the little red wagon.

No, he did not want to just blow it up, he thought differently, he always had.

If one skyrocket could launch itself high in the air, what could six of them do? Could they possible launch it into the air?

He tied 2 to each side and 2 to the back of the wagon, took a deep breath, lit the fuse and jumped cleared.

To his surprise, when the first of the rockets lit, its power tipped the wagon up on its back wheels, and when all 6 were lit, it was careening down the street at amazing speed. He was at first a little disappointed, because it was still earthbound, but then realized how fast that wagon was traveling.

Taking off after the wagon, he followed it until the rockets finally burned out 5 blocks away. Neighbors came out of their homes to see what was happening, only to find a 13 year old boy dancing around a charred out wagon with complete, unbridled exuberance!

They thought it was the typical excitement of a boy with explosives... all boys like to blow things up. The police thought the same thing when they arrived.

When his father bailed him out of jail, he was still excited, despite the severe reprimand.

But you see, he was not excited because he got to blow things up or use explosives for fun... remember, he thought differently.

He was excited because he had just proved what kind of power those little skyrockets could provide.

Since he was German born, his first foray into the use of the power of rockets was for Hitler and the German war machine, but he fulfilled his dream and moved to America.

His father's desire for a distinguished career came about a little differently than what he may have thought, because his son was the reason that the U.S. space program was the first to reach the moon. 

Without him there would be no Saturn V, yes the same Saturn V that carried men to the moon. 

Wehrner Von Braun thought differently, about life, about toys and about success. He destroyed the box.

Remember, it is your choice, so destroy the box and Make it a Powerful Day! 

 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nice gains were seen in the JOLTS report, which measures job openings and labor turnover rates. 

The JOLTS report helps to provide a broader picture of the performance of the labor market. Job openings in March increased to levels which were very close to record highs. 

The "quits rate" also was at levels consistent with a healthy labor market. Employees are more likely to voluntarily leave their jobs if they are confident that they will find a better job.

Because this and other economic data was stronger then expected, interest rates increased slightly this past week, but are still close their lowest points for the year, with the 30 year mortgage at 3.75% and the 15 year rate at 3.375%.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” ~ Stephen King

When he was 7 years old, his father died of pneumonia. Out of 7 children, he was one of the 3 who lived to adulthood.

He had to go to work to help out and began working in a print shop at the age of 13, foregoing any real education.

He became an apprentice on a steamboat at the age of 21, and gave his younger brother, Henry, a job. Henry was killed on the steamboat when the boiler exploded.

At 28 he moved on to become a newspaper reporter, but was fired from that job, admittedly having become disenchanted with it.

After marrying and starting a family, he and his wife Olivia experienced the pain of a son dying as a toddler and 2 daughters passing away in their 20's. Only one of their 4 children lived long enough to have a family of her own.

After developing a career that did became quite successful, he made some bad investments and had to declare bankruptcy, an extremely shameful occurrence in those days.

One of his worst business decisions was turning down Alexander Graham Bell, who offered him an opportunity to invest in his new invention, the telephone.

A series of hardships and failures, a life of pain and loss, yet a life that left the world in admiration and even awe at a talent that has rarely been matched,

Earnest Hemingway said of him "All books come from one, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the best book we have ever had."

Yes, the descriptions and events are facts about one very well known person, Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

His books were usually based on personal experiences... 

"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was based on a boy he knew in his home town. He says that he wrote the book exactly as the boy was -ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed, but had as good a heart as any boy ever had.

"The Innocents Abroad" was based on a trip he and his family took aboard a steamship to Europe and the Holy Land.

Most people are not aware of his hardships and setbacks, but are keenly aware of the worldwide success of Mark Twain.

If you read any of his famous quotes, you will see that despite the hardships, the pain, the sorrow, the failures, he lived just the way he spoke and became one of the most revered Authors in history.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Remember, it is Your Choice, so decide that you will not be disappointed by the things you didn't do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Morning Coffee

May 9, 2016

With the 30 year fixed rate mortgage under 4% and the 15 year mortgage at 3.0%, it goes without saying that buying should be in everyone;s plans for 2016. That may be exactly the case because home sales are blazing hot in our real estate market.

If buying is not a consideration, consider refinancing if you have not done so. Just moving to a 15 year mortgage from your 30 year mortgage could save you tens of thousands of dollars. 

That is not a figure of speech... you can literally have tens of thousands of dollars in your savings or retirement account that otherwise would have gone to house payments.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. ~ Alexander Graham Bell

They were Immigrants from Scotland, who desperately wanted to live the American dream of liberty. 

His mother encouraged his passions, especially in the area of speech. She was always there for him and was so intent that his accent not be a detriment that when they moved to Boston from Scotland, no one even knew that Alexander was Scottish.

Then came the fairy tale of innocence and charm lived out in nineteenth century Boston,

She was rich and beautiful, he was brilliant and poor.

They encountered the typical obstacles of parental disapproval, disappointment and struggle. Yet they remained steadfast. 

He was a speech therapist with a passion for deaf children. He was so intent on helping them that he devised a machine that would hear for them.

It would render sound waves visible, even identifiable to those who could not perceive them otherwise. His purpose, his passion was to help those who could not hear.

His genius was ridiculed, as his machine was repeatedly a failure, yet he persevered. 

Yes, you guessed it, his machine became the telephone. Maybe you should look at that quote again... he truly lived it, looking for open doors when others were closed. 

His motivation came from 2 women, his mother and his wife. Both inspired him, loved him unconditionally and showed never-ending devotion.

The irony in his life is that not only would the children he cared so much about never really benefit from his invention, but neither would his mother or his wife, as each of them were deaf as well.

He may not have provided exactly what he hoped to those who could not hear, but he provided something remarkable to the world, and all because when one door closed he looked for another one to open. I doubt even Alexander Graham Bell envisioned what the telephone is today.

Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!
 

Monday, May 2, 2016

According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS®, Austin-area single-family home sales increased 9.3 percent in March 2016 compared to the same month the year prior. 

The average price of a home in the Austin area increased 4.5% over a year ago and is now $347,734.

Demonstrating the need for additional housing supply, Austin-area monthly housing inventory was 2.0 months in March 2016, a decrease of 0.2 months from March 2015. 

This figure is still well below the 6.5 month level the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University estimates as a balanced housing market, and shows that we are still very much in a "Seller's Market".

Homes spent 54 days on market in March 2016, unchanged from the year prior.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” ~ Victor Borge

Thoughts about life that you may not have thought of, and maybe could use in your life.

On dying:

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did–in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car. ~ Bob Monkhouse

On Old age:

A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, “At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.” ~ Claude Pepper

Retirement at 65 is ridiculous. When I was 65 I still had pimples. ~ George Burns

On Home Security:

I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. ~ Elaine Boozler

On Therapy:

My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I’ve finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already. ~ Dave Barry

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments. ~ Flip Wilson

On Wisdom and Knowledge:

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. ~ Miles Kington

Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe. ~ Albert Einstein

Life’s Mysteries:

The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets. ~ Al McGuire

Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? ~ Anonymous

On Children:

By the time a man realizes that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he’s wrong. ~ Charles Wadsworth

Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories. ~ John Wilmot

The best time to give advice to your children is while they’re still young enough to believe you know what you’re talking about. ~ Evan Esar

It is amazing how quickly the kids learn to drive a car, yet are unable to understand the lawn mower, snowblower and vacuum cleaner. ~ Ben Bergor

On Men and Women:

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition ~ Marilyn Monroe

Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house. ~ Rod Stewart

To attract men, I wear a perfume called New Car Interior. ~ Rita Rudner

On Politics:

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first. ~ Ronald Reagan

You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog. ~ Harry Truman

On People in General:

When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t even smart enough to get out of jury duty. ~ Norm Crosby

Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do. ~ Isaac Asimov

It’s true that hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance? ~ Phyllis Diller

I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and I think, “Well, that’s not going to happen.” ~ Erma Bombeck

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it. ~ Franklin Jones

All you need to grow fine, vigorous grass is a crack in your sidewalk. ~ Will Rogers

The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one. ~ Erma Bombeck

There is nothing so annoying as to have two people go right on talking when you’re interrupting. ~ Mark Twain

I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing. ~ Jerry Seinfeld

On Being Confident:

If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize. ~ Muhammad Ali

Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

Monday, April 25, 2016

National news showed that recent housing data was mixed. The existing home sales data for March revealed a solid increase of 5% from February, and March home sales were higher than a year ago. 

Also notable, the number of existing of existing homes for sale increased 6%. Tight inventories have been a big factor holding back home sales activity in many regions. 

The national median sale prices were 6% higher than a year ago. 

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected. ~ Steve Jobs 

About Excellence ~ by Jon Gordo

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to all the student-athletes and coaches at the University of Nebraska.

In my talk I shared that the best of the best make their life and work a quest for excellence and that there is a difference between success and excellence.|

Success is often measured by comparison to others. Excellence, on the other hand, is all about being the best we can be and maximizing our gifts, talents and abilities to perform at our highest potential.

We live in a world that loves to focus on success and loves to compare. We are all guilty of doing this. However, I believe that to be our best we must focus more on excellence and less on success. We must focus on being the best we can be and realize that our greatest competition is not someone else but ourselves.

For example, coaching legend John Wooden often wouldn’t tell his players who they were playing each game. He felt that knowing the competition was irrelevant. He believed that if his team played to the best of their ability they would be happy with the outcome. In fact, John Wooden never focused on winning. He had his team focus on teamwork, mastering the fundamentals, daily improvement and the process that excellence requires. As a result he and his teams won A LOT.

A focus on excellence was also the key for golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. His secret was to play the course not the competition. He simply focused on playing the best he could play against the course he was playing. While others were competing against Jack, he was competing against the course and himself.

The same can be said for Apple’s approach with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. When they created these products they didn't focus on the competition. Instead they focused on creating the best product they could create. As a result, rather than measuring themselves against others they have become the measuring stick.

We have a choice as individuals, organizations and teams. 

We can focus on success and spend our life looking around to see how our competition is doing, or we can look straight ahead towards the vision of greatness we have for ourselves and our teams. 

We can look at competition as the standard or as an indicator of our progress towards our own standards. 

We can chase success or we can embark on a quest for excellence and focus 100% of our energy to become our best… and let success find us.

Ironically, when our goal is excellence the outcome and byproduct is often success.

Remember, its your choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

 

Monday, April 18, 2016

While explaining why the Fed plans to move gradually to tighten monetary policy, Fed Chair Yellen said that she was concerned that the recent increase in core inflation may be due to  temporary factors. 

The consumer price index (CPI) report for March released on Thursday might be a sign that her concerns are justified. It would be good for mortgage rates if inflation remains low.

Mortgage rates at the end of business on Friday were 3.50% for 30 year rates and 3.125% for 15 year mortgages.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

The quality of an individual is reflected in the standards they set for themselves. ~ Ray Kroc

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the heck is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the world is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally … “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. 

“No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered,

“Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. 

He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. 

“This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside. “… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

 

April 10, 2016

Mortgage rates improved again this week!

Interest rates are again near the best levels of the year!

Again the improvement resulted from statements by central bankers... economic data had little effect. Statements by the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the U.S. Fed shared the same sentiment, the global economy needs support.

These statements affected investors and the result is lower rates. The 30 year mortgage was 3.75% and the 15 year rate was 3.0% as of the end of business on Friday!

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. -Napoleon Hill


When he was a teenager, Dan Ariely was horrifically burned in an accident at a graduation ceremony, when a flare was mistakenly lit and exploded right next to him. 

It very nearly killed him, but instead resulted in about 70% of his body being covered in third-degree burns.” If you have never had a third degree burn, it is considered to be the most painful injury to the body. Think pain with every breath, with every movement, sometimes to the point of hardly wanting to draw in a breath.

Dan spent the next three years in and out of hospitals and surgeries, in constant pain.

Every day, he was given a soaking bath that involved removing the bandages and scraping off dead skin and flesh.  The nurses would rip off the dressings all at once, without a break. It was excruciating, but the nurses insisted that tearing the bandages off was the best way.

It was excruciating and he knew it was going to happen every single day. 

But what could’ve sent a young man’s life careening off course ended up doing exactly the opposite. 

Today, Ariely believes that it was this painful period in his life that inspired his life’s work of studying human behavior. 

He could have worried, felt sorry for himself and asked "why me?". (Not that these feelings were completely absent mind you, but they did not overcome him.) 

Instead, badly needing a distraction from the impending pain, he began to distract himself by noticing things, observing people and tasks and beliefs. 

Take the task of removing his bandages for example. It’s the conventional wisdom, right? The best way to pull off a bandage is to rip the thing off quickly, getting the pain over with. 

But Ariely later found in his research that the opposite is actually true: People would rather endure a lower amount of pain for a longer period time than a very high amount of pain for a shorter time. 

“If my nurses, despite all their experience with burn victims, had erred in treating the patients they cared so much about, other professionals might also be misunderstanding the consequences of their behaviors and make poor decisions,” Ariely writes. 

In a way, this early observation of human irrationality would come to be the groundwork for much of Ariely’s work, including his best-selling 2010 book Predictably Irrational.

Dan Ariely is currently a behavioral economist at Duke University and a best selling author. 

Overcoming physical pain and emotional trauma can affect us in many ways. Dan Ariely used it as a resource for the myriad of impressive accomplishments in his career today.

I highly recommend his book by the way... Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

 


Monday, April 4, 2016

In a speech last week Fed Chair Janet Yellen laid out reasons that the Fed should take a very gradual approach to tightening monetary policy. According to Yellen, economic troubles in other countries pose downside risks to the U.S. economy. 

She also said that it is unclear if the recent pickup in core inflation will be sustained or whether it was due to temporary factors. Yellen's message about an outlook for low inflation and a longer expected timeline for tightening by the Fed was good news for mortgage rates, which ended the week lower.

The 30 year mortgage was 3.875% and the 15 year mortgage was 3.125% at the end of the business day on Friday.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

Leadership is vital for the good of others... your family, your circle of friends, your work, your Church. ~ Anonymous

Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. —Sam Walton

Click Here to See a Short Video About Leadership

Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

 

 

Monday, March 21, 2016

With no statistics to fall back on for this spring market, I can just share with you that it feels like 2015 again, and that is a very good sign.

Mortgage rates are still hovering around 4% for the 30 year fixed rate, and that remains a driving force behind home sales.

The largest group of home buyers is still the "35 and under" group.

Baby Boomers, however, are "moving down" at an unprecedented rate, thus the growth of areas like Sun City and similar communities are flourishing.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee... 

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ~ Mark Twain

Things that took me 50 years to learn:

1. Never, under any circumstances sould you take a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, it's full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. And when God, who created the entire universe with all of it's glories, decides to deliver a message to humanity, He WILL NOT use, as His messenger, a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle.

6. You should not confuse your career with your life.

7. No matter what happens ... somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

8. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that person is crazy.

9. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

10. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

11. Never lick a steak knife.

12. Take out the fortune before you eat the cookie.

13. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

14. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

15. Your friends love you anyway.

(by Dave Barry) 

Remember, it is Your Choice, so find a way to Laugh today! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

If you or someone you know has just started the purchase process or the refinance process, tell them to talk to their lender about "Locking" their interest rate.

Rates have increased in the last 10 days by about a 1/4 point and it looks like that trend will continue. 

If you think a 1/4 point does not sound like much... just so you know, for the average price home in our market that increases monthly payments by about $50! 

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

My greatest strength is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories. ~ Bjorn Borg (6 Time Wimbledon Champion)

Click here to see a short video about "Finishing Strong!"


Remember, it is Your Choice, So Make it a Powerful Day!
 

 

Monday, March 7, 2016

A wide range of major U.S. economic data was released over the past week covering the labor market, manufacturing, services, and housing. Overall, the data suggested that U.S. economic growth and inflation were a little stronger than expected. 

Remember the general rule ... a stronger economy means interest rates will increase ... as a result of this week's positive economic data, mortgage rates ended the week higher. 

At the end of the business day on Friday, the 30 year mortgage was 3.875% and the 15 year rate was 3.25%

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... life is about learning to dance in the rain" ~ Vivian Greene

When I met 18-year old Patrick Henry Hughes, I knew he was musically talented. I had been told so, had read that he was very able for someone his age and who had been blind and crippled since birth.

Patrick's eyes are not functional; his body and legs are stunted. He is in a wheelchair. When we first shook hands, his fingers seemed entirely too thick to be nimble. 

So when he offered to play the piano for me and his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, I confess that I thought to myself, "Well, this will be sweet. He has overcome so much. How nice that he can play piano."

The original plan, I thought, would be this: We were going to talk a bit as he played. That was the plan. Hughes would explain how he managed to navigate the keyboard and how he first learned the piano and what his favorite songs were.

But then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began to race across it -- the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned.

The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he would play that there was nothing I could say. All I could do was listen.

That is the power of Patrick Henry Hughes. He quietly makes you listen.

"I mean, God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal." Patrick said, smiling. "He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff."

This is Patrick's philosophy in life, and he wants people to know it. He isn't fazed by what many of us would consider insurmountable obstacles.

"I'm the kind of person that's always going to fight till I win," he said. "That's my main objective. I'm gonna fight till I win."

Patrick also attends the University of Louisville and plays trumpet in the marching band. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges together, decided "Why not?"

"That's right," the younger Patrick said.

"Don't tell us we can't do something," Patrick's father added, with a chuckle. He looks at Patrick with a mixture of love and loyalty and admiration, something not always seen in the eyes of a father when he gazes at his son.

"I've told him before. He's my hero," the elder Hughes said.

Patrick's father attends every practice and every game with him, and learns all the routines. It's fascinating to watch them together, with Patrick focused on his trumpet's notes, swaying with the rest of the band in time with the music, and his father focused on being his son's eyes and legs.

And this is no sit-still-in-the-wheelchair-while-the-band-marches-around-you routine: Patrick and his father are right in the thick of it, with the wheelchair sprinting and spinning in formation and Patrick hanging on and playing his heart out.

Patrick says the other students in the band have been great to them.

"The students always help out Dad because sometimes he might get out of step," he explained impishly.

Patrick's father grins and nods. He concedes that navigating a wheelchair across the thick grass of a football field, in formation, sometimes at top speed, offers many exciting challenges for a man old enough to be the father of a college student. Fortunately, fellow band members are eager and willing to point him in the right direction.

"The biggest problem is sometimes when I'm backing up with Patrick, I can't stop quick enough." he said. "I'll have a horn player behind me, and they've gotten smart enough now that, rather than running into their horn, they put their hand up."

Blindness as a Gift and a Blessing

Some parents might see some bigger problems in all of this. For example, Patrick's father works an overnight shift at a shipping company and gets four or five hours of sleep so he can attend Patrick's classes and band practices with him all day.

Patrick's mother, Patricia Hughes, works full-time to supplement their income. She also takes care of the household, Patrick's medical needs, and siblings, and handles the concerns of every parent of a disabled child who looks down the road and wonders how it could possibly work out.

That's just not how the Hughes family looks at things. Patrick taught them to see it all differently, his father says.

"Back then he was born it was, 'Why us? What did we do that this happened to us?'" he said. 

"And we ask the same question nowadays, but we put it in a whole new light. You know, 'What did we do to deserve such a special young man, who's brought us so, so much."

Patrick John Hughes' gaze drifted again to his son, and both their faces lit up with smiles.

"He sees the world in a way that we can't even imagine," the father said.

Just listen to young Patrick and you know what his father means.

"I've always felt that my talent has really been a gift from God," he said.

Patrick includes his blindness, by the way, in the list of gifts.

"That's one of the great benefits I've found of being blind. I don't see the skin color, I don't see the hair length, I don't see the eye shape, I just see what's inside the person," he said.

Actually, Patrick said, blindness is more than a gift to him.

"I would have to say a blessing, because overall, it's shown me a complete world."

That's how young Patrick Henry Hughes sees the world.

"He has so much more to teach me," his father said. 

"And I think to myself: I see just what you mean. He's taught me so much already. ~ By ERIN HAYES (ABC News)

Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

 

February 29, 2016

On the national front, the housing data released over the past week was mixed, but the much more significant report was encouraging. January existing home sales, which make up about 90% of all home sales, increased to near the best level in seven years

Sales of resale homes were 11% higher than a year ago. Low mortgage rates and solid job gains are having a nice effect on home sales. 

The 30 year mortgage was 3.875% and the 15 year mortgage was 3.125%.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

"Capital isn't so important in business. Experience isn't so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn't any limit to what you can do with your business and your life." ~ Harvey Firestone

By a two-step process of invention, Earl S. Tupper created one of the most practical items of Americana to date: the airtight plastic food container that still bears his name.

Earl Silas Tupper was born on a farm in New Hampshire in 1907. As a boy, he applied his native creativity to building devices that made work around the family's farm and greenhouses easier. 

In fact, he earned a patent for a frame used to dress chickens for sale. 

The young Tupper also showed a talent for salesmanship: he increased his family's income by selling poultry and produce door to door rather than from a stand or at the market.

A couple years after graduating from high school in 1925, Tupper set out to earn his fortune. After working for various Massachusetts operations, he decided that he could best use his agricultural experience by branching out into tree surgery and landscaping. 

From 1928 through the early 1930s, Tupper Tree Doctors ran a fairly successful landscaping and nursery business, until the Great Depression took its toll, forcing the company into bankruptcy in 1936.

However, in his free time Tupper had been filling notebooks with scientific inquiries, experiments and inventions. Tupper found a job at Viscoloid, DuPont's plastics division in Leominster, Massachusetts. 

Although he worked there for only one year, Tupper always considered his formal training in design, research, development and manufacturing the true beginning of his education. Tupper took this experience and founded a plastics company of his own (1938).

The Earl S. Tupper Company soon changed the bulk of its business from subcontracting for DuPont to equipping American troops with gas masks and other items for World War II. 

It was only after the War that Tupper decided to focus on producing plastic consumer goods. This was a challenge, because plastics were still primitive, being generally brittle, slimy and smelly --- and consumers could certainly afford to be more finicky than soldiers.

Tupper rose to the occasion first by inventing a method to transform polyethylene slag, a black, malodorous by-product of the crude oil refinement process, into a plastic that was resilient, solid, and grease-free, but also clean, clear and translucent. 

This was a significant step forward in itself, allowing products that would not offend a homemaker's senses or sensibilities. 

But Tupper also developed an air- and watertight seal, modeled on those of paint cans, for containers made of his improved plastic. 

This created an entirely new alternative to tin foil for the short- or long-term storage of food.

By 1946, Tupper was marketing his home products, which now came in a range of bright colors: cases for cigarettes, tumblers for the bathroom, and containers for leftovers. 

But despite a glowing feature in Home Beautiful magazine the next year --- "Fine Art for 39¢!" --- the public remained unconvinced. 

Then, in 1948, Tupper discovered that two Stanley Home Products sales representatives were selling a great deal of his products. Stanley salespersons introduced their products to homemakers assembled at a "party" a hostess' home. 

Mindful of his own youthful door-to-door sales success, Tupper was willing to adapt and improve his sales methods, so he met with several Stanley distributors to combine forces and the result was Tupperware Home Parties, which is still the exclusive distributor of Tupperware®.

By the end of the 1950s, Tupperware Parties were a national phenomenon. Even after other companies were able to imitate Tupper's products, the "home party" sales technique guaranteed Tupperware® such a unique and preeminent status in the industry that its trademark has become practically an international generic term. 

When Earl Tupper sold his company for $16 million in 1958, which would be approximately $133 million dollars today, not only did he achieve financial success, but his ingenuity and sales savvy had already won him a form of immortality.

Remember, it is Your Choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!
 

 

April 20, 2015

With Fed policy tightly linked to incoming data, the economic reports were the main influence this week. The major reports were weaker than expected, which was disappointing news for the economy, but good news for mortgage rates. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week a little lower. 

The 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 3.875% and the 15 year mortgage was 3.125% as of the end of the dayon Friday.

And Here's Your Monday Morning Coffee...

"The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature." ~Antoine-François

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."  ~Ambrose Redmoon

It was February 20, 1942, and no less than 9 Japanese bombers in formation, closed in on their target, the aircraft carrier, Lexington. 

Butch O'Hare was their lone pursuer.  If he did not seize the opportunity now, there is no telling how many would die on that aircraft carrier... before it was over, Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare had downed 5 of the 9 Japanese bombers and ran out of ammunition while firing at the 6th.

His buddies arrived to finish the job.

Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare was the 1st naval aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

A year later, he went down in combat, but his home town would never forget his heroics.

But step back a few decades ... the roaring 20's saw Al Capone as control a syndicate of crime unlike any other in American history.

Capone's secret weapon was a lawyer referred to as "Artful Eddie", the fastest of all fast lawyers.  His loopholes and unsavory legal strategies made sure the most glamorous gangsters walked the streets.

"Artful Eddie" became the undisputed Czar of a very profitable illegal dog racing empire. He was as rich as the rich could be, as feared, as powerful and nearly as famous as Capone himself.

Than one day, Eddie did the unthinkable... he squealed on Al Capone. He wanted to go straight.  

The Feds were understandably skeptical ... What was the catch, why would the man who had the personally pledged security of Al Capone, risk it all?

What could he possibly gain?

Then they found the catch... there was only one thing in his life that meant something to "Artful Eddie"... his son. Eddie wanted him to have a real life, not a life of disrepute and crime. 

Eddie knew exactly what would happen, and it did, he was silenced with 2 shotgun blasts eventually, never to know if his dream for his son came true.

It did of course, as "Artful Eddie's" son lived an acceptable life, so acceptable that he was accepted into Annapolis, and Lieutenant Commander Edward "Butch" O'Hare was the flying ace who took out those five Japanese bombers and saved all those lives and won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Remember the next time you fly into Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, named for "Butch" O'Hare, remember his bravery, and remember the sacrifice of a crook, who despite his lifelong mistakes, through his love as a father, paid with his life for his son's chance to make good! (from Paul Harvey)

Remember, it is your choice, so Make it a Powerful Day!

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