| Michael Secord, Jr. |
31525 23 Mile Road
Chesterfield, MI 48047
Keller Williams Macomb-St. Clair
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 7:20 AM
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 6:01 AM
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 5:38 AM
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
How to Talk to an Architect
Communication is everything in home design and at the start of a project it’s critically important for the architect and client to learn about each other, and figure out how to work together towards great design.
by Tim Harris on Monday, April 25, 2011 at 6:12pm
And that’s a huge part of what makes each project so personal and unique.
How well you and your architect communicate will affect how closely the design meets your needs and how much “you” ends up in the final project; after all, it’s your house!
But you don’t need a master’s degree in architecture to have meaningful conversations with your architect; here are a couple of ways to make sure your message is getting through.
One Step At A Time
Home design moves through several phases; each one gets more detailed and “concrete” than the one before.
The earliest phases are conceptual and fuzzy on purpose; you’re looking at the whole project from 100,000 feet up. Don’t get into details yet – keep it “up in the air” as long as you can. Your Architect shouldn’t start on the next phase until you’ll comfortable with everything you’ve seen so far.
Study the relationships between spaces in the design before you let him move you to the more detailed preliminary design drawings. That way, you’ll both be quite literally on the same page.
Architects are really good at looking at 2D stuff and seeing 3D stuff. But you’re probably not – no surprise there, huh? In fact, architects are so used to looking at 2D and seeing 3D that sometimes we forget that the whole world doesn’t work that way.
The danger in looking only at “2D” drawings is that what you think you’re seeing might not be what your architect is really showing you. 3D drawings help you “get into” the project and feel the character of the spaces.
And that will get you and your architect closer to communicating on the same level.
So make sure you know what’s on the table by asking for the 3D stuff. Don’t agree to a design until you’ve seen enough of it to be certain you understand exactly what it looks and feels like, inside and out.
Just like you, your architect is struggling to find your common ground. And like you, he’ll sometimes fall into familiar patterns when communications get strained. For architects that sometimes means esoteric and arcane terminology (like “esoteric” and “arcane,” for example).
Stop your architect in his tracks when you don’t understand something. You’re not supposed to know what fenestration is, or where to find the entablature and you won’t offend your architect or embarrass yourself if you ask.
Your architect needs to know what you’re thinking; the dialog needs to be on your terms.
A couple of great books for learning the language of residential architecture are Sarah Susanka’s classic “The Not So Big House,” and Marianne Cusato’s “Get Your House Right.” Anyone thinking about a home building or remodeling project of any size should read both. And for a better understanding of the whole process, try Gerald Lee Morosco’s “How To Work With An Architect.”
I think I said this once before, but it’s worth saying again – it’s your house.
A Picture May Be Worth A Thousand Words, But A Thousand Pictures Are Even Better
Of course you expect your architect to make lots of cool drawings for you to look at, but sometimes you have to draw us a picture — or at least show us one. Better yet, show your architect LOTS of pictures.
It’s the easiest way to start him understanding what you like and don’t like and will help get your project off in the right direction.
Most large booksellers have racks of “home design” magazines of some sort – grab a pile of those and cut out images that appeal to you. Make a folder for each room – a “swipe file” – and add images as you work through the design process.
Even better, set up an account on Houzz.com and create an “ideabook” online. You’ll find a nearly endless portfolio of excellent ideas for your swipe file there that you and your architect can both contribute to and comment on.
On paper or online, sharing some visuals with your architect is a great way to make a connection.
Carved In Stone
Every conversation with your architect should be reduced to notes. So much information gets passed back and forth that it’s easy to lose track of decisions you’ve made, and ideas you want to explore further.
Meeting notes give you both the chance to see where you might have misunderstood each other and make corrections.
Typically, I type up meeting notes in Word within a few days of a meeting and email those to my client; they’ll add, delete, and change as they see fit and email the notes back. I’ll admit I’ve been surprised at times by how differently my client and I interpreted something; writing everything down is a great equalizer.
“He Said, She Said” Reprise
One more quick story – at the first official meeting with a new client, the wife was overflowing with ideas about their new house. Positively bursting at the seams with everything she’d been thinking about for years.
We were hitting it off, firing on all cylinders.
Hubby was quiet. Kept looking at his watch. Taking calls. Seemed more than a bit disinterested. Finally he got up from the conference table and put on his coat. His wife looked up at him, almost as if she’d expected this.
“Just make her happy” the husband said, “I’ve got a tee time.”
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 5:15 AM
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Yesterday was Earth Day, and really what does that mean to me? To be honest, I completely forgot about it until a co-worker mentioned that Starbucks was giving out free coffee all day if I bring in my own receptacle. I personally do not like Starbucks so I didn’t even attempt to be green so as to play along with the brilliant marketing plan of an already massively profitable company. The first Earth Day of any importance to me was when Levi was just 6 weeks old; I bought him a tiny little shirt with all of the endangered species of the time, it said Earth Day 1990. The company I worked for (at the time) was unveiling a new line of skincare products that came in refillable aluminum cans, that concept/company lasted about a year before it went extinct. So what does this have to do with me running out of fuel? Bear with me my friend; I am weaving a story for you. How did I run out of fuel on Earth day you ask? I ran out of steam, out of energy, out of personal chutzpa that’s what I mean. My day started like any other, a monotonous march through the morning; one of checks and rechecks to make sure everyone was equipped to start the day. I actually felt pretty good considering the dental trauma I had experienced just a few days earlier. I was over the physical pain of the dental incident, I was over the sticker shock too, but I haven’t grieved the loss of my tooth. And so begins the beginning of the second half of life, dealing with lack of energy (and lack of interest) and more importantly, developing the coping skills to maneuver these battlefields. I arrived to work early to put the final touches on an offer when I received a call from my client asking me to cancel the whole deal. Me:”What? Why?” Apparently I didn’t hustle the way they had hoped I would by putting in an offer (on a foreclosure) on a Monday and having it neatly wrapped for delivery by Friday of the same week. The client (who always puts his wife on the phone to do the hard negotiating) told me that they didn’t think I worked hard enough on their behalf. Wow, really? Do you think you are the only client I have? I patiently listened as the real truth came out, they had credit issues and money issues and she couldn’t stop talking about the graduation party she has to plan with nearly no money and now ~ thanks to my laziness ~ no house too. Lazy. Lazy? L A Z Y! ~ What a short little innocuous word. Why was I so offended? No time to dwell on this, I told myself. Go to the next task. NEXT! The very next encounter was with a co-worker who decided it was time to tell me the “truth” about how I am perceived by others. Others are the people who do the same job as me and make up the committees and board at the market center. He said, “Some days you seem to come from a place of contribution and other times you seem to have a calculated agenda…the so-called “others” cannot trust you because of this, they don’t know your intentions.” Now I could feel the blood draining from my head. The first interaction of the day was just a needle prick; this face to face was a bone marrow draw. Energy: going, going, gone. There were other things said too. Things that I cannot repeat because they are too painful to write…as my ability to compose my thoughts ran down my veins like water draining from a bathtub, I could hear my own thoughts saying, “Wherever you go you are not appreciated.” For a moment I had to choke back the tears and I said, “I work harder than anyone I know.” I bust my ass for my family, friends, clients, co-workers, neighbors and charities. If you knew me at all, you would know that I would go to the end of the earth to get the results that they desire. And there it was on earth day. The answer to my lack of energy. The reason I have run out of fuel is because I have literally gone to the end of the earth on one tank. I didn’t allow myself to refuel. I created this pollution and now it was time to step back and stand still like a silent mighty tree. Stand still and conserve my energy, stand still and let the four winds guide me. I must recharge, because after all, I am a nonrenewable resource.Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 7:55 AM
Thursday, April 21, 2011
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE
All I need to know
I learned from the Easter Bunny!
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
- Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.
- There's no such thing as too much candy.
- All work and no play can make you a basket case.
- A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.
- Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.
- Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.
- Some body parts should be floppy.
- Keep your paws off of other people's jelly beans.
- Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.
- The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.
To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.
The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.
May the joy of the season fill your heart.
AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU!
Happy Easter!Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 6:24 PM
Monday, April 18, 2011
|Posted: March 12, 2008|
|Neuroscientist Gerald Fischbach named visiting professor|
A neuroscientist who spent his scientific career studying how connections between brain cells form — and who currently helps form connections between researchers studying autism — has been appointed a visiting professor at Rockefeller University. Fischbach, the second visiting professor to be named since the formal visitors program began last fall, will divide his time between the university’s campus and his office at The Simons Foundation, where he has served as scientific director of the foundation’s Autism Research Initiative since early 2006.
Fischbach, who received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical School in 1962, has worked for much of
his career on synapses, the connections between nerve cells through which information and instructions are passed during perception, thought and locomotion. He was the first to pioneer the use of nerve cell cultures in order to study developing synapses in laboratory conditions, and his work led to the characterization of many of the biochemical, electrophysiological and molecular mechanisms by which they function. His more recent work has been on neurotrophic factors that influence synaptic efficacy and nerve cell survival.
Over the last four decades he has held faculty positions at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, Washington University School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. In addition to his research, Fischbach served as chair of the department of neurobiology at Washington University and at Harvard Medical School, as director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and, from 2001 to 2006, as Columbia’s executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences and dean of the faculties of medicine. Since stepping down from the last position he has been eager to reimmerse himself full-time in big-picture thinking about science.
For the past two years, Fischbach has overseen the autism program at the Simons Foundation, a philanthropy founded by mathematician and hedge fund manager Jim Simons and his wife Marilyn, The Simons Foundation has awarded $130 million over five years to researchers studying autism. Recent awards have focused on understanding the complex genetics of autism; in its biggest project, about 100 researchers at 13 universities are interviewing families and collecting blood samples in an effort to identify genetic factors that may enhance the risk of the disease. Other investigators are focused on the neuroscience of autism and on data analysis.
“Autism is not like other brain disorders — there are no molecules to target and the mutations involved are complex,” says Fischbach. “In order to learn more about it, we need scientists to think about the brain from many different angles. We need mathematicians, engineers, chemists and neuroscientists to approach the problems from their unique perspectives and share their findings.” As a condition of accepting Simons grants, researchers must agree to share data and other resources and attend regular interactive workshops.
“What’s exciting about Rockefeller is that the faculty here are already thinking in broad ways and focusing on big problems,” says Fischbach. “There’s a lot of activity in terms of applying math and physics to all aspects of neurology. I’m looking forward to engaging with the community, taking part in discussions and helping contribute to the academic life of Rockefeller. I may even do some experiments.”
“Gerry has spent his career working on synapses, but he’s always asked broad questions. He wants to know how synapses form and how they function, but also how they interact with muscles, what happens when they fail, and how they account for behavior and social interactions,” says Paul Nurse, Rockefeller University’s president. “As an administrator, he’s worked hard to bring scientists together across disciplines.”
Fischbach will continue at The Simons Foundation while at Rockefeller and will also maintain his small lab at Columbia, from which he is on leave.
The Simons Foundation
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 5:06 AM
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
How to be happy: I study happiness. I learn happiness. I apply myself these happy lessons to my life. I am what I read. The thoughts I think become feelings. The feelings I feel promote actions. Happy actions create a happy life. A happy life consists of positive thoughts, actions and words. My words are happy words. Happiness is a universal language that never needs translation. When I smile, you know what I speak your language. Happiness Positively Spoken Here. - Karen BurchLisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 10:16 AM
Thursday, April 7, 2011
By Nick Timiraos
If the federal government shuts down, the housing market could face a bit of a screwball just as the spring sales season gets underway.
The Federal Housing Administration plays a key role providing low down payment mortgages to the housing market. Last year, it accounted for as many as half of all mortgages for home purchases, according to research firm Zelman & Associates.
The FHA is particularly popular with first-time home buyers because it requires minimum down payments of just 3.5%. The New Deal-era agency doesn’t actually make mortgages. Instead, it insures lenders against the risk of a default for loans that meet its standards.
But if the federal government shuts down, the FHA won’t be insuring any new loans. Banks will still be able to make FHA loans, but they’ll have to fund and hold onto those loans until the government re-opens for business.
A spokesman for Wells Fargo & Co., the nation’s largest mortgage originator, said that Wells “would expect to be able to take applications and close loans provided that a shutdown doesn’t continue for any extended period.”
Banks will also have to decide how they will treat their FHA-eligible loans from correspondent and warehouse channels, where they buy loans from smaller originators, including the lending units of major home builders. Wells says it is still determining how to move forward with those loans in the event of a shutdown.
The federal government could shut down if political leaders don’t approve a new budget or pass another temporary spending resolution by midnight on Friday.
Outside of the FHA, most loans are being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which wouldn’t be affected by a shutdown. Fannie and Freddie generally require down payments of 20% unless borrowers have mortgage insurance and have tighter standards that can make loans more expensive for certain borrowers compared to the FHA.
The last time the government shut down—for five days in November 1995, and then for 21 days from December 1995 to January 1996—the government wasn’t the main provider of liquidity to a reeling purchase market at the start of the heavy sales period. At the time, the FHA provided this bulletin to provide some answers to lenders about how it would deal with a shutdown.
Update: At a town hall discussion on Wednesday, President Obama warned that a shutdown could have an impact on the mortgage market. “It may turn out that somebody who was trying to get a mortgage can’t have their paperwork processed by the FHA and now the person who was going to sell the house, what they were counting on, they can’t get it,” he said.
For more housing and mortgage news, follow Nick on Twitter @NickTimiraos
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 7:16 AM
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Government shutdown 2011: Will I get paid? What will be open? What can I expect?
By Washington Post Staff, Wednesday, April 6, 12:19 PM
I am a member of the military. What does the shutdown mean for me? Will I get paid?
Defense Department would distribute paychecks for the first week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. In an effort to avoid such disruption, House Republicans introduced legislation that would pay troops if a deal isn’t reached. Congressional aides couldn’t say whether such a bill would pass either chamber before Friday.
I am a government contractor. What should I do?
Short answer: It depends. Veterans of previous shutdowns are reminding contractors that they could be locked out of their offices or forced to cut short any government-funded travel. During a shutdown, experts suggest contracting firms should ask employees to complete overdue training programs, take vacations or temporarily reassign them to other projects. Worst case, some firms may need to furlough employees. Boehner on Friday said any shutdown could interrupt contracts and force the government to pay more in eventual overtime costs. As each agency makes a determination regarding contract.
I am a federal worker. If I do work during the shutdown, what happens?
During a shutdown, you may not volunteer to do work if you are deemed “non-essential,” and whether you get paid depends on the agency you work for. According to administration documentation: “Congress will sort out who gets paid for time worked during ashutdown and those employees will be paid when Congress passes and the president signs a new appropriation or continuing resolution.” Executive Branch ethics regulations governing whether federal employees can take jobs elsewhere during a shutdown still apply, and paid vacation time cannot be taken during a government shutdown. If an “essential” or “excepted” employee does not report for work as ordered, they will be deemed AWOL and be subject to “subsequent consequences.” You can read the full guidance here: http://wpo.st/QVx2
What about civilian employees of the Defense Department?
Civilian DOD workers would undergo the same consideration as all other civilian federal employees, a senior administration official said.
Am I an “essential” worker or an “excepted employee”? How will I know if I am?
The administration has sent out a question-and-answer sheet outlining who is “essential” and who is not. An “essential” employee and “excepted employee” are the same thing — the latter is the term used by the Office of Personnell Management for employees who work during a shutdown. According to the administration Q&A, “Each Agency will communicate with its emploees whether they’re ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential.’” It is also worth noting that employees who are deemed “emergency employees” are not necessarily ”essential.”
I am a federal worker. Will I get paid if there’s a shutdown?
Quick answer: It depends. The Obama administration is warning federal workers that they cannot work for free during any shutdown nor can they take paid leave. In instructions updated and issued Tuesday evening, the Office of Personnel Management issued updated guidance on how a shutdown of even one day would impact each worker’s bottom line. You can read the full guidance here
How about White House staffers?
The administration anticipates “significantly lower staffing levels” at the White House during a shutdown, according to a senior administration official.
What will happen to the National Archives?
Managers at the National Archives said all of its operations would shutter, with the exception of workers who protect collections.
What will happen to public museums like the Smithsonian Institution?
If budget talks break down Friday evening and a government shutdown starts Saturday morning, about 500,000 visitors could be turned away this weekend alone from the National Zoo and the major Smithsonian museums on the Mall, according to Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas. But private museums like the Newseum, The Phillips Collection and Corcoran Gallery of Art will remain open. And, yes, guards will continue to keep watch over museums and zoo animals will continue to be fed.
How would a shutdown affect school lunches and other public school programs?
We have no information at all to suggest any cutoff is at hand for school lunches or other longstanding federal programs in public schools. To the contrary: federal funding for public schools typically is granted to states well in advance of the time the actual expense is incurred. Tens of billions of dollars in grants were awarded last July and October--money that can be spent in the current school year and beyond. This means as a practical matter that nearly all federal programs affecting schools will continue even if there is a temporary federal shutdown. It's worth noting, too, that the vast majority of public school funding comes from state and local governments, not from Washington.
Would the mail get delivered and will post offices be open?
Postal Service is self-funded; it will not be affected by a federal shutdown.
When will the government actually shutdown?
If an agreement is not reached on the 2011 budget by midnight Friday, the government will shutdown starting Saturday.
Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 3:53 PM
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
And so another day passes. I arrived to the sound of the sea, was lulled to sleep by the slow and consistent churn of white noise which is not unlike that of a huge roaring crowd. The sea made up of billions of water droplets forming majestic crescent shaped scoops of water that rhythmically crash and smash the coastline in perpetuity…and the crowd which is made up of thousands of people, a thousand beating hearts and their voices uniting in one hush crying for victory. A day by design, one with no appointments, meetings, agendas or to do lists. A practice day for the days to come when the kids are grown and my job is reduced to a casual (and occasional) dabble in helping someone out with a unique contract situation. I guess you can say that today was a perfect day. I looked at my feet and reached down to feel my rough dry skin. I know I should put lotion on them, but the thick cracked texture just underscores (to me) the importance of my place in life. Like the ancient elephants that are born with deep grooves, my lines also mark the story of generations on the move. My feet are a timeline of walking for many days in many lands; making them soft would just remove that reminder. I don’t want to take away this evidence of age ~ I don’t want that to happen because I might forget to try as hard as possible to live in the here and now. Today, however, I successfully lived in the moment when I felt the fine sand sticking to my face, when I noticed the sting of the sun across the bridge of my nose and when I fell into such a deep sleep-like trance that in the moment, I only felt the heavy pull of gravity; the weight of my own body to the ground. I was a part of the beach, a piece of this earth ~ I was amazed by it, and I knew I belonged here. Here is the ocean place of my birth, birthplace of all living things. Today I felt as anonymous as one fan among thousands ~ today I felt as invisible as any one particle of beach sand, a stationary and silent observer of life. There was a misty haze along the coast and strong gusty winds moving in different directions; the waves were large and especially loud. I said to myself, “This is all that matters to me right now..ahhh such peaceful glory, my heaven on earth.” And yes, another day ends and my usual electric anxiety has left me. My new found tranquility is my soul enveloped by the hypnotic cradle of the midnight sea.Lisa Ekanger Your Hometown Realtor!
Posted by Lisa Ekanger at 5:28 AM