Thursday, December 31, 2009

Washington's Union Station...A day trip from Baltimore...Let's Meet!

Union Station Marquee

One of my favorite places to spend the day or a few hours before seeing a show in DC is the historic, beautifully restored Union Station. With over 100 places to eat, drink and shop, this is a destination not to be missed. A couple of years ago I photographed the Baltimore Train station and New York's Penn station, but I have to say that Union Station is grander than either of them.

Union Station Vaulted Ceiling

Completed in 1908, it is a beautiful example of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. When it was built, Union Station covered more ground than any other building in the United States and was the largest train station in the world. It was a city within a city where some 5,000 people worked and the services included butcher, baker, bowling alley, mortuary, hotel, Turkish baths, police station, and a Presidential Suite used by Presidents to welcome visiting royalty.

Union Station Window UnionStation Entrance

Union Station served Washington as a major center of transportation for many years, but the advent of air travel led to a decline in railroad passengers. Union Station began to fall into disuse, and it was eventually closed in 1981. After Congress debated whether to save the station or bulldoze it, they passed the Union Station Redevelopment Act with the goal of making it financially self-sufficient. A public/private partnership was formed to faithfully restore the building to its original state and create a mixed use transportation center. While visiting a few weeks ago, I could not stop shooting photos. Every time I turned, there was an "Oh, look at that!" moment. It is a magnificent building!

UnionStation Shopping Union Station Levels

Union StationFood CourtToday, more than 32 million people visit Union Station every year to see the building, visit the shops, dine in the restaurants, and ride Amtrak and the Washington Metro. There are world-class exhibitions and international cultural here throughout the year, and private special events such as the Presidential Inaugural Ball and citywide galas fill the grand halls. In fact, I think this would be a wonderful place for a large Active Rain gathering, or just a get a way to meet and have a vacation day close to home!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Future Years Will Be the Best Ever! A book review on The Cat Lover's Book of Days

Russel Ray took time out of his busy schedule to write a book review on "The Cat Lover's Book of Days" This book was written by my good friend and publisher, Peg Silloway. You don't have to be a cat lover to appreciate this book, but it helps. If you are a feline lover or know someone who is, this is the best gift for under $25. You can even ask Peg to personally autograph a copy for your all your special clients, friends, family or real estate professionals.

Via Russel Ray, San Diego Marketing & Business Consultant (Russel Ray):

My owner is a Marketing & Business Consultant in San DiegoIt's the most wonderful time of the year....

Recently I wrote a book review on Real Estate the Right Rome Way, written by our own ActiveRainer Margaret Rome. The publisher of Margaret's book is our own ActiveRainer Peg Silloway, a cat lover. Margaret pointed the way to Peg's book, The Cat Lover's Book of Days, and I bought a copy, which arrived Monday although I didn't get to pick it up from the post office until yesterday. What a wonderful book!

I've seen cat calendars for each year, but never a book of days that is good for every year because only the dates are in the book, no years. There is even a page for February 29 when it arrives!

I'm trying to write a book review, but Zoey the Cool Cat is not cooperating. She thinks the book is hers:

The Cat Lover's Book of Days

Here's the best picture I can get of the book right now:

The Cat Lover's Book of Days

If there is a cat lover in your life, including you, you can't go wrong with this book.

There is a list on pages v-vii of all the cat people who lent their cats to Peg's brilliant project. I can't wait until January 1, 2010, gets here so I can get my daily dose of cat history, cat lore, cat laughter....

Here are twelve fun cat snippets gleaned from the book, chosen totally at random:

  1. January 6 - An original poem by Peg Silloway herself:
    "My cat
    Is fat,
    And that's that."
  2. February 9 - "To err is human, to purr is feline." - Robert Byrne
  3. March 16 - "There has never been a cat who couldn't calm me down by walking slowly past my chair." - Rod McKuen
  4. April 25 - "Even overweight, cats instinctively know the cardinal rule: when fat, arrange yourself in slim poses." - John Weitz
  5. May 24 - "Cats always know whether people like or dislike them. They do not always care enough to do anything about it." - Winifred Carriere
  6. June 17 - "In a drafty room, indeed the cat makes a superior kind of paperweight!" - Carl Van Vechten
  7. July 24 - "A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in a garden." - Robert Southey
  8. August 27 - "There is, indeed, no single quality of the cat that man could not emulate to his advantage." - Carl Van Vechten
  9. September 28 - "Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want." - Joseph Wood Krutch
  10. October 15 - Most cats will find a high perch whenever they can so they can look down on their domains and see what their humans are up to.
  11. November 21 - "I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. Cat, I would lend you this book to study, but it appears you have already read it.... Don't be ridiculous, she purrs, I wrote it." - Dilys Laing.
  12. December 4 - "You're nobody until you've been ignored by a cat." - Anonymous

After looking through this book but not reading it, I ordered three more copies as gifts for my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, and a Realtor here whom I know has several cats. I know that I will be ordering more throughout the coming year. Don't run out, Peg!

Order your own copy by going to Peg's Cat Book of Days web site. Tell her Russel Ray sent you her way.

Disclaimer: I have received no consideration from Peg Silloway or Silloway Press for writing this review or recommending that you buy a book.

With my Cat Lover's Book of Days, I know that my future years will be the best ever!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Forget the Snow....Live in a Condo!

Forget the Snow...Live in a Condo!

It began Friday night and continued all day Saturday. I was doing my best to keep up with the 20+" history-making'' snowfall Baltimore was about to receive. Shoveling the steps a couple of times on Saturday got me a bit ahead. But then awakening Sunday morning to the absolute beauty of almost two feet of this magnificent whiteness was breathtaking. So again, I went out do the steps so I could bring Lee the newspaper. Then I spent almost two hours with the snow blower doing our driveway – I was not going to quit until the whole darn thing was done!

Saturday night steps

Snowy Steps

While moving mountains of snow around, I thought of this...have you read it yet? Good for a laugh: Diary of a Snow Shoveler --- Funniest Thing You Will Read This Season

Shoveled Steps

Shoveled steps to get newspaper

Even with all the snow, I had a couple of calls, one from a seller and another from a potential buyer who wanted to see 111 Hamlet Hill Road #1007-Village of Cross Keys-Harper House Condominium.

My seller said, “I guess there is NO activity - who wants to look in this weather?” Positive me said, “I think this is a terrific time, because you can forget the snow if you live in a condo."

After I finished the driveway, the potential buyer called back and I let them know I could be available. They were surprised they could actually see the unit that day in this weather and on such short notice. Amazing how things happen when you answer the phone…and clear a driveway. These buyers had to dig their car out anyway, so visiting the condo was especially enticing.

Patio chairs with snow cushions

Bird feeders in the snow

A doorman held the door as we arrived and the plows and snow blowers were in use clearing sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. If they already lived at Harper House, they would have driven right into the garage, walked a few steps to the elevator and right up to the 10th floor.

Some of you are saying the only way to forget the snow is to move to a warmer climate. That is not an option for everyone and besides, some of us really enjoy the cold and the beauty of our winter season.

Some people have jobs and businesses, others have family that keep them in this area year round. Many people leave to follow the sun - going to Florida, California, or Arizona - but return for personal reasons. These same people may want or need to forget about the snow and live in a condo.

Many condos have underground parking garages or valet parking. All of them have someone to shovel the snow from the sidewalks and parking lots. Your responsibility is just to enjoy the sheer beauty of the winter wonderland, but not deal with the scraping, shoveling, sanding, salting (clay cat litter is a better choice, by the way.)

Here are some of my special properties that you can “almost” forget about the snow…and live in a condo.

1 Gristmill Ct. Annen Woods Baltimore, Md.21208 Doorman plus underground parking

3317 Old Post Drive Pikesville, Md. 21208 4 Car Garage Rancher! Four car garage plus a carport!

45 Farmhouse Court- Annen Woods- Pikesville-Baltimore, Maryland 21208 Condo townhouse

7121 Park Heights Ave #505 Baltimore, Md 21215 Park Towers West Doorman and Valet parking

7111 Park Heights Ave Park Towers East # 806-Baltimore,Md Condominium Valet Parking and Doorman

7202 Rockland Hills Dr Baltimore, Md. 21209, #212 Low Condo fees in Baltimore County

1400 Lancaster Street Baltimore, Maryland Inner Harbor Penthouse #1003 Parking garage with 2 spaces

1000 Fell Street Penthouse Henderson's Wharf- Baltimore, Md 21231 Condo within a Hotel- Garage Parking

5 Wake Forest Court Catonsville, Maryland 21228 Garage Townhouse -Condo Association does it all.

11 Slade Avenue Baltimore, Maryland 21208 Doorman with Valet Parking

1718 Wilson Ave. Baltimore, Maryland 21227 Garage - two homes for the price of one!

3041 Falstaff Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21209, The Towers Condominium Inside Mail -Pet Friendly

111 Hamlet Hill Road #1007-Village of Cross Keys-Harper House Condominium Garage and Doorman

338 Kendig Drive Kendig Mill Station Garage Townhouse Owings Mills Md. 21117 Garage Townhome

Nature's Snow Sculpture Beautiful naked trees with snow Snow covered "almost" naked tree.

The snow is still here, and as beautiful as it is to look at, digging out a car that has been plowed into a snow bank is no fun. Forget the snow…live in a Baltimore condo!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't Let Unimportant People or Unimportant Things Become Important

Back in October, Russel posted.. After 54 years, I now know my personality type, thanks to Margaret Rome ..and I thought that was the review of my book. To my surprise and delight this review appeared today. My friend took the time to devour, digest and almost re-write Real Estate the Rome Way. What an honor to have this special man on ActiveRain and in our lives. Thank you, Russel, for caring and for sharing.

Via Russel Ray, San Diego Marketing & Business Consultant (Russel Ray):

My owner is a Marketing & Business Consultant in San DiegoBook Review: Real Estate the Right Rome Way, by ActiveRain's own Margaret Rome

Need a great book for the Realtor in your life? Are you the Realtor in your life that you need a great book for? How about a great Christmas present for that Realtor in your life?

Occasionally a book makes its way into my library that is a joy to read — it speaks to me, it is written well, I don't have to read 100 pages before getting something out of the book. Such is the case with Real Estate the Right Rome Way. I had just turned the cover when I found some words that spoke directly to me:

Real Estate the Rome Way

Okay. So maybe that doesn't count, but it should!

If I don't count the first five pages — Acknowledgments, Preface, and Contents — the eighth line of the book hit me with the title of this post:

"Don't let unimportant people or unimportant things become important."

Real Estate the Rome WayIf only I would have had that sentence in the first 38 years of my life, and without knowing it, I have had to practice that every couple of years with certain home inspectors who like to try to make themselves important to my life or my business. Not gonna let it happen.

Although this book has only 189 numbered pages, the main text is 174 pages, but they are 174 of the most informational pages I've read in many a year. There might be two or three pages that don't now have yellow highlighting on them.

One thought that I really liked, and which too few people in any business believe, is that they don't need the business. As Margaret says,

"When you're ready to meet with the sellers, go in to the appointment knowing that you can afford not to get the listing. No matter how big the listing, no matter how important the sellers could be to your career, you do not need the listing. Be ready to walk away without hesitation. That attitude gives you incredible power, and it shows. It's not arrogance, it's just the calm confidence that people want to be associated with."

In many cases, the more you try to get business, the less business you get. It's kind of like when you were young and wanted to find a girlfriend/boyfriend or get married. The harder you looked, the worse the prospects. As soon as you quit, there s/he was.

Margaret Rome, author of Real Estate the Rome WayMargaret brought up a very valid point if you're a smaller company, a newbie, trying to compete against the large, well-established company that often thrives on volume. Quite often a deal that falls through is of no consequence to that large company. It's just a cost of doing business. To you, the smaller company, the newbie, the loner, that deal falling through is, indeed, a consequence. That encourages you to look for non-traditional, unique ways to get the deal done.

Of course, there has to be something "wrong" with the book, right? Well, what left me a little perplexed was the question of being flexible. Margaret tells the story of an advertising firm that wouldn't work with her, her way. They wanted things in their format, just so, and that wasted her time, so she pulled her ads. Interestingly, though, she goes on to say, "I've always felt that they lost more by being inflexible than I did by not having those advertising outlets." While that may be true, it's a two-way street. The cost of that advertising firm working Margaret's way might have been too expensive, so they felt that she lost more by being inflexible than they did by having a set format for all their customers. Now I know Margaret is not inflexible, because just a few pages later, in a different story, she says, "By being flexible and adjusting to his needs and the opportunity, we both came out ahead." Obviously it comes down to what's important in the overall scheme of things.

Twelve other things that I learned from the book or knew but think they are well worth sharing, and this could easily have been a list of 100 or more:

  1. WIN - "What's important now?" I've practiced this for many decades with my Top 10 list, but the acronym WIN is so much more powerful. Next time I have to make an important decision, I know I will WIN.
  2. I'm a Type E Manager. You'll have to read the book.
  3. "The Four E's" — A get by giving philosophy based on Educating, Enlightening, Encouraging, and Empowering. Hmmm. I might have to send this book to some of our politicians.
  4. A very powerful thought for discussing commissions [I've modified it for discussing commissions with anyone]: "You tell me what you want, your bottom line. If I can get that for you, what difference does it make how much my commission is?" Yep, confidence.
  5. TurbulenceTurbulence — You'll have to read the book. I'm such a tease, aren't I?
  6. "Working solo does not mean working alone." Too many people think that just because they are a one-person company, they have to do everything themselves. That is so far from the truth. Think Power Partners and 1099 employees. They can be on your team.
  7. When leaving a voice mail, start off with your name and phone number and end with your name and phone number. That way no one has to listen to the whole message again. Remember to speak slowly.
  8. "There are things someone else can do that will be different but not different enough to make a difference in your overall success." Ah, yes, how we all want everyone to do things our way. It's just not necessary.
  9. Porsche 944944 — I'm still teasing.
  10. Every day ask yourself, "What can I do for someone today?"
  11. "Do every single thing with the hope of getting a thank-you note." You'll find that the more thank-you notes you get, the higher the balance in your bank account becomes.
  12. "When you update your tech tools, do it because you'll improve efficiency or customer service, not just because there's something new on the market." Hmmm. I still have a phone that just makes and receives phone calls. Imagine that. Are you spending so much money buying, and learning, new technology that you forget to go out and get business?

And lastly,
"How is real estate like poker?"

Royal flush

Feel free to leave a guess in your comment, or just see page 146 in Real Estate the Right Rome Way.

You, too, can have a royal flush! Contact Margaret Rome for your own copy of Real Estate the Right Rome Way. If you're nice, she might even autograph it for you!

Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Diary of a Snow Shoveler - Funniest Thing You Will Read This Season

Just came in after shoveling the first of six gorgeous inches of snow. So pretty, so cold, such a marvel of nature. Even took m y camera out while shoveling. Don't have to go to the gym today because I just got my exercise. Would not go,'s Saturday. Getting prepared for the next storm bringing in another foot or more of this predicted beauty.

Then I read this post. hahahahahahahaha!

410.530.2400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 410.530.2400 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Via Pocono Mountain Lakes Realty:

I was sent this two Christmas' ago by an old buddy. I laughed so hard I couldn't get rid of it so I saved it to share every Christmas Season with everyone! Enjoy!

Diary of a snow shoveler, probable location - North East

December 8 - 6:00 PM

It started to snow.
The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven.
It looked like a Grandma Moses Print.
So romantic we felt like newlyweds again.
I love snow!

December 9
We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape.
What a fantastic sight!
Can there be a lovelier place in the whole world?
Moving here was the best idea I've ever had!
Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again.
I did both our driveway and the sidewalks.
This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again.
What a perfect life!

December 12
The sun has melted all our lovely snow.
Such a disappointment!
My neighbor tells me not to worry- we'll definitely have a white Christmas.
No snow on Christmas would be awful!
Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again
I don't think that's possible.
Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbor.

December 14
Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night.
The temperature dropped to -20.
The cold makes everything sparkle so.
The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks.
This is the life!
The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again.
I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way.
I wish l wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15

20 inches forecast.
Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer.
Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels.
Stocked the freezer.
The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out.
I think that's silly.
We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16
Ice storm this morning.
Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt.
Hurt like hell.
The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17
Still way below freezing.
Roads are too icy to go anywhere.
Electricity was off for 5 hours.
I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm.
Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her.
Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her.
God I hate it when she's right.
I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20
Electricity's back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night.
More shoveling!
Took all day.
The damn snowplow came by twice.
Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey.
I think they're lying.
Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out.
Might have another shipment in March.
I think they're lying.
Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me.
I think he's lying.

December 22

Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold, it probably won't melt till August.
Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to piss.
By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel.
Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the asshole is lying.

December 23
Only 2 inches of snow today
And it warmed up to 0.
The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning.
What is she, nuts?!!
Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago?
She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24
6 inches - Snow packed so hard by snowplow, l broke the shovel.
Thought I was having a heart attack.
If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plow, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel.
I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been!
Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25
Merry freaking Christmas!
20 more inches of the damn slop tonight -Snowed in.
The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil.
God, I hate the snow!
Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel.
The wife says I have a bad attitude.
I think she's an idiot.
If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26
Still snowed in.
Why the hell did I ever move here?
It was all HER idea.
She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27
Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28
Warmed up to above -20.
Still snowed in.
The BITCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29
10 more inches.
Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in.
That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30
Roof caved in.
I beat up the snow plow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass.
The wife went home to her mother.
Nine more inches predicted.

December 31
I set fire to what's left of the house.
No more shoveling.

January 8
Feel so good.
I just love those little white pills they keep giving me.
Why am I tied to the bed?

Pocono Mountain Lakes Realty

Pocono Mountain Lakes Realty

Rick Cordisco - Owner / Realtor


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Irene's New York Adventure

Ranch home living roomMy friend Irene is going on a New York adventure. We've been friends for a long time, and many years ago I helped sell contemporary ranch home that I just loved; you could tell it was owned by an artist.

After a bit of searching we found the perfect condo, the perfect size, and the perfect location. Again, after Irene finished with it, this home had the unique style and flair of a very special artist.

You see we met through our artwork - we once did a show together with her stone sculptures and my free form ceramics. On the coffee table are two of Irene's sculptures and my porcelain bowl.

What fun we had!

Time has passed and Irene has just moved to the Big Apple. We now have that special condo on the market: 111 Hamlet Hill Road #1007-Village of Cross Keys-Harper House Condominium.

I love seeing her work and mine together again!

Condo living room MRome bowl

It's a big change for Irene and leaving the place you have lived for years is never easy. But I am choosing to call it "Irene's Adventure." She will have time to make new friends, and will be near her daughter, son and favorite granddaughter, Jessica.

When I asked, "What will you miss the most leaving Baltimore?"... her answer without hesitation was "my friends."

But New York is only a train ride away and that train goes both ways. Her friends can visit New York and she can visit Baltimore. And just think of all the adventures for Irene that are there for the taking... the museums, the galleries, and the artists who make the city a lively place.

A few months ago, Irene and I had our own adventure spending a lovely afternoon
together. We had lunch and visited the weekly Farmer's market that is right where she lives in the Village of Cross Keys. You can see by the photos the fun we were having with artistic gourds and broccoli bouquets. Here's one of "my" apples for the lady who is off to the Big Apple.

Artist and gourds Artist and broccoli bouquet A Rome apple for the artist

Here's one of "my" apples for the lady who is off to the Big Apple.

Let's all wish Irene lots of luck on her New York Adventure!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Predictions in Arrears, aka..."To Done" List

Sally Cheeseman issued a delicious challenge: Write a post on my most positive ten predictions for 2010. How can I just do ten? When I started writing my "to do" list for 2009 around this time last year, I ended up with 28 things and could have gone for more. Now I'm looking back and seeing that there are a few things that I did this past year that were not on my list. Is it possible to make your predictions in arrears, sort of like the way property taxes are paid?

It is so satisfying - having a “to done” list!Cat Lover's Book of Days Cover

So to my list of "to do" from last year, add these that are "to done":

AR Ambassador

  • Return to my previous weight
  • Become an ActiveRain Ambassador
  • Go to a REBarCamp
  • Meet C Tann once in New York City and twice in Maryland

Big Apple sign NYC

C Tann in NYCBaltimore Harbor


Looking ahead.. to see this year's resolutions, just take a look at last year' is the same! Who knows what I might have on the TO DONE list this time next year?

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