January 3rd, 2018

Just 3 months ago, a massive bomb blast went off, near the Safari Hotel, in the capital of Somali. Sources say that the bomb triggered the explosion of a tanker full of fuel that was parked close by. It is believed that over 500 people have been killed and hundreds of others have been injured.

I must admit that my knowledge of Somalia has come largely from television news broadcasts, the earliest I recall as being reports of unrest and skirmishes with bordering countries like Ethiopia and Kenya. In a 1969 coup, the President of Somalia was assassinated and Mohamed Siad Barre seized power, declaring the country a socialist state. For years, I was aware hostilities in the area and in 1991, Barre was finally pushed out of office but rebels and warlords continued to terrorize the Somali people, while a UN peacekeeping mission and U.S. military operations attempted to restore balance.

In September of 2001, it was believed that Somalia was harbouring the al-Qaida and as the UN withdrew, the United States increased their military presence. The 2002 release of Black Hawk Down, amplified the desperate feelings I associated with the place and while it hardly seemed possible, from that point seemed likehostilities did worsen and the region was plagued with drought. The news from that part of the world continued to be filled with suicide bombings, fierce fighting and hostage taking and ransom demands. Government figures and peacekeepers seem to be consistently under attack by Islamic extremists... between thieves and famine, millions of Somalians have suffered from malnutrition... In 2010, al-Shabaab declared its alliance with al-Qaida

I have to admit that I did experience a different view of Somalian culture since watching Bryan Buckley's film "The Pirates of Somalia" which provided quite the juxtaposition to Denmark's 2012 film Kapringen about a highjacked cargo ship or 2013's Captain Phillips which was based on the 2009 hostage taking of a US cargo ship...

I realized that I had lost sight of the culture itself and had connected, for to long, to images of emaciated, barely dressed, bandits armed with automatic weapons... and I searched for images online of the glorious Somalian landscape and people who were described in 1854 by British explorer Richard Francis Burton as a "fierce and turbulent race"... and also a race of "poets, poetasters, poetitos and poetaccios"... which is just what Buckley tell us, in his film.

The Somali people have lived, from ancient times to the early 1970s, as an oral society- a culture in which people developed a keen sense memory and facility for recitation, eloquence and an unparalleled reverence for poetry. Even the names Somalia and Mogadishu have undeniable appeal as they roll from the tongue.

Creating Curb Appeal When the Snow Flies

December 5th, 2017

Sellers need to make sure that their home and property are ready for potential Buyers and creating curb appeal is much more than meets the eye.

Curb appeal includes making your place look nice but it's also about making it look and feel safe. Our homes are all about our safe place... and
at this time of year, it's important to create a warm, welcoming tone. Making certain that there is a clear pathway to the front door is a must. Re-routing
standing water, sweeping away leaves and clearing the snow are the some of the most important considerations in the colder weather.

Keep a bucket of salt or sand handy outside and always take a moment to check for dangerously dangling icicles.

Shrubs, trees and bushes should be trimmed, making doors and windows visible from the outside. This also lets more light in- brightening up the rooms in the daytime.

Put away out-of-season outdoor decor and keep the outdoor tools and toys out of sight. Avoid using scents, freshen the air by opening windows now and then, or burning candles
or bay leaves.

It's a good idea to get timers, and make sure exterior lights are working (and some on), for when it gets dark. It's also a good idea to have a light come on,
at dusk, inside.

Light in the darkness is not only safer for people walking around outside, it's warm and welcoming.

Inside, leave out the best of your summer photos that show off exterior features.

It's Smart to Buy a Home in the Winter

November 24th, 2017

Don't let the weather stop you from looking for a new home in cottage country this year... here's why:

It may be the perfect opportunity for you to find a Realtor to help you. Frequently we see a bit of a lull at the start of winter, a large portion of our local population heads south- so local sales people should have more time to devote to you.

Many people believe that Sellers are more motivated in the winter... and that might be true... there's a certain sense of impatience for people, when dealing with changing weather.

It's easier to book tradespeople... with fewer folks around, there are less service calls, so you are likely to have less of a wait to get estimates for renovations or home inspections, etc.

Moving can be cheaper... many moving companies and truck rental agencies offer discounts in the off-season and, it's generally much easier to book then, too.

"Apps" Used to Mean Crudites

November 15th, 2017

I don't understand why I am supposed to be tuned into technology. I grew up with computers... I can talk about the physical, contextual and associative value(s) of the historic IBM buildings at 844 Don Mills Rd and 1150 Eglinton Ave East... a great deal of my life experience connects with that part of Toronto...

Not even a teenager, I played PONG when it was released... about 1972, at the Funland Arcade. I was working with computers by 1975... I was there when banks transitioned, away from manual ledgers. My Dad brought home a Tandy 1000 and a Commodore 64, the first year they were released. I have played the first generation of atari, nintendo, sega during their first generations.

I steadily used a home computer through the 80s, for both accounting and writing... and I survived the VHS/BETA war. I had a car phone in the 80's, was on the internet in the mid-90s... and was the first local realtor to have a web site- it was 1996... I believed the internet was going to rule the future.

I never liked using a pager but made the transition to cell phone... reluctantly. & right now, I believe that I could give up my cell phone... but I'm not sure about the internet. The thing about cell phones is that you have to carry them... and you have to charge them... and you have to check them... and then, there's all those apps...

I don't want to like apps. In my day, you drank wine with your apps... frequently at Harbourfront and you had brilliant conversation, with even more brilliant and talented friends and acquaintances, while you ate apps...

Those were the days.

I admit that I have fumbled with texting- on various keyboards available on a cell... and I've made some calls... although I still have nightmares involving such attempts...
and I've tried not to find any reason to like cell phones... except that recently

I've found myself envious of people who make good use of phone apps... maybe a couple of times. They make it look so much easier than opening a browser and searching.

Of course most of them have awesome tips, like "organize your apps display"... "use a mix of icons and folders for your apps"... "organize your apps folders by theme" ... "just keep everyday apps on your home screen"... "don't keep apps you don't use"... "delete prearranged apps"... and "apps are there for your convenience".

I've tried a couple of that kind of app... but not enough to be able to identify every day ones... and I'm wondering if this is where I draw the line?

Is the Dream Fading?

November 9th, 2017

Last month, the Vice-President of CMHC said “The dream of home ownership may be fading for many Canadians”. He suggested long-term renting was the solution.

The problem is that the cost of land… AND building materials has gotten so high that prices have escalated substantially, making them less affordable for millenials. In some areas, prices for vacant land has pretty much tripled over the last five years… and this trend is pushing into resale markets, as well.

In many GTA suburbs, the price of land is currently about half the price of a home, up from about a third 5 or 6 six years ago. With more people seeing the need to move to urban centres in search of jobs, the demand for affordable housing is rising higher and with tougher mortgage rules on the horizon and drastic increases in utility costs, the likelihood of homeownership is slowly drifting out of reach… and worse, the cost of rental housing is being affected, as well.