A Little Weird

June 2nd, 2010

Former Colorado Gov. John Vanderhoof: has had a plaque on his wall containing a tiny piece of rock from the Apollo 17 mission. Cut from the rock known as Sample 70017 or the "Goodwill Rock," was cut up into hundreds of pieces and distributed to all 50 states and more than 130 nations. Its estimated value is $5 million.

Sir Paul McCartney recently admitted that he cannot remember many of the classic songs he has written- he said there are "just too many".

RCMP have charged two men in the theft of a large tractor from a farm in southern Manitoba. The men discovered the keys had been left in the tractor and decided to take it for a joy ride. After their fun, they left it at the side of the road and it was badly damaged, has an estimated value of $180,000.

Hundreds of seemingly drunk parrots are falling out of trees and the sky in a northern Australian town. Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston, near Darwin said, "They fall out of trees... and they're not so coordinated as they would normally be. They go to jump and they miss the next perch." The birds are given sweetened porridge and fresh fruit to treat the hangover.

Police were called when a naked skateboarder arrived at Centennial Beach in Barrie, last Friday evening. The skateboarder, who was planning a quick "skinny" dip, was issued a warning and escorted home.

US daredevil Jonathan Trappe made a record-breaking flight across the English Channel last week, in a wicker basket borne aloft by a cloud of 55 helium-filled spheres, travelling around 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Ashford in Kent, England to a French field outside Dunkirk.

Scientists at Boston University have used infrared cameras at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to record tremulation. The shaking is a form of dominance communicated between male red-eyed tree frogs.

Joseph Peer and Alexander Kendl at the University of Innsbruck in Austria think that about half of all ball lightning reports are actually tricks of the mind induced by magnetism.
Ball lightning is often reported during thunderstorms, and it's known that multiple consecutive lightning strikes can create strong magnetic fields.Focusing magnetic fields on the visual cortex of the brain causes subjects to see luminous discs and lines. When the focus was moved around within the visual cortex, the subjects reported seeing the lights move.

Mummifying animals was a common practice among ancient Egyptians, who embalmed thousands of crocodiles and buried them in mass graves as offerings to the crocodile god Sobek.

Al and Tipper Gore have decided to separate after 40 years of marriage,

Quebec scientists shuddered when a giant snakehead was found dead on the shores of the Saint-Charles River. Believed to have been an overgrown former pet, it is related to the savage, voracious, quick-tempered, razor-mouthed northern snakehead fish which is from Asia but this fish has recently been discovered in areas dotted around North America. The northern snakehead can survive four days out of water (it has a primitive lung above its gills) and slithers from one stream or lake to another- it can walk for up to 1/2 a kilometer! An 18-inch snakehead was pulled from a Chicago harbour five years ago- Northern snakefish invaded the Potomac River near Washington, D.C (during the GW Bush administration)- New York State has discovered the species in a few ponds and streams- mid-state. These fish grow anywhere from a meter to 1.8 meters in length. YIKES

A University of Alberta researcher studying red squirrels have found that these asocial creatures, which usually despise each other, have taken the unusual step of adopting and raising the orphaned cubs of their kin. Dozens of social species -- including chimps, cats, and dogs -- have been known to take in another animal's orphans, but it's the red squirrel's solitary nature that makes this discovery unusual, says The U of A's Jamie Gorrell, a PhD candidate in biology- one five authors of the report.

Kenyan guys are painting themselves up and going about as Masai Warriors to attract women. The women are ready to pay quite a for Masai Jungli gigolos.

It’s A Good Time To Invest in Multi-Family Housing

May 10th, 2010

A common perception about real estate is that it is sensitive to economic downturns, and that’s a reasonable consideration. Multifamily real estate is an investment category with less risk. While this is hardly a new concept, participation in this market sector has been increasing significantly.

Multi family homes are houses which are designed for more than one family. They are a freestanding building composed of two to four separate living units, each unit having its own kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. There are also opportunities with commercial units consisting of one or more stores with apartments above them. These types of real estate have had a rare combination of high returns with lower risk.

A multi unit home is historically one of the first properties acquired by a beginning real estate investor. The cash needed for such a purchase is often lower than on a single family property and the potential resale market is quite large, including other beginning investors. There is an opportunity for the first time buyer to live in one of the units and have the tenants pay the mortgage.

Chaos in securities the past few years has brought a number of investors to the multi-unit market. Since the economic climate has resulted in tightened lending practices,some people are now finding it difficult to qualify for mortgage financing. Others have been forced to sell their homes at a loss, or worse, to face foreclosure. This creates a market of people actively searching for nice rental property.


As the definition of “family” is changing, many buyers are looking for multi-family houses to house non-traditional or multi-generational families. Many families are looking for larger homes to include elderly loved ones or adult children who remain at home. It is likely that the multi family segment is going to outperform other real estate sectors for several years.

A well-chosen multifamily property can be a long-term positive cash-flow investment. There will always be young couples and older retiring folks looking for good rentals. Owning a multiplex can very often provide a substantial positive cash flow for many years to come.

There are financing programs in existence that can help you purchase an owner-occupied multi-family house. Qualification guidelines for this type of financing are generally less stringent than for other types of investment real estate and the rent from the unit or units that you don't occupy can usually be considered part of your qualifying income.

The maintenance demands of a multifamily property are not very different from those of a single-family house, and both owners and owner-occupants often find that they can save substantially and build equity by doing the primary maintenance work themselves. This sort of property is often seen as a "hands-on" investment; as it calls for routine maintenance, such as mowing grass, unplugging sinks and toilets.

The purchase of a multi-family unit should be considered a standard long-term buy and hold rental property (that means, not a flip, not a lease to own, not any sort of real estate strategy). Seasoned investors build their investments by carefully and conservatively analyzing a property’s cash flow and your Realtor will help you to do the same, prior to purchasing.

The good news is that cash flow on a multi-family is always greater than that of a single family because you have rent coming in. The multi-unit property has an economy of scale (i.e. six families living in six separate units will have six roofs to repair while in a multi-plex there is generally only one roof). & there is less competition when purchasing in the multi-family sector... because not everyone has caught on!

Cash cows are harder to find but sometimes you can take over a property that has existing tenants and a positive cash flow. Here, you cannot go wrong- as long as the building is not about to topple over. The distinguishing benefit to sound real estate investments is their ability to provide income no matter what the economy throws at you.

Owners and investors should annually be (a) performing a five year forecast of their property holdings and (b) should be reviewing their mortgage costs for possible refinancing. Why? 1) generally people have the majority of their wealth in their personal residence, and 2) real estate is excellent mechanism for wealth accumulation.

Many investors never buy anything bigger than a property with four family units and they are happy with the returns they get from small properties- however, it is no secret that wealthy investors buy multi-family and commercial properties and that is how they got wealthy in the first place.

Multi-Family Housing just might be the best investment you can make in today’s economy.Take advantage of low interest rate financing to catch the next wave of real estate investment profits in the multi family sector and there’s still time to beat the HST!

Wading Thru The Hype

April 30th, 2010

These are real HEADLINES:

Average house prices up at least 10 per cent in major Canadian markets
April 8, 2010 The Canadian Press

Record number of homes hit the market in March
April 15, 2010 Canadian Mortgage Broker News

Luxury homes sales through the roof as buyers seek stable investment
April 27, 2010 Globe and Mail

Why there are growing fears of housing bubble in Canada
April 27,2010 Globe and Mail

What's behind Canada's economic miracle? Housing
April 28, 2010 Globe and Mail

Real estate market showing housing bubble signs: report
April 28, 2010 Toronto Sun

GDP up for sixth month in February
April 20, 2010 Ottawa Business Journal

Gloom or Boom?

Recently the Bank of Canada was quoted as expecting the real estate market to cool down in 2011... but then, this might be taken out of context as, apparently, it was a comment made in reference to money pumped into renovations. Incidentally, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has been named the 21st most influential person by the prestigious Time magazine.

According to a report from investment firm Edward Jones, "Canadian investors should prepare for the possible impact of a housing downturn on the economy," said the report. "Investors with well-diversified portfolios may need to take no action, but those considering additional real estate investments should be cautious."

A recent ReMax report entitled “Upper End 2010” cites improved economic performance, increased personal wealth, immigration and foreign investment as catalysts in the sales surge in the luxury home category. The most active buyers so far this year have been business executives, entrepreneurs and professionals and vice-president, Michael Polzer, of RE/MAX in the Ontario-Atlantic region says he is optimistic about real estate sales at every level.

Looking at the slow but steady recovery of economies in the United States and United Kingdom, Polzer also said, "As those much larger economies continue to improve slowly and cautiously, that will help us, so is there a real estate bubble? I think it's unlikely, given the other circumstances at play."

David Rosenberg, the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates noted that Canada did not see as dramatic a bubble in housing and credit as that in the United States. “But maybe Canada experienced its bubble in the past year instead.”

A report by the Conference Board of Canada states that real estate sales and prices are expected to continue rising in most Canadian cities, including Greater Sudbury, for the foreseeable future.

CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld says that Bank of Canada's analysis of the country's economic performance is unreliable and suggests it may be overestimating the potential threat from inflation and is too ready to begin raising interest rate.

You don’t say?

The Bank of Canada’s own website: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/rates/indinf.html states:
The Bank of Canada monitors a wide range of indicators in assessing the extent of pressures on capacity and inflation. The Bank's conventional estimate of the output gap provides an overall assessment of the degree of slack in the economy, but this estimate is subject to considerable uncertainty. This uncertainty is addressed by considering a wide range of indicators in various markets. Many of these indicators are derived from data published by Statistics Canada, but some reflect information gathered by the Bank's regional representatives as well as by various outside sources.

Often articles site facts and data gained by sources that relate to the real estate industry in very particular sector- one far different than the segment of traditional family home or personal use recreational property purchasers. Headlines catch our eye, but understanding which market is being discussed is essential to wading through the hype.

The Ontario real estate industry has flourished in the past few years and has become one of the top profit churning markets in the world. With the social and economic stability of the province, not to mention its booming population and continued financial growth, investing in real estate here is still a good choice from many different perspectives.

After consulting a mortgage professional to determine a comfortable purchase amount, you do want to make a wise and profitable investment, however when it comes to your home or your recreational property, you realize it is where you will share time with family, celebrate occasions, teach children to ride a bicycle or swim. The property then, becomes more than just a piece of real estate. Buying a home or recreational property is a lot more than an investment...

And... there are just as many reasons that a property is put up for sale.

It’s true, a number of older cottage owners, many who own their properties outright, are selling to younger purchasers with families and some American cottage owners in Canada are cashing out of the market, because of their economic circumstances at home. However, there aren’t many desperation sales.

Much of the activity in the marketplace today has to do with the mindset of individuals who have a commitment to lifestyle remains a priority ahead of the actual investment aspect of a purchase. More than a simple transaction to these Buyers, owning a recreational property is a demonstration of their dedication to family and balance- and while these folks are prepared to spend their hard-earned dollars on recreational properties, at the end of the day, they do want to know that they’ve negotiated the best deal possible.

A well-informed Buyer and/or Seller will find it quite easy to make a good, comfortable deal. & it’s still considered one of the safest investments there is.

Low ball offers are on the decline. Thank goodness. They are seldom met with success and, in fact, often result in tougher negotiations and multiple sign backs. Buyers who are serious tend to find out-the hard way- that Sellers are serious too. As a result, the sales-to-list ratio remains relatively high in most recreational property markets across the country. And so, the real estate market, at the family home or recreational buyer and seller level is perking along.

Yes, gone is the classic market mania that occurs when people believe the real estate market is the only place to make money. Instead, people have moved up their purchases to take advantage of pre-approved mortgages with interest rates that remain quite low.

Blowing Kisses... a message for Bret Michaels

April 27th, 2010

Hold on to the thread, my friend. Remember the gentle spring breeze...remember the past... remember blowing kisses....

trust... and remember... it comes back... float back.

Rocks & Things

April 16th, 2010

This is the perfect time of year for rock hounding. The snow is almost ALL gone and the trees are still mostly bare. I’ve got the itch... and the bugs aren't out yet!

I have a huge collection of rocks that I’ve collected over the years... and I’ve had to move them, a number of times. Still, they are like old friends and I will miss them when I move from this house, as I plan to somehow include them in the landscaping, lakeside.

Bancroft is a haven for rocks and minerals. Styling itself, since the 60s, as the Mineral Capital of Canada, it’s been said that:

1/ 80% of Canada’s minerals can be found in the 60 km radius around Bancroft
2/ 90 percent of the world's mineral content can be found in Bancroft's Ontario Canada
3/ Ancient mineral deposits around Bancroft, from the long-gone Grenville Mountain range, give the area a special energy (The early Mesoproterozoic tectonic history of the southwestern Grenville Province, Ontario: Constraints from geochemistry and geochronology of high-grade gneisses)

The Grenville province represents a virtually unique window into the roots of a Precambrian mountain belt. The Bancroft/North Hastings region lies within the Grenville Structural Province of the Canadian Shield, a northwesterly trending belt, roughly 400 kilometres wide and 2,000 kilometres long, extending from Lake Huron to the Labrador coast. The rock beneath Bancroft is between 1.1 and 1.8 billion years old, and has been subject to volcanic activity, glacial scouring, extreme heat and pressure, and intense faulting and folding. The Grenville Province can be subdivided into separate areas or terranes, which exhibit certain characteristics (type of rocks, degree of metamorphism). The Bancroft area consists of deformed carbonate metasedimentary rocks, a minor amount of volcanic rock, and a distinctive suite of nepheline syenites, syenites, as well as, skarn pyroxenites, calcite cored veins, and uranium-bearing nepheline rocks.

Mining was carried out on a limited scale, between 1880 and 1935, primarily as open cuts and quarries.

Sodalite was discovered in 1891 at a deposit near Bancroft, Ontario by Frank Adams, while he was studying the geology of the Haliburton-Hastings area for the ‘Geological Survey of Canada’. The mineral,a beautiful dark blue color, is very popular. It is used in jewellery and carving.

The Duke & Duchess of Cornwall visited Bancroft in 1901 and were presented with samples of minerals including a piece of sodalite from Bancroft. In 1905 the Duchess expressed a desire to use sodalite to decorate her home, The Marlborough House. When the order was received from London in 1906, the Duke & Duchess had been created the "Prince & Princess of Wales" (the future King George V and Queen Mary).

Sodalite also occurs as a minor constituent in the mineral aggregate lapis lazuli. It is believed to possess serious metaphysical and healing properties. Sodalite is said to increase one's confidence and to enhance creativity, and to have a balancing effect on one's emotions and mental state. It is claimed to alleviate fear and bring clarity of mind and is a good stone for Psychic Protection. Sodalite is believed to strengthen the metabolism and lymphatic system. It is also said to enhance self expression and communication, to eliminate confusion, bring peace and to facilitate spiritual growth. It also cleanses the aura. It soothes and calms inflammations.

This mineral is said -like it's sister stone Lapis Lazuli- to benefit the higher self. In particular, sodalite is said to help prevent diabetes and is useful in the treatment of digestive system disorders, balance the metabolism, boost the immune system and overcome calcium deficiencies. It combats radiation damage by soaking up electromagnetic smog. Sodalite treats the throat, vocal cords, larynx and helps with hoarseness and digestive disorders. It cools fevers, lowers blood pressure and stimulates the absorption of body fluids. Sodalite can also help to prevent insomnia.

Sodalite fuels your creative processes and enhances wisdom. It also helps one make clear rational, logical decisions. Sodalite helps one to speak their truth in a way others can understand. It is recommended you use this stone if doing presentations in a business environment.

As a elixir it helps to give one self confidence. It also helps fight lymphatic cancer. One may use the this elixir as a salve to treat inflammations.

Sodalite may be used for massage in sphere, egg or wand form.

Sodalite Associations:
Chakras - Throat Chakra, Third Eye Chakra
Zodiac - Sagittarius
Planet – Moon
Element – Water & Air
Typical colours - Rich royal blue: mottled with white veins or patches
Vibrates to #4

Oh yes, oh yes... it’s time to put my gear in the truck... that well-worn leather bag... loaded with sturdy shoes, long pants, a hat, a couple of bottles of water, granola bars, safety glasses, chisels, hammers, containers, bug juice and my trusty mineral guide.

As always, I’m looking forward to the civic weekend, July 29, 30, 31st, and August 1st for the 47th Annual Rockhound Gemboree. It was chosen as one of the top 100 Festivals & Events in Ontario for 2010. I never miss it!

Addendum
November 3, 2011 I just got this email:

Hello Jody!

I've just read your Blog on Sodalite and it is the best I've seen with more perspectives that I did not know about the Bancroft area. I'm a "rock guy" (and a sculptor, writer, green energy efficient architectural coatings expert) in California near San Francisco. I've got several pieces of the stone and love it as a hand piece. It's one of the most calming and rich stones. I like it as much as beach Jade, which is saying a lot, as that is in category of it's own. However I have got it in my mind to find gemmy, translucent, even colored, (like Calcedony) "Princess Blue" Sodalite like I saw in one of the gem books. It a color that speaks to my being. I am fascinated by it and it does not seem to be what most people associate with the stone.

In your experience, does such a thing really exist up there and if so, so you know anyone who sells it, or cabs it for sale for jewelry or tumbling?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes for a great day

Michael