Dealing at “Arm’s Length”

December 15th, 2006

Definition of an Arm’s Length Deal:

A transaction between two related or affiliated parties that is conducted as if they were unrelated, so that there is no question of a conflict of interest. Or sometimes, a transaction between two otherwise unrelated or affiliated parties.

The "arm's length principle" (ALP) is the condition or the fact that the parties to a transaction are independent and on an equal footing.

Okay, I thought I could write a serious blog today and I was inspired by this morning’s news item about an aquarium in North-East China that imported a herdsman from Mongolia to help them retrieve some foreign objects. Bao Xishun (the Mongolian), at 7’8” is currently listed as the world’s tallest man. With a 1.06m long arm, Mr Xishun was able to reach into the stomachs of two of the aquarium's ailing dolphins and recover pieces of the plastic that veterinarians had been unable to access.

Wow.

This then got me thinking about tall animals helping people. Giraffes are the world’s tallest animals,at an average of 5.49m or 18 ft. There is at least one organization that gives out Giraffe awards to people who have taken a significant risk for the common good. (aka- stuck out their necks). I didn't find any feel-good stories about Giraffe's getting stuff out of people's stomachs- thank goodness- but I did discover...

that the people of the Netherlands are considered the tallest people in the world, these days (the average Dutch man being 184cm, just over 6 feet and the average Dutch woman, 179.8 cms or just over 5’7”).

Okay... so anyway, this morning I googled a little (about arms) and found several articles about Jon Sanford, a guy who grew his arm hair to 4.1 inches, to achieve a Guiness record. His mother thought it was “gross”. No kidding. But then, it’s gross to think of dolphins snarfling down parts of their swimming pool and nearly dying!

In 1982, the Miami Seaquarium lost a perfoming dolphin to intestinal failure. A veterinary autopsy indicated that Poncho’s stomach contained: 2 deflated footballs (used in Poncho’s “act”), 31 coins, 21 stones, 1 Trainer’s whistle, 1 ten penny nail, 2 screws, 1 metal tag, 1 piece of wire, 1 metal staple and several other “unidentifiable objects”. YUCK. A former dolphin trainer explained the cause as: dolphins "get bored in captivity". REALLY?????

I suppose people eat weird stuff when they’re bored too…. Like “cheese food”… processed cheese… you have to wonder about stuff that they can’t call real cheese and have to tell you it's a "food".

In June of ’06, Australian officials arrested a woman at the Sydney Airport, she had 320 condoms of heroin in her stomach. Yummy.

Supposedly, in April of 1936 a shark was caught off the coast of Cuba and was discovered to be carrying a copy of Spanish novel, in its stomach.

Antron Singleton aka "Big Lurch," an up-and-coming rapper from Texas, was charged with murdering a Los Angeles woman in April of 2002, after medical examiners found flesh in Singleton's stomach that wasn't his own.

In March 2005, Trappers in Florida found the arm of a man reported missing for several days inside the stomach of a 2.7-metre alligator.

Villagers in Indonesia, just last week, found a crocodile with two human hands, a leg, a pair of shorts, strands of hair, and pieces of skull, in his belly.

Mmmm, cheese food is sounding better all the time!

PAC Days

December 2nd, 2006

I was recently in Toronto at the Sutton Place hotel for the Ontario Real Estate Political Action Committee sessions (PAC days). I wish I could use this an excuse for not blogging in forever, but I did have my laptop with me.

I find it is always a catch-22 to travel. Although I find the networking and information extremely useful in keeping me up-to-date in the industry, getting out my suitcase seems to be a cue for buyers to suddenly feel the urge to call in droves!

I am beginning to think that a suitcase is my lucky charm.

I’m not one for travel any more. These days, I prefer my own bed and the company of my pets. I don’t like loud, stuffy places and I’m not much of a social animal in my "off" time. The 2-3 hour drive from Bancroft is tiring, too.

I used to feel like I was going “home” when I went to Toronto. I don’t feel that way, anymore. It’s not that it isn’t familiar and it’s not that I dislike the city… it’s just that I’ve really become accustomed to the more civilized lifestyle we live in the country.

It feels strange to walk in the city, where hundreds of people scurry, seldom acknowledging each other and horns blaring seems the preferred mode of communication.

The city is darker than the country. Big buildings block the light and form wind tunnels that can make a warmish day feel downright bone chilling. The tallest building we have in Bancroft has 3 or 4 floors.

I think there are 2 elevators in town and this year; we did graduate from 2 traffic lights, to four. They do not make the sounds that the city lights make for the visually impaired- I’m not sure why.

Here, it’s movement and the changing sound of birds that send messages. It is amazing how much you learn from them. In the country, there are some seasons in which you can tell the time of day by frog-sounds.

Still, it’s always fascinating to spend time at a conference with Realtors ® from all over the province- these are usually the cream of the crop… I always find it inspiring to spend time among the most ethical, caring and honest in the profession…

and, in spite of the geographical & cultural differences, Realtors ® are Realtors ® - our success and our challenges; remarkably similar.

Ethical Behaviour

November 2nd, 2006

Real Estate Council of Ontario
RULE #1 for all Members:

Ethical Behaviour

A Member shall:

1. endeavour to protect and promote the best interests of the Member’s Client,

2. endeaveour to protect the public from fraud, misrepresentation or unethical practice in connection with real estate Transactions,

3. maintain and enhance the Member’s degree of skill and competence,

4. render services, including giving advice and opinions, based on the Member’s knowledge, training, qualifications and expertise,

5. deal fairly, honestly and with integrity with the public, other Members and third parties,

6. cooperate with the Council in fulfilling its duty to serve and protect the public interest,

7. comply with the Real Estate and Business Broker Act and the regulations under and the by-laws of the Council.

I was thinking about what it must have been like, before Real Estate professionals and my mind wandered to the Louisiana Purchase- as you know, that is when the United States purchased a whole whack of property in it’s own neighbourhood (far more than simply the state of Louisiana) at 3 cents per acre (7¢ per hectare), from France.

Although they had some help with the negotiations, President Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte are credited with making the "deal". It was probably one of the largest FSBO (for sale by owner) transactions, ever. The land included in the purchase comprises 22.3% of the territory of the modern United States.

I wonder if anyone will ever sell the whole of the Bancroft, Combermere, Haliburton, Barry’s Bay, Renfrew Area. If it sold at the same rate and if you visit http://eh.net/hmit/- a site that neatly helps you to sift through approximate inflation- it would be about $2000 a hectare (2.471 acres). Close.

Laws and Rules and Regulations

November 1st, 2006

I started writing my blog, this morning… it was full of explanations about “Common Law” and precedents… escheat, eminent domain… all kinds of serious important stuff… because I’m in a serious mood…

I’ve been experiencing a personal dilemma… it has to do with passion, I think. Some might think it borders on excessive compulsive disorder… I’m always blaming my brain injury… (All stuff for later blogs….)

I’m in a serious mood because it’s election time in Real Estate Land, Ontario…

And I’ve been a member of the Board of Directors in this area for many years… I served as Immediate Past President, this year… and the year before…. and I was President for more than a term… not because I’m popular… it’s just that….

We, like most organizations, find it’s difficult to get serious, committed volunteers… and it seems like it’s always the same people who offer their service… while an endless number of others feel little (if any) responsibility for membership in the club… and

As someone who has spent her life someplace between aspiring to leap tall buildings… and having a nap… I’ve usually landed comfortably somewhere around “accountable”… and I can live with that… without lowering my bar….

So… the thing is… when I’m being the Real Estate Lady… and even writing these blogs… I feel an obligation and responsibility to the Codes of Ethics, the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, the Competition Act, The Privacy Act, Standards of Business Practice…Rules & Regulations and laws and by-laws and …. I could go on… but you get the drift.

With everything I do in life… not just real estate… I try to do things “right”… “ethically”… “fairly”… “responsibly”…. And I like to think of myself as “professional”, as well as being a real and caring person… I try to balance nature & intellect… and I’m big on being socially polite … and all of that… PLUS, I expect to remain personally accountable infinitesimally…

My mother warned me that “no one ever said life would be fair”… I know that life evolves… and there has to be flexibility… new knowledge surfaces and valuable, fresh, ideas do come along and if the country operates in an environment where the bulk of governance is by virtue of “Common Law”… (In which decisions are made by ethical, reasonable, learned, experienced, men and women called judges)… and based on precedents…

(which kinda means the prosecution of people who have pushed the boundaries… entered the “grey area”… the part that is open to interpretation… and if they have a valid, respectable, acceptable, reasonable explanation… they just might not be found guilty… and they create another guiding principle for the interpretation of boundaries…)

Wow… so many of life’s lessons are about boundaries.

I also know that, since the dirty 30s, organized real estate has worked to raise the standards of the Real Estate biz… and while there’s always room for improvement… there are a whole lot of good things that a number of ethical, reasonable, learned, experienced men and women have put together… and they based their decisions on the backs of the decisions of other ethical, reasonable, learned, experienced men and women… and those things need to be protected and nurtured…

You see... Obviously, I DON'T take things to extreme… I’m just a small, but proud, part of three-quarters of a century of passion… and that’s because I’m grateful and respectful AND, because I believe it is my duty.

Happy Samhain

October 31st, 2006

Samhain (also spelled samain, samuin or samhuinn) is a Gaelic word signifying the end of summer. (Pronounced saw-in or sow-in),
Halloween means All Hallows Eve, (the night before 'All Hallows day' or 'All Souls Day' or 'All Saints Day').

There are many stories about how we have come to celebrate Halloween, today. Many of them point back to the ancient Druids who apparently had a sun/fire festival called Samhain, closely associated with faeries and spirits.

Druids held the belief that wicked people were reincarnated into cats or became ghosts, spirits, witches or elves as punishment for evil deeds. Pagans exorcised these ghosts by setting out food and providing shelter for them. It was the Celts, supposedly, who chose the date October 31st as their celebration of the New Year by honouring everything wicked, dead or evil.

When the Romans came along and conquered the Celts (about 43 AD) they added a ceremony honouring their goddess of fruit and trees-, which is supposedly why we now bob for apples.

The lighted pumpkin face (Jack-O-Lantern) is said to be an ancient symbol of a damned soul named Jack. The poor fellow was doomed to wander in darkness with his lantern, unable to enter either Heaven or Hell.

In my family, Halloween is right up there in the list of festivities. It is a time when my brother, Matthew and his partner (Sue Darroch) celebrate their celebrity (see www.psican.org or www.torontoghosts.org among their many sites) and my sister (Jennifer) decorates her home with more fervour than she does at Christmas!

The Heebie-Jeebies

By Chik J Duncan

When it's night time, when it's dark,
When you take that short-cut through the park
Where tall trees sway and branches creak
And shadows play at hide-and-seek
While an ill wind howls like something scary
And you think you've just seen something hairy
And you want to run but your legs won't let you...
That's when the Heebie-Jeebies get you.

Or maybe late on Hallowe'en -
That haunted night when ghosts are seen
And witches, aye and goblins who
Would love a taste of roasted you -
You lie pretending that you're sleeping
With one eye closed but one eye peeping
Making sure no big bad beasties
Mince you up to make their feasties.
The curtains start to blow and billow
And you leave teeth marks on your pillow.
There could be hubble-bubble brewing.
Is that the duvet that you're chewing?
It isn't that you're frightened but
You hope you've locked the window shut.
There comes a rattling window sound.
You can't hide now, you'll soon be found
And you hear the hour of midnight chime...
That's right, it's Heebie-Jeebies time.