Inauguration day 2021

Today is a special day, inauguration day for Biden and Harris. I have been looking forward to this. I want to see the first woman ever to be sworn in as Vice President. In 231 years there have been 45 male vice presidents and 45 male presidents.

I feel the smallest glimmer of hope that we the people can work together to form a more perfect union. I also know that the word “we” is important. We will all have to work together to achieve our common goals.

preamble to the consitution
The preamble to the Constitution

 

We have a lot to think about

American flag
American Flag

I am beginning to really question separating business from politics. Not that I want to write about politics because I don’t but for the past several years just about anything I could write about is considered “political” and I have become too silent.

Health care, the environment, education, and racial inequality have all become highly politicized. Some of my peers use the term “politically correct” when discussing fair housing. Housing has become politicized too.

We need to learn how to talk about important issues rather than not talking about them.

As I write today I am thinking about freedom of speech. It is because of that right that I can publish this every day but there are some strings attached. If I use it to organize a rebellion against the government or use it to incite violence I can be shut down by the company that owns the server this site runs on. They have rules.

We do not own any of our content on social media. Facebook is free to users because users are the product. Our content creates engagement and Facebook literally sells our clicks to advertisers.

Freedom of speech has never given us the right to yell fire in a crowded movie theater where there is no fire. Many of us were taught that as children.

We were also taught that our rights end where the rights of others begin. Which is a concept that is particularly important during the pandemic. We don’t have the right to do something that will hurt someone else because they have rights too.

I have exercised my right to free speech by attending protests which are not the same as riots. I do not condone any kind of violence or vandalism. Burning down buildings is not free speech. Instead of blaming one group or another for violence, I think it is important to check the facts and see who is actually arrested.

Freedom of speech does not include the right:

  • To incite actions that would harm others (e.g., “[S]hout[ing] ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”).
    Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919).

Being banned from social media web sites is not considered an infringement on the right to free speech. Each social media site has terms of service and the people who own the sites can control them. People who do not follow the rules can be banned from the sites. Go to your favorite social media site and read the terms of service. They all have rules against hate speech and violence.

If the government were to decide who can or can not use various social media platforms that would be an infringement on the right to free speech.

The president was recently banned from Twitter and Facebook. I think that should have happened long ago. I also think that the mainstream media gave him too much coverage during his campaign rallies. People have been using Social media to help radicalize the Americans who tried to overthrow the government last week.

I hope we all find a way to talk to each other about issues that are important to us all and have discussions and maybe some debates. Disagreements are fine as long as we can respectfully disagree and keep the conversation going.

The beginning of the storage container time of year

I haven’t been to a big box retail store in many months but usually, in January there are large displays of storage containers.  We tend to accumulate stuff all year and then kind of put it away or store it at the beginning of the next year.

In 2020 the only thing I bought that wasn’t for business or food or medicine or various paper products was one baking sheet. I love my new baking sheet and use it often. It is nice and thick with edges that are about an inch high. I can cook oh so many things on it even cookies or a whole meal.

Over the years I have managed to get rid of much of my excess stuff and as a result, I now have a couple dozen empty plastic storage bins.  I am hanging onto them and could probably buy a storage container for my storage containers but won’t. I have most of them stacked next to the workbench. They go from floor to ceiling.

I’ll confess I do have a bin that is full of yarn and no matter how much of it use I’ll always have a storage bin fun. I know that my children won’t want any of the stuff, not even the yarn.

Buying little or nothing is almost un-American. I managed to get rid of a few things in 2020 like the too large Christmas tree. I instantly regretted donating our large old fake Christmas tree but I am already enjoying the extra storage space and I didn’t miss setting it up and taking it down during the holidays.

Those storage containers may look enticing but buying them is a trap. It is a new year and we have the opportunity to break the cycle of having so much stuff that we need more storage bins.

Sometimes when I work with home sellers they have boxes of stuff left behind by their 30 something and 40 something offspring. When they move it to their own homes it becomes part of their own collection of stored stuff.

Before buying storage containers consider getting rid of anything that you don’t use on a regular basis or won’t use for the next decade or two. I have found that re-thinking what I buy (except for the yarn) helps reduce the need for storage. The next step after storage containers is storage units to hold all of those containers or a bigger house.

There are people who advocate packing trash bags with stuff and throwing it out. I am not a fan of adding more stuff to landfills. In most cases, I have been able to donate, sell, recycle, repurpose, or give stuff away.

If you would rather keep your stuff and buy a bigger house, give me a call. If you would like to downsize I can help with that too.

storage lockers
self-storage

As the year 2020 comes to a close

sunrise downtown St Paul
Sunrise in St. Paul, MN

I may stay awake to welcome in 2021 or maybe just to make sure 2020 is gone. New years eve is best celebrated 2020 style by staying home and maybe having a ZOOM new Year’s eve party. Reading a book or watching a movie works too.

The picture of the sunrise was taken on January 1sr 2018.  Taking a picture at sunrise is my prefered way to ring in the new year.

How ever you choose to celebrate please do so safely. We have a few things to look forward to in 2021. A vaccine for COVID-19 and a new president.

Happy New Year!

Working from home still hasn’t really caught on

There are a lot of people working from home these days. Some have moved to remote locations or are planning such a move because they no longer need to live within a reasonable commute to where they work.

They are confident that they will always have the same employer or that their next job will also be work from home. Working from home isn’t new and the technology to make it possible has been around for a couple of decades yet people still go to offices to work.

It might be too soon to plan a lifestyle built around telecommuting, it may not become mainstream.

Here is a “work-from-home forecast”, compiled by the National Association of Realtors. The current 21% is as a result of the pandemic, and that will carry into 2021.

Work from home

The consensus forecast is the compiled median response of 23 economic and housing market experts. It is an educated guess about distance working. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that by 2025 the percentage of people working from home will be back to single-digit percentages, but will be up from 6% in 2019.

In the real estate industry having office space is a big recruiting tool. Some of it has to do with the need that people have for connecting with other people.

There are employers who believe that people need to be in the same room to work together. I think with a little imagination people can work together without being in the same room.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to work from a cabin up north somewhere but I couldn’t give up the internet connection I have here in the city. Last February I upgraded my internet connection and bought a new cable modem too.

 

Are you ready for snow?

Snowy street in St. Paul

We really haven’t had much winter weather except for what we had last October.  I have enjoyed walking on sidewalks that are free of snow and ice. If we get snow today that will all change. There are homeowners and businesses that never shovel.

The city has various pedestrian plans.  You can find them on the Stpaul.gov web site where it says:

“Saint Paul is a walking city. We are more healthy, resilient, and connected because walking is safe and appealing for all.”

Walking on icy sidewalks where snow is allowed to accumulate all winter is anything but safe.

St. Paul property owners are required to remove snow from the sidewalk along within 24 hours of when it fell. There are no exceptions for vacant houses or businesses.

Here are some sidewalk shoveling tips from the city:

Shoveling Tips

  • Shovel sidewalks on all sides of your property, the full width of the sidewalk down to the bare pavement.
  • Remove all ice from sidewalks. After the sidewalk is clear, sprinkling a little sand can help prevent slipping on frosty sidewalks.
  • Pile snow onto your yard and boulevard. It’s against the law to shovel snow into streets and alleys.
  • If you have a corner property, clear curb cuts at corners and crosswalks to the street gutter. You are not required to clear snow ridges or piles left by plows beyond the gutter–City crews sometimes return to do that but if they can’t your neighbors would appreciate it if you could clear an opening and get through.

The city also has a video about removing snow from walkways.

Sidewalk violations can be reported to the city. Go to Stpaul.gov and type “shoveling sidewalks” in the search bar. I would leave a link but the city re-arranges the website often making the links useless after a month or two.