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Sarah Palin as done by Tina Fey on SNL

September 30, 2008

Whether you’re a Sarah Palin fan or not you have to admit Tina Fey really nailed the impression perfectly. I’m not sure what Palin found so hilarious if she really watched the Saturday Night Live skit with the sound down, as she claims, but I did find it pretty darn funny with the sound up. Enjoy…

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“Free credit report dot com baby?”

September 27, 2008

credit-reportOk, I admit it. I absolutely love the FreeCreditReport.com song! You know, the one where the guys are driving down the road singing about how they could have been driving a nice car had they checked their credit report through FreeCreditReport.com. The song is catchy, but the offer is quite misleading.

Well I’m shopping for a new car, which one’s me? A cool convertible or an S-U-V. Too bad I didn’t know my credit was whacked, so I driving off the lot in a used sub-compact. F-R-E-E, that spells “free”, credit report dot com baby. Saw their ads on my TV. Thought about goin’ but was too lazy. Now instead of lookin’ fly and rolling phat, my legs are sticking to the vinyl and my posse’s getting laughed at. F-R-E-E, that spells “free”, credit report dot com baby…

There is nothing free about FreeCreditReport.com. I learned this the hard way. So I’m trying to save you the headache by letting you know that you really have to read the small print with this “deal.” When you sign up to receive your free credit report you are actually signing up for “Triple Advantage,” a ripoff program (my opinion) that charges your credit card $14.95 every month if you don’t cancel the program within the first 7-days. How many people remember to cancel the Triple Advantage program within 7-days? Probably very few. And then you get your credit card bill and you’re left wondering how a free credit report could be so costly.

So enjoy the song and commercial, but don’t get ripped off by this company. You are entitled to a FREE copy of each of your credit reports every year from the 3 credit agencies. You can monitor your own credit without paying for this Triple Advantage program. All 3 credit agencies make it simple to contest items that appear on your credit report. You don’t need to waste about $180 per year for someone to tell you what you can read for free.

To order your credit reports…

1. Experian – Click and order your FREE report now
2. Equifax – Click and order your FREE report now
3. TransUnion – Click and order your FREE report now

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Difference between a black bear and Grizzly

September 26, 2008

bear-climbing-treeQ: How do you tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly bear?
A: When you see the bear, climb a tree. If it climbs up the tree and kills you, it’s a black bear. If it knocks the tree down and kills you, it’s a grizzly bear.

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Cocktail party discussion

September 26, 2008

wedding-ringAt a cocktail party, one woman said to another,
‘Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’
‘Yes, I am. I married the wrong man.’

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Pasco County High Schools

September 18, 2008

reportcard1Anclote High School
Principal: Monica Ilse
1540 Sweetbriar Drive
Holiday, Fl 34691
(727) 246-3000 In-district Phone #: 63000
Fax #: 727/246-3091

Gulf High School
Principal: Steve Knobl
5355 School Road
New Port Richey, Fl 34652
(727) 774-3300 In-district Phone #: 43300
Fax #: 813/794-3391

Hudson High School
Principal: David LaRoche
14410 Cobra Way
Hudson, Fl 34669
(727) 774-4200 In-district Phone #: 44200
Fax #: 813/794-4291

James Irvin Education Center
Principal: Rick Saylor
35830 State Road 52
Dade City, Fl 33525
(352) 524-5700 In-district Phone #: 45700
Fax #: 813/794-5791

Land O’ Lakes High School
Principal: Ric Mellin
20325 Gator Lane
Land O’ Lakes, Fl 34638
(813) 794-9400 In-district Phone #: 49400
Fax #: 813/794-9491

F. K. Marchman Technical Education Center
Principal:Shelia D. Bryan
7825 Campus Drive
New Port Richey, Fl 34653-1211
(727) 774-1700 In-district Phone #: 41700
Fax #: 727/774-1791

J. W. Mitchell High School
Principal: Jim Michaels
2323 Little Road
New Port Richey, FL 34655
(727) 774-9200 In District #: 49200
Fax #: 727/774-9291

Moore Mickens Education Center
Principal: Steve Cox
38301 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Dade City, Fl 33525
(352) 524-9000 In-district Phone #: 4900
Fax #: 352/524-9091

Pasco High School
Principal: Patrick Reedy
36850 State Road 52
Dade City, Fl 33525
(352) 524-5500 In-district Phone #: 45500
Fax #: 352/524-5591

Ridgewood High School
Principal: Randy Koenigsfeld
7650 Orchid Lake Road
New Port Richey, Fl 34653
(727) 774-3900 In-district Phone #: 43900
Fax #: 813/794-3991

River Ridge High School
Principal: Maria Swanson
11646 Town Center Road
New Port Richey, Fl 34654
(727) 774-7200 In-district Phone #: 47200
Fax #: 727/774-7291

Harry Schwettman Education Center
Principal: Mimi Foster
5520 Grand Boulevard
New Port Richey, Fl 34652
(727) 774-0000 In-district Phone #: 40000
Fax #: 727/774-0091

Sunlake High School
Principal: Angie Stone
3023 Sunlake Blvd.
Land O’Lakes, FL 34638
(813) 346-1000 In-district Phone #: 61000

Wesley Chapel High School
Principal: Andrew Frelick
30651 Wells Road
Wesley Chapel, Fl 33545
(813) 794-8700 In-district Phone #: 48700
Fax #: 813/794-8791

Wiregrass Ranch High School
Principal: Ray Bonti
2909 Mansfield Blvd.
Wesley Chapel, FL 33543
(813) 346-6000 In-district Phone #: 66000
Fax #: 813/346-6091

Zephyrhills High School
Principal: Gerri L. Painter
6335 12th Street
Zephyrhills, Fl 33542(813) 794-6100 In-district Phone #: 46100
Fax #: 813/794-6191

Please let me know if this list of Pasco County High Schools contains errors. Thank you!

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Is this market starting to awaken?

September 17, 2008

The real estate market appears to be picking up the past few months in the Tampa Bay area. While I would never call the market healthy or active there does seem to be a little more life to the monster. Most of my personal listings are currently under contract or teetering on the edge of a sale. Buyers are out and about and my phone is ringing.

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Where were you when the world stopped turning?

September 11, 2008

alan-jacksonToday marks the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and most significantly, our American homeland. They say that history repeats itself so it is wise to pay close attention to the lessons, both pleasant and painful, that historical events present to us. Tune them out and you slip into denial. How can you learn and grow from that which you deny?

Alan Jackson wrote one of the most beautiful songs about 9/11. He asks us to reflect on where we were that dreadful morning when the attacks began. I’ll share the song lyrics first and then a YouYube video so you can hear the song along with see some of the images of 9/11 that a great many people are trying to deny or forget. While it is unhealthy to dwell or focus too much on the horrific events of that morning, it is even more dangerous to block them out of your head as if they didn’t happen at all. History does indeed repeat itself for those that didn’t learn the first time around.

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Working on some stage in LA
Did you stand there in shock at the site of
That black smoke rising against that blue sky
Did you shout out in anger
In fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cryDid you weep for the children
Who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don’t know
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below

Did you burst out in pride
For the red white and blue
The heroes who died just doing what they do
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself to what really matters

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day
Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you’re a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you’re watching
And turn on “I Love Lucy” reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

I’m just a singer of simple songs
I’m not a real political man
I watch CNN but I’m not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

The greatest is love
The greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day

If you’ve never listened to this song it is well worth your time. It’s a wonderful song even without the powerful and emotional message, but when you really listen and think about the meaning behind the song it is hard not to get choked up.

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Buyers are Liars?

September 9, 2008

shhhhThis is one of those hush-hush behind the scenes industry phrases that is never supposed to be heard by the general public. But I have a different philosophy and I think honesty is almost always the right policy. So let’s talk about what this statement means and why almost all seasoned (and even green) Realtors have yelled it out, while simultaneously pulling their hair from their heads.

To begin with it must be understood that residential real estate is a straight commission profession. We get paid if and only if we sell a home. It doesn’t matter how many houses we show, how many contracts we negotiate and submit, or how many properties we have listed. If we don’t sell we don’t earn a single cent. It is sink or swim in this business. Most sink fast.

So we’re off to a rocky start from the beginning. Only salespeople know what it’s like to work long hard hours for FREE in hopes of someday getting paid for their work. Most other jobs are rather secure in that the employee has a pretty good idea of how much their paycheck will be at the end of the week. In real estate nothing is sure. Getting paid is the most uncertain aspect of our jobs.

Imagine being in this situation….

You’re a Realtor working with a young married couple from New York. Showing houses to them is a pleasure for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it is always nice to know you have buyers that absolutely MUST buy a home soon because their company is relocating them to Florida. If you exceed these buyers’ expectations you have a sure paycheck. And paychecks are good. Would you agree? In addition to seeing green at the end of the tunnel, you’re also having a pretty good time with these guys. They’re fun, friendly and seemingly loyal.

After showing about 12 houses to them over several days you know you’re close to writing an offer. Many of the homes you’ve shown them have really been nice and from your market knowledge these buyers can’t find a better deal anywhere.

So the 3rd day comes and you wake up bright and early feeling confident that today is going to be the day you go under contract with your New York buyers. As you make your pot of morning coffee you’re tossing around ideas for closing gifts. Should you give them a gift certificate to a quality Italian restaurant? Or maybe a gift basket with wine, cheeses and other snacks. Well, there will be time to make that decision as most closings happen 30 – 45 days after the effective date. But it’s fun to think about anyways.

But something strange happens when you call Mr. and Mrs. Buyer this morning. Mr. Buyer says they’re going to have to pass on getting together today because Mrs. Buyer doesn’t feel well. She started feeling sick last night and it “just might be the flu.” Better give them a few days to handle this unplanned setback.

As a skilled Realtor you know these things happen and it doesn’t do any good to allow yourself to get frustrated. Real estate is a virtual roller-coaster ride of emotions and finances and only those with a strong stomach can survive.

So you wait a few days and call Mr. Buyer to see how the wife is recovering. Straight to voice mail. After leaving a brief, yet upbeat message you decide to not be pushy and wait for them to call you back. After all, you feel you have quite a bit of rapport with these buyers and you don’t want to ruin it by being insensitive to their health problems.

Several days go by and Mr. Buyer hasn’t called. You call again and leave a message – this time saying, “I hope I haven’t done anything to scare you off or offend you,” even though you know that isn’t in the realm of possibility. You’ve gone above and beyond with these buyers and surely they realize this. There is nothing to worry about.

But the phone never rings. And none of your emails or subsequent calls are ever answered. Your stomach drops as you realize what you thought was a sure sale is clearly not such a sure thing. Several days of trying to make contact and nothing.

So you call Mr. Buyer back, but this time you hit *67 to block his Caller ID from identifying who is calling. He picks up…and stutters and stammers a bit as he is clearly caught off guard with this unplanned and unexpected phone call. “Hi Mr. Buyer. This is Chris O’Connor with Charles Rutenberg Realty. I haven’t heard from you in over a week so I just want to touch base and see where you and your wife are at with the buying process. We looked at some great homes and I saw the excitement in your eyes on several of those homes. I have bad news about the house on Elm Street. I just noticed in MLS that it is under contract, so it looks like that one might have slipped away, but the 4-bedroom home on Sycamore is still showing active and it looks like they dropped the price another $10,000. Have you and your wife talked this week while she has been recovering her health? Are you still looking to buy a home?”

Mr. Buyer proceeds to stick a dagger in your heart by sharing with you the following:

Mr. Buyer: “My wife and I actually found a house and are under contract already.”

Realtor: “You bought a house this week while your wife was sick? I thought you were working with me as your Realtor? What happened?” What did I do?”

Mr. Buyer: “It really wasn’t you. It was more us.”

Realtor: “What do you mean? What does that mean? If I didn’t do anything wrong why did you allow me to work so hard for you and then you bought a house without me?”

Mr. Buyer: “Well, we didn’t really plan it that way…it just happened.”

The above scenario isn’t really make-believe. It happened to me a few years ago. I thought these buyers and I had total rapport. I spent the better part of a week showing them houses in the heat of the Florida summer. Not only did I show the husband and wife, but they brought along about 4 other family members.

Long hours. Wasted time. Gas money. Frustration.

And when all is said and done these buyers bought through another agent. Who was this agent? In this case I didn’t investigate and find out, but much of the time the other agent is a family member that has a real estate license, but works a full-time job somewhere else. They don’t have the time to drive their brother or cousin around to look at houses. So they deceive a full-time Realtor, together as a team, and then ultimately deny that Realtor a paycheck. They use the Realtor.

This is commonplace in the world of real estate. Hence the phrase, “Buyers are Liars.” Working with buyers is the most difficult part of real estate because there really is no means to achieve buyer loyalty. As a Realtor you have to look at each buyer and make a judgment call. Knowing that we might get burnt by a buyer we try our best to screen them before showing them houses, but even after concluding that a particular buyer is a good, honest and ethical person…another burn.

Obviously, not all buyers are liars. In fact the majority are just like you and me. The moral of this story is to treat people how you would like to be treated. The Golden Rule applies in just about all arenas of life, and real estate is no exception. If you’re a potential home buyer show your Realtor some loyalty. This is a hard enough profession. If you’ve been treated right by your Realtor return the favor and maintain loyalty. Any Realtor can show you any house in MLS. There is no reason or benefit to calling all the signs yourself. Find a knowledgeable Realtor and stick with them. In the end you’ll develop a relationship with your Realtor and succeed in negotiating the best deal. And you’ll probably feel good about being honest.

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Welcome to CallChrisToday.com!

September 4, 2008

welcomeFinally. I’ve been searching diligently for a new domain name for the past year or so and finally I think I’ve found the perfect fit. Some of my clients may remember my web address as www.YourGulfCoastAgent.com, but after a while I came to the realization that this was just too hard to remember or type into the address bar. With 18 letters only a trained athlete could muster the energy to visit my site. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit!

Then I made the switch to an even more ridiculous domain name: www.MyFancyBlog.com. Sure, go ahead and laugh. Can you imagine how silly I felt telling people my web address and email address over the phone? Hey, it’s a catchy web site name, but for a Realtor it is never good to have your clients laughing at you from the start. Ok, you can stop laughing now. Seriously. Stop. Thank you. That fruity domain, along with www.YourGulfCoastAgent.com, are conveniently redirected right here to www.CallChrisToday.com.

My new domain, as you have probably deduced, is simply www.CallChrisToday.com. It is pretty easy to remember, in my opinion, but only time will tell. Oh, I have it committed to memory, personally, but we’ll see if my existing and future clients feel the same.

www.CallChrisToday will be quite different than my past sites. This site is technically a Blog, but designed to appear more like a newspaper. Are you familiar with Blogs and Blogging?

According to Wikipedia:
A Blog (a contraction of the term “Web log”) is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

www.CallChrisToday.com is a Blog, created and maintained by yours truly, which focuses on real estate in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. In other words you’ll be able to find articles of interest to both buyers and sellers here. People attempting to sell their home as a “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) will also have a great deal of helpful information available here.

By virtue of being a Blog this entire site is interactive. This means that anyone can leave comments for me and the other readers. For people new to Blogs, this is the very purpose of a Blog. Blogs are meant to be an online journal or chronological record of events or thoughts, but with the added bonus of being interactive.

But there is much more to life than real estate, so you can expect to see a wide variety of articles and posts at www.CallChrisToday.com. Sometimes I ramble and this section, “Chris’s Corner,” is where you’ll find my profound (and not so profound) ramblings about this and that. (primarily that)

So kick off your shoes and stay a while. You’ll need to create a free account if you want to post comments. And I do hope you’ll post comments. It will get mighty lonely around here if I end up talking to myself. And you don’t want me to be lonely now do you? I didn’t think so. See the “register” link up at the top right next to the weather? Click that link and create an account. It takes a few seconds and then you’ll be a certified www.CallChrisToday.com member and you can brag to all your friends!

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College Admission Essay – Hilarious!

September 3, 2008

student-writingThis is an actual essay written by a college applicant. The author, Hugh Gallagher, was admitted to NYU.

Essay: In order for the admissions staff of our college to get to know you, the applicant, better, we ask that you answer the following question: Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped to define you as a person?

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer, I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat .400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago, I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.

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