Friday, November 21, 2008

Could this be winter?

On Tuesday we headed west from the Emerald Isle, NC area. About one hundred miles east as we crossed Interstate 95 we ran into some snow squalls.

They were short-lived but impressive. As we made our way farther into the heart of the state we could see more of the signature tall white clouds which seemed to merge into the ground.

We came back to the coast on Wednesday night. On Thursday we were over on Emerald Isle and heard that snow flurries had been sighted while we were gone. At the same time our neighbors in Roanoke, Va sent us pictures of the first snow of the season.

Today, I have seen several quick snow showers. It is over forty degrees so nothing is sticking, but I am impressed nonetheless. These are the first snow flurries that I have witnessed on the coast.

With temperatures running ten to twenty degrees below normal daytime highs for November and snow in the air, I must conclude that we are having an early winter.

At one time in my life I relished the first snows of winter. Once the snow came, there were certain things that were no longer possible on the farm. There was a period of shifting gears which actually offered some opportunity for relaxation. The first snows brought an end to the frenzied pace of fall. It was a time to put some things on hold and make up a new list of what had to be done.

The second winter, 1989, after we moved from Canada, we had just moved to Roanoke, Virginia, The snow came early that winter. Five or six inches of snow remained on the ground from before Thanksgiving until after Christmas. We thought we had moved back to Canada.

That was the only fall that the snow stayed on the ground in Roanoke.

Somehow, a cloudy even snowy early winter seems to suit the mood of the country. No one really knows how to fix our problems. Perhaps if we hibernate through winter, things will be better in the spring.

If it were just that easy, there would be no complaints coming from me even if it meant some snow on the ground here on the coast.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

That fall feeling

As the season begins to turn here on the coast, my thoughts are drawn back to previous falls. There are some great memories there.

One fall, probably 1974, I built the first big barn on our farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick. I can still remember nailing up the last of the steel siding just before American Thanksgiving.

By then it was pretty cold to work outside without gloves.

In the fall of 1981 we had our cattle dispersal sale. In one afternoon we sold all two hundred head of our purebred Angus cattle. Some went as far away as Alberta. It was an amazing event that I will never forget.

About a year later I went to work in one of the first retail computer stores in eastern Canada. The transition from working outside all the time to a desk job was easier than I thought. It is a wonder that we have any farmers. Still in less than a year, I had helped open four other stores and had a number of employees working for me.

When the fall of 1984 rolled around, I joined Apple Computer for an amazing journey of almost twenty years. For those years, fall always meant a sales conference which in the later years was usually in the California. The early years were wild for a guy used to life on the farm..

At the end of one early conference in Boca Raton Starship played for us. Then there was the greased watermelon hunt with Michael Spindler on a beach that I cannot even remember.

The year 2004 brought the first fall after leaving Apple. It was a time of soul searching and trying to figure out what to do next with my life.

I ended up doing a couple of years with small companies, but I found that for the most part the only way that young companies learn is through their own mistakes. I actually time to relive corporate mistakes that I have already seen would be wasted.

Then in the fall of 2006 after lots of training I passed my real estate licensing exam for the state of North Carolina. I felt a great sense of accomplishment because I had not been certain that I could go back to school. Old computer guys can learn new tricks. The rest of that fall was spent taking even more real estate classes.

We also moved down to the coast of North Carolina in the fall of 2006. It was a risky dream of mine, but I am glad we did it. I have learned a tremendous amount and met some great people.

Fall of 2007 was a relatively successful real estate time for me. I finished the year strong and was named rookie of the year by our firm. We were actually well on the way to have a good follow-up year until the financial world fell apart this fall.

I think this fall might be remembered as my first fall of serious fishing. Last fall I was learning out to handle our boat, this year I am more focused on fishing.

There have been many pleasant days on the river and along the beach. The weather has been great, and we have caught enough fish to enjoy a few meals and to keep us excited about fishing.

Fall is always when I start to take stock of where I am and what I want to accomplish next.

Real estate continues to suffer, but at some point I know it will recover.  I am not sure that I will hang on those many years.  There are a lot of factors are going to make it a very tough place to make a living. I have my eyes open for other opportunities.

I continue to believe that the Internet will play an ever increasing role in helping people find and sell their homes. My skill set makes me well positioned to take advantage of the Internet as a marketing tool but it might be for something besides real estate.

Update- 2014

While I am still a licensed real estate agent, I stopped actively listing properties in the fall of 2011.  I have published several books and gone back to my roots in technology.  I am now vice president of sales and marketing for WideOpen Networks.  I still managed to keep up a very active writing career on the Internet.  There are lots of links and updated information on my homepage.