Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
There are two magazines on my bathroom floor. One is AARP Magazine's July/August issue, and the other is REALTOR(R) Magazine's March issue (OK, I'm a slow read when it comes to business publications).
AARP features a very amusing article by Hugh Delehanty, "Confessions of a Facebook Addict," in which he describes how he realized that he was an addict when, on a dream vacation, he sneaked into the bathroom at 3:00 a.m. to check his Facebook page. He became so obsessed with making new friends, especially collecting celebrity friends, it took awhile for him to realize that he was no longer participating in his own life, his passions, and his marriage.
AARP lists several social networking sites and their basic characteristics: Facebook.Com, MySpace.Com, LinkedIn.Com, AARP.org, Twitter.Com. Of course, there really are thousands of online communities in the U.S. They don't mention Second Life, but if Facebook is addictive, imagine how seductive a virtual reality can be. In Second Life, you can be and have anything you want: Young, skinny, curvy, long hair or short, male or female. You can go to parties (without your spouse, who doesn't exist in your Second Life), dance, listen to your favorite bands. You can lounge in your beautifully decorated loft condo. You can even hook up!
The REALTOR(R) Magazine features (yet ANOTHER) article about social networking, "Managing Your Reputation In The Age Of Social Media." It's talking about the obvious sites like Zillow and Trulia, as well as agent/broker sites like ActiveRain. I know many agents who post almost every day on ActiveRain. This may sound like heresy, but I'm not sure that it enhances their businesses. Maybe yes for some, and no for others. I think it can be almost an escape to a real estate world in which they can still feel in control. I keep in touch with my clients and friends, and share relevant real estate news, through my monthly newsletter "Positively At Home." It's linked all month from my real estate web site.
So, here's why I'm not signing up for Twitter, or blogging every day on ActiveRain. I get over 300 e-mail messages a day. Many are from an online information/support group for Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) which I've hosted since 2005. There are over 600 members, and new members are joining every week. I started this group because my dad was diagnosed and treated in 2003. It's a busy, busy list, but very rewarding.
For over ten years, I have been an active volunteer and county coordinator for the USGenWeb Project, and any day of the week, I get genealogy list messages from various counties and states (that just reminded me that I need to vote in the National elections today!). Many of my personal messages are requests for look-ups or advice about research. Sometimes, they are offers to clean up or transcribe old cemeteries, and I sponsor several Eagle Scout projects for the Gwinnett County GAGenWeb.
I'm a "lurker" on a great postcard collecting list, and many of the members (all over the world) have been collecting for over 50 years. My interest is in pre-1914 postcards of particular cities, but I enjoy learning about the hobby and hearing the stories of other collectors.
I'm a Budget Geek who assigns every dollar a job each month, and keeps in touch with my budget and bank account almost every day. I'm active on a budget message board because while we may be in different boats, we're all paddling up the same river.
I also love music and books, and occasionally, I check in with message boards for my favorite authors or book series, TV shows, and musicians. I want to know what others think about things, what's going on (the next album release, the next book release, the next TV appearance). I confess that I really appreciate that Kris Allen twitters the fans on his web site every day.
I joined Classmates.Com prior to my last high school reunion, and I check in occasionally to see if any additional classmates have signed up. I've never been particularly sentimental about my high school years, but years later, I've found it to be a lot of fun to connect with other people who remember the same teachers, old hang-outs, etc.
So, the next time I get an e-mail or magazine urging me to take the plunge into "social networking," I think I'll just DELETE, and go back to following my own passions.
Friday, July 10, 2009
At almost every closing these days, several minutes is dedicated to discussing the possible appeal of the current property tax assessment. While we homeowners have had to face declining values, home buyers are getting some amazing deals. Often, their first instinct is to run to the Gwinnett County Tax office to appeal their assessment.
I don't usually editorialize, but I would like to suggest that we slow down and give this a lot of consideration. We are fortunate to live in Gwinnett County, where we are able to count on the amenities of good schools (Gwinnett was the only metro Atlanta county to move forward in building needed new schools in 2009), beautiful public parks, public libraries, road improvements, and fire and police services. So far, Gwinnett has weathered the recession better than most. However, this may change because of budget deficits.
Yesterday, I got an e-mail notice from the Library Elf, telling me that a long awaited book was ready for pick up. Just an hour later, I received the following press release from Michelle Long with Gwinnett County Public Library:
"LAWRENCEVILLE, GEORGIA (9 July 2009) - In an effort to balance the County budget, Commissioners will undoubtedly implement cuts that impact all aspects of Gwinnett County, including Gwinnett County Public Library. While the Library does receive a small amount of funding from the state, the majority of the funding is from the County.
"The Library has made a number of significant cuts over the last six months, and further cuts are anticipated in 2010. Unfortunately, due to the difficult financial times, the library administration has been forced to make some drastic decisions that impact library hours, services, and programs. A hiring freeze has already been implemented, and the library has now reached the tipping point where full services can no longer be provided with reduced staff."
The way the library has decided to handle this economic crisis is very reasonable, and the citizens of Gwinnett will easily adapt. However, this is a sign of things to come. Let's support Gwinnett County to enable our government to continue to provide services to its people.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
June was a nostalgic month. I don't know if it was revisiting Michael Jackson's old music videos (I'd forgotten how good he was in the 80's), or the 1980 issues of "Atlanta Magazine" my dad gave me, but I've found myself thinking a lot about how things have changed. Doesn't it seem like 1980 was just a few years ago, and do you remember the recession of the 1980's as a kinder, gentler recession?
One particular ad caught my eye and tugged at my heart a little. Remember Ellman's catalog showroom? I worked in the diamond and fine jewelry departments at the new Southlake store and the Cumberland store (adjacent to the corporate offices) from 1976 until 1985 when the company was bought by Service Merchandise. We all worked the annual tag sales at the Cheshire Bridge store, and all of us in diamond sales knew and covered for each other. Anyone who worked at Ellman's during those years will recognize this quote and remember who greeted everyone with, "Is that you?" (Actually, it sounded more like, "Izzat chew?"). There's a wonderful blog called Georgia Retail Memories that I recommend to Atlanta natives.
Other advertisements may be names you may recognize from 1980 Atlanta Magazine:
Davison's , C&S (Citizens and Southern Bank), Bailey, Banks & Biddle Jewelers (still with us!), Eastern Airlines, Rich's, WQXI AM/FM (remember "Quixie"?), Anthonys fine dining restaurant in Buckhead (still there- 200 years old!), WSB 750-AM (still going strong), Muse's menswear (filed Chapter 11 Bankrupcy in 1991 after 112 years in business).
There's an article about the B52's, and a scathing review of Richard Gere's new movie, "American Gigalo." There's also a full page ad for JVC's new video cassette recorder (I bought my first VCR that very year for almost $700!). You could buy VHS tapes at the Record Bar at Northlake or Southlake Malls.
And, in closing, here's my favorite ad from 1980: "Your $90,000 home at Horseshoe Bend comes with $4,000,000 worth of extras. And something else that's priceless. The river." Who would have guessed that almost thirty years later houses would, once again, sell for $90,000?