What Is Your Choice?

 “To have free will, you have to be free to choose.” 


From the moment we wake up, we have to make a choice. We make many choices in life; what to wear, what to eat, when and where to go on vacation, whom to marry, etc. As life progresses, the choices we make change and we choose again.

Some believe that we have a free will, while others believe everything is predestined. In the movie, “The Adjustment Bureau”, Matt Damon plays a guy who is running for congress, but what turns out is that his life is actually run by outside sources (The Adjustment Bureau), who in turn follow a pre-designed plan that is set up by the boss—the Chairman, who is the only one who can change it.

The problem comes when the hero falls in love.

At this moment, he has to make a personal choice, but his choice will affect not only his life but also the life of the other person. (You will have to see the movie to find out the outcome.)


Meanwhile, how do we know what to choose?

Rely on our gut feelings, ask others, or Google the question? That is a choice as well! The more choices we have, the harder it is to pick something.  And besides, how do we know that our choice will give us the desired outcome in the future?

During the presidential elections, we chose who to vote for. It is not only a political preference; it is an economic consequence, which affects all of us. On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed the Dodd Frank Act. I am sure he had in mind what he said:

“And finally, because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more tax-funded bailouts — period. If a large financial institution should ever fail, this reform gives us the ability to wind it down without endangering the broader economy.  And there will be new rules to make clear that no firm is somehow protected because it is “too big to fail,” so we don’t have another AIG.

That’s what this reform will mean.  Now, it doesn’t mean our work is over.  For these new rules to be effective, regulators will have to be vigilant.  We may need to make adjustments along the way as our financial system adapts to these new changes and changes around the globe.  No law can force anybody to be responsible; it’s still incumbent on those on Wall Street to heed the lessons of this crisis in terms of how they conduct their businesses.” (President Obama, July 21, 2010)


To implement the Dodd Frank Act created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), one of the tasks the CFPB had was to create new regulations for the mortgage industry. The problem was that those who created these regulations did not seem to be experts in the mortgage industry, and perhaps did not realize just how complex the mortgage business really was.

After the economic meltdown at the end of 2008, the lending industry changed. Mortgages became more difficult to get, safer for the consumers, and a number of foreclosures dropped. Nevertheless, the CFPB (to justify their existence) came up with the Qualifying Mortgage (QM), which will start on January 10, 2014.

In my view, the government wasted our money and created more complications for the borrowers. At the same time, Wells Fargo Bank (a firm “too big to fail”) followed by the other major banks, are planning to offer mortgages for wealthy borrowers, which will not follow QM standards.

You have a choice—to become wealthy.

On December 3, 2013, the Wall Street Journal’s article “Shift on Nonconforming Mortgages” discussed this.


As far as I am concerned, I have made my choice. Not to pay any attention and not be emotionally attached to any outcomes of the laws I cannot do much about. Instead, I choose to focus on helping my clients to have joy in their lives.


When I chose to grow a moustache to honor Movember, we were on vacation in Kauai and I did not have to shave every day. Somehow, my beard grew along with my moustache, and I chose to keep it.

Since then, I have received many compliments.

Some said that I look like a professor—or very serious. Some women suggested that it looked sexy.

I did not know what to choose—to keep it or to shave it off in December. The answer came while reading a story in the Torah about Joseph’s release from prison to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams.

“So Pharaoh sent and summoned Joseph, and they rushed him from the dungeon. He shaved and changed his clothes, and he came to Pharaoh.”—(Genesis 41:14)

Since I meet with the “Pharaoh” (my clients) daily and have to interpret their dreams (mortgage scenarios) to find solutions, I choose to be clean-shaven and in clean clothes.

The result—a process of the transformation, you can see in my self-portraits.



In the New Year, I wish for you to make the best choices for yourself and your family.

Have a Happy and Joyful New Year!

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 


On The Run

“To serve, run.
To live, walk slowly.” 


A year ago on our trip to Paris, I bought a fancy looking pair of flat leather shoes. After a lot of walking, I came home with a pain in my heels, which did not go away. It turned out to be a common problem. After consulting with my yoga teacher, chiropractor, and our family doctor, they recommended different exercises and to wear special shoes at night or plastic boots, which would pull my toes back to release pressure. All of this helped a little, but the pain was still there.

Since we were planning our trip to Italy, I needed a quick solution—new shoes? I visited The Foot Locker, but that did not help. I do not like to wear colorful, striped sneakers with black dress pants. The insoles I bought there did not fit well in my old shoes. We were set to leave on Monday morning. On Sunday at 5:55pm (5 minutes before closing), I walked into the shoe store

“On the Run” located at 1310 9th Ave in San Francisco. An hour later, I walked out with four pairs of shoes (including clogs to be worn at home). Two of the pairs were manufactured in Israel by the company NAOT, which in English means “nice looking and practical”—which they are.


Not only could I walk on our trip for at least 8-9 hours a day, but when we came back the pain was almost gone. The miracle was a result of the knowledge and patience from the sales person Ahn, who took time to work with me despite the late hours. The store and another one around the corner are owned by Mark Wachter. I met his sister in the store who told me that she had considered getting knee surgery, until Mark convinced her to try different shoes. The result? No pain, no surgery.

In Florence one evening, we had dinner at the Cibreo restaurant. It was a special experience. Although pricey, the food was very good and the service was superb. The staff moved very fast, sometimes they even ran. I looked at their footwear: no sneakers, but comfortable shoes. The service reminded me of our dinners in Zuni Café and Hayes Bar and Grill here in San Francisco.


What is interesting is that this kind of service is mentioned in the Torah. The chapter Vayeira starts with the story about three men (God’s messengers) visiting Abraham, who recently celebrated his 99th birthday and was sitting in his tent after undergoing circumcision.  The three men informed him that his wife Sarah, at the age of 90, will give birth to a son:

“He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold! Three men were standing over him. He perceived, so he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and bowed toward the ground. And he said, “My Lord, if I find favor in Your eyes, please pass  not away from Your servent.”—Genesis 18/2

After offering them water to wash their feet, he invited them to stay over for a meal:

“So Abraham hastened to the tent to Sarah and said, “Hurry! Three se’ahs of meal, fine flour! Knead and make cakes!” Then Abraham ran to the cattle, took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the youth who hurried to prepare it. He took cream and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed these before them; he stood over them beneath the tree and they ate.”—Genesis 18/6-8


I do not know if the restaurants I’ve mentioned use this story in their training manuals, but those who regulate the mortgage industry could definitely learn a thing or two.


In Italy, we dined in different restaurants and really enjoyed late evening strolls (in comfortable shoes). The weather was very pleasant and a lot of young people would congregate to have light meals or just to hang out. Since my camera can photograph in very low light, you can benefit from some of the images. 


 While you are reading this email, I am together with my family and friends in Cuba wearing my comfortable shoes.

Report to follow.

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 


Today’s Market Special

Mortgage Solutions for You


*FHA Loan limits are for San Francisco county only. Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.


Sam owns a two-unit building together with a partner. After his partner moved to another city, Sam wanted to buy his share to own the entire building. The problem was that Sam’s credit score was 619, which was affected by late payments and a collection agency, that resulted from the divorce. 

The only solution was to get an FHA loan. Before the change, the loan limits for two-units was $934,200.

We started working on the loan a while ago, but because Sam procrastinated with providing his documents–he missed the opportunity.

The new solution? 

To clean his credit and improve the score to at least 700. 

I will keep you posted.

Whom do you know that might benefit from creative mortgage solutions?



Do not keep me as a secret.


How to Give Thanks

“Giving and receiving are parts of the same circle.
If you want to receive more–give more.” 


In the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament, there is a story that describes Jesus’ healing powers:

“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.” (Matthew 15:30)

After they spent three days with him, (is this where three day weekend retreats came from?), he told his disciples that people should not leave him hungry. “But we have only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish,” they replied.

And here comes another story which was as miraculous as the healing.

“Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.” (Matthew 15:36)

“The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children.” (Matthew 15:38)


Jesus, his disciples, and the “great crowd” were Jewish, thus what Jesus probably did before breaking bread was to say benediction—a blessing on the bread.

“Blessed Are you God, our Lord, King of the World, who brings forth bread from the earth.”

But the scripture indicates something else “and when he had given thanks”.

The question comes to my mind—what did he actually give?


We usually associate giving something tangible. Perhaps giving thanks is an expression of gratitude to the people who came to him and gave Jesus an opportunity to heal them and give them nourishment through food—in addition to the spiritual healing. Therefore, “Giving Thanks” has a much deeper meaning than just saying these words of the Benediction.

Whom have you given thanks to lately?

One opportunity to do so, is to give food to the needy through the San Francisco and Marin Food Bank. The brown bag with instructions from this organization was delivered to my house. I am planning to fill it up and to deliver the food in person. Giving money to different charities that you believe in, is important, but giving thanks through the effort of buying the food, filling the bag, and bringing it to the distribution center on 900 Pennsylvania Avenue, for me has a different meaning.


At the same time for me to personally give thanks means to share my outlook on life and my photographic skills and vision. So I created a photo book, “Soy Cubano”. I call it a book of gratitude to the people in Cuba.

You are welcome to give thanks to your friends and loved ones by buying the book online. I will send out a separate email regarding the price and where to purchase the book soon, so stay tuned. I will use the money to give thanks to a needy group of children in Cuba.

The four images you see are from the total of 52 images in the book. You can also see some of them on my website Mannykagan.smugmug.com


I am off to Havana tomorrow for 10 days to meet more beautiful people and give them thanks (tourism is what sustains the Cuban economy). In return, I will bring more images to create another photo book. If you want to have a hardbound copy of “Soy Cubano”, it can be a beautiful present. Proceeds from the sale will go towards charity.

Please continue to check back for new developments between the U.S. and Cuba.

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 


Today’s Market Special

What’s New for Wednesday?




*Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

Before securing this loan, our agents Peter and Dwight had been working with the client for 5 months. It was a complicated transaction involving analyzing the global cash flow, calculating the capital cost to renovate, and potential new leases.

During the process, the loan application package was presented to 8 banks–all of which said, “NO”. Peter and Dwight persisted, until they finally found a bank who issued a loan for $2,2000,000 plus an additional $1,000,000 to renovate the building.

Whom do you know that might benefit from creative mortgage solutions?


Some of my readers of “Good News From Dr. Manny” indicated that they liked the images of sunsets that I previously posted. I will include more images of my sunrises and sunsets in future emails.


Do not keep me as a secret.


How to See The Magic

“Between the Sunset and Sunrise–there is a starry sky. We are surrounded by Magic. To see it, we have to open our eyes.” 



Do you have to be in The Sea Ranch on Thanksgiving weekend to see some magic? Absolutely not, but it helps. We arrived there on Wednesday afternoon. The house we rented was on a bluff. There was maybe about 20 feet between the house and the ocean. Coming here almost did not happen. We were told that to rent a nice house for the holidays, one needs to start a year earlier. Perhaps, my wife was just lucky. After calling all the rental agencies (there are quite a few there), the only answer she received was “NO”–but then one of them had a cancelation.


I guess other things in life have similar circumstances. Perhaps the key is to just keep calling. We had at least four reasons to be here over Thanksgiving weekend:

Number 1—we love to be here.

Number 2—our daughter, Alona, was visiting from Paris and she loves to be here, as well.

Number 3—I just happened to have a client in the area, referred by a local real estate agent who wanted to buy a house in Gualala (a local town) and needed a VA loan.

And Number 4—to see the magic show.

The show started a few hours after our arrival—the sunset, right before our eyes. I just had to take a few steps to get good images. And since the show was scheduled to be here every evening (even when we are not there), I was clicking away.

Then came night.


The sky was cloudless and since at night there is not much light, we could see the sky covered with myriads of stars. You’ve probably seen beautiful images of starry nights before, but I never took those images and instructions from Google did not help.

But the magic show continued the next morning. Since I knew what to expect, I left home before sunrise to walk along the ocean for about 15 minutes to the spot from where I knew the magic will have the best effect. I have thousands of images of the sunsets and sunrises, but every time I see it, my heart fills with joy. My face opens up with a huge smile. And again, as with the sunset, the show continues every morning (in the winter, the colors are stronger than in the other seasons.) But I felt that I had unfinished business—the starry nights.

In Gualala, there are a number of good photo galleries. One of them, Studio 391, is owned by Paul Kozal,. He is a good photographer and through the years we’ve exchanged photo information. He has beautiful images of the stars, and he told me how to calculate the camera settings. That night, I had a ball. Every 30 seconds, I would move my tripod around. To photograph only stars is quite boring, but by including other objects the picture becomes much more interesting (you be the judge).


Thus, the circle was complete. Between the Sunset and the Sunrise, there is a starry sky.

There are plenty of opportunities to photograph sunsets in various parts of the world. In San Francisco, the good spot is in Sutro Park. Just get there before sunset and stay at least 30 minutes after. For good images of the sunrise, you need to get to the bay. I have photographed from the piers on the Embarcadero a few times. When you turn around, you can also capture downtown San Francisco eliminated by the rising sun. This brings to mind another idea. When you photograph the sunset, turn around and catch the illuminating light on the surroundings or on the beach. For clear, starry nights, Mount Davidson can be a good choice or Twin Peaks. I have photographed the sunrise from there as well. Just arrive early, have a steady tripod and a wide angle lens. Or if you are somewhere, at the right place, at the right time, the new iPhone 5S model (or a comparable cell phone) can capture the magic.



This is a very good cure for getting rid of any negative thoughts, depression, concerns about government regulators, or just to spend time with loved ones. I took my family to watch the magic of the sunrise. In spite of the need to get up in the dark, they loved it. So will you.

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 




Today’s Market Special

 What’s New for Wednesday?


*Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.


We were helping a client buy a condominium. During the inspection process, the inspector found some problems. Everyone (borrowers/sellers/real estate agents) wanted to have a quick close, so there was no time to fix everything. As a result, the contract was written “As Is”–not mentioning the report.

When we submitted the loan, everyone was concerned that the appraiser might point out these issues. However, when we submitted the loan electronically–to everyone’s surprise, the lender’s program did not ask for an appraisal report!

Miracles do happen!

The purchase transaction closed on time.

Whom do you know that might benefit from creative mortgage solutions?

Do not keep me as a secret.