This Is Just A Game

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This Is Just A Game

There are those who are into sports, and those who are not. I belong to the latter group. While growing up in Riga, Latvia, I played soccer and basketball. I also practiced Roman wrestling, fencing, and then in the college (I attended the Riga Polytechnical Institute), I became a mountain-climber. I never succeeded in any of these activities. From time to time, my father would take me to soccer games, but these opportunities did not implant any sports bugs in me.

Nevertheless, when a friend offered me a free ticket to a basketball game between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks (or Dubs vs Mavs), I said, “Yes”. Prior to this, I visited the Oakland Coliseum a few years ago, when Chase Bank invited me to a basketball game at the VIP lodge. Other than watching the game, we were surrounded by free food and the cheerleaders would visit us in the breaks for photo ops.

This time, my experience was different. My friend has had great season tickets in the middle of the arena in the 6th row by the aisle, for the last twenty years. Thus, I was watching the game from the best spot.

If someone were to watch a basketball game for the first time, they would observe ten tall men in two different uniforms running from one side of the court to another, and from time to time throwing a ball into a basket, while 19,596 spectators yell and scream when the ball goes through the net.

There are huge screens high up in the middle of the arena, where one can see the action much better. During the game, loud music blasted and names of different companies would up on the light panels surrounding the space. From time to time vendors would peddle different snacks, beer, water and popcorn. Meanwhile, cheerleaders would jump and shake their bodies, or other performers would entertain the public.

Two season subscriptions can cost as much as $30,000 a year for 41 games and the players’ are compensated many millions of dollars. When I researched the Golden State Warriors Team’s payroll, I learned that over the 2017-18 season 29 year-old Stephen Curry’s compensation is $34,682,550, and it increases year after year. For this year alone, the total compensation of eighteen players is $137,494,845. When ancient Rome ceased to exist about 2500 years ago, a Roman poet Juvenal wrote, “Two things only the people anxiously desire – bread and circuses.” The government kept the Roman populace happy by distributing free food and staging spectacles.” The only difference is that now we have to pay for the tickets, beer and hotdogs. For me, going to a basketball game is just another form of very expensive entertainment where ten talented basketball athletes had fun playing their game.

P.S. Though I had enough images with the basketball players and the ball thrown through the net, I’ve chosen four images of other participants in the game who you might not have noticed or remembered, and who made this spectacle more entertaining and secure.

P.P.S. Today, Friday the 16th, the Chinese communities around the world are preparing to celebrate the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar – their New Year, which follows the lunar circle. Each year is provided an animal according to the Chinese Zodiac. This year’s zodiac animal is the dog. My friend Dr. Angela Wu sent me instructions (attached) on how to start this new cycle.

CNY2018

A Special Gift From Wu’s Healing Center

There is a Chinese saying, “a good start is halfway to success.” Dr. Angela C. Wu and the entire Wu’s Healing Center staff wish to offer you the precious gift of how to properly start this year on the Lunar New Year’s Day (solar calendar February 16th, 2018). This first step on that day plays a significant role for the rest of year. Both the timing and direction of your initial exit from wherever you are on February 16th, 2018 are of utmost importance.

This is what to do on that day:

On the morning of February 16th, 2018 pay special attention to personal hygiene and the initial exit direction from the building in which you are. The most auspicious time to go out is between 12am to 1am, 3am to 7am and 9am to 3pm. To welcome good luck, walk in the Northeast direction. To invite divine help, walk in the Southwest or Southeast direction. To invite wealth-spirit, walk in the North direction.

If you would like to burn incense or pray, please do so between 12am to 1am, 3am to 7 am and 11am to 3pm.

If you live or stay in an apartment building, walk in the desired direction at these following exits: your bedroom, front door, elevator (if your building has one), and finally the door to the outside.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

It’s All In The Heart

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It’s All In The Heart

You might have heard the expression that “The Heart is Where the Soul Resides.” This belief originated in ancient Egypt. This was the reason why during the mummification process, other parts of the body were removed while the heart was the only organ preserved. The Egyptians also believed that the heart was the source of memory, emotions and personality. Later on, ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the heart was the source of intelligence, motion and sensitivity? Only during the Renaissance did it become clear to Europeans that the heart functioned solely to pump blood. But does the heart have anything to do with love? Isn’t love “located” in the heart as well? Years ago, when I would disapprove of my daughter’s choice of boyfriends, my wife Elfa told me, instead of brooding, I should connect to my heart. This worked like a charm. Since in my heart I only had love for my daughter, the anger was departed.

The idea that in addition to fulfilling its vital role in our bodies, our heart has enough room for love as well as the soul; is going to be manifested over Valentine’s Day, next week. On Wednesday the 14th, chocolates, flowers and other gifts are exchanged, many in the familiar symbol of the heart, which interestingly does not resemble what human heart really looks like. Recently in “The Wall Street Journal”, the Review section published an essay from Marilyn Yalom’s new book, “The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love” titled The Mysterious Origins of our Most Enduring Symbol of Love.” According to the author, “The earliest illustrations of the amorous heart, created around 1250 in a French allegory called “The Romance of the Pear”, pictured a heart that looks like pinecone, eggplant or a pear.

In the huffingtonpost.com, I learned that “It was around in the Middle Ages that the heart symbol took on its current meaning, when Valentine’s Day originated in England in 1600s, the heart symbol was the obvious choice for symbol to reflect the new holiday.”

Back to the essay. “In 1977, the heart icon even became a verb, with Milton Glaser’s famous and endlessly repurposed “INY” logo. Today the stylized heart symbolizing love reigns supreme throughout the world. It may be only metaphor, but it serves us well as a universal sign for the mystery of love.”

For me, love is not a mystery. And is not only expressed once a year. All of us have the capacity to love both conditionally and unconditionally. If you have difficulty, try my wife’s advice – connect to your own heart.

P.S. We can encounter with the heart symbol everywhere, just open your heart to see it. To find four images with the heart, I had to search my photo archives. I wanted to be sure they are not conventional. However you can be the judge.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

How To Celebrate A 100th Birthday

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How To Celebrate A 100th Birthday

Last week I wrote about reaching my seventy-first birthday mark. That might not be a big deal, since in the U.S. there are about 77 million baby boomers; those who were born between 1946 to 1964, and the number of those who are over 65 is growing. How about those who are living to the age of 100? Online I found out that “Nationwide, the centurial population has grown 65.8 percent over the past three decades and according to 2010 Census Bureau data there were 53,364 centenarians.” That means that they were born at the time when San Francisco’s East and West parts were connected after the completion of the West Portal Tunnel. It opened in 1918. I found out about it by chance after visiting my favorite branch of the San Francisco Public Library, on West Portal. There I learned that on Saturday, February 3rd there will be an Open House with different performances from 1-5 pm to mark the tunnel’s 100th event.

The tunnel not only connected two parts of the city, but also created a shopping district along West Portal Avenue, which serves a number of the neighborhoods, which seemed to sprout as a result of the tunnel’s proximity. One of them is called Monterey Heights. This is where we bought our house in 1984. It was built in 1928 and has the charm of old homes, like other buildings in the adjacent neighborhoods, like St. Francis Wood and Forest Hill. During the centennial celebration in the library, there will be a display of historical photographs of the area, courtesy of MUNI.

You do not have to be a history buff to appreciate the way things once were. It is part of San Francisco’s illustrious history. In the book “San Francisco’s West Portal Neighborhoods”, from the Images of America series written by Richard Brandi, I found out that Adolph Sutro who made money during the Silver Rush, and after being a politician and philanthropist, served as the 24th mayor of San Francisco from 1895 and 1897. In 1880, he bought Rancho San Miguel, which was the name of the area.   After his death, the eastern portions were sold for development in 1909. It was the vision of the city engineer Michael O’ Shaughnessy to build a tunnel through Twin Peaks, to provide streetcar service to the new developing area. The book contains many photographs (which can be found in the San Francisco History Center of the Public Library). It was especially interesting to see images of West Portal Avenue, which still has the same original buildings with different tenants. We eat at the local restaurants, visit stores and watch movies in the movie theatre, which opened in 1926. The question crossed my mind – will it look the same after next one hundred years?

P.S. Through the years I’ve photographed many wonderful people who work here, like these four who seem to be very happy to encounter me.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Why Celebrate A 71st Birthday

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Why Celebrate A 71st Birthday

Celebrating a birthday is a very old tradition; it is even mentioned in the Torah. “And it was on the third day, Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants” (Genesis 40:20). But the age long question remains — why celebrate birthdays?

When I reached the age of seventy a year ago, I decided that this is going to be my new starting point for the next count of my life experiences. On January 13th I turned seventy-one, which was the first year to measure what I’ve accomplished and how many people benefited from my presence in this world. In my life I follow a saying by Hillel the Elder, who two thousand years ago famously proclaimed, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?” I derive great pleasure in everything I do as a devoted husband, loving father, a great friend, a caring mortgage broker, and the provider of employment for our company’s hard working associates and employees.

In 2017, I personally helped 84 clients benefit from their mortgages. 4,443 readers received my weekly “Encounters” and “Money Solutions” and over 700 acquired my photo-story book “42 Encounters in San Francisco”. Judging by the reviews on Amazon, people enjoyed reading the book and praised my images. During the last year, I finished working on the sequel photo-book, “42 Encounters with Couples in San Francisco”, which will be available before the end of this year. On September 4th we adopted a labradoodle puppy who became the hero of my next book, “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, which is going to be available in March. I am currently working on a new book, “Retirement Solutions for Smart People. 5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Your Golden Age”. After helping a number of clients with their reverse mortgages, I realized that a lot of people are not ready to retire. I hope my book will help them in this process. To continue working on this book and to celebrate my birthday, we came to The Sea Ranch for a week. Thus this short vacation, which we enjoyed very much, will also benefit others. And since our dog Max enjoyed this place as well, we will probably come back here in a few months, so I can continue writing the next chapters of the book.

P.S. Since this story is about making myself and other people happy, I am sharing with you four images of happy people I encountered in The Sea Ranch.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Why To Have Cash?

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Why To Have Cash?

You may have heard the expression “Cash is King”. I thought this was an old saying from the pen of Benjamin Franklin or perhaps William Shakespeare. Turns out, according to Wikipedia, “The origin of ”cash is king” is not clear. It was used in 1988, after the global stock market crash in 1987.” The phrase was also widely used during the global financial crisis in the Fall of 2008. Companies that had cash, i.e. money that was not invested in any type of asset that lost its value, could survive and avoid foreclosure. This is also relevant to households, in terms of avoiding foreclosures. Actually, what prompted me to write about the subject, was an article which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 27, 2017 – Cash Losing Cachet – More Places Don’t Take It by Andy Newman. The story starts with an event connected with the opening of a new lunch spot called Dig Inn on Broadway and 38th Street in Midtown Manhattan, which only accepts credit cards or debit cards – no cash. This can be understandable for various reasons – convenience, speed, smaller wallets, easier to reconcile (i.e. to check the bill at the end of the month), or to see the charge right away on your mobile phone, purchases online, and the list can go on and on. Now let’s take a look at the other side of credit card usage. The increase of debts, mistakes in not paying bills on time, lowering credit scores, which automatically increases your interest rate on all your credit cards. According to the site creditcards.com, in a report published on December 27, 2017, “Consumers increasingly are relying on credit cards to make payments instead of cash or debit.” According to new research from the Federal Reserve, credit card usage climbed to 10.2 percent in 2016. In addition to this, “The national average APR climbed to 16.24 percent”, and “the number of cards with maximum APR above 25 percent has jumped”.

The only reason I am writing about such an important subject at the beginning of the year is to share with you a bitter but good medicine.

In my line of work, before I can figure out how to help my clients buy a new property, or lower their monthly payments, or to get cash out for remodeling or to pay college tuition, I need to run a credit report. And believe me, I’ve seen it all. Let’s say in January or February you will need a new mortgage for whatever reason. Meanwhile, in November-December you took vacation to the foreign lands or bought a lot of holiday presents, or appliances (since everything on sale). But now your credit scores are down and your minimum monthly credit card bills can prevent you from qualifying. Have you ever asked yourself how long it will take to pay off existing debts without incurring new ones? In our business and household, my wife is in charge of our money. We have survived many storms thanks to her frugality and care. She ensures that we always have cash in the bank. Years ago, I had a business coach who taught me how to save money. It always starts with knowing your monthly cash flow, how much cash we need to survive for the next six months. My next writing project is a book titled “Retirement Solution for Smart People”, where I will address how to save in more details.

P.S. I personally mostly use credit cards sparingly, to be sure that the balance can be paid off at the end of the month. I do carry some cash to pay for services like haircuts or shoe repair. But I always carry dollars to support some of people who only take cash, whom I encounter on the streets of San Francisco, some of whom you can see in these photos.

Enjoy and Share with a Friend.

Do Not Keep Me As A Secret!
Smile And Please SHARE It With A Friend!

Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature