It’s All About Birds

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It’s All About Birds

Do you care to know how many types of birds there are in San Francisco? I did not care to know either, until I saw an article in the National Geographic with a photo of an eagle on the cover and a story by Jonathan Franzen titled, “Why Birds Matter”.

So I did some research, and learned on sfbaywildlife.com that there are 48 species of birds. In my curiosity, I checked how many birds I would recognize and whether I knew what type of bird they were. The list did not include the wild parrots in San Francisco, which became popular after the 2007 documentary. Now there are about 300 parrots separated into several flocks living in different parks throughout the city. When I made an inquiry of how many pigeons are there in San Francisco, I learned that there is no definite answer. Nevertheless, there was a very interesting thread on the subject on Yelp. One of the comments stated that: “The pigeon population to be 5 million…until the homeless people started eating them.” Actually these amounts are probably grossly overestimated. Turns out that every year the Golden Gate Audubon Society conducts a bird count. This year it took place in San Francisco on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 (there was another one in Oakland on December 17, 2017). We have to wait for the results, but we have information from the 2015 count. There were 128 observers who counted 184 species and 73,095 individual birds.

I was curious to find out if we have the American Symbol, bald eagles, in San Francisco. On April 5, 2017 U.S. News reported: “Endangered bald eagles are making a comeback in the San Francisco Bay Area… Fifty years ago, the bird seemed destined to become a memory, now nineteen nests have been tallied in eight Bay Area counties.” This can be exciting news for the seven million people living in the San Francisco Bay Area. But what if someone lives in Unalaska City in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska? In the National Geographic story I learned that “hundreds of bald eagles, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, or Dutch pigeons, come to scavenge and nest in the area, which is home to about 4,400 human residents. Birds accost people who wander too close during nesting season, sending victims to the medical clinic for scalp stiches.” If you read the article “Why Birds Matter”, you will find an incredible trivia about many birds out of the world’s 10,000 or so species that have evolved into a spectacular diversity of forms. Turns out that birds have been around 150 million years longer than humans and “One reason that wild birds matter – ought to matter — is that they are our last, best connection to a natural world that is otherwise receding.”

P.S. You do not have to travel far to see birds, just stop and notice them, as I did many times. For this story I’ve chosen four encounters with birds, which I thought might tell a story. Like two ducks swimming towards the sunset in Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, a Seagull who caught his share during crab season, and birdwatchers in Downtown, San Francisco trying to capture an image of a hawk, whom I photographed not far from West Portal.

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

How To Start The New Year

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How To Start The New Year

Every start of a New Year brings anticipation of good things to come. It might be a misleading feeling, since it’s just another day on the calendar. Nevertheless, according to the Russian proverb, “Horosheye nachalo pol dela otkochalo”, which means, “A good start finishes half of the business.

For me one of these “businesses” is to print my latest book, “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”. A few months ago, I introduced my readers to the new member of our family, Max our labradoodle puppy. We adopted him on September 4th, and on this date I started to journal about our daily experiences and the lessons I’ve learned from different how-to books about dog training. I already had most of the photos of people with dogs, which were images leftover from my first book “42 Encounters in San Francisco”, which has almost sold out of its first printing. To write about San Francisco was not easy, but what can I say about dogs? Since our last dog Angus, a welsh corgi, died almost fourteen years ago, we often discussed the idea of getting a new puppy. But how could we? Both of us work full time, and we like to travel. We are both seventy years young, and our energy is not the same as when we were sixty-nine. With taking all of this into account, on the date of our 50th wedding anniversary I informed my wife Elfa that I gave a deposit to a local breeder, and our puppy would be ready for adoption at the beginning of September, right after our return from a celebratory trip to Norway.

On Labor Day, we traveled to Monterey, and the idea to record the next forty-two days of our life with Max came to me at the spur of the moment, while we waited in the hotel to pick up Max. This idea to write a book about dog lovers, which I was thinking about for a while, started to take shape.

After 7 weeks, I completed my writing. By Christmas, the editing part was completed as well, and the images were sent to the graphic artist, and he will put everything together to get the book ready for printing. And then I will have a whole year to make 2500 (my first printing order) dog lovers happy. There are millions of people who own dogs and more millions who want to become dogs’ best friends. I am sure that reading “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” will help them to accomplish that.

P.S. “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” has only a few of Max’s images as a bonus; the rest are my encounters with people and dogs, many of which will bring a smile to your face and the feeling of love for your four-legged companion. The four images of Max you see here did not make it into the book.

P.P.S. You can start your “42 Encounters” collection by ordering “42 Encounters in San Francisco” now while the books are still available.

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

Make It A Happy New Year

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Make It A Happy New Year

I got into the mortgage business in September of 1983. Prior to this, my work experience was in engineering and management, and I had no idea what it takes to sell a product or services. It is probably a perpetual question – how does one learn to sell? Is it a gift or a skill? Since prior to the mortgage business I had ten other occupations, so I decided that I could learn selling as well. My learning tools were How-to books and motivational tapes from the Nightingale-Conant audio programs. One of the teachers from those programs was Dr. Denis Waitley. He tells a story: he was travelling on a plane during the oil crisis of 1979. Sitting next to him was an older man, who, it seemed, had an unconventional point of view on many subjects. When they parted, instead of the traditional “Have a nice day!” the man said to Denis, “Make it a great day!” If you are reading this story on Friday, December 29th, there are still a few days left to prepare your New Year’s resolutions (did you check your list from last year?).

My overall theme of what I want to happen and to accomplish in the year 2018 can be summarized by paraphrasing the man on the plane.

To make it a happy and great year!

But how can I do that? We live in a world where so much depends on outside forces. The first step is to divide the task at hand into groups or categories. Years ago, I learned about the formula FORD from one of my business coaches. It stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. The next step is to make a list of items in each of the categories. And then – list them in priorities. Remember – the emphasis has to be on the tasks which will make you happy. Through the years of sales training, I was taught to set a yearly monetary goal, divide it into months, weeks and calculate how many transactions (in my case, loans) I have to close to achieve my goal. To reach these goals, I had to calculate how many calls I had to make for this to happen. This strategy can definitely work. But today I ask myself a different question. What result of my activity will make me and other people HAPPY? Instead of focusing on the amount of money I’d like to earn, my Occupational goal is to make thirty clients happy by them no longer having mortgage payments as a result of refinancing their existing loan into a reverse mortgage.

A similar approach can work with other categories as well. For example, losing weight or quitting smoking converts into a feeling of happiness from feeling great and enjoying family life; or feeling great because you can fit into your old dress or pants again.

Happiness can come from just being able to accomplish your objectives. Have big dreams, but be sure you can divide them into small components. Thus your happiness can last the whole year.

P.S. The holidays are a time for gift giving. Many people gift flowers. Forbes Magazine reported that at the end of last year, “the winter holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah, accounted for the largest percentage of all holiday flower sales.” My gift to you are four roses that you cannot buy in the stores or online. Their beauty is everlasting. You can see some of these prints in my office. Feel free to stop by any time.

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Make it a Happy New Year!

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Smile And Please SHARE It With A Friend!

Cheers,

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

How To Bring Light Into Our Lives

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How To Bring Light Into Our Lives

Last week I finished my story with a quote from the Prophet Isaiah. Today I want to start with another one of his quotes.
“I the Lord have called unto you in righteousness, and have taken hold of your hand, and submitted you as people’s covenant, as a light into the nations.” (Isaiah 42:6)

In his 2017 UN speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quoted Isaiah stating that the State of Israel is “a light unto the nations, bringing salvation to the end of the earth.” But why should we care or believe the predictions of a prophet who lived in the years 740-681 BCE? Or pay attention to the words of the Israeli Prime Minister, who cannot seem to figure out how to bring the light onto the relationship between Israel and their Palestinian neighbors? And what does it have to do with our lives?

To try to answer those questions, I will go to the beginning. In the Torah, the light was the first act of the creation of our World. And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that light was good, and he separated the light from darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness he called “night.” (Genesis 1:3-5)

For us humans, perhaps it is difficult to fathom how just by saying something it can come to fruition. Since we are God’s creatures, can we do the same? I found an answer in a small book that I always carry with me called, “The Law of Success” by Paramahansa Yogananda.
“Mind is the creator of everything. You should therefore guide it to create only good. If you cling to a certain thought with dynamic will power, it finally assumes a tangible outward form.” Since “light was good”, by focusing on having it in our lives, our life is going to be good.

However light manifests in different forms. Which one should we focus on? For example, photography means, “drawing with the light”. Thus, after finding the correct combination between the light and the darkness, all that is left to the photographer is to press the shutter button. I’ve had to practice a lot to develop a sensitivity, vision, timing, and to be in the right place and time for my final images to be good. I believe that the same principle applies to any of our lives’ endeavors. There is another element to make our vision successful. After we find and capture the light, we have to share it with others. Perhaps this is why I am writing these stories and bringing you my images.

This year, due to the rotation of the Jewish holidays, which are tied to the lunar circle, the Festival of Lights – Hanukkah, was before Christmas. But lights of one event easily moved into the other. Many start their Christmas decorating right after Thanksgiving. Xmas day is immediately followed by the festivities of Kwanzaa (December 26th), a week-long celebration of the West African diaspora in the Americas. During the Kwanzaa holiday, seven candles are lit in a Kinara, which symbolizes the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Do we have to wait to the end of the year to enjoy light? Of course, not. You can bring light into your life any time, just imagining the joy you have from the experience. I recently discovered there is a new movie titled, “Let There Be Light” made by the husband and wife team Kevin and Sam Sorbo.

P.S. A photo camera “sees” light differently than humans do, but it is up to the photographer to make the image more interesting, as you can see from the four images of the holiday lights.

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Happy Holidays!

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Cheers,

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

Do You Believe In Miracles?

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Do You Believe In Miracles?

December 15th, when you might be reading this story is the third day of the Jewish Holiday, Hanukkah. It is known as “The festival of lights”, and commemorates miraculous events that happened in the year 165 BCE.   One of the miracles happened when a small group of Jewish insurgents led by Judah Maccabee revolted against the Syrian occupation of the Holy Land, who turned to impose the forced Hellenization of the Jews. Miraculously, they were able to overcome several Syrian armies, to free Jerusalem and to found an independent Jewish State. They cleaned the Temple from idols that were being used for worship, and in the process of rededicating it; they rekindled the seven-branched menorah light. There was a problem though; in order to do that, there was a need to have pure oil, and only day’s worth of such oil was found. To everyone’s surprise, another miracle happened, and the oil lasted for eight days. The independence of the area lasted until 63 BCE, when it was conquered by Rome. The Romans continued to use the name Judea for their new province and they named the northern region Galilee. For the next two thousand years, the area would be occupied by many different people. During which time it would be commonly called “Palestine” (named after the Jewish enemies in the Torah) in both the English and Arabic languages. In the 20th century, the name was used by the British to refer to Mandatory Palestine. In 1926, another miracle occurred, when the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration announcing, “His Majesty’s Government view will favour the establishment in Palestine of national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.” On May 15, 1948 there was yet another miracle. The British mandate was terminated and the State of Israel was founded. Several hours later, Iraq and the neighboring Arab states, Egypt, Jordan (Transjordan) and Syria invaded the newborn state, and immediately attacked the Jewish settlements.

The young country of Israel, became home for many Jews who survived the Holocaust, was able to hold on. During the forthcoming years it was attacked again and again by much more powerful enemies. Then miracles continued when during the Six-Day War in June 1967 in six days Israel defeated armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria and finally liberated Jerusalem from Jordan.

The miracles did not stop. A small country with a total population of about 8.5 million, out of which the Jewish share is about 75%, became the world center for the technological developments. Former foes, Egypt and Jordan, established diplomatic relationships with Israel. Israel is still surrounded by enemies who seek its destruction. It will take another miracle to find a two-state solution with the Palestinians, who do not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, the 104th Congress passed a public law of the United States, known as the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. It was passed for the purpose of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, by May 31, 1999.

It took twenty-two years for President Donald Trump to implement this Act last week.

It is a general assumption that miracles appeared only in the Torah and other religious writings.

But how can you explain that over the last 2182 years, when the Jewish people continue to light eight lights year after year since 165 BCE, if not as a miracle?

P.S. To experience the modern miracle, on Tuesday evening, our daughter Alona and I joined a crowd of spectators who came to Union Square to witness lighting the first light on the publicly displayed light holder, called a hanukiyah. The four images attest to the miracle.

In 1975, San Francisco was the first City outside of Israel to celebrate Hanukkah in a public square. Since then, many thousands of hanukiyot are lit in public areas all over the world. Perhaps this is what the prophet Isaiah meant when he proclaimed “And into your light, nations shall walk, and kings unto the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3)

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Happy Hanukkah!

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