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.


You Are Only As Good As Your New Collection

 “Focus on the future–the present is becoming the past very fast.” 


You may recall reading in my first book, “The Mortgage Game: The 5 C’s and How to Connect Them”, that my first official job in the United States was Vice President in charge of operations of Helga Howe, a high fashion company. How a new immigrant, trained and experienced as an industrial engineer, and after only two years living in the US became the Vice President of a fashion company, belongs in a separate book. Since I had no practical knowledge about the industry, I had to educate myself, fast.

I remember reading about the great fashion designer Pauline Trigère, who also immigrated to the United States, and built her reputation as a prominent fashion designer. 

The saying, “You are only as good as your new collection” was attributed to her.

Many people are familiar with the saying “You are only as good as your last deal”. In my mind, there is a huge difference.


In the fashion business, a designer needs to prepare new collections for every season. Connoisseurs and buyers are those who typically attend the fashion shows. Some may buy the complete new look, and some not. Many lose their shirt (literally), since there is a huge expense in the preparation and promotion of a new line.

Some people do not realize it, but most of us have to “create a new collection” all the time to stay in business. When I interview potential loan originators for our company, some come and tell me about their past accomplishments and they request compensation based on these past experiences. Unfortunately, this is meaningless.


Last year, the mortgage industry boomed, as so many jumped on the lower rate and refinanced their mortgages. This year, the volume has dropped.

Does the person have the skill, knowledge, and tools to generate a new source of business? The majority do not.

Other candidates refer to their education, which is also meaningless. It is not what you know, but how you use your knowledge that counts. In my life, I’ve learned many new skills, but the most important one is, when change comes, be ready.

When the residential refi business slowed down, I created “Today’s Market Special” to inform my clients about “bargains” and niches. We also decided to focus on helping veterans get VA loans. Veterans can buy property up to $1,500,000 without any down payments. Of course one needs an income to qualify, but the qualified ration can be as high as 60%.


Whom do you know who is a veteran and would like to buy a single family property or condo? Or to refinance their existing mortgage?

Pauline Trigère used to say:

“Fashion is what people tell you to wear. Style is what comes from your own inner thing.”

On our recent trip to Italy, I’ve noticed that there are men who are more courageous when it comes to choosing colors and styles. I’ve seen many who were not afraid to wear bright colors, especially their pants. Would you wear red, orange, or green trousers?

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 


What is Thanksgivukkah?

“We are surrounded by light, but we have to make an effort to let it illuminate our lives.” 


This year due to the phase of the lunar cycle, the Jewish holiday Chanukah starts on the evening of November 27. In the Jewish calendar, the new day starts on the evening to follow the process of creation described in the Torah.

“God called to the light “Day” and to the darkness He called “Night”. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”—Genesis 1/5

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the next day, November 28th—this is where it seems the similarities end. (In 2016, Chanukah will fall on December 24th – January 1st. This will give me the opportunity to write about what Chanukah has in common with Christmas.) The next Thanksgivukkah will be in 77,798 years—called Chanukiah.

Many have seen the large menorah, in Union Square in San Francisco. It contains one which is lit every night during the 8 days of the holiday. At home, most people have menorahs that use candles.


The common food for Chanukah is latkes or potato pancakes, which are fried in oil. The connection with the oil has to do with the events which happened in 167 BC.

At that time, the Greek army occupied the Holy Land, and desecrated the Holy Temple, and attempted to force Hellenity, a Godless lifestyle, on the Jewish inhabitants.

A small Jewish army led by the Maccabees, liberated the temple and found one small container of pure and undefiled olive oil, which was miraculously enough to light all seven branches of the Menorah for 8 days, while new oil was harvested and produced.

The word Chanukah means dedication and the holiday is called “The Festival of Lights”.


The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving holiday, after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. But the holiday became an annual tradition in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thursday, November 26th the national day of Thanksgiving. That led to the first celebration and the history of the Pilgrims (and the history of the United States of America), who escaped from the religious oppression in England. Different times in place and history, the same theme—the desire to be free from those who try to impose new rules and traditions that change our way of living.


On January 10, 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is going to implement their new invention—The Quality Mortgages (QM), which is just an additional way to control the mortgage business. In anticipation, many banks that could live without mortgage originations have left the field. In my life, I’ve experienced many storms. Bullying cannot last for long and this one shall pass. Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is concerned about these changes—ask them to call me.

What both holidays have in common is the spirit of the celebration of freedom.

Let’s do just that…CELEBRATE!


There is something else all these holidays have in common—there is a tradition on Chanukah to give presents. When we came to America, our children tricked us by telling us that presents have to be given every day during Chanukah. (They claim they were told about this in school.)

Everyone knows that the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday”. All stores have sales. This year to follow Jewish tradition, Black Friday will actually start at 8pm on Thursday evening. All photos were taken on November 27th, 2009 (Union Square)—Black Friday.

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 


Today’s Market Special

What’s New for Wednesday?




*SBA can guarantee as much as 85% on loans of up to $150,000 and 75% on loans of more than $150,000. SBA’s maximum exposure amount is $3,750,000. Thus, if a business receives an SBA-guaranteed loan for $5 Million, the maximum guarantee to the lender will be $3,750,000 or 75%. SBA Express loans have a maximum guarantee set at 50%. Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

Mary owns a bakery in Alhambra, California. It is actually a coffee shop, and a bakery with an open kitchen where her staff produces incredible desserts and pastry. She gave me a truffle to taste. It was the best I ever had in my entire life.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for my waistline), she cannot ship them because she doesn’t use any preservatives and the shell is very fragile.

Mary was at the location for 15 years, when suddenly she was informed that the building was going to unexpectedly be sold for $930,000. She wanted to buy the building, and to do this I was able to secure her an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan with only 10% or $93,000 as a down payment.

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

Do not keep me as a secret.



How to Get Inspired

 “Motivation comes from the brain, while inspiration comes from the heart. It might take a lifetime to make the connection.” 


Our reason (or excuse) to visit Venice was La Biennale di Venezia. Our daughter Alona, who is an art dealer in Paris, was at the opening and strongly encouraged us to come. It is a biannual art exhibition, which has taken place in Venice since 1895. There are two enormous general pavilions, plus small ones for the different countries in two different locations, in addition to many other exhibitions throughout the town.

This year, the show exhibited works of over 150 artists from 37 countries and was dedicated to the subject of the inner and outer world of humans and exhibited works of many unknown, yet remarkably talented artists. Some were self-taught. 

There were very interesting works of the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who started painting to overcome depression. There were other artists, who discovered their talent after having physical illnesses or disabilities. We saw a video of artists, blind from birth, who created incredible images.

There were a few artists, who claimed that they started creating art after receiving instructions from the outer world. It is impossible to comprehend what inspired them for years, day after day, to work on their remarkable craft.


What inspired great musicians and other artists to bring their work for our enjoyment?

The word inspired means—“of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse”. (Webster Dictionary) The root of the word inspiration stems from Latin in spirare—meaning “to breath in spirit”. What is a spirit? When we say a spiritual person, what do we mean? Aren’t we all made from flesh and spirit? In the Torah, the first sentence contains the word spirit:

“When the earth was astonishingly empty with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters.”—Genesis 1/2


The way it is written in Hebrew Ruach Elohim—means God’s spirit (which translates to Divine Presence). We say that a gifted person has a divine spark, but there is another name of the spirit, which we call soul.

“And Hashem God formed the man of dust from the ground, and the blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man becomes a living being.”—Genesis 2/7

There, God’s spirit appears in Hebrew as Neshama, which means breath.  To confuse us even more, the next chapter called “Noah”, named after the person whom God saved from the flood, and from whose children the rest of the world was populated, describes God smelling a burnt-offering.

“Hashem smelled the pleasing aroma, and He said in His heart”—Genesis 8/21


The word Reah (smell) has the same rood word as Ruach—spirit. It is of course an allegory. When we read about God’s experience, it is for us humans to comprehend our reality. But it clearly indicates that the experience of pleasure and joy comes when we connect the activities that we experience in our heads and the feelings we have in our hearts. And inspiration follows. What inspires you?



My inspirations come when despite limitations; I find solutions for my mortgage-seeking clients.


After La Biennale di Venezia, I was inspired to work diligently (as those artists who were inspired) to bring joy into your lives either through my writing, photography, and of course—by helping clients with their mortgages. Besides seeing beautiful buildings, I met a lot of beautiful people in Venice, some of whom I was able to photograph. 

Do Not Keep Me as a Secret. 


Today’s Market Special

What’s New for Wednesday?


*Based on a loan up to $417,000. The interest rate is fixed for 5 years, an adjustable rate. Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

 Lara wanted to buy a new home and keep her current condominium. After reviewing her information, I suggested that she lower her current monthly payment by refinancing either into a 30 year fixed rate at 4.375% or a fixed for 5 years at 3.25%. She decided later to choose the savings of $275 a month.

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

Do not keep me as a secret.


What is Movember?

 “A moustache is what we see on the face of a man. 

What we do not see makes him a man.” 


There is no typo in the headline.

Movember originates from two words—moustache and November.

Movember became an annual month-long event to raise awareness for men’s health. It initiated in Australia, where in 1999 a group of young men (who coined the term Movember), decided to grow moustaches to support charities for men’s health throughout the month of November.

In 2004 (again in Australia), a different group of 30 men grew moustaches for 30 days—this time specifically addressing prostate cancer awareness. Today Movember has become a movement which has spread all over the world.  TheMovember Foundation encourages men to join the movement by growing a moustache for the 30-days of November.

After registering at, a participant will start the month clean-shaven, then grow and groom their Mo (slang for moustache), asking friends and family to donate to their efforts. With their new moustaches, these men bring much needed awareness to men’s health issues by prompting conversations wherever they go. 

Since 2003, Movember has helped raise over $446 million towards men’s health issues.  In 2012, over 1.1 million men and women around the world joined the movement, raising $147.0 million.  In the US, over 209,000 people raised $21.0 million.


A few months ago, my daughter Tamar’s boyfriend, David, told me about this and asked if I would grow a moustache in November in support of men’s health awareness.

Without hesitation, I said yes.

David works for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, one of the beneficiaries of the Movember Foundation and the leading philanthropic organization funding and accelerating prostate cancer research globally. The number of men affected by prostate cancer is alarming.

David sent me some information. Unfortunately, most men discover that they have a problem when it is too late– regular and annual medical check-ups are important for everyone, and early detection is the key to treating and surviving prostate cancer.


Facial hair is probably the most distinctive (at least regarding appearance) between men and women. In some Arabic countries, moustaches are associated with power. It is probably true for other countries as well—just take a look at the police officers on motorcycles in San Francisco. 

A moustache (or Mustache in American English) also separates the boys from the men. Not to be excluded, some women keep their moustaches. Just take a look at the images of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, but it was men who created the moustache culture.

The oldest portrait showing a man with a moustache is an ancient Pazyryk horseman from 300 B.C. Since then, men have used the moustache not only as a power symbol, but also as a fashion statement. In the past, when moustaches were more popular, there was an intricate culture of how to take care of a man’s facial hair. (Perhaps you are familiar with the Agatha Christie TV series detective, Hercule Poirot, played by David Suchet.)


Nowadays, you can even see moustaches on cars (Lyft). While I have sported a beard before, this November will be the first time I will wear a moustache. You can join me (even a week later) since the reason is to bring awareness to an important issue.


While traveling in Italy, I remembered that I needed to have moustached images of men for my story. I was able to get only two. At home, I’ve searched over 80,000 images in my photo library and found only one more—plus of course, my own one week old appearance. (Did you notice that three out of the four men pictured are also wearing glasses? Is there some connection?)


I am growing my moustache in Kauai. Not because it has the best environment for this purpose, but because it offers me an opportunity to work on my next book, “Business Solutions for Smart People: 5 Easy Ways to Survive and Prosper”. I met Bob (the man in the last photo) on a construction site in Kauai. As far as my facial adornment , I will share it with you next month before shaving it off (unless my wife insists on keeping it).

Stay tuned!


Today’s Market Special

What’s New for Wednesday?



*The interest rate is fixed for 30 years for 4 units. Interest rates are subject to change without notice and do not constitute a commitment to make any loan at any specific rate.

Iris is a widow. She owns a condominium and works as an engineer. Her cousin, Nora, is divorced with a child and works as a nurse. As a result of the divorce, she not only lost her husband, but also a house which sold through a short sale.

Both of them have good income and together they decided to buy a two-unit building. Though the amount of money both of them have is enough to secure a loan with 85% LTV (loan to value), Nora’s credit restricts their options.

The solution is an FHA loan, which allows borrowers who had a short sale to get new financing three years later.

First, Iris decided to refinance her condo, which she was going to rent to lower her mortgage payments by $300/month. Meanwhile, Nora simultaneously started the credit correction process.

Increasing Nora’s credit score to 740 would allow them to get a better loan AND to avoid paying mortgage insurance on an FHA loan.


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

Do not keep me as a secret.



Elections are Serious Business

“To vote or not to vote is not the question…VOTE!” 




This year’s election date is Tuesday, November 5th. Every year a few weeks before the election, some friends gather in the house of Ahuva and Emanuel Jolish. Emanuel is retired and he loves San Francisco. He is a guide and is interested in the local politics, attends meetings, convenes with those who run for various offices, and helps those of us who are busy with our lives to understand what is really going on.

On our get togethers, we exchange views and opinions. This helps us make educated decisions for whom to vote for, and which issues to support. What is interesting is that Jolish’s family (like in many other families), spouses and growing children might have opposing views. I guess this is what democracy is all about.

The newspapers print  opinions on whom to support. Some have similar views, some differ. This year, the SF Chronicle and Examiner are on opposing sides. And then of course, there are flyers in which, like in any election, each side is claiming that the other is wrong.


What is unusual this year is that those who run for all three major positions are not opposed. It seems no one else wants to deal with our city’s dirty laundry. When it comes to the measures, all four of them could be resolved internally among the supervisors, and not brought up to the ballots. One of the participants in our group pointed this out and as a protest, thought to vote “no” on all of them. During the discussion, she’d change her mind and instead decided to abstain from marking the ballot.

There are two propositions B and C, which deal with the same subject: at what height can a particular new building be built. (For more information, please see some articles in the SF Chronicle fromyesterday and today.) This is a very good example of the dirty politics. There are so many high-rises that are built in San Francisco. When we drive on Van Ness, I notice a very tall new building which is literally growing up from the old one.In my view, it is a very ugly addition, and blocks the view on the hills. The decision to build this one was not brought up to the ballot, and like other decisions about buildings, it should be decided by the competent professionals.Though this brings to mind our national politics — are there competent professionals, or just attorneys/politicians as in San Francisco?



I love San Francisco. Every time when we come back from trips, we are coming home. I want my home to stay beautiful. The city is changing all the time. I remember when the Embarcadero freeway was about to come down, many protested the demolition. In my office, I have posters showing the barren hills in 1847 of the area that used to be called “Yerba Buena”—one hundred years before my birth.  Over the next 160 years, a lot of people contributed to what became San Francisco.

By voting, you are contributing. Please do it.

Meanwhile, enjoy some of my visions of our great city.

Do not keep me as a secret.