The View From The Golden Dome

Views on the week's events plus some of mine.

Les Berman Weekly #476 Sales or Marketing? Flap? Rockfish? 70% Better… and so many more questions…


On occasion, people will interchange the words “sales” and “marketing”. So, to end the confusion, partially, I will refer you to the grocery store ads for this week in the Los Angeles area. The food ads are all about marketing.

 

One of the stores was featuring boneless flap meat. Not being familiar with the term, I decided I better investigate. Now that term, flap meat, seems sort of gross. Flap meat. Would you use that to slap someone? That’s the image it presents. In an article from 2005, it is described as an unflatteringly named cut that comes from the less tender regions of the animal. Since then it has been described in other ways but it is a tough piece of meat that can be flavorful if cooked properly. So why wouldn’t the beef industry give it an attractive name, like sirloin tip. Oh darn.. that’s what it used to be called before the flappers got involved.

 

Moving right along, I notice that rockfish is on sale. That is such a plain name that not even the venerable Wikipedia has an explanation for that one. So other market names in accordance with FDA rules are Pacific red snapper, rock cod, black bass, and Pacific ocean perch. And there are about 70 different kinds of fish that come under that one name. And the article says that it’s not fraud because the FDA approves it.

 

The FDA approves it ?! So the same agency that prevents us from having medicines in common use in other countries; and the same agency that approves genetically modified foods for human consumption, allows multiple names for the same product to confuse the consumer. The industry therefore, is allowed to change the names to “fraudulently” confuse the public and avoid prosecution because a government agency allows it. This is marketing !

 

Then I saw an ad for Boar’s Head Blazing Buffalo Chicken Breast. That is so straightforward. For the uninformed, perhaps that would be a mixture of pig meat, burnt buffalo, and part of a chicken. Do we know better? I’m not sure.

 

I had a product a while back, I believe it was a non-stick food spray, that had a slogan emblazoned on the package – 70% better. No asterisk, no referral to something else on the container. It just said 70% better. I wondered about that and it gave me time to reflect on what it could be better than. I wondered if it was better than butter, or extra virgin olive oil (where do they find the extra virgins please), or if it was better than flap meat or a mixture of pig meat, burned buffalo etc. No conclusion on this guessing game.

 

At the other end of the marketing spectrum, one store was featuring red apples. Other stores featured galas, delicious, Fuji or Granny Smith. I know those brands because the apple (not the phone / computer / tablet apple) people have been promoting those apple types forever. I don’t know – red just is not descriptive enough. But it is better than wormy !

 

And then there is that marketing classic – imitation crab meat. Amazing – they tell the truth and then sell tons of the product. I’ve had the imitation stuff and real crab. The fake doesn’t taste anything like the real one – not even close ! All of this creative marketing is convincing me to become vegetarian. Well… maybe just to eat more vegetables… maybe !

The difference is that sales people sell what the marketing people conjure up !

And then there is the couple in Wyoming who got a permit to build a pond on their property. It provides water for their horses, stocked it with trout, and brought in their ducks and geese. And this was done with a state permit. They complete everything and get a letter from a state agency saying they did everything properly. Yup, then they get a letter from the Feds threatening a fine of $75,000 / day for violating federal law. Hmm.. that seems like a cluster thing. So the latest is that he has federal politicians telling the federal agency to…go away. And they might never be able to eat real fish… by any name.

 

And this is your call to action – financing for small business, real estate loans – residential and private money. Call the magic number 818.305.4695

Have a better week.

Les

Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They’re going to see you naked anyway…

Why is ‘bra’ singular and ‘panties’ plural?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

 

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 Les Berman CMC
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June 17, 2014 Posted by | business, fun, general interest, humor, medicine, stuff, Uncategorized, whimsy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Les Berman Weekly 8-24 Nerds, Sushi – NO !, Area 51, and much much more…


When I was much younger, I’d even say pre-k (as in before kids), the terminology assigned to some different thinkers, was ‘nerd’. We’ve all known nerds in our day – we may have called the weirdos, geeks or some other endearing name. And from time to time, well, actually, seldom, do I wonder about what happened to some of these people.

 

The other day, a friend who knew several of these people from his days in technology and venture capital, sent me a video clip that showed what some of these, once different, kids can do. Of course, they are no longer different. These geeks develop some amazing things – some for the common good. For example, at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!), a group of students has developed a cap, much like a 1930’s or 1940’s aviator helmet, that controls devices only through the use of brain activity. The video showed how they could maneuver a toy size helicopter type of device through a maze of circular obstacles. These devices could power wheelchairs, artificial limbs, assist para and quadriplegics, and assist almost any type of physically challenged person. Pretty amazing stuff I think.

 

So, if you know any weirdos, geeks, or nerds, make sure that you befriend them – they could be employing you very shortly (Bill Gates was not exactly mainstream!),

And then I found some really dumb, but enticing headlines. Would you read any of these?

 – Baby In India Almost Surely Not Spontaneously Combusting

 – Colorado lawmaker blames minority poverty on fried chicken (I was going to read this until I saw it was said by a legislator. Just proves there are elected idiots all over the country!)

 – In Defense of Flip Flops

 

I wonder why people eat sushi. It’s raw fish from unknown sources with unknown names served by guys who yell at you when you enter the restaurant. Is it because they have very sharp knives? or do you go there simply because you haven’t been yelled at in a while? This might encourage you to think twice… or even three times.

 

A non-profit group, Oceana, surveyed over 1200 fish samples from all over the country and found that 59% of all ‘tuna’ was labeled incorrectly and sushi restaurants were more likely to mislabel than were grocery stores or other restaurants. I’d be totally grossed out already – if I ate sushi. But, as they say on those wonderful infomercials… But wait, there is more !!

 

In Chicago, Austin, New York, and Washington DC, every single sushi restaurant sampled sold mislabeled tuna. 84% of fish samples labeled “white tuna” were actually escolar, a fish that can cause prolonged, uncontrollable, oily anal leakage.The only fish more likely to be misrepresented than tuna was snapper, which was mislabeled 87% of the time, and was in actuality any of six different species.

 

There are all kinds of exciting things that have been happening around the country. For example, a girl showed up alive two weeks after her funeral. I didn’t read the article to find out why.

And the CIA has actually disclosed that Area 51 exists. Mulder and Scully confirmed this years ago! Was there any doubt? C’mon loyal readers. If the government says it isn’t true, we know that it is. I wasn’t surprised about the NSA monitoring phone calls… really.. were you?

 

And then there is the revelation about nine common household items that could be spying on you. In the interests of contributing to mass hysteria and paranoia, I offer the following:  your TV, your cable box, your lights, your dishwasher (wait- there’s more !!), insulin pumps and pacemakers, your smartphone, tablet and computer. I will admit that the insulin pump thing was not on my list, ever. I hope that breast pumps are not on the list, even way way down the list !

 

There’s a lot happening these days! In the local economy, the real estate markets, and so much more. Call me – let’s solve a problem together. The magic number…. 818.305.4695

Have a better week !

Les

Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

As I was lying around, pondering the problems of the world,

I realized that at my age I don’t really give a rat’s ass anymore.

.. If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.

.. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.

.. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while

.. A tortoise doesn’t run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150
years.

And you tell me to exercise?? I don’t think so.
 

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Email: les@lesberman.com

September 5, 2013 Posted by | fun, general interest, humor | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Les Berman Weekly 8-17 Foreign Cars, Super Techie, Olinguito, Dolphins, Corruption … and so much more


I’m sure that, unless you’re totally from another world, you have noticed the huge numbers of foreign cars that are on the roads in the US and Canada. Some of those foreign cars are now made in here, but I’m guessing that most are still made offshore. So, being the advanced thinker that I am, I wonder if they each have a secret device built in, much the way our cell phones do.

 

I think cell phones can be tracked anywhere, at least on TV cop shows they can, so it is logical that cars some how cooperate with someone. Here’s the scenario with one country’s cars. Let’s say that the two Koreas somehow set aside their differences and become one. I know – it won’t ever happen but this is my story, not yours.

 

A bad guy, a super techie, discovers that all Korean made cars that have been shipped to Canada and the US have a stop chip, buried deep in the inner workings of the car. The stop chip is the one that disables the car slowly. The people who designed the chip were kind people – it only will work when the car is going less than 30 mph. Supertechie decides to create  a little havoc, having sold his knowledge to the highest bidder, of course. He enables that chip, and every Korean made car in North America stops running. Of course, chaos ensues, and no one can figure out why only those cars are disabled.

 

Of course, this is conjecture (another big word) but can you imagine this happening. Is this enough reason to buy American – of course not ! But isn’t it fun to think how this could create traffic jams on the scale of Carmageddon forecasts. One could make a movie or TV show out of this scenario. Oh yeah, that’s already been done. Oh well…

 

Meanwhile, in the deepest darkest jungles of South America, a new mammal species has been found – again. They call it an olinguito, about 14 inches long with a tail about the same length. It belongs to that group of animals that includes dogs, cats and bears. Actually, this is not the first time it has been found. There was one at the National Zoo in Washington and then it was shipped to at least five other zoos to get it to mate, unknowingly, with another species called olingos. Didn’t work – and it eventually died in the mid ’70’s. The North Carolina museum is selling olinguito stuffed animals for $15 to benefit habitat preservation. Good old American opportunism at work !!

 

Meanwhile, in the depths of the ocean, there are dolphins that we all think are so cute. They can be trained, they’ve been shown to work together to hunt for food, and they are definitely fun to watch as they swim alongside boats of all kinds. They’ve even been known to protect people from sharks. Recently, dolphins escaped from 20 years of captivity. According to the Washington Post, other dolphins, which had been released when the others were captured, recognized the calls from their old tank buddies, and reunited with them almost immediately. So now, we can safely say that someone has the memory of a dolphin rather than having the memory of an elephant. This is worthy of note only if you have a really good memory ! Huh.. about what??

 

And the five most corrupt institutions according to a survey in 107 countries done by the Berlin based Transparency International are as follows: Police (no surprise); Judges (really??); Public Officials and Civil Servants (I think Washington is right in there with the best of them); Political Parties (I’m shocked); and of course, the citizenry (because they are afraid of reprisals if they report anything). I’m guessing that nothing in this report would have surprised you – well, unless you’re a totally naive ‘do-gooder’ .

And remember to call me with your questions… any questions at 818.305.4695

Have a better week !

Les

Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

The  moon moves about two inches away from the Earth each year.

The Earth gets 100 tons heavier every day due to falling space dust.

Due to earth’s  gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000 meters.

Mickey Mouse is known as “Topolino” in Italy. (Remember Topo Gigio on the Ed Sullivan Show).

Soldiers do not  march in step when going across bridges because they could set up a  vibration which could be sufficient to knock the bridge down. (I just print them – I don’t verify them).

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August 31, 2013 Posted by | business, general interest, humor, stuff | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Les Berman Weekly 4-20 Kal-El. Coelacanth. Clean Oceans. Giant African stuff.. and more.


It’s been 75 years since Kal-El, and his parents Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van appeared on the scene. Now, you may be more familiar with his Americanized name, Clark Kent, or as the star reporter from the Metropolis Daily Planet named him… Superman. I do remember that my grandfather and my dad were both avid readers of Superman comics, as was I.

The history of Superman ownership and copyrights is as interesting as the stories. A comprehensive article is on Wikipedia, and it makes entertaining reading.

 

So we can move from fantasy (I think) to fact. Researchers have decoded the genome of the coelacanth. This is a fish, sort of, that is very similar to the fossilized remains of its ancestors from 400 million years ago. So the researchers are able to figure out how this fish was the first to walk on land. This fish was thought to have been extinct for 70 million years, until one appeared in a South African fish market in 1938. The article I read was very technical but it can be summarized easily. It’s a really ugly fish and because it is endangered, no one is known to have eaten one – ever. Bottom line – eat trout or salmon. And the best way to cook trout is in butter in a frying pan over a camp fire. Just sayin…

 

While we’re in the ocean, a 19 year old student did a science project which has turned out to be a device that can clean the world’s oceans of plastic debris. You know… the stuff you throw out of your car window that eventually ends up polluting the ocean. His name is Boyan Slat, and I think he’s Dutch. You can google him, check out his website and project and contribute to his non-profit if you want. It’s an ambitious goal to clean 7.25 million tons of garbage from the world’s oceans. Perhaps the world’s fisheries would start to recover.

 

And then the fish could be fed that hard to eradicate bedbug. I was reading in the New York Times that someone had revived an old folk remedy for eradication – and it’s all natural. The simple answer is to put the leaves of bean plants in the areas where bedbugs are, and the bugs are attracted to them like metal to a magnet. The article goes into some detail about how it traps the bedbugs, and about how the scientific community’s efforts to duplicate the effect is not yet succeeding. Why do we need an ersatz solution? Just grow more beans and lay out the leaves. Ooops – did I just solve a scientific problem and become eligible for the Nobel Bug Prize?

Of course, there are many people who would think that it’s so much easier to spray a bug killer and contribute to our already clean air. If I ever encounter those beasts, I’m going to look for bean leaves first, and then an AK47 if the leaves don’t work the way they should.

 

And Florida has yet another invasion of foreign species. They have Burmese pythons in the Everglades, and other such fun things as citrus canker, Cuban tree frogs, fire ants, Asian swamp eel, blue tilapia, and speckled caiman. Those are all pretty bad, and Florida spends about $100 Million annually to combat these invasions. But the one that was really gross and slimy is called the giant African land snail. They can grow as big as a rat, and one of their favorite foods is stucco because they need the calcium for their shells.

They are catching 1000 of these weekly in Miami-Dade and about 120,000 since their discovery in 2011. Can you imagine what happens if they are caught by a lawnmower? Projectile slime. The last snail invasion to Florida was in the late 1960’s when it took 10 years to eradicate them. Those things are huge ! I wonder if the French chef would tackle them as a delicacy (?). I think I had  escargot once. It must have been before I moved to California and saw the regular size in my garden, on my house, and everywhere else. But the giant African land snail – not a chance! And I don’t care how much butter and garlic is used. !!

 

Next week, my baby girl, makes her walk down the aisle. I’m very excited for her. She and her fiance researched, planned and put this wedding together themselves. So it may happen that you will miss me next week. We’ll see!

 

And remember me for your real estate financing needs. Residential, commercial and interim financing. Call 818.305.4695 and Ask the question . Remember what your parents told you – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So ASK – 818.305.4695

Have a better week !

Les

 

Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

In the 60’s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, ‘I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things and drink whatever comes out’? Hmmmmm, How about eggs ? . . .

 

 

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NMLS ID 227675
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April 20, 2013 Posted by | business, general interest, real estate, whimsy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Warp. Einstein. and the Timeliest Information


Time Warp. Einstein.  Recently, there was a story in the Smithsonian Magazine (no I’m not that erudite) that caught my interest and brought to mind other similar instances. This story was about a family of Russians who had survived in the harsh climate for more than forty years, without having had contact with any other humans. The story began in 1936 when Karp Lykov’s brother was shot and killed by Communists during one of the frequent government purges. Lykov grabbed his family and some seeds, and disappeared into the woods. His children were born, lived and died without seeing other humans, and they  survived on what they could sow or hunt. They were discovered in 1976 by surveyors of a mining company, and through them, the story was told of survival. They had no idea that World War 2 had happened, knew nothing of the Cold War, and were astounded to learn that man had been to the moon.

 

I remember reading, when I was a kid, of Japanese soldiers who were still fighting on behalf of the Japanese Imperial Army when they were found in 1974, still hiding out in the Philippines. He had not known that WW2 had ended although he had seen some flyers over the years. He had dismissed those as propaganda. He had had three other soldiers with him: one surrendered in 1946 and the other two were killed in skirmishes with Filipino soldiers in 1952 and 1974. He was found by a hippie Japanese student who told him what had happened, but Onoda, the soldier, would not surrender. When the student went back to Japan, he told the military that Onoda would only take orders from his senior officer. The military found his commanding officer, then a book seller, took him to the Philippines and gave Onoda the orders to stand down. And there was another Japanese soldier who was found later in 1974. It’s all about survival.

 

I’m sure there are other stories about people who live in isolation, either by choice or because of the fear attached to the choice. I’m sure that some kinds of sociological studies were done on the Japanese soldiers, but the article on the Russians was not very clear on that.

 

We have cases now where people hole up in the mountains or in some isolated settlements for some group of reasons – whether it would be fear and loathing of government, religion, fear or just because. I don’t understand the mentality behind the reasoning, but I do understand how the “anti’ feeling could develop. It just takes a charismatic leader and followers who are totally gullible. Hitler and the Nazis could be an example and I guess that Jonestown is a fairly recent example  of a similar but different fear.

 

Albert Einstein is quoted ” Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, but I’m not sure about the former.”  I have to agree with his wisdom, although I must say, that some of the surveyor space probes sent out 30 or 40 years ago, are still sending back information as they continue their journey to wherever. Someday, Capt. Kirk and Spock will actually make the light year journeys into space, and actually prove that Einstein was right on both counts. And we just smile, and say that there is no way that there is other intelligent life forms in the universe.

My question is whether those other life forms will even consider us to be intelligent ?

 

And another great Einstein quote is ” Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I’ve read that fish have memories that last a second, or fractions thereof. That’s why the fish in your tank are always enthralled by the little castle that they see every few minutes. And that little castle never moves.

How about your castle? What have you done recently to ensure that it continues to protect you? Have you had a professional look at your mortgage situation to show you how you might  get some tax free disposable income? This professional is available to look at your purchase transaction AND your refinance situation to make sure that you have the best product for your situation. Call me – I work weekends !! 818.305.4695

Or if you have bigger castles, one of my investors will provide bridge loans anywhere in the USA. They issued a Letter of Intent for an buyer with buildings located in California and on the east coast – and they did that in about 72 hours. Some clients have asked me to present multi-family projects in Arizona, Kansas, and a commercial property in Ohio. All of these projects are within the scope of this investor. Call 818.305.4695 or email me and ask about your castle.

Have a better week !

Les

Berman’s Factoids of the Week

More  fromThe Washington Post  and the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.
Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

 

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 Les Berman CMC
Real Estate Loan Specialist
       
NMLS ID 227675
Voice: 818.305.4695

February 5, 2013 Posted by | business, general interest, real estate, whimsy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weather. Lessons Learned. Burmese Pythons. Rules.. Stupid Ones.


From time to time, weather happens whether you want it or not. And we here in lalaland are really spoiled babies. And complain – yes we do.. all the time. In the summer, it’s too hot, of course. in the winter, like this week, it’s too cold. For the record, this weather would be considered balmy by most Americans – especially at this time of the year. Consider this, in my home town of Winnipeg, aka Winterpeg, the forecast for tonight is minus 25 celsius. At that temperature, it doesn’t make a big difference between celsius and farenheit. The scales converge at minus 40 degrees.

I remember those days – and that’s one of the reasons I’m not there anymore. At minus 25, aka 25 below, the moisture in your breath freezes on your scarf, hat, or beard. Your car, having been outside in your garage overnight, has the tires frozen with a flat edge. In the morning, you have to drive a couple of blocks before your tires are round again. Your engine has a block heater that must be plugged in so that your engine does not freeze. I remember being at some event when I was in my teens, and the event was stopped for 30 – 45 minutes so people could go out to their cars and run the engine for 10 minutes. And people would still walk a couple of blocks in that cold unless the wind was blowing. If the wind was blowing, the temperature with wind chill, could hit minus 60 or minus 65 degrees.

So why would people live there you may ask? The Chamber of Commerce can extol the virtues but there is a constant population of 600,000. The important thing is  – I moved !! Quit complaining that it’s cold and put on a sweater !!

 

My grandfather moved there in 1905. He had his reasons – probably someone he knew from Romania moved there before he did, and painted a good picture. So my grandfather made the trip.

My grandfather was a unique man. He taught me a lot without forcing lessons. He had a great sense of humor, and he absolutely loved his grandchildren. He and my grandmother would come to visit, and he would be wearing a suit, as men did in the 50’s. We ‘forced’ him to loosen his tie, and take off his suit coat. He marveled at the miracle of television, and he loved cartoons, and Superman comics.

I never saw my grandfather lose his cool, but I did see him love his family. And when invited into his office to sit on the sofa while he was working with clients,  I saw how he treated his customers in his store, with respect and honor. He was a man of honor and we found out just how honorable long after he died.

In the 1930’s, international trade in some industries, was established by referral and by prior relationship. My grandfather, in mid 1939, ordered a large quantity of goods from the Black Forest region of Germany. The goods arrived and my grandfather was about to send payment when, on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, war was declared on Germany by virtually every country including Canada, and my grandfather could not send payment. Eight years later, my grandfather travelled to Germany, searching for the manufacturer who had shipped him the goods, without luck.

Honor. Respect. Fairness. Some things I learned from my grandfather.

We learn a lot from our families – good, bad, indifferent. We retain what we want to retain. Sometimes, we don’t know that we are learning, or how or when we learned it. Think about what you learned from your grandparents, or your parents. Did you even realize where that specific ability originated? Or how you avoided something? Interesting thoughts.

 

This week, in Florida, about 800 people have received permits for the annual python hunt. I didn’t know that pythons are not a native species to Florida nor did I know that pythons are extremely prolific. And smart. In the ten years since the annual hunt started, only about 2100 snakes have been caught. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission offers a prize to the person who harvests the most pythons. I wonder if the winner gets a trophy or snakeskin boots?

 

Meanwhile, on the mortgage front, Washington has come out with yet another set of rules that will make your life more difficult. Definitions that are not clear, disclosures that don’t make sense, and more. What will eventually happen is that getting a loan could be more difficult, and small loans will only be available from the big banks. And if you don’t fit inside a continuously shrinking box, you will not be able to get a loan. These rules are being promulgated by people who know nothing about mortgages. But that’s not really a surprise, is it? Many Washington rules are invented by people who know nothing about real life. They listen to the lobbyists. Now that must be educational? ! NOT.

If you want to get a taste of who is running Washington, take a look at the job descriptions of the openings at some of the federal agencies. Most are directed primarily at other civil servants and with very short time frames when they are advertised. Interesting.

In the meantime, pick up the phone and ask me some questions. Prices in some areas have been increasing. Your property may help you now. The magic number is 818.305.4695. Use it today ! You owe it to yourself to see how much money you can save!

Have a better week.

Les

Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

Weird laws: Guess where… Greece, Rome, South Carolina, Dubai

Illegal: Pinball for minors

Illegal: Eating and drinking near landmarks

Illegal: Sharing a hotel room outside of marriage

Illegal: Stiletto heels

 

In order – South Carolina, Rome, Dubai, Greece

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 Les Berman CMC
Real Estate Loan Specialist
       
NMLS ID 227675
Voice: 818.305.4695

 

January 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments