The McJunkin Messenger – Feb 2017
Ring Out The Old Habits First
In his twenties, Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father of the United States, set out to achieve “moral perfection.” He identified what he considered to be the core virtues for a person of character, wrote them down, and dedicated himself to acquiring them.
However, his early efforts at self-improvement taught him that good intentions were not enough.
According to Franklin, “Habits take advantage of inattention. While my attention was taken up and care employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another. . . . I concluded at length that the mere speculative conviction that it was in our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping, and that the contrary habit must be broken and the good ones acquired and established before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct.”
Franklin was saying that we must break old habits before acquiring new ones. This suggests that to-do lists, resolutions, and goals are often doomed unless we acknowledge what’s holding our old habits in place. We must work to counter old habits if we hope to adopt new ones.
For example, if we wish to lose 30 pounds, we must adopt new habits of diet and exercise. But first, we must examine all the habits that made us 30 pounds overweight, then break each of those habits one by one.
This may or may not work for you, but it is an interesting way to examine this year’s New Year’s resolutions!
Try A Spending Fast
Some major financial professionals were recently asked for their best tips on living within a budget.
One suggestion that sounds particularly intriguing is declaring a moratorium on spending. Commit to spending absolutely no money for one day a month. Try stretching it to two or three days if possible.
You’ll find out how much money you spend without thinking about it, and you’ll break yourself of the habit of reaching for your wallet on impulse. You may also find that you can do without a lot of things you thought you needed.
Now That’s A Tough CEO
A corporation brought in a tough new CEO to shake things up. Touring the facilities on his first day, the new CEO spotted a young man leaning against a wall while other employees were working hard around him.
He marched up to a man. “You! How much do you make in a week?”
Confused and alarmed, the young man stammered, “About $300.”
“Here.” The new CEO pulled out his wallet and thrust $300 in cash at the man. “Go home, and don’t come back.”
“Yes, sir.” The man took the money and immediately ran away.
Proud of his tough image, the CEO turned to a nearby group of employees who had stopped to watch. “What was his job, anyway?” he asked.
They eyed each other nervously. Finally one said, “He’s the pizza delivery guy from down the street.”
Add-On Front Patios
Front porches and back patios have joined forces. The result is the emergence of the “front yard patio.”
A front yard patio is inviting, which might herald a reversal of a 70 year trend towards hiding out in our houses and entertaining only in our backyards. This condition was a direct result of the age of the automobile, when garages gradually crept to the front of the house at the expense of our porches.
For those of us with garage-dominated or porch-less facades, the front yard patio is a welcome feature—a decorative, as well as functional entertaining space that says, “Hello.”
Front patios can look like almost anything, and be constructed of any material that can be made weed-free and level, including brick, stone, gravel, or wood. They can be attached to the home, wrapped around the front door, or set off on their own. And they can be enhanced by such things as:
• A fire pit or heat lamps.
• A small side fountain.
• Low shrubs or low walls.
• Tea lights or lanterns.
Front patios are more than simple functional changes in our space and lifestyle. They’re also a smart move for home sellers as they gain traction with buyers who see them as inviting and desirable features that add value to the house.
Why Honey Doesn’t Spoil
Honey is unique among organic compounds in that it constitutes a “perfect storm” of attributes against spoilage:
Most of the honey is a supersaturated solution of sugar. Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water. Bacteria and other microorganisms that come in contact with this solution are desiccated (water is drawn from them into the solution). The same happens to yeast and other fungal spores, leaving almost no organisms in the honey that can spoil it. This supersaturation of sugar also inhibits the growth of yeast and other fungal spores.
Furthermore, bees process honey by means of an enzyme called glucose oxidase. You might know glucose oxidase from something else…it used to be called “Penicillin A,” which destroys bacteria.
Never leave a jar of honey standing open. The supersaturated sugar solution will absorb moisture from the air and gradually become weaker, losing its anti-bacterial properties.
Benefits Of Rising Early
One of the easiest ways to improve your life might be simply resetting your alarm clock. Here are some of the benefits that early risers seem to have over night owls.
• A 2008 Texas University study showed that college students who identified themselves as “morning people” earned a full GPA point higher than those who called themselves “night owls.”
• A Harvard biologist discovered that early risers are more proactive, and more likely to agree with the phrase “I feel in charge of making things happen.”
• The same biologist revealed that “morning people” are more likely to anticipate and then minimize problems.
• Early risers are healthier, primarily because they use morning time to exercise.
• Morning people are linked more often with traits like optimism, generosity, satisfaction, and conscientiousness.
• Early risers tend to be wealthier. There’s a reason for the phrase “The early bird gets the worm.”
How Plants Know When To Bloom
Scientists have known since the 1930s that plants sense the length of the days and use that information to decide when to flower. It was only in 2005 that studies revealed a gene called FT which is active in the leaf and whose activity is regulated by day length.
FT produces a messenger molecule that is transported to the shoot tip where it activates a “gene program” that leads to the formation of buds. The program causes proteins to form that then talk to other proteins that exist at the future locations of buds.
Why does all this matter to scientists? Daffodils bloom in spring as the days get longer. Roses wait until summer. Rice flowers in the fall as the days shorten. Consider the benefits of early flowering rice. In parts of the world, this could allow production of more than one harvest per year, further reducing world hunger.
Websites We Could Probably Live Without
But why? They’re so much fun! Here are five websites you might want to explore the next time you have nothing better to do.
thisiswhyimbroke.com – Ever wander into one of those gift shops that contain weird random stuff that’s so cool, but absolutely not needed? That’s what this website is all about, and you’re going to wish you’d seen this before Christmas.
dearphotograph.com – This odd site consists entirely of people holding up old pictures taken in the exact same spot many years ago. The pictures aren’t all that interesting, but in the context of the brief descriptions that accompany each image, each picture becomes a poignant short story.
pointerpointer.com – Perhaps the weirdest and most “pointless” website in the world. It’ll give you about 45 second’s worth of entertainment. Then you’ll be done. And never want to go back.
instantstreetview.com – Now this one might creep you out just a bit. Put your address (or any address) into the search window. See your own car, driveway, front door, etc.
mapcrunch.com – This site is for the true armchair traveler. You’ll be randomly whisked away to an image in a place you’re not ever likely to visit in person. Click the green GO! button to move to new pictures.
Low Cost Home Fixes With High ROI
Typically, lower cost improvements have higher returns than higher end remodeling jobs. Adding a new, more modern sink faucet and lighting fixture updates a home quickly and inexpensively. New countertops, updated appliances, and fresh paint do wonders for your kitchen, even if you don’t replace the cabinets. Even unnoticed features, like improved insulation, upgraded plumbing, treated wood rot, and refreshed bathroom tile grout can make you–and potential buyers–feel subconsciously better about a house. And don’t forget updating your exterior landscaping, front door, exterior lighting, and paint.
MLS Report for January 2017
THE HOUSTON REAL ESTATE MARKET LAUNCHES 2017 IN POSITIVE TERRITORY
Sales volume and pricing were up in January; inventory grew
HOUSTON — (February 8, 2017) — The Houston housing market carried its positive momentum from 2016 into the new year, with single-family home sales and pricing both on the rise in January. Homes priced between $500,000 and $750,000 showed the strongest sales activity, and the luxury market ($750,000 and above) enjoyed its third consecutive month in the black, reflecting resistance to any lingering effects of the ailing energy industry.
According to the latest monthly report produced by the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), a total of 4,080 single-family homes sold in January compared to 4,011 a year earlier. That represents an increase of 1.7 percent. Housing inventory grew from a 3.3-months supply to 3.5 months.
“The Houston real estate market is off to an impressive start for 2017, with the end of the holidays and rising interest rates spurring many on-the-fence buyers to take action in January,” said HAR Chair Cindy Hamann with Heritage Texas Properties. “It is especially encouraging to see vitality in the high end of the market, which faltered in response to falling oil prices, but has now registered positive sales for three straight months.”
The single-family home median price (the figure at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less) rose 4.0 percent to $210,000. That marks the highest median price ever for a January. The average price jumped 5.3 percent to $275,696, which also represents a January high.
January sales of all property types in Houston totaled 4,997, up 0.9 percent from the same month last year. Total dollar volume for properties sold in January increased 6.2 percent to $1.3 billion.
January Monthly Market Comparison
The Houston housing market saw across-the-board gains in January, with single-family home sales, total property sales, total dollar volume and pricing all up compared to January 2016.
Month-end pending sales for single-family homes totaled 6,286, an increase of 24.7 percent compared to last year. Total active listings, or the total number of available properties, rose 8.6 percent from January 2016 to 34,958.
Single-family homes inventory grew from a 3.3-months supply to 3.5 months. For perspective, housing inventory across the U.S. currently stands at a 3.6-months supply, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
This newsletter is intended for entertainment purposes only. Credit is given to the authors of various articles that are reprinted when the original author is known. Any omission of credit to an author is purely unintentional and should not be construed as plagiarism or literary theft.
Copyright 2017 McJunkin & Associates, Inc.. This information is solely advisory, and should not be substituted for medical, legal, financial or tax advice. Any and all decisions and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a qualified physician, attorney, financial advisor and/or