Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blaze 2W - It's a Bike Light!

I’ve been waiting for this light since I discovered it a few weeks back on a website. I’ve been looking around for it at local bikes shops and happened to see it today. I grabbed it, mounted it and proceeded to ride on the Minuteman trail with it.

I have multiple 1 watt lights from different manufacturers, including the Blaze 1W.

This light is a joy to use. As a matter of fact, it is too bright to leave on when you approach someone. I felt the need to cover it with my hand as a courtesy to on-coming riders.

As I was leaving the trail at Alewife a rider who had been behind me caught up and off-handedly said something like “thanks for sharing the light.”

He had the Spock on his bike and is convinced that the Blaze 2W is a real step forward.

Anyway, instead of packing it in at about 5:30 tonite I went on and rode until just about 9:30 with the light. It throws enough light for me to ride at my usual pace (14 – 18mph) and not be surprised by the road/path surface.

I’ve owned other rechargeable systems and have also built high output 12 and 18 volt systems for my bike. The Blaze is a convenient and light-weight solution.

The 2W is a real step up from the 1W. As a matter of fact, if you mount both you can use the 1W in flash mode and the 2 to light your way, or at one point I had the 2W focused on the path farther out and the 1W closer in and I had continuous light in front of me for 30-40 feet or so, definitely far enough to see any bumps/holes and detritus on the road and enough lead time to avoid it.

It’s worth the $60.

Also, Planet Bike as a company gives back. They pledge 25% of their profits to Bike Advocacy. I've got to tell you, not enough is getting spent on bike advocacy these days. IMHO!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Not Just Real Estate, bicycling too

So, last July I bought a bike, nothing special, a Trek Hybrid (7000, if you care) and I started to ride it.

Nothing fancy, just a few miles every now and then with my wife. We'd ride bike trails on the Cape, The Minuteman trail from Cambridge to Bedford and back.........

Before I knew it, I've put over 2000 miles on the bike and when I miss a day I really do miss it.

I've gotten in the habit of doing "bike only" days where I do all my errands etc. on the bike. I do my best to work it out so that I can take the bike with me on vacations and also will organize my day around riding. I think I've moved beyond the simple "likes to ride" category and maybe embarking on a more serious jag, I call it "needs to bike."

Well, it's working! It makes me happy and I've gotten so that I can ride for upwards of two hours at a pace that I once thought was crazy. A ride of less than 15 miles is a short jaunt and hardly worth getting dressed for (to me.)

Anyway, over the last few months we have ridden a bunch of cool places. The Cape Cod Rail Trail, the Minuteman Trail (off the Bedford end to Concord Center and also Billerica.) The Ayer to South Nashua trail, the East Bay Bike Trail (East Providence to Bristol RI and back) and along the Charles River from Newton to Boston and back, including the Blue Heron trail.

Then of course there are the around town jaunts and also one of our favorite rides from East Falmouth (Central Ave.) to Woods Hole and back.

So, you get the idea. I haven't missed more than one day since the weather got nice back in June and I hope to continue to ride until the snow makes it impossible.

Which brings me to my observations.........

- Do people who ride the Minuteman at night realize that the brighter the light on their bike, the more dangerous it is for folks approaching them?

- Do folks who ride with headphones on realize that they are always in serious danger?

- Why do the folks in Ayer allow their dogs to do their business on the trail and just leave it there? Do they not get it?

- Rhode Island is leaps ahead of Massachusetts when it comes to walkers/runners/joggers and roller-bladers on the trail. They insist that they use the left hand side of the trail so they are always facing the riders. BRILLIANT! I never have to say "on your left" while on that trail. Also almost everyone you pass says Hi on the East Bay trail. Compared to that, the Minuteman Trail is like being in New York City, and I used to work there, folks are always scowling at you and just shoving past you without any eye contact.

- When will the people on the Minuteman Trail realize that walking three and four abreast is RUDE! Also the kids who hang out behind the football field in Arlington drinking beer are not cool and under age.

- I love to see young kids out riding on the trails, I can only hope that they develop a lifelong love of riding. I always wonder why their seats are so low, if they could extend their legs they might be more stable and enjoy the ride more.

- I have built blindingly bright lights for my bike, I have created a 12-volt system for it and I have a car horn if I want. I leave all that stuff at home now and rely on my skill and experience to keep me safe (hopefully).

- I would not ever ride a bike without my helmet on, not so on a motorcycle. Go figure!

- I always travel with tools, tubes and a pump. I always ask folks on the side of the road/path who are stopped if they need any assistance. So far no one has taken me up on the offer.

- We picnic often on the bikes, it's a really nice way to spend a few minutes away from the hub bub. It also helps you feel less guilty about eating the good foods. Bristol RI is one of my favorite places to picnic on the bike.

- Some folks (many folks) should not wear spandex.....EVER!

- Riding with folks who have ridden in large fundraiser rides is tedious, do they not get that I have seen the car coming from the front and the rear, long before they yell "Car Up/Car Back" This goes for folks I ride motorcycles with too, stop chatting and ride, every time to yell something you swerve and make things less safe for all.

- Riding two/three abreast on a trail so you can chat is both dangerous and inconsiderate in busy sections. Remember - "Single File and we all SMILE!"

Anyway, that's it for now, happy rolling.

- Geof

Thursday, May 7, 2009

WOW! It's been awhile....

So I was thinking that it has been awhile since I spent any time writing for this blog. When I looked it was over a year! Can you believe it?

Many things have changed and much has stayed the same since I last made an entry.


- Sox are playing again. Lot's of new names in the mix this year. I hope that Jerry Remy has a speedy and easy recovery.

- Real Estate is in a seemingly endless state of flux. The news about the economy has been changing and the local market seems to have ducked most of the real perils of markets around us.

- Celtics are in the post-season


- We have a new President

- Real Estate is in a seemingly endless state of flux. The news about the economy has been changing and the local market seems to have ducked most of the real perils of markets around us.

So, what's a broker to do? It turns out that the financial meltdown from last year is beginning to slow down somewhat. Folks are breaking open their wallets and purchasing houses here in the local market once again. Like days of old, some properties are jumping off the market, accepting offers in the first week or so, some aren't even making it to the market before accepting offers, or are being sold to folks who have made overtures about them in the past.

Though the market may seem different to some folks, it feels to me like we are coming out of the doom and gloom of the last 12 months with a brisk return to the way things seemed about 24 months ago.

There are some new wrinkles though. First off, mortgage money is available, and continues to be available at historically low interest rates, but there are new guidelines that lenders are applying to their loans. Compared to a year or two ago, this is making borrowing somewhat more difficult today.

What this means is that for sometime now we will be seeing only the best qualified borrowers being able to get loans. This is not a bad thing, I for one don't want to be involved in another period like we just recently went through. As a broker, it is hard to hear when bad times befall a client.

The second piece of this puzzle is the lender appraisal. If the property doesn't appraise to support the loan, than the folks in the deal are sent right back to the negotiating table. This is a very important issue for brokers who are involved in pricing a house for the market. Price it too high and the deal comes apart at the appraisal.

Interest only loans, and loans for 100% of the appraised value of a property were tools used by some to get into home ownership. With the contracting values we saw over the last 18 months or so, these loans have become millstones to the folks who borrowed the money.

I hope for all the folks who I have talked over the last 6 months regarding the shrinking value of their properties that we continue to see improvements in the health of the market. There seems to me to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon that we are turning a corner and heading out of the "market doldrums" that we have been living through these last 12 to 18 months.

Anyway, it's back to work now.

- Go Sox, Bruins and Celtics!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who's Opinion is Correct? Shirtgate?

Opinions? Who's correct?

I love these times, depending on who you talk to, the market is either wonderful or terrible. As I've said in earlier posts, the continuous give and take around whether the market is good or bad just accentuates the old adage that all real estate is local.

As many of you know, I have referred to Globe articles in the past. And as we talk at Open Houses and over drinks, the conversation inevitably comes back to the same questions.

Well, over the weekend, this being April, once again the Globe has put together the Ying and the Yang of the current market.

In one series of articles they discuss the reasons for selling and buying in todays market conditions. Of course there are sound arguments on both sides of the topic.

In another article, and this one truly puts a point on the notion that the market is local, the Globe publishes a table that shows the 10 hottest markets in the local area.

Watertown topping this list is exciting for us here in the Watertown area. We've been telling folks that Watertown is staying strong, and some of that strength is the new developments over off of Pleasant St, however properties in Watertown are still finding buyers. Even in this "tough market."

If you didn't get a chance to read the articles, here's the link at the Globe:


On another note - It never ceases to amaze me how the fans of our Olde Town Team and those of the Evil Empire can continue to find ways to increase the rivalry and ultimately bring the animosity between our two cities to a new level.

The curse of the buried shirt is a media bonanza for the new Yankee Stadium, the building isn't even complete yet and there is already a tale that will be told for generations to come.

I can't wait to see if this pans out as as true story or as a publicity stunt engineered by the Stienbrenners and the management of the team.

BTW - It seemed like it took forever, and I did go to sleep before the game ended, but it's nice to see that the Sox were triumphant last nite.

Have a great spring week,

Go Sox!

- Geof

Monday, March 31, 2008

Another Perspective on the Market

The Warren Group is recognized by many as a leading real estate research firm.

Willard Warren, from the Warren group, answers questions about Massachusetts' market for Boston Globe reporter Kimberly Blanton.

It makes for an interesting read and compares the market today with the last real downturn back in the 1990's.

Tomorrow is the "road opener" for the Olde Town Team and I for one am excited to see Dice-K throw.

Go Sox!

- Geof

Monday, March 24, 2008

Blip or Turn Around?

I just had to do it. I know I will (may) be accused for seeing the glass as half-full but I can't resist it when I come across news that says something about the real estate market picking up.

It turns out that existing home sales in February showed a slight up-tick says NAR, and USA Today picked the story up. In short it says that contrary to the analysts predictions and expectations the number of properties sold went up in February.

The complete article is here:

It's not all good news though, the average price still was headed down vs. a year ago.

Tomorrow morning is Opening Day at the Tokyo Dome. It will seem weird, but I plan on being in front of the tv with my peanuts and orange juice to watch the first pitch.

Go Sox!

- Geof

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Interesting Web Sites

We all have them, someone who sends us jokes and other "non-work-related" emails. In my case it's my father-in-law. I enjoy most of them and it's nice that he takes the time to think of me as often as he does.

Anyway, this morning I got an email from him about a website that I thought might be of interest to you all. It is a site that will display demographics based on zipcode.

You go to the site and type in a zipcode. The site then puts together some demographic data about the zipcode and displays it for you.

Give it a try!

Also, a brief word about the "validity" of the site might be appropriate at this juncture. If you read the "About ZIPskinny" you will discover that the site was based on 2000 Census data and there also might be some issues with sample size. Browse the About ZIPskinny tab to read the developers message. And as always Caveat Emptor - and remember the credo of all web-denizens, "If it's on the web IT MUST BE TRUE!"

Go Sox!

- Geof