A few recommended Real Estate articles

As you may know, I work in the real estate industry. I’m a licensed real estate agent, though currently don’t have my license with a brokerage, and work in the construction sector. With that, I watch the industry closely. These articles below cover national trends, which do impact us at a local level, somewhat.

So, a few interesting articles about the national market.


Reflecting on Fortune’s article “Howard Schultz Has Something Left to Prove”

I’m an alum of Starbucks, having worked at the SSC (Starbucks Support Center) from the time Orin Smith was at the helm, through Jim Donald’s tenure, and then getting laid off with 300 of my colleagues a few months after Howard returned. Starbuck’s history overlaps with key parts of mine. I still care quite deeply about the company. I make it a point to read pieces like this one that come through my filter: Howard Schultz Has Something Left to Prove.

I remember the hand-off to Jim Donald, and the eventual fallout. I remember wondering if the only way Howard was going to leave Starbucks was in a pine box. The transition mentioned looks like a great opportunity for both Howard and Starbucks.

The article does a good job of looking at the situation, at least from what I can see. Now, I’ve been away from Starbucks for nearly 10 years now, so my understanding of the corporate dynamics are weak. But it meshes with my memory of days gone by.

Besides the internal challenges of succeeding someone who deeply shaped the culture of a major company, though, I’m more interested in their brief look at the state of the coffee sector.

It delights me to see audacious goals. That’s a part of the company I’ve admire and love. I agree with Johnson’s view that Starbucks has two overarching challenges: continually embracing digital culture, and then expanding the coffee expertise elements of the Brand. And I expect the Roastery and Reserve brands will do good work tackling those issues.

The competition will be fierce, though they’ll be quite adept at giving the other players a run for their money. However, it’s important to keep an eye as companies merge, align and garner new assets to apply. I’m thinking of the JAB Holdings acquisition of Peet’s, Stumptown and Intelligentsia as referenced by the article. Well, JAB actually has become a significant player in the Specialty Coffee arena. Besides Peet’s, Stumptown and Intelligentsia, they also control Keurig: Green Mountain, Caribou Coffee, and Mighty Leaf tea. And they control Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (the bagel chain) and Krispy Kreme. I would never have anticipated these companies going private, and becoming united under one investment group. A fascinating development that will help shape the specialty coffee world for years to come.

I don’t envy Kevin Johnson as he steps up to follow Schultz. It’s daunting to consider. However, he’s just the leader. I know many, many of the people bringing the day-to-day Starbucks experience to life. They’re committed, passionate and talented. I have no fears for the future of the Siren.

Thinking About Downtown Everett

Everett Logo

Yesterday I spent a little time walking right along Colby. I was struck by the large number of vacant store front spaces. Which surprises me, since retail space in the region is in high-demand. I guess we can see the upper bound of that.

Perhaps Everett is considered too far from Seattle. I find that interesting as it’s only 35 miles, 44 miles to Seatac airport.

There’s a great arts community up here, with the Everett Philharmonic, the Village Theatre and the Schack Arts Center, just to name a few.

Plenty of businesses occupy the larger buildings, banks, escrow companies, the offices for Snohomish County, and, of course, the City of Everett’s offices.

The city has an amazing amount of potential. I hope that the business community realizes it and helps Everett grow…and grow the right way.

Maybe that can Everett’s call to glory: smart and compassionate growth! Just a thought.

Mt. St. Helens Erupted 37 years ago yesterday

On May 18th, 1980, I was in Lynnwood, just north of Seattle. I remember being in my garage, probably cleaning up my stuff after delivering papers when I heard a rumble. Caught my attention, but with Boeing’s Paine Field facility and such a few short miles away, I attributed it to that.

When I went inside, I saw this on the tv:

The coverage was really interesting to me. Volcanoes have fascinated me ever since.


This lahar has always amazed me:


And check out the ash cloud from space:



A monumental event that really changed the region. I’ll write more about that soon.

Seattle Big Blog Meetup Reunion And Such

Several years ago Monica Guzman, then with the Seattle PI’s Big Blog, started hosting Big Blog meet ups. I stumbled upon one my posts from one, pinged the folks in the picture, and the discussion shifted to having a re-union.

So, we’ve launched the discussion. Part of the purpose for this post is to have the discussion in a single space, and not fill up our Twitter feeds.

Anyway, please comment below with ideas, suggestions, interests. Also, check back often. I’ll update this as it progresses.

Well, yesterday’s weather in Seattle was quirky as heck

Yesterday’s weather was certainly quirky. Earlier in the afternoon, it was nice enough in Marysville to get a 20 minute walk in. As my weight’s been creeping up, this was quite welcome

Not too much later the thunderstorm rolled through. My son and I planned to hit the gym, but the weather knocked the power out there. So, we went out for a little ride.

Now, it had cleared up as we were gearing up. But it started to pour as we headed out. We opted to keep going. It was my son’s first real rain ride.

I’ve become a fair weathered cyclist over the years. So it was nice to get out and get wet on the road. I love riding so, and need to get back in the saddle more.

I want to push my fitness higher again. Not get my fitness back. Rather, adapt and create a new life, with a solid center of fitness.

Besides riding, I want to get into kayaking. I’ve a fair amount of experience on the water…and I want more. I’ve dreamt of riding rivers; rapids as well as exploring the shores of the Columbia. Well, and many others. Oh, something else I want to try on kayak: ocean riding! Imagining cutting through the surf, riding the waves…yeah, that sounds cool. Just got to avoid pissing off the surfers.

Also, during the winter I want to get deeper into cross-country skiing. That’s one I really miss.

So, my mind’s afire with outdoor ideas. Should be a fun summer!

Plane Crashes, Commutes, Construction and Taekwondo: My Week So Far

It certainly has been interesting around the North Puget Sound area the past few days.

First, bigger, news-worthy thingie: plane fell out of the sky. Well, that’s how it was described by an eyewitness. Most important detail: no serious injuries. Reminds of the old pilot joke:

“A good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is one where you can reuse the plane.” Not sure if this plane will be in the air again. Not my skillset.

Plane crash in Mukilteo

I live about 5 miles from the crash site, so this messed up my commute, as well as my son getting to his choir rehearsal yesterday. Minor things, I guess.

A couple of my construction projects are coming together abruptly. Great news, really, but I’ve spent a bit of time running around dealing with loose ends. It’s been awesome, though. It’s pretty great to get people into homes. Right now one of the best projects is a custom home we’re building on Camano Island. The proverbial dream home. These folks have worked their whole lives for this. It’s really wonderful, and somewhat humbling, to be part of helping them turn it into reality.

With that, another project’s coming together rapidly. Got to head out to the county admin building twice today! I do enjoy the folks there. Sure, not everyone is bright and cheerful…but that’s true of everywhere…even Starbucks!

I ended the evening at taekwondo (editor’s note: I love my school in Lynnwood: YS Lee Martial Arts! Full Disclosure: I manage the website, Mailchimp and Facebook communications there). Spent our normal class time working with new students, introducing them to their poomsae. It’s fun and an honor. I’m also reminded how much there is yet to learn. I know the structure of it quite well. However, knowing the art doesn’t mean you know how to teach it. Pedagogy is something I don’t know that much about. I’m trying to teach them, keep them excited and interested in the martial arts (there’s so much to learn in the beginning, it can be overwhelming). I want to keep it fun and interesting.

I also got to judge a colored belt test this evening. It’s another privilege of being a blackbelt. I deeply adore being part of these milestones. One of the testees was a girl I’ve known since she was, basically, a baby. It was great to see her making such progress. And I judged a woman I’ve known for the better part of a year now (egads, maybe more…), and I love the power she has. You won’t want to be hit by her!

Above I briefly mentioned poomsae, equivalent in karate to kata, and we translate it to “form”. Poomsae are a key differentiation between fighting and martial arts. Graceful styles, which, when done well, exude grace, strength and beauty. Below is one school’s demonstration of the first 8. I’ve enjoyed this one for years.


Do great things, be excellent to each other!


Reflecting on opportunity

I remember, immediately after getting out of the Navy, walking around downtown Seattle. Looking at the high-rises, at all the well-dressed office folks going about their business and seeing opportunity everywhere. Buildings filled with business, with people doing things, making stuff, having brilliant ideas and creating amazing, new things.

The mid-90s, the dot-com world was just starting, downtown Seattle was shedding it’s dilapidated, seedy and decayed visage, finally becoming the inspirational beacon of entrepreneurial hope.  And I was there, in the thick of it.

I could feel, I could hear the heartbeat. There I was, in the front seat of change. Watching both the promise revealed, and those left-behind. Hope isn’t perfect, I guess.

An interesting ride it’s been.

Thoughts On Nike Hill in Bothell

I originally posted this on March 5, 2015 at my site Not Just Seattle

This morning I drove out to Bothell from Lynnwood. As I hate the freeways, especially in the morning, I back-roaded it out there. Passing a number of construction sites out there didn’t surprise me. This area is quite high in demand, as it’s really the furthermost north end the East-side. One thing in particular stood out: some houses  on Vine Road with fencing around them.

I first remember seeing these decades ago. These looked just like all the military housing I’d grew up around. At first that seemed strange, then I learned about Nike Hill. Named after the missile silo not-so-secretly placed on the summit of the hill, I believed the housing was originally for those soldiers. They were built in in 1950, right around the time the silo first came online. Also, the street (technically 216th Pl SW) is Nike Manor Rd. So, viola!

Now, the buildings are owned by the Navy, so my guess is that they were housing sailors stationed with the Everett Homeport. Today, fenced off and vacant, I wondered if they’d been sold to private developers, but they still show as owned by the LLC that the Navy set up to manage properties in the region. So, perhaps they’re going to upgrade these. As they’re pretty much unchanged from the 1950s, that should be rather welcome.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing what’s to come there.


Sidebar: Here’s an interesting article about the site, and how it became the FEMA regional headquarters it is now.