Thursday, July 01, 2021
Earlier this year, I went back to the classroom for my real estate course via a virtual link-up. Since I had the opportunity to experience first hand, classroom interaction via the internet, most of the updates made to the "Back to School" products category, reflect my experiences.
My exact "Zoom" hardware configuration is provided below.
I liked the camera selection with this configuration because of the "beautiful face" setting option. I included a more standard video camera in the "Back To School" products listing.
Below, photos of part of the setup as discussed in this post.
I also felt, the bluetooth audio speaker used with this configuration enhanced the experience and was worth the expense.
Are you going back to school? Do you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for online meetings? I like the lighting, sound, voice output, and high resolution display this configuration offered and very pleased with how my online classroom and business meetings are experienced.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
In the summer of 1995, I decided to take the LSAT. The LSAT is like the SAT test given to high school students who wish to go on to college, however it is for people who already have at least a four year degree- and wish to go to law school. Both tests evaluate a student's potential for success, given their higher education goals.
At the time, I lived in Bowie, Maryland and I chose the US Naval Academy (Annapolis) as my testing site.
So why then? Beginning in 1994, I asked the US Government to investigate an employment issue. I thought the investigation went well, however was surprised when my employer of ten years, rather than correcting the problems, asked me to leave.
When I explained this to the government investigation service, the case supervisor said- "go shopping". I went shopping for lawyers. Should I have had a lawyer when I first asked the US Government to investigate? In hindsight, I believe the answer is yes.
That said, with 10 years, an engineering excellence award, and what appeared to be retaliation for an earlier internal complaint I filed with our corporation's office in Anaheim, the US Government found merit for my 1994 complaint.
In 1995+ (1996 1997) or so, I think, I had a meeting with every single major law firm in Washington. All interested on some level in my case. One of the smaller employment law firms recommended a large law firm which took the case, however handed it off almost immediately, to another large DC law firm. This should have raised flags immediately, however I signed a check anyway.
The US Government had run a 9+ month investigation into my allegations and found my case had merit.
My tenure (10 years) with the Fortune 100 defense contractor and an internal complaint filed about 5 years prior to my leaving the company, complicated things. Most of the small employment law firms in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia felt the defense contractor was too large for them to handle.
One or two of the large law firms in Washington- ran conflict checks, and found issues. A conflict check usually determines whether the law firm has any dealings with an entity- a potential client wants to file against.
I thought, what happened next was because the defense contractor was so large. That is when I decided I wanted to go to law school (Where Was I?).
In earlier years, I had filed suits on my own or handled most legal issues on my own. I had the car plates for a hit and run driver, a traffic ticket I felt was unfair, issues with two landlords, etc.
I mostly handled my own legal issues, and was pretty happy with the results. I fired the law firm in Washington that took my case, because the lawyers would not stop asking me to make it a contingency case. They returned my check upon request. I felt I had no choice. The last straw? I asked to see the Government case file that the law firm had pulled, and my lawyers (a partner and jr associate with a large DC firm) asked, "Why kill a tree?". Newspaper print? Not sure.
Earlier this year, I took a real estate course online with Anne Arundel Community College. I was very pleased with how much I was able to learn in this environment, especially as related to legal matters. This mostly through my own independent study, so I decided to look into other courses that would be useful in running my business.
Business law and contracts are areas I felt would be of great use. When I looked into what AACC offered, I found to take a credited course like Business Law 101, I had to have several prerequisites, i.e., math and english 101, which I have. So I had Bowie send over my transcripts.
The real estate course was a non-credited course and required no advance studies. The business course I wanted to take was part of a specific curriculum offered by the community college- Law and Jurisprudence. This curriculum is specifically setup for students who may wish to transfer credits, if they later decide to look into a JD program with a law school.
The following illustration, shows the 29 undergrad credits accepted by the AACC Law and Jurisprudence program I have selected.
Why would I provide this information? So many these days, falsify school records. I did not go to an Ivy league school, however a Maryland State Police Officer once thought I had lied to him about my work and educational background. I knew the officer socially. I did not know issues like this were still on the table.
Late last year, when I signed up for the real estate course, I was surprised by some of the noise associated with my decision to take the course. I was so hyped by being back in the school environment, I decided to take a business law course.
In addition, at the beginning of the year I began research to help with preparation of legal documents which required notary seals. I was pretty happy with the results of this effort, however I did quite a bit of research and crossed checked everything again. I think if I could have afforded a lawyer, the work may have cost well into the thousands.
Apparently, the transfer of my school transcripts, had some in the legal community asking more questions. I recently took part in a Zoom forum that involved 5 Judges and a law professor. It was promoted as a Judicial Forum based on my curriculum selection, and I was notified after my undergrad transcripts were transfered. Why were some surprised? I am not sure. I have found many have falsified their school credentials. Was it assumed mine were false? Why would I falsify something like that? I can find professors and classmates from my undergrad days. As I have indicated, I am still trying to correct my situation.
Have you checked my finances and asked why? Here are my latest FICO scores for both personal and business related activities.
I said no to everything except DOJ. I want them to come in with the explanations and resolutions. Why would a community college and a request that my undergrad transcripts be sent to another school, cause any noise whatsoever? What am I missing?
I have not had the opportunity to post as much lately. I added statistical graphs to WiredPages, and have been researching a lot of legal issues. I was going to research the legal issues anyway. Something I have known I had to do for some time. I was surprised by the noise that resulted from some of this. I should be easy to check and verify. In the past, I have claimed I have many well known relatives. I do. This is not important to my rights and the rest of my life. I believe many are aware of this. Too many I have known over the years were asked to provide any negatives, in hopes of justifying what was done. I work hard. There was no justification. No one officially said I did anything illegal. I told every employer since high school about limited marijuana use in high school. That is the only illegal substance I have ever tried. I thought I suffered with migraines most of my life. The actual problem, my eyes are offset. This caused dizziness which made it unlikly I would want to use anything that would affect my head. I do not even drink.
The relatives? Should not have been a problem. I did not know most of my life.
I now believe HIV is a factor. Not because my status has changed, but more because I did not know it was an issue for some of the people I have known. I am HIV negative. This should not have caused the issues I have had. When I showed my tests results in a blog post in 2004 or so, I thought I put to rest any questions on this issue. I thought, I was simply answering any questions that may have been on the table. I did not understand everything I should have understood.
That said, where are my hospital bills. I was a heavy smoker (as I hit 30 more for weight control) starting my junior year in college until December 1998. HIV patients cannot smoke the way I smoked and not have medical issues. Where are my medical and prescription bills. I take nothing but Advil. I wear contacts.
Fraud? Does anyone think, I would put all of these ads on my sites and risk a fraud charge because I claimed education I did not have? Do you know what fraud is? If you put up an ad, then claim a law degree you do not have, it is fraud. Those in the know, would suggest- if there was a legitimate charge that could be brought, it would have been done. There should be no question about my undergraduate degree, employment history, or conservative background. DOJ/FBI, I repeat- I said no.
I am not going to go into a lot of detail as to why, I seem a bit upset of late. I am in the public. I zoom, school, business forums. I have to do the shopping because of the health crisis. People are ill and I am worried. Maybe this is why I am feeling a little pressed at this time.
Friday, April 02, 2021
The final for the real estate course was Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
I misread one or two questions and totally missed an easy math problem associated with straight-lined depreciation and appraisals. Why? Because, I assumed the structure, when built ten years earlier- was a lot cheaper.
Really wanted an "A" (90% or better) for this course, however happy I passed (B 83.87%). Needed a C (70%-79%) to pass.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
The final for the real estate course is Tuesday, March 30, 2021. I will be studying for most of the week, however feel ready to take the exam.
Was this an easy course? In my opinion, if you do not have time to study, you will probably find it is not as easy as you may think. That said, I have learned a lot and happy I had the opportunity to do this.
Financial terms I may have looked up in the past, simply because they were mentioned in a news story, now have new meaning as applied to real estate finance. Some of these terms include:
- Capitalization Rate (also known as Cap Rate). Example: a property in Maryland has a ground rent of $2160 annually. If a buyer is looking to obtain both land improvements and the land, the ground rent in this example would be capitalized by dividing $2160 ÷ 6% = $36,000 (the price the buyer would pay for the land). Six percent is the rate the State of Maryland sets for most redemption cases of this type.
- Consumer Price Index (CPI), the State of Maryland uses this factor to determine the filing, delivery, etc. fees for some of the services it provides.
- Loan To Value ratio (LTV). Principle Loan Amount ÷ Sales Price (or Appraised Value). A conforming mortgage loan normally requires an 80% LTV. A mortgage lender considers a lower LTV more attractive, i.e., 80% is better than 90% to a loan officer.
I purchased real estate years ago. At the time, some of these terms may have been mentioned in the loan and settlement processes, however probably forgotten. I appreciated this refresher course, in that the definitions now have broader meaning across a wide spectrum of uses.
I consider myself well versed in consumer news, however if I never looked up uses for the CPI, I was not overly concerned. I thought, if needed, I could easily look up anything. I say this to say, some of the new features may seem a little intimidating, however in real life (& business), these numbers may be useful and easy to lookup.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Last evening, I took the midterm for the real estate course. In preparation, Friday, March 5, 2021, I opened my books (something I have been doing since the course started <February 2, 2021>) and began studying.
I stayed in the entire weekend (+Monday and Tuesday), re-reading and taking practice exams.1 The midterm grade...
On Sunday, I began taking the sample exams in the back of the book. I started with the Math quiz. There were not as many math questions on the midterm as I thought there might have been. That said, I felt fully prepared for those types of questions.
I feel all of the study time paid off, and I know a lot more about real estate, associated laws, the process of buying, selling, conveying, and leasing real property than I did before.
Below some of the exam questions...
Any surprises? The amount of legal knowledge required to become a real estate professional.
1Over the weekend, I also added one or two new graphs to the WiredPages Employment page in case you happened to notice.
Friday, February 19, 2021
The real estate industry is heavily regulated by both State and Federal (to a lesser degree) guidelines and laws.
To assist with understanding the procedures and processes used by real estate brokers (coursework), I began delving into the many forms, agreements, statements, and contracts used by these professionals. Shown below, a directory listing of some of the forms I have collected to date.
While researching for my (real estate) course, I found other legal forms and agreements I wanted to add to my Microsoft Word template sets. The lower image in the diagram above, shows some of the other forms.
For some reason, I feel smarter having done this research, and wanted to provide a great resource for DIY research and creation of legal forms.
Should you retain a lawyer if you have questions? Yes. That said, some agreements are pretty straightforward and most services like eForms.com probably use lawyers and/or legal staff to help with the creation of the documents and services they offer.
In my case, I always want a lawyer to fax a copy of an agreement so I can study and research (without interruption) the document before further discussion or signatures- are added.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
I have been busy, but feel I am keeping up with my coursework. Mainly, because I stay ahead with the reading.
Other things going on...
- Filed my taxes.
- Preparing paperwork for course completion related efforts
- Renewed several of my domains (yes, tend to do this yearly rather than longer periods of time)
- Site issues, sports scores (WiredPages), etc.
- Researching problems with header bidding ads used on several areas of my sites
- Updating online résumés to reflect current coursework for real estate license
- Paying business bills... addresses, hosting, etc.
Just really, busy...
Thursday, January 28, 2021
My real estate course starts next week, and I have been busy with continuing preparation efforts.
- Joined the Microsoft Teams for the class
- Setup student calendars
- Digitizing Maryland laws and regulations as related to real estate for easy search.
- Coming up to speed with a newer version of Microsoft Office (365)
- Zoom (online) classroom attendance- continuing preparations
- Research as related to the real estate market, jobs, and online forums
Researching Microsoft offerings as related to real estate.
I have also been trying to plan my days for the next two months, in that I will continue to do most of the shopping. In addition, I have several business related tasks coming up, so I am hoping I can accomplish everything as efficiently as possible.
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Over the years, I have avoided using facetime and capturing videos of myself. I am not photogenic. This was never really a problem until now.
I worked in a male dominated field and found I liked conservative suits for daily office wear. Though I wear little in the way of jewelry, hair and makeup always important.
Today, when out, I tend to choose the same types of styles. With online video conferencing about to become more important in my life, I am researching options. I am concerned about mistaken identity issues, so want the same look for all public appearances, even video conferencing (sans the mask).
The real problem? I wear black- a lot. I am going through my closets for more colorful options that will project a better contrast for video conferencing, however I am not coming up with a wide selection.
So why all of the previews? Still thinking about all of this. Happy the online course is business related.
Friday, January 08, 2021
I received notification on January 6th, 2021, the real estate class start date has been postponed until February.
Several plans based on the original class start date- have also been postponed. Still very excited about this project.
Monday, February 03, 2020
Originally posted: 2/3/21
I have started my online class and it did not go exactly as planned.
Number one, I made a mistake and asked the entire class to join my class events. How did I do this? When I joined the Microsoft Team for the class, I created events in the Team Calendar. I thought it was another student (semi-private) calendar. I was able to cancel all of the events, however it left some in the class confused.
Though no one said anything to me, the number of messages and emails I received before the start of class showed my mistake. "Most could not log in". The class coordinator had to help some of my classmates to the correct event. I was rather embarrassed by the whole thing and could only smile at my mistake.
Two, I love understanding software and all aspects of a new user interface. During the class, I played with every button/icon I could find-- to make sure I understood its function. Never worried everything was being recorded.
For the last two months I have been trying to test lighting, camera resolution, etc. however did not actually create a video. I should have done this.
The two videos the professor uploaded after the class, showed me and a handful of my classmates with our video cameras never turned off. Every move I made was recorded and I have a lot of bad angles.
I think I have figured out options to avoid my first day of class mistakes-- however have no problem if you learn from my mistakes.
I take solace in the fact, I thought the real time video streams of my classmates were a lot nicer than the videos. I was using a high resolution monitor so I thought I could see most of the flaws. I recommend testing if you plan on keeping the video on for most of your class time.
The good news, I feel the study time I put in over the last month- is going to pay off.