Technology And Real Estate

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St. Albans Ladies Return This Saturday

This is the history of the fountain, thanks to Dave Kimel.........

 St. Albans Rotarians save 128 Year Old Vermont Landmark

In 2014, the members of the Rotary Club of St. Albans, VT, proudly accepted the challenge to lead their community to restoring the Fountain in Taylor Park.  In doing so, they understood there is a unique relationship between their Club, their Community, and the Fountain.

Governor John Smith (1758-1858) was one of St. Albans most prominent citizens of all times.  At the time he established residence there, developed the system of railroads, and served as Governor of Vermont, there was a single St. Albans.  It was St. Albans Village.  It encompassed the area now known as St. Albans Town and St. Albans City.  It was then, as St. Albans City is now, the County Seat.  

The contributions of Governor Smith and his descendants are many.  Of particular interest is:

        -His grandson, Greg Smith1 (1892-1990) was a founding member of Rotary of St. Albans.

        -It was the Smiths who gifted to their friends and neighbors the Fountain in St. Albans Village (Taylor) Park.

The Fountain in Taylor Park was given to St. Albans Village by the Smith Family.  It was erected in the summer of 1887 and dedicated on October 9, 1887.

37 years later, On October 8, 1924, Greg Smith joined with Dr. Ralph Perry and others who accepted a Charter from Rotary International to form a Rotary Club in St. Albans.                                                                                                   

A History of the Fountain 2 & 3

The Fountain in Taylor Park is a symbol of St. Albans like no other.  It has graced the front of many publications.  It was recognized by The Smithsonian Institute as the best remaining example of this type of fountain in the world.  

To fully understand its significance, one must understand that Vermont in general and the St. Albans area in particular suffered tremendously during, and after, the Civil War (1861-1865).  Many of their citizens were lost in battle.  The economy suffered greatly.  The War ended in 1865.  22 years later, in 1887, the area was just beginning to feel a new prosperity.  More importantly, people were feeling good about themselves and they were feeling good about their community.  

It was in that atmosphere that the fountain in Taylor Park was given to the Village of St Albans in 1887 by Gov J. Gregory Smith, founder of the Vermont Central Railroad. He had encouraged the local citizenry to improve Taylor Park and promised to donate the fountain. The citizenry and the Village government raised $2,300 to create paths and lawn in the Park with the fountain as a crowning feature. On October 10, 1887, Gov Smith dedicated the fountain with a letter in which he said, “It should be the desire of every citizen, as is certainly mine, to see our village restored to its pristine prosperity and healthful growth. This can be accomplished by an entire and perfect unity of purpose and harmony of action…”.

The fountain was built by the JW Fiske Company of New York at a cost of $4,000, at a time when the entire Village budget was $18,500. The fountain is nearly 26 ft in height and the pool underneath is 40 feet in diameter, edged with granite. The statuary was made of a zinc alloy, which was common at the time of manufacture. There are four Maidens, three Cherubs, and a “Water Nymph” that adorns the top.  The structure and basins are cast iron.  The fountain is only one of seven similar fountains left in existence and is featured on the cover of Smithsonian curator Carol Grissom’s book “Zinc Sculpture in America”. 

Over its 128 years there have been a number of small restoration projects that allowed the fountain to operate in one manner or another.  None were extensive enough to last.  Age finally got the better of these fine Maidens.  It was clear that while the center columns and the basins could be saved, time had caught up with the statuary.  A number of groups and the City itself sought answers.  The Fountain was just too decrepit to repair.  Cost estimates for a full restoration were $300,000+.  For a community of under 7,000 residents, the numbers were daunting.  Those who cared most about this treasure despaired.  

In January of 2014, leaders of the St. Albans Rotary Club discussed the dilemma.  As the community’s leading civic organization most felt “if not us, then who”.   Rotary has taken on a number of ambitious projects over the years but none as big as this.  The price and the logistics were daunting.  The idea was discussed by the whole club and enthusiastically supported.  The fountain would be saved!

The fountain was disassembled in the fall of 2014 and sent to Robinson Iron Works in Alabama to be rebuilt. Because zinc is no longer used in casting, the statuary were recast in aluminum. The pond and walkway around the fountain were also refurbished.

About Rotary of St. Albans

In the early years, Rotary met at The Tavern at The Jesse Weldon Inn.  The Jesse Weldon was a landmark Inn.   It was located on the corner of Maiden Lane and Bank Street.  It burned in 1946. It was one of the locations at which Confederate Soldiers lodged in the days leading up to the St. Albans Raid.  

Rotary has made many contributions to our community.  Most notable, perhaps are:

         -The St. Albans Rotary Ski Bus has taken children to area ski resorts every winter since 1957.  Over 50,000 individual ski trips have been enjoyed.

-The St. Albans Rotary Home and Recreation EXPO has provided a boost for area businesses and a passage to spring for our residents for 22 years.

    -The St. Albans Rotary Health Path at Collins Perley is a 1.5 mile wellness path that is always open to provide an enjoyable place for a walk or run.

    -The St. Albans Rotary expansion project at Hard’ack / Aldis Hill included the purchase of 60 acres of land.  This purchase provided additional space for youth and community sports fields, cross country running and skiing, and conservation. 

Rotarians meet each week for fellowship and service.  They are all committed to working with Rotary International to make this a better world.  They are dedicated and invested in making the St. Albans area a better place for all.   Their membership is open to men and women who are recognized for their leadership and dedicated to community service.  

About Rotary International 4

Rotary’s 1.2 million-member organization started with the vision of one man - a Vermonter - Paul P. Harris.   Paul Harris grew up in Vermont.  After graduating from College he became an attorney in Chicago where, on February 23 of 1905, he formed one of the world’s first service organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago.  It began as a place where professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of each member.

The most visible project Rotary International has undertaken is its world-wide effort to eradicate polio.  This enormous undertaking has required great funding, scientific achievement, and logistical execution.  Even through the difficulties inherent in inoculating millions of children in countries experiencing famines, wars, and cultural challenges, they are close to reaching that goal.  

Paul Harris said


Governor John Gregory Smith said 3

In a letter to the Board of Trustees of the Village of St. Albans dated October 10, 1887:

“In making this presentation I have no conditions to impose, as I am sure none are needed to secure such care and attention as may be required to preserve it, and in its preservation to insure such enjoyment as it may afford the citizens.”

The Trustees of the Village of St. Albans said 3

In reply to the above from and to Governor Smith dated October 14, 1887:

“In behalf of the Village of St. Albans we hereby accept the munificent donation so tendered, and beg to assure you that immediate steps will be taken by us for its care and preservation to the end that it may for many years fulfill the beneficent intentions of the donor.”

The Fountain Returns

Pieces of the refurbished fountain will return to St. Albans on Thursday, October 1.  They will be reset by Robinson Ironworks on Thursday and Friday under the watchful eye of Rotarian Peter Garceau, PE.  Garceau, a partner in Cross Consulting Engineers, has volunteered countless hours to insure each detail of this project could be perfectly executed.    

As in 1887, the timing of this gift is significant.  Downtown St. Albans had suffered a fate similar to so many downtowns throughout the world.  Development outside of the center of the City had left many store-fronts empty and the area looking tired.  Downtown St. Albans has undergone an incredible transformation over the past four years.  Under the inspirational leadership of Mayor Liz Gamache and the St. Albans City Council and with precision execution from Rotarian and City Manager Dominic Cloud, a street-scape project has been transformational.  All store fronts are full.  People once again feel proud of their downtown and their community.  

You Are Invited

We invite the people of St. Albans and the friends of our area to join with us when the fountain returns.  We invite everyone to celebrate it as a symbol of the beauty and greatness of our area and our people.  We invite one and all to help the world to better know us by our commitment to saving that which is central to our heritage… the Fountain in Taylor Park.

On Saturday, October 3 from 12 Noon until 2:00 PM Rotary of St. Albans will host a community celebration in Taylor Park.  Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin will be on hand to join St Albans Mayor Liz Gamache, and Rotary Fountain Chairman Tom Gallagher to ”flip the switch” to start the fountain flowing at 12:30.  Hot dogs and ice cream will be served.  Large crowds are expected for this long anticipated free event.  

A private reception for those who made contributions to the Fountain will be held Saturday night.  

1 Greg Smith was son of E. C. Smith (also a VT Governor) and Grandson of Governor John Gregory Smith

2 From notes by Jeff Young

3 From The Fountain On The Park by Donald J. Miner

4 From Rotary International Web Site 

Interested in more information on St. Albans, VT, USA and the Civil War.  Research the St. Albans Raid to learn about the Northernmost land battle of the Civil War that occurred in St. Albans, Just 10 miles from the Canadian border.  

iOS 8 - What I Like Most

It’s been almost a month since I stood in line to get my new iPhone 6. I have to say I really do love the larger form factor especially the larger screen. Although there are quite a few upgrades to the new phone, the biggest difference is IOS 8. There has been some press about the new operating system bricking phones and having serious bugs, but my experience is very different. I have upgraded to 8.02, and have found it quite solid. Some apps do still crash but I think that’s more to do with the apps than the operating system.

There are some things in IOS 8 that make my life much easier. The first has to do with Siri. Here in Vermont, as of October 1 it’s illegal to hold a cell phone in your hand while you’re driving. Although I have been driving with my phone in a dock for some time, there have been times I’ve held it to do something, but now I know the state police are watching. As long as my phone is plugged in, I can say “hey Siri” and she will wake up and be ready for my command. If I need to make a phone call, all I have to do is say” hey Siri, call my wife at home” and she will begin to dial my wife’s telephone number. I don’t have to touch the phone at all. One of the other nice additions to Siri in IOS 8 is that she translates what I say immediately rather than waiting for me to stop speaking to translate. It makes a huge difference to be able to see what she’s translating as I’m speaking.

The second thing that I use all the time in IOS 8 is the custom keyboard feature. Android has for a long time had a keyboard called SwiftKey that allowed you to drag a finger along the keyboard to type. I was both jealous and disappointed that we didn’t have that ability on our iPhones. Now we do. SwiftKey is indeed a timesaver, and it’s amazing how intuitive it actually is. I don’t have to be exact when dragging my finger along the keyboard. It seems to understand just what I mean to type.

While on the topic of keyboards, Apple added predictive typing to their own keyboard. Predictive typing has been around since the beginning in a primitive form in that as I type a bubble would appear offering a suggestion of what I might mean to be typing. It worked on a word by word basis. Now there’s a bar that appears above the Apple keyboard that offers up three suggested words that I might mean to type in addition to suggestions for the next word I may want to type. It takes some getting used to, watching the bar above the keyboard as I type, but as I have become more familiar with it, it has sped up my typing dramatically.

Interactive notifications is another addition then enhances productivity. It’s quite common to be working in one app when I get a notification or and imessage from someone. Prior to IOS eight I would have to leave the app that I was working in, open the app that was notifying me and perform whatever action was required. Now when the notification pops up on the top of my screen, I can simply tap on it, reply, and send it without ever leaving the screen I was working in. In addition, the notification window that appears by dragging a finger down from the top of the screen, now is customizable. There are apps that have things called widgets that can be added to this notification window. I have added Evernote and Weather Underground to my notification window. So, now instead of having to tap on my home button, find and open Evernote, all I have to do is drag down and tap on the icon of what I want to do within Evernote and I’m there. I also can see my favorite weather app and it’s information right in front of me as I am drag down the notification window. Now not every app has created a widget, but my guess is many more will get on board. If you haven’t downloaded IOS eight, I personally recommended it. I know many more people that love it than have had trouble with it.

Frustration Averted

I love my iPad Air! What I love most is how light it is. My iPad 3 was light too when I bought it, but by the time I put a folding case on it, it started to feel a bit hefty. So, when I bought my new Air, I only went with the Apple cover because it was as minimal as I could find and added the least amount of weight. 

There is a problem though. Sometimes I want to work in portrait mode. Certain apps only display in portrait also. The Apple cover folds to prop up the iPad but only in landscape mode, so I have to work flat if I want to be in portrait mode. Not any more. 

This may be a big Duh!......I just took the cover off, folded it and since it has magnets embedded in it, it formed a triangle that kept it together, I could rest my iPad on in a perfect position. 



I know, Duh! only took me 8 months to figure it out.

If You Want To Be Paid For What You Do......

I like a deal. I admit it. I search for clearance items and sell outs that I am too cheap to pay full price for. I have come a long way from when I wouldn't pay full price for anything. Now I don't mind paying what people ask for things. I came to this realization by seeing that if I insist on not paying full price, how can I expect anyone to pay full price for what I do? It is hypocritical for me to always wave the discount flag when buying, but put it away when selling. I always wanted a deal but wasn't willing to offer one, or would feel cheated if I did.

android vs. iphone

I saw this cartoon by Scott Johnson ( that depicts the difference between iOS and Android users that helps illustrates my point. My experience is that the Android ecosystem has created an expectation that everything is free, or should be. If I have to pay for an app, well that's just not going to happen. (Full disclosure here, I do know iOS users that only download free apps, and Android users that pay for apps, but neither is the norm.)

What I don't get is, why wouldn't someone be willing to pay 99 cents for a piece of software? We're talking a buck, 1/4 of the price of a Starbucks coffee that you only rent. Really?

A lot of people call me a geek, (I'm not really, but that's for another time), yet I know I want nothing to do with writing code to build an app for my iPhone. It takes countless hours writing cryptic symbols to make it so I can fling that bird through the air or drive that race car, or even create a to do list to organize my life. There are real people working real hours so we can have a working computer in the palm of our hands.

Why should they work for free?
Do you?
Would you?

I am a Realtor and often hear the complaint from other agents in the industry how clients continue to ask us to reduce our commission. The collective position is that what we do is worth the price we charge. I believe that's true. Most people don't realize the hours we spend behind the scenes to make sure a transaction goes smoothly, yet the agents doing the complaining are often the ones that fall into the "99 cents? Eff that." category.

I think that if we compared the time spent programming an app, to the time we spend on managing and coordinating our transactions, the hours would be similar in many cases. Now, I do not mean to compare app programming to real estate, but it does seem to me hypocritical to be unwilling to pay 99 cents for something that will make our phones more useful and/or enjoyable, while at the same time expect to be paid full price for what we do.

If I want to be paid full price, I have to be willing to pay full price.

Go ahead, drop that 99 cents, support the people that help make the miracle of a computer in your pocket a reality. But more importantly, let's take another look at our hypocrisies.

Buyer Myths Explained Away

Point2, a realtor news and info site had an article a few weeks ago that went over a few myths that many buyers believe. The original article is here, but I have highlighted the major points, because they are worth addressing.

Here’s a look at four real estate myths that frequently come up with first time buyers.

1. Working with multiple agents will improve my chances of finding the perfect home.

All agents have access to the same MLS listings in your area. It is in your best interest to find an agent with a communication style and commitment level that matches yours, and let them do the hard work for you.

Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect home. It is extremely likely that none will have the exact combination of features you’re looking for on the street you want at the price you like, so make a list of the must have features and start there.

2. If I see a house I like, I should call the number on the bottom of the yard sign.

The agent listed on the yard sign is the one who represents the seller, so they are being paid to act in the seller’s best interest. That is great and exactly as it should be, but it doesn’t mean that they will act in your best interest.

It is best to call the agent you are already working with and ask them to set up a time to view the house. This is yet another reason why it is good to establish a relationship with a dedicated buyer’s agent.

3. My first offer should be a lowball offer.

Of course it makes sense to offer a lower price than you ultimately planned to pay and negotiate your way up, but there are times when this strategy can backfire.

The best thing to do is ask your real estate agent for advice and then make an offer that you are comfortable with.

4. If a house appraises well, I don’t need a home inspection.

Home inspections and home appraisals are two entirely different things. An appraiser notes the value, whereas an inspector notes the condition. Even if the home you make an offer on appraises for the sale price, there could still be broken or unsafe elements. In some instances, you can negotiate with the sellers to have these items fixed. This is just one way a home inspection comes in handy. Click here to discover what buyers need to know about home inspections.

Of course, there are many more home buying myths, but these are a great place to start

Stop It Siri


I love Siri. I talk to her every day. She helps me send texts while I'm driving so  I keep two hands on the wheel. She'll get me driving directions without having to type an address into Maps. She helps me remember all sorts of things. 

I sometimes get frustrated though when I speak at my phone and pause for just one moment and Siri stops listening and goes and translates what I just said. Then I have to start all over again. It would be great if Siri would just listen to me until I was done and let me pause as much as I wanted and then do her magic.

Good news! With the new 7.1 update, what you do is hold the home button the whole time you're speaking and Siri will listen without interrupting until you let go of the home button.

Now isn't that what we all want? For someone to listen to us without interrupting? 

Thank you Siri. 

Apple Does The Right Thing...Again


I just received this from Apple today. I don't have kids, so it doesn't apply to me, but feel good about a company that would do this

Dear iTunes account owner,

Apple is committed to providing parents and kids with a great experience on the App Store. We

review all app content before allowing it on our store, provide a wide range of age-appropriate

content, and include parental controls in iOS to make it easy for parents to restrict or disable

access to content.

We’ve heard from some customers that it was too easy for their kids to make in-app purchases.

As a result, we’ve improved controls for parents so they can better manage their children’s

purchases, or restrict them entirely. Additionally, we are offering refunds in certain cases.

Our records show that you made some in-app purchases, and if any of these were unauthorized purchases by a minor, you might be eligible for a refund from Apple.

Please follow the steps below to submit a refund request:

 Find your in-app purchase records. Check your email for iTunes receipts or use a computer to sign in to your iTunes account and view your Purchase History.

 Use this link to submit your refund request to Apple.

 Provide the requested information and enter “Refund for In-App Purchases made by a minor”

in the Details section.

Apple will review your request and contact you via email about your refund status. All refund requests must be submitted no later than April 15, 2015.

If you have any questions or need further assistance with your refund request, please contact Apple.

To learn more about parental controls in iOS, please see this article.

Thank you.


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Word Arrives to iPad, a big so what.

At the top, I admit I am not a Microsoft Word user.... Haven't been for quite a while now. Pages and Numbers do everything I require....even translate Microsoft files. All my files get backed up to the cloud and are available on all my devices.....for free.

So, pardon my attitude, but having to pay $100 per year for the privilege of using Microsoft 365, seems old school.

I do have to play in the corporate arena, and have to be able to read and share Word and Excel docs, so I downloaded the Word app to my iPad Air to try it out. I wanted to see if there was a way I could use it, but since I do not have a subscription to 365, all that is available is the capability to read Word or Excel docs....nothing else.

I don't know, if you are married to Microsoft and have a 365 account, this may be a great relief, but to me, as soon as I finish this post, I am going to delete it from my iPad.

If you'd like to read a less opinionated review, go here.

An App Embarrassment

I was looking through iTunes on my iMac and saw something a little embarrassing....I have downloaded over 1000 apps. I am sure that a number of them were free, but I usually buy them.

FYI.....I am not going to search any further to see how much I have actually spent.

Every night I throw my change into a jar.....and that money becomes my app play money. I go to the change counting machine at the grocery store and print out a voucher for an iTunes credit. This keeps me in apps and I don't feel the pain.

Maybe I need a 12 step program, but I don't think I am going to stop any time soon.