Posts by Doug Buenz

American Flag Etiquette

Memorial Day is next Monday! As an important symbol of our country, everybody should understand the significance of flying the flag. On Memorial Day fly the flag at half-mast, a position reserved for when the country is in mourning, until noon, before raising it to full mast for the remainder of the Day.

Here is the full list of the proper way to fly the American Flag:

  • The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open, but it may be displayed at night upon special occasions to produce a patriotic effect.
  • When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
  • The flag should be displayed at every public institution and in or near every polling place on election days, and at schoolhouses during school days.
  • In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
  • When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.
  • No other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
  • The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the United States flag except at United Nations Headquarters.
  • The flag, when displayed with another against a wall—both from crossed staffs—should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
  • The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
  • When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at the peak.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
  • When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
  • On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag must be flown at half-staff on all buildings on the death of any officer listed below, for the period indicated:
    • For the President or a former President:30 days from the date of death.
    • For the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives:10 days from the day of death.
    • For an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, a former Vice President, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives:From the day of death until interment.
    • For a United States Senator, Representative, Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico:the flag should be flown in the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia, on the day of death and on the following day; in the state, congressional district, territory, or commonwealth of such Senator, Representative, Delegate, or Commissioner, from the day of death until interment.
    • For a Governor:Within the state, territory, or possession, from the day of death until interment.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.

Summer Learning for the Kids

Summer vacation is coming for the kids, but our adult lives keep on going as usual. Trying to fit their schedule into ours can be challenging and more often than not our propensity to “plug them in” becomes too easy.

Just because they will be away from their daily source of higher learning does not mean that they can’t still stay engaged in summer learning and have a blast doing it.

Here are five ways to keep kids going in a positive direction this summer.

Journaling

They are bound to create many experiences this summer, some good, some rooted in life learning. Keep a daily journal recording your summer experiences – this will keep reading and writing skills sharp.

Library Cards

It’s free, it’s local, it’s quiet and usually has much more to offer than just books with puppet shows and classes. Many libraries have reading competitions that kids can take part in.

Reading Lists

Just because school’s out, doesn’t mean story time needs to come to an end. Keep reading each day to help your child develop their reading skills. Have them make a list of the books that they want to read this summer. Their selections might surprise you.

Plug In (the Right Way)

There is more to the iPad than Minecraft and YouTube. There is a wide range of fantastic and free resources for just about every type of learner. Some of the most popular games that encourage creativity for younger children include drawing game SketchUp, building online with Lego Digital Designer or creating a digital flip book with FlipSnack.

Field Trips

Visit a museum of art, history, natural history or science. Go to a zoo or aquarium. Many museums have one day or evening per week offering free or reduced admission. Take advance of museum education programs and classes like pottery, painting, fused glassmaking, bird watching, scientific experimentation or photography.

Once they return back to school they will be asked by teachers and peers what they did on their summer break. A regiment of summer learning will give them experiences worth boasting about!

Help Wanted: Mom

What is the value of a mom? The answer is unquantifiable, but what if we took a “general value” approach based on time/work rates and ratio? The answer might surprise you and make you look at the (more than) full-time position of mom a little differently.

This Job Description was found online and offered by noahsdad.com.

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.

Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.

Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.

Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.

Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.

Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.

Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.

Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.

Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.

Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.

When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

Here is the financial breakdown of what the position would pay:

So next time you see that mom at the supermarket with three kids hanging off different limbs while she tries to navigate the busy parking lot in a cart with a wonky wheel, lend a hand and thank her for her service. She has the best/worst job on the planet.

 

Next Level Mom!

Moms are a whole different kind of special. Lest we ever forget that she physically put you together all by herself, kept you alive and continued to be your personal psychologist through life. She deserves more than one of the last cards on the shelf with your name (the name she gave you) scribbled in the corner.

Here are a few unique gift ideas to boost the “wow factor” this Mother’s Day.

Plant a Tree

Nothing honors life more than giving new life! Choose a tree that fits her lifestyle like perhaps a Japanese Maple to signify her college trip to japan or a willow to honor her southern roots. Give it some thought. Show up to her house on Mothers Day and make it an event for the whole family, grandkids and all. Pick a spot and get to digging! You will feel great for the effort and physical gift and she will reflect fondly on you every time she watches it grow.

Interactive Picture Frame

Do you live further away from mom than a quick visit on the regular? Look into a WiFi cloud digital picture frame that you can upload too from a distance. With this line of digital frame you can upload pictures of the kids, of you and your travels or anything you think she would love to see. She can set the frame up in plain view and see the updates real time. The only downside is the potential for her to treat it like the TV and call you when you lag.

Clubs

Does mom love to cook but hates to shop, or is really into wine? Enroll her in a club that regularly delivers her favorite things directly to her step. She can have pre-packed meals delivered with easy and colorful recipe cards to cook for her and dad or a special book delivered once a month that she can get lost in for a little while. Again, like the tree and frame, this is a gift that keeps on giving all year round, and every time the doorbell rings, will be reminded of how important she is to you.

Take Her on Your Next Trip

Do you have a camping trip coming up with the family or headed to Disneyland? Kids aren’t the only ones who love to be surprised with spontaneous destinations. Ask her if she would like to go with you all to the lake. At the end of the day, moms just want to feel included and this will give her an opportunity to spend time with the people she loves the most.

You have to step back on Mothers Day and take the gift ideas off autopilot. She means more to you and your own family than that and reminding her is good for everybody.

Xeriscaping, for Those Who Don’t Do Yard Work

In full disclosure “xeriscaping” is actually a science that utilizes dryer climates to still create marvelous yards with drought tolerant plants, mulch and efficient irrigation. This post is a more tongue-and-cheek list of ways to do without yard work and still have a fabulous space to show off.

Decks

From elevated to simple platforms, decks don’t need to be mowed! Match the paint to the color of the house, take some of your maintenance savings and invest in cool furniture and by all means jump on the “lighting bandwagon”. Edison string lights are all the rage and can often be used with remote control for different colors and settings.

 

Tall Grass

Not all grass is created equal. Tall grasses, like Switchgrass, Bluestem, Muhly, and Fountaingrass, all grow fast and require very little TLC. Nor do they ever get mowed.

Native grasses are a great solution to a lot of landscaping problems, as they soak up lots of water and provide an organic privacy screen while trimming your mowing time.

Plant them along fence lines, walkways or in random clusters and then just forget them. Minus some trimming in the fall, you won’t have to touch them.

Rocks

Be careful to stay away from the simple truckload of ground cover gravel! People can smell lazy from a mile away. Instead take some time to get big boulders, lake rock and gravel and create a rock garden. For a splash of color you can plant a few succulents. These need little water and maintenance and can reproduce like crazy.

Lazy Garden

Do you have a spot in your yard where water collects? All you have to do is throw scraps of vegetation that have their own seeds and watch it grow itself. Jack-O-Lanterns (pumpkins), horseradish root, tomatoes, you name is. Toss if into your damp abyss, throw some fresh soil on top and wait. In a couple of seasons you will be growing pumpkins worthy of the county fair!

Paths

Use pavers, stones or flagstone to create meandering paths from spot to spot. These work well with bench sitting areas, small platform decks or ponds and allow you and visitors to experience your whole yard in the direction you intend them to go.

Fake Grass

Honesty faux turf has become as good as the real thing! You will not have a backyard that looks like the run down mini-golf course from your youth. The most wonderful thing about fake grass is it stays vibrant green all year round (no spots) and will never get too hot to walk on. Seriously, research fake grass ideas and be prepared to have your mind blown.

Not everybody loves to push a mower around every week or invest in a foam kneepad for your weed problem. Home ownership does not require a green thumb and you can still capitalize on nature and the wow factor!

Let’s Go Camping!

We love the idea of the outdoors! We want to expose our kids to it or further woo our partner, but the problem is your only memory of actually camping is from when you were 8 years old and if memory serves correctly it wasn’t that great. That is because your parents were right where you are now, but they didn’t have the power of the Internet to help.

Here are some basic things that you need to make your maiden voyage outdoors a successful one that can be repeated time and time again.

Gear

This is going to be your biggest up front cost, but done right, should last you for many camping trips. The first thing you need to figure out is are you a tent or trailer family. DON’T go “all in” right away. You don’t need a 40 foot 5th Wheel to figure out if you like camping. Either get a 6-10 person tent or a used pop-up trailer until you know if camping is going to work for your family. Your shelter should evolve with your desire to be outdoors. DO spring for some decent sleeping bags and air mattresses. You won’t (and shouldn’t) always have access to electricity so stay away from electric air mattresses. Get pads or individual mattresses that the sleepers can blow up themselves.

Among the other necessities for heading out are:

  • Headlamps
  • Lanterns
  • Small Propane Stove
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Activity Gear (based on what recreation you plan)

Campsites

If this is truly your first time out, go the National Park route. Here in California we have 28 National Parks to choose from. Explore the coast or the redwoods! The best thing about National Parks is the resource for planning. Generally everything can be done online. Book your site in advance, download trail guides and activities, and plan for amenities. Some National Parks have showers and general stores.

Upon arrival spend some serious time in the visitor center and meet with the Rangers. They are there to share their expertise and tell you the best things to do and what to look out for. Tell them that you are new to camping and you will receive that extra attention you need.

Clothes

A 45-degree night is much colder when you’re outside in it for a long period of time. Pack warmer than you think and pack in layers. Wool caps and fleece are crucial to staying comfortable. Plan for the unexpected like rain or frost. Extra socks are a must too. We loose our heat through our feet and top of the head.

Boots are suggested to protect your feet, but don’t bring any footwear you need to “break-in”. There is nothing worse than having unhappy feet 10 miles from civilization.

Food

Treat it like a two-day long dinner party or barbecue and take food that’s easy to prepare over a fire or propane stove. You’ll also want a frying pan and a kettle to boil water in for coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Sausages, steaks, cans of beans and similar fire-friendly foods are good for dinner. Make lunch simple and cold — sandwiches you make and pack ahead of time. There is no better breakfast in the world than eggs and bacon, but packets of instant oatmeal are more convenient if you want to get going first thing in the morning. Visit Trader Joes and buy a bunch of snacks, hanging out around a campfire is hungry work. Be sure to keep any perishables in a cooler.

Before going to bed, make sure all foodstuffs and similar are tidied up and packed away. There will be other critters around who will try to steal your food. Lock it in your car’s trunk at night and keep it out of your tent.

More than anything do your research. Check the weather and talk to people that have gone out before you. If your first camping trip is a success than you return and you might just be setting the table for your family to follow into their adult lives.

 

Pass Your Home Inspection

Home inspections are often lumped (packaged) together with appraisals and while home inspections are usually not required in California, appraisals are almost always required when a mortgage loan is being used.

  • Inspection:A home inspector’s primary objective is to evaluate the condition of the house and identify items in need of repair. He’s not particularly concerned with the market value of the property.
  • Appraisal:The purpose of a home appraisal is to determine the current market value of the house, based on recent sales activity in the area (and other factors). The appraiser’s primary goal is to figure out how much the house is worth in the current market.

A properly passed inspection will allow you to get maximum dollars for your home and could be the difference in a decision being made to buy your home for any potential buyer that might be on the fence.

Pass your home inspection with these tips:

Check Roof and Foundation

These are two budget killers when it comes to home improvement. Before the inspection, check your roof and foundation. If there is a doubt that something is wrong (like a leak in the roof), you should call a local contractor to come have a look. They can estimate the cost of the repair and see if it’s a big issue or not. By having this done before the inspection, you are saving the potential buyers a huge worry.

Check Drainage

Your roof plays a key role in your drainage. If faulty, poor drainage can ruin your foundation. In fact, poor drainage is the No. 1 problem home inspectors find.

Make sure your downspouts lead water away from the home. They should be thick and long enough to handle large amounts of water. Especially in areas of heavy rainfall, downspouts of 3X4 inches are highly recommended.

Clean It Up

Sometimes, a happy home inspector can make all the difference. Therefore, make sure it’s easy to move freely about the home. If you have heavy boxes in front of the attic or around the furnace, move them before the inspection. Clutter can’t hide home issues, but it can certainly make for an unhappy inspector and longer examination.

Check Electricity

While I highly recommend hiring a professional electrician to check the entire house, there are small fixes you can make. First off, organize the wiring if it’s visible. Then, make sure all light bulbs are changed. If one is out, an inspector or potential buyer could attribute it to faulty wiring. Repairing an electric system can get expensive for some, but make sure your circuit breaker, light fixtures and all wiring are up to code.

Provide Documentation for Repairs & Maintenance

When and if you are completing some projects prior to the inspector arriving, be sure to keep the documentation to present to the inspector as well as any potential buyer. Nothing breeds the “warm-fuzzies” like a recently dated document for repair or replacement.

Check Insulation

Ventilation and insulation can create higher gas bills and other HVAC-related issues. First, go up to your attic (if you have one) and make sure there is enough padding and insulation. Some may fall off or wear down over the years. Inspectors will notice, so make sure you fix it right away.

Go Away

Almost everybody operates at a better level when they are left to do their work without being hovered over. Inspectors are no exception to this rule and remember that a happy inspector can make a difference in your grade. Leave them alone while they do their work but come back prepared to ask in-depth questions about their findings.

Real Estate in Pleasanton

Simple Spring Fixes for your Home

Spring is about to, well, spring. Time to assess the worst in your home brought on by winter. Use the break in the weather to take a closer look at what needs to be done heading into a nicer season and prepare yourself fully for next year.

Trim

Get at those bushes and trees! Perhaps the winter weather has weakened some vital branches that could snap once dry. Get rid of them. Take a good long look at the bushes that are somewhat manageable now because the impending warm weather will cause them to growth spurt.

Gutters

The number one offender of big money damage in a home is water. You must respect the flow! Treat your gutters with respect in the weather break by really getting in there. Clean them out, look for breaks or loose mounts, check the pitch and make certain that everything is flowing the direction you want it to.

Screens

There is nothing like a broken and dirty screen once you want to throw the window open on the first beautiful spring day. Take this opportunity to remove all your screens and give them a good cleaning as well as check the trim and rescreen as necessary.

Woodwork

Our old foe water comes into play here again. Assess your trim and external woodwork on your home for damage. Poke and prod below the paint to check the integrity. Do you have rot, or holes? Well they aren’t going to get better in warmer weather. In most cases you can simply strip, seal and repaint your woodwork. This will save big money later and also give your home a facelift for curb appeal.

Vents

The next thing to look at would be vents that lead outside, which connect to your heating and cooling systems, dryer and more. A damaged or missing vent cap could allow birds or rodents in, clogging the vent and potentially releasing toxins into your home. “This is the time when birds are going to immediately want to nest. Couple that with some nice weather, and within a day or two things can change dramatically,” Dave Lavalle, founder of Dryer Vent Wizard says.

Take advantage of the sun coming out and give your home a good once over! You will be able to enjoy the nicer weather so much more as well as know that when the bad stuff rolls through again you will be ready!

Choosing the Right Realtor

Experts agree that you should interview at least three agents to find the one with the experience, skill and personality that matches your needs. Choose from a variety of candidates including personal references, researched and close connections and treat every candidate the same.

Check Credentials

Check for license and disciplinary actions. Check with your state’s regulatory body to find out whether a prospective agent is licensed and if there have been any disciplinary actions or complaints.

While Online…

In todays digital landscape, your agent should be easy to find online. Check to see exactly where they are online and how they present themselves. Do they talk only about themselves and their accolades or do they appear to have community involvement? Do they stay away from divisive topics? There is nothing wrong with cross checking their professional profiles with their personal ones and look for red flags.

Interview

By all purposes you are conducting a job interview and should feel comfortable asking the tough questions. Be on the look out for red flags that lie below the surface. Are the answers mechanical or are they seemingly answering from the heart?

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • How long have you been selling real estate?
  • What is your average number of clients?
  • What area do you cover?
  • What type of communication should I expect from you?
  • Do you have a recommended vendors list (Title, contractors, inspectors, etc.)?
  • What questions do you have for me?

Audition

Get listing presentations from potential realtors, who will tell you what comparable homes have sold for and how long they take to sell. The agents are all looking at the same data, so the suggested listing price should be close. Pricing a home too high at the start often means it takes longer to sell and ultimately sells for less.

Full Time or Part Time?

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you want to choose an agent who is actively following the market every day. If you’re buying, you want an agent who can jump on new listings and show them to you immediately. If you’re the seller, you want an agent who is always available to show your home to prospective buyers.

Trust Your Gut

At the end of the day you need to listen to your inner voice. Pay closer attention to the voice that is throwing up red flags and don’t be afraid to walk away no matter what stage of the process you are in. If you aren’t having your needs met or there is a concern from the beginning then this just isn’t the agent for you.

 

 

 

 

Easter Extravaganza’s in the East Bay!

The “hopping season” is upon us and our local area has a ton to offer for the little’s and their desire to find brightly colored eggs!

Livermore

Saturday, March 31st from 830-1130am!

Join the 7th annual Egg Hunt and Pancake Breakfast at YMCA Camp Arroyo in Livermore.

The whole family is invited to join us for a delicious breakfast, and egg hunts are for kids 9 and under beginning at 9am and happen every 30 minutes after. Breakfast will be served for all ages until 11:15am.

The cost is $25 per family, regardless of number of members and includes food and egg hunts.

No advance RSVP is required and tickets are only sold at the door.

Camp Arroyo is located at 5535 Arroyo Road, Livermore CA 94550

Dublin

Spring Eggstravaganza

Saturday, March 31, 2018 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Enjoy springtime fun at the Eggstravaganza featuring:

Egg Hunts at 8:30 a.m.; 10:00 a.m.; 11:30 a.m., Photos with Peter Rabbit and Flopsy, Arts and Crafts, Games, Bounce Houses, Entertainment, Face Painting

Children must be pre-registered to participate.  (Parents and grandparents are free.)  Onsite registration is not available.  Space is limited for each session. Please register early to guarantee your preferred time.
Dublin Residents $14 per child~Non-Residents $17 per child

Emerald Glen Park
4201 Central Parkway

Danville

Eggstravaganza March 31, 2018, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Hop down to the Danville Community Center for a fun-filled morning of egg hunts, arts and crafts, face painting, and more. The egg hunts and activities are by registration only (non-residents may register) with timed egg hunts by age. The City of Danville hosts this well-organized and lively holiday celebration.

Rain or shine, no refunds. In case of rain event will be moved to the Community Center.

Age 1 years 9:15 & 11:30 a.m.
Age 2 years 9:30 a.m. & 12 p.m.
Age 3 years 9:45 a.m. & 12:15 p.m.
Age 4 years 10 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.
Age 5 years 10:15 a.m. & 12:45 p.m.
Age 6-9 years 10:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.

Additional parking: 177 Front Street, Village Theatre Parking and street parking.
(925) 314-3400
$6-8, ages 1-9 years, danville.ca.gov | danvillerecguide.com go online and register. There may be waiting lists due to popularity

Danville Community Center & Town Green
420 Front Street
Danville, CA

Pleasanton

Bunny Hop Scavenger Hunt

Date: March 31, 2018

Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Location: Downtown Pleasanton

Explore downtown with the fourth annual Bunny Hop Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 31st from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Children 10 years and younger are invited to participate. Start your journey outside of the Museum on Main at 603 Main Street anytime between 10am and noon.* Children will receive a goody bag and adults will receive a list of clues and locations to lead them to goodies throughout downtown at over a dozen participating businesses. Parents will be given the answers to all of the clues to help children find the treat locations. There will be goodies and special offers for the adults as well.