Not even in Mayberry…

October 29, 2012

I’ll bet that not even in the mythical Mayberry did they have a Boo Bash like we did last Saturday night in Milford. This annual event has become a real favorite with families that have small children. The downtown is closed off and all of the merchants sit in their doorways giving out candy to the kids in their Halloween outfits as they pass by. It’s just too cute and now draws quite a crowd to the downtown.


Next up for the downtown is the Big Reveal – the unveiling of the downtown stores annual Christmas displays. Store windows will be covered with holiday wrapping paper soon as the merchants put together special window displays for the holidays. Then, on November 15th at 6:30 pm kids are invited to help the merchants reveal their windows by ripping down the paper.

The downtown will soon be all decorated and lit up for the holiday season and parking meters will be bagged (don’t have to pay) from November 21 through January 2.

The final big Milford parade  downtown for 2012 will be the annual Christmas Parade, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving – Nov. 25th this year. There’ll be floats and bands and groups marching in the parade and Santa will be there too! Plan on bringing the entire family to Milford for that event and then stay and enjoy our wonderful shops and restaurants.

On November 29 the downtown merchants will be holding a Christmas Open House with strolling entertainment, refreshments and special sales. Santa will officially set up shop in Milford at 6 pm and start talking to kids about what they want for Christmas. If you bring a can of food to donate for the hungry, you can exchange it for a candle in Ceter Street Park and there will even be horse-drawn carriage rides available through the downtown area.

Mayberry was a quaint little town on TV which I often refer to as a comparison to Milford; but they just couldn’t hold a candle to all of the events and family activities that go on in Milford each year. Life was quaint but somewhat dull in Mayberry. Life is anything but dull in Milford; and that’s great, especially if you have small children who are always asking what there is to do next. Come on out to Milford, there’s always something to do.

You haven’t live in MIlford until…

October 27, 2012

you’ve visited the Powerhouse.

The Pettibone Creek Powerhouse  is perhaps the only venue in the Village of Milford that’s The Pettibone Creek Powerhouseharder to get to see than the Museum, so persistence isi n order. The museum is open two days a week for about 8 months of the year, but the Powerhouse is currently only open on special events and about 10-12 times total all year long. Hopefully that will change in the not too distant future and the Powerhouse will become more available for the citizens of the Village.

The Pettibone Creek Powerhouse is located in the north side of Central park, between the baseball field and the upper level parking lot. You can park in the upper lot and walk over or you can get to it off West Liberty St (which runs east and west off Cabinet St) and park in front of the building. That’s just about as close as you’ll get currently, since it is fenced off to prevent vandalism. It’s also fenced to prevent people from falling into the little waterfalls next to the Powerhouse, where the mill pond spills into a short creek run leading to the Huron River.

Henry Ford had the Powerhouse built in 1939 to provide electricity to the Ford Carburetor Plant in Milford. That plant was a part of his “Village Industries” initiative of that era. You can read more about the era and the Powerhouse itself at the Milford Historical Society Web site or at the site that the Friends of the Powerhouse have set up. The facility is known by several names. The Milford Historical Society uses the name Pettibone Creek Powerhouse  because the the water source for the generation of power is actually Lower Pettibone Lake to the north of the Village. A 48” diameter ½” thick pipe runs under the north side of Milford delivering water to the powerhouse. It does not take water from the mill pond right next to it.

When Henry Ford was building the various plants and infrastructure for them he often used a Detroit friend and architect Albert Kahn to design the buildings. The Pettibone Creek Powerhouse is an Albert Kahn design.  The Village of Milford had designated the building to be demolished when the Milford Historical Society stepped in and requested that they be allowed to save and restore it. A multi-year project, involving several grants and lots of local fund-raising resulted to the complete restoration of the exterior of the building and the cleanup of the interior. While the interior no longer has the turbines and control equipment that once generated power for the Ford plant, it is interesting to tour and you can still see the Lower Pettibone Lake water coursing thought the turbine housings.

Currently, a group has formed and preliminary work has been done to see if the Powerhouse can once again be made to generate power. Engineering feasibility studies have identified the types of new turbines that would be required, the flow rate and power generation rates that could be sustained and have explored the economics of the venture. It is estimated that the old Pettibone Creek Powerhouse, if refitted to generate power could generate enough power to supply the majority of the power required to operate Milford’s municipal water pumping, with the excess to be sold back into the power grid. It’s an exciting prospect that has a lot of local people pulling for it.

If you’d like to schedule a group through to see the Powerhouse or you’re interested in supporting the work to get the Powerhouse generating power again, contact Rich Harrison at 248-935-5556. If you’d like an idea about what you’ll see, there is a virtual tour at the Powerhouse Web site. Click here to view that tour.

When is it a valid short sale?

October 24, 2012

I own and operate a web site called MIShort which one can get to using .net or .com at the end. It is an informational site that explains the short sale process and hopefully answers a bunch of common questions. It has lots of links to very good articles on various topics, such as the impact on your credit of a short sale and comparisons of the consequences of a short sale vs. a foreclosure vs. a bankruptcy.  It also gives the reader a good idea of the timeline and processes that one must expect to go through in order to do a short sale.

One of the key ideas behind the short sale process is that of the “hardship” that the sad face rain cloudhomeowner faces that has caused the need to sell. There are many valid reasons that will justify the lender granting the mortgage holder relief – a layoff, illness, divorce, and more. All of them somehow point back to a loss of income by one or both of the homeowners involved. I get those stories of life’s travails all the time. You can read a more complete list of justifiable reasons for a short sale at the web site. Something as common as a loss of overtime at work can become a hardship justification.

I also get a lot of calls from people who have already made other life decisions to move on, whether that was required or not, and who now just don’t want to continue paying for the mortgage on the old homestead that they’ve left. Some are retirees who’ve moved to their retirement home (usually in some warm clime) and just don’t want to keep paying for their old home. Some are people who’ve accepted new jobs somewhere else and moved, initially renting out the old home because they were underwater on it. Now they’ve tired of the whole absentee landlord routine and perhaps the monthly drain that the old home still has on their finances. They have very marginal cases (if any) for justifying a short sale. In many cases they have already been turned down for a short sale by their lenders.

In those cases, I have the would-be sellers talk to my short sale partners at Nationwide Loan Help. I don’t do the lender negotiation and legal side of the short sale, that’s what I use Nationwide for. They have a staff of negotiators and more importantly they have lawyers on staff. It’s my feeling (and the feeling of my company’s legal counsel) that short sale negotiations quite often cross into the territory of giving legal advice, which I am not qualified to render. It may well be that trying to negotiate a deed-in-lieu is the best path for some of those homeowners; or it may just be that they need to find a way to bring some money to closing. They really need to look at whether they are in a “I don’t want to” or “I can’t afford to” situation. We can explore the” I can’t afford to” cases for possible hardship justification. The “I don’t want to” situation just isn’t going to get any sympathy from the lender or from us.

So, before you call about a shot sale, go read the material at the MI Short Sales Web site and take a good honest look at your situation. If life has dealt you an unexpected blow that has really left you unable to continue to make your payments, give us a call. I can help you.  However, if you’ve made conscious decisions to move on and abandon your obligations, because it just isn’t convenient to keep paying anymore, I probably can’t help.  Call your attorney and your financial advisor and get ready for the credit impact of a foreclosure.

Some things that amuse or interest me…

October 22, 2012

I think of lots of little things that I find amusing or interesting, but which wouldn’t, in and of themselves, justify a blog post. So, today I collected a bunch of them under the heading of a bit of this and that.

An Andy Rooney/George Carlin kind of morning…

Two people now passed that I enjoyed were Andy Rooney and George Carlin. Both had fun with words and our language. Andy used to go off on those “Did you ever notice…” riffs and George could make a single word the subject of 3-5 minutes of a comedy routine, although later in his career he seemed obsessed with just dirty words.

So, recently I was having sort of and Andy & George moment and I wondered how does one re-gruntle someone who has become disgruntled? I mean you can work with someone who has become disenchanted and perhaps re-enchant them, maybe on some enchanted evening; perhaps when you see a stranger; but what do you do with a disgruntled person to re-gruntle them?

And did you ever notice that you can help someone who is disorganized regain control and get some organization back in their lives; and often when someone becomes disoriented it just a matter of helping them stop and take a breath and think about where they are to help them reorient themselves. But, what of someone who becomes discombobulated? How does one go about re-combobulating that poor individual and how would one gauge when the combobulation process was done.

Of course one wouldn’t just replace someone who had been displaced, because the original person might then become misplaced; but we won’t go there.

“There is no Someday in the calendar.” (Ignacio)  from the blog Jack’s Winning Words

Jack went on to write about not putting off your dreams until Someday. I’d probably add that although there’s no Someday on the calendar it does have tomorrows aplenty and we all have a tendency to put off until tomorrow what we should do today. Do you have dreams that you’d like to get to someday but keep putting off until tomorrow?

The AARP-a-rtia…

We have a tequila bar in town – Tequilaritas – which has many different kinds of tequila on display and which features lots of special margarita drinks. I was there last week and got to thinking that, since I’m a senior they ought to have a margarita that is specially made for seniors. So I suggest the AARP-a-rita.

The receipe is as follows:

1 shot of tequila (take you pick of the huge selection)

1 shot of lime juice

3 shots of Ensure Clear

And  a dash of Metamucil (just to be sure)

Rim the glass with crushed Zantac


Down a couple of these and you’ll be happy, healthy and regular again, with no worries about heartburn later.

Finally, there’s been an ad running on TV lately for one of those testosterone replacement products for men, the kind where they ward women and especially women who may become pregnant not to touch the area where the product is applied, because it might cause unwanted hair to grow on the person doing the touching or cause other bad health problems. The ad ends with a slow pan from the waist up of the actress who is playing the wife of the man, who has applied the product; who is now shown in the background as the epitome of a viral male. I always think when I see that ad that it would be a hoot to see a bearded lady when the camera pans up. Well, oops!

Don’t let your errors become mistakes…

October 21, 2012

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”- Orlando A. Battista 1917 -1995, Canadian-American Chemist and Author.

I saw that quote in a post on, one of the real estate sites that I frequent and have a blog on. I’d probably add that you first have to acknowledge the error, which all too many of us have problems doing in the first place. You can’t move on to the correcting (or not) stage unless you first come to grips that you have made an error. In fact, it’s probably the refusal to admit the error that really turns it into a mistake. The refusal to correct the error just compounds the mistake.

It is human nature to have some trouble admitting to an error. Sometimes that can be as simple (and as obvious) as going in the wrong direction when trying to get somewhere. Of course, if you’re a man, admitting that you are lost and stopping to ask for directions is very hard. Another obvious error is “finishing” the assembly of something only to find that you still have some parts left over. Oops! 

person who misspokeSometimes the error may be very difficult to recognize. That happens a lot when human feelings are involved. Maybe the error was just a remark dropped innocently into a conversation. Maybe that remark was meant as a joke but wasn’t politically correct. It’s easy to miss that slight pause in the conversation or the flush on someone’s face as they react to something that you just said, but many times you’ll sense it.

You may not understand why something you said caused the reaction from the listener. It’s not always easy to figure out in the midst of the conversation how to recover or to correct the error. You may have to ask someone else, later, in order to find out what it is that you might have said that offended or caused the person that you were speaking with to react. Many times you’ll find that you’ve inadvertently hit a nerve that is still raw from some traumatic event in that person’s life, like a death or divorce or perhaps there are family things that you’ve somehow been insensitive to, like a having an autistic or special needs child in the family.

The key is not to let that error become a mistake, by refusing to acknowledge it and not trying to correct it. It may be hard to go back to someone with whom you had a conversation and made some remark that you later found was probably offensive or insensitive from their perspective; but it is important to do so. Otherwise they will forever have this little flag that says “jerk” in the back of their minds that is raised whenever they see you. Don’t let your error turn into an uncorrected mistake. You’ll feel better and so will they.

Recommended local businesses…

October 19, 2012

I have a section on my web site in which I feature local businesses. These are usually businesses that I’ve used or who are in my Chamber of Commerce Referral Network and about which I’ve heard good things. I thought I’d also feature them here, starting with this months Featured Business –

There is a point in the growth of every successful small business where “winging it” just doesn’t work anymore, especially where the business’ computers are concerned. It may be when the network outgrown that first router or when you have to add your first or second server.

It’s that tipping point in the life of a company at which things get a bit too complicated for even the most tech-savvy, do-it-yourself small business owner. It’s also at that point where your collection of computers crosses over into becoming your IT (Information Technology) Department.  That’s the point at which the business owner is crossing over from just being self-employed to becoming a true entrepreneur. That’s the point when having some kid or local geek just won’t hack it any long; that’s when you’ll need Alliance Computer Services.

Ryan & Julie Ryszka are the principals and driving force behind Alliance Computer Services (ACS). They met at Central Michigan University where Ryan obtained a double major degree BS & BA in Management Information Systems. Ryan worked in Corporate IT jobs for 7 years after graduating in 1999, before deciding to become an entrepreneur himself. Julie, who had also worked in the corporate world but who dropped out to have children joined him in launching the company. Ryan opened Alliance Computer Services full-time in 2007. In Oakland County ACS serves the Huron Valley area plus the northeastern part of Livingston County .

A cornerstone of the organization may be found in the name.  ACS has a large virtual team of technicians and IT specialists with whom they have alliance relationships. Those relationships allow them to quickly put together and deploy the right technology assets to tackle any customer project.  Ryan usually handles the client assessment and leads the solution design team. He also oversees (and may be a part of or lead) the solution implementation team. In any case the job isn’t done until both Ryan and you say it’s done and done right.

ACS focuses on small businesses, usually between 10-50 employees. ACS has specific skills in Web design and development, IT architecture planning and implementation, network planning and implementation and IT application selection, implementation and tuning. They also have skills in helping companies take advantage of the latest technologies like “cloud computing”, mobile computing and business intelligence. There are Microsoft Certified technicians on staff for most of the Microsoft infrastructure products that small businesses use.

For a full look at all of the services that ACS can deliver you’ll need to go to their web site – Whether you are that small business that is just crossing the threshold into needing help with your IT needs or an established business that just wants to try something new in IT for which you may not have the IT talent on staff, let ACS do an assessment of your needs and help you be successful.

Ryan likes to use the catch-phrase “Why hire a geek when you can get an expert.”  That’s particularly true once you’ve outgrown the geek stage in your business. Call them today for a free assessment – 248-714-5369. Tell them you read about them on Norm’s Milford Blog.

Want no more…

October 18, 2012

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things that you don’t get that you don’t want.” (Oscar Wilde) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I’ll bet that most people reading this saying would immediately think of bad things that they don’t want, such and a disease or some disaster; yet there are many things in life that aren’t bad , but which are just things that we don’t want. At one time I thought that I wanted a motorcycle; but then I realized that I really don’t; it was just fun to think about for a while.

I suspect that most of us would immediately think of material things when reading a saying like the one above; although some with lingering illnesses might just wish for good health. Some might even have wished for world peace, but might have to be happy if we don’t get another war in some far-flung place.

The most common advice for what to do about not getting everything that you want is to be thankful for those things that you do have. You could also think about all of the things that you wanted and got that it turns out you don’t use or found that you really didn’t like. Our garages and basements are full of that kind of stuff. Wilde didn’t include need in his thought.

It’s relatively easy to just say “don’t waste time thinking about stuff that you can’t have”; but we all waste a little time doing that. Perhaps Oscar Wilde’s advice to spend time thinking instead about stuff that you don’t want anyway will work to distract us from dwelling on things that we don’t have. That we wanted.

And, if you just don’t get all of this, perhaps it’s because you just don’t want to.

Either you will or you won’t…

October 17, 2012

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will and the other from a strong won’t.” – Henry Ward Beecher in the Monterey County California Herald.

Many times we tend to see ourselves as persevering in situations when in reality we are just being obstinate. I know that it was obstinacy rather than perseverance that kept me out of the foreclosed homes game. I was adamant (obstinate) about not getting dragged into some of the muck that was going on in the early days of the housing crisis.

By not being flexible and not allowing myself to find a way to work in a positive fashion with foreclosed homes, I missed that opportunity. Not all listing agents back then were sleazy, just enough that it made me cringe to think of joining their ranks. A few good agents held their noses and jumped in and eventually made the whole process better by bringing better practices to the process. Good for them.

I initially shied away from the short sale market, too; initially not willing (obstinate) to put up with the long delays and need to spend so much time in the frustrating process of negotiating with bank clerks who didn’t seem to care about anything. Fortunately I found a good short sale partner to handle the stuff that I really still don’t like and allow me to do the real estate parts and the interface with the sellers, which I enjoy. I’ve been very successful at short sales.

From time to time, I suppose it’s advisable to try to take as honest a look at your life as is possible (and maybe get a second opinion) and evaluate which of the things that you believe you’re being persistent about might just be cases of being obstinate. Ask yourself is if these are things about which you have a strong will to accomplish or a case where you just refusal to admit that your goal was wrong in the first place. Sometimes it’s better to let go and move on than to persevere towards the wrong goal. Let a strong will rule your life, not a strong won’t.

Weekend dining report from Milford

October 15, 2012

This weekend Carolyn and I visited two of our newer restaurants in Milford and came away impressed with both.

On Friday we had dinner with friend at Tavern 131, which is on the southwestern corner of the Village where South Milford Road and GM Road intersect. Tavern 131 open earlier this year and we’d been there before, but not since they remodeled the interior. When Tavern 131 first opened they still had the industrial look ceiling, you know beams, rafters, roof and lots of noise as a result. They’ve since put a nice finished ceiling in and the noise level has come down considerably. You can now have a conversation with table mates without having to yell over the noise.

The food was excellent again and the service was good. One of the owner/operators, Tony Vulaj was by our table a couple of times and stopped to chat. I’ve met Tony a couple of times at Chamber of Commerce functions that he attends. The Vulaj family owns Tavern 131 and the Americus Coney and Grill in Milford, as well as the Americus Coney in Brighton and the Ciao Amici Italian restaurant in Brighton. They brought many of their Italian recipes from Ciao Amici and Tony mentioned that they also brought a couple of the Ciao Amici cooks over to Tavern 131. That explains the great Italian food.

While we were there Tony introduced us to his sister who was also working that night and his dad, Mike – the family patriarch- stopped by too. Mike normally is over at Americus running things there. It’s not only a nice touch that they are there, but it probably keeps the place running much smoother, too. Tony mentioned that most of the family lives in the Milford area and that they really like being a part of the community. I was happy that Americus took a supporter role in this year’s Milford Home Tour.

Anyway we had a nice meal and a bottle of wine and would certainly recommend Tavern 131 to anyone visiting Milford and looking for a good place to eat, especially if they like good Italian food. Tavern 131 has a very extensive menu, not just Italian; so, you’re bound to be able to find something for everyone in the family there. And if you like to party, Tavern 131 is having a Halloween Bash at the end of the month. You can click here to view the flyer for that event.

On Saturday night we decided to try the new Palate restaurant right downtown in Milford at 449 N. Main St. The Palate has actually been open for about a month and I’d been in for lunch, but not for dinner yet. I met owner/operator Joe Hibbert back before he opened because he took a major sponsorship position (actually the highest level of sponsor that we had) for this year’s Milford Home Tour. Joe is dedicated to becoming an active part of the community and I expect to interact with him a lot on various events. Before coming to Milford to open the Palate, Joe ran the Uptown Grill in Commerce.

The dining experience is very high tech at the Palate, starting with the hostess asking for your cell phone number and entering that into their computerized system. Almost immediately you get a text message telling you how long your wait might be. When the table is ready you get another text message, which works out as good, if not better, than those little pagers that some other places use. The final text message comes after you’ve left, thanking you for your visit and inviting you to join their oin-line reservation system for your next visit – you won’t get that on a restaurant pager. The wait staff is all equipped with iPads and that is how they enter your order, rather than writing it on a scrap of paper. The order is transmitted via WiFi to the kitchen. In fact, the whole place is a WiFi hotspot, so your smartphones will operate at full speed. My wife could care less, but I was impressed with all of the technology involved.

The service was attentive and the wait person knowledgeable about the menu, which is always helpful in a new place. We were in the mood for a pizza and tried the “Carnivore” pizza, a meat -lovers delight, with pepperoni, sausage and bacon. That turned out to be an excellent choice.

We had time to chat a bit with the people at the table next to us, and they were very happy with the appetizers that they were having while awaiting another couple for dinner. The menu looks very interesting and we both agreed we’ll be back to try other entrees. I’m particularly interested in how their “farm to table” approach of featuring different dishes during the year will work out, depending upon what’s available locally. Right now they are also using an Octoberfest theme, which ties nicely into their huge selection of craft beers.

I’m not a big beer drinker but they certainly have an extensive menu of over 30 craft beers on tap. I tried one at the recommendation of our waitress and it was very good. They also have a good wine menu, although no white zinfandel which is my wife’s favorite. Fortunately they have some nice Rieslings. too, which she also likes. Their prices seemed in line with the other better restaurants in town. We’d certainly recommend the Palate to visitors, too.

I wrote about a month back that two of our local eateries and closed – The Villa Coney and Klancy’s – and the world did not come to an end. It’s nice though to see two newer places that have opened that I can actually recommend to people. Milford is a great place to live and to eat. I hope both of these restaurants do well. They both add to Milford reputation as a destination for fine dining.

Where do you draw your line?

October 13, 2012

Scofflaws and Crooks…

Webster’s dictionary defines these two terms thusly –

scoff•law/ˈskôfˌlô/ noun: A person who flouts the law, esp. by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively.

crook noun : a person who engages in fraudulent or criminal practices

As a society we seem to almost be at comfort with scofflaws; while, of course, we dislike crooks. In either case we have people who are breaking the law; it’s just that scofflaws are probably breaking laws that we all break at times. Many of the infractions that scofflaws commit have to do with traffic laws – stop signs that seem just to be there to slow us down and annoy us, so let’s roll through without stopping, or those really annoying no turns on red signs (and laws) when there is no cross-traffic in sight. Those are laws that it is hard for local police to enforce; but, where do you draw the line and where does being a scofflaw cross over into being a crook?

If you think about it the word scofflaw really defines the person well – someone who scoffs at the law; someone who believes themselves to be above the law. One could argue that the ex-mayor of Detroit started as a scofflaw. It certainly appears from the various trials and testimony involved that he came to think of himself as above the law. It’s interesting how many people who achieve positions of power and authority allow that to happen in their lives.

There is another trait that seems to go hand-in-hand with scofflaw behavior – the loss of a moral compass (loss of character, if you will). Any reading about the events and people involved in things like the Enron meltdown or the recent real estate robo-signing scandal brings the term scofflaw (at a minimum) to mind; if not a complete breakdown of any morals that may have been involved and eventually criminal behavior as the subsequent trials proved.

I’ve written many times about the fact that I live on a corner that has four-way stop signs and a flashing red light above the intersection. Most people at least slow down quite a bit there and many even stop (but may do not, especially in the morning when kids are being dropped off at the Middle School). The next corner west of mine has four-way stop signs and no flashing light above and at least 2-3 times a week I witness people not even slowing down there. I suppose those are really scofflaws, they’re idiots; but that’s a theme for another post.

The point is that if you choose to roll through that corner or make the turn anyway at the light that has the sign stating “no turns on red”, what’s next for you? How do you stop yourself on the slippery slope leading towards crook (or do you)? Do you at least feel bad about it afterwards? That would be a start to getting your moral compass back to the forefront. Being a scofflaw is a bad thing, but the worst part is probably the damage it does to your character, whether you can see it or not. You are not just scoffing at the laws, but also thumbing your nose at all of the people who do comply with the laws that, after all, were put on the books by the representatives of the people. Shame on you!