COVID-19: One Year Later

first_img COVID-19: One Year Later About Author: David Wharton Sign up for DS News Daily Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago David Wharton, Managing Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has over 16 years’ experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. Wharton and his family currently reside in Arlington, Texas. He can be reached at [email protected] Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, Magazine, Print Features The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Home / Daily Dose / COVID-19: One Year Later The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Previous: Courts Find CDC Lacked Authority in Nationwide Moratorium on Evictions Next: Examining FHFA’s Commitment to Diversitycenter_img Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the April 2021 edition of DS News magazine.When the COVID-19 pandemic hit full force last March, mortgage lenders and servicers, as with many other businesses, were faced with a situation they had never encountered. Though the industry was very experienced when it came to dealing with natural disasters such as floods or hurricanes that would force office closures and otherwise impact business, those events were localized and limited in scope.The COVID-19 pandemic, however, was global. Even a year later, the battle against COVID-19 continues, although widespread vaccination has offered some sense that the end to the closed offices, reduced travel, and other pandemic-mandated measures may be on the horizon.“We’ve never gone through a pandemic before; everything was different,” said Brian Gould, SVP of Operations for Genworth Mortgage Insurance. “The thing that comes closest is a hurricane, but that is short-term … and the rebuild starts right away.”The pandemic resulted in the industry working within new forbearance and foreclosure rules, an unexpected jump in volume, the challenges of managing a largely remote staff, and an extremely long path back to some semblance of the previous industry environment. Some of the changes necessitated by COVID-19, however, are expected to become permanent.Home prices increased, while rates for 30-year fixed mortgages dropped nearly 100 basis points during the course of the year, according to Freddie Mac, driving refinancing demand.Joe Zeibert, Head of Global Mortgage Solutions for Nomis Solutions, explained, that adding to the complexity for the mortgage industry were more frequent price changes for loans due to swings in the underlying environment (loan risk factors, etc.).“Last year will go down as probably the best year in the history of mortgage lending in terms of not only the value but also the profit that was able to be manufactured during a period of time. It’s not something that could have been expected,” said Paul Buege, President and COO of Inlanta Mortgage.However, homeowners who had requested forbearance had to exit before being eligible, Gould said. So, lenders had to advise those homeowners how to cancel forbearance. Once someone had used it, even if only for a month, they had to make at least three timely payments before exiting. Before the pandemic driven rules, the homeowner in forbearance had to make 12 timely payments before exiting.“We’ve never experienced a shock of so many people going into forbearance at once,” Gould said.CHANGES IN FORBEARANCE, FORECLOSURESThe pandemic and resulting economic crisis resulted in foreclosure and eviction moratoria implemented at the federal, state, and local levels, many of which extended into 2021.In mid-February, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture announced a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs through June 30, including:Foreclosure moratoria for homeownersThe mortgage payment enrollment window for borrowers who wish to requestforbearanceUp to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.THE NECESSITY OF DIGITAL SOLUTIONSLenders and servicers who quickly embraced the shift in technology, or that had embraced digital solutions before the pandemic, tended to fare well, similar to during the 2007-2008 mortgage crisis, Zeibert said. The size of the organization didn’t matter as much as the technology culture itself.Historically, staff could be added or shifted to meet changes in industry volume. But last year’s surges were more than personnel alone could handle. Genworth had typically moved staff from the front end to the back end to help with forbearance surges, but the declining interest rates also meant that the volume was increasing for original and refinanced mortgages, Gould said. As such, the company had to shift people from other areas and rely more on technology to meet the demand.“I never can remember it being busy on the front end and the back end at the same time,” Gould said. “We also were proactive in asking for forbearance files for people in forbearance because we wanted to know ahead of time from a loss reserving standpoint and how many people needed help.”The industry had to quickly convert as many paper-based processes as possible to digital. Genworth used OCR technologies to automatically index recognized documents and extract data.“Accounting has historically been a paper-based system; we had to get more efficient,” said Brian Lynch, President of Advantage Systems. Providing an auto-sign capability on checks minimized the need for people to go to an office to physically sign. It was just one of many paperless options the industry and customers finally embraced, even though they weren’t new.“Until March, there were still a lot of mortgage applications being taken at the kitchen table,” added Joe Camerieri, EVP, Mortgage Cadence. “Then everything shifted to Zoom and phone calls. Overnight, everything went to consumer-direct. You were doing everything electronically not only to transact business, but also to source business.”Lenders and servicers mandated that vendors bill electronically. So rather than accepting a paper invoice, scanning it, and paying it, everything was handled electronically from end-to-end, eliminating paper. Lynch said, “With the hands-off approach, you can facilitate people working from home. That way, they are focused on their work, not on moving paper around.”“If we had to do this 10 years ago, we’d have failed,” said Stanley Middleman, CEO of Freedom Mortgage, who cited the internet, connectivity and various other technologies for aiding the industry in moving to remote work and handling the surge in volumes. “We were able to effectively communicate vertically, horizontally, with our peers, our subordinates, and our superiors,” Middleman said. “We were able to work with our regulators, our competitors, allies, and friends. All the people that we interface with have all come together as a community and really bonded to the satisfaction of the consumer.”“Though homebuyers briefly paused their activity at the start of the pandemic,” said Steven Plaisance, Interim President of Mortgage Banking for Gateway First Bank, “they were ‘resilient,’ actively buying homes and seeking new mortgages in the second half of the year.” Continued low interest rates meant refinance activity remained strong as well.Rick Seehausen, President and CEO of Cherry Creek Mortgage, credits his company’s proprietary loan origination system for the ability to be nimble and achieve the company’s best productivity ever. Volume doubled, but the company increased staff by only 15%. Even when activity spiked, loan processing time increased only slightly, from 21 days to 23 days.“I’ve been hearing about digitizing the mortgage process and electronic closings and have been involved in many committees and panels over the years, but it never got a lot of traction,” Seehausen said. “But this last year, for the first time, I think it did.”Closings still represented a bit of stumbling block, Seehausen added. “We had no problem originating loans, processing, underwriting, and closing them. We were just as efficient if not more so during the pandemic than we were pre-pandemic. But at the end of the day, if a borrower needs to get to a title company along with a seller and a real estate agent and notary, etc., face-to-face, it’s a challenge.Seehausen added that various fintech companies are developing solutions to solve the issue.Another challenge, Gould added, was income, employment, and other necessary documentation. Tax filings for individuals and businesses were delayed three months, from April 15 to July 15. Some related documentation was delayed as well. Many businesses laid off employees or terminated them, but some of the traditional electronic verification methods lagged in updating this information. The issue was even more pronounced for some of the self-employed, many of whose businesses were particularly hard hit by the pandemic.Genworth and other lenders had to rely on additional online research, as well as telephone verification, to confirm employment and other pertinent information, Gould said. Buege added that consumers have become more comfortable with digital verification of income as well as digital submission of personal documents.Inlanta embraced screen-sharing technology to help lender/servicers and consumers somewhat replicate the connection they would have if conducting business in a more traditional setting.Though now there are adequate safety protocols in place that a customer can come into the office, many still prefer conducting business remotely, Buege noted. “They have clearly shown us that mortgage, like so many other aspects of life today, is going online. They like that they don’t have to drive across town, have some coffee, do the application, then drive back home. The whole transaction is much quicker.”Similarly, lenders could handle more closings virtually because they weren’t wasting time driving from location to location, Buege said.TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF REMOTE STAFFGenworth, Gateway, and others already had staff using laptops for some time before the pandemic hit. In that regard, they were better prepared than some others for staff to shift to work-from-home. However, some were challenged by slow internet connections. Genworth provided stipends to employees who needed to upgrade their internet speeds (if upgrades were available).Freedom Mortgage expected the declining interest rate environment and was concerned about some of the reports about COVID-19 as early as February, so they started buying staff laptops before the pandemic truly hit the nation.Middleman said, “We were able to make the transition almost immediately. We got way out ahead of a lot of this. … We certainly didn’t expect the social and political and physical turmoil that we saw. But we did expect the economy to have a hiccup because it was running too hot.”Since the company had added the laptops early and staff productivity was high, Freedom Mortgage was able to respond to the pandemic more quickly than if workers had still been in the office. Middleman said, “We took every possible step we could to deal with this on every possible level we could imagine.”Going digital was also a boon for Freedom Mortgage’s staffing needs. Middleman added, “We were able to expand our recruiting nationwide to fill our needs. What’s the difference if you’re talking to somebody via the phone, or Zoom, if they’re in California or Wyoming or Florida or Philadelphia? It didn’t really matter to us where anybody was. By becoming a mortgage company without boundaries, without a ceiling, we’re able to grow fantastically. We added thousands of people, and our system was set up to manage and train and equip. And we did it and remained almost 98% remote.”Communications between management and staff was critical as the pandemic first began, and remains so now as some lenders/servicers have started returning to the office.Gateway First Bank established a pandemic committee to help with the COVID-19-driven changes, said Steven Plaisance, Interim President of Mortgage Banking at Gateway. The committee helped the leadership team stay updated with the proper federal authorities and communicated to employees through the proper channels.The pandemic committee included representatives from each line of business. There is also a smaller subcommittee of five people. The subcommittee was charged with communicating about the business environment during different stages of the pandemic. The full pandemic committee would handle issues such as where Gateway stood in terms of forbearance, participation in Paycheck Protection Program, what to tell employees sent home to work remotely, etc.“We sent out over 300 communications,” said Melissa Bogle, Gateway’s VP of Marketing and Corporate Communications. “Some of those were informational on taking equipment home, updates on when we would bring you back, etc.”Ongoing communications were critical not only to maintain the Gateway culture, but also to helping employees who were used to the camaraderie of an office setting to dealing with the isolation of remote work, Bogle added.“I ran an executive meeting every morning, every day, for an hour, and tried to coach the executives about what I wanted them to do with the people that work for them,” Middleman said. “We problem-solved every day, and we had a new fire that we put out every day.”“We weren’t exactly sure what this was going to look like for our employees,” admitted Claudia Mobilia, SVP of Operations for Embrace Home Loans. Though a few were working remotely already, once the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, the company suddenly had 95% of its employees working remotely, providing a management challenge.Managers were accustomed to chatting with the staff about the workday and the events of the night before, working to build those relationships as well as discussing expectations for the day to come. Managers could also have informal discussions with employees, but the end of in-office work ended those common conversations.“One of the biggest single days,” Mobilia said.Cherry Creek implemented several management programs and management-development programs that have helped manage the remote workforce. Seehausen said, “Our view is that we would like to have an environment where people are back in the office. But we are respecting what we’re hearing, which ranges from ‘I love to work from home’ to ‘I can’t wait to get back to the office.’”MANAGING ISOLATIONLike other mortgage companies, Embrace Mortgage shifted to video streaming for management/staff meetings, opting to utilize Microsoft Teams (Zoom and Google Hangouts are other popular choices in the industry).“I think that helped ease the situation,” Mobilia said. “While I can’t come up to you and ask you how your day was yesterday or this morning, I can see you on a video, and I’ve learned to read the emotions of my teammates through video.”However, the video meetings tend to run longer than in-office meetings, Mobilia said. To avoid that, she said it’s essential to have a focused meeting agenda. She schedules her thrice-weekly meetings with her groups to be no more than 15 minutes long. Even so, she includes a short amount of time for personal discussion, replacing water-cooler discussions, which she says are important to include along with business purposes of any meeting.People who are sociable by nature were hardest hit by the change to remote work, Bogle said. Helping Gateway deal with the situation was the “Chief Fun Officer,” Hobie Higgins. He put out monthly videos with various updates, sometimes as often as weekly.“It was all about engagement,” Bogle said. “It was all about shout-outs to people, fun type of things, just so people still felt part of the organization. That was wildly successful.”The fun continued with Gateway’s private Facebook group, which would include various contests, complete with gift card prizes. Vogel added, “It was just another way of trying to keep people engaged with each other and take a break from everything that was going on.”Gateway also held several mental health webinars discussing issues like how to cope with working remotely. A virtual physician app made available to employees had a mental health component to it.LOOKING AHEADOnce most people are back in the office, Mobilia expects to have less-frequent virtual or in-office meetings. A hybrid meeting featuring remote and in-office workers doesn’t work too well, she added.While Embrace will have a larger percentage of staff work remotely when COVID-19 wanes than it did before the pandemic started, most entry-level workers, IT staff that maintain the equipment, and some others whose work dictate they be on site will be in the office, Mobilia said.Work will remain remote for many, however. Even those returning to the office are likely to go in only a few days a week, according to Lynch. “Management gets to reduce its footprint somewhat. It’s going to have major impact on in terms of how much they pay in rent.”Rent can be a major expense for organizations with multiple offices, Lynch added. Reducing that expense helps the bottom line.Another way lenders and servicers can control expenses is through technology, which enables better scalability and provides more reliability than loan officers, for example, because the latter can go to a competitor and take their business with them. Camerieri said, “The pandemic has neutralized the importance of the physical presence of human beings who source business in the marketplace. I think the pandemic has opened up the eyes of a lot of originators as looking at different ways to generate business.”Technology will also help lender/servicers maintain their profits as interest rates increase and margins tighten, Camerieri said. “Once you get into margin compression, it almost doesn’t matter how much volume you have coming in, really, if you’re not quick and nimble and have lower costs,” Zeibert added. “The lenders who have the technology to deliver the right price points to the right people at the right time will win. Those who don’t, will lose.”“Mortgage bankers are traditionally slow to hire and slow to fire,” Seehausen agreed. So those that have relied largely on people to handle the spike in volume in 2020 will be challenged if volume drops off as expected in the second half of 2021.One of the many technologies lenders were forced to embrace more during the pandemic was desktop appraisals, Camerieri added. While the technology alleviated the need for someone to physically visit theproperty, only time will tell if the savings will be worth the extra risk since there is no inspection of the inside of a home.The pandemic highlighted that mortgage customers are ready for a different type of experience. Buege added, “They want that high-touch, high-service experience. They want to get on the phone and to talk to a competent professional mortgage lender, but then they want [the mortgage] to be delivered to them in a digital experience. There’s no going back. The consumers have made their mark; they’ve shown the mortgage industry that they want a digital experience with that high-touch service. And that’s where our focus is going to be for the coming year.” Share Save April 1, 2021 2,574 Views  Print This Post Related Articles Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago COVID-19 2021-04-01 David Wharton The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Tagged with: COVID-19 Subscribelast_img read more

Welcoming the Class of 2020

first_imgHarvard President Drew Faust welcomed the College’s new crop of undergraduates during Freshman Convocation on Tuesday, urging them to embrace Veritas, with an eye toward inclusion and diversity, a goal of discovery, an openness to change, and a readiness to question assumptions and take chances.Fast becoming a beloved Harvard tradition with energy to rival the annual Commencement ceremony, the eight-year-old event took place in Tercentenary Theater under sunny, late-summer skies. Friends, classmates, faculty, and family cheered the students on as they processed through the Yard.“Harvard’s motto is Veritas — truth. This is what we pursue unrelentingly, but we are never so complacent as to believe we have unerringly attained it,” said Faust. “Veritas is an aspiration and an inspiration. We assume there is always more to know and more to discover, so we open ourselves to challenge and change.”Faust reminded the members of the class of 2020 that they enter college following a summer marred by violence in the United States and abroad. She encouraged her listeners to strive for a better world by rejecting ethnic, religious, and racial hatred and embracing inclusion.“Everyone in this community has the right to be heard, to be listened to, to be treated with dignity and respect. Our life together, our success as a university, and our aspirations towards Veritas depend upon it. We need to feel safe enough, included enough, understood enough to dare to disagree.”Harvard University freshmen pose for their class picture on the steps of Widener Hall. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerOther speakers also encouraged students to welcome diversity, to disagree and to connect with classmates, and to use their four years at Harvard to push themselves past their comfort zones, and to challenge their assumptions and beliefs. They also urged students to make new friends and to maintain a healthy skepticism.“I want to urge you to be skeptical. Yes, that is what we do in college,” said Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College. “That is what we do as educators. Ask questions, look for evidence, consider other points of view. But at the same time, I want you to remain idealists, to be skeptical idealists rather than cynics. Raise difficult questions, but also try to answer them.“This diverse community and how we shape it will have ripple effects as you take your Harvard experiences into society,” he added. “We have an opportunity to model another way of being, to be a community where we are hard on the problem but easy on each other, a community where we are respectful of views of others rather than dismissive, a community where we listen instead of shout, a community of turning out and toward, instead of turning in and away.”In her remarks, senior Emma Woo described an uncomfortable conversation with her roommate around religion. Disagreeing so profoundly “with a really good friend” was difficult, but the discussion deepened their relationship, said Woo, and helped her begin to re-evaluate her own worldview. She encouraged the freshmen to be open to such debate and self-reflection.“I am learning that it is important to feel unsettled, to be challenged uncomfortably, to engage with difference in my communities in a way that is self-critical, creative, and analytical.”Michael D. Smith, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, acknowledged that some insecurity is natural for students in a new setting with fresh expectations, but he cautioned them not to judge themselves against their classmates. Instead, he suggested, “Don’t compare, connect.”“Harvard, I hope, will shape you as you learn here. But equally important, you and who you are will shape Harvard and those around you. But you can only do this important work if you connect with the people here. Is it sometimes intimidating? Sure, even to me. But you and I are as much a part of the Harvard community as any other person here. You belong here. Take advantage of what Harvard has and its incredible community.”Music was a key part of the festivities. The Harvard University Band opened the ceremony with “Fanfare for the Class of 2020,” a piece composed and conducted by Elena Sokoloski ’18. The Kuumba Singers, the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum also performed.As she made her way to the steps of Widener Library for the official class picture, freshman and Straus Hall resident Madison Trice of Houston said the day’s speakers inspired her.“I think all of the speeches were really, really powerful — talking about the differences between being skeptical and being open to different types of ideas and thought … and the idea of hope.“I just felt so much hope coming in as a member of this class, and it made me really excited.”SaveSaveSaveSavelast_img read more

University faculty discuss lead exposure in South Bend

first_imgAn interdisciplinary team of Notre Dame faculty members came together in order to discuss the detrimental effects of lead in South Bend homes with the local community. The lecture, titled “Getting the Lead Out: Reducing South Bend’s Exposure to Lead,” was part of the Our Universe Revealed series and took place in Jordan Hall.Notre Dame faculty members Graham Peaslee, from the Department of Physics, Marya Lieberman, from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Heidi Beidinger, from the Department of Biological Sciences and Eck Institute for Global Health, spoke about the research they have conducted regarding this issue. Kat Robinson | The Observer Graham Peaslee from the Department of Physics discusses the detrimental impacts of lead in the South Bend community. The lecture was led by an interdisciplinary team of five Notre Dame faculty members.Peaslee said lead exposure is still a problem in the United States, and especially in South Bend, which has six times the amount of Flint levels compared to the rest of the country. Less than ten percent of children are tested for lead levels, he said, which makes it difficult to assess the threat South Bend children could face.He stated that elevated Blood Lead Levels are the most prominent in children, as a result of more open exposure to lead in older homes.“Legacies from leaded paint and gasoline in home built prior to the 1970’s still possess harmful toxins,” Peaslee said.“Lead passes from the paint in these homes’ walls to the dust in the air, to human bodies, to bones.” When lead was discovered as an extremely dangerous toxin, bans were placed against its usage in homes and cars. Peaslee said the Lead Contamination Control Act in 1988 banned lead in virtually all gasoline, and by 1995 lead in gas was completely banned. Likewise, in 1978 lead paint was prohibited in residential houses. “Lead blood levels in the United States decreased dramatically as more bans against lead were set in place,” Peaslee said. However, he added, homes built prior to these prohibitions still pose a threat to residents’ safety — especially for children.“In the production of cars and paint, lead was desirable because of its anti-knock power in cars, and anti-aging supporter in paint,” Peaslee said. Despite its practical usage in utilities, lead has recently been linked to several neurocognitive disabilities, attention deficits, behavioral problems, lower IQ scores and even lower socioeconomic statuses, Peaslee explained. “This is a toxin that is not safe for the body in any amount,” Peaslee said. Marya Lieberman from the department of chemistry and biochemistry went on to describe how exactly lead interacts with the body. “Humans usually come into contact with lead through ingestion and inhalation,” she said. From this initial exposure, Lieberman said, the toxin travels through the bloodstream, to soft tissue, and even reaches bone.“Lead spreads everywhere throughout the body,” she said. The human body finds it difficult to remove and filter out lead’s poisonous effects, Lieberman said. “Its half life in blood is 25 days, in soft tissue 40 days, but once it reaches the bone, lead remains for years,” she said. Lieberman explained that babies from the ages of 6-8 months old are at the highest risk of being poisoned.“Babies crawl on the floor and touch the walls around them, exposing themselves more so than adults to paint in households,” she said. Furthermore, Lieberman explained, children absorb 50 percent of lead into their bodies, compared to only 20 percent for adults.“Children’s high metabolism soaks up the toxins at a much faster rate than their parents,” she said.Lieberman said the body’s tolerable daily intake of lead is equivalent to less than 1 grain of salt, and most people are exposed to much more than this on a daily basis.“There are two ways to measure Blood Lead Levels, which consist of the ‘fingerstick test’ and the venous test,” she said.The “fingerstick test” provides results within minutes, but is much less accurate than the venous test, which takes weeks to give results, Lieberman added.Beidinger said Notre Dame intervened on this issue last January with a Notre Dame Lead Innovation Team. “Our mission is to reach the South Bend community and create a community effort to halt lead poisoning in this area,” she said. Five faculty members collaborated with ten graduate and undergraduate researchers this summer to develop a community based approach to South Bend lead exposure. First, the team analyzed current lead screening tests, Beidinger said. “Less than ten percent of children in the St. Joseph Community have been tested for lead poisoning between 2005 and 2015, and we cannot case manage between the ages of five to ten years old, because of budget cuts from the St. Joseph County Health Department,” Lieberman said. Because of these fundamental screening issues, Lieberman said, there is no comprehensive understanding of what lead poisoning looks like in St. Joseph County. “In addition to this finding, communities of color are disproportionately burdened by this lead exposure in South Bend,” she said.  Together, the research team concluded a number of findings based on their investigation of six South Bend homes with lead paint. “Most hazards are hiding in plain sight, such as on coffee table with ceramic tile, on ceramic teapots and kitchen tables,” Lieberman said. The faculty team has a number of grant proposals ready to initiate and is planning to build more collaborations to foster a stronger push toward improvement. “We need city, county and state wide lead efforts, and would like to offer a new course at Notre Dame called ‘Chemistry in Service to Community,’ to study this problem,” Peaslee said. Their overarching efforts are now focused on connecting Notre Dame efforts with the South Bend community in order to eliminate lead poisoning. “We would like to create citizen scientists within South Bend, and advance the technologies we use to study lead poisoning,” Peaslee said. “We hope that these efforts will lead to more Blood Lead Level screening in St. Joseph County.” Tags: lead, Our Universe Revealed, research, South Bendlast_img read more

Ormeau couple are selling their home complete with furniture, yacht and memorabilia

first_imgDavid Caruana is selling everything with their Ormeau home except their pet bird! There’s a Harley Davidson, Mercedes convertible and a yacht included. Picture: Richard GoslingDAVID and Lesley Caruana are so keen to start travelling the country that “anything not tied down” on their property is negotiable with the sale of their Ormeau house.This includes a Harley Davidson motorcycle, Mercedes Benz convertible, Hood 23 yacht, $5000 snooker table, furniture and a large collection of memorabilia.“Everything you see here, including the five goldfish, are negotiable,” Mr Caruana said.“Everything except our pet cockatiel Harley.”The couple bought the four-bedroom house on a 1022sq m block less than three yearsago but a desire to pack up and hit the road has called. David Caruana says the pool table is also negotiable with the sale of his home! Picture: Richard GoslingNGU marketing agent Dr Paul Howe, along with his wife Amy Howe, is responsible for themarketing of 9 Riverside Sanctuary Tce.Dr Howe said Mr Caruana was willing to give everything away to the right buyer.“It’s not just a marketing gimmick,” Dr Howe said.“It’s really a genuine offer for an interested buyer.“The boat makes sense as the marina is close by and all the furniture compliments the house so it’s a smart package to purchase.” Ormeau homeowner David Caruana is selling everything including his Harley Davidson. Picture: Richard Gosling“The plan is to get rid of the toys to travel around Australia in our motorhome,” Mr Caruana said.“The yacht, which is worth around $15,000, definitely has to go so if somebody is interested then we can throw the yacht in with the house as part of a deal.”Mr Caruana said it’s easier to leave the snooker table as it took eight men to put it into thebilliard room.More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North9 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day ago“It’s the best home we’ve ever owned and if we’d had it 30 years ago when we had youngerkids it would’ve been ideal but really, it’s just too big for us,” he said.“It needs a nice big family to appreciate it and use it for what it is.”center_img 9 Riverside Sanctuary Terrace, Ormeau.The Caruanas’ home has a study, media room, billiard room, gymnasium, rumpus, man cave, powered work shop and plenty of off-street parking currently occupied by their motorhome.The property is for sale by negotiation.last_img read more

New species of orange-red praying mantis mimics a wasp

first_imgFrom the Peruvian Amazon, researchers have described a new-to-science species of bright orange-red praying mantis that conspicuously mimics a wasp.The mantis mimics not only the bright coloration of many wasps, but also a wasp’s short, jerky movements. Such conspicuous mimicry of wasps is rare among mantises, which usually tend to resemble leaves or tree trunks, the researchers say in a new study.The researchers have named the praying mantis Vespamantoida wherleyi. In 2013, a team of researchers surveying insects in a research station on the banks of the Amazon River in northern Peru set up a light trap. The large, brightly lit sheet, meant to attract insects just like a porch light does in the dark, lured in an unexpected creature. Among the various beetles, flies, wasps and praying mantises that had flown into the sheet was a tiny, bright orange-red insect with a black abdomen, eyes and head.At first glance, it seemed like a species of wasp. But when Gavin Svenson, director of research and collections at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, looked more closely, he noticed that there was something odd about it.“It didn’t look quite like a mantis, it didn’t look quite like a wasp,” Svenson said in a video statement. “I went up and I grabbed it and I put it in a little vial and once we started observing it we knew we had something totally different.”Upon further analysis, Svenson and his team confirmed that it was actually a species of praying mantis that conspicuously mimics a wasp: not only does it mimic a wasp’s bright colors, but also a wasp’s movements. The mantis was, in fact, new to science, the researchers found, and they named it Vespamantoida wherleyi, in a new paper in the journal PeerJ.“Typically, the majority of species differentiation is discovered and confirmed within a lab or collection setting,” Svenson said in a statement. “To have that rare eureka moment where you know you have found something new in the field is incredibly exciting.”Most praying mantises rely on camouflage, both to avoid predators and to hunt. But they usually do so by mimicking leaves or tree bark and are brown or green. V. wherleyi, however, is brightly colored and has short, rapid, jerky movement patterns like those of many wasps. The mantis’s antennae movements are also similar to those of wasps, the authors write.“In nature, when you are intentionally conspicuous, you are advertising something,” Svenson said. “When you are a species that can be easily taken as prey, you advertise because you want predators to think that you are poisonous, or could injure them, or any combination of unpleasant factors that tell the predator to think twice before pursuing you.”The researchers found that the newly described species was quite similar to a species of praying mantis (formerly called Mantoida toulgoeti), previously described from French Guiana. The two species aren’t similar enough to be the same species, Svenson said. But the researchers concluded that the two species belonged to the same lineage or genus, which they have now named Vespamantoida, meaning wasp-mantis.A mantis mimicking wasps is rare, and the researchers now hope to study why this mimicry may have evolved.“I think the next natural thing is to study the evolutionary biology of the lineage,” Svenson said. “If wasp mimicry is successful in this lineage, why has it not evolved in the other lineages as well? Why have no other species within the family evolved brightly colored wasp mimicry? We’re just not sure.”Video of Vespamantoida wherleyi by Gavin Svenson, Cleveland Museum of Natural History.Banner image of Vespamantoida wherleyi by Gavin Svenson, Cleveland Museum of Natural History.Citation:Svenson, G. J., & Rodrigues, H. M. (2019). A novel form of wasp mimicry in a new species of praying mantis from the Amazon rainforest, Vespamantoida wherleyi gen. nov. sp. nov. (Mantodea, Mantoididae). PeerJ, 7, e7886. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7886 Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Insects, New Species, Rainforests, Research, Species Discovery, Tropical Forests, Wildlife center_img Article published by Shreya Dasguptalast_img read more

U.S. must be ready for second, worse attack

first_imgWITH the unhappy, upcoming anniversary of 9-11, despite the blessed lack of subsequent attacks on our homeland, it is not a question of if al-Qaida will strike us again, but when. Al-Qaida has warned us, sworn and promised, to hit our heartland. Osama bin Laden has issued calls to martyrdom to both his close and far-flung followers. Ayman al-Zawahri recently gave the legalistic three-fold warning of attack as mandated in the Quran. All these, along with the arrest this past week of eight suspected terrorists in Denmark and three in Germany posing threats that were both credible and imminent, augur events that call for preparation – both physical and, more importantly, emotional. While we cannot truly prepare for how we will feel, we will need to react with the maturity of a great nation. We know that no defense system is perfect. Our Secret Service admits that they cannot guarantee the life of the president from an assassin who is willing to trade his, or her, life for the president’s. Al-Qaida is filled with terrorists eager to trade their lives for our deaths. This makes the idea of perfect or near-perfect security an illusion. How we will feel and what we will do, we do not and cannot know. Will we act like Spain after the Madrid bombings and all but apologize to the terrorists for making them go to the trouble of building bombs? Will we react like Israel, long accustomed to domestic terror, and look to focus our retribution? Perhaps our model will be England, which after the Blitz in World War II and years of attacks from the Irish Republican Army has a tradition of emotionally proportionate responses. After the subway and bus bombings of July 2005, the British just went about their business without panic or rioting. They neither apologized nor raged. They stayed in character, which showed their great character. We, too, need to take measures for our emotional preparation for the inevitable. Some boxers who taste their own blood fall into despair and give up. I do not see this in us. Some go into a rage and lash out, forgetting all their discipline and training. This seldom helps them obtain their goals. This I do fear. We will need to focus our rage on those who have hurt us, and not simply people we see as members of their clans, tribes or co-religionists. We will need to focus on the nations that harbor, support, train and fund those who hurt us. The paranoids and conspiracy buffs will speculate that an attack will have been allowed by the White House because it helps Republicans. Other cynics will be equally certain that another outrage will inure to the benefit of the Democrats since it will prove that the Republicans were unable to protect us. Needless to say, some will see Israel and the Mossad behind it, while others will identify all evil as coming from Iran. The argument against such cynicism is simple: No one really knows how we will react, who will be blamed and who empowered. Only the terrorists themselves believe that they will benefit. There will be great clarion and contradictory calls for every kind of reaction – from sensible and prudent to outrageous and dangerous. Keeping our balance will be difficult. In an election year, it will be hard to keep politics, spin, partisan advantage and “gotchas” out of this. But for the sake of our precious democracy, we must try. The old Soviet Union, with its thousands of nuclear weapons and ICBMs, posed an existential threat to us, meaning they threatened our existence as a nation. The terrorists can hurt us and harm us. They may strike with planes, dirty bombs and, some day, nuclear devices. They may attack iconic structures or set off bombs in a dozen theaters or stadiums. But for all their potential for damaging us, they do not, in the foreseeable future, pose an existential threat. Our land can survive their attacks. Our national soul is more in the balance. These are indeed the times that try the soul. Jonathan Dobrer, a professor of comparative religion at the American Jewish University in Bel-Air, blogs at insidesocal.com/friendlyfire. Write to him by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! We do not know when or where the attacks will come. I use the plural “attacks” because multiple simultaneous strikes are the signature of al-Qaida. We do not know how destructive and deadly they will be. These are certainly important questions, but they are not, I think, the most important questions. Bad things happen to good people and to good nations. We do not and cannot live in a cocoon. The great question is one of character and how we, as a nation, will react when we are struck again. On 9-11, we were gut-punched. We had not been meaningfully assaulted on our mainland since the War of 1812. We were like a boxer who tastes his own blood for the first time. We reacted in shock and with understandable rage. We also reacted domestically with remarkable and admirable restraint. While some of us behaved badly, that number was incredibly small. Good people of all backgrounds worked actively to protect Muslims and people who seemed to be of Middle Eastern origins. I hope we will be able to be as disciplined the next time, but I have my doubts. The next time we should not be surprised. We know there are people bent on our destruction, and they will literally stop at nothing to hurt us. They will use planes, boats, trucks and trains. They have shown their willingness to use Red Cross-marked ambulances, to tie bombs to their own children and to co-opt doctors as agents of death instead of life. We may be hurt, but we mustn’t be surprised or shocked. last_img read more

Corn College Feb. 10

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Producers and agriculture professionals can get an update on the 2016 corn market and learn how to budget for a profitable corn crop at a workshop led by farm management experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.The 2016 Corn College is a daylong workshop offered on Feb. 10 that will focus on what farmers need to know to develop a successful corn growing operation, said Sam Custer, an Ohio State University Extensioneducator who is organizing the program.The goal of the workshop, Custer said, is to help farmers focus on critical topics that can help them not only get the most bang for their buck, but also raise the profit potential of their farms.“We’ll offer producers a look at what the latest research shows as they work towards maximizing corn crop yields in an economical fashion,” he said. “Producers will be making some critical decisions this winter as they buy products to set up and plant their crops this spring.“Offering this workshop now will give them time to digest some key production information before they start to get their corn planted in April.”The workshop is taught by OSU Extension educators and specialists and will be held at The Andersons Marathon Ethanol, 5728 Sebring Warner Road in Greenville, Ohio.Topics will include:* 2016 market outlook.* Budgeting a profitable corn crop.* Agronomic practices that optimize profitability in corn production.* Nitrogen timing and needs during corn development.* Darke County on-farm research results, including nitrogen response and manure side dress.* Insect pressure on today’s genetics and future control.* Fungicide effects on disease, ear rot and yield in field corn.* Decision-making with high resolution crop imagery.Registration for the workshop is $50 and includes the program, handouts, breakfast and lunch. The registration flyer can be downloaded at http://go.osu.edu/corncollege. Contact Custer at 937-548-5215 for more information. The deadline to register is Feb. 3. Payment can be sent to OSU Extension, Darke County, 603 Wagner Ave., Greenville, Ohio 45331.last_img read more

EMC is a Laggard Playing by the Old Rules of Marketing

first_img Originally published Sep 26, 2007 11:29:00 AM, updated October 01 2019 SEO Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack I was talking to a friend who does marketing at EMC, a gigantic and successful technology company (over 30,000 employees).  I asked him what he thought some of the most important marketing activities were that they did at EMC.  He gave me the normal “old school” marketing answer about paying analysts a bunch of money to write reports, developing customer case studies, presenting at conferences, etc.I asked him to tell me how to describe EMC in two words, and I suggested the phrase “data storage”.  He said that they would prefer “information infrastructure”.  I said, let’s do an experiment with both terms.  I did a simple Google search for each phrase, you can see the results below by clicking on the links.  I was shocked to see that EMC is not on the first page for either search phrase.Google search for “data storage”Google search for “information infrastructure”How could a company as large as EMC not be listed in search engines for a basic search term that describes their company?  This is like opening the Yellow Pages in 1990 and looking under “car rental” and not seeing an ad for Hertz!It is no longer 1990, and the rules of marketing have changed.  Do you want to understand the New Rules of Marketing?  Download this free eBook on the New Rules of PR by David Meerman Scott, author of the book The New Rules of Marketing and PR.What is your company doing to take advantage of the New Rules of Marketing?  Leave a comment below so we can discuss. Topics:last_img read more

How Should You Measure Online Marketing? [Marketing Cast]

first_img Weekly Marketing Cast Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack measure how many people are reading your blog posts , David Meerman Scott challenges the old ways of measuring marketing performance and introduces some new metrics. Hear his thoughts in the video below and read some of the top takeaways: For a long time, David notes, measurement of marketing efforts has been around sales leads. “That is how I was measured,” says David. But things have rapidly changed with the development of new technologies and especially with the growth of the Web. Are you taking notice of these emerging realities and incorporating them into your marketing reporting mix? Challenge Old Metrics Originally published Feb 7, 2011 8:00:00 AM, updated July 08 2013 Focus on Exposure Inbound Marketing how many people are following you on Twitter It is easy to get lost in different metrics that don’t help you improve your strategy but turn into a burden. Avoid making this mistake by focusing on a few key elements to track. As David points out, you can Marketers should develop new metrics that track exposure to ideas. Interestingly enough, this comes even prior to the actual sales cycle. As David notes, a lot of the measurement happens higher up in the funnel. Where in search engines is your content appearing when people enter specific keywords? How can you get to the first listing? These are the types of questions that will help you focus on making your ideas and content more visible to the public. What matters ultimately is whether you are generating new revenue. Is your company growing? But before you focus on these questions, Davis says, there are a lot of other things that need to happen. What Should You Measure? . All these things demonstrate your reach and how it is growing (or decreasing). The bigger the exposure, the more triggers to the sales process you are creating. Free Download: How to Sell Social Media to Your Boss to learn how to get your company started with social media. Download the free webinar Today, it is highly debated whether the old rules of measurement still apply to modern marketing. But there is no doubt about the importance of the newly emerging metrics. Topics: Social media guru Chris Brogan explains how to demonstrate the value of social media marketing. . You can track your performance in search engines. You can see In this episode of thelast_img read more

Why YOU Are Your Business’ Most Qualified SEO Expert

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Nov 28, 2011 11:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: SEO Go ahead … Google your business! Don’t be shy — it’s just as important as checking yourself out in the mirror before you leave for a job interview!Don’t Let Others Do Your Googling for YouWe have all Googled our own keywords at one point or another, and as marketers, many of us obsess over getting the highest rankings in the eponymous search engine. But there are still a huge swath of businesses that are letting someone else do their search engine optimization and Googling … and it turns out, they are leaving money on the table.Your Customers Search a Variety of KeywordsLet me share a quick story to illustrate the point. Recently, I learned that I am a proud Aunt of my second nephew who was born several weeks early. Hurrah! That meant I was driving up for Thanksgiving without time to have selected the perfect baby gift for this premature bundle of joy. Naturally, while coming home from the gym in my native Austin, Texas, I decided to use my iPhone to solve the problem with a local solution. So, I pulled up the maps app and typed in “baby gifts 78704” in the search box. The results pictured at right are what I got. That’s not much. Seriously, Austin may not be Manhattan, but I was dismayed to find only four shops within a three mile radius of downtown.  “No way,” I thought.  Being a savvy Googler, I altered my search to “baby clothes 78704.”  Lo and behold, check out the seven results much closer to my blue dot, several of which were just blocks from my exact location!Totally Different Results for Such Similar Keywords!Something you’ll notice is that a few of the “baby gift” results are NOT in the set for “baby clothes,” though having checked out their websites, I know they sell both.So, I made my way to Wee, which had just the sort of cute, snuggly gifts I was looking for. When I got there, I told the staffer that I couldn’t find their store when I searched for “baby gifts.” First, she was incredulous, since they have an SEO firm they work with. Then I showed her, and she was really grateful for the tip.  Take Control of Keywords & SEO for Your BusinessWhile I may have only given her another keyword to target, what I really hope I did was open her eyes to the idea of taking charge herself. If the Wee team had brainstormed and researched its own keyword list and done just a small amount of SEO homework, including Googling themselves, they’d have a much higher possibility of getting found by shopping aunties just like me!Make sure you’re taking control of your business’ keywords. You’re the expert about your industry and business, and you likely have a better understanding of the types of keywords and terms your prospects are using to find you. If you hire an agency or an SEO consultant to help with the work, make sure you take part in the keyword research and choose a reputable partner you can trust. It’s critical to be on the same page about the keywords your prospects and customers are searching to find you. If not, you could be leaving valuable customers on the table. When was the last time you Googled your business … from your buyers’ perspective?last_img read more