The Miracle of Social Media

There is so much more substance to Social Media, these days, than just being able to stay in touch with friends and relatives, living nearby or far away. Maturation is taking hold and its influence in our world is blooming like a spring flower in May.Social Media is Helping to Change our WorldIn recent weeks, the entire world watched as the people of Egypt mobilized and overthrew their dictator through rallying Tweets and instructive mobile text messages. In just a handful of days, forty years of dictatorial rule was ended by a united and determined populous crying freedom.Full credit should be given to new media for providing Egyptians with communications platforms and tools they never had before. For the very first time in decades the Egyptian people had real-time intra and extra-communications to plan with. Through their connection with the free world they were united, inspired and supported. Five or ten years ago they may have found themselves fragmented, isolated, abandoned and crushed as their political soul-mates once were in China’s Tiananmen Square.Not since Moses brought the word of God to his fellow Jews in bondage in ancient Egypt, has any other phenomena been so instrumental in liberating so many oppressed people. If these recent events are not the makings of a twenty-first century biblical story, there is little doubt that millions of Egyptians consider their new found freedom part of a modern day miracle.Every day, the man-made innovation we call Social Media helps to improve the lives of so many – in a variety of ways – by connecting people with other people. It is a beautiful thing to observe when selfless people join together seeking a common bond in the best interests of the many.Social Media is Helping us Discover that Which Was LostRecently, Twitter helped a homeless New York man locate a daughter he had not seen in 11 years. Twenty-seven year old Sarah Rivera was finally tracked down by her father, Daniel Morales, after one of his Tweets found its way to her through his network of 3000 followers. At the time of their reunion, Morales had only been using Twitter for about three weeks. On the day they met at a local park, Morales got to chance to hug two young grandchildren he never knew he had. Is this not a miracle?This is only one of many similar happy endings we can credit Social Media for delivering. Consider all of our troops, overseas, who have corresponded with their loved ones through E-mails and YouTube videos, as well as on Facebook and even face-to-face using Skype. In our previous wars, families often heard nothing for weeks and months until letters arrived from the battlefield – a good many, too late.Today, mothers and sons; wives and husbands; and children and fathers can say goodnight to each other in real-time. How great is that?Social Media is Helping Us Help Others through Difficult TimesAnd there is even better news to share? In 2010, the Red Cross raised more than $800,000 for the Haiti relief effort through their $10 text message donation initiative, which was backed by the United States State Department. This is only one example of the growing use of Social Media as a fundraising tool. Billions of dollars in donations have been raised for various causes using a variety Social Media platforms and tools. Saving the life of a starving child is a miracle of immeasurable value.The Good Out-Weighs the Not So Good in Social MediaEvery sliver-lining resides within a dark cloud. We often hear of the many threats that Social Media presents us with. Sure, terrorist organizations use online sites to recruit their assassins and to teach others how to build bombs that kill and maim innocent people. Yes, there are sexual predators using the Web to lure young children into having sexual encounters with them away from home.It is also true that more than a few people have been scammed out of their life savings over the Internet. And, we have all been victimized or inconvenienced by those who have stolen our identities; sent us tons of spam or have infected our computers with viruses and malware. Human nature always seems to find a way to deliver us BOTH good and bad results. That is for sure. But, criminals and creeps exist online and offline, as well.Despite that which is wrong with Social Media, there seems to be much more “good” coming from it than “bad.” Like anything else that affects our daily lives to such a great extent, we must always be careful and cautious whenever and wherever we open our lives to the outside world. This advice comes with life experience and is often given to help us protect ourselves to both real and online threats.Go ahead and call Social Media an over-hyped and over-embellished phenomenon. The sources of many “miracles” have been thought of that way for eons. The difference with Social Media is that we can easily document and validate most of its miraculous claims. Perhaps, God has had a hand in all of this Social Media miracle-making? The point here is not to debate religious claims or to proclaim modern day miracles, just to be appreciative of the value of Social Media in today’s world. Obviously, it is making a difference and that of itself is a welcome miracle.

What Would You Like to Know About Personal Property Appraisers?

You are already familiar with Real Property Appraisers, they appraise real property, your house and land, crops in the ground, buildings which are not moveable. A personal property appraiser appraises nearly everything else. Your car, boat, grandma’s Haviland, Suzie’s Barbies, tools, equipment, jewelry, furs, antiques, the ’41 Buick in the back storage building, crops after harvest, the landscape plantings that the real property guy forgot or didn’t notice, your furniture, tractors and bulldozers, horses and livestock. It’s all personal property, even your Rembrandt and your VanGogh, especially them.Alone? Of course Not.Personal Property Appraisers work together for you, I handle antiques and residential contents, horses and those pesky landscape plantings. Yes, that means trees and shrubs on which you spent lots of money and you should be able to add their value to the price of your home or office. You should be able to insure them. People steal trees. Yes, planted trees. Happened to a close neighbor a few years ago: New planting, forty young Locust Trees all planted, mulched, watered and in the morning…gone. Value, forty times $90.00 each, uninsured. Other personal property appraisers handle all the other “stuff” mentioned and much, much more.So, you need an appraisal to insure stuff and you need an appraisal to claim against loss, damage or theft using your insurance. You need an appraisal and a rider on your insurance for sterling silver, fur coats, jewelry and antiques both house antiques and garage antiques. You need an appraisal for an estate when someone dies and leaves over a certain amount of value, you need an appraisal to donate something other than cash if the value is over a certain amount and you may want an appraisal to buy or sell something.You need an appraiser if you wish to donate something other than green money. There are some pretty specific rules about that but it’s doable. Many things are acceptable as donations, even horses. It is possible to donate items to an organization which wishes to sell them but there are even more strict rules about that and it takes time.An example for a personal restricted use appraisal: You want to buy something rather exotic…a helicopter. There’s a really cute little one for sale over at the local airfield but how much should you pay? Enter your friend the personal property appraiser. A call goes out to the helicopter guy who’s a mechanical and equipment appraiser with make, model, year, engine hours and pictures via email. The helicopter guy does some research and gets back. Down and dirty: It’s called a restricted use appraisal and it’s just for you to help you when you need a value to clarify your thinking. OK, helicopters are awfully exotic. Try this one: Your daughter has talked you into a horse, it’s always a daughter, sons want cars. Same process, only this time we go with her, have her try the horse, stop her if we think that the horse is beyond her or a poor choice in some other way. Maybe suggest some places for a suitable horse, a boarding stall and lessons on how to handle and ride that very large animal. Then we help establish what the selling price for that horse should be in the same restricted use format, FYI.Grandma just moved to a nice little one floor condo where dinner is served in the “club house” every night and there’s always something happening. She’s tired of dusting that generational junk so she’s left it to you to handle. Relatives have come out of the wood work all saying that grandma or grandpa promised them the same thing. Grandma won’t say but she does say, “NO QUIBBLING!”. Now this is a little different, you don’t give…well, you don’t care what a single item in that house is worth but you want grandma to have as much money as possible because you like seeing her smile and play Bridge or Euchre or Texas Hold ’em for all you care and have friends again instead of a big old empty house.You have a liquidation problem. There’s a lot of that going around right now, liquidation, that is.We can help with that, too. Most personal property appraisers also handle liquidations or auctions or some other form of dispersal of personal property. We will help you decide whether to sell the stuff locally or perhaps it would sell better in a regional auction house such as Cowan’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, Neal’s in New Orleans or Jackson’s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. these are just three of many reliable regional auction houses in the Mid-West. There are others in other parts of the country and there are also reliable “country auctioneers” everywhere in the United States.Now you have another problem, squabbling relatives. Grandma refers them all to YOU! there are many ways to handle this, auction houses are one, local well advertised liquidation sales, sometimes called “estate sales” are another If your choice is auction we help you get the stuff organized, packed and delivered, you pay us by the hour. If you choose a liquidation type sale we come in price and organize everything. The family comes in and makes it’s choices, bookeeping is done so that each member knows what each other member took. When the sale ends, the money is divided in such a way that all the family members come out about equally. It’s all about what grandma said, “no quibbling”. Whatever is left over goes to St.Vincent De Paul or your church or the reStore or the curb. Is it easy? No, it’s hard work but you don’t do it.Haven’t hit your hot button yet? Well, I’m trying. I really want to tell you what you want to know. Lets see: Insurance, donation, estate tax liability, litigation support, asset valuation. How about collateral for a bank loan? You think you have something that might be enough, a heard of fancy cattle with a bull? A small airplane? A VanGogh? well, maybe not that but how about six John Marin water colors from early in his career or the cells from an early Disney movie with a letter from Old Walt Himself? The banker looks askance. You need a personal property appraiser, those things have value.Do we do this out of the goodness of our hears? Of course not. Do you put in forty hours a week at your office out of the goodness of your heart, of course you don’t. We charge by the job or by the hour. Never do we charge by the amount of value we will bring to you, that’s unethical, a very big no, no. We take photos, make inventories, do research, help you to understand what kind of value you need. Remember sentimental value is zero.Once more What would you like to know about personal property appraisal? How can we help you solve your value problems and the value problems of your clients. Don’t hesitate to phone or email, we can usually go most anyplace in Michigan.