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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Almberg’

This past backpacking trip up around Granite Mountain revealed not only how old I am getting, but also how old my equipment is getting on in years.  My legs did not handle the steep climbs like they once did in bygone days.  The second day of my trip entailed about 10+ miles and 3,000 feet in elevation.  I could barely walk the next morning.  It took a while to work out the soreness and return to a normal gate.  One that did not look like I was wearing leg braces anyway.

I discovered that some of my gear was beginning to show its years. The frameless, lightweight backpack I intended on taking had several broken snaps, buckles and belts.  I ended up feeding it to the dumpster.  It was not even worth donating to Goodwill.  My Coleman Peak-1 stove is close to 30 years old and, while it runs like new, it is definitely getting heavier as I’m getting along in years.  Some of my carry-bags had tears and holes, my hiking boots that I got over a decade ago are well ventilated; perhaps too well ventilated when the hiking trip is a wet one like this last one.  Oh well, it is all a part of “roughing it”, right?

My hiking buddy, Dan Tourangeau, on the other hand has kept up on all the newest gear. He’s got all the newest light-weight gear, which is becoming more important with our age.  He also has a lead on me in years by more than a decade.  So, I feel I must allow him such creaturely comforts.  Someday, I’ll be there too.  Hopefully with light-weight gear too.

I must admit a bit of enviousness at my buddy’s gear. He does travel in style.  While we were heading into Hyas Lake above Rosalyn, Washington, we ran into a young family packing out.  Dad had a very heavy and laden pack while carrying an infant in a frontal carrier.  A little girl of about 4 or 5 walked along with her mother who sported her own pack.  They looked like they had had a good time and were heading out of the woods to return home.

Tuck Lake, Washington, September 2010

Tuck Lake, Washington, September 2010 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

At first, we stepped aside for the young family to pass by. But then Dan, who does not know a stranger, noticed the young mother’s backpack and exclaimed, “Hey, we’re twins!

Not understanding what he was referring to, she gave my buddy a worried side-ways glance.

Wanting to reassure her, Dan explained, “We have the same backpack!

A look of relief swept over the young woman’s face and she looked over at her husband.  Forgotten by Dan was the fact that his backpack was completely covered by a pack cover to keep the rain off.  I tried to point that out to him and moved to lift the side of it.

Dan, you’re pack is covered,” I explained.

Oh, that’s right,” he offered to the woman.  “I guess it would help if you could see my backpack.”

We all chuckled at his gaff.  The woman recognized the color of the backpack and said, “It looks like we do have the same backpack.”

At this, her husband then interjected, “That means you have a woman’s backpack.

Dan looked up at him.  “Huh?!

The husband explained, “Well, it looks like you have the Venus backpack.  Those are made for woman.  The Mars backpacks are the ones made for men.”

At this point I was thinking to myself that I have obviously not been shopping for gear for a very, very long time if they now have backpacks that go with the book, “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.”  I have obviously been out of the loop!

Dan attempted to dismiss the idea that he had a backpack made for women.  “How come the guy in the store fitting me for it never said anything!?

Then Dan countered with a bit of humor, “That’s OK.  My masculinity is still intact.  I am alright with a woman’s backpack,” he asserted.

The husband came back by stating, “Well, they are slightly shaped different because a woman’s back is not shaped the same as a man.  Maybe the woman’s form just fit you better.”

I smiled a huge grin and looked over at Dan.  Obviously the husband of this young family had a great sense of humor.  I was liking him.  Dan looked a little deflated but was not to be undone by the encounter.

That’s alright,” Dan continued.  “I’m in touch with my feminine side.  I can handle it.  It doesn’t bother me at all.”

Good grief,” I inserted.  “Unbelievable…”

We all were chuckling and started to say our goodbyes when the young daughter with the mother asked, “What are you guys talking about, Mommy?”

The young mom looked down at her daughter and said, “We’re talking about how that man has the same backpack as Mommy.”  That seemed to answer the girl’s question.  I couldn’t help but let out another snort and chuckle.

Outdoor backpack

Image via Wikipedia

That’s just great, Dan,” I told him.  “You have a woman’s backpack.”

Hey,” Dan defended himself.  “It’s working great for me.  So I can’t complain.

Well,” I said.  “That explains the urge I have had to help you in the rough spots of the trail and over the streams.  I thought it was just because of your age, but here it turns out to be because you have a woman’s backpack.”

I snickered.

Dan was silent.  Yes-sir-ee, having new gear and fancy backpacks sure helps on those long trips up the sides of mountains.  It offers a great deal of comic relief as you work yourself into near catastrophic muscle failure.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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It is not just a slip of the tongue that can catch a preacher in an embarrassing moment. Sometimes the slip of the shoe will too.  There is nothing like a brand new pair of leather soled dress shoes and carpeted sanctuary floors to better illustrate this point.

I wish that I could tell you that this is a brief story about a friend of mine. But, alas, it is not.  I must own up to my own humiliating debacles.  And this is one of them.

I had just taken a youth and associate pastoral position at Neighborhood Christian Center in Bremerton, Washington. So, right out of college, my wife and I moved to Bremerton to make a new home and start an adventure in ministry.  Of course, like any wet-behind-the-ears rookie of any occupation, I was intent on proving my worth to not only the senior pastor, Jim Hill, but also the whole congregation.

As those in any level of church leadership know, Sunday mornings are a frantic and frenetic time. I have grown certain over the years that pre-service preparation is when the devil and his minions show up for church.  Thus, we would probably do better going around praying and exorcising demons from every room and off of every person coming through the doors than getting ready for our religious rites.  But, of course, we are always too busy to do just that.  So, we scurry around like blind church mice trying to find cheese.

On this particular Sunday, I was prepared and ready to go minutes before the start of the morning worship. There were a few little details I needed to take care of with some individuals in the back of the church.  So, I made my way to them to talk.  Meanwhile, the sanctuary continued to fill up.  It was going to be a full church that particular morning, which is always gratifying to all those who have prepared so hard.

The senior pastor led worship from the piano. It was my duty to welcome everyone and give the invocation; the opening prayer for those of you not from the Pentecostal “High Church” tradition.  I must have taken a little longer than I thought with the individuals I was talking to for before I knew it the cue to begin started.  This meant I was out of place in the back of the church and not in the front of the church where I belonged.

Hurrying quickly, I decided to take a short cut up the platform by jumping on to the stage from the side where there were no steps but quick access right to the pulpit. Now, I was more athletic than I am now and quite able to jump high.  In college I could dunk a basketball with two hands.  Thus, leaping the two-and-a-half feet up onto the stage posed no problem in my mind.  Except…

That week, in anticipation for my new position on a pastoral staff, I had gone out with my wife to the mall to purchase a new pair of dress shoes. I had purchased on sale a very nice pair of Florsheim dress shoes.  They had 100% leather uppers and soles.  They were very comfortable.  It was those shoes that I was wearing when I decided to take my leap-of-faith from stage-right.

As I recall, my take-off was impeccable. I had the length and the height just right.  What I had not calculated was the reaction of my new leather soled shoes to the carpeted edge of the platform.  I may as well have been wearing polished Formica soled shoes.

My shoe slipped off of the stage. My body continued in its forward projection.  Shin came crashing into the edge of the stage.  The rest of my body came crashing to the floor.  Unfortunately, the platform was also tastefully decorated with potted plants.  Real ones.  These helped to break my fall.  My fall helped to scatter the pots, the plants, and the soil across the platform.

Franklin Country Court House, Pasco, Washington, August 2010

Franklin Country Court House, Pasco, Washington, August 2010 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

It is amazing how quite a crowded room gets when something like this happens to someone. For a brief moment, all time stood still.  It was as if everyone was waiting to see if my body would lie in a still heap or give signs of life by continuing to move.  After s brief registry of just what happened, several people moved to see if I was alright and help me up.  Of course, wanting to quickly recover I had tried to bounce up from my prostrate condition only to kick around the remains the flowers and potting soil.

The senior pastor look at me bewildered. I looked at him befuddled.  Already ushers were helping to pick up the dismounted potted plants.  Some church ladies were gingerly scraping potting soil into little piles and scooping it into a few pots.  I hardly new how to begin.

How do you recover from such a publicly humiliating beginning? For some people that morning, it was there first introduction to the “new pastor”.  I can only imagine what they must have been thinking.  For those who had a direct hand in my hiring, including the senior pastor, I imagine that someone wanted to get up and apologize to everyone else for my being there.

Somehow, my composure and the congregation’s composure were restored and we continued on that morning. I do not remember any thing else of that day.  The singular event, however, is pretty much burned into the synapses of my brain.  Needless to say, I spent a good deal of time scuffing up the soles of my dress shoes on the sidewalk after that morning.  My shin would heal, my pride would mend and most people would forget it ever happened.  But not me.  I still shudder when I remember that episode.

I think everyone has a similar story of public humiliation to share. It is part of human experience.  It is a tool to keep us humble.  I imagine that there are days that God as an audience to our behaviors call his angels to his side and says, “Hey, everyone!  There a newbie trying something out.  Let’s see what happens.”  Isn’t it good to know that one of the ways we can bring pleasure to God is by providing comedic relief?  I think one of the largest books in the library in heaven has got to be entitle, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pulpit.”

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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So, I have taken the plunge and started a new career.  I completed a required 60 hour course in real estate through Rockwell Institute, passed the Washington State Real Estate exam and applied for the state license.  Now I am getting settled in with a broker, Mike Alvarez and Cypress GMAC.

New beginnings are always tricky things.  Starting new and starting over always takes much longer than what one first thinks.  Beyond the obvious education and training, there are also the adjustments to new ways of thinking.  The rhythm of life changes take time to adjust to their criss-cross ways.  Navigating the unsure waters of unfamiliar places with unfamiliar landscapes can be disconcerting.  It can also be exciting.

I am no stranger to change.  I have moved more times in my life than I like to remember.  I have had so many different jobs that I can no longer remember them all.  The only steady occupation I had for the last 25 years was as a pastor of various churches, which almost always required some kind of ability to supplement my income.  So, I look at this change in life as another chapter of a long journey with twists and turns.

I like the independence that a career in real estate brings to a person.  It is not necessary to punch a time clock.  A person is rewarded for their own hours kept and hard work.  A real estate career is also people focused and people driven, which is something I’ve always enjoyed most in whatever job I was doing over the last 25 years.

The training and education for a real estate career is important.  The real estate course and state exam covers all of the important definitions and legal aspects of real estate.  However, after those are passed, then one must learn all about the real estate forms and contracts, broker policies and procedures as well as the in-and-outs of marketing.  It is important to find a broker who will take the time to mentor and train you.  It is one reason I picked Cypress GMAC and working with Mike Alvarez.  He is very good at training his agents well.  It not only helps his agents, but it also helps him as a broker to have well-trained and well-educated agents out in the field.

This past week we covered buyers’ agreements or purchase and sales agreements.  We will be next going over sellers’ agreements or listing agreements.  At the same time, he helped me to set up my own real estate agent website under Cypress GMAC.  My personal website introduces me and the number of services our brokerage offers their clients.  A client(s) can also set up their own web site portfolio and do searches from my web page for houses and properties.  They can then save these and do comparison shopping in our housing market across the Tri-Cities of Washington State or within each one of the cities: Richland, Kennewick, Pasco and outlying areas.

The way real estate is being done is quickly changing.  The internet is changing the house shopping and marketing procedures.  However, the basics of real estate do not change.  It still requires entering into contracts and making sure the right paperwork is correctly filled out.  The best interest of the seller or the buyer needs to be guarded.  This is one of the best reasons for engaging a real estate agent in buying or selling properties.

A good real estate knows the area, knows the contracts, knows the legal jargon and can help make sure you are getting the best deal under the best circumstances.  There is nothing worse than completing a contract only to find out later that you could have gotten a better deal or that things were not included – or excluded – in the contract that should have been.  A real estate agent can explain the preliminary paperwork and sales agreement so that either the seller or the buyer knows and understands what they are signing.

Mayan Architecture and Art, Chichen Itza, July 2003

Mayan Architecture and Art, Chichen Itza, July 2003 ©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

In a society that is “suit happy,” it is wise to have someone who can help you avoid that kind of pitfall because of contract disagreements or misunderstandings.  In such a litigious culture as ours, a person cannot go wrong paying to guarantee that they are covered in all aspects of any contract they enter into.  When Mike Alvarez was going over how to fill out contracts and agreements, he would often initiate a section by saying, “Now, if you miss this, this could really mess you up!”  It is good to have someone who knows real estate contracts on your side.

All of this I have learned in just the first couple of weeks! I cannot imagine what more lies in store as I continue with training, classes and mentoring.  I actually find it fun and exciting.  I get to help someone else purchase something that is very significant to them and in which they will be enjoying life for the next number of years.  I get to help someone else sell a home so that they too can launch into new opportunities in a new location.

New career – new beginning:  It is an exciting time and place to be in one. Maybe I’m too naive to be so optimistic, but I look forward to a successful career that will give me an opportunity to interact with people and provide a very valuable service to them.  As I work on my real estate web site, I see opportunities to help others in new places and new beginnings.  So, my hat is off to all those who are also in new careers, new relationships, new beginnings, new places of starting over and new opportunities.  May your future be as bright.

©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)

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