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Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

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bear2Recently I have heard some hilarious tales of wild animal capers at open house events. Many of these anecdotes come from my agent friends in Lake Arrowhead. And you thought YOU had problems…

Easy Rider

I’m told there are bear travel routes at Lake Arrowhead. I’m not sure if there are biker bars for the critters to hang out and knock back brewskis, but the routes are detours created by the animals themselves as they cruise around the mountains. As a result, there are many bear sightings in the area.

An agent I know was with a client when they parked at the cabin she had just listed. As they approached the porch, they glanced at the pickup truck parked in the driveway and were delighted to see a baby bear asleep in the flatbed.

They observed the little guy for a short time, ooh-ing and ah-ing and discussing whom to call. Duh. Suddenly the answer came to them…in the form of a shadow the size of the Statue of Liberty. Paralyzed with fear, they tried not to move a muscle. Finally, when the words “main course” permeated their individual skulls, they turned on cue and walked slo-o-o-ly to the front porch. They managed to get inside without losing any limbs, but not before the frantic client had wet her pants. After the bears eventually left, the hapless women departed. The agent was shaking uncontrollably, and the client had to sit on a towel all the way home.

(Moral of the story: Ya’ know how you just want to pick up a little bear and cuddle it? Well Mama Bear wants to cuddle you, too…and then crack your head open, rip out your eyeballs with claws the size of hedge clippers, and then suck the meat off your skinny little flailing legs…accompanied by a fine Pinot Noir of course. So avoid even baby bears, fool!)

Bears Need To Relax, Too

One agent had seen bears in the area of his listing and had dutifully informed his clients. While preparing for Brokers Open, he set a bag of dog food on the back porch in his efforts to tidy the kitchen. Halfway through caravan, there was pandemonium in the back forty. When he and several agents ran outside to investigate the chaos, they saw the dog food scattered everywhere.

As the agent stooped to retrieve the bag, he looked across the yard. To his shock, a brown bear was splashing lazily in the spa right under the hand-crafted “Don’t Piss In Pool ” sign. The group high-tailed it inside, barricaded the doors, and armed themselves with whatever they could grab. The agent had to scream out the window at any latecomers, warning them to get outta Dodge, while everyone already there remained holed up in the house until animal control arrived.

When Animal Control finally burst in, they admonished the agent for a lapse in judgement, but only after they had a good laugh. It seems that one guy was brandishing a fireplace poker as a weapon, and the listing agent was armed with a lovely umbrella.  The agent was very embarrassed, but the worst insult was the floater left in the spa by the annoyed bear.

(Moral of the story: If you are on a bear route, never place Dog Food outside unless the bears on your route are Harvard grads and can read the words “Dog Food,”  and “Don’t Piss in Pool.” Less educated bears may think the sign says “After enjoying the bear bidet…please help yourself to the squealing agents huddled inside and screaming like girly-men.”)

Let’s Not Forget the Raccoons

This story was enough to make me stop serving food outside. An agent had set up a lovely luncheon at a house near the lake. Out of nowhere, there was a blur of action on the hillside. A raccoon scampered down the hill, a barking dog with a beer belly close at it’s heals. The raccoon ran around the trash bins and then took shelter in a tight space behind the pool equipment. The determined dog apparently had gone to a Tony Robbins seminar and did not know the meaning of giving up. He did everything possible to get the raccoon to expose himself (so to speak). However, the wily raccoon, while less educated, had street smarts and was waiting for his posse to show up and ice the dog.

Enter the agent. Upset by the ear-splitting chaos, the agent grabbed a utensil and a metal dish and created a cacophony of noise, hoping to scare off the intruders. It worked. Sort of. The raccoon screeched, tore out of his hiding place, and for a split second in time, he stared down the source of the mind-numbing noise. Finally he headed for elevation…the luncheon table being the nearest high spot. The portly dog was too fat to jump onto the table, so he tried to claw his way up the table cloth. The agent, frantically banging her bowl, watched helplessly as inch by inch the entire spread headed south in slow motion. The food explosion was followed immediately by the sound of the table collapsing. The last she saw of the quiche-covered dog or the crazed raccoon was a departing blur back up the hillside. She gave up and threw the bowl in disgust before collapsing in tears.

(Moral to the Story: If you’re going to Bang a Gong, know your audience, Wang Chung!)

And This One is For The Birds

Picture a lovely summer day in California. French doors were open wide, flowers were in bloom, and the agent was preparing for the first Public Open House. Suddenly a Blue Jay flew into the living room and became disoriented. Confused and frazzled, the feathered intruder attempted to fly out via the skylights.  After being thwarted in its numerous attempts to escape, the bird landed on a beam to rest. The agent, also confused and frazzled, decided to deal with the party crasher after the open house was over.

Enter the public. As the agent showed the house and gave her pitch, a menacing kid turned on a screeching musical toy that set off  the downfall of society. The bird, already confused and excited, began to circle overhead frantically seeking an exit. As the voices of the startled group melded into a chorus of screams, the bird responded back in kind…by crapping all over the well-appointed living room. The more the visitors screamed, the more the bird emptied the contents of his well-stocked bowels. By the time the agent managed to herd everyone out, the seller’s furniture was upholstered in cottage cheese. The bird remained for several hours more, no doubt taking photos and texting his friends.

(Moral of the Story: If a bird crashes your party, call the wily raccoon to chase the feathered interloper outside. Then call the dog in as an enforcer to offer the raccoon a deal he can’t refuse. Then hire the bear to scare the beejeesus out of the wiseguy dog. Then call animal control to drag the bear away after he uses your spa as a bidet, but before he gets out his dining utensils and slaps you onto a plate. After that, call all the agents who called you “fool” and invite them to a party in the spa…and leave the floater.)

And a Short One For the Road

Did you hear about the German Shepherd who knocked down the agent’s tent sign and relieved himself all over it as the caravan was arriving? I actually witnessed the performance…and the  two curtain calls.

(Moral of the Story: It seems everyone is a critic. Go do the same thing in his bowl – that will teach him to be a bit less judgmental next time.)

Thank you, Lake Arrowhead!

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    May 22, 2009 at 9:14 am

    OMG I didn’t even know LA had bears much less so many PEEING bears! LOL awesome. Gwen, you are always the humorous cherry on top of my day 🙂

  2. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    May 22, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Hahaha…Sensitivity to the Needs of Wildlife = FAIL.

    Nice work Gwen.

  3. Gwen Banta

    May 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    And you thought all the wildlife was roaming the Sunset Strip! Come out and see out mountains, Lani – I’ll be waiting for you. Thabnks so much, and have a great Memorial day.

  4. Gwen Banta

    May 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks, Austin. We have pushed the animals out of their natural habitats, but they are resisting…and rightfully so. I was driving in Laurel Canyon yesterday when I spotted a coyote walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight. I was so busy looking at the scrawny critter that I almost didn’t see a snake crossing the road! The snake had to be at least 4 feet long. It was like a wildlife preserve. I’m heading for the mountains now, so who knows what I’ll see there. The bears are hungry these days…

  5. Paula Henry

    May 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Gwen – When we moved last year, i was looking at homes in Eagle Creek, a wooded lot, nature, you know, the whole natural serenity, love to come home to dream. I drove through several neighborhoods and looked at quite a few homes.

    It’s almost enchanting to see deer in the front yard and just as disconcerting to see raccoons climbing the trees. I chose a little more “city” I still have a lovely wooded lot and see a few deers, but I can live without the raccoons climbing my trees. Stories like this remind me why.

  6. Susie Blackmon

    May 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I’m glad Lani called this post to my attention. Enjoyable read, but also sad to think of what has happened to the habitats of so many animals. Have a great weekend.

  7. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    I’m like you, Paula – I LOVE the deer…but the raccoons and bears are a bit too ominous for me to enjoy with my Sunday coffee…

  8. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you, Susie (and thank you, Lani!). Yes, I am sad everytime I see a scrawny coyote out looking for some dinner. They seem so thin and sad…

  9. Gwen Banta

    May 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Betty, thank you so much for sharing my stories up there in your incredibly beautiful Oregon territory. I hope they brought out a few smiles…and maybe even a few loud laughs at the folly of some of us humans!

  10. Betty jung

    May 26, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Thanks for the post. I know I laughed when I read your words!

  11. Joe Loomer

    May 29, 2009 at 6:56 am

    So I meet George the Home Inspector at this house. My Buyer’s a military dude who couldn’t stay in town for the inspection, so I’m there solo. George notes some damage, some staining, and a funny smell from the louvres at the apex of the roofline. Not much else to report about the exterior.

    We move inside, and George heads to the attic via the pull-down stairs. Then George head-firsts down the attic stairs. Seems bats decided they liked the quiet, warm, dark climate. Now the exterior damage (and that funny smell) make a little more sense.

    Guano know the rest of the story?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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Business Marketing

Tired of “link in bio”? Here is a solution for Instagram linking

(MARKETING) The days of only one link in your Instagram bio are over. Alls.Link not only lets you link more, it gives you options for marketing and analytics too.

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Woman checking Instagram on phone

If you’re like me, you’ve probably swapped out the link in your Instagram bio 100 times. Do I share my website? A link to a product? A recent publication? Well, now you don’t have to choose!

Alls.Link is a subscription-based program that allows you to, among other things, have multiple links in your bio. I’m obsessed with the Instagram add-ons that are helping business owners to expand the platform to further engage their audiences – and this is NEEDED one.

With the basic membership ($8/month), you get up to 10 customizable Biolink Pages with shortened links (and you’ll be able to choose your own backend). You also get access to Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel for your pages. With the basic membership, you will have Alls.Link advertising on your Biolink Page. Plus, you’ll be allotted a total of 10 projects, and Biolink Pages with 20 customizable domains.

With the premium membership ($15/month), you get link scheduling for product drops and article releases, SEO and UTM parameters, and you’ll have the ability to link more socials on the Biolink Page. With this membership, you’re allotted 20 projects and Biolink Pages with 60 customizable domains.

If you’re unsure about whether or not Alls.Link is worth it (or which membership is best for you), there is a free trial option in which you’ll be granted all the premium membership capabilities.

Overall – premium membership or not – I have to say, the background colors and font choices are really fun and will take your Biolink Page to the next level. Alls.Link is definitely a program to consider if your business has a substantial Insta following and you have a lot of external material you want to share with your followers.

The day-by-day statistics are a great tool for knowing what your audience is interested in and what links are getting the most clicks. Also, the ability to incorporate Google Analytics into the mix is a big plus, especially if you’re serious about metrics.

If you have a big team (or manage multiple pages), I would suggest going premium just for the sheer quantity of domains you can customize and link, though there are various other reasons I’d also suggest to do so. Take a look and see what works for you!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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