When I was younger, my parents had this little bit they liked to perform. "Can you turn the TV down?" my mother would ask, to which my father would yell, "What? I can’t hear you! The TV’s too loud!" Ha, ha, ha. A regular laugh track, they were.

This usually happened during the commercials that, at the time, I thought were louder than the real shows. Years later I read that commercials aren’t really louder at all — the peak volume levels of commercial advertisements are no different than those of the programs.

It’s just that the advertisers keep their volume turned up for the entire spot, while there is some modulation where a regular broadcast is concerned.

Consider the typical show where the bad guys blow up the building. This results in a big noise, but ear-popping destruction and all that screaming is quickly followed first by hushed tones of mourning and reflection and then by all of the dialogue returning to normal levels as everyone returns to work at the precinct (or the emergency room or the crime lab).

Regular programming has highs and lows; advertisements just scream in your face in an attempt to drown out everything and everyone else. Eventually, you have no choice but to notice.

Would someone please turn down Steve Jobs?

OK, it’s mostly sour grapes. I don’t have an iPad today, a day when it seems everyone else does. I made the decision to wait thoughtfully. What’s holding off for one little product generation going to hurt?

History would suggest that the initial offering will be sort of buggy and that future updates will include new features or even a more attractive price tag. But I can’t escape the noise.

"Look at the iPad you don’t have!" screams every media channel including the cover of Newsweek. So while I should, by all reasonable accounts, be concerning myself with a myriad of other urgencies such as an unsigned Request for Repair or a viable dinner strategy, I am plowing through my feed reader with a growing sense of inadequacy.

Today it’s the iPad, but tomorrow it will be something else. I know this, but as a serial dabbler obsessed with staying as cutting edge as possible given the rings on my tree (I actually lived through and survived both "My Mother the Car" and disco), it is hard to turn my back on this new revolutionary productivity tool as just so much noise.

Last year, I would have been the first in line. Maybe I’m maturing, but these days I have to make the tough choices. They are choices about how I spend both my time and my money, given that both are rather finite.

About 40 years ago (when I was minus-10 years old), I used to watch "Let’s Make a Deal." I understand there is a spinoff now, one I haven’t seen because I have been too busy reading about the iPad I don’t have, but I always loved the part where the host would reward audience members for being able to produce random items.

In youth, I thought I would do well at this game. Today, I know I would totally nail it, mostly because my life is a big boiling caldron of randomness, professional and personal lines hopelessly blurred. …CONTINUED

"For $20, who has in their purse the uneaten half of a tuna melt, a final HUD-1 settlement statement, a Milk Bone, keys to at least three real estate brokerages, a receipt for a prom dress, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and a map of the Caribbean? Congratulations to the woman in the back — the one without the iPad!"

Picking and choosing. Managing competing demands. It’s hard. As any real estate agent and broker will attest, we live on a treadmill. Our show is simultaneously playing at the beginning, middle and end, our clients in all stages of the homebuying and selling process. We are the actors who show the home, open the escrow, send the disclosures, meet the inspector, cancel the escrow, review the settlement statement, and sometimes even hand over the keys.

We are the backroom production. We build the Web site, read the latest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development directives, author the blog, design the marketing pieces, pen the brochures, direct the staging and photography, and take five to take notes every time those wacky Case and Shiller guys enter the room.

Occasionally, we yell, "Cut!" just long enough to get social. We update our status and location, we get LinkedIn, and we tweet about it.

One show does not make a season, so there is the little matter of developing new business, a never-ending stream of pilots, many of which will never see the prime-time lineup. We are competing for the market share, and every week is sweeps week in real estate. Our presentation has to be better, our message more resonant, our delivery more inspired.

And as I am finalizing my to-do list for the day, now longer and only slightly more interesting than a docudrama on medieval pottery-making narrated by Ben Stein, I am interrupted by that stupid commercial message. "Use the iPad for listing presentations! There’s an app for that!"

Dang, those commercials are loud. Well, I might be able to use it at appointments to … No. Stop it! I don’t really need an iPad. What I need to do is update the market statistics on my Web site, review six agents’ transaction files, schedule a mold inspection and pay my taxes.

I can wait for the next release. That shiny, sexy, uber-cool gadget that everyone else has isn’t really a priority. Just don’t look it in the eye.

In the meantime, I need to clear my e-mail inbox.

"E-signing of the disclosure package is complete." Check. "Follow me on Twitter." Check. "Your Preliminary Title Report is attached." Roger that.

And then, from one of our own agents, under the subject of "iPad," I see the one-line message.

"You getting one?"

Geez. I guess I am. Then maybe I can get back to work.

Kris Berg is broker-owner of San Diego Castles Realty. She also writes a consumer-focused real estate blog, The San Diego Home Blog.


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