Sunday, May 31, 2009

In A Hole? Stop Digging

Many of the repos I scoped out last summer, before making an offer on my current home, are still on the market. And the banks are continuing to get stupid, rejecting offers for a matter of a few thousand dollars.

Example: my neighbor two doors down, was in trouble and tried to short-sale his home. On the market for six months, he finally got an offer for $259,000. The bank rejected the offer, and countered for $261,000. The buyer walked.
Unable to sell, and the bank unwilling to truly grasp the situation, the owner went repo. The house has been vacant for three months, asking price $235,000.
That's right.
After rejecting the offer, the bank now owns the house and is having tremendous difficulty selling for $24,000 cheaper than the offer they rejected.
Also, as the owner of the house, the bank is additionally liable for the property taxes and association fees that go with it. Every day they own it, they lose money, as taxes are prorated on a per day basis. Figure in the cost of the dude who shows up once a month to whack the weeds, and the liability insurance they are obligated for, and it all adds up to one very stupid bank.

But it's not just one bank. I hear similar stories from my neighbors almost weekly.
My neighbor, who didn't actually own the house, offered to buy it from the bank at market rate (about 60K more than it's current asking) prior to foreclosure. They wouldn't work with him. Flat out refused.

Now that all this stuff is cheap, many folks who were not able to buy at inflated prices can now afford to.
The problem is overly tight lending requirements. The banks got burned by overly loose requirements, and have overcompensated in the other direction.
It's just very difficult to get funding now. And FHA is not making it any easier. They've just upped the required down payment, squeezing even more people out of the market.

This has actually been going on this way for a while. Lenders are too skittish. I gave the escrow company $3000 to start the process last year. FHA came back at me, and wanted to know where I got $3000.
Same job for 17yrs. They already knew my level of income, and my current rent payment. Was it really that unusual for a gainfully employed middle-aged guy who had zero credit cards, no dependents, and minimal expenditures to have a couple of months worth of rent languishing in a bank account for a rainy day?
To please them, I had to show my bank statements for a year, just so they could see how such a reasonable sum of cash was acquired.

If they would stop giving prospective customers a hard time, and start lending to people with a steady work history and a halfway decent credit score, most of these empty homes would have people in them by now.
These are very cheap prices considering the size of California wages. Any two-earner couple with average paying jobs can easily afford a home of their own. IF the lending was loosened up to reasonable standards.

But it seems the finance people are chasing away the smaller and reliable good money after playing fast and loose with the large and reckless bad money.
Repos stack up, further depressing the already below market cost of reselling them. And the longer the banks holds the properties, the more money they will continue to lose.
It's a vicious circle of their own making.

California: To Hell In A Bucket

This is my ex-neighbor's house.
Originally purchased, newly built, in February,2007
It went back on the market, as a repo, ten days ago.

Five bedrooms, 3 bath, 3490sf.
Original purchase price: $486,000
Current asking price: $218,000

Earlier phases of this development were sold for about $100,000 more than these before the market started to show signs of softening. Those are showing heavy rates of repo as well as these in my tract are.
Currently, out of twenty homes on my side of the block, fourteen have already been resold as repos, are currently bank owned, or are soon to be returned to the bank.

This is part of the problem in California's budget mess:
Anybody with a working brain could tell you that 15-25% yearly increases in home values was not a sustainable situation when you actually stop to figure in the types of lending practices that were driving the housing market.
In California, property taxes are based upon most recent selling price of the home, not current market value. The tax is equal to 1% of assessed value. Also, a home purchased for a higher price is entitled to a reassessment at lower values when the market takes a dip.
SO, everybody in my neighborhood just had their property taxes cut in half, or better.
Increases in assessed values cannot be recaptured at higher than 2% per year. At this rate, assuming these properties do not change hands, it will take 36 years before these homes can be taxed at their original selling price, and this process cannot even begin until overall property values begin to rise.

So, all those $500K homes are now being taxed as $250K homes (or less), resulting in tragic losses of projected income for the counties and the state who rely upon it.

With the economy basically in the shitter, and unemployment above 10% and climbing, there will be fewer people able to afford the inflated prices their mortgage reflects, and more overpriced homes will continue to flood the market.

California, being governed by the weakest and feeblest minds politics can buy, took advantage of the housing boom years, and all of the windfall tax revenue increases as nearly every pre-existing home was flipped at the ever increasing prices.
Yeppers, you guessed it: they inflated government spending, added new programs, and rewarded their political benefactors.
And they did it with orgasmic delight, never stopping to think that the party keg just might run dry.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Water Boarding?

Mr. Dilettante, Stinger, and myself saw this wicked looking contraption at Mall Of America. Must be some kind of enhanced interrogation device.

Not sure, but I think you first have to open it up, and then put the suspect in here.

Close the lid and turn it on...

And then wait for the confessions to spew forth.

I think I could go for something like this.
I'll tell you everything... just don't turn it off!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Twin Cities Diary

Saturday morning, King David picked me up and we met for breakfast with fellow bloggers Mr. Dilettante and The NightWriter. Some cool place in downtown St. Paul called Key's Cafe. I've already mentioned the pancakes,didn't I? And the coffee?
First cup of coffee I've had since surgery (the swallowing is improving), tasted great, and I surprised myself by drinking the whole cup.

I can imagine that I must have been putting on quite a show for the guys, choking down itty,bitty bites of pancake and small sips of coffee, but they pretended not to notice.

Later that afternoon came the event we were all gathering for: what just may be the first blogger wedding in history.
Short version of the story: Ben and the NightWriter became friends after meeting on the blogowebs. Ben soon became even better friends with NightWriter's daughter, the Mall Diva (reportedly, she owns something like 63 pairs of shoes!). A courtship ensued, leading to last weekend's blessed event.

To further bloggerize the whole affair, the groomsmen were all friends who Ben had met the same way, with King David serving as Best Man.
Full wedding coverage, live blogging by Mr. Dilettante, photos, commentary, and it's aftermath can be found here.

A great occasion, great weather, and some genuinely good people made the whole day a truly memorable one. And I had the opportunity to meet in person so many of the same people who I've either read or befriended on line: King David and Mocha Momma, Mr. & Mrs. Dilettante, NightWriter and the Rev. Mother along with their daughters Tiger Lilly and The Diva, Ben, Bike Bubba was there with his lovely wife, Brad and Jennifer Carlson, Stover, Surely Dave and many others.

Sunday was spent with Mr. Dilettante and his family. A trip to Mall Of America, where we met up Stinger, who also happens to be Mr. D's kid brother.
Together, the three of us man folk had one finger nail polished to a nice sheen while we fended off the insistent sales pitch of the young gal who was trying to sell something we didn't want or need.
But at least she was kinda cute, not that it helped her cause any.
I also had the opportunity to challenge an adorable, if overconfident, young Cheesehead to some competitive skeeball in the arcade. Beat him twice. A foreshadowing of this years football season,maybe?
(Hey, Mr. D... the offer is still open if you want to get rid of him.)

Afterwards, Mr. D showed me around the region, including a trip over that bridge that collapsed a year or two ago. I'm still here, meaning it didn't fall a second time. I think they got it figured out now.
Later was a rare experience for me: Sunday Mass where english wasn't a second language. How is that possible?
After a long visit with the Dilettante family, some good conversation, and music (Mr.D knows his tunes) it was time for me to let them have their lives back.
As we parted ways, he summed it up: this isn't goodbye. It's see ya later, and bring a fishing pole.
Yes, another trip needs to be in the making.

Monday was spent monopolising King David's life. The Royal Family lives outside the city, in a little Mayberry kinda place called Rockford. Small town America on full display, with a Memorial Day parade (I like parades, and marched my share of them), solemn observances at the town cemetery, and quaint stuff like that. It was cool.
Point of interest for Jade: the high school drum section was mostly girls. Even the three or four quads were girls.
I liked the sign posted outside the local bar: "Firearms not Permitted". By contrast, California posts things like this at the state line.

And then it was on to Cabela's, after a trip past a local bison farm. The bison didn't seem to enjoy being gawked at, and made sure I was aware of that fact with one of the smaller bulls attempting a mock charge.
We don't have Cabela's here in California, but we got Bass-Pro Shops. Very similar, but I liked the Cabela's better.
We spent hours in there. Kinda like a Disneyland for middle-aged guys. Who needs roller coasters and life-sized cartoon characters when there are all those guns to handle, stuffed trophies to admire, and a game fish aquarium to amaze you?

King David and his family wore out whatever was left of me from the day before. Once again, another full day, lots of laughs, stories, and good feeling all around.

I can't overstate it. I had a wonderful weekend, great visits, and cemented solid friendships with solidly good folks. And thinking that I almost didn't make the trip, I'm sure glad I did.
Can't wait to return and have some more fun.
And next, time I will bring a fishing pole.

Thoughts On The Twin Cities

The Mall Of America: Big WOW! If you get the chance, you really do need to see it. But just once. Don't go back.

It wasn't cold at all. I don't know what those folks are complaining about.

I spent most of Tuesday exploring the seedy underbelly of downtowns Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minneapolis was dirtier and darker, but still, nothing like the ghettoness we've managed to build in Los Angeles. Not even close.

You can't go two blocks without passing yet another lake.

Keys Cafe in St. Paul has great coffee, and serves up a wickedly tasty strawberry-banana pancake.

Crazy and silly beer regulations concerning alcoholic content and point of sale.

Not everybody speaks as they do in "Fargo", but enough do to make it amusing.

Somalis are everywhere.

For a metropolis, it's really rather small. Even during rush hour, traffic isn't near as bad as I thought it would be, and light enough to make southern Californians envious.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jetting Off, Again

I will be gone from the keyboard for the weekend while I gather with friends to celebrate the nuptials of Ben and the Mall Diva on Saturday, followed by a couple days' exploration of the Twin Cities region.

If I'm not back by Wednesday, just tell the cops that Mr. Dilettante and King David are most likely the "Persons of Interest" they should be looking for.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Jerry Brown Era Is Looking Better Than It Used To

Now the voters of California have spoken, and defeated all four of the governor's budget proposals, the budget cutting will have to begin.
And along with it, the moaning and whining, while those who have been rebuked have already set out to change the rules that would nullify any future wrath the voters are sure to feel.
It's a fixed game, where democracy is but a charade, and judges rule according to the whims of the power brokers.

If you've been watching the news you heard all the commentary, but the commentary is incomplete.
I can go into detail explaining how what was once such a prosperous place went so badly bad in the last 15-20 years, but such an endeavor would require me to turn this blog into a California Political History blog, take weeks of postings, and further bore the snot out of my readers, none of whom are in California.

I will say this: this place is broken beyond repair. The state has become ungovernable, and nothing can save it short of splitting it up into separate entities. Personally, I'd propose making three states out it.
That won't happen in my lifetime, and when it does, it will begin with the gunfire of secession in the far north.

Other solutions would require a state constitutional convention. Also a bad idea, since the power brokers of any convention would be the same clownish special interests who looted the place to begin with.

If you want to know what happens when One-Party Rule, socialist ideals, and public employee unions collude, just look at California.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting What I Paid For

As a gift for renewing my subscription, Outdoor Life sent me a cool, if compact, survival kit:
*Compass. (If I get lost, this will come in handy.)
*Mini Flashlight. (very weak)
*Whistle.(it's pretty loud)
*Fish hooks, and some fishing line. (I thought I was going hunting)
*Needle and thread. (to sew my wounds after the bear attack, I presume)
A combination pocket knife, containing:
*One cutting blade (for fending off bears?)
*Two types of screwdriver (for gun repair,maybe?)
*Bottle opener (for the imported beer, of course)
*Can opener (Maybe it can double as a gut hook?)
*A corkscrew. (????)

What the hell am I supposed to do with a corkscrew? I'm lost, out in the woods, in a wilderness far, far away... fighting for my survival... and these nimrods think I need a corkscrew?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama At Notre Dame

It takes a certain, unique and special kind of evil to not want to protect something as precious as a newborn child.

President Barack Obama confronted the abortion debate head-on Sunday at Notre Dame, acknowledging that differences over the issue are largely irreconcilable but appealing to both sides to search for “common ground.”

“I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away,” Obama said in a commencement address. “Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it — indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory — the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.”

But this issue goes far beyond just abortion. For those in the pro-life camp, the issue is not what some folks call "reproductive choice". Science will prove that where there is conception, reproduction has already taken place, no choice about it.
The main issue is 'person hood', when person hood begins, and when the rights of one individual supercede those of another.
In short, it's a matter of social justice every bit as much as the issue of slavery was.

What really frosts so many of us right-minded folks on the pro-life side of the divide is not just Obama's support for abortion at any time, anywhere, for any reason.
It's is his continued and repeated support of killing children who have already been born. This is not abortion any more. The baby is born, breathing, and, according to the logic of those who claim person hood begins at birth, a live human being.

Obama made the call for “common ground” three times and said that only comes “when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe.”

If Obama wants to find common ground, he'd better start walking. If he wants to "open hearts", he can start with his own.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blog Borrowing

Today, I'm tacking in a different direction.
I found this quiz over at RW's place.
It's kinda fun, and seems fairly accurate enough.

Here are my results:
The Lone Wolf

High Maintenance? Not at this house!
Neediness never crosses your threshold, and you're not in the habit of forcing
people to bend to your will. If it comes to that, you'd rather go it alone.

That's not to say you want to go through life alone—when love comes your
way, you embrace it. But you always let the other person have lots of space, and
like to have quite a bit for yourself as well. It's no skin off your nose if
they want to have friends over or go out and do something you don't want to do.
And you don't mind being by yourself once in a while and forging your own path.

But remember while you're out there being the lone wolf, even wolves
snuggle up in the den on cold nights. You may find you both feel more loved if
you enjoy some activities together. Don't stop being easygoing—it's great that
you don't bully people into doing what you want to do or doing things for you.
But make sure people have an opening to be with you, even to help you or dote on
you, because love sometimes means allowing yourself to be loved.

Yeah, I'm fairly bullshit free in the partnership category. And equally adverse to it as well.

Go HERE, take the quiz.
And since I'm parroting RW today, I'm asking you to post your results as well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Folks Need To Open Their Eyes.

Couple's 'buy black' experiment becomes a movement

Go ahead, glance it over and then come back to me.


About three years ago I was looking into buying a small retail business. The numbers looked good, and most importantly, it would have matched, or bettered, my regular take home dollars, with lots of glaringly obvious growth potential.

I mulled it over for a couple of weeks, and backed away for several reasons.
First off, it would have been a 24/7 job. When I wasn't at the shop, I would be worrying about the shop.
Another concern was staff. Other family members who have owned businesses could never leave them. Reliable, trust worthy staff that won't steal all your shit is hard to find. It's near impossible,actually.

And then there was the subject of vacations and travel. I really enjoy that stuff. Close the shop for a week, and your clientele finds someplace else to go. And you have to close it, because, as I've said, operating staff is hard enough to find.

Looking around town, it occurred to me why all these other privately run shops were able to keep it going. And a look around your neighborhood should show the same thing: Families.

The proprietor is free to take a day off because he has his wife, sons or daughters to watch the doors.
Is it now any wonder why nearly every business in town is run by Arabs, Koreans, or Indians (no, not the drunken reservation kind)?
These ethnic cultures place great emphasis on strong family bonds, where marriage is expected, divorce is non-existent and illegitimacy is not acceptable.

If you want to find a Black-run store to buy shampoo and medicines, you'll first have to solve the problems presented by the 76% rate of illegitimacy.
And then try to convince somebody he's not better off with the 9-5 hours, twelve holidays and four weeks vacation every year, while you have opted to take the 9-5 path yourself.
(Not to mention disability insurance, which has saved my ass from ruin the last several months.)

What I see in the lack of Black-run shops is an improvement in the lives of Blacks generally. Today, the hard working, initiative minded Black has educational and career opportunities that were largely unheard of in generations past. Seriously, why own a dress shop for a middle class lifestyle, when you can become an operations manager for a Nordstrom instead?

Having a retail business might be all fine and good for some people,and clearly is for many, but I know which way I go on this one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Law Is An Ass

A Florida woman appeared in federal court here today, accused of having pocketed more than $8.5 million from an online prostitution business that employed pornography stars and fashion models.

So this woman sets up a prostitution business for the rich and mighty. Fees ranged from $50,000 a night, and upward, according to the report.

Let me see if I got this right:
If a woman has sex for money, on camera, for the entertainment of the masses, it's all legal and good.
If the same woman has sex for money, in private, then it's a crime.

Where the hell is the moralist's logic on this one?


A rarge metar baggage container was sucked into the engine of a Japan Airrines Boeing 747 on Monday as the giant jetriner prepared to depart with 245 passengers from Ros Angeres Internationar Airport, authorities said.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Adventures In Grass Cutting

I used to like mowing the lawn at Dad's place. He has a good size front yard and had one of those traditional riding mowers, and it was fun to ride around for a hour or so.

It's been a few years since I've made a spring time visit, and in that period, Dad tossed his old mower and got one of those zero-turn radius mowers.

I've never driven it, or anything like it, before.

Last week, I was eager to give that thing a whirl, with Dad warning me to "Leave it alone so I can show you how it works".

Dad went back inside, and when the coast was clear, I jump on, fiddled around with the levers and within a few minutes I was zipping down the driveway.
Man, this was even funner than it looked.

After a few minutes of that, it was time to start cutting some grass. After figuring out how to engage the blades, off I went again.
Too cool.
Around some trees, back toward the garage.
Accelerating just before I approached a wooden bench, turned sharp, and... smash.
I had just clipped the bench, breaking it into a few large chunks.
A hammer, some nails, and a few minutes later, bench fixed, I was back in the saddle.
Zipping around, having a fun by the acre.Yeehaw!

I noticed I had missed a spot near the fence. Forgetting that this thing had no brake pedal, I sped up to it, and before I went crashing through the barbed-topped hog wire, stepped on the brake pedal that wasn't there.
And kept going.

You can imagine what happened next.

A few minutes later, I walked inside to clean up, blood running down both arms. Dad looks up, "What'd you do?"
"Why you bleeding?"
Ticks. Big ones.
Tell ya later. But your yard looks nice.
"You don't listen, huh?"

Went back out, rummaged through the shed, and came up with a few yards of baling wire and wire cutters. Half hour later, I had the fence all stitched up.

Just as I was putting stuff away, Dad came out to see what was going on.

I explained the situation(s), to which he all he said was : "Stay away from my tractor."

Maybe next time.

Friday, May 8, 2009

In Loving Memory

Mary Eleanor
June 5th,1961 - May 8th,2008

Thank you for the years, the laughs, and the love.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beauty And The Bitch

The Miss America bruhaha has been going on for a couple weeks now. As much as I found the whole concept of Miss America, and beauty pageants in general, to be rather goofy and lame, much of what has been happening concerning the latest goofery is anything but.

It's sad, but too often the case, that bigger societal issues arise from something that is inconsequentially meaningless.
But in this case, much of what is generally wrong with us, as a society, is on display. And in a very ugly way.

I would expect judges of any competition to be fair and impartial. And their judgement calls should not be personal. If we can't trust those who are given this duty to follow it dutifully, we don't honestly have a competition. This holds true regardless of whether the prize is the Lombardi Trophy, or some fake jewel encrusted tiara.
So, no matter what some folks may want to believe, we must assume that the judgement in Miss America was accurate and just, especially since the criteria is not readily publicized, and the judges obviously have wide latitude.
(Why they had a homo judging that which he has no real world appreciation for can be discussed on another topic, but not here.)

And keep in mind, Carrie Prejean's answer to the minefield question was not what I would call an eloquent one. If eloquence mattered, she didn't help her case.

But, in the follow up coverage of the whole dopey debacle, Miss Prejean seems to be coming under heavy fire from those who are in the minority on the issue through personal attacks aimed at smearing her character. Not for anything she has done or said in harm to anybody else, but for a principled and traditional moral stand in which she believes.

What is not such a big deal, but should be, and seems to be lost in the murmur, is the personal attack first dealt soon following the pageant, by the homo, angrily calling the contestant a "dumb bitch", and admitting that he had marked her down on the substance of her answer (which is his prerogative.)

"Dumb bitch", dare I say, might be just a little out of line, and wholly unprofessional when given the responsibility to judge fairly and impartially?
But this point has not been brought up, and the homo gets a free pass while his media supporters set out to further destroy the contestant who has already lost the contest.

We hear a lot about 'hatemongers' and silencing 'hate speech' from the progressive minded media morons who, for the most part, try to dictate what the rest of us should think and feel, while reserving the right of name calling for themselves.
But if the majority, on any issue, allows itself to bullied into acquiescence then the barbarians will eventually take over, if they haven't already.

This isn't about gay marriage. This is about holding to higher standards those who are given certain privilege over our collective media culture.
I believe in 'keeping it real' just as much as the next person, but 'real' doesn't have to mean 'profane' in those situations when decorum should be the expected rule of the day.
And it's not wrong to expect those who earn their living with words to be able to find more creative and polite ways to use them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Favre To Vikings?

I just heard that Brett Favre may be in talks with the Minnesota Vikings.
He's like the Energizer Bunny, I guess, and wants to just keep going and going.
More power to him.

This is the second consecutive year I've been hearing the commentators speak of the Vikings as a Super Bowl contender in need of a quarterback. Maybe it's true. Maybe not.
They got a tough D line, and a gifted Running Back.
Add Favre wearing purple, and I'd say they have as good a chance as any.
That is, if Favre has another good year left in him, in what may turn out to be a tough division.

The Bears are looking good, and I expected to see noticeable improvement this year with Kyle Orton at QB. Well, to my shock, Orton, the QB with a Bear's heart is out after a trade that brought in Jay Cutler. I haven't seen much of Cutler outside of his stats, and haven't drunk the Cutler Kool-Aid that it seems so many Chi-towners have downed with gusto, but I remain hopeful and positive.
Just show me the W's, and I,too will believe.

The Packers didn't do too well last year after making a great run with Favre the year before. Aaron Rodgers seems highly capable, but time will show what he can this year without the shadow of Favre looming over him.

The Lions will still suck.
With this one exception, the NFC North may turn out to be a very exciting division this year.
And tickets to Packer-Vikings match ups will be a hot commodity as I think everybody will want to see the Favre-Rodgers duel.

The Wedding Of The Century

The second highest authority in the House Of Shreds has declared that I am to take every opportunity to be there.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Face Of Early Europeans?

It was created be Richard Neave,one of Britain's leading forsensic scientists, using fossilised fragments of skull and jawbone found in a cave seven years ago.


The article goes on to state that the bones were discovered in Romania somewhere.

Can't fool me.
I know a Sicilian when I see one.
Might even be one of Tully's kin.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Greetings From Henry County

Well, this weekend finds me in the great state Georgia, visiting Dad for the week.
Pulled off a cool shock for him.

He was still stuck with images of me laying around, handicapped, freshly stitched and drooling on my myself.
To convince him otherwise, that I really was doing fine, with nothing to lose sleep over, I decided it was best I just let him see for himself.

He didn't know I was coming until he arrived at the airport to pick up a 'friend' of the Step-Mother, who travels a lot, and finds herself here at often times throughout the year.

The look on his face when I walked up to the car: Priceless.

Gonna miss the regular trips to awesome restaurants pig-out spots we have here, but I'm O.K. with it.
I'll just concentrate on what images Dad caught with his trail camera, and get a good spot staked out for this fall.

Apparently, the years long draught is over, and the greenery is greener and lusher than I've seen in maybe ten years.