There’s a fashion, there’s a fad, some is good, some is bad


It’s probably been over a year since I’ve done Google Keywords of the Weak Week.  Arguably one of the reasons would be I’ve not been logging on and checking my numbers.  They’re down from the hey day of the Alliance Title debacle and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Title Adventure.    But we can still have fun with keywords.

PBE is the #1 google ranking for the search “patty hauptman santa barbara”.  Woof.  Strangely we are also #1 for the term “swordfish porn”.  Which I’m I little surprised that it comes up at all, although I am secretly proud of that one.  We’re #3 for “mood changing bunny ears”, which is interesting because I don’t believe in bad moods.  I think you choose your mood.  Choose better.    “Flying mosquitoes” is huge.   And then there’s “boylove” which is the name of an image of Beauregard.  You sick bastards that keep googling that should have your junk rot off.

Norman is a big ol’ slice of awesome pie.  Although those towels he’s laying on?  They were originally put down because he took his big 105lb nose and did the nose flip to my elbow.  Unfortunately I had a cup of coffee in my hand and he knocked it out of my hand and all over the papers on my desk, which included four months of receipts.  Dear IRS, I’m sorry I can’t back up my Schedules with actual documentation.  My dog spilled coffee on everything.  So I laid everything out on towels and dried it out.

Ike might be on his end game.  He’s had a couple of incidents where he’s snarled and snapped at me recently.  They seem to be escalating.  I think he’s in pain.  I took him to Dr. Rettig and she said his eyes were different than when she first met him.  I agree.  There’s something going on.  He’s also lost some weight.  The plan is to watch him for now, and hope I don’t get bit.  I think I’m going to have a blood test taken looking for cancer.  And then just make him comfortable as long as I can.  I did tell him that if he snapped at me again, that was his end game.  Choose wisely.

Finally, a little something that bothered me more than I thought it would.  On the AIDS/Lifecycle they provide massages to the cyclist.  You get one on the ride.  They mark your bracelet.  It’s only like a 20 minute massage but honestly, it’s 20 minutes of heaven.  I originally went down on Day 4.  My line of thinking was that it was half way.  About a gazillion other riders thought the same thing and I didn’t get in that day.  Day 4 was torture dungeon day at the massage tent.  Out front was the dungeon master.  He was a hulking man, shaved head, beard, built like a brick shithouse.  He was sweet and kind and explained that they were booked for the day, he was really sorry, could I come back earlier tomorrow.  Not a problem big hulking dungeon master dude.  The next day was Red Dress Day.  Upon my return the hulking dungeon master was rocking a red frock.  Frock is the proper word for what he had on.  It was of a certain style, craft and air of dignity that earns that term.  Red, full length, worsted wool probably.  Same shaved head and beard.  He explained the process for getting signed up that day.  I followed it to a T.  Before we went into the tent, at the changing of the guard as it were, he had us all bunch together and applaud the massage therapists who had been working non-stop, 2.5 patients per hour for five hours so far.  He was sweet and kind and had Doc Martens on under his red frock.

Friday he died.  He had a clavicle injury and had surgery on it.  It didn’t heal properly.  He was going in for his second surgery and had a reaction to the anti-anxiety medication.  He never went back into surgery.  The nurses found him unconscious.  Four days later his family let him go.  A really good guy is gone.  And that makes me sad.

Want to hit the interstate in a Cadillac

Once upon a time in a land far far away…

It’s our anniversary!  Three years ago the Amateur Manager attempted to silence the Wine Dog and Dearly Departed Escrow Officer.  It didn’t work then and it’s not working now.  We both sought legal counsel.  We were both told that due to the economy the Bloodless Empire would just blame our demise on the economy and get away with it.  On one hand they did, on the other hand they’re still paying for it.  I have been forced to use them on one escrow in the last three years.  I have never, nor will I ever, write them in to a contract.   I am starting to sell more homes, my hard work is starting to pay off.  If I can keep it going I will become a force in this market and I will never write First American Title into a contract.  But more importantly, I tell anyone who writes their name into contracts on my listings why I’d like them to pick anyone but the Bloodless Empire.  You just can’t buy a lack of goodwill like that.

It’s been a very rough three years.  It would have broken someone else.  But we are tough women, that’s why we got the ax back then.  The Dearly Departed Escrow Officer has had just as rough of a time as I have.  She called yesterday out of the clear blue sky.  I gleefully wished her a happy anniversary.  Is it today?  Today or tomorrow, I can’t remember off hand.  (It’s today)  We get together every so often.  She works in Lafayette now.   We’ve been through the best wine lists in Lafayette.  Cuz that’s how we roll.

While the fat lady sang on my title career, my real estate business is getting a foot hold.  It has to, I don’t have a choice.  I mean, I suppose I do, I could live in a refrigerator box under the 680, with four Dobermans.

So for old time’s sake, let’s pull out an oldie but a goodie.

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

We’re back on the subject of customer service.  Because in this country it’s a lost art.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I’ve been going to Toastmasters for the last year.  Maybe I did.  My Dad was a toastmaster.  My Aunt was a Toastmistress back before 1973 when they officially brought women into Toastmasters.

Everybody talks about, or more importantly, pays lipservice to the Nordstrom customer service dictum.  Few come close to it in practice.  One of the gals in my club is a relationship manager for Nordstom here.  She’s been with the company for 17 years having started out as a cashier.  She knows the Nordstrom principles.  On Monday she talked about how they were applied in her store.  She read a letter from a customer who had a minor fire and lost five garmets she had just purchased. Nordstrom replaced all five, way more than the woman was expecting.  That’s customer service.

Today’s whipping boy is Wells Fargo.  I have a short sale about to close.  Up until yesterday, they had been stellar.  Yesterday they lost me.  I have a cash deal on a little condo.  When we started the condo had the trifecta going for it. A construction defect lawsuit, the HOA dues had a delinquency rate over 15% and the owner occupancy rate was off, making it almost impossible to finance.  By the time I sold it, the FHA approval on the complex had also expired.  After four months on the market, I had exactly one offer.  Luckily, unlike other agents, I price my shorts sales at the median for the market for that property and then slash the price every 10-14 days.  So when the bank came back and countered the buyer on this little piece of shit condo I was able to say “Hey, I tried that price and it didn’t sell, here’s a copy of the MLS history.”  I had my approval in two hours.  Then the games began.

My homeowner hadn’t paid her dues even though I told her to.  That resulted in us having to go to a collections company to get the demand for the HOA dues.  We had a 10 day escrow.  I called the collection company only to be told that I couldn’t talk to anyone that they had 10 days to get us the demand and that was that.  I could pay an extra $75 to get my deal expedited but otherwise it would just work through the system.  I called and badgered and did my social engineering thing and was still unable to crack them.  “I’m sorry you feel that way, but it’s our policy….”  Quit saying you’re sorry.  You aren’t your just reading a freaking script you’re a trained monkey.

Finally at 4:45 last Friday night they send the demand.  In defense of this escrow officer who I did not pick, she turned the HUD around in 15 minutes.  I tracked down my seller over the weekend and we had the HUD back over to the bank by 8:30 Monday morning.  Except my closer is on vacation.  Her email informs me that her email is being monitored, but gives me no hope as to who might be able to help me.  I call the 800 number on the bottom of her email and am told that they have 24-48 hours to approve the final HUD.  OK, I’ll be patient.  Until around 3pm when I call again.  Has anybody checked it?  Oh we have it but we have 24-48 hours to review it.  Is there anyone I can talk to?  Let me try your closer.  My closer is on vacation.  Nothing.

First thing Tuesday morning I’m on the phone.  Same shit.  Different day.  Then around 1pm I come up with a new tack.  If they approve this right now, it will record Wednesday morning and the bank will be paid off on Wednesday via wire.  If not, it won’t be approved until Wednesday and won’t be recorded until Thursday.  They can actually gain a day’s interest by reacting a little faster.  This guy gets it, but is unable to find anyone to answer a phone call.  He forwards my request to a manager.  3pm nothing from the bank yet, I call back again.  You have to know that these are call centers and under no circumstances are they allowed to actually solve a problem.  And that’s a pathetic failure of customer service.

I call back again at 3pm.  This is the money call.  This trained monkey tells me that they have 24-48 business hours to respond.  BUSINESS HOURS? I bellow.  What the hell is that?  She repeats that they have 24-48 business hours to respond.  I can’t believe this stupid shit just said that twice.  And I tell her so.  There is no such goddamn thing as business hours you ignorant barely trained monkey.  “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  NO YOU AREN”T.  You are reading a goddamned script and you could give a damn how I feel.  Then she proceeds to tell me that HUD has to approve my HUD.  Are you freaking kidding me?  HUD doesn’t approve HUDs.  It’s a freaking government form.  Wells Fargo, the morons that hired your stupid ass away from the porn call center where you used to work approves the HUD.  Escalate this call.  I can’t.  You can’t or you won’t?  I can’t.  Do you have a freaking manager?  No.  What?  No.  So you come to work whenever you feel like it and leave whenever you feel like it and they pay you whatever you want because there is no manager in place?  No.  Then let me talk to the person who makes those decisions for you.  One moment please, is there anything else I can do to help you today?  You haven’t done a goddamn thing to help me today so don’t pretend like you have any use in this situation, you don’t.  I’m sorry you feel that way.  Holy shit.

The sixth call to the same number failed to yield anything of use.  In another 75 minutes it will be 48 hours, not 48 business hours since I sent the final HUD to Wells Fargo, we’ll see what happens next.


‘Cause when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door

Life is never boring here at the Farm.

About a month ago, before the Ride, I had a mouse.  He was in the pantry and wreaking havoc.  He chewed the bottom off of several bags of flour, not funny.  Crapped on everything and generally made a mess.  I set traps.  Numerous traps.  I never caught him.  Auntie stayed here with the Hellhoundz while I was riding and the fact that the mouse wasn’t caught prior to her arrival weighed heavy on me as I left that morning.  I told her I thought he was gone, it was the truth.  He hadn’t gotten into anything in several days including me peanut butter laden traps.  I was right.  He was gone.

I don’t know if he got stuck and couldn’t get out or became a conductor for that 220 line running down there.  He was done.  That is the back of the pantry.  About two years ago I had air conditioning installed here.  The electrical box is in the pantry.  The guys didn’t fix the holes they cut in the walls and I just haven’t gotten to them.  I put on some gloves but only got half of the mouse.  He was either crispy crittered or petrified.  If it’s the former, I need to have an electrician fix the bite marks in the 220.  And half of the mouse is still in that hole.  Maybe he was too fat from eating my flour and rice to get through the hole.  Who knows?

I threatened my last remaining apricot tree.  It bore no fruit last year.  One tree fell, another was riddled with termites and this one has been fighting for it’s life.  I told it that if it didn’t bear fruit this year it was firewood.  It is currently full of fruit.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  Those apricots are not green, it’s the kitchen light that did that.  It could be a very good year for apricots.  In other news I made a little discovery that I’ll be using in the very near future.

The interesting thing about Bubba is that he doesn’t hold a grudge.  He doesn’t seem to care who he mixed it up with.  He’s fine with Norman again.  Ike on the other hand thought it was a good idea to mix it up with Norman on Saturday too.  Ike’s ear is cut.  Norman is fine.  Ike has this not great thing that he’s developed that involves snarling and occasionally snapping at me.  I was trying to put Norman in his crate and Ike stood in the kitchen snarling and wouldn’t let us through.  I tried to move him to the side and he snapped at me.  I’ve done things to curtail this but he’s had a couple of episodes, this is the only one involving another dog.  I’m taking him in next week for some acupuncture.  My theory is that he’s in pain and grouchy.  If this doesn’t settle it down I’m afraid I’m going to have to let Ike go.  I can’t be afraid of one of my own dogs.  It may be that the pain has gotten too much for him and it’s time to let him go anyway.  I’ll find out next week, but last Saturday was a little unnerving.

This real estate thing is interesting.  If you work hard, you get deals.  The deals might give you a lot of adjida, but I’d rather have adjida and make money than just have adjida.  July could be very decent to me, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Which gets us to my next subject.  What have we done in this country where it has become acceptable to do a shitty job?  I’ve got a 10 day escrow, I got bank approval on July 5.  The escrow company didn’t ask for the demand from the HOA until July 7.  The HOA’s are in default too and sent out to collections.  The freaking deadbeat collection company refuses to send a demand any faster than 10 days because that’s how many days they have under law.  Escrow should be closing on July 15, could be closing today, but may be delayed until July 22 just because of the collections company.  And I called them and they refused to do any better without an additional $75.  My father used to mock these sort of paper pushing asshats.  I can see him acting that out in my head when I have to deal with incompetence like this.  All I have to say about them is what a bunch of parasites!

I’ve got another deal where I called the HOA three times yesterday and never got a return phone call.  All I want to know is what’s covered by the HOA’s insurance and what kind of policy does my buyer need to purchase.  It ain’t rocket science.  No one bothered to return my phone call.  I return all phone calls within a maximum of 8 hours.  During business hours a maximum of 2 hours.  It’s my personal standard.  Most calls are returned with about 15 minutes, some before a voicemail is left.  The goal is concierge service.  There are people in this business that have yet to return a phone call to me.  There is one big REO guy who I had an entire escrow with and never talked to the arrogant sonofabitch.  His “assistant/mistress” didn’t return phone calls either.  Just for the record, dude, I know your license is restricted.  I don’t remember what you did but eventually I will.  There’s a good chance that information will appear here.  You really need to treat your colleagues with more respect.

And finally, why do dogs fart and then look at their asses as if to say “What’s that noise?”

All I’ve got, I had to steal

The wine industry has no idea what they’re in for.  I know.  I’ve been preaching the gospel to deaf ears.  I will find no solace in a “I told you so”.  Wine will be changed forever and not in a good way.

Wine Enthusiast just awarded Bill Foley Man of the Year.  My personal disappointment in this decision runs so deep it’s palpable. OK the fact that Wine Enthusiast thought that calling him “humble as he is an established leader” makes me want to vomit.

Foley is raiding the wine industry just like he raided Carl’s Jr. way back when and the title industry in the mid 80’s.  Consider this, in the mid 80’s the real estate industry was in the crapper and Foley bought Western Title, the benchmark for title insurance in California at the time.  Then he continued his raiding ways and built Fidelity National Title.  How many thousands of qualified title and escrow professionals are out of work because of his management style?  How many thousands were laid off, stripped of their benefits and then brought back at a third of the salary with no benefits to their old job?  You are all out there.  I know that.  How many times do I have to tell the same goddamn story to the wine industry?  By the time y’all hear me it will be too late.  It makes me sad for California wine.

Three days later Fidelity National Financial announced their earnings.

2010 was a successful year for FNF on a number of fronts. The Title business experienced strong refinance volumes due to the low mortgage interest rate environment, and we continue to closely manage our expense levels, producing our strongest title earnings and pretax margin in a number of years. The fourth quarter was particularly strong, with a 13.8% pretax margin. The strength of our 2010 earnings allowed us to set our annual 2011 common stock dividend at $0.48 or $0.12 per share per quarter based upon a 2011 dividend payout ratio of 30% of 2010 earnings. We remain the largest and most profitable title company in the country and despite a potentially more challenging environment, we are focused on producing strong title insurance earnings in 2011. ~Bill Foley

I bet it doesn’t feel that way for the poor schmucks that are grinding out a living working for that guy.  Not counting the 300 people who are going to lose their jobs, probably right about now.  We all remember that Foley’s compensation went up 171% in 2009.  Wonder what his increase was last year.

Dear Wine Industry, WAKE THE HELL UP!

We’re good and we’re evil, which one will I be today?

We all know I spent a few years in the title industry.  Around 31 years to be exact, over a 33 year period of time.  I was out briefly in the early 80’s when the market crashed.  During that time I worked as a baker for Mrs. Fields.  That Mrs. Fields.  While the company originally taught me how to make cookies, I had the privilidge of the real Debbie Fields showing me how to make her cookies one day, years ago in Los Angeles.  I was out of the business in 2000 to a couple of weeks after 9/11.  The real 9/11.  I was commission only and just starting out when they flew the planes into the WTC.  When you’re commission only and they close the stock market, that’s not a great business plan.  Of course whenever I work for someone I learn way more than they want me to.  I’m always watching how things are done, how they get from Point A to Point B and then digesting all the information.

Like the day back in 2006 that they told me they could have the prelims created for $16 a day in India.  I knew what that meant to real title officers.  Like watching as title companies started being run like insurance companies.  The transformation from risk adversion to risk assumption.  The evolution of “quick” pres.  And all things that I hope, quite honestly end up bringing down one of the big firms.  It is not the product that the customer believes they are buying.  Plain and simple.  Their behavior is reprehensible.

But that’s not the point of today’s post.  Today’s post is about the deal from hell.  A simple purchase for a first time buyer.  A great gal who did not deserve to go through what the largest bank in the country put her through or what Old Repulsive put her through.

I love working with first time buyers.  As long as they listen to me and not their boneheaded friends I do great.  Sometimes I get tired of batting down their idiot friends.  This gal was awesome.   A big ol’ slice of awesome pie.  She’s young but not that young, she worked very hard and she was ready to buy a house.  She was well qualified in every way.  The prototype first time homebuyer.

I found her this amazing old house in Oakland that was an investor flip.  It has, amongst other things, an amazing deck out front from which you can sit at night and enjoy the view of San Francisco.  We made a nice offer and the seller accepted it.  We received back contracts signed by an LLC with a non-descript name inferring that it was for flipping properties.  As the selling agent, it is not my responsibility to check this entity or the signatures.  While I have those skills, it is not my place.

About a week later the preliminary reports came out in the name of a different LLC.  I noticed it and went to the page where the LLC information was called out.  Nothing untoward.  I clicked through to the LLC-1 (something not one other Realtor on the planet would have done) and didn’t see the signatory of my contract, but once again it was a non-descript name inferring that is was for investing.  It had the word “fund” in the title.  My assumption was that it was the equity investor in the project somehow.  I did not follow up.  Speaking of not following up, or more likely not doing their job at all, the Escrow Officer noticed that the contract was improperly executed and called the listing agent, her little buddy, and told him.  At no point did either of these knuckleheads tell me, the person who originated the contract.

After much crying and gnashing of teeth, the largest lending institution in the country is finally ready to release the documents on this transaction.  We are only 10 days late.  Two more days and a per diem is going to kick in.  We need one last signature from the Underwriting Department which is really the Underwater Department because they’re so far behind they could work straight through this holiday and still be five days behind.  This person notices a request for a Power of Attorney that has not been met and reiterates the request.  All along the bank has been asking the Escrow Officer for a Power of Attorney to connect the dots between the entity who executed the contracts and the entity who is the real seller.  Not once did this stupid bitch put it all together and say “Hey wait a minute, didn’t you guys redo the contract?”  The largest lending institution in the country slams on the brakes on everything and kicks my deal into the Fraud Department.  I guess because they didn’t have a Too Stupid to Live department.  When I finally hear about the issue, it’s from the bank.  I call and tear up the Escrow Assistant because naturally the EO is on vacation.  I race home and draw up a new contract and email it to my gal.   She signs within minutes and it ends up back at the seller.  Then I do what any good Realtor would do, I head to Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants.  I end up talking to their seller in the parking lot and they punch the documents back to me and I punch them over to the bank.  We were 10 days late and now we’re in the Fraud Department.  My Loan Officer has never been there before and has no idea what this all means.  My mortgage has now gone late and that’s what it means to me.

I write the Escrow Officer, her assistant, the branch manager and the Escrow Operations manager because I’m so pissed off.  They knew five days into this deal that the contract was improperly executed.  In fact it had been signed by the listing broker.  They failed to tell me.  The jackass Branch Manager responds and tells me that I SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT IT TOO!  I’m sitting there thinking what the hell is the matter with you?  I should have caught something on the seller’s side because I used to be a Title Officer?  Would you blame any other selling agent for this?  Seriously.  WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU PEOPLE!  I write back and say “You’re not really going to sit there and blame the selling agent for a mistake on the listing side are you?”  And goddammit apologize.  She never did.  I did get a snotty message from the Escrow Officer which pissed me off even more, but as it turns out at least she didn’t yell at me like she did at my Loan Officer.  While I’m not a fan of largest lending institution in the country, they saved her ignorant ass and she should be kissing their ass morning noon and night.  Suffice it to say that a company that I spent 15 years working for let me down in a big and mighty way.  And then blamed me for their screw up.  Their customer service was non-existent and that dumb bitch will never touch another deal that I am involved with.  I don’t care if there is a binder (which is why it was there in the first place) we will go to another branch and do the reissue there.

My buyer, you know, the greatest gal you’d ever want to be your buyer was supposed to move in that weekend and now the wheels of progress have come to a standstill.  A little added extra is the home she’s living in was sold to her boyfriend BY ME, a year ago.  Three days after documents were due the foundation work was scheduled to begin.  He’d spent months with the City of Berkeley getting all his permits in order, he was late starting the project and couldn’t really wait any longer due to weather.  As it turns out it was too late anyway.  The work starts and we labor away in the Fraud Department.  They quietly go through three days of a house without water as the Fraud Department sits around with their thumbs up their collective asses.  I call daily but nothing new.

Nineteen, yes, nineteen days later my deal finally emerges from the Fraud Department.  I shit you not.  Nineteen freaking days.  And then it goes back to the Underwriting Department.  My LO informs me that it’s a 72 hour turn around and she’s put an expedite on it.  I tell my gal hopefully by the weekend.  Then we go to docs and it’s over with.  Not so fast buckaroo.  The largest lending institution in the country doesn’t count so hot.  72 hours turned into 9 days.  I shit you not.  On the 9th day my gal loses her shit.  Completely.  I can’t even blame her so I let her.  Something I didn’t mention was that this gal is a pretty high powered individual.  Her mother was kind of a vagabound who relied on her next husband for providing for them.  They moved to whatever town the next man lived in.  Her mother never owned a house and never really did more than hold a job.  She was determined to make her life different.  You know how driven someone like that can be.  She can create testicular hamburger with a look.  And now she’d lost her shit on this deal.  Thankfully her choice was to get roaring drunk and tear up Berkeley.  After about an hour she lost interest in tearing up my cell phone.  The last coherent message I got from her was “I am going to micromanage this thing the rest of the way”.  Joy.

I chose to be proactive.  If I grind everyone’s eyeballs to powder before she gets to me I can report that whatever she wants me to do is already done.  I start in on the Loan Officer first thing in the morning.  I know none of this is her fault but it’s my belief that she’s been too nice and no one is taking her seriously.  I lay it out.  She gets a little bent out of shape but mostly because I know she likes me and doesn’t like getting squeezed by someone she really likes.  I reiterate that I think she’s great but her back office is the shits.  And continue to push.  She actually chooses a root canal over dealing with me any more that day.  Except she gets to the chair and is so upset she can’t sit there and has to return for more grinding from me.  Then low and behold, documents.  I push some more and presto!  A signer appears and she executes the documents.  I push a little more and we closed on the day we needed to.  We got confirmation as the moving truck was leaving her place in the City.  That’s a lot closer than I like to cut it, but I had no choice on this one.  I met them at the house as they arrived with the moving truck.  She was walking 10 feet above the ground.  “I can’t believe they let me have this house, I’ve never lived in a house before.”  Yeah babe, you earned this one.

I know tomorrow brings the consequence

Here’s a title problem for all you title dogs out there.  Or a City government problem.  It’s definitely a problem.  Interestingly enough it involves the largest most crooked builder in town.  Yep, the Seeno family.  You may remember the saga of the fence?  The storm blew down the fence and I asked them to split the cost.  They said “no”.  They didn’t bother to call me back, they made me call and call until they decided to give me an answer.  Then I asked them to get me the materials at cost and they ignored me again.  In the end, my insurance company bought the materials and my cousin and his wife built the fence with me.  But I did not forget.

PIQ. Oh it felt good to type that.

View Larger Map

(you can click on the map and blow it up)

Less than 8 days ago the neighbors, at least those of us within 300 foot radius of the Seeno property received a notice that the Seeno family had requested a variance on that property.  They intended to bulldoze the ONE residence and remaining out building and horse corrals and build three two story luxury custom blah blah blah homes.  We are a neighborhood.  We mobilized.  Every single homeowner who abuts that property showed up to a 9am hearing.  That should have been a clue to the Zoning Administrator, G. Ryan Lenhardt that there was a problem.  Nope.  He rubber stamped Seeno’s project.  This clown sat there a nodded approvingly while some little Seeno wanker stood there and said it was fine to drive three garbage trucks every Friday morning down this little lane to service Seeno’s three new homes.  Three garbage trucks, every Friday morning rumbling within 8 feet of the front windows of the other homes which sit on the lane.  People have lived on this private lane since the 50’s.  It was not designed for three lots in the back.  Seeno and Lenhardt call it “in fill”.  I call it an overburdening of an easement.  I wonder what governmental doublespeak term they would use if it were their homes losing a chunk of the front yard?  It’s my neighborhood.  We are a country setting, that’s why I call this place The Farm.  Legally I can have two livestock here today.  I wouldn’t but I could.  Although right now I’m wondering what the most obnoxious form of livestock is.  That might be my response.  No one will buy a monster home with a chicken coop RIGHT NEXT DOOR.  Yeah, chickens, that might be the solution.  I could use fresh eggs.

At the end of the day Lenhardt railroaded the rest of the neighborhood.  It was a total lovefest between him and Jackie Seeno.  As a student of body language I can promise you that the agreement was already in place and he was very proud to give Jackie Seeno what she wanted.  She has manipulated the Planning Department for her financial gain, but that family is already rich enough.  How manipulative is this bitch?  She brought her Grandmother’s cookies to the homeowner’s one the lane when they presented their original plan, which naturally looks nothing like what’s happening now.  Bait and switch. Cruella d’Ville.  She is a bad, evil person and Ryan Lenhardt is a shill.

The Seeno’s home is the big parcel a little to the right of the marker. Do click on that to see the magnitude of that home.

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Seeno has a history of criminal behavior.  Just last February the FBI raided their offices.  Or how about threatening an elected official?  It’s really too bad that Concord can’t behave like Benicia.  Lenhardt didn’t bat an eye when I brought up Seeno’s environmental record.  Oh, did I mention that the Mt. Diablo Creek runs through this property?  It runs through my property too.  I am downstream from this property.  It’s common knowledge that the old man got his start by muscling the City Council to get what he wanted.  It looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

And I begged them brothers, sisters, help me please

I had the pleasure of sitting down for drinks with a couple of old title dogs yesterday.  There was over 100 years of experience sitting at the table last night.  Only one was still in the business.  We all agree that Bill Foley is Satan.  I wonder when the wine industry figures that out.  They’re paying big money to the winemakers right now and buying up wineries.  We’ve seen this before.  We all nodded knowingly.  Support truly family owned wineries.  If you need some names I can give you hundreds of names of small family run operations that make great juice.  I’ve even got cheap recommendations.  This article just about says it all.  Fidelity taking advantage of a down market.  Fidelity taking advantage of weakness.  Fidelity exploiting.  That’s what they do.  Employees are still working for pennies on the dollar but Bill Foley took 171% increase in compensation last year.  Nice work if you can get it.  We had a quote last night about Fidelity and exploitation from a press release, but I’ll be damned if I can remember it this morning.

Dinty Moore seems to be getting into the game too.  They have always used these sorts of markets to position themselves.  And then they do nothing with it.  This practice always been a source of amusement to me.  Now if they could manage the rogue staff that would really be something.

This is just raw video, I didn’t edit out things like the beer bottle on the deck.  (I always go to one thing this crowd will pick out first)  Here’s Ike.  Yeah, he squatted in the video too, which is how unstable his legs are, he can’t lift his leg.  And yeah, his nads are intact.  He ain’t jumpin’ no fences chasin’ no skirt any time soon.  So they’ll stay.  He’s all boy, but he can’t do a thing about it.  He wants to play with Bubba and Rita pretty badly, but it’s all he can do to not fall over when they’re wrestling.  He was in such rough shape when I got him that I thought I might have to send him to The Bridge on the way home.  But he rallied.  He wouldn’t eat his dinner last night but I left his bowl down overnight and he ate it.  I left him in the family room with a big fluffy dog bed and two crates to potentially sleep in and he chose the slate.  Well played Ike.  He’s got one ulcerated sore on his elbow that I’m going to treat somehow.  I’m not sure how, but it’s pretty ugly and open.  And leaving yuck on my flooring.  And probably a good way for that dog to get an infection so I need a plan.

And finally, dolphyngirl likes to poke the sleeping bear.  That’s ok.  PETA is still a bunch of assholes.

Look around everywhere you turn is heartache

Today’s just a quicky.  Yes, I’ve been busy.  Yes, I know you’ve all figured out that the lack of posts equals busy Wine Dog.  Just hope that my busyness translates to business.

In from OTG, the Evil Empire walked in and decimated their claims department in Irvine.

No notice, just swooped in and canned all the attorneys, claims officers and assistants.  I guess they are transferring all the files to Florida and Omaha.

Are you sure they aren’t processing those claims in Bangalore?  Wine industry, are you listening to me?  Thought not.

And file this one under “That’s going to leave a mark”.  A little more from Source of Title.  And a really good article written when the story broke in 2006.  I know I’ve talked about this case before but I have too much to do today to find the old references.  I’m sure it’s back in the archives filed under “That’s going to leave a mark”.  Looks like it did.  “Chicago employees knew that what they were doing was wrong.”  Like that’s never happened before.  These clowns just got caught.  Good luck getting work to Michael Godwin, Craig Gainor and Zuzzette Nieto.  I’m thinking it might be time to look for a new line of work.  Sonofabun just ran into an old loan officer.  He’s still an officer.  A security officer.  At the local emergency room.  Ouch.

Lots of ad wonks wish their videos would go viral.  This is how you do it.

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My diaper is full.  Wine Dog out.

Some people came and listened, some of them came and played

It has been a long week.  I’m not sure why I took a divorce listing.  I guess I thought they could act right for the period of the listing.  Not so much.  Coupled with two and a half days out of town and the house being torn up so that the carpets could be cleaned while I was gone and you can put a fork in this dog.

We went down to Monterey for a seminar.  At the end of the day I believe it’s a system I need to make my business work better. I was even more interested once I found out that a local top producer who I really respect was there and used the system.  I’m not necessarily sure why I would want to give a rich man more money, but  conversely, what I’m doing is only marginally working.  And I really am not doing a great job with the nuts and bolts of running my personal business.

They went into great length about how most real estate agents are average, most people for that matter.  I’d say there’s a lot around here that are less than average, marginal on a good day.  I’m good at what I do, I’m just not great at the part where I do the books, plan the day, that sort of stuff.  I think my clients get exemplary service from a smart negotiator with a good eye for real estate.  My office looks like a crime scene.  That makes it harder for me to be good.  And I typically have no idea what’s in the bank and what bills are due, I don’t know my marketing budget and I’m not getting out on my bike like I want to because of the lack of organization.  What’s worse, I don’t really know how it should be.  So I chose to go with some business coaching to get this thing turned around.  And like I said, one of the area’s top producers was there, a member of the choir.  And it’s not like I don’t see her CLS550 parked out in front of my gym every morning.

I know I am not average in general.  But I am doing an average job of some things right now.  Even my income which took a beating for about six months, was way above average for a Realtor.  I am not an average weightlifter, I am one of the better powerlifters in the country.  In my age/weight class I am the best.  I played for the All Blues when they went to the Nationals.  We didn’t win it all but I played on the second best rugby club in the country.  Not average.  As a Title Officer I never got to put “Underwriter” on my business card, but I underwrote with higher caps than most people will in their entire career.  I did billion dollar transactions, with a phone call.  Not average.  I sent two people to jail earlier in my career for fraud.  One was stealing from private lenders the other was stealing from old ladies.  Both incidents ended up on the 5 o’clock news.  Not average.  As a notary I stopped a major loss.  I was asked to go to the jail to sign off the seller.  I got there and it was a lady probably 50 years old sitting out there in Santa Rita.  I asked the question.  “What’s she in jail for?”  As it turned out, she was in jail for stealing the house she was trying to sell.  No one recorded anything to alert anyone.  Not your average notary.  And I defy you to find someone has blown up a decent title career better than I did. I get asked all the time if I’m a dog trainer.  I’m not.  I have never been trained, but I train my dogs.  Better than average.  Not quite ring quality, but far superior to everyone else.  You should see us walking down the street.  Both dogs are at heel, shoulder to shoulder not pulling and even these two goofballs will sit in unison.  (Xica and Beauregard were precision)

I don’t want an average or even a better than average real estate career.  I would figure it out eventually on my own, but in this economy I don’t have room or time for missteps.  I blow it and we’re living in a refrigerator box under the 680.  I’m going with a new system, I am the converted, and I hope it works.

While we were in Monterey, we spent most of our free time drinking wine.  Except the times we drank beer or in Sonofabun’s case, vodka.  We stopped by a little store called Wine from the Heart.  They did little tastings.  It was kind of wierd in that they poured wine out of the bottles, in to little tiny one ounce bottles or two ounce whatever it was and then served those to the customers.  Those had little bitty lids on them and it all seemed like a lot of labor for not much return to me.  When we arrived there were two ladies at the bar.  Two hammered real estate agents from Cupertino.  The young man behind the counter pulled down a Foley and suggested we try that.  Well, you can only imagine how that went.  I got to preach the gospel to these ladies.  Neither of them used Fidelity, they hated how Fidelity treated their staff.  Hallelujah!  One of gal’s Mom worked for Fidelity.  Preach it Sister Winedog!  Don’t like his business practices in the title industry?  Do your Mom a favor and don’t drink his plonk.  Can I get an amen?  She says “the company is making money but the employees haven’t gotten any of their paycuts back”.  Testify!  It was a good night.

To that end, Fidelity posted a first quarter profit amidst a bunch of leveraging, restructuring of debt and, oh yeah, lay offs and crushing pay cuts for everyone but the executive team.  There is your feel good story of the day.  They did some squirrelly restructuring thing with the tranches, but that stuff has always made my brain bleed.  Suffice it to say it gave them some wiggle room and reduction in debt service.  Naturally with all that executive decision making those boys are exhausted, so giving Foley himself a 170% raise while all of his staff sits there with up to 40% in salary reductions makes sense.  That’s right 170% pay raise for Foley himself.  For the love of God, listen to me, don’t drink his plonk.

Clifford Bay
Firestone Vineyard
Foley Estates
Lincourt Vineyards
Three Rivers Winery
Wattle Creek