Just like that river twists across a dusty land

I have to say, I hate reading that PBE readers are in trouble.  I hate it when y’all fall on tough times, take pay cuts, lose your jobs, or worse of all lose your houses.  It just drives home the importance of not remaining silent. And a bunch of you have been having a really rough time and I will continue to rant and shit disturb on your behalf.  That being said, First American Title Insurance Company (NYSE: FAF) just sent out the $26.1 million dollars under the terms of the settlement for illegally unpaid overtime for Title Officers.  I do wonder if the Amateur (now demoted) Manager got a check because once upon a time he was supposedly a Title Officer although I never saw any evidence that he knew a damn thing about structuring a deal.  For the record, of the 28 deals I’ve written this year, one large insurer has never been penciled into one of my contracts.  Wanna guess which one?  Even the Burgermeister has seen ink, but not the Bloodless Empire.

But I’d rather talk about wine today.  I think I’ve mentioned it but if not, the Wine Dog is going to the Pinot Summit this Sunday to drink learn about Pinot.  I’ll be tweeting from the event and blogging about it later.  There are break out sessions and I’m particularly fired up about  the break out session entitled “Let’s talk about dirt”.  For some reason, later in life I have taken an interest in farming.  I blame Miro.  Still, I believe the best wine starts in the field and this will be a discussion of regions.

The other thing that’s happening this weekend is the Cinderella.  I sure hope I’m ready to go.  I have to tinker with the bike over the next couple of days to be sure it’s in top running shape.  65 miles through the tri-valley area.  Pray for no wind.  Thanks.  It’s essentially the first big training ride for the LiveStrong.  I’m so used to riding alone that I have to learn to ride in packs before July.  This ride is women only which hopefully will make for slower crashes that I can avoid.  Hopefully.

I cracked a Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz 2004 the other night.  ($16.99 at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants, less for club members) I drank way too much of it because it was so damned good.  It had a lot of vanilla and caramel for a Shiraz and light fruit.  It had a nice long finish wasn’t too tight and really was a joy to drink.  Then I realized what would be reallly reallly good with it.  So I got some sweet potatoes and roasted them in a touch of olive oil while I grilled a pork chop.  I made a rub that consisted of salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic, brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon.  I rubbed the chop down with it and grilled it, but then I took a teaspoon of it and hand mashed the sweet potatoes.  Perfect.

And finally, a little fun from my pal the WannabeWino, Sonadora.

I had to get a steam shovel just to dig my darlin’ out.

It’s the economy stupid

That little phrase was the brainchild of one of my favorite guys, James Carville. Those four defining words put an end to the first Bush Administration. They also best describe the mess he left, miniscule in comparison to the mess his idiot son left. Sometimes headlines are better than the stories, and this headline came across my desk a couple of days ago:

Wells chairman says public stress-test of banks is ‘asinine’

Now there’s a guy that knows about asinine. It could be argued, they wrote the book. After this week, it would be a tough sale. Tough, because the award for most asinine thing I’ve seen in public occurred over at AIG. Saturday Night Live got in trouble with their skit on Herb Sandler. NBC makes it very hard to find a copy of that little gem, but essentially, for those who didn’t see it or haven’t heard about it, SNL did a skit about World Savings (which really needs a PBE nickname, I’ll have to work on that) and underneath the actors playing Herb and Marion Sandler the caption read “People who should be shot”. I will not miss SNL this week, because I can think of 73 people in business who should be shot right now. Interestingly enough, they all work at AIG. The Bush Administration gave AIG $170 million in TARP money and they paid out $160 million in bonuses. They say those bonuses were contractual obligations. I say bullshit. How many PBE readers had contracts with Alliance Title Company? How many had contracts with Financial Title Company? And how many of you saw a penny of it? So I say bullshit. I say pull all 73 of them AND their board AND their attorneys who advised them that this was ok down to Wall Street this morning. Line their asses in front of the bull for all to see, because they should be shot. Their behavior is treasonist.

the-bull

They know they took money out of my pocket and your pocket and they gave it away in million dollar chunks. They are criminals and handle them appropriately. Has any body heard a single story about one of these shit stains saying “No, this is wrong, I can’t accept this bonus”? Nope. Not a one. String’em up and hang’em high. I’ve had it.

These jackholes walked away with million dollar bonuses, eleven of them were retention bonuses paid to people who don’t even work there any more. They are sitting comfortably while I’m robbing Peter to pay Paul. My internet connection is currently paid for, but my electric is dicey right now. My mortgage and the only credit card that’s still extending me credit are paid current, everything else is well into default. Two days ago I planted 50 seeds in hopes of growing a lot of my own food because I really can’t afford to buy much any more. I’ve canceled probably 3/4 of the services I used to have here and I’m hanging on to the few that are left because I don’t want to completely give up. The Feds are having their way with my checking account taking the taxes from 2007 I couldn’t afford to pay.  So this wanton waste of taxpayer money infuriates me.

I watched the Bernard Bernanke interview on 60 minutes last Sunday expecting to see a lackadaisical government wonk with a thin understanding of this mess. I found an amazingly thoughtful, intelligent man who fully understood what was happening. I remember what I said the other day about never hoping that Bush failed but rather that he dumbed into the right decision.  He did with Bernanke.  I found it interesting the underlying anger in his voice when he spoke of having to save AIG. Monday morning the top of his head must have blown completely off. As far as I’m concerned that’s it for AIG. I have a little tool that I just love this time of year. It’s called a “wood grenade”. You drive it into the heart of a log with a maul and it splits the logs perfectly.

40058

They need to drive one of these into AIG and be done with it. Or maybe just drive one into the hearts of each of the 73 AIG executives that took a million dollars worth of our money.

Which gets me to the actual point of today’s rant. All of us title folks are hurting. If you’re lucky enough to still have a job, you’re probably making around 50-65% of what you were three years ago. You’ve made a lot of the adjustments I have. Some of you have had to make much more severe adjustments and I know several who have lost their homes. I can think of several right now. One of our gentle readers who was fighting to save the family home took matters into his own hands and wrote a letter to the CEO of his bank. In his situation, there is a first and second on the house. They also have an unsecured note to the same bank. They skip the unsecured note because saving the house is paramount. The bank takes the money out of their son’s account because once upon a time his wife co-signed on the account. After much crying and gnashing of teeth, the bank gives the son back his money. He continues to struggle, goes through every credit counseling bullshit psuedo problem solver out there and finally has to miss a payment on the second. Praise Jesus! They’re now listening. Holy crap I can’t believe how these institutions are so good at pointing the pistol at and hitting their foot every time. As they work their way through the labyrinth of bullshit departments at this bank it becomes apparent that no one is paying attention. So being a good title guy, he finds the home address of not the CEO but the CEO’s son and sends a letter to him asking him to get it to his father and please help. Now, sons are fair game in this story because the same bank took the father’s obligation out of the son’s account. Oh! NO THEY AREN’T! Not when they’re the privileged class of the Financiers in this country. Security was called, police were called and they were paying attention. The man just wanted to save his house. I’m not going to print a copy of the letter, I have it. Our colleague has had enough bullshit in his life, but I will say, it is a business letter with no threats in it. It explains his situation and pleads for understanding and help. And the bank called the cops. This morning I hope I financial system does collapse. I hope our banks do collapse. I hope our government is fractured and I’d like to see California secede from the union and start all over because what we’re doing isn’t working.  In exchange for allowing us  to secede from the union, the Feds can keep Darrell Issa.

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

Here’s a little word problem for y’all.  Actually, it’s a word problem for those folks who have written title insurance in the Great State of Virginia.

We have a fence that existed and is on the survey from the time we purchased our home. We purchased on April 30, 2007.   The fence is 6 feet high.

We received a letter from the County that we are in violation of county ordinance because we “erected or permitted to be erected” a fence in a front yard over 4 feet tall.  The fence is actually in our backyard, but our lot is designated a “through lot” because it abuts two public roads.  Therefore we legally have no backyard and are only permitted a fence that is 4 feet high.  We did not erect the fence, it was put up by the previous owner of the home.  The County will charge us $375 to appeal the ruling + $2645 for the variance if we win (potentially, the appeal will cost $2455 as they passed an amendment on March 12th to increase the appeal filing fee, will have to research to see if I get to pay the old fee because my letter states the old fee.)  I have 30 days to either appeal, chop 2 feet off the fence, or tear it down completely.

Would I have any recourse against my title company or title insurance policy for the cost of this since they did not uncover the violation prior to closing?

I know there would be coverage under the California Homeowner’s policy, since it was a violation prior to the issuance of title insurance.  I don’t know about Virginia.  I know we have plenty of gentle readers from Virginia, the State for Lovers.  How ’bout it?  Anyone?  Bueller?

You have to sign in to comment on the forums at pinkbunnyears.com but if you’d just like to answer the question, ping me, the Wine Dog via email to winedog at astound dot net.

So much for the golden future, I can’t even start

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Here it is, gentle readers, in all it’s glory. SB 133. The giant turd in the punch bowl of business. Here’s the part that’s causing the big bugaboo:

 (c) The following activities, whether performed directly or
indirectly, are deemed per se inducements for the placement or
referral of title insurance business by any person and are unlawful:
   (1) Paying or offering to pay, furnishing or offering to furnish,
or providing or offering to provide assistance with the business
expenses of any person, including, but not limited to, rent, employee
salaries, furniture, copiers, facsimile machines, automobiles,
telephone services or equipment, or computers.
   (2) Providing or offering to provide any form of consideration
intended for the benefit of any person, including cash, below market
rate loans, automobile charges, or merchandise or merchandise
credits.
   (3) Placing or offering to place on behalf of any person,
compensating balances.
   (4) Advancing or paying or offering to advance or pay money on
behalf of any person into an escrow to facilitate the closing
thereof, other than any sum which represents the proceeds of a loan
made in the ordinary course of business; or an advance not to exceed
2 percent of the sales price of the real property being sold or
exchanged through the escrow or the amount of any loan secured by
real property involved in the escrow, whichever is greater; or the
extension of credit or an advance for the costs, fees and expenses of
the escrow or of the title insurance issued or to be issued in
connection therewith.
   (5) Disbursing or offering to disburse on behalf of any person
escrow funds held by a title insurer, underwritten title company or
controlled escrow company before the conditions of the escrow
applicable to that disbursement have been met, or in a manner which
does not conform to Section 12413.1, including disbursing or offering
to disburse before the expiration of the appropriate period
established in Section 12413.1.
   (6) Furnishing or offering to furnish all or any part of the time
or productive effort of any employee of the title insurer,
underwritten title company, or controlled escrow company to any
person for any service unrelated to the title business.
   (7) Advertising or paying for the advertising in any newspaper,
newsletter, magazine, or publication that is produced by, or on
behalf of, a person, or that results in a direct, or indirect,
subsidy to a person.
   (8) Expenditures for food, beverages, and entertainment for a
person.

Not that hard eh? Well, like anything this one’s being taken to the extreme. In America, a lot of business is not conducted in offices. When I was at Morgan Stanley I worked with a tough old broker. She was money in the bank. Her previous work experience was at McCall’s magazine. She was an avid golfer. I was ready to learn golf so I spent a lot of time talking to her about the game. She learned to golf because the guys were getting the big accounts and business was being closed at the 19th hole. She was tired of letting those deals slip through her hands. She also did a lot of stockbrokering on the golf course. Business is not necessarily conducted in this country in stodgy meetings and conference calls. The real dollars still move through personal relationships. That’s a fundamental precept of how business works in this country. We meet over lunch to discuss XYZ. We have a cup of coffee. That’s how business relationships are built.

Unfortunately, the title business has always been a rough and wooley one. Title companies have never met a rule they didn’t know how to break. We know about the kickbacks. The skimming. The furnishing of offices, purchasing of computers, providing support staff, office equipment, remodeling. The illegal graphic design departments, paying for leads, the skyboxes, the Madonna tickets, the sports tickets. The list goes on and on and on. That stuff was all wrong. Well, maybe not the sports tickets, but the rest of it was all wrong. (Like the golf course, I think business goes on at sporting events. Chevron has tons of tickets to the local sports teams. Nobody’s up their ass about it) The design services and the production of marketing materials for agents.

Somewhere in between good and right got lost in this dark aspect of the business. On one hand I believe that it’s just fine to take a client to lunch. It’s wrong for the client to expect the rep to pay for it. I’ve heard plenty of realtors and mortgage people say “I can buy my own damned lunch, I need service”. I agree. (Well, right now I can’t buy my own lunch, but usually I can.) After putting together a deal or two, I’d like to go hang out with my rep, or my EO for that matter. Most business celebrates a close with a drink at the local watering hole. Right now our title reps are scared to be seen in public with us. That’s horseshit. That’s what happens when regulation runs amok. And some people don’t have enough to do. If we could just find a happy medium with things but we never do. I asked a rep to meet me at Peet’s the other day to discuss business and she wouldn’t do it. We met at her office. They can’t even offer me a cup of coffee while I’m at their office. I’m glad I didn’t have to go potty while I was there. God only knows what they couldn’t provide me in those regards. Worse yet, some of them are living in mortal fear of being turned in by their competition because a certain faction out there apparently would prefer to turn people in than conduct their own business. More horseshit.

We got here because a bunch of title reps and title companies and realtors and loan officers didn’t follow the original rules and didn’t apply ethics to their business. Those people will never apply ethics to their business. They are the bottom feeders who preyed on consumers. Those people are out of the business and the business is better for it. Let’s apply some common sense to these new regulations, starting at the DOI and move forward and start to do some business together.

And the alcoholic bastard waved his finger at me

Those of you who have been coming here for a while know how much OTG loves to poke the Wine Dog. And truthfully, I love it when he does it because while it usually enrages me, it also makes me think. Here’s a little food for thought:

BILL NUMBER: AB 957 INTRODUCED
BILL TEXT

INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Galgiani

FEBRUARY 26, 2009

An act to add Article 1.8 (commencing with Section 1103.20) to
Chapter 2 of Title 4 of Part 4 of Division 2 of the Civil Code,
relating to real property.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 957, as introduced, Galgiani. Residential real estate
transfers: title insurance: escrow companies.
Existing law generally regulates the transfer of real property,
and imposes specified obligations on a seller of real property.
Existing law authorizes a mortgagee or beneficiary under a deed of
trust to sell property securing the mortgage or deed of trust at a
foreclosure sale under certain circumstances. Existing federal law
prohibits a seller of property that will be purchased with the
assistance of a federally related mortgage loan from requiring the
buyer to purchase insurance from any particular company.
This bill would enact the Buyer’s Choice Act, which would prohibit
a mortgagee, beneficiary under a deed of trust, or other person who
acquired title to residential real property at a foreclosure sale
from, as a condition of selling that real property to a buyer,
requiring the buyer to purchase title insurance or use escrow
services in connection with the sale from a company chosen by the
seller. The act would also prohibit such a seller from, without good
cause, disapproving the use of a title or escrow company chosen by a
buyer. A seller who violates these provisions would be liable to the
buyer for a specified civil penalty.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Article 1.8 (commencing with Section 1103.20) is added
to Chapter 2 of Title 4 of Part 4 of Division 2 of the Civil Code, to
read:

Article 1.8. Buyer’s Choice Act

1103.20. This article shall be known, and may be cited, as the
Buyer’s Choice Act.
1103.21. (a) A seller shall not, directly or indirectly, as a
condition of selling residential real property to a buyer, require
the buyer to purchase title insurance or use escrow services in
connection with the sale of that property from a company chosen by
the seller.
(b) A seller shall not, without good cause, disapprove the use of
a title or escrow company chosen by a buyer.
(c) A seller who violates subdivision (a) or (b) shall be liable
to the buyer for a civil penalty in an amount equal to 6 percent of
the sales price of the property.
(d) For purposes of this section, “seller” means a mortgagee,
beneficiary under a deed of trust, or other person who acquired title
to residential real property at a foreclosure sale.

Uh, isn’t this covered already by the Feds? Gosh, don’t they call this a RESPA violation? Isn’t this the same banks that have devastated our economy breaking more rules? Isn’t it time we said enough is enough? We give props to Cathleen Galgiani for seeing a webfooted, quacking water fowl and calling it what it is, but really how about enforcing what’s already on the books? (and doesn’t Assemblywoman Galgiani look like she should be representing the land of big hair Dallas?)

For the sake of reiteration, here is the CAR legal update on the subject as quoted in PBE last January 11, 2009:

No seller can require that the buyer purchase title insurance from any particular title insurance company. This rule pertains to transactions involving a federally-related mortgage loan for one-to-four residential units as defined under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) (12 U.S.C. section 2608). Although this is a well-established rule under RESPA, it bears repeating given the recent upsurge in REO transactions.

REO transactions are not exempt from RESPA requirements. If an REO lender chooses the title insurance company, as is often the case, it cannot require directly or indirectly, as a condition to selling the property, that the buyer purchase the title insurance policy. An REO lender that violates this RESPA requirement can be, among other things, held liable to the buyer in the amount equal to three times all charges made for such title insurance. Moreover, anyone who believes that RESPA has been violated may file a complaint (and may request confidentiality) to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more information about filing a RESPA complaint, go to http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/res/respamor.cfm#HE2.

And in case you missed it, there was a comment that day from the brilliant Roger Thieren:

just want to clear up one thing. You quote a CAR Legal Update as saying: “No seller can require that the buyer purchase title insurance from any particular title insurance company.”
True. But in counties where the seller traditionally pays for the buyer’s title policy, that provision is inapplicable. If the seller pays for the buyer’s title policy, then the seller is not requiring that the buyer purchase title insurance from anyone. (By the way, I don’t have an ax to grind. I just want to be accurate.)
Roger

I didn’t miss it. In my book he’s one of the Gods of the Industry. So in the spirit of accuracy, here’s the direct quote from the RESPA website:

Section 9: Seller required title insurance
Section 9 of RESPA prohibits a seller from requiring the home buyer to use a particular title insurance company, either directly or indirectly, as a condition of sale. Buyers may sue a seller who violates this provision for an amount equal to three times all charges made for the title insurance.

Assemblywoman Gaigiani, I appreciate your efforts but really, we just need to enforce what’s on the books and spend the money that would be spent writing a new law on enforcing the old one. Kind of like that SEC Bernie Madoff thing.

Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here

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I watch about 20 minutes worth of local news in the morning. I can’t believe the content right now. All gloom and doom. For the love of God you guys there has to be some thing nice to report out there. Surely someone survived something or someone achieved something amazing. I wonder if these guys watch themselves and think “Goddamn I don’t have anything nice to say.” Add to that the half assed way it’s presented and no wonder nobody in this country really understands what’s going on. Well, PBE readers do, but that’s because y’all are a cut above.

The State of California has a budget, as of about 20 minutes ago. Huevos=Abel Maldonado. Yeah, he had a wish list, yeah, he got a lot of it but at least he was willing to negotiate. Dear California Republican Party, the Govenator…he’s yours. If he wants a budget, come to the party. Really. Don’t leave this crap up to the Democrats so you can sit there like a bunch of big freakin’ babies and say “I didn’t do this.” Negotiate. That’s what we, the constituents expect from government. Really does anyone beyond the talking heads expect those who think differently to toatally roll over? I don’t, but I do expect some cooperation and this bullshit that passes for government in the state of California is exhausting.

Speaking of what passes as news. In North Carolina the Evil Empire came in to pick over the corpse of what’s left of their newly acquired LandAmerica unit and canned 13 people. Out here in California that would be about a third of what they did in Martinez. That doesn’t count the over a hundred other operations in California they decimated. Don’t get me wrong 13 jobs hurts but that ain’t big news here. I wonder who’s handling all those shit REO deals LandAm was burying their good EO’s with? Did Chicago inherit that crap? Are they now destroying good escrow desks to keep that one shit account happy? Alfred E. Neuman wrote a nice article for the Richmond Dispatch about the collapse of LandAmerica and Circuit City. Richmond is in trouble. It’s not that big of a City. For those of you who haven’t been there it’s an old Southern city. Lots of old brick buildings. The downtown is alternatively gleaming new buildings and alternatively quaint or dilapidated old buildings from the middle of two centuries ago. Like every other Southern city, cigarette smoke hangs in the air. When I was there, smoking was still allowed in buildings and restaurants. That may have changed since then. The point being, this old town is going to take a beating from the collapse of these two large corporations. Too bad, I liked Richmond. I wish I could remember where I went to eat there. I know I had a hard time finding parking down in the district where all the restaurants are, I orbited for a long time. I remember driving by the Morton’s about 35 times but that wasn’t where I was heading. I was there for a powerlifting meet. I believe I still hold a State record there. The meet director was an awesome lady. The following year I heard that she vapor locked. She was my age. That one always sticks with me. That and Dr. Lynne in Hawaii. She was younger than me.

Anywho, it’s funny that the first thing I always think about with Southern cities is the cigarette smoke. It’s the first thing I think about when I think about New Orleans. We’re heading into Mardi Gras now and I can’t imagine how nasty the air is down there. It’s thick with humidity in the first place and then add the cigarette smoke on top of that and for someone who has never smoked a day in their life, it’s rough.

My favorite story involving cigarette smoke involves my father. My Dad, in his younger days, was a guy that just didn’t slow down, no matter what. The family joke was that he went about things like he was killing snakes. He would drive from the Bay Area to Prescott, AZ in one swoop. Ten hours. Ten hours of hell for a child. And it was the sixties so he smoked in the car, because back then they didn’t know any better. It always made me sick. I also get motion sickness. I still get motion sickness, although I’ve found that puking in the water off the coast of Molokai is a great way to bring in the tropical fish. Scuba fail. Anyway I’m probably 8 years old and my Dad must have drawn the short straw and was driving a bunch of Bluebirds to some event somewhere. I was in the backseat. I leaned over the front seat and said “Daddy, I don’t feel good.” Mr. Driverightthough said “Sit down”. (children weren’t required to be seatbelted back then) Again I leaned over and said “Daddy, I don’t feel good.” Again Mr. Don’t Stop for Anything said “Sit down”. Well the third time didn’t go so well and Mr. Keep on Going had to pull over and take off his shirt. I remember him driving the rest of the way in his t-shirt. Not a big fan of cigarette smoke. Southern cities give me that uneasy feeling that I used to get around that much cigarette smoke. Actually writing this is making my stomach woozy. Or the ginormous spider I just noticed in the corner of my office. Generally, I’m upset to my stomach from the minute I land until the minute I’m on a plane back home. When I was in Jackson I went to a BBQ place there, the Roadhouse. The other thing that makes it hard is when you’re traveling alone, which I do a lot it’s easier to eat at the bar. That way you can have conversations with other people, you can watch the television in the bar, the bartender will talk to you now and again or you can just read a newspaper. Finding the corner of the bar where no one is smoking in the South is an art. But my Dad doesn’t smoke or drive anymore so I have to be careful who I puke on.

To the Lord let praises be, it’s time for dinner now let’s go eat

I’ve been grinding lettuce and hacking up chicken and turkey parts and cooking rice and I think I have Bubba’s regimen in order.  He’s getting around 3/4 pound of meat per day.  He’s getting a total of 1.6 pounds of food.  He’s getting a whole egg, shell included, a couple of scoops of ground lettuce, a baked potato (I decided to bake rather than boil them, much less mess), and brown rice.  I add about 3/4 cup of yogurt and a Pepcid AC is going into the mix.  And he’s been better.  Strangely if you don’t count the labor, it’s cheaper per pound than the dog food I’ve been feeding him.  He’s been pretty funny too.  He’s been dancing more, massaging his side less and playing with me, which he never did before.  Rita is a very serious dog and has never played with me.  She plays with other dogs.  And she plays hard.  Bubba didn’t play with me either until this week.  He’s been dancing and play bowing and trying to entice me into games.  It works.  I play his stupid dog games with him.  Anyone who ever saw me with Beau knew the silly games we played.  The Alligator Game, All Star Wresting and Dancing with the Doberman Stars were my favorites.  Bubba doesn’t know the Alligator Game but he does a great job of Dancing with the Doberman Stars.  He likes Hide Yer Mama too.  Beau and Xica liked Hide Yer Mama.  Rita could pretty much give a damn.  And his coat is shining, and maybe even coming back in places.  He’s been off dog food since Tuesday.  I know exactly which ingredients are going into his little body right now.  And he’s too little right now as well.  He’s between 72 and 74 and I think he should weigh 78-80.  He’s bigger than Beau was and Beau weighed 75-76 pounds year after year until he got cancer.    But at the end of the day, the dog’s happier and that’s the thermometer I’m going to use for this project.

In other news

First American Title Company Title Officers  who are part of the class action suit for unpaid overtime, the appeal period on this suit ends on Wednesday.  A little bird told me that First American is readying the checks for distribution.  If there are no appeals, which there shouldn’t be, away they go.  That would be very welcome in the Wine Dog household as we’re not too sure where March’s mortgage is coming from.  We’ve been working hard though and pen will get to paper at least twice today.  Hopefully one more time on Wednesday and maybe once more for good measure.  I would hope with three or four at bats that I could get some wood on the ball and get something into play.

Dream about the days to come

Must be the season of the witch

ORTC announced yesterday.  And then they ducked.  The shoes thrown from the audience went sailing over their heads.  Ouch.  That’s a lot of scratch.  Still A to Z has the balls to hang on to his core staff and we salute him for that.  Can’t wait for the rest of the announcements.  FNF on Wednesday February 4th and FAF on February 26th.  Dinty Moore steps up to the plate on February 19th.  And NASCAR Teddy?  I guess he’s down at the Gobment office trying to get his COBRA straightened out.

The Rules of Law School

First rule of law school: Don’t sue anybody that doesn’t have any money.  These guys must have missed that day.  Speaking of missing days at Law School, The Constitution.   It’s really not the long of a document.  A lot of stuff is just spelled out in it simply.  Like this:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

It’s one sentence.  Roberts could have fit it on the back of a business card or written it on his palm or clipped it to whatever the hell he was holding.  Am I not surprised a Bush appointee couldn’t get the Constitution right?  Are any of us?  And finally, the Second Rule of Law School:  If you can’t tell who the asshole in class is after the first 15 minutes, it’s probably you.  This actually applies to any structured learning situation.  Real Estate classes in particular.

PSA

I’m actually heading out on a vacation next week.  I have no idea where I’m going to be, how I’m getting there or what’s going to happen when I get there.  I’m not much of a control freak, but I do like to have a skeletal structure in place.  I don’t have this going on for this trip and it’s a little nerve wracking.  And I haven’t been out of the country since 1979.  Granted they didn’t like us much then either, and I don’t think it matters that much in Mazatlan, it’s just that I think about that sort of thing.  And Sully isn’t flying my plane.  And I’m concerned about getting some parasite or bacteria or weird bug.  And I should probably just calm down and take my golf clubs with me, but I don’t want to lug them.  Jury’s still out on that one.  I did have a dog psychic talk to the Hellhoundz and let them know that even though they’re going to a kennel not to worry, I will be back in six nights.  Yeah, I’m a little tweaked about this trip.  She said Bubba already knew about the trip but that Rita was concerned about being cold at night.  I’ll be sure she has a warm bed.

1-22-bubba Mom, you’re an idiot.  Love, Bubba.

Pushing thru the market square, so many mothers sighing

In an interesting twist, today, the day we as a country celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth, is also the last full day of the Bush Presidency and the eve of the inauguration of our first interracial President. Because he’s only half African. He’s 100% screwed. He’s taking over this country in the worst shape it’s been since the Great Depression. Even the Post War recession can’t hold a candle to this mess. We’re mired in two endless wars. The jobless rate is kissing double digits. We’ve seen huge businesses fail. Not counting Mercury Companies and LandAmerica, there’s World Savings, Wachovia (same reason really) Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers, Downy Savings, Circuit City, Mervyns, Mother’s Cookies and that’s just the one’s that jump out of my head this morning. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I saw Warren Buffet interviewed yesterday about Obama. Strangely, it made me feel better about the whole thing. Buffet essentially said that he was impressed with how smart Obama was and the fact that he understood economics. Now there’s something refreshing. Buffett’s best quote of the night was “Since 1776, you don’t want to bet against America”. Or something very close to that. I can’t find the transcript this morning. I think he gets that we have to bring American jobs home and come to a middle ground on credit. A warehouseman and his housekeeper wife should not be living in a $600k house. (I did a sign off like that) Yet, you shouldn’t need a 780 to buy a house when you have 20% down. Those of us who are already in homes should be able to do a no cash out refi to drop our interest rate regardless of whether or not the place appraises for the original loan amount. They’re already on the hook, do the refi to preserve the asset. Hello!?! And if they bring American jobs home, Americans are making money again and putting it into the economy. Pretty soon we’re back on track. Then if we quit pissing away millions of dollars every day in the Middle East and go cut off the head of Al Qaeda (which we should have done eight years ago) we’ll get this country back on track. We are enacting some think tank Neocon plan from the 80’s right now and half of this country still doesn’t understand that.

But I was going to talk about race in America this morning. I have a very good friend who through all his faults, and there are many, was one of the fairest guys out there. If he were treating people badly, he’d treat everyone equally poorly. And if he were treating everyone well, everyone was equally treated well. He went out to an area back in the 1980’s that was famous for it’s covert racism. One of the first things he did was to hire an African American gal as his assistant. Oh my God they were up in arms over that move. She walked in to the interview with the skills, she presented well and that’s what he wanted. He had hired the one who would work best for the position for years and he wasn’t going to stop then. I always liked that he was so nonchalant about it. I wasn’t working with him at the time and he called me to vent about the other people who were working for him and their bullshit. I remember saying “They’ll get over it”. They did. I remember years ago another Escrow Officer who was an immense talent. They moved her out to here to build their operation. She had a horrible time out there because of the racism of the realtors and loan agents. She moved back to Alameda County. It’s gotten better since then, but it’s still not right. If we call it when we see it, we’ll get there.  I was talking to a friend of mine about racism a couple of months ago. She grew up in a pretty homogenized area. A black family moved in and there was a daughter in her class. She came home and told her father about it, who responded “She bleeds red just like you do.” I love that. We all bleed red.

In Virginia last week a little girl went missing. Unlike Caylee Anthony, it wasn’t all over the news. This little girl was developmentally disabled and if ever there was a story that should have been all over the news it was this one. Just like Caylee Anthony, Alexis Glover was found dead. Just like Caylee Anthony, the mother has been charged. You heard this story, right? Yeah, I know the answer. Why didn’t this child receive the same amount of press? Yeah, I know the answer.

So on the eve of the inauguration of the first President actually elected in the last eight years I feel like we’re standing at the edge of an abyss. We can catch our balance and go on our way or we can lose our balance and tumble in. I say we catch our balance. The Great Uniter didn’t do his job at all. It’s time we all did our job, together and bring this country back from the abyss.

So while Dr. King’s life was cut short and he didn’t get to see an African American sworn into office, he laid the foundation for this. It’s fitting that today we celebrate his birth as a nation and tomorrow we swear in the 44th President of the United States.

Legacy tour

He kept us safe for seven years. They’ve been all over every single news outlet repeating that bullshit. They forget he was in office for eight. If someone repeats that ignorant mantra to me one more time I believe my head shall to blow completely off my shoulders. So, because Olbermann’s my guy…

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Branded, scorned as the one who ran

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Good afternoon everyone,
We would like to begin by wishing you all of you and your Families a Happy and prosperous New Year.
Well it has been a very unique year for us here at southland title. We know that most of you are aware of some of the changes that have occurred and that are continuing to occur. We would like at this time to ensure that all of you are properly informed and up to date with the status of our company.

On December 22, 2008 Fidelity National Financial, Inc purchased (NYSE:FNF) announced the closing of the acquisition of Land America Financial Group, Inc.. This ended what was a tumultuous time for the Land America Brands including Southland Title. While Land America never intended to close regional operations, terms of the original agreement with FNF were made public and consequently many bank’s confidence in Land America’s Title Companies eroded. We are happy to say that with the purchased of Land Am by FNF these problems no longer exist. We are now underwritten and insured by FNF and that will continue.

After the acquisition we have also learned that the Land America Companies in our region will now be called Lawyers Title. While this branding change occurs we wanted to make sure that you all knew that we will continue the same service experience from the same team here and in Riverside County that you have grown accustom to. Our number one priority has been and will continue to be to assist you all to reach your goals.

We will be available if any of you have any questions and we look forward to servicing you in 2009 and beyond.