Sometimes Google just makes me laugh

Today’s google ads were asking “Are you a victim of fraud?” My head answered, if you worked for Alliance Title Company and are reading this, the answer is yes. Patty Hauptman (go google her and see what comes up right under her executive profile…yep, PBE) is lounging in her spa that bathtub, soothing all those aches and pains from signing all those final paychecks, and Alliance Title Company employees are wondering if they’ll receive their vacation pay or commissions or not. Sorry, guys, I’m going with not. She didn’t want to pay the Escrow Officer’s lawsuit, which she was losing, or LandAm, who she lost to, or Old Republic, who she lost to, or…well, you get it…maybe she prefers bad business practices. Just remember, your paychecks were drawn on Mercury Companies accounts, not Alliance Title Company accounts. (Another Public Service Announcement from PBE… that’s how we roll).

There seems to be a gathering of ex-ATC employees on this board.  Some pretty pissed off VP’s.   This stuff is rich.  Dear Patty, I don’t hear any fat ladies singing.

Speaking of public service announcements, I’m hearing that the COBRA payments are coming in to the tune of $2500…$800.  Are you kidding me?  I didn’t do COBRA when I got canned.  If you have a working spouse, this is considered a life event and does not require open enrollment.  You can be added to your spouses insurance now.  If you’re single or head of household, I would highly suggest going to some of the health insurance websites and getting insurance through them.  If you are in good shape and don’t smoke, Tonnik is a good plan.  If you’ve ever had a health issue in your life, they DQ you, but there are numerous websites where you can shop around for rates.  I used  My monthly cost was $185.  The deductable was high, but if something catastrophic occurs, you’re covered.  I always said “it doesn’t kick in until I get run over by a bus”.

2000 Freemark Abbey Merlot revisited

It’s probably at the end of the line, you can almost taste it, but it’s got an elegance to it, that says ‘I won’t be denied’.  Gentle fruits, light tannins, really still very good with food.  Hard to describe, but I’d say if you’ve got any in the cellar, drink it up, it’s life feels like it’s just about over.

Google revisited

Google John Harritt and see what you get…yeah, me.

And another Public Service Announces, Mercury’s last announced financials.

Since Christmas is less than a week away, I think it’s only appropriate that we send our holiday wishes to Patty Hauptman and John Harritt.  Comments are now open.

There’s a place in the world for a gambler

Dan Fogelberg, rest in peace
Every now and then something crops up from my misspent youth. Dan Fogelberg’s untimely death reminds me of my adventures in Germany. We only had so much music to listen to. Off of his 1974 Souvenirs album was a great song that actually appeared in two films, “There’s a place in the world for a gambler”. A truly pretty song, on an album we listened to over and over again. Along with Billy Joel’s The Stranger and Rod Stewart’s Sailin’ off the Atlantic Crossing album. Yeah, album, not CD.

Dan Fogelberg was only 56 years old when he passed away yesterday morning. Warren Zevon also died of cancer at 56 years old. The same reason really. Like Zevon told Letterman:

ZEVON: first of all, let me say that I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years.


ZEVON: It was one of those phobias that really didn’t pay off, the only person I ever go to is Dr. Stan, you know Dr. Stan, the dentist.

Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off for Fogelberg either. An amazing talent left way too soon. Get your parts checked, gentle readers, 56 is way too young.

Financial Title confirms not welcome

I’m blocked at Financial Title Company, so our friends over at that Mercury owned subsidiary can’t enjoy my daily blathering. Come on, Patty, they’d have loved the tour of your impeccably designed homes yesterday. That’s some opulent shit. You can filter me, but you can’t stop me. Ain’t free form expression on the net grand? What I want to know is exactly how much of a pay cut was or wasn’t forced on the Alliance Title Company employees who were actually offered jobs at Financial? We’ve heard as much as 50%. I think that’s probably way too much, but come on Patty, did you take a cut in pay?

I’ve heard a from a couple of different sources that there’s some legal rumblings going on. If you lost your job last week, be sure to file with the EDD. If your contract was ignored, be sure to file with the Labor Board. If your vacation or commissions weren’t paid, be sure to give them written notice. Once you’re given them notice, they have 72 hours to pay you. Then get yourself one mean ass attorney, one who has experience fighting large companies. There are penalties for this sort of crap.  And as a service to former Alliance Title Company employees, ping the Wine Dog, I’ve got a list of attorneys who can help you.  ‘Cause that’s how we roll.

A friend of mine asked me yesterday if I knew what happened to Alliance Title Company. I answered, according to them, a lawsuit brought by Escrow Officers for overtime owed to them brought the company down. In speaking to the Attorney yesterday, he pointed out to me that anything won in that suit was something that should have been part of their operating expenses and it really was no excuse for a failure. Sorry Patty, back to the white board. According to the industry, Alliance Title Company failed due to their recruiting practices. They paid too much money in signing bonuses, salaries and commissions. And if you ask me, I think they failed due to bad management. They continued to recruit and open new branches at a pace that could not be sustained in a business climate that was ripe for shift. Then, they should have been able to forecast that the SOB was going down clear back in October. It would have been responsible to shut it down on November 1. That had to be clear on the reports in October. (Keep in mind the Wine Dog accurately forecast the “burst in the real estate bubble”…all business is cyclical) At that point the vacations could have been paid, the commissions could have been paid and some if not all of the contracts probably could have been paid. How responsible was it to let it circle the bowl for another six weeks and then stiff the employees what was owed them?

The Wine Dog is drinking…

A 2000 Freemark Abbey Merlot. The jury is still out on this one. I think I should have decanted it or let it breath a little longer. Since I like using the word, it had good mouthfeel, but was a little tannic for my taste, still it was opening up more as I went along. It might be one of those wines that’s better on the second day. I don’t know what causes that.

I get high with a little help from my friends

I’m giving John Harritt the day off.

I may have to institute a formal suggestion box. The suggestions that come in here are amazing. Last week, a gentle reader suggested that I google Patty Hauptman. Those who didn’t lose their jobs last Thursday might not know who Patty Hauptman is. She was an Escrow Officer, who married conveniently and ended up being the CEO of Mercury Companies. Patty Hauptman was on the conference call to Alliance Title Company employees where she announced that they were shutting everything down. NOT ONCE, did Patty Hauptman thank the managers for all of their hard work and sacrifice. NOTE ONCE did she apologize or even say she was sorry they were losing their jobs twelve days before Christmas. Can you say self absorbed bitch? I knew you could. But you ought to know, we don’t ever stop there at Let’s take a tour of some of Patty’s other holdings.

Here’s her home in the Montecito section of Santa Barbara, California.

Client Patty Hauptman was every bit the Design Director of the transformation of her beautiful home in Montecito. Her vision and drive to incorporate unique elements throughout the house truly shaped the collaborative design process and made it into the very special and exceptional project that it is! We are honored to work with Patty, as she strives to make her homes unique and noteworthy. A third collaborator: Dale Simon of Simon-Wheeler Design, LTD Denver Colorado (303) 573-0117 masterfully advised on furnishings, fabrics + colors. Their collaboration on Patty’s Denver Loft has also recently made it to the pages of Colorado Homes Magazine


Nice digs Tish. Here’s the loft in downtown Denver.


I love the tub. Don’t you? And while those 2500 former Alliance Title employees are waiting for their unemployment checks, we now know where Patty will be luxuriating. Chez Cruella de Ville.

Wine of the Day

2003 Caymus Zinfandel. Beautiful wine, nice mouthfeel (I just like saying that word) lots of berries, still big and bold. A little high on the alcohol, but nice finish.

Building a body for life

Today marks the beginning of week two of the odessey. Unfortunately, I woke up with my throat on fire and my head in a vise today. I’m going to work, as long as I can since it’s the end of the year, but if I don’t beat this back, I’m going to be pretty derailed on my workouts this week. Off to administer Airborne, Zinc, Advil and whatever other remedies I can find.

It’s just how we roll

As a public service, I am providing the following link for former Alliance Title Company employees.  Link-loo.  Your vacation owed and commissions are supposedly showing up in the next day or two, but I have it on good authority, that the rent checks are bouncing.  Okay, one of the landlords called my cell to discuss the matter.  So in the event that they break the law and don’t send y’all what’s owed, the link has a list of your options.  It is illegal to not pay employees, and they are in violation of the law if they don’t.  Your wages cannot be discharged in the impending bankruptcy either.  Financial Title Company employees are welcome here at too.  I suspect your next.  Show of hands…who thinks John Harritt’s pay check worked just fine?

Speaking of this week’s worst person in the world, it was pointed out to me that John Harritt claims a degree in communications.  The reason schools offer degrees in communications is so stupid pretty people can graduate too.  Communications majors are typically jocks and cheerleaders.  I wonder which one John Harritt was, or if he really got a degree at all.

Do only good, not evil

Today I have the pleasure of driving to San Jose to pick up two abandoned Doberman Pinschers.  One was left in a shelter in Santa Maria California, the other ended up in Scott’s Valley after his owner died and he laid next to the body for 5 days until help arrived.  That right there is why I love these dogs.  I’ll get them in San Jose from one of the best breeders around (who also helps rescue, which is what good breeders do) and drive them north to meet a woman who is driving six or seven hours today to get these dogs to safety.  My part is really the smallest leg of the whole process, but I am beyond proud to, one, be asked to participate, and two, be able to help these two lost souls.

Building a Body for Life

I know I’ve picked up a lot of new readers with my coverage of the Alliance Title Company debacle, and I welcome you all.  The original content of focused on my journey to lose 50 pounds prior to my 50th birthday using Body for Life.  It’s been a brutal fight, but this week started at 213 and ended at 209.  All through hard work and good diet, and a ton of cardio.  Today I’m doing some cardio and a bike ride before I go to get the dogs.  I encourage everyone out there to do something good for themselves every day.  It’s hard to keep your head straight when you don’t have a job to go to.  I was out of work for four and a half months last year.  I made it my job to get my self in better shape and worked out for two hours every day.  Walking, running, floor exercises don’t cost a penny and they’ll help you keep your head screwed on properly.  After the run you’ve all been through, you need to do something good for yourselves, you deserve it.

Hosing the California Dream


You can put these guys in the corporate ash can.   Like the ending of my favorite movie, where Matthew Broderick comes back after the credits and asks “Why are you still here?  It’s over.  Go home!”  It’s over.  I can’t tell you how furious I am with the corporate irresponsibility.  How do you do this to people twelve days before Christmas?  Then I have some other questions.  Could you have not sold the corporate jet to keep this thing afloat?  Yeah, the headline on today reads:

Aggressive recruiting dooms Alliance Title

Thursday, December 13, 2007

When Alliance Title entered the California market in 2000, it made no secrets about its plans to aggressively recruit and expand as quickly as it could.   The gun slinging recruiting style embroiled Alliance Title’s parent company, Mercury Companies, in a contentious lawsuit…

LandAmerica Commonwealth took exception to Alliance’s recruiting style and filed a huge lawsuit.  I guess Ted Chandler got the last laugh there.  People went to work today only to find that their final check had been FedExed to their house.  After picking up the checks, rumor has it, they’re bouncing.  Ouch.  Did you get to the bank in time with your check Mr. Harritt?  Thought so.

Things that really make the Wine Dog happy

Nothing makes the Wine Dog happier than good old fashioned censureship.  I guess got under somebody’s skin in Campbell.  We are officially banned from Mercury Companies servers and I couldn’t be prouder.  Even more curious is how quickly the removed Alliance Title Company from their list of Operating Companies.  Maybe they should have taken a moment to balance the books first.


I would love for the legacy of Pink Bunny Ears to be the rallying of title company employees and the Unionization of a business that has long been  short of conscience.  I’m sick of our jobs being sent off to India and the Philipines.  I’m sick of Jackie Speiers legislating against her own constituets.  I’m tire of sweaty executives, getting theirs and then sending ours to some third world country to be done for $16 a day, versus a decent wage for Americans.  It’s time.  WHO’S WITH ME?

What the Wine Dog is drinking

Nothing better than a cheapo Shiraz on a Thursday night.  Fat Bastard Shiraz to be exact.  Big on maybe it’s blackberries, definitely licorice or anise, or ass.  Tannic finish.  For a cheapo Shiraz (spoken with a heavy Aussie accent, emphasis on the AZ) it’s decent.

Damn it’s cold out

It was 26 degree when I took Beau for his walk today.  It’s been in the 30’s in the morning and that’s fine but that last 10 degrees was seriously noticeable.   So I put on gloves and thermals and a sweatshirt, played the theme to Rocky in my head and took him for his morning run.  He stopped to lift his leg on a mailbox post and I thought “Boy don’t get too close to that iron pole or you’re going to have a very bad dog day”.   Nuff said.

John Harritt: Today’s Worst Person in the World!

When I realized that he had already been Worst Person in the World this week, I wasn’t sure how nominating twice in one week would fly. Then I realized that the Worst Person in the World, comes with a nod to Keith Olbermann. And if Keith Olbermann can make Bill O Worst Person in the World four out of five days a week, I can make John Harritt Worst Person in the World, two out of three.

What can you say about a guy who closes operations twelve days before Christmas? What kind of Ass Clown puts upwards of 300 people out of work on the day they should be getting a Partridge in a Pear Tree fergodsakes? Shame on you! I feel for all of my friends who are out of work at 5pm tomorrow when they lock the doors. My advice -take anything that isn’t nailed down and sell it on craig’s list to pay your rent. (did I say that in my outside voice?) What do you say about a guy who pisses off $20 million in an up market over expanding operations and then doesn’t have a reserve when the business cycle changes? I say you’ve got no business being a CEO. I sure hope this wanker gets the same severance package he gave me. Life is fun on $1800 a month buddy.

So now, today’s feature, Help PINKBUNNYEARS.COM title John Harritt’s autobiography! Remember kids, we don’t use bad words here at OK the Wine Dog does, but everyone else gets DQ’ed, so put on your thinking caps. The Wine Dog’s nomination is:

Uber-Tool, by John Harritt

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Mouse 5 Wine Dog 1 Game Over.

I had an unfair advantage in that I could lose an unlimited amount of times and the mouse could only lose once.  With the simple addition of peanut butter, Marty the Mouse has gone to rodent heaven.  It’s kind of like this video, you can only lose once.  It was a bright spot in an otherwise exasperating day.

In spite of the aggravation, today should be a very special day.  Today, 9 years ago, Amaris’ Night Watchmen nee Beauregard came into this world, along with his brother Nero.  I think Amaris is a full blown puppy mill now,  Beau came before that and he is a beauty.  That dog is amazing in every way.  If there’s a party, he’s grabbing his beer bong and howling for more.  Chicks dig him.  Even at 9, he can run little Loki ragged.  Loki has not learned the nuances involved with the cutting the little buck off at the pass trick.  He can’t get close enough to me and that’s alright with me.  He wakes me with his cold wet nose and barks for me to play with him.  If I stay up too late, he comes and gets me.  He is the greatest.  Party on Big Man, YOU ROCK!


And just because I can’t resist…Hey John Harritt!  How many millions of dollars did you lose trying to break into Southern California?  Are you going to put that number on your resume?

Today’s weigh in 211.  That’s a good start.

Servin’ it up fresh

Today’s worst person in the World…John Harritt!

Here’s a little quickie, c/o our good friends in the media:

Alliance Title Another Casualty of Housing Market

Written by George Warren, Reporter

Alliance Title Closing Offices, Dana Howard’s Report, 12/10/07


E-mail Story Print Story


Sources told News10 Alliance Title Company of California is shutting down operations in the Sacramento area effective immediately.

At one time, Alliance was the number one title company in Sacramento. There are four Alliance offices in Sacramento County and six listed in Placer County.

It’s unclear what other Alliance offices in the state, if any, are also affected.

One longtime employee said they were told there’s not enough work to continue supporting office operations.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” she said.

A receptionist at the company’s headquarters in Campbell said no one was available to offer additional information.

“They’re all out in the field right now,” she said.

Copyright 2007


. All Rights Reserved.

Yeah, George, they’re outstanding in their field.  I like the “I’ve never seen it this bad quote.  Then you haven’t been in the business that long.  It was that bad in the early 90’s.  I don’t like the revel in someone else’s misfortune and I truly feel for those who have lost their jobs, I lost my job at Alliance Title over a year ago.  It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the market.  It has to do with bad management and bad management starts at the top at Alliance Title.  Remember this jewel?  Yeah, John Harritt ran that sonofabitch into the ground.  Other companies would have saved some money and made some cuts to save their staff.  Not this monkey scribe.  Up until very recently he was STILL trying to steal employees from other companies if for NO OTHER REASON than to steal the teams book of business and then can them.  I really hope they put this guy out to pasture, like Morgan Stanley put Phil Purcell out to pasture.  They both deserve it.

The Mouse 5 Wine Dog 0 

This morning I actually heard him in the kitchen when I was checking my email.  The vicious attack dog was napping in my bed and a racket was ensuing in the kitchen.  I crept out there, as much as anyone that weighs 213 can creep, and heard him in the family room, but never located him.  So I loaded a broken one of his favorite crackers on the mouse trap.  While I was at work, he stole the cracker and did not trip the trap.  The cracker is now attached to the trap with peanut butter.  No mouse can resist.

BFL update

Today went well, I’ve eaten properly, with the exception of a home made Russian tea cake.  I cannot be blamed for that.  Today starts a 24 week death march.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

The Wine Dog is drinking

Trivento 2005 Syrah.  It’s  Argentinian.  At first I didn’t like it, but it grew on me.  It started a little acidic, but after it was open for a while, the black fruit came through and it went real well with whole wheat pasta, with sausages, tomatoes and sweet peppers.  As a matter of fact, I’m getting another glass.

Mouse 4 Wine Dog 0

OK, the Wine Dog is getting a little fed up with the mouse.  Last night he licked the residue from the spoon I left in the spoon caddy.  He’s done that before.  He got into the drawer that has my Grandmother’s rolling pin and chewed on the sleeve.  This sleeve had been seasoned with somewhere between 60 and 80 years of baking and this little bastard wrecked it.  I was considering humane traps until I saw that.  Now he dies.  He’s also been back on my desk in the office in the back of the house.  This guy has some mouse balls on him.  Since I know he likes coffee, (please insert the Maxwell House commercial voice here) I took some of this morning’s coffee, with cream just how he likes it and drizzled it on the trigger of one of the mouse traps.  We’ll see what the morning brings us.

My nephew

Loki and Mrs. Claus


I know, that’s not the real Mrs. Claus, but it was a fund raiser, so why the hell not?

Today my Brother was supposed to take the Old Woman to Broadway Plaza to go Christmas shopping.  She’s such a weirdo.  It was more important to run around to four different grocery stores to save 10 cents on soup, that by the time they were ready to actually Christmas shop, Broadway Plaza was a mess.  The Old Man came and hung out with me and Beau and Loki.  He cut up most of the cardboard that needed to be recycled.  The neighbors should be happier with me come trash day.


Loki spent the morning in the back of the truck while I worked in the garage and the Old Man cut up boxes.  He was a very good boy, Loki not the Old Man.  He, Loki, got a pink, uh, I don’t know what the hell that is, but it squeaks and it doesn’t live at my house, so I’m good.  It had a pink ribbon on it so it’s for a good cause.

Next week’s food

This is a terrible time of year, but truth be told, there isn’t much I just have to have.  So I’m bucking up, I may post some pictures.  I’m doing a 24 week challenge with a goal of having the 50 off by May 24.


Oatmeal and ff cottage cheese


Beef or turkey jerky and ff yogurt


Orzo and chicken breast (recipe follows)


Apple and string cheese


Fish, brown rice and salad


Low fat ricotta and berries

Orzo and chicken breast

  • 20 oz of chicken breast
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup orzo
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 T white wine (I used a Riesling)
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 5 t Parmesan

Boil and water and cook the Orzo for 9 minutes.  Cut the chicken breast into 3/4 inch squares and sauteed it in a little bit of the olive oil.  Then I removed it from the heat and deglazed the pan with the white wine and let it cook down a little.  I added the lemon juice and remaining olive oil and cooked down a little.  Then I pour that over the chicken pieces and added the orzo and Parmesan and tossed.

Makes 5 BFL servings.

The Biggest Lifter

I finally got to lift today.  There are probably five or six federations that lifters can lift in.  The AAU, the USPL (United States Powerlifting Association), the APA (American Powerlifting Association) USPF (US Powerlifting Federation and the WABDL  (World Association of Bench and Deadlifters.  And a few I probably forgot.  For the most part, these are the federations I lift with.  Today was a USPF meet.  The American record was pretty low, so when I pounded a 90kg lift (198lbs) today, I crushed the record.  Unfortunately, the second lift went down and about 3 inches into the press my shoulder popped and shuddered and the weight crashed down on my chest.  I tried 203 for the third lift but I couldn’t even get it off of my chest.  I went into this thing with a very sore body, my hip is screwed up from work and they can’t find an ergonomic professional to come see me and my back is jacked from the hip, so I imagine some of my superpowers have been sapped, but I’m happy with the 198.  I’m even happier to report today’s weigh in was 209.

Wine of the day part deux 

I revisited the last of the 1997 Freemark Abbey Bosche last night.  It’s got so many layers that I missed the night before.  All sorts of berries, blueberries, leather, nice tannic finish, really an elegant wine.