But in his heart he knows what it brings

The tone of the news in this country has changed. I can barely watch the local news. Somebody’s laying off 1200 workers, this company is closing it’s doors and this family has fallen on hard times. I’m living it on the front lines and watching some stuffed suit talk about it just pisses me off, because I’m sure they don’t understand what they’re talking about. I’ve been in the middle of several financial stories over the years. What gets reported and what really happened are always parallel universes. So when 60 Minutes got the World Savings debacle right I thought “Baby it’s a brand new world”. And it is. While the cloak of secrecy was thrown over everything for the last eight years, a lot of companies allowed Wall Street (read greed) to dictate how they did business.

Those of us in the title industry witnessed this first hand. Parker Kennedy lost his balls and essentially the company over Wall Street greed, dictated by a hedge fund. On the other hand Bill Foley never had a soul so he was in his element. I remember him coming into Santa Barbara back in the early 1980’s to buy that little tiny title company I worked for. It was before he got Western Title. A guy named Bob used to own the thing. Bob made his money restoring cars for the movie industry. He took the money he made and dumped it into real estate. He got tired of paying for title insurance so he bought a title company. He used to roll up in the best cars. He had a Ferrari V12 and a Rolls Royce and a slew of wild machines. His house had a 10 car garage that was full. Anyway, I remember the day the new ownership blew in. Little did I know what was to come of all this. Here we are 25 years later and that new ownership has changed the title industry, not for the better but for greed. I call him the Burgermeister for a reason. And many of you who know me in RT have heard me say “They aren’t writing title, they’re flipping burgers”. It’s because Foley made his first million with Carl’s Jr. franchises. Then I guess like Bob he got tired of paying for title insurance. As he bought up title companies, he and his team offered monstrous salaries that weren’t in line with any business model for title insurance. Then they worked the high salaried employees as hard as they could. If they produced at that level they could stay, if not they were gone. That simple. But to generate the numbers they asked for a lot of procedures, checks and balances had to fall by the wayside. It was like peeling away an onion watching standard checks and balances for the industry fall to the chopping block. It was all about numbers and if there was a hiccup in the market, heads would roll at the Evil Empire. The company didn’t save money for a rainy day, they operated with the volume turned up. As employees, they had to save for the Burgermeister’s rainy day because he didn’t. He had no loyalty to anything or anybody beyond his own bank account. I kind of wonder how his version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is going to end.

Here we are 25 years later and there are four title insurance companies left in the nation. Agencies are fighting for their lives. I know I get a lot of questions about the Little Engine that Could. I just think they might have saved for this rainy day. I don’t know how else they’re making it. If you pick up marketing material most of the companies will tell you how they carefully review the public records in preparing your commitment or preliminary report. They don’t. They send it off shore to a country that doesn’t have laws in place to write title insurance. But because that’s what the marketing material says it must be true. It’s not. Because it’s more cost effective to off shore the work and lie about what’s really being done than to do the job right in the first place. It’s kind of like Ford and the Explorer. It was cheaper to pay the lawsuits than to make the vehicle safe. It’s like most new construction. It’s cheaper to settle with the HOA than to build it properly in the beginning. This is the business culture we live in. And it’s time we all stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

So when I see that the Burgermeister has bought yet another winery, it makes my head snap off of my shoulders. Until recently, Foley maintained his office in Santa Barbara. When California taxes got too much for him he very vocally moved the headquarters to Jacksonville, just because he didn’t want to pay California taxes. Plenty of Californians lost their jobs in that move. Who would want to leave Santa Barbara for Jacksonville? Really? From his home in Santa Barbara (yeah he kept that) he apparently found his way to the Santa Ynez Mountains, and Santa Barbara County Wines. In my world this isn’t bad, it’s horrible. He has now just bought a large stake in Pat Kuleto’s Estate above Pritchard Hill. After all that he has done to the title industry, when none of us could do a thing, we are now in the position to push back. Boycott the Foley Wine Group. Boycott Bill Foley and let them all know that we’ve had enough of his corporate greed, his raider mentality and his bullying ways.

  • Firestone Vineyards
  • Foley Estate
  • Lincourt Vineyards
  • Merus
  • Three Rivers Winery
  • Sebastiani
  • Kuleto Estates.

Here at Pink Bunny Ears we choose independent family owned wines over corporate ass klowns. Who’s with me?

No pedigree from France will get you in the dance

I’ve been working like a dog.  I think I mentioned the only day I took off this month was last Saturday.  I’m aiming for Sunday since tomorrow is already booked up.  My house is starting to look like one of our listings.  I must get it cleaned.  I’ve got three or four BPO’s to do and each one takes around two hours to complete.  Slightly longer because I still haven’t had time to figure out the new camera or it’s software.  Yesterday we did a lock out and the people hadn’t moved.  These people contacted this Satanic woman who accused me of harassing them.  I’m sure she took a fee from them to lie to me, just like the unscrupulous real estate agent who sold them the house and the unethical loan agent that made the loan that is now foreclosed.  Lady, don’t yell at me.  I didn’t take a penny from these poor people.  Y’all keep preying on your own community and quite honestly I think it’s criminal.  Anyone want to lay odds that somebody broke into the home last night?

Stuff like this is why I’m very concerned about the mortgage component of the bail out.  I just don’t think that Senators and Congress understand what happened.  I just don’t think they understand that what happened from 2004-2007 was criminal.  I took possession of another property yesterday.  This one had no appliances.  Stealing appliances really hacks me off.  Two reasons.  One, by the time the appliances are removed the property belongs to the bank so it really is a criminal act and should be pursued as such.  Two, without the appliances we can’t sell the thing FHA which rules out a ton of buyers.  Banks won’t replace the appliances and at the end of the day the FHA buyer can’t buy in this market.  Rich get richer, more of the same, as dictated by the lending community.  Want to write a new law?  Write one requiring sellers to install appliances.  $1500 on the seller’s side opens up the market to all of those FHA buyers.  Oh yeah, and tear out those crappy garage conversions.

We had a break in the rain yesterday and the dogs were running and playing in the yard.  I originally went and got the camera because Bubba was standing on the patio table.  Don’t ask.  But I got some great shots and we haven’t had dog photojournalism in a while.

How happy is this guy?
How happy is this guy?
I could watch floppy eared dogs run all day long.  It makes me laugh.
I could watch floppy eared dogs run all day long. It makes me laugh.
I love their expressions...and the fact that I caught it.
I love their expressions...and the fact that I caught it.

As you can see the yard is a big mud hole.  Rita is disgusting from running laps out there.  We’re in for several more days of rain.  I’ve got to figure out how to get her clean but not have her cold from being wet.  I might have to shower with her.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

I don’t know that I agree with the mortgage element of the ARRA or not.  Here’s a nice simplified article talking about it’s components.  My problem is two fold.

One, a lot of these people made their own bed.  You make a bad business decision don’t expect the government to bail your stupid ass out.  There are people behind on their mortgages with Escalades in the driveway of their 3000 square foot homes grossing $6k a month.  Sorry, take the house.  Really, they ought to take the Escalade, but take the house.  I don’t have a problem with that.  They made bad decisions.  They’ll learn to make better decisions.  Hold them accountable.  It’s simple.  They don’t need a bail out, they need a kick in the ass.  I was talking to a friend at a party over the holidays.  He had a man working for him making around $20 an hour.  He had limited English skills, several children, including a special needs kid and a wife that didn’t work.  He stopped by the local GMC dealership to get an older truck and walked out with a new Yukon.  He couldn’t afford it, his boss, my friend, knew he’d been sold a bill of goods and forced the dealership to take the new truck back.  There’s a lot of people out there that weren’t lucky enough to have a boss like my friend to bail their dumb asses out.  But that’s life.  Make a bad decision, pay the consequences.  So I have a problem with bailing out some guy so he can keep his Escalade, because you know that’s what’s going to happen.

Two, the same bunch of hucksters that caused this mess will figure out a way to benefit from the fix.  That’s wrong.  Unless someone totally understands how we got here in the first place, I don’t think they can stop the hucksters.  They can’t stop the next Herb Sandler.  A lot of people are blathering on about this, that and the other, but at the end of the day if you weren’t inside, like many of PBE’s gentle readers were, you don’t know which walnut shell the pea is under.   I don’t think the Federal Government understands which shell the pea is under and that concerns me greatly.

One thing I know for sure, it’s not going to affect the Bay Area or the Los Angeles Basin or San Diego at all.  Y’all out in Clovis spend that money wisely or we’re driving out there to kick your ass and take your effin’ Escalade.

We have an asshat of the day. Rick Santelli.

Hey Rick!  Did you feel the same way when the banks got $700 million dollars?  Shut up.  Loser.

But today is Fat Tuesday.  So enough with the rant and let the good times roll.

[youtube 6c31pZ5vArA]

No shoes, no shirt, no dice

There’s always something, even when I’ve got nothing. Today, we’ve got a best person in the world. I’m a big fan of this guy. He sat a couple of rows in front of me (and really only a couple) at a Rolling Stones show about 5 or so years ago. I said to my friends “Hey! That’s Sean Penn”. They didn’t believe me until he got up at a break and went and got a soda. Really. No shit. I also ran into him at a coffee shop up in Marin County. Just a normal guy. But he does extraordinary things. He opposed the war in Iraq and put his money where his mouth was.  He went to Iraq and Iran and lost roles over his vocal position.   He was universally lambasted by the right wing talking heads who amongst other things openly questioned his acting skills.   At the end of the day, the man had the nads to get on a plane and go into the belly of the beast.  Didn’t see the Limburger Cheesehead down there did you?  The man has nads.  The series in the Chronicle about Iran was brilliant.  When the levees broke he went down there while a lot of talking heads gave him grief from the comfort of their studios.    Approve of his politics or not, the man’s got a steel pair.  And now he’s got a golden statue.

[youtube 1dnM8v9aaR0]

You commie, homo lovin’ son of a gun, we salute you!

We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there

Yesterday took a little different turn than expected. I was supposed to show property. The client wasn’t as nailed down as I thought they were. I should have called them the day before but truth be told I was hoping they would reschedule. You see, as of yesterday morning I hadn’t had a day off all February. I was exhausted. I wanted and needed a break. So when they said “Can we reschedule?” I was all about Hell Yes! So I took off on my bike. It was an unplanned ride which is never a good thing. As I rode away from the house around 11am yesterday (about three hours later than normal) I thought to myself, Self, you forgot a second spare and your pump. You’re going to get a flat today. Sure enough, 28 miles into the ride I felt that familiar mushiness. Luckily I had some CO2 in my little bike bag and I was able to get home. I don’t usually ride that late in the day with good reason. Some jackass in front of the San Ramon Valley High School pulled out of a parking space and almost took me out if I hadn’t gone way into the street to avoid getting hit. If he wasn’t a complete moron, which I’m sure he was judging from the idiotic look on his face, he would have learned to conjugate a certain word as a noun, a verb and an adjective all in the same sentence. Further down Danville Boulevard some stupid woman in a SUV had to cut me off to turn into a side street rather than letting a cyclist riding legally in the bike lane have the right of way, which incidentally was mine. Bicycles are considered vehicles under the vehicle code you dumb bitch. Then some old guy in a mini-van absolutely had to pull into the Long’s in Alamo rather than letting a cyclist in riding legally in the bike lane have the right of way, which was incidentally mine. By then I was ready to fight I was so angry. I resisted temptation to turn around follow him into the parking lot grab his keys and throw them in Alamo Creek. That jackhole should not be driving. I’m not usually God’s angry cyclist, but yesterday really tested my nerves. I ride legally. The worst thing I do is blow a light. I always check both ways and never ever make a car even touch their brakes if I’m blowing a light. Yeah, there’s bad cyclists, but as I’ve said before if the car makes the mistake I’m dead. If I make the mistake I’m dead. The result is the same. I don’t make mistakes. I really wish drivers understood that they could kill me by having their heads up their asses. It’s not like I’m one of those quick darty kind of cyclists. I’m fat and slow and my BMI is off the hook. If you can’t see a lumbering 200 pound cyclist on a red bike you need to go park your car. You’re dangerous.

Here’s the route. It took me around 4 hours to finish the ride. I have to get my computer straightened out, it’s not picking up speed correctly. And the clock didn’t stop running while I was changing the tire so I don’t really know what I did. Oh, and I stopped and talked to a friend in Danville so I’m guessing around 4 hours ish. I was out for a total of 4:20.

Treasure these few words ’til we’re together

That was kind of a no brainer.  Last night was Dark and Delicious an event put on the PS I Love you, the Petite Sirah advocacy organization.  I received a ticket via Luscious Lush, via Sonodora, the Wannabe Wino.  Thanks gals!  I love Petite Sirah.  Let’s just get that out of the way.  LOVE IT.  It was held at Rock Wall in Alameda on the old Naval base.  I don’t know my way around there even though I worked in Alameda for ten years.  I knew the way to Lincoln’s Address, McGee’s, the Dugout and the little place on the water where Roy worked.  The Naval base was still a Naval base and the likes of me weren’t allowed on base.  So it was a new adventure last night.  Add to that I chose to take public transportation.  This involved taking the BART to San Francisco to get the ticket from Luscious Lush, boarding the AC Transit O line to Alameda, transferring to the 63 to the Naval base and walking a long block.  The return involved catching the 63 to BART and in to Pleasant Hill.  It wasn’t that bad, but probably because I didn’t have to take Muni.  And it was a warm gorgeous night.

Upon my arrival to Alameda, the sun was setting over the City.  It was beautiful.  The line of people waiting to get their glasses and plates were all looking out at it and commenting on what a nice night and what a beautiful sunset we were witnessing.  Then the games began.  I walked in and everyone was turning to the right.  That put them right at Twisted Oak, who were doing a vertical tasting, thus creating a log jam.  I went left.  (Of course I did)  At the other end was Stag’s Leap.  They were one of the few really big names there.  No Cakebread, Whitehall, Rombauer or any of those from the packed tasting room crowd.  Only Stag’s Leap.  Nice, because I really like their Petite Syrah with a orange chipotle glazed pork loin.  It’s one of my favorite combos.  They were pairing their wine with a selection from Yoshi’s.  Pork belly on a sweet potato puree that had some other goodies in it.  It was delightful.  OK pork belly is a lot like bacon, only better.  Then I tried their second wine, the Ne Cede Malis.   This wine is made from 100 year old vines.  Never a good start with my palette.  However, they have made a perfect wine here.  Balance, flavors, fruit and an amazing pairing with the pork belly dish.  I could have stopped there and called that best of show.  But I was at my first stop.

My next stop was Robert Biale.  They make a Zin I really like.  I recognized the label and he said “Have you heard of our wines?”  Well, you make the one with the Rooster on the label right? “That’s our Black Chicken”, yeah chicken/rooster I was close.  As events like this progress I become less and less close.  It’s hard to be the curator of all the useless information that’s shoved up in my head.  Add wine and it’s like having a 4 year old put everything away in my head.  His Rockaway Syrah was beautiful, but as I told him “Name anything The Royal Punisher and I’m all over it.”  His wine was paired with a porcini fondue.  I loved the Punisher and it was perfect with the fondue.  I think you have to be on some Secret Squirrel list to even get a whack at getting The Royal Punisher, but it would be worth it in my estimation.  They make some great wine.

Then something bright and shiny caught my eye.  I was drawn over to it.  I could not stop the pull this table had on me.

2-21-fudge

Z Cioccolato.  Oh my God.  I didn’t stop here right away as they were just setting up.  But let’s just talk about this photo.  In the foreground is white chocolate, peanut butter salted caramel fudge.  Holy crap.  The next one up had milk chocolate in it.  I didn’t have the middle one.  The second from the top was a Cabernet fudge and the top one was a Mayan fudge with cinnamon in it.  I asked her why a woman of her immense talent didn’t have a chili fudge out, did she make one in her store?  She was still testing recipes.  I would drive to North Beach when she announces the roll out of that one.  She has a gift.  Nuff said.

Sadly the Napa Fudge Company was one booth down from her.  They had one kind of fudge.  Really?  Just one flavor?  In their defense it was really good but kind of tough for them being placed next to Z Cioccolato.  In the same row was Bert’s Desserts.  They made a Petite Syrah truffle.  They were in like peanut butter cups thingies but it was a darker chocolate and the center was a light and creamy Petite Syrah fondant.  Really good.  They were made with and paired with the Petite Syrah at the next booth, which is a mystery to me right now.  Actually I’m a little embarrassed that I can’t remember exactly who it was.  Later when I got to Trentadue they had out their Petite Syrah port.  I ended with that and went back to Bert’s Desserts to get another truffle.  Magnificent.  I love Trentadue’s wines and their winemaker, Miroslav Tcholoakov was present.  The man’s a genious.  He taught me a lot about the farming aspect of wine on a tractor ride a number of years ago.  The La Storia line is all that and a bag of nuts.

I stopped by the rubber chicken crowd where they had a vertical tasting going on.  The boys in Calaveras County have something good going on.  El Jefe is a lot of fun, but more importantly, they make good juice.  My favorite was the 2004, that seems to be their sweet spot age wise.  Nice balance, spice, fruit, cedar and dry on the finish.  After that you can taste the age, but I’d definitely grab some of the newer stuff and stick with it.

Mounts made a gorgeous Petite Syrah.  A big purply glass of inky goodness.  Big ruby fruits, gentle spice and a little tight on the tannin.  Really a great wine, one of the best of show.

A couple of wineries were located in Clarksburg.  Beyond the last train to, I don’t know where that is.  Still, Heringer brought it.  It was a little sweeter, big fruit on the front, gentle tannins.  Really a bright fun wine.  Wilson is out in Clarksburg too.  I really don’t know where that is.  I guess where ever that is they do sweeter Petite Syrahs because theirs was similar to Heringer.  Fruit forward, easy spice, gentle tannins and a bit of sweetness.  A very good wine that apparently they sell of $10 a bottle.  Are you kidding me?  Totally worth it.

Patrick David, my favorite restaurant in Danville was there.  They had two offerings.  I think they were paired with Concannon, but I’m not a big Concannon fan.  Still am not.  However, Patrick David did an inside out sushi roll and finished with a super thin brownie with hand made peanut butter ice cream on top.  Screaming.  9catering had a teenie tiny herbed biscuit made into itsy bitsy sandwichs with a pulled pork that wasn’t sweet like most and some other little things that was best of show on the savory side.  Absolutely amazing.  They also had fresh fruit in unflavored geletin made into little caps.  I don’t know where they got their berries but it was amazing.

All and all, and for the most part, an amazing event.  Yeah there were a few wines that I just didn’t like, yeah, some of the food I was like “This is what you wanted to showcase?” but we’re not going to talk about those guys.  We’re all about the winners this morning.  And there were some real winners this year at PS I Love You.

Skeletons and all the bones in your closet

Warning:  Today’s post features graphic depictions and photojournalism of the death of a small furry creature, or a rodent, depending on your perspective.

As many of you know, we live here on a larger suburban property.  You don’t usually get 1/4 acre in the city limits in California but I have one.  The house itself is 50 years old and about 75% remodeled for those of you who haven’t been following PBE for two years.  I still have to paint the entry way, the kitchen, remodel one bath and paint the exterior.  I also need to replace the door to the garage with one that fits and hangs right.  There is a gap about 2 centimeters under the door.  This gap is intermittently the source of some of my aggravation.  I stuff it with a towel to keep cold air from coming in.  This does not keep mice out.  Last year I went toe to toe with a brilliant adversary.  That mouse tripped the trap five times over a two week period before I finally got him.  (Him as he had the biggest mouse balls ever.  Evah!)   Yesterday I went to reach up on top of the refrigerator to get the loaf of bread and make my lunch.  There is a roasted pork loin in the fridge just screaming to be made into a sandwich.  Well, the brand new package of bread had three pieces in it.  WTF said the kangaroo.  I pull down the bag and there is a hole chewed in it and there is only three pieces there.  I climb up on the step stool and look on top of the fridge and there’s several pieces of bread strewn out on top of the fridge, another partial loaf has been carried to the back of the fridge and this means war.

I learned from last years mouse wars that it is important to use peanut butter.  So I loaded the traps with peanut butter and went about my day.  Well, not exactly, I hid the english muffins from him.  Actually, lets go in the time machine for a moment.  I feed the dogs separately.  I don’t want Rita to know that Bubba is getting essentially people food and she’s getting dog food.  I also want Bubba to eat in peace as I think this will help his tummy.  After they eat the both are allowed to check the other’s bowl to be sure a microscopic morsel has not been missed.  Sunday night Rita went out into the garage and ran right by Bubba’s bowl and did a perimeter in the garage.  She got all the way back behind the Mustang and crawled under it and all around the tools and was nearly out of her mind.  I figured then there were varmits in the garage.  Fast forward back to yesterday.  She had run a bit of a perimeter in the family room which was kind of strange.  After I found the destruction on the refrigerator, it made sense.  She’s been a little on edge for the last few days.  She had basically quit marking up Bubba but yesterday they mixed it up and she took a chunk out of him just for sport.

2-20-cut-face

Mr. Icuddabeenacontenda.  He wasn’t really sure why she was so edgy but she’s been on edge for several days.  This morning I got up full expecting to find a mouse in my peanut  butter laden trap.  But that’s not what I found.

2-20-sprung-trap

I found the rest of the bread gone and the trap tripped.  This was clearly a wiley mouse.  Except all of the rest of the bread was gone.  Was I really dealing with a mouse?  Then I looked down on the floor and there was a little wet spot and next to it…footprints.

2-20-footprint

WTF said the kangaroo.  We may have a larger critter on our hands.  While I debated in my head as to whether or not to go get rat traps and how I was going to handle the big trap with the bigger game in it, I turned Rita who was nearly out of her mind, out on the garage.  She went around numerous times but then came inside as if to say “All clear”.  Then she started on the family room again.  I came into my office to begin my morning routine and notices something on the floor.  It was clearly rat crap.  I had to get bigger traps.  Then something really strange happened.  Rita was in the house.  Usually she goes out checks the yard and comes in and sleeps until the sun comes up.  Today she was still sniffing around.  She came into my office sniffing but I didn’t pay much attention to her.  Then she put here head into the office closet and got nearly rigid.  I could see every muscle in that little dog’s body.  I said “Rita, what is it” and then with stealth-like precision she dove into the closet and came out with something in her mouth.  Something that was squealing.   Like a jackass I said “Rita drop it!”  She did.  I don’t have a command for never mind pick it up and take it outside.  So I went with OK!  She picked it up again, it squeaked once more and she dropped it again.  It flopped once and then the little Pacman made that little sound and it was Game Over.

2-20 rat Click at your own risk.

Rita 1 Rat 0  Game over.

The really sick part of this whole thing is Rita is now at total peace.  Her total demeanor has changed and she’s sleeping peacefully on the couch right now.  I think from this point forward we will refer to her as Rita the Assassin.

[youtube KfzZCBX8f3U]

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

[youtube owPKo27GSTk]

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.

A small stain on the pavement, they’ll scrub it off the ground

This guy’s youtube channel was tossed out on Twitter for comment last night.  My comment?  This is my life.

[youtube 8XKvfGT2xdg]

Actually, that house is cleaned up.  My life looks more like this and this. I haven’t gotten a poop house yet, or a flea house, but I know it’s coming.  I am the Queen of Maggots right now.  Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to live indoors.

One of the things he talks about is the national service companies that the banks are hiring.  Yeah, you don’t have to out of pocket but you have to run out there and check on them several times before the job is finally done right.  Workers from a certain national service company that would be a division of a certain Evil Empire have stolen a stove from one of my sites, left the windows open repeatedly at numerous sites and last week broke the door knob off of a site and failed to report it, leaving the home unsecure.  Not to worry, the Wine Dog was on the job.  I really believe that the banks are going to decide that they want a piece of our commission pie, even though in most cases they’re already taking it with a commission structure that is worse than anything we would negotiate with a human being seller.  I suppose giving up a point to not have to prospect for the listing is probably worth something.  At any rate I think they’re going to be looking to put together either corporate partnerships or open their own brokerage firms to run out legitimate realtors and try to make money that way.  Look for it.  I think it’s coming.  And it’s wrong.  You can’t take food off of my table until you give back my tax money.  Actually, here’s when CSpan gets interesting.  Some day we’ll get subtitles for Barney Frank.

[youtube d2NUyE7cM8w]

Bubba finished his dog school last night.  We did the full obedience discipline, on leash rather than off leash like it has to be in the ring.  Once we got past my mistakes, the biggest was anticipating turns and doing a left about turn when I should have been doing a left, Bubba did great.  His 3 minute down was flawless.  He did his long sit perfectly.  He was a little unsure about the figure 8’s but we had just started doing them, so I’m giving him some room on that one.  Beauregard went to this dog school most of his life.  We bonded training on Monday nights (he was well trained when I got him so he went right to Novice II) and he was the class clown for many years.  Both Dobermans from that original class are now gone.  The other’s owner gave me a hard time about Beau’s breeding.  I was pleased that he outlived her dog.  Is that wrong?  Anyway, Rita bonded with me at that dog school and I think it’s helped Bubba come along.  Hopefully I can get a house sold so we can take the next session.  He’s still grabbing his belly but I noticed and my Doberman friend last night noticed that his fur is coming back, is softer and is looking darker.  I think that’s the mackerel.  Parts of him just shine.  He’s still got male pattern baldness but his back is starting to come back and look good.  I think I’m on to something here.

A small stain on the pavement, They’ll scrub it off the ground

Yesterday might have been one of the most annoying days I’ve had in a long time. Business stuff.  I’m not one of those chatty sales types.  I tell you the information you need to know.  If I tell it to you repeatedly, I’m probably concerned and think it’s important.  I’m smart.  Listen to me dammit.  Thank you.

I’ve found the new dog crack. It’s truly amazing. It makes Bubba drool and Rita sit pretty. You’ll never believe it. Carrots. No shit.  I bought a 10 pound bag of organic carrots for Bubba’s dinner at Costco. Rita was up on the counter stealing them. Bubba hoards them as if they were the leg of an elk. All I did was parboil them.

217-carrot

Who knew I could make him so happy for $.49 a pound?

I really don’t understand why we can’t have a little rain and then a little break and then a little rain.  This has been going on for probably 10 days and quite honestly, it’s getting a little old.  I wanted to go down to Livermore and watch the Tour of California today, but I don’t want to stand out in the rain to watch a drowned rat version of Lance Armstrong streak by.  It’s supposed to clear this afternoon.  If it does I might sneak out past the levees and shoot down to Modesto to see the end.  I’d really like to see the big boys ride.  In other cycling news, I got into the Cinderella and I’m pretty fired up about that.  It will be my first official cycling event.  Unfortunately, they’ve had to cancel a couple of their training rides and I have had to cancel a bunch of mine.  Good news, the ride isn’t until April.  It’s one of my three warm-ups for the Lance Armstrong Foundation LiveStrong ride in July.  Click here to sponsor me.

[youtube zNJTDt9d6Kk]

I know you’ve missed the What the Wine Dog is Drinking segments.  Do not despair the Wine Dog is still drinking…well not still like right this minute still from last night but like well, still.  The wine refrigerator is packed to it’s gills and there’s 14 bottles at Trentadue, two at Clos Pegase and two and Freemark Abbey I have to go and get.  So I should probably be drinking more, not less.  At any rate, the last thing I got into was a Clos Pegase 2005 Pegase Circle Reserve Syrah.  I was looking for something purply and inky with a bunch of gentle fruit and I got it. Blackberries, currents and balance in a purply inky glass of goodness.  I had it with a pork loin roast that I did in the oven because the backyard is a swamp and the BBQ is fighting for it’s life out there.  Speaking of rain and wine…if I were in AZ right now, I’d have my sights set on this event.  Looks like fun.  Trentadue does/did/ might have done once an event for club members and their dogs.  God bless Beauregard it was the only time in his life that he lifted his leg on a person.  He got Sonofabun and his new boots that day.  Then he jumped on a table to say hi and sent a table full of orange juice flying.  I don’t recall why there was orange juice at a wine event, just the embarrassment.

In other news, there’s an interesting phenomenon that Sonofabun and I were talking about.  I’ve been getting some of those calls that those of us who have lost two jobs and are starting a new business might get.  It’ll work itself out, it always does, although I’m not too thrilled to be going through this at 50.  Anyway, if you look at my refrigerator, (the real one, not the one full of wine) it looks like I’ve prepared to survive a nuclear holocaust.  It is the Nuclear Holocaust Survival Refrigerator.  I never buy food like that, but somehow my sub-conscience thinks if I have a freezer full of meat and a refrigerator full of food I can make it through whatever it is that my sub-conscience thinks I need to make it through.  Ridiculous, but it’s funny how the mind works.  Sub-consciously, I’m circling the wagons.  But more importantly, if they hadn’t badgered me, I probably wouldn’t feel like this and someone might have gotten paid.  Might want to rethink that strategy boys.