Are immune to your consultations

It’s hard to know where to draw the line in all of this financial mess.  As citizens we all pay a portion of our income to the government for services and a safety net.  We shouldn’t expect the government to bail us out of our bad business decisions but we should hope to be caught if we’re falling.  Even the Obama Administration has added an emotional component to the housing situation, pleading for time to work this mess out so that people don’t lose their homes.  In most cases these people won’t become homeless, they’ll just no longer be homeowners.  There is a difference.  And it should be handled differently.

There will always be a sector who will try to take advantage of the situation and the government.  That’s human nature and I think those people should be tied to an electric fence for a while, but that’s another whole story.  For the most part, I think it’s in the banks best interest to work out what they can and take back the rest.  Just because someone’s underwater is no reason to take back the house or the loan.  Pay your damned note, you signed a contract, honor it.  If your financial situation hasn’t changed, you’re still making good money, no one’s lost their jobs and the payment hasn’t gone up, pay your damned note.  Business is cyclical and that includes real estate.  If you thought it was never going to adjust you’re an idiot.  Hopefully you’ve learned your lesson and will wait for the cycle to come back, because it will.  Land is the only thing in the world that is absolutely finite.  You can’t make any more land on earth without filling in the ocean.  On the other hand, those teaser rates killed people.  I saw them.  1% for the first year and then they adjusted to LIBOR plus.  I know what LIBOR is, but trust me, they didn’t.  Some asshat LO told them it was the most stable rate they could be tied to and they believed them.  London Inter Bank Offered Rate.  Here‘s a nice definition of it.  Yeah, interest rate swaps are based on it.  It’s really just more bullshit that no one understood.  Those notes are hopeless and those people are for the most part already out of their homes.  For everyone else, there’s options.  The banks need to get to the party and people need to get to the party.  If there’s some way for the people to make essentially a minimum payment on the home and keep it, negotiate it.  If they just can’t make it, they’ve got to move on.  It’s a building.  It’s a house.  Your home is where you are.  I’ll never understand falling in love with a piece of property.  Home is where my dogs are.

Notice how all of my solutions involved the parties to the transaction and none of them involved the government?  Well, that’s why I’m pissed off this morning.  General Motors got their safety net last fall and didn’t do a goddamn thing with it.  Same with AIG.  I think they both need to follow the natural course of the life of a corporation and go die.  Yep.  Let’em fail.  Be gone.  The last Detroit built automobile I ever bought sits in my garage.  It’s a 1966 Ford Mustang.  I think it’s the last decent machine that Ford built.  I used to own a 1974 Chevrolet Camero.  That was the last decent machine built by General Motors.  They did not understand where the world was going and they continued their horrendous business practices in spite of all the writing on the wall.  They deserve to die.  Let them.  They deserve to die for building and marketing the Hummer.  I’ll never understand this American obsession with bigger.  It’s a bully mentality to me.  I’m all about better.  Maybe it’s because I’m short.

In 1985 the German engineers at BMW sat down with a directive: Make the vehicles more fuel efficient.  And they did.  They can still build a ridiculous engine, like the one in the 760i or the 540i, but they also designed a hydrogen engine.  They have a luxury automobile that they’re looking to bring to market (I think it’s available at around $130k but I don’t have time to look this morning)  That’s the sort of vision that is missing from General Motors.  Can you name their hybrid?  Thought not.  Actually I know they have a $70k Cadillac Escalade that still gets crappy mileage.  There’s a total of eight.  Two pickup trucks three versions of the SUV, a Saturn SAV, a regular Saturn and a Malibu.  Bet you’ve only seen the SUV version and they get 22mpg after all of the chest thumping.  Essentially, a piece of shit.  And we’re supposed to bail these guys out.

I don’t believe we should be bailing out GM, but if we do, just like you and me, there are strings attached to government money.  One of those strings found it’s way around Rick Wagoner’s neck.  As it should be.  He hasn’t steered that company in the right direction so why on God’s green earth would be bail them out and let the same drunken sailor sail the ship?  One of the precepts of AA is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  If you’re going to take government money, we’re going to expect change.

So smile for a while and let’s be jolly

I’ve been running around like a mad dog. Yet, good things look like they’re getting ready to happen. I would love to rant this morning about General Motors, but today it seems like that’s shooting fish in a barrel. So instead, how about some happy things? Check this out:


And then there’s this:


All this talk about the right reasons to buy a certain house and I go out and buy one for the rose bushes.

I’ll have to kick it up a notch. This is how I’d like to be remembered.

I’m alive and I will survive


Me too.

I worked off the grid yesterday with a friend of mine doing a road show at Costco.  They’re distributing these bars called Fresh Energy.  They gave me about a case of different flavors to check out before I worked with them.  As a powerlifter and as a cyclist I’ve gone through tons of energy/protein/meal replacement bars.  My original trainer back in San Francisco in the mid 90’s got me using Power Bars before I worked out.  All these years later, I use Power Bars on long bike rides as they hold the best in the heat and digest quickly.  The Fresh Energy bars are awesome meal replacement and great before the gym or a bike ride.  With the coating you can’t take them on a ride, but they’re great before one.  They actually taste good.  I’ve suffered through tons of bars that have that protein aftertaste that’s just awful.  These don’t have it.  So it was a riot to watch these people stop and taste them and then do a double take.  We had eight flavors out.  Three had more than 23g of protein.  I think we did pretty good yesterday.  Me and my rag tag buddy beat the team in Richmond.  We were in San Francisco and it was a tough crowd.  Easily half the crowd didn’t understand a single word we said.  But we got a lot of people who worked out and understood what we were talking about and that was really cool.  I met a nice young man who’s riding a century in Union City, I can’t remember when, coming up sometime.  He got them and I know he’ll be back.  He got it.  It was hard work, but it was fun.  And it’ll pay for a bag of dog food, a tank of gas and some groceries and that’s what I need to get to my next closing, which hopefully will occur next Friday.

Something interesting is happening out there.  Good Morning America plays at the gym while I’m doing my cardio.  Last week they had a Dave Ramsey one talking about personal finance.  Dude was a ball buster.  Here’s the video.  I know a lot of PBE readers have problems on the income side of the equation.  Later in the week I heard Michael Finney on KGO talking about the same thing.  His money guys were advising to get the income side in order and then get a 3-6 month emergency fund in order and THEN start attacking the credit cards.  I thought this was interesting, but here’s their logic.  If you get into trouble the credit card companies will lower your balances when they see something hinky.  So say if you’ve got a $10,000 limit on a Visa card with a low balance and it gets paid regularly.  Maybe you get behind on a Mastercard but keep that Visa in good shape because it’s your bailout card.  They may very well lower your credit limit on that Visa and squeeze you.  So they are advising instead of making debt elimination your priority, make the emergency fund your priority in this economy.  I can’t imagine the credit card companies like hearing that, but I should have spent less time trying to pay them and more time squirreling away nuggets.  They’ve all dropped their credit limits on me and every time I make a payment they drop the limit to the current balance.  So I have no wiggle room there.  So I’m holding off giving them what they want just in case something gets sideways on me.  My credit is demolished which is tough to take for someone who used to carry no credit card debt.  I was all cash until two years ago, with luckily a large emergency fund.  Now my European shoe size is probably a bigger number than my credit score and my emergency fund is having an emergency of it’s own.  Anyway, I thought the shift in thinking was interesting.  If that’s what the talking heads are telling the masses it’s not pretty for the credit card companies.

Onward and upward

Bubba came in the other day with a bloodied cut on his nose.  I don’t know if he cut it on something in the yard or if Rita got him.  Anyway, it seems to have scarred.  We will now call him Scarface.


The Depression garden is coming along.  I have 50 little peat pots that are cruising along.  I’m taking them outside for a couple of hours a day now to start hardening them up.  I’ve got little tomatoes, squash, lettuce, spinach all going.  I forgot to start my peppers from the seeds I got from the house in Hayward.  Those were nasty ass peppers.


I’ve got a training ride and then some other interesting things going on later on today.  We’ll see where it leads.

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I don’t have any coherent thoughts today so today will be a collection of random thoughts, links and dog videos.

First off, I’m a big fan of Bloodhound Realty and their strategic marketing plan. I’ve been tailoring it to my own business but the goings been slow because of the REO work we do. (more on that later) I love the strategic marketing plan, don’t love Greg’s politics so much. Can’t understand why a guy that smart can be totally missing the point. If he read me he’d probably feel the same way. Anyway, as always at PBE props where props are due. Today he points to a great article in Rolling Stone and even if I don’t always agree with him, the article is great.

The Brother had a birthday yesterday. I didn’t realize what day it was until I typed the date later in the day or I would have had some sort of you tube in his honor. He put this up last night:

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Why not. More stupid pet tricks

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If you’ve ever had a greyhound, this makes total sense.

And sometimes there’s events that I just have to get into. Two are coming up. Next Wednesday, well April Fool’s Day is Women in Wine at Prima’s in Walnut Creek. The line up is off the hook. Number one Prima’s is doing the cooking and I love Love LOVE the food a Prima’s. Second Heidi Barrett, Carole Meredith, Linda Novak, Pam Starr, Delia Viader, Laura Catena and Marimar Torres along with twelve of their wines. I must find a way to this event. Wonder if good looks is enough?

The second is a Pinot event called Pinot Noir Summit on April 4. A blind tasting of 32 Pinot Noir’s. Exactly 32. The point is to keep palette fatigue out of the equation. Conceptually, it seems pretty cool. Besides the blind tasting they’ve got workshops going one with some very interesting topics. Terroir is my favorite since I believe that the best wine begins in the field. Anyway, it seems like a very interesting event, definitely downsized in comparison the the Pinot Fest, Zap and PSILY. Looks like the participants are all small producers too. Intriguing event.

And today would be a good day the pick a fight with cancer.  Even $5 helps.

I hang my head and cry

I used to live at 68th and MacArthur. I had been living in San Francisco for 15 years and just bought one of the new Parkwoods condominiums. Actually, I was doing a foundation inspection on building 5 of the project and went offline to check out the models before I headed back to the office. One of the models had interesting angular lines. There were two of these types of units at each end of each building on each floor. One of those would work for my situation, so I went down and talked to the sales office. We ended up walking the entire project and I chose one that while near the front had no one across from it and was high enough that no one could see in and the views from the windows were of the hillside, since the project set in a bowl in the Oakland hills. For two years every morning I woke up and looked out onto a green hillside that was only occasionally different when GoatsRus came to keep the grass down.

The builder was slow in getting my unit finished so I lived for about six months with some friends of mine who had a house at 68th and MacArthur. They had Cody the greyhound who lived out his twilight years with me here in Concord, Petie the Boston and Edie the pug. And Xica the devil dog. My friends had been broken into but he was an ex-Marine so he fixed the place so it would not be breeched again. It wasn’t. And really God help anybody who came into that house when he was there. We kept all the vehicles behind a locked gate, the front door was fortified and had a 4X4 protecting it. The back door was steel. Beyond all the dogs who waited for you next to the one window that was questionable, there was an alarm. That didn’t stop the riff raff from being around. I remember in particular one night when the helicopters were out. I was grilling swordfish in the back yard. I took Xica and a butcher knife with me every time I went out to check on my dinner. Then the chopper started zeroing in on us and I hid in the house while they searched the yard with those lights they have on the copper choppers. Then they busted the little asshole in the neighbor’s yard. And my dinner was ruined.

Once I was at Fort Dave everything was cool, but I hated driving in to that house. A lot of crap happened down there. There was a cemetery at the end of the block and at the end of that block was Eastmont Mall. A horribly thought out project that has probably lost a lot of people a lot of money. Others have lost their lives down there. There’s a police substation down there and they’ve even had someone shot IN FRONT of the substation. It’s that bad.

So making traffic stops down there is like shooting fish in a barrel. Chances are you’re going to get a parole violation at the very least, probably a lot more. Over 3000 parolees live in Oakland. It’s for my money one of the roughest areas on the West Coast. Certainly top ten. 98th is worse, but not by much. And something horrible happened there the other day. And something amazing happened too. Some little shit stain who had a criminal record as long as your arm decided he wasn’t going to be taken alive. Four men won’t return to their families now. Four men who worked to keep that craphole of a City safe. Oakland motorcycle cops are tough SOB’s. I haven’t met a one that wasn’t 1)actually a nice guy 2) really cared about keeping that town safe. So from that standpoint to me the loss is even worse. One of the guys lived here in Concord. It’s a horrible tragedy.

The things that send me to the moon are the fact that this little shit stain had access to a weapon like that. Hey NRA! Hey Gun lobby! How about stepping up to the plate on that one? Exactly why should we have the right to weapons like that? There is no reason for a weapon like that to be on the street ever. Period. None. The right to bear arms, the Second Amendment was written in 1789 and ratified in 1791. When it was written “arms” consisted of muskets and pistols that had to be hand loaded. I think you can own muskets all day long. The authors never could have dreamed of the fire power we have today and we can’t begin to interpret how that Amendment would have been written had they known that two bursts from a musket could kill four policemen who were just doing their jobs. The gun lobby and NRA have the blood of these men on their hands. Enough.

And something amazing did happen that day. In Oakland there were 145 homicides last year. Solving these homicides is arduous at best because of the “snitch” culture. In Oakland you can’t tell the police what you saw or you’ll be next. Where did that come from? Ask the 3000 parolees. They’ve just taken the prison culture home with them and made law abiding citizens live by it. Enough. New rule: You cannot be outside of your own home with a gun in your possession in Oakland. If you don’t have your hipwaders, a duck hunting jacket on, a duck license in your pocket and an orange freaking cap, you can’t have a weapon in your car or on your person. Or you’re jacked up, long time. Like 10 years worth of long time. And it’s time to get these asshole prisoners back to work. We’re short of prisons yet we got a bunch of assmonkeys sitting on their butts on our dime. Get a shovel asshole. Get some mortar and build a damned prison. And while you’re at it, you will have acquired a marketable skill so you can find work once you’re released. Problem solved. It’s hard to belong to a prison gang when you’re working all day long, attached to each other by a chain. But in spite of that culture in Oakland, something amazing happened. In that crap neighborhood a man ran into the bloodstained street and administered CPR until the ambulance arrived. A woman called the cops and told them where this little shit stain was holed up. She was quoted as saying “We’ve got to remove the word “snitch” from our vocabulary”. Yes we do. And a community might be ready to say Enough. I hear ya.

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Old black water, keep on rollin’

I’m on a roll cleaning the Farm today.  More on that later, but instead of my own rant on the bail out, which has been simmering for a few days now, let’s hear from my brother from another Mother.

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With eyes as black as coal that look down in my soul

Got a big day in front of me today. First off a 44 mile ride. This will be the last long ride before the Cinderella on April 4. This will be the first organized, like you pay them money and there’s a lot of other riders there, ride I’ve done since I started cycling three or so years ago. I started out thinking I was just going to ride down to the gym and back in the morning to save on gas and get a little cardio in there. Two years later I sold that bike and got my Roubaix Elite Triple. Trust me, you need the triple around here. I got it on Craig’s list from a guy who was upgrading to the S-Works. He was raising funds by selling off some bikes to attain the holy grail of bicycles in his opinion. The funny part of that story is I’d been called in on the carpet that day by the Amateur (now demoted) Manager and the Winged Monkeys at Bloodless Empire for this very website that day. It was a warning. Their problem was that the entire company was reading PBE. The funny part is I didn’t really pick on them until they “laid me off” which is a pseudonym for silenced, because two days later PBE was banned from their servers. Anywho, I was chatting with the guy I bought the bike from and I said “I really shouldn’t be spending this money, I almost got fired today”. He said “Once you ride this bike you’ll wish you got fired”. And I did. And then they did. And, well, here we are. So today is the taper ride and the Cinderella is in two weeks and I’m a little excited.

Last night I went down to the Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants for their Friday night tasting. It’s the best $5 you can spend in town. Michael Keenan was there with their entire line up, sans the Summer Chardonnay. It’s funny, when I first started going there the ladies asked me what my favorite winery was and I said probably Keenan. Last night after running through their line the ladies cornered me and said “We love your palatte and we want to plan a day trip and go up to Keenan and the Rutherford Grill and a couple of other places”. I thought it was a great compliment. They had some other wines out at another tasting station. The two that impressed me the most were the Lans Rioja Reserva. They were selling it for around $15. Here’s some notes from someone besides me:

#52 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2008

“A silky texture carries expressive flavors of black plum, violet, licorice and smoke in this focused, balanced red. Has good intensity yet remains vibrant and accessible. Drink now through 2012.”

Wine Spectator

OK then.  It’s a Tempranillo.  Screaming little wine.  The other one that caught my interest was the Hob Nob Shiraz.  It had so much vanilla in it that it tasted like vanilla extract.  Wild in a shiraz.  The winery says dark chocolate covered cherry, but really we all got straight up vanilla.  I went right to Cuban food and had to bring home a bottle at $10 to try it out with Cuban food.  Now, what to cook?

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a big fan of the Iditarod.  I follow it every year.  This year has been a tough race.  Terrible conditions have made it more treacherous than normal.  Here’s a great story of a musher who made it to the dance and then bowed out to save her dog’s life.

And I’ll hang around as long as you will let me

Yesterday I got chosen as wine blogger of the day over on twitter. They described PBE as eclectic. Yeah, it’s that. I guess if I’m a wine blogger I should write something about pinot, or merlot or cabernet sauvignon. But then I get run over by a damned old train. It’s hard to pigeonhole PBE. It’s a dog blog. It’s a training blog. It’s a title insurance blog. It’s a real estate blog. It’s my personal confabulation blog. Well, that’s what you get when I pay for the domain. But in honor of the honor, I cracked a bottle of La Storia 2005 Petite Syrah last night and beat it up pretty badly.

La Storia is one of my favorite reserve lines out there. The winemaker Miroslav Tcholakov is from the old country and starts the wine in the field. I went out in the fields with him one time. I learned more about growing fruit and dirt and weather in that 30 minutes that I’d learned up until that point in my life. The lesson continued the following year over at Caymus, but that’s a story for another day. Anywho, after spending some time with the man, I got the feeling that he approached his craft in a manner similar to Mike Grgich. Yeah, THAT Mike Grgich, the beret wearing patriarch of Grgich Hills. The man that made the 1972 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that beat out all the French wines in Paris in 1976. That Mike Grgich. Tcholakov brings a similar approach to wine. His Trentadue line is functional but never makes me want to write home. His La Storia line consistently sucks me in and brings the sort of enjoyment that a glass of fine wine should.

I originally found out about his wine many years ago. I’d had a Rombauer Zinfandel that wasn’t their usual fare. It wasn’t that big jammy nonsense they do all the time. Whenever I walk in and the tasting room says “This is a big blah blah blah” it’s never good. I don’t like big oaky buttery Chardonneys and I don’t like big jammy Zins. I do like peppery Zins. This particular year and vineyard produced a peppery Rombauer Zinfandel. They haven’t made one since. I described the Rombauer to the wine guy at Andronico’s in Walnut Creek. He went right to the La Storia Zin and said “Tell me how you like this one”. I loved it and I’ve been a loyal fan ever since. Last Saturday I picked up 14 bottles of La Storia that had been collecting for two years on my wine club membership. Since I was wine blogger of the day yesterday I thought it best to crack a bottle of something good and write about it. I chose the 2005 La Storia Petite Syrah.

I knew his Petite Syrah had pepper in the finish as well as the Zin, so I decided to make a jerk marinade for my center cut pork chop. I mixed up some orange juice, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, salt and a dash of vanilla and made a marinade. Then I grilled up the chop and had it with some whole wheat pasta that I put lemon and olive oil over. The PS was perfect. Dark fruit on the forward palette, followed by vanilla, some butterscotch and then pepper on the clean finish. I did bad things to that Petite Syrah last night.

And Rita in spite of her appearance is not a meerkat.