You waited on Satan’s call

History lesson fail

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Uh, it was under Hoover.  And it’s Smoot Hawley.   And you’re a moron.  And I’m not surprised.

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Poisoning their brainwashed minds

POM, one of my favorite running and living my life blogs (next to judi) had a great title yesterday. Wine flu, not Swine flu. I wish I had thought of it. But I didn’t so props to POM for that one.

Not to be contrarian, but if you’ve been coming here at all, you know that’s the motif here. Why do we care about the freaking swine flu? It’s a strain of the flu that could kill us, but truth be told, ANY strain of the flu could kill you. As a matter of fact every single year in these United States (including the soon to be departed State of Texas…ooops, now they want Federal money to fight the swine flu… nevermind) 30,000-50,000 people are killed by the flu. Every year. Some years more, some years less. The young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk, but truth be told, it gets some healthy people too. I knew someone who was killed by the flu a couple of years ago. If it’s going to kill you, it’s going to kill you. There’s a gazillion ways for us to die. We are all going to die sooner or later. It’s inevitable, just like taxes. It might be a heart attack, it might be a crane falling on your head. It might be a bridge collapsing because we didn’t invest in our infrastructure. It might be from an infected spider bite. When the Good Lord is coming to get you, you had better have your affairs in order, because you’re going.

So why do we care about the swine flu? Because if it bleeds, it leads. Finally, last night the first death occurred even though we’ve been talking about it for days now. A 23 month old child in Texas. I’m sure Gov. Perry will be blaming the Obama administration, but I’ll bet that child had deep connections back to Mexico where the Government didn’t deal with it at all. As of yesterday there were 67 confirmed cases in the US. It’s the flu, let’s take some precautions and be smart about it. OK one of the reasons I’m so pissed off it that this is Spring Cleaning Week with the local disposal company and I was going to go get some day labor to clean up the Farm, but I can’t now. Who knows who has been or has someone near them that has just come back from the land of the Pig Flu. Where’s Carol Burnett when you need her?

All that being said, must be time for a rant on cleanliness, politeness, and generally not being disgusting. I’m so glad I’m not riding BART right now. I hate to be the canary crowing but I haven’t had a virus since last August. I haven’t been stuffed on a BART train with people who should not be going to work in the first place. I’m not sitting next to some guy sneezing all the way to San Francisco. I’m not next to some guy who just got off a plane from somewhere in the Far East and is sneezing without covering his face. I’m missing all the fun. They did a bit on Good Morning America that I saw in the gym yesterday on how far the droplets you sneeze or cough out travel. Basically you expectorate them at a rate of 100mph. That’s like ducking to miss an invisible 100mph fastball. Chances are I’m going to get beaned. So a little common sense is in order, you know, cover your face, wash your hands, don’t go out and infect everyone else when you’re disgusting. And if you’re the management at the Evil Empire, understand that people get sick and need to stay home to get well. There’s no honor in forcing them to come in and infect the whole office. I remember probably twelve years ago I was at Old Repulsive in the title plant in Alameda, on Atlantic. We had a flu run through there. It was busy and we probably had 50 people working there at the time. For over a week at any one time we were down by 50%. I remember being one of like six people who made it to work one day. It was all we could do to just answer the phones. We couldn’t get a damned thing out the door. Now imagine if the first folks who got that disease stayed home. Yeah, flu is viral and spreads in such a manner, which gets me to my next subject.

I’m going to be doing a social media, viral experiment on Friday. I’m going to ask everyone to toss in a very small amount of cash. Really not even lunch money (now that Subway no longer has the $5 foot longs), so do come back on Friday for all the fun. It will be an experiment in viral social media.

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Will you set me free so I can fly away?

Sometimes my inbox is like Christmas. LandAmerica is auctioning off their corporate jet. That sound you hear is the tiniest violin in the world playing a sad song. So long NASCAR Teddy.


Here’s another jewel. This is a company that has no business getting into ANY other sectors. They can’t even get their own sector right. If you recall the escrow that was to close with a HUD but the idiots only sent my buyer a lender’s prelim on a cash transaction? Then they argued with me and said the contract controls the deal. Yes, it does but it helps if the escrow company knows how to read a contract. I needed an extension due to their stupidity. Finally I talked to the Executive Vice President who essentially said “You’re right we don’t know what we’re doing, we’re a lender unit trying to do REO’s”. That was in December. Do you think they got all of those kinks worked out and their ready to take on another business sector today? Not no. Hell no. Actually, these guys are the poster children for why national contracts are wrong. They’re based in some godforsaken hellhole in Southern California and they have no idea how Northern California works. Then they force their business practices onto our clients. Bullshit. They’re a member of the Evil Empire btw. I wonder if Bill just choked on his plonk.

I’m sure he just did. 1Q loss of $12.4 million essentially .06 per share. Now if you don’t pay out the .15 cents per share dividend, do you….oh nevermind.

Approaching a time that is drastic

Here’s a little something that’ll keep the Old Republic claims department busy for a while.  Oopsie.  Ok, I can see how it happened, sort of, not really.  Yeah Tate is no where to be found.  Imagine that.

That can’t help this.  Net loss $53.9 billion.  Oopsie.  In other news the Evil Empire got downgraded, as did ORI but then The Empire declared a .15 cent dividend per share.  I guess Bill’s wine portfolio isn’t all that.  Think that earnings call on Tuesday is going to contain a net loss?  Wine Dog sez you betcha.  The Bloodless Empire reports on Thursday.  That ought to be a yuckfest.  Does anybody give a rat’s ass about Dinty Moore any more?  Strangely, the seller pulled one of my deals from the Bloodless Empire and handed it to Dinty Moore.  I just hung up my phone, looked at it and blinked.

When Dearest Auntie was here we took her out for her birthday.  We went to Lark Creek in Walnut Creek.  I’ve never drank too much wine there.  Before.  Ever.  Anyway, since the market took a ginormous crap, my days of hanging out there have been fairly limited.  As a matter of fact the last time I had been there previously was with the Amateur then Manager and a big National Account.  Not of his doing, mind you, somebody important actually got the account.  Anyway, I remember thinking “this guy can’t sell”.  He was uncomfortable, couldn’t build rapport and generally squirmed around like he’d rather be playing Dungeons and Dragons.  I had forgotten about that lunch, but now that it’s fresh in my mind, I have to wonder, the guy doesn’t know title, can’t sell and is a lousy manager and they KEPT him.  Let’s see…hmmm… what can he do?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Onward and upward

Glad to see that the boys from Reno 911 are keeping our borders safe.

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I really hope that’s Reno911 and not our real border patrol.  OK, I’m lying, I’m not hopeful at all.

This little jewel arrived in my inbox yesterday.  Just plain fun.

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I couldn’t have gotten it right, probably ever in my life, as much as I’d like to go to Sommelier school.  Come on now, I’d be fun at your table.  Here’s something I did get right, a sweet little Zin from Lake County.  X Winery Nova Vineyard’s Organic Zinfandel.   Organic wine usually tastes like ass.  Generally, these days the farms are organic, a lot of the times biodynamic and sustainable.  So the fruit starts out like that but the process of making wine requires a step that doesn’t allow the winemaker to ultimately label the wine as organic.  I can’t remember what it is but Frog’s Leap and Chappellet have taken turns explaining that in my presence and I forgot what it’s called.  Frog’s Leap, Chappellet, Keenan, Benziger are all wineries that grow organic fruit but do not call their wine organic.  That last step in the processing is a tough one.  So the fact that little X Winery up in Lake County got a decent wine done is pretty interesting.  It’s got a jamminess to it and a touch of pepper.  It went well with last night’s grilled steak.  It’s pretty well balanced and pretty well priced at around $16 at the Pleasant Hill Wine Merchant.

Down to Isla Vista where police felt so harassed

This is rich.  Five former LandAmerica executives file claims in the bankruptcy for unpaid compensation.  Yes, your read that correctly.  Are you kidding me?  Guess who leads the pack?  NASCAR Teddy.  Boys, you ran an 83 year old firm into the ground.  You get nothing.  Now get the hell out of here.

Oh we had contracts, wah wah wah.  Isn’t that the same bullshit AIG told the government?  What about all the people at Alliance and Mercury who had contracts or more importantly were just screwed out of their vacation, commissions and severance?  You know what?  Piss off boys.  God help us if that bankruptcy court gives those morons a nickel.

And now for a few words about the banking industry.  Here’s a little something from the Merced Sun-Star to start us off.  And a few quick quotes from that article that have me seeing red this morning:

  • Major banks selling foreclosed homes sign contracts with industry giants, such as Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. and First American. They force buyers to use their services, often at a higher cost that local ones, Lawler explained.
  • TransCounty’s fees for a transaction usually fall between $800 and $1,000, she said. She’s seen statements charging twice or three times that much.

Now, I’m going to say it.  Lenders are bullies.  That’s right, straight up bullies.  They make up the rules, the consumer doesn’t have a damned thing to say about it and if the consumer wants to get in the game, they have to play by the bank’s rules.  But, the bank doesn’t have to play by anyone else’s rules.  And when shit gets sideways, the government gives them more of our money.  Bullshit.  Your credit cards, your bank accounts, your house, all tied up with banks.  And they tell you what to do, you don’t tell them.  I just had a deal where the bank told me they could close in 14 days.  They were 19 days late on a 14 day close.  We had to extend three times and my client paid $1900 in per diem because of a lender, who lied to him.  It was a full percentage point of the purchase.  Over a third of what I got paid.  Because a bank lied to him.  If you can’t perform, don’t take the deal.  They sit their all pious when a mortgagor can’t make the payment but when they can’t do the job it’s oh, we’re back logged, oh there’s so many refinances going on right now, oh this and that.  Oh, I forgot to pay my mortgage, I’ll get around to it when my back log isn’t so bad.  How about that you asshats?  Lenders are bullies.  And you know what?  I don’t care how many of them fail.  Let them all fail, they don’t deserve to survive.

Speaking of bullies…Andy Tolbert is located down in Florida.  God bless her for throwing this out on the internet.  Who knows who the actually title company is, but I know who the underwriter is. I get the issue and I’ve run into some people trying to do something along these lines.  Short sale it out to a BFP who rents it back to the owner at market rate, ok.  Short sale it out to a shell who gives it back to the original owner, not so sporty.  Either way you have a rights of parties in possession issue for sure and God knows that was my favorite catch all exception, next to terms and provisions in a document.

Inman is down this morning or I would link to some jewels over there.  Most importantly the one that says:

Fidelity National Financial Inc. has raised title insurance rates in 22 states and slashed $231 million in annual expenses by firing workers and closing offices since acquiring the underwriting subsidiaries of rival LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. in December.


…Fidelity disclosed that through the end of March it had fired 2,068 of the 5,500 workers formerly employed by LandAmerica subsidiaries Commonwealth Land Title, Lawyers Title and United Capital Title Insurance Co.


The $231 million in annual savings achieved triggers $20.4 million in bonus payments to company executives and employees who helped hit the target, the company said

Ohhhhh!  Now I get it.  Fire those nasty 2068 workers so you can get your bonus.  God bless America.  This is what we should be taking to the streets over, not some fantasy tax increase that only exists in Wonderland.  I mean seriously, the only people who got a tax increase (which incidentally doesn’t even go into effect yet) are those who make over $250k a year.  So these teabaggers are protesting on behalf of the guys who fired them.  Here’s your sign.

I remember searching for the perfect words

Today’s ride:

More later today. Yes, I do have a title rant coming, but I’ve been really busy. Really busy.

Bonus points for naming the song with using The Google today.

Just give me something, something I can use

Social Media. WTF? said the kangaroo. Trust me you’ve been hearing a lot about it. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace all forms of social media. The one that’s been getting all of the press right now is Twitter. I’ve been on twitter for a while. Over a year. Longer that Ashton Kutcher and Oprah, that’s for sure. Longer than Lance Armstrong and Demi Moore too. Long before CNN heard about it. Or Britney Spears. Not as long as dolphyngyrl (by one day) or some of my friends over at SFWOW. The gals at SFWOW taught me the benefit of Twitter as a social media tool. I have two accounts. I have two brands. Some folks know that. There’s PBE where the WineDog rules the cellar and there’s my real estate business. Never the two shall meet.

Because the Today show and Good Morning America and all the Usual Suspects have picked up on Twitter, it’s been talked about alot lately. Unfortunately, and typically, they missed the point. Dearest Auntie was staying here for the last week. We got into a discussion about what Twitter was and wasn’t. Her perspective was what she’d seen on television, she didn’t really know anyone who used it. I explained to her what it was to the people who are actually successfully using it. It was fun to see the light click on. It’s a lot harder to dismiss Twitter when you know what it can do. Twitter has enabled me to become involved in some really amazing events in the wine community. I’ve met some of the right people and it’s just snowballed from there. And Ashton Kutcher isn’t one of them.

What business has discovered is that they can interact with their client base in 140 character bloglets and increase their “buzz”. In today’s business world, a lot of it is about buzz. The buzz gets the biz. It’s kind of like the latest club in the City. The club with the buzz gets the biz. I’m sure many of the clubs utilize Twitter. There is a league of wine bloggers on Twitter and a league of wineries and wine industry professionals. The wineries who are successfully using Twitter are reaching out to increase their buzz and ultimately their market share. Twisted Oak is very good at this. Generally firms will have one person assigned to the Twitter account. That person provides frequent tweets about the business. St. Supery has an account. Shaun Richardson, the winemaker at Clos Pegase has an account. We got to hear from him about bud break and their battle to preserve the crops during the recent frosts. This is stuff you’d never hear about if you didn’t follow sdrichardson on twitter. Many of the much smaller wineries are on Twitter and in those cases you get to hear from the winemaker or the owner. Coral Mustang is one of those. She makes a rockin’ Tempranillo. I’ve met several out of area realtors and we have shared marketing ideas and war stories. It’s an amazing tool. Or a giant time suck if you don’t utilize it properly. Used properly, it creates buzz, collaboration and networks.


Twitter also has numerous growth shoots. One of those is That’s where the winos go. From that events occur. The barrel tasting a few weeks ago ended in a twittertastelive event. Last Friday night was a dinner that also ended in a twittertastelive event. In these events, winos from all over the country and now a couple of other countries all assemble and taste the same wines and then “tweet” their tasting notes. The dinner itself was at a place called Estate in Sonoma just off the square. I’m not big on lamb or esoteric offerings and the main course was a little much for me. Rabbit stew over polenta. However, everything else was magnificent! Dinner was prix fixe. The event was a Rhone blend based event. Wineries sent their owners/winemakers/staff to the event to pour their wine and talk about it. Holy crap! I’m joking around about Cline’s Contra Costa grapes and here comes Jay from Cline to talk about his Contra Costa grapes. Bonny Doon was pouring, the Pax representatives were seated at our table. Most of the folks representing the various wineries were intermingled at the tables with the guests. I could do a wine review but I had so many different wines that night that my iPhone notes are a little sketchy. OK, a lot sketchy. What I can say it that it’s great to see the Rhones getting some love. I loves me some Syrah, Grenache and Mouvedre. Sometimes in the same bottle. And it’s great to be invited to participate in these sorts of events. I’ve met some amazing folks, been invited to amazing events and expanded my personal network. I’ve been referred business and I’ve referred business to others. Twitter isn’t what the media makes it out to be no more than craigslist is what the media tells us it is. And that’s a good thing.

Now I wanna be your dog

Last Saturday, Bubba, Rita and I headed up to Elk Grove, California where they were having a walk to raise funds to cure canine cancer.  Many of you who have been reading for a while know that I’ve lost two dogs to cancer.  Toby the Gypsy Doberman in 2004 and my beloved Beauregard last year.  Both dogs succumbed to lung cancer.  I don’t smoke, never have, so it’s a little bizarre to me that I’ve lost two dogs that way.  But I did.  And they’re gone.  I was planning on walking in their memory.  Then Dominic and Judi lost Bruno.  I walked for Bruno too.  It was a very emotional day.  I got there to a dog walk holding a picture of Beauregard and could barely keep it together.  Then I saw the Doberman United folks and that helped settle me back down.  Because of the upcoming 71 mile ride I was only going to do the short walk.  There was a group of ladies that had made tanks that all had little angel decals on them with the name of a friend now gone from canine cancer.  It didn’t help matters.  There was a woman there with a big black dog with a terrible tumor on her snout about the size of a baseball.  I felt bad for her and hoped she wasn’t in pain.  We left promptly at 9am and did a little 3k walk.  It was nothing and not really worth driving to Elk Grove, although the event raised $18,000 for the Morris Animal Foundation.  So when they started the 5k a little later, we walked that with the group too.  On the first walk a woman came up to me and said she was from the foundation and wondered if I had a minute to talk.  I told her I wanted to stay with the group could I catch her later?  She said to come by their booth afterwards.  Afterwards we were checking out the booths when they said it was time for our group photo.  As we were milling around, there was the lady again.  She conducted a quick interview, maybe ten questions about Beauregard, Toby and Bruno. I think I did a pretty good job so when they’re done editing (probably me out) I’ll get that up here.  It’s supposed to be on youtube.  Yes, I’m already on youtube anyway, playing drunken WII boxing.


In order, Lukas, Kayla, Twitch, Bubba, Rita and Guiness.

I don’t wanna be a candidate for Viet Nam or Watergate

Miss me? I’ve missed me too. I have four or five subjects backed up ready to go. We’ll start with the easy one today and move through them. Yesterday’s ride.

I took off at 7:30 yesterday morning. The theory being I knock this ride out in 6 hours and I’m back at the house between 1 and 2pm. Click on the elevation button. I’ll wait. This ride had 3402 feet of climbing in it. I’m an ok climber, but I’m working on being an excellent climber, which I’m not right now. I may be a better climber today. Or not. The ride started innocently enough. I’m supposed to be spinning it out around 80rpm average. Heading down Ygnacio and out to the bay that was no problem at all. Then I started through Martinez, rolling hills, still no problem. Out Franklin Canyon on a steady ascent that went up the Cummings Skyway. Not bad, just steady. Then down into Crocket. I hate those kinds of descents because it feels like the weight of the bike on the brakes is just going to cut lose. And I’m going to die flying off a mountain. Must check brakes later today. All those skinny little cyclists that pass me on the uphill watch me fly by on the downhill. Never underestimate a fat chick on the downhill. From Crockett I headed out Carquinez Scenic View. It’s a windy (both words work) narrow and treacherous. It’s closed for several miles to cars because the road fell off the cliff. At one point it’s so bad I had to ride on a dirt path which reminded me of a bad dream I had a couple of weeks ago. I was riding on a dirt path and fell of the cliff. That was not lost on me at that moment. Then I dropped into Martinez and had a long flat spin out until I got to Alhambra Valley which began a long ascent, to Pig Farm Hill. Now I’ve had my ass handed to me before on Pig Farm Hill. For those of you at home following along with the elevation charts, we’re at mile 41. It’s around 11am and it’s gotten hot. Really hot. I’ve gone through over half of my Accelerade, and two bottles of water and I’m working on my third. I’ve had two Powerbars and three gels and I should be fine, but I’m not. It’s hot. And it’s time to ride Three Bears. The Three Bears used to be the end of a loop that the Olympic Cycling Team used for time trials. Time trials are still held out there. I am not an Olympic cyclist. I got my ass handed to me. I don’t like to stop, ever. I force myself to get off the bike every hour and a half. I had to stop three or four times getting up the Three Bears yesterday. The last hill is not one of the bears but it’s a final screw you from the mountain. It nearly killed me. I was out of water, no civilization around and 18 miles from home. I’d quit sweating so I knew I was in trouble. I was in the left turn lane on to Camino Pablo with another guy but the light wasn’t turning. I told him I’d go over a click the button. There was shade under the light standard so I thought it was a capital idea. I’m standing there waiting for the light to change and here comes my friend Javier. Javier and I went through the Morgan Stanley stockbroker training program together back in 2000. Of our class of 700 only Javier got a better mark on the Series 7 than I did. He’s a great guy. He still handles my stuff and the Old People’s money. And we ride together now and then. He stopped to chat. As we talk I think he figured out I was in trouble. He says “I’ll ride with you for a bit, maybe we should go to the Lafayette BART Station”. I mumble something, he gives me all of the water in one of his two bottles and off we go. We cut off part of the initial ride and snuck along the 24 on a frontage trail. We got to Lafayette and I needed to stop for a bit under a shade tree. And then something happened. I got it together enough to get back to the house. I told Javier I thought I could make it back to the barn. So away we went. He rode with me to Olympic and then he headed up Pleasant Valley. I went through downtown Walnut Creek (on a Sunday afternoon no less) and headed up the trail to Treat. Snuck through my old neighborhood and finally got back home. By the time I got to the house I had chills and hadn’t been sweating for over an hour. It was 85 degrees. I went straight to the shower. I started with warm water and then slowly brought it down until I finished with a cold shower, which strangely didn’t bother me. I put away a couple of huge glasses of water and called it a ride. A tough ride.

Javier was telling me that he’s tried the Grizzley Peak Century twice and never been able to finish it because that weekend is usually the first hot weekend of the year. He said that what happened this weekend is about two or three weeks early. I probably wasn’t the only rider who get owned on the hills yesterday. Just the only one that lives at my house.

The beauty of a ride like that is the beauty of the ride. Franklin Canyon is all horse properties. One of my pals’ ex-husband lives out there. I couldn’t remember the house but a couple of years ago he was out of town and their daughter’s horse got out and went on a horse bender until the neighbor got him and called. I went up there with her and her father. I remember driving up and there’s her Dad leading the wayward pony back home. Cummings Skyway is gorgeous rolling hills and the Carquinez Scenic View Road overlooks the bay and the delta. The back portion of the ride is out in farming country. There were herds of cattle out there and for a good portion of the ride I could hear them baying. At the corner of Alhambra Valley and Bear Creek some guys were branding some cattle. The ones waiting to be branded were on the other side of the fence talking cow smack. It was kind of funny. There were horses sleeping under shade trees and younger cows prancing and running in the fields. At one point I saw a red tail swoop down and get something. I decided it was a hawk pocket. He was gorgeous to watch. He was close enough that I could see his eyes and his markings and his talons right before the strike. I’ll have to do this ride again. By then I’ll be used to the warmer weather and the days will be longer and I’ll be able to start at 6am like I originally planned, until I realized it was still dark yesterday at 6am.