It’s the Homeland of the soul

I don’t usually do quotes, but here’s a good’n.

The tea party is just the Klan with a few simple old ladies thrown in for good measure.

Glenn Beck is a racist and an embarrassment to America.  Boycott Fox.  That is all.

I know tomorrow brings the consequence

Here’s a title problem for all you title dogs out there.  Or a City government problem.  It’s definitely a problem.  Interestingly enough it involves the largest most crooked builder in town.  Yep, the Seeno family.  You may remember the saga of the fence?  The storm blew down the fence and I asked them to split the cost.  They said “no”.  They didn’t bother to call me back, they made me call and call until they decided to give me an answer.  Then I asked them to get me the materials at cost and they ignored me again.  In the end, my insurance company bought the materials and my cousin and his wife built the fence with me.  But I did not forget.

PIQ. Oh it felt good to type that.

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(you can click on the map and blow it up)

Less than 8 days ago the neighbors, at least those of us within 300 foot radius of the Seeno property received a notice that the Seeno family had requested a variance on that property.  They intended to bulldoze the ONE residence and remaining out building and horse corrals and build three two story luxury custom blah blah blah homes.  We are a neighborhood.  We mobilized.  Every single homeowner who abuts that property showed up to a 9am hearing.  That should have been a clue to the Zoning Administrator, G. Ryan Lenhardt that there was a problem.  Nope.  He rubber stamped Seeno’s project.  This clown sat there a nodded approvingly while some little Seeno wanker stood there and said it was fine to drive three garbage trucks every Friday morning down this little lane to service Seeno’s three new homes.  Three garbage trucks, every Friday morning rumbling within 8 feet of the front windows of the other homes which sit on the lane.  People have lived on this private lane since the 50’s.  It was not designed for three lots in the back.  Seeno and Lenhardt call it “in fill”.  I call it an overburdening of an easement.  I wonder what governmental doublespeak term they would use if it were their homes losing a chunk of the front yard?  It’s my neighborhood.  We are a country setting, that’s why I call this place The Farm.  Legally I can have two livestock here today.  I wouldn’t but I could.  Although right now I’m wondering what the most obnoxious form of livestock is.  That might be my response.  No one will buy a monster home with a chicken coop RIGHT NEXT DOOR.  Yeah, chickens, that might be the solution.  I could use fresh eggs.

At the end of the day Lenhardt railroaded the rest of the neighborhood.  It was a total lovefest between him and Jackie Seeno.  As a student of body language I can promise you that the agreement was already in place and he was very proud to give Jackie Seeno what she wanted.  She has manipulated the Planning Department for her financial gain, but that family is already rich enough.  How manipulative is this bitch?  She brought her Grandmother’s cookies to the homeowner’s one the lane when they presented their original plan, which naturally looks nothing like what’s happening now.  Bait and switch. Cruella d’Ville.  She is a bad, evil person and Ryan Lenhardt is a shill.

The Seeno’s home is the big parcel a little to the right of the marker. Do click on that to see the magnitude of that home.

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Seeno has a history of criminal behavior.  Just last February the FBI raided their offices.  Or how about threatening an elected official?  It’s really too bad that Concord can’t behave like Benicia.  Lenhardt didn’t bat an eye when I brought up Seeno’s environmental record.  Oh, did I mention that the Mt. Diablo Creek runs through this property?  It runs through my property too.  I am downstream from this property.  It’s common knowledge that the old man got his start by muscling the City Council to get what he wanted.  It looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Everything’s a little clearer in the light of day

I think I’ve mentioned that I turned off my cable at the beginning of the year.  At the time it was a matter of expense.  Cable was expendable.  Since then I’ve found that life is better without cable.  Much better.  I think I’ve also mentioned that I’m working with a business coach, he’s a Buffini coach and they have a certain way of doing things.  When I went down to Monterey to see Brian Buffini he said “Turn off your cable, get rid of it.  If something big happens, somebody will tell you”.  And for the most part I’ve found that to be accurate.  I can watch a lot of stuff online. is good for that and the big news stations all have their shows online either in real time or moments later.  If something happens that interests me I’ll go take a look.  I listen to NPR in the car and there’s a lot less noise, and no commercials on that station.  If I’m driving and the Giants are on I’ll listen to the game.   I listened to the 9ers game the other day.  I hear there are a few teams in Oakland. 

I hear there’s an election going on.  I just went through Garamendi’s mailer.  Here’s one that matters.  H.R. 5793, the Make It in America Act.  You’d almost think that his people were reading PBE.  Oh yeah, they are!   It closes the nine corporate loopholes that I’ve been complaining about that allowed our jobs to go to…let’s see, where was it?  Oh yeah BANGALORE!   And what the hell is “Customer Delight“?

The key to this economy is getting everyone back to work, but not just back to work as a barista at Starbucks but back to real jobs.  And the real jobs back to the real salary.  Seriously.  We can’t give you a raise or we’ll have to lay you off.  Really?  Why then isn’t Bill Foley out of work?  He got a 171% raise.  You teabaggers want to protest something?  Protest that.  There’s the true injustice in this country.  FNF employees being laid off and then brought back as temporary workers at 30% of their salary with no benefits while Bill Foley buys another winery.  Obama ain’t doing nothing to you clowns but getting you health insurance and a job.  Bill Foley is bending America over a barrel and we’re saying “Thank you sir may I have another”.  Enough is enough with that guy.  Add Chalk Hill to the boycott list -the deal went through.


Good luck getting that out of your head today.

Straightnin’ the curves, Flatnin the hills

Oh my goodness!  Sometimes something happens in the comment section at PBE that I can’t hardly contain myself.  I’m going to quote this one.  It appears here.

I have read this blog on and off for the past 3 years.  I used to work for a Title Co and got laid off in 2007.  Prior to the company I got laid off from I worked for Foley.  My husband has worked in the wine industry for the past 15 years, and has been at the present winery for 5 years.  Two years ago Foley bought the winery were he works.  Now that Foley owns it we have a conversation every Friday night about who Foley fired during the week, who Foley laid off, or which employees got smart and walked out.
One of your first few lines stated that you wonder when the wine industry will find out that Foley is Satan. I guess it will take a while longer as Foley has just been nominated for “Man of the Year” by the Wine Enthusiast. They got it so terribly wrong.  I have lived in a famous wine region for all of my life (hence my name—Old Prune Picker, which is what this valley was made of before grapes). Foley knows nothing about the wine industry…he just likes to flash his money around.
So lets all Boycott anything to do with the “Wine Enthusiast”, their magazine, catalog, wine shop and website.


For what it’s worth the Chalk Hill sale went through last week.  Just another reason to hate Bill Foley and another wine to boycott.  And maybe a letter writing campaign to Wine Enthusiast.  That might be my little weekend project.  Who’s with me?

I was back up at Horse Jail yesterday.  I thought I got a great video but I didn’t.  After the kids had pony races, which is really a round of red light green light on a pony, the instructors got the kids out of the arena, took the saddles off the ponies and let them run.  And run they did.  Ponies can get up to a gallop in the arena because they’re smaller, the horses can’t.  The ponies ran laps and did jumps and all kinds of cool stuff for the kids.  I really need to read the manual on this phone of mine.  I could have gotten a great video, but I got nuthin’.

I was talking to another guy who was up there.  He’s a friend of the owner who was out of town.  His job was to be an adult and be sure that if a horse got sick the vet got called, be sure the puppy was safe, be sure none of the kids got hurt, crap like that.  That translated into hanging out and bullshitting with me all day.  The discussion started with me complaining that the ticket I got had little to do with traffic enforcement and everything to do with revenue generation.  He agreed and backed it up.  He has a friend who works in the court system who said that the Walnut Creek Police have a quota of five tickets every month they have to hit.  Their traffic commissioner is just running people over in court, just like what happened to me in Concord and they aren’t even allowing community service.  He had a friend who got a safety belt ticket sitting in the Safeway parking lot in a parking space not moving.  He said he saw the silver buckle and that’s how he knew she didn’t have it on.  She did.  He lied.  That’s what we’re up against people.

Yes, I’m livin’ at a pace that kills

Well shit howdy!  I am safe.  My kidnappers have released me.  I’d like to thank the anonymous donor who paid my ransom.  This new job shit is wearing me out.  These guys work and they work hard.  I’ve got to say the Cult of Red is one of the most positive, collaborative places I have ever been.  Aren’t the famous last words of the girl in the horror movie “Everybody’s so nice here!”  And then somebody does a Ginsu knife commercial on her ass.  Except at the Cult of Red, they really are.  And while it’s a knock on them on the street, they are not cult like at all.  Just extremely professional and focused.  They have a plan and they work it.  And they’re very successful at it.  One of the underlying precepts of Atlas Shrugged in my mind was the idea that if one were successful, we all could be successful.  Granted I’m probably one of the few people who actually understood what I read, God knows the teabaggers didn’t.  That’s how these guys think, if we’re all successful, then we’re ALL successful.  Of course the problem with Atlas Shrugged is the same as the problem with the theories of Marx and Smith.  Add people and it doesn’t work.  The Brother has said in response to people who complain about attorneys that “if people would act right, I’d be out of work.”  Word.  The same could be said for regulation.  If everyone would act right, we wouldn’t need regulation.  And Socialism would work.  And Communism would work.  And Capitalism would work.  Not at the same time, but they’d all work.  But it’s not in the human DNA to act right.  Our brains are always trying to get one over.  So regulation is necessary in a capitalistic society. 

Sometimes it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. 

I’m certainly glad that the folks that come here are used to my tangents.  Because it’s been a wild week here at The Farm.  The NIMBY neighbors have moved out, soon to be replaced by the really nice man and his really annoying Russian wife.  I did what I could to discourage them.  They came up to talk to me about the neighborhood when they were looking at the house.  Of course I mentioned that I had three large dogs and that I wasn’t going anywhere and if they had a problem with three Doberman Pinschers they should probably just move along.  I went on to say that they are good dogs and not yard dogs, but they’re dogs.  Well, she proceeded to ask me “Do they bark?”  Well of course they bark, they’re dogs.  They aren’t yard dogs, they’re house dogs, but they’ll bark at squirrels and noises and shit.  “Do they bark at night?”  When they’re out they might bark at something but they sleep in the house.  “Do they bark in the morning?”  Sometimes if they’re out.  “How early in the morning do they bark?  Do they bark before 7am?”  Lady, I get up at 4:30am.  If there is a raccoon in the yard they’ll bark at it.  I’m not particularly hopeful that I’m not going to want to string this woman up.  You can imagine the joy when NIMBY neighbor husband mentioned that my eucalyptus had split again and was laying on their shed.  I wanted the broken tree out of there before they moved in.  Last night after a day of yoga, door knocking, open house and Costco I fired up the chainsaw and got that half a tree off that shed before that woman saw it. 

And about Ike.  Bubba lost his mind and attacked Ike a week ago Saturday.  I heard the ruckus, I was shoveling dog shit at the time and had a shovel in my hand.  I was also in the back forty.  I thought it was Rita until I heard the screaming.  Then I realized that Bubba was on Ike and Ike was down and screaming.  I ran across the yard yelling but Bubba wasn’t letting up.  He had Ike by the back of the neck.  Now my family has a history with shovels.  My paternal grandfather, who I never met because he died when my Dad was seven years old knocked a horse down with a shovel for kicking him.  And one of the running jokes between The Brother and I is the cause of Parkinson’s which has affected at least four and probably five of our father’s siblings.  I maintain it’s caused by frying everything in bacon grease and The Brother maintains it’s caused by hitting each other in the head with a shovel during their youth.  Knowing that, when I arrived at the dog fightattack with a shovel in my hand I knew I’d met my roots.  I also knew that if I reached in I ran the chance of getting severely bit.  Naturally hitting them with a shovel was the next move.  I’ve been around enough dog fights to know that if you break their concentration you can safely break it up.  I knew hitting Bubba with a shovel would do that.  I also knew that if I messed up I could kill him.  Hitting him in the head was out.  That left his butt.  I knew if I hit him too hard I could break his leg or his pelvis.  I turned the shovel so that the rounded part hit his ass and smacked him on the ass with it.  It made a loud metallic sound and got him out of his zone.  He wouldn’t let go but he wasn’t on attack any more.  I pulled him off of Ike and shoved him in his crate.  Ike was hurt.  Worse, he hadn’t even attempted to defend himself, he was just down and screaming.  It wasn’t just a scrape, it was a deep puncture/tear.  I poured peroxide over it and irrigated it with my saline solution.  In the end he had to go to the vet but they didn’t stitch him, they just cleaned it up, gave him antibiotics and put a drain in.  The drain came out yesterday and he’s healing pretty well.  And he loves his warm compresses.  And now I spend my days shuffling male dogs so Bubba doesn’t try to kill Ike again.  He’s acting as if he didn’t do anything and they’re buddies but Ike looks at him as if he’s Satan.  And I’m not positive he isn’t.


He’s still high, they didn’t put him under, just doped him up a little.

Is changing back conservative?

President Obama will challenge Americans’ fear by holding up a constitutional mirror. He’ll require we examine our creation myths and decide; are we as brave as our founders thought we could be? He did that, 2 years ago, when he lectured the country about race, religion and tolerance. He’s become more conservative, but he’s doing it again.
President Obama favors religion. As with much of his surprising administration, this is a conservative position. He is encouraging construction of a house of God near the cavities where the World Trade Center used to tower, “ground zero”. This house of God is a Mosque. Oops!
We know little of the murderers who boarded the planes on the 11th’s morning. They’re dead. The evil have spoken for them. Their actions don’t speak for their alleged religion. If ground zero becomes a center for spiritual discovery, some good may come out of that terrible act. We fear what we don’t know. Faith gives us the strength to move forward with fear. We can begin healing when we overcome our fear and begin being Americans again.

It’s funny how I love that book And I never loved that girl

Mark Hurd was the CEO at Hewlett Packard. He helped maximize the company that Carly Fiorina left behind. He resigned today. He is copping to violating business standards. Something about expense reports. There were investigations into sexual harassment claims, too. The company and Mr. Hurd denied any criminal wrong doing in either matter. He served as CEO for the past 5 years.
I’ve worked there for nearly 3. HP isn’t a fun place to work. There are at least 8 layers of management between Mark Hurd and me. When I’ve heard him speak, he sounds very competent and very smart. Some of those layers aren’t as smart. Some of those layers are mean. Some of those layers do some dumb ass stuff.
At a sales conference where over 3500 hi-tech software sales professionals were being trained, yelled at and pumped up, an ass clown of a senior manager decided it was a good idea to hire some T&A. Manager, Barney Rubble, hired a young lady who had posed in Maxim, Playboy and who carried the round cards in the boxing ring and the UFC cage. He tasked her with throwing T-Shirts to people once they uttered the correct, Pavlovian response. He forgot he was presenting to a bunch of geeks with smart phones. Within seconds, this poor girl’s naked image was on 100 IPhones. Many in the room weren’t happy. The jack ass manager was whisked away from the company within 6 months (the terrible sales results couldn’t have helped him much, either.).
Somehow, this great thinker thought it’d be OK to pull this stunt. He thought it was OK to yell and threaten and to offer shots of Tequila at the door of this event. He thought being a PIG was OK. I’m not saying he got it from Hurd. He thought he was safe, however.
We have plenty of examples of companies doing things right. My IPad is one of my favorite new toys. Apple did it right, (full disclosure; I bought if for my wife as an anniversary present). Earlier this week my family and I enjoyed the day at the Academy of Sciences. It was the first time we’d been since it re-opened. We enjoyed the academy and we enjoyed lunch at Moss’. The Academy did it right. I took my son to see Real Madrid play Club America. Cristiano Ronlado does it right (85 minutes in an exhibition match. The team’s first match this season. He was AWESOME!).
HP stock bought my house. I love HP printers. They did those things right. Obviously, if the CEO steps away from the job, something didn’t go right.
Stokely Carmichael said, “You can’t be part of the solution if you’re part of the problem”. With all the half assed efforts being done by so many (Both political parties, BP, etc.), I’m pledging to get it right. Monday is my first day back from vacation. The little things that sometimes escape my attention will get attention. I’m tired of complaining of things that aren’t done right, when sometimes, I let things slip. Mr. Hurd, thank you for the job. Thank you for the example you’ve set. I know I want to be in the group that gets it right.

I guess it doesn’t matter any more

It’s been a wild couple of days here at the Farm.  I’m hoping the worst is over.  I said I had some news earlier in the week.  On Tuesday I started with a national firm and left the REO business behind me.  I’d find myself driving around thinking “God I hate the banks, the corporate ass monkeys that made this all happen”.  I hate that the Harvard MBA program started teaching essentially Reaganomics.  And I hate Reaganomics.  And I’m not really fond of Reagan either.  You know he’s why pilots make spit these days.

That’s what the guy who flies those 727’s around gets. Kind of scary actually. I want my pilot in the six figures and really really paying attention. That’s pretty much what they were making during the Reagan administration. But I digress. I’ve spent all week getting my license moved over, learning the new this and that, getting the MLS to work at the new firm and getting a couple of listings up on the market. I finally get to start my own business and get on with my life. No more corporate flying monkeys telling me what to do. Even though I work for the third largest real estate firm in the country…the guys with the red logo for those of you who are curious, they are letting me handle my marketing my way. That means I get to keep my super cool signs and cards and notepads that were designed by Calson Graphics, who I can’t say enough nice things about, Cate is a slice of awesomeness. I’m very proud of how nice my business photos, graphics, card, notepads and yard signs look. People recognize me and that’s what we’re looking for. The new cards will be printed on recycled paper with soy ink. How cool is that? At the new shop, they are all so nice and so positive. There are about 15 training classes a week that we can pick and choose. They handed me the two kick start programs they have. I’ll start one tomorrow and the other in September. The most shocking part of this move is how I can get everything done that I need to do and have some time to myself. I’m still kind of worrying about emails that an Asset Manager might send over the weekend, but then I tell myself “Not you’re problem any more.” It feels good.

Since we’re talking about the real estate industry, here’s a quote from the Money Times, the article was entitled The Good, the Bad and The Ugly, the subject was buybacks:

Buybacks: The Ugly
The most egregious buyback situations usually show up in the related-party transactions, as listed in the annual report. Here’s a past example from Fidelity National (NYSE: FNF):

In August 2007, FNF’s chairman of the board, William P. Foley II, planned to sell 1,000,000 shares of FNF stock
on the open market. Because the company was actively purchasing shares of treasury stock on the open market at the same time, the company agreed to purchase 1 million shares from Foley on Aug. 8, 2007, for $22.1 million, or $22.09 per share, the market price at the time of the purchase.

Fidelity National currently sits at just under $15 per share. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an insider sitting on both sides of that decision. Is he serving his fiduciary obligation to shareholders or serving his best interests? It seems like an inherent built-in conflict to me. As it turns out, it seems like Mr. Foley the individual got the best of Mr. Foley the CEO on this one.

While buybacks are always pitched to investors as a wonderful opportunity to “return capital to shareholders,” it’s not always the case. They are only wonderful if the company has excess capital and is repurchasing shares at a discount to their intrinsic value.

When will the rest of the world catch up to this guy? Who knows, but I do know I like rumors. Here’s a rumor that makes me happy. Or at the very least a rumor I hope is true. LandAmerica Commonwealth, the gift that keeps on giving.

Just in case you’re one of the schmucks still employed over at the Evil Empire, consider this, Number 16 on the list of the top earning CEO’s for the last 10 years, Bill Foley. He’s up there with such notables as the jackass from Countrywide and the dolt from Lehman Brothers. Now there are some stand up guys on there, but notably absent are any women. On the other hand if my choice is Carly Fiorina or Meg Whitman, I’ll go with the guys. Which gets us to another subject. Someone asked me who I thought was going to win the Governors race in California. I don’t like my answer, but I think Meg Whitman is going to win. I hate her racist ads, I hate her Rovian campaign so far, but part of me wants her to win just so this State can kick her ass and send her back home just like it did to the Governator. This State is just a mess and can’t really be run. Creating the 51st State, be it North California or South California (God knows we’ll spend ten years arguing that one…who is #51 and who retains the original #31) is the only solution.

And it’s time to do away with that stupid term limits bullshit. No one knows how to get things done any more. You may not have liked how Willie did things, but things got done. If you happened to watch Oakland on Governor Moonbeam’s watch, it wasn’t all that. Strangely it was better than Dellums, but it wasn’t all that. I think we need more than “it wasn’t all that” running this State. Granted Jerry knew once upon a time how to run the State, but back then we liked Linda Ronstadt dating the Governor.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

Something truly amazing is happening here at the farm.  Ike is getting better.  Seriously better.  This dog should not be getting better but he is.  He’s had two appointments so far with Dr. Karen Rettig at Alternatives for Animals.  That’s it.  Two.  He came home from the second appointment and ran around the back yard.  Granted it was a stiff run, but he’s never run before.  And it was better than his trot used to be.  His trot looked like a child playing with a plastic toy dog.  He now has some lateral movement in his spine and more stability in his legs.  He wasn’t running around the back yard actually, he was chasing Bubba during one of Bubba’s fence running episodes.  He was going back and forth around the tree and the deck and actually giving Bubba a good nudge in the butt.  I’m watching this very carefully because my biggest fear is that Ike gets better and no longer gets along with Bubba and I have to find him a good home.  Ike, not Bubba.  I don’t think that would be that hard, I almost gave him to the office manager at Dr. Rettig’s.  If her home had been a better fit for Ike I would have let him go there.  She’s been caught in Ike’s web.  There is something about this dog.  Something that made the folks at OAS take him on even though he should have been a PTS case.  Something that’s made him come back from the brink here even though he should have been a hospice case.  Everyone that meets him loves him.  She really loves him but wasn’t able to take Ike him due to her hardwood floors, stairs and cats.  It killed me to even offer him, but it was the right thing to do for him.  This woman came into his room and sat and stroked him while he was getting his acupuncture.  She called me to see when he was coming back in.  Not because it was part of her job but because she loves Ike.  He’s great here, but if there’s another great house where he can be an only child, get flooring he can survive on, not have to negotiate steps, and they have to means for his treatments, I have to consider it.  Ike can’t survive in a house with stairs or slick flooring such as hardwood, tile, pergo, linoleum.  That’s why I took him.  I have slate, carpet and just one step to get outside.  I knew he would do as well as possible here.  And he’s reaping the rewards of that forward thinking right now.  And for now, it’s amazing to watch.

Click here to support Ike.  Click on General Fund, once an amount is entered there will be a link that says “Add special instructions to merchant”.  Click that link and type in “I Like Ike”.  Ike thanks you for your support.