Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

I don’t have the author for credits…but it ain’t me, so someone else gets credit.

‘. . . I’m a little confused. Let me see if I
have this straight…..

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents,
you’re ‘exotic, different.’

[If you] grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, [you
have lived the] quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack your [name is an indication of]
a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating,
you’re well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community
organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard
Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers
150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law
professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a
district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the
state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee,
spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a
state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and
serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works
and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any
real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years
on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with
less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state
with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to
become the country’s second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19
years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within
Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress,
and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the
next month, you’re a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex
education, including the proper use of birth control, you
are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence
only, with no other option in sex education in your
state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter
ends up pregnant , you’re very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate laywer who gave up
a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the
betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to
raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent

If you’re husband is nicknamed ‘First
Dude’, with at least one DWI conviction and no college
education, once was a member of a group that advocated the
secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is admirable.

OK, much clearer now. . .’

OK, I do think California should secede from the Union, then Arnie could be President or Chancellor. (The Wine Dog said, knowing full well that DolphynGyrl just spit up on her monitor)

In Other News

I’m feeling rather smug right now. I had one dog crate going into this weekend. I knew I needed a second. I’ve fallen down a little on the training here and there’s been way too much bad dog behavior. Part of it is how much time I’ve been spending getting my business up and running and part of it has been how sick I’ve been. Now, I know it seems like “my God are you sick again?” but truth be told I haven’t had a respiratory issue since February, so that’s not so bad. I know two people who had this before me. One got a respiratory infection, the other got walking pneumonia. So the fact that I didn’t train my dogs like I should have been and didn’t post here as much as usual is a small sacrifice. I’ll do better on a go forward basis. Anyway, the point of the story is that I got a phone call yesterday from a friend at a garage sale. They were selling a large dog crate in excellent shape for $50. I said offer them $35. They took it. Too quick. I should have said $30 or $25. Anyway, I now have two dog crates, both barely used for a total expenditure of $75. Oh yeah. Rita’s reign of terror on the kitchen counters has come to an end.

Tomorrow will start another powerlifting cycle in the gym. I think I’m close enough to well to start lifting again. Basically I feel fine, I’m just a little snotty. It’s out of my chest and has been out for a few days and that’s what counts. I still don’t think I can get back up Ygnacio to the house, so cycling is put off for at least another two days. Hopefully I can get the Ygnacio loop in on Tuesday. Fall seems to have arrived here which is strange. As some of you know, or may remember, we are coming up on the most hallowed of days. In 1958 it broke all the temperature records for that day…going back 100 years.  I’m sure the Old Woman is still pissed at me about that. It’s been nearly 50 years Old Girl, move on. So this faux fall is a little strange. One year it rained, but that was an aberration. This year I hope it to be warm and gorgeous. OK one year I went wine tasting and it was 109 in Napa. Here I sat with all this wine and I just wanted to go for a dip. Anyway, I didn’t get all the weight off. I have broken 200 for the first time in I think five years. Not only that, I’ve been sitting below it for over a week. I blame two things. Cycling and getting out of the title business. We all know title offices are renown for passive aggressive food behavior.  Yeah, we’re all on waivers from our Dr. but we’re going to bring in cake and cookies and chips and godonlyknows what else because we can’t be the only ones with bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and morbid obesity.  So being out of that environment has been good for me.  Secondly, I have no real income right now, I’m not running around buying things that I shouldn’t. There hasn’t been a treat in this house in probably three weeks.  I’m not stopping in at this place or that place picking up something I shouldn’t because there isn’t any wiggle room in the budget.  My last two trips to Starbucks were to get tea with honey to sooth my throat so I could make cold calls. You just don’t get results when you sound like Tallulah Bankhead or a poor man’s Lauren Bacall. Or Bea Arthur.


Yeah, she’s Doberman lover. I suppose if I had said “Hi, this is Bea Arthur and we met at the open house last Sunday” I might have gotten better results. We’ll see. Another good open house yesterday. I’ve got a CAR contract and I’m not afraid to use it.

And as far as signs of the apocalypse are concerned, the Board is having open enrollment for Kaiser starting October 1. That means nobody cares that I weigh 199. (see, just under) Nobody cares that I had an episode of tachycardiomyopathy last February and nobody cares about my recurring sciatica or bad knees or cranky shoulders. The price of my soul is apparently $200.81 a month.

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But action is no gift from some covert and lofty god

View Larger Map

Does this make me Satan? Somebody said to me that it was probably some godfersaken hellhole with goats walking through it. It’s not. It’s a nice pristine hellhole with workers slammed in there elbow to elbow. Something you can’t do in this country. Here’s Bangalore. Here’s Mangalore. If you have any question as to why the title plants (information retrieval systems) are the way they are, check out Hyderabad. I supposed I could spend some time figuring out where LandAmerica or Fidelity outsources, but they didn’t shitcan my butt last week. Actually, a little bird told me this info is on it’s way.

L’il Red Dog

I took Rita for a long walk today which happened to go past the vet’s office. I wanted to get her weighed in. If you recall I was fighting to get some weight on her little red butt. Well, today she weighted in at 53.9, which is close enough to 54 to make me very very happy. If I can get her to hold right here I think it’s perfect. This little dog has been living in the lap of luxury since last Monday. I don’t know what she’s going to do if I ever go back to work. (feel free to support the PBE sponsors, it helps with the dog food)


Down on the Farm

The zucchini is growing like crazy. I cut the first one tonight. I’ve got another right behind it. The tomatoes are coming along nicely. The second part of Rita’s walk was a stop at Navlet’s. I asked them what I could plant because I had a partial crop failure. Apparently the fall seeds are coming in on Friday, so I’ll go back then and pick out some stuff to plant for the next season. I haven’t had to pay money for lettuce in over a month now. That rocks.


They’re thumbnails…click me click me.

Working it out

I started another four week cycle this morning. For all intents and purposes, it went very well. It’s nice to have all the time I need in the gym, although sometimes I kick my own ass. I went out this afternoon on the bike. I got about 2 miles from the house and POP SSSssssss. There wasn’t anything in the tire, it’s just that the gash that the glass cut is so deep that the tube pushed it’s way out of it and ruptured. I’m not too thrilled with the idea of having to buy a new tire already. I don’t know if this can be fixed. Must consult the Google.


The right wing is having a grand time with this:

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Everybody knows he knows he meant 47. Just like we know that McSame knew the mike was upside down.

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So let’s just end with some random cuteness.

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When the jester sang for the king and queen


My dog is a jerk.


Title bots up close and personal


I left them a little something on the window sill. They are either hiding real well or haven’t been back.


Better than Coconut Telegraph

Don’t be a hater, but look what one gentle reader put in the Wine Dog’s inbox.

We have all seen and experienced changes going on in our marketplace, some within LandAmerica and many around us in the industry. We have seen friends and co-workers leave the business as these times dictate, some have had their positions reduced, some at a time of their choice. We have another such change on our horizon.

As you know, we have recently seen announcements about some of LandAmerica’s benefits changing at the end of the month, and a few at the end of the year. That has changed the plans of some employees and Don Littell is one of those individuals. As we talked over the past couple of weeks, Don made it known that this may be the best time for him to leave the company in order to maximize the opportunities he had available to him. Therefore, we have worked out a voluntary reduction for Don and he will be leaving LandAmerica at the end of July. Don has been a great contributor to the over all efforts in Northern California for LandAmerica Commonwealth for many years and we are working with him in this endeavor to honor those contributions.

As we move forward, we have two individuals who will be stepping into Don’s responsibilities. For Contra Costa County, Mark Medel will be the interim residential manager as we develop a plan for the long term success of this area. Mark is no stranger to Contra Costa, having been the manager there in the past, as well as currently running a successful Alameda operation. For Napa County, Bill Starner will assume the residential manager responsibilities there. Joining us recently from Liberty Title and currently the Sonoma manager, Bill will bring many years of experience in the industry to the great staff in Napa.

Please take the opportunity to touch bases with Don before the end of the month and express your appreciation for what he has contributed to the Northern California operations. Thank you Don.

The Wine Dog wishes you well, Don. At least you had a choice.


Or stuck on stupid… For some reason, I went through my time card on Tuesday of last week, as in one day before Mr. First American called in my paperwork. What I found was that Mr. First American had taken hours off of my time card that I had worked and substituted in PTO, thereby eating up some of my PTO. Well, Dearly Departed Escrow Officer’s told me that he’d done some funny stuff to her time card, which is why I looking in the first place.  She did an audit and found a lot of missing time. Imagine that! An Escrow Officer doing an audit, as if you didn’t see that one coming. Well, I found missing time too, and I had kept records too. When I called his ass on it his lame excuse was “Sometimes I have to do these remotely and they need to get done so I make the changes”. Hey Eagle boy! There was nothing to change.   My card was right! How about picking up that freaking thing on your belt that you play with during meetings and dialing a number? BTW, a cell phone on your belts is sooo 2002. So you got to wonder how many before us got cheated out of their PTO by this joker. They are so shutting that sonofabitch down.

How do you like me now?

The Eagle didn’t like PBE. Back on April 24th they called me in and gave me a formal verbal warning for internet usage. I lost my mojo for about a week and this precipitated the Al Capone analogy . Because my internet usage was not what the problem was. It was PBE they were upset about. They didn’t get that I was writing about things that were already out on the internet in some other form. I guess they were confused by The Google. So they shitcanned me. Who thought that was a good way to shut me up? Yeah, I know the answer to that. How do you like me now? I’m sure Patty Hauptman is thrilled that I got laid off. Don’t worry honey, I’ll be back up your ass soon.

Road Rage

Yesterday’s ride was a lot of things. The Ygnacio loop at 1:10:41. A loss of five minutes. The wind was blowing all the way down the hill so I took it a lot slower, just to be safe. And my legs felt like lead. And it was around 95 out. And I was so bad coming up the hill that I will tell you it was around 10 minutes. Tuesday I got to the base at 46:03. Today it was 50:10 and went downhill (not really) from there. I just stunk up the place. I did do a crossfit workout this morning. I’m going to start powerlifting again on Monday. It was thrusters and pullups. I added a bench in there two. Three sets 21-15-9.

Another drunk kills another cyclist.  My Father taught me way back when I was 15 years old that a vehicle is a dangerous weapon.  Too bad he couldn’t have taught that to everyone.

Double Secret Probation 

I know it’s long, but it’s worth it.

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And this little tidbit came in from dolphyngyrl.  I told you so.   And because we’re on the subject, little Brother was hilarious yesterday.

Lead me to my next incident

Yesterday was a little messy out there.

Landam/Santa Clara Co -3 .
Financial Pruneyard/Campbell branch 2 and maybe Milpitas.
Chicago was planning on 3 or 4

A PBE Public Service Announcement

Because that’s how we roll. It might be time to reiterate the PBE job aids. Get signed up for your EDD immediately. Do that online. Jobs in the business are posted here, but it’s painfully quiet over there. You can be guaranteed that they’re paying half of what you’re worth. Look for corporate real estate coordinator positions if you’re on the title side. Those are the guys that vet the title work for new locations. Every chain store and restaurant has a department like that. Chevron’s real estate department, for instance, is always advertising something on their website. I think the dude that embezzled from the Parks Dept. spoiled that gravy train for the rest of us, but utility companies, anybody like that has a real estate department. If I were on the escrow side, I’d look for work as an asset manager for a lender. They’re maxed out and the properties just keep coming. I heard something about a regulation that says that banks can’t hold more than 30% of their portfolio in REO property. I haven’t been able to find the rule any where. What I was told was that this reg was why it seems like the spigot is turned off and then all of the sudden the market is flooded with foreclosures again. Anybody that knows for sure I’d love to see the code. Another option is getting your paralegal cert. I know you can get them at Cal State. It’s an easy transition for folks in our business, the pay is decent and the work is interesting.

Designed to send me to the moon.

Dolphyngyrl likes to poke at the sleeping tiger. She offered this inflammatory morsel yesterday. Yeah, that ticked me off. But doesn’t the guy look a little like Nick Nolte?

I’m a little banged up and I can’t seem to get things to settle down. The band in my hip that gets tight and hurts all the way down my leg won’t settle down. Usually a trip to the chiropractor, which occurred on Tuesday, settles it down. I’ve been stretching it out every morning and evening on the foam roller and doing various stretches during the day and it just won’t settle down. Ice has been applied, I’ve gone for walks, tried to not sit in my chair at work for too long of a period in a row and nothing. I’m not doing any hills on the bike tomorrow, just maybe gentle grades…and hope for 72 miles. And my left shoulder for the first time in a long time is being a punk. I actually had to pull out some ice at work yesterday. I think it has some fluid in it. I woke up yesterday morning and before I sat up there was an enormous pop. It moved better after that, but it still needed ice. I know what everyone is thinking. And I’ll rest when I’m dead.

Desperation’s causing me to question every single word you say

Smartest guy in the room

A colleague was in the office for an event in my office yesterday. When it comes to this business, I’m one of his biggest fans. This dude just has that sixth sense about title that you don’t see very often. Once upon a time, I had heard that he was a lawyer in another State and never bothered with the California bar. I never asked him about that, but it could be true. He is a truly nice guy with a feel for this business. Once upon a time I got a call for an expert witness. My suggestion was him. We were at different companies at the time, so I called him to let him know I dropped his name. His response? “That means a lot to me coming from you.” And that meant a lot to me. Yesterday he was in a “back in the day when I was young” mood. He named the six guys that he started out with. Five of them are now underwriters for various companies. All started in the same room, at Western Title, back in the day. All now either excellent underwriters or retired. There aren’t rooms full of guys like him any more. You have to wonder what the future holds.

Speaking of Crystal Balls

I read an interesting article by Brian Brady over on Miamism. I love those guys. He blames Greenspan for creating easy money and the mess we’re now in. I don’t agree. Just because the money’s easy doesn’t mean you go out and spend it like a sailor on a $700 drunk. Granted the accessibility of funds allowed the housing market to run up somewhat, but the availability of silly money is what created the rampant over pricing and in the end, the mess. I don’t agree with most of Brian’s take, but it’s still interesting and full of facts…and I love facts. Neither candidate seems to have anything intelligent to say. McSame says “We can’t let this happen”, although it did happen on Republican watch. Obama points the finger but offers no solution either. It’s interesting also to see Bernacke saying the economy is in the crapper, while Phil Gramm is telling us it’s all in our heads. Don’t y’all think that maybe a conference call is in order? You know, maybe get your story straight? Or at least tell the same story from the right side of the aisle. Hint, it’s in the crapper.

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug

I had a lousy workout this morning. I just didn’t have any mojo. My pecs are really sore from it and I didn’t even finish it. One of the things my acupuncturist was working on was getting my sleep pattern straightened out. I’m back to sleeping most of the night, so I should be stronger. Not so much today. I saw my chiropractor yesterday and generally that means the next workout is epic. Not so much today. I’m not sure what’s going on, maybe it’s the strange yet cool weather we’re having…

And if you’re dork sided, stay out of my house.

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Ain’t it dark, wrapped up in that tarp?

Is it possible that I have nothing to say except “I told you so?” (You need to log in to the NY Times) Nuff said. OK, it’s not possible.

Must not be drinking enough

I have been drinking a little bit of wine here and there. It’s been stupid hot here, so when you live alone, opening a bottle means either you finish the bottle or you have to find a way to keep it without cooking it in a 100 degree house. I did look at room air conditioners over the weekend. Another little voice says to just start replacing the windows and that’ll solve most of the problems. The living room cools down almost every night; the problem is the master bedroom. It’s got a huge window facing the rising sun. The window also faces the street and comes down low enough that it’s hard to have it completely open. I can’t walk into the bedroom and change shirts real quick. I have to get the shirt, step into the hallway, change the shirt, and put the other shirt back in the bedroom. Like that. And it’s an offbeat size. I’m thinking about building up the sill on the bottom with glass block and then putting a double pane on top of that. It’s just got to be perfect or there’s going to be a seepage issue, so the jury’s out on that idea. But this is about wine. A week ago I had dinner with some friends. Dinner was grilled Italian sausage and stuffed shells. I was at a loss so I called the Sommelier. Barbera was the suggestion. I went home and went through the wine cellar, no Barbera. There was an Argentinean Malbec, 2005 Melipal. It was amazing. Inky with vanilla and a bit of spice. Perfect with dinner. I got it at the BevMo sale so the fact that it was so good was just icing on the cake. I’m working on a Chappellet Mountain Cuvee right now. It’s a beautiful blend of everything great in a wine. It’s got berries and spice and vanilla, it just blows up in your mouth. Big thumbs up for an every day drinking wine.

Coconut Telegraph

If you’re over at Ted’s Excellent Title Adventure, I’d duck and cover, or at the very least buckle my seatbelt tomorrow correction Thursday. Word is bloodletting on the way. Dinty Moore has given up on the Danville market, don’t know the wisdom behind that move. I doubt it’s a local decision. It’s typical of Houston to roll up the carpet and run out of town, just sad to see right now, especially in the one place that will come back early. I’m sure John Harritt knows how much fun it is to pay rent on space you aren’t using…oh yeah, Alliance didn’t pay the rent. Nevermind. Speaking of space you don’t use, another 30+ years experience is walking out the door on her own volition tomorrow. It’s the state of the business. I hope the hedge fund is happy. We’ll see how happy they are when the claims start rolling in.

Feeling my age?

I am shocked that my body has no residual from yesterday’s ride from hell. I woke up feeling great, went down and did my deadlift workout, bench pressed like I knew what I was doing. Nailed a 205 lift this morning. Why couldn’t I do that in San Diego? Next week I’m going on a relatively flat ride, with a little veer off through the foothills. I don’t know what the key is to those stand-on-the bike-in-its-lowest-gear-type-your-legs-are-shaking–and-may-fail kind of hills. Two of them kicked my ass yesterday. I gave up twice and walked the last about 1/8 or 1/4 of a mile. Once on Acalanes, because the traffic was so close that I thought if I lost it I would be hit by a car, and once on Alhambra because I felt if I fell no one but coyotes would find me. Sometimes clicking out is the better choice. I need to figure that one out. I’m still having problems with my left toes cramping, or maybe they’re actually going to sleep. That’s the leg with the sciatica and I’m thinking there might be a correlation. It’s not like the anybody has lifted a finger to fix my chair that’s been hurting my hip and low back. I asked them twice…last year. Thanks for nothing.

And the theme of the day

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Where’s that damned ice cream truck?

We’ve got some beans and some good cornbread

I haven’t talked about the Body for Life aspect of all this in a while.  Every Sunday I put together all of my food for the week.  That’s the best way to do BFL.  I’ve been fooling around with a recipe I got from the Chef from the Park City Olympics.  It’s simple.  Duck sausage (not authorized) orzo, olive oil, lemon, green onions.  That’s it.  It’s delish.  Now remove the duck sausage and use…I’ve used chicken breast and various chicken sausages.  Mostly, it comes out awesome.  This week, I used Trader Joe’s Italian chicken sausage, whole wheat fettucine and asparagus.  I can’t wait for lunch and it’s 5:20 in the morning.  I sauteed the sausage in a touch of olive oil and then deglazed the pan with about 1/2 cup lemon juice.  Added the asparagus, turned off the heat and put a lid on it.  That steamed the asparagus.  I added the fettucine and skipped the green onions this time.  Like I said, I can’t wait for lunch this week.  I weighed in beautifully in Vista, but came home a little heavy.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the two trips to Ruth’s Chris Steak house located in my hotel.  OK the first trip involved a seared ahi appetizer and a salad.  It was the second trip with the not so petite filet and the salad…still good until the Irish bartender said cheesecake.  In my defense, I’d already had a couple of glasses of wine and really after a few glasses of wine you can say “cheesecake”, “crack”, doesn’t matter, it’s all a good idea at that point.  It wasn’t.  I’m not used to that rich of food and I didn’t sleep at all that night.  Anyway, I’m back to fighting weight.  Tonight I have a quick 45 minute ride to keep my legs loose and then it’s 62 flat miles on Saturday morning.  I had a nice pair of Pearl Izumi biking shorts, but Rita carried them into the yard and destroyed them after the second time I wore them.  I just bought two new pairs of distance shorts.  They will not be sorted into a laundry pile when I can’t watch her.  Which brings us to another Beau-ism.  That dog never tore up anything.  Once he shredded some junk mail because he was pissed that I left him when he clearly believed he should have gone.  Like a typical Doberman he left it in dime sized pieces.  But that was the ONLY time he ever tore anything up.  As a matter of fact, he messed in the house twice in his life.  Both times resulted in hospitalization.  I was lucky to be the one that stewarded that dog through this life.

Today starts another four week powerlifting cycle.  At least I can now bench my weight.  We’ll see what this cycle brings.

Dreamed I was an Eskimo

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I’m back from San Diego. The meet went ok. Not great, not bad. I decided to do the “full meet” in addition to the bench meet I was already entered in. Good thing. A full meet is squat, bench and deadlift. You have to get one of each. A good squat is when the crease in your hips drops below the axis of your knee joint. I got two out of three. Didn’t come anywhere near the record (currently held by me) but got a good squat in. Then came the bench. I was going to open with 203.7, which is like a day at the beach for me normally. (also a record, held by me) But not yesterday. The first lift I brought it down to my chest, but missed my chest by about 1 cm. The ref didn’t see this and gave the “press” command. Unfortunately, I was still bringing the weight down so it looked like I hitched it, which I didn’t, I hadn’t touched my chest yet. Redlight. Then I was done, I couldn’t hit the other two lifts at all. It was screaming hot in Vista yesterday, the news said 90, but it was 95 according to the temperature thing in the rented drop top PT cruiser. (Gutless piece o’ crap) I drank 4 32 oz things of G2 and three liters of water during the meet. I learned in Chicago to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate when it’s that hot. The building had air, but it sputtered under the stress of the day.


Looking good there.


I gave my camera to my friend Mrs. SemperFi to take some pictures. I’ll never understand the mystery of cameras to old people. She also took this gem.


I sure hope I wasn’t doing something really good when she got that one! Anyway, I missed all of my bench attempts…even though I really got the first one. Then came the deadlift. I was a little funky from the bench debacle and thought it best to dial back the opener a little on the dead lift. And I did by about 12 pounds, since everything’s in kg’s it’s this math bullshit all the time. So I made my opener and then the 2nd lift and figured out what I had to do to get close to the record. (also held by me) I missed the next lift, but it was enough to win the division. How ’bout my buddy, going to turn 70 this year.


And here’s my personal spotter.


He’s the former Chairman of USAPL in Colorado, and a ref and a rockin’ coach. It was awesome having someone so knowledgeable in my corner. I just wish I’d made that damned bench.

City Heat

The Brother volunteered to stay here with the dogs after Beauregard was diagnosed last weekend. I canceled their reservation at the puppy prison pet hotel. No one expected Beau to not make the week. So Wednesday, here I am with a dead dog and no real reason for The Brother to have to come out here except that I cancelled the reservation. He didn’t have a problem coming out here anyway. So when it hit 107 degrees on Friday afternoon, I was concerned about the boys from the City. They actually did pretty good. Loki was an excellent playmate for Rita and all worked out nicely all around.

Heartbreak Ridge

Nascar Teddy in all his ego wisdom, has hired a consulting firm to tell him that he needs to be sure that everyone they’re carrying on the insurance, really should be there. So if you work for LandAmerica, expect to have to prove that your domestic partner, husband, wife and children, really are your immediate family. I’m not sure how they handle that in Utah. And the consulting firm? A division of Fidelity? Really? I do need some confirmation on that part of the story. Anyone? Bueller? Oh what the Hell! Party on Bill, party on Ted.

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But wait there’s more! Southland? New Century? United? Buh bye!

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Nascar Teddy’s “assimulating” the brand into LandAmerica. I guess they didn’t get the memo. Bill has Fidelity, Chicago, Ticor, Security Union and Alamo, where he has numerous opportunities to piss you off and still retain your dollars. Teddy, when LandAmerica pisses them off, it’s over. This little diatribe was in my inbox a week or so ago. Funny, Teddy wasn’t copied…maybe it was a bcc because he sure needs to read it. PBE has some very smart readers.

Actually, Foley was the first to really understand that self-competition works in the Southern California market where the business is controlled by the sales reps. Back in The Day when Chicago bought Safeco, they each had about 8 percent of the SoCal business. Chicago merged the two operations, and within six months the merged operation had (wait for it) 8 percent of the business. Not to be phased by that, when Chicago bought Ticor, they each had about 8 percent of the business. Guess what happened when they merged the operations. You betcha.
When Foley bought Chicago, etc., he kept them separate at the operations level. Little loss of business, and the money stayed in the Financial system.
This only works if the local public perception is that they are separate. LandAm, in their infinite wisdom, insists on labeling each brand as “LandAmerica”. As in LandAmerica Gateway (now closed),LandAmerica Southland, LandAmerica Commonwealth, LandAmerica Lawyers, etc. You can see how well that worked out for them. When a broker gets pissed at their title company, it’s unlikely they will switch to someone who is clearly a part of the same organization. Make no mistake, from my experience with LandAm and Mercury, the brands view each other as competition, not as “sister companies”.

Smart. Very smart.

High Plains Drifter

You know when you google a name search and you get all those advertisements for finding the person for $7.95? Yeah, from Intellius, those guys. One of my co-workers was leaving our office one evening and found a wallet lying on the ground. It was full of credit cards and everything. He couldn’t find a phone number for the person so he clicked on the Intellius link and for $7.95 got the info and returned the wallet. Unfortunately, he didn’t read the fine print and they started charging his card $19.95 a month, every month. Finally, he remembered to sit down and find the spot on the webpage and email them to cancel the service. No response. Next month, another charge. So he sent them this:

On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 10:08 PM, XXXX <XXXXXxxx@comcast.net> wrote:

What is the status of my request to cancel, please?

And their response?

—– Original Message —–

From: Customer Service <mailto:custserv@gmail.com>


Sent: Friday, June 13, 2008 1:13 PM

Subject: Re: Membership No. 52xxxxxx

ain’t gonna happen. that’s the status. now zip it!

Makes me want to sign up with those guys right now, eh?

I don’t want much, no, no, I just want a little bit

OK, this is the essential Friday Fish Fry.

I was watching the news and Obama challenging everyone to get away from the 527’s. I sat there and thought “what about moveon.org?” Well, question answered today.

Dear MoveOn member,

For almost ten years, we’ve worked together to change American politics. Millions of us have collaborated to build a new progressive moment, catalyzed by the Internet and motivated by our belief that the country we love deserves better.

Now, in Barack Obama, we have a Presidential candidate who has based his campaign on precisely that kind of new politics—a people-driven politics focused on the outside-of-the-beltway consensus around Iraq, climate change, and health care, not the gridlock in Washington.

Using a lot of the tools and techniques developed by the progressive movement—as well as a visionary approach to leadership—Obama’s brought millions of new people into the process. And, following in the footsteps of Howard Dean, ActBlue, and other innovators, he’s adopted a new way of funding a campaign—relying on a donor base of millions rather than contributions by lobbyists and special interests.

It’s a very exciting moment. And so the time has come to answer an important question: should we make an all-in commitment, together, to this new politics?

While MoveOn Political Action has always been funded exclusively by small donors like you, we’ve held open the MoveOn.org Voter Fund—a separate “527” organization—which can raise money from big donors. We haven’t actually taken any big-money checks since 2004, when MoveOn members matched big contributors to educate voters about George Bush’s policies. But in light of the new politics offered by Barack Obama, I’ve come to believe it’s time to close the 527 forever—and to challenge organizations on the right to do the same thing.

That means that we won’t raise any money for our election work from foundations, or even individuals who want to give over $5,000. It’s an all-in commitment to the small-donor way of doing things. But the time is right to take the leap.

Not relying on big donors means that all of us, together, have to take responsibility. So before we sign the final paperwork, we need to know that you’re in. Are you? Just click below to take the pledge and let us know:

Take the pledge!

And if you have any other thoughts or feedback for me on this decision, you can reply to epariser@moveon.org (I can’t promise that I’ll respond to all the emails, but I’ll definitely read ’em).

We’ve come a long way together in our journey toward a new people-driven politics for America. It’s been a wonderful honor to be part of it. And this is just the beginning.


–Eli and the whole team

MoveOn.org Political Action is a registered federal political action committee. Donations are limited to no more than $5,000.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

OK, I can get behind that. Mr. McSame? Anybody home?

Dolphyngyrl sent me this today:


From my buddies over at ICANHAZCHEEZBURGER.COM

Sonofabun would like me to quit it, he’s tired of running his mascara every morning when he reads me. I prefer to joyfully celebrate a life well lived. That being said, some pictures of the Brother with Beau on Sunday.


50 miler

I didn’t get my 54 miles but I did get 50. Close enough. I had a 10am appointment and foolishly thought I was getting out of the house at 5am. The sun wasn’t up. I had to wait until 5:45 when it was safe. I got to Dublin and back. Averaged 13.63 mph, considering I go up Ygnacio at 5mph, not too shabby. I kicked Ygnacio’s ass today. Yeah, I OWN you. Used my four Hammer Gels and some HEED. I like that stuff. OK, I like that it’s not some syrupy piss yellow crap that I have to chase with water. That makes me happy.  It was 87 when I got home at 9:30.  Yikes.  I went through two 23 oz water bottles and a 20 oz of HEED.

Mongo Thirsty

I’m off to San Diego in about an hour. The Brother will be holding down the fort. I’m not sure if Rita is hot or depressed or both. She’s been very low key the last two days. OTOH, it’s currently 102 here. Reason two for riding at 5:45 a.m. I think I might add the full lift meet. I’ve been squatting pretty well and my back is healed. We’ll see how I feel in the morning. Right now, in spite of a 50 miler, I’m full of spit and vinegar.

Dippin’ low in the lap of luxury.

We just don’t like seeing this sort of thing.  These guys are in and out of our office all day long.   Some are clowns, but all accounts, this guy was a good guy.  Not a drug addled train wreck.  Sadly, it occurred the morning of the Ride of Silence.  Unlike Critical Mass, the Ride of Silence stops at lights, obeys the law and generally behaves properly.  When a car hits a bike or a bike hits a car, it doesn’t really matter who’s fault it is, the biker goes down.

Beauregard is on the mend actually he just kept me up all night.  He was fine for a day and a half and then last night we had 1:00a.m. roll call.  Repeatedly.  I think he just bought himself a trip to the vet tomorrow.  He’s in great spirits and his eyes are bright and clear, but something is definitely hinky with my boy.

I  made all my reservations for the AAU meet in Vista.  I was able to use the plane ticket from November, when the plane for Vegas never left.  You know, when I asked for a day off to drive but couldn’t have it because it was a “blackout” period.  Even though the Regional Manager was off the entire following week, in the “blackout” period.  Even though I knew it wasn’t set in stone because I had covered for another manager to go home for Christmas during the “blackout” period in 2000.  Yeah, the arbitrary “blackout” period that only applies to me.  And you jackholes wonder why I’m bitter.  Anyway, I had a left over plane ticket.  I wish I could have applied my lifting fees too.  That’s $70 I just ate.  Thanks Mr. FirstAmerican.  That’s like a days pay around here.  Oh yeah, then he has “appointments” and disappears off the radar two Fridays later.  Yeah right, “appointments”.  The rules seem to only apply to me.  Not that I’m bitter.  Anyway, I was able to get my San Diego plane tickets for a straight across trade for the November tickets that I didn’t use.  Then I started looking at hotel rooms.  Vista California is on the east side of Pendleton.  You don’t want to screw around with cheap hotels out there, unless you like drunken jarheads.  Unfortunately, their idea of a cheap hotel is $89-130 a night… to stay in Vista, California… with a bunch of drunken jarheads.  So I took a look at staying in San Diego proper.  My line of thinking was “what’s another $100 if it’s going to be $300 anyway”.  So I tried priceline.com.  I have never ever gotten what I wanted off that site.  But I’m not making the money I used to so what the hell.  I determined that I was willing to go to a 3 star by their ratings.  The 3 stars were going from $211-$400 a night.  I bid $130, with charges that made it $150 a night.  I know that sounds high but Vista, California $130, plus taxes.  There, it’s not so bad.  I got that bid accepted.  It makes me wonder if I should have started lower, but that hotel was $422 for the weekend on every other site and I got it for $300 for the weekend.  Here it sits.  Saying I get out of the meet in time, I can actually walk the 1.3 miles to Petco Park that night and see the Padres play the Tigers.  Or not.  I think this might be an ok trip.