The wisdom of a fool won’t set you free

What is it about corporate America? The CEO of Bear Sterns, gone. (Said in my best Chris Berman voice) Citicorp’s CEO, gone. Starbucks, gone. Merrill Lynch, gone. Yet these guys will get hired by someone else, even though they didn’t do the job. I predict that Starbucks will experience an Apple-like transformation with the founder back at the helm. Still for the rest of them, they’ll bring in someone else with much pomp and circumstance and their first solution will be to cut jobs, restructure the organization and blah blah blah. I’m consistently amazed by the inability to differentiate someone who’s skills lie in self promotion from someone who can actually formulate and execute a business plan. I like to refer to the former as “empty suits”. And when I say “suit” it sounds like Billy in Entourage.

I’m reading one of the Rich Dad Poor Dad books right now and he’s talking about the importance of failing. Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before he got the light bulb to work. (An idea that is now widely considered to have been stolen) I understand the logic behind taking your chances, possibly failing and learning from the experience, but I don’t know the wisdom of doing that when people’s lives are hanging in the balance. When you bring someone on to your organization, as a manager, you have a duty to do your best to build the business to be able to keep them employed. I don’t think corporate America understands that any more. People used to have one job for their entire life. Companies want loyalty, but how do you foster loyalty when the company is just as likely to shit can you because of a momentary pullback in business. I am appalled at all the money that was made by lender’s and title companies in the last 10 years, but when the market tightened up, no one had anything in the bank to ride it out. Are you kidding me? Managers, directors and officers have a duty to the shareholders, employees and customers to not fail.  I would submit that they have an additional duty to humanity to do right.  Throwing people away is not right.

James Donald is out of a job because he expanded the business too quickly. 800 Alliance Title Company employees and who knows how many National Alliance Title employees are out of work because John Harritt, Jerry Hauptman and Patty Hauptman expanded the business too quickly. They should have been building a solid base for the lean times. It’s not rocket science, it’s just business. They stole Escrow Officers from decent companies and decent jobs, just to can them a month later and hijack their book of business. That’s wrong.

What is it with mediocrity? I’ve seen more salesmen in management positions than I ever care to see again. And there will be more. John Harritt is a perfect example of self promotion to the point of incompetence. It’s a communications degree fergodsakes. Jocks and cheerleaders and pretty people who are stupid. And 2500 people lost their jobs over that. I’m with the kangaroo.

But I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor

And when I die I expect to find him laughing

FATCO has a transition team in place out of Pleasanton and thank goodness Donna H is heading it up but I also heard she already has retained a high powered attorney and is suing the Hauptmans individually plus Mercury and possibly Harritt and has the ammo to make it happen. I am moving forward in that directions too

That was posted in our comments earlier today. Where I come from, we call that a tasty treat. That’s huge. After all, Donna commands a goodly amount of respect, even though I never thought that company showed her any.  So because here at PBE we like to be helpful, we offer this snack for all of you who have retained counsel. Did you know the Hauptman’s own property in Santa Barbara that happens to be free and clear?

Yeah, us title officer types are real good and finding stuff. That would be a great place to say, record a judgment or just jack them up with a Lis Pendens or 800 of them. Here’s another snack.

OK, maybe that was just mean. No, canning 800 people twelve days before Christmas is mean. Posting the Santa Barbara vacation home of the Hauptmans on the internet: priceless.

Mom make it stop

Poor Beauregard. He desperately wanted someone to play with. You could tell whenever Coco or Loki came over to play. So I bring home a little girl who snarks at him a little bit and then decides that maybe he is a fun guy.

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So she runs and runs and runs and he plays and plays and plays. But he’s 9 years old and this morning, it took Bigge to get his dog butt out of bed this morning. She pranced around the yard and tried to look like a lot of fun and finally he ran with her, a little. Like your Grandfather did when you were a kid, taking the shortest route so it looked like he was doing something. I brought them inside, gave him an Ascriptin and he just went back to bed. Didn’t even bother to say goodbye to me this morning. Wait until he finds out she€™s still here tonight. Tonight I’m going to try and get her into dog school. They are going to be thrilled to death to find out that I got another dog, just when they thought they were rid of me and and the Wild Man.

Eating my way to a body for life

I made the clove scented beef stew over the weekend. Then a boiled some red potatoes to go under it. Total calories 380. I€™ll post the original Joyce Goldstein recipe and then my modifications to make it Body for Life in parenthesis at the end. Ms. Goldstein is a local chef, one of the original rock stars, actually, who used to have a place called Square One. She now consults and writes for the Chronicle, which is where I got this recipe. It is so brilliant, it must not disappear in the sfgate archives.
Clove-Scented Beef from Rome (Garofolato di Manzo alla Romana)

Serves 4-6

While the perfume of clove permeates this dish, it is not cloying or overpowering. Like most braises, garofolato can be cooked the day before and reheated. It is delicious served with mashed potatoes. Any leftover beef can be shredded and used as a filling for cannelloni or chopped into bits, added to the pan juices and served as a sauce for pasta.

INGREDIENTS:

About 6 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed (I barely use 3 tablespoons)
1/3 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and cut crosswise in 1/4-inch-wide pieces (I only use about an ounce)
2 large yellow onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 celery stalks, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 pounds brisket, boneless short ribs or well-marbled chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces ( I use London Broil, it’s leaner)
1 1/2 cups beef stock
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Instructions: Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat and film the bottom with olive oil. Add the pancetta and let it render some of its fat, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cloves and thyme and cook for 2 minutes to blend the flavors.

While the vegetable soften, place a large, deep skillet over high heat and film the bottom with olive oil. Add the meat and brown in batches on all sides, about 10 minutes. Repeat until all the meat is browned. (When you brown the meat, do not crowd it in the pan or it will steam and not develop a brown crust.) Remove the meat, set aside and deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the beef stock and add it to the Dutch oven. Stir in the tomato paste, and then add the beef, wine and the rest of the stock. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beef is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Now taste the wine and taste the pan juices. Season with salt but go easy on the black pepper as it will accentuate the tannins in the wine. I did not add very much at all.

Serve hot.

Note: You can also braise the stew in a 325° oven — it will take the same amount of time as on the stovetop — or you can cut the liquids by half, put everything in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 5 1/2 to 6 hours.

Per serving: 545 calories, 37 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 33 g fat (10 g saturated), 112 mg cholesterol, 794 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

When I make it, I cut back the pancetta to 1 oz. and use London Broil instead of brisket. There’s no fall off on flavor and it cuts a lot of the fat and calories. When you cut back on the fat going in to it, a serving comes in around 325 calories and around 20 g fat.

And the Wine Dog is drinking…

William Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Heavy raspberries and spice, nice smooth finish. A Christmas gift, and a damned fine one at that. I had Body for Life chicken parmesan with polenta tonight, it went very well with it, and after it.

They can see every cheap thing that you ever done.

So today I went and picked up my new little redhead. We figure her to be two years old. She’s a love sponge, and while originally I thought she had been somebody’s pet, she isn’t trained in any language. I’ve tried English, German and Spanish. Still there is nothing like the love of a little redhead. I taught her down on the way home and she’s doing pretty good with sit. The prong collar was a fine how do you do and she had a few things to say about that barbaric practice, then she walked perfectly at heel. She’s a lot smaller than Beauregard. He thought “Great! A playmate!” and then she took him to school. They’ll work it out.

I was a little nervous about driving across the State today to get a dog in my pickup truck. I got up this morning and it was clear as can be, so I thought I’d run up there before anything bad happened. About an hour and a half into the drive I decided it was time to stand up and maybe get some coffee. My hip flexors have been an ongoing issue ever since I went to work for the Bloodless Empire. I have to sit all day in a chair with no other tasks and I’m pretty jacked up from it. Now, since they can’t seem to get the ergonomics people out to see me, in spite of my pleas, I just stand up and stretch every 20-30 minutes. It’s better, but 90 minutes in the truck is about critical mass. So I stopped in Willows. They may have done an X-files about Willows, California. The one where everyone was so inbred that they had a hand coming out of their forehead and couldn’t add even using all fifteen fingers. Yeah, Willows, California. 9am, no rain, no wind in sight and the Starbucks is closed. The McDonalds is closed. The Chevron is closed. All that is open is a packed Arco and a Murder King. I choose the latter. We’ll check later for a hand coming out of my forehead, because that was a completely moronic move. The one girl at the counter keeps asking the cook for XYZ surprise and the cook keeps saying “I put it out there”. Well, come to find out the guy with the hand coming out of his forehead was giving her orders to the drive-up. Randomly. This whole process takes place while I stand alone in line, waiting. (BTW, today is my free day) So the cook says, “put the guy with the hand coming out of his forehead on the register”. My register. Which even with three hands he can’t operate. I think back to the piece Keith Olbermann did when the FBI arrested five terrorists for trying to blow up JFK by getting into the jet fuel line and detonating it. He correctly opined that jet fuel could not ignite without oxygen and that trying to blow up the airport via the fuel line would not work. (It won’t) He said “So the FBI arrested five morons”. They must be out on bail and working at the Burger King in Willows, California. It took 30 minutes to get coffee and a biscuit sandwich this morning, for no real reason. I was sure I was in the X-Files.

Riddle me this, Batman

Why does the State of California have rest stops up and down Highway 5 if none of them are open. Not one. That’s what got me into the fast food joint in the first place. What the hell are our taxes paying for anyway?

What’s really a little surreal about the whole thing is how the 5 looked so much like the 49 in Mississippi after Katrina. Of course, not so much as I got down in the Gulfport, Long Beach area, but up in the Hattiesburg area, it looked very similar. Businesses were closed from the storm, the big lighted signs were damaged, the road signs were uprooted and twisted and you could see large trees just snapped. In a few places you could see where water had come up onto the highway and left debris. It really looked like Mississippi 2005 out there today. Luckily, I missed all the rain until I was about 15 minutes from home.

When I returned I went out to Lowe’s and got a couple of 2X4’s and some braces to kludge the fence back together. Currently it’s standing. I have an easement in the back yard, the very back for a creek. When I bought the property I couldn’t see a creek anywhere near the property and the aerials didn’t show anything either. Now there is a rushing creek about 50 yards off from the property where they was a dry bed last week.

Tomorrow will bring the further adventures of Beauregard and Rita, who looks marvelous with her Rockabilly dog tag.

Prayin’ it’s the weather, that’s kept him out all night

Well, talk about a good old fashioned ass kicking. Try 70mph winds on the 12th floor. The rain actually comes through the sealed windows. They had to board up the entrance to my building today because the winds were so intense the building engineer thought that they were going to shatter the glass. It took them almost a year to remodel this bad boy, so I can understand the concern. The wind whipped the back doors right out of your hands. There was occasional snow flakes on the 12th floor. All I could think of was my poor dog who is terrified of the wind home along. This is the first storm in the new house. Click on home improvement if you would like to see what an epic fixer upper this was. The fences seemed okay, but not good enough to handle a storm at the base of Mt. Diablo. And they weren’t. The back yard has now been expanded to include the horse property behind me. They don’t seem concerned right now. Wait until they see Beauregard nipping the heels of one of their ponies. Then they’ll be pulling out the 2X4’s and decking nails and helping out.

Loki has been running The Brother ragged. He’s a young boy, probably 11 months now. He eats anything that isn’t nailed down. Soon he will gnaw on that which is nailed down. I know of this. I owned Xica da Silva. The original Insane in the Membrane. That dog was out of her mind. Border Collie, pit bull and Mastiff. Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball, or I will kill you, the ball and your family. Just a little intense. During the storms of 1992 she was out of her mind. She was two years old, living in the City and it had been raining for something like 54 days in a row. We were building arks. I decided to hell with it and took her to the dog park. She slipped and blew her ACL, as if there wasn’t already enough hell in my life. Try to keep a crazed dog quiet after surgery. Anyway, The Brother’s dog adventures make me think fondly of my little black dog.

xicaball.jpgRest in peace.

Tomorrow it looks like the weather is going to break long enough for me to go get Rita. I’m very excited. It will be a new adventure. She was a stray so God only knows what she does or doesn’t know. It should be extra fun with the fences down.

What the Wine Dog is drinking

Water. And the end of a couple of bottles that I started. I’ve been ridiculously busy since NYE. I’m itching to get into the wine cellar and pull out something off the hook. I don’t really have a great reason to go in there though, so I haven’t. I was going through my bills the other day and apparently I’m still a member at Trentadue, or at least they’re still charging me for wine. I’m such a mess, they may have sent it to me and I may have already drank it. I need to get up to Freemark Abbey and Keenan soon. Robert Keenan once said the the best piece of real estate he ever became involved in was the land on Spring Mountain. And he was a commercial realtor, he should know! For my money, they have the best product out there. They just don’t make a bad wine and last year, they went green. Even though they’re getting great ratings on their wines, they’re keeping the prices reasonable and that’s worth the price of admission.

Didja know?

Anyone know if Mercury Companies is still involved with Intero? That was always such a weird thing. They would do business with Financial Title Company but not Alliance Title Company. And now they can’t do business with Financial Title Company. And then there was the J. Rockcliff thing and who knows. Mercury’s website is still down and that’s just not very much fun. On the upside, they haven’t filed BK yet. They only references I can find to Alliance Title Company and bankruptcy or on the blogs and well, here at PBE, but we are certain it hasn’t occurred yet. Yet. It’s not like anyone has gotten their second check. You know, the one they promised in 72 hours.

And I’m still building a body for life

I’ve had a good solid week. I using a more traditional work out style right now. I’m going to try Turbulance Training starting next week. Because that works best with a new dog in the house. I think I’ll be cooking some of my red hot ass kicking BFL chili next week. Fire is mandatory. Wine Dog loves da heat!

And I’ve got a good rant in me again.  Subject will be outsourcing to unstable countries.

Began her career at the Continental baths

I’m a huge Bette Midler fan. For years a story was told of me laying on the couch at my brother’s apartment reading “A View from A Broad“, laughing my ass off. One of the best stories in the book was one year when she was playing a New Year’s Eve show. She wanted to tape a joint to the bottom of every seat in the house and at midnight “Happy New Year, check under your chair”. Well that idea was quashed. So midnight rolls around and she’s got nothin’ so she flashes the crowd. God love her, when in doubt flash the girls. Well, I’ve got nothin’ on Alliance Title Company or Patty Hauptman or Mercury Companies or Financial Title Company tonight so:

Click me! Click me!

You didn’t really want to see the girls did you? OK, that was some cheap entertainment. Seriously, we’re title officers, we’re escrow officers. We unravel stories for a living. Did you think we weren’t going to search the Official Records?

Yeah, it’s been a slow news day here at PBE.

I don’t know how to live, but I got a lot of toys

Here’s a couple of tidbits of news all good. In San Joaquin County First American picked up a key player who had been with Alliance Title Company. First American also picked up a team in Danville. Stewart Title in Contra Costa has picked up a couple of former Alliance Title Company employees as well. And the best of all, the California Department of Industry Relations visited pinkbunnyears. That can only be good news for the folks who are out vacation pay and commission checks. (They’re the governing body in the State of California for those sorts of matters.)

Heloise’s Helpful Hints for out of work title people.

These tips are much better than the ones I got from the California Employment Development Department, who advised me that I was well suited to be a Strategic Missile Commander. OK, that’s so obscure I couldn’t even get a good google reference. I could also be an actor or musician. Stand down LiLo the Wine Dog is in the house! So, my drift is that they are clearly unhelpful while trying very hard to be helpful. They never said I was well suited to write a daily blog skewering the machinations of the title business. So allow me to be the helpful one. Things I think us title folks can transition easily into. Paralegals. Most Title Officers have been called by a paralegal on a big deal who, at the end of the day, we’d like to snap their little necks. Why not be the person annoying the title staff? It’s a quick certificate program and they’ll extend your unemployment benefits if you take some training. Asset managers for lenders. Do you know how many houses they’re taking back right now? A buttload. Have you talked to the people they have handling the asset management aspect of the transaction? What escrow officer couldn’t do a bang up job handling those? There’s two quickies and if you think about your personality ticks whatever they may be, you’ll have an easier time seeing where you’d fit right in. In the next week or so we’ll have some resume tips and cover letter tricks.

What the Wine Dog drank a couple of days ago

It’s a pretty long list. I will say yesterday’s postings were done with my Slash shades on. Actually, I looked like I’d been hanging out with Slash, for a week. Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon. I love their wines. A very refined offering with currents and a little smoke and blackberries. It was lovely with my lamb chops in a honey pomegranate sauce. Then we got our stupid on and tried some of this. Stupid is as stupid does, but most of us were smart enough to stop. Good thing, we didn’t know all of the rules to drinking Absinthe. The only rule I knew was Rule #1 Don’t do it. Then we got a little smarter and opened a bottle of Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cab Franc. That was amazing. Lots of levels, typical of Chappellet, nice fruit, also a bit of smoke and currents. You’d think after that my New Year’s Resolution would be to stop drinking. It wasn’t. Although taking some Advil and a shower seemed like a good idea.

Building a Body for Life

I’m locked on now and hope to stay locked on until the end of March when I should weigh in 50 pounds lighter than I do today. I’ve got a challenger who wants to go toe to toe with dinner at the French Laundry as a prize. I’m so in.

One last caress

Victim in Vegas wrote in a couple of New Year’s Resolutions for Patty Hauptman and I’m going to build on those. Feel free to add your own.

  1. public apology to all employees, past & way past.
  2. pay checks sent immediately to those who have been shorted..
  3. Learn about ethical business practices and apply them
  4. Stop trying to get away with something and start trying to conduct business in an honorable way.

I was hoping for five, but that should be enough to keep her busy for 2008. I mean really, how do you learn ethics at her age anyway? That’s going to be a tough one. And here’s a couple of mine for John Harritt.

  1. Admit that you are not business material, you are not CEO material. You are a salesman. Period.
  2. Return some phone calls and start behaving in an honorable manor
  3. Get out of the title business, you’re part of the problem (actually that could be Patty Hauptman’s #5 too)

That’s all I have for John Harritt. You can’t make a New Year’s Resolution to be less of a dumb ass….can you?

Wine Dogs Goals (since we don’t do resolutions)

  1. Get the 50 pounds off
  2. Set records in the new weight class (I’ve already checked, it’s so doable)
  3. Finish the four classes I’m enrolled in
  4. Pass the appropriate tests
  5. Keep Pinkbunnyears rolling and interesting, key topics to include
    1. Title business and my crusade to stop the corporate wankers
    2. Body for Life
    3. Powerlifting
    4. My dogs (yeah, I said DOGS. See below)
  6. Train the newbie (see 5.4 above or picture below)
  7. Build an organic garden
  8. Landscape back yard
  9. Start three planned businesses and write business plan for fourth
  10. Use less emotion and more brain unless the situation calls for more emotion and less brain. 😉

Click, click, click, I’m a link!
rita.jpg

This is Rita. She’s one of the redheads I helped transport to rescue a couple of weeks ago. I should have just kept her then. When I got the flyer last week this picture just about did me in. She was insane in the membrane when Linda was transporting her to me in a crate. When I got her, I hooked her up with a harness and tethered the harness to the passenger seat belt. She rode the whole way with her head either on my shoulder or the crown of her head pressed into my chest. How do you not keep a dog like that? She’s very dark for a red Doberman Pinscher. She was found in Santa Maria as a stray. No one claimed her. The chip she had went back to Mexico, and dead ended, so I named her after the hottest Mexican redhead I could think of at the time, Rita Hayworth.

ritah.jpg

A little voice kept wanting to call her Esta Noche to her while we drove. When I told the Brother, he asked incredulously “Why would you name a dog after a drag bar in the Mission?” I can’t answer that. She may be called Rita Hayworth’s Esta Noche, call name Rita. I pick her up on Saturday. I scored a brand new Vari Kennel for her off a mailing list for about a quarter of what it would have cost me in the stores. I’ve got a few more tweaks to her room and we’ll be ready for her. She starts dog school next Monday.