Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Welcome to the panic room.

Mr S. and I have been having a big debate about the bailout. He's against it. I'm begrudgingly for it. This is why.

The market is in full school of fish fear mode. You can't see where the sharks are coming from, so everyone just scatters at shadows.

Take this as an example. Mr S. says he just read on a blog the Bank of America is closing accounts for people with credit scores under a certain amount. You can find the criteria if you want to.. I'm not going to repeat it.

Since the information only seems to be coming from one target source. I'm calling it a rumor.

At any rate...if this were to happen - we would not be affected in any way. But I find myself rushing over to check my credit score. As a matter of a fact, the reporting agency says that 96.5 percent of people score lower than we do on their credit scores. So.. I shouldn't feel panicked. But - I'm still panicked.

Congress needs to put a clamp on that fear. Right now. The fear is rampant and pervasive.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm pissed about the bailout. I played by the rules. And now I have to give money to people who didn't. Pisses me off. I also understand that job loss is a real issue. A nation full of panicky people do not help.

I had to get my PT kwooozer on.

I still have stories from my weekend. I traveled a long distance in short amount of time. So, I found a lot of odd things. But, I have to get some of these car photos out.

I've had to go through quite a bit of self examination on why I keep ending up at these shows. Even more than just ending up there - it's length of time I stay. Some of the explanations include. The smell of old timey gas reminds me of childhood. It's something you don't think about too often, until you are around an old beater or classic car. There is just something about it. Mmmmm, old timey lead gas. Another explanation... the paint jobs draw me in. I'm sure there must be more to it. But, that's all I got.

Anyway.. I'm going from most interesting to least.



I found it a little odd when I rounded a corner, and found myself in a group of PT Cruisers. I don't consider them classic. Or cool like Ferrari's. But, I had to admit, they were pretty tricked out. This is the first PT Cruiser that caught my eye.



I was about to move onto another one that had a nice paint job -
when the owner of this Cruiser started motioning for me to take photos of his car. More than motioning - he down right said "you should take pictures of this one". Which I'm glad he did. I might have passed it by because I get so ADD trying to see all the stuff.



Anyway..I was happy to oblige the guy. It did have an interesting paint job. But, when I rounded the back of the car - I had to stop in my tracks. The guy had embedded a hologram in his paint job. Yes...I can easily be placated with holograms. Duh!



It was not easy to capture at all. But, you can see from this angle that glowing spot has changed colors. If I hadn't of been so tired I would have swapped lenses out and gotten a better picture.



This car I loved because it had a Fast track sensor in the window. Old meets new.





This one I loved because it had ginormous stacks.





Monday, September 29, 2008

Politically incorrect conversations.

#1.

Me - Do Jews go to hell if they work on Rosh Hashanah?

Mr. S. - Jews don't believe in hell.

Me - so, what is their fucking problem? Isn't our nation built on separation from church and state? I've worked on Christmas a few times. I can't believe we are in the middle of an emergency and a religious holiday makes it so nothing can get done.

Mr. S - More than that. What the fuck are the rest of them doing. It's like I said "I'm not Jewish" but just to honor them, I'm not going to work either.

#2.

Me - What pisses me off more about this whole meltdown is everyone has to have an opinion about it. If you don't own something, a credit card, a house.. something - shut the fuck up.

They have these people picketing Wall Street, and they don't probably don't own anything. The look like homeless people. But, they all have an opinion about it. Shut the fuck up already. It just causes unnecessary noise.

Mr S. - Yeah. The rent a mobs. It's like we are on a runaway train and people are rushing the conductors cabin. But - no one knows how to drive a train. Yet they all want to push buttons. "No, lets push this button. No! What does thing thing do?".

We can solve all of our pollution problems by making it pretty.

You've probably been wondering what would motivate us to drive through this - just to get to the beach. We have tons of beaches within an hour away.



Glass. That's right. You heard me. You know how much I love glass.



I don't remember how I heard about this place. I'm not going to bore you with the details. All I know is when I did some research, it seemed like a closely guarded secret. Lots of blogs that talk about the beach, won't even tell you exactly where the best beach is to see the glass. Lots of people seemed to make a big deal about people stealing the glass. From some accounts - I wasn't even sure there was much glass left. Apparently the glass is protected. Even though it seemed everyone was taking it.



Truthfully - I don't get the outrage about people dumping bottles on the beach. Or them not wanting people to steal the glass. This all seems like a self correcting problem to me. It is a great way to get rid of our bottles, and make a beautiful beach. Last I remember... glass was partially made of sand. Let people steal all the glass they want. The beach will be cleaner. Problem solved.

Now if we can just figure out how to make the crap they throw out on the freeways pretty.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Unexpected political endorsements.



The original idea was to go out and have breakfast. Come home and get my posts out from yesterday before I lost the passion about them. As soon as we got downtown we realised something was goin' on there.

"Oh crap" I say. I think there was suppose to be a car show or something. We better whip home and get the camera. If we go to breakfast then go home, I predict we will never go back out today".

So.. back to the house we head.

After breakfast we walk over to the downtown area. I'd already told Mr S. - "this is only going to take like 15 minutes. Like shopping. In and out". I was not in the mood for a car show after all that driving yesterday.

Two hours later.

Anyway. I saw this chick from like a block away and had to hunt her down as ask if I could take a picture of her and the kid. I especially like to ask when taking pictures of children. It is a creepy - creepy world. And even though I'm female...it always goes a long way to ask before shuttering. Even though it doesn't look like it - they are posing for me.

I just loved the shot - because the gal was full on tattooed. Purple hair, and single child bearing. If I had to guess. Single mom. Isn't that Ooombamas demo?

We rarely even see McCain/Palin stickers. It is mostly Obama country.

The intersection of Middle and Nowhere.

Readers - I haven't spent much time in Northern California. Normally I go South, or East. Or, just plain out of the State.

A few hours North - I found places unlike I'd ever known. Hundreds of miles of deeply forested twisty roads. Places where it took you an hour and a half to go 33 miles. It isn't like I hadn't been in this type of terrain before. It was how long it stretched.

So long in fact, at points you prayed for a car to pass you on the road (well, I did because I'm neurotic)- to provide some comfort that if you broke down, someone would be able to find you. There might have been some talk about werewolves. Mr S. assured me that if werewolves got us, that we would simply be reanimated and there would be no need for anyone to find our bodies. It was like being in the belly of the world people. We were somewhere in here.



Somewhere out there actually exists a beach.

Houses were few and far between. And if you did pass by one, those houses sat overlooking a vast canyon of nothing but deep forest. It was somewhere on the way down that I actually became a little claustrophobic about the whole thing. I've come to realize that I love being able to see the horizon. Sure hanging around in the trees for a few hours is fine. This however, was not a few hours.

No horizons.



Long day. More tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Moble blogging.

Beach trip! Right now I'm in a little roadside diner in Petaluma. Listening to Crowded House "Don't Dream It's Over". Kitchy. Will upload pictures later.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chapter 2.

I never really thought of myself as a landlord. Or sure.. it was always in the backup plan. But, I never really wanted that role. I don't trust people very easily. That makes me a horrible landlord. So, when my roofer went through an exceedingly messy divorce and moved into our place - lets say, it started out rocky. It is a horrible idea to rent to pseudo friends. Let's not kid each other.

Plus, maybe I never told you that my roofer also has a problem with women. He hates his mother. Honestly. I've never quite figured out why. I only know he openly admits it. So, I've always had to skirt a line with him. Sure Mr. S could deal with him. Which is also awkward in some ways.

Since most of the time he and I are buddies, when doing business I have to get him to do things in a way that doesn't make him defensive. Sure, it's a quirky relationship. It's the only kind of relationships I can have, apparently. But - he is a trustworthy hard working guy. Well.. maybe I'm still working out the trustworthy part. Without a doubt he is one of the hardest working guys I know.

That doesn't mean he doesn't try to push things. We let him move in without giving paying us anything. Yeah.. I know! It is a bit of a boundary issue. After about a week I had to lay down the law. I think he might have also moved in a few of his buddies. The first month he was late paying rent. I was just on the verge of having to kick his ass. And, it does help that there are still very few vacancies in the rental market. Once I made it clear a house down the street from me rented in three days.. I think he "got it".

Every since that moment - every month things have gotten better. And...I think we are settling into a tolerable routine. The pseudo friendship part took a hit, but I think we are getting back on equal footing. If it stays like this.. maybe it won't be so bad being a landlord. Normally I would be more pessimistic - but, I have to give credit where credit is due.

All could change tomorrow. For now, it's okay.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why are you all up in my biznatch?

My network went out this morning. Since I couldn't work, I figured I'd go out and pick up a couple of things from the store. I'm pretty pissed because this is the second time this week. I just had a tech out on Saturday.

Anyway.. I have two items. There are two people in front of me. The guy in front of me has one item. French bread. Yeah.. I know a lot of my store posts revolve around French Bread. I'm attracted to it.

Anyway.. this gives me the impression I can get through the line quickly. I mean.. people with French bread have things to do right? Like slather butter or something?

The checker starts ringing me up. All of a sudden he asks "what are you cooking"? I'm not in the mood for small talk. I quickly debate an answer in my head, and finally come up with a "nothing" and a shrug. This doesn't put off the checker. I'm guessing he isn't keen to taking the hint that I don't want to talk.

So he continues on. "So... you just like mozzarella and sour cream"? WTF? Yes.. yes I do. By this time, there are now 5 people in line behind me because Mr. Chatty can't ring right up two items without getting everyone's life story.

I get home to find my network still down. It has been more than an hour. So, I call Comcast. And.... let.... me... tell you.. the scab from these people is so raw. I want to yell at every single one of them. This weekend I'd had enough and went looking for a different provider. I might talk about that later - but I'm getting off track.

So, I tell the guy I want to know when I'll get my connection back. I work from home. Which makes him ask "oh-what do you do"?

What does it f-ing matter? Just get my connection back up. Irritating.

I'm obviously back up now. The tech was sure my modem was the problem. Even though I told him the on-site tech this weekend tested it and said it was fine. Amazingly - I just got a call from them saying they had an outage. After making sure my connection was up - they canceled my on-site call. Oh wait! The phone tech said I wasn't part of an outage. What does he know?.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On the lighter side.



I was in at my vet yesterday picking up some injectable Benadryl for Paisley. Apparently a Halloween superstore had opened right next door.

I'd noticed the Gorilla when I'd come in. My town seems happy to employ people to dress up as Gorilla's or wave signs around. I find it weird. But, that is capitalism. Mostly I see these people hanging out under a tree texting on their cell phones.. but whatever. They are suppose to be moving the signs around to attract attention. I personally don't know how that became a sector of the workforce. Double whatever. As long as it makes money move around, what do I care?

Anyway. The girls at the front desk were in a little tizzy. The guy in the gorilla costume had been dressed up as the Grim Reaper. And they didn't seem to think that was funny. They had just forced him to change. I kind of do think it's funny. But, none of my bunnies are sick right now. If they were - my stance would probably be "those assholes - but... it is kinda funny".

While running around today, I saw the Grim Reaper out in front of the vet. I guess on Sundays they get to be whatever they want. The place isn't open. But, it's still a funny picture. So I made Mr S. whip around the block to get it. The guy even posed for me!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This is not the world I know.

I don't know if I've ever seen such deep fear than what I see in people right now. I'm not sure I've had one conversation with anyone who doesn't express fear in some form. Even the Comcast guy who was at my house today made nervous jokes about the state of his 401k.

The last couple of days at the Snarkolepsy house have been filled with touching base with well.. almost everyone. Everyone is affected in one form or another. Family.. friends. From all walks of life. Tech to Unions. It's the craziest shit I've ever seen.

A couple of days ago I was in the store and decided to make small talk with the cashier - as no one was in the store. We chatted about how empty it was. Then she said "you know... I have a brother who I haven't talked to in a while. Maybe I should call him. Your gonna need family and friends right now".

I smiled and agreed.

I just found it an odd statement. That this crisis is what apparently is going to repair families. Maybe it will. But, I doubt it is as easy as that.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Strap in.

To be honest - I don't remember how we heard about the Lehman thing. It's about 1000 stress years ago. But, at 9:00 at night we found ourselves trying to find any news about it we could. The major news networks didn't seem to think it was news. So we found ourselves staring at Bloomberg News in disbelief. We weren't directly affected by the collapse, but we knew this was a landscape altering event.

For the next three nights we found ourselves watching Bloomberg at 11 at night to try figure out what was going to happen the next day. We'd never done that before. It was on the third night I turned to Mr S. and said "You don't think they will spontaneously start laying people off do you?"

Him - Yes. I do.

Me - Half laughing I said "are you fucking with me"?

Him - No. I'm not.

The next day I was telling Mr S. about how crazy the market had been. He wasn't really amused, and had a worried expression on his face. The first email came through that someone had been laid off. We both reassured each other that everything was going to be okay. We both knew the other was lying. That is something you do when you love someone. Reassure them. Even though you are sure everything is not going to be okay. By that afternoon he was in a hastily formed conference call. He'd decided to work from home that day.

We've both been through layoffs, and are past being blissfully ignorant about the process. No matter how valuable you think you are.. it doesn't matter.

Anyway.....We are safe. For now.

The only reason why I mention it, is tech has been largely untouched. We'd actually been expecting the layoffs every since we could tangibly see gas prices were breaking the back of the consumer. It's never been a matter of if... only when.

If you haven't started making your back up plans yet. Start making them now. Then make a second set. I'd be shocked if you didn't start hearing this story all over the Valley. Companies that were once strong need to go into protection mode. That means becoming leaner. Unfortunately.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Does everything I do have to be adorable to you people?



Most of the bunnies actually hate to have their pictures taken. I have to sneak up on them. Just the sound of my turning the camera on causes suspicion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The reality of the American dream.

This is quite a bit more personal information than I'm usually comfortable giving out - but, I am just so frustrated with what is happening with the market right now. So.... here goes.

When Mr S. and I first got together we decided we wanted to buy a house. We both came from poor families and didn't have any savings to speak of. Mr S. wound up cashing in a 401k to put the 10% down for the house. Which, in California is what most families can bear. We never missed a payment. We were never late in paying our mortgage.

A few years later Mr S.'s company fell on hard times, and we wound up having to take out a HELOC. That line of credit was the only thing that saved us. We never missed a payment. We were never late.

A few years after that we sold that house and bought our current house and put 20% down.

A couple years after that we bought an investment property. The crapshack.

In the almost year we have owned the crapshack, I witnessed the most appalling business practices ever. Along with the people who just see snippets on the news and pontificate about things they don't really know a lot about. It frustrated me to no end. There is plenty of blame to go around. But, let me tell you - the banks really deserve the biggest blame. So much so, it takes a ton of effort to feel any sympathy for the loss of jobs in this sector. This is why.

A few months after we bought the crapshack is when the bank owned properties started showing up heavily. This was a direct result of incompetence in the banking sector. You see, people had been trying to get rid of their homes through short sales. This is where the bank allows you to sell your home for less than it's worth. The problem was....the banks took months and months to respond to these types of sales. Virtually guaranteeing a foreclosure. By the time a homeowner is in a short sale -they were dire straights. It got so bad trying to get any response from the banks on these properties the real estate agents finally refused to take any of their clients to those houses.

Banks didn't even have a department for short sales until more than a year after the glut of short sales were on the market. I don't have any numbers, but I would imagine most of these families eventually did wind up getting foreclosed on. It also sent a message to people hanging on by their fingernails that the bank would ignore you, and it's probably better to just walk away.

Then came the next crack in the system. Banks handing these properties off to a clearing house that had no investment in getting any reasonable return on the properties. Their only mandate. GET THEM OFF THE BOOKS. They weren't even sending appraisers out to the houses to see what their real value was.

This is when people started to not be able to refinance. The clearing houses had so undercut the market - disaster was imminent.

I contend that if the banks would have started readjusting interest rates a year ago, we could have had a much softer landing. But, it got worse.

Banks then started requiring 15% down. I even heard of cases of foreclosed houses having multiple offers, and the banks refusing to take over the asking price. Seriously. If you bid more than the asking price - you had to put that money up in cash. So, in some cases you had to pay well in excess of 15%. In very large real estate markets like California - most people are not able to put that kind of money down. Even at the depressed prices the market is currently at.

In the 4 months we had the crapshack on the market I lost count how many times the banks stopped lending. Then opened lending to the very blessed. Most times I heard it was almost impossible to get a loan. So instead of having a constant flow of revenue for the banks - even if there was slight risk (you know at those risky 10% down deals)- they refused. No matter how perfect your credit. We finally decided to move a renter in and wait the market out.

Now..I don't claim to be a financial genius - but I know what worked. 10% down. That model worked for decades. That is what the market will bear. Were there foreclosures? Sure. One of my girlfriends got a divorce well before any of this crap started happening and their family went into foreclosure. There are always going to be foreclosures. But most people had enough invested, that they tried everything they could to not walk away from a house.

Now.. you can blame idiots who took out adjustable mortgages. They do deserve some blame. But - it was the banking industry who compounded the problem so deeply, that now it affects people who did the right thing. Paid their bills on time. Never did anything but work hard. Families who if laid off - might have been saved just by being able to acquire a HELOC. It's always been the American dream that your house would double in value roughly every 10 years. That your house would provide security and comfort in old age. Now.. that dream is shattered for this generation. Not only for the risk the banks put into the market - but even given that risk, every single layer of the banking industry was broken and unable to function and recover. It's astounding really.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The guilty



You know those shows you watch where people let their dogs crap all over the house, and you wonder how people can do that? Yeah.. me too. But, I've got one.

One that never grows out of being a pain in the ass. We keep a hamper just for bunny towels. Saffron found the towels - raised her little tail and marked her spot. I guess I should feel happy it was at least on the towels. I keep hoping she will turn into a mature girl. None of the other bunnies have been so difficult to litter train. I think she might be dim. Or need to have her ovaries yanked. Either one. Or both.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Maneuvers.



It isn't that common to get fighter jets here. If we do - it's normally just fly-overs. We see military craft often. Usually a pack of Huey's. A couple of days ago however, it was different. You could hear that deep roar. The unmistakable deep powerful growl of what I thought was a fighter jet.

I'm not really into planes. They don't have all those things that set off my tard gene. Ginormous Datronics monitors, spiny wheels, crazy lights, concrete breaking sub woofers. Okay.. maybe they have the last part. Which is probably what made me rush outside.

To my surprise there were four of them, and they were doing rotations around the house. By the noise, I thought they were flying much lower. The interesting part was - they would fly over the house making this wide circle. You could hear the deep loud roar all the way until they got the nose around and pointed right at you. Then, it was absolutely quiet. Not just quieter. I mean.. absolutely no noise at all. It would last about 5-10 seconds. Then the roar would catch back up to you. It was the most fascinating thing ever.

The whole thing surprised me because this is hardly the first time I've seen or heard jets. I used to work near Moffett Field where the Blue Angles used to put on a show every year. We'd go up to the roof of the buildings and watch them. But there was always a tons of people, and freeway noise.

Somehow in my quiet burb the impact of just how stealthy those jets can be left a bigger impact.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It is -so- not over.

A few days ago Mr S. came home and asked "when do you think we'll be going to the city again". (From now until forever.. "The city, is San Fransisco")

I look at him with a raised eyebrow. Give him a nervous laugh and say "I don't know - why"?

You see... it is very unusual for Mr S. to want to go to the city. The Peds (pedestrians) make you want to get a freebie off (ie - run them over). I'm not sayin' it's right - but I understand. And, the people who park in one of the two driving lanes causing you to merge in bumper to bumper traffic pretty much make you want to get a second off. Still not right. Mostly.

So again, it was odd for him to ask. I thought possibly a brain tumor was causing him to act irrationally.

Anyway.. I tell him "you never want to go to the city, why do you ask"?

Him - Well, I found a place in the city that serves deep fried twinkies.

Me - YOU DID? There isn't any place else but San Fransisco to get them?

Him - No. So the next time we go - we should try to stop there.

Me - well... I better go look on Yelp to see if this place even still exists. That way we can just put it out of our minds if the place isn't open any more.

FYI - Yelp is my new favorite review site. And this is why. I went over and yelped the place. Smooth as Butter. No one had yelped it yet.

BUT - I ran across reviews for a place called Butter Love Bakeshop. Readers! You have to read the reviews. Many are works of writing genius. You must read them all. Because most are really funny.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Like living on the sun.

This is where I turn into a whiny little bitch. Fair warning.

I don't know why the lack of rain bothers me so much. Perhaps it's a deep dislike of the color brown. At any rate.. most of the summer has been tolerable because its been mild. This week - not so much. After a week of over 100 degree temps, or near, my nerves are on thin. I'm not even sure humans are suppose to exist in such a low humidity environment. It's not right. Right? They have names for those places. Deserts. Surely if I had known it wouldn't rain for 50% of the year I would have marked this place off the list of places to live.

This also made it a perfect time for a software update. Which caused me three days of dicking around trying to get my machine to not lock up. Joy!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I find more annoying people.

So this weekend we went out to the mega Scottish Games. This is the one where people fly in from everywhere. At the end, they get all the bagpipers together to play amazing grace. There must be several hundred of them. There is nothing like it.

I also wanted to make another attempt at the twinkie thing. I think it will be my last one. I'm not sure why I got such a bug up my ass about them. Maybe it's because now I can't find them. At any rate - I hope I'm over it.

The other thing that happened is.... I found a whole new group of people to want to beat the ever loving crap out of. This is how it happened.

I'd just gotten done cussing out the British for their boiled, tasteless concoctions. In this case - bangers. I'd never had one. Now, I hate British food. That's right. All of it. I can't get behind a country that boils everything.

Anyway.. we were on our way out the gate, and we walk through this area where a bunch of people were gathering. They were setting up a bird of prey show. We figure.. hell - why not hang out and see it. Maybe I can get some interesting shots.

I try to make my way to the front. Which, I'm somewhat successful at. Once I get there I'm stuck behind this tall guy with a straw hat. Now.. let me tell you. It pisses me to no end that people who have a foot on me feel the need to be in the front row. But,listen tall guy.. you are such a complete asshole for being tall in the front row with a big straw hat.

At this point they start displaying the birds in the middle of the crowd. Mr S. has staked up a position on the periphery. Because he's tall. And nice.

This is all I can see.



Mr S. motions me to the back where he is. He's staked out a spot that has something for me to stand on. Because he loves me.

Even standing on something - while being on my tippy toes, I find it hard not to get shots of f-ing hats. At this point - I'm pissed off enough I just want to start doing the windmill.



I did manage to get these two shots. But it was a considerable amount of work.





As we are leaving I'm bitching up a storm about the people in straw hats. This is when I notice they are everywhere. Those people didn't bother me one bit until the bird of prey area. Then they really f-ing bothered me. Look - they were everywhere. Laying in wait to piss me off.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Even in the dark ages.



Twinkie count = 0.

I'm starting to think the illusive deep fried twinkie is just a myth.
 
http://www.wikio.com