Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What A Mess.....


This is a 'guest' blog from a friend of mine. He originally posted this on his Facebook page and it is reprinted here with his permission.

Gene is a great guy. He is a divorced father that cares for his handicapped daughter and throws exceptional Super Bowl Parties at his home as well as heading down to Mexico with us once in a while. He is the sort of guy you want to have as your neighbor.

Over the past several months, I have been somewhat mystified at the number of people I know who were looking to buy a home, usually the homes are in the process of a short sale or about to be foreclosured on by the bank. Most of these home buyers have exceptional credit and hefty down payments for the property, yet almost all of the sales fall through and the homes go into foreclosure anyway. It made no sense at all since the banks are losing tons of money on these forclosures.....or so you might think, until I read Gene's story about loosing his home. It is lengthy, but I highly recommend you read it.

Read on and find out the real story of just how screwed up our society really is.....

Losing a House, not a Home

by Gene HXXXXXXX on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 10:31pm

A lot of friends have picked up on several comments I've made over the last few weeks - and more have questions....and as it turns out, we're losing our house through foreclosure - it's scheduled to be sold next week at auction.

Which surprises a lot of people - knowing that I've had a great job since February of this year. And it all happened so fast. Turns out, it's happening to a lot of people, and although it's a tad embarrassing personally, I think this says much about what is happening to our country right now - thus this note.

I mean, really, how can someone make six figures and have the house go into foreclosure?

Here's how.

2009 was a disaster in my industry - businesses worried about the cost of rising taxes, employee health costs under Obamacare, who would be pilloried next for political purposes - and everyone just held back on any spending on software.

As such, entire divisions of companies were downsized - I got caught in that, and was unemployed for 11 months.

I fell behind in everything, including mortgage payments. I was working with all of my creditors, and kept most bills either current or was a month or at most 60 days behind. Eventually, a guy I knew from the past called me up and offered a job with a major company in an area where I'd done exceptionally well in the past.

I was catching up...and along came HAMP - Home Affordable Mortgage Program - or some such rot. My mortgage company contacted me and said that I could qualify for this program and they could rewrite my loan at a lower interest rate. I was interested.

While they went through the paperwork, they told me that my payments would drop - but they couldn't tell me exactly how much. Three weeks seemed to be the magic time period. As in, "We don't know what your payment will be, but in three weeks, we'll have the paperwork done and you can make your payments starting then."

I'd call back in three weeks and they'd have lost the paperwork and I'd resubmit. I finally learned to FedEx what they'd asked me to fax, and when they claimed they hadn't received everything, I'd have a tracking receipt and who signed for it. Weeks turned into months.

Then Wilshire Mortgage went out of business and sold their loans to Countrywide. OK. Start over, new paperwork. FedEx'd this time from the beginning. Three weeks til I'd start paying the mortgage again.

In the meantime, I'd paid off every debt, every credit card - I was left with a car payment and $100 student loan from the MBA - call back in three weeks. But despite numerous attempts to make a payment on the mortgage, I was repeatedly told “just wait three weeks”.

Then the loan was sold to BoA - Bank of A**holes - I mean Bank of America (they should be sued for soiling that name). Start over with the paperwork. Talking to endless groups. I could call one person, get hung up on trying to transfer to another division, call back and be told that the division I was transferring to hadn't existed for months - it was maddening. But as of October 4th, we were working on modifying the loan. I was told to call back on Oct 6 - when I did, I was told my home was being sold in a foreclosure sale October 15 - 9 days notice.

Here's what I found out. Congress passed a bill that would give homeowners additional tools to avoid foreclosure - that happened the first week in Oct - Obama was expected to sign it, but decided to pocket-veto the bill - BoA brass (and other banks) issued the order to foreclose everything they could before that bill became law. All the banks pulled the plug on hundreds of thousands of loan modifications. Except now politics really come into play - Ally Bank (formerly GMAC) was leading the charge of foreclosures. Majority ownership of Ally Bank is the US Government. Obama was faced with hundreds of thousands of foreclosures three weeks before a major election. This would not do. In a political stroke of genius, they came up with the 'robo-signing' controversy and instituted the foreclosure moratorium you may have heard about in the news.

It bought us two weeks.

Our foreclosure was moved from Oct 15 to Nov 5 (just after the Nov 2 elections).

But it still didn't make sense.

I was trying to modify the loan and pay for a $370K loan. At short sale, the house would bring $230K for BoA. In foreclosure sale, they'd get about $150K.

And talking to the Real Estate Attorney, BoA was turning down HUNDREDS of short sales to go to foreclosure.

Today I learned about the Barney Frank/Chris Dodd "Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act". You'll remember Chris Dodd as the congressman who got those no-money down low interest loans from Countrywide. And Barney Frank campaigned to stop oversight of the Fannie/Freddie organizations that led to the housing bubble – and surprise, banks are the major contributors to his re-election campaign.

But as it turns out, BoA has insured the loans through Fannie and Freddie. When they foreclose, your tax dollars pay BoA the full amount of the mortgage - in other words, instead of modifying my mortgage and having it paid back over thirty years, BoA can foreclose today, and get the entire $370K from your tax dollars RIGHT NOW. Profits soar. Bank executives make millions in bonuses.

So if you're still with me on this, people have asked - do you blame Obama and the Dems for losing your house? Answer, No - I really don't. For one, if I blamed Obama, he'd only blame Bush and that would help nothing. Secondly, if a pollster asked if I was disappointed in Obama's performance as President, I'd have to say, No - he's just about what you'd expect from someone who's never accomplished anything save writing two books (on himself) and running campaigns for political office.

So who do I blame? Mostly me for believing what the banks said. But if I had to blame anyone other than my own dumb self, I'd pretty much have to blame my dear friends who voted for Obama. I've talked to several of them about it. They can't really tell you why they voted for the anointed one, other than Republicans are evil, full of hate, racist, etc. They know this because the media (Democrat operatives) told them so. They can't show a single example of where Obama's socialist policies have succeeded, nor give you any reason why they think he will succeed other than they hate Repubs. But of course the Repubs are the party of hate and intolerance. And that won't be tolerated.

What I tell them is this, I lost my 401K last year when I was unemployed. I lost my home this year when I was 'helped' by liberal lawmaking. I got nothing left - but I tell them, If YOU have anything left, you might want to protect it and actually vote like an adult who examines the facts for themselves instead of buying spoon fed propaganda from a media with an agenda.

I'm just saying.

As for me, I'm doing just fine. We found a great rental house at a lower cost. (Turns out there's thousands of empty houses once you get those middle class Repubs foreclosed the heck out of ‘em). And I have the faith thing going on - - as powerful as the statist government is, God is more in control than you could know - and He has a much better place for us - and I'd rather be right with Him in a tent than miserable in a castle without Him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

30 Days Of Correspondence


This is a heads up for something that is coming down the pike.

I am going to be experimenting with a writing exercise during the month of November. I am going to be writing 30 letters, which will be posted on this blog. One letter a day for the month of November.

They won’t be terribly lengthy and their recipients will vary. Some will be to myself and others will be to people I know or have known in the past. Each letter will have a theme, but I won’t be posting what all the themes are until the exercise is over.

This will be a lot of writing and some of the letters will be written in advance and set to post on specific days due to holidays and weekends.

It is bound to be interesting, if not somewhat entertaining.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Its The Little Things....

...You Remember

Was reading a blog posting by my fellow blogger buddy Slyde over at Slydesblog. He is reminiscing about his grandfather that he lost two years ago. They were close. Really close. Slyde relates a little story about time spent with his grandfather that initially probably meant nothing. But after his passing, those little stores make up a lifetime of memories that make the departed live forever in our hearts.

Five years ago, after my father passed away, the rest of the family was sitting around the living room reminiscing and shedding a tear or two as we all realized that the man we had all loved and depended on for so long would never be coming home again. This is a healing process. All families do it when they morn a loved one.

It was during this gathering that a story was told by my nephew Korby. When he was a young child in his early teens, my brother and sister-in-law would hand off one of their children to my parents for the summer. My parents would structure Korby’s summer with swimming lessons and tennis lessons and trips to the mall, etc. This is a long running tradition in our family. The summer with the grandparents.

It seems that during one summer, my father took Korby to the local swap meet to sift through the junk to see if anything was worth buying. After wandering around for a while, my father came upon a set of hubcaps that looked like they would fit his Honda Civic that he loved to drive so much. He paid for them and Korby helped him carry the hubcaps back to the car.

There in the parking lot, they tried to pound the hubcaps onto the steel wheels of the Honda. They actually seemed to fit and my father was pretty pleased with his find.

Korby and my father got back into the Honda and proceeded to drive home. After driving several miles my father approached a “T” intersection where he had to make a right hand turn. He stepped on the brakes and the Honda quickly came to a stop.....but the hubcaps didn’t. The hubcaps proceeded to roll forward off into the desert.

“Grandpa, aren’t those the hubcaps you just bought?”, Korby asked?

“Nope”, replied my dad.

He made a right turn and proceeded home.

My father never made mistakes.....or at least never admitted to them.

If you ask my wife, my father lives on in me. The similarities are unmistakable.

I sure miss him.

Friday, October 1, 2010

First Friday Flashbacks

Phoenix Ashes
(first published June 13, 2007)

Another stab at short fiction back in the day. I plan on resurrecting some of these projects in the coming months. All of the grave markers referenced here actually exisit in the Phoenix Memorial Cemetery near downtown Phoenix, where I would often spend my lunch hour strolling the grounds. A very quiet and beautiful place.

Monument Garden

The moon-beams filtered through the trees as they swayed in the gentle night breeze. The black and gray tones they cast shimmered across the darkened garden. At 10pm, the automatic sprinklers started their cycle and a cool mist drifted across the markers.

Brizza Bonell
10/18/1974 - 9/27/1992

shivering skin
warm sun
The coolness of the water
I miss it

There was silence as the sprinklers continued their chit-chit-chit of water across the lawn.

Ethel Wolf Quinn
Wife of J.R. Quinn
1888 - 1919

Something happened
another mistake
another ending

The sprinklers ceased their artificial rain and fell silent. Only the gentle rustling of the leaves overhead could be heard until morning.

Not long after sunrise, with the morning rays still casting long shadows from the taller stones, the weekend procession started to trickle in. Older cars in need of paint and wax slowly meandered down the narrow drives. Like old horses that instinctively know their way back to the barn, the occupants of these cars had been to the same spot many times before. Store bought flowers, purchased at a discount, replaced the withered ones left the previous weekend. Prayers were whispered, tears were shed. The stones looked back in silence.

Beatrice M. Regaldo
2/21/1912 - 8/26/1983

my daughter
is she lost
is she happy

Nick Prohoroff
9/6/1922 - 9/6/1990

The world is for living
They all come
In some way

Jenny left her car and walked slowly toward her husband. There was no hurry. There was no need to rush. She stopped before the stone, her head lowered, tears running down her cheeks.

Fernando Jacabo
6/5/1950 - 2/14/1996
Jenny Jacabo
11/28/1955 –

My Love
My Life
Why tears
Why sadness

Jenny fell to her knees, leaned against her husband and quietly sobbed. "I have nothing....nothing left to remember you by. Everything we made is gone Fernando....everything...."

Her aged body trembled against the cold stone as a gentle breeze made the flowers on the nearby graves shiver. Jenny stood up, leaving her tears running down the granite face of the stone. She walked past her husband toward the mortuary building at the corner of the garden.

Two days later the cemetery backhoe rumbled to life and inched its way down the narrow paths to Fernando's tombstone. The groundskeeper drove the aging tractor as his helper stood on its trailer hitch. As the tractor came to a stop the helper jumped down and stood before the grave. "Yup, this is it; Jacabo". The groundskeeper was looking at a diagram that he had pulled from his back pocket. "Says 3 feet to the left, standard plot."

The helper looked at the marker and responded, "To the left? Isn't this Jenny?".

"Nope, was his daughter."

Corina Beatrice Brejea & Claudia Betty Brejea
3/3/1977 - 10/8/1994 & 3/3/1977 - 10/8/1994

Too short the days
no blush
the scent gone
the diary unfinished

As the sun set, the six foot by four foot hole appeared as a gapping wound. It was marked with orange cones at each corner. Down through the rich top soil, past to the hard creosote and into the shale, it was 6 feet deep. The excavated earth lay across the path, covered with a green blanket. Robins and sparrows bobbed over the mound of rich earth searching the earthworms within the soil.

Frank Livengood
2/9/1908 - 9/23/1991
Roy Livengood
11/11/1913 - 10/10/1917

Just like us
Just like all of us
yet far apart

The heat of summer slowly faded with the setting sun. As the clouds turned yellow and then became a dark crimson two white cranes circled overhead and slowly descended. At the center of the cemetery, all paths lead to a large fountain. Its bubbling waters filled the reflecting pool. The cranes landed and surveyed the garden. They moved cautiously, silently. With each step they froze and scanned the horizon. The night was still and so was the mated pair.

David Soo Fong
11/2/1902 - 3/15/1979
Quan Oy Fong
8/15/1906 - 5/21/2000

Together forever
As it should be
Silently knowing
Trusting no one

From a distance, the cranes stood as statues in the fountain. They became one with the night and watched over the memories of those that had past. As the air cooled and the stars slowly awoke, a squirrel appeared from its knot hole in the oak that overlooked Fernando's grave. He smelled the air and surveyed the ground. He sensed no one else was near. Cautiously, he scampered down the tree and onto the grass. Every few feet he stopped, stood on his hind legs, and sniffed. Summer grass and pine needles were all he perceived.

He scurried about the open grave, trying to figure out why this portion of his world had changed. He sensed no opportunity here. He leaped onward to where the garbage cans were. They usually contained some sort of bounty for the taking, if he was cautious.

He scampered past the Jacabo tombstone and stopped again to survey his surroundings. The rush of air over a wing and the passing shadow came too late as a warning. The stealthy talon closed around him as the owl lifted him from the lawn.

Eva-Marie Knox Hansen
12/9/1982 - 11/22/1983

Do not dwell
on things unseen
it comes quickly
there is no fear

The owl landed on a marker several yards away and pecked the last breath from the squirrel. The cranes watched silently from the fountain, unmoving, unmoved.

As dawn broke the next morning, the funeral preparations began. Two rows of chairs were lined up neatly next to the open pit. Brass bars were placed around the grave site and the lowering mechanism was assembled and lowered into the earth. At 1pm the slow procession of cars entered from the south gate and made their way to the grave site. The white hearse pulled up first. With solemn ceremony, the mourners exited their vehicles. The pallbearers removed the casket from the hearse and placed it over the pit. There was silence mixed with muffled sobs and whispers. Sermons and testimonials were read, mourners embraced. The pain of loss shrouded friends and family.

After the service the crowd slowly departed to return to the world of the living. They had helped close this chapter, and it was time for them to continue writing their own.

Isabella's best friend confided to her father, "They still haven't found Hector, have they?"

Her father shook his head.

"He loved her so much." she added in a soft voice.

"Then why did her run from the accident?" he replied. "What kind of love is that?

The father paused. Holding back his anger, but wanting to impress this lesson onto his young daughter.

“Just because a man says he loves you Gabriele....does not make it so. Isabella found that out at the end."

Beatrice M. Regaldo
2/21/1912 - 8/26/1983

Was it fear
too much pain
It cuts both ways
love and loss

As the shadows in the garden grew long, the remains of the ceremony were removed. Everything looked the same as before with the exception of the small temporary marker. It was one among many. The grass was reseeded over the fresh earth, and balloons were tied to the stone to keep the birds from steeling the seed.

As an evening thundercloud gathered on the horizon, lightening was visible in the distance. A light rain began to fall in advance of the pending storm. Unaware of the weather, the sprinklers popped from the ground and mingled their streams with the falling mist.

As the breeze pushed the balloons to the ground, a solitary figured walked across the lawn. Hunched over, hands in pockets, head bowed, he stopped at the newly filled grave. In the gentle rain and the flashes of light he lingered.

The wind began to whip the balloons from side to side and the rain increased as the storm drew near.

He raised his hand to his head and the sound it made matched the crack of lightning. He fell forward onto the fresh earth. His lifeless body slumped to the ground and released the balloons. They skirted long the ground like frightened animals in the storm.

Michael Charles Guida Sr.
12/9/1934 - 1/22/1996
Mary Jacquelin Guida
7/29/1934 -

True Love
Knows no end
True Love
Needs no sacrifice

Isabella Jacabo
3/8/1990 - 6/20/2007

Hector, My Love
did you follow me