Tuesday, 11 December 2012

08:27 – We’re shipping science kits, mostly chemistry kits of both types, at a rate of two, three, four a day now.

While we were walking Colin last night, we stopped to talk to our neighbors Steve and Heather about their ongoing struggle with Bank of America. Their home is now in pre-foreclosure, whatever that means. A year or more ago, at BoA’s instigation, they did some sort of adjustment to their mortgage with BoA. They didn’t call it a refinance, but it sounded similar. At any rate, they ended up paying $50/month less than they had been paying. They did that for almost a year, thinking everything was fine. BoA said nothing to them for 11 months. Then they got a notice from BoA telling them they were in default on their mortgage and that BoA was foreclosing. Steve and Heather have no debt to speak of other than the mortgage, and offered to pay the $50/month for the 11 months that BoA claimed they’d been in arrears. BoA said no deal. They were going to foreclose. So now there’s a big mess.


12:03 – Geez, as I’m working to build more science kits, they’re selling out from under me. One biology kit and three chemistry kits so far this morning.

42 thoughts on “Tuesday, 11 December 2012”

  1. BofA are scum. They’ve done this or similar to thousands so far as have other real estate lenders; it’s one thing to slam the people who got loans that they shouldn’t have gotten, often through no fault of their own. It’s quite another to crush folks like Steve and Heather, which is what has been going on for a while now. Meanwhile, the high rollers like Geithner can skate on not paying their taxes or playing games with their own real estate investments but ordinary working Americans are punished repeatedly in this country now; between being bled white for taxes at gunpoint and now this.

    If this isn’t a war on the working and middle classes then I don’t know what is.

  2. Of course it is.

    What we’re seeing is a concerted effort on the part of the Democrats and Republicans to level incomes and assets. But the problem is, they’re both interested in leveling only the bottom 99%, by taking from the middle class and giving to the poor. The top 1% are exempt. Actually, it’s more like the top 0.01%.

    I was reading an article the other day about poverty in America. The simple fact, of course, is that we have zero poverty in America. Only by defining people who are rich by any reasonable standard as being in “poverty” can they make that argument. How can anyone seriously argue that people are in poverty when they have a place to live, plenty of food to eat, heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, automobiles, big screen TVs, and cell phones, all provided at taxpayer expense?

  3. I was reading an article the other day about poverty in America. The simple fact, of course, is that we have zero poverty in America. Only by defining people who are rich by any reasonable standard as being in “poverty” can they make that argument.

    Here in Smallville, there really is poverty. I will agree that what we call poverty here in the US is called filthy rich in most third world countries. This summer, our church passed out 150 lunches every Wednesday to poor kids in and around Smallville, and the economy here in Smallville is relatively good. I was somewhat surprised, because poverty in and around Smallville isn’t obvious. I’m sure by way of example, that the situation in Tiny Town is worse.

    How are the kids who get free lunches in school supposed to eat when school is out? The system is broken. We are spending billions for free and reduced price school lunches, billions on food stamps and yet kids are hungry. The system is obviously broken.

    The problem is that the kids parents are probably spending money on soft drinks for the kids or beer for themselves when they should be spending it on food. Or they’re spending money on cable TV or something else when they should be spending it on food.

  4. I don’t know about where you live, but around here that sort of thing can make a great story for the evening news.

  5. Their home is now in pre-foreclosure, whatever that means. A year or more ago, at BoA’s instigation, they did some sort of adjustment to their mortgage with BoA. They didn’t call it a refinance, but it sounded similar. At any rate, they ended up paying $50/month less than they had been paying. They did that for almost a year, thinking everything was fine. BoA said nothing to them for 11 months. Then they got a notice from BoA telling them they were in default on their mortgage and that BoA was foreclosing. Steve and Heather have no debt to speak of other than the mortgage, and offered to pay the $50/month for the 11 months that BoA claimed they’d been in arrears. BoA said no deal. They were going to foreclose. So now there’s a big mess.

    I think the problem is that there are so many laws and regulations that are so complicated that we spend our time complying with those laws and regulations, and not with doing the right thing. It sounds like Bank of America is completely in the wrong in this situation.

    However we’re talking about the same Bank of America that was fined by the Feds for actions of their Countrywide subsidiary before the Feds forced them to aquire it. It seems Countrywide worked with third party brokers to get the kind of customers for loans that wouldn’t walk into a Countrywide office. People who look or sound different than the staff of Countrywide. So it seems the brokers steered these customers toward more expensive loans. Ironically the minorities who wouldn’t trust Countrywide went to third party brokers who looked like them and spoke their language and got royally screwed by the brokers who look like them and speak the same language.

  6. There is actual poverty in Retroville here and there, but again, as Bob says, nothing like the poverty in other countries. I don’t think anyone is starving or freezing to death just yet, but there are folks on the edge and more and more of them choose each winter between heating fuel, groceries and meds. We have beaucoups piastres for new weapons systems (to defend us against what, precisely, these days?) and tax breaks for GE and Google (all perfectly legal, natch) and endless foreign aid packages which end up in offshore accounts owned by brutal dictators, but we can’t help our own people who are jammed up through no or little fault of their own.

    What a country!

  7. Your neighbors better get a lawyer right now. Banks only respect lawyers and not even them very much. And they had better have paperwork!

  8. A lot of public employees across the country are finding out now that their pensions are gone and they have no recourse; the unions are screaming bloody murder but the money be gone, yo. More towns, cities and counties going belly-up, soon to snowball. The nabobs and potentates promised beds of roses and bowls of cherries and these people are now discovering that they have beds of thorns and bowls of dog poop, while said nabobs are gonna skate and make out just dandy.

    I second Lynn’s motion; Steve and Heather need to get a decent lawyer if they don’t already have one and fight like hell. Whole legions of homeowners across the country are getting screwed like this and many of them have simply stopped paying their mortgages altogether and are living rent-free. They apparently can’t be evicted because the loaners won’t then be able to insure the vacant houses and thus no super-duper investment vehicle. Some folks have been living thusly for a year already.

    We’re paying ours, plus the taxes now, on just my shitty pay, and that nails one of my two monthly checks completely. The other one is covering everything else. Barely. No dinner-and-movie nights for us anytime soon, but again, we live not even a ten-minute walk down the street from folks that are a lot worse off and haven’t had nights like that ever. And there are people in other countries who are about to be kicked back to the Stone Age.

  9. Bennies = Benefits

    As an employer of 12 people including myself, benefits are very near and and dear to my heart. Bennies are very expensive from $500/month/employee for health insurance for all my people, to vacation time and sick time which means somebody else (usually me) has got to fill in for that person. Plus our retirement plan where I match people dollar for dollar on 3% of their salary that they put into an IRA (called a Simple IRA). I tell my people that they will get guaranteed 100% return on their money and I still cannot get all of them to do it.

    BTW, one of my son’s good friends is an IRS field agent. He has been so for about 4 or 5 years now and loves it. In fact, he has applied to become a gun carrying field agent for the extra pay and fun games. Like when they are seizing a imported car dealership because they found cocaine in the body panels (happened here in Houston in the 1990s).

    Anyway, he hired on with a government sponsored 401K style retirement plan. He does not have a defined benefit plan. So, he plans to work for the IRS until he is 80 or so. He is 28 now.

  10. Geez, as I’m working to build more science kits, they’re selling out from under me. One biology kit and three chemistry kits so far this morning.

    Bob, you say that like it’s a problem. That’s not a problem, it’s an accomplishment!

  11. Bennies are very expensive from $500/month/employee for health insurance for all my people, to vacation time and sick time which means somebody else (usually me) has got to fill in for that person.

    I am not sure, but I think $500 per month for health insurance is a bargain in the current market, unless it’s employee only, and all your employees are young.

  12. $500/month/employee is our group rate for BCBS PPO. We do have some dependents in the group and the group age is probably 37 or so (not including dependent children). Our out-of-pocket is high, $3,000 per individual or $5,000 per family if I remember correctly. It is higher than Obamacare allows so it will be going down next March so we can get our little certificates from BCBS to send to the IRS with our tax returns for the 2013 year that we have government approved and complying health insurance.

  13. We have fairly basic medical, dental and life insurance through my job now, and it costs us about $400/month or so. In practice they pay maybe 25% and we pay the rest if we have to get something done. Drugs are free, however. (well, no co-pay). It’s better, of course, to never get hurt or sick.

    MIL now about to have open-heart surgery at 84, after hip replacements, cataract work, etc., etc. She’ll be in the hospital from the 18th to the 24th, Xmas Eve. TONS of stress here right now, while the work piles up at my shop and we’re down to one vehicle (can’t afford to fix the other one until I get paid again in two weeks, LOL.)

    Good thing I don’t drink or drug anymore; no ciggies, coffee or tea, either, and haven’t been to an actual movie or done any singing or dancing; perfect candidate for the Seventh Day Adventists, Branch Davidians, or one of the hadji sects.

    Back to “Jericho” shortly, last bit of down time until a 10-16-hour-day tomorrow, maybe another one on Thursday, and who knows what for Friday, the weekend and Monday, while the parking lots are mostly empty. Except for OFD’s truck.

  14. “Geez, as I’m working to build more science kits, they’re selling out from under me. One biology kit and three chemistry kits so far this morning.”

    Do what I’ve been suggesting for years: outsource it.

    “Yes, that’s our government: a Tasmanian Devil on speed.”

    That’s an outrageous libel on Tassie Devils, who are really quite cute.

  15. It sounds like you’re going to have to contract with a grad student on semester break (or maybe Jasmine, to throw her a little cash) to put some serious hours into building sub-assemblies for some of your science kits.

  16. Hey OFD, I do not think that you could afford them ciggies right now with all the new taxes (a pack of Marlboros is almost $6 here in The Great State of Texas). And beer and wine are taxed big time here also, especially if they have any significant amount of alcohol in them. And street drugs are bad for you (and expensive also). We wont talk about the drugs from CVS or Walgreens, they may be bad for you also. Except I sure do like my blood pressure lower than 210/110 (been there, did not like that).

    My FIL stopped smoking when ciggies hit 50 cents. That was his level of pain. My brother likes to smoke 3 packs of Marlboros a day when his wife will let him. He has a real nasty cough (I call it smoker’s hack), I wish he would cut back to a half pack a day. My son cut back to a half pack a day, then went cold turkey early this year. Now he is fighting the weight.

    Yup, sounds like you are ready to be a LDS Mormon now if you dropped coffee and cokes too. My daughter used to have a LDS friend who was at our house one day. I was drinking a coke and I heard her say to my daughter, “did you know that your Dad is sinning right now?”. I laughed and kept reading my newspaper. Finished my coke too.

  17. Geez, when I moved to North Carolina a little over 30 years ago, brand-name cigarettes were $3.27 per carton.

  18. Yah, I saw the price of ciggies when someone ahead of me in line bought a frigging carton of the things; wow. Must be nice to have cash for that shit. And I don’t drink coffee or Cokes, either. I forgot about the Mormons; I guess I’d fit right in with them, too, except I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough at the wacky theology.

  19. Yah, I saw the price of ciggies when someone ahead of me in line bought a frigging carton of the things; wow. Must be nice to have cash for that shit. And I don’t drink coffee or Cokes, either. I forgot about the Mormons; I guess I’d fit right in with them, too, except I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough at the wacky theology.

    but they will go to Hell

    whoops, sorry, not supposed to say or wish that

    just funnin, y’all

  20. Lynn said:

    “Yup, sounds like you are ready to be a LDS Mormon now if you dropped coffee and cokes too. My daughter used to have a LDS friend who was at our house one day. I was drinking a coke and I heard her say to my daughter, “did you know that your Dad is sinning right now?”. I laughed and kept reading my newspaper. Finished my coke too.”

    Just tell people like that that Christ said in the gospel that it is not what goes into a person that makes them impure but what comes out, such as lies, gossip, etc.

    My sister is a strict teetotaler, just about the only one in the family. She doesn’t like us drinking or having booze in her fridge but she tolerates it.

    And cigarettes. They’re about $20 per packet here. Yes, seriously. The Aussie dollar is at rough parity with the USD so smokers are really, ah, coughing up for their filthy habit. And this is one form of taxation that I strongly support. I’d rather the government have the dough than the suckers.

  21. OFD wrote:

    “I forgot about the Mormons; I guess I’d fit right in with them, too, except I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough at the wacky theology. ”

    One of the sayings my mum taught me was “People in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones.”

    You’re guilty as charged Dave.

  22. Last I checked, Tiny Town has the second highest unemployment in the state. Some town upstate has more. Churches around here report more people are using their food pantries than ever before—ever in history. And soup kitchens are also serving more than ever before. They say contributions are keeping up, but the oldtimers who manage the places indicate they have never seen anything like it. Things started getting noticeably worse in October, so they have noted, and about a dozen new people are coming every week, adding to the roles. I read that things are similarly bad in the area over where Dave B is.

    We have noticeable poverty here—houses in absolutely terrible states of repair. Lots of empty houses, too; and about one a month gets burned to the ground. Local authorities believe the fires are set by the same people—firebugs who just like to watch the things burn, in all likelihood.

    School systems in smaller towns are feeling the pinch. Many around here are now announcing layoffs that will take effect after this school year (why do they do this right before Xmas? business is always in a hurry, but schools?). I know a couple of teachers around here, and they say their jobs are getting to be just intolerable. One quit all extra-curricular coaching activities, because the school stopped paying extra stipends for those contributions this fall. I expect schools to be screaming bloody murder by summer. And I imagine that the state switch to year-round school was engineered specifically to prevent a summer off for teachers to organize opposition to cuts.

    As to the foreclosures, I think Steve and Heather’s problem is a matter of location, location, location. Here in Tiny Town, the banks are starting a program to find owners who could not pay the mortgage, and just abandoned the properties. The banks say they are not foreclosing, but the owners just imagined that they would and disappeared. Property is not worth much here in Tiny Town, and the banks want the owners back to work out a deal to keep things going before they actually have to take the property.

    On the other hand, my daughter was recently kicked out of her rented apartment in a house that was foreclosed on by a Chicago bank, because of the divorce of the owner. The wife wanted to take over the mortgage—and could financially,—but the bank said no, the house would have to go up for sale, because they believed it was worth much more than the mortgage, the location being the Chicago northside, where properties are not virtually worthless as they are in Tiny Town. Lawyers said nothing could be done; the bank holding the mortgage legally owns the house and calls the shots. Bank ordered everybody out of the house, because they said it would sell for more if empty rather than occupied. So apparently, a vacant house in Chicago is no insurance problem for the bank, while it seems to be here in Tiny Town.

    I suspect Steve and Heather are caught in the same type of deal. The house is worth more to the bank as a repo, than the current value remaining on the mortgage. I doubt that even a lawyer can resolve this. They couldn’t with the Chicago property, even though my daughter theoretically had an iron-clad rental contract that was to succeed any sale of the property. Lawyer said it did not cover repossession.

  23. (cue someone now to advise me on how wacky Roman Catholic theology is)

    Virgin birth? Ritual cannibalism? Exorcism?

    Nah, nothing wacky there.

  24. The banks, the corporations, the high rollers and the State will continue to do whatever the fuck they want to us all until we finally decide we’re not going to let them do it to us anymore. It is now at the stage where they no longer bother to be subtle or sneaky about it, but laugh in our faces with contempt and loathing and actually enjoy, many of them, seeing us crash and suffer.

    I welcome that attitude. Bring it, fools.

  25. My first reaction is that the Republicans should give the Democrats everything they want, and when it all goes pear shaped there will be no one but Democrats to blame.

    Yes, I know that’s naive. But if people are stupid enough to vote for Obama, or not to vote at all, then they won’t appreciate Republican opposition to the people’s will.

  26. A pox on them all; I left off being a Repub in 1998 and good riddance to bad rubbish. They are the Stupid Half of the War/Money Party here; the Dems are the Evil Half. And every four years they each gin up a cardboard cartoon figure to run for the Presidency, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum and everyone runs around barking and buzzing and pretending it’s not a huge charade and that we actually have a viable choice.

    The show will continue for a while longer and then it will come crashing down around our heads. Why? Because it is just not sustainable any longer; this particular corporate fascist oligarchy cannot realistically run a huge country of 320-million people on fiat currency while many trillions in debt and with an increasingly shaky military-police infrastructure. It may look impressive right now but it is beginning to disintegrate.

  27. Hey DaveB…

    My Level 9 Hunter has a wolf pet, who got killed a few days ago. I can’t seem to resummon it, the game just says it’s dead. My other pets seem to resummon normally.

    Can you give any suggestions as to what to do?

  28. I read that things are similarly bad in the area over where Dave B is.

    Things here in Smallville seem to be going reasonably well. My wife and I went out to dinner Friday night, and we dined at one of the pricier places in Smallville, not that Smallville has really pricy places. They weren’t packed, but they had a steady stream of customers.

    I’d suspect Smallville is the optimal distance from Indianapolis. If you drive 20 minutes away from Indy, things are probably worse than here. If you drive 20 minutes into Indy, things are probably even worse.

  29. My Level 9 Hunter has a wolf pet, who got killed a few days ago. I can’t seem to resummon it, the game just says it’s dead. My other pets seem to resummon normally.

    Can you give any suggestions as to what to do?

    I think there should be a Revive Pet button in your spellbook, but I don’t remember.

  30. Miles:
    IIRC, you have to revive a dead pet, not summon it. Don’t know what distance you can do this from. Whenever my hunter’s pet died, I immediately revive it. (My hunter is Sporkle, Lvl 85 Goblin. My main is a L90 warlock and I have a 88 DK, 85 boomkin, 88 priest and 42 mage I play. Yes, I’m an altaholic to some degree..)

    A few good resources for WoW:
    – WoW Insider wowinsider.com – news, commentary, and columns on various classes. Lots of good pointers from there to more info.
    – WoWHead – wowhead.com – a database of all things WoW. Need help on a quest? Want to look up where an item drops? All there. Also has some good guides to classes and professions.
    – WoWPedia – wowpedia.com (or is it .org) – an online encyclopedia like WikiPedia. Lots of good articles, but sometimes the data are from a patch or two ago if nobody updates it.

  31. “Yes, I’m an altaholic to some degree..)”

    I was an altaholic in City of Heroes/Villains. 140+ toons, some of whom, regrettably, didn’t get much time. But I got 37 toons to Level 50 (the maximum) before the game was killed off.

    Thanks, I knew about WoWpedia, but there’s a hell of a lot to learn.

  32. I am also an Altaholic. I have about 25 toons in WOW scattered across five servers. I have only played four or five of them in the last month.

  33. Well, I have six on Saurfang and two on Skywall. All Human/Alliance except for a Blood Elf Mage. I don’t want to make the mistake I made on Co* of creating so many alts that it could be six months between logins for some of them. My highest in WoW so far is a Level 15 Warlock. The lack of a serious travel power is still annoying me.

  34. My highest in WoW so far is a Level 15 Warlock. The lack of a serious travel power is still annoying me.

    In 5 more levels your Warlock can get a horse. At level 40 you get a faster horse. At level 60 you get a flying mount. My low level pet peeve was that I always had to run to a vendor to sell stuff because my bag was full. Getting some larger bags cut down on the traveling to and from the vendor.

    You could have your Warlock learn tailoring, and make cloth armor and bags. The bags might cut down on the amount you have to travel. Any alliance warlocks, priests or mages you have on that server could wear the cloth armor.

    Also remember when it comes to traveling, you can set your hearth point to an inn near where you are questing, and can hearth once every 15 minutes.

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