Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Millions of People or Trillions of Dollars?

Here is the opening tease:

"His basic premise, set forth in his FAQ and Mission statement is that the foreclosure mess was not a situation where millions of people suddenly appeared needing housing, but where Trillions of dollars were in search of people who could be convinced to sign their names." 

Hint: I posted this author's link to my FaceBook account so people could inform themselves if they care to! 

Given the above approach to the foreclosure/investment disaster, can't you just hear the heavy breathing of those brand new mortgage shops?  Those brand new loan brokerage firms? and all the scammers, from MERS, who cleverly engineered the same kind of strip-code marketing that your grocer has used for decades and brought the world to it's financial knees, to the creator of “ELRS”.  Electronic Loan Reviews were run by computers overnight looking for fraud – hahahaha!  Thousands of ELRs were run while I slept, giving automatic AAA grades on most of them.  Just like Wall Street today, with their computer’s buying and selling, manipulating The Market. 

Wheeee! it’s up! Let’s have a $32,000.00 bottle of wine with lunch, boys!!   Aah, nooonono!  It’s down! OMG! OMYGAWD!  All that ranting makes me want to market a little Wall Street ED medicine to the suits.

You may have guessed that I'm now a follower of Neil Garfield.  I stumbled upon his blog whilst searching MERS, looking a former SVP of mine.  And yes, I see he followed our old CEO to a high position within the biggest credit company in the country.  He’s tucked in and running the risk department, LOL!  

 Please keep in mind that this was my original intention today.  I’ve been keeping a file (a red file) of former employees of the company I last worked for.  I have a record of position(s) they held at Brand X Mortgage and records of the current position at places like MGIC, Radian.  

If you are unaware of my background it is over 40 years in the industry of Real Estate: Title Insurance, Escrow, Commercial and Real Estate Loans, Mortgage Banking, and ultimately Mortgage Fraud Investigator.  It was in that last position that I realized something was very wrong:  we were lending to pretend people with pretend jobs who earned pretend salaries!  

Do you remember searching for all twelve little bunnies in the picture of the forest in grade school?  Well - I loved it then and I love it still. So I was offered a chance to transfer to the "Prefunding Analysis Department", to audit loans for fraud because I have a knack for sniffing out hidden bunnies.  I swear to whoever is On High: one of my first reviews was the loan of .... Mr. Bob Bogus.   I could not find any evidence anywhere of a Bob or Robert Bogus so I wrote it up in my report.

Anyway, I was told not to be so picky about a person's name - it was too obvious to really be fraud.  Well, Ms. AVP, either you really were stupider than me, or you were on the Bob Bonus Dole.  I've decided you are a hybrid of both.  And so, the first loan I red-flagged, was gobbled up by some sorry investor a week later and was on its way, like a heat-seeking missile aimed at the heart of America, or Norway or some other equally unimportant country. 

I've heard in very recent history that this was an inside joke, industry shorthand that the pranksters who were "in on the fraud" just couldn't resist. 

This reminds me of rearing my kids.   Teenagers and their pals will joke in code as they stand right in front of you.  Your job is to listen carefully, because they laugh believing they are smarter than you!  Smile inanely, and know you'll soon find out what they are really doing. 
Parenthood One Oh One, chapter 15, pg.20. 

I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with my Red File. Whistleblower, maybe.  But what’s the use in a world where America is but a rotting corpse that political vultures are fighting over?  Each day brings new disasters that are intentionally kept out of local news, soothing most pilgrims in their ignorance and keeping well fed on trivial poop like the  Kardashians, Nancy Grace and Desperate Housewives.

Well, I for one believe this economy should not be turned around.  It’s been debased and resembles nothing I am familiar with.

We better darned well build us a new economy we can use as a tool, not as a privy hole.

Answer:  Neil Garfield

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Subject is Life!

Here is a reminder that while you are “doing stuff”, don’t forget to live every minute.  I was reminded late last night via email from an old and dear friend.  We were so young when he and I met.  We really were “just seventeen” when the Beatles were singing that song.

Patrick was born in Ceylon, to very British parents, #3 son in a family of 4 boys and one girl.  Ceylon has since been re-named Sri Lanka – it changed back in 1972.  Sri Lanka is kind of an abomination of the original name of Ceilao (which should have an ~ above the) given by the Portuguese on settling there in 1505.  The island’s history dates back possibly to pre-prehistoric time and one of it’s first written references appears in the Ramayana. 

Well, don’t you wonder about me wanting to write about Sri Lanka history?  Well, I married a Portuguese man AND I have spent enough time in Indonesia to have seen the Ramayana about a hundred times!  Whoo Hoo!   

In truth, I’ve never been as fascinated with history as I have in the past two years.  It is like I have discovered a new subject, and I bore a lot of you with my findings.  I know and I hope you will excuse me, but it is hard to rein me in now and again. 

So back to Pat: we dated briefly then decided to become very, very close friends.  He met my BFF Annie and he was absolutely gobsmacked.  Immediate love at first site.  And, my BFF, being “just seventeen” also, treated him very poorly indeed.

It did not interfere with our friendship one bit.  And Patrick went on through a couple of girlfriends, but he was never really on the hunt.  Then one day when he was thirty five or so, he went to Amsterdam on a holiday and met the most fascinating and enchanting and very young woman, Corrie.  I don’t believe she ever left his side after meeting him.  He stayed in Holland, got a job, married Corrie shortly thereafter and it has been a relationship that I harbor a lot of envy over. I have never had that with a man in my life.  Perhaps briefly:  but it seems it was just courtship antics.  I’m sure on my part as well as my husbands.  They never had children, I believe by choice, and travelled the world on their vacations, working for international aid organizations, something that Dutch people seem to have a genetic propensity for.

I got a dreadful email late last night:  Our Corrie has lung cancer.  She has an 8.5 cm tumor.  I called this morning and caught them working out an appointment with her doctor to schedule surgery ASAP.

Corrie took the phone from Pat and laughed my name in greeting as she has always done.  She wanted to know how I was.  I told her I was so sorry about the cancer.  And Corrie laughed a little more and said something to the effect “You know how it goes; we are on alert now, looking for every beautiful minute of the day.  We are hopeful, Mel, but you too must start looking at this day as one of your last.”

And so Corrie cheered me up.   So I told her that the last time I had anything that was 8.5 cm big I got a bouncing baby boy out of it.  And she howled herself into a coughing fit, and I didn’t apologize.  My goal is somehow to go back to Rijswijk and be with Pat and her again.

This remembrance is bringing back a litany of memories about my first solo journey into the bowels of England as a single woman where I was bombed three times at the Novatel by the IRA.  Then on to an odyssey across the English Channel on a ferry with a Stephen of Nottingham.  We watched Queen perform on the ferry, and he kept on drinking.  I didn’t because I was on my way to Eindhoven to see a girlfriend from Khartoum Days…then on to Pat and Corrie’s the next day.  

Stephen asked me for Pat’s phone number so he could get together with me there. He was young and cute, so I gave it.  What I was unaware of was our ferry was in a storm and our 5 hour journey was well over eight hours already, and Pat had been on the phone to Sirpa in Eindhoven and nobody knew where I was.  I couldn’t call because Europe had already converted their pay phones to cards, not coins.

Stephen and I exited the ferry with his mates, and he and I passed through passport control as newlyweds, kissed good bye and I went off to the no-longer-in-existence train to Eindhoven from Hoek van Holland.  Sirpa was unaware of this detail.  It was past midnight and I should have arrived hours before and been with her knocking back a couple of vodka tonics.  

Instead I was routed to Rotterdam, via Amsterdam (b’bye Stephen!) and up to Eindhoven, arriving at 6:00 a.m.  The money exchange was open so I could finally change money to call Sirpa.   When she came to pick me up, we did get a vodka tonic at 6 a.m.  We sat in a bar booth and had ham and eggs and vodka tonics.

“Melanie, just who is Stephen?”  I was stunned and asked how she knew about Stephen.  

“Well, your friend Pat called me about midnight asking me if I knew who Stephen was.  We were very worried about you being lost or abducted on the trains of Holland!  After all, you were almost seven hours late!”

I hadn’t thought about that.  So I explained, and she laughed, and we went on to have a wonderful overnight visit.  Then I was off to see Patrick and Corrie.  Stephen must have slept it off because he never called while I was in Holland!  

And after a couple of days I stored my luggage at Pat’s, borrowed a duffle bag from Corrie and caught a train to Florence, with…Philippe, an Economics Professor at the University of Milano.  It’s true isn’t it: – we are made to live each day as our last?  Eckhart Tolle is right.  We must learn to live in the NOW.    

(to be continued)

Monday, July 25, 2011

All Class Reunion 2011

 My home town of Calistoga only had about  1,100 residents total when I was a child.  And that included those who lived in trailer homes and sometimes moved.  Because of the timing of our births this tiny town quickly ran out of parents: a whole load of us were the initial wave of Baby Boomers;  and we grew up playing with the entire generation of siblings, not just the one in our class.  

It makes sense that we have periodic All Class Reunions from anyone who had ever graduated from Calistoga High School, or attended our schools.  Now it's anyone who was a childhood friend from The City.  That's what we called San Francisco in the '50s.

This year's reunion was  special as invites also were extended to all those "City Kids" who used to spend summers in our town.  They came in droves that first Saturday after school got out, and we Calistoga kids were waiting in the gutters at the intersection of Highway 128 and Main Street. 

Stationwagons arriving from San Francisco slammed on the brakes and dumped their children out, and went on.  We formed a gang and took off for the swimming pools, the park, or places unknown and showed up at somebody's house when it was time to eat.  We were always fed. 
In recent years, certain of the City Kids had been invited to gate crash but now they got invites, and some brought their parents with them.  Imagine a reunion ranging from near centurions through the most recent graduates of 2011. 

(Tsk.  I hope I didn't spell that like those half goat people of Greek myths..or were  gladiators called centurions? confusing.)
It  was really the ten year reunion that made our class realize we really missed each other.  I like to think that our young grads will come in the future: first with boy/ girl friends, then with spouses, then little ones, and then with their dogs and/or new spouses.  Suddenly the little ones are big kids, and suddenly there are no kids or maybe grandkids; and perhaps like us they will bring their parents too.  I stop now.   

The 2011 All Class Reunion formally started at 2 pm Saturday with drinks and milling around, visiting, telling stories, telling lies, laughing, back slaps - all our crazy hominoid behaviors. They say just over 300 former students of Calistoga High School showed up and there was just barely enough time to chat with my personal A list and some of my B list.  I lied.  I don't  have a B list - there's not enough people to make one.  LOL and smiley-face.

A wonderful meal was dished up; we did some more milling around and not so much drinking then a few yawns, some sore feet and backs....So it broke up  around eleven thirty or midnight.

My friends and I took an evening stroll through our little home town, even though we'd done it the night before.  I just wish I could do it again tonight.  Tonight and every night!   A stroll every summer evening, remembering and laughing and sharing and wanting to shout out  "I am so lucky!"
Night time strolls of long ago, sometimes called promanades in other countries,  as the night brings a soft cool breeze and heat exhaustion suddenly evaporates, and the sounds of crickets and frogs makes you say Yes! I am a part of Nature, not simply subject to Nature! 

Calistoga's summer-night air is sweet with jasmine and roses and maybe plumaria here and there...unless you are walking on Main Street (they call it Lincoln Avenue on maps.)  Main Street at that hour smells more like booze.  I remember when it smelled like booze and cigarettes.  Some things have changed for the better.

Our Mid-Century parents strolled neighborhood streets, stopping and visiting on porches, relishing the night coolness with a glass of lemonade or a beer.  And  we kids played Kick the Can, Tag,  and Hide 'n' Seek right in the middle of streets;  as well as in the backyards of many tolerant neighbors.  Not a lot of homes had a fence around their property, so exhausted  kids crashed on  any old body's lawn to rest up, telling jokes and sharing dreams, or just looking at the sky. No one ran us off their lawns because we were bending their precious blades of grass, and our sweaty little bodies itched with rashes from prickly grass.  If we did get  rowdy the neighbors might help us leave their property with a full-blast hose. Or if we were on some old people's land they would started hollering at us.  "YouDarnKidsGoOnHomeFerGodsSake!"  

It is said this year that one of the bars had an Elvis Impersonator.  I'm not too sure if this means Calistoga is still stuck in time; if we've "gone Vegas" or if Vegas is stuck in time.

Anyway our personal midnight blue velvet sky still rested above our valley, settling ever so gently on the mountain peaks, and those stars still dangled just out of my reach.  Crickets and bullfrogs chirped and burped in the distance, and the sound of far off conversations and soft laughter floated by.  These are the parts that can never change: mountains, sky, stars, creatures, laughter. Calistoga remains.
This is Life being lived and loved, at it's sweetest and fullest: with people, with memories, with comfort and kindness and love. 

You know, someone once said you can never go home. 
Poor him:  maybe he should come to one of our All Class Reunions?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who is Drivng the Bus?

Today’s my first ramble, and it is about the polarization of America. The social and economic strife we prideful people of the USA are experiencing did not sprung up overnight because The Leadership wore a red suit or a blue suit. And changing the wardrobe of The Leadership has not, and will not guarantee economic progress.

In fact economic progress will take place when The Three Musketeers motto re-surfaces in our culture: “All for one and one for all”. When did America lose our connection with our American culture, anyway?

A Jeopardy question from a pre-recorded show last night shocked me into blogging. Jeopardy, the game show is about thinking people. And the question in question asked in which group of college students studies showed the highest level of cheating: those pursuing a Bachelor of Science, a Masters of Business Administration, or a Doctorate.

MBA was the answer. Makes me proud to have never attained one!

And I recalled my most recent work history, with a high-flying company that hired the brightest and best-looking sales teams to peddle some very faulty product. These young high-rollers were bright and eager but hadn’t the slightest concept neither of right v. wrong nor of legal v. illegal. They eagerly did what it took to improve the corporate bottom line to pad their pockets. Why did these degree waving high-rollers not rock the boat? They were trained NOT to. By growing up in the 70s and 80s where cheap labor and cheaper goods became more and more available, a hunger likened to hoarding has kicked in. America can’t stop itself now.

Our corporate fraud whistles could have been blown in 2001, long before the American financial market took the whole world down. But our financial market is not the only arena now failing America and the world. The culture of Corporate Profiteering, pedals drugs, sex, eternal perkiness, and other product via television, radio, and internet with no regulation, no monitoring as to whether the sales pitches are actually Truth or Lies. Twenty-four seven we are told to use your credit card for plastic purses, door-knob rings, mineral powder, and kitchen gadgets by people who are “names” in show business and in show cooking.

Our Corporatocracy now is an out of control weed choking our lives, our livelihood. And has it’s beady eye on a population of graying Boomers. We are the original fad-worshipping, age-fearing, pig in the python of America; we are The Market. And we are going too need drugs, this time legal ones, and lots and lots of them. There is probably a former Vice President whistling a happy tune.

It all started around 1954, you know, and you can blame it all on Davey Crockett and Walt Disney.

To be continued…….

compelling piece

Interestingly enough I am unable to copy from word to blog.

Day One

...of This New World and this blog. 

It is happening even though it may look like it's all falling apart.  Polarization is everywhere.  And it tends to make one very certain of where one really is!  Exciting, promising and scary.  Like learning something new, hmm?  Change is a very certain thing even though we sometimes feel very uncertain.