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Report From the War Zone

From MiamiBob, posted in the boodle today (and definitely worthy of being a guest kit):

As a real estate agent plying his trade in the trenches (Miami is the Baghdad of foreclosures), I think our mess is a combination of greed and outright fraud. Most of what I do now is foreclosure sales in Homestead, about twenty miles south of Miami. Six or seven years ago, what is now literally thousand upon thousands of ticky-tacky, side-by-side townhomes and crammed together "zero lot line" homes, was tomato, potato, bean and strawberry fields. Homestead was the winter vegetable capital of the world. The economy was roaring, agricultural land was cheap and people wanted "affordable" housing. The politicians, in the thrall of the developers, said sure, go ahead and flatten those fields.

So they did and where vegetables once grew housing sprouted. Cheaply built cookie-cutter housing. With no additional infrastructure to handle the traffic or enough schools. People were pushed into adjustable mortgages with low initial payments and told not to worry about the re-set because they could always refinance because the houses would be worth more every year. People, "flippers", hoping to profit from the boom bought five or six houses at a time.

The market peaked in December of 2005; the mean sales price for single family homes has declined 30% since then and has more to go. We now have 85,000 single family homes and condos for sale in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. At the rate they're selling, that's a five-year supply. I sold a three-bedroom three-bath condo for $171,000 that two years ago someone bought for $300,000. He was a real estate agent who owned several of the units. Now he owns nothing and the bank lost money on all his properties. I just sold another 3/3 for $125,000 that two years ago a family paid $240,000 for and then he lost his job and the adjustable went up and then they just walked away from the house. Leaving the kids toys behind along with a whole bar full of liquor.

One of my listings is for a townhome that was purchased by a young musician and his wife and lived in with their two kids. Three years ago he paid $260,000 and had two mortgages for 100% financing. This was a guy without a job playing Mariachi gigs and two different banks gave him $260,000. We have a "keys for cash" program where we offer the previous owners still living in property they don't own a payment to vacate because that's cheaper than evicting them. I met him in a Wendy's, had him sign an agreement and then met him at his ex-house to get the keys, inspect the property and make sure he didn't trash anything. Lots of people trash the place, they rip out wires, leave the water running, break windows, kick in cabinets. He and his family didn't--they even vacuumed the carpets. He was happy to get his $1,000 and would use it along with the mortgage payments he had saved by not paying them for the last year to start a new life in a rental. Seven years from now he'll be able to buy something else.

The people I feel sorriest for are the neighbors of these foreclosures. They paid the same as the people who've gone and now their property is worth exactly what I sell the foreclosures for. About half. But they're still there, making their payments and supporting the whole townhouse complex maintenance with about half the residents. It's all a heartbreaking mess.

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 22, 2008; 6:21 PM ET
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MiamiBob gets a guestkit right out of the gate. No justice. Who do I protest to?

I'd forget any possible copyright suit until after you parse Rule 7 (formerly Rule 6) in the User Discussion and Submission Guidelines further.

Joel now owns royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, exclusive, and fully sublicensable rights to MiamiBob's first born child.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of real estate, this is now one of my favorite blog stops...

Posted by: TBG | September 22, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

The zero lot line seems to be a particularly unique Florida property concept. Here in Maryland flag-lots are legion. Same principle: Cram as many houses as possible on the smallest available parcel.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the cool things about the Achenblog. How many bloggers would be this generous with their space?

And, once again, very well said miamibob.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

TBG: Showing my kitchen before and after I moved out is just not fair.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Well done indeed, miamibob...

firsttimeblogger, don't forget the Charlize Theron bow.


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 22, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I got a pre-approved $250K home equity line of credit offer in the mail from my credit union today. I thought it was somewhat ironic. Given that my home might have sold for $250K at one time, but probably would not now...and the last thing I'd want to be is $250K in debt at this moment. I've always felt secure with this credit union, but they're making me wonder...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 22, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Yello: Cluster development in post "Growth Management Act" Florida is variable in application. Localized density standards that, for example, allow 5 units per acre can concentrate 50 zero lot line units on one acre of a ten acre parcel by using the "vacant" 9 acres as undeveloped common space. Developers have, unfortunately, been allowed to designate wetlands and environmentally sensitive lands as that "vacant" land - or used off-site lands to mitigate development density.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Our insurance company keeps sending my wife pre-approved share-draft auto loan vouchers. We have used them on more than one occasion. Once we had to call in to have the minimum amount adjusted for the vehicle we wanted.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to use Joel's idea of compassion and add to that the benefit of the doubt and say I think that no one really thought that mortgage companies would lend money to them if the company thought the loan would default. It's a classic case of "they're the experts... they should know!"

Now we know they would, but who would have thought a company would knowingly make a bad loan?

Posted by: TBG | September 22, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Reposting from last kit re TBG's comments that homeowners don't mind being able to deduct interest from their taxes...

Yes, TBG, I know that all too well whenever I see the "mortagage deduction" that I must skip over, thinking renting costs money too and is making SOMEBODY a profit.

It makes me feel like I'm subsidizing other people's 30, 40-year mortgages when they make more than I do.

Minnesota, though, has a law giving renters a tax rebate that comes out of the tax paid on that property. That does take the sting out now.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse


I assume the loan companies used very sophisticated default models based on credit scores, income, debt to income ratios, and the like to predict an acceptable ratio of defaults within a certain loan pool. Models that were all wildly inaccurate in a declining housing market.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Great little blog about visual rhetoric: INDEXED! Here are the blogist's images about the debacle underway:

First, Fannie and Freddie and Sallie:


Main INDEXED blog, where every entry is scribbled first on a 3 by 5 card.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 22, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Good job, MiamiBob.

(I almost typed, Good dog, MiamiBob, but that would be a boodle compliment, really.)

Posted by: College Parkian | September 22, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Good graphs, CP. My experience, however, is that introversion of waitress is inversely proportionate to surliness.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Repost from when I didn't know we had a new kit...

This morning on my way to work I heard Linda Wertheimer's interview w/ Chris Dodd. At one point, he said the country is lucky to have Paulson in charge, as he is so smart and qualified.

What is it with this craze for calling ourselves "lucky" and "blessed" about everything? Should the selection of a public servant be a lucky or prayer-inspired choice, or a cold-headed analysis of the qualifications of all possible choices?

I understand how people feel blessed when they have healthy children, or when they come unscathed from an accident or disaster. Winning the lottery is lucky. But having a qualified guy in charge? Isn't that the basic expectation???

I guess we will be lucky if next year Sarah Pain doesn't have a blessed thing to say about who fills cabinet posts.

MiamiBob, great example of what happens to the regular people living real lives.

Posted by: a bea c | September 22, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

*Taking a Charlize Theron bow, now* (and trying to calm my lower back after the exercise) . . .

When the guano hit the fan last week, I spoke with my investment guy up in NYC, who said (almost screaming): DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO LIVE ON $500,000 A YEAR UP IN MANHATTAN?????

Now, that's hard to dance to, but I'd really, really like to try, bum knee and all.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 22, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I would use "relieved" instead of "lucky" there a bea c. Now if they were geniuses, that's another story. And ftb, tell him there's always noo joy-zee.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I was asked to tone down or remove my blog post from yesterday...

Posted by: a bea c | September 22, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Way back when I was a ingineer for a silicon valley company I wasn't too taxed engery wise so I thought why not get a RE licence and make big bucks on the side? I got the license in six weeks of night classes. The classes were memorizing the questions and answers used in the past five months state exams.
I took my newly minted license into a RE office located on my comute route so I could convently check-in on the way home from work. The broker in the office says "yeah, hang your license here." Then handed me a city street map, circled a good portion of it and said "start knocking on doors and ask for a listing."
I used my license to get an after work job hosting dinners to get couples to sign up to go visit mountain lake second home property. $10 an night plus a free dinner.

Posted by: bh | September 22, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Nice Kit Miami Bob

Just catching up on 2 kits after a busy day,RD Happy Anniversary and same to you a little later TBG.

Bc,I really liked your piece about Bob(Error) and you know now everytime I hear a Jethro Tull tune or see a groundhog or almost anything to do with the election I think of Error.

Today's economy sure is scary,It seems like at any moment someone is going to pull the rug out.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | September 22, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Censorship hits the A-blog? If you agree after second thought that your own post needs to go, then just e-mail Joel the timestamp of the post you'd like to zap.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Censorship, Wilbrod? Having been booted by the wapo censorship bot more times than I can count in a non-adult blog I simply ascribe it to thought control.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, some very serious breaking news from AP:

"Woman arrested, accused of bartending naked"

"DELHI, Ill. (AP) - Here's a tip: Bartending nude can get you arrested.

Sheriff's deputies doing a routine check this week at a southern Illinois bar say they discovered a not-so-routine sight.

Authorities allege that 33-year-old Janet Brannon was naked while serving bar patrons at the Cabin Tavern in Delhi.

Brannon was arrested and charged with misdemeanor public indecency. She was freed on $8,000 bond. She was the only bar employee working at the time, so the tavern was closed Thursday.

No telephone listing can be found for Brannon, and the Jersey County sheriff's department doesn't know whether she has an attorney.


*&%$#@^%$, why isn't there "Film at 11" when you *need* it?

Ivansmom, ftb, bill everything (you're probably closest), here's a potnetial client for you.

Of course, if she's homeless, I may be able to do something for her...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Cur, your sight unseen willingness to offer shelter to a naked barmaid is one of the things that makes you so welcome as a virtual friend. Keep up the good works.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

a bea c is referring to comments she made on another blog about a mean teacher.

Happy Anniversary RD

Posted by: Boko | September 22, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Chewing a chew for Error! BTW, haven't touched my blog in awhile, but the last entry is definitely in memoriam.

Still experiencing photo difficulties, so will have to post part 2 in words alone.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | September 22, 2008 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm just a compassionate kinda guy, Shiloh.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 22, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I think this study falls into the category of - you really had to spend money to figure this out?

And congrats to MiamiBob - great post/kit.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

CP, I laughed out loud at all the Index graphs. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to bookmark it!

Posted by: slyness | September 22, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Boko, I was referring to my own school blog.

By contract, I have to keep a blog and post to it once a week. All teachers and administrators have the same requirement. Most of us comply, even if many just post homework assignments. It is a great way to communicate with parents, students, and peers. Mine is a bit different since I don't teach regular classes or keep grades for anyone. So, I get to be a bit more creative, or eccentric, or rude (when necessary).

Posted by: a bea c | September 22, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Or trite, or stuck in a time warp, or immersed in preconceived notions, or beholden to passe' ideas of education, or simply not with it.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the kind anniversary wishes. As I mentioned, it is still a few weeks away. No big thing planned, but I am hopeful that we might sneak out to a real restaurant. You know, the kind where you don't have to unwrap your food.

Despite having married me, my wife is fantastically intelligent. Plus, she has excellent common sense. She reminded me that, as important as it is that we leave money behind, there is no need for me to get all bent outta shape about the market. I mean, I still have many, many years of working left to build things up. Plus, she always makes sure I carry a big load of life insurance.

I *guess* this makes me feel better.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 22, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Could one of our Canucki political correspondents explain Julian West to me. Skinny dipping? Summer camp? Body painting? Is this an election or a Bill Murray movie?

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

For a nanosecond I was incredibly jealous of MiamiBob's instant promotion to kithood, then decided to be proud that I suggested his worthiness in the last boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 22, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Yello, the nasty side of me (reasons people dislike S. Ontarians from the Toronto area) would say - BC politics as per normal.

I read an article earlier today after seeing the headline and thought my goodness we aren't going over the deep end having someone resign for skinny dipping then read the article and realized why and that was before the details in your link. Ick.

Posted by: dmd | September 22, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama doesn't believe in North Dakota either.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Well done, miamibob. You have a cap. Two more 'till you turn a hat trick.

Posted by: jack | September 22, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Winter is nearly upon us. The preseason hockey standings are posted. Go Blackhawks!

Posted by: jack | September 22, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I liked Error too. I share his appreciation of F1 as well.
The VLP caught and killed his first groundhog this past weekend ( they are a great deal slower than rabbits). When the VLP slammed the rodent into the ground, breaking its back, I thought Error would have enjoyed that in some ways. The DdB aren't biters but man they can drive something into the ground like the best of them. I've seen my old beagle kill a few whistle pigs but the VLP holds the speed record. He doesn't catch them often, but they are done when he does.
And do not forget to get tested/inspected for the dreaded colorectAL cancer. It's a nasty one, as told by today's NY story.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 22, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I graduated from an emgineering program in 1984 with 16 other guys and gals (ok, only 2 gals). We were all born in the 1959-1962 range. The only loss from that group is a guy I liked quite a bit and it was from colorectal cancer. It's a nasty one.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | September 22, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The Humane Society endorses Obama:

I have driven through both North and South Dakota. South Dakota has the Black Hills and Mt Rushmore. North Dakota had a ground blizzard at the time (don't ask why we decided to go through NORTH Dakota in Feb), so about all I remember is Bismarck, where we brought the car battery into the motel room with us. (I'm pretty sure Bismarck is in ND.)

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 22, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Very funny Yello, but Obama had 11 offices in ND and even ran TV ads. Dems haven't even bothered with that since, well probably never. As pointed out in a Grand Forks Herald article, Obama staffers were trying to identify "sympathetic voters" but this is difficult in a state with no voter registration. I don't mean they don't identify a party, I mean they don't register. You show up on election day and vote, if you haven't voted early. North Dakotans can start voting on Thursday.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 22, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Maybe there's a reason I've been, as a Florida democrat, financially helping Stephanie Herseth (Sandlin), South Dakota.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Yes, SD, it's a nasty cancer indeed. It killed my mother-in-law, who had never been screened even though her mother died of the disease. She was diagnosed and had surgery about two weeks after Mr. T had his first colonoscopy (with several polyps removed).

He was away in college when his grandmother died and didn't realize where her cancer was, so that he didn't know to insist that his mother be screened. She would be alive and well today if she had been, I'm sure. By the time she was symptomatic, the cancer was far advanced. They took her stomach out and quite a bit of her colon, but the cancer returned in her liver. She lived 15 months after the original diagnosis.

This afternoon, I was looking at the info on changes to my health insurance for next year. Starting January 1, it will cover a colonoscopy 100 percent, after a $30 copay. I guess that makes up for the $25 increase in the monthly premium.

Posted by: slyness | September 22, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

That would be "The Humane Society of the United States", who is an "advocacy" organization who has been pressing for some insane farm animal welfare legislation.

The HSUS is unaffilated with your local humane society. Don't blame YOUR local shelters for supporting political candidates if you happen, for some reason, to support McCain and are reading this.

Please donate directly to local rescue and humane organizations that you know do in fact have shelters or foster homes to help pets out. Or heck, get a pet yourself and help an animal have a good life everyday.

Obama got solid marks for sponsoring some basic welfare bills such as outlawing horse slaughter (which had high support).

Most of those bills are well intentioned, but perhaps not actually that humane after all. As a result of the horse slaughter bill (which I did support myself), many horses are now being shipped to Mexico to be slaughtered in horrific conditions.

Next, they'll probably press for strict export of horses from the US if there's "any chance they could be slaughtered."

There is simply no way to guarantee that any buyer in another country might not simply resell the horse for slaughter at a later date. Horses can live as long as 40 years, and their useful riding life is perhaps 15-20 at the maximum-- more horse-knowledgable folks can speak up here.

The way the economy is going, I wouldn't make any legal exports harder at the moment.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 22, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

We all die. Whether costly medical care and insurance lengthens our last days does not change the end result. The pain of a bankrupt family, the pain of a family fighting a losing battle, the pain of a family in grief, does not change the pain, It will come when it will come. We all die.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

We praise the colorectal surgeon
Misunderstood and much maligned
Slaving away in the heart of darkness
Working where the sun don't shine
Respect the colorectal surgeon
It's a calling few would crave
Lift up your hands and join us
Let's all do the finger wave

When it comes to spreading joy
There are many techniques
Some spread joy to the world
And others just spread cheeks
Some may think the cardiologist
Is their best friend
But the colorectal surgeon knows...
He'll get you in the end!

Why be a colorectal surgeon?
It's one of those mysterious things.
Is it because in that profession
There are always openings?

When I first met a colorectal surgeon
He did not quite understand;
I said, "Hey nice to meet you
But do you mind? We don't shake hands."

He sailed right through medical school
Because he was a whiz
Oh but he never thought of psychology
Though he read passages.
A doctor he wanted to be
For golf he loved to play,
But this is not quite what he meant...
By eighteen holes a day!

Praise the colorectal surgeon
Misunderstood and much maligned
Slaving away in the heart of darkness
Working where the sun don't shine!

Bowser and Blue

Posted by: Boko999 | September 22, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's a depressing tale. I have a girlfriend who sold her house in Atlanta finally, after 2 years of listing. It sold for less than she paid. What does she do? Learn from her mistake? no. Moves to New Hampshire and pays another $500,000 for a big house in the most expensive neighbourhood... and this is a woman with money problems. How dense people can be!

Posted by: Miss Toronto | September 22, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Is that, BOKO, a hymn to yourself?

Posted by: Shiloh | September 22, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

MiamiBob's account is probably typical of other hot spots, including Port St. Lucie and Palm Bay. A few houses are being built in Indian River County (including an older home gutted to the walls near my place--I wonder if the owner sold a lovely Japanese lantern in the front yard to make it possible).

I'm fortunate to be on a stable street, so far. My act of bold imprudence is to install a new roof. An Illinois-based "Aluminum" company's heaviest-gauged crimped galvanized steel looks like it's a real bargain.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 22, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Our cookie cutter bailout society is on the fritz. Good riddance.

Posted by: Jim | September 22, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Confidence is key. If 300 or so of these robbers were sent to prison,
including Bush, Cheney, and half the admin., confidence in the Dollar and
the markets would be restored better than anyone might think.

Posted by: Jumper | September 22, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

What the heck was that?
Sumpin just flew over my head again.

Posted by: Boko | September 22, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Humane Society of the United States endorsement was goofily funny, that's why I posted it...Guess I should've included a ;)

I saw Ghosttown (one word or two?) yesterday - I liked it. His "we all die" comeback - "Yes, but usually just the once." Ricky Gervais cracks me up - thought he was funny at the Emmy's.

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 22, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

This is not fair - Sarah Palin is going to meet Bono:
It's not right! Maybe he can knock some sense into her, or at least get her to lower her voice a bit.
"Some people got way too much confidence, baby"

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 23, 2008 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Ah I read it... it's now "The humane society legislative fund", but the website is HSUS, and Mike Markarian is the executive vice-president of the HSUS.

It's interesting this "fund" is specified as non-tax deductible and that such money will be used for legislation for humane treatment of animals.

This effectively means, with enough donors to that fund, they can leverage their political involvement far more than the percentage cap Shiloh quoted.

Their aim is trying to get politicans to tell farmers how to keep their livestock, by the way, not necessarily improving inspection standards for our food supply, nor demanding more money for such.

They also may work to undermine due process law that protect property such as animals against search and seizure on "probable cause". Many bills proposed around the country this year, in fact, directly amounted to consfication and destruction of property without due process.

And I say property. If animals are not designated property, a lot of laws designed to protect theft then do not apply. And I haven't seen a "kidnapping" law proposed out there for animals, have you?

Therein lies the nub of why I take this kind of legislative mayhem seriously.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

On a lighter note: I sure hope this isn't Joel's backyard. The Man in the Basement would be both cramped and soggy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes, Wilbrod, taking something seriously is seriously silly.

Posted by: Shiloh | September 23, 2008 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes, Shiloh.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Now this is more my speed:

And yes, they're not goofily endorsing any candidate just becuase they were the only one to actually fill out their questionnaire.

Posted by: Wilbrod | September 23, 2008 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Hi, all. I've snooped a bit over the past month, but haven't read much except the past couple of days.

I read on the WaPo front page that the White House doesn't want the new RTC or whatever it's called to profit from assets it buys cheap and then sells higher. Here's a key para:

"The Bush administration is resisting changes to the measure being sought by Democratic leaders and many Republicans, including one that would grant the government authority to cut executive pay at firms that participate in the bailout and another that would guarantee that taxpayers share in the profits if those firms recover financially."

When I took Econ 1A 46 years ago (to the day, almost), I learned the justification for profit, as opposed to a fee or hourly pay, is the acceptance of risk. If the citizens aka Government are going to take on all these assets that may be worthless, aka risk, then we deserve the profits if the whole scheme pans out.

Posted by: LTL-CA | September 23, 2008 2:24 AM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary Jack and RD.

The Masters of the Universe (MU) in Wall Street should take some blame for the “liar loans” as well. The MU tells the mortgage dealers that they want to buy this many millions of loans from them every month. If the mortgage firm cannot delivery, the MU will buy them from someone else. So what a mortgage firm to do?

Posted by: rainforest | September 23, 2008 4:27 AM | Report abuse

Morning all. Gotta miss Dawn Patrol because, ironically, I have a plane to catch. 7 am flight out of Dulles and it's an hour drive from here. See y'all later this afternoon.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 23, 2008 4:37 AM | Report abuse

I am honored beyond any ability to properly communicate it. Thank you, Joel.

Posted by: miamibob | September 23, 2008 5:19 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. Yello, you didn't miss the Dawn Patrol, you were the Dawn Patrol. Great kit, JA and mamibob.

I hope your anniversaries are nice, RD and Jack.

My daughter needs a medical test, and because she does not have medical insurance or doesn't qualify for assistance because of a job, she is having to try and scrap up the money to pay for this. The job doesn't provide insurance, so it is all very stressful and unforgiving. And it is serious. We're going to try and figure out something. Just pray for us.

My dad isn't feeling to good either. He's putting on a good face, but sounds awful on the phone. I went yesterday, and because my daughter was with me, he was acting. I called him later, and he sounded like he was in a hole. I have a doctor's app. this morning, but I'll be heading that way afterwards.

I am so ready to vote, and get this over with. If I see another political ad on television, I'm not sure what I might do. The ads from Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagin are too, too, much. Dole looks like someone has blown up her face with something. John McCain looks like he needs some sun. Just tired of all the haggling and negative stuff.

Did anyone see the lost tribe on Nightline? I did not see all of it, just a little. I though it was interesting what the shaman said. He said with the logging and all the stuff they're doing to the land his people will die, and we will die too. The only difference is we won't know that we're dying.

A lot on the dance card today. Have a great day, folks. The weather here is so nice and sunny. A bit warm, but that's okay with fall around the corner or is it already here? And looking forward to the turning of the leaves, all the oranges, browns, yellows, just so much beauty to behold. If you get a chance, stop and view nature. Take it all in, and thank God.

Morning, Mudge, Scotty, Slyness, Martooni, and all.*waving*

Time to swim.

Posted by: cassandra s | September 23, 2008 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the misspell of your name, miamibob. You were very clear in the kit.

Posted by: cassandra s | September 23, 2008 5:26 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle, Cassandra.

Well, George Will is *very* unhappy with McCain. The front page op-ed teaser asks, "Is McCain Fit for the Presidency?" And George says no. Here's his opening:

""The queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said without even looking around."

-- "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama."

Well, poor snakebit Norv Turner finally won a football game...and on a week when both New England AND the Colts lost. Jeez, who'd a ever thunk anybody would write a sentence like that?

I'm beginning to think that bailout plan has some seriously bad flaws in it--mainly that one paragraph giving Paulson royal powers beyond anyone's control. And the poison pill of golden parachutes has yet to be worked out, and looks to be in trouble.

OK, Dawn Patrol, let's go. yello's away on leave, so we need an extra wingman today.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | September 23, 2008 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Mornin' peeps...

I've decided that today I will not think about anything more complicated than putting on pants. Today will be "la-la-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you" day.

As long as I don't end up in jail or otherwise institutionalized, I will consider it a success.

Peace out... :-)

Posted by: martooni | September 23, 2008 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all.

How's yer back, martooni?

I, too, read George Wills this morning, like a moth to the flame, could not help myself when it appeared that even though his compliment to Obama was backhanded, it was more than he gave McCain. Wills sez Obama is too inexperience to be Prez, but, although it may be costly for Obama to learn on the job, McCain's temperment cannot be corrected and he is just too too terrible for the job. (my interpretation of his words)

Miamibob, you last paragraph in your piece about the neighbors value of their homes being no more than the 50% value that you sold the house for. My mother's neighbors' home value may go down to. Recently she was able to sell her waterfront 2 bedroom condo at the beach for $260,000. (She is going into an independent living environment in Nov/Dec.) The initial asking price of $315,000. was way below her VB appraisal value, but that's neither here nor there, for anyone but the tax collectors. There are several units for sale in her condo community and a good friend of hers was just waiting to see what Mama's would go for before putting her's on the market. Now, the neighbors will not be doing actual lawn care (as suggested in your post) as the condo assoc. hires people to do that, but the neighbors are disappointed that Mama did not get more for her unit. She's just thankful what was an ordeal for her appears to be over, she's over 90 yrs. old, still drives (yikes), still was living independently with success, but knows she will be happier with her new situation.

Anyway, your article is an excellent read, thanks.

I like JA's previous article on Prince William County's situation. My, my how times have changed. Forbes Mag. has included that county with other NoVA counties as tops in the nation, incomewise.

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, you all. My post is not appearing, fancy that...I wonder what I said?

Laughing at George Wills this morning.

Really nice article, MiamiBob, thanks. Liked JA's on Pr. Wm. Co, too.

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 6:54 AM | Report abuse

Am I too late to be wingman?

Story on the local front this morning about an independent hardware store in the city closing. Another landmark from my childhood gone. Soon there won't be any left.

I suppose that's the price I pay for getting old. The owners are ready to retire and sales have been flat, so they are taking advantage of the opportunity to call it a day.

Oh well, there's always Lowe's.

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

sigh...patience is a virtue.

Posted by: VintageLady | September 23, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Good morning. Thanks for the input Miamibob. It is very hard to read or hear the news lately. I don’t pretend to understand the complexities involved but I am left with a lot of anxiety. I may have to adopt Martooni’s posture. My job is fairly secure and I’m healthy, so I’m trying to concentrate on that. But any hope of retirement at 65 is quickly fading.

On a happier note, looking forward to our trip to D.C. next week. We still have to sit down and plan what to see and do and how to fit everything into three full days.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 23, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Yello, when you read this later, I agree with what dmd said about BC politics. Business as usual. BC gets blamed for more political weirdness than anywhere else in Canada, though to be truthful, everwhere has its own bit of weirdness.

Now I must go back to ignoring politics in order to save my life. Poltics raise my blood pressure to an un acceptable level.

Posted by: dr | September 23, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Sneaks, if you cut your D.C. "to-do" list in half, it'll still be too much. I'd suggest picking out one "must-see" per day, then let the day's travels bring other details to your attention. You know you've got a ton of tour guides around here, right? :-)

*fairly-run-of-the-mill-but-I'm-sure-I'll-think-of-something-witty-later Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.. woke up to find that Verizon changed the Fios TV lineup last night but the Tivo system hasn't caught up, so none of my shows recorded (no Daily Show! Yikes!).

Thank goodness for the Googles. Found a work-around and am now loading the new lineup into the Tivo. Too bad I have to tell it I live in Columbia, Md.

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Oh I appreciate the tour guides S’nuke. I told “S” that we have to sit down and plan this week so I can ask a few questions of you all before we leave. My feet are already hurting just thinking about the mileage they’ll rack up. I think your advice about one major “must-see” per day is excellent. Once “S” gets into a museum, he’s hard to budge. I told him we have to have time limits on this or we’ll only see one exhibit per day!

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | September 23, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Did you know it costs the US 1.4 cents to make a penny?

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm more concerned (literally) that both campaigns refuse to "talk tough" to the electorate in the face of severe economic turmoil...


Posted by: Scottynuke | September 23, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree Scottynuke. Great article. - I suggest everyone take another look at what Samuelson wrote a while back.

Bottom line: Soaking the rich won't do it. Ending the wars won't do it. Eliminating earmarks certainly won't do it. The only way to keep the government solvent is to cut back on Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

And what administration is going to be allowed to do this?

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 23, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Scotty, that is the scariest part of this mess...lots of talk about the problem but no real effort to plainly state how difficult it is going to be to pull out of it. I wish there could be some kind of detente between the campaigns that allowed the candidates to both begin to "talk tough" and lay out detailed plans about the actions they would pursue. But, sure as shootin', if only one candidate did that, I don't really believe that the American people would go for it. I'm afraid that a majority would go for the guy doing the happy talk. Or the guy doing the least amount of tough talk!

I did read Will today...what a scorcher, although I can't stand his unwillingness to give Obama any credit about anything. But, maybe a column like this from a Republican stalwart will make McCain so mad that he'll really blow his top and come out swinging. I don't think that works well for him.

Posted by: Kim | September 23, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I saw the bit in the Observer about the closing of MPHW, slyness. I used to frequent the A&P on that corner when I lived on Royal Court. *sigh* When I was going up Queens Road last week to the hospital, Anderson's and all of the rest of the landmarks were gone, and I totally lost my sense of direction. Fortunately the hospital loomed up on my right, and my anxiety subsided. My bro met with his MD to discuss his pathology report; all indications are that the field is clear, and that the surgery achieved the desired result.

Posted by: jack | September 23, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Meant to post this yesterday:

Still ToBusyToBoodle

Posted by: omni | September 23, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Good news about your brother, jack.

Posted by: TBG | September 23, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

new kit!

Posted by: dbG | September 23, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

LOL, TBG. Just hope you find all the shows you want to see!

Glad to hear the good report about your brother, Jack. If you get lost in the Queen City, stop in at a fire station, they all have maps on the wall and the firefighters will help you. All the trucks have GPS these days....

Posted by: slyness | September 23, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Guten Morgen das Boodle!

Been up and about for some time, checking the clouds. Saakashvili wrote an idiotic op ed in WaPo.

In the financial crisis, looks like the American oligarchs will escape with the loot. We need a Putin to sort out the mess anf toss some of the oligarchs behind bars.

Good kit, Miamibob.

Posted by: Brag | September 23, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

hurray for Jack's bro. He's been in my thoughts and prayers.

Sneaks, if pounding the pavement in DC might be a problem, consider renting a segway.

If you will be downtown during lunchtime, Mudge and I may be available. My treat.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | September 23, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

g'morning boodle. I told Mr. F that instead of worrying about whether or not we'll be able to retire at 55, with retirement defined as working for fun or fulfillment more than money, I am considering myself retired already. This is not unlike Martooni's plan for handling today.

After some investigation I'm convinced any bail out must include both an equity stake for taxpayers and a limit to executive pay. I agree with the critics of the plan who point out the impossibility of putting a value on all the bad debt, if we risk paying more than it's worth-say 60 cents on the dollar when it should be 20-then we should reap the benefit if we get a relative bargain.

Posted by: frostbitten | September 23, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I know someone in the Treasury Dept, and was aware that pennies are a losing proposition, and are likely to only be around until they figure out how to make change for cash without them (which I figure will be, like, never).

Should look through my weird coin jar, I think I have some WWII-era steel pennies in there...

On another note, is it any surprise that the candidates are going to tread lightly around the economy these days (at least as far as actually doing anything, that is)?

There must be a good middle ground between swift tactical actions and well-considered strategies, without getting into the current Administration's middle ground, which I refer to as 'Tragedies.'

I expect that there will be some clashes on the Hill over the Treasury/Fed's bailout package, for a lot of reasons. And I don't expect it to pass through a Dem congress unmodified, but I'm no expert on such things.

There's a LOT going on in a lot of offices up and down the mid-Atlantic these days, and we know about a very small fraction of it. Power changing hands, deals being made, authority being exerted, money moving moving moving, winners and losers, some people trying to to what they think is best for the country and the world, and some trying to do the best for themselves.

We'll see how it all shakes out, I suppose.


Posted by: bc | September 23, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of Washington tourism, I once long ago had a layover at National, so I walked to the Lincoln Memorial and Corcoran Gallery, then back by bus.

jack, good to hear the pathology news!

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | September 23, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I liked your article, bc.

Here's the Jumper plan for coinage reform:
1. eliminate the penny. All prices in 5¢ increments, except gasoline stations can put 1¢ increments on their signs, only.
2. the new nickel will have the size of the current dime, the new dime will have the size of the current penny, the new quarter the size of the current nickel, the new 50¢ piece the size of the current quarter, and the new dollar coin only slightly larger, but smaller than the present 50¢ piece. Coins will be alternately ridged and nonridged on the edges to assist the blind.

That is all. Carry on.

Posted by: Jumper | September 23, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

All the great spiritual leaders are dead. Moses is dead. Muhammed is dead. Buddha is dead. And I'm not feeling so hot myself.

Posted by: Theodore | September 23, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

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