Of beds and things

A while ago, it was determined that our down comforter had reached the end of its usefulness. I'm not sure, but there apparently is a test for this, the nature of which exists solely within the confines of the complicated female mind.

ThatOneWife is a lover of all things luxurious as pertains to the bedwares. (and bed wear too, but that's another story for another day...)

Key words that make her swoon are, Egyptian Cotton, 8 Bajillion-Million Thread Count anything, Made From The Down Of 1000 Baby Geese, etc.

So, a new comforter was sought after. When the winning vender of this comforter was chosen, it was also determined that a "feather bed" topper thingie would also be procured in the process.

The comforter and topper thing arrived in two separate boxes. The topper widget box was about three times heavier than that containing the quilt. Upon perusal it was learned that the feather bed was made from FEATHERS, not DOWN - a feature obvious to her, obscure to me. In other words, WHATEVER.

Both items have been on our bed for a few months now, and for me, only about 80% of jury is back from vacation on this item. While it is delightfully soft and luxurious, it has one flaw. If it's not "fluffed" every night (though not like THIS nightly fluffing..), a ridge develops in the middle, and the result is a feeling of lying in a plush coffin, and every time one moves, one sinks deeper into the bed.

Makes it more difficult to molest one's bedmate. Makes it easier to sleep in on Sunday morning though.

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another...

You know - I can handle 20 emails a day telling me about Cialis, etc....

But what signals to me the end of our civilization is the email spam I got telling me I can get my Diabetes supplies for cheap online. Obviously a big market.

I soon expect to get spam about heart defibrillators and Chemotherapy.

A day or two ago in the newspaper, they listed us as one of the trimmest states in the nation, and then this morning I see that there are about 20% of us who are either very overweight, or obese.

What does that say about the rest of the country? You all are fatties.

Obama Got it Wrong

On Monday morning, presidential candidate Barack Obama published an editorial calling on lawmakers to corral the "predatory mortgage brokers" who got all these people into trouble by closing bad loans for them."

If you ask most people, they will tell the same general story.

Here's one or two bullet-point things people (including Obama) need to understand before they start using their platform to spread fear:

Mortgage brokers are solicited by lenders. Lenders create and publish loan programs, and employ sales executives to go out and sell those programs to brokers. That's not to say all brokers are blameless, though.

Part of the process lenders use in establishing loan programs, and loan interest rates, is the potential appetite for closed loan files using a particular program. That means the lender (with the exception of a VERY few) intends to sell the loans in a pool of similar loan profiles. This is called "sale into the capital markets". The loans are then packaged into VERY large securities instruments, called MBS's, or "Mortgage Backed Securities", and shares in them are traded every day on Wall Street's bond market. The ups and downs of the bond market are what determine the prevailing interest rates on a day to day basis.

Mortgage brokers are the low man on the totem pole. Loans are never closed in the name of the broker (as the lender), but rather, the loan documents show the LENDER as the mortgagee. It was their loan program, they underwrote the file, collected specific items from the borrower, evaluated the collateral, and agreed finally to lend the money to the borrower.

Further, in MOST cases, the borrower signed a veritable RAFT of paperwork outlining every jot and tittle of the loan terms.

So there's the background information that will hopefully help make my next comment make sense to you.

Here's what Obama SHOULD have said:

There shouldn't be ANY government bailout of anyone in this case. Rather, lawmakers should be going to the lenders (the mortgagees) on these bad loans, and to the original capital market buyer/investor of the loan package, and put into place the following policy:
Foreclosure is not an option for most of the homeowners in certain loan programs, and under certain conditions. Instead, dear lender, you will identify any and all files that have fraud in them at all, and you will take the necessary steps to cure that fraud - if it was the buyer who perpetrated the fraud to take advantage of the system, they will have no recourse. Credit reporting changes will be made to be more stringent and punitive to these buyers, if there is a provable case for such.

(We will need a system whereby buyers can be classified and qualified.)

However, if it is shown that a good borrower has been stuck in a loan that is too punitive in its terms, you will have to modify the note attached to that loan, and you WILL put into place workout terms that are generally acceptable. You will carry these notes for these buyers and you will not foreclose.

Lenders who profited GREATLY from the origination and sale of that security should be forced to now rescue buyers in their program, because it is obvious there were contagious flaws in the program.

There should also be standards within the mortgage lending industry that outline what kinds of terms are allowable, and what are not. For example, a purchase transaction should not be allowed to be originated on any variable interest rate loan without a certain minimum credit score, without putting verified money down. There are lots of examples of what should be allowed and what should not.

And guess what - the MARKET is moving in this direction already. The problem is not that there are not loans to be had out there. It is that those who used to buy loan pools in the secondary market are not buying ANY pools, almost no matter what the profile of the pool. That leaves the lender without the necessary capital to pay off the old mortgage and originate a new one. Secondary buyers are even shying away from Commercial mortgage paper, not just residential.

So, the FED, in the last two weeks, did two things - first they bumped cash into that secondary marketplace, providing needed liquid capital, then they lowered their internal interest rate - the one used to lend short term money to banks. The FED has also set the table of expectations now for the third and final action they may take: the lowering of the interest rate you and I care about.

The expectation is certainly there at this point for the FED to lower that rate at their Sept 18th meeting. The volatility in the stock market over the last two days has to do with this expectation.

We shall see. I don't think interest rates are the problem, and some would even note that the foreclosure rate is not that big a problem either. The problem is enticing the secondary big-money buyers that the pools they may potentially buy will offer sufficient return through timely payments made by homeowners. They are scared kitties right now.

Needless to say, the heyday has passed where one could get a loan by simply possessing the ability to fog a mirror. Now you're going to have to prove yourself. Credit score isn't ALWAYS indicative of that. Many thought it was. Obviously that was flawed thinking, espoused by lenders eager to make as much money as possible. Time to pay the piper.


I hate/love/hate/love golf

So, we went for 18 holes on Saturday. We walked the first nine, and rode for the last nine. We played the first nine in 2 hours, 15 minutes, but I played a LOVELY 8 over par for the first nine. Being Saturday, it was a busy day, and we were playing with a couple of faster players, so we decided to ride instead of walk for the last nine.

Our time for the second nine was almost exactly the same as the front, but what really surprised me was the fact that I still walked away from the day with an 82.

We showed up in enough time to hit some balls before we were due at the tee, but I couldn't find a good drive in my bag until the fifth hole, where I literally *pounded* my drive down the middle of the fairway. I'm pretty certain that nobody was more surprised than me. I had a couple of nice kick-in pars, and a chip-in par from off the green. I tried to reach both the longer par-fives, but managed to get there a grand total of zero times. The back nine was pretty much a long string of pars. Which doesn't suck, I guess.

Over the last week or so we've had the two youngest kids in golf lessons, and while they were doing that, we were over hitting balls at the range. I managed to find and fix a couple of errors in my swing, adding about 20 yards to my distance off the tee. I won't be actually counting that distance until I manage to find it while actually standing on a tee box. But I did find that I was dragging my hands through the hitting area, as opposed to a more active effort to turn over through the swing. This increases head speed without adding effort to the swing. I also felt like I wasn't making a conscious effort to keep my head down on the tee til after the ball leaves.

Interestingly, the last several times we've played with other people, they all mention that I have the easiest, quietest swing they have seen in a long time. I'm hoping that the time on the range will only increase that illusion. I guess we'll see.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled program, already in progress.


A Frank Lloyd Wright renovation in Rye, NY

Here are some pictures from a VERY tasty renovation on a Rye, New York Frank Lloyd Wright home:

Okay, you ninjas...

I'm looking for a tall glass vase, no contours, just a straight glass vase. One thing though - it needs to be about 6-8 inches across, and needs to be about 40 inches tall. Basically, a tall glass cylinder.

Anybody know where I can get such a thing?

Thanks for the help.


On My Hard Drive: Sting

Yeah, you knew it would show up here sooner or later. I'm a pretty big Sting fan. His first album after the Police broke up was Dream of the Blue Turtles, and it's still in my top two or three Police/Sting Albums of all time.

With his first album, Sting broke away from the driving rhythms so loved by Stuart Copeland. (It has been written that during rehearsals, Copeland's drum kit would start out at one side of the room, and by the end of rehearsal, it had moved about 10 feet, just from him beating the crap out of it.)

Anyway, Blue Turtles went more to Sting's jazz roots, and he picked up some notable jazz musicians to help, most notably Kenny Kirkland on piano and Branford Marsalis on Saxophone.

The compositions are all wonderfully well written, and there are some surprises on the album as well. The biggest mind-boggler is the stunning cover of Hendrix's Little Wing. The original Hendrix recording is not much longer than 2 minutes, nothing more than an unexplored thought, some might say. Sting's cover of the tune is more than 5 minutes long, and totally does the original justice, if not one-upping it. I tried to find a video of that specifically, but could find none. So, you're going to have to go and spend .99 at the iTunes music store - money well spent without a doubt. It gives me the chills every single time I listen to it. There are some incredibly beautiful textures there, produced by things like Bass Clarinets, instruments one would not readily associate with a Hendrix cover.

Interestingly, Sting was about 20 years old, and was writing/playing for a jazz big band. At the time, he had been writing and arranging for the big band, at least one new tune per week for more than a year - his harmonic and writing skills were well honed. (This eventually became a major problem for Police bandmate Copeland's fragile yet large ego.)

The first large rock act he saw live was Hendrix. He described the experience as having the roof of his entire life blown off, and a new world of energy and possibilities opened up to him that night. He subsequently moved with his wife and little son to London, and met Stuart Copeland, a wild-eyed American 19 year old who beat the crap out of his drums, wore big sunglasses, had influential relatives, and had an uncanny ability to produce different tempos simultaneously in each of his four appendages. Their first recording was Roxanne, which Sting wrote, inspired by a Cyrano De Bergerac movie poster he saw on his walk home one night. The rest, as they say, is history.

This video is from the tour that was done in support of The Dream of the Blue Turtles album. This song is a little bluesy thing, not appearing on the album. The band had been arguing over money at the time, and this was put in the show as a lark. It's called Down So Long. Enjoy!!


Gross Picture Warning: Michael Vick is a PIG

Summertime for me represents a sort of "sports doldrums" - I hate baseball, Major League Soccer is a joke, there are no college sports to speak of. There's nothing. I like to watch golf, but after a while, even that becomes tired when it's not spelled off with something else. The Tour de France has been good to watch, but even that has become a bit of a joke - and even if it weren't, it only last for 2 weeks.

But this summer, there has been an entire three ring circus sideshow relating to sports. First we have the entire Barry Bonds Asterisk item, along with the entire "will Bud Selig care enough to show up?" or even how about Hank Aaron? Whatever.

Then, in a most egregious sports development, we have the piece of human garbage that is embodied in Michael Vick and his buddies. If you've been living under a rock, you might be better off just staying there. Vick is the most recent incarnation of Sports Entitlement. He's the excrement produced when Entitlement eats too much Presumed Immunity. This is the person who is physically gifted enough to be put through some years of college, most likely with little effort on his part (solely my speculation), and was scooped up in the NFL draft, and has led the idyllic life that so many other kids would give their left nut for simply the opportunity.

And it now seems that he has squandered his time, his talent, his resources, his trust, everything, by funding a neanderthalian dog-fighting ring. And guess what - if think this is the entirety of this type of thing in professional sports, you're an IDIOT. This is just the tip of the iceberg. See that picture, there? That's what they do. To dogs. Then they drown them, electrocute them, hang them, or any other number of inhuman atrocities.

When the Grand Jury first returned their indictment, Vick vehemently denied involvement and said he would be vindicated by the facts when they came to light. Now he has agreed to plead guilty. I wonder what facts he was referring to. In its very early stages, sports reporters were anxious to talk to anyone in the entourage who might have knowledge. Those people said it happens in almost every NFL city. Certainly more than half. Vick isn't the only one involved. Connected people have said as much under condition of anonymity, fearing the equally repulsive retribution that could follow such an accusation.

Michael Vick should be forced to face off in a ring with no doors with the Really Bad People he will surely meet in prison. Perhaps he'll even underperform there too.

Whatever sentence he gets will certainly be too light. Without a doubt he should be quickly banned for life from the NFL. And the $250,000 fine? Are you kidding me?? How about $25 Million.

It's a bit interesting to me - you see, ThatOneBoyTwin has worked his 17 year old BAG off this summer in the brutal heat, doing two-a-day workouts, everything, since June, just to get a chance to play in the High School games. He's proud of his accomplishments, and so am I. And I'm ashamed of the people we put up in the national spotlight for these kids to look up to.

And that's all I'm going to say about this.

Have a good day.

Back to the Blog...

Ok, so I'm back here now... let's take care of a little business first:

Professionally, I eluded to a couple of recent changes with my life earlier. In December of last year, we started sharing office space with a construction company that was just starting to make some real progress. The owners are aggressive and entrepreneurial in their thought processes, and they seemed to be doing some good things locally (in-state) as well as out of state - they have an office in Hawaii as well as here.

On July 1st I started full time with them in a Project Management type of position, and so far, I must say it has been good for me. It's great to still be in real estate, and equally great to not be in the day to day operations as a loan guy. If you've been out of your home in the last 2 months you know why I say that - the mortgage lending crunch has been wicked and in the last 2 weeks has only intensified from there. I still consult with buyers on financing options and strategies, but my real work day is filled with getting subdivision projects rolling into a full marketing situation. I am satisfied with this - I feel like WAY more of my skill set is being used, and I am certainly happy taking a salary/bonus structure. I plan to retain my licensing in the state for lending, but I am happy to not have that be my main focus right now.

Okay, so that's the business stuff. Now on to more interesting things:

Some time ago, we bought tickets to see Tony Bennett at Deer Valley. We figured that we would be the youngest ones there (turned out to be not entirely the case), but I figured it would be a great opportunity to see Bennett live for quite possibly one of the last times. He's old, and there are no guarantees in life. Ask Ray Brown. Actually, you can't. He died taking a nap in a hotel 2 hours before a concert.

Anyway, the Deer Valley venue is one of those "pack a picnic, and BYOB" sort of venues, and so we were running around after having spent too much time at the driving range in the morning. One of the stops was the Nazi State-run liquor store for some box wine, because we had heard that they weren't allowing glass into the venue. We decided to make the best use of our time, and stop on our way home from the driving range. As we went in, ThatOneWife noted that she didn't have her ID on her, but I did, so it was no big deal. We gathered our stuff and went to the counter to pay, and the lady there asked her for her ID... I said "no worries, I'm paying." To which the clerk lady said, yeah, but SHE looks "borderline 21". After we both regained consciousness, ThatOneWife replied that she was in fact 42, and had a SON who was turning 21 in about 30 days. Didn't help. Sorry, you look too young to me.

Now, ordinarily, she would be flattered by this situation - it happens from time to time at bars and clubs we have been to. But we were in a hurry and I was getting exponentially cranky by the second. So I told her to simply go to the car, and I would buy our wine and be out in a minute. The clerk overheard this quick conversation and politely informed us that this was not going to help. *I* would not be served in that store, that day, at any time, unless ThatOneWife came back to the store with her ID.

The clerk lady was an African American, a black person, or whatever we are supposed to refer to them as, and it was ALL I COULD DO to not say something snide like, "Do we all look alike to you?"

I thought better about that and grabbed the wine to put it back on the shelf. She quickly said, oh, we'll put it away, don't worry...

Bet your ass you will. And I walked out.

Like I said, if we hadn't been about an hour behind where we wanted to be, it would have been funny.

But, like most things, it all worked out, we packed up a couple of bottles from our home rack and loaded up the cooler and set off to Deer Valley.

The concert itself was pretty good, though the Deer Valley Music Festival does have a flaw. The Uber-rich local residents (I say Uber-rich, because the Merely Affluent aren't allowed to live there - this is the local enclave of Richistan, after all) have managed to force the festival to shut the thing down at 9:45 PM, no matter what. This means that there isn't much time for three wild encores and such. Obviously, the solution is to boot out the Utah Symphony, who starts the show, in Boston Pops fashion by coming out to play four or five light selections that nobody really cares about or wants to hear. By the time they are cleared off the stage, and the feature artist is ready to go, there just isn't that much time left for them to put on a really great show.

So, Bennett came out and did a great job of the stuff he did - he sounded GREAT, and it was a good show, for what it was. I had beefs with the sound dude, who ran the snare drum with some Paul Bunyan compression that only allowed a "crack" through the filter, and sounded out of line with the rest of the drum kit. And he also pinched a lot of the wide frequencies out of the bass as well. Perhaps he was concerned about getting sound all the way to the back. But it shouldn't have been a problem. But, outdoor venues are tricky for sound, so I'll cut him some slack.

He sang his 12 or so songs, and politely waved to the audience and left the stage. The band stayed back, ready for an encore, and then, about a minute later, they put their axes down and left the stage and the lights came up. All done, go home.

Here is a picture of the general venue. You'll notice my "almost 21 year old wife" in the lower right of the picture. I'm sure you will agree she is both hot, young, and sexy.

The stage was located to the left of this picture, down the hill. It really is a great venue. They just need to fix the time problem. A few weeks ago, they had the same thing happen at the Jewel concert there. She started to play an encore and a venue manager walked out onto the stage and whispered in her ear that she was done. She protested to the stage manager, who whispered again in her ear, and she promptly announced that the show was over and left the stage. Bummer.

Okay, so we're finished with the concert review. On to the last item: golf.

We elected to stay in Park City overnite and play golf at the Homestead early the next morning. We had booked a pretty early tee time in order to beat the heat, and not chew into the bulk of the day. Needless to say, after copious libations the night before, the alarm was AWFULLY early the next morning.

We rolled out of bed, groggy and a bit stiff. Tee time was 7:05, and we hurried to get there, stopping for a quick bite and cup of coffee on the way. Neither of us had played Homestead before, but we have heard many good things about the course. And those good things were borne out as well, as the course is one of those where no matter where you stand, you can only see the hole you are playing for the most part. The course was curvy with lots of doglegs both left and right, and a few forced layup holes. The greens were glassy fast and undulating as well. It took me about 6 holes to begin to loosen up, because we didn't get there in time to hit any balls before we were out on the first tee. I bogeyed or double bogeyed everything in the first six, and then started to put some par holes together.

I ended up with an 86 - nothing to really write home about, but I figure there were LOTS of 3-puts due to the early hour. I would also say that I would attribute about three extra strokes to the fact that when you can't see around the corner of a course you've never played before, you may not know exactly where to hit the ball. The last five holes play out of the mountains and into the flat of the highland meadow, and we were consequently buffeted by some pretty gnarly winds. I know I hit at least two or three screaming good second shots (a 7 iron - which was ALL OVER the stick - and a 9 iron in particular) that should have hit the green hole-high, but were grabbed by the wind and thrown down five yards short of the green. All in all, with the way things were stacked against us, escaping with an 86 is okay with me.

At the time, I was bummed because I had, in the previous couple of weeks, played a couple of 9 hole rounds at 1 and 4 over par. I was happy with those, but the course is way easier and the greens slower.

All in all, a good weekend, lots of fun with family visiting from out of town, and lots of good food and drink.

Happy times.

Next time, I'll not take so much of your time, and I'll be posting a lot more regularly.



We went to see Hairspray over the weekend while the kiddies were subjected to The Simpsons Movie.

I had an urge.

The movie co-stars Christopher Walken playing the diminutive husband of the cross-dressed John Travolta. The movie is a musical. Every time Walken was in a scene with a song, it was all I could do to not jump out of my seat and yell, "More Cowbell!!"

But I contained myself. This time.

Thoughts for a successful day


This is your thought for the day...

Other thoughts:

If you are still reading this, you qualify as a loyal reader, and as a loyal reader, I promise I’ll get back to posting here more frequently very soon. I’ve had a shift in job focus - a small one, but one that has required more of my time over the last couple of months, and that is why I have been away. Rest assured though, that if I WAS a reader of your blog, I am STILL a reader of your blog.

When I was younger, I always said, jokingly, that I wanted to be a wooden-fish player (as opposed to a wooden fish player) when I grew up. The other weekend, we took off for a quick getaway, where I was manhandled by a Helga (more on that in a minute), we were listening to Sheryl Crow in the car, and one of the songs came on that had a wooden fish going all the way through it - and we had a bit of a laugh about that. I was born to be Sheryl Crow’s wooden-fish player. Seriously.

So, Helga.

We had booked ourselves into a resort area that promised great restaurant food, superior rooms, a great spa, and GOLF. Perfect, we thought. So we booked some tee times, and some massage time in the spa. Our first tee time revealed the golf course to be a canyon-wind-ravaged horse pasture. So, we canceled the other tee time we had booked with them, and went in search of another opportunity. And we found a great one. Logan River Golf Course is a full service public golf course that features a dude whose sole job is to run around the fairways filling divots with his little sand shaker. The course was in THAT great shape. really. The greens were difficult, and the fairways narrow in the landing areas. There are a few courses around here like this - I call them Target Golf. But really, they just challenge you to actually manage the course, as opposed to simply machine-gunning the ball off the tee, knowing that you will be able to find your ball SOMEWHERE on the course.

Anyway, I digress. Helga.

We showed up for our couples massage, and we were greeted by two females, one who was the typical semi-hot massager-girl we are used to getting at other places, and the other, a large woman with man-hands. We were led to our changing rooms, and were told to "undress to our level of comfort" - and my first thought was "comfort for WHAT, exactly?"... and were told to report to the appropriate room and "assume the position on the table". upon arriving at the room, ThatOneWife turns to me and says, "which one do you want"? This is a question for which there is no correct answer. I chose Helga Man Hands, and was subsequently treated to a mostly deep-tissue massage that over all was pretty darn good. Except for the fact that I could hear her stomach growling and her joints cracking as she handled my, umm... stuff.

However, she either found she wasn’t budgeting her time properly, or she was getting tired, because I got a great massage on my right side, and a faster version of that same massage on the left side.

If you are not a massage type of person, you really don’t know what you are missing. About half-way through, the person asks you to roll over onto your back, and she then works the thighs, arms, face, and neck. Usually, I am somewhat concerned that I may show too much, err.. what’s the word... ATTENTION... when I roll over onto my back. But that never happens, and I had no fear of that happening with Helga. Just sayin.

Speaking of "attention"... we may have provided some sort of advanced education the other night for the 13 year old female who lives at our house. Another story for another day...

Us: "Maybe you shouldn’t open closed doors at night."

Her: "Maybe you should lock your door."

May have a point there.

Anyway, it was really nice to get away and relax, play some golf, get a massage, and hang out with my favorite person in the world. "Attention" isn’t a problem with her.

Incidentally, we’ve played enough golf this year, that Mrs. ThatOneGuy has improved her game significantly, and I rolled a cool 82 the other day as well. Pretty happy with where that’s going. I usually roll in 2 or three nice long puts, and get real close on about 5 or 6 others. I would REALLY like to break that 80 barrier, which I’ve never done. I tend to follow a crappy shot with a "mad" shot, followed by another crappy shot, because I am still in the same trouble I found off the tee. Which makes it a double or triple bogey. Pretty frustrating indeed when you card 9 pars in the same round.

So that’s what I’ve been up to, from a recreational stanpoint. Look for more information soon with regard to the hours spent between 8 - 5. I’ll do that soon.