There’s little doubt that the economy is floundering. Unemployment
is high, and foreclosures are seemingly more common than current mortgages.
OK, that’s probably an exaggeration, but I did add the word "seemingly".
Regardless, one would have to be blind not to see that there are a lot
of people who are hurting financially.
Some companies do very well when things are bad for others. Take
the law offices of Steven J. Baum, located near Tim’s hometown of Buffalo,
New York. They are what is called a "foreclosure mill".
The term is used to describe companies that represent banks and mortgage
servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them
from their homes. Steven J. Baum is the largest such company in
New York, representing virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including
Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Understandably, people in this line of work are targets of the ire of
those losing their homes, but one might argue that it’s a dirty job
that someone has to do. I think that if I were to work there I’d
feel pretty crummy about it, even if it gave me a decent paycheck, but
of course it’s easy to speculate about something like this when you’re
not a part of it. Maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d laugh off
the plight of those on whom the legal documents were being served.
At least I’d like to believe that I’d have some compassion toward the
people whose lives were being upended by the work I did.
Joe Nocera, writing an Op-Ed piece in the New
York Times Opinion Pages didn’t say much about his prior thoughts,
but when a former employee of Baum sent photos of last year’s Halloween
party, well he certainly got an opinion at that point.
A former company employee sent him snapshots of last year’s party.
She told him in an e-mail that she wanted him to see them because they
showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners —
invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had
brought foreclosure proceedings against. He posted those pictures.
She told him that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the
firm’s mind-set. "There is this really cavalier attitude,"
she said. "It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their
homes." Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage
modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.
In one photo, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One
is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck
that reads: "3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never
served." Nocera’s source said that "I was never served"
is meant to mock "the typical excuse" of the homeowner trying
to evade a foreclosure proceeding.
Another shows a corner of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row
of foreclosed homes.
Another shows a sign that reads, "Baum Estates", full of foreclosed
houses. Most of the other pictures show either mock homeless camps or
mock foreclosure signs — or both. Nocera’s source told him that
not every Baum department used the party to make fun of the troubled
homeowners they made their living suing. But some clearly did. The adjective
she’d used when she sent them — "appalling"— struck
him as exactly the right word
These pictures are hardly the first piece of evidence that the Baum
firm treats homeowners shabbily — or that it uses dubious legal
practices to do so. It is under
investigation by the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman.
It recently agreed to pay
$2 million to resolve an investigation by the Department of Justice
into whether the firm had "filed misleading pleadings, affidavits,
and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York."
This leaves us with points to ponder. I realize that there’s nothing
criminal about displaying what might be referred to as "gallows
humor", yet the former employee called it "appalling".
From the outside looking in, it seems pretty appalling to me, too, but
is it? Do they have any reason or obligation to show any compassion
to those whose homes are being foreclosed? Is the costuming just
a way of blowing off a little steam and having some fun, or do you see
it as indicative of something deeper, perhaps even anti-social?
And if you worked there would you be troubled by it? If you disagreed
with the theme, would you have the courage to say something knowing
that there’s always the possibility of repercussions, or do you think
you’d stay silent to protect your own job?
on this article
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You have but to know an object by its proper name for it to lose its
dangerous magic. - Elias Canetti
If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all thinking,
damages his personality and makes him a landlord to a ghost. - Lloyd
a U.S. cruiser the officer of the deck asked the starboard lookout,
“What would you do if a sailor was washed overboard?”
“I’d yell ‘Man overboard,’” answered the lookout snappily.
“Good,” said the officer. “Now what would you do if an officer fell
The lookout asked, “Which one, sir?”
Right is right, even if no one else does it.
We must accept the fact that transport and communications will bring
the world in close relations and the youth of the world should have
standards and ideals in common.
To put yourself in another’s place requires real imagination, but by
doing so each Girl Scout will be able to love among others happily. –
all from Juliette Low, American founder of the Girl Scouts, born on
this day in 1960
Most Embarrassing Moment
My Scariest Moment
Speak right up!
Yes, it is that time of year again, and, yes, even though everyone else
will be talking about it, so am I.
I’ve described the "Haunted Path" we set up every year, but
I haven’t told you why. It’s a simple story. I’m a simple
When my kids were young, we did the normal thing. We dressed them
up in various costumes over the years and took them out "trick
or treating". Although not a singular event only in the U.S.A.,
it isn’t a world-wide phenomenon either. While in costume, the
children go house-to-house and chant "Trick Or Treat".
The homeowner then gives them candy instead of being tricked.
Someone had to stay at the house to give out candy even while the wife
& kids were out begging. We had an aluminum storm door at
our front door and I would use the occasion to remove the screen and
put in the glass panel in the upper portion of the storm door for winter.
But, during Halloween, it would leave out both so I could pass candy
to the ghouls and goblins as they arrived. I noticed many children
were startled when I reached through the door to give them their candy.
From then on, I would hide behind the solid aluminum lower panel and
suddenly pop up, while in some type of costume. The desired effect
would occur and some kids would tear out of there, sometimes abandoning
their collection of candies. We got into it and decorated accordingly.
Our growing children wanted to participate, foregoing collection
of candy for themselves.
We had to create a walkway to the rear of the school property behind
us when they were widening the main connecting road. It gave the
kids a cleaner way to school. It also gave us a venue for Halloween.
I would sit at the end of the path and make the kids come all the way
down to get their candy. Of course we had to decorate accordingly.
We collected more and more decorations. We also had to line the
path with orange lights so people would not walk in the flower beds
on either side of the path. But, it was too narrow.
We made the path go all around the house by lining the route in lights.
With one-way traffic, the going was a lot easier. With the longer
path, more opportunities arose for scaring the visitors. Because
of our reputation, attendance also grew. There were more and more
kids at our place during the 2-hour event
it turned out, a local television station was doing a report of the
town’s fire department and how they were passing out safety items to
kids. Since we had a constant flow at our house, the fire truck
parked in front of our house and stayed there. The news crew found
them, but the focus of the report changed somewhat when they saw what
we were doing.
My wife cajoled the reporter to go down the "Haunted Path".
He finally agreed and began filming the attractions and people who were
participating. All was well until he got to my "dead bride".
I had built a 5 foot coffin. My granddaughter was inside in a
white dress and white pasty makeup. A black light was on her which
made her look even worse. As people would approach her, she would
sit up and scream. She did so to the reporter. Let’s just
say the news report included everything up to, but not including the
moment the cameraman lost control of his camera.
Here’s your quiz:
What was your costume you last wore for a Halloween event?
What was your favorite costume for Halloween?
What was your favorite treat to receive?
Happy Halloween -
Not Sure How Those 2 Words Go Together When You’re Scared Silly
Cliff (the High-Tech Redneck who doesn’t rate a fancy ’signature pic’)
on this article
Well, I’m all ready for Halloween. I’ve got the eyes of a giant cat
looking out of two windows, a scarecrow I dressed as the "Scream"
killer, a giant spider walking from beneath my front door blinds,
orange spotlight shining on the "Scream" character, a lighted,
disembodied skeleton coming out of the ground, blacklights lining
the stairs, scary music/sounds and a little fog machine.
There will be fun at my house tomorrow. I even wrote a Halloween story
that you can read
here if you like.
On This Article
“I’ll bet living
in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.”
~ Unknown ~
Three months ago, my son James told me he wanted to be Lightning McQueen
for Halloween. Remembering how he changed his mind about his costume
right up until the week before Halloween last year, I didn’t invest
in a costume. Sure enough, his choice has changed many times over the
last few weeks. He wanted to be Spiderman, Batman, a Bumblebee Car,
and a number of the Star Wars characters, before finally settling on
Fortunately, a vampire suit is easy to assemble. I bought a Dracula
cape, some fangs and some fake blood. Along with some black pants and
a white shirt, the costume will be complete.
In previous years, George has never wanted to wear costumes. Halloween
can be a time fraught with anxiety for children with autism. There are
the changes in routine, plus the increased social interaction. Expecting
a change in clothing as well can be a little ambitious. The fact that
George always - and I mean always - wears a hat has been beneficial
to us on Halloween. Last year we left the hat on, added a life jacket,
gave George a fishing rod with a giant construction paper fish on it,
and called him a fisherman.
This year, to my surprise, George has been showing some interest in
actually wearing a costume. When James was trying on the cape that I
got him, George kept grabbing at it. Fortunately, something had made
me buy an extra cape, and although George wanted to take it off almost
immediately, he did at least want to try it on in the first place. So
who knows. Maybe George will be a vampire, or a wizard, or some other
entity that wears a cape. Or maybe we will go back to the fisherman
Either way, both of my boys are very excited about Halloween. Particularly
since this year, for the first time in about a decade, I will be wearing
a costume myself (hint: my costume includes a cheesy blonde wig and
a pair of ridiculously long fake eyelashes).
On This Article
I admit to being an electronic hoarder. This is to say if something looks
even vaguely interesting, I am apt to save it to my hard drive in the
hope that it will furnish inspiration or information at some future time.
Thus, when my computer blew up, I lost a lot of stuff, good and not so
important, that I may or probably would never have refered to again.
Fortunately, I purchased an online back up service, and my useless files
are waiting for me to figure out how to use it, so that I can retreive
This brings me to my point. I wouldn’t be much of a lawyer if I got to
that quickly. I seem to have a knack for paying for stuff I could have
gotten for free.
I first discovered my talent when I was a lowly grade schooler. every
year, our school had a halloween party, for which the entry fee was a
can of food for the nuns who taught us. Boys, being the obnoxious, but
somewhat humerous creatures they are, kept the good sisters well supplied
with cans from which labels had been removed, so that the convent inmates
would be ignorant of the gift’s true nature until application of a can
opener revealed such delicacies as Alpo or Puss and Boots.
I, however was kinder to our female clergy, and spent my entire allowance
on a can of corn to secure my admittance to the festivities.
Mom. "Why is there a can of corn in your bookbag?"
Me "I need it for the Halloween party at school."
Mom "Are you planning to go as the Jolly Green Giant?"
Me "No, we have to bring a donation to the convent to attend the
It transpired that my mother would have donated a can of corn from the
family larder. Her can only cost a third as much as mine. And no, she
would not pay me back for my impulsive, but unnessessary generosity.
My sister, Lady Baltimore told me of one of his Lordship’s relatives who
suffers from a similar affliction to mine. Instead of squandering her
hard won resources on things freely available, she is optimistic that
she is always on the verge of becoming the next Bill Gates, financially
speaking. She buys lottery tickets, and signs up for every "get rich
quick, and never move a muscle" scheme that comes to her attention.
She promised to take the whole family on an all expense paid trip to the
Bahamas or some such, when her ship finally came in. His Lordship’s stepmother
muttered something to the effect that if that happened, the sister in
question would probably be at the airport.
Over the years, I’ve bought scores of machines or software that were supposed
to be the answer to all my prayers, or at least finally solve some vexing
problem. The function of the item is usually vaguely related to the promises
made to induce its purchase. My kitchen drawers are full of things I’ve
bought with money I should have used to buy a good, sharp knife. I invested
in health food for my dog that he informed me would shorten his life,
because he would rather starve to death than eat it. Recently, I bought
a training course that was supposed to make me a million dollars in 1
year if I followed the instructions.
The instructions were to sell as many unsuspecting people on the benefits
of the company’s product as I could, and I would be able to make back
my investment in 2 days or less. The part they didn’t tell me was to succeed,
I would also have to forget the commandment about not lying to people.
Somehow my desire to sleep with myself at night prevented me from doing
I told my brother, the Duke ‘of Granger about my computer problems in
the hope he could suggest a solution that was cheap, if not free. He asked
me if I had lost a lot of valuable information. I told him about my on-line
back up service, and that I could be confident that my files, valuable
and otherwise awaited me in cyber space.
"How much did you pay for that?" he asked. I told him. "Didn’t
you know your ISP provides back up for free?"
Well, that’s my story. I’d stick around for a longer visit, but I have
a plane to catch, and it’s a long swim to the airport.
On This Article
Growing up in Wisconsin I could always find a garter snake in my yard
to play with.
My 5th grade teacher didn’t like it, though… neither did the girl
next to me…
and neither did my parents.
Let’s pick on Cliff some more –
We all helped ol’ Cliff find his _______
Here’s a great new rhyming/composition tool. http://www.writerhymes.com/
There’s also a great rhyming dictionary at http://www.rhymezone.com/
Limerick rules. http://freespace.virgin.net/merrick.sheldon/limerickrules.htm
mouse ran into his hole.
His home was a telephone pole.
A hawk lived above,
But it sure wasn’t love.
He just wanted to eat the mouse whole.
ran into his hole.
Nearsighted he was on the whole.
He had bored through a bridge,
That spanned to a ridge.
Now had to deal with a mad troll.
mouse ran into his hole,
To practice his newly won role.
He was to play a fat rat,
Being chased by a cat.
To end up being just meat in a bowl.
slithered over my foot
Exactly where I had put
It down to turn ’round
‘Cause I heard snakes abound
And I fell on my ass in the soot.
- Bonnie >^..^<
snake slithered over my foot;
the foot with the snake skin boot.
I stood very still
as an owl made the kill,
then laughed when the owl gave a hoot.
Re: Sexual Preference
- The paramedic wasn’t penalized. The police officer was. The article
said that, "Bologna was stripped of 10 vacation days as punishment
after an NYPD internal investigation", which refers to NYPD Deputy
Inspector Anthony Bologna. The volunteer medic who treated the young
lady was an activist and journalist who had hitch-hiked to NY from
CA and jumped in to help the young lady. – ldo
off, to medical personnel, patients are supposed to be off limits
romantically. Doctors don’t even treat their own family if they can
avoid it. Usually, you don’t want to be showing your body for one
reason, and have it be enjoyed another way. You don’t want the question
to even arise. I once gave a woman three full body massages and didn’t
realize she had a great figure until I saw her at a nude beach. I
had been, quite properly, focussed on her muscles and such.
Sexual attraction involves many different factors, so of course there
are bisexual people. Human development is all about probabilities,
not certainties. If you have female parts, the odds are that you will
be shorter and less hairy than a male. However, there are always some
women who are hairier, and some that are taller, than some men. The
odds of getting every possible factor aligned with one’s physical
gender are very small, so almost everyone is bi to some extent.
Many things began to come clear to me when I heard yet another rant
about how gays had "failed to make the moral choice" as
if it was a struggle or a test. If most moral choices came as easy
as my attraction to women, there sure would not be much crime, so
I realized that a lot of people on the gay side of bi struggle greatly
to conform to the straight majority. Some do it by gay-bashing in
public, even if they are active in the closet. Others work for gay
rights, but never declare their own ambivalence in public. Normally,
a 50-50 bi person enjoys many extra romantic opportunities, but being
open drastically reduces their odds. However, every gain for gays
is also a boon to them.
I’ve had gay friends, but the closest I’ve come to experimenting was
to merely ward off the advances of an old fool. On the tests, I come
out very straight, but I’m including a very interesting graph from
American MIND, Oct/Nov ‘07, p14 which shows that people can be
very wrong about their own basic responses, either gay or straight,
perhaps just for lack of opportunity to discover them. Genetics are
a major factor, but so are the circumstances of the first times one
happens to discover arousal, and how that gets integrated into overall
life experience. - Bob of the North
Kirsten’s Missing Article
well soon! - dEE
Yes to the
first and third question- I enjoy accomplishing something whether
easy or hard. As to the second, well, being frustrated usually means
Try Again. And if I didn’t get it done, I never "disavow"
But I think you’re looking for a ‘tail’. Okay. When I was a kid, my
Gram taught me a few things about accomplishing things - the first
(and most sustaining) item was how to recognize when that kettle full
of liquid-y looking stuff turns into Jelly. It took a couple years
of observing to realize it begins with the fruit. A Great Aunt taught
me "If the fruit’s free, it’s worth the jelling." Okay,
so you have to grow the fruit. Gram did. Big bushes of currants and
trees of apples and a couple rows of red raspberries grew in her yard.
Wild berries were free, too, out in fields sometimes, maybe in a yard
where the owners didn’t mind if you picked them.
I grew up. By then I was pretty accomplished at picking wild strawberries.
Got married, moved to a place where berries grew in a huge field and
along a stream bed, picked them, and turned them into Preserves. A
bunch of years later, planted my own currant bushes and apple trees.
Not enough room to plant raspberries, so we pick those in You-Pick
fields at big farms.
In steps the other lesson Gram taught me - we went to county fairs
every summer, and she did her own survey of Blue Ribbon winners -
in all the sewing entries in each Fair - and explained why this one
got a blue ribbon and that one didn’t. She could not enter anything
SHE sewed because she was a Professional Seamstress. It never occurred
to her to enter anything ELSE she did - like jelly.
My bushes grew, I made jelly year after year, and this year decided
I WOULD enter a couple jars of my jam and jelly in our county Fair!
I got two Blue Ribbons! (a quiet Thank you, Gram fits in here.)
I sure did enjoy my accomplishment! Jars of Blue Ribbon Currant Jelly
and Red Raspberry Jam got mailed to relatives all over the country!
- Nancy L in Ohio
I enjoy clapping along with music, and don’t remember a learning curve.
Yes, I have given up on things that are hard for me, like many relationships.
Yes, I had to struggle some to learn structural analysis, but I still
do it for fun. Apparently, not all engineers do even rough estimates.
Can anybody tell me why the International Space Station has a seven-ton
main spar? In service, the loads on it are miniscule, like an anchor
line at slack tide. - Bob of the North
Disclaimer- All quotes printed in this publication are believed to be
accurately attributed, but no guarantees are made that some incorrectly
attributed, or even outright false quotes won’t get in here from time
to time. I assure readers that I will do my best to weed out incorrect
quotes, and will print a retraction as soon as I become aware of any errors.
Click here to see the archives of past issues, or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/reallygoodquotes/messages.
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called, not surprisingly, The Best of RGQ, and I’d like to hear from you
which pieces impacted you the most.
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