31 July 2006

Fifty Years to Leave Your Mortgage

You want the lowest possible mortgage payment, but you don't want to be upside down in your home loan. A mortgage payment at 1% with deferred interest is attractive for a few reasons, yet it carries a huge amount of risk if it is not understood or used properly.
50-year loans, as a short-term solution, address people whose credit scores are too low to qualify for interest only, but are still in need of a low mortgage payment. Typically, that includes people whose credit scores are in the range of 500-579. This segment represents approximately 13% of the U.S. population.

By choosing the longest term possible for a mortgage payoff period, the homeowner can reduce the monthly payments to the lowest level possible while working to improve their credit score. Once the credit is above 580, the client can remortgage into a more appropriate (and lower interest rate) mortgage that better matches their long-term financial goals.It has a higher rate than an interest only mortgage because -- again -- there aren't as many buyers for the product on Wall Street. The only way to entice investors to buy the loans is to offer a higher rate of return, etc.

More info here.


Live music in Vegas for Halloween. Vegoose!
Can you think of any other city where you'd rather wear a costume?
Last year's notes.

30 July 2006

it's cooler in the cooler

Hey mister, can we swim in your building?

My shoes are tacky on the asphalt and I imagine sticking if I stop walking.

Hot sands melt us after escaping an even hotter city.

If treeshade didn't follow the sun, if ice didn't expire at sea level, if cool weather could be packaged and sold.

Standing too long in one place burned the change outta my pocket.

Half of my lungs were busy filling the other half

Dusty air draws the life out of every living thing

In this heat, creeping reptiles aren't protected from searing skin off of their toes.

The look from the chameleon says,
"it's too hot for that, I call time out".
At 112F, there's no predator and no prey.
Not an issue of "top of the food chain"
It's simply survival for those who adapt.

Cloud sprinkles spawned confusion on the final day of California's July

Just enough to get the cars dirty, not enough to rinse it away

How long is the line for tomorrow's car wash?


29 July 2006

David Lee Froth

Forty-two. If I had to guess, I would say forty-two was the median age of the crowd. He's been doing this since 1955, so that's just fine. There was a lotta froth surrounding the Discovery Meadow in advance of the David Lee Roth appearance for a posthumous rendition of his vocal prowess. I say that because it appears that his career and his voice are dead.

To their credit, the band did a fair job of covering all the classic
VanHalen hits from the 70s and 80s. Those were the best songs of the times. Runnin' with the Devil, Dancing in the Street, Jamies Crying, California Girls, Eruption, Unchained, Hot for Teacher, Beautiful Girls, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Panama, Dance the Night Away, Jump, And the Cradle Will Rock, and throw in some covers of covers - such as "Just a Gigolo" and "Oh, Pretty Woman".

Drummer, Jimmy DeGrasso is a local who has played with Y&T and Megadeth, with many more on his resume.

This show was classic Diamond Dave, changing clothes between songs and doing spinning back kicks during. Guitar solos, band intros, and giddy banter for the audience's approval. A midday show doesn't allow for lighting and pyrotechnics on the lawn adjacent the San Jose GrandPrix, with cars causing "angry hornets" background noise.

At this show, DLR didn't do the bluegrass version of anything, as he did on the late-night talk show circuit throughout June. On The Tonight Show w/Leno, Late Night w/Letterman, Regis, Late Night w/Conan, The Late Show w/Craig Ferguson, he and 11 muisicians did an acoustic version of "Jump" and "Jamie's Cryin'" in support of a 2006 release titled "Strummin' with the Devil", wearing a gingham shirt and jeans in his corniest caricature of himself. It looked like fun for the grandparents, but for those of us who remember his testosterone-poisoned carousing image, it was career suicide.

It was a great performance for memories while all that racing noise was going on in the background.

Is Pro Football Fixed?

Some people feel that pro foot- ball is fixed. Most of these people are in the Indianapolis area.
After last season's playoffs- losing wide right field goal attempt by Mike Vanderjagt, the Colts have rep
laced him with Adam Vinatieri from the NE Patriots.
Vinatieri is so successful at kicking field goals and extra points, his nickname is "Adamatic" / Automatic.
Did that one missed kick cost the Colts a trip to the Superbowl? Sure did.
But, did the Colts really fix their team's woes? I don't believe so. Neither their father nor either of the two current Manning family quarterbacks have won a Superbowl title for any team. Three Bad Mannings.

Strap it up, everyone, football starts in September!
(hint: scroll down to number two)

26 July 2006

Cool Jazz near the LG Brewery

Los Gatos hosts free live Jazz on the Plaza every Wednesday from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Mark your calendar for September 6th for Bay Area percussionist legend Pete Escovedo who also makes an appearance at the San Jose Grand Prix at 3:15 on Sunday the 30th, and at the San Jose Jazz Festival on Sunday, August 6th at 6:30 pm.

For Jazz on the Plaza, consider bringing a chair and getting there early enough to secure some space in the shade. In addition to the ubiquitous Los Gatos yuppie contingency, the weekly event is also popular with Jazz Fans and retirees. From the corner of Santa Cruz Ave. & Main Street, a handful of great restaurants and bars are only blocks away.

Are the plaza fountains still on a timer that causes unexpected wetness in a comical manner? You will have to show up to find out!!

24 July 2006

Too Much Wood

In the midst of a crop-killing heatwave, I get over to the coast and there are people burning wood in bonfires in the middle of the afternoon. Sure it's about 70 degrees at 3pm. A little chilly for ya, is it? Forget the fact that it's another Spare the Air day and these people are burning driftwood & seasoned oak (yew can smellit) on the sand. It's already blazing hot enough with the sun piercing the sky. They weren't cooking food or roasting marshmallows. I know, I walked 20 feet past them to verify (plus, I was starving after 18 miles on the bike).

Everyone's got their quirky rituals.
Some people just need to burn when they hit the beach.
I get a tattoo everytime I have a root canal.

23 July 2006

Zoinks!! All photos & no blog!!

Where we going today? It's a mystery.

I see 4 birds. Or, do I see one bird 4 times?

Looks like we should be under water in a few seconds.

Coasting by the coastline

Pink aster? I dunno what it is, either.

Outta focus dragonfly 'cause I'm all zoomed out

Heat Wave

Temperatures in San Jose, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill were 106, 111, 117 yesterday.

Death Valley, CA was also 106. How 'bout our Mediterranean weather?

At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, it is 95 in Los Gatos.

Global warming? Pshaw!

Tour de Fat - Epilogue

riding the wave of the front of the parade
six white shoes per wheel
click on the pic to see the 2 flailing massage hands

Recipe for a hotter than usual Saturday in July:

Take 22 degrees off of your hometown temperature and cycle in a bike parade through Golden Gate Park for 45 minutes.

View the vaudeville antics of Handsome Little Devils and The Yard Dogs.

Test your skills on any one of the 16 hand-built crazy bikes in the corral - helmets mandatory.

Grab a $4 pour from New Belgium Brewing Co. and settle into the verdant fields with cyclists from a 100 mile radius, and more.

Take in the melodic wanderings of Drums & Tuba (my second
live sousaphone experience in two weeks).

At the end, reward your friends with some pedal-powered impact-massage chair treatment.

See yous next year.

21 July 2006

You Are Not A Number

You are not a number, but your credit report boils down to three numbers, one each from Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. These three credit reporting bureaus compile information reported to them by your creditors (the companies you owe money to).

Using software developed in San Rafael by Fair, Isaac and Co. (FICO), each bureau computes a three-digit score ranging from 350-850. Lenders use these numbers in many ways to determine the cost of the money that you borrow.
At my desk, I find that 1 in 7 credit reports has an error. Looks like I need to re-calibrate my eyeballs.

In 2004, Federal Reserve Board researchers examined 310,000 individual credit files and found that 46% were missing at least one credit limit from their credit reports.
What's that mean for you?
Without knowing the limit on your account, the software substitutes your current balance for your missing limit and determines that you are spending at 100% of your available credit for that account --- artificially lowering your FICO credit score by 20-50 points.

Example : you have an account with a spending limit of $10,000 and you have spent $4,000. You are at 40% utilization of your limit. If the lender does not provide the $10,000 limit information, the software will substitute $4,000 as your limit, making your utilization 100%. This lowers your credit scoring.

Capital One Financial is not the only company, but with 49 million customers, it is the 4th largest issuer of Visa and MasterCards in the USA & is the best known offender of this practice. Their reasoning? To prevent competitors from raiding credit files and making offers to Capital One's customers.

A class action lawsuit has been filed in South Carolina against each of the three national bureaus for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in knowingly allowing Capital One to omit the limits.

Stand by.

Big Ben

Okay, Benjamin Bernanke was installed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board a lonnnnnng time ago. That - is old news.
In the beginning, it seemed that Ben needed some skills development in the "Loose Lips Sink Ships" department. His words had immediate effects on the stock market, and we can only guess that somebody spanked him behind closed doors.

Lately, his edicts have become nearly as cryptic as those of his predecessor, Alan Greenspan.

"We think inflation is going to moderate".
"The recent rise in inflation is of concern".
Rising crude oil & commodity prices "remain a risk to the inflation outlook."

Look for another quarter-point increase after the Fed's next meeting on Tuesday, August 8th. Currently at 5.25%, the federal funds rate could go to 5.5% at that point.
"Who cares", you ask? People borrowing money on installment loans for cars and homes.

I will take you there

Follow my lead, I will take you there

Leave it behind for a while longer

It will all be there when you return

The idea is to clear your mind

To have thoughts of nothing, not even 'nothing', itself

Without expectations or preconceptions

Experience the unknown and alight your senses

Release and escape, I will take you there

20 July 2006

crazy plant

why not?

I'm Not Your Birdman

I'm not a birdwatcher or anything like it. Never really understood people who walk around and "look" at birds.
What the hell is that? You're looking at birds? Are you some kind of fair-feathered peeping Tom?
Anyway, I was cycling through a
bird sanctuary near UCSC the other day and for about 160 feet, a Peregrine Falcon and I were on the same trajectory, at the same speed and we made eye contact a couple times. We both knew neither was in danger of the other. Don't know which of us was more interested in the other.

The falcon was about 12 feet to my right, exactly parallel. It was kinda cool, because it's never happened before. It eventually veered off and dove toward something in the lower-lying bushes off a cliff below us. I had just begun to count the feathers around his eye when he diverted. Beautiful hunter, it was.

My gut says that these birds are so used to passive people getting near them that the birds have allowed the distance between them and humans to decrease over time. I just happened to be pedaling my ass through the sanctuary. Didn't even know it at the time, until I later passed a group of about 14 lethargic people with binoculars on the trail.

I have captured images of predatory birds in the backyard here. But, I don't actively seek them out in the wild. This character responded to the distressed cries and tried to get my neighbor's uncaged parakeet.
Still doesn't make sense to me. It would only take one person to count birds, if that was the goal. They weren't taking pictures. Just "looking". There's gulls, cormorants, a bunch of different seabirds, whatever. They're birds. If they were all falcons, or all eagles, etc., then I could appreciate their sense of wonder.

Wouldn't it just be easier to shoot one of each and have the taxidermist deliver them to a museum in some central location for everyone to see?

This is not the same --->

Tour de Fat

Don't forget about the
Tour de Fat this Saturday the 22nd at Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate Park.

New Belgium Brewery's annual fundraiser for the area. On Tour Now.

Take on Nikon

It's almost here. Nikon's newest DSLR with 10.1 MP for enthusiasts, not pros.

Rumored to be a successor or upgrade of the D70, instead of a replacement of the D200.


Audio Test - Don't Click Here

this is an audio post - click to play

Diamonds are a Nuisance

I don't buy into the diamond cartel. Maybe I should have never enrolled in that one International Business class in college where we studied the diamond market. That may have saved me and she a lot of heartache.

If it's a rare stone, then why are so many of them available? Diamonds are not rare. The released supply of diamonds is controlled primarily by one large company : monopoly. The supply/demand equation does not apply to diamonds.

A diamond is forever, but it's one of the worst investments a person can make. Is that how to begin a lifelong relationship? On a bad investment? Forever?

Giving a diamond to your bride is a little like a reverse dowry, isn't it? It's one of those social conventions that would be difficult to explain to a visitor from a foreign planet.

I don't agree with each of these ten items, but I do agree with several. I'm always skeptical of lists that number ten items, partly because the authors are forced to include some bogus items to reach that magical "10", and partly because of the guilt-by-association with David Letterman's Top 10 Lists.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Jackass.

I don't believe an allegiance to a political party should influence your feelings on this issue. Stem Cell Research. When Bush vetoed the efforts of thousands of people to get a bill passed, he did more wrong than good. Bush states, "This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others".

Well, we need to fix existing lives -and prepare to fix the future lives- of our citizens.
If the USA doesn't advance Stem Cell Research another country will. How does that position the USA as a global competitor? How does that position the USA for a new job market segment? Poorly.

I understand part of the larger game that is being played : If he did not veto this, he would not be able to easily govern the conservative base in his administration. And all the other bullshit that's involved.

This, from a man who is told what to say and how to say it, because he cannot do so on his own. From a man who says that he values human lives, while 1,000s are being destroyed in this country due to inadequate social services, and in foreign wars. Smarmy punk.

Frans Lanting -and- Philip Glass

I was first struck by the photography of Frans Lanting in the 1980s when I purchased a poster print of the penguin iceberg scene above - long before the Penguins film of 2005.
Photog Frans Lanting has teamed with composer Philip Glass and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop to present a multimedia creation story July 29th & 30th at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz.

Glass scored the music for the films Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, which have drawn visual parallel comparisons to the current project. "The what?" you ask? Okay, scratch that. How about the police precinct TV show Barney Miller? Remember with Abe Vigoda as the detective named "Fish"? The show began with a hip, jazzy number w/o lyrics... Glass did that one, too. It's kinda like the obscurity of drummer Stewart Copeland from The Police who scored films such as Wall Street and Rumble Fish and many people are unaware of this.

Images from "Life : A Journey Through Time" will show on a 13 x 48 foot screen above and behind the musicians' stage. Tickets are going quickly at $30-45.

On assignment for National Geographic, Lanting has shot in Siberia, Australia, Brazil, Africa, India, the Antarctic, you name it. If you've picked up the magazine in the last 20+ years, you've seen his work.

19 July 2006

Tell me how it works

If you can tell me how this works, I'll give you a gazillion dollars. Okay, I don't have a gazillion dollars. Matter of fact, that isn't even a monetary counting unit. Go ahead and try to figure out this one anyway.


I know, I know

Love is like the ocean : both are beautiful and dangerous and each can swallow you up in a moment

If you try to straighten the tail of an Alaskan Husky dog,
it will bite you

You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything

If unsure whether or not somebody likes you, you will know after touching their forearm or shoulder during conversation

Never get out of a taxi before the driver
if your luggage is in the trunk

One day of playing hookey = one week of scheduled vacation

17 July 2006

San Jose Jazz Festival

Start saving up now. What was formerly billed as "the largest free jazz festival" is now $5 per day because some corporate sponsors dropped off from the 17th Annual San Jose Jazz Festival. That's okay. It's now "the world's largest jazz value at $15" because it's still three days long with over 80 performances from August 17-20th. Yeah, I know. That's actually four days. Thursday night's kickoff isn't free, either, and it isn't in downtown. It's at Santana Row.

This year's event will pay tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and have a strong New Orleans flavor. The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Sonny Landreth and saxophonist Bud Shank will be among the performers.

More Hot Picks:
SAT 3pm : Blues Stage : Corby Yates
SAT 3pm : Latin Stage : John Santos Quintet
SAT 6pm : Salsa Stage : Pete Escovedo w/Mambo Tropical
SUN 2pm : Smith Stage : John Mayer Trio

For the Festival, bring sunscreen, a hat, a chair, and stake out some territory early and get ready to spend your Jazz Bucks. They traditionally don't accept cash, except at the Jazz Bucks purchase booths. Here's Anne Smith's celly, festival publicist : 408-313-8089.

This year, there's some overlap with the Stern Grove Festival's presentation of Ozomatli in San Francisco at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday August 20th. All I know is the teleporter invention is severely under-funded. I'd love to be in both places at the same time, but since that's a non-option, go with your gut and make a plan.
If you're outta town for the 17-20th weekend, wait a coupla months and drive north. With everything I have, I completely endorse this trumpeter: Sandoval is a premier trumpeter and you can expect him to mix in his piano and percussion skills to supplement the full band onstage.
Arturo Sandoval

Saturday, October 28, 8pm
Herbst Theatre
If you're not on a first name basis with Latin Jazz, I totally endorse this percussionist as a superior introduction by a SF local/legend I first saw six years ago at the Concord Jazz Festival:
John Santos & the Machete Ensemble w/Jerry Medina, Ray Vega, & Maria Marquez
Sunday, November 12, 7pm
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre

-and this- for Berkeley

Kirk Joseph -and- John Nemeth at PHB

Great, great, great free music at Poor House Bistro on July 8th in celebration of PHB's first anniversary. In retrospect, I would have paid to see / hear Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove and John Nemeth perform - especially had I attended the High Sierra Music Festival earlier this month. These two bands were so complementary on the same bill together. I can't imagine why more press wasn't given to this event in advance!!

What an awesome vocalist John Nemeth is. He has this solid BB King/Robert Cray wail that never falters. Precise enunciation and a soulful blues flair. Check it.

Kirk Joseph plays the sousafunk with authority. It's not a tuba, folks. The sousaphone seamlessly replaces the bass guitar in this band, while the drummer is a graduate of San Jose's Independence High.

Partway through their set,
Jay Meduri, co-owner of the PHB, sidled up to the band and picked through the guitar on a tune we're now calling "Make it Funky" - and it was. I hate to be the guy to tell people that they missed out on something big after the fact, but it was very likely the best local show of July. Such a small venue for such huge artists.

Nemeth will return to PHB August 11th and September 9th. Be there.

Richard Simmons' Makeover

We all sweat when we exercise. None of us wants to wear a white, terrycloth headband to prevent stinging, salty sweat from killing our eyeballs.

Here's a major improvement over the cloth headband that I formerly used for cycling, and I should have brought this thing on a recent trip to SoCal while running through amusement parks in 95+ degree heat.

Sweat Gut'r.
It's $18.50 total, with shipping. You put it on with a Velcro closure at the back of your head and the sweat collects in a gutter valley, then drips down the side of your head, instead of down the front of your head and into your eyes. It's comfortable and nearly invisible. If only we could buy products and every company weren't fighting for ad space on your body. I'll update if I can remove the logo that you see in the photo.

Comedy Day in San Francisco

Comedy Day for 2006 is Sunday, October 1st from 12-5pm. I've been to about six of these events and they're always a great time, even the one year that it was totally foggy.

If you like stand up comedians, you'll love this --- because it is very different than a comedy club environment. It's
FREE and it's hosted in Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadows during the daytime. Not this Sharon Meadows.

Bring a full cooler, folding chairs, blanket, sunblock, etc. It's a mellow crowd; the staff doesn't check people entering the park area, but there's a police presence on-site for your safety. Food & drink vendors (but no ATM) line one side, with toilets and exotic car clubs lining the other side of the lawn.
Dogs are welcome on leashes. Last year, we saw a ton of Panteras, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, about 30 comedians + Robin Williams. For free. Really.

Meanwhile, get your laugh on at these local outlets:
San Jose Improv
Rooster T. Feather's
Cobb's Comedy Club

Back to the Pressure Cooker

Home from a week's vacation and I think it didn't take. I'm not relaxed. Used to work in a cube farm as an employee of a direct lender (bank) with a tremendous amount of pressure. I still work with pressure, but it is mostly self-applied. Some of the pressure is derived from the inflexible terms and processes of the multiple banks I work with now.
If I can get a potential homeowner qualified to borrow half a million to a million dollars when that person could not get qualified elsewhere, then I feel as though I've achieved something. We're not making diamonds out of coal, but we're still turning one bank's junk into another bank's treasure.The primary reason I returned unrelaxed is that this was partially a "working vacation". OMGWTFBBQ? You can't run a business from Disneyland. There's nowhere to make a quiet phone call w/o screaming people, music, or ride noises in the background.

When the borrower in a mortgage refinance delays the process at nearly every stage after we have begun the process, I'm told that I should increase my fees. I've already anticipated some delays in my calculations and the ink on the fee agreement is dry. It just wouldn't be right. How could I expect referrals from this client?

Refi clients typically won't lose their homes by delaying. The difference is this : A home buyer has a deadline. The deposit keeps things moving forward. I have no interest in delaying either transaction.

Which reminds me : What's the difference between a developer and a conservationist?
A developer wants to build a home in the woods. A conservationist already owns one.