Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Poor, Poor Lettuce

I planted lettuce, thinking that the really hot weather here was over for the year and that my red oak leaf would grow and flourish in the cooler weather. It promptly turned hot (98 degrees today) and I fear the lettuce will bolt.

Cats and Their Toys

Dash and Emma have a full basket full of cat-appropriate toys. They play with about four of them. Dash is an afficionado of feather or cord on a stick, while Emma prefers mouse on elastic. Why? We have no idea. It is not not the place of the human to question the wisdom of the cat; the human is there to put the toy of choice into play.

When Dash was a kitten, he would play fetch with the little mice (no, not live ones) that we bought at the pet store. He could play it for an hour at a time. A human threw the mouse, Dash recovered it and brought it back. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Emma, who always preferred play to any other activity, was a tart in her toy affections. She'd play with any toy, so long as a human was playing with her. She liked kitty racquet ball for a long time. To play this game: select a small round object, throw it against the window, watch the cat run and catch the object. The cat will then drop the item, so that the human can put it in play again.

But Emma has lost interest in racquet ball, just as Dash will no longer fetch. Now Dash wants to play either feather or cord on a stick, while Emma makes clear that no game other than mouse on an elastic will please. So I sit in the chair, holding the elastic end and flinging it back and forth. Emma chases, catches, attacks the mouse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Maybe We SHOULD Recall Him

The Guvernator struck several blows in defense of his friends, the mortgage brokers, lender servicers and landlords who brought you the mortgage crisis. In a stirring defense of the right of mortgage brokers to behave like the used car salesmen to whom they are kin, the vetoed AB 1830, which would require that mortgage brokers regulated by the state meet certain quite minimal requirements. Schwarzenegger asserted (I will not call his statements "arguments") that requiring those working for entities regulated by the state to meet these requirements would put these organizations at a disadvantage with respect to federally-regulated mortgage dealers. Well, given that 60% of the subprime mortgages issued in California were issued by state-regulated entities, it might be a good start. But Schwarzenegger got even sillier when he stated that allowing the plaintiff who sued a miscreant broker to recover attorney's fees if she prevailed in a lawsuit was an onerous burden. Uh, Gov, lots of legislation allows the prevailing party to recover attorney's fees--it's part of winning. And it's an additional deterrent to making a loan that is in the interest of the broker's commission, but is potentially dangerous to the borrower, a loan which is then sold into the secondary market, packaged in a mortgage-backed security, sold a bunch of places...and then...and then...costs the taxpayers $700 billion.

Alas, the Governor didn't stop there. Perhaps he didn't know how often tenants who demand their rights face harassment from lenders and their realtor representatives, and how important it is to have specific laws detailing exactly what these people cannot do in dealing with tenants in foreclosed properties. But it's much more likely that he saw how much the realtors, mortgage brokers and lenders had contributed to his campaigns, and decided that tenants just weren't all that important.

So he vetoed both AB 1333 and AB 2586, which would have provided clear recourse for tenants facing the harassment of utility cutoff. His assertions in defense of the vetoes ranged from ones that were irrelevant--tenants already have the right to utilities--to the offensive--if someone's gotta lose money, it should be tenants, because it would be too much of an onerous burden to lenders or landlords. You can read his veto messages here and here.

With respect to security deposits, the guy doesn't know the law. Some years ago the rules on security deposits were revised to prevent just this kind of theft of security deposits. The State Legislature, not a known defender of tenants' rights, was convinced to make clear that the entity that owned the building when a tenant moved was required to return the tenant's security deposit. On any transfer of the building, the landlord was required to either transfer the deposit to the new landlord or return the deposit to the tenant. And if the deposit was not returned, the tenant could assume that the deposit had been transferred. And if the new owner hadn't received the deposit, that was not the tenant's problem. So if you read his veto message, you'll note that he doesn't understand the law as written. Yeesh!

(This actually had nothing to do with foreclosures, but the bad habit of landlords failing to return security deposits when buildings had been sold, sometimes several times, during a tenancy, where the landlord died and the probate court failed to transfer the deposit to the new owner etc. The Legislature determined that tenants shouldn't have to figure out where the money went. If you owned the building when the tenant moved, and the deposit hadn't been returned to the tenant, you paid the money.)

And as for tenant harassment, uh, Governor, I don't have a short section on my Tenants and Foreclosure blog for fun, explaining that if tenants are threatened or assaulted, they should call the police. It's because I've had people write to me who have suffered abuse at the hands of the lenders and their agents. Utility cutoffs are only the beginning of their bad behavior. So, should you be so inclined, feel free to call the Governor's office at 916-445-2841 and tell him what you think.

The Debate Tonight

A cure for insomnia. The government could make the money for the bailout by selling tapes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Planting

People who live in colder climates are winding down the garden at this point. But in California we've only begun the fall planting. Temperatures are still in the 80s and, while it cools down more in the evening, the soil is still warm enough to plant newbies. And I can plant lettuce! Our summers are too hot for even the most heat-tolerant lettuces. They bolt in about an hour. But we can plant lettuce in the fall, and they will do well until mid-November--unless it gets very cold. Protection against snails and slugs is a must, so J puts copper tape around each pot. Whitefly is another pest--I have to spray each lettuce every day to discourage them.

And 'tis the season of plant sales. Last weekend J voluntarily took me to the local California Native Plant Society sale. And then he took me to Robert Hamm's sale, where I purchased things I didn't need. But I managed to squeeze them all in, and we are beginning to think about the next section of the front yard.

As it turns out, we're going to have to leave a small portion of the front yard unplanted, as we have a future mighty oak sprout and have decided to allow it to become a tree. But this still leaves plenty of territory. J has asked for more red feather grass, as that's done extremely well next to the driveway, and we're going to move the unhappy penstemon from under the eucalyptus tree to a sunnier location. And I will finish off the erigeron border, which seems to be the only plant providing continuity throughout the yard.

I know I should be thinking about the crisis brought about by the morons on Wall Street, but I have so little to say that hasn't been said better by others.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Something Important

I was going to write a profound post today. But I devoted a good part of yesterday to cleaning the kitchen counter, cleaning off two bulletin boards, cleaning the cooktop and the outside of the fridge. It's difficult to compose profound thoughts as you stand on a chair reaching for the back of the top of the fridge with a sponge. And today's activities aren't any more exciting. I have to clean the shower, both bathrooms and wash the kitchen floor. If I have time, I then need to dust and vacuum the living room.

I know--our financial system is crashing, the government is bailing out people who should have known better, and we may elect a vice-president who approves of shooting wolves out of helicopters. (There's a video on YouTube of that--it's gross, disgusting and cruel.) But I will take up thinking tomorrow. Maybe.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scary Headline

From Drudge: Bush says he's working hard on economic turmoil

We are lost. We are lost.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sarah Palin on ANWR

Uh, comrades, it's likely that it's damn near impossible to find an Alaskan who doesn't support drilling in ANWR. Oil and gas royalties provide 85% of state revenues in Alaska. Alaskans pay almost nothing in state and local taxes because they have the oil money. If I were Alaskan and could get past the polar bear problem and the environmental degradation thing, I might support ANWR drilling too. And Alaskans, looking to the future, see the eventual exhaustion of the North Slope/Prudhoe Bay fields--already these have declined from producing 2 million barrels per day to producing about 800,000.