Friday, March 02, 2012

3478 I will stay calm. I will stay calm. I will...

Friday, March 2, 2012

He always makes a good first impression; to detest him, you really have to know him.


A little background: To transfer stock, bonds, etc., you need more than a notary stamp on your signature. You have to get a medallion stamp, which you get only at a bank or a brokerage, because the medallion is backed by insurance for the value of the asset.

Last year, I asked Ex#2 to complete the transfer to me of some jointly-owned shares of stock that I got in the divorce some 30-odd years ago. I sent him the forms. All he had to do was sign them in front of a bank officer and get the medallion stamp, then mail them back to me.

Not so simple. He couldn't find a bank in south Jersey willing to risk their insurance by verifying his identity for that large a sum (which wasn't very large at all). Um, apparently not even the bank he'd been using for the past several years, which makes one wonder. It became a big deal on his end, involving many phone calls and visits to various banks, but he finally found a large enough bank and scraped together enough id to get the medallion. (They also made him open an account.) He then sent the forms to me, I got the medallion on my signature from the small community credit union I'd been using for less than six months, and the deal was done.

So, now, this morning, I got an email from him. He wants to sell the lake lots in Missouri that he'd got in the divorce. He asked me to call him! or send him my phone number so we could talk about it.

Uh uh. Ain't no way I'm talking to him on the phone! He natters, and attempts stupid jokes, interrupts, doesn't listen, and mishears. He objects to everything, he's infuriating, and on the phone there's no opportunity for me to cool down before being forced to respond, which I guarantee will be counter-productive and possibly damaging to my phone.

I suggested we discuss it by email.

Now, I'm pretty sure I completed a quit-claim on that property 30-odd years ago, and I guess he didn't file it because my name is still on the deed, but I can't get annoyed about that because I'd done pretty much the same thing with the stock transfer. He's got a buyer (at a loss, he says, which is odd because we bought the lots before the lake and roads and all the amenities were in, so they were dirt cheap in 1972, but no skin off my nose whether he's taking a bath or lying, and history says he's lying because hey, it's about MONEY!, but I don't care), so he needs me to sign the sale papers. Notarized, of course.

Summary of the email exchanges, omitting the infuriating parts:
He: Drive down here (three+ hours round trip) so we can go to a notary and both sign at the same time.
Me: We don't need to sign at the same time. You sign and get it notarized, then send the papers to me, I'll take them to the notary at my bank and sign, and send them back.
He: The bank won't notarize unless you have an account there.
Me: What part of "my bank" sounds like I don't have an account there? Besides, we're not talking about a medallion. They get sticky about medallions if they don't know or don't like or don't trust you. It's just a notary stamp and any notary can do it.
He: There's only one space for the notary stamp.
Me: Not a problem. The stamps can go anywhere, just so they touch the signature.
He: How 'bout I come up there and your notary can witness both signatures?
Me: (No! No! Please God, No! No!) Not necessary. Get your signature notarized, send the papers to me, I'll get my signature notarized, and send them back. Very simple. Three days with overnight mail.
He: Ok. I send them to [right house number, wrong street name], right?
Me: No. Send them to [my name, right house number, right street name, right town, right zip code, included all just in case, 'cause he's an freakin' idiot.]

Note that he's not signing at his attorney's office because he didn't retain an attorney. The BUYER drew up the contract - a quit-claim. Probably forms the buyer picked up at a stationery store. Sheesh.

And I'm a little nervous myself about the tax issues. Somebody has to pay a real estate transfer tax. Can we trust the buyer to do that? If Missouri requires proof, or fees for filing the deed, maybe. And even though it's (supposedly) "at a loss", Ex#2 should report it on his income tax. I have no confidence whatsoever that he will do that.

We're talking about the guy who didn't file federal income tax for several years because one year he forgot, and then he figured that since the gov'ment deducted the money up front and he never had to pay more at filing time, and nobody came after him for not filing, he didn't have to. Ever. Duh.

If he doesn't report the sale, I can get in trouble for not reporting it, either.

This is the guy who rented out three bedrooms in his seven room house, then claimed 1/2 of his mortgage, taxes, insurance, and utility payments as a business expense, AND since he rented to a succession of drug addicts and sleazeballs who paid the first and last months' rent and didn't pay another penny for the six months it took to evict them while they stole his mail and everything else nailed down or not --- so that every year he declared significant business losses on his income tax, equal to the mortgage+, so that he pretty much got the house free.

The IRS rules say that you can lose money on a business for something like only three years in a row, then it is no longer a business, it's a hobby, and you can't claim business expenses for it. But he scammed the feds and state for ten years, and bragged about how much money he saved on taxes.

The IRS rules also say that if you report crap like that, you get a reward of a percentage of the back taxes owed.

You have no idea how tempted I was. The reward alone would have been in the tens of thousands. But if I had reported his delinquency, Daughter would be upset, so I didn't.

I wish I had. I'm sorry the statute of limitations is up. But so help me, if I find out he didn't report this land sale on next year's taxes, I'll get him. Somehow.

(Of course, if it's REALLY a loss, then he will report it.)

3477 Lasers aren't just for cats.

Friday, March 2, 2012

If a Republican had nearly doubled the Dow and gotten
bin Laden and Qaddafi, he'd already be on the dime.



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3476 Fairies

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Scott Turow‘s Burden of Proof, Sandy's daughters describe
his love life as “a tom-tom network of females wailing over
his shortcomings late into the night.”


Most representations of fairies show them with wings.

They don't really have wings of their own, you know. Not at home, anyway. They're actually built rather like ordinary humans, with the usual four limbs.

When Fairies go out and about, they call on dragonflies or damselflies, which pick them up and hold them about the waist with their legs. Dragonflies and damselflies are wonderfully maneuverable. They can fly up, down, backward, and hover with little effort. Because the insects are so slender, they barely show pressed close along the fairy's back, and because they are so light, the fairy can bear them easily when not flying.

On formal occasions, a rather vain fairy might call upon a butterfly to carry her. But that's a bit frowned upon, because the butterfly's body is wider, and will show around the fairy's sides, the work is much harder for the butterfly, and when they aren't flying, the butterfly is much heavier for the fairy to bear. All of which is a rather silly vanity considering that a dragonfly's wings are equally beautiful.

Next time you see a fairy (a real live one, not a drawing by someone who's never seen one), notice the wings, and the legs around her waist. The insect legs will look like ribbon laces binding her tunic.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3475 Flying

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A guest for a while sees a mile.
-- Jewish Proverb --


You know how you don't hear about something for ages, and then all of a sudden you're exposed to it a half dozen times in two days, from wildly different directions? Sorta like deaths happen in threes, I guess. Anyway, a strange topic that's cropped up many places in the past few days is flatulence on airplanes, and how (although nobody ever admits THEY do it) awful and inconsiderate it is?

Oh, come on! It's not like people do it on purpose! It's the change in air pressure. Even the most delicate people who would otherwise considerately hold it can't hold it on planes. (TMI confession - I can't release gas unless I'm standing. I simply can't do it sitting, not even by tipping to one side. So every time I fly I'm in pain until we descend and the pressure evens up.)

Sheesh. A little compassion, folks.

And I don't believe that you complainers don't do it. Maybe you just think yours don't stink.

These are the same people who hate crying babies on planes. The air pressure change makes their little ears hurt and they don't know how to clear it. Compassion and understanding, please. You are hearing a baby in great pain! The parents have no control over that.

If the airlines did a better job of equalizing air pressure, both problems would go away.

We all ARE allowed to hate the idiot in front of us who reclines his seat, and the idiot behind us who kicks our seat, and the bastard who hogs the armrest and keeps shoving his elbow in our ribs. Now that, they CAN help.

3474 Intervention

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"When a true genius appears in this world,
you may know him by this sign,
that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
-- Jonathan Swift --


I'd also been hearing about another A&E show, that follows "Hoarders" on Monday night: "Intervention". Each week they follow the story of an addict, ending in an family/friends intervention. (How can these people not know what's coming? Sheesh.)

Anyhow, last night was the first time I'd watched it. The subject was a woman who was an alcoholic. I know a little bit about alcoholism. Ok. Bad thing. Yes, she's messing up her life, and the lives of her family and kids (boy 12ish, girl 20).

At the end of the show they had the usual intervention.

I got a little angry.

Sitting there in the room was a counselor, the woman's mother and father and three sisters, and her kids, and they're all telling her how her addiction is messing everything up.

Every single person sitting there, the parents, the sisters, the daughter, all except for the woman herself, the counselor, and the young boy, was pushing 300 pounds, at least.

A bunch of obese foodaholics telling an alcoholic how unhealthy her addiction is?

That takes nerve.

One kills quickly, the other slowly, but because it's slow, that's ok? What's that saying about the beam in your own eye? Well, I guess it's ok if you're outnumbered.

3473 Hoarders?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When you're overwhelmed and know not what to do,
you often do nothing.
-- Roi, on "Hoarders" --


The green quotes come from a file I maintain, and they're random. I set up draft posts ten at a time with the number in the title space and a quote at the top, and then fill in text later. So I'm amused that THAT quote came up for this post.

I've heard a lot over the past year about the A&E show "Hoarders" (Monday, A&E, 9PM, with reruns of earlier shows at 8PM and midnight) but I'd never seen it. So last week I found the website for it, and I watched all the full episodes they had online.

I was interested because when I tell people that part of my problem getting moved is that I have so much stuff that I have to sort through and decide what to do with, people get that sympathetic look with furrowed brow, figuratively pat my hand, and ask, "Are you a hoarder?"

I say no, I just have a lot of stuff. But I figured I ought to find out what they're thinking.

See, in my mind, a hoarder is someone who keeps "good" stuff because they think either there will be a shortage in that item some day, that it will become more valuable, or that they will be able to use it someday.

Jay was one of the third type. He saved all those dead computers on the theory that he could raid them for parts. I hoard books. I can't throw out a book I enjoyed. I hoard lipstick when I find the perfect color, because they will stop making it someday.

Well, "hoarder" is the correct term for some of those folks on A&E, but not all. Most of those folks are something else. I don't know what noun to call them, but they're just plain lazy and filthy. There's a difference between a carefully boxed 10,000 beer can collection taking over the basement and most of the house, and a mountain of dirty diapers and rotted food taking over the house for no other reason than laziness. One is an out-of-control collector, what I would call a hoarder, and the other is a slob, NOT a hoarder.

Jay was also a bit of the latter. When I moved in with him, I found a basement half full of boxes that hadn't been open since he'd moved from up Texas fifteen years before. I volunteered to go through them for him, and was horrified. Among the usual college textbooks and notebooks and high school science fair entries, unused ugly wedding gifts (first wife), and ratty stained rugs and cheap old comforters (that mice had raided for nesting materials), there was at least 500 cubic feet (that's 8'x8'x8')of junk mail, 90% of which had never been opened. Apparently he never threw any paper out, and when he moved he had actually packed it and moved it!

I've seen some royal slobs. There were some guys in college who never took the garbage out. They put garbage in paper grocery bags, and then just stacked them in a corner of the kitchen. When the corner got full, they expanded to the other rooms. The place stank of rotted food, and I hate to think what's happening to the floor at the bottom of the piles!

I know several Mensans who never throw anything but kitchen garbage out. Everything else that comes into the house stays. Every flat surface eventually gets covered with piles of stuff, and when it becomes difficult to open cabinets or drawers because of the stuff stacked in front of them, nothing ever gets put "away", and when they need something that gets buried, they just buy another --- which goes on top of a pile. You have to turn sideways to move around between the piles.

The first time I visited Jay's father's house, I found out where Jay'd got his tendencies. Piles and stacks of paper, magazines, catalogs, everywhere.

What amazes me is that nobody seems at all ashamed of it. They happily host meetings --- they just shift piles so people can sit. "My house isn't dirty, just cluttered." Are they hoarders, or slobs?

Roman's house is cluttered, too. I've seen him bring in the mail, open envelopes, and drop the junk mail and discarded envelopes on the floor. I do that, too, but then I gather up the paper and put it in the recycle bag, and take it out when the bag fills. Roman never picks it up. The discarded paper on his floor will get literally two feet deep before he notices, and then instead of discarding it, he neatly piles it against a wall. When he goes grocery shopping, he puts the bags on the kitchen floor and puts only the cold stuff away. The rest is left in the bags until he wants it. One time there was an awful smell in his kitchen. I thought a mouse had died, and picked up one of the bags to look behind it, and the bottom of the bag broke, dumping ten pounds of rotted potatoes on the floor. He's not a hoarder. Just a slob.

In my opinion, some people are 1.) pathological hoarders, saving anything and everything that they perceive as having some value. Some are 2.) accumulators, like those who build collections of particular things (like my 50-some teapots) and it gets out of hand. And some are simply 3.) slobs - like the folks with mountains of pure garbage rotting in the kitchen, mountains of dirty diapers in the bathroom, stuff that gets shoveled into garbage bags with no sorting even considered. The A&E Hoarders show doesn't differentiate. They treat them all the same, and I don't think they are the same at all.

The professionals on the show have this rule, that the "hoarder" has to make the decision whether something goes or stays. I got angry at last night's show. They kept waving junk in front of the old man for his decision, but if he said "Keep it", he got an argument, and they'd keep pushing and arguing until they got the response they wanted. It was clear that the only acceptable decision was "Toss it", and it was no damn wonder that he got angry and gave up and just said "Toss it" without even looking or thinking. I don't see that he "learned" anything at all. The producers talk a good line about the hoarder learning to make good decisions so they don't revert, but that's not how it is.

So, am I a hoarder?

Maybe. Probably of the accumulator/collector variety.

But absolutely not like what you see on the show.

After Jay died, I felt so alone in that house. I got a lot of money from his insurance. I used about 1/3 to pay off the mortgage, I invested 1/3, and then I sat and stared at the remaining 1/3. I was depressed. I'd rather have the him than the money. I didn't really want the money. So I spread it around. I bought stuff I wanted or liked. Maybe I was trying to fill the empty house, my empty life. Comforting myself with pretty things, things I liked to touch, wear, look at. Unusual or exotic objects with history, stories.

I wanted a real "Brown Betty" teapot. (Photo from, where you can purchase them.) They make the best tea because the rounded shape makes convection patterns that brew tea best, and the thick walls hold the heat. I shopped Ebay. I bought one the right shape, but it wasn't brown. Then I found a brown one, but it wasn't real terra cotta. Then I found a bigger one. Then I found a real antique one. Then I found a Cardigan pot (no hole in the top, you fill it from the bottom). Then there were Japanese iron pots. Then --- things got out of hand. I kept buying teapots because I liked them.

I discovered haoris (kimono jackets, photo from, my favorite haori shop - if the photo has disappeared, go to the link and look around). They are beautiful, mostly silk, beautifully made by hand, useful, and versatile. I bought one, and loved it. Then I found a prettier one. Then --- things got out of hand. I have a closet full of the damn things now, each one unique, and each one prettier than the previous purchase.

My great-grandmother had a pair of antique Staffordshire dogs. (I got the picture from, because most places with pictures are selling the dogs, so the photos may not be around for long. This dog doesn't look exactly like Great-gramma's dog, but close enough.)

Gramma got one dog, Great-aunt Ethel got the other (hard to believe they broke up the pair!). I loved Gramma's dog, which went to Mom, then to my brother Duke. One day I went to an antiques fair, and found a pair of Staffordshire dogs similar to Gramma's for sale. I bought them. At another antiques fair a year or two later I found another pair that looked more like Gramma's, including the tiny hole in the back that my mother had told me she had put a gold chain in for safekeeping when she was a child and hadn't been able to get it back out. Of course, I had to buy that pair. Then I found some smaller antique Chinese knockoffs, which, being "fakes" weren't kept, and are now less common and therefore almost as valuable, but eBay sellers don't seem to know that, so they sell them cheap. I now own two pairs of Staffordshire dogs and three pairs of "Staffordshire" dogs.


And on and on. All kinds of pretty crap, and I love it all.

It's all packed up neatly in containers, or displayed on shelves, but I can't keep/move it all, and containers are taking up so much room that my house does, in fact, look like a hoarder house. Very little of it is junk. I'd like to sell or donate a large portion of duplicates or the stuff that I simply will never actually wear or use, but that takes effort and energy that I hadn't had. So, yeah, I've got a problem.

At least watching the hoarders show has energized me a bit. And living here with next to nothing in the house, and family across the street, has taught me that I don't need all that stuff to fill my life.

So, it'll happen. I guess. But not without a lot of angst.