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My wife and I filed for Chapter 13 last month and just made our first payment. 

The last 30 days have possibly been the most humbling I can ever remember.  I’m not sure I can fully describe my story in one message or even one conversation. The story, like the event itself, built over time until it was too late to fix. 

We lived in Chicago after I graduated from law school and we lived above our means from day one.  We had the money to make the payments each month and the career path pointed upward.  I’m not sure we ever put our arms around the amount of debt we were carrying, just that we kept making payments and believing that the income and/or profit from house sale would catch up. Read the rest of this entry »

The House of Representatives vote on chapter 13 mortgage modification legislation has been delayed until this week so House Democrats can meet this evening with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to discuss the bill.

The House vote will come no earlier than tomorrow.  

The dilution has begun:

The postponement comes shortly after the legislation’s Senate author, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), said he would be open to limiting the measure to just subprime mortgages.

Some centrist Democrats began to waver after the remarks, balking at supporting a controversial bill amid signs that the Senate might pass a narrower version. The Obama administration, which backs the measure, also proposed tighter restrictions than are contained in the House legislation.

At a meeting of House Democrats Thursday, centrist Democrats raised concerns that the measure offered little help for troubled homeowners who don’t want to turn to the bankruptcy courts for relief, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D., Calif.), said.

Limiting relief to subprime mortgage holders will do nothing for homeowners who took out conventional mortgages and find themselves facing foreclosure due to job losses and other fallout from this weak economy.  From Chip Parker of Bankruptcy Law Network:

The high water mark on this economic flood keeps rising.  In 2007, foreclosures comprised primarily of exploding adjustable rate mortgages.  By 2008, however, the foreclosure virus began spreading to more conventional loans, collapsing the housing sector for good.

Today, more and more “responsible” Americans are being sucked into the foreclosure vortex because they are losing jobs, or their personal investments have evaporated.  Even homeowners with actual equity cannot refinance out of trouble.  Nobody is safe from this economy.

A modification law covering all types of mortgages will help troubled homeowners who want to avoid bankruptcy by giving lenders a choice – reduce the monthly payments to a level the homeowner can afford or have a bankruptcy judge do it for them.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first recording session for Miles Davis’ groundbreaking classic, “Kind of Blue:”

The staff of Santa Monica’s Pier Aquarium was surprised early last week when they arrived at work to discover one of their residents had flooded the facility:

They blame the soaking they discovered Tuesday morning on the aquarium’s resident two-spotted octopus, a tiny female known for being curious and gregarious with visitors. The octopus apparently tugged on a valve and that allowed hundreds of gallons of water to overflow its tank.

Octopuses are curious, intelligent creatures that show evidence of short and long-term memory in maze and problem-solving experiments:

In laboratory experiments, octopuses can be readily trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. They have been reported to practice observational learning, although the validity of these findings is widely contested on a number of grounds. Octopuses have also been observed in what some have described as play: repeatedly releasing bottles or toys into a circular current in their aquariums and then catching them. Octopuses often break out of their aquariums and sometimes into others in search of food. They have even boarded fishing boats and opened holds to eat crabs.

In our desperate economic times, such intelligence, talent and drive cannot go wasted. 

Why not train the Santa Monica octopus to run a major American bank?

Consider the possibilities: Read the rest of this entry »