Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TODO: write two blog posts.

While my blog is still on the front page of http://blogsofnote.blogspot.com, I have to write two more.

I'd be stupid not to advertise my mortgage bailout website while I'm being honored by several hundred unique visitors per day, so that will be the first post (this one).

The second post will be a followup to the mugging post. I'd like to clarify a couple of less-than-eloquent points I made as well as propose a way to fix the problems of violence and poverty in Oakland.

ADVERTISEMENT: Check out out my website, where you can buy a small piece of my house. As a reward, you can listen to me singing on YouTube. You can leave a URL — it will be indexed and will increase your page rank
a little.

The yellow rectangles are areas that have been purchased already. HURRY!!! LOL.

I started building the website a year ago at the Alta Bates NICU, where our son Boris was completing his gestation period, out utero. I guess he really wanted to be around for George W. Bush's last month in office, so he got out three months early. When he was born, he weighed just under two pounds.

This is him yesterday, playing at the Port View Park:

We've downplayed his amazing progress from birth to today, but it really is pretty amazing.

Anyway, I got a little worried about our financial future with our house sinking further and further underwater as our neighborhood was turning into a sea of foreclosures auctioning at a fifth of what we paid (and by paid I mean borrowed). Plus, since the baby was born so early it was clear we'll have to make do with just one income for quite some time.

The idea behind the website was to implement online busking. It had to be online, you see, because it had to occur asynchronously with my day job.

The mandatory overengineered feature here is the contribution selection mechanism. After three complete rewrites I think I finally found something that works.

The only text that gets indexed by search engines is the table of the contributions. There's no good reason for this, it's just the way it is.

I've translated most of the text on the site into Russian. Last weekend, for the first time there was a significant wave of visits from Russia (and other former Soviet republics) due to a link on an apparently popular resource.

As you can see from the "Recordings" section, I basically gave up. First I broke the promise to record daily, then I broke the promise to record weekly, and now I record something once in a blue moon.

A year ago, during the wave of interest and hate generated by the article about the website in San Francisco Chronicle, people scornfully lumped us with that first generation of troubled homeowners who did some really creative financing and were losing their homes as the result.

The point I was trying to get across (it was somewhat unclear in the article) is that we tried — as best as we could — to do everything right. We actually bought a "cheap" house, believe it or not. Seriously. At the time for 500K you couldn't by a portapotty in San Francisco. (Now that the prices have gone down, you could probably buy two portapotties in San Francisco for half a million.) 30-year loans, good credit, etc. One thing we did that was creative was buying without a downpayment. But at the time nobody had a downpayment, unless inheritance was involved. If people had a "normal" sum of 30K in the bank, they often chose to use that money to put a roof on their 500K fixerupper instead of making a miserly downpayment.

We just didn't see that as a sign of a broken system, which side-swiped the bloody hell out of our "equity" during its precipitous collapse.

So here we are, on the verge of the second generation of foreclosures. This one will be more painful, because a shit ton of high earners with perfect credit have started the process of not paying mortgages.

This is a good thing for today's economy, because suddenly many people will have a lot more cash lying around for purchasing consumer goods. It will be disastrous in the long-term because the banks will be forced to swallow unbelievably huge losses. By "swallow" I mean "finding a way to pass it onto your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren". The only way to mitigate this situation is for banks to cut principal (which of course they won't do, it's unethical).

So, I think my website is still relevant, probably even more so than a year ago. I would still like to alleviate our underwater situation by simply paying back a big sum of money to the banks — someone will have to pay it back at some point, in some way, anyway. It might as well be me, err us.


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  2. Wow... I think that it is amazing that you are sticking to your commitment. In our world today there aren't many people who believe in keeping your word and it's evident through divorce rates, defaulted loans and such. I appreciate what your doing here!

  3. A mortgage bailout site. Love the concept. So much that I feel richer be reading the ad. That brings us to the real question: Will I buy a piece of your house? Maybe. Which means the marketing scheme is good, the concept is cool, but the audience might be wrong. People surfing the net often enjoy being entertained for free. That's why they surf instead of going to the theatre or the cinema.

    Then again, your scheme is original if not unique. Why not contact a marketing firm and sell the concept? They're already dishing out to bloggers on behalf of their clients.

    The best of luck to you!

  4. Johnny -- the problem with my concept is that it involves singing on YouTube. I think most people in need of a mortgage bailout wouldn't be cool with singing on YouTube.

    The good thing about my website is that you can absolutely be entertained for free -- just like with real street musicians. In fact, I find the process of studying the "already-purchased" areas extremely entertaining, even without the music.

    Thanks for you comment and good luck to you as well.

  5. Now I understand why people moderate comments, it's because of tools like napoleonseasports. napoleonseasports, go kill yourself against a wall, you parasite.

  6. I love the premise of your website, best of luck to you.
    Also, your son is just so adorable!

  7. Your son is so cute!