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
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.