Copyright 1995 - 2005
October 8, 2000:
I used to have an "about me" page until a few years ago. Too many things were happening, I got behind on updates and took the page down.
Since most BayHouse visitors are relatively new to the site, I finally spent a rainy day in the Alaskan bush and almost all day yesterday and today trying to summarize my professional life as well as my "vacation" since I sold my house and went camping.
This page got to be way longer than planned, yet still so much is missing.
I had my first "credit experience" around 1984.
Citibank declined our application for a loan to purchase my first computer.
I didn't even known that there were credit reports. I went to work, to school, I had two dogs, a $400 pickup, some stuff and that was about it. Just about every month it was a struggle to make the $200 rent for our little place near the university.
A department store reported a $50 or so charge-off on my husband's credit. He wasn't aware that there was additional accrued interest due when he had paid his bill in full before moving to Germany in the late 70's.
I went to the credit bureau in Lincoln, NE, to look at the credit file. It was humiliating, embarrassing, confusing and time consuming. And I was lucky my parents sent the money for the "portable" CPM Kaypro computer, we never got that Citibank loan.
I learned WordStar and started a part-time wordprocessing business, mostly typing term papers for students and resumes for pilots. I also transcribed books for a print shop until I didn't get paid.
Since I was taking programming and calculus classes at the university during the day, I got to experience a wide variety of "entry level" jobs, working second or graveyard shifts, doing everything from janitorial work for the university to manufacturing and mass mailing production, standing at an assembly line all night.
Carol Wright was an especially exploitive employer. Just about everybody has received their mailings, the brown envelopes with coupons and free samples. I could only stand that place for a few weeks.
At MetroMail I operated machines that stuffed the coupons or solicitations (Jerry Lewis, March of Dimes, Amex) into envelopes and I sorted mail by zip codes.
Not only was it physically demanding, standing all night on the concrete floor, but it could be very stressful too, especially if you weren't one of the young women who went "partying" with the mechanics after work. You could get written up for not meeting your production quota and if they didn't like you, you could get fired. The machines would break down a lot and often the mechanics didn't have time to work on ALL broken machines, which you weren't allowed to fix yourself.
I have NO idea why I worked there over a year. Did I mention that none of these jobs paid over $5/hour? Most of the machine operators were women. Some worked two jobs ...
It's one thing to work there while being a college student and when you're young. It's a completely different story when you're 40 years old, work all night and then try to take care of your kids during the day.
Nobody can tell me that all you have to do is "get a job" and you'll be able to pay your bills and live a happy life. I KNOW it's not true.
Last month I talked a lot with a guy from North Dakota. There is only one major company offering blue collar employment in his town. If you don't work THERE, you don't work. You accept their terms, you have no choices, other than to move. He'd have to be able to sell his house first, and leave all his friends behind. He was born and raised in that town.
While driving through Utah last week, I heard on the radio that the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce has been accused of demanding that employers relocating to Cedar City LOWER their wages.
So after a few years of working these miserable jobs, my husband was finally done with the classes for his masters degree and we moved to California.
My goal in life was to get a permanent OFFICE job with good benefits.
I had been an accountant in my parents' business for several years prior to my moving to Lincoln, and being able to "sit down on the job" again was definitely high up on my wish list, right below health insurance and paid vacations and sick leave.
I got a temp job working in the AAA Auto Insurance Assigned Risk Division. My job was to mail form letters to applicants, requesting additional information, filling in for supervisor Rosa Hunter.
I was totally thrilled when they hired me for a permanent job and I got benefits.
Then Ms. Hunter came back from her medical leave. It was immediately clear that she didn't like me.
Day after day I did nothing but whiting out dates on delayed policies. That was in 1986, when the fumes of White-Out were still cancer causing. Ms. Hunter hoped I was enjoying the free high.
Then I nearly got fired for making a personal (local) call from the company phone. Some employees were goofing off and on the phone with friends half the day. Yet, I made one 30 second call to tell my husband where the car was parked, and it was a big deal.
I KNOW that most Americans DON'T have the luxury of a workplace where they can call/fax credit bureaus at their leisure.
So I quit, went back to temping. At least it was more interesting, I enjoyed being able to see first hand how a variety of companies operated.
In 1987 our landlord informed us that he was selling our house.
Totally unexpected, my parents gave me the down payment to buy the house we were renting in Daly City, CA.
The little cracker box tract house was on top of an eroding cliff right by the ocean, on the fault line, in the fog and wind.
I remember being up at 1 AM, calculating the maximum negative amortization on my Kaypro with SuperCalc. I ran the worst case scenario for 10 years at the cap of 11%. It seemed doable.
The banks and brokers didn't like that I was working temporary jobs. But the 35% down payment made up for it and we got the negative amortization loan from Gibraltar.
The down payment also made up for our lack of credit history in California. The Lincoln credit bureau wouldn't provide any data. Of course I was glad for that, since I was worried that the old charge-off would cause more problems.
Our Hungarian landlord was a very nice guy. I had no idea what he meant when he said he would deposit my down payment check into escrow. My husband didn't know what escrow was either. Somehow we closed with fewer problems than any of my future transactions.
The real estate business interested me, I had seen the late night infomercials. Unlike so many seminar suckers, I spent my money on tuition and books for real estate and finance classes at SF City College instead of buying expensive and worthless seminar materials.
Within a few months, the value of our house had increased by over $30,000.
I asked myself: "Why am I working as an accountant on some temp job with no benefits for $12/hour?"
Knowing that I needed the income to qualify for financing, I waited to quit until after we bought the second house. We managed to get the cash out of the first house to use as down payment on the second house.
Getting the loans was extremely stressful. We had to state that we needed the cash-out 2nd for a swimming pool (in fog city!)
We had to supply a rental agreement on the first house to qualify for the new loan.
How can you rent out your house when you don't know whether or when you'll close on the new house? I was told to make up the rental agreement. Our loan agent at Gibraltar was a pretty nice guy, but I sensed he was getting a little irritated by me not picking up on these things, he to be explicit. I just wasn't used to "creating" these documents.
Our real estate agent was an idiot. And he lied to us like there was no tomorrow.
The loan agent started talking about the "loan committee." I couldn't figure out why everything was fine when we applied and then all of a sudden just days before the scheduled closing there were all those problems.
I finally learned that our real estate agent wasn't our agent at all and the listing broker (his boss) was calling the lender on the cash-out loan, nearly killing the deal.
Somehow we closed.
I filed a complaint with the DRE about my agent. Nothing came of it.
When my assignment at the San Francisco Water Department ended a few months later, I was invited to apply for a permanent position. I had enjoyed working in accounting, the people there were friendly and pleasant to be around. They even sent me on the city employee tour of the SF sewer works, that was VERY interesting. And no, I'm not sarcastic.
It was the least stressful job I ever had. But the routine bored me.
Real Estate was the way to go. Housing prices were sky rocketing. I had just completed the H & R Block tax class. I took that class because being a home owner I now got to itemize my write-offs on the Schedule A, and I didn't want to miss out on any write-offs. This was one of the most useful classes I ever took, I learned so much more than what to deduct on the Sch A.
However, I highly recommend AGAINST going to H & R Block to have your taxes done. I decided to become an income tax preparer, and H & R Block was only paying a few cents over minimum wage, in the high wage San Francisco Bay Area.
Why would ANYONE have their taxes prepared by a minimum wage employee? I have since seen many H & R Block prepared returns that exceeded my worst expectations.
So I became selfemployed again, utilizing my new 286 PC. I instantly quit when I got the publication from the IRS with all the fines for tax preparers.
I stayed busy attending real estate courses at the college of San Mateo at night, and I did some minor remodeling in the second house:
Painting, removing the ugly old wall paper, refinishing the hardwood floors ... and maintaining the award winning dahlia garden established by the previous owner.
We sued ITT Financial in Small Claims Court for incorrect credit reporting.
ITT Financial reported a loan with 90+ day lates that was never taken out. We found out about it when American Express notified us that all our accounts were closed due to the negative credit reports.
Numerous letters and phone calls as well as visits to the local ITT office got no response at all. We were very stressed over this because we wanted to buy another house. AND we had a lot of credit card debt.
In Small Claims Court the judge awarded $2,000, the amount of the AmEx credit line we lost due to ITT's incorrect reporting. ITT appealed, and we looked really stupid in Superior Court. Judge pro tem Gallagher, a practicing Millbrae attorney at the time, decided that we were greedy real estate brokers.
He reduced the judgment to $500 and told us we were lucky to get that.
I was under the distinct impression that he personally knew ITT's attorney.
A few years later ITT was severely fined and banned from doing business in California for several years.
In Summer 1988 we were getting ready to sell both houses to buy one larger house.
I finally decided to get my real estate license. I had been determined not to join the ranks of those "lying and cheating real estate agents," but it took too much time having to go to all those open houses just to see what the asking prices were.
I had been looking for a good agent, unsuccessfully. It was almost impossible to get MLS data.
Our next house was again a FSBO. I listed the first house with a broker as I didn't have my license yet, and when all was said and done, I felt that I got screwed again.
We sold the second house as FSBOs. Got a full price offer and paid 3% to the selling agent. It was a sellers' market.
My parents loaned me $70K so we could buy the third house before we sold the second house. We made good money on those first two deals. Netted about $40K on the first house, and $60K on the second.
I very much appreciate the value of money, especially lots of money like $70K. It is so much easier to make money when you HAVE money. If it hadn't been for my parents' loan, our profits would have been REDUCED tremendously.
We structured the transactions so it was part residence, part rental, and we did a tax deferred exchange. I did the taxes, but had a meeting with a CPA/tax attorney to review my strategy prior to selling the properties.
The IRS sent a $160,000 tax bill a year after we filed. I walked out of the first appointment, the auditor was clueless.
After an appointment with a supervisor and submission of invoices for $50,000 in upgrades on the new house, no changes to our returns were made. I learned that I'm one of the few people who are not intimidated by the IRS.
We got totally carried away with the remodel of the latest house.
It took too long, we did way too much. We had hired contractors for the new roof and windows, but did everything else ourselves.
We installed a completely new kitchen, took out the wall to the dining room and built a breakfast bar. I learned how to hang cabinets, tile counters, walls and floors, installed new doors and moldings throughout, refinished floors, installed skylights, pedestal sinks and marble floors in the bathrooms, rototilled and completely landscaped the front and back yard, added sprinkler and sweat hose systems, built a brick patio and brick/concrete path ....
I was in the shower during the 1989 Quake, getting ready to go to class after a day of painting. While once again practically on the San Andreas fault line in San Bruno, the house was built on solid rock and we had no damage at all.
By the time we finished the "remodel" I had also attended several building inspection, landscaping and plumbing classes at the College of San Mateo. And I had at least 20 of the Sunset "How to ..." books.
We took too long with our remodel, and the real estate market headed South.
We became "stuckees" and had to sue Loan America.
Loan America had charged a late fee on our mortgage while I had their signature on the express mailing delivery receipt, dated prior to the end of the grace period.
Still rather new in real estate, I DID know that a mortgage late fee could be a loan killer, even if the payment was only 16 days late. Since we couldn't sell the house, we had to refinance. Much of the remodel was charged to our credit cards, and for a while we had no income at all. We had planned on a sale and more profits, instead we were stuck with the house and a high mortgage payment.
MANY hours on the phone with Loan America produced no results. So we filed another Small Claims suit. A couple of days before the court date their legal department called and settled for $500 and a flawless credit rating.
We still had trouble getting a loan until I ended up at "the broker down the hall" mentioned later on this page. They brokered to Home Savings, got us a cash-out quick qualifier. We signed papers at Home Savings on New Year's Eve, 1990.
I got my real estate license, and I decided to work with buyers.
At that time the concept of a "Buyer Broker" was unheard of. I had been extremely frustrated by my many futile attempts to find a broker who would represent ME and who would supply me with MLS data.
I remember the Pacifica agent who made sure I couldn't get a glance at the MLS book while he was looking for houses that fit my parameters. It was pathetic!
My big mistake was specializing in working with first-time buyers in the low end of the market, often trying to utilize the MCC or CFHA programs.
I enjoyed helping these young families, but it just didn't pay enough.
As many of my clients had problems getting their loans at the terms originally promised, I got really tired of banks and brokers alike.
I decided to find out what the problem was for myself and I got into the mortgage business.
It was VERY hard getting started. I wasted $5,000 on a franchise called the Loan Source. More broken promises and incredible incompetence.
Then I processed loans for independent brokers and a mortgage company. I learned how loan packages are "altered" to comply with underwriting guidelines and soon limited my processing services to just a couple of reputable individual brokers.
Eventually I got approved by several wholesale lenders and I participated in San Mateo County's MCC Program.
The California DRE could not care less about consumers or lenders getting mislead and defrauded by mortgage brokers.
They're great at auditing trust fund accounts, making sure every penny is accounted for.
However, they were unable to find anything wrong with the business practices of the mortgage broker down the hall from me. They were constantly auditing him, many consumers complained.
I had seniors walking into my office looking for directions to his place, showing me his newspaper ads promising 3.5% APRs. I had an agent who told that when she worked for him, he offered to make up new tax returns for an additional 2 points. It was a routine "enhancement," offered in the back room. I had wholesale reps confirming these rumors. Medallion mortgage actually made him buy back a $160,000 loan due to broker fraud. Apparently he had made so much money, he paid them off. Medallion did NOT press charges or report him anywhere.
So the DRE kept notifying him of audits, requested that he prepare a few loan files for them to review, at HIS convenience. They found nothing wrong.
My first extensive experiences with government stupidity, arrogance and ignorance.
The San Mateo County START program was announced with a lot of promotion.
Several million dollars in low or no interest down payment loans were available to the first-time buyers who contracted to purchase while there were funds. The guidelines were liberal, literally thousands of buyers qualified and FLOODED the market.
Sellers were increasing their asking prices by $10,000 overnight, in a previously down market.
Most buyers who got those funds ended up paying much more than market price and they had no leverage to negotiate for repairs. The sellers knew they had the buyers by the balls:
"Buy NOW at MY terms or lose the START programs funds."
I had spent a lot of time with low income buyers who wasted what little money they had on credit reports and appraisals. The START program funds were gone within a few weeks.
Those idiots in government!!!
I sent several letters to the County. I wanted to see where the money had gone, who the buyers and sellers were, and who was responsible for this disaster. They didn't bother to reply. Martha Ruiz, one of the key County employees involved, disappeared.
The County declared the program a great success, because the funds ran out so quickly.
I tried to get the San Mateo Times to investigate, but nobody bothered. At that time I was still so naive. I didn't know that the main stream media only reports what's ok'd by government and advertisers.
I suspect that aside from sellers of overpriced homes, County employees and the Supervisors' friends and relatives benefited from the START program more than anyone else.
By late 1994 I had learned a lot about the mortgage business, and business in general.
I was very sick of it all, and I incorporated a non profit. I contacted home owners in foreclosure, offering free consultations. That's when I got to see the worst in corporate fraud.
From Transamerica to FNMA, I finally got in writing how the government approves of corporate theft and fraud.
I learned that a corporation is not subject to fines or penalties unless there are literally thousands of complaints. When a corporation defrauds a widow out of $15,000, they just have to credit back those funds.
I still don't understand why *I* could get life in prison for "forgetting to pay" for some food at a store for the 3rd time, while a corporation merely has to give back what they took.
Why is it a criminal offense when I take something that's not mine, but corporations can take whatever they want and NOBODY goes to jail?
Talk about double standards!
I accidentally attended a republican fundraiser disguised as a real estate litigation seminar.
I got to sit at the same table and had lunch with some of those moron supervisors who had voted for the START program.
I had thought I was going to be attending a seminar on real estate litigation at the Merriot Hotel. Instead, it turned out to be a fundraiser for Pete Wilson's presidential campaign and Tom Campbell was the speaker. He is an adamant supporter of new anti-consumer legislation limiting consumers' rights to sue.
The supervisors STILL claimed that the START program was a phenomenal success.
And next to me was one of Governor Pete Wilson's aides. I gave him the newsletter with the Transamerica documentary and requested his assistance getting a readable accounting statement. Of course I never heard from him.
While I attended many more seminars, I became a lot more diligent in reading the entire advertisements and I successfully avoided campaign fund raisers.
Thinking about that event gives me the willies. The Realtors in their tuxedos, so eager to shake hands and rub with politicians, handing out their cards, promising support, making contacts ... it's shower time!
In early 1995 I started the BayHouse web site.
The nonprofit newsletter was expensive to print and distribute. The San Mateo County Association of Realtors did NOT give me permission to distribute at their service centers.
While the web was still rather difficult to access and WYSIWYG web editors were a long way from being available, I got a book on HTML and went for it. I couldn't have done it without the help of some geeks on IRC, including a 13 year old kid who wrote a form script for me.
This must be the place to point out that while I often complain about the Silicon Valley yuppies, I also met a few very cool computer people. Have to mention Tom English (ex NASA.) He sure helped me out a lot during a time when it seemed that aside from a few personal friends, anyone over 25 lived only for dollars.
A lot of real estate and mortgage brokers/agents were very upset (see the Definitions page.)
After a year with no support, I quit the non profit. I couldn't afford it. It was a very interesting experience.
As I learned more and more about credit scoring, I started to specialize in credit and mortgage consultations. My clients had to pay me by the hour or by the job. No more endless hours of working for someone who eventually didn't or couldn't buy a house or decided to get the loan from BofA instead.
While I scheduled some in person consultations, much of my business was entirely e-mail and phone based and I was traveling a lot, from Mexico to Oregon.
In Fall 1997 I was contacted by Kevin J. Delaney, Wall Street Journal reporter.
He had been reading the BayHouse forum and asked for an interview on credit scoring. I told him right away that I didn't think the WSJ would be interested in MY opinions, they're not exactly a consumer rights paper.
Kevin was a real nice guy. He assured me that this was a pro consumer article and he asked me to get him some names of other brokers and consumers who'd be willing to talk to him. I did, and several times we talked on the phone for quite a while. Since he didn't know anything about scoring, I explained it to him, extensively, several times. He invited me to be on the weekly WSJ TV show, which I respectfully declined.
Kevin called me back one last time to make sure he had my services and fees right. $30 for the merged reports from all 3 bureaus with the 3 credit scores, $50 included the credit analysis.
While I was in AZ, I got his E-mail announcing that the article would be published on December 1. I was very excited, got the WSJ, couldn't wait to read "Knowing your Score."
And then I couldn't believe what I was reading. "Christine Baker, a San Bruno, Calif., consultant to home buyers and borrowers, ...." There was no E-mail address, no URL, no mention of BayHouse, no mention of the forum, no mention of my services.
Interestingly, they sure printed the company names for the CRA execs interviewed, along with their 800 numbers.
There was absolutely no way that a reader of that article would be able to contact me, and of course there was no reason to. They didn't know what my services were.
According to Kevin, the WSJ editor took all that info out, he had no idea they would do so. He was sorry.
Well, I was sorry too. I had been very agreeable to interviews until then, but I haven't done one since. And I sure don't plan on ever giving interviews again. If somebody wants to know something from me, they can post in the forum.
Besides, we now have a whole bunch of credit scoring sites with operators who'll stand in line to be interviewed.
I returned from AZ a few days later, tried to order a client's credit report and got an error message.
Eventually, after MANY calls to Financial Databank (my credit report supplier,) I was told that Experian had them close my account. Financial Databank did NOT even have the courtesy to inform me, they had just disabled my account.
After many more calls to Experian, I was informed that due to "security" issues I would never receive a credit report again.
Needless to say, I have every client's signature on their credit authorization AND a copy of the check for every credit report I ever ran. I'm 100% sure I never ran a credit without proper authorization. After all, even my net clients had to send a signed authorization and check before they got the reports and analysis.
As of Oct. 2000, my best guess is that the WSJ editor provided Kevin's *unedited* version of the article to Fair Isaac and/or Experian. Of course I don't know this for a fact, I just add 2 + 2.
Since I couldn't run credit reports anymore, my business opportunities were severely limited. I still did some consultations, but without the credit reports there was no way I could survive. I worked with other brokers who supplied the reports for my clients, but it was all very difficult.
I rented my house to "Silicon Valley yuppies" and went camping.
It turned out that the electronic engineer couldn't figure out how to locate the electric box by the side of the house to flip a breaker back on. Talk about college graduates totally lacking life skills. They were very nice Canadians, I liked them a lot. But in May and June 98 I had gotten about 15 E-mails from them. This impacted severely on my ability to enjoy my travels.
Over the 4th of July weekend, while up at the Southern Washington coast, I decided to sell the house. Fortunately, the Bay Area real estate market was finally recovering. It had been a looooong wait!
I still don't know how you can ensure that building additions are legal.
During my personal visit to the building department prior to closing escrow 10 years earlier, I was assured that the sun room was legal. One would think that the final building inspector sign-off for the room/deck addition literally DAYS before we closed would be evidence that everything was legal.
The room/deck addition was NEXT to the sun room, which was an extension of the living room. You could not enter the house without seeing the sun room. The supposedly illegal sunroom was even ON the signed off plans!
Yet, I had to submit PLANS for the sun room and the energy calculations for the house, because it was converted from a screen room WITHOUT permit.
I was lucky I found buyers who were willing to deal with the building department, of course they got a lower price. We closed in November and I couldn't wait to get on the road.
The first few months after the sale continued to be VERY stressful.
When I tried to open a checking account in Arizona, I was declined. Because ChexSystems didn't answer their phones in December 98, I had to drive back to California to eventually find out that Washington Mutual (formerly Home Savings) reported to ChexSystems erroneously that I owed around $16.
Nobody reimbursed me for my expenses or the month of vacation time I lost.
In January 99 I bought my truck camper and an old F 350 diesel and I hit the road.
I still had to deal with a lot more corporate crap, including but not limited to the morons at GTE Wireless and AT&T and Del Mar Investments and the claims people at Allstate. In June I finally headed North.
I got sidetracked attending a field day (ham radio) on the Olympic Peninsula, I ended up parked on top of a mountain for 10 days. It rained and rained and rained ... but we managed to have fun anyway. It was my first time to the Seattle area, it was exciting taking my rig on the ferry, meeting a lot of new and interesting people.
I met a truly fascinating woman.
She had been fighting a serious illness, I think it was cancer. She worked full-time, and had a teenage daughter and two adult sons living at home, on disability.
You'd think she'd have enough problems, being a single mom and running that household. She barely made ends meet. Yet, occasionally she took in pregnant teens with no place to go and neglected kids. At no charge, not like foster parents who get paid. She just cared.
And busy as her schedule was, she still took time to stay at the office after work to use the company computer to write a letter to the editor of the Port Townsend newspaper about the lack of public transportation to the hospital and courthouse.
I have no idea how she maintained her positive attitude and the energy to keep on going.
Now I really regret I didn't give her a few thousand bucks last year when I blew a lot of money. I gave her $100 *demanding* that she spend it on herself. That seems so pathetic now.
By late July I made it to Alaska
The northern lights, the glaciers, the bush, the bears, the moose, the hunters, the miners, the natives, the environmentalists ... I spent two absolutely incredible months in a state that's extremely divided and confrontational. It's impossible to summarize my Alaska experiences on this page.
After Alaska I spent a couple of weeks visiting friends in Santa Fe, then had to drive to California to get my computer fixed at ArmComputer in San Jose. I installed the new forum while parked at supermarket or Walmart parking lots using the Ricochet wireless modem because I was waiting for ArmComputer to complete the repairs. I'm still planning on suing ArmComputer.
In November I got back to NM and AZ, finally I had time to read a novel, Leslie Marmon Silko's "Almanac of the Dead."
The characters seemed so real, it was the perfect book to read out there in the desert, in silence except for the wind, birds and coyotes, with no humans anywhere close.
Nothing raises your awareness of wind gusts like living in a truck camper. Ooops, I nearly forgot my tent camping during El Nino. There was the night when I was in my tent during one of the major El Nino storms in 1996 or so. I heard the trees snapping, and then it took quite a while until they hit the ground. I knew there were all these old trees all around and above my tent, and for protection I put the aluminum table across my air mattress, hoping it would keep a tree from smashing me. The stupid things I've done .... I often wonder if haven't used up all my luck by now.
Anyway, I sure wouldn't mind if the wind blew away "the world the whites brought." I'm not impressed with the state of our "civilization."
That brings to mind Art Bell's George Carlin interview. I had downloaded it and listened to it in the NM Lincoln Natl. Forest. There was NOBODY within miles, I was parked in the snow at about 7000 ft. While it was cold enough to freeze the camper water pump, that trip was worth the $80 for the repairs.
Since I usually don't watch TV, I hadn't heard George Carlin in ages. He said things that most people would be afraid to even think. He called for a *25* earthquake! A lot of mind food.
A few weeks later I spent a night at the "Shady Hot Springs" campground near the Gila Cliff Dwellings in NM. I had the place to myself, soaked in the hot pool till 3 AM, my hair was frozen but I was never cold. It was a dream come true.
While I enjoy occasional solitude, I really love to meet interesting people.
I'm switching between worlds every time I get on the net after a road trip.
The world of prospectors, laborers and farm hands, the world of people who have never seen a credit report and don't know that Credit Scoring exists.
I keep trying to speak for them, as they don't have computers or local internet access numbers. But there seems to be an overwhelming hatred for the poor on the net. I first noticed that years ago when my dispute with FNMA ended up in the newsgroup ba.internet.
And the more I see and learn about how the system works, the more I wonder whether some of these conspiracy theories aren't right on the money. Literally. Money is worshipped in the US like I've never seen it anywhere, and I've been lots of places.
Money has taken the place of all other values.
People are judged by the bank account balances, credit rating, the car they drive and the clothes they were. Oh right, I nearly forgot the Nikes.
There is this overwhelming desire for more money, and at the same time the complete disregard for the person suffering right in front of them. The notion that it's their own fault, and all they have to do is pull themselves out of the mud by their own hair.
Since 1997 I have been spending a lot of time on the road and in the desert. I have had a lot of time to read, listen, and think. I have met a lot of people that many would call losers.
It's amazing how people of all walks of life can end up living in their RVs, cars or vans. And I'm not talking about the well-to-do seniors who travel by choice in their huge coaches from one luxury resort to the next.
I had a long talk with a former high tech executive who suffered a heart attack, had to resign, and finally filed for bankruptcy due to the medical bills he couldn't pay. Disability payments don't go very far.
After many years in or near the Silicon Valley greed and rat race, it was so refreshing to have a guy come up to me in the Kingman, AZ, Walmart parking lot, asking whether I was a prospector, and offering a Hard Core Cider.
We spent several hours "drinking" in the parking lot. He told me he was dowsing for gold, I got a dowsing demo and we shared our gold stories. And of course I learned how he ended up living in his car, on disability.
While he was doing the dowsing, we somehow met another guy who lived in his car. His demise started with his divorce.
I have met a lot of very DIFFERENT people. People who would never ever walk into my mortgage or real estate office. Nor would they ever read this web site. People who have no interest in credit:
Cash payers. Barterers. Transients. Misfits. Criminals.
They're so much more interesting than the guys who can talk about nothing but their Lexus and stock options. It gets old after a while.
The year 2000 - it sure was BUSY!
After those great times in New Mexico mountains, forests, deserts and hot springs, civilization kicked in again.
I posted that "Robert" was a fraud, and I was the "Nigger Whore" and got bombarded with many hundreds of "Whore Cards" that took hours to download on my cellular connection.
Just a few weeks ago I got another E-mail from Max Pages, where I was featured on several web pages designed by "Robert:"
Not one law enforcement agency did a thing. Some pretended, but they accomplished nothing.
Apparently I was supposed to get a gun to shoot the guy if he threatened me in person. And anything OTHER than a physical threat is perfectly legal. Civilization in action ....
During this episode I discovered the other credit forums on the net. I still find it hard to belief how many crude, rude and lewd, and just plain *extremely dumb* people there are. The worst part is that they dominate the unmoderated credit forums.
Every time I think about shutting down the BayHouse forum, I spend 1/2 hour reading at the other forums. That's usually plenty of motivation for a while.
In April 2000 I got a place in the high desert.
I got carried away remodeling again. And I added a huge porch. I'm not nearly done yet either.
It's nice to have a base with storage for all my STUFF, an office with two phone lines, a kitchen with the side-by-side freezer/fridge with the ice/crushed ice/chilled water dispenser. I'm a sucker for luxuries as much as anyone, at least for a few days ...
I had lots of delays, didn't get on the road to Alaska until late July.
Then my truck engine died in Calgary, so I had to buy a new truck. If I wanted to move to a city, Calgary would be way up on my list. I've met a lot of extremely nice people there. They call it the Silicon Valley of Canada, but it's lacking the stress, the road rage and the extremely high housing costs.
I looked at custom golf course homes for about US $200,000. Maybe the salaries are a lot lower too, I didn't apply for any jobs.
Canada is definitely a great place to spend US dollars. And if it wasn't for the cold winters, I'd consider relocating.
By the time I got to the Alaska gold claims, most prospectors had already left, after an extremely cold and wet summer.
The very first night in the bush I saw the northern lights again. If it wasn't for my old dog, I'd spend several weeks up there in the winter.
Then I lucked out and had several warm and sunny days in September. I didn't find much gold, but I had fun. Unfortunately I also had to deal with a lot of business.
Overall, I'd say that this year was about 10% vacation and mostly work of one kind or another.
I don't know what happened to my VACATION!
Between the web site and the forum, "Robert" related activities, buying and remodeling real estate, buying and repairing computers, dealing with phone and utility companies, banks and credit cards, and having to buy the new truck, there was little time left for vacationing.
I'm definitely going to take some more road trips this winter.
I love my camper, especially the cabover bed. I can see the night sky and watch meteors while listening to UFO reports or other weird stuff on the radio.
I'm also tremendously interested in alternative power. I got a solar panel on the camper, but since there are so many cloudy and windy days, I recently got the Air 403 wind generator. There's so much to learn.
I still have most of the Monroe Institute's "Gateway Experience" ahead of me.
Michael Newton's "Journey of Souls" case studies of life between lives explained EVERYTHING. Everything made sense. I think I have to read it again.
If I was a guy I'd check into staying at a monastery with the monks in the Himalayan for a while. There's so much to know .... other than how to get rich quick or how to increase your credit scores.
Occasionally, someone tells me to get a "real" job, to get back into "the real world." All I can say is I hope I won't ever again have to get back to the boooring world of 9 - 5, office politics, office gossip and rush hour commutes.
Been there, done that. And it sucked!
I rather continue to go camping, prospecting, thinking, reading, learning, meeting interesting people and places ...
And for the immediate future, I'll continue to admin the BayHouse site and forum, I'm even offering consulting services again.
11/17/04 -- I just read through this "summary" up to 10/2000, it sure is long. I really have to update and add some links.
Trans Union liked this summary so much, they submitted it to the court as an exhibit in my 2003 federal suit.
I DID sue ARM Computer, got a default judgment and after about a year or so I even collected. Just recently someone e-mailed me another complaint about Salman Nasir, those morons STILL mistreat their customers. How can they stay in business?
The FAQ lists a lot of what I have been doing since 2000. Essentially, I got this place in the middle of the desert to unpack, regroup, take care of business and use it as a base. But somehow I got stuck and filed the lawsuits.
You can read about my credit suits at the blog.