Monday, August 24, 2009

What's News

I passed this exam on June 27th with a fine score. The following week, I did the paperwork for the States of Virginia and Maryland, and the Securities and Exchange Commissions. The following week, my partner and I were asked to resign due to a lack of production. Since I wasn't allowed to solicit clients until registered, they were clearly after my partner. In Financial Services, the most heavily regulated industry in the country, you can't work unless you are working for a broker/dealer or an organization that looks like one that is registered with the S.E.C. Approximately 60% of the industry is now out on the street as a result of this "recession" as the World re-makes itself.

Then the wheels really started coming off the cart. We refinanced the house to bring expenses down. That stretched into three months, and we almost canceled at settlement when they handed us a bill for $909.00. I stopped the settlement and told them there would be no settlement if they thought I was going to come up with that kind of money. The guy doing the settlement wasn't from the mortgage broker, and could have cared less. The salesman wasn't there, so I grabbed a woman walking by who said that she had just arrived at work. I told her I didn't give a hit, the settlement was over if she didn't get someone in there immediately. The owner showed up in 5 minutes, and the bill went away. We settled, and I apologized voluntarily to the girl I terrorized.

A few weeks later, the parents of the twins I tutor came over with papers from their bank. They had a mortgage work out that you may have heard about in the news. What was eye opening was the mortgage they were given when they moved in. The local Methodist Church had bought the house over 20 years ago and their minister had lived there. We were friends with him, and he was a great neighbor. When he retired, the Church decided to sell the property. They used their own people in the Church. The housing decline had started and the only people who came to see the house was a Salvadorean couple who knocked on my door to ask if I knew anyone who spoke Spanish. The people next door to me are from El Salvador, so I hooked them up. The couple made an offer and the Church accepted it, and provided financing. Turns out the mortgage broker gave them a very sophisticate loan used for real estate investors who want to flip a house. It's a 5 year mortgage with a balloon that accelerates in prices every year. It started at $3000 a year, $4000 the next year, then $5000 and after 5 years, the entire mortgage is due. The couple thought they had a $3000 a month fixed rate 30 year mortgage. No one explained it to them at settlement in any language. I wonder who regulates mortgage brokers? My neighbors still don't understand balloons much less hybrid mortgages. Hopefully, they will end up in a nice fixed rate 30 year mortgage.

When things get really nuts, I hide out in Richmond at Wrenn and Elaine Spellbound's home. I typically go for a weekend. We go dancing, we eat, we go to the Hanover Tavern for Brunch, Wrenn and I go to Civil War fields, most notably Cold Harbor.....a completely cathartic weekend of mental health. Elaine was the last nudge saying, "you haven't posted in so long no one is going to remember you".

I haven't wanted to write about the things that have made me mad or the things that have made me so very sad. I had a third of my colon removed in May of 2007 when a diverticulum started bleeding. A diverticulum is when a cut develops in the wall of the intestine and it can fill or become a pocket. I was in the hospital for 17 days. I felt lucky to have escaped. One of these little goober can open and start bleeding, and the medical response is to cut either the diverticulum out during a colonoscopy, or remove the colon if they can locate the bleed. Last March 31, I was told to go to the emergency room because I was blocked up. There were no bowel sounds. The procedure is to first do a CT scan (think X ray) to make sure there is no blockage, then administer an enema. After waiting six (6) I was x-rayed and found to have no blockage. I volunteered to go home and self-administer the enema, as the emergency room's idea of an enema is a soap suds enema. I took Judy to McDonald's for a hamburger because she was starving. I got a stool softener the next day and have been self-administering them since.

And then I started fighting back with the hospital's billing staff. They like to call with an unknown number (they block you seeing their number) and leave a message to call Shady Grove Hospital Special Billing regarding case # xxxxxx. First, they wanted $1250. They raved and ranted about my insurance company. I asked them to wait and called the insurance company. The hospital hadn't submitted the bill. I asked the hospital when they were going to submit the bill to the insurance company? More ranting about the insurance company. I yelled at them that if they didn't submit the bill, they wouldn't get paid and to not call me back, and I hung up. They called me back a month later wanting their $100. I asked what $100? They told me I owed them $100. I told them that I didn't have a bill and I didn't pay bills I didn't have. I then said, if they sent a bill and if it was valid, I'd pay it, otherwise, don't call back. Two weeks later, we got a bill for $100 and paid it. Two weeks later, I got another call, and I ignored it. A month later, I got another call, and I called back a little later. I left a message, I paid your bill on June 12th and there is no reason for you to keep calling me. Have you ever heard of harassment? Three days later, I got a call and I was told they mis-posted my account. I asked for a supervisor. I told the supervisor that they had mis-posted my account and they should fix their own problems. She said that I had failed to put the account number on the payment. I told her that the payment was electronic and there was no place for an account number. She claimed that I had nine accounts. I told her that this wasn't my problem, why would she post money to an account with a zero balance. They were responsible for their systems, not me. They accept no responsiblity at all. I told her that I can't afford to waste my time coming to her hospital again and that I would tell the hospital administrator exactly that.

So last week was pretty bad when I found out that my friend Jack McGeorge had died of complications from open heart surgery. That was last Wednesday. I had planned to go to the funeral Sunday. Jack was four (4) years younger than me and very accomplished and well known. Early Saturday morning, I started bleeding internally. I called the doctor. She recommended I go to the emergency room, and let the hospitalist admit me. I told her I needed an alternative strategy. She told me to go onto a clear liquid diet and to lie down and take it easy. No chores. She went through my meds list, cancelled two meds, and told me if I kept bleeding I'd have to go to the hospital.

I have now lost about 4 pounds and I haven't eaten any food since Friday. I don't know if it is stress, anger, sadness or all of them. I think it best I didn't go to the hospital. By now, they would have wanted a colonoscopy. And you drink a gallon of Go-Lightly and leave the contents in a toxic waste barrel. If I'd have been in the hospital, I'd have taken that barrel to "Special Billing" and turned it over someone's desk by now. See, there's a happy ending!

I'm off to the doctor's to see if I can try eating. Have a nice day, I'll be back at you soon!