A Filler-buster: The Skinny Palms

by Bob Sparrow

Before: Notice brown husks and dead limbs

This blog is termed something that Suzanne and I have come to refer to as ‘ a filler’.  I haven’t gone anywhere in the last two weeks, except to the bathroom. Nothing interesting has happened to me, in fact nothing interesting has happened to anyone I’ve talked to in the last two weeks.  So if you’ve got something else to do or somewhere else to go, I’d suggest not reading the rest of this drivel and get on with the rest of your day.

The palm trees in the photos?  That probably tells you more about my last two weeks than you’d care to know.  In preparation for our son, Jeff, getting married and the rehearsal dinner at our house, I had all of my palm trees trimmed, more accurately, scalped.  There are 24 palms in my yard, 12 queen palms and 12 pigmy palms.  Some of my pigmy palms are 10 feet high, not sure why they’re called pigmies.  A crew of 5 came in over the weekend and blitzkrieged my yard – saws buzzing, limbs flying (tree limbs, no human limbs that I saw) and people hauling stuff out to the ‘chipper’ in the street.

After: skinny palms, even the sky looks bluer

You’re probably on pins and needles wondering what the trees looked like after the blitzkrieg.  Well, here’s a photo of those same three trees.  Looks like the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos for a weight-loss program, huh?  Actually it was similar to a money-loss program.

They also trimmed up two banana palms I have in my back garden, but I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo, so the ‘after’ photo wouldn’t really tell you the whole, thrill-packed story – you’ll just have to use your imagination . . . or not.  Are you still reading this crap?   I can guarantee you that it’s not going to get any better.

I’m a big college football fan and I could pontificate on the California law being run through the system currently allowing college athletes to profit from the use of their name or likeness.  Apparently a $100,000+ college education isn’t enough profit for a 19-20 year old.  On the surface it looks like it will only benefit the stars of the team, who would probably get a pro contract in another year or two anyway.  I’m sure there’s another side to the story, I just don’t want to hear it.

I understand we have an election year coming up; I’m sure the contests will be fair, civil and boring given the current atmosphere of political malaise in our country.  My sister and I will continue to stay above the fray and remain apolitical as we are both Presbyterians.

I’m guessing you hope I go somewhere, soon!  Me too, but with the approaching nuptials and the holidaze just around the corner (only about 11 more weeks to get that Christmas shopping done – nothing big for me this year, please!) I‘m afraid I’m house-bound for the remainder of the year, which could mean more ‘fillers’.

Hey, Suzanne, maybe we should just take the last quarter of the year off.  What are our readers going to do, ask for their money back?



Nationally Parked

by Bob Sparrow

Is that finger pointing at me?

Based on its popularity with our readers, Suzanne’s blog last week obviously got a lot of you thinking about antiques you have stuffed away somewhere that you inherited from your parents and haven’t yet tossed. Or you may be thinking about all the stuff you have that will become ‘antiques’ that your kids will stuff away somewhere until they get tossed. That old spinning wheel lamp of Mom’s got me to thinking about an old antique that I’m not quite sure what to do with . . . me!

You may have noticed that I’ve changed my photos on Facebook because I looked at them over the weekend and thought to myself, “Who is this guy?” He looks like a real adventurer, a regular Indiana Bob”. I think I vaguely remember someone like that, but lately he congers up California Fats. That person in the old pictures used to go on hikes to exotic places and travel to the far corners of the globe. Not so much anymore. As I sat and perused my previous blogs this year, I noted that I’ve written about bank robbers, sitting in the desert, watching the Oscars, walking (not running) on the beach, pontificating on heroes, eulogizing Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and proffering a ponderous philosophical tome on New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t gone anywhere!  I’m surprised I didn’t write about going to Nashville again, an adventure I wrote about last year, but didn’t actually go on. So I regrettably changed my photos.

Il Volo

Two weeks ago I did venture into Los Angeles, which in fact can be an adventure in itself, to see the singing group Il Volo. They are a trio of nice-looking, mid-20s Italian tenors, who made their U.S. debut on American Idol in 2011, not as contestants, but as guests, where they sang O Sole Mio. Their concert was awesome, possibly the best that Linda and I have ever seen, but the adventure to Los Angeles was without any muggings, murders or even traffic delays, thus my adventure consisted of simply sitting in a venue in another city.

My adventurous instincts were buoyed last week when I read that April 15-23 is National Park Week.  During those two weekends one can get into all National Parks for FREE. The 16th is Easter so there will be lots of tourists that day hunting for bear eggs and the 22nd is Earth Day, where we acknowledge . . . the earth . . . or something. The old me, or perhaps I should say the former me, which is the younger, thinner me, would have booked a hike in Yosemite or Yellowstone, but the new me is looking to Nationally Park my butt in an chaise lounge and watch the grandkids get frustrated trying to find the Easter eggs that I was too lazy to hide this year. I haven’t yet quite decided how I’m celebrating ‘Earth Day’, perhaps I’ll purchase a globe; on Amazon of course, so I don’t have to leave the house.

My newfound pastime of sitting also takes place when I’m plying my trade of selling Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (the old reverse mortgage, which I’ve heard had a bad reputation and my mother always said to stay away from things with bad reputations – I thus missed out on a lot of good times!) I really do enjoy working with my fellow seniors to help them with retirement financing when I can, although it seems to be making me heavier, but I’ve rationalized that it’s for a good cause. I have found that rationalization goes hand and glove with idleness.

The latest insult occurred recently when I stepped on one of those scales that print out your ‘fortune’, mine said, “One at a time please!”

But alas, summer is coming and my hip is fully healed (it’s actually been fully healed for about 5 months, but I’ve relied on it to limit my physical activity), so there are some adventures planned of which you’ll once again be coming along vicariously.   Once I’m feeling better about my increased activity level, I’ll post some more adventurous photos on Facebook as I’m not quite ready to go the way of that old spinning wheel lamp yet!


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In Search of the ‘t’ in Mortgage

by Bob Sparrow

Mortgage: a French law term meaning ‘death pledge’.  For me it must be a ‘death wish’.

peter principleThere’s a phrase in the mortgage industry that describes someone who is either new to the business and doesn’t know anything or someone who has been in the business a while and is still clueless.  That phrase is, “He doesn’t even know where the ‘t’ goes in mortgage”.  After a 27-year career in the business, I once again find myself wondering if I remember where the ‘t’ goes, as I was recently presented with an opportunity to get back in the business.  As I considered this prospect, I reflected on my nearly three decades in the business and concluded that I could have been a poster child for the ‘Peter Principle’.  For those unfamiliar with Peter Laurence’s 1969 book, The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, it goes like this: if someone is good at something, they get promoted, and if they’re good at that job, they get promoted again, and that keeps happening until they are elevated to a job and stay there because they’re not good enough at it to get promoted.  More simply put, it says that people are promoted to their level of incompetence.   In 1983 I started in the business as a loan originator and was pretty good at it, so was promoted to branch manager and continued through the management ranks until I ended my career as president of a joint venture.  No matter what your political bias, we know that we’ve all seen our share of incompetent presidents.  I was no exception.

If you’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, why are you telling me about the mortgage business, you’re suppose to take us on a journey to some off-the-beaten-path place?’  Hey, if I’m going back to work, you’re coming with me!

My reasons for contemplating a return to a business that was a major player in bringing our economy to a screeching halt inMHM 2008 are two fold: 1) I don’t seem to be adjusting very well to a life of retirement, and 2) perhaps I wanted to end my mortgage career doing something that I was good at.  So after twenty hours of on-line course work and hours of studying and passing both a state and a national exam, I received my mortgage license and last week started working as a loan originator for Metropolitan Home Mortgage, a mortgage banker based out of Irvine, CA. (949) 428-0134.

It’s bad enough that I’m getting back into a business that doesn’t enjoy the best of reputations, but to put some whip cream on this mortgage meadow muffin I’ll be specializing in reverse mortgages.  Reverse mortgages or as fredthey’re know in some quarters, Perverse Mortgages, have a rather sullied reputation in spite of the efforts of Fred Thompson, Robert Wagner and ‘The Fonz’ – all espousing the benefits of the loan that pays you.  I call it the ‘Hollywood Loan’, not because of the celebrity pitchmen, but because every loan requires the applicants to go to counseling, which is code in Hollywood for therapy.  I’ve learned that it’s a very complex loan that has changed dramatically since its inception in 1990 and that it’s not for everyone, but it’s a great loan for the right people.

So sister Suzanne and I have sort of switched rolls with me staying close to home and she off cavorting in Washington DC – a trip that you’ll hear about next week.  In the mean time, if I work hard and use spellcheck I may once again find the ‘t’.