Friday, December 07, 2007

Been busy...really!

It's crazy that I haven't posted in like two weeks, because I've been on my computer ALL the time recently. I even bought a mouse because the touchpad was getting too annoying for all the work I was doing. So, what have I been doing?

1. Lab Website. Rhoda heard about some lab that got a huge donation because the donor was looking for research on their disease, and came across the lab's website. So she decided we needed a lab website as well, and we needed it yesterday. I don't remember why I volunteered, but the point is that I did. And it's about 85% done now. You can see it here. You'll notice if you click that it's a ColdFusion format. No, I don't know ColdFusion; I coded the pages in HTML (in *notepad* for crying out loud) and the content manager does whatever it does to convert them. Matt had to help me with some workarounds because the people who wrote the code for the side menubar made their CSS apply to the entire page and it was overwriting styles that I had written.

2. New business adventure? Matt and I are coming up with plans for a website through Cafepress - Nerdy Babies. I've been doing a lot of graphic design in Photoshop for t-shirts and such; we have a basic site right now but we're planning to get a paid site once we have 15 or so designs. So tell your friends!

3. Surveys. I've been juggling memberships at several paid survey sites, which takes a little bit of time out of each day. If you'd like to join the crowd let me know - there are some more decent than others.

4. Class. My online class wraps up this week ("week" = Wednesday to Tuesday) so I've been doing assignments and such for that; I'll be taking my final on Monday most likely.

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I'm torn about the announcement of the 5-year ARM freeze. On the one hand, I suppose something needs to be done so that the whole housing market doesn't collapse. On the other hand, how can you not feel like a chump if you have a fixed rate loan? I mean, we were fiscally responsible, bought within our budget, didn't speculate or over extend ourselves. Where's our rate cut? You people gambled on rates not going up (ha!), housing values continuing to soar, or the expectation of future income. You lost, and now they get to change the rules? We apparently gambled on the party of "limited government" and "personal responsibility" not stepping in and rewarding irresponsibility by asking lenders to "voluntarily" disregard contract law. What's next? Returning gambling losses, replacing 401K funds after the stock market drops, a refund of college tuition if you don't get a great job after graduation, gas credits for SUV drivers who are the "victims" of higher gas prices, cutting credit card interest rates so there's room on the Visa for another vacation or new TV?

Yeah, I'm a little bitter. I went back and looked at the ARM rates for the time that we bought; we could have gotten 20% more house for the same monthly payment and just sat on our laurels and waited for the rulebook to be rewritten. So much for the American Dream (TM).

From a CNN message board - ignorant self-entitled fool or the greatest troll ever?
"The people who barrow are the real victims here. The lenders told them their homes where worth more that thay really where. Then they where willing to lend them too much money for the over priced house. Then the lenders let the victims pay these loans with negative amortization. Then they didn’t explain the loan agreement to the victims. They never where told that the rate and payments would go up.

These barrowers are the victim here. I support a bill to allow the people who get foreclosed to sue the lender for fraud and therefore let them keep their homes for free, free, free!!!! This is the type of help these victims need. Lets all band together and support this type of action for these victims."

I'd like to know a couple things though - what are the consequences? Will the difference in the payment amounts be added onto the principle balance? Will it be treated as a debt forgiveness, which would not only be listed on a person's credit report but also counted as income for tax purposes? I've not been able to find anything definite on any of these questions.

Also, I've heard two suggestions that I think would have been a better idea, but since smart people thought of them I doubt they'll ever be implemented. One is that instead of a rate adjustment (or really lack thereof) the rate should have adjusted as the contract stipulates but that the loan term is lengthened to whatever length is needed to keep the payment amount the same. The homeowner keeps their house, but pays for their decision through more interest - which the lender gets as a profit. The second idea is that, since the rate freeze has already been implemented, that anyone who takes the freeze offer loses their exemption of capital gains taxes when they sell the property, as they've already received their financial benefit. One thing that I do support, however, is a waiver of prepayment penalties for anyone refinancing their primary residence, as there is no reason other than greedy lenders for having those in place.

This is the fear, this is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel...
-Annie Lenox, Why

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