Saturday, February 23, 2008

I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. Was Kyle a nerd?

One day, when I was a freshman in high school,

I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.

His name was Kyle.

It looked like he was carrying all of his books.

I thought to myself, 'Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday?
He must really be a nerd.'

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.

They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.

His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him

He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes

My heart went ou t to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, 'Those guys are jerks'.

They really should get lives.

He looked at me and said, 'Hey thanks!'

There was a big smile on his face.

It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.

As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked h im why I had never seen him before.

He said he had gone to private school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid befo re.

We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.

I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends

He said yes.

We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came! , and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.

I stopped him and said, 'Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!

' He just laughed ! and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.

When we were seniors, we began to think about college.

Kyle decided on Georgetown , and I was going to Duke.

I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.

He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class.

I teased him all the time about being a nerd.

He had to prepare a speech for graduation.

I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak

Graduation day, I saw Kyle.

He looked great.

He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.

He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.

He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.

Boy, sometimes I was jealous!
Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.

So, I smacked him on the back and said, 'Hey, big guy, you'll be great!'

He loo ked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.

' Thanks,' he said

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began

'Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.

Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach...but mostly your friends...

I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.

I am going to tell you a story.'

I just looked at my friend w ith disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met.

He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.

He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn't have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.

He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

'Thankfully, I was saved.

My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.'

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.

I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.

Not until that moment did I realize it's depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions.

With one small gesture you can change a person's life.

For better or for worse.

God puts us all in each others lives to impact one another in some way.

Look for God in others.

You now have two choices, you can:

There is no beginning or end.. Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift.

The Eye of God - very rare!

Dear All:

This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA. This kind of event occurs once in 3000years.

This photo has done miracles in many lives.

This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell telescope
Called "The Eye of God."

Too awesome !!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Slow Dance

This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital.


Have you ever watched kids

On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to the rain

Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

Do you run through each day

On the fly?

When you ask How are you?

Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done!

Do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores

Running through your head?

You'd better slow down

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

Ever told your child,

We'll do it tomorrow?

And in your haste,

Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,

Let a good friendship die

Cause you never had time

To call and say,'Hi'

You'd better slow down.

Don't dance so fast.

Time is short.

The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift..

Thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

Dr. Dennis Shields, Professor
Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, New York 10461

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about
her life and how things were so hard for her. She did
not know how she was going to make it and wanted to
give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It
seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three
pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon
the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in
the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed
ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without
saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.
She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a
bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, 'Tell me
what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied. Her mother
brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.
She did...noting they were soft. The mother asked
the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling
off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the
coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich
aroma. The daughter then asked,'What does it mean,

Her mother explained that each of these objects had
faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted
differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and
unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the
boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg
had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected
its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling
water, its inside became hardened. The ground
coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in
the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When
adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?
Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems
strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and
become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but
changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but
after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some
other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my
shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and
tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually
changes the hot water, the very circumstance that
brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases
the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean,
when things are at their wor st, you get better and
change the situation around you. When the hour is the
darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate
yourself to another level? How do you handle
adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,
enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to
keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best
of everything; they just make the most of everything
that comes along their way. The brightest future will
always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go
forward in life until you let go of your past failures
and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone
around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end,
you're the one who is smiling and everyone around
you is crying.

You might want to send this message to those people
who mean something to you (I JUST DID); to those who
have touched your life in one way or another; to those
who make you smile when you really need it; to those
who make you see the brighter side of things when you
are really down; to those whose friendship you
appreciate; to those who are so meaningful in your

May we all be like COFFEE beans!


There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all.

He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You

have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. But It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound will still be there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Remember that friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!

Those born 1920-1979

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's!!

First, we survived being born to mothers who

took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because,


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day.And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes A fter running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms......

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not poke out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little Lea gue had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, proble m solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good .

While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!

The quote of the month is by Jay Leno:

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us...go ahead and delete this.

For the rest of us...pass it on

Wednesday, February 6, 2008



You don't even have to be a mother to enjoy this one...

Brian invited his mother over for dinner. During the course of the meal, Brian's mother couldn't help but notice how beautiful Brian's roommate, Jennifer, was. Brian's Mom had long been suspicious of a relationship between Brian and Jennifer, and this had only made her more curious.

Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Brian and Jennifer than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, Brian volunteered, 'I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are just roommates.'

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying, 'Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don't suppose she took it, do you?'

Brian said, 'Well, I doubt it, but I'll send her an e-mail just to be sure. So he sat down and wrote:
Dear Mom,

I'm not saying that you 'did' take the gravy ladle from the house, I'm not saying that you 'did not' take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.

Love, Brian

Several days later, Brian received an email back from his mother that read:

Dear Son,

I'm not saying that you 'do' sleep with Jennifer, I'm not saying that you 'do not' sleep with Jennifer. But the fact remains that if Jennifer is sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now.

Love, Mom


It depends on how long you try to hold it.

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience,
Raised a glass of water and asked

"How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter.
It depends on how long you try to hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.

In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued,

"And that's the way it is with stress management.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,

As the burden becomes increasingly heavy,

We won't be able to carry on. "

"As with the glass of water,

You have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.

When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down.

Don't carry it home!
You can pick it up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now,

Let them down for a moment if you can."

So, my friend, Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now.

Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while.

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon,
And some days you're the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet,
Just in case you have to eat them.

* Always read stuff that will make you look good
If you die in the middle of it.

* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be
Recalled by their maker.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again,
It was probably worth it.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time,
Because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well.
Just get up and dance.

* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When everything's coming your way,
You're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you.
The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world,
But you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

* We could learn a lot from crayons.. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

*A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today...I did.

Have a super day!

Why Parents Drink

The boss wondered why one of his most valued employees was absent but had not phoned in sick one day. Needing to have an urgent problem with one of the main computers resolved, he dialed the employee's home phone number and was greeted with a child's whisper. ' Hello ? '

'Is your daddy home?' he asked.

' Yes ,' whispered the small voice.
May I talk with him?'

The child whispered, ' No .'

Surprised and wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, 'Is your Mommy there?' ' Yes '

'May I talk with her?' Again the small voice whispered, ' No '

Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, 'Is anybody else there?'

' Yes ,' whispered the child, ' a policeman. '

Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, 'May I speak with the policeman?'

' No, he's busy , ' whispered the child.

'Busy doing what?'

' Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman , ' came the whispered answer.

Growing more worried as he heard a loud noise in the background t hrough the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked, 'What is that noise?'

' A helicopter ' answered the whispering voice.

'What is going on there?' demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive.
Again, whispering, the child answered,

' The search team just landed a helicopter '

Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated the boss asked, 'What are they searching for?'

Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle...

' ME . '

Learn how to project confidence

A good article to learn from and to forward to your kids.

When discussing face-to-face interactions, confidence -- not power -- may be the ultimate aphrodisiac or relationship-builder because of the way it so smoothly puts others at ease, often without them even knowing it.

When people perceive confidence in another person, it is rarely because the person projecting confidence is deliberately drawing attention to himself by, for example, talking about himself in some fashion. Gloating is usually perceived as arrogance , not confidence. Rather, a confident person feels no need to assert himself or his qualities unnecessarily; he projects confidence by directing his focus and attention outward.

This is the impression we are going for in the following four steps on how to project confidence. These steps were designed to be used in situations that demand you to appear confident, such as during a job interview, when giving a presentation at work or when you’re simply approaching a woman.

step 1

Spruce up your appearance

Go beyond simply being presentable. Take the necessary steps to make yourself feel like you look completely tip-top for the occasion -- and leave no room for feeling self-conscious about something, such as pit odor, that could throw you off.

Situations that demand you to project confidence are never the best times to take chances with how you look. This is an instance in which the odds are not justified by the potential payoff. Confidence does not overtly draw attention to itself, but this is precisely what would happen if you gamble on your appearance.

Bottom line: Craft your appearance so that, once you leave home, you never think about it again and are able to fully project confidence.

step 2

Keep your hands below "the line"

How many people project confidence while they incessantly fidget? This is the kind of superfluous behavior that draws negative attention to you.

To keep this unstrung fidgeting to a minimum, establish an invisible line somewhere around your torso and keep your hands below it. The line shouldn't be so low that you have to act unnatural; the point is to prevent yourself from touching your face, fiddling with your tie or exhibiting other evidence of nervousness.

Be careful not to become too preoccupied with remaining vigilant about this line. The point is to appear relaxed and unaffected, not rigid or self-conscious. If it means folding your hands together, do it -- unless it feels emasculating.

Bottom line: Keeping your hands tied down contributes to a calm, cool and collected poise.

step 3

Establish a focal point

Making eye contact is an excellent way to project confidence, but you might be uncomfortable doing so. When you speak or listen to another person, choose a spot on their face to focus on, somewhere near their eyes. You want to mimic looking in their eyes and appear to do it with consistency, without actually doing so. This point can be the eyebrows or between the eyes.

We all know that an inability to look someone in the eye projects a variety of negative responses -- namely distrust -- and we also know that looking someone too intensely in the eye can inspire a bit of creepiness . You want to strike a balance between being unafraid to look others square in the eye and being aware that overdoing it will garner absolutely no favors.

Bottom line: Our eyes transmit a myriad of emotions and intentions, sometimes when we're not aware of it. The goal here is to try to control those transmissions.

step 4

Stand by what you say

As soon as you make a declaration, internally resolve to stand by it. In other words, when the period appears at the end of your statement, cut yourself off from making any additions, amendments, corrections, or qualifying conditions. Self-assured people project confidence when their statements are said with conviction.

There is a fine line between conviction and stubbornness, so this shouldn't be taken to mean that you will defend whatever you say to the death . There are plenty of virtues in keeping an open mind, however, few things can eliminate our efforts to project confidence like waffling on the things we say, whether through backtracking, succumbing to outside disagreements, or simply buckling to your own lack of confidence. After speaking, you do not want to start humming and hawing and appearing generally indecisive, unless your goal is to rob yourself of credibility. In that case, congratulations -- you've achieved that dubious goal.

Bottom line: At the very least, this step will teach you to be discreet about the kinds of things that fly out of your mouth.

Two Garbage Bags

A little old lady is walking down the street dragging two plastic garbage bags with her, one in each hand. There's a hole in one of the bags and every once in a while a $20 bill is flying out of it onto the pavement. Noticing this, a policeman stops her.

"Ma'am, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag."

"Dang!" says the little old lady....."I'd better go back and see if I can still find some. Thanks for the warning!"

"Well, now, not so fast now," says the cop. "How did you get all that money? Did you steal it?"

"Oh, no", says the little old lady.

"You see, my back yard backs up to the parking lot of Lambeau Field. Each time there's a game, a lot of fans come and pee in the bushes and right into my flower beds! So, I go and stand behind the bushes with a big hedge clipper, and each time someone sticks his little thingie through the bushes, I say $20 or off it comes!"

"Hey, not a bad idea!" laughs the cop. "OK, good luck! By the way, what's in the other bag?"

"Well," says the little old lady, "some guys think I'm bluffing."

Credit Repair Services: Watch out for Loan Fraud

For 95% of Americans, buying or refinancing your home is the most important, complex and stressful financial decision you’ll ever make.

Many mortgage companies, real estate appraisers, and realty professionals stand ready to help you get a dream house and a fantastic loan. However, you need to be aware of the home buying process to be a smart consumer.

Every year, misinformed home-buyers, often first-time purchasers or trust worthy consumers, become victims of loan fraud.

Do not allow this to ruin your most important financial decision! Here are 11 Tips On Being A Smart Consumer:

1. Before you buy a home, attend a homeownership education course offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved, non-profit counseling agencies. They will be a third party resource, with nothing invested, that you can get help from.

2. Interview several real estate professionals (agents), and ask for and check references before you select one to help you buy or sell a home. Interview them like you are hiring them as an employee of your business.

3. Get information about the prices of other homes in the neighborhood. Don’t be fooled into paying too much. In the past few years over-inflated values has become the number one fraudulent act committed.

4. Hire a properly qualified and licensed home inspector to carefully inspect the property before you are obligated to buy. Determine whether you or the seller is going to be responsible for paying for the repairs. If you have to pay for the repairs, determine whether or not you can afford to make them. Make sure the home inspector is hired by you and in no way knows the seller or real estate agent. You want an impartial third party to be looking out for your best interests.

5. Shop for a lender and compare costs. Be suspicious if anyone tries to steer you to just one lender. When you interview that lender ask for a good faith estimate and truth in lending, as they will break down the real costs.

6. Do NOT let anyone persuade you to make a false statement on your loan application, such as overstating your income, the source of your down-payment, failing to disclose the nature and amount of your debts, or even how long you have been employed. When you apply for a mortgage loan, every piece of information that you submit must be accurate and complete. Lying on a mortgage application is fraud and may result in criminal penalties.

7. Do NOT let anyone convince you to borrow more money than you know you can afford to repay. If you get behind on your payments, you risk losing your house and all of the money you put into your property. Also, if you get an adjustable rate mortgage so you can afford the house, make sure you can afford the maximum adjustment down the road.

8. Never sign a blank document or a document containing blanks. If information is inserted by someone else after you have signed, you may still be bound to the terms of the contract. Insert “N/A” (i.e., not applicable) or cross through any blanks.

9. Read everything carefully and ask questions. Do not sign anything that you don’t understand. Before signing, read your contract and loan agreement and ask quetions. When in doubt get and attorney or HUD agency to review them.

10. Be suspicious when the cost of a home improvement goes up if you don’t accept the contractor’s financing.

11. Be honest about your intention to occupy the house. Stating that you plan to live there when, in fact, you are not (because you intend to rent the house to someone else or fix it up and resell it) violates federal law and is a crime.

Watch out for Predatory Lending

In communities across America, people are losing their homes and their investments because of predatory lenders, appraisers, mortgage brokers and home improvement contractors who:

Sell properties for much more than they are worth using false appraisals.
Encourage borrowers to lie about their income, expenses, or cash available for down-payments in order to get a loan.

Knowingly lend more money than a borrower can afford to repay.
Charge high interest rates to borrowers based on their race or national origin and not on their credit history.

Charge fees for unnecessary or nonexistent products and services.
Pressure borrowers to accept higher-risk loans such as balloon loans, interest only payments, and steep pre-payment penalties.

Target vulnerable borrowers to cash-out refinances offers when they know borrowers are in need of cash due to medical, unemployment or debt problems.

“Strip” homeowners’ equity from their homes by convincing them to refinance again and again when there is no benefit to the borrower.

Use high pressure sales tactics to sell home improvements and then finance them at high interest rates.

What Tactics Do Predators Use?

A lender or investor tells you that they are your only chance of getting a loan or owning a home. You should be able to take your time to shop around and compare prices and houses.

The house you are buying costs a lot more than other homes in the neighborhood, but isn’t any bigger or better.

You are asked to sign a sales contract or loan documents that are blank or that contain information which is not true.

You are told that the Federal Housing Administration insurance protects you against property defects or loan fraud - it does not. The cost or loan terms at closing are not what you agreed to.

You are told that refinancing can solve your credit or money problems. You are told that you can only get a good deal on a home improvement if you finance it with a particular lender.

Original article link

Small bump in credit score could mean a cheaper loan

Bob Tedeschi, New York Times

When lenders issued mortgages to anyone who asked, borrowers could largely ignore their credit scores, the most important and most incomprehensible determinant of a loan's interest rate.

But now that banks have tightened their lending standards considerably, borrowers must sometimes search for ways to eke out a point or two more on their credit scores to qualify for loans or for more favorable rates. Mortgage professionals say that some knowledge about the scoring system helps.

"Sometimes, I'll tell borrowers their score, and they'll start yelling at me," said Debra Killian, president of the Charter Oak Lending Group, a mortgage broker and lender in Danbury, Conn., who teaches courses on the credit-reporting industry. "And I have to explain I'm not the one who's generated the score."

The reports come from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, credit bureaus that evaluate the financial-management abilities of millions of Americans.

Credit-card companies, utilities and other creditors send reports to the bureaus, which rely on software from the Fair Isaac Corp. (creator of the FICO score), along with their own, to grade a borrower on an ascending scale of 300 to 850.

The software is a black box of sorts, whose workings are known only to the companies involved. Each credit bureau will weigh certain factors differently - the number of late payments, for example, or the number of credit-card accounts open.

To account for those differences during the mortgage application process, loan officers review the scores from all three credit bureaus and base their loan offers on the middle number. If a couple - married or not - is jointly applying for a mortgage, the loan officer will choose the middle score of the partner with the lower score.

That score essentially dictates the loan terms that a lender offers. For instance, a borrower with a credit score of 699 will often get a higher interest rate than a borrower with a score of 700. And the higher the interest rate, the bigger the broker's commission from the lender, known in the industry as a yield-spread premium.

That is why, mortgage executives said, borrowers should be proactive about this part of the mortgage process. Killian of Charter Oak said borrowers should ask the broker or lender to explain how their score changes the terms of the transaction.

Brokers buy reports from services that supply data from the three credit bureaus, and each report gives details about items that adversely affect a score.

If a consumer wishes to challenge such items, credit bureaus will do so on the consumer's behalf, or consumers can also call or write creditors directly. Credit-repair services can also help, although people should review their terms carefully because they are popular fronts for scam artists.

This article appeared on page K - 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, February 4, 2008

On the first day, God created the dog and said:

On the first day, God created the dog and said:

'Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.'

The dog said: 'That's a long time to be barking. How about on ly ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?'

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said:

'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.'

The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?'

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said:

'You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.'

The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?'

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said:

'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.'

But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten
the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?'

'Okay,' said God, 'You asked for it.'

So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, pla y and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I'm doing it as a public service.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Don't let a gunless robbery turn your credit rating into a nightmare


I was the victim of a form of identity theft - twice.

I'm not particularly proud of this fact. On both occasions, my credit card numbers were stolen. The first time, someone pilfered my account to ring up betting charges in Europe. The second time, the villain went on a shopping spree at an office-supply store.

Although I didn't have to pay for any of the fraudulent charges, I discovered there's a lot I could have done to prevent this from happening and avoid potential damage to my credit rating.

Due to the increased use of online shopping, tougher credit standards, and the relative ease of this felony - known as the "gunless robbery" - identity theft will get worse. Some 10 million people a year are victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission, resulting in $50 billion of lost business.

Todd Davis, chief executive of LifeLock
Inc., an identity-theft protection company in Tempe, Ariz., estimates that half of all such robberies are committed by organized crime. The other half are through "social engineering, that is, people like waiters and waitresses, dumpster divers going through trash, your friends and family."

What's vexing to consumers is the time lost in trying to repair their standing with credit agencies and fixing collateral damage.

The first time I was ripped off, my phone company mistakenly shut off my Internet and landlines because I was being billed to a credit card account that had to be closed.

The best way to prevent identity theft is to monitor your credit carefully:

Look at your credit report at least twice a year and well in advance of a major installment loan or mortgage application. You can do a cursory check of all three agencies at

Immediately report any errors and keep a close eye on whether any unauthorized applications for credit were opened recently. That's a red flag that someone may have stolen your data.

Don't offer your credit card or driver's license numbers to an organization you don't know and never provide your Social Security details unless it's absolutely required by a trusted firm.

If you want to get an extra layer of protection, enroll in extended fraud protection programs. They will scan your accounts and credit files constantly for unusual billing.

Want to take it a step further? Shred any documents or mail that may have account or personal information on it. Use "virtual" credit card numbers provided by your bank for online purchases, if available.

Should you discover that you have been victimized, notify your credit card company immediately and close your account. Also file a report with your local police department.

The bank will send you an affidavit to notarize for any charges you haven't incurred. Document the fraudulent ones and send it back immediately.

While filing an affidavit to note scam charges is part of the process, you need to follow up with credit bureaus to ensure these billings are taken out of their scorings. In other words, you need to see that they "rescore" once you have cleared up your accounts.

The larger problem with identity theft is that it may sabotage your credit standing. Say a thief uses your card number and charges more than your credit limit. That lowers your rating and may make you ineligible for loans.

Need credit immediately after fixing your record? Ask the credit bureaus to do "rapid" rescoring.

To lock down your credit information, you can request that a "freeze" be put on your file through the three major bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This will prevent anyone from accessing your information.

Keep in mind that if you request a freeze, you will need to unfreeze before you apply for more credit.

"I wouldn't recommend a freeze unless you have a need for it," says Gerri Detweiler, a credit adviser with, a consumer website. "That would include going through a nasty divorce or dealing with a lost or stolen wallet."

John F. Wasik is a Bloomberg News columnist.