Monday, June 9, 2014

(In The Event of My Untimely Demise) How the Dragon Got His Name

Happy Half Birthday Jiraiya Dragon Johnson! Today I want to share with you the story of your name, I hope to be able to tell you the story over and over, but, I thought it would be nice for you to have it in writing.

Your first name, Jiraiya (児雷也 meaning "Young Thunder" or 我来也 meaning "I came") came from my favorite cartoon, Naruto, where Jiraiya is a teacher and father figure to the main character. He is sometimes a bit of a deviant and is frequently up to trouble, this coupled with his hope for a better future made him my favorite personality in the series. The character in the Naruto series was inspired by another Jiraiya, which was the starring character in a Japanese folk tale "The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya" in which he is a scoundrel of a ninja who becomes reformed after an encounter with a magical toad who teaches him toad magic in exchange for a promise that he will no longer target anyone who does not deserve punishment. My hope in giving you this name is that it will serve as a reminder to be fair, to be loyal, to never give up and to always have time for a laugh.

You can read more about the inspirations for your first name here and here. You can watch episodes of Naruto here, or watch episodes of Naruto Shippuden here.

Your middle name, Dragon, was largely due to the fact that when you were conceived in New Zealand, I took to calling you Smaug, the dragon from J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit. I called you this because like the dragon in the story you swept in from out of nowhere (your mother and I believed that becoming pregnant again was impossible) and burned up all of our preconceived notions of living in a far away land and paved the way for a much different story than what we were anticipating when we traveled to New Zealand. It also serves as a reminder of our time in New Zealand, because there was a movie made telling the story of The Hobbit and that movie was made in New Zealand. We also happened to see this film while camping at the Cable Bay Holiday Park in Nelson, NZ. I find it important to note that although Smaug is a villain in The Hobbit, that without him, none of the rest of the story of The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings series would have been possible, and they comprise another of my very favorite stories. Your mother did not much care for the name Smaug, and instead took to calling you Dragon and effectively got others to start referring to you as Dragon as well. Since dragons in general are just plain cool, and because I got to choose your first name, we agreed that Dragon would make a wonderful middle name. My hope in giving you this name is that it will remind you that your very existence is magical, the story of how you came to be is a series of impossible events that came together perfectly in a far away land where a new adventure was bound to be started.

You can read more about Smaug here.

I hope that you always remember that your names mean something and that you take inspiration in your adventures from the stories that gave them to you.

I love you,
Your Dad

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Presidential Response?

Ha, hardly.

See below what the Director of Correspondence for Obama for America sent me in response to my blog post last week, and my subsequent reply for a good laugh. Please note, that I do not expect that and "Executive Order" to refinance home loans will happen, but, man would that be a statement that the Government is "for the people" and that "businesses are not people." Also note, that while Obama's lackeys have responded via form letter, GMAC, Representative Flake, and Senators Kyl and McCain have chosen to simply not reply at all (at least I know where I stand with them).

I do feel that a disclaimer is in order, I work for a brokerage firm, because of certain policies I am choosing to not disclose which firm that is, however, I do feel it is important to note that the firm that I work for has not applied for, nor received any Federal bailout money associated with the current financial crisis (that I am aware of), nor have they been involved in any of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco (again, that I am aware of), I am proud of these facts, they make it possible for me to bridge the gap between how I feel politically and who I happen to be employed by. I do still feel extremely conflicted speaking out about what I see as a huge imbalance in representation within our Government that has been created by the convergence of corporate money and political contributions.

All said, the bottom line is that the home loan industry created the real estate market bubble and subsequent crash. The foreclosure crisis that has ensued is the primary driver of our current economic trouble. Despite this, both political parties continue to play games with the livelihood of the poverty stricken and middle class while enriching the corporate elite. Instead of bailing out the people, the government has bailed out the banking industry. Interesting that while that industry has recovered, the "trickling down" of relief has yet to reach the shores of the working man.

Jory,

Thank you for contacting President Obama, and for sharing this material with us. President Obama is touched by the outpouring of interest and grassroots support this campaign has generated.
There is a lot of work to do, and we're glad to have the benefit of your ideas. The President knows well that Washington does not have a monopoly on good ideas, and neither does he. That is why it's important to hear from everyone, and we appreciate your input.
Please bookmark www.BarackObama.com and visit often. We've built a set of easy-to-use web tools that empower you. At http://www.barackobama.com/get-involved you can do the following: - Build your own profile and connect with supporters near you- Find or create your own local or national group- Create your own personal fundraising page - Find events near you and plan your own.
Thank you again for contacting President Obama.
Sincerely,
Allison Belville
Director of Correspondence
Obama for America
And my reply:
Dear Allison,
Thank you for the prefabricated form reply.
Obviously, you did not read my blog post nor forward along my story to the President or you would have probably guessed that no reply would have been better than this one. I was not writing to commend nor offer my support of your campaign. I did write my blog post as a cry to the powers that be to intervene in a way that they have not done to this day regarding the economic and housing crisis that is currently facing this country.

Although I do agree that the President (and Washington DC in general) do not have a monopoly on good ideas, I would take it even a step further, and say that no one on Capital Hill would know a good idea if it magically wrote itself out from the pen in any of their hands. Additionally, I would suggest that beyond not having any good ideas that the only ideas that spring forth from the devious minds of politicians are the ones that maintain the Corporate vice-like grip on the American Dream.

Instead of governing from a place of cowardice, I would suggest that the President sign a Presidential Order that forces these crooked banks to renegotiate the principle of all current real-estate loans to the current fair market value on those loans, anything short of that is nothing more than smiling glad-handing inspired by nothing more than a desire to keep the Corporate political donations coming and keep the middle class and poor in their place, which is firmly under the boot of the corporate elite.

I suppose I should make it known (because maybe votes are something you folks are still interested in) that I do not intend to vote for any politician who is not willing to force the ones responsible for this economic nightmare to share in the recovery from it. I voted for President Obama hoping for change, honesty and an open government. Instead, I got lip service, ridicule, and my house is going to be taken from me.

Thank you again, for absolutely nothing,

Jory Dan Johnson
As always, feel free to share via any social network you deem appropriate.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Resistance is Futile, You will be a Commodity

Oh Joy, today I came home to a Notice of Trustee's Sale taped to my garage door, cowards didn't even have the courage to knock. I write this as an open letter to GMAC (our current home loan "beneficiary"), MetroCities Mortgage (our loan originator), AZ Congressional Representative Jeff Flake, AZ Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, President Barack Obama, and the banking industry as a whole. I write this to explain how the current atmosphere of the banking industry and their influence on our government is directly impacting my ability to "live the American dream" and to offer a suggestion on how to best help the still struggling economy by helping people like me. I DO NOT expect that this open letter will make any difference, I DO expect that my home will be foreclosed, that we will be evicted and that we will get to start our quest to find a place to call our own again.

We took a traditional, fixed rate home mortgage loan in order to purchase our home in mid 2007 in the amount of $225,000.00 dollars for a home that appraised at $250,000.00. When approving us for our loan, the lender gave us an upper limit of $400,000 and tried on multiple occasions to suggest loan options other than the traditional fixed rate mortgage, which we did not take, opting instead for the reliable and trusted traditional mortgage. We chose a home based on what we could afford and what would give us some equity as we made our normal payments, we did not "push the limit" or borrow beyond our means at the time.
Due to multiple employment challenges since 2009 our income has almost been cut in half. In that same time our property value has dropped to a mere $70,000-$80,000. Traditionally, we would have been able to sell this home, pay the loan, and buy a new home that is more in line with our "new" income and means. However, due to the banking industries mis-management of their investments and the resulting housing market crash, this "responsible" outcome is impossible. Instead, we are faced with attempting to make payments on a $225,000 loan for a home that will never EVER be worth more than (and I am being generous here) $120,000.

During the life of our loan, GMAC stepped in and purchased our loan from MetroCities Mortgage. I do not know how much they purchased our loan for (first because I believe they bought the loan in bulk and not as a price itemized transaction, and second because GMAC would never be willing to disclose that dollar amount unless forced to do so by court order). My belief is that they purchased that loan for less than $100,000, mainly because if they paid much more than that for our loan they would be out of business (were it not for government bailout money that is).

We have applied for loan modifications three times, twice we have been outright denied, with the reason being that I make too much money to justify adjusting our loan. We received our last decision just last month which according to the documentation reduces our payment by $200 a month and if we stay current would reduce our principle by the amount of the payments (plus $1000) at the end of one year. Essentially, they are offering to reapply our interest at the end of the loan to pay down the principle now. Unfortunately, reducing our payment by 10% does not sufficiently substitute for a loss in salary of 40% nor for a loss in property value of 30%.

If GMAC were interested in anything other than maximizing their profits (which I understand is their primary interest) and if the government was truly interested in keeping people in their houses or "making homes affordable" the focus on assistance would be to reduce principle as a tax-free grant, rather than handing the banks fist-fulls of money and asking them to "please, please, do your best to help people out". Trillions of dollars were given to these mortgage companies to bail out their poor investment strategies. If that money were given directly to homeowners as payments to their principle this crisis would already be over. The banks would have had their liquidity, the homeowners loans would be reduced to an affordable amount (even in the case of lost wages and home value) and I would not have to be writing this blog post. Nor would I be considering if this "American dream" is even worth living.

I believe that GMAC has offered us a loan modification that is only interested in taking as much money as is possible based on their calculations of a percentage of my gross income. I am not unreasonable, and I DO understand that a bank is in the business of making a profit. Therefore, I offer my counter offer, in the most public forum that I can muster: Rather than playing the "Trial Period Plan" game that has been thrown up as a way to maximize profits and meet the minimum requirements of assistance that the government has given them, I suggest the following. Reduce the Principle on my loan immediately to the amount plus 10% that GMAC paid MetroCities Mortgage for the loan, maintain the current interest rate on the existing loan. Recalculate loan payments based on zero down for that loan amount and 30 years starting in the new year. You may look at this and say wow, Jory, you are being generous, that means that GMAC has a built in profit margin of 10% and they are still making the amortized amount of interest in profit as well! You are right, I told you, I am not unreasonable.

Additionally, there are circumstances that make this offer even more tasty for GMAC, you see, this house is never going to sell for even $80,000, send out an appraiser to confirm it. The builder of this home had their contractors license revoked (even before they sold us this home) and their building quality is a direct reflection of this. Of all of the sub-contractors for this home build, only one is still in business. The home warranty is useless, as the contractors business has closed it's doors and re-branded themselves to be a new contracting company.

There is not one piece of this home that we have not had problems with, not one component that had not required additional investment of time, money and/or sweat and the yard is still not finished, the floor is still torn up and the fans still do not work quite right. Why on earth would I want to stay here, I curse this house every moment of every waking hour. I curse our real-estate agent who did not represent us nor provide due diligence in proving the basic information about who was selling the home nor the nuances of the home location. I curse our stupidity at falling in love with the property and seeing the potential of making a life here. That is the reason I would want to stay, even with the long commutes to work and the constant repairs, this place has become home, but, I simply cannot justify continuing to pay nearly half a million dollars (mortgage plus interest) for a home that will never break $100,000 in value and that may be pulled out from under us at any time.

I implore you, GMAC, to make your profit reasonably, and you, Mr. Flake, Mr. McCain, Mr. Kyl, and Mr. Obama, to exercise your political encouragement towards GMAC to modify the principle on my loan to a reasonable amount. My efforts to reach anyone at GMAC who will even consider this proposition have been futile, the people who are outward facing are simply too hand tied to consider anything beyond what has been prescribed by their corporate masters. The lack of our politicians and the banking industry to consider reasonable solutions to the economic and foreclosure crisis that they created and encouraged is the direct reason for the occupy protests. I occupy in spirit as I cannot afford to lose my job. The desire of the wealthy to accumulate wealth at the cost of the working class has clouded their ability to reasonably be able to negotiate win-win situations. It is like playing monopoly with someone who starts the game with all of the property and that game always has the same outcome.

As I stated in the beginning of this letter. I DO NOT expect any type of real action to occur. I might get some lip service, but, short of someone handing me $100,000 to pay down the principle on my loan (which I would gladly accept) I will be looking for a new place to live my dream at the end of January. My only consideration now is which country might offer more opportunity than the one that only seems interested in maximizing my spending to enrich the corporate donors to political office.

Sincerely, Jory Dan Johnson

PS I know it is a long read, but, if you know of ANYONE that can help, please pass along the link, share on G+, Facebook, Twitter or any other platform.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh fancy!

About time for the google empire to get an android to blogger app.  Watch out, I can now blog from the toilet.  I guess this makes Twitter obsolete?  No spell check here either, that sucks, as I am a horrible speller.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day.

Nope, no cheating with the generic "Happy 4th of July" with all of it's alcohol marinated explosive distraction, instead, I would urge you all to familiarize yourselves with the text of the Declaration of Independence.  For convenience, I have also pasted that text below:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.




The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.


Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Let's follow that up with the original text of the pledge of allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Special notes:
  • The pledge was written in 1892 (over 100 years after the Declaration of Independence) by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist (gasp).
  • The original salute that accompanied this pledge was known as the Bellamy Salute, check out the pictures of this salute, no really.
  • The words "under God" were not added to the pledge officially until 1954.
So there you have it.  Happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Testing out the new blog...simulaneous posts on Blogger, Facebook, and Myspace? Who the hell still has a myspace? This guy...bwhahaha.