What Annoys Jeff this week?

1. The US Postal Service. I probably shouldn’t say this out loud while my taxes are in transit, but they should have arrived at their destination by now. Emphasis on the “should have.” In any case, I’ve just received a Christmas card. It was postmarked on the 20-somethingth of December and delivered to me here on the homestead just in time for Valentine’s Day. Maybe I should award points for it getting here at all based on some of my other recent experiences. Increasingly the expectation that products and services should work as advertised feels like something that’s just too much to hope for.

2. Baltimore. One of the perennial joys of living in the State of Maryland is the unending shitshow that is Baltimore City. In a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, we somehow are home to one of the world’s largest live action shooting ranges. Year after year the legislature pours ever increasing amounts of money into the city, because surely that will fix all the problems. Let’s not get hung up on the fact that when asked, the city government generally doesn’t seem able to tell anyone where the money they’ve already been given went or what improvements were made as a result. For my entire adult life, Baltimore has been governed by increasingly feckless “leaders” whose sole purpose in life seems to be finding new and more ridiculous ways to convince Annapolis to give them mountains of cash. The city government either needs to get its house in order or the state should step in and get the city into line. Allowing it to continue to swallow prodigious amounts of tax dollars without showing even the most marginal of improvements feels downright criminal.

3. Mind reading. It’s worth repeating from time to time that mind reading is not among my many varied talents. If you tell me you want something, I’m going to proceed from the assumption that you know what you want. I’m going to do my best to give it to you – not some version of what you requested, not something with the flavor of your request, but the honest to God thing you asked for to the best of my abilities and within the time allotted. If it turns out what you end up with isn’t what you want, I can promise you that the issue is almost always with the description of the requirements, not with my being way out off the edge of the map somewhere.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Breakfast options. I already get up between 4:30 and 5:00 most mornings. Although it’s the most likely real solution to this issue, I don’t want to get up earlier and cook a meal. Still, I’d really like a breakfast option that wasn’t an egg on a English muffin or similar concoction wrapped in paper and passed out a window for people who are up and out before the crack of dawn and don’t laze away the morning before showing up at the office around 9:00.

2. Not asking how high. Jumping on command is all well and good. It’s sometimes a necessary evil, but honest to God, not knowing how high, or which direction, or for how long you’re supposed to do it just leads to and exhausted jumper who’s engaged in a whole lot of activity without much to show for it when the poor bastard finally falls over.

3. Know what you want. I’d hate to even estimate how many times a day someone asks me for something. I’m going to to my level best to deliver exactly what you ask for – unless whatever it was is patently stupid in which case I may ask for clarification or make an alternate recommendation. Still, if you insist, I will cheerfully deliver the product as requested. Here’s the thing, though… If what you ask for and what I deliver turns out to be not what you actually wanted, well, I’m sorry but I’m not feeling any guilt about it.

The Quickening…

The problem with having bought a house at the height of the real estate boom in 2007 while also being responsible enough to keep up with all the necessary payments is that you’re metric shit loads of cash underwater on the mortgage and no self-respecting bank wants to refinance a loan for a mortgagee who’s not teetering on the brink of foreclosure or bankruptcy. In other words, you have to be the proud owner of a “troubled asset” to qualify for many of the refinance options available. Alternately for a standard refinance through most conventional avenues, you’ve got to owe less than 80% of the value of the property. Without delving too deeply into my finances, I’ll go ahead quickenand say I owe way, way more than 80% of the home’s current market value. Because I played by the rules of the game, didn’t skip payments, and avoided becoming a general deadbeat, my options had mostly winnowed down to one: Sit down, shut up, and take it like a man.

While sitting at home on a snowy weekday, I saw a commercial for Quicken’s brand of mortgages. I don’t remember what I was trying to avoid doing, but whatever it was made spending time on the phone with another bank that was probably going to tell me no seem like a good idea by comparison. Surprisingly, a couple of phone calls, a few emails, and a dozen uploaded documents later, I’d locked in a rate and was preliminary approval on a refinance that decreased the life of the loan and lowered by interest rate (and monthly payment) significantly.

The whole process went from first contact to closing in just a hair over 30 days. That’s not bad for something any number of the large national lenders told me simply couldn’t be done. I’m not getting a dime for shilling for Quicken Loans based in this post. I’m doing it because I had a first class experience with them and realize that some of you might just be in the same boat I was. If that’s you, it’s well worth your time to give them a call and see if they can work some financial black magic for you too.