My Public Service Announcement for the Day

I have figured something out about blow driers. You know how when you go to the hairdresser and they blow out your hair and it has this amazing texture? I figured out today that it is the blow drier. Blow driers have these nets that catch the dust from the air circulating through them. The dustier they get, the worse the blowing. Apparently, the worse the blowing, the worse the texture of your hair too, because mine was looking and feeling seriously shabby. Today I couldn’t stand that it was taking me twice as long as it should to blow dry, and I got the clue that I hadn’t cleaned the dust thing in months and months, so I cleaned it. Voila! Not only did my hair dry quickly again, but my hair had that texture I get at the hairdresser, a texture I have been only intermittently able to achieve at home. Well, duh. It’s the blow drier. Now I know and if you’re reading this, so do you. Clean the lint trap on your blow drier, experience a new level of great hair texture at home.

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Why Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney

Filing bankruptcy can be one of the most difficult choices a person makes. Often you have been struggling to meet your financial obligations. Something happens and the house of cards comes tumbling down, leaving you faced with a proposition that seems like failure. It is difficult and frustrating. You go to see an attorney and realize that even though you have no money to pay your bills, the attorney wants over a thousand dollars or more to represent you.

You discover there may be an alternative. You could pay someone much less to prepare your petition for you. You think Why not? Your case isn’t complicated, at least you don’t think it is. You pay a few hundred dollars and file your case. You may be okay. More likely, after things go very wrong you will realize that you should have hired an attorney.

Bankruptcy is more complicated than it appears on the surface. People who have seen or attended a bankruptcy hearing testify that the meetings are often over quickly. What is not apparent from the meeting is that most of the complicated work is done before the meeting takes place. The hearing should go smoothly if everything was done right ahead of time.

Having sat through countless hearings while representing debtors in the bankruptcy cases, I can assure you that bankruptcy is often more complicated than it looks, especially since the changes that took place in the bankruptcy laws in 2005.

Bankruptcy is more than what bills you owe. People often do not realize that all of their belongings are assets that may or may not be exempt. Other intangible things such as claims, insurance policies, and retirement accounts could also be assets. You may fail to disclose an item that could have been protected, only to lose it because of the lack of disclosure. The actions taken in the years and months leading up to bankruptcy can have consequences, and can cause unintended ramifications for friends and family members.

Every consumer bankruptcy case is assigned to a trustee. That person is responsible for ensuring the interests of your creditors are protected. When you hire a bankruptcy attorney, this person is there to represent you. Your attorney can help you to determine which debts you can discharge or pay off. Your attorney will help you protect assets that are not exempt, and will help you to do so legally.  Your attorney will make sure you list every asset and that every asset that can be is protected. Your attorney will help you ensure that bankruptcy is what it is intended to be:  a fresh start.

When you pay an attorney, you are paying that person to ensure you file everything you are supposed to file, turn over all the paperwork you are required to turn over, help you maximize your assets and minimize your losses, and to represent you against your creditors. In short, you are paying for the best fresh start you can muster.

What can a petition preparer do? Legally, all a petition preparer can do is fill in the blanks on your bankruptcy documents. If you choose to pay someone hundreds of dollars for this service you are, in effect, paying hundreds of dollars for data entry service.

If a petition preparer does more than enter information into your petition, that person is breaking the law. Both federal bankruptcy laws and state rules governing the practice of law forbid anyone except a licensed attorney from giving you advice.

Why? To protect you, the consumer. If an attorney messes up your case, there are protections in place to help you. Attorneys in Oregon,Washington, and many other states are required to carry malpractice insurance. They can also be sanctioned by their bars for failure to adhere to a basic code of conduct. There are no systems in place to help you if a document preparer messes up your petition or gives you erroneous advice. You may be able to file a complaint claiming they practiced law without a license, and while the person may face fines or sanctions, you will not get anything to cover your losses.

Hiring an attorney to represent you during your bankruptcy can be expensive. After suffering through financial difficulties and falling behind on your financial obligations, handing over a large sum of money to an attorney can seem like a real hardship. But bankruptcy is not an area to shortchange yourself.  Filing bankruptcy is your opportunity to make a fresh start. Make it the best start it can be by hiring a good attorney to represent, protect, and advise you. Think of it as your first investment in a new financial future.

I am a bankruptcy attorney. I help consumers file for chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy in Oregon and SW Washington.

Insomnia is Evil

Insomnia, you are an evil bastard. I’m working on some alternative techniques to deal with you and finding some success, but alas, not yet enough. I’m still mostly thoroughly exhausted.

Some tricks:  Put an extra earplug or two under your pillow so when one of the two you wear nightly invariably falls out, it is not necessary to wake enough to reach over and open the drawer to the bedside table and find another, thus waking further and making sleep impossible. One other thing to note about earplugs, find the kind that work best for you and buy 1000 of the damn things. Manufacturers seem hell bent on reinventing wheels that work just fine every few years and you may discover that your best earplug choice disappears from the drugstore shelf, never to be found again. Buying the entire supply ensures you’ll have enough of your favorite for years.

Keep your eye pillow within arm’s reach for the same reason listed with earplugs. Anything that can be done before really waking will increase the likelihood of falling back to sleep.

The light-blocking shades available at hardware stores are the best thing since sliced bread. Nothing beats them for keeping out the dark. They’re worth every penny.

All the usual insomnia advice about not drinking caffeine later in the day, not drinking later in the day, keeping your room temperature at a point that doesn’t cause too much warmth or too much cold, and eating before bed so you don’t wake up hungry are  all useful too. Considering I have the smallest bladder on the planet, I really have to follow the advice about not drinking anything. Actually having to rise out of bed is a sure sleep killer for me.

I’m trying this Buddhist meditation thing. I have to become really mindful of my body, then focus on my breath, then move through my body and find tension and note that it is there, and move my mind back to this if it slips away. I find that focusing on my body and my breath forces my mind away from the usual suspects that cause it to spin, work and money. I’m getting better, but my brain seems hardwired to know if I’m going to have to get up in an hour or less anyway and will not go back to sleep, no matter how exhausted I am.

Insomnia is a bitch. Over twenty years of this. The only thing that really makes it better is feeling completely secure, and that hasn’t happened for years now. I can’t imagine that this will be a part of my life until I die, but I’m beginning to think that it will. Maybe it will even cause my death since sleeplessness is blamed for so many causes of death.

How to Tell if a Cantaloupe is Ripe

Standing in the grocery store aisle, I overheard another customer ask one of the customer service people in produce how to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe.  I don’t know, said the clerk.  I think you tap on it and if it sounds hollow it is ripe. He was not correct.  Well, not completely incorrect, but the method he was offering is definitely not the best method for checking the ripeness of a cantaloupe. This is not the first time I have heard this question asked, and I rarely hear the correct answer.

I grew up on a small farm.  Although it wasn’t huge, we grew  many things.  One of these many things was cantaloupe.  In late summer early fall when the sun was still hot, I would run up my parent’s driveway after school, grab a couple of melons, take them into the house, and eat them warm, straight off the vine.  There was nothing more sweet and delicious, the sunny orange flesh nearly melting in my mouth.  My mother had learned to grow cantaloupes (also known as muskmelons) from another small time grower, who probably learned the same way.  Via anecdote, the growth and ripening of the plants traveled to the side of our hill, south facing and perfect for cantaloupes.

The best way to tell if a cantaloupe is ripe is to smell the small circle at the base of the melon where the stem used to be.  If it smells sweet and delicious, the melon is ripe and ready to go.  The thing about cantaloupes is that once they are taken from the vine, they are only ripe a very short time before they break down and decompose. This means that a lot of time in the stores, none of the melons will have this smell.  This is because none of them are ripe. They can’t pick them ripe because they would never make the journey to the store in time. If you find a melon with this sweet smell, eat it within a couple or three days, or it will be moldy before you know it.  Although, as is often the case with fruits and vegetables, you can lengthen the time until they are too ripe by putting them into the refrigerator.

The other way to tell a cantaloupe is on its way to ripe is the color.  Cantaloupes are covered with funny beige lines that look like sea coral.  Underneath, if the melon isn’t ripe, it is a sagey, greenish color.  Once it ripens, the entire melon turns beige to match the funny lines.  A melon without the sweet smell but colored all over that cantaloupe beige color will be ripe very soon.  These ones are your best bet if you aren’t planning to eat your melon right away.

What it is it about thumping that so many people find useful?  When melons aren’t ripe, their flesh is denser.  With honeydews and watermelons, whose rinds contain lots of water, it is easier to tell when thumping on them whether they are dense or not.  Not so with cantaloupes. Their rinds are like burlap and not watery at all.  Someone who has handled large numbers of them might be able to tell, but the method is not foolproof and often people end up with cantaloupes that need another few weeks to ripen.  Use the smell test–it works every time.

That’s the scoop on cantaloupes. Enjoy!

Why Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney?

Filing bankruptcy can be one of the most difficult choices a person makes. Often you have been struggling to meet your financial obligations. Something happens and the house of cards comes tumbling down, leaving you faced with a proposition that seems like failure. It is difficult and frustrating. You go to see an attorney and realize that even though you have no money to pay your bills, the attorney wants over a thousand dollars or more to represent you.

You discover there may be an alternative. You could pay someone much less to prepare your petition for you. You think Why not? Your case isn’t complicated, at least you don’t think it is. You pay a few hundred dollars and file your case. You may be okay. More likely, after things go very wrong you will realize that you should have hired an attorney.

Bankruptcy is more complicated than it appears on the surface. People who have seen or attended a bankruptcy hearing testify that the meetings are often over quickly. What is not apparent from the meeting is that most of the complicated work is done before the meeting takes place. The hearing should go smoothly if everything was done right ahead of time.

Having sat through countless hearings while representing debtors in the bankruptcy cases, I can assure you that bankruptcy is often more complicated than it looks, especially since the changes that took place in the bankruptcy laws in 2005.

Bankruptcy is more than what bills you owe. People often do not realize that all of their belongings are assets that may or may not be exempt. Other intangible things such as claims, insurance policies, and retirement accounts could also be assets. You may fail to disclose an item that could have been protected, only to lose it because of the lack of disclosure. The actions taken in the years and months leading up to bankruptcy can have consequences, and can cause unintended ramifications for friends and family members.

Every consumer bankruptcy case is assigned to a trustee. That person is responsible for ensuring the interests of your creditors are protected. When you hire a bankruptcy attorney, this person is there to represent you. Your attorney can help you to determine which debts you can discharge or pay off. Your attorney will help you protect assets that are not exempt, and will help you to do so legally.  Your attorney will make sure you list every asset and that every asset that can be is protected. Your attorney will help you ensure that bankruptcy is what it is intended to be:  a fresh start.

When you pay an attorney, you are paying that person to ensure you file everything you are supposed to file, turn over all the paperwork you are required to turn over, help you maximize your assets and minimize your losses, and to represent you against your creditors. In short, you are paying for the best fresh start you can muster.

What can a petition preparer do? Legally, all a petition preparer can do is fill in the blanks on your bankruptcy documents. If you choose to pay someone hundreds of dollars for this service you are, in effect, paying hundreds of dollars for data entry service.

If a petition preparer does more than enter information into your petition, that person is breaking the law. Both federal bankruptcy laws and state rules governing the practice of law forbid anyone except a licensed attorney from giving you advice.

Why? To protect you, the consumer. If an attorney messes up your case, there are protections in place to help you. Attorneys in Oregon,Washington, and many other states are required to carry malpractice insurance. They can also be sanctioned by their bars for failure to adhere to a basic code of conduct. There are no systems in place to help you if a document preparer messes up your petition or gives you erroneous advice. You may be able to file a complaint claiming they practiced law without a license, and while the person may face fines or sanctions, you will not get anything to cover your losses.

Hiring an attorney to represent you during your bankruptcy can be expensive. After suffering through financial difficulties and falling behind on your financial obligations, handing over a large sum of money to an attorney can seem like a real hardship. But bankruptcy is not an area to shortchange yourself.  Filing bankruptcy is your opportunity to make a fresh start. Make it the best start it can be by hiring a good attorney to represent, protect, and advise you. Think of it as your first investment in a new financial future.

I am a bankruptcy attorney. I help consumers file for chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy in Oregon and SW Washington.

Move Your Money

I’m very excited about a movement brewing to move money out of the big four banks (Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America) and into smaller, community-based banks.  The big banks took our bailout money, then earned record profits, returning to the same practices that caused the collapse in the first place.  In spite of their profits, they have cut lending by 100 billion dollars in spite of the bailout money that was intended to get them lending again.

In the meantime, local community banks, most of whom avoided the corrupt practices of the big banks, are having difficulty getting by, and government policies that keep propping up the big guys are making things more difficult for banks who have followed the rules.

A group of people came up with an idea to help the little banks while simultaneously sending a message with teeth to the greedy, corrupt thieves who caused the meltdown in the first place.  The idea is simple.  If enough people move their money out of the big four and into smaller, local, solvent institutions, the system will become more balanced so it can be stronger, more stable, and productive, working for economic growth instead of against it.

You can get more information at the website www.MoveYourMoney.info.  The site will have a page where you can enter your zip code to find a highly ranked local bank in your area.

Move your money.  Let’s show those banks who think they are too big to fail that we aren’t putting up with their corruption any longer.

How to Get Salt Stains Off Your Shoes

Ever gone walking around in the snow only to come home with weird white goo on your shoes? The white goo is salt deposits.  Salt is poured on snow and ice to melt it so people don’t slip. But it makes kind of an ugly mess on shoes that will not dissolve when wiped with a rag dipped in plain water. The way to remove these stains is to dip a cotton ball or Q-tip in vinegar and then to wipe the spot clean. Q-tips are nice because you can get down into the cracks where the sole meets the shoe. Cotton balls are nice for the top where they provide more coverage.

A product that works really well for leather is Horseman’s One Step. It is marketed to riders who use it on tack. It cleans and conditions at the same time, a necessity when leathers are out in the weather, getting wet and dirty. Pure oils make leather slippery and are really unnecessary more than once or twice a year.  Lexol is good too, but it doesn’t clean unless you buy the cleaner separately. One Step does both. I used to clean dozens of saddles and bridles daily and One Step was my favorite. I highly recommend it. And I did not get paid to say this. I wish! After cleaning your shoes of salt, a quick swipe with the One Step makes the leather clean and supple again, ready to head out into wet, winter weather.