Why Didn’t I Move To Hawaii

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Ever dream of escaping it all and owning a dream home on a remote island paradise? Didn’t think you could afford it? Think again. There is now a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) home loan program here to help you. Created to assist those with low and moderate incomes in rural areas obtain safe and sanitary dwellings, the program has expanded to cover “mortgages for millionaires” and homes in suburban and urban areas, as well as seaside resort communities. This year more than 100 individuals or families received loan guarantees for $500,000 or more from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase a residence in Hawaii. If these new homeowners later cannot afford their new homes, it’s no problem; the federal government will protect the banks from losses by repaying 90 percent of the loans.

These and thousands of other loan guarantees were issued this year by the USDA Rural Housing Service (RHS) Section 502 loan programs. The Section 502 guarantee program and Section 502 direct loan program provide loans to low and moderate income individuals for the purchase of modest housing in a rural area. The programs had authority to guarantee $24 billion in privately sourced loans and make $900 million in new direct loans for FY2013. There is no down payment requirement for the loans, no maximum purchase price, and—according to USDA—the government is required to serve all borrowers who meet eligibility requirements and seek to purchase homes in eligible areas. And despite the name of the program, it serves more than just rural areas. An independent analysis found that, today, the program covers nearly the entire U.S. land mass. That has helped turn the program into one of the sweetest deals available.

The program issued nearly 166,000 loan guarantees in FY 2013 and more than 100 of those were for amounts greater than, or equal to $500,000. Nearly all of these half-a-million dollar home loans were in Hawaii. Many of the most scenic parts of Hawaii, including Maui and Kauai, are eligible areas for USDA rural loan assistance. Maui has been selected as the top island in the world for 20 consecutive years in the annual Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. Providing a combination of tropical ambience and American comforts, this island paradise offers an abundance of activities offered, from whale-watching to nature hikes to watersports with unending natural beauty. The entire island of Kauai, described as “a little slice of heaven, is considered rural by USDA.

Since property values in Hawaii exceed the national average, buying a home there may seem to be out of reach for most, but everyone from risky borrowers to the wealthy are benefitting from this USDA loan program. The USDA rural housing program’s income guidelines are generous, notes a senior loan officer in Hawaii. Likewise for those with more modest incomes, the Federal Government will reimburse up to 90 percent of the original loan amount to the lender if a borrower defaults on a loan. Thousands of borrowers do foreclose every year, costing the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars, and the number and cost have skyrocketed over the past five years. In 2008, the program had 3,369 foreclosures costing in $103 million in loss claims paid. By 2011, there were 18,808 foreclosures costing $295 million. Last year, the program paid $496 million in loss claims, according to the USDA Office of Inspector General. If trends continue, this loss will have exceeded half-billion dollars in 2013.

The department acknowledges default rates vary throughout the year and during 2012, the delinquency rate for loans 30 or more days past due ranged from 7.65 percent to 10.44 percent. By comparison, the delinquency rate in a typical housing market is around 3 percent. While designed to operate off of loan fees, the program’s delinquency rates make a taxpayer bailout more likely according to experts who predict it’s likely the program isn’t covering its costs and will probably require taxpayer funding. While USDA was putting taxpayers on the hook for generous and increasingly risky loan guarantees, housing assistance to low-income individuals across the country, including in Hawaii, was being cut. In March, USDA threatened the elimination of rental assistance for more than 10,000 very low income rural residents, generally elderly, disabled, and single female households. In July the Department notified hundreds of borrowers that their contracts would be cut off before the end of FY 2013, 90 including a housing unit for disabled elderly in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

And while USDA is quick to threaten assistance for the poor, elderly and disabled, the Inspector General found the Rural Development program did not identify and review loss claims from loans with questionable eligibility prior to payment, resulting in millions of dollars in improper payments. Before USDA kicks out low income elderly and disabled from rural housing, the department should first discontinue its risky loan practices that are costing nearly half-a-billion dollars a year in loss claims. This really has me wondering why I didn’t move to Hawaii.

Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.

Being A Number On A List

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I write quite a bit about the United States Air Force, the AMMO careerfield, the places in the world I have traveled, and the people I have met because my time in the Air Force consumed just shy of 15 years of my life. I write quite a bit about being a United States Air Force Disabled Veteran as well since this “status” was given to me and has been a part of my life for the last 13 years. In a way, my “status” is no more than being a number in a system and a monthly disbursement of funds. Fortunately for me, I did not have the struggles that we hear over time about how people get denied benefits. I was fortunate to receive a 100% disabled rating from the start. One of the “benefits”, if it can be considered a benefit, is that my vehicles bear Texas DV permanent license plates. I’m one of those people you will see out in the actual parking lot and not in the designated handicap parking spaces. Why? Good question. Perhaps because I intend on confusing people who notice. It really matters not to me where I park, most days, as I get older, being closer to the entrance is nice, but not required. I can get there from anywhere, might take me a little longer, but I will get there eventually.

Why do I bring all of this up? I had an interesting interaction with a young lady at our local Big Box supercenter, insert the name you know belongs, who afterwords really got my son to thinking and asking questions he had never asked before. First, she asked to take a picture of my H1 Alpha where the license plate is visible to help her in her project she is putting together showing disabled parking placard fraud. When I asked why she responded with an interesting observation she made while watching me and others. She pointed out that each entrance to the Big Box supercenter has 21 handicap parking spaces yet there are 40+ vehicles out in general parking that have disabled plates. She continued to explain that there are only two vehicles with actual disabled plates using handicap parking spaces, the rest are using disabled placards of different varieties. He points out that half of them are expired, some of them have had the dates obscured some way, and a small percentage actually look proper. I still don’t see my place in this conversation yet. She continued by saying that the two vehicles that had actual disabled plates had people in them which were using the assistance of motorized chair, where all the placarded vehicles moved under self locomotion. Okay, so what is the issue or problem with me. She says she has noticed before as she has been doing her “study” for a few months that there are times I park is handicap parking when it is available. I was waiting for her to ask me why, but it never happened.

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I soon walked off because I actually was there for a reason beyond looking who is parking where. As I walked off I made a call to a friend of my in the county sheriffs office and asked if what she was doing was legal. He said he would roll out there and see if he could talk with her. Why did I call? I called for 2 reasons, first of all her stalking people in the parking lot enough to recognize people who frequent this store (which is mega-creepy) and secondly because she was taking pictures of people, vehicles, and license plates. Is she doing anything illegal? We’ll talk about that here in a bit. This whole thing prompted my son to start asking a few questions of his own. We will talk about a few of them. First he asked why the police don’t tow, boot, or ticket vehicle in disabled parking with expired credentials. I actually know this answer, it is because disabled parking violations on private property is not exactly a high priority with the police department. Now this same problem in a public setting or at government facilities is swiftly handled. Why? My guess is money, logistics, and manning. Second he asked what were the requirements for getting a disabled plate or placard. Personally I don’t know what others needed to do, I had to fill out forms and be examined before being given my prescription to take to the DMV. I would only expect that this would be the same process for everyone. But, I don’t often assume things, so I leave this one as unknown.

Thirdly he asked don’t I wish that I could closer to the entrance all the time. Sure, it would be nice, but I don’t mind the longer walk. Last, he asked me a question which he shouldn’t be worrying about which was are most of the people who have handicap parking privileges frauds. Good question. People have their reasons for doing everything. Most people who know they are doing something wrong have already weighed the odds of getting caught and are willing to accept the consequences. Sure, I see people getting in the car and out their car and wonder to myself what the reason for their disabled plate/placard is. But then I would imagine that people ask the same about me. What they see is a man in his mid-40s who gets out or gets in his vehicles a little slower than others. They see a man who walks a little bit slower than most. Other than a modest limp, nobody would think nothing to be any different about me. I don’t where my medical history on my shirt for the world to read nor is it available at your request to review. I personally don’t know other people are doing or why they are doing it. In the end if I ever get to the point where my mobility is really shitty I can always have my wife do the annoying thing I see allot, which is to stop right in front of the front doors and drop me off.

Now, getting back to the young lady in the parking lot. She claims to be a college student here locally and a while back handicap parking fraud caught her attention and through some research she found it was a large problem that is mostly ignored. So, she has become an “advocate” for the disabled driver, she uses her website to get out her word and findings, I guess like an investigative reporter of sorts. She also does petitions and writes lawmakers in Austin to try to get the laws changed so the fraud will disappear. As well, she feels she is at least a little bit partially responsible for the fines increasing in Texas for violators. I look like at it like this, karma truly is a bitch. Everything has a way of catching up with you in one way or another. I know that I’m not the one who is a fraud, I’m not the one doing something illegal, I’m not the one who needs a lesson in morality, and I’m not the person who will get shot confronting someone over a parking space. Life is too short to let the little things ruin your day. It may seem that I don’t actually care, which is isn’t altogether true, I do care, I care that I have myself in-line, what someone else does with their life is their choice. Too many assholes have frauded the disabled parking system that Joe Public looks at all of us with scrutiny and in-turn sees no harm in the handicap space being mis-used. Not everyone is a thief and a liar, not everyone is a fraud, not everyone is lazy, and not everyone who has disabled plates needs to be in disabled parking. It would be nice however, if people did follow the law and that the laws are enforced. In a perfect world maybe, but not in the world I live in.

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Overall I guess the actual point of this post is to show people that not everyone feels “privileged” with what they believe to be their undisputable right to park in a handicap spot. And yes, I am a person who could go either way. Most days my body decides to be cooperative with me living my life, other days not so much, but life must still carry forward. I think the only problem I have with people, in general, is the ones that admit they borrow a vehicle or a placard so they can park closer, because that is just lazy, and lazy isn’t a handicap, it’s a choice people make everyday.

The Places My Combat Boots Have Seen

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A natural choice of footwear for me is my last remaining pair of Air Force issued combat boots. I have had many pair of combat boots over the years, starting back in 1988. I don’t remember them all, but there are a few that stand out in my mind because of what I was doing when I was wearing them. Currently I have only one pair left out of my collection as I have had to retire so many before it. My very first pair of issued combat boots were in United States Air Force BMT (Basic Military Training). I recall the thoughts of how uncomfortable they felt on my feet since I was in the habits of wearing my cowboy boots which were worn, haggered, stunk like shit, but were the most comfortable boots (shoes) I have ever worn. My new pair of boots were rigid, stiff, and lace up. I can’t remember how to tie my boot at first, I had to watch other new airmen as they laced and tied their boots, as I haven’t had to tie a shoe in a long time, in fact I couldn’t really remember a specific time when I tied a shoe last. I was at a loss. I was going to get kicked out on my first day because I couldn’t tie a shoe, I guess that is what I get for wearing boots for as long as I could remember. I went from owning 2 pair of shoes, cowboy boots & flip flops, to a single pair of combat boots. I better learn fast I thought, I better learn fast. I knew I was excited, this was my first day as a soldier.

After successfully completing BMT and Technical school in Denver Colorado it was noticed that my boots did not fair so well, it was time to get a new pair. Of course, I was told to wait until I got to my first base, Misawa AB Japan, where I was told I would be issued another pair as part of my in-processing. When I got to Japan I was impressed, they don’t mess around when it comes to boots, I was issued 4 pair, two summer weight and two winter weight (insulated) pair, also, I was issued my first pair of mukluks since it was winter in full force in Japan just days after Christmas. Everyone knows that if your feet are cold, your whole body is cold. I wish I would have known that before I got to Japan. How in the hell am I supposed to know how to deal with snow, I’m from Houston in southeast Texas. In late 1990 I was given orders to go to Turkey in support of what will become to be known world-wide as Desert Storm. Time to let go of the snow and the black combat boots, it was time to get introduced to desert styles. The military has a boot to fit most functions, most terrains, and most weather. This was a long 6 months for me, it was the first time I had to remind myself to do the right thing whether anyone is looking or not. I watched people lose focus, make mistakes, and basically ruin their career, I didn’t want to be that guy. I was also involved in the Liberation of Kuwait where I got to see for the very first time in person, up close and personal, the destruction that was causes. Most people think war is a physical element of destruction because we can see physical damages. I saw things beyond that, I walked over the remains of what appeared to be a family caught by surprise as a bomb that was dropped exploded just outside their house. Walking across them was an accident and when I realized what it was I had stepped on I was a bit shocked, it hurt me to see them. Our team leader explained to me that they were not “my” problem and we must move on since we were in the process of locating an area to set up shop. After that day I never wore those boots again.

Soon enough I returned to Japan to finish out the remainder of my tour. After a few years I left Japan and headed to Iceland. Unfortunately I was only in Iceland a matter of a few weeks as I was diverted to be stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. I already had some experience living in the desert so the transition to a zero humidity environment wasn’t that hard on my system.  From New Mexico I would truly see the world beyond what I knew. I visited many places for many reasons doing my assigned job. Leaving became easier over the years, it was the coming home that was hard to do. In mid summer 1995 I was sent to Osan AB Korea to assist in the inspection of some specific munitions components which had been in long term storage. It was time to determine if they were still serviceable and if so prep them for shipment to a variety of bases world-wide. 18 months later I rotated back to the world to be reunited with my family in New Mexico. Things were not good at home, but that is another story, in fact I think I have written about it here once or twice.

In late 1998 I was in Las Vegas Nevada for the 3rd or 4th time for training and I was given orders to go an undisclosed area for the initial drive of what will become known as Operation Desert Fox. My views had really changed about the United States’ role in the world and it really impacted how I performed, I turned off the emotion, I turned off the feelings, and I just did my job. This would be the first deployment I did not get issued fresh boots, probably because of the timeline, who knows. However, when I got back there was a shiny new pair waiting for me. Well, they weren’t shiny yet, but they would be in no time. Eventhough I had a grunt job, I worked in and out of warehouses, a variety of shops, drove a variety of equipment, and walked everywhere as well, two things were always important, a persons attitude and a persons appearance. The first thing a person notices, unfortunately, is a dirty pair of boots, we always were cleaning our boots, making sure they were taken care of and shined with a reflection that rivaled most mirrors. I eventually left the Air Force, I was medically retired due to previous injuries which happened while active duty. I had no idea what being label a disabled veteran meant. I had no idea how I was going to function in the outside world. I was divorced by this time, a single parent to my daughter who didn’t know what civilian life was all about and I had all but forgot. Luckily my dad was there to catch me, offered me and my daughter a place to call home, and gave me a job working with him in his concrete contractor business. Not knowing any better, on my first day of work, I laced up a pair of my steel toed combat boots. Eventually I traded them in for a pair of work boots, finally no laces!

I always fall back to the combat boot as a boot to wear when I know my feet will be in an unruly environment. After the Air Force, my combat boots continued to see service protecting my feet from the elements and my daily life. I have one pair that has been bitten by two different snakes and has seen more blood of animals killed in the hunt than most shoes should ever have to endure. These boots are my “go to” boots. Over this past weekend I was getting dressed to go weed-eat the perimeter of my fence-line. When overgrown like was, it is a fairly dangerous place for feet because one doesn’t know what is in the tall grass. As I laced up my boots Sunday morning I found myself remembering what I wrote about here today. Interesting how a single pair of boots can trigger memories both good and bad. I wore them without incident, I don’t bother cleaning them anymore, I just knock off the big clumps, and then hang them back on the hook, ready for the next time they will serve me well.

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We The People Has Been Temporarily Disabled

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Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, We the People has been temporarily disabled.

As a result, you will be unable to create or sign We the People petitions. Once government funding has been restored, We the People will be re-enabled. Petitions that were open as of October 1, 2013 will have their deadlines extended.

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at USA.GOV.

That above statement is actually from the https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/ page which re-directs you to http://www.whitehouse.gov/we-the-people-temporarily-disabled page. How do I know this? I was actually looking for a specific petition for something I was going to attempt to write which I felt worth sharing. That story to come here in the very near future. I just thought I would share this information as I found it kind of entertaining with this partial government shutdown and all. This crap just amazes me. Why not shut down Whitehouse webpages. I bet the Whitehouse still has WiFi though, just a thought.

Who Does This To People?

Who takes the time to write a nasty sarcastic note and place it under a person’s windshield wiper? Do the Eco-Nazis have nothing better to do with their time then harass people because of what they drive? Before I get too deep into why I’m writing this morning let me just say that shit like this really doesn’t piss me off since stupid people judge others without actually knowing what the fuck they are talking about. It’s a bit annoying tho. Just so happens I did drive my Hummer H1 to work this morning because I had to pick up some bottled water and ice for the warehouse. It was more than I could even think about trying to carry on my Goldwing. So, the choice was made so I could pick up 24 cases of water and 36 bags of ice to take in to work. And yes, I do have disabled veteran (DV) handicap license plates on my H1. Yes, I do park in a handicap parking space.

I think what irritates me the most is the size of balls people have in today’s world. Why do people care so much about what other people have and the things they do not. Who’s business is it what I drive? I wonder what they noticed first, that my H1 is fire engine red, that I was parked in a handicap space, or the fact that I have DV plates? Because all three things seemed to be a factor in this note someone took the time to write. Which brings me to my next point. Someone made the conscious choice to leave me this note. They had to of walked by my H1, had their brain fart idea, went to their car, wrote out a note, walked back to my H1, and politely placed the note under my windshield wiper. That takes planned thought and executed dedication to go all the way. Unfortunately the pussy didn’t leave any contact information so we could discuss his/her concerns. Hell, they were so proud of what they had to say they didn’t even put their name. Takes a brave motherfucker to have the balls to leave a note on an innocent shopper’s vehicle. And for what? Because I drive an H1? Don’t these Eco-Nazis have anything at all better to do with their time? Actually, I don’t know they were Eco-Nazis since they don’t say. For all I know it was someone who is jealous of one of the things mentioned. Or, somewhere they were wronged by someone who drives a HUMMER H1 and have been waiting to unleash backlashtic hell on someone innocent. What a fucktard!

I have given this some thought and decided I wanted to breakdown and analyze this great reminder why some people should not breed. One day natural selection will catch up with them and when it does Karma will take over and set things right. Life itself is a vicious circle of a bitch and it does come around to bite the stupids in the ass. It’s nice to know that people are still willing to write a note. I would be willing to bet that they even took the time to take a picture of the work so they could Tweet about it and then update their Facebook status. “Check this shit out bro, I showed this asshole!” Well, according to the note, they observed the size and the color of my H1 correctly. I don’t know that I would call it a giant, but it is large and it is red. The rest is just someone being mean spirited. Hey, I wish I wasn’t a disabled vet, I wish I had the knees I was born with, and I wish the mere action of walking wasn’t so fucking painful. We won’t even get into the penis envy thing.

So, why do I drive this giant red HUMMER H1? My question to you is why the fuck would you even care? I should mention this all took place in the parking lot of a big box grocery store in the back of the neighborhood I live in. I have never seen a beater car in the parking lot, ever. Wherever you look you will see Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Corvette, Porche, Cadillac, Audi, HUMMER H2 & H3, and so on. So, I can rule out that they were singling me out because I drove a cheap beater piece of shit. I suppose at this point I really don’t care because the note was cute and humorous to me personally. When I first got this H1 I was at a different store, I still had paper tags for a license plate and some fucktard thought it would be funny to flatten one of my tires. What the fucktard didn’t realize, out of stupidity I suppose, that it came equipped with self sealing run flat dual tube insert tires that cannot be deflated the old fashion way. In fact, I got a souvenir knife out of the deal since they jabbed the serrated blade in and couldn’t get it back out. I guess in the end we all get what we want. I searched the continental United States for months to locate this specific year model and color H1 because this is the one I wanted. I wasn’t going to “settle” for another color or year model and I was prepared not to ever find one that was actually for sale. The person that wrote the note, I can only assume, got some kind of satisfaction out of it. I’m about ready to give up trying to figure out people in general because there is always one person that ruins what I enjoy about being me and that is individuality.

So, anyway, I just thought I would share this gem of a note from one of my fellow humans. Stupid shit like this makes me think. My wife wondered if it pissed me off any. My answer? Nope, just annoyed me a bit since I had to get back out of the H1 and go to the passenger side to remove it from the windshield. C’est la vie!