Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
In the following video, physicist Richard Feynman, a member of the panel investigating the Challenger disaster, uses a glass of ice water and a rubber ring to demonstrate what happened:
Thursday, January 27, 2011
All courts in Middlesex County will remain closed today until 11 am due to the snow. Because the Registry of Deeds is located in the Superior Courthouse in Lowell, we are unable to open until 11 am.
Above is a screen shot from the Trial Court's website. For future reference, you may check that site to learn of any court closings or delays.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I own an iPhone 4G. It is my second iPhone. Before the 4G, I owned the first generation iPhone.
I must admit, I love both of them (of course).
In America April has become synonymous with the fresh crack of a baseball bat and June traditionally brings a new Apple iPhone.
(As you would expect, of course) Geeky people like me love this and can't wait to see the new Apple creation.
Each new iPhone brings fascinating advancements, so (of course) around this time each year the rumor mill is in over-drive.
This year two major iPhone 5 rumors center around social networking (what else, of course). One feature to be introduced is called "media stream". Media Stream gives friends and family the ability to directly access pictures and video files on your phone (if you want, of course). Another social networking feature is called "Find A Friend". This feature uses Google Latitude and GPS to determine the location of a friend at any given time (if they agree, of course).
There are also rumors stating the new iPhone will change physically as well. First, 5G will be slimmer than the already sleek 4G. And techie magazines are reporting that Steve Jobs never liked the "Home Button" on the iPhone. Apparently, Apple engineers have finally found a way to eliminate it (of course they did, he's the boss).
As soon as a picture is leaked, I'll post it (and of course, you know that will happen).
Monday, January 24, 2011
I have always been fascinated by the story of patriot Henry Knox. Knox was a bookseller in Boston with a vast knowledge of artillery. He acquired this knowledge more through reading than actual experience.
In 1775 British troops held Boston in a stranglehold and George Washington's Continental Army was helpless to break the unpopular occupation. Knox approached Washington with what many considered to be an outlandish idea. The "bookseller" proposed that he and a group of men travel 300 miles to the recently captured Fort Ticonderoga in New York and transport its artillery to Boston. The artillery would give Washington the firepower he needed to drive the British out of the city. Washington surprisingly agreed to the risky plan.
Knox set out for Ticonderoga on December 1, 1775. Four days later the group completed the journey and disassembled 59 pieces of artillery. Knox's men loaded the artillery on carts drawn by oxen. Later they transferred the cannons to sleds to cross the iced-over Hudson River as they continued to Boston.
Along the way Knox passed through the towns of Spencer, Worcester, Shrewsbury, Marlborough, Waylands and Watertown to mentioned just a few.
Finally, 235 years ago today, January 24, 1776 Henry Knox completed the impossible journey and delivered the cannons to George Washington at his headquarters in Cambridge.
The guns remained at the headquarters until March 4 when the Continental Army positioned them on Dorchester Heights overlooking the British Army. When General Howe saw Knox's artillery aimed at down at his forces, he knew retreat was his only option.
Two weeks latter, on March 17, 1776 Howe withdrew his troops, ending the British occupation of Boston... thanks in large part to a "bookseller".
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
View "The Fighter" in a larger map
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
While there may be near unanimous agreement that foreclosures are a problem, reaching consensus on the causes of the problem or the proper response is more elusive. For that reason, many of the bills of the type described above tend to linger in committee and die a slow death. It's perhaps better to move slowly when amending procedures that have been in place for long periods of time.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The bigger question to me is what will happen to this building? Any redevelopment will certainly be a challenge given the age of the building and a certain amount of disrepair. But the building is in a great location with the highway 100 yards to the south, the train station 200 yards to the west, and downtown Lowell 250 yards to the north. Plus, the building is spacious, has had many updates, and has parking and green space. Despite all those assets, if nothing is done until after the Superior Court moves out, chances are it will be too late to save this structure.
Friday, January 14, 2011
These positive end-of-2010 trends continue into the beginning of 2011. When January 1 through the 13 of 2011 is compared to the same days in 2010, we find that deeds are up 18%, mortgages up 59%, and foreclosure deeds and orders of notice both down 80%. Hopefully these positive trends will continue.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
We, along with all courthouses in the state, were closed yesterday which is a rare occurrence. All are open today. We only had 62 electronic recordings waiting for us which is about average these days, so there wasn't a big backlog. As I write, the mail carrier pulled up out front. He doesn't seem to have a larger than normal quantity of incoming mail. I think East Coast storms as compared to those directed just at New England push back mail delivery several days because of the large volume of mail that travels by air.
The biggest problem we face seems to be the tin roof that was constructed over the front entrance to the courthouse. This was built ten years ago as a temporary measure to protect against chunks of the building's facade that had began tumbling down onto the front stairs. The thing has been up for so long and has been subjected to so much wind and weather that it's starting to peel off. Already two panels have flown off. Today's wind causes the next panel in line to buck and bang. Soon it's remaining anchor screws will give way and the sheet of medal will slice down onto the sidewalk. Hopefully no one will be standing there when it falls. The trial court maintenance has told folks who called to complain that it will be repaired as soon as possible. Let' hope so.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
What the SJC requires is sufficient evidence that the assignment was completed before the assignment actually took place. That evidence must be a writing, signed by the party doing the transfer that adequately describes the mortgage being transferred. What might satisfy that evidentiary requirement is almost limitless. It might be an email or a cover letter or a computer printout. So the first problem is one of evidence. Who has custody of all of this documentation (in both paper and electronic form) and who can find it? As the whole robo-signing controversy shows, this industry paid little attention to the details of documenting these transactions so trying to reconstruct what was shoddy documentation in the first places is a big obstacle.
The second big issue is who is to be the judge of this evidence? For every non-traditional assignment (meaning anything that is not the written, signed, notarized document recorded at the registry of deeds) someone has to determine whether the evidence presented is sufficient. Does it have to be a judge? Or will the title insurers come to some type of consensus on what constitutes adequate proof - will an affidavit by an attorney attaching copies of email, printouts, etc, that establish the chain of ownership of the mortgage that all then gets recorded at the registry of deeds be sufficient? Obviously the affidavit is a lot less burdensome than a formal judicial petition. With so much antagonism towards the lending industry, however, I don't think too many people will be worried about what's easiest for them.
Ultimately, I believe the solution must be a legislative one. Back in 2004, the state legislature amended MGL c.183, s.54 regarding mortgage discharges. Back then, many homeowners found it almost impossible to obtain mortgage discharges because of turbulence in the lending industry. In this statutory amendment, the legislature enumerated specific types of documentation that could be used, often in conjunction with an attorney affidavit, in lieu of a traditional discharge. I suspect that might be the best solution to this issue, although it will take a year or more to enact.
Monday, January 10, 2011
An HDTV, a Blu-ray player, streaming Netflix movies, an iPhone 4G, audio activated GPS system in the car...I looovvvve this kind of stuff.
But truthfully, the latest gadget by Samsung may even be a little much for me.
It is a refrigerator that can send tweets...no lie.
But not only does Samsung's new refrigerator send tweets, it also plays Pandora Radio, displays your google calendar, connects to the Internet recipe site "Epicurious", and reads the outside temperature. And it does all this using "wifi".
And I thought having an ice maker in my refrigerator was a big deal...
Check it out...
Friday, January 07, 2011
The trial judge thought otherwise. After trial and a subsequent hearing on a Motion to Vacate, Land Court Judge Keith Long ruled that neither lender had proven ownership of the mortgages that were foreclosed and that their titles were therefore defective. The lenders appealed and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court allowed a Request for Direct Appellate Review. The case was argued before the SJC on October 7, 2010.
Today's decision, authored by Justice Gants, upholds the Land Court decision. The SJC makes clear that a recorded (at the registry of deeds) or even a recordable assignment is not required to effectively pass title. What is required is evidence of some writing or writings that establish a chain of ownership of the mortgage from the loan originator to the entity conduction the foreclosure. The opinion suggests that documents like the trust agreement between investors or the mortgage loan schedule offered by the banks as evidence of the assignment, may have been sufficient had they identified these particular mortgages with "adequate specificity." Such was not the case, however.
What are the implications of Ibanez? For every foreclosure (and for every post-foreclosure sale of a property)going back in time, the first step will be a search for pre-foreclosure assignments. If the assignments were on record and in the proper chronological sequence, then that should end the inquiry. If assignments are missing or if they are out of order, then I think that will qualify for a defect in the title. Whether that defect is curable is a question of fact in each case. Can the entity that conducted the foreclosure produce sufficient evidence to persuade a judge (or at least the next attorney rendering an opinion on the title) that the assignment was effectuated pre-foreclosure sale. If such evidence is not forthcoming, then the defective title remains.
I can't quantify how many foreclosures fall into this category, but given the shoddiness of the overall documents I saw being recorded throughout the recent housing boom, I suspect there are quite a few.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Here are the numbers for December 2010 compared to the same month in 2009:
In December 2010, there were 497 deeds recorded, a 15% increase from the 431 recorded in December 2009;
In December 2010, there were 1623 mortgages recorded, a 53% increase from the 1059 recorded in December 2009;
In December 2010, there were 44 orders of notice recorded, a 56% decrease from the 101 orders of notice recorded in December 2009;
In December 2010, there were 13 foreclosure deeds recorded, a 59% decrease from the 32 recorded in December 2009.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Deeds: For 2010 there were 5390 deeds vs 5434 for 2009, a 1% decline
Mortgages: For 2010, there were 13,675 mortgages v 14,519 for 2009; a 6% decline
Foreclosure Deeds: For 2010, there were 585 foreclosure deeds v. 400 for 2009, a 46% increase
Orders of Notice: For 2010, there were 1143 orders of notice v 834 for 2009, a 37% increase.
While these figures make 2010 look pretty bleak, it was the beginning of the year that was troublesome. Since October, the numbers have been mostly positive, something I'll write about later this week.
Monday, January 03, 2011
As 2011 begins I thought it would be fitting to make a list of my top ten techie predictions.
1. Priced at $499 the Apple iPad will continue to dominate the market unless other tablet manufactures reduce their prices far below Apple.
2. Google's Chrome will surpass Mozilla's Firefox in the race for browser domination.
3. TV manufactures will finally find a way to search the Program Guide without picking letters using the awkward up/down, left/right arrow keys.
4. Amazon's eReader the Kindle will go bye bye.
5. Barnes and Nobles color eReader the Nook will survive, only if priced well below the iPad.
6. Rupert Murdoch's experiment that will charge people to read his newspapers online will fail drastically.
7. For the first time since its conception, Facebook will begin to lose membership. Burdened by its own largess Facebook will find members turning to small social networking sites that cater to member’s niche interests. Thankfully, the days of reading, "what someone ate for breakfast" may be over.
8. Bluetooth devices will be replaced by WiFi 2 devices that provide a stronger signal.
9. Boredom will get the best of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and he will come out of retirement.
10. The success of Netflix Instant play movies will spawn several copycats and keep consumer prices low.