Sunday, August 31, 2014

NECROSIS FOR BEGINNERS - A Career Primer for the Dwelling Industry

This article is for The American Home Institute, the education arm of Andy Bozeman Edutainment. AHI won’t open for business until next year, but I wanted to share this with you, now.
Necrosis is a form of cell injury that results in the premature death of cells in living tissue, caused by intrusions such as infection, toxins, or trauma.
If you’re thinking about a career in the dwelling industry, you should be aware that houses are not just situated in peaceful, pretty, centrally located neighborhoods populated by residents who maintain perfectly manicured lawns surrounding clean, neat, pest-free homes. Instead many sites will be far-flung, overgrown, and pest-infested.
“Pest” is the key word. It’s far too general a term, and unfairly applied to most living things, but it’s the word most often used to describe any living thing a human being doesn't like, even other human beings.
With that in mind, here are some pests you’re likely to face in the long years ahead.
There will be tiny insects which attack alone, such as flies, mites, mosquitoes, ticks, red bugs, and bed bugs.They will bite, and borrow, and suck your blood, leaving welts, and rashes, and sores. There will be stinging insects which attack in swarms, like bees, hornets, yellowjackets, and wasps.
There will be spiders. Some will be harmless, their only “attack” being to spin webs of sticky silk across obvious walking paths and trails, as if they know you’re coming. Of course they don’t know you’re coming. They’re expecting mosquitoes, and moths, not you obliterating their dinner table. But, you’ll walk right through them, have that unique-to-human-beings freak-out moment, realize the encounter isn't fatal, then move on.
Other spiders will be dangerously poisonous. Some of the most familiar are the widow spiders: black, brown, red-back, and red-legged; the recluse spiders: brown and Chilean; and the wolf spider. Like most living things, they want to be left alone, but can be very aggressive when provoked. They seek dark places to hide, so they’ll climb up your pants leg, or underneath your hair. Either way, they’re next to skin which is the only thing they enjoy biting. A little pressure, like a knee bending inside blue jeans, or a hand brushing a wave of hair off a shoulder is all the provocation they need to attack.
I know you’re expecting something else spidery, so here it is : TARANTULA! There. Did that strike fear in your heart? Hollywood’s horror movies have made the tarantula the most recognized, most feared spider in the world. These big, beefy spiders strike fear in the hearts of arachnophobes everywhere, but in truth, tarantulas are some of the least aggressive, most un-dangerous spiders around. If you encounter one, don’t poke it with your measuring stick. Leave the poor thing alone.
Don’t forget scorpions. They live in the same dark, dry places as every other creature we've mentioned, the same places you have to go to measure and inspect. Their habitat stretches from coast to coast and border to border. When relaxed and unthreatened, their tail is also relaxed and uncurled, if not laid flat. But, if that huge stinger is poised over their head and pointed in your direction, it’s their way of saying, “I see you, and I’m ready.” The problem with scorpions is they don’t know they’re little and you’re big. Size doesn't matter, and with prejudice they’ll attack any perceived enemy or meal. The stinger injects a toxin which, at the very least, is extremely painful, but can also be life threatening.
Lastly for the insects are the ants. I’m old enough to remember a world when picnics and kitchen cupboards were only invaded by tiny, harmless, non-stinging black ants. We thought they were terrible abominations of creation, and we complained about them a lot. Little did we appreciate how fortunate we were, back then.
Along came the fire ant. Having entered the USA through a Mobile, Alabama port in 1948, they now stretch from sea to sea across the southern half of the country. Whenever you’re scouting property, keep an eye to the ground. Make sure neither you nor your clients or companions are standing near a fire ant mound or trail. Their stings are painful, long-lasting, and can be debilitating for children and the elderly.
Snakes and rodents that bitingly defend their territory will be waiting in crawlspaces and attics, inside outbuildings, and under rocks and bushes. They just want to be left alone. But, when you jab a rigid measuring device into their hiding place, their only conclusion is, “I’m about to be eaten,” so they defend themselves with posturing and coiling, hissing and rattling, and displays of claws and teeth and fangs, until, if you don’t go away, they strike.
Way out in the wilderness, wild large-animal encounters are waiting. Throughout North America, to name only a few, are bears, mountain lions, wild cats, panthers (leopards), wild  pigs and boar hogs, packs of wild dogs and wolves, and coyotes. If they feel cornered they will go after you. If they feel hungry they will rip your equipment to pieces looking for food. If they feel really hungry, after they’re through with your equipment, they will eat your pets and small children. You may next.
Forests and fields are the home of nature’s most sublime creature, the deer, peace personified in a shy, big-brown-eyed, soft-furred, friend of man and maiden. But let me tell ya’, those suckers can kick! And, if there’s a baby family-member nearby, watch out! That shy, big-brown-eyed, soft-furred, friend of man and maiden, will instantly transform into a vicious, beady-eyed, head-down, antler-armed, fiend. In this case antlers should be renamed attacklers.
Also in fields and forests, or any area with overgrown vegetation, are plants with toxic sap and nectar. Poison Ivy, Sumac, and nettles are everywhere. Skin contact can cause severe irritation. Inhaling nectar and pollen by sniffing directly from the blossom can cause the same irritation in the nose and mouth. Worst of all, when toxic plants are burned, the smoke carries the toxin into the air. Irritation of the esophagus can cause the throat to swell until swallowing and breathing is impossible. Breathing smoke-borne plant poison can cause the lungs to become so inflamed they stop working. Asphyxiation follows.
This article is about you protecting yourself, but sometimes other things can be affected, too. If you make site visits with companions, like pets….. and they’re small…… and they’re out in the open……. be prepared to be a helpless witness as they’re carried off by large birds of prey. In addition hawks and eagles and falcons can mistake brightly colored hats and tassels for mice and bugs. So, be prepared to be swooped upon, and maybe even taloned on the scalp and shoulders by a bird of prey that confuses your clothing ornaments for a meal.
Another flying-creature-related caution is histoplasmosis, a dangerous infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings, which can be found in crawl spaces……. and attics….. and outbuildings……. and barns…….. and deserted mobile homes……… and derelict vehicles……. and pretty much everywhere you will ever go to do your job.
While we’re talking about breathing….. These are out there waiting for you to inhale : plant allergens, black mold, fiberglass insulation, asbestos, lead dust, PCB’s in broken fluorescent light fixtures, fluorocarbons from old air conditioning and refrigerator compressors, sewer gas from broken or open plumbing drains, floating spores, and bacteria carried by wind-blown dust particles. When in doubt, wear a mask.
Bodies of water, like rivers, lakes, and swamps, are home to alligators, anacondas, boa constrictors, river rats, beaver, eels (as in electric), and the big cats and dogs and bears and wolves and pigs that come there to drink and search for food.
Microscopic organisms live in the same rivers, lakes, and swamps. Allowing pathogens to enter your body by drinking the water, or exposing skin lesions, or bodily orifices to the water, can lead to results which are dire, even fatal.
If the creatures already in the water don’t get you, those that come to the water might, so be careful.
Then, there’s the pest-part about other human beings. There could be confrontations with landowners who are simply protecting their property. This is not being a human pest. It’s just lawful self-protection. But caution is urged to prevent an uncomfortable meeting from escalating into a stand-your-ground moment, when someone gets hurt or killed. Be sweet. Stay alive.
Pesty humans are the ones who violently protect illegal activity, like building or burning or clearing where they shouldn't; or stealing wild game, or firewood, or timber. Moonshine stills, marijuana farms, and meth labs, are things likely to be concealed in the same rural settings where your clients send you to scout a home site. It’s not like Breaking Bad, where an unassuming RV is parked in plain site in a clearing in the desert. More often, illegal activities and installations are hidden in wild, rural areas. Marijuana is concealed in forests, and among tall grain crops. Stills and meth labs could be in ravines and hollows, or houses and barns which appear abandoned, or old railroad cars and truck bodies, or (invoke Breaking Bad) unassuming RV’s parked in plain site in a clearing.
As you hike and tromp and scout and measure and inspect, keep your eyes and ears open. If you spot anything that doesn't look or feel safe, walk away quietly, and quickly leave the area.
It’s very important to be aware of the current hunting season. Being in the field to measure a layout for a floor plan won’t go well if you’re mistaken for a game animal by a hunter, legal or not. Wear an orange vest, and hat. Callout out to warn that you’re human. Don’t walk towards shooting. Keep your head. Think!
My career spans four decades. I've delivered more than 42,800 residential projects, in fifty six countries. Of those more than six thousand have been in rural, even wild settings, which required my personal inspection. I've encountered almost every pest presented here, including snakes, spiders, alligators, germs, spores, and armed-to-the-teeth pot growers and meth makers who were very unhappy to see me, even though I was armed only with a tape measure.
For your enjoyment, here’s a list of some of my career encounters with the wilds of the world.
I’ll start with Necrosis. I’m dealing with it right now. It’s what triggered the idea for this article. In my case Necrosis is the result of a spider bite, or to be exact five on the same leg at the same time, three within the diameter of a quarter. However, any venom, be it spider, snake, scorpion, bee, wasp, or hornet can cause skin and muscle tissue to die, and prevent the body from healing the wound. The result can be huge, gaping sores, that take a long time to heal, or can only be treated by surgery to remove the sore and close the wound.
So here’s my personal short-list of career related pest encounters, wounds, and infections :
Wolf Spider bite - this is the doctor’s best guess, due to the condition of the wound.1988 - took a year to heal
2001 - required surgery
2014 - Doctor’s care is currently effective. Five bites on my left leg. Three within the diameter of a quarter. Luckily the three bites together involve a part of my body with very little tissue, the skinny skin of my shinny shin shin.
Brown Recluse - never verified, but looked like similar known bites.1991 - was not terribly serious, but required medication. She only got me a little bit.
Rattlesnake in a crawlspace1984 - bit the toe of my work boot - no penetration.
1986 - bit the side of my work boot - no penetration.
Copperhead (water moccasin) in a crawlspace1987 - bit the heel of my work boot - no penetration.
Histoplasmosis- probably from an old barn or attic1994 - extremely sick - left scars in my lungs
Alligator - lunged at me from murky water - bit the entire sole of my work boot, as I tried to kick it away.2003 - in south Alabama - no injury to me or the gator. Because I’m putting this in writing, I have to be very honest and accurate. The alligator was about 24 inches long. However, when I tell this story in person, he’s a twelve footer.
Wasps - high up in the top of a grain silo about to be converted to an extra apartment on a private estate1997 - twelve stings - fortunately I carried a can of wasp spray, and defended myself with that. I was hanging onto a ladder, which was suspended over a girder about thirty feet off the ground. It could have been a lot worse.
Hornets2012 - no stings. I drove my truck across an old country bridge. The hornets must have built their nest underneath the bridge. Hundreds swarmed after the truck. Some landed on the edge of the truck bed and the windshield wipers, and began to furiously sting the vehicle. Others dove at the truck, kamikaze-style, sounding like rocks, and dying from the impact. They followed me three miles, before finally leaving. The frenzy was repeated when I had to cross the same bridge to return to the main highway. That time they followed for four miles.
Yellowjackets2001 -  Eighty-seven stings on my head, neck, arms and back  - Deep in a forest, miles from civilization, I stepped on an underground nest. Unlike the hornets, the yellowjackets only followed me about a hundred yards. By the way, this was probably my fastest hundred yard dash, ever. The initial swelling was pretty bad, and I worried about passing out. But, by the time I got to a gas station to seek help, twenty minutes later, the swelling was already reducing. The remaining stinger marks made me look like I had the measles. I think it was some species of non-poisonous yellowjacket. Eighty-seven stings by any of the nasty boys would have been fatal.
Bumblebees1978 - Twelve stings - disturbed a ground nest in the crawlspace of a dilapidated ruin, that I was inspecting for the best way to demolish it. An hour later the owner set fire to it, which he’d planned to do all along. I wish I’d known, before sticking my head in that crawlspace.
Deer -1982 - came upon a doe, buck, and fawn in a clearing. Mother stayed with the fawn. Daddy chased me through the woods for about two hundred yards. Fortunately we came to a field, and he wouldn't cross the break line. But he kept rearing and kicking at me.
Fire AntsI've never been stung on the job by fire ants. I keep a close eye on the ground for mounds and trails. I have been with clients who were badly stung, because they wandered around only looking up while imagining where their house would stand. You can’t do that with fire ants.
People who own neighboring propertyPeople are very protective of private property, and wary of unexpected strangers, and rightly so. Whenever I go solo to a home to measure for an addition, or land to select a home site, I always ask the client to tell the neighbors I’m coming.
1997, 1999, 2003 - Different locations, same danger. I was confronted by shotgun wielding neighbors because I was standing, not on their land, but close enough to their property line to look like a trespasser.
1997 was an elderly man.
1999 was an elderly woman.
2003 was a young girl who was home alone and frightened. In all cases I explained who I was and why I was there. Then I left and made sure the client did a better job of clearing my next visit with the neighbors.
People who do illegal stuff - Pot Grower / meth maker / moonshinerI can lump all of these together because every individual situation involves me scouting property, then stumbling onto some sort of illegal activity, then the illegally active people being upset that I’m there.
2002 - Pot Grower with a shotgun - he had been smoking his product, so he was pretty mellow. He let me go, after I showed him that all I had was a tape measure and maps.
2001 - Meth Lab & Maker with a machine gun. I was trying to make him believe I was harmless, but not doing it well. A car came speeding down the dirt road, with the driver screaming, “They’re coming! They’re coming!” I don’t who was coming but everybody jumped in the car and sped away leaving me alone. I ran the other way.
2002 - Moonshine Still - The still had been recently blown up by the revenuers, but when I stumbled on the scene the “operators” were busy picking up the pieces. One pointed a rifle at me. I took out a business, handed it to a man without a rifle, and said in my strongest southern drawl, “Puhlease cawll me when you all r' up ‘n runnin’ ag’in. Ahm thursty.” They said okay and went back to work. I left slowly. They never called.
Wild Pigs - or boar hogs from hell, depending on who I’m talking to.1984 - Scouting property in central Georgia, I surprised a family of wild pigs. The natural order of things says that they should have feared this man and run away. But, being uneducated pigs, they weren't aware of the natural order, and the blasted rascals ran right at me. I was 31, nimble, spry, and fast, so I easily escaped.
1991 - Central Mississippi - similar to the experience of '84. I was 38, still nimble and spry, still fast, still got away.
Wild Dogsalso 1984 - Central Alabama - Scouting land for a home site and stomping through dry underbrush, sounding like a marching elephant, because it was turkey hunting season. My noise attracted the attention of a pack of wild dogs. They weren’t very well organized, and made just as much noise coming after me as I made getting their attention. Fortunately I was still close to the truck, only a few hundred feet. Their snarling and barking gave me plenty of warning, and I easily made it back to safety.
Wild Hogs AND Wild Dogs2003 - East Texas - Scouting land for a home site in the middle of four hundred acres of isolated property without a single tree, just short scrub bushes, tall grass, brier thickets, and Plum saplings.  I was fifty years old, not so nimble or spry, not so fast. I came across a mother hog and a lot of hoglets. I ran. She chased, followed by her entire brood. She was gaining on me. I panicked and lost my way in the high bushes. Suddenly I was in a clearing. It was filled with sleeping dogs, wild ones. I kept going but didn’t know where. Momma hog and family followed right through the clearing without slowing. When fresh meat crosses their clearing, wild sleeping dogs don’t lie. The dogs joined the chase. I was running, lost, and had no idea where I was headed. The hogs and dogs knew exactly where they were headed, which was wherever I was. There were no trees to climb for safety, just thorns and small stemmed saplings. I tore through the thorny underbrush, but it tore back, snagging jeans and shirt and skin and face and scalp. I was tiring, and started to think I might become the main course for a hog and dog supper club. Then, relief. The lead dog caught the last baby hog straggler. Momma hog heard her baby squeal, stopped and turned to investigate. Glancing over my shoulder I saw hogs and dogs collide in a flesh tearing frenzy, that I knew would keep them all occupied long enough for me to get away. As I circled around to find my truck, the sounds of snarling and grunting and yelping and squealing filled the air, along with the smell of fresh blood. I remember being surprised that I smelled blood from that far away, until I realized it was mine. The thorns and thickets had torn me up. There were no deep cuts, just scratches, but lots of them.

Current Day : I just got a new commission for a deep-woods project in the middle of a southern river delta. Now, I’m sixty, decidedly non-nimble, the opposite of spry, and running fast is only a memory. From now on, I’m carrying a Glock.
So, there you have it. Now you know what to expect. Your career path will probably be a reflection of my natural-hazard highlights, though the details may vary. As you can see, along with being clever and creative, along with being a fearless entrepreneur and a financial wizard, along with serving God and Country and Clients and Family, you only have to worry about things that bite, or sting, or tear you to pieces from inside and out, or eat you alive, and other people who want you dead. Other than that, have fun!
Thank you,
Andy Bozeman
See similar educational articles related to the American dwelling industry at
123HomeProcess, also by Andy Bozeman.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Big Change

I've created a new blog.
It combines all of my smaller blogs into one place.
Please go there and "follow" me.

Thank you
Andy Bozeman

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Workmanlike Manner - Defined

by Andy Bozeman

Every construction contract I’ve ever seen has contained a phrase like this : “All work shall be completed in a workmanlike manner.”

The problem with this phrase is that no one really knows how to interpret it. To the customer it means everything should be perfect or nearly perfect. To the contractor it refers only to his workmanlike efforts to control a project, no matter how it turns out.

But the word workmanlike? What does it mean? If a contractor gave explicit, correct instructions to his workers, but they messed up the job anyway, did he perform with workmanlike diligence, and they didn’t? Was he workmanlike simply because he gave instructions. Or, was he not workmanlike because the results was a failure.

There’s too much objectivity allowing for too much disparity between the understanding of different people as to the meaning of “workmanlike.” Whether for good or bad, the word is too often equated with effort rather than results.

So here it is plain and simple.  Every construction project should be delivered in this state : Sturdy, square, level, and without holes. Workmanlike equals sturdy, square, level, and without holes. The structure should be strong. The corners in every direction should be square. The floors, ceilings, counters, and tops of openings should be level. The finished surfaces, whether interior or exterior, should be free of holes.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s an opinion of a customer, a contractor, a subcontractor, or an inspector. All that matters is the results of using a carpenter’s square - it’s either square or not; a leveling tool - it’s either level or not; and a visual inspection for holes that either belong or not.

So, the next time you need a construction contract, change the phrase “....shall be completed in a workmanlike manner,” to “shall be delivered sturdy, square, level, and without holes.”

You can’t go wrong.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Then, Now & Later

The answer is : Because we keep planning such stupidly expensive houses!

The questions are :
How did American homes get so expensive? How did we get in this mess? How can we get out of it?

     This article is about what houses were like when they were affordable, what made them so expensive, and what they should be like in the future to be affordable again. If you want to cut to the chase, look at the chart at the end. If you want to know more details, keep reading. AB

     There was a time in America when, as a nation, there was agreement that money was important, and those who had more of it were expected, even required, to be more responsible with it. That was a golden time for our nation. We built a world class interstate highway system, went to the Moon, created personal computers, constructed communications networks, and fed the hungry all over the world. We did it by being cautious about spending. Those with moderate means did not try to live in palaces, or live like kings. Those with the means of kings still chose to live moderately enough to protect their wealth in the long term. Certainly there was ambition, but it was tempered with concepts like long-term-planning, living-within-your-means, looking-at-the-big-picture, and patient-planning-for-prosperity. The nation was prosperous. That was THEN.

     What happened next, nationally, was an attitude shift from patiently cultivating prosperity to I-want-it-all-and-I-want-it-now! From individuals to corporate mega-companies, everyone was in on it.

     As an oversimplified point of beginning, the entertainment industry began telling stories using the almost subliminal concept of heightened reality. That’s when several TV characters would live in expensive apartments surrounded by every new style of household amenity and wardrobe appointment with no apparent way to support themselves. It’s not television’s fault. It was just fictional entertainment. But, a viewing public bought into the idea of heightened reality, and began to convert a not-real-at-all lifestyle made for entertainment into a set of mainstream desires which the viewing public believed it couldn’t live without. A viewing public is a buying public, and that buying public had a profound influence on those who make things to buy.

     The manufacturers of appliances, fixtures, and decorating amenities dazzled an eager public with amazing products that promised a higher life, …..and delivered it – but at a higher cost.

     New and exciting became the by-words in the home planning industry as designers sought to incorporate all those dazzling gadgets, and pursued the development of larger, more complex designs to sell – but for higher fees.

     The house and garden television industry seized the obvious opportunity to script shows and create advertising packages according to the wants and whims of viewers desperate to buy the sponsors products.

     The Home Builders and Remodelers of the nation saw opportunities to build more housing units than ever, and by offering tantalizing upgrades, which included more square footage along with all those amazing gadgets, were able to “assist” almost every prospect to acquire a real American Dream Home – for a higher sales price.

     A new breed of home industry participant emerged - the Flipper. Mesmerized by the combination of TV entertainment and home remodeling, which portrayed the possibility of big profits from small investments, the Flippers bought up everything from run-down shacks to luxurious beach-front condominiums. The process was simplicity itself - buy low, spend a little to fix it up, sell high. But as more Flippers joined the fray it turned into buy high, sell higher. At the peak of the frenzy the process became buy highest……. Oh crap!

     The Real Estate Sales Industry, by its very nature, promoted the inflation in value of premium as well as not-so-valuable properties, and succeeding, gained financially by selling heightened reality dream homes to an eager public – but for higher commissions.

     The only glitch in the process was the inability of the market place to respond. That is, the people who wanted all those really expensive homes couldn’t afford to buy them. There just wasn’t enough money. The solution was ready and waiting in the banking business. If cash wasn’t available for buyers to borrow, then loans could be written which would help people purchase homes that were real with money that wasn’t. Some banks made loans backed up - not by investors with cash - but by future earnings à la Enron accounting practices, and that meant the money being used to underwrite mortgages didn’t actually exist. But loaning non-existent money wasn’t seen as a problem. The system had to keep churning long enough for real money to catch up with false funds so a special device – the deferred balloon note - was instituted as an incentive to motivate buyers by alleviating the fear of mortgage payments. These mortgages would begin with small payments then, later, balloon into large payments… hopelessly large payments. The most common quote from banker to buyer was “Don’t worry about the balloon note. You’ll refinance or sell long before that kicks in.” Homeowners simply had to keep refinancing and reselling their homes in order to avoid the huge payment increase when the “balloon” inflated. For the economy, as long as un-real money was replaced by real mortgage payments, on time, in the future, there wouldn’t be a problem.

     But there was a problem. The availability of lots of cheap money - real or not - just waiting to be used to build an expensive house, which could be sold quickly for a high profit, became the scheme of things. Ultimately, the very ones who inadvertently worked together to create that scheme – the individuals, the gadget makers, the designers, the real estate sellers, the house and garden TV people, builders, remodelers, flippers, and bankers - were drawn into it, captivated by the glistening beauty of a housing market where the homes and condominiums appeared to be made of pure gold. Those who signed the dotted line for artificially cheap mortgages and the promise of easy riches, the ones trying to live too high, too fast, too soon, needed to sell their homes at a profit before the balloon payments started. So, at about the same time almost everyone signed up for cheap mortgages, which meant their balloon notes were all coming due together. To come out financially healthy they all needed to sell to each other for the same high profit.

     But too many people were in the same situation. When it was time to sell, there were no buyers, just sellers. So the owners were stuck with impending financial doom as the balloon note’s maturity date neared. When “balloon” day arrived, overnight, mortgage payments increased so much that homeowners were unable to make the new payments and the foreclosures began. The banks who made real loans with fake money failed, and that failure rippled – no, it tsunamied through the entire economy.

     When lots of people sell something back and forth to each other at ever increasing prices which are supported by borrowed money….. that’s a bubble.

     But when everyone is involved, and has borrowed from everyone else who is involved, and the borrowed money doesn’t even exist, and everybody needs to sell to somebody, but nobody can buy because everybody owes everybody else more money than there really is ….. that’s a bubble about to burst….and as many people know all too well….it did. That’s NOW.

     As for the future of the American home, unless the hard lessons of the economic collapse are taken to heart, we, as a nation, will repeat the same mistakes. In fact it’s already started. As 2010 began, I was sure the desires of my clients would be tempered and more conservative, such as simplicity of design, less square footage, fewer specialty gadgets, and moderation in moldings and trim (like crown molding, and door casings). But I-want-it-all is still alive and well. I routinely hear my clients say things like, “This is a custom home. I want ALL the bells & whistles,” and “The mortgage payment doesn’t matter because we’ll sell it before the balloon note matures.” There it is. That’s the stupidity that ruined America.

     It’s like we’re standing in the ashes of a burned down house, and we’re going to start rebuilding without clearing the ground. This attitude has to change. But before change can come, we have to realize that change must come. Then we have to be patient and wait for things to get better, because change is never really sudden. Realization is. But, usually, realization only comes after great personal loss. Americans have suffered a great personal loss. We just have to realize why, and not repeat the same mistakes, then we can begin to heal.

     Americans must all agree to wise-up in our thinking, slim-down our desires, ramp-up our patience, cut-down our spending, increase our savings, and decrease or eliminate credit card borrowing. Be patient. Be steady. Be sure. Be careful. Be a good American and help someone else calm down and be careful too. Then, when you’re financially healthy again, call me for your house plans.

     In the mean time, look at the chart below. It’s this entire article at a glance.

Oh, don't think we're finished yet do you? There is so much more. So far, we've only defined the effect. We haven't even gotten to the cause, yet.

Earlier I said, "the over-simplified point of beginning." Now we'll discuss the hidden details of the reason we're here. In spite of the fact that there are several details, parts, that make up the economic collapse, we only need one word to define the entire era, harvest. You were expecting greed or power or control, weren't you.

There's no better analogy than farming, because there is a time of planting, a time of cultivating, and a time of harvest.

  • The planting is the alteration of banking regulations to allow possible future earnings to be counted as real profit now, instead of in the future where it belongs. 
  • The cultivation is the manipulation of financial products into position, so their possible future earnings can be bought, sold and traded. 
  • The harvest is...........................but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Before we continue, you need to know that this blog was intended to be a book about the creation of the economic bubble, those both directly and indirectly responsible, the collapse of the bubble, who is suffering the consequences, and who got away with it. I was going to call it Who's Cleaning Up After The Party?..............Nobody!" But, during my research, I discovered that Matt Taibbi had beaten me to the punch with his book, Griftopia : Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America. It's available as a Kindle edition, and I strongly recommend that you read it. It's very well written, thoroughly researched, and as to the point as anything I could come up with. So, for at least the next few paragraphs, I'll cite his work, and give him the credit for a job well done.

The planting occurred when the banking regulations were quietly side-stepped so imaginary money from the future could be counted as if it was real cash in the present. There was a time when banks had to have actual cash on hand to back up their customer's deposits. This cash had to be either in the bank's vault, or in the vault of another bank, or invested in the Federal Reserve System, or stored as gold in Fort Knox. It was real money, with real, immediate value, and it could be physically touched and counted by a human being.

the following is in progress

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved an accounting method called MARK-TO-MARKET. Enron became the first non-financial company to use the method to account for its complex long-term contracts. Note that Enron learned this trick from the financial sector. 
Mark-to-market accounting requires that once a long-term contract is signed, income is estimated as the present value of net future cash flows. While using the method, future profit from projects can be recorded in the present books, although this profit might not ever be received as actual money, but increasing profits based on imaginary future cash are shown on the present books, as if it's real. 
EXAMPLE: For one contract, in July 2000, Enron and Blockbuster Video signed a 20-year agreement to introduce on-demand entertainment to various U.S. cities by year-end. After several pilot projects, Enron recognized estimated [future] profits of more than $110 million from the deal, even though analysts questioned the technical viability and market demand of the service. This was actually a very good idea, but it was too far ahead of technology, so it didn't work. When the network failed to work, Blockbuster pulled out of the contract. Enron continued to recognize future profits, even though the deal resulted in a loss.

It's very important for you to remember, that in mark-to-market accounting, failed future profits still equal counted future profits.
Mark-to-Market accounting is a trick - in the most foul sense of the word - which will make a medium size company look huge, so it appears more attractive to investors, by "proving" the company's worth by counting profits which are in the future. However, in future years, these profits can't be included when they actually happen, because they've already been counted in the past. So, new and additional income has to be cultivated from more future projects to develop additional growth, and then keep that growth expanding a bubble. 

By now you may be asking, "So, what does this have to do with me?" The answer is only minutes away.

So, was Enron the farmer? Not at all. As big as that scam was, Enron was only a two-bit sharecropper compared to the real farmer. To reveal "who" we have to scrape away some dirt.


Thank you,
Andy Bozeman
AHI 9200, CFPM


I read somewhere that for progress to occur, two consecutive generations must agree. This is true for things on a very large scale – things for which planning and building stretches across multiple lifetimes – national highways, patriotic and religious indoctrination, the cathedrals of Europe. But I also believe that vast beneficial changes and cultural shifts can occur, not just in a single generation, but in a fraction of a lifetime.

With this journal I’m setting out to claim my fraction. My goal is to teach awareness of the possibilities of better living through the design and construction of better homes. My hope is that many will be influenced to think and act more thoughtfully in planning, building, and living in the American homes of the near and far future. My target, the way to get many to agree, is you, the individual reading this right now. You and I can live much better, much safer, much more productive lives. I know everyone already wants to be “better, safer, and more productive.” But to reach the same goal as a nation we have to move in the same direction and arrive at the same time. That’s progress.

The national mantra seems to have become “I want it all, and I want it now!!” At this writing, December 27, 2009, the United States is in the grip of a disastrous economic collapse which is the direct result of the American nation agreeing to be greedy. This philosophy will never lead to long term security. Instead it will only lead to a new national mantra “I lost it all, and I lost it suddenly.” In my next post I’ll tell you what this has to do with house plans.

Thank you,
Andy Bozeman
AHI 9200, CFPM