Social Harmony, Inner Tranquility, and Better Living Through Baseball
posted by frightwig @ 4:27 PM
I think you should post kitty pictures Monday through Friday and only blog about baseball on the weekends.
Fabulous pictures again. I wish we had good natural light. Unfortunately, we face north. Sigh.
I can't figure out how you get them to sit still. I try to get photos of Diamond, but she insists upon jumping up and coming over to examine the camera. Posing her is out of the question.
So how many cats do you have?
Kristi, I could do catblogging five days a week, sure, but then I'm afraid some may be driven mad or blind by so much feline cuteness. Safer to measure out the doses once or twice a week, I think.I currently have five cats: Ornette, Pearl, O'Malley, Abigail (Gabby), and Isabella. The calicos are sitting by a southerly window. Sometimes I get pictures of the cats by a window on the west side of the house, too.None of the pictures are deliberately posed. (Gusto, for instance, got in the box and sat like that herself.) Often I get lucky and take the best shot just an instant before they move. If you go back to the "Miss Firecracker" photo of Izzy/Amber, she actually pounced on me a split-second after I snapped the photo. Believe me, I miss my fair share and have plenty of unusable pictures, too.In fact, the latest batch of kitten photos taken by my sweet Capt. Bess Vane are mostly of a little black blur, but I think we can mine out a few gems to show off....
We love your pictures. And your cats.
Wow, those calicos are big cats!
Gabby, the calico in back, is big and always has been. (We adopted her as a 9-10 y.o. adult.) But Pearl is pretty small. Must be a trick of the light that makes her appear bigger than her actual size, or else they're just sitting on a little sofa! :)
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Debt Consolidation Debt1consolidation.com entails taking out one loan to pay off many others. This is often done to secure a lower interest rate secure a fixed interest rate or for the convenience of servicing only one loan. Debt consolidation can simply be from a number of unsecured loans into another unsecured loan, but more often it involves a secured loan against an asset that serves as collateral, which is most commonly a house (in this case a mortgage is secured against the house.) The collateralization of the loan allows a lower interest rate than without it, because by collateralizing, the asset owner agrees to allow the forced sale (foreclosure) of the asset to pay back the loan. The risk to the lender is reduced so the interest rate offered is lower. Sometimes, debt consolidation companies can discount the amount of the loan. When the debtor is in danger of bankruptcy, the debt consolidator will buy the loan at a discount. A prudent debtor can shop around for consolidators who will pass along some of the savings. Consolidation can affect the ability of the debtor to discharge debts in bankruptcy, so the decision to consolidate must be weighed carefully. Debt consolidation is often advisable in theory when someone is paying credit card debt. Credit cards can carry a much larger interest rate than even an unsecured loan from a bank. Debtors with property such as a home or car may get a lower rate through a secured loan using their property as collateral Then the total interest and the total cash flow paid towards the debt is lower allowing the debt to be paid off sooner, incurring less interest. In practice, many people are in credit card debt because they spend more than their income. If that habit continues, the consolidation will not benefit them much because they will simply increase their credit card balances again. Because of the theoretical advantage that debt consolidation offers a consumer that has high interest debt balances, companies can take advantage of that benefit of refinancing to charge very high fees in the debt consolidation loan. Sometimes these fees are near the state maximum for mortgage fees. In addition, some unscrupulous companies will knowingly wait until a client has backed themselves into a corner and must refinance in order to consolidate and pay off bills that they are behind on the payments. If the client does not refinance they may lose their house, so they are willing to pay any allowable fee to complete the debt consolidation. In some cases the situation is that the client does not have enough time to shop for another lender with lower fees and may not even be fully aware of them. This practice is known as predatory lending Certainly many, if not most, debt consolidation transactions do not involve predatory lending. In the United States, federal student loans are consolidated somewhat differently, as federal student loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. In a federal student loan consolidation, existing loans are purchased and closed by a loan consolidation company or by the Department of Education (depending on what type of federal student loan the borrower holds). Interest rates for the consolidation are based on that year's student loan rate, which is in turn based on the 91-day Treasury bill rate at the last auction in May of each calendar year. Student loan rates can fluctuate from the current low of 4.70% to a maximum of 8.25% for federal Stafford loans 9% for PLUS loans. The current consolidation program allows students to consolidate once with a private lender, and reconsolidate again only with the Department of Education. Upon consolidation, a fixed interest rate is set based on the then-current interest rate. Reconsolidating does not change that rate. If the student combines loans of different types and rates into one new consolidation loan, a weighted average calculation will establish the appropriate rate based on the then-current interest rates of the different loans being consolidated together. Federal student loan consolidation is often referred to as refinancing, which is incorrect because the loan rates are not changed, merely locked in. Unlike private sector debt consolidation, student loan consolidation does not incur any fees for the borrower; private companies make money on student loan consolidation by reaping subsidies from the federal government. Student loan consolidation can be beneficial to students' credit rating, but it's important to note that not all federal student loan consolidation companies report their loans to all credit bureaus; SLM Corporation (formerly Sallie Mae) does not report to Experian or Transunion which means that students will have differing credit scores at Equifax Transunion, and Experian. Credit as a financial term, used in such terms as credit card refers to the granting of a loan and the creation of debt. Any movement of financial capital is normally quite dependent on credit, which in turn is dependent on the reputation or creditworthiness of the entity which takes responsibility for the funds. A similar usage is in commercial trade where credit is used to refer to the approval for delayed payments for goods purchased. Sometimes if a person has financial instability or difficulty, credit is not granted. Companies frequently offer credit to their customers as part of the terms of a purchase agreement. Organizations that offer credit to their customers frequently employ a credit manager Credit is denominated by a unit of account Unlike money (by a strict definition), credit itself cannot act as a unit of account. However, many forms of credit can readily act as a medium of exchange As such, various forms of credit are frequently referred to as money and are included in estimates of the money supplyCredit is also traded in the market The purest form is the "Credit Default Swap" market, which is essentially a traded market in credit insurance. A credit default swap represents the price at which two counterparties will exchange this risk — the protection "seller" takes the risk of default of the credit in return for a payment, commonly denoted in basis points (one basis point being 1/100 of a percent) of the notional amount to be referenced, while the protection "buyer" pays this premium and in the case of default of the underlying (a loan, bond or other receivable), delivers this receivable to the protection seller and receives from the seller the par amount ( i.e., is made whole). Credit Education is the practice of providing consumers with information analyzing their credit behavior. Credit education is usually practiced by trained professionals knowledgeable in the analytics of the credit score and how consumer credit behavior effects both positive and negative credit eligibility. Credit education is usually assisted by sophisticated credit scoring models that mathematically assists the consumer, or counselor, in determining a credit improvement outcome. Credit Education has become an increasingly practiced discipline due to sweeping increases in the use of the credit score and its affect on the prices consumers pay for loans, insurance, housing and utilities. It is also the major factor in loan eligibility. Not to be confused with credit counseling credit education does not focus on debt counseling, nor involves the practice of collecting debt from consumers. Credit counseling and credit repair have consistently received negative publicity for its fee and management practices.The largest suppliers for credit education data are Fair Isaac Corporation, CreditXpert and the three credit bureaus ( Experian, TransUnion and Equifax who deliver credit reports and credit scores. Among the largest providers of credit education services is Community Empower who, through the use of its own scoring models and national network of credit education counselors, provides consumers hands-on guidance using highly-trained local professionals. Credit education has also received attention as a new discipline at the Community College level where new courses on the subject are being taught. Usually aligned with Mortgage Finance programs that teach college undergraduates principles of lending and underwriting credit education and credit recovery programs are giving students more extensive backgrounds in credit early in their careers. Among the early college level adoptors of credit education is the Los Angeles Community College District and Los Angeles Trade Technical College. FICO is an acronym for Fair Isaac Corporation (traded publicly under the symbol FIC) and refers to the best-known credit score model in the United States, which is calculated using mathematical formulae developed by this company. The FICO score is primarily used in the consumer banking and credit industry. Banks and other institutions that use scores as a factor in their lending decisions may deny credit, charge higher interest rates or require more extensive income and asset verification if the applicants credit score is low. FICO scores are designed to indicate the likelihood of a borrower being delinquent within the next 24 months. No public information is available to determine what the scores mean in terms of statistics. A separate score, BNI, is used to indicate likelihood of bankruptcy. The three major credit reporting agencies (also often, but inaccurately referred to as credit bureaus) in the United States, Equifax, Experianand TransUnion calculate their own credit scores, which go by different trademark names as well as many different versions of the score (often differing because of what they are meant to predict and when they were written): Beacon, Beacon 96, and Pinnacle are all available only from Equifax; Empirica, Empirica Auto 95, Precision Score, and Precision 03 at TransUnion; and Fair Isaac Risk Score at Experian. These versions, while all developed for the agencies by Fair Isaac, differ and are periodically updated to reflect current consumer repayment behavior. The NextGen Scores are the most recent scores, but creditors vary in which version they prefer to use. The scores use a multiple scorecard design. Each version uses 10 or more individual scorecards, and an individual is typically compared with similar others. (For example, a borrower with two 30-day late payments will be scored against a population with some minor delinquencies.) An individual is then graded according to what variables seem to indicate a repayment risk in that group. This feature may cause a borrower with delinquencies to score in the same range as a borrower without delinquencies. Nearly all large banks also build and use their own proprietary statistical models for credit scoring purposes, often in conjunction with the FICO score or other outside scores.The statistical models that generate credit scores are subject to federal regulations. The Federal Reserve Board's Regulation B, which implements the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, expressly prohibits a credit scoring model from considering any prohibited basis such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or marital status. Regulation B also stipulates that credit scoring models must be empirically derived and statistically sound. Furthermore, if an adverse action is taken as a result of the credit score ( e.g. an individual's application for credit is denied) then specific reasons for the denial must be provided to the individual. A statement that the individual "failed to score high enough" is insufficient; the reasons must be specific. There exist several generally accepted algorithms for extracting the primary contributing factors to a low credit score. One or more of these algorithms is typically used to supply a list of reasons when a loan applicant has been denied credit, in order to satisfy the Regulation B requirement that specific reasons are disclosed. Some consumers feel these adverse action reasons are somewhat disingenuous, as the only determining factor for credit denials is a numeric score — the "reasons" are summed up only for the consumer. Each of the credit reporting agencies has developed its own version of the credit score intended to compete with Fair Isaac's score. Although not as widely used, these scores (for example Trans Union's "TransRisk" score or Experian's "ScoreX" and "PLUS" scores) are less expensive than the FICO score. These scores are often derisively referred to by consumers and lenders as "FAKO" scores, for they do not use official Fair Isaac methodologies. The cost savings of a non-FICO score are tempting to some banks and credit card companies, who need an accurate risk assessment on millions of accounts every year. For ease of use, these scores tend to be mathematically scaled so that they fall in the same general range as the FICO score. Fair Isaac offers scoring models for the U.S ., Canada, and South Africa. It also offers a "Global FICO" for many other countries.Credit scores are designed to measure the risk of default by taking into account various factors in a person's financial history. Although the exact formulae for calculating credit scores are closely guarded secrets, Fair Isaac has disclosed the following components and the approximate weighted contribution of each: 35% punctuality of payment in the past (only includes payments later than 30 days past due) 30% capacity used: the ratio of current revolving debt (credit card balances, etc.) to total available revolving credit (credit limits) 15% length of credit history 10% types of credit used (installment revolving consumer finance 10% recent search for credit and/or amount of credit obtained recently The above percentages provide very limited guidance in understanding a credit score. For example, the 10% of the score allocated to "types of credit used" is undefined, leaving consumers unaware what type of credit mix to pursue. "Length of credit history" is also a murky concept; it consists of multiple factors - two being the oldest account open and the average length of time an account has been open. Although only 35% is attributed to punctuality, if a consumer is substantially late on numerous accounts, his score will fall far more than 35%. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, and judgments affect scores substantially, but are not included in the simplistic pie chart provided by Fair Isaac. Further, Fair Isaac does not use the same "scorecard" for everyone. The scorecards are segmented so that there are over 100 different actual scoring models that are applied to different individuals based on different ranges of input values (some scorecard segmentations include: age, depth of credit history, etc.) The implications of this segmentation are that while the approximate weighted contribution above may be an average across all scorecards, individuals will receive different scores or weightings based on the scorecard segmentation that they fall into. Some consumers have noticed their scores decreasing by small amounts for no apparent reason. Current income and employment history do not influence the FICO score, but they are weighed when applying for credit. For instance, an unemployed individual with no other sources of income will not usually be approved for a home mortgage, regardless of his or her FICO score. There are other special factors which can weigh on the FICO score.Any monies owed because of a court judgment, tax lien, or similar carry an additional negative penalty, especially when recent. Having above a certain number of consumer finance company credit accounts also carries a negative weight (critics say that this causes a vicious cycle, locking people into continuing to use consumer finance companies). The number of recent credit checks also can weigh down the score, although the credit agencies claim to allow for credit checks made within a certain window of time to not aggregate, so as to allow the consumer to shop around for rates. A FICO score generally ranges from 300 to 850. It exhibits a left-skewed distribution with a US median around 725. 660 is generally regarded as potentially subprime and represents an important break point for credit worthiness. The performance of the scores is monitored and the scores are periodically aligned so that a credit grantor normally does not need to be concerned about which score card was employed. Each individual actually has three credit scores for any given scoring model because the three credit agencies hold their own, independent databases. These databases are independent of each other and may contain entirely different data. Many lenders will check an applicant's score from each bureau and use the median score to determine the applicant's credit worthiness. A new Vantage score has been offered by all three credit bureaus to creditors since spring 2006. It will soon be available to debtors. Its range is from 501 to 990. It is graded A (901-990), B (801-900), C (701-800), D (601-700), and F (501-600). It remains to be seen whether the Vantage Score will replace the FICO score or even be accepted by many creditors.
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Q: How does your Debt Settlement program work?A: When you enroll in our debt settlement program, we set you up on a monthly payment that is as much as 50% lower than your current minimum monthly payment. In the meantime, we negotiate with the credit companies to get them to agree to substantially lower the amount you owe. Once you have saved enough money and a creditor has agreed to a pay off (normally 40 to 50 percent of what is owed), we pay off the credit card company with a lump sum settlement. Q: What are the indications that I may need to join your Debt Settlement program?A: Our debt settlement program is only for people facing financial HARDSHIP. This means people who are late on paying their debts, have lost their job, have little or no ability to pay their debts in the future and are facing a possible bankruptcy. We do not advocate that any person default on their debts. This program is not designed to negotiate debts for people who have reasonable means to pay off their debts. If you have the ability to pay your debts in the normal fashion, by paying minimum payments, then you should honor your debts and do so. This program is NOT for people who are gainfully employed, have high credit ratings and can meet their monthly debt obligations. Q: What other debts, besides credit cards can I settle using your Debt Settlement program?A: We are also able to deal with medical bills, personal loans, repossessions, department store cards, gas cards, and accounts in collections. Since we negotiate with your creditors, we are unable to work with mortgages and cars because they will be able to recover the property in the event that you do not pay according to the terms they stipulate. Student loans also might as well be considered "secured debts" because the federal government will allow a student loan creditor to take your tax refund or levy your bank account without a judgment if you default. Since the bankruptcy law changes in 2005, even private student loans cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. In sum, we only deal with debts where we will have sufficient leverage in order to procure the lowest debt settlement possible. Q. Does enrolling into a Debt Settlement program have a negative impact on my credit?A: Yes, your credit score will decline due to entering this program. How much it will decline depends on your original circumstances. Most of the accounts you place into negotiation are likely to "charge-off", which will reflect negatively on your credit. However, once this charged off debt is settled, the settlement is reported to the credit bureaus. Settled accounts are positive compared to unresolved delinquent debts or bankruptcy. After all the debts have been settled and paid, the credit score should begin to improve since the negative items have been resolved. A high credit score is desirable to have, but if you have a financial hardship and are unable to pay your debts, then your first priority should be to pay your delinquent debts and get back on your feet financially. Q: Does enrolling into a Debt Settlement program stop collection calls from my creditors?A: No. Your creditors have every right to try and contact you in order to collect a debt. However, we have been successful in eliminating most harassing telephone calls. If your account is in collections; collections agencies have to adhere to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA specifically states that a debt collector is obligated to contact third-parties with a Power of Attorney instead of the debtor. Once you enroll in our debt settlement program, we fax or mail a Power of Attorney to your creditors notifying them that we are handling your account. Q: Can I still use my credit cards?A: NO. All credit cards in the program will not be active and you will not have credit privileges. Any cards you DO NOT put into the program should not be used except for emergency purposes. This program is for you to get out of debt. Q: Should I close my credit card accounts after enrolling in your debt settlement program?A: Yes, you should close your account. In general, it is far better for an account to read "account closed by consumer" on your credit report versus "account closed by credit grantor." It shows to any future lenders that you took the initiative in your situation, which is helpful. Q: What is the difference between Debt Settlement and Credit Counseling?A: In a debt settlement program, negotiators work on your behalf to reduce your balance by up to 50%. In a credit counseling program, counselors work to reduce interest rates. The average credit card debt settlement program lasts between 1 and 3 years, whereas credit counseling services last for between 4 and 6 years. In general debt settlement tends to be a more aggressive approach to debt elimination. Q: What is the difference between Debt Settlement and Debt Consolidation?A: There are two types of debt consolidation: secured and unsecured debt consolidation. With secured debt consolidation, a consumer gets a loan that is collateralized by a home or vehicle to pay off their credit card debt, and then pays back the loan at lower interest since it is secured by property. With an unsecured debt consolidation loan, a consumer gets a loan from a bank, presumably at a marginally lower interest rate, to pay off their credit card debt. Debt Settlement does not involve lending, but rather negotiating with credit card companies and other creditors to reduce the amount you owe. Q: What is the difference between Debt Settlement and bankruptcy? A: Debt settlement is very different from bankruptcy. For starters, bankruptcy has far wider implications for your credit versus Debt Settlement. Bankruptcy is a suitable alternative for consumers who do not have any income or are seeking debt relief for secured debts like mortgages and car loans. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court orders a debtor to liquidate all of their non-exempt property and pays the creditors back with the proceeds from their sale. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court orders a debtor to turn over all their disposable income for 5 years. Q. Can I be sued while I am enrolled in a Debt Settlement program?A: Yes, your creditors certainly have the right to sue to recover their money. But usually the purpose of the lawsuit is to force a settlement on the matter. In our experience, most creditors would rather not go to the expense of suing and simply try to negotiate a settlement. Q: What will I pay for your services?We charge a 15% fee which is calculated based on the total amount of debt that an individual brings into the debt settlement program. This fee is recovered from your monthly payments in the first 12-15 months of the program. All costs and fees are always fully disclosed and you are required to sign for approval before you commit to our program. Q: Can I apply for other credit while enrolled in the Debt Settlement program?A: No, you cannot apply for other credit while enrolled because it could affect our ability to negotiate with the credit card companies. In some cases they will say, "If this client was having trouble with his or her debt, why have they applied for other credit cards after they enrolled in your program?" Moreover, the goal of our credit card debt settlement service is to help our clients become debt free, and applying for other credit cards while you were enrolled would defeat the original purpose of the program. Q: Are there any tax implications associated with enrolling in the Debt Settlement program?A: Yes, it is possible that you may be taxed on the savings related to our settling of your credit card debt. However, for clients who are technically insolvent, then the IRS only requires that you file a form 982, which exempts you from having to pay taxes on the savings from your credit card debt settlement program. The IRS defines insolvency as financial state in which someone owes more (liabilities) than the value of their assets. Many of our clients fall under this category, but you should consult a tax attorney for advice regarding your situation. Secondly, even if you are taxed on the savings from debt settlement, you still save a lot of money. Remember, you are only taxed on a percentage of the savings. That is, if our debt settlement program saved you $2000 off one of your credit cards and you had to pay 25 percent of that amount to the IRS ($500), then you still saved approximately $1500 and thousands of dollars more when you factor in the interest charges you did not have to pay. Q: What are my responsibilities throughout the Debt Settlement program?A: Your main responsibilities are to be truthful and to make your monthly payment as planned. Without ample savings we will be unable to obtain settlements from the credit card companies. If you will have trouble making your monthly payment, then it is important that you notify us 5 business days in advance, so you do not get charged for having insufficient funds. Moreover, it is important to stay in touch with us, so we always have quick and easy access to you during the negotiation process in the event that we need you to supply our debt settlement experts with any important information regarding your credit card accounts. Q: Can I include accounts into the Debt Settlement program that have authorized users or co-applicants?A: Before enrolling any credit cards with co-applicants, we ask that the co-applicant sign a waiver acknowledging that they are allowing the account to be included in our debt settlement program. For authorized users, we advise that you ask the credit card company to remove the person from the account prior to enrollment. If this does not work, we will need the authorized user to sign a waiver acknowledging that they allow the account to be included in the debt settlement program. Q: What is the difference between credit card debt settlement and credit repair?A: Credit repair involves removing inaccurate or unverifiable information off your credit report. Clients of our credit card debt settlement program will oftentimes use credit repair after their debts are eliminated to more rapidly increase their credit scores. Unlike debt settlement, however, credit repair cannot eliminate debts that you actually owe. Q: Do you make payments to each of my credit cards every month?A: No, we negotiate with your credit card companies to lower the amount that you owe. Once you have saved enough money and one of the credit card companies has agreed to lower the amount you owe, we pay them off with a lump sum settlement of your debt
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