Today’s news:

IT’S ONLY MY OPINION - Bum borrowers deserve some blame too

Good morning, everyone. Before I offer you my thoughts for this week, I want everyone to turn toward that pretty lady sitting at the desk across the room. The one with the accent, mostly British, but here and there she blends in the “tawk of a Noo Yawka.” Yup. That’s her. Shavana.

Twenty years ago this week, Shavana and I began working here. I just want to raise this glass high and say “Happy Anniversary, Darling. My best to you.”…..

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Here are some of my thoughts from those little scraps of paper that seem to multiply in my pockets when I’m not looking:

There are 18.6 million houses in the United States sitting empty. This is the highest number since 1960 when the government started keeping such records. Right now about 3% of U.S. mortgages are a minimum of three months in arrears. This is twice the number of a year ago. In many stores where there used to be real estate agents there are now pawn brokers Not everybody that was awarded loans to buy a house deserved that loan.

Ya’ hear that, Barney? …..

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The world is full of good ideas. Here’s one that I offer to you — free of charge — to do or not to do — that is your choice. Right now I want every single one of you to sit down at the table with your handbag and/or wallet. Carefully examine every hidden compartment and pull out all of the half-used gift cards that you received last year for Christmas, Chanukah and your birthday. 25% of the gift cards bought for Christmas 2007 are still out there. Spend them now. If you don’t you just might get stuck with a worthless piece of plastic. I hate to be a pessimist but the way the economy is sinking, there is a chance that some of those stores and restaurants will not be around next month. …..

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The price of oil is dropping. As of this morning, it fell below fifty dollars a barrel, the lowest price since May 2005. With fears of a global recession on the horizon, the outlook is that the price may slide even lower. The pros in the options market hint at forty to forty-five dollars a barrel at the close of the month. Slowly but surely, this has been reflected at the pump. So why am I still paying a fuel surcharge on deliveries, cruises and airline tickets? ....

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I remember when the very best of a product was called the Cadillac of yada … yada … yada…. Just this morning I was looking at new cameras. The sales clerk held up what he considered his very best and said “This particular model is the BMW of cameras.”

Times sure have changed. ….

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And finally — have you noticed that when your computer’s ink status pop-up tells you that you are almost out of ink, you can still print another fifty pages? I am STANGERSHBEIN@BELLSOUTH.NET asking, Is this a sneaky way for HP to get us to buy another inkjet? …

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