Fall Colors on the Road to St. Cloud

I had a hearing (meeting of creditors) in St. Cloud this past Thursday. I go there fairly regularly, because that’s where the initial bankruptcy hearings are for residents of Wright County – and quite a few of my clients are from Wright County. I’m really not that far from the Wright County border. Particularly since the most recent straightening of Highway 12, getting here from places like Delano, Montrose and Waverly isn’t that hard.

That hearing was fairly early in the morning, and I got to look at the fall colors along I-94 in the early morning sun. I think the low angle of the sun in back of me as I headed northwest contributed to the drama. If those colors weren’t at their peak, it had to be about as close as I’ll ever see. Every time I came around a curve to a fresh view of reds and oranges, I was thankful that I had an excuse to be making that drive.

The hearings in St. Cloud are at the Red Cross Building on St. Germain St. It does not at all look like a court house. In fact I would say it’s a strange place to be having hearings like that. I had my camera in the car and I was thinking of taking some pictures of the place for my web site. By the time I was done with the hearing, however, I had forgotten about taking pictures. I was concentrating on the case to the point that I didn’t remember anything about the picture idea until I was half way back.

The drive southeast from St. Cloud allows one to contemplate the railroad which runs parallel to the freeway. Burlington Northern Santa Fe I think. Until a few years ago there were the remnants of some sort of railroad-related telephone or telegraph lines along that railroad. Every now and then as one drove along an old pole could be seen in the trees or bushes along the railroad with a few wires draped over it and hanging to the ground. Those seem to have all been removed now, because I don’t see them anymore. One time I spent a few minutes on Google trying to see if anyone had posted anything about the history of those old poles and wires, but I found nothing.

As a kid I remember that all railroads had lots of telegraph or telephone wires running alongside. It was explained to me, I no longer remember by who, that those were private railroad communication lines so they could keep track of where the trains were and keep them from running into each other. Obviously they’ve found a better way to communicate and don’t need the wires anymore. I’m curious about it, but I can’t seem to find a write up on this topic anywhere. If anybody knows of a good place to look for such info, please let me know.

Well, that was a good ramble. More later.

Guess that Facebook Page is shaping up.

There’s a lull in my phone calls and appointments today – day after Labor Day. Something to do with the first day of school I would guess. As usual my schedule is very busy starting tomorrow and going about two weeks out, but not today.

So I was able to spend part of the morning working on a “Welcome” tab for my facebook page. There’s a free utility for that, which Kim Komando recently recommended. I trust her recommendations, and this one was as described. It consists of a template, actually a choice of templates, where one can fill in graphics and text with a link to one’s web site. I’m pretty satisfied with mine, which you can find by clicking on this bit of text.

I guess I’m a bit shy when it comes to facebook. To me the whole concept is hard to wrap my brain around. That probably has something to do with my core belief about computers, which is that they are nothing but glorified typewriters. It’s not right for a typewriter to do what facebook does.

Minnesota Bankruptcy filings Highest in a Decade?

So says today’s Pioneer Press. The headline is “State bankruptcy levels highest in decade.” I found this interesting to say the least, and just spent a bit of time looking at statistics for Minnesota bankruptcy filings on the American Bankruptcy Institute site. I thought I would check it out, because I always thought we had never gotten back to the levels we were at in October of 2005 just before the new law went into effect.

Turns out I was right, or at least I think I was. The Pioneer Press article is apparently comparing the first five months of the year this year with the first five months of every year going back ten years. If you do that, yes this is the highest year ever. However, if you compare the first quarter of this year with the last quarter of 2005, the last quarter of 2005 was significantly higher. I don’t think we have ever really surpassed that big rush we had in late 2005.

I have to admit though, it has been really busy around here. I did just file five cases in the last five days of June. Maybe that’s not a lot for some lawyers, but it’s a lot for me.

Busy with Bankruptcies

Well, it seems that nearly all I am doing these days is bankruptcy. At least as a practical matter. I have decided that for now it would be best for me to not accept any more probate cases or DWI cases. At least that’s how I feel about it today.

There’s only so much that one guy can do. It’s time for me to start concentrating on one thing, especially since there’s so much of it.

So I thought it was time to change the URL of my blog. It was “mn-bankruptcy-dwi-probate.blogspot.com.” I think at this time it’s best for me to drop the “dwi-probate” part. A while back I was surfing here at blog spot and saw a utility to migrate a blog to a new URL.

It might take me a while, but now that I have this new blog set up at this location; my intent is to migrate my whole old blog to here – if I can figure out how to do it.

So come back later and see how I’m coming.

Good news and bad news for potential bankruptcy filers

Within the past month there has been good news and bad news for folks thinking of filing a bankruptcy. The good news is that the federal exemptions have gone up as of April 1, 2010. The bad news is that the median income thresholds – which have a lot to do with who qualifies to file a Chapter 7 – have gone down slightly as of March 15th.

I just finished updating my exemptions page and my Chapter 7 page by posting the new numbers if you want to check them out.

The theory of Chapter 7 is that the court appoints a trustee who is given ownership of all your assets, right down to your socks. To get the assets back, you have to be able to claim them as exempt. This means that the list of things you can claim as exempt is very important. Here in Minnesota we get to choose between two very different lists – a list provided by federal law and another list provided by state law. The two lists are quite different, so it can make a big difference which one you choose. In general, the federal list is better unless you have substantial equity in your home. If there’s quite a bit of equity, then you better use the state list.

Trouble is that except for the fact that it is good for protecting one’s home, the state list has lots of gaps. Lots of things fall through the cracks and will go to the trustee. For this reason I pretty much hate the state list, but sometimes I have to use it anyway.

Since October of 2005 anybody who wants to file a Chapter 7 – except for a person who’s debts are “primarily business” – has to either be under the median income or pass a difficult means test. Thus, what those median income numbers are also becomes very important.

I’m relaxed. Really RELAXED.

Or not.

Nothing drives me close to being stark raving mad like a computer problem. It seems as if when that happens, everything else has to stop until the problem is resolved; and really let me tell you, I definitely have other things to do.

Last week my trusty laptop, upon which I have relied several years for a great many things, started giving me the following message when I booted it up: “Disk failure imminent. Back up all data.”

Maybe it was that new defrag program I had tried. Or maybe the laptop is just old. It has served me well four years, maybe almost five. The techno geeks in my life, and I call them that with due respect, all tell me that this is about the useful life of most laptops.

So late last week I went to my friendly local office supply store. The previous Sunday in the Star Tribune I noticed they were having a laptop sale. Yes, from time to time I have been known to still read a newspaper that’s actually printed on paper. Anyhow, at the store I found a wonderful whiz bang HP laptop with a 17 inch screen, Windows 7 and all the trimmings.

I brought it home and went to work configuring it for my personal use. That means I installed Eudora for my email, Word Perfect for my word processing, and an old version of WS-FTP so I can update my web sites when I finally get around to it. There’s a lot of different stuff about Windows 7 that takes a while to figure out, but I really was doing OK.

I enjoyed that laptop for about all of 72 hours until yesterday afternoon, when it seems to have electrocuted itself. First it started turning itself off for no reason. I took that as a warning sign, plugged in my portable hard drive and managed to back up most of my stuff before it breathed it’s final breath. After shutting itself off abruptly several times, it finally refused to boot up at all.

So this morning I tried to return the dead laptop. Fried hard drive was the diagnosis. All they would let me do is trade it for another one. So now I’ve spent my whole morning trying to get another one up and running to my own personal specs. I’m trying to be gentle with it, but I want it the way I want it.

My apologies for not responding to my email for the past day or so. I hope to have that up and running again shortly.

Spam on my blog – so now it’s "moderated"

Talk about nasty stuff! I’ve started getting spam comments all over my blog. I’ve been trying to delete them, but I may have missed a few. My apology for any that I may have missed.

I have enough to do without trying to edit the spam out of my blog. For Pete’s sake, I’m still having trouble getting my calls returned. I guess I’m used to it in my email, but this abuse of my blog challenges my faith in humanity. Who are these people? Don’t they have any self respect? If you ask me, it’s a pretty low thing to do.

So I’ve been fiddling with the blogger.com settings, and I think I’ve figured out how to make this a “moderated” blog. That means that no comments go up on the blog until I approve them. I’d rather not have to bother with that. I sure don’t have time for it. I just want to be left alone so I can practice law.

I would not have known that setting this up as a moderated blog was an option, except that another kind blogger emailed me and suggested it. He was a good man, and I thank him. Guess there’s hope for humanity yet.

Nothing Like a Little Excitement

The Vogager Bank is next door to the building where I office. Looks as if it was just robbed this afternoon.

My client scheduled for 4 pm seems to not have gotten here yet. That could be the traffic; or it could be that the neighborhood is surrounded with police who may be obstructing traffic. I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some road blocks in place. I just was visited by a very polite police officer and his quite pleasant but very focused and very large police dog. No, there wasn’t anyone else in the office with me just now.

Apparently they are looking for two guys, one of whom may be loose in my building.

More on this later.