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Money Trap

The subprime mortgage crisis hit home (so to speak) last week with the collapse of First Magnus, a mortgage company that employed more than 700 workers in Tucson. The company, which had been in business for 10 years, abruptly announced last week that it would no longer fund mortgage loans.

In other bad economic news: The ongoing credit crunch is delaying efforts by various developers to build condos in downtown Tucson; The Associated Press reported this week that home foreclosures across the nation were up 93 percent this year; and the credit crunch has been followed by a stock tumble. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which topped 14,000 for the first time last month, fell to somewhere south of 13,000 before rebounding slightly, erasing all the gains for 2007. So much for that big boost in our 401(k)!


Jefferson Gives Benjamins

Former UA Wildcat basketball player Richard Jefferson announced he would give $3.5 million to the UA to help build a new $14 million practice facility for the basketball and volleyball teams.

Jefferson, who played for the Wildcats from 1998 to 2001, now plays for the New Jersey Nets.


We Love to Fly and It Shows

You know all those stories you read about how air travel is getting worse and worse? The Range learned all about it last week, when we tried to get home from Seattle on Delta Airlines.

We got to the airport in plenty of time to make our flight, especially after it was delayed by a half-hour. No big deal, especially when they said they'd be holding our connecting flight in Salt Lake City.

Once got on the plane, however, we got the bad news: The rear slide had started to deploy when the jet landed at Sea-Tac, so it needed to be repressurized, and we had to get off the plane while the hour-plus process was completed.

Savvy travelers that we are, we managed to jump on another flight to Salt Lake City boarding at a nearby gate. But any hopes of making our connection were dashed two hours later, when the captain told us that thanks to a thunderstorm over Salt Lake City, we couldn't land. And, he added, since we were now running out of gas, we needed to make a detour to Pocatello, Idaho, to top off the tank.

By the time we landed at that deserted airport, refueled and returned to SLC, it was past midnight. The Delta crew scheduled us on the morning's first flight to Tucson and sent us off to an airport Ramada.

Our spirits remained high, because we had a voucher that would buy us a pizza, since Delta had fed us nothing but peanuts and a granola bar on the flight.

But the local Domino's and Papa John's outlets that the front desk had advised us to call evidently decided to close early for the night, since they weren't answering our phone calls. Still hungry, we wandered down to the hotel lobby and discovered a machine that sold frozen burritos. We dropped in our coins and waited for the burrito to fall, but the machine refused to work. We settled for a Pop-Tart and shuffled off to bed.

We were up bright and early, ready for the hotel's "deluxe breakfast" that consisted of hard-boiled eggs, white toast, soggy hash browns, cereal and bananas. For this sumptuous feast, which was free to hotel guests, the restaurant manager demanded that we fork over our $7 food voucher from the airline, which struck us as something of a scam. Hey, Delta, you might want to look into that.

The first shuttle to the airport was too crowded to fit us, but we were first in line for the next one. Not that it mattered, because while we were loading our luggage into the back of the van, a large group of Spanish-speaking women emerged from the lobby and grabbed every seat. We pushed and shoved our way on board, envying the singing cowboy who squeezed his way into a slightly more comfortable arrangement in the luggage compartment.

Finally, after a half-hour in the security line, we made it to our gate, onto our flight and, eventually, home, a mere 14 hours after our original arrival time.

By the way, Seattle is beautiful this time of the year.

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