We know you'd rather not read this long, painful story about just how bad the hard times are in the East Bay. But it's one of those sad duties we all have to face up to. The Trib's George Avalos has written an important story about how the nation's economic problems have hit the East Bay particularly hard, and how this crisis may be considerably worse than either the early 1990s recession or the dot-com bust of seven years ago. He's woven together human stories and quantified data into a grim picture, one responsible adults have to fully understand. Take just one unhappy number: Of all the homes sold in 2005-07, 59 percent in Alameda County are now worth less than the mortgage on the property. In Contra Costa, that figure rises to 76 percent. For those who watched as their equity doubled over and over again in the boom years, this must be truly flabbergasting.