Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pretty Sweet Hypercolor.



I probably should have taken a second pass at it to show off the color more - but Goodguys was having a Mustang show and I'm fairly bored with Mustangs. It wasn't easy to find stuff to blog about at all. So, I was kinda done at this point.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Right on queue.

I wrote this article a couple of days ago and didn't publish it because it's hard to convince anyone that the Fed isn't causing all the inflation we see. Since we are now printing a sub 1% growth I'm going to say I still believe a lot of the inflation being seen outside of housing is drought related and is in fact temporary. Painful, but temporary. I got a robocall from the water company this morning about water restrictions. They've never called before.

The numerous articles I've read in the past couple of days that call for interest rates to be raised only reinforced my belief. Good luck with all of that. Mortgage application volume was down 1.2% last week when interest rates were at their lowest in more than 6 months. And it's the "busy spring buying season". Don't believe me though - believe this chart of bank earning for the first quarter.

You don't seriously think we print a sub 1% growth number and the market continues to hit all time highs. Do you?

~

This post is brought to you by Jeff Cox at CNBC who writes: "Deflation 'greatest hoax' as prices keep rising." where he goes on to talk about the price of everything rising most especially food.

For the record I have been more in the deflation camp for pretty much the whole recession. There have been many periods where I thought inflation would eventually win out. I ultimately think inflation always wins. I've never lived through another period of deflation like we had in the Great Recession and when I go through the Misery Index inflation has been dominate at least 90% of the time they have been keeping records. Inflation is the norm. Deflation is a very abnormal occurrence according to history.

Having said that - just because you print money, doesn't mean people will spend it. People and businesses have all sort of reasons for hoarding money. Which is essentially why inflation has been a problem to take hold. Banks had new capitol holding requirements, so they swept up a lot of cash and just parked it. Businesses in many cases remember when the banks stopped lending to anyone - and that leaves a BIG mark. Of course they are going to keep a larger cash cushion now. Before the recession we didn't even know banks could stop lending. You just always thought "if I have good credit and make money - there is a good chance I will get a loan. Not a guarantee - but you have a good chance. After the recession we know that not to be true.

Why do I bring this up now? Because in March I wrote an article titled "This is going to make inflation look way worse than it is.", where I talk about how the drought is going to make people freak out about hyperinflation. This is causing all sorts of pundits like Jeff Cox at CNBC to say the Fed will need to raise rates to combat this out of control inflation. The thing is....the drought induced inflation is not caused by money printing. It's caused by a drought. And people don't understand how this trickles out through the economy. There is nothing the Fed can do about this particular type of inflation.

Nothing in the economy indicates things are getting strong enough to warrant a rate increase. So says interest rates. If things were that great, why is it becoming easier and easier to find loans under 4%? YOY home sales are actually down. Retail earning are a mess. Rental rates have topped a little while ago, and many markets are now showing price declines for homes. But when you pop into the store and spend 5 bucks on 4 limes as I did a couple of weeks ago it freaks people out. Still, as far as I know - the Fed can't control the weather.

Inflation wins for now. But not for long. I'm sticking with my deflation call (hopefully for the last time) until the end of the year.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Augmented Reality finally arrives in Motorcycle Helmets.

Today I was at one of those trade shows that was chock full of companies trying to be the next Google Glass or Oculus.

I'm not going to talk about that today because I'm just not convinced that people will start wearing glasses despite the benefit of Augmented Reality. Which is about the hardest reality to describe to people. By the same token, Oculus has made some great strides in Virtual reality but I'm skeptical that people will want to strap these things to their heads for any great length of time. Even though I've tried it, and the weight doesn't seem that problematic - my personal opinion is that gets old fast. I mean, imagine playing games with a scuba mask strapped to your head.

What I do want to talk about is the HUD motorcycle helmets I ran across because I can see that as an actual product that will enhance a riders experience and safety. Motorcycle riders already have comes to grips with having a helmet on. Adding a little augmented reality hardware to the mix doesn't add that much weight.

Both of these companies have backward facing cameras which I thought was brilliant. The only real difference I saw was the placing of where the display showed up in your view. The Skully Helmet displays information in the lower right corner of your vision. The Fusar Helmet has a display along the top of your vision. I don't ride, so other than the tech I have no opinion on which one is better. I like the design of the Scully helmet, but I liked the placement of the display better on the Fisar helmet.

I was super happy that HUD technology is finally making it into something I can actually see people buying. I've been watching the tech forever. Watch the videos.

Skully Systems helmet.



Fusar Technolgies helmet.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'm sure it means nothing.

Best Buy sees weak same-store sales for 2 quarters.

Sears posts bigger loss as sales slide.

No rest for weary Target as profit misses estimates.

Lowe's posts earnings and revenue miss.

Home Depot misses forecasts, hurt by slow season.

Staples forecasts fall in sales; shares skid 11%.

JC Penny beat estimates. But that doesn't mean they made a profit.

Kohl's earnings, revenue miss expectations.

Blame it on the snow: Wal-Mart misses, faults brutal winter.

Macy's sales fall as severe winter keeps US shoppers away.

That is pretty much the whole retail sector in the past week.

Yipes. It's starting to be really easy to get a loan under 4%. That is not the sign of a healthy economy.

I ran into Elvis again.



I'm using my stock photo I got of him the last time I saw him. I didn't even try to take any shots.

I walked right past him and said "hi Elvis!" He seemed confused at first. I said - you do shows right? And then we started talking. I guess he does a lot of shows in Europe and Japan. Which really forced a WTF Japan game show image into my head.

I asked him how Europe was doing, and he replied the economy is not great. Which I already knew, but you can't get enough confirmation from people who've been on the ground. Then, all I wanted to know was if he got all these tiny impersonators from Japan. Which made him laugh. He said even women dress up like Elvis there, and they were crazy about him. (Elvis) I thought that whole visual was pretty funny.

This is what women fought for. The right to dress like Elvis just like men. What would you call a female Elvis? A welvis?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

They are lying....... unless.

"U.S. stocks fell sharply on Tuesday after a Federal Reserve official said rate hikes might come sooner than expected and Staples and other retailers offered disappointing quarterly results. " Source. 

Honestly, this is the most projected crash in history. Everyone is just waiting for the trigger. We all know it's coming. We just don't know what day it will be. I imagine soon, because "Sell in May Go Away" is a pretty sound yearly constitution. Volume becomes really weak and crazy things happen. Don't believe me though. The earnings of companies have been really shit. And for the life of me - I don't know how Home Depot can still be hurting. I could have made their quarter just on the crap I had to buy there recently. Yes, I'm being somewhat dramatic.

Bullshitters can only bullshit each other for a certain time. I read three articles a day now telling people to prepare for a very sharp correction. And I believe them. They are all tapping to each other like ants getting on board and coordinating.

The only way rates are going to rise is if the Fed raises the interest rate banks pay to hold reserves at the Fed. I heard a rumor recently that the government in it's infinite wisdom, might do this to force banks to lend. To whom will be a really interesting question. Banks are barely getting any traction now in the low 4% range. Presumably from the small percentage of people still underwater. Because really... where is the refi segment going to go? Everyone that can refi at very low rates - has. Put a fork in that market. By keeping rates this low for this long, they've pretty much killed off one of their important sectors. That will put a stagnation into the market for a very long time.

Even if President Money Bags pokes them with a stick - where are the borrowers going to come from? On the other hand - if they are magically there - I would start fearing savage inflation. All that money they buried in the back yard as reserves will come to light. Once the health care sector caves I think inflation will be full speed ahead. It's almost the last sector that hasn't been cut to the bone.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Maker Faire 2014.



Today we made it out to Maker Faire. I didn't actually get that many pictures because there wasn't that much I hadn't seen from the previous years or elsewhere in the Valley. This was the first year I thought Maker had jumped the shark.




3D printing is really pretty main stream now. And Maker Faire is filled with that. Also what they can do has leveled off. For a while they were doing new amazing stuff all the time with all sorts of different materials. They've also stopped coming up with new styles. You have the filament type, gypsum printer, or UV hardened. Now we just have to see which one people embrace. I personally think the UV will win out. You feed it with a product that's the consistency of paint and the UV exposure comes in and hardens it up. These have the best resolution so far. Down to two nanometers.

There wasn't even that many huge sculptures this year. Maybe next year will be better.

























Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lotus Elise



I mostly slept today. But I got you this. My car sugar has been low for a while now. You don't see any of these at the home improvement stores. It was weird not having anything to do today.







Friday, May 16, 2014

This is not Charlotte's web



I don't know why this amuses me. I guess I've just never seen a spider set up house in the middle of a large window. She's been there for a couple of weeks now.

The blog should return to more normal now. This will be the first weekend I haven't had to fix something in a long time. Houses take everything you've got and then some.

This time, none of the contractors got on my nerves. In the old days before the recession you couldn't find a contractor working after 3:30. We used to call it contractor thirty. Even I used to cut out then. Not now though. The world had thoroughly grown up. At least those who are willing to bust their ass. I had a dishwasher installer at the rental at 8:00 at night and he was there till almost 10. I was actually pretty surprised how many people worked me in at the craziest hours because a lot of last minute stuff popped up. My trip to the land of churches almost left me without enough time to get everything done.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All that's left is the crying.

I've been watching interest rates like a hawk lately. It's the only way to tell what is really going on in the market since everyone wants to be "positive".

This morning you could find an interest rate below 4%. You'd have to work at it, but you could do it. Most are floating right above the 4% range. This is a very bad sign. At this point there can't be more than 10% of people still underwater. As I said yesterday, the high end market has topped, so the low end market can't be far behind. This will affect refi activity which is almost as dead as it gets now.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Today my property manager told me the high end market has started to top. Well, she didn't use those exact words, because it's always a good time to buy. sarc on. She a real estate agent too. But - she basically said the high end market has gotten softer, but everything in my price range was still okay. Which is weird because the gap between the high end and the low end has really gotten smaller. Lower price houses have appreciated in price much more than high end houses.

I think people that normally be able to afford the high end market are choosing much less expensive places to live. (like my new renters)
Yesterday my city went into mandatory water rationing. And they are super effing serious because the fines are pretty huge. First offense - 50 bucks. Second 100. Third 250. If you still do not comply - 500 bucks.

You are going to see neighbors start narc'ing each other out left and right. Even though most of them were watering their lawns in the last big rain storm we had. Because they are just that smart.

A couple of months ago I dropped into the water company to pay my bill and asked them what their plan was going to be. I could see the rationing coming down the state. First in the North and I watched every city as it went. Was it going to be like to the 70's where you could only use so many gallons a day? The gal said they have plenty of water for this year, they just needed to conserve for next in case we had another dry year. She told me - this isn't the 70's and they won't use rules from the 70's. Like I was the crazy one. I knew that chick was bat shit wrong. But whatever.

And my city had it's first power blackout last night. Because in California - electricity is not guaranteed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Life will return to normal soon.

I'm on a deadline and it's all I can think about.  My new renters are actually pretty wealthy so I'm doing more stuff than I might have normally done to please them. And the house is fighting me the whole way. It's the weirdest thing actually. My rental is a nice starter family home. I bought it because of the school district, as this is always a selling positive. So..... it's wild to have someone who is richer than you are renting your place. I mean... way... richer. Not even in the same ballpark.

At any rate - this all ends this weekend. Which is good because I have a ton of conferences coming up this month. And Maker Faire is this weekend. Like I said - things will get less boring soon. If I don't die of exhaustion. And then... even that might be a little funny. Depending.

Also - the house that was up for sale on the same block as my rental went for 9 grand over asking. It sold in a week. Which is great because it is my new comp to get PMI off. Seems like I'm not the only one with this bright idea. This is why the banks are resisting so hard. I finally got though my document discovery where they couldn't find the appraisal when I refi'd. Because it didn't exist. The letter they sent me said they couldn't find the document - but I should have a copy. Stupidly helpful. They were trying to push it back off on me. When I finally flipped out and they relented to give me access to their appraisers. Only to find out they had to send me a letter where they told me how much I'd have to pay. This couldn't happen on the phone. I'm not even sure I can pay with a credit card because they kept saying I would have to send in a check. Like it's the 1970's or something.

Any little thing they can do to slow down the process is fun for them. It's ridiculous because I'm going to get it off, but I've had to use a ton of their resources just to get to this point. It just doesn't make sense.

Monday, May 12, 2014

No turning back now.




It's going to be one crazy ass summer. We are getting early near 100 degree temps in a day or so. The air now is so dry that water gets eaten up in the atmosphere before it even falls to the ground. That's what happened with the storm we had last week. It was more like having fog than rain.

The creeks have run dry, (which sucks because that is where I was gonna steal water from) and even though I've been running the sprinklers in the middle of the night - I can't tell they have been run by morning because the dirt is breathtakingly dry.

Mandatory restrictions hit the city next to me yesterday. So, mine can't be far behind. Wells in the north are running dry because they live in the country and live on well water. Those cities are trying to come up with some crazy idea to put them on city water. I'll wager there will be no outside BBQ'ing allowed for the whole summer. And by the end, our sky will look like China's. Fire season will be off the charts. And food will become really, really expensive. Not to mention electricity, if we don't have that many blackouts will also take a chunk out of your wallet. There will not be any hydro to depend on this year.

You will start getting pictures after my renters are in. Lot of trees are already starting to turn brown. All that orange color on the loop is dry air.

Friday, May 09, 2014

I have seven days until my new renters move in. You probably will not get anything this weekend. The whole trip home took out my cushion and I'm freaking a little.

Also - interest rates are telling me you should start to brace. They are now down in the 4.12 range.

Even in the land of churches.



I really hate these cars. Mr S. loves them. And he loves that I hate them. It makes him laugh. I don't think anyone would care about this car if it weren't for that movie. The top speed is 70MPH unless you swap the motor out which I have yet to see.

I think people have the impression they are incredibly rare.  I don't think they are because I see them all the time. Even in the land of churches. I've even seen one turned into a hovercraft.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Flying the pet friendly skies of United.



Much of the past week has been a blur. When we found out about Mr S.'s dad we thought we would have more time, but things deteriorated quickly and all of a sudden we were booking a flight for the next afternoon. His heart dropped from 29% capacity to 14% in one day. All the siblings were flying in to say their goodbyes.

We didn't have time to find anyone to watch Jasmine. We are down to the one now. And when emergencies happen - you just throw all your shit in a bag and sort the whole thing out later. We weren't even sure where we were staying. His mom has developed very severe allergies to everything, and we didn't want to put stress on that. His sister is a savage smoker, and Mr S. is allergic to their dogs. The first night was pretty crazy. Jasmine flew in a soft carrier which she could have chewed out of if she wanted to. After we got out of the hospital it was pretty late. We needed to find food and some method to keep Jasmine contained while we were away attending to family stuff. The soft carrier was way too small to keep her more than a short time. Luckily a 24 hour Walmart saved our ass. I kinda got the idea from from South Park episode where Randy was shopping in the middle of the night. I don't shop at Walmart, so we were just hoping their pet section would have something we could use and it did.

It's been a few years since we've flown with bunnies. So you are always a little nervous if you will actually get on a plane. Especially since they put in the new scanners. I wasn't sure how they were going to screen me with a pet. As it turns out though, so many people fly with them - the airports on both sides have pet relief areas. You don't even need to see a vet before you go now to get a health certificate. At least on United. You do get extra screening, but I would have volunteered for a strip search if I had to. And the TSA reaction to bunnies is always a bit priceless. As you can imagine - they don't get them often.

We were pretty surprised how well she traveled. On the way back we had to leave her in the parking deck for a couple of hours, so by the time we got back to the airport we wanted to give her a few minutes out to calm down. Our flight had been delayed anyway. To our surprise, she didn't want to crawl immediately out of the carrier. Which is what most bunnies do once you open the top. The whole time we were waiting for the plane I had the carrier open. Then it got better. Our flight was practically empty. Everyone on that flight could have gotten their own row. Which was kinda funny because first class was packed. The back of the bus was empty. I've never seen a flight that empty. But a pet takes up all of your foot room and it was a relief to not be stuck in one position the whole flight.



The whole plane was empty and we gave her the window seat. Since she was super chill in the airport, we figured we would try to see if she'd be that way on the plane and she was. We weren't sure how the flight crew was going to feel about that. Before 9/11 they used to be chill enough you could snuggle them out of the carrier to comfort them. Obviously after - not so chill. The crew was aware of her and only warned me to not let her get loose. Even when we were landing they were okay with her being in the seat as long as she was buckled in. Which I do all the time anyway. Once I had to stop fast in the car and a bunny wound up on the floorboard. Every since then I buckle them. Plus I didn't want to hit weird turbulence. She was happy with this arrangement the whole time. You can see my bag of chips is all blown up do to the pressure.



Yesterday when we got home we found out that once you get whatever is causing congestive heart failure tamped down, you can stabilise. His dad already seemed more alert the day we were leaving. We still thought it would only be a matter of days. Apparently Mr S.'s sister has a friend who's parent lived on only 10% capacity for three years. Which was a huge surprise. This is why I gave you the whole Jasmine story. Otherwise I might have had deal with grief in the way I do by not talking about it for a while. I'm like a guy that way.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

It's been a rough week.

I had to stick one of my bunnies down, and the very next day we found out Mr S.'s dad was in heart failure. We are flying to the land of churches in the morning.
 
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