Monday, January 30, 2012

We are suspended in time. Where the world neither moves forward or backward.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's a compilation post.

This week I have been sick with that cold called the seven layers of hell. Mr S. has it last weak, and I was doing really well. Then I caved, and it's all been a blur since then. The waterfalls of snot. I haven't slept through the night once. It's one of those colds where you have to tell your husband, "look, I'm a mess I'm sorry. Don't look at me. I'm hideous." The coughing attacks that make tears start streaming from your eyes, combined with the waterfall snot. Got your mental image yet? Thought so.


I've been trying to stay away from people. But I still have cabin fever. Yesterday Mr S. and I decided to go out and do some urban exploration.

(He is now sick with the new strain I gave him back.)

We hopped on the freeway, and the car died. 700 bucks later - I have a new battery and alternator. Which is a bit of a pisser since my car is only 5 years old.

Turns out, Chrysler stuck the battery in the back of this car. So it works the alternator harder. Which makes it overheat and die early. I swear, I will never buy another Chrysler product as long as I live. I had to replace the tires on the car at 15 thousand miles. It is basically a laptop on wheels. Disposable. Well, except for the HEMI.

So, we got the car back this morning, and went back to our urban exploring. We were going to hunt out this place in Fremont called the upside down airplane. The people who talked about it, did so quite a few years back - so I wasn't sure it still existed.

Turns out it kinda does. That have taken the airplane apart and are just using one wing.... for something. There is a lot of urban lore with this place. I'm just not that superstitious or paranoid. I did however find it interesting that they are still staffing one man out there to basically babysit these three antennae.

They have a dummy sitting on the spot where the plane used to be. The picture at the top of the post.

They have a wing of the plane sitting on a cammo jeep with an antenna sticking out of it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I haven't written about real estate in a while.

"WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Matt Martin, CEO of Matt Martin Real Estate Management, is eagerly awaiting the introduction of a program that the Obama administration hopes will transform foreclosed properties into rehabilitated rental units and kick-start the economy.

He says he’s not alone. “There is a large chunk of capital, billions of dollars, sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what kind of program the government comes up with,” Martin said.

At issue is a Federal Housing Finance Agency push to develop a program that is expected to use government financing or guarantees to attract investors to buy up big regional or national pools of foreclosed properties currently owned by government seized housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The plan would be to convert these properties into rentals, a market that has strengthened recently. See story from August on foreclosure-to-rental program "

One of the more fascinating developments of the entire recession has been the steady price of rents. As some of you know, I bought my crapshack back in 2008 thinking we were close to flattening out in the housing market. After having it on the market for a couple of months I realised the market had changed much more rapidly than I expected - so I shoved a renter into it.

For the next two years I scoured rentals every week to make sure my rental was competitive with the market. Housing was crumbing so quickly, I was sure rents would also decline somewhat. Meaning if my renter left I would have to reduce the rent for a new tenant.

To my surprise, in those two years, rents only fluctuated a hundred bucks from what I was currently asking.

Skip forward to last year. I noticed rents were rising, but they hadn't been doing so long enough for me to feel it was a real trend. After about a year of the higher rental rates, I decided that maybe it was indeed the new trend. They are now roughly 300 bucks over what I am asking. Which is a relief, because my renter is a bit of a tard. Finally I was more in the drivers seat. If we had a falling out,it would work out better for me.

Then the last month or so, something really strange happened in my region.

You can't find a 3 or 4 bedroom house in my city at all - or any of the burbs surrounding me. The property management companies that once had a page and a half of listings, now only had 7 properties total listed. I mean, there is literally nothing to rent around here. And I notice the rents for a 2 bedroom are starting to approach what I am asking for a three bedroom.

This of course provides me with some comfort. Instead of panicking and just backing out of my crapshack - I made a bet on the future that a lot of people wouldn't be able to buy a house and this would be reflected in rents. I guess I just didn't expect it to be so dramatic.

All of this made me consider going to an auction this week. Not to buy, but to observe. Global events are way too unstable to consider buying anything now. Plus our current administrations which hunt on private investors in the market makes it even less attractive.

This is why when I saw President Money Bags was setting up a program to help his cronies buy houses in chunks at I'm sure a greatly reduced price - sort of pissed me off. And it is quite obvious the only reason these people would be buying these houses is because of the government subsidies. While real normal private investors are sort of screwed. Ya know, the people who would do it with their own money and not government incentives. The higher rental rates are an incentive into themselves.

We don't even know what there is to be bough because of the shadow inventory is hidden from us. Which ironically is that same reason a lot of private investors are not buying right now. That mysterious shadow inventory threatens to make their investments radically less valuable.

It is just frustrating. People will buy those houses - if you just let them. It isn't rocket science.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

WTF 2012

This is Gingriches "are.... you..... fucking.... kidding me?" look. All he needs is an F right at the top of his head in this picture, and it would say WTF 2012. Which I love.

If things are totally going to suck - it might as well be funny. I mean.. the whole thing is a mess.
Man in suit selling home made cookies on BART. Loves it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ive never loved rain quite this much.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

You can be the boss.

Naaaa. You don't say.

I am not completely sure, and I don't want to hunt it down now - but, I'm guessing this is from the solarstrong project.

Navy losing money on solar project that used stimulus funds, audit finds.

"WASHINGTON – The Navy is losing money on new solar energy panels installed with stimulus funds at Naval Air Station Lemoore and other California bases, auditors say.

Lemoore, located in the sun-baked San Joaquin Valley in Kings County, was among 10 Navy and Marine Corps bases in California to have solar energy systems installed, even though they won't be cost-effective, the Pentagon auditors found.

As a result, taxpayers will be out $25.1 million, while the Obama administration finds another shadow cast over its use of stimulus funds for renewable energy. "

The article goes on to say:

"Projects were selected in part for their "contribution to the achievement of energy goals rather than cost-effectiveness," Navy officials stated.

According to auditors, energy cost savings from the Lemoore solar panel system will recoup only an estimated 26 percent of the installation cost. At Naval Base San Diego, the solar panels will recoup only 16 percent of the cost, they said.

Over the course of 20 years, auditors concluded, the solar projects studied will fall $25.1 million short of paying for themselves."

This is complete insanity. Every single one of these projects likely will not pay for themselves... perhaps ever.

Solar is the least cost effective way to get electricity. No matter how much money governments shove into it to disguise the truth. Making panels is quite energy intensive, and no one takes this factor into account when they calculate energy efficiency. Our alleged enemy (China) is disguising all the operating costs. If all the panels we consume were built in the US, you would see the feedback much more rapidly.

And don't even get me started on California schools who have mortgaged their present and future for this crap. They even put panels on schools that are closed. I thought these panels were suppose to be saving districts money. I guess they could now argue the panels are meeting 100% of the energy needs of that closed school. I don't even have children, but I still have to pay for this shit because I own property.

Even more frustrating is the philosophy that people should pay more for power. All of the progress we have made as a nation over the past 100 years is because we had a source of cheap reliable energy. Every time this process is disrupted, our economy suffers. This time is no different. Except now we have a looming bill for an unknown amount just chillin' out waiting to explode on us. I mean, no one knows how many bonds were sold for this crap.

Which of course make President Money Bags rejection of the XL pipeline just plain funny. Yeah, funny. It's what people wanted!

In one full swoop he could have tossed out all of the oil speculators and gas would have fallen relatively quickly. But, no. That wouldn't fit his agenda. Now gas prices will again start their climb, which will depress the economy, causing temporary deflation. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The politics of California.

Over the weekend, I went to one of those architectural salvage places. We actually don't have that many of them in the Bay Area. Everyone wanted everything new - so I'd think there wasn't really a market.

Come to find out - it was a den of socialist douchebaggery. Which I didn't expect. Too bad I'd say. There was a three inch thick door without the glass I was interested in to make into something else. I just can't give any money to these causes.

Audi Urban Concept vehicle.

Normally I never post anything stale. I am too ADD, and other stuff competes for space in my brain. Having said that, every year the Audi's never make it onto my blog. Despite them having quite amazing booths at CES. A bit over saturated, but still pretty darn awesome.

So, I give you the Audi Urban Concept Vehicle.

The in car navigation is what really is going to make Audi special. It can recognise street signs!

I can't figure out if these EV's are going to make it into the bad ass tag. Can it do 180? NO! Now, when my body gets mushy and I can't drive anymore - maybe then I will put them in.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I've seen a lot of things tagged - but never this.

Hey, at least they aren't costing the city anything.

What kind of tattoo would make a guy go this apeshit?

Sexually explicit tattoo angered Pinkberry founder, officials say.

"A founder of the Pinkberry yogurt chain allegedly beat up a homeless man with a tire iron because he found the transient's sexually explicit tattoo offensive, according to L.A. prosecutors.

The incident took place in June 2011 on an off-ramp of the Hollywood Freeway at Vermont Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Young Lee was stopped at a light when he was approached by a man seeking money, police said.

Words were exchanged, and Lee and another man in the car chased the homeless man and "beat him down" with the tire iron, police Capt. Paul Vernon said.

According to a statement by the district attorney's office, Lee felt disrespected by the tattoo. Officials did not provide a detailed description of the tattoo."

I have to admit - this story made me insanely curious. It isn't the part where the guy thought the tattoo was offensive - it was that he felt "personally" offended. Especially since the homeless are wearing every piece of clothing they possess.

So, how did he get a shot of any tattoo? Unless the guy had balls tattooed on his chin. I mean, what could it be? A fat chick? What?! I hope it wasn't that guy who had a bear mugging that chicks boobs on his leg.

oh! Maybe it was this! I'd forgotten I'd even made that post.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It brings a new meaning to "locally sourced".

We've had turkey's on the outskirts of town for a while. They have mostly been contained on the grounds of the wineries.

Then, about a year ago I started seeing them dead in the roads. Self, I thought - it's only a matter of time before they get into town. They are spreading.

They must have figured out there is dog and cat food to be found in town. Not to mention crazy bird ladies who feed them. (Not that all people who feed birds are crazy. Some however are, and will bring species in that are not helpful to the community.)

So, I guess we get to see how this turns out. Turkeys can get quite aggressive. I've seen videos of other places that had a heard of them, and they will chase you and try to wreck your cars. I only wish they were peacocks. Because that would be funnier.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

All of a sudden I am hoping ARE2012 invites me back this year.

I was absentmindedly deleting junk mail when I saw this in my inbox:

Innovega Demonstrates Megapixel Contact Lens Eyewear. Site.

I saw very little augmented reality at CES and didn't know to look for them. So, I assume they will be at ARE as well.

The gem I got from last year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I see that trend hasn't run its course yet.

Last year at CES it felt like fully a quarter of the booths had a device sitting in water.

This year still had a fair number of TV's, pads, and phones immersed in water. Because when global warming hits next year and causes all the icecaps to melt, flooding San Fransisco bay with 10 feet of water - we are going to need to be able to run our devices. No seriously - that is what people think. At least our government does.

On the brighter side - at least we got rid of all those booths catering to guitar hero.

Ford makes something interesting. Finally.

Ford Evos. I don't think my shots came out the well. Those damn lambo doors make everything difficult. You can look at all the glamor shots here.

Miscellaneous CES 2012 shots.

Okay - how do you get your dog into CES? In 5 years, I've never seen that before.

The only reason I took a shot of this was because it looked like a bear was holding that girl's boobs. Look at his giant man hands! It's weird. I've seen tattoos like this before, and I've never seen such giant man hands holding the boobs.

I have one word - Cubify.

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know that 3D printing is a technology I have been watching for a really long time.

I first saw it at RoboNexus in 2005. Then again in the World of Next Tuesday post in 2006. Maker Faire 2011, 3D printing had made great leaps. Then most recently in the dashboard of that Ultima kit car.

So when I saw the Cubify booth at CES, I thought I'd die. I continue to believe 3D printing will be one of the most disruptive technologies of our time. The technology has gone from very simple objects, to being able to print multi color simple toys.

The price is now to a point that it's affordable for average consumers. I believe every household will eventually own a 3D printer.

When I first starting watching it, these printers were 40 grand. The Cubify machine was apparently only 1200.00 bucks. I had to ask the guy a few times because I thought he said 12 grand. The price has been halving every year - so 12 grand didn't seem that out of range. 1200 bucks though is very affordable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

CES wasnt that bad. Not best year ever. But not bad.
I havent beaten anyone with a rolling suitcase..........yet.
Vegas bound.

You know how this blog works. You will either get nothing today, or a barrage. I won't be able to offload pictures until late. I might twitter some stuff. @snarkolepsy. Youtube = snarkolepsy.

Monday, January 09, 2012

There is nothing more irrelevant than journalists covering CES.

NBC Bay Area by Scott Budman.

"The New York Times just published a piece about how CES is pretty much over. The products don't matter, and even the cool stuff doesn't ever really make it to the real world."

I read this piece this morning and it made me want to punch journalists in the neck.

Listen, I am not going to defend CES. The past few years have been almost like death. It isn't because of the show. It's because the capitol to start new innovative companies has evaporated. Products are basically in refresh mode.

However, when I read this paragraph it really made me realise what idiots the people covering this conference really are.

"That said, I can't really defend the show as being completely up to date - even with its futuristic leanings. Where's the Square checkout counter? Where's the Facebook shopping demo? Amazon? Twitter? All used regularly by consumers, but rarely shown off at a convention like this."

Let me translate this: "I'm a journalist, and I'm bored. They should retool the show to entertain me rather than appealing the actual paying customers for which the show is intended." i.e. retail outlets like Best Buy. That is why you are suppose to actually work in the industry to even get into the show. Unless you are an idiot journalist who gets in for free.

Square should be there. They however are relatively new. But seriously? Facebook shopping!? Amazon and Twitter? Have any of these dumbasses even been to a software convention? People are going to fly from all points around the world, to look at a monitor where software is displayed? Ridiculous. Software shows are typically small because they have one or two product segments to demo.

Demo being a key word here because most of the products are CES are almost vaporware. They exist, but they typically are not functioning.

Software shows are domain specific. It could be an augmented reality show, or AutoCAD, or GIS shows like ESRI, but they are all focused on one segment.

You can't have a show like CES for software, because you can't sell software by showing a box. You can't sell software by visual dynamics, you have be convinced of its worth.

What exactly would someone coming to a convention see with a Twitter booth? Or an Amazon booth? I mean, the postal service has a booth almost every year. Maybe they should hunt that down.

The hardware sector is moribund, but what do they expect software to run on? Eventually it will go through a product cycle and things will reverse.

Having said that, if the journos are bored - what hope do I have?

I don't know what to say about it honestly.

Just about every day now, something happens that makes me say "wow.. I've never seen that before!"

"Blue-chip names like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Peugeot are among firms bailing out Europe's ailing banks in a reversal of the established roles of clients and lenders.

One source with knowledge of the so-called repo deals, or short-term secured lending, said the two U.S. pharmaceutical groups and French car maker were the latest to sign up for them.

Europe's banks are struggling to secure the cash to fund their day-to-day business and have largely stopped lending to each other for fear Europe's sovereign debt crisis could land any of their peers in trouble."

When this hits our shore - people are going to scream "why didn't anyone tell us about this". My response will be - what would it matter if they did? On the bright side - if Europe doesn't make it - all these companies will suffer greatly. Oh wait.. I don't know how that is a bright side - but all the things I knew to be true are no longer valid in this world.

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are feeling confident enough in the economy to go back to a time-honored tradition — taking on a little extra debt.

Consumer borrowing surged in November by $20.4 billion, the Federal Reserve said Monday. That's the largest monthly gain in a decade."

Only Americans could be so complacent to believe that credit drying up isn't a huge deal for the entire world. Most especially.... us.

But, hey - get your credit on. I guess.

Pursuit Of Happiness

France goes full tard.

French government to rescue struggling Photowatt.

"The French government is set to offer Photowatt France an 11th-hour reprieve by investing in the ailing panel manufacturer.

Two months ago Photowatt, a subsidiary of Canada’s ATS Automation Tooling Systems, was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy after falling demand and increased competition led to escalating losses. However, in an RMC Radio interview on Tuesday, Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said the government was ready to step in and rescue the country’s leading PV manufacturer."

PV installations plummet by 97 percent post FiT cut.

"The Department for Energy and Climate Change has revealed that from December 12-18, a measly 812 systems were installed. The figure is down by 97 percent from last week’s incredible installation figures that saw 125.93MW of capacity installed, as installers rushed to beat the December 12 deadline.

The effect of Government’s decision to half the subsidy afforded to sub 4kW systems has lead to just 803 systems being installed the week after the cuts were imposed. The installs make up a total capacity of 2.12MW, down from a staggering 80MW the week before, an eye-watering 98 percent drop."

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Another sleepy day in the burbs.

My city had a little "swat" incident today.

They had the chopper out.

Sharp shooter on the roof.

The neighbors of the suspect were on the roof of their houses. Look above the command center.

When the ambulance showed up - I thought things were going to get shitty. He eventually gave up.

So... did you know they had scanner apps? I mean, I have a scanner - but last I remember, those are illegal to carry around. I don't know how that works with cell phones. One guy started talking to me, and he was dialed into the city. It was the best take away ever! The guy said the suspect was going to shoot it out. Which explains all the resources.