Monday, December 29, 2014

If the collapse in oil prices is so positive for consumers (and I absolutely think it is) why all of a sudden do people seem so worried? I guess not everyone is up for a game of oil roshambo like they said they were.

Alaska, Texas, and Canada are completely throwing up. And two of those three listed have been really strong markets. It must have been two weeks ago all these stories started coming out about the average price of a house in Vancouver Canada was a million dollars. At the time I was like - wow Canada!

Silicon Valley has crazy real estate prices, and I roughly know what level of commerce it takes to make that happen. What are you guys making up there that causes housing to be so crazy expensive?  You aren't making it up in Poutine are you? Because that shit is delicious.

The deflation train is about to hit you.

This weekend I read an article about how the US was insulated from the troubles of the rest of the world.

I laughed and laughed and laughed.

We all know about Europe, but what gets less play is India and Singapore. They are at basically 0% inflation too - and you better start paying attention. This is what they are saying about India. Source here.

"presented an even more dramatic picture. The inflation rate for November 2014 over a year ago was precisely zero. One year ago, it was 7.5 per cent. This indicator has been in rapid decline over the past few months, influenced significantly by the fall in oil prices, of course, but also reinforced by trends in food prices.

Now this is what they are saying about Singapore. Source here.

"The inflation rate in Singapore was recorded at -0.30 percent in November of 2014. Inflation Rate in Singapore averaged 2.80 Percent from 1962 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 34 Percent in March of 1974 and a record low of -3.10 Percent in September of 1976."

Why does this matter? These countries actually stayed relatively strong throughout the whole recession. Especially troubling is Singapore. It's really a pretty wealthy country. Although when they started building "living trees" a couple of years ago - you did wonder how close to a Dubai style crash they were. 

I can't believe the shit they write.

Housing takes a breather: Why that's good.

"The housing market is cooling off, but that may be just what it needs for a healthier recovery in 2015.

Much like an athlete in training, rest is just as important as activity. Home prices overheated in the early stages of the housing recovery, and now they are taking a break. That may be just what is needed to get buyers back into the market this coming spring.

Reeeeealllly. Because when I think of the housing market - I think it's just a little overworked and needs a cooling off period. Sales have been falling for probably six months, even as prices continued to rise, slightly.

What you need in a "healthy" recovery is to bring the whole market down - so you can get a tiny sliver of qualified applicants into the buy stream. Said in the most sarcastic way.

This reporter has jumped into my most hated reporter status. Not only with this article, but it doesn't help. I think there is a good chance she doesn't own anything because she seems so clueless. I'm sure the Fed thinks it's super "healthy" for the market to cool off just in time for them to raise rates.

The funny thing is she has a tiny sliver of recognition that rising rates will be a negative, but she doesn't quite put the prices together.

"A few warnings, however, for the new year: Interest rates will likely move higher, albeit remain in an historically low range. In today's tougher mortgage market, small rate moves have a bigger effect than they have in the past because banks require borrowers to have stronger personal finances overall. Even low down payment loans, now being offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are harder to qualify for than products of the past.

And then there is the freak-out factor. Prices in some markets are poised to go negative in the short term. Connecticut is the first state to see that, according to Black Knight Financial Services. If prices were to dip on a national level year over year, even if just for a month or two, that could spook buyers and sellers alike.

Okay, what she's telling me that sales fell in November. Are not expected to pick up in December, but will magically somehow pick up next year. Did I mention sales have been falling for six months? Oh yeah. It's right there at the top!

Some States like Connecticut are starting to see prices declines. And that the single thing that could screw this all up is the Fed raising rates next year? Shrug.

I say it again. I dare them to raise rates. You will see all hell break loose that will make 2008 look like a picnic. Remember, there are still around 19% of people still underwater. And these are the big guys. People who could afford to sit in a negative asset for 7 years at super high interest rates.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Punch hole cloud.

To tell you the truth - I didn't even recognize this as a punch hole cloud until I took my first shot. I was completely focused on the middle area where it was trying to spit out tiny rainbows. As soon as I saw the first shot I could see it was circular. But I hadn't noticed it until that point.

By the time I got pulled over in a Walmart parking lot, it had turned more eye shaped. Which only could have been a couple of minutes.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I'm going to try and give you more video this year.

Narration isn't my strong suit. Most days I'm happy if I can get everything framed the way I want to, then find a way to attach words to whatever comes from that.

2014 Ferrari Enzo.

I've been dieing for the monthly Santa Row car show. My car sugar was low and I wanted to see what the rich kids got for Christmas. I mean, you are going to bring your best stuff two days after Christmas. Right? It better be the best car show of the year!

It only goes until about noon, and a lot of the guys were starting to leave - so Mr S. and I went over to The Counter for a burger. They have one at Santa Row now. If McDonalds needs to understand why their sales are caving - it's because of places like the Counter. You get to choose all your ingredients! If you have a bad burger - it's all your fault. There is a burger renaissance going on. Seriously.

After lunch we decided to take one last look to see if there were any stragglers. I couldn't even see what this car was, but I could see the crush of people. Which is always a good sign.

It turned out to be this Enzo which I think it actually a pretty hideous car. I'm not that hot on Ferrari's. They are too long and boxy for me. But the guy next to me is furiously Googling this car and trying to tell me it cost 2.9 million dollars. Which of course brings out my tard laugh. Mr S. wasn't sure which year it was, but he knew he'd never seen one before. But I think it's this years model. I'd say that definitely makes it bad ass. Still hideous. But - bad ass.

Friday, December 26, 2014

I would have tried to flood you with those obligatory pictures of bunnies with Christmas ribbons and bows all over them.....

But, as it turns out - those things make my girl pretty aggro. I mean, it takes me  a while to get into the Christmas season - but wow - she takes it to a whole nuther level. Ribbons flip her bitch switch super fast.

It must be the for the same reason she has a mental illness when it comes to tissues. Tissues also make her super aggro. Right from the sound they make when they come out of the box.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

If the GDP numbers are so great - why are interest rates still so low? You still have about an 80% chance of getting a rate under 4%.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Is there a term for when your balls crawl back up into your body and become ovaries?

I need something new to call the President.

Every time I see this - a small piece of me dies.

Mr S. didn't grow up in the Bay Area - so, he thinks this whole thing is funny. But I'm completely serious.

Back in the day - Fry's was the place you went for computer stuffs. Back before half of you even knew you wanted computers. Before Circuit Shitty. I mean, Circuit City. It was no frills. You had to know what you wanted there because you almost couldn't get any help from sales people. Besides if you didn't know what you wanted, why were you even shopping there? If you had to ask for what you wanted - you just weren't tech enough.

I think the above Fry's might be the oldest one in the Bay Area. Off Brokaw in San Jose.

Anyway. This weekend when we were in there I became all nostalgic because this particular store is half way to Radio Shack land. And it just kinda bummed me out.

Mr S. wanted to browse stuff, but all I am is obsessed with the crap they are selling now. Which he found kinda funny. You know your store is having problems when you have two full isles devoted to perfume. You are selling potty trainers, and your Barbie doll section is larger than your 3D printing section. That is messed up!

You have to take my word for the 3D printing isle because my pictures came out blurry.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

One of these things is not like the other.

These are actual back to back headlines on cnbc,.

At this rate - the service sector will be in contraction next month.

"The U.S. services sector expanded in December at its slowest rate since February as growth in employment and new business slowed, an industry report showed on Thursday.

Financial data firm Markit said its "flash" services Purchasing Managers Index hit 53.6 in December, down from November's final reading of 56.2 and well below economists' expectations for a rise to 56.9 according to a Reuters poll.

The growth rate has slowed steadily since peaking this year at 61 in June, but is still above the 50 level that signals expansion in economic activity." Source.

Emphasis mine.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

That is a LOT of percent.

Am I the only one who finds an uncomfortable amount of headlines comparing the state of the world now to how it was in 2007/8/9?

"Sacramento County’s housing market continued its traditional seasonal slowdown in November, with the number of sales falling significantly compared with October, CoreLogic DataQuick reported on Tuesday.

And the November calendar didn’t help things, either.
Sales of all homes – new, resale and condos – in Sacramento County totaled 1,459, down 22 percent from 1,871 in October. That was the worst November since 2007, when 1,341 sold.

The story was the same throughout the Sacramento region and statewide.

There were 527 closings in Placer County in November, down 27.4 percent from 726 in October. El Dorado County saw a 38.6 percent decline, from 311 in October to 191 last month. The monthly drop was nearly 19 percent in Yolo County, with 144 closings in November vs. 177 in October.

In the Bay Area, overall home sales of 6,003 last month were down 22 percent from October and marked the worst November in six years. In Southern California, the region’s 15,643 closings dipped nearly 10 percent year-over-year and represented the worst November in seven years."

Source Sacbee.

I guess I now know why my property manager didn't try to sell me the rainbows and unicorn story they normally do. I wondered if she'd finally had realized I wasn't buying that crap. Though it's never stopped them before. It's their sole job to try and change my mind.

We are going into full stagnation. And it just sucks. But it will be a ton of fun to watch the Fed try to raise interest rates in 2015. This morning rates were solidly in the 3.62% range. If they don't get traction out of that rate - this horse might be close to dead.

Read more here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Every denial is an admission now.

Everyone understands that as soon as the Christmas sugar is over - things are going to go a bit sideways. If we are lucky. The market is getting frothy. Oil is collapsing every single day. Interest rates are generally in the 3.6/7%ish range. It's almost getting hard to find a rate OVER 4%. If they do go down much more even I might get twitchy on my house. I thought 4.25 was the best I'd ever get. If they will even lend at that point. There is a sort of death cross there somewhere.

That was the biggest lesson of the recession. Banks may just stop lending in a deflationary period. Make sure you don't need credit.

I heard someone last night say rates could drop another half to three quarter basis points. Enjoy your holiday to the fullest people - because this is where the pain gets good. Almost all of the countries in Europe are growing at stall speed. Engines sputtering and the whole nine.

After the last election I couldn't believe anyone felt better about anything. The Dems are going to scorch the earth now. I bet they are taking the Holiday to rest up.

Anyway, to get back on track with the subject line...

The past few weeks whenever I've read a headline with a denial in it - I get filled with dread. For example :

Energy lenders not facing new '80s-style 'bloodbath': CEO.

When I read this I immediately said fuuuuuUUUUck. Now we are going to face an 80's style energy bloodbath? I'm not sure fully what that means, but I bet it's going to suck.

Then today another one. Cashin: Why it's not like 1998 all over again. I really don't know if that is going to turn out to be true, but Putin has gone cocopuffs crazy. A third grader could have figured out that inflation would skyrocket. When this whole thing first started I even blogged about it in The world is being run by lunatics.  This was back in August!

Russia to block U.S. agricultural imports.
"When I first read this story I kinda snickered to myself. Good luck with all of that, I said to myself. I'm fairly confident Russia can't grow much. And it takes a couple of years to increase your livestock. This is going to hurt them way more than it is going to hurt us. Their people are going to starve!

As I thought about it more though - this is the scenario that causes those crazy hyperinflation periods in history to occur. If it does indeed happen - too much money will be chasing to few goods and services. Enter - hyperinflation. And Putin knows it because he's already "undertaking measures to guard against quick price hikes".

Look I know Mother Russia is tough. But when I see Russia these days - I see it thought the lens of a dash cam. And it looks to me like everyone in Russia has pretty new cars. Made in the last decade. This is a new generation. They might not be exactly as tough as the last. Maybe they like new cars. Or food. Maybe....they are less willing to suffer. You never know.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pearls of wisdom from Mr S.

Happy life? Happy wife.

Unless there is a joke to be had. Then run that into the ground.
Listen - if they really wanted to torture detainees, they should just send them through a never ending set of phone trees.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Street Legal.

I know you can get plates for scooters, but wow this one was so low to the ground. I think he's right at the boarder line. Look how low he sits compared to cars! If the whole thing didn't sound like a lawnmower I would be extremely confident this guy would become a splat.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Well, that explains that.

You know I've been watching this whole oil thing all summer trying to figure out if increased drilling was the culprit for lower prices. Or was it the cave in demand?

My general feeling is that companies are always trying to put each other out of business, but that is a gradual process. Take technology for example. When have you ever seen a Tablet go down in price 40% over 6 months? And if you have seen that happen, all of a sudden you start wondering about the health of the company. Generally a whole sector doesn't try to commit suicide like the oil sector is doing right now. You might put yourself out of business in the process. 

So, at the beginning of this month I'd read that gas consumption in California had increased 1% from 2012 to 2013. Yeah, government data is always at least a year behind. And I've been trying to figure this out every since I'd read it. If demand is down, why is the demand in California up? It also came from a fairly douche source, and I wasn't sure I should believe it. Eventually I was able to find an article from the Sacbee that had the article. Here.

"California’s gasoline consumption, which has been trending slowly downward, increased nearly 1 percent in fiscal 2013-14, according to the state Board of Equalization.
It was the first increase in eight years."

Read more here:

Turns out this particular riddle was solved accidentally by talking to my property manager. The neighbors at the rental house are having a conflict with my renters. So I had to mend some fences everywhere. I generally try to not talk to my property manager too much because she's also a real estate agent. I'd like to believe the things she says, but I usually have to try and unwind her (and all agents)  reality distortion fields.

She told me the demo of our town was changing because a lot of new people are moving back in. After this I thought it was somewhat reasonable that population growth was the culprit. And after doing some googlefu, it turns out that seems it's likely that is the reason why. The Bay Area has been growing slightly faster than the aggregate in the rest of the State, but overall it's about a 1% increase. Here. This is also likely why traffic is so bad right now.

I wonder how many more people will move back now that oil is ummmm "busty". A lot of our people moved to Texas for all those great jobs that might not be as plentiful now. This spring I heard that Texas was in a building boom. 

It kinda sucks the oil trade is collapsing. It's one of the few sectors in the US that was actually expanding. Well, except for the pot shops. Now what have we got?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Please let this be real.

Twitter-er is a reporter, so there is a chance it's real.

Storm porn.

For the first two hours after I got up this morning I watched nothing but local news. I don't even know what is going on in the world right now. The whole two hours was filled with OMG - I've never seen that before.

The last time they closed down schools here was on 9/11. Even pretty old people said they'd never seen them close down the schools for rain. Growing up in California you always thought people back East sucked a little because they got snow days. And it never snows here.

Highway 101 in south San Fransisco is closed in both directions due to flooding. I've never seen that before. On 280, half the freeway was shut down.

Three weeks ago we had dry creek beds. All of a sudden last night places like Napa thought their rivers would go above flood stage. If we had normal river flows this would have been much different story. Or if the storm would have stalled.

This was a fairly intense system. When it hits whatever part of the country it's headed to - I would take whatever warning they give you seriously. I know ya'll in other parts of the country think we are sissies, but this storm was good by any one's standards. It met all the expectations and more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kids get a rain day?

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF)- All pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools within the San Francisco Unified School District will be closed Thursday in anticipation of a major storm, a school district official said.  Source.

Ummmm. Never seen that before either. Looks to be pretty much all of the North Bay schools.
This afternoon my city is telling residents where to get sandbags and teaching them how to fill them quickly.

I have never seen that before.

Another awesome opportunity to blame Q1 weakness on the weather.

Yesterday was the first time I've ever asked Mr S. to stay home due to weather. Last night they were predicting 50-80 mile an hour winds, and 5-9 inches of rain depending on where you live. Those are hurricane force winds at the higher elevations. Blizzard warnings in the sierra and the whole bit. You don't see that very often around here. Well...... almost never honestly.

At least the creeks are still dry because it's going to be an pretty intense couple of days. Pineapple express storms are a giant question mark when it comes to California. You know they are going to be wet, but you just don't know how wet. It's why you don't get too itchy about the dry periods. One of these types storms can be a real game changer as far as precipitation.

I guess we get to see what happens with those distressed trees now. They called the last rain we got a "perfect storm" because of the lack of wind.

When that storm hits the rest of the country it's probably going to really suck.

Monday, December 08, 2014

It's worth a try.

Maybe I will have some interesting stuff for you tomorrow. I have a conference. But I wouldn't hold my breath because the good stuff doesn't really start showing up after the Christmas window. Everything that is cool is already out for the moment.

Right now I'm trying to get a ton of outside stuff done. On Wednesday we are suppose to get some purple rain.

Normally on the weather radar, California only gets to the red stage. Ya know - yellow, orange, and red. Regular stormy. When purple starts showing up on the radar - things are going to get interesting. This storm is fetching moisture from the pineapple express. (Hawaii) And I dug out those strawberries this weekend.

I haven't been able to get them back in yet because my compost is not cooperating. I didn't get to work it all summer because of the drought. And in the last storm we got about 3 and a half inches of rain. Normally stuff dries out pretty quickly, but that was just too much to dry out very fast. I hope I can get them in on Wednesday, because tomorrow is torched with that conf.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Don't be hate'n.

I was going to go to a car show in Pittsburg today, but we had a break in the rain. And it's finally been raining long enough I had to do some chores like washing the spider webs off the front of the house. And handling my compost bin.

We've mostly been on water restriction, so washing a lawyer of dirt off felt really good. And the bin - bunnies keep making compost, so I really needed to get some of that into the garden.

I also took out all my strawberries so I could compost them up. Hopefully I will get them back in before the rain starts again.

Winter is boring like this. I have a lot of house chores to do.

Friday, December 05, 2014


I thought the rain would have stripped the vineyards, but there is a little color left.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Leave Christmas alone man. Leave Christmas alone.

I initially hoped I'd have some tech stuff for you today. I was at a med conference, but they didn't really have anything blog worthy. I was hoping they'd have some 3D printer stuff I hadn't seen. I know I've been a cheerleader for 3D printing forever, but I'm bored of the consumer side of 3D printing. Medicine is where the real magic happens.

I was at a conference a couple of months ago. The girl sitting next to me 3D printed heart valves. I didn't blog about it at the time, but that chick was such a rock star to me. Even now I'm in awe of it. That conference changed my whole view of the world and the future. It made me really hopeful. I mean, 3D printing is going to change the world in so many ways you can't even believe.

Anyway, since the conf didn't have anything interesting - I decided to visit Christmas in the Park in San Jose. I've lived here 95% of my life, and I've never been. Walking it in the daytime made me glad I've never been. Maybe if I'd been there at night all the lights might have just made me happy enough to ignore the absolute nagging the city was doing in regards to being green. Even the cute things were tinged with nags. It made me think - can't I even just enjoy Christmas without this shit. And I'm an atheist! It's ridiculous. There was way more stuff than I even took picture of because I was finding it hard to unlock my eyes from the up position.