Friday, January 31, 2014

How Obamacare takes away the right to own your body.

This morning I was reading an article from some Berkeley douche named Malcom Potts who wrote an article titled "Why the Little Sisters of the Poor should embrace birth control pills". His theory was that they should just take the birth control pills because it would be better for their health since women who have never been pregnant have higher reproductive cancers.

Now - you know I'm an atheist. I don't have a religious dog in this fight. As a woman however it sort of pissed me off. The pill isn't without it's side effects. We put up with them because not putting up with them is worse. Some women don't react well to it. Who is this guy to say these old women should have to put up with these side effects if they don't want to?

Then today while I was at the chiropractor they were asking for a whole lot of additional (obamacare) info. I pay cash - so I wanted to know how I could opt out of that crap. His reaction was - we already share information. Which didn't go over great with me. It really does just make you feel like you don't control your own body any more.

Thanks Canada!

I have to admit - I get a lot of traffic from Canada. I never knew what you saw in me. But after the whole Crack Mayer thing - I sort of get your humor. And you make the wildest things - like blueberry BBQ sauce. Which you are happy to ship to the states. What would possess me to order BBQ sauce from Canada? You read it was blueberry. Right? Isn't that enough?

Videos from the way back machine.

This video is way longer than what I normally post, but if you have the time - watch the whole thing. The same type of high pressure weather system that is causing our drought now happened in 1976/77. Today is a repeat of the 70's. They didn't get any rain in Dec, January - and the spring rains never came. And oddly - Jerry Brown was also governor then. Co-incidence? I think not. sarc/.

I'm seriously thinking of buying a metal detector so I can go treasure hunting. Our water levels are actually worse then when the the drought started in the 70's.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amazon, Google, and Apple all miss? I'm sure it means nothing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Google self driving car in the wild.

The guy never got out of the car. He's probably under some confidentiality agreement anyway.

Never seen anything like it.

I've been trying to patch together a bunch of thoughts about the real estate market. Which is hard because just 15 months ago it was such a deep dark place. No bank would touch me for any reason. Even though I had equity in my rental. When you have two houses underwater in California - that is max pain. It's worse than growing up poor. That coupled with the constant news stories telling you why you were a fool to own property. It changes you.  I was more underwater in both houses than what I paid for my rental house.

I didn't save my houses because I wanted to be fancy - I saved my houses because I was afraid I'd never get into the credit market again. Life is very long if you are lucky. Dealing with the credit market sucks now even  if you have good credit! I thought about walking away a million times. All my old friends did. It was fashionable then. I took the short pain hoping for some long term gain. Which had gone on so long I just thought it would never come.

Now when I look at the market I don't recognize it at all. Inventory for both houses for sale and rental market is almost none. My city has less than a month supply of houses for sale. Rentals are so locked down that when I lost my renter last week - I didn't know how to value my place. And I've been tracking these numbers every single week for 5 years. There just weren't enough comps to figure out what the norm is.

Housing prices in my city are only 1-2% lower than when I bought my house in 2006. All of this happened in 15 months. It's hard to find out how many people are still underwater. I bought about a year after the top. Who knows how many walked away or did short sales. I do know one guy who is still paying close to 7%. He took a heloc to build a business downtown. So who knows when he is going to be unlocked to refi.

With these kinds of conditions, obviously more money printing isn't going to do much good. There just aren't enough people to make whole for it to make a difference. The refi sector is as close to dead as it will ever be. Most of these houses that got a 4.25 interest rate or lower will be slow to change hands if they ever do. But earnings are coming in really badly. When rent'a'center comes in and tells you December was a challenging month - you should start paying attention. They did very well through the whole recession.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I forgot I got a Bentley at the DMV yesterday.

Not great shots, but - what can you expect from me after getting out of the DMV?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

There is one thing President Money Bags is good at....

Crushing speech.

You can tell the true conservatives in California right now. They are the ones who when they find each other start whispering like school girls. You always used to have to be a little guarded and lower your voice somewhat. Now there is a lot of barely audible whispering. Always looking around to make sure no one is in earshot of hearing you. Cuba style. And I'm not even being dramatic. It's happened to me twice in the past few months. It is like finding a unicorn after all. The change is so noticeable that I'm posting about it!

Maybe a year ago - someone had managed to interview some school girls in Cuba on camera. All I remember about it was they were all freaked about being recorded. Super freaked. They kept asking over and over if they were being recorded. Still after all these years. And not in the way that people who had never seen a camera act. Usually they are somewhat fascinated.

It honestly makes you hope every single day the stock market finally starts to cave. The market gives people an undeserved sense of comfort. Even though most of them don't have anything in the market. When it is up - you just feel better. I welcome the crash because it's the only antidote to socialism. Pain. It's all I know about the world. I still believe that spirit is here. It just hasn't been painful enough to turn enough of them.

Earnings are really starting to come in pretty badly. FYI. Which used to mean something. I guess we will see how long Wall Street dances to the same tune of the Administration. It's been five years the stock market has been going up. All of the shallow thinkers are completely pacified right now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

No one saw this coming. NO ONE.

"PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — An increasing number of electric-vehicle driving employees at Silicon Valley companies are finding it hard to access car-charging stations at work, creating incidents of "charge rage" among drivers. " Read - Silicon Valley Doesn't Have Enough Electric Vehicle-Charging Stations, And Drivers Are Freaking Out.

If you've read this blog for any length of time you'll know I've been a big whinger of electric vehicles. It's not that I mind the vehicles if I'm not subsidizing them. I just don't understand understand the whole charging process.

Right now it takes 5 minutes to fill up your gas tank. Tops. So, I really don't understand a business model where it takes four hours to charge a car. I know it takes at least this long because while I was at Ikea this weekend they tell you on the wall there is a four for hour max on their chargers. I don't want to know the person who spends 4 hours in Ikea. Even if they have to send a search party in there for you - I'm sure it takes less time than four hours to walk the whole store. To be sure, it's better than it used to be, and in the future I expect this to improve even more.

Still, I found a deep sense of entertainment when I read that people were unplugging other vehicles so they would charge their own. It's because in early 2009 I had this very conversation with Mr S. in regard to the chargers where he worked. At the time they were one of the first companies I saw who had installed them. You have to read the interchange we had with each other in Living off the companies teet - because I just find it really funny now. Also read Safety first because I'm going to laugh for a week when someone tries to sue the first charging station company after they have tripped and fallen on one of the cords. It is a litigious world after all. I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

That sucks like the surface of the sun.

In one week - pretty much everyone in California has started to freak out about the rain. Or lack thereof. In Mendocino they are starting to hassle the pot growers. But not because they grow pot! Because they use so much water. Never thought I'd see the day.

I read forecasters weren't expecting this to break for a couple of months. At first I didn't want to believe it, but forecasters are more right than wrong. Inside I started to freak out about my bug out plan. In January. I'm going into this summer with two elderly bunnies. I always worry about power outages in the summer. Bunnies don't handle heat well. They can not pant like other animals. Thankfully I've only had to rent a hotel room once. But with the state so dry you can imagine how much heat this adds.

Most lawns are already starting to brown up. In one week I think we've gone from 40% of the state in drought to 80% and you can see why with the vapor loop. All of that orange color is dry air. All of it. I've never seen a December and January without rain. Mr S. sent me a tweet from Nasa Earth showing almost no snow on Mount Shasta. Normally I'm planning what kind of crap I'm going to put in the garden this time of year. Now I'm trying to figure out a grey water system. Or I could steal water from San Fransisco. I hear they are all square.

Silicon Valley does still care.

Blackphone, the Security-First Smartphone.

Back in the day - everyone on the internet knew about PGP. That's because you either had to work for a place that was connected, or attend a university all who were connected. More importantly, to keep your job you had to keep a very low profile professional appearance on the net. Why do you think there are nyms? It's because the early people didn't want to get fired. It's a hold over from the past.

Then came ISP's and all modesty went out the window. And because you had no standards, Silicon Valley stopped caring about their roots. For the last decade Silicon Valley has been a complete sellout in this regard. You enabled them by signing up for free products like facebook who have no obligation to keep any of your data private because you are not paying them.

So, when I saw this video I was pleasantly surprised. And slightly shocked honestly. I wasn't sure we would move back to a more normalized attitude about privacy. I've been on the net forever, and even my eyes grow wide when I have certain posts that create a lot of traffic. Last week I took a screen shot of the Supreme Court showing up at my site. If you knew the kinds of people who were looking at the net these days, you'd change your behavior a little. It's all I am sayin'.

Are women growing their beards back too?

When the first Movember came around, I was "what the hell"? Mr S. I said - men have spend the better part of a decade or two convincing us they didn't like hair around their face. Now all of a sudden they are all showing up with beards? W-T-H?

My own preference is I don't like beards. It's like kissing a wire brush. I'm sure some chicks like it, but some guys like women with hairy armpits too. I'd wager that most women just really put up with beards and hope they are temporary.

Now American Apparel is displaying female mannequins in full 70's style glory? That is bold. Which I don't really have a problem with, but they could just clean it up a little. You don't have to be a pre-pubescent women, but it is a stark difference from the trend over the past decade.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Of course Google owns you.

I'd been seeing these Nest people at conferences for a while now. I was fairly unmoved. If you are micromanaging your heat to that degree - I might not want to be friends with you. That's all I'm sayin.

However, over the holidays they released their smoke detectors which completely made me change my mind on the company. And you know I mean it because those things are super pricey. We bought two. I might get a third. Watch here.

This is the thing - my family was in a fire. I was living with my Aunt at the time. My Uncle didn't allow my boyfriend to stay over, so we spent the night somewhere else. When I came back the next morning there were fire engines at my house. My cousin didn't make it out.

A NEST like device would not have helped my family because the fire was started due to them being smokers. Those people usually rip out the batteries of smoke detectors right away. The important technology that made me buy the NEST is - it tells you what room it's in. Your house can be fully engulfed in two minutes. Any extra time you have to find an exit it worth the money.

I imagine that Google probably bought this company because on the day they announced they were trying to find VC funding - it was announced that there were some problems with the thermostats. It was really unfortunate timing and the kind of news that can make people have second thoughts about giving you money. Am I crazy that Google is one step deeper into my house? No. I'm also not crazy about dying in a fire.

Some days I can't believe how many words it takes to tell me nothing.

I'm still sort of in refi hell. You know I went through that whole thing where the MERS database had my address wrong and this completely seized up the loan process. And I have one of those ticking time bomb mortgages. It doesn't reset until 2016, but it's the only thing I could think about the past 5 years. It's consumed every fiber of my being. I'm not the type of person to take chances on my mortgage. At the time in 2006, you couldn't get  a mortgage that didn't have a reset. I only got a 10 year because I had the best of the best credit.

Honestly, if my loan would have reset in the last 5 years - I would have been living the high life. My loan is completely conforming. So, I put 20% down, and wasn't doing interest only.  At some points it would have shaved almost 3 percentage points off my interest. However - the fear of the government losing control of the bond market wouldn't have made any of that worth it. As it was, that constant fear shaved several years off my life. No one in my generation has ever seen a world like we have today. Every day you wake up to something new.

Anyway. It had been a couple of weeks since I got my notarized docs in, and I'd heard nothing from the bank. So of course I had to call. Where it took 30 minutes to find out that they had paid off my loan, but I might not actually get a coupon book for 30 days. They can't tell me what my new account is over the phone. They allegedly will send me a fax. I'm not holding my breath. Getting any help out of a support line these days is like winning the lottery.

It's just so deeply depressing how dysfunctional the banks still are. It's like they don't want to get paid or something because they really make it hard to find out how to do so.

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's gonna be a tough year in the West for farmers.

See larger imagine here.

I think we can officially start freaking out now. Last year was our driest on record. There really has been almost no rain this winter. Some cities are now on high fire alert. Seriously. In October we got a series of very cold temps. My area got to 21 degrees a couple of times. The frost sucked out any remaining moisture in anything that doesn't get watered.

Normally by this time, the hills have finally greened up. Not this year. Virtually no snow means the reservoirs are really low for this time of year. I've seen it this way close to the middle of summer, but not this early.

They will probably have to kill off some of the herds because it will just be really expensive to feel them.

This is the problem. A dry ridge that has been in place for literally like two months now. It just won't move. The orange color is dry air.

I guess the market doesn't always go up.

I guess this is where things start to get interesting. As long as the market goes up - the sheep feel fine. But the market is deeply due for a correction. Atlas can only hold up the sky for so long.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Local Motors.

This is a street legal rally car. We saw one driving on the road in Vegas. Not a fan of Leno as you can imagine from my Pebble Beach Concours posts - but he talks to the owner and explains a ton about the car.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Toyota FV2 concept.

You know how I feel about electric vehicles. They are okay for a segment of the population that doesn't get around much. For now. There are always advances in technology, like the talk of graphene batteries, that could always be a game changer if they eventually work.

What I found really interesting about this concept was the window had a barely perceptible HUD built into it. In the fourth picture down, in the middle of the window, you can see it says "Drive Assist Active". What it displayed from what I could see was fairly limited. But you don't really want a lot of extra crap clogging up your windshield. Do you?

Update - Wait, what? Mr S. and I were having a big discussion on how you sat in this thing. I thought it was basically a recumbent bike. He said there were foot pad markers on the sides at the back of the bike. So he couldn't figure out where your head went. When he googled it, it was crazier than we both thought. Here. I have no idea how you are going to see the display in full sun. I could barely make out the HUD in the convention hall.

Craziest trends ever. CES2014.

It's not worth talking about the televisions all that much. The new 4k televisions have such good resolution that taking a picture to post to the internet is ridiculous. Even the cable companies are not broadcasting 4k content. The curved TV's however are slightly more interesting. But not because they are curved. I was already spoiled knowing they exist before CES started making all their announcements.

While I can appreciate the engineering it took to make this product, I just don't understand it's relevance. I really expected more gesture based televisions. Now that is a product that makes more sense. It's still pretty clunky, but at the same time over the past year it's made great strides.

Kinect has been a revolutionary product, and that technology is really pretty cheap these days. Lots of people have been working on similar technology. What I did find interesting was - it's super odd that ALL of the companies that make TV's basically seem to have a curved model now. It seems like a pretty niche market yet they all are making them.

Pagani Huayra @CES 2014.

Used to be that going to CES for me was more about the cars than the tech for me. Most of that stuff I can see around the Valley eventually. EV's (electric vehicles) have basically ruined that. In years past the cars were so loaded up with tech it was crazy. No one wants to spend four hours charging their car so they can have five TV screens in their car.  Even if it's just to show off.

I'm not sure how much electricity a bumping sound system takes, but the day I hear a Tesla with a sound system that rattles my car in traffic - I might change my mind. EV's go against everything we are as Americans. Moar power!

The leaving is the hardest part. CES 2014.

I bet you thought this was going to be some sappy "it's so hard to leave all that technology behind" kind of post. You know this blog isn't like that.

No matter how fun (and I say that somewhat loosely) CES is, your whole existence revolves around getting out of CES. Getting into CES is a well oiled machine. Cabs come one after another to the airport and you can move through the taxi line remarkably quickly. After that - all bets are off. Waiting for a cab can really eat up a lot of your day, so you have to plan everything around this.

At the end of the day there are several taxi lines which are hours long and this is where things start getting creative. Usually people start pairing up and start spending a lot of money just to get out of that line. Sometimes you take one of the shuttle buses going to the hotels in an effort to find a shorter taxi line at the hotel. Which we've done one year.

Sometimes you get someone to split the cost of one of those limo/town cars. Which is really expensive frankly. But you'll do it if you are going to miss your flight. This year? We city bused it out of there. Do you know how long it's been since I took a city bus? I mean, as soon as I got a job you bought the crappiest beater you could find just so you didn't have to wait for a bus. So, lets say my whole working adult life.

This year it seems that taxi drivers and the bus shuttle drivers were in some passive aggressive spat. We didn't know it at the time but the first taxi driver that picked us up at the airport sort of gave us a signal. He said "I'm going to take you the longer way and it's going to cost you a few dollars extra, but I'm going to save you 45 minutes of traffic." At the end of the day we found out why.

We are all standing in the taxi line and we noticed the shuttle bus drivers were coming one after another through the convention area and blocking off access for the cabs to get through. These are full size buses. And since these buses have to wait for a certain amount of time to pick up passengers - it meant that NO cabs were getting through. And you'd see them one after another come from around back of the convention hall and just cut off all the cab flow. This must have been what was happening in the morning too. We just didn't realize it at the time. I've never seen it where the buses outnumbered the cabs.

Finally after about an hour and a half I walked up to one of the guys directing traffic and said no cabs were getting through. You don't want to get out of line at this point because all the cab lines are crushed. He said he'd been talking to his supervisor all day and he couldn't get it to stop. However, he went out of his way to walk us almost over to the bus stop that took you straight to the airport. I know it seems like I'm an asshole on this blog, but I'm really nice in real life or else he wouldn't have gone out of his way. There are zillions of people there.

While we were walking we made small talk and this is where the light bulbs of the hole day started going off. Sometimes you don't know why things are happening until you can look back on the whole experience.

Anyway, I was a little freaked about the bus at first. You don't really know how long it takes to get to the airport at the end of the day. Especially on a bus! It's a huge question mark. Plus, SF muni always has these crazy stories of shit happening on them, and I figured Vegas was somewhat more sketch. Drunk are everywhere.

But, to tell you the truth? I might bus it out of there next year. Of course the bus takes you to terminal 1, and we needed to be in terminal 3. You then have to take a shuttle to terminal 3 which we didn't know about at first. Thankfully our plane was delayed anyway. But for 5 bucks (it only costs 2 bucks per person, but we didn't have change) you get to the airport. And let me tell you, we've spent upwards of 50 bucks just to get out of there at least once. I don't care if I have to take a carrier pigeon - I'm getting out of Vegas.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

If there is any hope of you getting early CES stuff - it's probably going to be from @snarkolepsy in the sidebar.  Youtube will be a close second. I wont have time to edit them. Last year I tried to be a wifi spot to get things out without much luck. Bandwidth is crushed there. This year I'm just going to try NFC (near field communication) to snarf stuff from my camera onto my phone. Getting a wifi connection out always is next to impossible.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

More to Squeeze Inn.

The Galt Sqeeze Inn is closed on Sundays, and neither Mr S. or I wanted to go to the one in down town Sacramento. On the way back we thought we'd try to find a steak house near Stockon. Which I didn't think would be hard. It's a cattle town. Turns out - it kinda was. We did accidentally stumbled upon a Squeeze Inn in Tracy. Which gave me really mixed feelings. Expecially when the guy working there told me a rumor they might open one in the town next to my burb.

Don't get me wrong, I love these guys to death. But I'd like there to be some barrier that makes it so I can't eat them all the time. Like having to drive more than an hour to get them. Yes, that is a cheese halo.

I mean, they show you what your ass is going to look like if you eat them all the time.

Scratch it off the list.

Sometimes when I'm in a funk I have to go spelunking through the dredges of fun things to do. Which is how I arrived at the Sacramento Zoo today. I'm not a big zoo type person, but there is literally no one there that should annoy you. And who doesn't love giraffes? What are you dead inside? You don't hate giraffes, do you?

Funnily enough... the Sacramento Zoo is a pretty sad zoo. It's like a dead mall of zoos. But I did get a few shots. They have the smallest darkest enclosures for almost everything. And the animals there seem more anxious. I'm guessing because the enclosures are so small. The whole thing feels likeno more than a city block big.

Pretty much everything else was behind wire. That always makes pictures turn out great.

At least the traffic was super amazing. I've never seen the traffic going to and back from Sacramento be so light. Ever.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

I don't care if you think you don't need it.

This morning I was going though tweets and saw a rumor there were going to be curved TV's at CES this year. And since I normally start the year in a funk, I figured we'd go to Fry's to try and pry me out of that. I mean, it doesn't seem right to start complaining about the world so early in the game. Anyway.... I was delighted to see a curved TV there. It was interesting to see it there before CES. Normally the stuff from CES is out by summer. Look how thin it is!

The other nice thing was it isn't rear projected like this monitor I saw way back when.

I always get a pre-CES funk. You always get sick. Always. I used to try all sorts of things to avoid it. It never, ever, works and I will have some bird/typhoid/swine/chupacabra/Ebola/flesh eating flu. People come from all over, and they touch everything. And I keep reading stories about how bad the flu is ramping up right now. I think I already have it and I haven't even gone anywhere! /sarc

And it really is like running a marathon while every third person darts out in front of you with a rolling suitcase. Oh - those - people. Let me center myself. Or, they just park all their suitcases right in the middle of the isle. So everyone has to go around them. I don't know if I blogged about it last year, but I almost lost my shit because at the end you are just running through to get all you can. It happens ever year though. It's like someone walking into a door and just stopping right in the door.

Then you have to have this whole system to not have your feet look like runners feet by the time you get back. Socks(double) all through the airport and plane ride. Then whatever shoes you chose at the show, and socks (only) the way back.

So what I'm saying is the excitement hasn't really hit me yet. I'm in the dread stage.