Monday, March 31, 2014

Squirrel using natures umbrella.

I couldn't get that great of a shot of him because I didn't want him to run.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My car sugar is low.

Today the car show got rained out. So I decided to do a first run at taxes. I'm really starting late this year. Which sucks.

On the way back from breakfast I saw this car. Which I might have not even stopped for if I were at the show. I like the stuff you've probably haven't seen that often. But it looked nice in the driveway. I got a couple quick shots before the owners pulled in in due to the rain.

Friday, March 28, 2014

I finally tried Oculus.

I've seen it about half a dozen times at shows - I just didn't want to wait in the lines it took to play with it. Since good old Zuck bought them - I had to stick it out this time. How can I have a good opinion if I don't try it?

I have to say in advance I have a lot of biases about this product and facebook generally. I'm not as impressed as some because I suspect Oculus is building on an old technology called Smartscene that never really caught fire at the time. To be sure, it's impressive the footprint is so small now. But it isn't Star Trek exciting to me. They have improved lag time in the glasses to almost nothing. It's probably one of the reasons why SmartScene didn't make it other than being too early. If you moved your head too much over time, the lag would give you a swimmy feeling. The weight of the headset would also give the demo guys headaches. You also had to wear separate gloves to control the environment.

I still generally feel like people don't honestly like to wear glasses unless you have to. And it's still unknown how peoples brains will react to close vision viewing. As I wrote about before Google Glass users are starting to experience headaches. Even 3D glasses can make people feel queasy. I think these are product impediments.

Oculus is a somewhat isolated game experience. Yes, you can play multi player, but the person is fully immersed with the glasses and headphones. By default you are shutting out the outside world for full immersion experience. I think most gamers are more social than that. In fact - I think one of the problems the game industry is suffering from right now is that games are almost too immersive. A lot of gamers work. They just want to sit their ass on the couch and play a fun game for a few hours. These days you have to intimately get to know a character and mold it to a likeness of yourself. Seriously - it can take a half hour of set-up just to get through all the back story character trailers before you even start playing. Just let me play! The graphics are amazing to be sure. But I don't want to make a full time commitment to a game. I have stuff to do!

Before Zuck bought this company I figured they would just keep refining things. Now that Facebook is involved I don't actually have much hope of this. The gaming industry is a brutal industry. It takes several years to get out content that you aren't sure anyone is going to play. So, game companies play it safe and just make sequels. Every once in a while you get someone willing to take a chance and make something super amazing like Bioshock.

I think Zuck is the kind of guy who cares more about being popular than really building something that will last for a decade or two. If Sun Microsystems can fail - Facebook is just a tiny blip on technology history. Sun was the (dot) in .com. They were basically the backbone of the internet at the time. Without Sun - you probably wouldn't have webpages right now. That is how important Sun was on the scale of internet history.

Facebook? Not so much. No matter what he thinks.

I also have a side rant about Facebook. Because Zuck is talking to the White House about how mean they are for spying. Which is the most dishonest crap I've ever seen. I will tell you why.

I have a facebook account. It's a dummy account. None of the information I used to fill out getting signed up is real. Having said that - somehow facebook's algorithms managed to connect me to my real mother who has been deceased for quite a while. For a few months Facebook would send me emails asking "do you know this person"? In the way they do to make you connect with people. The first couple of times it was super creepy. I told Mr S. it's like she's trying to haunt me from the grave. It felt kinda fucked up actually. We were estranged. And I didn't remember the information I gave them so I could write them and tell them to stop. Plus that would only confirm their algos were right and I didn't want to do that. If facebook can figure out connections like that - they are spying quite a bit more than you think.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My funny Obamacare story.

Since the recession I've gotten a whole lot pickier about who I want to spend time with. Before President Money Bags it was easy to ignore crazy stuff people believed. You could overlook a lot of things. They weren't affecting me to any degree. A lot of the crazy stuff they believed entertained me, honestly. Now I'm super selective because a whole lot of people are affecting me.

For example, I hold some really strong views on socialism. In a way, I was really born from the socialist utopia. My grandmother was on welfare her whole life. My mother was 14 years old when she had me. I still have family in government housing right this minute. I think it takes three generations to get off welfare. The old people you just write off. Honestly there is nothing you can do change their beliefs or education level. The next generation at least tries. And finally by the third generation if you are lucky - they escape. Yes, this is the background to my story. I have to tell you this because this particular story involves someone from my childhood. And you can kinda get an idea of the childhood and friends I had.

Before the recession she was doing really well. Super well. But the recession wiped out a lot of marriages. Now she is struggling. She works as a hairdresser. A self employed hairdresser. More about that in a second.

You saw my childhood right? Well my girlfriend from childhood was the biggest President Money Bags supporter ever. She was living right next to his taint she was so in love. My Aunt actually said he should be leader for "however long it takes". If I have time I'll try to dredge up that post. So... you can see how frustrated I was with them.

Yesterday I talked to my girlfriend who is now living in Seattle. As if she couldn't be douchier. She starts complaining to me about how she has to raise all of her prices because she is being hit with a 300 dollar a month Obamacare insurance plan. And she's really wanting me to follow her on the "can you believe this bandwagon". But I was having none of that. I'm actually not sure she will call me after it because first I told her this is what she voted for and that everyone has to pay.

She said she knows that everyone has to pay but she couldn't afford it. I told her we tried to warn them about this. Where she said - well, whatever - what we really need is socialised health care.

Now this is the kind of girl who doesn't own a TV. And gets all of her information from her hippy parents. Who I'm not even joking lived on a commune for a while. That was actually a thing when I was growing up. I've had two close friends who have lived on communes. Those people would not be my friends today. I don't care if you want to live on a commune, but forcing everyone else to kinda pisses me off. And that is essentially what Obamacare is. It's a commune for health care. Yet if I asked this girl to explain socialism - I bet you she couldn't.

Mr S. was actually in the car when I was having this conversation with her and overheard almost the whole thing. His response was - she thought she was going to get to sponge off everyone else, and now she realizes that old people are going to be sponging off of her and she doesn't like it. Honestly, right about now I'm not about letting them forget this was the choice they made. They can suck it.

Today I almost decided to say screw it and move to Texas.

I'm almost at the carpet stage over at the rental. I'd been given a referral from my future property manager. When the guy showed up - I knew him. He was the guy who put carpet in that place when I was trying to sell it. He's also friends with Alpha Contractor - the guy who helped me gut that place. I didn't know the carpet guy very well, but Alpha Contractor I've known for a really long time.

I guess Alpha contractor is getting married and moving to Texas. Which I was happy about. At the same time internally I was like.... effing Texas got another one.

You see - it's super hard to be a conservative in California right now. Super hard! I'm not a religious conservative. I'm an atheist. Alpha contractor however was a religious conservative. Even so, he was one of the most honest guys I've ever met. And that is just generally. He was like a unicorn in the contracting field. Contractor has con right in the name!

Anyway....I haven't talked to him since the real estate crash. I wasn't really sure if I was going to be able to keep my shit honestly. There were some really dark days. I mean - years.

He will love Texas. I haven't nothing bad to say about the place. The kindest people live there. Sadly with my fair skin - Texas thought I was too delicious. Mostly what I remember was constantly being eaten by mosquito's. I have a really bad reaction. If it weren't for that - I'd definitely consider Texas again. I think they might have even worn me down enough to move. And I love The Valley.

My gawd you don't know how much I love BBQ. You know the mosquito problem was huge. There is water everywhere.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I think it's going to get bumpy real soon.

October definitely was the top of the real estate market. Prices every month since then have declined. I'm glad I decided to put a renter back in the crapshack and not sell, because it's not a small change.

About a month or two ago I think I started reading stuff from San Diego where the prices were falling quite precipitously. An average house was having about hundred thousand dollars shaved off. I thought to myself - I hope this doesn't spread. But it looks like it has. It takes a few months to see if it's a blip or a trend, and it definitely looks like a trend. Even Calculated Risk has an article talking about it.

It's quite hard to figure out the market right now. Interest rates today are as cheap as they were in November. Almost cheaper. I refi'ed at 4.25, and it isn't that hard to get a loan in the 4.12 rage right now. Interest rates are not causing this problem.

New Mortgage rules did take affect Jan 1. You basically can not spend more then 43% of your salary on a mortgage. Which is quite strict actually. In California, for as long as I've been a rent paying adult, the standard was pretty much 50%. For rent/or mortgage. Prices will have to come down to accommodate for this.

The Fed is signaling they are going to stop buying bonds. Well.... good luck with all that. Stagnant wages, and job creation are not good enough to sustain a healthy market.

The other thing is - I think for the most part people are pretty locked in to where ever they are living. If you managed to save your house, likely you are paying something in the rage of 4.50% interest or less. That makes you not want to move as quickly. No one on this earth ever thought they would get a mortgage that low. It takes very bad times. And 20% of people ARE still underwater. It makes for a very stuck market generally. Since it's still pretty hard to get a mortgage the rental market is also pretty locked up.

It will be fascinating to see what happens to rents. They have gone up quite a lot. However, through the whole deepest parts of the recession, prices only fluctuated 5% up or down. They were remarkably stable.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Yesterday Mr S. and I strolled up to the rental and found a note on the door. I braced myself a little for which ever neighbor was unhappy about whatever. Usually notes on the door are nasty grams. Turns out - it was from someone who wanted to rent the place. Which was super surprising. I've literally only told three people the about the house. My future property manager, my gardeners, and one realtor. Of course the neighbors know.

Inventory is really low, and I still have work to do - so I've been trying to keep it really low key. I'm just not sure when I'm going to be done - so I don't want the extra pressure.

The other interesting thing I can't figure out is - the realtor had two people who were looking for a place. He'd just sold both of their houses within blocks of the rental. Now they are wanting to rent back in the same neighborhood. The note on the door people also said they'd just sold their house within eye shot of the rental, and they also wanted to rent back. I wonder what that is about? Why sell if you are just trying to rent in the exact same neighborhood?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

SF Flower and Garden.

Things have been crazy hectic around Chez Snarkolepsy this week. But I'm also aware I need to feed the beast that is my blog. I have to keep reminding myself that this is winter and I wouldn't be getting much interesting anyway. The constant shining sun makes it feel like summer, and normally I would be getting cars and other interesting stuff in summer.

The SF Flower and Garden show usually has some interesting sculptures for the blog. I went this year because they were advertising "low water" alternatives. I was slightly excited to see what they'd come up with. Which turned out to be the least inventive alternatives ever. Cactus. It does achieve the goal, however - most of us like to touch things and not be poked constantly. I ripped out a fleet of rosebushes just because getting attacked by them outweighed their beauty. And bunnies LOVE roses! I think when I bought my place it had something like 25 of them.


I walked away from the show with an immense feeling of lost opportunity. I'm the opposite of an environmentalist. I love the smell of old timey gas. I once fantasized about making a car that got negative gas mileage just to piss off the environmentalists. I will cut down a tree so fast it will make your head spin.

Having said that - I could not believe how many water features that were there. Not that I don't think you should be able to have whatever the eff you want in your yard. It just seems to me when you are in the epic drought we are - I'd be selling the hell out of the Xeriscaping. Which are basically plants for a more Mediterranean climate. Like prairie wildflowers. I've never actually heard anyone use the word Xeriscape in California. Which surprises me.

I can't remember how many years ago I ran across this. There are always parts of a house that it's almost impossible to get water to. And I still want stuff to be pretty. I've been buying plants from High Country Gardens longer than I can remember. And I was hoping there would be more of those types of companies at the show. I did find one out of Watsonville, but their website sucked so hard I couldn't believe it.

Apparently Colorado owns the trademark on the Xeriscape name, and that is where I get most of the plants for hard to water areas. Low water doesn't have to be ugly cactus. Most of the stuff they sell for Xeriscape attract butterflies and humming birds. They look delicate and pretty. And who doesn't love that?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sometimes I love licence plates to death. After we saw this plate I was telling Mr S. that they can just make you laugh because of how creative people can be. Mr S. said it really was the earliest form of twitter. Which I found funny and true.

I even loved the licence plate holder.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let me tell you a little story about pent up demand.

Well.... I have had my rental back for almost a month. My renter lived there for five years. So while he did trash the place - a lot of stuff I would have had to repair anyway. Paint and carpets and such. The back yard I'm doing as a capital improvement.

I always like to have my parachute somewhat in tact. Meaning I'm always calculating what I have to get done if I just want to sell the place. I look at all my houses that way. Tackle the things that will scuttle a sale well before you are in the middle of a sale.

Finding workers.... well. There is definitely a labor shortage in construction. And it's been this way since at least last summer. I was having a fireplace hearth installed at my house and I got chummy with the design consultant. He said they had been so busy that he'd never seen anything like it. Every new contractor I've had to endure is basically booked way out, or is trying to double book clients.

I think the reason for this is - there are a lot of big project going on in the Bay Area right now. But more importantly when your house is underwater - you do almost nothing to fix it up. Why put good money after bad? I ripped out both of my yards during the deepest parts of the recession. Which was a pretty good investment since we did the work ourselves. But people didn't know if they would lose their houses or if they would ever be worth anything for five years! Now that property values have increased people are doing what they do naturally. Improving stuff. And it's definitely causing labor shortages.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This is going to make inflation look way worse than it is.

Food inflation is going to be on a tear very, very soon. This is not due to monetary policy (money printing), but rather - the drought. Though the media will not be able to distinguish the difference. They will scream hyperinflation. Restaurants here are already starting to freak a little. I don't think we even have rain in the forecast until the 25th. And you can see from the vapor loop - even that is pretty anemic. The blue color is water. Behind that is a giant bubble of dry air. Maybe I'll post the other loop image later which shows it.

I decided to plant corn and tomatoes. Onions. And my strawberries made it through the winter even though it got to 21deg here for about a week. If I had cheese, I could probably live off just these things.

You know what is worse than installing a whole floor?

Installing half a floor. Trying to match five year old parts to new stuff - sucks.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Word on the contractor underground is that pretty much all the people who walked away from their houses, are already back in houses they own. No one seems to understand how, because foreclosure is suppose to eff up your credit for a while. I haven't talked to anyone who lost their house, who also didn't lose a marriage. So... new wife - better credit. Presumably. I'm not sure I believe them. The contractor underground is full of bullshitters, low information, and braggarts.

 If true, this is just another example of how doing the right thing makes you a complete sucker I guess.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I forgot to post that Ferrari from last week.

Even though it's silver - it's still pretty bad ass.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coming to a city near you - if you live in California.

Mandatory Water Restrictions in Place for Fremont, Newark, and Union City.

"New mandatory water restrictions are in place in some cities in Alameda County, and people who don't follow the rules could end up with no water at all."

This is how they are going to enforce it.

Rule breakers get a written warning at first, followed by a knock on the door for a second violation. If they still don't comply, the district will shut the water off and could file misdemeanor charges.  Read the whole article from nbcbayarea.

Shit is about to get real.'s the best kept secret here in California. We just had rain and the hills are green again. Out of sight, out of mind. I just ripped out that backyard and I don't want to stick in a new lawn until the fall. All of the people who want to get renters in there want a lawn. I'm not sure how that is going to work out. I'm not sure any of us will have lawns by the end of the year.

But Californians are an optimistic bunch. Even in the face of real science. It would take 3 times the average rainfall to be back to normal. But they all think we will be okay. April showers produce May flowers and all.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Now I have a ghost cat.

My ex renter left behind his cat which is now living in the crawlspace of  the rental. I was hoping it would start eating at someone else's place. There has to be dozens of people who leave dog food out so I wasn't really worried it would stave to death. Cats can climb fences and find a new sucker to feed it.

The weird thing is - my old renter keeps coming back to stick a bag of cat food on the step. And he hasn't put a change of address in. Which is weird.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I should be happy, but all I've got is a 1000 yard stare.

Some of you who have been reading for a very long time might have gotten that the recession took a huge toll on me. I went through the craziest housing crash ever - with two houses. At one time I'd lost so much equity, you could have burnt down my rental and it wouldn't have even made a difference for me financially. Between the two houses I'd lost the entire value of it. It made growing up poor seem like a cakewalk. Being poor would have been a relief honestly instead of owing the kind of money we did.. But I feel that once you jump off that treadmill, it's really hard to get back on and you have to run twice as fast to keep the same place. I chose to keep calm and carry on no matter what happened. Every day you wanted to jump out of your skin though.

The unending drum roll of people and articles telling you that you were a sucker for owning real estate still echo in my mind. It would never in your lifetime be worth what you paid. After so many years, you couldn't help but wonder if they were right. Most of the time I'd have to tell myself - either my whole life in an anomaly - or this period of time is the anomaly. Since my life has been longer than the five years of the downturn - I trusted it more. It's the only thing I could do to keep sane at the time.

There was virtually no one that offered support to me. They couldn't. Most of them were walking away too. I thought about it a million times. Even as I was telling friends to fight for their houses, I wasn't sure I was going to be right. And I'm still not sure. History is my only guide.

Now I have my rental open and I'm finding the complete opposite craziness. As of today there is literally nothing in my town to rent. Nothing. You might find something in the 500sqft range, but everything else is gone. And you can not believe what a place that small is costing. I almost choked when the rental agent told me what they'd charge people for my place. It's almost the same situation for home for sales. There are virtually no houses for sale. Real estate agents are now regularly knocking on doors.

I have property managers and sales agents competing for me. Which would make most people feel like a big shot. I'm not that person. I just want all the chaos to calm down. All of these people are giant bullshitters and it takes up a lot of space in my head. One side wants me to sell, and if not they have a tenant. Everyone I've had by that place says they know someone looking. It's so bad, I almost don't want to tell people it's open until I get more work done on it. Because I'm just really not sure what I want to do. I locked in at the crazy low interest rates. I will never be able to borrow money that cheap again.

While all that is going on, I'm trying to figure out whats really going on with the market through what the professional are telling me. Which is fairly hard. They have an agenda, and real estate is really filled with lies, distortions, and fantasy. Sometimes you have to talk to a lot of people in the industry to figure out which information is true. These people not not deep thinkers so clawing relevant information out of them isn't easy. It takes many sources to to get the real picture.

So far the insane rental rates seem to be solid. It also seems to be pretty solid that October-ish of 2012 was a turning point, and the past few months have really heated up. It's hard to figure out the real equilibrium. When banks were not lending - that was not a real market and likely things over-corrected. However, I'd call this market not real either. I can't even figure out what comes next. Because the stock market does not go up forever. Google it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Small victories.

This is my current mantra right now because I'm having to deal with a lot of contractors. I'm trying to get my rental back on the market. My guy had been living there for five years, so the neighborhood has changed quite a bit in that time. Thankfully for the better.

I decided to drag the back yard to better fit into the new atmosphere. I would be sticking a new lawn in, but our rain situation is still pretty dire. The minute I wanted to have something bulldozed the rain came. Which almost caused a falling out between my contractor and I. Even though I've used him before.

The storms weren't very bad at all, and contractors are actually getting a ton of work. I could tell he was double booking me. Since contractors are kinda sexist, and I'm a girl, they think they can get away with all sorts of things. To be fair, women are kinda stupid about this stuff. I've been doing houses for a long time now, and Mr S. and I have graded a few yards so I'm unimpressed by a lot of excuses. Yelling at them does no good, you have to threaten to take your money back. That is what gets results. You constantly have to police them. Which I actually hate.

A few days ago I told you how tight the real estate market is. Well, the rental market is equally freaking tight. There is almost nothing in my city for rent. Which is the craziest thing I've ever seen to have both sales and rental be so tight. It's almost unbelievable from just two years ago. My contractor reports there are only 80 houses for sale in all of Tracy. Which must be were he lives. I don't track that market, but I'm sure at one time it had to be in the hundreds. Tracy is a big city.

It's really hard to figure out the market right now. And I spend all my time doing it. Right now everything looks like shortages. And I'm sure the answer to this riddle has a lot to do with the inflation/deflation tug.

If President Money Bags would stop screwing with the economy - I believe we would be in frightening inflation territory. Since he won't, and all of the economic indicators would make most people puke - I think we will have a nasty bout with deflation then we are off to the inflation races.

Inflation is too much money chasing too few products and services. Until both of those criteria are met at the same time - there is relatively stable inflation. In real estate right now both of those criteria are being met. However all of the department store layoffs show there are still many areas of the economy where there are still too many products or services. And don't forget - banks apparently do not lend in deflation. That was a pretty scary lesson to learn. I didn't actually know that could happen. But now I do. That will make getting funding for new starts harder creating an even deeper shortage. For a while.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Mystery Spot.

You can not go a week without seeing a Mystery Spot bumper sticker anywhere around here. I know it's just an optical illusion. So I've never went. I even lived in Scotts Valley, and I never once went there.

Finally the past few years I told Mr S. I had to go to find out how they get all these people to put those bumper stickers on. Seriously! It's like some crazy cult. There are more Mystery Spot stickers on cars than Jesus Fish.

Mr S. and I started coming up with all these theories like - Maybe when you drive out they give you a swift swat to your bumper, and branded you become. Mr S. thought that when you took the tour maybe they snuck them on your car. At any rate - I had to find out. First I had to get breakfast at lunch in Los Gatos at Southern Restaurant. I never thought I'd say this, but they have crazy amazing sausage links. It's the first time I'd ever consider going back to a place just because of that. They also have grits which I love, love, love. Slathered in butter and syrup. Nom, nom,nom.

The parking in Los Gatos was particularly bad. Which is how we ran across this sign.

While we were eating we were taking guesses on what they might be doing here. Maybe they were at Villa Montalvo. Or the Hakone Japanese Gardens. Or maybe even the Mystery Spot. There just isn't that much around Los Gatos that seems interesting enough for TV. When I called to make reservations to get tickets for the Mystery Spot while we  at breakfast I asked the booth if they'd ever heard of the Race and if they were there. They said they weren't but they'd been there a couple of months ago. I didn't know how bad the traffic was going to be on highway 17, so we went over right after breakfast. Even though our tour didn't start until 4:45. We were way early.

We walked around the gift shop which sold insects. I almost tried them but i couldn't remember which insect Andrew Zimmern said tasted like nuts.

I thought this set of signs were funny.

We found the mother bumper sticker car.

These are people walking into the Mystery Spot cabin.

While they all look crooked, the people are in the same orientation to the trees.

This is what it looks like inside. I was surprised how much it messed with your inner ear. It really did make your head feel a little funny. And you had to work hard at walking.

Here is a guy just standing normally.

Again. Once you see people relative to the trees, you can see that it's just an optical illusion.

Now I have to watch this seasons of The Great Race to see what they were doing in Los Gatos. I haven't watched in a few years.

Friday, March 07, 2014

A new housing crisis looms. A shortage.

The housing meltdown was pretty traumatic for me. The scabs still have not healed. And I didn't even lose my stuff. The only thing that got me through it was knowing what houses cost when I was a kid. A couple of my neighbors are also original owners and they confirmed what I remembered. Even so... it was a pretty deep dark pit for a very long time.

Now there isn't enough inventory. In my neighborhood - there isn't a single house for sale. I've never seen that before. Sure shortages can be cured easily. If they have the money to build. During the boom years we were building 2.4 million units a year. In the deep recession years, they were only building 500.000. Now they are building 1 million units. 2.4 was too high obviously, and 500,000 units for 5 years is also way too low.

It will be interesting to see how that works with the banks. I finally figured out when the top was. 2004. And prices are back to 2007 levels. A lot of people still talk about shadow inventory, but I'm skeptical. If you manged to keep your house from 2004 - now, you have a lot of skin in the game. They are also a bit trapped still. Those owners are in stasis.

With very few houses for sale, and 20% of people still stuck, not to mention the refi boom is pretty much over I think banks will be curling up in a ball soon.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

"Wearables" are grinding my gears.

Yesterday I wanted to make a post shitting all over this new segment. I think it's the faddiest thing ever. Yes - that's a word. Yet I didn't because I would just have to remove it since I was going to at least one conference in the next few months that is trying to convince me to drink the cool-aid.  And that seemed weak. Some day it will be a viable sector. I'm just not sure when. Could be 5 years. Could be 20. Maybe not at all. Possibly it will die. Someone will build on the technology and it will live in a different form.

My general feeling about Google glass is - people don't really like wearing glasses. People say a lot of things about people loving to wear sunglasses. Maybe so. But as a person who doesn't yet wear them - my whole life experience tells me people don't like wearing glasses that much. They go to great lengths to avoid them. They get contacts, or they get laser surgery. You can't fold up Google glass into a case. You have to wear them all the time. Which doesn't even matter for this post.

Mr S. was at the eye doctor a couple of weeks ago. He's always worn glasses until he got surgery but still needs reading glasses. I was asking the eye doctor what he thought the long term affects of Google Glass were. My feeling was there was eventually going to be some eye strain. He didn't think it would be a problem at all. Though he'd just booked his first client with prescription Glass but hadn't seen them yet. Not two days later I started reading stories about people getting headaches from Google Glass from an early adopter. Which reaffirmed my position.

The other obvious elephant in the room is privacy. This is the bigger problem in my opinion. I went to a Google Glass conference last summer (Read: I've slightly changed my opinion about Google Glass) and walked away with a general "if you say so" feeling. I have to quote the whole paragraph or it won't make sense.

"A gentleman from another country (I have to admit I don't remember which one) stood up and told the speaker than in many European countries this device would actually be illegal. I didn't know this, but apparently there is some law that you can't walk up to people face to face and take a picture of them without their consent. The speaker did not want to hear this, and I'm not sure he completely understood what the guy was trying to tell him. Besides, whatever that guy said didn't matter. Google knows it's going to have a lot of privacy lawsuits according to him. He was so unhearing of the concept I thought to myself - the first time some creepy guy takes a picture of a child at a pool, they are going to have problems. As a female, even I sense some resistance when I want to take pictures of someone else's child at a public event. I always, always, ask permission. And I'm a girl! I don't feel that same obligation with adults."

Now there is at least one bar in San Francisco that is banning Glass. And.... people are generally becoming less accepting of being photographed. Even in third world countries where even they have cell phones - people will shield their face from being photographed. Even they are aware of the camera like never before.

Okay - so I'm not a fan of Glass. What about fitbits and products like that. I generally have very little opinion other than it is pretty impressive how they are getting this technology in such a small footprint. However, even they are experiencing some issues. It doesn't really make sense why. People have been wearing watches forever. I can only say - my Aunt was allergic to non-allergic metals. She could never wear ear rings. There must be something in them that causes the same reaction.

The weird things companies do to survive.

This is only interesting (I think) if you live in California. Togo's has been around since I was a kid. As a sandwich shop. I haven't been to one in years. I thought they would die a long time ago, but like Radio Shack or Sears it clings to life.

I was sure when Mr Pickles started setting up shop everywhere it would finally be the end of them. But.... as you can see - they are trying out a new niche market. Coffee?

I don't really even get the logic. Sure, you might buy a sandwich if you're at Starbucks. You are already there. But buying coffee when you are picking a sandwich at Togo's? Maybe. I mean, probably not. They understand coffee - right? People are generally pretty particular about it no matter where in the coffee spectrum you are. Why would they go to Togo's over 7/11? They clearly are not going to put a dent in Starbucks.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Good news everyone!

Oracle faces ouster from Oregon Obamacare website.

" Oregon's crippled Obamacare exchange, which has been unable to enroll any people electronically online as designed, is making moves that could mean the ouster of primary vendor Oracle from future work on the marketplace. "

I have to admit - I have been reserving judgement on the Obamacare website because Oracle was a huge wildcard. If you know anything about programming you know the deeper shit code gets stuck into a program, the harder it is to patch problems. However.....Oracle was spawned from the government. So, they are pretty scrappy.

From Wikipedia.

"During the 1970s, after a brief stint at Amdahl Corporation, Ellison began working for Ampex Corporation. His projects included a database for the CIA, which he named "Oracle". "

If Oracle can't fix this - NO ONE CAN.

I assumed this would be the case since California has had a few really high profile failures when it comes to databases. We spent 2 billion bucks on software that was suppose to manage ONLY the court system. It took them 11 years to admit defeat and scrapped the whole thing. Here.

Also read about the Unemployment Department and their software problems. I haven't been following it that closely, but late last year a lot of people were not getting their unemployment checks due to the problems. Three hundred thousand people. So, you can see - it isn't a minor problem. Here.

Tesla Inside?

I got this a few days ago. I was at a ramen restaurant pretty close to the Tesla factory. I wouldn't even have noticed it really, but the "Telsa Inside" sticker caught my eye because that is Intel's tag line. I'm surprised they don't get sued. Maybe it's different enough to stave the lawyers off. I know Telsa is working with Lexus, but I haven't seen them in Toyota's. I'm not even sure if this was built that way or retrofitted with Tesla batteries.

Monday, March 03, 2014


When the pictures of werewolf cats starting making the rounds a couple of weeks ago I told Mr S. - oh... that sucks for you. You know I'm going to have to go to a cat show to see them. I mean, he sent me the pictures. He knew the risk.

Have I ever mentioned I don't like cats? And Mr S. is super allergic, so it's kinda funny that every once in a while I find myself at these shows. Dogs at least try to entertain you by driving kids cars (or human cars) , climbing trees, singing to babies, surfing. Dogs are evolving.

Cats don't care about you. If you died in your house, they probably wouldn't care until they were done eating you. You can tell by the dirty looks they give. See above. Cats are bred to look grumpy. Dogs are bred to look cute.

I didn't see any interesting cats though. Not even a serval which I saw one year. It had a giant billboard telling you what deeply needy pets they were. You can't go on vacation. They don't like sitters. They wreck your stuff.

In the same complex they had a home and garden show I wasn't interested in, but I was there - so we did a quick run through. There also wasn't anything interesting. Except Jose Eber had a booth which seemed super unusual. That is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for money. I was shocked the company was still alive. I haven't heard about him in at least 10 years. It also made me feel like your money doesn't go as far as you think it will. Jose Eber was so rich and popular when I was growing up. Mega rich. Having a booth at a free home and garden show doesn't make me think that is still true. It's why you see all these aged rockers come out of the woodwork about 20 years after their careers ended.