Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Italian Street Painting Marin. End.

Maybe I don't understand how to read charts anymore.

Pending home sales rise 0.9% in May, highest level since 2006.

I really don't understand the need to over inflate the housing numbers. They aren't that bad. Still, clearly you can see this is not the highest level since 2006. It's not even the highest level since 2012. But that number doesn't seem as exciting as the other one, now does it? I might also be losing my grasp of what the word "rise" means. Clearly at the end of the chart - pointing down is not rising.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Italian Street Painting Marin.

It's the last thing anyone wants to do.

Spelunking crawl spaces..

It'd been a while since I've been under a house. The spaces under houses kinda freak me out. No doubt fed by countless horror films and zombie movies. I'm much more okay with attics. California doesn't have as many basements - so I think I'm pretty afraid of them because of that. Because of the horror films. Mr S. grew up in a location where everyone had a basement. Basements don't bother him. He is more freaked out about attics.

At any rate, this particular part of the house has some very tight spots that even I can barely get through. You have to climb over flexible duct work without compressing it. I can't imagine how much that would have sucked for someone Mr S.'s size. He did this once and has resisted going back. There is just no room down there.

Once I figured out there were no dead or alive animals down there, I'm  was pretty okay. It's actually amazingly clean under a house. You expect it to be filled with monsters. I mean, spiders. But it's not.

Because I'm such a baby about being under a house I start brainstorming ways to freak out the next owner. It would be super effed up to put one of the Halloween decorations where the guy is crawling out of the earth. Right? You'd have to put it in after they did inspections. Mr S. thought Blair Witch sticks would be messed up. I countered with mini headstones.

Obviously I would never do that because all of a sudden you'd find yourself sued for not disclosing the house was haunted. Obviously it never was in the first place. But you'd still get sued.

It looks a little downdrafty.

The real fun comes tonight in the Asian markets. China has lost 20% in two weeks in their markets. Those people are ready to hit the exits. I wouldn't look to them for any calming effect. It used to be they could take the edge off a bad market here. They seem super spooked over there.

The average time a stock is being held over there is one week. And apparently everyone has turned into a day trader because people must not be making any money other than in the stock market. It's terrifying almost everyone.

Remember - when our economy was shit - China was the only thing holding up the whole world.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

When group think goes mad.

I'm in a fairly stabby mood today because a girl I know told me yesterday she loves her Obamacare because she doesn't have to comparison shop. Think about that for a moment. There is no need to keep costs down, because everyone deserves a Mercedes don't ya know. It's medical nirvana!

So.... when I read this article today about how a Greek default will barely affect the US - I thought my head might spin off.

"Negotiations between Greece and its creditors are coming down to the wire.

European stocks markets have reacted uneasy at best to this news. Those in the US, however, probably shouldn't worry.

"The direct effects on the US are minimal," said Paul Mortimer-Lee, chief economist at BNP Paribas, in a meeting attended by Business Insider on Thursday.

Mortimer-Lee noted that exports from the US to Greece were less than a billion dollars of the total $2.25 trillion outflow, a miniscule amount. Additionally, exports only make up one-seventh of US GDP."

The threat is not from a hit to exports! The threat of a Greek default is it will immediately make the dollar stronger because other Eurozone currencies will be worth less. They have less purchasing power. Our companies then make less money. We are an export country. Aren't we?

I had to go over and see what other articles this jackass Bob Bryan had written. I guess he's an "intern" at BI with a degree in Journalism and PoliSci. No foolies. Don't worry yall. Cause that guy knows this economics. I guess. If Greece were to default I hope everyone sends him an email about what a fucking tard he is.

I just can't believe I live in a world where .4% growth is heralded as a victory after the ECB printed a TRILLION EUROS. This is complete insanity. I'm sure a little Greek default won't do anything to their already anemic growth. And of course, we shouldn't worry about that spilling over to the US apparently.

But hey, my girl does love her Obamacare. So there's there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This is a new trend in my burb,

Normally you only see this level of tear down every few years because it is very costly.

Within five blocks of this house though, there are two others - for a total of three. Which is very unusual. I've never seen a cluster like this in any city. It costs a lot of money to buy a house that isn't in horrible shape and rebuilt from scratch.

Apparently land all of a sudden is at a premium, so I'm guessing they are building a giant two story house on this lot.

All I know is that every build-able lot in my city was snapped up over the last year and they are putting up houses on them. Mind you, most these lots can fit at most 20 units. I'll take a picture of them soon because they are small, but tall. People better like to climb stairs because they are three stories high. They are really squeezing the units in there. One lot in the industrial section of town could fit maybe 50-100 houses. It's not that built out yet so it's hard to guestimate.

Apparently though, people in my town have their panties in a bunch about the new units coming on line. First there is the water situation. We are still all on track to die this year, ya know. No one is happy about it.

Even if the drought was solved tomorrow, there are going to be lingering regulations making it much harder to build houses for the foreseeable future. Things will get much more interesting from here on out because of this. They also think these houses are going to bring their values down. Which is funny because you can't believe the amount of people looking for housing right now. People want to quit flopping at the parents house, but they can't find a place.

We've been at recessionary building levels for seven years now. More than twice the average. Normally recessions are only three years. There is a huge pent up demand.

14 months ago I started realising there would be housing shortages, and tada - I think it's finally arrived. Read - A new housing crisis looms. A shortage. It's crazy what I've been reading about rents, and I have a rental! It's getting a lot of attention right now because so many people are looking. I locked someone up a month ago, so my unit is out of the running.

The whole time during the recession I'd read these articles about how much better it was to rent. I'd always sort of laugh because rents go up. Sometimes they go way up. I hope those people are eating their words right now.

I don't know where things go from here because the easy land is taken up now. I think that means housing will only get more expensive.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Something doesn't add up.


I have been pretty distracted the past couple of weeks, so I haven't been following the business news as closely as I normally do. Having said that, when the existing housing numbers came out this morning I both rolled my eyes, and felt hope simultaneously. Oh....yes....I did.

I rolled my eyes because when people start congratulating themselves about numbers they compare to 2009, I think their numbers are bullshit. 2009 was a very dark year on all levels. Especially for existing home sales. I was in the middle of all that and I remember vividly what happened in 2009. Never mind this number is only slightly better than the last peak in 2013. So technically - the numbers are slightly better than 2013. But better is better. Right? Maybe I should shut up and quit complaining.

However..... I've been watching mortgage apps really closely because interest rates have been rising last past month or so. I've been waiting to see if the market can absorb the higher rates. Mortgage apps indicate - probably not. The above chart is what happens when interest rates are solidly in the 4% range. But somehow the chart above produces the chart below. And that doesn't make sense to me. And I follow this stuff more closely than most.


Of course, the difference must be being made up in the new housing segment, right? New homes are way more expensive, so higher rates must be affecting that side more making up the difference. But new home sales are only slightly down. Obviously mortgage apps are not sales, only the attempt at trying to buy. Still, I don't understand how apps can be down for so long, yet sales are apparently - up.

Normally I try to accept what the data tells me whether I agree with it or not - but this makes no sense to me at all. Either a lot of people are getting mortgages without having to fill out an app, or they are massaging this data. They either have to hike this year, or wait until after the election. And I think they are going to hike this year. If they could keep the banks under control - I actually think they could hike without much problem. But the banks can raise rates any time they want to. They don't have to wait for the Fed. And when rates get into the 4% range - the result is not good. So it's been especially fascinating that the numbers being reported are so healthy considering 4% is a significant pain point.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Today @ Canadian Canuckted cars.

I found that Blackberry is refusing to die. The title is what I'm calling the connected car market in Canada. Patent pending, patent pending, patent pending. I don't know how this is going to turn out, but I like scrappy companies who try to reinvent themselves. It's a super hard thing to do.

I think they were using cameras in this car to display everything in the mirrors. Rear view included.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

We aren't like the others.

Last week I got home from one of my conferences and informed Mr S. that apparently tech girls are snooty.

He sort of looks at me and goes..... what?

Yeah. I was talking to these two girls from another state and they mentioned how aloof all the women here had been. I mean, I go to those conferences and hope none of those women talk to me. I don't want to hear about their girl problems. Maybe all those other girls that go to those conferences feel the same way I do!

Him - Maybe it's like that episode of Silicon Valley where they all feel pressured to be friends so they avoid each other. (yes, we all watch Silicon Valley)

I don't know, but I think tech girls aren't like other girls. I think we all sort of don't like most women in a lot of ways. Most women are sort of boring and dumb. Yeah - I said it.

I thought the whole thing was funny, because here I'd been avoiding women at those conferences, and maybe I wasn't alone and just didn't notice it because I was in full avoidance mode.

*I hated the first five episodes of Silicon Valley. I grew up here, and the whole show just made us look ridiculous. It's an over-exaggeration of what the Valley is, I'd fume. Then a few things happened and I had to admit, this place is ridiculous. And that show is more accurate than I ever want to admit. EVER. Now I love it in a begrudging way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Last night a Bloomberg reporter took down Electronic Arts in the most unintentionally brutally honest way.

I'm going to paraphrase because I don't want to deal with youtube's TOS right now.

The segment was sort of mocking EA because they have come out to say they don't think VR will be adopted as quickly as everyone thinks. (Which I agree with BTW. People in love with this technology fail to understand how long it really takes to get a product like this into the mainstream.)

She ended the segment in a somewhat snarky way by saying - Electronic Arts. The maker of football games.

Mr S. kind of let out a wooow and scrunched up like he'd been hit in the balls. I was just kind of stunned for a second. Mr S. actually did a stint at EA for a while.

Me - Was she being sarcastic?

Him - I don't think so.

Me - That's what I thought because I don't think she's ever played a video game in her life.

At this point we both bust up laughing because this woman encapsulated what was wrong with EA with childlike preciseness. If the impression you give people is that you only make football games - you've got some serious problems.

Personally, I think game makers have abandoned casual users. You know - the people with jobs! Some people just want to come home after a long days work. Have a beer or smoke a joint and not have to deal with on-line play. I know there is a lot of money to be made in on-line, but it would be really nice to not have to be forced into it almost exclusively. After fighting the corporate world, you just want to relax and unwind. Not have to compete with 15 year olds who have nothing better to do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When noobs try to fix air conditioning.

We had been having very moderate weather due to all the cloud cover from hurricane remnants the past month. That all stopped last weekend.

Last Saturday afternoon we realized it would be 106 by Tuesday - so we decided to fire up the air conditioning to test it out. Bunnies don't take that kind of heat very well. They can not pant like a dog. Heat is a very big deal around the Snarkolepsy household for this reason. It always elicits a bit of panic.

Anyway, we fire up the AC and nothing.

Since it was a Saturday, and we knew from previous experience that HVAC guys do not work on weekends in our city - we started taking it apart to find the problem. (I think they don't work weekends because the parts place is not open on Sunday. I know a lot of these guys are affiliated with a certain company, but i think most of them basically get parts from the same place we do.)

Air conditioning is NOT a DIY project. If you do not know electricity fairly well, you could kill yourself. Seriously. Less bad than killing yourself is killing the entire unit. So HVAC is a tricky project. Killing the entire unit is very costly.

Having a bad HVAC experience, and having a family member who used to do HVAC makes us more bold than most. You could replace half the parts in your unit for the cost of one house call from an HVAC guy. The mark up on these part is breathtaking. And really, there are only about 10 parts inside those machines. Even playing the Russian roulette game we do, you'd almost have a new unit for the price of one house call if you are handy. We don't really know what any of these part do, but you can figure out what some of them don't do. For instance half the parts go to gas. You can rule them out basically. Now you are down to five parts and Russian roulette ensues.

Anyway, we open up the unit and look at the blower motor and figure that is the problem. If it isn't the problem - why not? That thing looked like it couldn't breath at all. All the holes were almost completely clogged. We'd actually replaced one of these before in that bad experience at a previous house. The motor was easy to get out of the housing and life went on. Our unit though would not let the motor go from the housing. We tried three types of penetrating grease. It wouldn't pound out. We thought about fire, but if you heated it up the wrong way you'd make the shaft expand and you'd never get it out. So we tried a control heat with a soldering iron. Of course looking back at it now, that was ridiculous. Nothing would budge this motor and we decided we might just have to buy the motor and the housing.

We get to the parts house early on Monday, and the inform us that we'd mushroomed the shaft by hitting it. They tell us to go home and grind it down, and if we managed to do that - they had a puller. Within an hour we were back. They pull the motor. We are now on our way home with a new motor. We were feeling pretty optimistic. We spend the rest of the day cleaning the housing and putting the motor back in.

Fire it up - nothing. Which was a super bummer. But now we are only down to 4 parts or so. With the new blower motor you also get a new transformer. (correction - capacitor) We figure the next most important part is this box. We don't know what it does, but it's easy to pull out. Things get quite scary after this point.

Tuesday morning we show up at the shop, and the guys are like....... um... we don't think this is the problem. Because we were getting nothing from heat or AC. We tell the guys we will be back on Wednesday morning. I was suppose to be in a conferences all week, and Mr S. had to work obviously. I was already missing the start of my Augmented Reality conf on Monday.

Now we are down to three parts. The next part gets a little nervous making. I don't know electricity well. So, I'm basically a super neurotic OSHA inspector. This wire isn't taped well enough not to ground out. Etc.

Next we think it is box below, but realize both of these parts are one part. And to get them out, there is a ton of scary wiring behind it. These wired go directly to the fuse box. We take the part down, and even thought Mr S. had tested it and wasn't getting 24 volts - we get there and they test the part and it's fine.

Now we get to wire this thing back in. We are down to roughly two parts. And I'm starting to give up hope because we have taken out three parts at this point. Three major parts. Maybe we didn't wire something up correctly, but there hasn't been any smoke. You'd think there would be if the wiring wasn't correct. I resign myself to calling a guy out. It has been almost a week since our first heat spike. The AC guys must have worked through their backlog by now. My Chiropractor has an HVAC family in another city far away, and he said their business had 60 calls before they even got in on Monday.

Saturday comes and we can concentrate only on the AC and not other stuff from life.
Mr S. starts testing through the whole system, jumping whatever to see if the fan motor was wired in correctly. All seems well. He manages to get the blower motor to fire by jumping two leads on this box.

Finally he jumps the thermostat, and the machine is ALIVE! The thermostat is apparently the problem.

Sure it took us a week to fix. But Mr S. fixed it! Next time we should probably start out looking at that first. It still had a display, so we thought it was really unlikely that was the problem. And really it was the newest thing on the whole system. It was the last item we thought would be bad.

I don't regret replacing the blower motor. I'm fairly confident that a lot of AC guys would have replaced it too and charged us three times the price. Once those parts go in, you own them if they were bad or not.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My burb is moving up.

I guess the only thing better than a McLaren P1, is two McLaren P1's. Well, and a bunch of other stuff.

Mr S. and I were getting parts this weekend and drove by the Porche dealership to discover they had a pop up show in the parking lot. In my sleepy burb. The dealership is on the way to a big box store. Even though Mr S. and I were exhausted, we had to stop. I really didn't know my city had McLaren money. Apparently the guy who owned one of these, also owned five of the other miscellaneous cars.

I think the P1 is flat out the most beautiful car right now. I got it in green once.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A car you have never seen before.

This is a Zenos E10s.  More images here. It's the first one imported from the UK. So... you've never seen this unless you live in the UK.  Yes, I've stereotyped everyone in that country because I think they all watch Top Gear. So, they probably have seen this before.

Anyway. It's a kit car. You can pay someone to put it together, or you can put it together yourself. It only took the distributor three days to put this one together. All I know is that kit cars have come a loooong way. When I was growing up, they were the crappiest looking cars. Now there are a few really cool kit cars like this one and the Noble.

This car only weights slightly less than 1600 pounds.

It was fun enough to just run across this car, but while I was taking pictures - this woman walked up to us and started making small talk. Eventually she wound up telling us she had a car on order and started showing us photos of it on her phone. We all parted ways. I went to the ladies room. Mr S. went to check out a racetrack car. When I got back to him he said - that car she was telling up about doesn't exist yet according to the internet. They haven't released it. But she had video and everything!

Now I'm gonna have to make that girl my friend because I'd never seen anything like that car. And even thought I know the name - I can't release it.