Thursday, October 29, 2015

People learned NOTHING from the great recession.

It's just so irritating!

People are trotting out the ridiculous meme about deflation again. Even on Zero Hedge. They keep using the same ridiculous meme even though they have nothing to back it up with.

It goes like this - people stop spending because they believe prices will be cheaper down the road. I can assure you - this is NOT why people stop spending. They stop spending because their companies stop making money, thus making everyone fear for job security. They also could take a pay cut or face layoffs generally. That is what happens in deflation! This is why people stop spending and I wish these idiots would prove just once that deflation actually does anything good to anything! Outside of your electronics getting cheaper. Because the Internet tells me there can never be bad deflation. It's the same stupid meme that they tried to trott out when gas prices fell. I can assure you - when that happened during the Great Recession - lower gas prices didn't make one bit of difference to the economy.

You don't even need a history degree to figure this shit out! It was 7 years ago. No one paid attention at all what happened during the Great Recession.

If deflation was as good as these pinheads always make it seem - why doesn't the Fed set the rate of growth at negative? Huh? Answer me that batman.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sometimes you just have to pretend.

Last nights storm was a dud. We were suppose to get nearly half an inch, but the dry atmosphere ate it all up. I'm starting to wonder now if we might die. There is pretty much nothing in the Pacific but dry air right now.

No rate hike until this administration is over now.

I think the Fed had a couple of chances to do a small rate hike this summer without much problem. Since they found that so impossible, you really don't think they are brave enough to hike in an election year. Do you? I personally will never believe that. And anyway, their insistence on how great the economy is doing is causing the dollar to rise again. When I first started watching it - it was around 98.50ish. It fell to around 93.ish. Right now it's at 97.61. Pretty close to when I first started watching it. That tells you there is no inflation on the planet.

Last night I looked in to look at what was up for sale, and was surprised to see at least fully half of the houses in my city back in markdown. There was one markdown from September, but they really started in earnest in October. Which pretty much fits with what people are telling me. Something happened about a month or two ago and things started slowing. Interest rates are pretty much in the 3.65 ish range. You can find them at 3.52, or a couple of them at slightly over 4%.

With the strong dollar, oil is going to keep puking blood putting more deflationary pressure on everything. These are things that will not resolve themselves quickly. It looks like my call that deflation will persist this whole administration seems to be playing out exactly that way. I'm a little surprised it takes so long to filter though the economy though.  I started calling this wave at least November of 2014.

"I've been saying for months - if higher oil prices bring inflation - what do lower oil prices bring? Now we get to see how low oil goes. Where it stops - no one knows."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's going to be bedlam.

Winter this year is going to be crazy. I decided to stop taking pictures of the dead trees, because I decided these trees would be more interesting once the winter hit. The first time there is wind and rain at the same time....that is going to be interesting. There are a lot of trees that are clearly dead, and people have not cut them down yet. The trees that have lived are shrunken. There is very little grass on the hills to hold the water. It's going to be awesome in a really nervous making way.

Tomorrow we get the first chance at this rodeo. S. California has gotten tons more rain than we have in the Bay Area.

I have a conference tomorrow, and I might take a rain day because it's been a long time since we've gotten as much rain as is projected.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Things are looking pretty sideways.

I figured it would take me about a week before I could wade through the multi layers off bullshit to see how the economy is really doing. It was looking lurchy enough that I broke down and polled a couple of people in the real estate business.

I like to stay away from them, when it comes down to it - they just aren't that smart of people. And the phoniness I can only take in small doses. It always a good time to buy doncha know. Plus they don't always know why things are happening or recognise/admit they are happening at all.

Anyway. I'm thinking things are looking really soft right now. First, my property manager admitted things had slowed down in the past two months. Which freaked me out - because they never admit that. It's never been a better time to buy or rent. She is also a real estate agent. So, double that it's never been a better time to buy or rent.

Last night I went through the rentals because I have a rental, and even they are sitting on the market for way longer. I think I rented my place in about 6 days back in May. Places seem to be sitting for about 20 days now on average. Rents have stopped their rapid rise for now. I would say rents are slightly down to flat.

Then I ran into my neighbor in the store. His wife is a mortgage broker. You can't believe how many people are tied in one way or another to real estate. Seriously. I didn't realize until the recession. Anyway. He said that about a month ago things slowed down. His wife normally does around 25 mortgages a day, and they were down to about five a day. It must have been severe enough that he admitted that his wife started worrying about having to lay people off. He also said that the banks are getting more stringent because of bad loans? Or that there wasn't enough liquidity. I'm not sure which, and I didn't dive into that more because I didn't think he would know anyway. Plus I don't take one persons opinion. I got enough tidbits of info to ask other people about it.

I think things must be generally soft because you don't resort to thinking about layoffs if you only have a one or two week drag. Also I've started reading some stories of high end real estate areas showing some stress.

My guess is that the strains of deflation are really starting to hit companies now. But the internet tells me there is no bad deflation. Only good deflation. /sarc.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tron i8.

This never gets old. I thought it would, but I passed on McClarens to post this first. This was at the monthly Santana Row car show.

As we were getting ready to leave I spot this little girl in the crowd, and she's carrying one of the BMW i8 toy cars around. Which I thought it was just really bad ass.

Friday, October 23, 2015

I haven't ruined the earth in a little while.

Mr S. saw this box on the porch and knew things were going to get fun around the Snarkolepsy household. I love when this happens! It makes me laugh. You wonder what sort of slacker thought this was okay. I don't really care one way or the other. Starbucks has to figure out if the can afford that. It is pretty funny when a company like Starbucks does something like this though. After all, they are so much more enlightened than I am. /sarc.

It was 6 cans of Mocca powder. You have to stock up for the impending doom. I'm juuuuust kidding! Sometimes they don't always stock it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The problem with 3D printing.

I was at a 3D printing conference today. I've been one of the biggest evangelists of this technology for about 10 years. However, I'm finding it harder and harder to figure out how this filters out to the larger public. Maybe it never does. Which I'm still having a hard time believing.

In the beginning you always expect new things to be expensive, but wealthier people buy those products which brings the price down. But I think 3D printing has a bigger problem now. And it's not the cost of the machines. It's the cost of the filament or resin they use. Depending on which type of 3D printer you have.

I think they see printer ink and think - we are going to stay competitive with that. The problem is - all of us are pissed at how much printer ink costs. Honestly. And really the only time you use ink these days is when you are doing your taxes. Then all of a sudden you need to go out and buy 50 bucks with the ink. It pisses us all off! It's part of the reason why HP is dying. IMO.

The filament for these machines usually costs about 50 bucks a spool. For one color. If you have a printer that does two colors, you are at 100 bucks right out of the gate. I think the price of the machines will come down once they all consolidate. Which I think is already happening. The stocks of most of the major 3D printer companies have been caved out for a while now. Makerbot is laying off people even thought it got acquired by Stratasys. It looks pretty bloody in this sector. I think there were just way too many different types of printers for a while. And then no one company could make that big of an inroads.

I used to think the Fabs would buy enough of these machines to bring the costs of the machines and filament down. But that doesn't seem to be happening yet. This technology is already 30 years old. It's one of the longest product cycles I've ever seen! It has such great promise, but it's still just too expensive to justify. Still.

Also, you can kinda tell the sector has stalled because a lot of them are pitching these figurines of people they have scanned. They have been doing that for a while now. How many of those can you sell?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It isn't even powered by the SUN?

Mr S. sent me this article today because I was just bitching about the Tonopah plant because we stayed in that town. The plant the article is talking about is the Sweet Sun Rays of Death plant next to Vegas.

Massive Solar Power Plant Emits 46,000 Tons of CO2.

"President Obama once praised it as a shining example of America's clean energy future. "With projects like this one," he said at the site of a solar plant just before construction started, "we're putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy."

How can a solar plant emit so much CO2 you ask? Well, that was my first question.  Read on.

"According to the Press Enterprise in Riverside, Calif. , Ivanpah emits enough CO2 that it will "be required to participate in the state's cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions."
In its first year, Ivanpah emitted 46,000 metric tons of CO2. That's about as much as a Frito Lay plant in Bakersfield emits."

How is this possible? It turns out that the Ivanpah plant uses natural gas to function.

"First, it burns natural gas to pre-heat the water at the top of the three towers before the sun comes up. Then, the Press Enterprise explains, it "has auxiliary gas boilers that kick in whenever cloud cover blocks the sun."


My take on the foreclosure spike.

Repossessions spike 66% as foreclosure crisis lingers.

If I hadn't just driven across the country this news headline might have freaked me out a whole lot more.

"With the backlog finally moving, New Jersey now has the nation's top foreclosure rate, just beating Florida, which was once the poster child for the housing crash and which also has a judicial foreclosure process. Foreclosure activity in the Garden State is more than twice the national average. New foreclosures there are falling, but bank repossessions jumped 351 percent from a year ago. Atlantic City now boasts the highest metropolitan foreclosure rate."

The other big surprise of the trip is just how many States now have casinos. I'm pretty sure it's all of them. No exaggeration. There is no reason at all to visit Atlantic City to gamble.

Take out NJ and I don't know what the real damage is. But when I read this article I was like - well yeah.

Your one stop shop of debauchery on the Alien Highway.

One of the many surprising things I found across the country is that most States still have these giant Adult superstores. I mean, every single state. And they are giant Costco sized properties. You can't understand how they stay in business.

I kept asking Mr S. if these people knew about the internet. He kept telling me that they aren't selling porn, they are probably selling prostitution. To which I have the same question - they know about the internet - right? I mean, these places are giant buildings in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, I usually took the night shift in driving, because there are less cops at night. And you know I'm a speeder. So I didn't get to see all the quirky stuff on the Alien Highway. But we did stop in at this store on the way. I knew about the store because I'd scouted this route for CES last year. What I didn't know is they have a brothel right next door. Conveniently co-located for the truckers. And you get to shoot fireworks too.

Let's get to the BBQ pants off dance off.

Because I have a conference tomorrow and I still have a lot to get out from the trip.

I declare the Northern route a food desert. By the time I got to Ohio I was swearing off fried foods. And I never thought I'd use those words. It made the filling nature of BBQ seem like a respite. The WHOLE way back we basically did BBQ.

Memphis won hands down at Blues city Cafe. Although the people in Memphis are crazy sweet, fun, and nice - I decided I could never fall in love with Tennessee because of the drivers. I thought California drivers were the worst at hanging out in the fast lane when they didn't need to be. We have nothing on Tennessee! OMG Tennessee.... why? At least we have five lanes we can try to get around those damn people. And people in Tennessee dig in their heels. They are NOT getting out of the fast lane. Period. When you only have a three lane highway, it makes you pissed super quick. That got old really fast. You see how I drive - right?

Second place is sort of hard because I'd like it to be Texas. And the BBQ in Texas is amazing. I just don't think Amarillo was a big enough town to get the full experience.

Kentucky though.... the sides give Texas a real run for their money. I'm not much into beans. I love cornbread, but it's so filling I never really eat it. But this new trend of making poor people food into oh-ma-gaw delicious makes it super memorable. I mean, tater tots? I used to eat that as a kid. Put a little slaw and brisket on it, I might have to find a reason to return to Kentucky. The pictures of from Feast in Louisville KY.

I think last place was Kingman Arizona. But I never expected to get good BBQ in AZ anyway. The town is super interesting and I'll have a post about that later. The BBQ also pretty damn good.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Life is so crazy. I just found out that my oldest childhood friend in the world just passed her real estate exam. And it's not my fault. I literally can not get away from these people. (real estate agents) They are even trying to drill their way into my personal life.

Update - I just looked at the real estate numbers for the past week, and I'm thinking she picked about the second craziest time to get into that business. Apps are undulating wildly.

I read while I was away a new mortgage rule was put out, but I don't know much about it yet. When apps jump 25%, then crater 26.7% something is definitely going on in the economy that is epic.

I'm sort of unpacking my thoughts in reverse order now.

Taking the Alien Highway route back meant we came back through Yosemite. Which normally would have been completely awesome. But we started getting rain in Gallup Mew Mexico. Which is where we first found out about the Grapevine. I Loves twitter so much. (yeah - intentionally misspelled unlike my normal writing where I can be a tard)

And it was raining super, wipers on high, hard. This of course turned me into a sissy because waterfalls started popping out everywhere, and that whole grapevine thing had just happened so I was sort of freaked. Plus I've never driven in snow or even been a passenger in it. I wasn't sure what kind of weather we were going to get at this point. The rain did make driving through the desert way more interesting though.

I really became a little freaked when the whole side of this mountain started having waterfall veins all over it.

When we first planned our trip I thought we would be two weeks late for the changing of the leaves. But by the time we got to Ohio, the trees were beautiful, but not enough to get the camera to really capture it. In Yosemite it was all I could do to get a few shots through the windshield wipers. It was raining that hard.

One interesting thing was the military was up there camping out. I saw a couple of  base camps. But they were all in cammo with cammo tents, so I only got a brief shot of their trucks.

We finally did see some snow around the 9000 foot level.

Which is also where I started thinking I was being a little dramatic about the level of tree loss here in Ca. At 9000 feet, things looked pretty normal. However, by the time we got down to 5000 feet, you could really see the stress the trees were under. Around Twain Harte I guestimated they might lose 15% of their trees.

The view from 9000 feet.

Now you start getting into the 5000 feet range and you can see the change.

By the time we got to the valley floor we were shocked to find out there had been really no rain. I mean, it rained for three states( Gallup to Yosemite), and we get back. Nothing.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mark it off the list.

Last year when Mr S. and I drove to CES I thought we might take the Alien Highway route back. I found this super quirky hotel called the Clown Motel, and I thought it would be funny to stay there. There is an extra funny perk that the hotel is right next to an old turn of the century graveyard. I thought I might get some IR night shots that would make it super spooky looking. However once you get done with CES, you are kinda done and overwhelmed, so we never took that route.

When we found out we couldn't get through Barstow for an unknown amount of time, we decided to take the Alien Highway route. I was also curious about the Tonopah solar project. If you've been reading this blog for long enough you know how I feel about this solar crap. But, when we drove into Vegas last year,  the one there was pretty fascinating to see no matter how I feel. So I thought this town would be a little like that. No sun that day. No sweet sun rays of death.

We decided to not book a room at the clown hotel. I pussed out at that last minute. I mean, it would be funny, but when it came down to it - clowns freak me out.

So - there are basically only 5 hotels in the whole town. I chose a room in the only one that claimed to have a king bed left. We were just happy to have a room. But when we get there, they don't have a room with a king bed. The only reason why this is sort of a problem in because Mr S. is tall, so with the smaller beds his feet have to hang off the side all night and that kinda sucks. But we were tired and really done. The hotel felt bad enough they comped the entire room. Which I've never ever had happen before. We didn't even yell at them. We just wanted to crawl in a bed somewhere. We were done traveling. It was our last day. You can put up with a lot when you know then end is near.

After seeing the room though, I think I wanted my money back. Even thought it was free. I think all the hotels in that town would have made you feel that way. It was the kind of room that if I would have had to pay, I would have been pissed. But I would have slept there anyway. Sometimes you just have to suck it up if you have no other options.

The next morning we get up and find out what a shit hole this town was. I never want to visit that town again. I mean, and I got a free room there! And that didn't even soften the town. Which really surprised me because the town is listed as a biker hangout. Usually they like some pretty run down places, but they are quirky run down places. I don't understand why everyone doesn't run away from that city.

I kind of figured the government boondoggle of the Tonopah solar plant would have slightly bled out into the city. I mean regular people don't normally get rich, but usually there are politicians who do.

Not there! I think that town is one of the worst places on earth. And I don't get the solar project. I drove for 4 hours in the dark to get there. Didn't see one light on anywhere. FOUR HOURS! From what I understand from electricity the longer you have to send it somewhere the more electricity you lose. At least the one next to Vegas - IS NEXT TO VEGAS!

These people got killed by a mine car.

Most people died by mine fires.

Even at the tun of the century you could tell who was richer.

Every once in a while you'd be surprised you'd see someone who had dies of natural causes like Cancer and pneumonia.