Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lets see how this goes....

I have a childhood friend who is a realtor in the Seattle market. Three months ago her market was basically mirroring ours. Houses were selling in 6 days.

Today I talk to her and asked if they were getting mark downs yet. She's like - Oh yeah. If your house hasn't sold in 11 days - you have to mark it down. (mind you - that used to be 30 days)

Now.. I'm sort of one of those people who has called bullshit on the housing "bubble" talk, but that is becoming a harder position to hold right now. There clearly is a housing shortage because during the recession nothing got built for an abnormally long amount of time. 3 times the normal recession cycle. Given the available land, that is hard to make up for when times get better.

However - it is not normal for housing markets to double in five years. The historical standard has been 10 years. And just like during the recession when everyone was giving up their houses I had to decide if that was reality or a historical anomaly.

I think doubling in five years is not normal and things will revert to the mean. Everyone seems to think this is just the normal summer slowdown. But there haven't been price markdown for YEARS. So I'm not sure how this is going to go honestly. The market has changed really rapidly though.

Monday, July 30, 2018

That's what I was up to.

Sometimes projects at my house need some attention. And sometimes that means no weekend posts. I'm trying to get all my stuff done so I can have a beach day.

But we got the drill press mounted. It's a little higher than I'd love because to change the belts you have to be on a step ladder.  But we took everything from a chest high tool chest and stuck it in this waist high one. It's slight deeper chest so everything fit.

But clearly this not the most exciting content.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

This is how you know they are lying.

Wednesday was a bad day for Detroit's automakers.

"GM said a higher-than expected jump in commodity costs and unfavorable exchange rates in Brazil and Argentina will cost it an extra $1 billion this year. Ford’s second-quarter earnings plunged by almost 50 percent and the company lowered its 2018 earnings projections.

Ford’s Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said its commodity costs during the quarter were about $300 million higher from last year, attributing about half of that to the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. The tariffs are expected to eat up about $600 million in profit this year, he said."

I don't remember either of these companies doing profit warnings under Obama's 522% tariffs on steel. 522 percent! In fact..... this was the headline back then:

U.S. wisely gets tough with 522 percent tariff on Chinese steel.

"Chinese steel companies have used free trade agreements to flood the world with cheap product, hurting European and U.S. mills. But rather than scrap the deal, the Commerce Department imposed punitive 522 percent tariffs.

That's how free trade is supposed to work. Countries agree to fair rules that apply to everyone with the understanding that if they are broken, harsh punishment will follow. In this case, the Obama administration is imposing a 266 percent anti-dumping duty and a 256 percent anti-subsidy duty." (emphasis mine)
Facebook makes a lot of money slush around in the Valley. So, if this stock price holds, it will probably affect the whole Valley. For sure those 250k engineers just slammed their checkbooks shut. You don't want to buy a house as much when you've just lost 20% of your collateral. And those people are in lockup for probably a week so they can't sell yet.

Plus, Facebook is tearing the shit up out of Menlo Park. They have blocks ripped up over there. And Facebook gives a lot of money to other tech companies to sponsor their trade shows.

It will be very interesting to see what happens from here. And I think Facebook isn't going to be the only company caught in a downdraft this earnings season. I have two more companies on my list. One is a car company. One is a chip company.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tariffs are the best thing Trump gave the car companies.

It didn't take long for Trump's tariffs to become a headache for the auto industry.

Now they all have someone to blame for their exploding inventory problems. Don't blame me! Blame Trump even though there have been ghost lots everywhere since before the tariffs went into place.

I mean, some of these companies report sales quarterly now. We don't get monthly updates anymore. So who the eff knows how that is going to look. But at least they have someone to blame and that is all that matters.

Maybe it won't spread.....said in the most sarcastic way.

More bad housing news out of California: San Francisco Bay Area June home sales plummet as prices surge.

I'm a huge housing bull, but what I've been seeing lately makes my eyes grow large. It's time for a pull back. I was curious where "the surging prices" were happening. Because I think that is temporary.

I was sort of curious how the cities around me were faring. My city is definitely in price reduction territory.

Silicon Valley proper is still holding up. In Fremont the average time on market is still 9 days. No markdowns. But they are set to bring a new development on line relatively soon. We will see how long that holds up because it's pretty massive.

However, once you get into the bedroom communities, there are a lot of markdowns. I didn't check them all, but I checked the next city inland, and the next one after that. Both have price reductions on a lot of stuff. These are also the communities where you have to spend hours on the freeway to get home these days. People working in my town are commuting an hour and a half to get to my bedroom community. It's normally a 30 minute trip.

The other thing that is really perplexing is the general makeup of new construction in all of these cities. I haven't really been paying attention to it much before, but a lot of cities including my own are putting up a lot homes on the really high end. There is a crazy amount of 3000+sq feet inventory coming on which is sort of your more high end buyer. This segment of the market seems to be showing a lot of build up because of this.  And of course, these houses generally take longer to sell. You just kinda need a big family or absurdly large furniture.

So I guess McMansions are back. I don't care one way or another about McMansions, but during the housing crash everyone said we would never see those again. And yes, the definition of a McMansion is anything over 3000 square feet. Google it.

What really made me start paying attention to this is my city let a developer tear down a school. I'd never seen happen before. They promptly started putting up houses. But I just found out those houses are like 3000 square feet and that neighborhood is slightly run down for that type of construction. Most of the other houses are half the size. It isn't a bad neighborhood, but if I'm spending money on a house that size you don't want to look across the street and think - clean yo shit up.

Of course,  the neighborhood got a huge gift because all of their house prices just went up, and they can fix their places up now and feel like they can get a return on it. It's just an odd place to put big houses though.

What do you mean robots aren't going to babysit our kids?!

Well, I don't have any kids, but you get the idea. Adorable home robot Kuri is being discontinued.

But the INTERNET SAID robots were coming to take our jobs, babysit our kids and wipe my ass when I get old!

Quite literally they were the worst threat to humidity only a few months ago. And yes, I'm still laughing at a lot of people. For the love of gawd that was a ridiculous time. Now that reality is starting to prevail, you know there are going to be a lot of sarcastic posts about how insane people were being. And me mocking their insanity.

It's kinda a bummer because I just wrote about this bot a couple of months ago, and it was sort of cute. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

If the economy is so great.....

To be honest... when I start seeing houses sit - I want to crawl out of my skin. And I'm starting to see places sit. And news from all over suggests that there is a slowdown underway. You can see it in cars. GM is offering pretty much 20% off, no payments for 90 days and zero interest.

Interest rates went up really fast, and there is a lag time to the fallout from that.  And it sort of feels like no one thinks we can have a recession because Trump is President. But when mortgage applications start looking like this..... only up 3 out of 12 weeks....this is not healthy.

UPDATED: Spent some time going through the MLS. There are price reductions on the low end starting soon as 22 days. At least half of the stuff thats been on the market for than 30 days has a markdown. Even land! Which is super rare these days. And inventory for very large houses seems to be larger than normal, but so far most of them are holding out. The middle market still seems sane for now I guess.

I'd say that if my market is showing stress, anything more inland is showing more stress.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A rather boring update.

There hasn't been anything interesting enough to brave traffic for, so I've been doing home projects. Kiinnnda. You see, at Chez Snarkolepsy every project seems to come with a pre-project. So, to get to the actual project, you have to complete a BIGGER project. Because we never want anything off the rack and easy apparently. And we both hate shopping. It's a whole thing.

Anyway, Mr S. and I bought a drill press. Delivered by Amazon! Some assembly required. LOL. Since it was a mid size drill press, we decided it would need a place to live where we could roll it out of the way. It's not a stand up, but would sit on a bench. Except we didn't want it taking up our bench. It also weighs too much to just easily lug it around very many times.

Which is how we found ourselves in Hayward looking at tool chests. Oh no... it couldn't be in my town. The one we wanted was way over in Hayward. We are going to mount it to one of those hip high tool chests. Which sort of meant a lot of side projects like finding a wood top for the roller chest.

But the mildly interesting thing over at the Hayward Home Depot was all the junk removal trucks sitting in the parking lot.  There are always day workers at every Home Depot, but it was the first time I've seen this. I wasn't sure if work was slow because there had to be at least 6 trucks there. The winner has to undercut 5 other guys, so it didn't make much sense to me.

Also traffic is so 2008. Unbelievable amounts of traffic on the weekends. You really have to pick your activities wisely.

Friday, July 20, 2018

I'm still winning.

VR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it.

While I feel kinda sad it didn't work out this time, my fundamental belief is that people do not want to wear glasses of any type except sunglasses. And if I just hold true to that belief all of this stuff falls away eventually. We will generally put up with glasses if we have to, but if you don't have to.....

The most telling part of the article was this:

"When the PlayStation VR came out, I scrambled to get one into my house. I ate up its games, burning through VR Worlds, goofing off in PSVR Playroom, and encouraging friends and family to give it a spin. They all had the same CNN-esque reaction. “Wow!”

But then, 30 minutes later, they wanted the thing off their heads for a return to reality. Not a single one of my friends or family members went on to buy a VR unit of their own. In fact, not one of them has asked to give the PSVR another try when they come over." (emphasis mine)

While current VR did solve all the latency issues that doomed the first try - I'm not sure that latency was the whole problem because latency made you feel sick. Even though current hardware fixed that, not all of the sickness went away and it's hard to find numbers on how may people are affected by motions sickness with these headsets. But they do post signs now about how VR can make you feel sick. The exact same thing happened with 3D. And it's always sort of a surprise when this happens to people.

For instance back when 3D was a fad Mr S. and I were at the movies and he got a severe reaction from the glasses. So severe he thought he needed to go to the hospital. And he worked on the old timey VR when it clearly made you sick! So it's not like this was a foreign feeling to him. Which is why he was convinced something other than motion sickness was causing his reaction. Plus he'd  used 3D glasses tons of time before. For some reason this one movie made his brain freak out. We actually had to leave. He came home and laid in bed for a while.

One time when I was trying VR in the earlier days I got motion sickness so bad it lasted for like an hour. And I don't get motion sickness. I was really surprised. So, likely people who try these things don't want to go back because they are experiencing some level of motion discomfort. Something that people who love to hype this tech never actually seem to write about.

The article goes on to say:

"Today’s VR headsets don’t answer that question. After the initial shock wears off they offer too little content, are too confusing to use, and leave too many users dealing with motion sickness or other VR-related ailments. Even hardcore VR enthusiasts rarely use a headset for more than an hour at a time." (also emphasis mine)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

But I thought robots were coming to take all of our JOBS?

Screaming labor shortage forcing firms to get creative to fill record job openings.

I'm just going to put this on a loop every time someone talks about a labor shortage. Truck driver shortage? Me - But wait, what about the robots?

I read a week or two ago they are hiring senior citizens to drive trucks because they can't find enough people. Now who do you trust more. Senior citizens or robots?

How bunnies look like goats.

I couldn't get her in the same angle. But I didn't try that hard.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I'm for sure getting arrested one day because my man is an enabler.

Since I got that ticket for going over 100mph, every time we see a story about someone getting in trouble for going over a hundred, we talk about it and giggle. Mr S. knows I'm just trying to figure out how close to the line I can get without going to jail. Which is a complete waste of time. I know first hand that fining people gets them to change their behavior. For a while? I mean, I had to hire a lawyer and everything.

But today he sends me an email with the following:

Subject: You may need to move to Arizona...

The first thing I think is - oh shit what is California doing to us now. But no. When I open the message it says: and get elected to office. And has a link to an article about an elected official being a little too honest.

"For aww-shucks acknowledgment of abuse of power, it's hard to beat Arizona-style honesty. When informed by a sheriff's deputy that doing 97 miles per hour in a 55 zone was a tad excessive, state Rep. Paul Mosley (R-District 5) answered, "Well, I was doing 120 earlier...This goes 140. That's what I like about it."

I still think New Mexico has Nevada beat for speeding though. I was doing about 105 in my truck, and this dually truck came up on me and just walked away. He had to be doing more than 110. In a dually!
Soooooo. I bought an item from Amazon that weighs 120 pounds. It gets delivered on Thursday.

I literally have no idea how this is going to work out. Should be a fun day.

How can that even be a search?

charcoal festival sf

SF Is Getting the Activated Charcoal Food Festival No One Asked For.

"In a victory for style over substance, SoMa will be home to what apppears to be the world’s first food festival dedicated to activated charcoal, the charred carbon substance often used to darken foods and make them more palatable to Instagram photographers.

Taking a cue from circa 2011, it’s named 50 Shades of Charcoal and will go down at the SoMa Street Food Park with a dozen food trucks and pop-up stands (maybe more) on Sunday July 22 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m."

How is that a festival?

Swimming in the vast sea of shallow thinkers.

Politico says : "Make no mistake: Hacking the 2016 election was an act of war. It’s time we responded accordingly. "

Yet in 2014 Russia made 16 incursions into US air space. An actual act of war. No fucks given. You literally only find one page of references of it happening on Google.

The frustrating thing about the media is you literally can't even starve them to death.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Yep. Confirmed shit hole.

"More human poop on San Francisco sidewalks ‘than I’ve ever seen,’ new mayor says."

"Breed, 43, won a June 12 election to fill out the term of late mayor Edwin Lee, who died in December. She is the city’s first African-American mayor." (emphasis mine)

Huh. I guess Don Sweeney has never heard of Willy Brown.  Because Google is hard Ya'all.

I don't have any hopes for this new Major. She is a clone of Libby Shaft. The homeless in SF have been intense for decades. It's a whole nuther level of poor. I don't think I've been up there in a year or two. So if everyone is bitching about it, it must be super crazy.

I guess things are starting to matter again.

Netflix plummets after missing big on subscriber growth.

Remember a month ago when I was like - How can the market cap of Netflix be more than Citibank?! Here.

Also.... it appears we are no longer in a sellers market. I've been seeing a couple places sit - so I went through the MLS this morning and it appears we are starting to get a lot of price reductions in my city. I was actually quite shocked because it just seems like a month or two ago I had agents beating down my door because I have a rental.

This should be an interesting earnings season.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Friday, July 13, 2018

At least history will be funny.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company unveils bricks being produced from dirt dug in its tunnels.

A few weeks ago someone on twitter said - remember back during the Dotcom boom when companies had to buy other companies to prove growth? Well, every time I see Elon's antics - it's all I can see. But at least he's got the important things down like tunnel mood lighting. (in the link)

To be sure, people can be crazy for longer than you can stay sane. We just watch and watch shaking our heads. If this was his money it would be funny. But it's not. It's yours.

I wanted to title this - I wonder how much it costs to remove bricks. But I already know the answer, and it's significantly higher than removing dirt. So this clown show rolls on. Next I bet he tries to sell air.

Honestly when he started this whole Boring company I thought there was a high chance he'd just run into gold and make laughing stocks out of all of us. But whatevs.

P.S. I'm anxiously waiting for winter to see how that silly tent manufacturing line is going to work out.


The Digest: Magic Leap’s Disappointing Demo Could Be A Death Knell For AR.

"ROSE-TINTED GLASSES. $2.3 billion. That’s how much Magic Leap had raised by March of this year. That’s a lot of pocket change for the Florida-based augmented reality startup. You might remember them from that video where a gigantic virtual blue whale leapt out of a gym floor in front of an awestruck audience."

This years Augmented Reality conference was billed as - go big or go home. In my head I was like - game on! I went to the very first Augmented Reality conference, it might have been 10 years ago now and I've watched this segment be overhyped to death. Is it cool? Sure! But it has to be cool enough to put up with wearing glasses. And my firmly held belief is that people just don't want to wear glasses.

The truth of the matter is that if it weren't for Pokeman Go, almost no one would know what Augmented Reality is.  Sure they use it in sporting events and so on. But really Pokeman was made it gain pretty much all the traction it has.

Interestingly the article goes on to say:

"Microsoft, one of the biggest players in the mixed reality headset market, is still going full steam ahead with its HoloLens — a mixed reality headset that first shipped in 2016. Its proposed applications, however, are a bit different than those for Magic Leap. Microsoft has its eyes on industrial applications: architects examining virtual models of houses, holographic conference calls, and hardhat-mounted augmented reality for construction workers. Magic Leap seems to be aiming at something far more playful, more fun, and perhaps more likely to integrate into the daily life of the average person."

Is it? I don't think it's going full steam at all. You may remember that I stood in line to see the Hololens just in June. I wrote about it because if something was going full steam ahead, you would be trying to sell those items, and people working their booth didn't even know how much the SDK (software development kit) sold for.

Even more telling was Microsoft discontinuing the Kinnect for the Xbox One basically killing motion gaming on that platform. So I'm guessing none of this crap is going full steam ahead.

It isn't to say VR and AR aren't amazing. They are. They just aren't compelling. You need a really good reason to put up with wearing glasses. I believe there is still life in Augmented Reality in manufacturing because those sectors already wear bulky head gear.

But right now, Magic Leap appears to be the Theranos of gaming. And who doesn't want to look like Riddick. Right? Said in the most sarcastic way.

I also wanted to add that this release looks a lot like the Google Glass release. I went to a developers conference once and they'd completely talked me out of wanting to try it. I still have never tried Google Glass.

Autocorrect has made it into my dreams.

I was just trying to contact my insurance agent because someone had gone crazy the way I want to. By stealing a bulldozer and just running over shit. In my dream he really destroyed the neighborhood. But every time I tried to look the number up, auto correct would swoop in and make it so I couldn't. No matter what device I was on.

My whole dream was just trying to get ahold of my insurance agent and being thwarted by auto correct.

As a side segue - last night Mr S. and I were watching the news. Now, whenever there is an incident they do an areal map of the area with streets overlayed. I turned to him and said - thank goodness our house looks awesome from space now. (My refurbished deck is already showing up, and it looks awesome from the sky.)

He responded to me with something like - for when you go crazy? And I stopped him. I said.... come on... we all do it. If someone goes crazy and they show their house from the sky and it looks a mess - you are like.. we'll yeah. Of course they went crazy. Look at their house!

But if it looks really nice from they sky you are like - huh. I wonder what happened there?

Autocorrect is a complete asshole though. How ridiculous that we have all learned some sort of pigeon English because of auto correct? Half the time I don't even try to correct autocorrect because at this point you are like ... it's close enough. They will get it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

It's weird when someone pulls back the veil.

There is something I've been trying to figure out how to talk about for a few days. You have to be very careful in Silicon Valley. But it's such an odd dynamic I just have to in a very vague way.

A lot of the big tech companies have decided that their engineers are interchangeable. Meaning that no one really has any ownership over their work. Everyone is created equal, so everyone is tasked to work on any item that comes up under the sun.

The side effect of this is, since you don't have any ownership over your work - people only start to do the bare minimum because middle management is handing out problems like a card game. Over time this starts to compound on itself because people don't seem to have any in depth knowledge of how anything works anymore because you aren't incentivized to do so.

Mr S. and I have been talking about this for years now and chalked it up to incompetence. Until the other day. Mr S. was talking to a guy about a mutual acquaintance. The guy told Mr S. that the acquaintance had wound up at a super famous giant company, but they had a policy of making you not feel special, so he left.

Mr S. was like - wait this was an actual policy? The guy was like - yeah. He said - the mutual acquaintance was a brilliant xyz guy, but they had him doing the stupidest most menial stuff. And that it was an actual policy to take you off the things you were good at and put on you stuff that wasted your experience.

That's why you don't see these companies churning out star people anymore. Because they disincentivize that. They wouldn't want you becoming the next super giant famous company now would they?

It's just going to be interesting to see how this turns out because the choices you make today aren't always easy to fix years down the line. They are sort of contingency trapped. It is however one of the creepiest things I've heard in the Valley. And there have been tons of threads about how Silicon Valley is like the Soviet Union.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

He's stuck in a daydream.

This morning I was doing an errand and noticed a new homeless person in my town. He looked fresh. He still had fabulous hair but he'd already started accumulating the tell tale signs of homelessness. But he wasn't panhandling. So I yelled out to him - Hey Baby, why are you on the streets?

He was very happy to tell me he'd lost his job, his permit to work in the US, and his mother. But what he really wanted to do was write a book about the universe only he knew. Yet he didn't have all the markings of being really crazy yet. He obviously needed money to get some paperwork, but also he really wanted to write that book and all of a sudden wanted to get me to write it. He'd give me the ideas.

In my head I was like - you have all the time in the world! I have shit to do. Why do you think I would write a book for you? But I only managed to ask why he wasn't taking odd jobs. He was back on that book. I left telling him - the longer you stay on the streets - the harder it is to get out. But they never listen.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

This is why rent control doesn't help the people it's suppose to.

Normally businessey stuff isn't for the weekend,  but Mr S. met a new guy and came back with a crazy story that I think is super interesting.

Now the reason I was  interested in this story is I lived in a rent controlled building in East Palo Alto when I first started out. It was on the border of EPA and Palo Alto. At the time, white people didn't live in deep East Palo Alto. You lived on the border or not at all.

So economically - I understand why rent control doesn't work. Landlords can't raise rent enough to cover all the property tax increases they get every year. Since they are only able to raise the rent a certain amount,  they can't afford to make any repairs and pay the extra taxes. This is what happened in my case. But the landlord constantly raised the rent anyway and everyone in my building was always going to court with him which sucked. This made me move as soon as I possibly could afford it.

But the guy Mr S. talked to had a slightly different thing going on. He was an engineer making ~really~ good money. He lives in Union Square in SF in a rent controlled building. Allegedly the rent is half of market rate. He doesn't work in the city,  so people were asking why he didn't just move. The traffic is insane.

He told Mr S. that he was ~never~ moving. They were going to bring out his dead body first.  He had actually considered moving back to Europe for a while, but didn't want to lose his rent controlled place. So he pooled his family resources together, and they were going to pay the rent on the SF apartment while he was living in Europe. And obviously, if you can pay rent on two places, you aren't exactly poor.

I've heard a lot of crazy stories about rent control. But this was probably the most interesting one I'd ever heard.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Today I've discovered there is a certain comfort in being married for a long time other than the obvious. When we text each other something and there is radio silence - you don't have to guess how well that went over. It's kinda like knowing your audience on a whole other level. Unlike early in your relationship, where you are like - why ya mad?

Friday, July 06, 2018

It's all your fault Anne Frank is dead America.

Anne Frank's family tried to escape to US, stopped by America's restrictive immigration policy.

This is what my local news and the Anne Frank house are selling today. I saw it come through on twitter and laughed because..... well.... California.

Everybody gets we find this funny. Right?

Nigel Farage says Trump blimp is 'insult to a sitting US president'.

"Nigel Farage has claimed anti-Trump protestors' plans to fly a blimp portraying Donald Trump as a big baby is the 'biggest insult to a sitting US president ever'."

I for one am happy that it's acceptable to insult a sitting President again.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Look at the bread Mr S. is churning out these days.

Making light delicious bread is a real skill. He been working on it for two years. Almost obsessively. I'm sort of a bread widow except - I get to eat delicious bread. Anyone who knows someone that makes bread must know how obsessive people can get about making it.

For a while I was under the breadpocolypse as he tried to narrow down what worked and didn't work. He almost overdosed me on liking bread. At one point I think it was 3 or 4 times a week. I finally had to get him to slow his roll because a woman's ass can NOT work off that much bread.

This was his last prettiest loaf before yesterday.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I've got nothing for you. I'm a little preoccupied with this dog issue. Went down to the police department this morning to see if I could get any guidance.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

caged butterflies.

So-  the neighbors woke me up with their barking dog at 8:30 this morning. So I went over to bang on their door. SWAT style. They weren't going to open the door. Asked them if it was too much to ask to sleep in on the weekends. They threw me off the property saying I was harassing them.

So there is that. Their dog woke me up yesterday too.