Monday, August 31, 2020

I guess this can go on forever.

I was wrong.


My neighbor thing has sort of taken a funny turn. I don't know how long it will be funny, but it's a lot better than the other stupid crap she's come up with.

This weekend she realized that those trees take a lot of water and decided to dedicate a valve or something. But, she doesn't quite understand gravity, and now she is flooding my place. The trees are not quite at ground level, so all the water she's trying to capture is draining onto my side. I'm not being dramatic. She isn't just sprinkling the place. It's like I lost a sprinkler head. I'm sure I will get pictures up so everyone can make their own assessment. It's the most bizarre form of spite I've ever seen, because she's going to show me.

Right now I think it's super funny because who turns down free water? That is not a thing in California. Theoretically this should be self resolving. Water in California is not cheap. But if she has enough fuck you money - who knows.

I just don't understand why nothing about that house can stay within the confines of her property. First the dog. Then the trees, and now the water. And the funniest thing is..... she isn't able to push enough water into most of those trees.

I'm glad I didn't do any trimming yet because maybe Texas Refugee was right about her being a scammer. She definitely acts like quick money though. Quick money doesn't know how easy it is to lose all your money.

Palo Alto is the weirdest I've ever seen it.

It turns out fires are very effective at getting people to pandemic isolate. The smoke has just been oppressive for almost two weeks. We were able to see the mountains for one day, and now things are back to chunky. Because of this my car sugar is critically low. I've been trying to find renegade car shows without much luck.

So, this weekend Mr S. and I decided to go to Palo Alto. I figured it was the only sure place to find cool cars in the wild.

During the housing crisis,  Palo Alto was sort of a safe haven. Things never felt bad there. EVER. It was a nice respite because out here in the burbs, things were super scary at the time. Palo Alto had always been a daycation place because the money spigot is always flowing. I think the air is made of unicorn farts which smell like skittles.

Plus it turned out that my current favorite burger place was open in Palo Alto. The closest one near me has been closed for the whole pandemic. I didn't really think they were coming back.

Anyway, normally Palo Alto is very vibrant. There were a decent amount of people out, but the whole vibe just felt completely off. I don't know if it's because there are no students or faculty on campus. Thus businesses were struggling extra hard.

For example the burger place tacked on a 20% tip. I've never had that happen in P.A. And generally it makes me pretty bitter because we never saw the server again. And I've been tipping well over 20% since the pandemic for most places I routinely visit. I don't want to go into how much because I am not virtue signaling - only pointing out that I'm not being cheap. But in any case - it should be my choice. A business in my city tried to do that a couple of years ago and got shredded!

Also, the pan handers are SUPER aggressive now! This is new. It's not that there are never panhandlers in P.A., the city just usually keeps them in check.

This guy would walk up to cars and just stare at you. When you shook your head no,  he would motion for water. I must have said no four or five times. Finally he said - fuck you! I was glad I had my dash cam installed. You can also see the line of RV's parked on the street. It stretched for almost the whole stretch of the Campus on the El Camino.

This is in PALO ALTO! So crazy. To the left is the Stanford campus. To the right is Town and County for those familiar with the area.

I went out to lunch the next day in my city and was shocked for the same amount of people it actually felt tons better out here in the burbs.

They really need to bring the projects back for these people - but no one wants them.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Conversations with Mr S.

Me - Have you heard of this new term called Liberal Conservative?

Him - Noooo. Who calls themselves that?

When I told him, he says - that sounds like a platform that appeals to no one.

I was confused and asked him why.

Him - Because deep down when you tell someone you're a Conservative the other side thinks you are a Nazi. And if you tell people you are a Liberal, deep down people think you are a commie. So it's just super confusing because when you call yourself a Liberal Conservative people are only going to hear the part they don't like.

But, I thought you all would like to know this is a new category in California. I think it basically means they want to keep their money, but also your money.

Stroller dog.

I've been wanting to get this dog for months. Normally they pass through when I'm doing yard work and don't have my phone on me. This is not my yard (FYI).

This lady usually has an autistic child where the dog is, and the dog rides at the very front like he's king of the world.

The most infuriating thing about my neighbor issue is that I fucking love dogs. Everyone that knows me knows I love dogs and play with them every chance I get. 

The virus has put a damper on that this year and I'm always appreciative when people let me pet them now. I used to be able to get my dog on all the time and I sort of miss that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

See what I mean?

Home Prices Hit Record Highs. Is It a Bubble About to Burst?

"Why won't we see another Great Recession-era housing bubble?

The sky-high prices of 2020 are being driven by an influx of buyers bidding up prices on a historically low number of homes on the market. Until more properties come online, that dynamic is unlikely to change.

The Great Recession had the opposite problem: There were many more homes available than qualified buyers.

In the aftermath of the housing bust, it's become harder for buyers without good jobs and strong credit to score mortgages. This weeds out riskier borrowers. And unlike the last go-around, when builders were erecting residences at what seemed like a break-neck pace, the under-building of the last few years has exacerbated the housing shortage.

Even if the economy doesn't improve by next year and a vast swath of Americans remain unemployed, we are not likely to see the flood of foreclosures that characterized the housing crash, partly because government protections could be extended.

"It doesn't feel at all like last time, when the market was getting all pumped up by easy mortgage credit," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics."

Are these people for real?! Government support can not last forever. If Obama was doing this we would be howling at the moon. Tons of restaurants have closed in the Bay Area. Most have reduced income as do other businesses. Not to mention the new costs. Everyone had to run out and buy tents. Who knows how much they are spending on cleaning.

And as much as people like to think everything is fine - most people don't like to eat outside apparently. I don't love it because I have long hair and if it's windy it's always in my eyes or mouth. But apparently guys also feel this way. I didn't think it much mattered to them because they are guys. Some men feel like they are paying for ambiance. Who knew?

And winter is coming! So anyone surviving now,  gets to go through winter seeing if they can survive. How can these people possibly think more supply is not going to come onto the market? Absurd.
Makes total sense that Tesla is at 2000 bucks a share(roughly), and Apple is at 500 bucks a share(roughly). Said in the most sarcastic way.

Sometimes you give up hope the market will ever see sanity again.

Charts don't lie.

I've been complaining about real estate for a couple of years. That's because the top in the housing market was about March of 2018 as you can see from this handy chart. I know this because two years ago my house had a ton more equity. The tard neighbors with the dog bought at the top. At one time they were sitting on 200 grand in equity after only living there less than a year. Now, it might be a wash if they sold today.

The media likes to spin things in a crazy way, but you would be astonished at how frequently I run across properties that barely appreciated in value in 14 years. Like this house. After 14 years, they essentially walked away with 25 grand. TWENTY FIVE GRAND!

Don't forget to look at the list price they were trying to get. Started a smidge under 600k, and they got 536k. So tell me that's a healthy market.

If only there was something they could do to make things less dangerous.

Cal Fire Chief on SCU Lightning Complex Fire: 'We are living in a mega-fire era'.

Naaaa....fuck that. It's totally unreasonable of me to think that people could look out over their neighborhoods and say - ya know, this tree covering my house might cause it to burn down if there were a fire.

Trees are like hair - they grow back.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Thankfully the wind never materialized - so hopefully they can get a handle on the fires. Last night they had pre-evacuatuon zones in Milpitas and Fremont which I have never seen before. Ever. Even the Alum Rock portion of San Jose was in pre-evacuation.

Oakland seemed to have gotten most of the rain that fell. We only got a few drops. At least I can ~sort~ of see the mountains today. (Nevermind) The air quality was magenta. Yes... magenta.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

You've probably been wondering where I've been.

I haven't been evacuated..... yet.

Last week my neighbor decided to plant those 20 foot palms 2 feet off my property line. Now I have half a tree on my property. When I told them the canopy could not be on my side, they called the cops on me. For the second time. The cops came and said I could trim anything over the fence, but I knew they were wrong.

Then I spent two days calling around to see if I could get any remedy. I called the city. LOL. I called a bunch of lawyers. Eventually I found a lawyer who referred me to some fancy pants guy in Berkeley who writes case law on trees. He's pretty much the "expert witness" lawyers call when they need opinion. He drove out to my house - from Berkeley, and pretty much told me I was fucked. He said it ~was~ a technical violation, but it would be too costly to fight. I appreciated his honestly immensely even if it didn't go as I would have hoped. I am out 700 bucks, but when I trim those fucking trees I can say that I called in an expert and did everything I could to do the right thing. He's basically my insurance policy.

Now I'm trying to figure out a way to get out of my house.

Which brings me to the fires. I don't mind people having their trees a few feet over my property. It's only when it gets egregious that I care. And it's because of the fires. This morning at 9:30am Mr S. and I went to the Valley to buy welding blankets because I am sitting on a half cord of wood. I'm terrified of the embers falling on it. So, it is now wrapped in a welding blanket. The mylar fire blankets were sold out almost everywhere because all the firefighters are in my city and the city next to me. I was initially going to use that.

Because of one judge, you have ZERO property rights regarding trees. If the owner will not trim them, you are pretty much fucked. There is NOTHING you can do. You are forced to prove you used extreme care in triming your neighbors trees. Because NO tree trimmer will touch them. If you feel you need defensible space because you've already had a fire take your house and everything you own - who cares. And this is why California burns every single year. It's not because of global warming and all that other shit. It's because these people are fucking mental when it comes to trees. They would rather have their whole fucking city burn down than touch those precious trees. So when you are feeling sad about people losing their houses, remember this post because some of them don't deserve your sympathy. I know it sounds harsh, but it is the sad truth.

The winds are suppose to get erratic tonight. This is the first time I'm actually going to pack a bug out bag for Lacy. I've played out this scenario a million times in my mind. I'm still staying to fight. All morning I was pushing water into the trees I have on my property. I'm astonished not a single other person is doing this.

So... that's where I have been. I'm super mad pretty much. So please don't poke me. I'm so mad I might just decide to quit the internet.

Just outside of Fremont there are gravel pits. A Chinook was dropping down into them to get water that gets trapped from the rains. I have never ever seen that. There are two reservoirs within 10 miles.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It's going to be an interesting night.

A few hours ago I got a fire evacuation alert on my phone. I'm a few miles from the fire. But as I was trying to figure out in town where it was, I noticed that those fires basically exploded over night. EVERYWHERE. I have fires on three sides of me now.

Apparently Boulder Creek and Bonny Dune are under evacuation. Bonny Doon is right up to the ocean. People are saying Bonny Doon is gone, but I haven't seen picture or video confirmation.

2020 is just like sandpaper every day.

I will answer.

Where is the hyperinflation?

"When the German government ran the printing presses during the Weimar Republic the result was catastrophic hyperinflation. Why not now? This is a genuine question which I hope Zero Hedge readers can help answer."

People really learned nothing from the housing crisis. The answer is....... debt servicing. Let me tell you an old timey story.

Back before the housing crisis, I was fully capitalized. When the housing crisis hit I quickly learned that the bank had lent me too much money. After the downdraft - not so much. I had my rental at that point. Now once a person realizes this, which most do not, I decided to fight for my properties. I knew they would never lend me that kind of money again. I spent a year doing cram downs on my house.

Meaning any extra money I had - I paid extra on my mortgage. I didn't really have the money necessarily, but the banks refused to refi me. You find the money when you are paying that much extra interest.  You eat ramen. Whatever it takes! I was paying over 6% interest at that point when the rates were down in the 4's. For five years they refused to refi me with a spotless credit file.

You don't have to have an agreement with the bank to send them extra money. You just pay more on your mortgage than you owe for that month. I call them "crams downs" because they don't agree to it, but they can't refuse it either. My feeling was - YOU WILL TAKE MY MONEY. You are going to let me refi. Eventually I met the requirements, but it took me more than 5 years.

Now back during the housing crisis and Obama was printing money like mad - everyone was on fire about the Weimar and hyper inflation. It never materialized and I spent a long time trying to figure why. I finally realized that if people do not buy items and instead service debt, hyperinflation never seems to materialize.

There. If a drop out can figure this out (me)....why is it so hard for smart people? It's not hard to see that people are not really spending on items, but have a LOT of debt servicing to do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

It looks like the pre-foreclosure wave is starting. There are 19 properties in my city in pre-foreclosure, when normally there is one or two at most.

Oddly,  most of them entered default before the middle of Feb. So these are not pandemic related.

Monday, August 17, 2020

In other fun news.....

My neighbor rolled up this weekend with this shit. The one that I had a fight with regarding the dog. 

Four 20 foot palm trees, and two 10 foot banana palms. Which is about the funniest shit I've ever seen. This girl makes the worst choices. I didn't even know they sold banana palms around here. We were just on water rationing a year or two ago!  And she decided to get not one.... but two of those. The frost is going to try and wipe these out post haste. So I don't get it. It's 108 degrees here this week! It's also pretty common for September to have a week of 108 temps. It normally doesn't rain here until the end of October.  Rouge storm aside.

Also - those palms are the type you see in the high end market. And those people have maybe one or  two of them. Two was not good enough so she got four of them. I guess she's like - water bill. Fuck that! We are in the middle market. So this makes no sense. The purple tree on my property has been there for ten years and is about 13 feet tall. One or two of those palms have an eight inch radius! 

And..... who shells out that kind of money for trees in this economy anyway? They were both on furlow. When I see the reports of people still spending, I'm like yep. Don't get it, but yep.

The thing I learned in the housing crisis is that people do a lot of things that are not in their best interests. Usually this winds up taking them out eventually. But waiting for them to destroy themselves does take more time than it should.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

At least it's a dry heat.

Just kidding! It's not quite a Texas style muggy heat heat, but close. Everyone knows by now that California is in a bit of a heatwave. The above shot is just the "feels like temp" from a couple of days ago. JK. I think it was only 106 that day. But the truck thought it was 115.

Then... last night we got a lightning storm. Which woke ~literally~ everyone up at 5am. Dry lightning was in the forecast, but we all laugh at that. I didn't prepare any of my cameras because 99.99% it never materializes. Since lightning storms are very short events here, when it looked like it had died down Mr S. went back to bed. I stayed up a little while trying longer to see if I could get any shots of strikes. Which I sorts did. But it's behind the tree on the right. If I wouldn't have gone back to bed it probably would have been easy to get better shots because the storm was sustained for a couple of hours.

In the distance I noticed a small red smudge. I went to tell Mr S. that I thought the lightning had set the hill on fire. By the time get got back out to the deck he was like - yeah, that is a fire.

We watched it for a couple of minutes and it was really starting to get involved. It took a while to hear any sirens. And just then...... the sky opened! It just started raining. All I can say... the firefighters got super lucky.

By the time I woke back up there were fires on every side of town. I think people over-use the term apocalyptic, but fires in the sky in every direction was sort of.

And since we are back to rolling blackouts, our day got hijacked by buying air mattress. We are going to do a new style of glamping called - camping in our living room. It has all the features of home. Just possibly not electricity. Because 106 degree heat and no electricity is just California doing California. And these people want to electrify EVERYTHING. 

Normally such a purchase would take an hour max. But because everyone and their uncle bought bikes, you pretty much can not find bike pumps anywhere. (for the air mattress) We wound up at Dicks in Fremont, but they were out of pumps. In my city I had to stop by a bike store because they wouldn't pick up the phone only to find out they also were out of them.

And finally I just want to bitch up a storm about merchants. How is it in this day and age that the only way to find out if a store has something -  is to just go there? Most sites search criteria is torched so if you look up say... "bike pump", you get backpacks. For effs sakes - no wonder Amazon is killing everyone. It's not that complicated. But this whole series of events took the whole fucking day. Because this is life now.


This is the smoke line from one side of town. This is another fire out the other side of town.

2020 just keeps adding layer upon layer of shit.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Slow progress is still progress.

Mr S. finally got the bed extender in last weekend. We had to wait four weeks for this part. We have a bed cover which made it so the extender couldn't do the full rotation without it. But it's in now.

Pictures I should have posted.

This truck has shown up on the blog recently. But I spotted it again and loved it twice.

Imma catch you up.

Since we are now in the extend and pretend phase, I am taking this time to pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist. I have been dry fitting a nail down floor all week. Because I'm anal that way. My brain really hates it when a grain doesn't flow the right way. I can pick all the nits I want if I put it in. And apparently I have all the time in the world. So why not?

This is the first week I haddn't been out since the weekend.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

It's frustrating when financial people don't understand why things happen.

"DARTs is a metric used in the brokerage industry to track individual brokerage houses to determine how well they're doing in generating revenue from commissions. Judging by Robinhood's explosive trading activity, E*Trade appears to be a dying fad. " Source.

ETrade was not a fad - they just killed themselves like any other company. You have to be in the market to know what's going on in the market. And the idea that ZeroHedge doesn't know how Etrade operates is silly. So I'm gonna fill you all in.

When all the brokerages houses stopped collecting trading fee's - they had to make that money up somewhere. Turns out it was nickel and dime-ing their clients for simple things like say..... a paper statement. Etrade for example charges 20.00. Twenty DOLLARS! For a paper statement.

A  trading fee for example ~was~ under 10 bucks before they all stopped charging fees. Etrade is the ONLY company I have EVER dealt with that charged a fee for a paper statement. This is why all their customers fled.

Now I know all of you people are saying - a paper statement..... how old timey. Yeah - try having to dig out 14 year old statements like I had to do recently for taxes. The idea that Etrade will not give you paper statements without a fee is super ridiculous. And all these Robinhood idiots are going to find these things out when they have to file taxes. I honestly would love to see some of those guys do their taxes on fractional shares. OMG. That would be a real fun time.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

How can the economy be working this way?

I thought this was going to be the year they rolled out some interesting new phones. But last week I decided that wasn't going to happen. We will be lucky to get anything new at all.

My phone is back-rev'ed a few years. Burn-in is pretty savage and it's running super sluggish. So today I broke down and went to the phone store. We roll in and find out they are not letting anyone inside at all. Which is normal I guess. No problem.

They want you to buy through the online app and then you can pick it up they say. So, we went to lunch and tried to buy it on the tiny screen. Which was impossible.

No problem. We decide to come back to the house and buy it on a bigger screen. Only to find out they won't let you pick it up, it can only be delivered. Frustrated at that I tell Mr S. - let's go back to the store and do some distance buying. We will park right in front of the store and have them help us.

When they greet me at the door I tell them I'm just trying to buy the phone. I don't want to change my contract. I don't want installments. I just want to purchase it outright.

He starts walking me through the purchase app on my phone. As he's doing so I told him they the phone company made it so painful I almost bought the phone from Amazon. I was not being a dick about it. I'm super kind. Everyone's default is asshole these days. Mine is not.

Finally the app was being so difficult they let me inside even thought they were not suppose to. He tells me, "I'm not going to go tell you to figure out it yourself". Which made me laugh. I say - well..... you can, I just don't think it would be a good long term decision. I will just go buy this thing from Amazon. Which made him laugh.

After a few times we couldn't make the purchase go through. They have the phone right in the back in stock, but they can't give it to me. He says- I know this sucks but this is how the phone gods are. Which makes me laugh and I respond, yeah - but this is why the Amazon gods are killing everyone. I have money right now. The full amount. You have a phone and I can't buy it. It's crazy.

He's like - you can call the support line. I ask him - have you been on hold lately? I then asked them if they had an internal number. He said they didn't.

He tries to send the purchase through again. As it's thinking I say, if it doesn't go through this time I'm going to Amazon. At this point I have all the people working on the inside in a circle around me.

When the purchase fails I say - AMAZON WINS. And all of them chant Amazon wins! Seriously.

The fucked up thing about this recession is - even if you have money you can't spend it. And I don't give a fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck how rich Jeff Bezos is - he is literally the only company keeping this economy going.

A part of me dies every time they use QR codes for this.

I don't even know what the purpose of this is. They just point you to the menu. I have even seen them on soda cans where they just point you to calorie information. So useless.

This is what they were "suppose" to do from a decade ago.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

It will be interesting to see what sales and marketing do when they figure out these online conferences don't move product.

I mean, if ~I~ can see it on the internet - what do you need me for?  I'm not going to repeat your talking points. If I don't see it in real life - I probably don't write about it.

I refuse to do zoom conferences. Occasionally I will watch the playback. But honestly - people usually aren't more interesting on the internet than they are in real life.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

I guess we can not stop all those experiments on how isolation will affect people living in space.

I'm going to go on record saying - that is not going to go well.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Four times the effort for half the result.

It's been really hard to figure out what to talk about. I'm in full apathy at this point. What does anything really matter? What's the point of talking about the economy? The market is down only slightly more than 3000 points from the top. Everything is a wreck. At least the cacophony of virus deniers have settled down. But hey - at least we aren't Beirut!

I have actually been really busy. I have a house and infinite things to keep me busy. I'm not locked down, but what difference does it make? It takes so much effort trying to find out if anything is open, why bother? Seriously - I don't understand in this day and age why businesses can't figure out the complete basics. Like if you are open or not. I've seen places that were open, but all their social media said was closed and obviously lot of the other way. It's completely frustrating for those of us trying to keep places alive.

Everything these days feels a lot like pushing water uphill.

Errands that used to take you less than an hour are now an all day affair because there are shortages of stuff, or just a line. So really..... why bother?

All I can say at this point - winter is going to be awesome. SAID IN THE MOST SARCASTIC WAY.