Friday, July 24, 2009

5 Things I Did Yesterday

  1. Made plans for this weekend: aquarium marathon!
  2. Ate a lot of rum cake.
  3. Considered whether I could get rid of most of my belongings, just so we could fit into a smaller rental somewhere else.
  4. Took in the car show, again, at Mountain View's Thursday Night Live street thingie. Look! A car with stupid shit stuck to it! Look! A guy with paste on sideburns and rockabilly hair! What a hip town we live in.
  5. Slept on the wrong side of the bed, ensuring that I would, uhh, wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Five Problems I Don't Have

  1. Watching TV. We don't even have TeeVee. What we do have is Daily Show and Colbert Report, on Comedy Central's intertubesite, for free the day after everyone else. How people have time for more than that, I'll never understand.
  2. Credit Debt. I had some when I was in my early twenties. Now I'm a "freeloader," collecting miles but never paying interest charges. Woot.
  3. Traffic. I don't have to commute much, and if I do, I get to lanesplit. One of the reasons I'll probably never leave California. Without lanesplitting as a factor, Seattle or any other nice town might be a contender.
  4. Unemployment. There's a lot of unemployment, and underemployment, going on right now. I am lucky not to be in that boat right now, and to be able to provide for myself and my husband. Better yet, I actually like my job, my team, and my company. For once, I feel like I got some of the magical luck I've always envied my brother for.
  5. Laziness. I may be a procrastinator, but I don't have it nearly as bad as other people. I'm driven, and although I'm not the best at always finishing things, I'm getting better at seeing the work for what it is, and driving it through completion, or seeing that it needs to be delegated or dumped.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Five good things from yesterday:
  1. Cherries, lots of them. And very tasty.
  2. Writing a "Dear John, RTFM" letter to a challenging contact, in the nicest possible way, with my boss' full support.
  3. Nothing says "I love you" like a pile of money. Even vapor, future money.
  4. Paul finally got to talk with the academic counselor, which was borderline useless, but at least it can be checked off the list and he can proceed
  5. Trying a new restaurant on Castro Street, and not leaving with the, "well, now we know, check that off the list" disappointment we usually get.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This weekend was wonderfully lazy. We did stuff around the house, mostly. Paul is studying algebra, and I worked on a sewing project. Then of course decided I didn't like it enough to bother finishing it by adding buttonholes and buttons.

The highlight must have been Sunday morning. Paul made Grandma Kay's Waffles!
From 2009

Paul heroically ate 2 1/2, while I just managed to finish about 1 3/4. Mine were, of course, smothered in Laura Scudders peanut butter and maple syrup, the way god intended.

I spent the rest of the time combing craigslist for a new place, and getting rather dejected.
The number of places that won't accept pets is disheartening, especially when you see what a dump half of them are (as if a fifteen y/o cat could make the place any worse), or that the landlord insists you not call them unless you have already given notice to your old landlord and are ready to move in RIGHT NOW. Like somehow being a dog or cat person is terrible, but being a dumbass who can't plan shit and/or has been forced out of their apartment on short notice makes you a great rental prospect.


I got myself into a big stinky project at work that will be very cathartic if and when it works out. It s a pain, but cleanup projects appeal to my compulsive nature. Like picking at a scab.

Today, my team celebrated our (belated) two-year teamiversary, and had Patxi's pizza and then checked out Vanilla Moon in San Carlos. I was impressed with their buttercream, not so fond of their cream cheese frosting. Clearly, further analysis is required.
From 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Looking for Bottom?

It came up a couple of times in the past couple of weeks "this is the bottom of the housing market" or "Rebecca, do you think this is the bottom?"

the answer is, depends, probably on where you are. Here? No.
Here's the NUMBER ONE reason why: Unemployment is out of control.

Also consider: Delinquencies on mortgages are still growing, and in the previously "safe" Prime territory

If you're at all interested in economics, and have not yet added Mish's blog to your reader, you are really missing out on good stuff.

Also, where I live anyway, houses are still way too expensive to rent the money from the bank to "own" them.

Paul and I desperately want to move. Yesterday I saw a listing on craigslist that looked workable for a place we might want to live for two years or so (not longer-- it was too small for permanent roots) The rental listing is for $1700/month. Later the same day, I saw it listed on the MLS for a price of $499,000.
Everyone who's interested in housing and renting, bookmark this fun calculator.
I realize the calculator is an imperfect picture (also has lots of inputs for tax rates and whatnot, so I tried to use a best case scenario but your results will vary), but it does show that buying will not be better than renting at these prices ever, unless the house appreciates at 5%/year, and in that case it is better after 5 years. (I believe 5% inflation in house prices over the next 5 years is a fantasy scenario.) Without belaboring the specifics of this particular house:
  • This is a big IF: how many people have $100K sitting around for that downpayment on a tiny little house like that? (not to mention closing costs and cash reserve for repairs and what-ifs) If they do have $100K cash, are they a new family that will fit in such a small house? (2/1, with 790 square feet) Are they planning on staying there many years to break even?
  • Based on other homes prices in the area, my strong suspicion is that this has been priced "low" to generate bids upwards of the listed price so that will make these numbers even more ridiculous if I am right.
This sort of thing will probably hang on a little longer in the Bay Area, but it can't go forever. It's not possible to have a housing market where there are no entry-level homes that make any sense. Most importantly, job losses are not finished, and further job losses will hit homeowners with foreclosures, and will hit prospective homebuyers with less access to money and credit, creating further downward pressure. Deflation is a good thing in this case, as the current pricing levels are stretching people way too thin, and out of control inflation has caused terribly risky behavior.

What really matters
That being said, if you have found something and have the means to buy it and hold on to it, by all means, do it. Where you live is where you live-- it is not a financial vehicle.

If you can buy an iPhone the day before the new one comes out and the price of your model drops the next day, ask yourself: "yesterday, I decided this phone was worth X dollars to me, and I bought it. Does tomorrow's price drop mean I don't enjoy the phone at X dollars anymore?" If you can't live with that, don't buy. But there's no reason that tomorrow's price drop should change the fact that yesterday you said the phone was worth X dollars to you. Once you've made your decision, don't look back. Live in your home, love your phone, and move on. If you think your phone or your home is an investment, beware of your market right now.
And get ready to be stressed out all your life about things that are marginally outside of your control.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tart Hotness

I almost forgot the tarts!

Paul made these lovely tarts on July Fourth:

From 2009

They were made from fresh fruit (some from the garden), and were beautiful, and tasty, and, umm... tart.

Is there anything he *can't* do???

Monday, July 06, 2009

Illegitimi non carborundum

(Yes I know it's bad Latin. You are boring.)

I had a three day weekend, and the bastards have been getting me down recently, so we had a three day marathon of reconnection. Friday we went to Berkeley and cleaned the hell out of Paul's mom's place in preparation for her return from the hospital. I sanitized every surface and brushed three extra dogs out of Kathie's dog, and we finally got the call that Kathie was ready to come home! It was very nice to see her back in her own home. With everything in its place, we took off to dinner with friends at their house on Ashby. They had an adorable dog and a one-month-ish baby, and were doing fantastic. We got whistled and hissed at by their cockatiels, ate three desserts, and talked lots of smack about motorbikes. hooray!

Saturday we hit the Turner Compound for the 4th of July BBQ. Unfortunately, I was still feeling rather unhappy and having difficulty dealing with humans (why can't everybody just be a labrador retriever?), but made the best of it long enough to eat the fruit tarts Paul made and catch up with some folks. 7:30 rolled around and I had to shoot up to the City to cashier at New Wave City, which? Was pretty slow as I'd expected. In bed by 2:45 am, hooray?

Sunday we ambled up to Alameda to BBQ with friends we had not seen in a very long time. I finally met Kevy's husband, Jonathon, and Dan-n-Irene's new baby, Natasha. Alameda is a nice place but very difficult to get to and from. I think it's nice that all of our friends are moving there to form community together, and I'm really kind of jealous because I hate the South Bay, but the commute to and from Alameda would kill me (if the speed limit didn't get me first). We stopped in Berkeley to do some chores for Kathie and eat ice cream before returning home, and then back to the grind. no hooray.

And then I had a night of weird dreams, the kind the pick at scabs that you know have been long healed. "I've moved on," you say, "you need to move on too." "But I just need to know" "no you don't"

I was reminded recently how spontaneously something you care deeply about can blow up in your face. And if it was a pillar for you, it will leave you very shaky. I need to choose my pillars more carefully, and let other things be what they are. Not just let, but restrain.

cease this long, long rest
wake and risk a foul weakness to live
when it all comes down
watch the smoke and bury the past again
sit and think what will come
raise your fears and cast them all away

Thursday, July 02, 2009

My house is finally on the market!

When I lived in downtown San Francisco, there was a little building crammed in amongst the others that always caught my eye. I mostly loved its garage doors and the quiet sense of mystery to it. Once or twice, I stood on a planter to try to get a little peek inside. (hi! I'm your stalker, building!)

Now it is on the market, and I'm quite sure someone wants to loan me 2.4 million dollars so I can run back up to the City. It's really the perfect property. Garage, downtown loveliness, but a quiet-ish street. Hello, Sailor!