Saturday, May 23, 2015

In the wild.

Two Lambo's and a Masi.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

That looks like overheating to me.

"Wall street investors and the Federal Reserve are both dismissing the possibility of the U.S. economy "overheating," Jim Paulsen said Thursday. "Overheating is not about growing fast; it's about demand growing faster than weak supply," Well Capital Management's chief investment strategist said in a CNBC " Squawk on the Street" interview. "We can grow at 2 percent supply-side, but I think that Wall Street is making a big mistake, including the Fed, in assuming that we can't overheat because we're growing so slowly." Source.

Today I was able to find a mortgage rate back down in the 3.50% range. Which is not surprising because this weeks mortgage app numbers were not good. I laugh every time someone suggests we raise rates because I know where I refinanced both my houses. I understand where the pain line is. And it's between 4%-4.5%. If things were going so swimmingly, banks would be raising rates on their own without the Fed like they did a year or two ago. It was a surprise to all of us who were waiting to refi, that the banks could just raise rates to around 4.5% without the Fed.

I think it made a lot of panic. We didn't know that could happen. But it did, and so all this talk about raising rates is just theater. The banks don't have to wait for the Fed to raise rates if they are doing well. The fact that rates have even touched 3.5 again suggests they are not. At a 4% rate, refi's had fallen to .03% growth. And you can see what is happening to mortgage apps under the higher rates. They've been promising they wold raise rates so long, they can't even scare a few people into getting into lower mortgages before they vanish.

I bring this up because every day everyone is freaking about raising rates. Should they be higher. Absolutely. I've just never heard of a government raising rates before inflation even exists. Or barely exists. Especially since we are importing deflation from other countries. Their economies are very weak. To be sure, the world is awash in money. And one day that is going to be a fire, but I think inflation will have to run hot before the economy is healthy enough to hike.

It's also really notable that food inflation is really tame right now. Outside of livestock. By this time last year the drought was putting a ton of pressure on that.

I personally feel there is a lot of pent of demand. I just doubt it will be released under this administration. More companies are still dying than being created. This is all setting up for a very uncomfortable situation in the future. Deflationary pressures are exceedingly rare. The Fed likes to call them transitory and they are right. Inflation is the norm. Just take a trek through the misery index. You've got 2015, 2009, and then you have to go all the way back to 1954 and 1949!

I'd like to see where he thinks we are overheating? Retail sales? Construction? Home sales? I mean,these make up a large part of the economy. So where? Because the misery index seems to think inflation vanished in January.

So, I think we are all actually aware of the dangers, we just think the economy isn't strong enough to handle a rate increase. It's probably why people aren't spending. We all know this is going to go tits up. You just don't know the day.

I think the Fed is fucked. If they don't raise in the next month or two, then what - they are going to raise rates right before Christmas?!? Then we have election season.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

They say don't fear the reaper.

UK inflation negative for the first time since 1960.

By now everyone must understands deflation is not the best thing next to jellybeans. Right? If I heard that meme again I thought my brain would explode. The negatives outweigh the positives. It's like no one payed attention to what happened during the recession at all! It took four years to escape the deflationary spiral. Things didn't start picking up until 2013.

So this bit of news is especially concerning considering the ECB has printed a ton of money to stop this a cycle that most people don't think exists.

No matter. What it means to us is a stronger dollar. Lower oil. Carnage continues.

The great utopia of lowered expectations.

I haven't written about the economy lately because interest rates had been kissing 4% for about the last three weeks. I'd been biting my nails to see if this rate could hold. Because ya know..... the Fed has been insisting they were going to raise interest rates this summer. And I sort of think it would be funny if the Fed did raise them. I mean, it would be the first time ever possibly the Fed has tried to raise rates when the underlying economy is so weak. I've grown tired of caring - so lets rip off the band-aid and get this party started.

This morning when new housing starts came out and the media was falling all over themselves about how starts had "surged", I basically rolled my eyes. Before I looked at the data I said to myself - if true - finally! We've been at recession level building for roughly seven years now. The longest stretch since at least the 1960's. At some point there is going to have to be a building boom to account for that. I doubt it will be under this administration, but you never know.

At any rate - this amazing "surge" barely sticks us over the low end of this historical average as you can see from this handy chart. A healthy economy averages roughly 1.5ish million units. We aren't even banking a million units right now! Seven years into a recession.

Now lets see what three weeks of 4% interest rates did to mortgage applications.

Oh dear! Said in the most sarcastic way. That totally looks like the Fed will easily be able to raise rates. No probs. You can tell the banks are really struggling at the 4% point because yesterday and today rates had fallen back into the 3.80ish range. After three weeks of falling apps they caved.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The thrill is gone.

I think this will be my last year at Maker for a while. This crowd has achieved the least amount of self awareness on the planet. Since I've seen a bunch of stuff from previous years, the crowds just make it really unenjoyable. It's really been this way for a few years - I think I've just reached my breaking point.

Mr S. and I strolled up at 3:00 on a Sunday hoping to escape the crowds, and I was on tilt within 30 minutes. It's the people parking their double wide toddler strollers in the middle of isles with no children in them. Which is so effing irritating. Maker Faire has a bike check in - what I wouldn't give for a check in area for the hummer sized SUV strollers these people tote around. Some of them I can barely even see over they are so big. And I'm a normal sized woman!

It's also that every guy seems to feel like he needs to carry around all of his personal belongings in a giant backpack strapped to him. I think this really bothers me because in a huge crowd I see nothing but backpacks because I'm that height. I hate it. It honestly feels like you have a backpack shoved in your face all of the time. The only way to make this thing worse is to have CES style rolling luggage pulled around by everyone.

You can't get close to anything these days and people just camp out in the booths. Of course, people think Maker Faire is the ideal place to use a razor scooters and all means of rolling transport. Said in the most sarcastic way. I just don't think I can do it again for a while.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Key Man @ MakerFaire2015

I thought this was a clever bit of art.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

You know tech is in the shitter when.....

Fry's electronics starts selling soft porn. My first thought was - who still pays for porn!? But they had almost a full isle. I mean, they used to have a small five foot section for Playboy and HighTimes. I'm not sure who the demo for Playboy these days is either. But selling actual porn dvd's is pretty new. I'm also slightly confused by modern music artists putting out vinyl. That's Alt J and Lana Del Rey on the bottom.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dragons? Yes, dragons.

I couldn't find a very clean way to get this. The whole thing is just pretty busy. Brought to you by the same guy who gave us a giant metal mantis a few years ago. Here.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The sky wept, and we were all happy.

You've never seen the sheer joy and excitement that an actual rainstorm brings around here. People go outside to watch with giant smiles on their faces. It's weather Christmas. Some days you aren't sure if it's ever going to rain again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Get ready to see a circle or box around your face all the time.

I was in trade shows all day. It's really wild to see how many companies are doing computer vision now. They are still in the marginal range, but today I saw a demo where the computer could figure out the mood of a baby. And you know babies are a mess! It also tried to figure out if it was an adult or a baby. On the screen it would ready "happy baby". It got it wrong about half the time labeling it as a happy or sad adult. Or I would have posted a vid.

I guess I didn't know we were getting to the range where my computer would know my mood. But that is one of the side effects of one technology. People try to see what other applications they can use it for. When you teach cars computer vision, well, then computers know how to recognize all sorts of things.

I swear - all the technologies I love will one day make me paranoid. I think it will just take the feeling of being watched to a whole new level.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Blurred lines.

My property manager is moving into my rental on Friday. I'll wait for you to absorb that. Ready?

Two weeks ago she called and said - I want to live in your house. And frankly I was stunned. I didn't even know how to react. Two thirds of my brain was screaming - that's a horrible idea. She's as qualified as anyone else I'd choose. But still - this is a crazy scenario I didn't know was in the cards.

In a related topic. A few days before my property manager called me, I got a text message from the police in my town saying my rental was either burning down or being broken into. I know that is a wide range, so I wasn't sure if it was real either. I especially didn't know the police texted in these cases. They did call under a blocked number and I didn't answer it. They didn't even leave a message. They just sent out a text. I'm not even sure how they got my cell phone number. 

Since I had to enter the unit I had to call my property manager to alert her because the renters still had belongings there. This is where I found out that the police had found my property manager through Google and had called her. I think she even picked up a new potential renter. One of the officers wanted to move back into town. He's living two cities over.

I later found out that my previous renters had installed a security system in my house, and when they were transferring it to their new house they must have set it off. But it was still registered at the old address. So the police went out. 

That is all... carry on.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's where my demons hide.

When this blog gets seriously off the rails - the only way I can get that deep down funk out is to find a beach. There are some problems only the beach can solve. I don't know if it's because I spent so much time there growing up. I used to live on the Santa Cruz side for a while. But almost nothing makes me feel better than being there. It's like a universal reset.

Lately I've been on a quest to find the really unusual beaches for California. And I'd read there was a beach with purple sand down by Big Sur which is really unusual. I didn't think I've ever been to Big Sur before. Monterrey is about as far South as I get. Although I'm planning a San Luis Obispo trip this summer. Over the winter we did the unusual Northern beaches like Glass beach and Bowling ball beach.

We finally arrive at Pfeiffer beach and were told the parking lot was full. Which I completely expected. Did I mention this beach has purple sand? Of course the lot was full. What I didn't realize was that if you don't get to park in the lot - you have to walk two miles to get to the beach. Two miles is not a big deal, but really, you are at 4 miles round trip before you even hit the beach. You could walk at least a few miles on the beach. And I was trying to feel better. Doing a mini marathon was not making me feel better. But we'd already driven almost three hours.

I immediately started to make a bail out plan. I was going to pay our way out of this beach. I mean, the last thing you want to do when you are off the beach is walk another 40 minutes to get back to the car. So we park and set of on the long journey. From time to time we would see beach survivors and would ask them how long to the beach. The answer was always "it's about 10 more minutes". Mr S. was convinced the park service was screwing with everyone, and made a joke about how the parking lot was probably empty. I figured that was ridiculous.

The only thing to see along the way were a couple of shacks and these horses which get an amazing amount of attention. Everyone stops to pet those horses.

We finally get to the parking lot, and wouldn't you know it - there were a lot of spaces to park! It wasn't a big deal for us, but one of the beach survivors we met along the way had kids and that had to suck. Getting kids to walk two miles after being at the beach has got to make you go insane.

We finally get on the beach and we don't see any purple sand. I was starting to get worried because you don't want to make your husband drive almost three hours, walk about 40 minutes, only to find there is no purple sand. We could have driven an hour to Santa Cruz! And Bowling ball beach was a little oversold. So there was that. You never know if this beach was touched by good photographers and the sand was just not really purple. But we did find the sand. And it was indeed purple. Not ambiguously purple. The two different types of sand were weighted differently. The purple sand seemed heavier and was best when a wave had turned the sand.

The other "interesting" thing about this beach we found at the far end. You know how at every beach these days you find a stack of rocks? Well, this place had a rock graveyard. I'd never seen that before.

People got kinda creative. This one kinda has a face, a hat, and a scarf.

A lot of people come to this beach for the peakaboo hole. There are a ton of photos on the net of people getting the sun shining through this whole. It's pretty neat.

Oh, and we did manage to pay our way out. We found a car full of guys who worked for Yahoo and the world was right again.