Print Story My wife had been hearing about Ubuntu
By ucblockhead (Sun May 08, 2011 at 10:33:10 PM EST) (all tags)
...and wanted to try it for Mother's Day.

So we went there.  This may be the first restaurant I've ever been to with a Michelin star.  Very good, great ambiance.  Outstanding food, yet casual enough to be kid friendly.  It's probably good that it's about a 40 minute drive as it isn't cheap.

Even the kid liked it.  He otherwise thought the trip to Napa involved far too much walking and other boring stuff.

What he does like is Portal 2.  I'd purchased this for myself.  It was only after I noticed the "E(10)" label that I thought back and realized that there was absolutely nothing objectionable at all.  Given that I had no other chance to play co-op, I figured I'd give in to his interested.

The co-op is extremely well done, and is really true co-op.   In most games, co-op involves a single player campaign where two people participate and enemies are made more powerful.  In Portal 2, the co-op mode is a series of puzzles that can only be solved by two people cooperating.

I had worried that it would be too difficult for my son, who is eight, but the game is balanced really well for partners with differing abilities.  For instance, the few tests that require any sort of manual dexterity usually only require it of one of the two players, which allows me to take the hard bits.  As far as the puzzles go, my son has been able to make find the leap of inspiration himself before I've found the solution on a few occasions.

The single player is, of course, good, though not as good as the original.  I really miss the challenge rooms.  Unlike Portal 1, there's absolutely no replay value in the single player game.  This makes the package very short for $60.  I do here that Valve will be releasing free DLC, though.

I've been watching and enjoying the HBO version of "Game of Thrones".  It is very well cast, most characters matching my mental impression of them.  (Except for Sean Bean but his acting makes up for it.)  The only problem for me is that unlike the other "event" shows ("Lost", "BSG", and even "Rome") there's no suspense as to what will happen.  I miss that.  Oh well.

I am amused but unsurprised at how most of the teenage characters now appear to be at least 18.

I was looking on Zillow the other day, and have become completely depressed.  My neighborhood is not a bad market, nor one with excessive foreclosures, yet looking on Zillow, 9 of the nearest ten houses for sale are bank owned.  Prices are dropping, and given the above, I expect that to continue.  I believe we've reached a deadly point where the market is basically halted because so many people are underwater.  No one can really buy because no one can unload their own house.

To give an idea how bad things are:  When we finished our addition 3-4 years ago, I estimated based on the Zillow estimate that we had about 35-40% equity in the house.  When I refinanced in December, 2009, by the appraisal, we had exactly 20% equity.  At the time, I took the risk to do a low interest 15 year loan.  This has allowed us to pay down the principle substantially at the outset.  If we had not done that, by the Zillow estimate, we'd have only 3% equity.  That's depressing.  I feel like our payments are racing the economy to the bottom.

Before the addition, we had 60% equity.  If we'd sold and become renters then...ah well.

The house behind us is one of those foreclosures.  In 2005, it sold for $950,000.  After foreclosure, the bank tried to unload it for $720,000.  It's been dropping the price ever since.  It's now down to $580,000.   The amount of money that has vanished in this area is staggering.

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My wife had been hearing about Ubuntu | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Stop looking at Zillow by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun May 08, 2011 at 10:54:37 PM EST
House prices have been way too high, historically. As long as you like your house and neighborhood, just hang on.

On becoming renters by marvin (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon May 09, 2011 at 12:04:01 AM EST
Similar to your statement on renting, if you could also time the peaks of troughs of the stock market, you'd have retired a millionaire already.

The asset bubble should not have come as a surprise to so many people. As I watched my house assessment double between 2002 and 2007, I knew back then that I would be very stretched to buy my current house were I a first time homebuyer again, and that I would be moving to a cheaper city or renting if I didn't already have a house. Even before the most recent property crash, I liked to follow the Economist for the ratio of house prices to rents.

The amount of money that has vanished in this area is staggering
The other side of the coin is that the amount of money that was created in the bubble was beyond staggering.

Oh, I agree by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon May 09, 2011 at 12:21:02 AM EST
It is the reason we were so paranoid about borrowing against equity and probably the only reason our house isn't underwater now.

Still, the sheer size of the drop has caught me by surprise.  It's not easy to see that much money vanish when your name is attached, even if you always thought of it as only paper earnings.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Awww, poor widdle specuwators! by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon May 09, 2011 at 01:39:41 AM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Just so you know... by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon May 09, 2011 at 11:31:43 PM EST
The house behind me is on a full acre and a lot larger than mine.  I hope no one thought my house was in that price range!

The trouble now is that the place is a shithole that has attracted squatters at least once, and the back acre is currently turning into an unmowed fire hazard.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
has Zillow gotten any better? by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon May 09, 2011 at 05:31:35 AM EST
I looked at it when I had three houses I hoped to unload. Judging by what we were able to sell them for, the error rate on the Zestimate was plus or minus 50%.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Sale history by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon May 09, 2011 at 08:35:17 AM EST
The Zestimate itself isn't great, but the sale history on neighboring houses says lots more.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I'm waiting a bit by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon May 09, 2011 at 11:41:34 AM EST
for Portal 2 to come down in price.  Doubly so now that you've told me the single-player has no replay value.  Co-op doesn't do anything for me as I don't have a lot of time to kill when friends are around.

a silver lining in the housing bust by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon May 09, 2011 at 11:42:46 AM EST
For the young.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Yes, that does sound good by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon May 09, 2011 at 12:13:09 PM EST
Though personally I'd advise no one to buy now, even if deals look "too good to pass up".
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
It's not really cut and dry by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon May 09, 2011 at 03:19:12 PM EST
Buying a house for investment reasons is totally different than buying for lifestyle reasons.

Actually the prices are much more in line with what's generally accepted as affordable when looked at as a ratio of median incomes, which, when coupled with low interest rates, make it a good time to buy a house provided you have realistic expectations about it.

That said - if you want to buy a house and turn around and sell it in three years for a 50% profit then no, it's probably not a good time.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

How's my blogging: Call me at 209.867.5309 to complain.

[ Parent ]
realistic expectations are rare by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon May 09, 2011 at 05:21:15 PM EST
 it's hard enough to get people to go back to the rule of thumb about not buying a house unless they plan to live there for five years. I can't even imagie trying to convince peope not to buy a house unless they want to live out their years there.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Yar by duxup (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed May 11, 2011 at 10:32:29 AM EST
For folks looking to live in a house now isn't a bad time.  

Folks looking to time the market like all folks looking to hit any market at just the right time will blow it like they always do, if they hit it just right it is just dumb luck.    One thing I don't get with the house buying advice are folks who are trying to time the market saying to folks "wait a bit longer" or "now is the time" this completely ignores the complexity of buying a house such as and family obligations (kids, possibly older parents moving in soon), local opportunities (local market stuff), opportunities in a place they might not find otherwise (location, type of house, near work, etc), the rent they're paying now ... they still act as if buying a house is like buying some generic stock.

[ Parent ]
this is a shocker by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon May 09, 2011 at 07:27:48 PM EST
How about you sit in the house for 30 years, 40 years, then sell it, move to Napa, and enjoy retirement.

Flipping real estate is gone.
Refi til we become millionaires is gone.


Would be nice by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon May 09, 2011 at 11:10:41 PM EST
But I couldn't get a nice house in Napa for what mine is worth now. I doubt that'll change when I retire.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
My wife had been hearing about Ubuntu | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)