12/28/21 (16:05)
  • People have been annoying me more than usual lately. I've received probably 50+ emails from one tenant about her dust/chemical sensitivities. We're upgrading the electrical in her building (9 units) and I get a few emails a day asking questions about the work (even though I've outlined it for her already) and reminding me that she has special paint she wants us to use and that we shouldn't wear cologne around her and all sorts of other shit. I've dealt with people like this before and every time it's exhausting. They're never easy going people - they need to control every aspect of the work and know everything that will happen. It's strange that a seemingly biological allergy should correlate so highly with a type A personality. It's almost as if one causes the other. Are they only controlling when it comes to work being done in their home, in which case you could say that they are controlling because they want to avoid allergic reactions, or are they controlling in other aspects as well? If they are controlling in other areas then one might begin to wonder if it is the control that causes the allergy, rather than the other way around.
  • I think I'm at the point where I have to make it a goal to not do small tenant jobs anymore. They're just way too annoying. People are annoying.

  • 12/12/21 (19:06)

  • Meryl and the girls out today delivering baked goods to friends/family so I had the place to myself a bit.
  • Have I mentioned my theory that the internet will increase inequality over time? The best and brightest will have access to the best information and resources the world has ever seen and will flourish as a result. The least bright will have access to the greatest distractions of all-time and will avail themselves of that. The best businesses will get the most good reviews and capitalize on their success to a degree never seen before. The worst businesses will get scathing reviews and be gone sooner than they otherwise would. Because of remote work and networking, the best employees will be attracted to the best businesses and those businesses will get even better and make even more money and solidify their positions. I think we're seeing this already and it will only be accelerated as the internet becomes a bigger and bigger part of everything we do and is part of our lives from cradle to grave with successive generations. The good is that this means if you're born into poverty you have a better chance than ever to get out if you have the right attributes and make the right choices. Of course the bad is the flip side of that.
  • Forgot to include the BLM response to Jussie Smollett in my earlier post:

  • "As abolitionists, we approach situations of injustice with love and align ourselves with our community. Because we got us. So letís be clear: we love everybody in our community. Itís not about a trial or a verdict decided in a white supremacist charade, itís about how we treat our community when corrupt systems are working to devalue their lives. In an abolitionist society, this trial would not be taking place, and our communities would not have to fight and suffer to prove our worth. Instead, we find ourselves, once again, being forced to put our lives and our value in the hands of judges and juries operating in a system that is designed to oppress us, while continuing to face a corrupt and violent police department, which has proven time and again to have no respect for our lives.

    In our commitment to abolition, we can never believe police, especially the Chicago Police Department (CPD) over Jussie Smollett, a Black man who has been courageously present, visible, and vocal in the struggle for Black freedom. While policing at-large is an irredeemable institution, CPD is notorious for its long and deep history of corruption, racism, and brutality. From the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, to the Burge tortures, to the murder of Laquan McDonald and subsequent cover-up, to the hundreds of others killed by Chicago police over the years and the thousands who survived abuse, Chicago police consistently demonstrate that they are among the worst of the worst. Police lie and Chicago police lie especially.

    Black Lives Matter will continue to work towards the abolition of police and every unjust system. We will continue to love and protect one another, and wrap our arms around those who do the work to usher in Black freedom and, by extension, freedom for everyone else."

  • Maybe rationality is part of white surpremacy, but this doesn't make much sense to me. The Right lost its mind a generation ago and still hasn't found it. Now the Left has joined them.

  • 12/12/21 (11:05)

  • G spending relative to GDP. Going the wrong way.
  • No surprise, the media coverage of COVID is overly negative. The media is fucking us at every possible turn.
  • I still see places bragging about the cleaning that they do of shopping carts or bathrooms or whatever. I still see employees dedicated to cleaning every surface imaginable in whatever store they're in. I'm not sure why this is still a thing since it's been pretty well established that fomite transmission is minimal at best. The science doesn't seem to be getting around. I'm wondering if we're creating super bugs with all this religious cleaning that we're doing. Meanwhile, there's no profit motive to create new antibiotics so could we be creating issues for 5-10 years from now? My grandma has long put the idea in my head that over-sanitizing the world is not good for us and everything I hear and read seems to back that up. If anything, we should be exposing ourselves (especially at a young age) to more germs and farm animals and the like. We have probiotics, maybe some day we'll have capsules for commonly found germs to increase exposure in a decreasingly dirty environment.
  • The Jussie Smollett thing is pretty amazing. First he lies about being attacked by a couple of white guys wearing MAGA hats and they threw bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck. He still had the noose on when the cops showed up. The whole thing was pretty strange from the get go once you learn all the details. The media ran with it in a big way and was relatively silent when it was revealed that it was all a lie...the guys he paid to attack him were black and he paid with a check. I mean the whole thing is comically bad in its execution. So, it's just one desperate idiot doing a dumb and desperate thing. I don't think we should get too bent out of shape about that. What does require some outrage, however, is the fact that 1) he's responding to cultural incentives and 2) the reaction by the media and elites only reinforces those incentives and in a pretty irresponsible way in some instances.
  • 1) the incentives in today's culture are such that being a victim of things gives you cache. I don't know how we got here or how we get out, but it's clear that you gain cultural points if you are a victim and the more of a victim you can claim to be, the more points you get. Trans cripples of color who are attacked by white men near the very top of this new hierarchy. When the old hierarchy isn't fair or equitable then people create new ones. Perhaps that's what's happening here.
  • 2) Without evidence Biden, Harris, etc. tweet about it and say it's a modern day lynching and all the rest. Why do we feel the need to comment on these types of stories (Smollett, Rittenhouse, etc.) when we don't have very much information? On the Media (NPR show from WNYC) does these little handbook guides about how to react to certain types of stories like mass shootings. One of the points they make is that the first accounts are almost always wrong. When you hear about a story like a mass shooting very frequently they talk about a second possible shooter or they speculate on motivation or they get the number of victims wrong, etc. It happened recently with the nail salon shooting, as one example. We need to force ourselves to think slowly on these cases because we never have anywhere near the full picture. In media the motto is "get it first, but get it right, but get it first." This is only amplified by the internet and Twitter culture that makes everyone want everything NOW.
  • Lastly, there is the doubling down. He continues to claim it actually happened and his supporters are standing by him for some reason. When you can't change your mind your brain dies.
  • One last item - go ahead and search for what happened to Breonna Taylor's boyfriend. His name is Kenneth Walker. If you search for Kenneth Walker you only get the MSU running back who had a decent season. Why doesn't the media cover what happened to Kenneth Walker? He's a black man who shot a cop and coverage of his charges and journey through the justice system earlier this year was quite minimal. Why? Because his charges were dropped so there's no story there that fits a media narrative. Had the prosecutor gone hard on him and the judge not dropped the charges, then the media would have been ringing the bell of negativity and racism. Instead, proper justice was served (he got off because of self-defense) and they don't report good news much so they moved right along to whatever was the flavor of the day...maybe another story about the Delta variant.

  • 12/9/21 (20:24)

  • Has the guitar stopped evolving? The last time I heard something that I thought was really new from the guitar was with Tom Morello and that was 30 years ago. Not a lot of new sounds coming from the guitar anymore. Some will point to North African music like Tinarwen and Mdou Moctar, which I definitely like, but it's not really a new sound to me.
  • Catching up....
  • We're officially up to five guys now. Antonio and Edwin are brothers, Carlos (father) and Victor (son) and their neighbor Jesus. It's funny because Carlos told me about Jesus and gave me his contact info by attaching the contact card from his phone via a text to me. So I got his info as it appeared in Carlos' phone. It had his name as Jesus Vecino. This seemed like a fine name to me and since I took Latin instead of Spanish, I didn't know any better until Merritt was singing a song to me yesterday. It was something about loving your neighbor or the usual first grade type stuff and then she broke out with the same song in Spanish, which impressed me quite a bit because her accent is much better than mine. But I noticed that the Spanish word for neighbor was "vecino" so I looked it up to be sure and it turns out that Carlos had Jesus in his phonebook as "Jesus Neighbor," and then it all clicked for me. Guess this is the downside of paying with cash, instead of doing things formally through payroll. This is another topic for another day, but most of the guys I work with aren't documented and so that's an issue. Edwin is a refugee from Guatemala and is close to getting his papers so that may be fixed shortly, but not so for Jesus.
  • Over the Thanksgiving break we took a few days off and went to NYC. Usually we would take off Thursday and Friday, but we decided to take off M-W and the previous Friday for a big break (10 days). This year has been really hectic. We've earned more than double our previous best year (2020) and hadn't been on vacation in two years so it felt like time. I was able to get work for the guys on Friday and Monday so they only missed two days plus the usual Thanksgiving days, so I felt better about that.
  • I'm working on a trip page for it...hopefully that won't take forever.
  • This year has been our busiest yet, but I've settled into a bit of a rhythm. Things were slightly slower for the last week of November and first week of December, but they started picking up this week already. Have several jobs that are lining up along with the usual little stuff that comes up. It's just crazy.
  • In the trades one of the things you'll see are people who go from job site to job site selling food for the workers. 100% of the time they are hispanic women (sometimes a guy is with them also, but women are always present) and they're just selling whatever they cooked that morning for the workers. It could be tacos or pupusas or tamales or a plate with something I don't even know what it's called. But it's always good and hot and pretty awesome to see these immigrants feeding the people who are building things. There's one lady who is usually at the High Street HD and I've gotten tamales from her a few times. There's another woman who works in SF and the guys have her number and text her to come by and we get lunch from her on occasion. This kind of informal economy spearheaded by immigrants who are eager to work and hustle is what America should be about. Let more of these people in (in a controlled way) and help them climb the stairway to the middle class.
  • Sweden and Norway have more billionaires per capita than the US according to The Economist magazine.
  • You've probably seen the bumper sticker or lawn sign that says "any functioning adult 2020." I had a chuckle whenever I saw that. It's pathetic, but taps into a real desire. When Biden was elected it seemed like it came true, but if you watch him talk for more than a few minutes then you realize he's only marginally functional. It's a sad situation because he used to be fairly sharp and funny, but he's a rambling old man at this point. If you watch videos you'll see his handlers cut off questions and it really seems like the media won't show him talking for more than a few seconds at a time. Some of that is par for the course because the media deals in 30 second blocks, but it seems worse now and I'm guessing that's because he really struggles in putting together coherent sentences for extended stretches. There are a thousand compilations online of him stumbling over his words or coughing or mispronouncing things. I think it would be a train wreck if he ran again. Democrats need to get their shit together or else they're fucked in 3 years. Meanwhile, Kamala's approval ratings are even lower (12% according to this one and better coverage here).
  • This effort to curtail presidential power is the kind of thing we need more of. Rare for a party to do it while they're in power, but a step in the right direction. NYT update.
  • Good and important episode on biological research. Changed my mind on the topic. Julia Galef is one of my favorite podcasters, but she doesn't put out much content anymore.
  • Relatedly (sorta) here's an episode on the lab leak theory. I've heard podcasts on both sides of the topic and I'm at the point where I think the most likely story is that COVID was caused by an accidental leak from the Wuhan lab. Possibly more important than that, though, is the cover up and the way the media dealt with the whole story - dismissing it out of hand, calling it a conspiracy theory, etc. without doing any actual work on the topic. In case you still think that's the case and are impressed by the usual metrics here are a couple points that might get you to open to the possibility of listening to the episode - Jamie Metzl went to Harvard and is a Democrat who worked for Bill Clinton on the National Security Council. Lex Fridman is a researcher at MIT. So, these guys aren't Joe Rogan, if that's the kind of argument that impresses you. At any rate, the whole issue is pretty muddied at this point and we may never know the truth. It's also possible there will be a slow burn and it will become a larger issue down the line. It's fraught because China has so much power and has so much to lose if they were the cause of it and then covered it up/made it difficult to get to the bottom of things.
  • Zillow recently lost $400m in one quarter because they got into the house flipping business based upon their shitty algorithm. This is a bit of hindsight and you have to trust me-ism, but everyone I talk to who knows real estate has long said that Zillow doesn't know what shit should actually go for. In general, I've always felt they overpriced properties. Further, to think that you can flip all these properties based upon an algorithm without looking at these places in person is just crazy. If you're buying things at auction it's one thing because everyone has the same information, but when you're buying from a homeowner on the open market and you're winning all these bids then you have to think that there's an asymmetry of information. Zillow's problem is that they thought they were the ones with more information, but it was actually the people who lived in the home or bid on the home after seeing it who had more information. My understanding is that they never put inspectors on the ground for these properties. Then they had trouble finding contractors to do the actual flipping. These are problems I could have easily told them about beforehand (again, you have to trust me on this since I didn't pre-register any of this). I frankly have no idea how a company could be this dumb. I've been involved in flipping before and there are a couple "secrets" - buy low (usually off market) and have a good contractor/team who can handle everything and move things along without losing time.
  • Now that he's gone I feel like it's okay to talk about him a bit more...Trump was a failure at essentially everything he did - even the things he should have been good at. Stop me if I've said this before. COVID happens and he's a germophobe who hates China (or at least recognizes them as a threat to US hegemony). He didn't go hard on China on the lab leak theory, he didn't stop travel from China, he didn't fight the virus...I mean these are things that are right in his wheelhouse and he didn't even take a swing at them. Some presidents are good at foreign relations or dealing with Congress or whatever. This should have been a strong point for him, but he sucked at it.
  • Another point on COVID and Trump. If you're one of the "Trump is literally Hitler" people then wouldn't COVID be the perfect analog to the Reichstag Fire? His opportunity to seize power, attack China, get some rally round the flag effect, etc.? I think this is plainly obvious and the fact that he didn't says something about him - namely that he's not the fascist that some thought. Maybe he's a different kind of strong man who didn't want to go quietly on January 6, but the fact that he had the slow burning pandemic that he could have used in all sorts of ways and chose not to says something about him - namely that he's not Hitler or Stalin. Populist, narcissist, incompetent leader...sure, but not Hitler. High praise.
  • One of the most unselfish things a person can do is to be self-sufficient. If you're not a drain on society or those around you then you are freeing them up to do things for others or themselves; that's a great gift. Few things seem as unselfish as giving those around you their time and lessening their burden. Unfortunately we seem to think of selflessness solely as giving ourselves (and our money/things) to others. This is a narrow view IMO. It's understandable of course because you don't notice the things that don't happen. We humans have a bias towards action and recognizing actions, not in recognizing the things that don't happen. It's easier to recognize a thing that is present than a thing that is absent. For this reason and others, one of my primary goals as a parent is to make my kids self-sufficient. Sure, we all need each other, no man is an island, "you didn't build that," we're social animals, we all age and get unwell, etc., but I believe your first responsibility it to take care of yourself. Do communists and collectivist types have that outlook because they can't take care of themselves or do they not take care of themselves because they have a collectivist outlook? My experience says the former, but I can't say for sure.
  • I think there's a strong chance that I will lose my mind in my later years. I feel words slipping from memory much more these days. My mind isn't as sharp as it was before. Perhaps it's just natural aging. Perhaps it's because I don't work out enough. Maybe it's stress. It makes me very sad to envision the future when I can't get a sentence out like Biden or when I don't remember my kids' names or something.
  • A lot of the intelligentsia get all worked up when we drop out of the Paris Accord or similar and yet none of the signatories are on pace to meet their goals (according to On The Media podcast). Many countries still aren't on pace for the Kyoto protocol either. So what's the purpose of these circle jerks? Greta Thunberg is an interesting young lady, but she's pretty much right when she says it's a lot of "blah blah blah." They make goals for 75 years from now as if it has any relationship to reality. Our leaders are all phoneys. I need to reread Catcher in the Rye.
  • The flu kills about 30k/year and is active 3-6 months a year. That's about 1k/week. If we get down to that with COVID can we take off masks and not get booster #8? Just like Iraq/Afghanistan...there's no exit strategy. This broken leadership and decision making. Look at the people in charge and what they do - Biden, SF Mayor, CA governor, DC mayor, MI governor, Pelosi, Feinstein, etc. all these people have touted masks and restrictions on indoor dining and the rest and all of them have been caught not following their own rules. So, do they think the rules not apply to them? Do they think the rules are dumb? I mean, if they really thought what they say - that the rules save lives - then wouldn't they be really awful people (by their own standards) for violating said rules? The most charitable interpretation is that they had a momentary lapse of judgment, but I don't think that holds up because in most of these cases (maybe all) they were caught doing something that wasn't momentary - an extended dinner, an extended night out, an entire hair dresser appointment, etc. It's not like they were caught taking off their mask while talking to someone in a loud room.
  • All this shit is theater at this point. If you can find some data on the efficacy of real people wearing real masks in a real study and it finds efficacy over 20% then let me know. From what I'm hearing most people wear the wrong masks (non n-95) and don't wear them particularly well and that generally translates to about 10% reduction in transmission. So, I don't think it's particularly good public health policy and I don't think it's good politics.
  • Omicron is the latest variant of interest and I've seen this movie before. Nuff said on that.
  • Andrew Yang wasn't my favorite candidate, but he's starting a new party (the Forward party) and it's less a party and more an endorsement mechanism. This is an interesting approach and I wish him well. It seems more organized around disposition and outlook on fundamentals like agreeable debate than policy like pro-choice or whatever. It's kind of a get back to the fundamentals concept. We seem to have forgotten what we're supposed to be about.
  • The election in Virginia got a lot of coverage, but most of the media got it wrong because they're worthless idiots. Sorry, I meant to be more insightful, but I couldn't help it. The #1 reason the Dem lost is that he said "I donít think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." I mean the guy is about as tone deaf as is possible. Of course Joy Reid and others made it all about race and Trump and it didn't work. Democrats are playing the part of the chastising parents - a role the Republicans used to play - and it's not working well for them. People don't want to be lectured and talked down to and told they're racist for existing. It's not a winning strategy.
  • Speaking of Democrats losing their fucking minds. Maxine Waters saw this video and said that it was "worse than slavery." Then the NCAAP president said that the Rittenhouse trial outcome was "worse than the Emmett Till trial." To have two prominent black leaders say these things is truly shocking to me. I just can't fathom the logic here and I'm constantly wondering if I'm the one losing my mind or what.
  • I'm wondering when we'll wake up from this madness.
  • Saw a sign the other day that read "crime free zone." I mean, it's a nice try I guess. Honestly, though, who thinks of this shit? It was an official city sign.
  • Back to Virginia - they elected their first black woman to statewide office. Chances are decent you didn't hear about it 24/7, though, because she has an (R) next to her name. These kinds of things make me wonder how much of the race issue is really about race for some people. I'm sure there are some true believers, but it also seems like some people bring up race just because it's politically expedient. When a black woman is Republican and she wins it just doesn't seem to make the news and I can't help but doubt the veracity of their motives when such a thing happens. If race and gender equity were so important then it would be a nice opportunity to talk about Winsome Sears and her journey to Lt. Governor, but I just didn't get any of that after the election. Curious.
  • It would be nice if these pundits and political types had actual convictions and principles.
  • In video games there are NPC (non-player characters) who are just part of the background of the game. In life it seems like more and more people are NPCs. They just kinda wander around looking down at their phones unaware of their surroundings literally bumping into each other, stationary things, and otherwise appearing as though they're not humans.
  • Have you noticed the rise of "gaslighting" being used by people? I have. Google trends is great because I can fact check my perception of things like this. See below. My belief is that people are more hip to the concept of gaslighting (I think it comes from the Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight) because we are living in a postmodern, self-obsessed world. The concept, in case you don't know, is defined as "a colloquialism that is loosely defined as "making someone question their own reality". The term may also be used to describe a person who effectively puts forth a false narrative that leads another person or a group of people to doubt their own perceptions and become disoriented or distressed." Of course if you are self-obsessed and think your truth is the Truth (capital T) then anyone questioning you is gaslighting you. Trouble is sometimes you're just crazy and everyone else is trying to set you straight. The clever judo is that you call this reality check "gaslighting" and then they become the bad guys. It's brilliant, sinister, and exactly what you would expect when Truth dies and is replaced by "your truth" and "lived experience." Watch the way language changes and you'll see how society is going. Orwell knew this extremely well.
  • I've also noticed the rise of "y'all" - which used to be laughed at by anyone not from the South. But as collectivists gain power it seems to have risen quite a bit. "Y'all" matters more than "you." The group matters more than you the individual. Google also has Ngram viewer and you can look up y'all on that and it's a hockey stick.
  • Still probably the best commercial of all-time.


  • 12/6/21 (18:12)
  • Better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.
  • Listening to the local NPR Forum show has been pretty funny the last few years. You hear some pretty wacky shit being taken quite seriously. Heard the other day, for example, that recreation is a colonial practice. I'm not even totally sure what that means. And...you're welcome? I mean I thought recreation was a good thing, but then I heard from her that it's a colonial practice. I know that colonialism is one of the deadly sins these days so is recreation no longer a good thing? Maybe the thought of needing to call having fun a separate thing is colonialism? Maybe it should just be called life and work is the real sin or something? These are the people who spend too much time masturbating intellectually.
  • I don't know it for a fact, but I'm guessing that we spend more on welfare style programs than most Western countries. Take SS, medicare, medicaid, welfare, SNAP, healthcare subsidies, etc. and combine them and it's well over 60% of federal spending. So, it's not that we're not spending enough...it's that the money is 1) going to the wrong people 2) being inefficiently allocated 3) graft is sucking away some (maybe related to #1). No one really talks about this because SS is the third rail of politics, but there's no way around it. Democrats seem to think our country is full of hateful bigots who don't want to give black and brown people government cheese. The reality is that the government is spending more than enough, we just don't do a good job running any of the programs and we spend far too much on old people.
  • I'll be old some day (hopefully), but I still don't think it makes sense for so much of our social welfare money to go to people who had their entire lives to get their financial house in order. We'd be much better off allocating much of that money and energy towards a better social safety net, job training and education that work (not sure our government is capable of this), and creating opportunity for people to thrive so they can save. Then it's up to each individual to prepare for retirement instead of living off the working people who are paying into the Ponzi scheme that is SS.

  • Every few months or years USPS will come under fire and conservatives will say it's a shitty organization that loses money. USPS is one of the best things that government provides IMO. Congress needs to let it run the way it needs to be run, instead they hamper it (by requiring it to pre-fund something like $6 billion/year into the pension) to artificially make it look like its losing money. It would work just fine if Congress would stop fucking around with it. I would love to see USPS invest in its infrastructure with electric cars, more automation, etc. They could expand what they do by adding banking to their locations or cameras for mapping to their vehicles (I'm sure some company would pay for this). Anyway, there is a lot of potential when you talk about 300k+ mail carriers going to (almost) every house in the country several times a week. Be creative, let a businessperson run it, and get out of the way.

    11/30/21 (21:00)

  • lots to say for another day.

  • 10/19/21 (20:23)

  • Neighbor had car broken into today. In other words, it's Tuesday.
  • Things are pretty fucked up when Russell Brand is the voice of reason.
  • If a PDF is emailed to me it requires clicking "print" three times to actually print the document. Once the PDF is open in the browser I click on the printer icon. Then it opens the same PDF again in another tab and I click on the printer icon again and it loads the print dialog screen and I click on "print." Only then does it actually print the document. This is inefficient and bothersome.
  • When I go to the bank and withdraw funds it requires probably 30+ clicks and several minutes for them to get the cash to me. There has to be a faster way for them to load my account, verify my identity, and specify what bills I want. In no world, should this simple transaction required so many clicks.
  • Still in the process of refinancing the warehouse loan. The amount of documentation they have requested is insane. None of this makes sense. Everything is far less efficient than it should be. In an age of data the fact that I have to give the same data over and over again is just maddening. Not just info like name and address, which should prepopulate in every form I'm given, but also information like environmental questions (which should be available in the environmental report I paid to have done) or loan note or title documentation. Such a painful experience for someone who hates pushing paper.
  • My kids are the best part of life. Work is pretty shitty overall lately. Financially doing as well as ever, but spending way too much trying to settle into a new house and warehouse. Really hoping that in two years we can be done with spending money on those things and put things on cruise control a bit.

  • 10/3/21 (08:11)

  • Mailbox stolen at 1am last night (checked camera). Not broken into. Not mail was stolen. The entire mailbox was stolen. $17k worth of checks and probably other things in there as well. I love this place.
  • So far this year has been pretty good in terms of theft and loss. No tools stolen yet this year. The usual amount of tools being lost. More than the usual amount of losses from jobs gone wrong. Product of not being at every job every minute. Relying on others means more things will go wrong. Just have to build that into the business. Same goes for living in Oakland. You just have to assume that someone is going to steal your mailbox once in a while. This is a society in decline. Some will say it's because fathers aren't around or because we don't believe in god anymore. Others will say it's because of systemic racism and capitalism. Whatever the cause, the result is the same - gradual erosion of society. I've tried to believe otherwise for a long time, but it's really difficult to argue otherwise.

  • 10/2/21 (21:36)

  • Trying to get my PPP forgiveness letter since the bank wants it for our home loan. Here's one of the many annoying questions I had to answer from the government:
  • 10. Does Applicant present live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature?
  • Getting pretty tired of everything lately. The next two years will be pretty pivotal. Do we grow the business enough to step away from being hands on every day? Do we get the house and settle down finally? Do the financial markets implode and leave us in the wake of the destruction?
  • Buying this house is a pretty big gamble since we'll be carrying 3 properties at once. Fixing up the new place while trying to run a business and carrying the warehouse and carrying our current house while the new one is being remodeled. I think we have a tough year ahed of us, as if the last year wasn't tough enough.
  • I've been trying to adjust my thinking to a world of opportunity and abundance, instead of one of scarcity. On the one hand that means not taking every job that comes along and that means better quality of life. It also means trying to stress less about every dollar. It also means growing. On the other hand it could mean growing beyond demand and overextending the business.
  • Most of the time I'm running at 90% capacity. I'm pretty much always in a rush. I'm working 60 hours a week. I'm trying to refi the warehouse loan. Coordinate the home loan. Juggling multiple jobs and multiple crews. It's not something I really want to do for the next several years. But if it's like this for a year or two while we grow and get two new properties then I'm fine with that. Getting those things and moving towards a goal will always require a lot of hard work. It just has to have an end point.
  • Meryl's birthday is tomorrow so the girls and I planned a surprise activity day for her.
  • Re-listened to 1984 and Animal Farm this week. Super depressing to see the parallels to today. The power of changing and manipulating language. The power of the media. The power of incrementalism (frog boiling type). The importance of shutting down free speech by those in power. The sad thing is that most of this is coming from the Left these days. The Left own the mainstream media, they're responsible for cancel culture, they're changing language on a variety of fronts, they're moving the goalposts on COVID, etc. This would all be less depressing if there were an alternative. But the Right is owned by the Republicans and they've been off the reservation for an entire generation. It's a choice between Walmart and the neighborhood fentanyl addict who has a few wares laid out on the sidewalk every couple days. I don't really want to shop at either.
  • SF mayor London Breed was caught without her mask on inside. This is a classic "rules for thee, but not for me" situation. There have been many of them now. Her excuse was incredibly lame and idiotic. No more respect for her. "My drink was sitting at the table, said Breed. I got up and started dancing because i was feeling the spirit and I wasnít thinking about a mask." "We don't need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldnít be doing," She talked about how the real story should have been that Tony Toni Tone were in town and playing live again. I mean, you can't make this shit up. She's nuts.
  • Zoe has soccer twice a week and, during the last game, everyone wore a mask (except her). Both teams' goalies were wearing masks. These are kids playing outside...even the goalies are wearing masks. What about that makes sense to anyone with half a brain? We're in performance mode here.
  • Masks are the American flag pin of the 2020s. After 9/11 the flag pin marked you as a "patriot" and supporter of the president and his dumb ass wars and foreign policy decisions. Today masks are essentially the same. I see many people around here wearing them outside while walking alone. Wearing them inside their cars all alone. These are people who are either as stupid as the flag pin Bush-supporters of 20 years ago or have come to enjoy the faux-safety of the mask because of their own doublethink. Remember, at the end of 1984 he learns to like big brother...he learns to believe that 2+2=5. Not just for lip service, but to actually believe it. That's where we are. Depending upon the issue or the time, approx. 45% of the population truly believes that 2+2=5. Critical thinking is lost when the party declares its position on a given topic. Pathetic.

  • The Theranos trial has been going on and there's been a lot of talk about it. I've listened to the podcasts and the book written by Carreyrou. The thing that almost everyone buys into is the narrative put out by the charlatan Holmes herself - that Theranos is a tech company. No, it isn't a tech company. It's a healthcare company that tried to develop a new technology. It bears very little resemblance to other Silicon Valley tech companies and shouldn't be compared to them just because she went to Stanford and it was located in the area. The "fake it till you make it" ethos is fair enough when you're selling some shitty app and you don't lie about everything. When you're telling people whether or not they have AIDS and you lie about everything then you've crossed a few lines. If she doesn't do time then it's yet another lack of accountability. She's going for the battered woman defense because she's a pathetic manipulative loser. Hopefully no one buys this garbage.

    9/13/21 (21:30)

  • CA recall for governor Newsom is tomorrow. When we did the recall the last time I was against it. I thought Davis was getting a raw deal (still think so) and I thought it was a slippery slope to recalling every governor any time they messed up on something. Now, though, I think we're in such a crisis in our society that we need to restore accountability at every turn at the cost of most of our other priorities. Of course, I think this needs to be equally applied (that's the real definition of accountability after all). The fuck ups from Newsom on: COVID overreach, EDD abuse/ineptitude, wildfire/forest mismanagement, homelessness, water issues, exodus of people for other states, general lack of business friendly environment, his douchey haircut, his French Laundry dinner without following his own guidance, etc. all have lead me to vote yes on the recall. He needs to be held accountable for all that and more.
  • A couple things...I don't think he'll be recalled. If I were betting on it then I'd bet he'd survive. The ruling class types often talk about how much better a Parliamentary Government is than our system. One of the hallmarks of such a system is the ability to call an election at any time. Well, that's what the recall is, but it's done by the citizens, not by those in charge. These same people also often lament the lack of democratic rule in this country. Well, here's democracy at work. The people getting an extra chance to decide whether or not the governor is working for them or not.
  • Now, I'll be the first to admit that what happens after the question of a recall is flawed. For those who don't know, the vote is yes/no to recall the governor. After that you get to vote on his replacement should the recall pass. The winner of the most votes in that second portion of the ballot becomes the governor. Since there are 40+ people on the ballot, it's very possible that the new governor would have only 15% of the vote. This is even more true since many followed Newsom's selfish advice to not vote for anyone as a replacement. So, there will be many Newsom sheep who vote "no" to recalling him and then leave the second part blank. You know, because they love democracy so much. The same people who constantly complain about the Senate not being democratic enough. You can't make this shit up.
  • The process issue is particularly annoying for me because it comes up every time a Democrat loses, but hardly ever when a Democrat is in charge. I've written about this before in an effort to not be one of those people. After Biden won, I laid out what his ambitious agenda should include and it was largely (and primarily) focused on process and voting reform. Things like some federalization of voting standards, DC statehood or representation under Maryland, representation for Puerto Rico, etc. Of course, here we are 9 months into his presidency and none of that has really been tried. Vaccine mandates, free stuff, infrastructure, but nothing that would fix the more fundamental issues. It's almost as if Democrats like having excuses.
  • At any rate, Democrats in this state have been in charge at every level for 10 years and I haven't heard a single word on reforming the recall process. They complain about it now, but did nothing about it before. If you're in charge of Congress and the governor's seat and you don't at least try to change a thing then you are implicitly saying that you are fine with that thing as it is.
  • So, I voted to kick Newsom to the curb for the aforementioned reasons. I tried hard to find a Republican I could stomach voting for. I wanted to mix things up and send a message. But I honestly couldn't find anyone I agreed with on enough stuff so I ended up voting for the Democrat who is most likely to get the most votes. I'm not very proud of this vote.
  • Just wanted to get that on record before tomorrow. Work is super busy but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Have 6 guys working for me most days now and hopefully will get that down to 4 soon and then back up to 6 if we get the new house. I'm hoping to hire a really skilled person who can help renovate the new house if we are able to make the funding for that work.

  • We're doing all sorts of loan paperwork the last year. Refi the house, SBA loan for the warehouse, loan for the new house. Super tedious and annoying.

    8/26/21 (21:01)

  • The last couple days have been eventful. Yesterday I was trying to wrap up a job where we were painting a 2500 sf house on Anza in SF...along with replacing lights, new counters, etc. prepping for sale. I tried to get another painter to do the paint, but he ghosted me. I worked with him once before and he was okay. I didn't really want to do this job so I tried to give it to someone else, but it didn't work out. Yesterday was our last real day there and so I had the trailer there loading the old counters and trash the owners left behind, etc. Of course it's in SF so I had to double park to load things up so I had my blinkers on for a while and then I figured I'd just turn them off. Well, the battery died so that was great, but I have a jumper pack so I tried that out and it didn't work. Bad connection on the terminals. Meanwhile the neighbor is trying to leave her driveway and I've pinned her in. Got her to drive on the sidewalk and she got out. She was nice about it.
  • I'm supposed to be helping Meryl at another job right now, but obviously can't make it so I send Antonio. Finally charged up the jumper pack and Jesus cleaned the terminals on the battery for a better connection and we got it started.
  • Meryl texts me that she got a parking ticket. Second one in two days.
  • Took the trailer to another job and double parked again. Left it running while Victor and I unloaded building materials from the truck and loaded more trash into the trailer.
  • Then I go to another job where we're supposed to replace some lights, hang a mirror and troubleshoot a non-functioning light. I figure out that the switch is bad and luckily (actually I'm just well-prepared) I had an extra switch - 1 with dimmer and 1 without. Unfortunately I have to unhitch the trailer to get to the drawers in the bed of the truck to access the extra switches.
  • Then we figure out that Meryl didn't bring the swag hook for the light I was troubleshooting. Luckily I have one with me in the truck at all times. Cut my thumb while trying to fish it out of the back of the truck (it was super full from the last job). Bleeding everywhere. Tape it up with electrical tape and move on.
  • The mirror was supposed to be removed by the painter and patched since it is glued to the wall, but of course he didn't do his job so now we have to do it for him. Use some picture hanging wire (always in our staging kit) to saw back and forth behind the mirror through the mastic to get it off. Worked like a charm.
  • Then I get a call from the internet company ready to setup internet at the warehouse. I drop by there and they say it will take 2.5 hours and I need to be there the entire time - company policy. I can't convince them that I don't care... if they just lock the door on their way out it's fine with me. So I reschedule for a Sunday so I can sit there watching them work on my day off.
  • Then I have to deliver a check to the countertop guy because he can't wait 3 days for the check to come in the mail.
  • Then I go to the dump to unload the trailer. Dump trailer is great because I can just press a button and it raises up to unload everything and then the hydraulic piston lowers back down to get ready for the next load. Only it doesn't lower back down because it's out of batteries. I google "is mercury in retrograde" and it turns out it isn't so Astrology (oddly) doesn't explain this shitty day. Luckily (or maybe not) I was charging the jumper pack while the truck was running since it was depleted a bit from having to start it last time so it was at 100%. I hook it up to the trailer battery this time and get the trailer lowered. Uses almost 70% of the pack's charge doing it, but we're all good again and back on the road.
  • Go home, unload the trailer and the truck (it's about as full as it gets with paint supplies, tools, drop cloths, primer, mud, etc.) and then drive to the smog test station since I'm due for that.
  • Then I drive to get the girls and then to the auto parts store to buy a new battery. Get home and all is fine.
  • The number of times my day could have been majorly derailed is crazy. This is an atypical day, but it's the kind of thing that happens every couple weeks. There are just so many moving parts to what I do. 5-6 people working for me. 4-12 jobs running or pending at any given time...it's just a matter of numbers. Someone is going to get COVID. Something is going to break. We're going to run out of something, etc. I could have been at the first job waiting for roadside rescue to come for a couple hours. It would have cost me a lot of time and money. Luckily I was able to send Antonio to take care of the other job. Luckily I charged the pack while driving so it was ready for the trailer issue.
  • This morning the truck started okay and I had Jesus replace the battery. Other crew is in SF working on a small framing and drywall project, we're in Oakland trying to finish some molding and paint for a woman while she's out of town. Run out of molding so I have to run and get some more.
  • Along the way I check out a job for the property management company. Woman complains that her blinds are too dirty. She spent 4+ hours cleaning 2 of them and they are still dirty. There are 9 in the 120 year old apartment she's renting. The ones she cleaned looks fine to me. I tell her if that's not clean enough then they will need to be replaced. It's a shame because they are nice blinds and I don't really want to send them to a landfill and spend $1,000 on new ones (though I add that the property manager would most likely be willing to do it). She agrees that it's a shame, but doesn't seem to understand that she holds 100% of the power in her hands. If she says getting a cleaning crew there will suffice then they remain in the apartment, not in the landfill. Instead she continues to complain about how dirty they are. "You can't see it as much right now, but at night it looks like the yellow stains are moving." At this point I pretty much just shut down and take measurements for new blinds. Then she mentions that the air quality is really bad with the fires and that she can hear everything going on outside and both these problems come back to her windows. They rattle and aren't air tight. That's because she's renting a room in a 120 year old building. I try to say this nicely. I try to point out that we can seal up the windows with foam gaskets, but that the house itself is leaking air everywhere. This all goes in one ear and out the other. People have no clue how leaky old homes are. People have no idea how much old dust is in their walls being carried with the air that's leaking  through the baseboard and outlets and shower escutcheon and plumbing penetrations and cabinets and attic access ladder and everywhere else. So they get all worried about the little bits that they see as if shoring that up will do anything. You're plugging up the hole in the Titanic with your finger as if you're doing something meaningful.
  • I was supposed to go to another little job, but the customer texted that she couldn't be there after all.
  • We finished up the molding/paint project and started taking up all the paper we put down to protect the floors. Unfortunately the floor guy didn't do a good job so the tape took up some of the finish. Should have been a clean exit, but now I have to go back tomorrow to refinish 3 spots. We used delicate surfaces tape and it still took up spots. I can't imagine how bad it would have been if we hadn't done that. I carry wipe on poly with me in the truck so I tried to touch up with that, but the color match wasn't good so I'll try again tomorrow.
  • Then I get a call from Meryl who is at the Anza paint job and the garage door won't close. We do a video call and I tell her how to fix the issue. Cleaners probably hit the garage door sensor on their way out or something so it wouldn't close.
  • Then I get an email tonight that there's a gas leak on a job we worked out. Turned out it was actually a job where we coordinated Home Depot replacing the range. According to the tenant PG&E turned off her gas because the install wasn't done properly. So, now I have to go there tomorrow morning to fix that.
  • No one does their job so I have to pick up the pieces. HD, cleaners, painter, floor guy, etc. This is basically a constant issue for me. It's the kind of thing that drives some builders and remodelers to keep everything in house and be extremely picky about the jobs they take. As soon as someone else is in the picture there's an opportunity for failure. It's hard enough to rely on yourself, but relying on others is a losing venture. That said, there's truth to the adage that if you want to go fast you go alone, but if you want to go far you go with others. I value getting shit done and the only way that happens is with help. That means you have to put up with all that comes with it, but you get more done that way in the long run.
  • Customers are the worst part of the job. We have a big job we've been working on for about two months now. They keep adding more things and also want it to be done faster. I'm not sure how those things go together. In the contract we stated that it would be 8-11 weeks if the house was vacant. The week the project is supposed to start they ask if we'll be done in 6 weeks. Huh? The timeline is literally in the first paragraph of the contract. These are people who made notes/amendments about stuff on page 9 of the contract so it's not like they didn't at least look at it. The first day I went there I told Meryl they were going to be trouble. How did I know? Because my little man told me. Actually, the real clincher was the Volvo in the driveway. Volvo drivers are trouble. He's an engineer and she's a doctor. Triple Trouble. Once did a couple jobs for a shrink who owned a Volvo and lived in Berkeley. That was also triple trouble. Three strikes and you're out.
  • Never lost money on a job I didn't take. Need to remember that more often.
  • So, this is pretty much my life on a daily basis.
  • "Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." -Eisenhower. I live this daily as well. At noon my plan for Friday was one thing and then at 8p tonight it was totally different. Sometimes I wonder if I just shouldn't plan at all. It's basically pointless since shit comes up all the time. Someone calls in sick. Customer cancels a job. Materials not available. Shipment delayed. Emergency job comes up. Every day it's something new. Adapt and overcome everyday.
  • After you workout you feel sore the next day, but that soreness is usually a "good" sore. Is it actually a different physiological soreness or is it just your interpretation of the same feeling? I think it's the latter. Framing and how we interpret things is so important and we know this in so many ways and yet we insist on framing things in damaging and unproductive ways all the time. Just think about that with all the crap we're going through and talking about these days.
  • Is it possible to have a similar feeling about the stress you go through? Stress is something similar to a mental workout so is it possible to interpret that mental exhaustion as a good soreness? Definitely more difficult. Can't workout 24/7 either, but you can be stressed out 24/7.
  • A business' value is the sum of all the problems it has solved. We're a pretty valuable business by that definition.
  • "My World Is Empty Without You" may be the best song ever. Holland-Dossier-Holland and Diana Ross. Doesn't get much better.

  • 8/18/21 (22:25)

  • We have 5 guys and 1 assistant working for us now and we're busier than we've ever been. 2 guys are out with COVID right now so that's slowing things down a bit. Part of the issue is that a lot of stuff we do people want done right away so they can put the house on the market or move in or just have the project over with. Everyone wants things done ASAP. If it were just me then, theoretically, I would have months worth of work in the pipeline, but the reality is that much of this work has an expiration date. If I can't get something done in the next couple weeks then they'll go to someone else. So, I either need to pass on it or mobilize enough help to gather that money. This is the current status quo, but who knows what will happen in a year. In the meantime I've been thinking of employees as tools. I want to have the best tools in place to accomplish any given task. Invest in the right tools and your life is easier or you can do more. Part of the implicit deal I have with my guys is that I keep them busy 40 hours a week and they take less than they would take if they were trying to hustle for one job at a time. During COVID that meant that I had them work on my house to fill in gaps in the schedule. But I pretty much always kept them busy (there were just a few days that Moises had other jobs that he did) because I think of that as my responsibility.
  • Product shortages continue to be a thing. I guess there's a real problem with the supply chain - things backed up at port, not enough truck drivers, etc. And everything compounds because we're so interconnected. My own theory is that most people are slacking off to some extent during this BS. They're working from home and I just don't believe the studies that find that people are more productive at home. I believe it's true for high achieving people with high trait conscientiousness, but the majority of people aren't conscientious enough to be left at home and get a full 8 hours done. When the cat's away the mice will play. So, pre-COVID, people worked 8 hours and actually got 6 hours of work done. Now they work 7 hours and get 5.5 hours of work done. Each person in the supply chain is working 2.5 hours a week less, some people aren't working at all because they've discovered they don't like working or whatever, some people are sick, etc. All that together equals shortages and general annoyance.
  • I think we need to go for a moon shot on the power issue. Electrical generation is a huge issue, though it is kind of in the background most of the time. With more electric cars we'll need more electrical generation. With more warming more people will get AC units and we'll need more electrical generation. In CA we're going to be decommissioning Diablo Canyon soon and that provides something like 9% of CA's total electrical generation even though it runs all the time and produces energy at something like 60% of the cost of the average kWh in CA. If people really cared about global warming and thought it was going to be the end of the world (as many people say without exaggeration) I think nuclear would be the obvious choice. I have historically been reluctant on nuclear and still think it comes with a lot of potential downside, but I think it's got to be part of the mix going forward.
  • Back to the original point, though...we need to shoot for fusion or some other kind of game changer in the energy sector. Something that addresses global warming and gives us cheap and abundant/scalable power would solve a lot of issues. Not just global warming or pollution, but also clean water, which is poised to be another big issue in the future. With abundant, cheap power we could go fully into desalination like Israel or at least like San Diego which gets 10% of its drinking water from desal. With cheap power we could then pump that water to wherever we need. Unlocking cheap, clean power would be a huge game changer. Fusion is always 50 years away so maybe that's not the way to go. Maybe the answer is battery technology and solar/wind. Whatever the answer...we need to put a lot of effort into the unsexy pursuit of clean/cheap energy.
  • The CDC is now recommending a third shot for some when the first shot hasn't even been approved by the usual standard. So, is the usual standard total bullshit or are we cutting corners or what?
  • Trying to get anything done on almost any government webpage is an exercise in futility. I think it's a pretty weedsy problem having to do with the government procurement process, but the bottom line is that government websites almost always suck. I deal mostly with CA sites so my experience is limited to that. But we brag about how we're the #6 economy in the world and the hub of technology and all the rest, but we can't put together sites that are designed intuitively or function as intended. Get 1,000 CSU and UC students to intern and they could solve most of these problems in a year. The brain power is there, the political will to make it happen isn't.
  • The olympics in track and field saw a 36% increase in national records and 45% decrease in testing from WADA. This from the more or less podcast. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my theory and prediction on this was correct. More records, more doping, less oversight.
  • Michael Lewis has a book out about the pandemic and in one of his interviews he agreed with me and said that blaming the pandemic on Trump is really a mistake. The pandemic is about a lot more than Trump, and blaming his actions/inaction is a distraction from the larger issues. This may be the way in which Trump is the most damaging...like many bad things, it's often the outsized response that can do more damage than the bad thing itself. Trump was a POS, but blaming everything on him and not learning the right lessons really stunts our collective growth. In this way, Trump Derangement Syndrome is a real (and damaging) thing.
  • Liveleak.com shut down pretty recently. It's too bad because this was one of the places online you could go for the stories that the regular media wouldn't touch. Of course, in true internet style, this meant it had a lot of unsavory stuff on there, but being able to see unedited/uncensored dashcam video or citizen video of stuff was really helpful when trying to get the real story. Then again, you were pretty much guaranteed to see someone die any time you went there so there's that.
  • What's wrong with "eh" as a word indicating indifference or dissatisfaction? Why did we need to turn it into "meh?" If it ain't broke why fix it?

  • 8/9/21 (20:17)

  • First day back to school for the girls. Pickup and drop off were a disaster so tonight we got an 800 word essay on the new policies for pickup and drop off. Signed by the principal "In partnership, (Principal's Name)" I just don't understand the world or other people.
  • Officially the owners of a warehouse now. Got all our stuff moved out of 5 storage units a couple weeks ago. More inventory coming in means we would have had to rent probably 2 more units, so we got it just in time. Been working on sorting all the stuff, getting utilities set up, planning on upgrading electrical panels, putting in a bunch of shelving, etc. Luckily lumber prices are coming back to earth so we're not paying an arm and a leg for that.
  • Biden had an amazing flip flop the other week. On Monday the NYT reported, and Jen Psaki said, that Biden didn't think it was the federal government's place to mandate vaccines for its employees. Come Wednesday of the same week the NYT reported that they were reconsidering their position...on Thursday they decided that vaccines would be mandatory. I mean, this is kind of a big thing to change your mind on in a few days. Maybe you think they made the right decision, but to go from it's not within the purview of the federal government to do such and such to then doing that thing within a few days seems like a large reversal. Obama was also infamous for this on the immigration issue. Early in his administration he said he couldn't unilaterally change immigration policy and then, later in his administration, he issued executive orders doing exactly what he said he couldn't do. This from a professor of Constitutional Law. The expansion of presidential power continues as the shirking of responsibility from Congress continues. It's pathetic and without bounds. Both sides do it and then complain when the other side does it.
  • Simone Biles got a lot of hype come this olympics. It got me looking into who the actual G.O.A.T. in gymnastics might be and I found that, in my opinion, it has to be Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union. She had 18 total medals and 14 world championship medals (back when they only held the events every four years, compared to every year today). She's undoubtedly the greatest gymnast of all time in terms of hardware relative to her era. She was also raised by her illiterate single mother (a cleaner) after her father left when she was a baby and then died at the battle of Stalingrad. Not only is she the better gymnast, but she's a greater inspiration.
  • Regarding the Biles controversy, which came after I decided that Latynina is the actual GOAT...I think she let a lot of people down and she damaged her legacy. There are a lot of people who have as much pressure as she does and they don't quit on their teams. In fact, I can't think of another person who is called the best of all time or embraces that title, who walked away from a major competition in that manner. The closest one that comes to mind was when Scottie Pippen took off his shoes in the playoffs - and that is a pretty infamous moment in NBA history and it hurt his legacy as well. Though no one would ever call him the best ever.
  • On the other hand, I think our culture is pretty epically flawed in the way it deals with celebrities. We lift them up far too easily and for many of the wrong reasons. And then we capriciously tear them down at the slightest provocation. It's a double edged sword and it turns many average and below average people into famous, rich, insane idiots. Britney Spears is a perfect example of this. She's probably of average intelligence and she is praised and hated for all sorts of mostly dumb reasons. She's put on a pedestal far too easily, driven to insanity, given way too much of a platform, way too much money and then it all crumbles around her because she's not super human. We almost did the same thing to Dave Chappelle, but he's above average and he got out just in time.
  • South Park did an episode about the modern day human sacrifice aspect of our culture and it captured things pretty well...per the usual for them.
  • Is it appropriate to point out that toxic femininity is at play here? Gossip can be a very useful social mechanism. It's an extra judicial, informal social accountability mechanism that can warn other women (or anyone) about guys who are shady or business people who cheat or any number of things. It's mostly a female thing the way that many of the things that are ascribed toxic masculinity are mostly a male thing. Unfortunately, if taken too far, gossip and the desire for it can also throw innocent people under the bus, ruin reputations, lead to paparazzi, etc. I don't think a lot of guys are the ones clicking on the stories about Simone Biles' meltdown or buying her book or creating a demand for pictures of her going to the grocery store. Just saying.
  • Re: the free Britney stuff...this is a classic example of government overreach. When taking away a person's freedom the bar has to be higher than it apparently was in this case. She's not entirely there mentally. She's not the sharpest tool in the shed. She should also have full control over the money she earned with her labor. From the information I've gathered (without looking into it independently), she appears to be in good enough condition to determine her own fate. The State and her father have the burden of proof to prove that she's not capable of taking care of herself, and that bar should be set very high.
  • Athing Mu was a highlight of the Olympics. She ran the 800m and led wire to wire. She's so smooth and a great runner. Hard to believe she's only 19. Great runner.
  • Grant Fisher got #5 in the 10k and I thought ran a good race. That's a good finish for a US runner. Centrowitz didn't qualify for the 1500m final and that was a disappointment. There was a US BMX biker who was in silver medal position with one run to go. Instead of going hard for it she did two jumps and sat out the last 40 seconds of her run. I'm not sure I understand that.
  • Something that's been going around lately is that the police started with slave patrols. The implication here is that since that's their history it explains their present, or it demonstrates the true purpose of the police is to keep black people in check. I think I've touched on this before, but this is just a really bad argument. It's like saying that Planned Parenthood is fundamentally about eugenics since Margaret Sanger was the founder of PP and also a Eugenicist. The next step of the argument is to point out that Blacks are disproportionately represented in abortions. Evidently the modern environmental movement also has racist and eugencist roots. So, do we not trust PP or environmentalism any more?
  • Froggender is a thing now. Hopefully you're keeping up with the growing list. Einstein was right to change his mind...the universe definitely is expanding.
  • Idiocy anywhere is a threat to intelligence everywhere. Is that how that quote goes? Something like that.
  • 99% invisible had a podcast episode a while back talking about the design of flags so of course there was a racial angle and they had a black guy on who said that he feels safe when he sees a red, green, and black flag. There's also been some talk lately about how the American flag is triggering and threatening for some people. This is a sad state of affairs. Regarding the red, green, and black flag maybe Tupac should weigh in here...

  • "I've been trapped since birth, cautious, 'cause I'm cursed
    And fantasies of my family, in a hearse
    And they say it's the white man I should fear
    But, it's my own kind doin' all the killin' here
    I can't lie, ain't no love for the other side
    Jealousy inside, make 'em wish I died
    Oh my Lord, tell me what I'm livin' for
    Everybody's droppin' got me knockin' on heaven's door"
  • Apparently four capitol police officers have committed suicide since the 1/6/21 insurrection. There's a lot here...1. This seems like a very high number of people to commit suicide because some idiots broke into a building you were supposed to be guarding. What drives that many people to kill themselves over that? I'm having trouble understanding why that would be your response to a stressful time. PTSD? How many officers responded to this? 4 out of X kill themselves? This seems a lot less stressful and a lot higher suicide rate than, say, WW2 infantrymen. What's going on here? Does this have any precedence? Rodney King riots....how many police officers killed themselves after that? 9/11 responders? I haven't found any context from the media on this. Another media fail.
  • 2. This "death by suicide" term is part of a larger change in language that has been going on the last several year and I can't say I'm a fan. Death by suicide implies it just happened to you. Conspiracy theories aside, suicide doesn't happen to a person. It's something you choose to do. If we want to eliminate the idea of free will altogether (some do) then this seems like a step in the right direction, but count me out.
  • Overall there seems to be a linguistic shift towards language that removes agency. You're not a bum anymore. You're not even homeless. You're "experiencing houselessness." You don't commit suicide, you "died by suicide." There are many more examples of people changing culture with language. Sometimes it's in ways that are supposed to be kinder and gentler, but often it's just sissy shit that treats people like a leaf in the wind. It's called learned helplessness. It's real and and it's rampant. It's not reality and, even if it were, it's not helpful. People who feel like they have no control shoot up schools, cry about every little slight, and can't handle the realities of the world. The world isn't easy. Get tougher. What kind of weaklings are creating the manual of style and usage books these days?
  • Speaking of being tough. I see prostitutes walking the streets pretty regularly and so I think about their lives pretty regularly. I recently heard a podcast with an ex-prostitute and she was talking about dealing with her customers and her pimp and the usual stuff. It occurred to me that they would make great employees. A reformed (clean) prostitute would probably be a great worker. She can handle herself. She's confident. She's tough. She won't put up with any bullshit. She won't complain about working hard for 8 hours. Someone who has been a drug addict and had to deal with all the shit that most of the street walking type have to deal with is definitely going to be a better, tougher worker than most of the people in the general employment pool. I'd hire one in a second if she was clean and wanted to learn the trade.
  • In the attention economy your attention is like a vote. And yet people who hate the guy are still paying attention to Trump. Notice that you're "paying" attention. This is fitting. Stop paying attention to him. He's a dumb ass.
  • Advertisers, as a group or sector, are arguably more powerful than tech. Harder to group them together since an advertiser could be anyone from Budweiser down to me advertising my business. But just remember that all the shit that tech does for eyeballs and tracking your every move is so that they have more to give to advertisers.
  • NYT apparently can track moods of their viewers and gives advertisers the option to choose what mood they want to advertise to. So, maybe they have the ACLU as an advertiser and the ACLU can say that we only want to show our ad when someone is feeling outrage or anger. This is crazy.
  • If you've seen enough documentaries on the subject you've seen what women generally choose their birth environment to be like. I wonder what the average birth environment would look like if guys gave birth. Would it generally be dark with people around telling them how great they're doing? If I were giving birth I'd probably want to do it alone. Just leave me alone. This sucks and you talking isn't helping.
  • Have you noticed how the media doesn't talk much anymore about political spending? 10 years ago this was one of the biggest issues that the media covered. They talked as much about the Koch brothers and Mercers and Citizens United as anything else at the time. So, has the problem been solved? Well, in a sense, yes it has. See, the Democrats now outspend the Republicans (2) (3) so it's no longer an issue for the media. Because they are partisan, not ideological. They don't care about the ideas, they care about the parties.
  • Gun ownership rates are falling and may be at the lowest rate in our country's history. At the same time, the number of guns is at its highest. I wish we had fewer guns and more people owning them. Part of the problem we have is one of understanding. I know plenty of people who are scared just at the sight of guns. They know almost nothing about them. They think that the only thing a gun does is kill people. Some people are a little more nuanced and say that a gun only kills (I guess they include hunting animals in their calculus). Maybe I've drunk the kool-aid, but I believe the adage that guns don't kill people, people kill people. I wish people knew how to handle a weapon so there wasn't an irrational fear of it. Same goes for electricity or power tools. But in modern society people are disconnected from many of the things in their life. Most people don't need a gun like they did on the prairie and so they know nothing about them. Most people (city dwellers any way) just pull up an app to have an electrician fix their broken outlet instead of trying to fix it themselves. People have less and less connection with their own existence. Pretty sad, really.
  • In keeping with a more Libertarian/Anarchist bent I think the idea of Restorative Justice makes a lot of sense from a purely hypothetical point of view. The logistics of it might not make it practical, but the idea is a good one. Instead of getting 5-10 years (or whatever) for felony assault, RJ would have the victim of the crime engage with the perpetrator of the crime to come up with a suitable punishment/method of atonement. In practice, this requires a lot of work and some sort of middle man or facilitator to help things along. But this seems like a much better ideal to strive towards than a judge or mandatory minimums or the rest. True, the victim of the crime isn't the only victim - even of a simple assault, but the idea holds that those most directly harmed by the criminal action ought to have the greatest say in what happens to the perpetrator. I think simply locking a person up does a lot less for society, the victim, and the perpetrator than RJ could. If you steal all my tools, for example, maybe I would want you to do 1 year in jail or maybe I would prefer that you work for me to work off the harm you did. Maybe an apology. Maybe I'd want you to go to the flea market where you sold my tools with a sign that reads "I'm sorry for stealing tools. Learn the lesson from me - stealing tools hurts people." This kind of thing is almost impossible with a society our size, but moving in that direction is a lot better than what we have now - which is almost the worst possible thing I can imagine.
  • Heard this break down the other day...average door dash order is $35.55. Driver gets $8.91. Restaurant gets $19.97. Door dash gets $4.85, which comes to $.90 after costs.
  • Heard a podcast (I think it was the NYT Daily) the other day and they were talking about Cuba and the problems they're having now. They gave 3 reasons for the current troubles - Trump, Venezuela collapse, and COVID. In other words, it's never their fault. It's not the failures of communism in Venezuela or Cuba. It's not Cuban culture or leadership. It's everybody else. Interesting.
  • We have friends who own a small cafe and music venue. They were updating their insurance and were asked if they wanted shooter coverage.


  •  

    7/11/21 (14:55)

  • I finally had the time to get the vaccine. 80% of eligible bay area residents have had at least one shot at this point. Nevertheless I hear about the Delta variant every day from local news outlets. Meryl asked me last year how long this was going to take to get back to normal and my answer then and now is that we're not going back to normal. 9/11 changed normal and so with COVID. Some people will wear masks all the time, some will wear them every winter/flu season. When will Newsom and our leaders stop worrying about trying to squash every last death? When will schools go back without masks? When will the media stop covering it every day? What's the opportunity cost of focusing on this as opposed to something else?
  • I think the media is reluctant to give up on good stories like Trump or COVID or terrorism so we'll probably be living with this as a story for another year plus. Schools without masks... I think this may become a mandatory vaccine situation for kids. Right now the vaccines aren't approved for kids under 12 so there's some cover for my kids, but eventually they'll be approved and the unions will probably push for mandatory vaccines like they do for so many other things. Doesn't matter that there may be other effective treatments available. Doesn't matter that it was an emergency use vaccine. Doesn't matter that the mRNA technology hasn't been proven over time like traditional vaccines. Those in power make decisions that allow them to stay in power. They don't make decisions to protect their constituents. They are in the business of power preservation and self-improvement (in the worst sense of the term).
  • So, I think there's a decent chance in my area that vaccines will be mandatory in the next couple years for kids going to public schools. If not, they will probably still need to wear masks. The issue is about politics and the unions are in charge so that's the direction we're going for now. Perhaps things will change and parents and students will get sufficiently fatigued by this b.s. and push back, but it doesn't look like that now.
  • I'll ask this question again - what's the end game here? What are the criteria for Newsom and others to get us off the COVID 24/7 train? Vaccines are widely available for free and highly effective. We're still requiring masks in schools. We're still limiting large gatherings. I don't think an end game or a return to normalcy are part of the plan for most of these people, which is part of the reason we'll never go back to the old normal. Once you have multi-million dollar investments for metal detectors and security apparatuses at every stadium, and the fear from the public that something bad could happen, it becomes difficult to go back to the old system.
  • Close escrow on the warehouse in 8 days if all goes well.

  • 7/1/21 (21:10)

  • Printers suck. There's a reason a copier was in perhaps the most infamous scene in Office Space. We can put a man on the moon, but we can't make reliable printers that actually know when there's no more toner left, don't require some crazy hidden reset sequence, etc. I hate printers.
  • Actually, I hate most software also. Sometimes it's the printer that is awful and other times it's the software that can't seem to figure out where the printer is (even though it knew last week) or know that I want to print 24x36 architectural drawings on a printer that is made for this purpose. Yesterday it prints fine. Today it can't find the printer or says it's offline. Makes total sense. I have very little fear of AI taking over the world any time soon.
  • We've been looking for solutions to our storage problem for a while now. Meryl has the staging business and currently uses about 1500sf in storage facility space. It's not run very well so there have been two break-ins, problems with the gate not being operable (limiting access to inventory), and rodent issues as well. Altogether not great. Also, we have the issue of wanting to move and my wanting to have a larger shop/storage for supplies. At any given time I'll be renovating 1-5 units and may have lights, vanities, toilets, etc. in storage for those projects. So far we've stored these things in our shed, garage, porch, basement...but that's not very clean, secure, or sustainable.
  • So, the original goal was to have everything in one place - new house, new shop, and new storage for staging stuff and my work stuff. That's proving pretty difficult. Long story short, we found a place that's 7000sf and will cost about 2.5x what we're paying monthly for separate storage units now. Bad news is that's a lot of extra money and we need to fork over a down payment. Good news is that the rent won't increase every few months like storage does, the building could appreciate, we'll be in charge of access/security/etc., and we could rent out some of the extra space to recoup some of the costs if we want. Neighborhood-wise it's pretty close to the prostitutes and one of the good size homeless encampments so that's good. Seriously, though, it's actually closer to where Meryl's jobs are so it's better than our current setup.
  • NCAA lost it's SC case so they'll have to allow athletes to get paid. This is a no-brainer that has been a long time coming. 40 years ago a free education was pretty much in line with the value that the athletes were bringing to their schools. Then big money came to college sports with ESPN, etc. I think it'll be more fair going forward, but there will be a lot of unintended consequences so it'll be interesting to see how things pan out.
  • John Oliver has gone full retard, which is unfortunate because I used to like him. One of the recent essays he featured on his HBO show was about Asians. He dug into how AAPI is a more diverse group than you might first think. He (rightly) pointed out (as I've done before) that some Asians do better than others and that it doesn't make sense to group Filipinos with Chinese with Maldivians. I've pointed out before that Asians make more on average than whites. I've written about how white vs. black is a less interesting comparison than Asian vs. Black. But his explorations into this was pretty clearly motivated by a desire to uphold the woke narrative of white supremacy. Ironically, the wokesters are seemingly as invested in the white supremacy narrative as the KKK, only in a different way. The KKK wants white supremacy to be the Truth in that they want whites to actually be superior. The woke crowd wants to continue the narrative that white supremacy as a power structure is True and must be dismantled. Anything that shows white supremacy might not be True is a threat to their worldview. Both seem to want to believe in it. Bizarre.
  • So, Oliver needs to show all the horrible ways in which Asians have been treated (all true) and then needs to show that some Asians are still not doing very well (in order to maintain the white supremacy narrative). But he, like many others, seem to stop digging there. Why show that Thai-Americans aren't doing very well relative to Taiwanese-Americans, but ignore the fact that Dutch-Americans aren't doing very well relative to Russian-Americans? He shows the limitations of race when talking about Asians, but doesn't seem able to apply the same thinking to any other group. He's curious when it comes to Asians and how different groups have different histories and income levels, etc., but only when it supports his narrative. This is the problem with ideologues.
  • The other problem I have with Oliver and Noah (who I could only stand for about a month after Stewart left) and some of the others of this ilk is that, unlike Jon Stewart, they seem to really not like anything about the country. Stewart would offend the Left and (more so) the Right. He would talk shit about the government and corporations and the media. But he'd also (occasionally) talk about some of the great things the country offers. He actively worked to get the 9/11 responders money for medical treatment. Oliver seems to just think America is a shit hole: racist, poorly run, corrupt, full of idiots, etc. Every silver lining in America's history has a cloud. Anything we did well before, or are doing well now was racist or shitty in some way or should be better today. I shit on the country as much as the next guy, but I will pepper in some positivity from time to time because I'm not a total asshole.
  • Speaking of Jon Stewart. Here's his take on the lab leak theory, which is now gaining some good traction. Like I said before, I'm pretty agnostic on whether or not it came from a lab (though I'd probably bet on it if I were forced to pick a side today), but I'm more concerned about the way the media and medical elites handled the entire question. Rejecting it out of hand early on. Banning or limiting any discussion of it on YouTube, Facebook, etc. Calling it a conspiracy theory. Never addressing the facts...just a lot of hand waving. And of course the media carried water for this narrative the entire time.
  • Here's the problem with doing that...trust is gained by the drop and lost by the bucket. Fauci, FB, NYT, CDC, WHO, etc. all lose credibility when they reject the idea out of hand and call it a conspiracy theory and limit the discussion. Then those same entities expect us to take the vaccine because they say it's good for us. The vaccine that uses mRNA technology which hasn't been used before. The vaccine that only has emergency approval (fastest approval ever). If the vaccine had anything wrong with it would we hear about it or would it be rejected with the same hand waving? These are the questions that come up when you've been lied to. Once bitten, twice shy. When your wife cheats on you then you're going to second guess every text she gets or every guy friend she has or every explanation she gives for where she was.
  • So, yeah, there are legitimate reasons (other than Tuskegee) for people to be vaccine hesitant. One of my neighbors is a pretty liberal lady from what I can tell. She's a lesbian living in Oakland so there's that at the very least. She's a teacher and they are going to require her to be vaccinated and she told us today that she's thinking about quitting her job because of it. I don't think she's a tin foil hat person. I don't think she's a Trump or Q-Anon supporter. And she's not Black so there isn't the Tuskegee angle. John Oliver is the guy who will shit on the US government and large corporations every minute of every show he puts out, but then berate people for not trusting those same entities when it comes time for a new vaccine. It's odd to say the least.

  • In case you think I'm arguing for not talking the vaccine, let me set the record straight...It's not that I think the vaccine is a government/corporate mind control device or a plot to keep us under control or any of the rest. What I'm arguing for, what I'm often arguing for, is some reasonable middle ground. The John Olivers of the world will shit on anyone who isn't lining up to take the vaccine right away. Yet they're the same people undermining the confidence in the system every single time they open their mouths. "Your government sucks and everything it does fails, is corrupt, and is racist. Your economic system sucks. The corporations you give money to are controlling you and will kill you if given the chance. But you're a selfish Trump supporting idiot if you don't run out and get the vaccine (which is manufactured by those same corporations and tested [sort of] by that same shitty government) NOW."
     

    6/30/21 (17:55)

  • Seeing a lot of world records fall during the olympic trials. My guess is that olympic testing was either halted or severely hampered by COVID and so people could dope with impunity for 3-12 months and build up their stamina, strength, etc. I don't know for certain, but seeing multiple world records (some of them very long standing) fall during the trials seems like a big outlier. Another explanation is that athletes (who usually have another job that pays the bills beyond being an athlete) finally had the time off to train and that has led to an increase in performance.
  • We talk a lot about a safety net in society. I guess life is a tightrope in that analogy. But the net itself is its own sort of tightrope or bridge. So, maybe, the better analogy is that welfare, etc. is a bridge. Conservatives want to build a bridge that's 2' wide and without guardrails. Sure, you can get across, but you better not make any mistakes. Progressives want to build a deluxe moving walkway with those chain link fences on the sides and overhead (like you see on some freeway overpasses), so it's impossible to fall off.
  • The forest fires in CA produced at least 25% more than all the burning of fossil fuels in the state. That was from September, so it only got worse, I'm sure.

  •  

     

    6/22/21 (14:49)

  • The future is here. Amazon explore.
  • Another run to the dump. Gotta get back to work.

  • 6/21/21 (18:29)

  • KQED Forum did a bit on the growing shoplifting issue in the bay area. It's been going on for years, but better late than never. If even KQED thinks it's worth doing a story on it, then maybe there's some hope that something will be done.
  • We had a mass shooting in Oakland this weekend. You probably didn't hear about it because gang shootings that kill 1 and injure 8 don't get coverage the way that shootings motivated by just killing get coverage. Kinda weird to put it that way, but that's the truth. What's a mass shooting? I think the WaPo mass shooting tracker defines it as any shooting where there are 4 or more deaths and a single shooter. So this one doesn't qualify, though I'm not sure that matters much. It happened at Lake Merritt which is interesting because we were at Lake Merritt that morning dropping off some pastries and cash for a drummer (Aaron) we like who always plays on the corner on weekends. I was thinking that Lake Merritt is undeniably one of the best things about Oakland and it was nice seeing so many people out for Juneteenth. We stopped by the curb while Zoe got out of the car to deliver the box and cash and while she was running out to do that a cop told us we needed to keep it moving because there was no stopping on the curb that day. Plenty of cops by the lake that day.
  • Later, we were driving on the freeway near the Lakeshore exit and saw the cops shutting down the freeway and I had a thought that something may have happened at the lake, but hoped it was just too busy and so they were diverting traffic for some reason. This shit happens too much.
  • Now that you can choose your gender does that mean it's not an immutable characteristic and thus not subject to discrimination laws like race is? Probably not, but just a thought.
  • Saw a car the other day that had only two bumper stickers: "Coexist" and "Republicans for Voldemort." Kinda hard to coexist with someone when they think you're evil. This isn't a winning strategy.
  • One thing about driving around town a lot is that you see a lot of stuff out there. Here's a company I saw the other day. Melanin Maids. I don't even know what to say.
  • One of the most important attributes for kids might be the ability to tell truth from bullshit. A healthy skepticism is important. Something I should work on more with the girls.
  • I can't decide if yoga pants are the best thing ever or the worst.

  • 6/16/21 (22:03)

  • Been watching more NBA lately. Don't have to think much and can do work while I watch it. It's amazing how much the game has gone to the 5 out offensive scheme and avoiding the midrange game like it's the plague. 20 years ago a 10' open shot would be the next best thing to a layup/dunk. Nowadays they pass up those shots for contested 3 pointers. I'm sure there's data to backup or contest my assertion, but it seems like most of the offensive possessions have fewer passes. Or, at least, there are many more possessions with one or fewer passes. Maybe the mean number of passes is similar, but the median number is lower and the modal number may have been four 20 years ago and is one today. Not a huge fan of this change.
  • Would the Beatles have been formed if they were alive today? I think the average guy that age would be less likely to be in a band. Probably making their own music on a computer. Maybe one or more of them would have been distracted by other interests like video games or porn or whatever. I think it's very likely that the Beatles wouldn't be formed today. Also, let's say they were formed....I don't know that the culture today would support the kind of live gig work that they did early in their career which led to their later success (as has been argued by Gladwell). Further, let's say they all got together and were able to practice as much as they needed to refine their craft....what would they sound like? I think they came up during a time that the available technology and instruments were limiting enough, yet opened enough possibilities. The work they did with tape loops and sitars and everything else in the studio. Would they have been too distracted if they had everything at their fingertips like musicians today do? Or would they have been even better? I think we're very lucky to have gotten what we got from them.
  • My average day is working 7a-5p and then again after the girls go to bed for another 1-3 hours. Sometimes I stay up real late and catch up on emails, proposals, invoicing, and other business stuff. I've tried to be good about job costing, but it's hard to keep up with everything and job costing is one of the first things to go.
  • The staging part of the business has grown a lot the last year. Meryl started it last year and, even with COVID, it did pretty well. Honestly, I don't know why people are willing to pay thousands for staging, but the reality is that they do. We're talking $10k for a $2m home so I think the level of home changes the dynamic somewhat. People aren't doing the same for $700k homes. Last week she staged a $6m home and I thought it was way overpriced. It sold in a day. Then the business fell through because it was revealed that both neighbors were going to be doing major renovations. Then it sold to a new person in another day. The home was staged a total of less than two weeks.
  • For me, a staged home doesn't do anything, but I'm an exception. And there's a truism in real estate that women buy homes. So you're really selling to women for the most part and staging is part of the window dressing that helps people envision themselves in the home.
  • At any rate, that part of the business not only makes a bit of money on its own....hopefully more now that our inventory is such that we shouldn't need to continue to pump as much money into it...it also sells our turnaround services and Meryl's design services. So, agents see a nicely staged home and inquire about that and then Meryl tells them that we can paint and clean up the house before staging as well. My team does the fixing and her team does the staging. One stop shop for the agent or homeowner. Also, some people see the staging and think it looks nice and want Meryl to help with design work so that helps keep her busy. Staging is effectively a marketing tool that also makes us money.
  • The downside this last year is that the staging has cost us probably $200k+ in inventory and it costs to house all that inventory if it's not at a job site. So, we continue to look for a warehouse to buy to keep those costs fixed, keep security in house, keep rodent control under our control, etc. The storage unit we have now (actually we have five) has been broken into twice in the last year and consistently has rat shit in it (seen a couple a few times as well).
  • My team is at 4 guys. Meryl has 1 guy. We share 1 woman who helps with administration type stuff and she's based in Irvine (used to live up here, but moved). In total, our business helps put food on the plate for at least 18 people plus the 4 people in our family. Meryl recently hired Kevin, who is Edwin's (who I've mentioned before) nephew. Edwin's brother also works for us. Moises is in Mexico now, but his brother and brother in law both work for us. By far the best method of finding good employees has been word of mouth. I found Moises through my electrician (who used to be married to Moises' sister) and then Moises found Edwin and the other guys for me.
  • If Google isn't doing it already, it's only a matter of time. They could easily predict dementia based upon your searches. Maybe more typos or certain kinds of typos. Maybe repeat searches for the same thing or the same kind of thing. The AI will know about your health issues before you do. Of course they already know about your pregnancy or STD before others when you search for pictures of herpes or when you buy "what to expect when you're expecting." I'm sure all this is well known already so I'm not saying much here. They could sell this to insurance companies or whomever else. A free internet has had a lot of unintended consequences. Free internet = advertising supported internet = need for more data to craft ads more specifically = no privacy
  • Back hurting the last few days. Went to Disneyland and spent too much time in the car and it was hurting before that. Being in the car and sleeping in a hotel bed made it worse.
  • It's the girls' birthdays in June so that was the occasion. Wanted to go before they opened up fully and got crazy busy. I think it was at a higher capacity than it was supposed to be, but whatever. I'm not a huge Disney fan in general, but I don't dislike them like I used to. I think being wholesome isn't such a bad thing after all. Disneyland is pretty trippy. I think being there is more exercise than most of the people there will get all year, but it's offset by all the shit they eat while they're there. It's all about the kids, though. I had a good time watching them have a good time. They had a great attitude the entire time and never turned to brats. Merritt got hot (and grumpy as a result), but we kept her hydrated and shaded and she did pretty well after that. She was scared of the rides that were fast or dark so I skipped Space Mountain while the others went on it. Our Irvine employee, Abby, happened to be there so we met her and her husband there and they went on Space Mountain with Meryl and Zoe. We stayed there all day and all night and didn't walk back to the motel until almost 11p. Girls were great. Ryan was there also, but at the other park, which I remember being a parking lot last time I went...how things change. Couldn't meet up with him since neither of us had the park hopper ticket.
  • Nothing is worse than a vacation where you spend money and try to do something special and then have the kids be brats about it. We're pretty lucky that our kids aren't brats and, if they do start down that path, we put an end to it pretty quickly.
  • I don't like writing about celebrities, but this one might be instructive. Chrissy Teigen has been caught up in some controversy. Apparently she has been pretty bitchy and bullying in the past and that is coming out now. She is being put upon the altar as the latest sacrifice to the mob. In some ways maybe she deserves to have some of this thrown back in her face. She told people they should kill themselves and stuff like that. Not nice and especially crappy when she appears to think she's a pretty great person these days with virtue signaling - often in the form of going after Trump, the Right, etc. It's a case of the Left eating itself. But it brings up a question I've had for a long time...what does one need to do to atone? What magic noises does a person need to make with their mouth to move on? Louis CK said sorry and took some time off. He went through the grinder just like everyone else. Teigen has issued several solid (IMO) apologies and continues to get pilloried. I think there's a collective catharsis that needs to happen before these sinners are allowed to move on. As noted before, I'm very much in favor of accountability, but there has to be a way to retain accountability without canceling someone forever or by mob fiat. I'm no great admirer of Teigen...I don't know much about her and couldn't care less as she's just another random celebrity to me. That said, we need to allow people some salvation.
  • The death of organized religion in our culture is something I probably would have been cheering for 10 years ago...today I'm not so sure I was right to do that. Sure, it has its limitations and weaknesses. Some religions have a checkered past and all that, but if we eliminate religion what takes its place? Everything in life is trade-offs. This is one of those truths that needs to be beaten into your head from day one and forever.
  • Well, today we don't have religion...certainly not on the Left, and so what has filled that god shaped hole in the soul of Leftists? Some make their own rules and maybe they are the ubermensch Nietzsche wrote about. I would suggest, though, that many worship at the alter of wokism or anti-racism or social justice or other causes of the day. They become part of the woke mob that sacrifices Chrissy Teigen. Sometimes it is a righteous sacrifice (Teigen, perhaps...Weinstein, certainly) and other times they might get it wrong (going after Justin Timberlake for cultural appropriation might be an example or Nicholas Christakis). Our original sin is slavery. They must be evangelicals for the cause (silence is violence). We're all born sinners (Americans are corporatists, racists, colonialists. Plus, we all have implicit bias). They search for purity not in Jesus, but in anti-colonialism (see: Indigenous cultures are at the apex in Leftist thought today) and environmentalism (see: crying Leftists scared of global warming, calls to protect ANWR or Keystone Pipeline or old growth forests). Embracing the ascetic (at least in words). The analogs go on and on. It's been interesting to hear more and more stories about scientists and Left-leaning NGOs looking to indigenous cultures for advice on how to deal with forest fires or other environmental questions. It seems to be part of this larger idea that the indigenous 1) are more pure and 2) are more in touch with the environment than we are. We are more tainted by our evil society than they are.
  • For me, the best I've got is helping people who need help. That god shaped hole that people talk about is a real thing and I think it probably refers to the desire of most to believe in something larger than themselves and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I have no war to fight and no religion to follow so I try to build a good family, grow my business, and try to help my employees in the process.
  • Disneyland is the kind of consumerist paradise that I really hate sometimes. Same with Las Vegas. But it's also getting in touch with the Dionysian and that isn't such a bad thing from time to time.
  • What is the acceptable level of deaths as a result of COVID? Guns? Cars?
  • CA has supposedly reopened now. Most people are still wearing their masks most of the time. At least that's my observation in SF/Oakland. There are a bunch of memes going around about wanting to take off your mask, but not wanting to look like a Republican. JFC. The masking as a partisan issue thing is so fucking dumb. Trump certainly helped make this worse.
  • CA is doing a lottery for vaccinations. This is one of the better ideas they've adopted. Steven Leavitt had this idea like a year ago, iirc, along with several other economic style ideas to put the brakes on this thing. Unfortunately the government mostly just said stay home and we'll give you a bunch of money and that didn't work very well. But we have an obese country and no one talks about that for some reason. Whatever.
  • How long are we going to be scared about COVID? There are literally thousands of strains of this thing. We've known about this for a long time, but the media didn't really play this up until the vaccine came out. UK did a lot of testing on the strains, which is (not) coincidentally why we saw a couple "UK strains." Now they are playing up the Delta strain. If there are infinite strains of this virus do we wear masks and shelter in place sporadically forever?
  • Trump should have been all over the China issue...on COVID, on intellectual property laws, on fair trade policies, on Uighurs, on Taiwan... But he sucks at everything he does so, even when he happened to have the right instincts on an issue (often for the wrong reason), he still managed to fuck it up. What a failure.

  • 6/15/21 (22:19)

  • We're fucked.

  • 6/2/21 (21:29)

  • Work has been insane lately. Meryl has been slammed and took on more work than she should have. I've got four guys working for me and we can barely keep up. One guy is Moises' older brother who was working for the union, but decided to work with me instead. That's three guys who have left the union to work with me. I'll take that as a compliment.
  • There's a case that went to the supreme court about a cheerleader who complained online about cheer (she didn't make the team or something) and the school reprimanded her for her online ranting. So, it's literally a supreme court case now when a teenager complains online about school. I understand the ramifications of it and I'm not going to wade into where free speech ends, maybe that's for another day. However, I will point out what I've pointed out before - there's an epidemic of bad parenting. And I'll expand that to include bad mentoring of all kinds. This is a case where adults should take over and have a discussion with the girl about what she's saying online and how she should handle herself online and how she should handle disappointment, etc. This isn't a big deal. It's a teen being frustrated and angry. The school should work with the parents to find a suitable solution here. Instead everyone's going to court. Going to court means that someone has failed at being an adult. Could have been a teachable moment, but now it's a supreme court case. Failure of leadership.
  • We've gotten to the point where Rage Against the Machine is downright moderate in some of its lyrics. For example, in Killing in the Name (infamous for its ending repeated refrain "fuck you I won't do what you tell me....") there's a line that goes "some of those that works forces are the same that burn crosses." In other words, some police officers are in the Klan. Contrast that with some graffiti I saw the other day in Berkeley that read "all cops are Derek Chauvin." The first lyric by RATM has some subtlety and allows for the possibility that not all cops are evil. The second suggests that all cops are murderers.
  • We're living through some truly nutty times.
  • Listening to NPR has gotten really strange lately. Heard a piece about diet culture the other day on Forum. It was a 40 minute program that essentially posited that being fat might correlate with health problems, but it isn't the cause of health problems in all cases. "There's no such thing as bad foods" "We want people in our home to take up space" they referred to the "cult of thinness"...there was even a bit about how "the Kardashians have appropriated looks that are culturally black, and they're not black." A lot of really odd stuff being put out there these days and it's blatantly anti-science from an organization (KQED/NPR) that claims to be all about science. Two people who called in pushed back slightly. One was a physical therapist who pointed out that being overweight does have some long term effects on joints, etc. I think most reasonable people can agree that being fat shouldn't relegate you to a second class citizen and it shouldn't mean you get ridiculed. However, to have the pendulum swing so far in the other direction is just getting nutty. I honestly couldn't make this shit up. The bit about the Kardashians was really laugh inducing.
  • Looks like the lab leak theory of COVID-19 is finally getting some traction. Like most, I heard about this theory early on in the pandemic and, like most, I mostly discarded it when the so-called experts said it was a conspiracy theory and that COVID definitely didn't come from a lab. But then I heard Eric Weinstein and others talking about it and thought maybe there was more to the story than the media and experts let on. Now it looks like it's getting mainstream attention. A group of scientists signed onto wanting an investigation into the possibility and On the Media, NPR, and others are reporting on the idea as at least plausible.
  • What's really frustrating about this isn't that the virus may have been leaked from a lab (purposely or accidentally), it's the fact that the gate keepers (scientists and mainstream media) brushed it aside as if it were a Q-Anon level hoax. On KQED's (local NPR affiliate) Forum they explored the story with David Frum and he said that the theory was so quickly brushed aside because it was associated with Trump and his anti-China bias and they didn't want people latching onto that. This is what's frustrating. When science and good reporting take a back seat to politics and potential perceptions. They did this same bullshit with the mask recommendations by saying we didn't need to wear masks. Anyone with a brain realized that masks would help, but Fauci and others said, with a straight face, that masks wouldn't help.
  • So, the end result is that they damaged their credibility greatly by saying you don't need masks (we're lying to you so that you don't take mask supply from front line workers) and by brushing aside the lab leak theory as a conspiracy (we're lying to you because it's associated with Trump and the far right and we don't want an anti-asian backlash?). They must really think we're stupid.
  • We're living in a post-truth world. Institutions have so damaged themselves at this point that it's becoming increasingly difficult to point to NPR, NYT, Fauci, WHO, CDC, mainstream news outlets, scientists, etc. as bastions of Truth. Everyone has an agenda and giving you the Truth is hardly ever a part of that.
  • The fact of this is part of the reason we got Trump, by the way. Oddly, but understandably, people wanted a truth teller and thought that Trump was the guy. He's the guy who admitted that the system was rigged and he knew how to play it. He was seemingly unafraid of telling the truth that no other politician before him would tell. Of course he turned out to be probably the biggest liar in presidential history so that didn't work out, but you can understand how a certain type of person, who pays attention only a bit, could see him saying things no politician ever said before and be fooled into thinking that this guy doesn't have a filter like the other phonies we usually get. Sure, he's a piece of shit, but he's saying shit that no one else admits so maybe he's the change Washington DC needs.
  • Speaking of anti-truth. There's a bit of a stir about hot cheetos...Planet Money (one of my favorite podcasts) ran a story (one of their worst episodes, more on that later) about a guy who claimed he came up with the idea of flamin' hot cheetos because he's a latino and latino culture likes spicy things and his idea took off. Well, turns out that the story of Richard Montanez inventing flamin' hot cheetos probably isn't true. LA times ran a piece on it shortly after Planet Money. What's interesting here is that people are invested in this idea because he's latino. If it was a white guy the story never would have been run by Planet Money. They bent over backwards to do the story even though it doesn't really have anything to do with economics. It's a puff piece with some economics window dressing and it turned out to be wrong. This is what happens when you are motivated by a certain point of view. You saw it with This American Life when they reported on how Apple was abusing labor as well. They liked the guy who did the story. They liked the narrative. They liked the message and so the reporting got sloppy. When you want something to be true you don't do anymore digging. I've written about this before.
  • The other bit about this cheetos story is that the latino community is upset about it. Forum had an episode about it and one guy was saying essentially that his group was standing by Richard Montanez because he's latino. Meanwhile, Gustavo Areano was standing by the LA Times fact check that asserts that Montanez was lying because he thinks that's the true story. If you listen to the program you'll see that one of the guests essentially admits that he's sticking by Montanez because people always want to tear down latinos and so he's saying Montanez invented flamin' hot cheetos in an effort to stand by latinos. It's the kind of racial identity politics that is really awful, but completely acceptable (in polite society) and predictable (thanks to racialized thinking).
  • This is the kind of anti-truth, racialized thinking we're going to continue to see for a while. We've lost our collective minds and don't care about Truth anymore. Perhaps that's okay. Perhaps it's going to be beneficial to view everything racially now. "That woman didn't hold the door open for me because she's white." "That guy crossed the street because I'm black." You can do this for essentially every single interaction you have. Believe me, I've done it. I guess I listen to NPR too much. You should try it as well. Listen to NPR all day for a week. Then pretend you are black or female or trans or unibrow having or whatever and notice every time a person looks at you a little long or averts their gaze quickly after seeing you look at them or doesn't hold the door open for you or doesn't wave you on when you get to the stop sign at roughly the same time while driving or helps someone else in the middle of helping you at Home Depot or doesn't smile at you when you get to the register, but they do smile at someone else or only tips you 15% when other people have been giving you 20% lately or or or... It goes on forever and you can make it about race or gender or whatever as much as you want....because THAT'S YOUR TRUTH.
  • Don't get it twisted, though. This isn't the same as saying that discrimination doesn't exist. I've pointed out before that it does, and probably always will. I've pointed out that we all want to live long, to be old, essentially....and yet ageism is a real thing. If we discriminate against a thing we eventually want to be, then is there any hope that there will never be discrimination based upon other things? So, yeah, some of those perceived slights and microagressions may be real. And maybe you're so great at reading minds that you even know which ones are real, in which case all the more power to you. But I think it's probably a more honest, helpful, and healthy approach to assume good intentions as much as possible.
  • Julia Galef recalls an idea in her new book, but I forget who it's attributed to. Basically it posits that it's best to eschew as many identifying groups as possible because once you identify with a group you are tied to them and will feel compelled to defend the group. I've written about this before with regards to my not belonging to the two major parties. It's quite freeing to not have to defend one party or another. I did vote for Biden, but I think I've so far avoided defending him too much just because of that fact. At any rate, when you identify with any group you are more likely to want to defend that group and you see that with the flamin' hot cheetos story, as pathetic as that sounds. This mindset is the soldier mindset where you have an idea (or an identity in this case) and you feel compelled to defend it.
  • Galef's book (Scout Mindset), by the way, is good and recommended. Most books basically follow the formula of giving the grand narrative and then restating it in as many ways as possible in order to fill up space or flesh the idea out. It's one reason why I prefer podcasts over books. I think podcasts distill the ideas more than books usually do. Scout Mindset falls into that category, but it's still an important idea and the last chapter and conclusion are worth it. The general thesis is that having a scout mindset is about trying to find out the reality of things instead of having a point of view and then defending it. That's a shitty summary, but you get the idea and I'm tired. I like everything she does.
  • I linked it above...check out the unibrow video. Mark Rober is good and the fact that people discriminate against unibrows is just another way of pointing out that discrimination is inevitable and ubiquitous. Check out this video as well. I like Eddie and the guy he's talking with points out in the end that discrimination happens all over and people will always find a way to discriminate....because they're people.
  • Lex Fridman was talking with Sam Harris (?) about life and human suffering (I forget the exact context) and Lex (who was born in Russia) pointed out that he knew Sam Harris wasn't Russian because Sam said something about life being about pursuing happiness or something along the lines of human flourishing being avoiding suffering. I wish I remembered the exact context and quote. Essentially, though, it was about the Russian worldview being steeped in the reality of life as suffering. This resonated with me. Perhaps this is my inner Russian Jew coming out, but I don't expect life to be great. Part of life is that it sucks and involves suffering. I've written about this in various ways before. Americans expect free healthcare and internet and everything else. I don't suffer under the illusion that any of these things are guaranteed. In some ways I'm just happy I'm not fighting off a warring tribe every week while foraging for food.
  • There's Brazilian guy who does a lot of moving for us and he put it like this: "Americans believe in happy endings." I think that's well put. Americans expect everything to work out. We expect that things will go well. It's good to be optimistic, but it also comes with some entitlement so it's a double edged sword of sorts. I definitely expect less than the average person in these ways. When COVID hit I pretty much took it as a return to reality. For me, in some ways, polite society, with everything working, is the exception - not the rule. Chaos is the natural state of things, not order.
  • What's actually frustrating for me is when we say things are supposed to be ordered, we claim we live in a law abiding culture, we claim that there are cultural norms and mores and all the rest, but in reality no one is doing their job and everything sucks. I prefer we drop the pretense and just assume things are all going to shit. When COVID first broke that was the mindset I had and it was actually a better place to be in some ways.
  • The Bay Area is in full shit hole mode lately. Perhaps I should be more accurate. Oakland and SF are the real shit holes. Homelessness is totally rampant at this point. Oakland will try to clean things up from time to time, but it's pointless. A couple examples 1. 2. 3. SF's Tenderloin has long been a cess pool. It's a city that supposedly cares about liberal values more than any other and yet they have yet to find a way to solve the open air drug market and help significant numbers of people out of chronic poverty. If you go to the Tenderloin video and read between the lines, the police chief says he's going to keep doing his job and give other people a chance to do theirs. By this he means he's going to give the DA the chance to prosecute people for their crimes. The DA hasn't been doing a lot of prosecuting of crimes in SF for a while now. The most famous statistic I've seen is that a couple years ago there were 30k+ car break-ins and 1 prosecution (which failed). This is essentially allowing people to do whatever they want. CA also passed prop. 47 which allowed for looser penalties for small crimes and we may be seeing the effect of that now.
  • Some businesses in Oakland are still boarded up while remaining in business. Every day I see burnt out cars and the kind of thing you see in post-apocalyptic movies. I helped board up a woman's front window the other day (second time I've done it for her in the last year) because her home was shot at during a drive-by that involved someone else. She called 311, which is supposed to help with this kind of thing, and they said that the police have to initiate this kind of service. 1. Why? 2. Why didn't they do that last night when they were collecting shell casings and interviewing witnesses? So then she called a few different services and only one of them called back. They wanted $4,000 to board up a single window (3' x 8'). So the property manager called me and I took care of it the same day.
  • I was in SF today and I saw two women get into a car accident on my way to a job. On my way back I saw a tree branch that fell on a car and was blocking almost the entire road.

  • This is the kind of stuff I see on a weekly or daily basis. This is the kind of thing that happens when a society falls apart.

    5/19/21 (20:18)

  • Okay, so I wanted to finally revisit the CA vs. TX vs. FL COVID response. I want to look at it since the TX governor said "we're open for business" and effectively went against all the suggestions to keep mask restrictions, etc. I also want to look at the bottom line number for the entire pandemic to see if CA (which as been in various states of lockdown since relatively early) did demonstrably better than FL (which was slow to respond and quick to reopen schools, etc.).
  • Some factors that might affect things other than the lockdown status (state government response)...population density, population makeup (age, race, income). Local restrictions, which might vary quite a bit depending upon county. Ideally we would look at things zip code by zip code and compare public policy and demographics and figure things out. With that in mind, it's too much work for me to look into all those variables and come up with a really great idea of how much each factor played into the death toll so I'll just do what's easy and I think at least somewhat instructive considering the perceived importance of the gap between CA and TX/FL.
  • One other note is that I'm looking at the deaths per million people statistic. It's less reliant upon testing, less likely to be manipulated, and is adjusted for population. So here are the numbers...


  • CA is doing the best of the 3 I'm looking at. 1586 deaths per million compared to 1679 and 1765 for FL/TX respectively. So, TX is about 11% worse than CA and FL is about 6% worse.
  • If you look at the top chart and the bottom chart, you'll see that both FL and TX did better than CA in that time. CA went +286, FL went +260, and TX (whose governor was lambasted for spiking the football too early) went +267. All pretty close, but CA actually did the worst of the 3. Could be because of a bad vaccine roll out, but, according to Google the vaccination rate for CA is 39.3%. FL is lower at 36.2% and TX is lowest at 33.1%. So, FL and TX are worse than CA at vaccination and far more open from an economic and social standpoint, but they have done better than CA since 3/2/21 when Greg Abbott opened up the state and only 6-11% worse than CA overall.
  • I think these numbers point towards a much more difficult story than what we're being told by the mainstream narrative. Public policy seems to have an effect, but it doesn't appear to be the huge difference that many think...at least on the state level. Again, we could look at zip code level stats and demographics like age or BMI or something, but the bottom line for me is that CA destroyed education for a year+, destroyed the lives of many lower income earners, destroyed many small businesses, increased deaths of loneliness, etc. and the result isn't as clearly better as you might hope.
  • Another way of looking at it is, if CA had done 11% worse (same rate as TX) they would have had 69,739 deaths, which would have been an additional 7,080 deaths.
  • One question I've had since very early on is how many deaths is acceptable? The prevailing wisdom amongst the orthodoxy right now is that no deaths are acceptable. I've heard these exact words from a teachers' union representative, in fact. But, what's the actual number? We accept deaths from all sorts of things all the time. What number of deaths would we accept to have our economy back or to be able to visit our dying grandma (check the This American Life episode linked above) or to have school back in session so our kids can learn and we can go to work? Is 7,000 deaths in 16 months, in a state of 40 million okay?
  • As Nate Silver pointed out...if you've gotten your vaccine and you're not changing your behavior then that's a pretty good sign that you're overreacting.
  • There's an idea of Truth (with a capital T) and poetic truth. The Truth is what I think most people think of when they hear the word...it's the actual thing that actually happened. You can play epistemological games and get philosophical about it, but let's say that such a thing exists. Either a thing happened or it didn't. Then there's the poetic truth, which is what we seem to have in today's "post truth" world. It's the thing that is true enough, or, even if it isn't true, gets at a fundamental truth. So, the poetic truth might not be a thing that happened, but it could have happened because of how the world is. Poetic truth maybe didn't happen in this instance, but it has happened before so, hey, it's close enough. "Hands up, don't shoot" is a poetic truth. Eric Holder's DOJ found as much and yet it's a myth that persists. Supposedly, Michael Brown said it before he was killed in cold blood. It's an inconvenient truth that Brown was not a boy scout and was actually fighting with the cop before he was killed. But, something like the narrative around the Brown shooting certainly could have happened, and certainly has happened elsewhere in the past...so it's true enough. At least that's how the argument goes.
  • To what extent does it matter that the poetic truth isn't the Truth?
  • Crypto market took a dump today. I actually cashed out 80% of my position last week so I got lucky on that. My worry about BTC (which I've never owned) is that it could seemingly be easily replaced. Gold is gold and will always be useful and important. BTC could be replaced tomorrow by someone who figures out a better version (maybe it takes less power to mine or fixes some other issue with BTC). Since BTC can't change, it could be obsolete with a better competitor.
  • I think the crypto market is a bit bonkers and indicative of society. It changes rapidly and doesn't seem to have any actual value behind it (in many cases). Unlike stocks, which are connected to real companies with earnings and disclosures and the rest, it appears as though crypto has a lot less behind it (thus making valuation difficult). It seems the way to make money on it is the same way you make mony on GME stock. Find the popular coin of the day and invest short term. Less an investment and more an attempt at making money out of nothing. Or maybe it's just a wealth transfer of sorts.
  • more signs of inflation...


  • 5/4/21 (18:42)

  • If you think cops aren't thinking about this kind of interaction every time they make a stop then you're not paying attention. I guarantee that there are hundreds of videos like this where it's a close call or a cop gets killed that make the rounds with cops. They talk about them in training and cops surely share them with each other. I've seen dozens so I know the cops have seen even more. And I've seen some of the training videos where they break this stuff down frame by frame and talk about the mindset you have to have to stay alive. Unfortunately, that mindset doesn't go well with regular policing. Any reform we suggest has to keep all these things in mind. Most of the reforms I'm seeing from the BLM crowd don't take any of this into account.

  • 5/3/21 (20:57)

  • Been looking for a warehouse space for a while now. The goal is to have all our work and home stuff in one space so 1) we don't have to keep paying for storage costs (which go up every few months) 2) have everything in one secure place 3) have everything in one place so it's easier for Meryl to manage her staging inventory 4) have a bigger space for my tools/materials 5) move so we don't have to be around our annoying neighbors 6) get a bit closer to the amenities we like to be around. Can't recall if I've written about this here yet. The long and short of it is that we've been looking for a while. Found a place a few months ago that ticked all the boxes, but it had two tenants so that would have been a challenge and it sold to someone else anyway so... Now we've found another place, but it's 21,000 sf and way more expensive than we can afford, but, if we rent out portions of it, and get it for well below asking price, then it gets to a place that's doable. Those are big ifs so we'll see. Meryl needs about 2000 sf for her inventory and I'd like the same for my materials and shop space. The living space could be 1500 sf and that would be good enough. We would need to get our office in there somewhere as well.
  • One of the unintended consequences of the "green economy" (pot) is that it has driven up the cost of any warehouse type space quite a bit. This one may not be affected by that, though, since it's near a school and they tend to be wary of that.
  • Crypto has been really big the last six months or so. Wish I had gotten into it earlier. The only two players that I see as solid at this point are ETH and BTC. BTC has gone up like 500%  in the last year and ETH has gone up 1.5k% in that time. BTC I see less as an alternative to cash and more as an alternative to gold. It's a store of value and hedge against inflation. ETH is potentially the platform for the future. The problem with both of them is that valuation is tough to justify since it's such a new market. I think people are still figuring it out. My (small) stake in ETH has doubled since I went in. Obviously I wish I had put in everything with returns like that in such a short time period.
  • Re: valuation, I think this is the tough point with all crypto. Ultimately it's a supply and demand thing of course, but that's not saying much. My hunch is that ETH is much more likely to go up 10x in 10 years than it is to go down 10x in that time. In that way, the valuation seems to be on the side of buying. I think there are more things that could drive the cost up than down. Unlike BTC, ETH is dynamic and holds real value beyond a store of value since it's a platform for potentially game changing things. Hopefully those things come to fruition and it becomes the game changer that people think it could be.
  • I have been going on and on about inflation and MMT for a while now and it's one of those things where I'll either be wrong or I'll be wrong until I'm right. I still just don't see how the government can pump so much money into the economy without a negative consequence. I don't know where/how it will all go wrong, but I think it has to. The point of these black swan type events is that you don't see them coming. Economists will measure inflation like they always have and everything will look fine and then the shit will hit the fan and they'll realize there was a blind spot somewhere and they'll start measuring that for next time.
  • One interesting possibility is that shortages (like we're seeing in everything from ketchup packets to chlorine) could be one manifestation of inflation. Where we don't have shortages we have straight up price increases like lumber, copper, metal, and more. Ultimately, I just don't believe the super genius MMT folks.

  • In contradictory news, I've been trying to have an abundance mindset lately, as opposed to a scarcity mindset. In my work I've always worried about the next job and trying to get whatever job opportunity is in front of me because I don't know if tomorrow will bring another job. It's one of the worst things about running your own business and part of the reason that I think business owners are a bit more conservative. They are more in tune with the natural law of the wild and I think that aligns more with at a conservative mindset. That is, there are no guarantees in life. Be happy with what you have. Do the responsible thing and save because a rainy day could always be around the corner. When you are an employee, your mindset is very different. You have much more security. Your thoughts aren't about where your next paycheck (customer) is coming from, it's about how your job could offer more benefits, etc. I think the employee mindset is more aligned with the left and the employer mindset is more aligned with the right. Couple the mindset shift with things like writing a check every quarter to the government (as opposed to automatic deductions every two weeks...which you don't even really see anymore because of auto deposit) and it's no wonder that the self-employed tend to skew conservative. Of course there's also self-selection bias there....maybe you're less likely to go out on your own if you have a leftist mindset in the first place. It's also interesting that some of the most secure people in their positions are tenured college faculty and they also tend to be very highly Democratic. Hmm.
  • Anyway, I've been trying to shift my mindset from one of worrying about where the next customer is coming from, to one of abundance...thinking the best of future business prospects, rather than the worst. We've kept busy regardless of how many people we've had - from 0 to 4 people working under me in the field and haven't done any marketing for years, so maybe it's time to worry less about how many jobs are out there. Instead, maybe we should worry about finding the jobs we want, rather than just filling the calendar. We'll see how that goes and if I can be right about the macroeconomic situation and also not foolish to believe that this new mindset is a good way to run a business.
  • I remember voting yes on the high speed rail proposition in 2007-ish when it was on the ballot. My thinking was 1) it's going to take longer and cost more than they say, but 2) it'll be great when it's done anyway. It's increasingly looking like I was wrong on that second point and I underestimated just how much #1 was going to be true. This is the kind of thing that I think Democrats, Democrat apologists, and big government allies have to answer to. California is the natural result of the policies that those people support and high speed rail is one of those programs that those people love (including me at one time). And yet here we are. It's 10+ years in the making and we have essentially nothing to show for it. At some point you need to be able to point to things that work if you're going to be an ally for a certain position. So, if you have Democratic rule in a city or state for 20-50 years like it is in CA and many large cities, and yet you have rampant homelessness, crime, income inequality, etc. then your ideas have to answer to that. Of course it goes for the other side as well, but you already knew that part.
  • Somewhere along the way there came this idea that if you can make it in NYC you can make it anywhere. I think it would be much harder to make it in most rural locations than in NYC. Maybe at one point NYC didn't have a robust social safety net. Maybe it was more edgy and dangerous. But these days it's got every resource imaginable and it's easier than ever to access those resources because of the internet. I'd argue that NYC is one of the easiest places to "make it" in the country. Sure, it's expensive, but the minimum wage is high and there are just a million opportunities. If you burn one bridge you've got a million other options. If you become disabled then there are resources to help and a million other jobs you can still do if you have the wherewithal. I'd just rather be a poor black kid with below average intelligence in NYC than in rural Alabama. That already disadvantaged kid would definitely be able to make a living in NYC if he worked hard. The same is not true in rural AL. Look into the rural vs. urban divide and you'll see this is a big issue in a lot of ways.
  • Apparently there are many anti-rioting laws that are being proposed by Republicans. They run the gamut from defining riots to have an add-on penalty for rioting while doing some other crime. On the Media podcast had their panties in a bunch over this, as did several other outlets. The main arguments seemed to be that it was a violation of the first amendment and that there's no need to add a riot designation to bolster pre-existing laws that already outline illegal behavior like assault or vandalism. They complained that it was too nebulous and subjective. I find this second point to be pretty hilarious since these are the same people who are so adamant about hate crime laws being necessary.
  • What's the deal with hate crimes? Why do we need a separate designation for intent behind an already illegal action? If I beat someone up should it matter that I'm doing it because I don't like their religion? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If I beat someone up to take their money and then I call them a kike does that make it worse? Plus, it gets into a dicey area about intent and that seems really tough to ajudicate. I think I'm going to stay consistent on this one - we don't need anti-riot add ons anymore than we need hate crime add-ons.
  • I listened to Chuck Schumer on the Ezra Klein podcast the other day. He has an imaginary middle class couple that he always thinks about when he's thinking about new legislation or current economic trends, etc. This is very nice of him to think about the middle class, however it's absolutely hilarious that he needs to concoct a fictional couple and come up with a story about them and think about what they might think about laws he's thinking about passing. He has access to the actual opinions of thousands of actual middle class couples and yet he finds himself making up fake ones and inferring their opinions based upon whatever is in his head at the time. I mean, you can't make this shit up. The guy is legitimately retarded. Just have some middle class friends for once in your life, Chuck. Or maybe ask a constituent what they're thinking once in a while for fuck's sake.
  • Democrats support George W. Bush at 51% today. It was 11% when he left office. What the hell is wrong with these people? W may have been worse than Trump, but they have a short memory. The guy was dog shit in a suit. Yeah, he danced with Michelle Obama or whatever, BFD. He's basically a mass murderer for fuck's sake.
  • Reply All is a good podcast overall, but it's become a woke fiasco the last year or so. Most recently it was in the news because it turned out they're not as woke as they claim and they were doing a story on another toxic workplace culture when it was revealed that maybe they shouldn't be ones to talk. What a mess. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
  • Have you heard of the problem solvers caucus in congress? Probably not. You have to ask yourself why you haven't or, if you have, why you haven't heard about it more. This is why the media is complicit in the downfall of our society and worse than W or Trump or Koch or Mercer or any of the rest of the individual morons you may hate. Instead of focusing on people who are working to solve issues in a bipartisan way, you hear about Schumer wearing Kente cloth and McConnell being a douche bag. The media could focus on the efforts of these 56 members for an entire week, but instead they've historically been happier to parse Trump's latest tweet from the toilet. The mainstream media are worthless.
  • An issue that comes up every once in a while is the issue of free tampons. As part of a public toilet situation I think it makes sense. You give free TP, so it would be nice to give free tampons and pads as well. There's precedent and it makes sense. Same could be said for poor women in shelters, for example. However, as a matter of public policy to just pay for tampons makes no sense to me whatsoever. It smacks of the kind of "more free shit" thinking that we get these days. Under what logic does it make sense to provide free tampons to women (er, sorry, I mean people who menstruate)? An aside about this - because some trans activists are very particular, this is legitimately how we are supposed to talk about this issue. Not all women menstruate - and we're not just talking about menopausal women - we're talking about women who were born with dicks who can't menstruate, so let's be sensitive. No, I'm not making this up, I'm not that creative. Anyway, what is the precedent or analog for paying for tampons? I just don't see it. We don't pay for TP and everyone uses that. We do pay for free condoms and needles so maybe you could say that? I'm not sure where the free stuff ends. This is the slippery slope (remember, it's not a fallacy). This is something people actually want and think they deserve for simply existing.
  • There has to be a test to determine what gets paid for and what doesn't. If we do it on a case by case basis then we'll just slowly work our way down the line paying for everything until the political contingents get so small that they don't have any pull. So what's the test? If you say that tampons should be free because without tampons there's a public health crisis then TP has to be next. And toothpaste. And toothbrushes. And band-aids. And and and...At some point there have to be women willing to stand up and say "no thanks, I can take care of myself thank you very much." To do otherwise is to be anti-feminist in my view. Women are so weak and unable to care for themselves that they need a provider. It used to be their dad or husband and now it's Uncle Sam. Is that what we want?
  • Since I'm digging my grave on the women vs. men front today, I may as well continue.
  • You can't say that men are rapacious and brutal capitalists on the one hand and then complain that women make less overall. If men are brutal capitalists who have less empathy and are implicitly worse people, but better capitalists then that's the cost of making more money. In this system (according to the people who make these claims) the men are making more money because of their attributes and capitalism. If you want women to make more then have them adopt the same attributes. You can't sit on your high horse and claim moral superiority and be virtuous, but also make the same money. Life is about trade offs.
  • I think I've fleshed this out before, but suffice it to say that the gender wage gap that Obama talks about ("women make 22% less than men for the same work") is an utter lie. The same work wage gap is in the single digits depending upon what your source is. And the gap is almost entirely a result of having kids. You can see this, in part, by looking at lesbians who don't take a year off to have kids, for example. But it's a useful lie so the narrative continues.
  • If I'm steel manning the argument I'd say that capitalism doesn't leave room for things like raising kids and that disproportionately hurts women (mostly because of biology and individual decisions, but still) so capitalism needs to be reformed to make that better. Unfortunately it's harder to have the discussion when the one being proffered instead is based on lies.
  • In the last year you've probably heard more about Tuskegee than normal. Here's how the conversation goes, and I've heard it at least a dozen times on NPR type programs: "The vaccine rollout is going well, but we really need to reach out to Black communities which are vaccine hesitant, and rightfully so because of Tuskegee and things like that." I've heard an argument almost exactly like this many times by now. They always mention Tuskegee and they never mention another example of why the Black community is justifiably vaccine hesitant. One woman mentioned in an interview that her doctors didn't take her seriously, but that's the closest I've heard to fleshing out the "and things like Tuskegee" part of the argument. So, if you know of other cases like Tuskegee, let me know. I have very little faith in the government so I wouldn't doubt it, but it's odd that they never mention anything else.
  • Speaking of Tuskegee...the reason this is so egregious is that the government doctors had a policy of using Black people for their experiments for so many years. It was a total of 600 men. It was a failure of the medical community and the government. But black men in particular are seen as disposable so they did what they did. Another example of men being disposable is the Titanic. If you were a 3rd class passenger and female you have a 50/50 chance of living (92 died, 87 lived). If you were a 3rd class male passenger then the ratio was a wee bit worse (389 died, 62 lived). Overall, 1345 men died out of 1669, that's 80.5% of men died vs. 25.6% of women. The stats I have don't break the children down by gender for some reason. Tragically 49 of 115 children died. 1st class 137 out of 141 women lived. 1st class 56 out of 174 men lived. So, regardless of class, men were much more likely to die.
  • Meryl got her first shot of the vaccine the other day, I still haven't.
  • 78% of people hospitalized or dead from COVID were obese or overweight. Hm, I wonder if this has anything to do with our poor outcomes relative to other countries.
  • What are the chances somebody with COVID must be hospitalized? Think about it for a minute...zero? 1-5%? 6-10%? 11-19%? 20-49%? 50% and up? Here's where we get to see how accurate your perception is of the issue. How does the media you consume shape your answer here and if you get this wrong are you going to demand better from your media sources? The answer is 1-5%. 41% of Democrats answered 50% and up. 28% of Democrats answered 20-49%. So, 69% of Democrats thought it was 4-10+ times worse than it actually is. 10% of Democrats got the answer right. 26% of Republicans got the answer right. Why? Because Democrats are the party of science? Oops. Because Republicans are so much smarter than Democrats? No, because of the news they consume.
  • I'm fortunate to remember this same kind of misinformation coming around 9/11 when Republicans were asked questions about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, etc. They all watched FOX and so they were horribly misinformed. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
  • Garbage in, garbage out. Unless you were close on that question, I don't think you can be at all smug. We should all have some humility even though most of us leftists were laughing at the idiots 17 year ago who didn't know the basic answers about Iraq and WMD.
  • George Floyd has a bunch of stuff named after him now apparently. I mean...he didn't really do anything. Are we allowed to be honest about the guy? He wasn't a saint. He didn't seek to be a martyr. He didn't stand up against oppression or anything. He was tweaking out and he died because a cop (at least one) was a piece of shit who was posturing for the crowd. I don't see how that makes you worthy of having a town square (among other things) named after you. It's the ultimate sign in a time when being a victim is a badge of honor - get a landmark named after you for no reason other than you were victimized by someone. I'm not a fan.
  • I see the same sort of sentiment in other places as well. Saw a sign the other day that said we should never forget 1/6/2021. Why? 9/11, never forget. Why do we want to remember the times when something bad happened? Importantly, it's not that we're remembering our reaction to the thing...it's remembering the thing itself. Remembering the Alamo at least was remembering how the few fought against the many. It's inspirational on some level. But remembering 1/6/21 or 9/11? Remember that time you got punched in the dick and were crying on the sidewalk for 10 minutes! Yeah, makes a lot of sense.
  • I used to like Ellen Page a lot. But now I just see her as a fraud or, at best, someone who is mentally unwell. When she came out on Ellen's show she claimed to be so happy and she could finally be who she is and all that. Everyone pretty much knew it already, but whatever, you're gay and out - good for you. Now she says she's a boy and claims she's known she was a boy since age 5. In the Oprah interview she really comes off as supremely unhappy and unwell still. I think this is going to be a Kirstie Alley type situation where she's up and down - not with her weight, but with her mental wellness and overall happiness. I don't see good things in the future.
  • One proposed fix to the SCOTUS is to implement term limits for SC justices. If people really believe in this idea then they should try to get it passed when Breyer retires under Biden's administration (likely this year). Otherwise you're just a bullshit artist. Either it's a good enough idea to start now or it's just bullshit. "Hey guys I think we should jump off this bridge, but you guys should do it first." vs. "Hey guys I think we should jump off this bridge and I'll be the first to do it."
  • Same goes for the unity talk. You can't give a victory speech and call for unity. Of course the winner wants everyone to unite behind him/her. Do it when you lose. Lose to Trump and say, hey he's our president and I look forward to working with the guy. Otherwise it's just more bullshit talk from a bunch of phonies.

  • 5/1/21 (14:23)

  • This is an old one, but it may be my favorite meme.


  •  

    4/20/21 (20:36)

  • Was going to write about the Chauvin trial, but didn't get around to it on time. I was certain he would be guilty of something, but I thought it was basically a 50/50 on whether it would be all 3 counts. Sometimes this stuff depends upon specific jury instructions and how the judge frames things. There are many cases you'll see where the jury says afterwards that they thought a person was guilty of x, y, and z, but that the instructions limited them to only find guilt on x and y because of something that is essentially a technicality.
  • I'm happy with the outcome. It minimizes the likelihood of more rioting and it sends at least some small signal that you can't just do whatever you want just because you're an agent of the government.
  • I mentioned that the anti-racist crowd enforces the "one drop" rule more than anyone, but I forgot to include the KKK. So, yeah, they're in good company I guess. I've come to this same conclusion in a different way before. Essentially finding that David Duke and Ta-nehisi Coates are different sides of the same coin. The coin is the problem, not the sides.
  • It made sense when Republicans and the religious right were the ones who were the cultural puritans. Today it's cancel culture, wokism, and the left.
  • I'm hoping that by pointing out all these contradictions, inconsistencies, changing norms, lack of principles, etc. that I can convince some people that their ideas aren't as well thought out and enlightened as they might believe. And in coming to that conclusion they might question their beliefs about their "enemies" on the "other side."
  • This is more or less the evolution of my thinking. I had a lot of assumptions about the world. I had a superior attitude about being on the right side of things. But as I learned more facts it changed my views. If you learn more facts do they always confirm your beliefs or do they sometimes make you update your priors? If the former then I would argue you're either perfect or delusional. Julia Galef calls this the Scout Mindset, but it's just Bayesian reasoning. New facts contrary to your understanding of the world should shift your understanding. Unfortunately what a lot of people do is just change the facts.
  • So, for Trumpists this means that Trump losing means that he hasn't actually lost, he's just planning something. Or maybe it means that he didn't really lose because the reality is that the election was stolen.
  • For progressive types the Amazon unionization vote in AL wasn't a rebuke against organized labor (because such a thing is impossible since everyone wants to be in a union). Instead it was the result of sinister union busting by Amazon and the media overhyping the chances of the union when the fight wasn't really fought the right way. Again, it's not actually possible that the employees didn't want to unionize - there must be something else going on here. On the Media had a recent episode with a union organizer and these were her basic points. OTM, being pretty far left, didn't say anything critical of these arguments because they're complicit in the self-delusion.
  • The only thing worse than being an ideologue is being a party hack.
  • I found it odd that the media covered Biden pulling out of Afghanistan as a big deal. The way the media told the story is that Biden was finally ending the 20 year occupation of the country by committing to removal of our troops by 9/11 this year. Is that the basic story that you heard? The reality is that Trump had already committed to a total withdrawal by 5/1 of this year. So, depending upon what news you listen to, you either got the story that Biden extended from 5/1 to 9/11 or that Biden is going to be responsible for total withdrawal (without the context that Trump had already committed to an earlier withdraw). The latter story is much nicer for Biden and is the one I heard most on NPR and the left leaning podcasts that I listen to. It also is reinforced by some of the stories about Lindsey Graham and others disagreeing with the withdrawal. His disagreement with Biden makes it sound like it wasn't already part of the plan. The whole thing is idiotic.
  • Anyway, it's good to be out of there. I wish it happened earlier. We need everyone home working on our infrastructure and putting this country back together. Next time the UN or multi-national corporations have a war they want fought they can ask Germany and China to do it for them.
  • They did a guaranteed income trial in Stockton. Apparently they found that people had more money, more free time, and less stress as a result of giving them free money for a short period of time. This is the kind of ground breaking science that social scientists go to school for 8 years to achieve. It really is a wonder to behold the genius level intellect. Seriously, though, this isn't a very interesting study. It's a short term thing when we're concerned about long term costs/benefits. It's obvious that giving people money means they will have more money and time and less stress. It's not clear that giving them money is a good long term solution to any of the issues that concern us. There's no way this gives us any long term or macroeconomic data. Does giving everyone free money cause for inflation? Does it lower wages since businesses know the wage they pay is being subsidized by the government? Does it lower individual drive? Does it increase drop out rates? There are a million legitimate questions and none of them are answered by the Stockton case. It's a handout masquerading as science.
  • It should also be noted that many claim that the "slippery slope" argument is a fallacy. I disagree. It's an actual thing and everyone knows this instinctively. In the Stockton case I heard them explicitly say that a guaranteed minimum income or UBI (universal basic income) is just an extension of social security. Anyone who is pro choice understands that banning abortions after 30 weeks is a foot in the door to lowering that number...it's a slippery slope. Sure, it's an argument about a thing that might happen in the future, but calling it a fallacy implies that you can't argue about it because it's not the actual thing...you're arguing about another thing that may happen. But by banning abortions after 30 weeks or starting a social security program or whatever you are necessarily making the next step more likely to happen. It's just the way things work.
  • I've read a few Orwell books now and I like his non-fiction stuff. Finished Road to Wigan Pier today. It's interesting to see him compare Socialism and Fascism. He essentially thinks there are only those two options and so he says he prefers Socialism (Fascism is just Socialism by with tyranny, I think is what he says). His definitions and options seem pretty limited by today's standards. I like all his writings here and in other books where he talks about the common man and his travels. Homage to Catalonia and Down and Out in Paris and London are the others I've read.
  • The more I think about voter ID the less sympathetic I am to those who are up in arms about it. Just get an ID so you can open a bank account and vote and be a part of society. Don't bitch about it. Democrats should reform federal election standards and allow for voter ID, but for that concession DC should get representation, as should Puerto Rico. There should also be a national standard for maintaining the voter rolls and for voting machines, etc. hahaha, that'll never happen.
  • Imagine in your head the type of person who is arguing that voter ID is racist and an affront to Democracy and whatever other arguments they make. Now picture the type of person who is arguing for vaccine passports - that you need an ID that states you're vaccinated to go to the movies or whatever. Both these things are basically argued for by the same types of people, as far as I can tell.
  • I remember when W was president and there was all sorts of reporting about evangelical churches walking right up to the line, maybe even crossing it, about what qualifies as political speech. The reporting at the time was very critical of these churches that (they argued) were encouraging congregants to vote for Bush, thus jeopardizing their tax free status. These days I hear reports in Black churches about getting out the vote in GA or whatever and them talking about voter suppression and the like. These same reporters and media outlets seem to have no issue with "souls to polls" type church activity these days. But 16 years ago it was a big deal for them. Again, this is politics without principle. They look the other way when it's for their team. In the case of the Right, they actually seem consistent on this since I don't think I heard any argument against it when it was pro-Biden or Warnock or whatever.
  • It's interesting to see the media deal with Biden on the border issue. I've seen many of them go out of their way to talk about how it's a "seasonal" issue and how it'll always be an issue. None of the same talk that they gave when Trump had the same issues. They bend over backwards to talk about how difficult a situation it is to deal with the influx of migrants and how hard it must be for Biden. Can't say it's surprising. It'll be mostly soft balls for Biden.
  • Longmont Potion Castle is pretty great.
  • Remember that episode of the Simpsons when Homer learns that he can get whatever he wants by challenging everyone to a duel? At some point he's trying to get to the front of some line and he goes through every person in front of him..."duel. challenge. duel." as he works his way to the front. But at some point he gets to a Southern gentleman type guy who says he accepts the challenge and Homer freaks out because it was an empty threat the entire time. He knew no one would actually accept the challenge to a duel, but he was wrong. This is essentially how the filibuster works now. It's totally broken. You should have to actually roll up your sleeves and fight if you believe in something. Instead they just say they'll filibuster and it kills the bill. Total bullshit rule.
  • Household income by percentile.
  • Had my biggest loss in business the other day. Customer I've worked for many times before. He wanted a new countertop and backsplash in L shaped kitchen. New sink and faucet was part of this. Gave him the price and got on the calendar. Originally had planned on doing everything with my crew, but got really busy so I had the demo guy do the demo, the counter guy do the counter fabrication and installation, and then we did the backsplash and plumbing.
  • Demo was fine. Found a bad electrical splice buried in the wall and took care of it for no charge. Didn't even mention it to him. Counter guy comes in and does the install. I look at it and notice it's off the wall about 1/4" on the long part of the "L." Not great, but we can hide it with caulking that goes along the base of the backsplash and it'll look acceptable. I have Antonio do the backsplash and assume that the job is done. Get a text the next day saying that he's concerned because the counter is about 5/8" off where it should be on the long part of the "L." Usually the counters overhang the cabinet box by 1-1.5". In this case it was about 1.25" on the left and only 5/8" on the right. I'd guess that 85% of people wouldn't notice this, but he did. I didn't notice it when I looked at the job after the counter guy was done. Usually with counters I'm concerned with the sink cut out and the seam. The seam was tight and had no lippage. The sink cut out had a very acceptable and even reveal so I was happy (other than the gap I saw between the wall and the very end of the counter). I went to look at the job and saw the issue. I also saw that Antonio didn't clean up the job site very well so I vacuumed and wiped everything down. Talked to customer and explained that there's no easy fix for this aesthetic issue. His cabinets are farther off the wall than usual. Generally the face of the cabinet is 24" from the wall. In this case it was more like 24.75" because the cabinet was shimmed a lot because the wall isn't straight.
  • As a result of the wall not being straight and the cabinet being deeper than usual, the counter installer made the (unilateral and incorrect) decision to bring the counter closer to the cabinets instead of maintaining the proper overhang. I think he did this because he cut it too short (hence the gap on the long part of the "L") and isn't terribly bright. He didn't talk to me about it, he just did whatever he thought was best, or easiest. So, now the customer wants to redo the whole counter (which essentially means redoing the entire job, including the backsplash) over 5/8".
  • This kind of shit just kills me. It's not even the thousands of dollars I'll have to eat as a result of this...it's the fact that 99.9% of the world population would be thrilled to have these counters and backsplash. A working sink with the reverse osmosis water filtration system that was a bitch to set up with a garbage disposal. A beautiful backsplash that looks and works as intended. There's absolutely nothing about the job that doesn't function as intended. It's 100% aesthetic. It's also a job that is 95%+ done right. And he wants me to pay for everything to be redone. I want him to pay for new material and I'll pay for the labor.
  • After a bit of back and forth I asked what it would take for me to just wipe my hands of the job and he said he wants me to pay for everything. I stupidly paid for the materials out of pocket already. So, the way it resolves itself is that I paid for the materials and I ate all the labor. The counter guy doesn't want to give me any money back or anything so I'm out several thousand bucks because the customer wanted a perfect counter and wouldn't accept anything less. I understand the position, but I don't agree with it.
  • This is the cost of doing business. It's also how contracts get longer and longer and how people turn into hard asses about everything. That's the effect of this kind of crap. I want to live in a world where the contract is just so everyone is on the same page about what is included/excluded. It should just be a ledger of the work to be performed. It shouldn't be a gotcha mechanism. But you slowly get beaten down by the 20% of customers who are difficult and you tailor your contract to avoid the downsides of dealing with those types of people. Almost every line in my contract has a story...either a school of hard knocks story from me or from someone else who learned the hard way. And this is how society slowly falls apart and doesn't trust each other. People being picky fucks about every little thing.
  • Should he pay full price? No. But it was his fucked up wall and overly shimmed cabinets that I couldn't have seen beforehand. And you'd think that a person could live with a counter that's 5/8" off if they got a $1000 discount or $2000 or $3000 or $4000, but no dice. This is the kind of stuff I want to be done with. I want customers who are thankful, not entitled.
  • Now, here's a couple on the other side. I go to the counter guy and he's a stone wall. "Sorry boss the wall was messed up. I'll tell you next time." So I'm done working with him.
  • The other one is for a paint job. Property manager I work with has a painter so I used his guy for some patches and paint in two rooms. I tell him it needs to be done by this week and text him the colors and he says ok. Then he says he'll get it done over the weekend and I can schedule cleaners for Monday. I look at it Monday and nothing has been done. I tell him it needs to be done by Tuesday because tenants move in Wednesday (a lie - tenants move in Thursday, but I want wiggle room in case he fucks up again). Sure enough, he texts me pictures today and he didn't use the right colors. I ask if he can do it with the right colors and he says he doesn't have time. So, now I have to repaint it myself. He sends me the bill for the full amount. I write back telling him I'll have to repaint so can you adjust the invoice. He says "The work is done and all tuch ups are done  the paint an all walls were match and repainted." So this is my life. I'll probably end up paying his whatever he's invoiced me for and never using him again. It's difficult to find reliable people.
  • In the ongoing saga of Edwin learning how the world works...I have been giving him some weekend paint work at a condo. Give him the keys and tell him what to do to see how he handles it. I go there today to check the job and let the flooring guys in. All the ground floor windows are wide open. Luckily no one removed a screen and stole my tools, but I wasn't happy. Went to the next job and told him what happened and that he needs to go home. I don't have anymore work for him today. His brother Antonio says he understands and asks if I can take the money out of his paycheck instead and keep him there today. I say he has to learn and I've tried telling him things but he never remembers. Antonio is going to be his brother's keeper I guess so we'll see how it goes. I'm a nice boss, but leaving a job site unsecured isn't something I can accept. Unsafe if someone lives there and an invitation for the thieves who have have gotten me more times than I can remember.
  • Other part of that job was that the flooring guys got there and they said they couldn't work. "We didn't know we had to do the demo." Well, it's on the contract and I talked to the owner of the company, who walked the job with me, about it so...Long story short they'll get it done this week, but they came totally unprepared for the work at hand because no one can do their job (including me if you ask the counter guy).
  • The tenant requests have been really entitled and nitpicky lately as well. Closet rod that broke and the woman said "Please come to replace the rod holder. I would expect this to come at no cost to us tenants."
  • Another one was a guy asking us to replace light bulbs because he didn't know how (they are the 4-pin kind that pull out, not twist out).
  • I'm also seeing people follow up a lot more quickly than before. It used to be that you could wait 2-3 weeks before contacting a tenant for a minor issue (though I usually contacted them much sooner than that). Now, though, they need to be contacted in a day or two or else they complain. People are used to apps delivering their food in an hour, so why aren't all my maintenance requests leading to a contractor at my door within 24 hours?
  • How do I nicely explain to these people that the world doesn't revolve around them and that I'm already working 10-12 hours a day? I hate people.
  • Vaccines being suspended in Germany and Spain and more. Looks like an overreaction overall. Probably a good sign that they're taking the issue seriously. I think the anti-vaccine crowd should take this as proof that the powers that be are willing to do the right thing if necessary. Instead it will probably just be used as an example of vaccines being bad. The issue I have with all these vaccines is the new method that is relatively untested. We just don't have any long term data on mRNA type vaccines. We may suspect that there's nothing to fear, but that doesn't mean much quite frankly. Thalidomide comes to mind. We just don't know what we don't know.
  • Try to listen to NPR for more than 2 minutes without hearing something about gender or race. During the week I think it's almost impossible. On the weekend they still have some programs that aren't seeped in that stuff. Actually a fun game.
  • Listening to NPR the other day and they had a thing about international women's day or something. The guests were talking about how men should be allies by walking on the other side of the street if they see a woman walking alone at night. This is because of a supposedly justified fear women have of men regardless of your intentions as a man. I mean...just think about the implications of this. And I'm not distorting it because it needs no distortion (and because I try my best not to). It's a remarkable thing to say on a mainstream program and to say it with a straight face and to have everyone essentially agree with this....pretty amazing stuff.
  • Because I don't want to just leave it there, I'll spell it out a bit. 77% of violence against women comes from someone they know (old data, but I doubt it's changed much). So that B.S. about a stranger needing to cross the street?...maybe have your ex boyfriend cross the street before you start telling me what to do, because he's the one you should fear. Then again, this is just a fact and we don't have room for those, right? Notably, 50% of violence against men comes from strangers so I should actually be more afraid of strangers than the average woman. 2 million acts of stranger perpetrated violence against men vs. 800k against women. So, do fact still matter or are we going to be the anti-science party now because International Women's Day is our thing?
  • Okay, let's say all that data is just bullshit government propaganda. Would we apply the same logic to Blacks? Since Blacks commit more crime than whites should they cross the street so I don't feel uncomfortable? I think it's useful to replace "man" with "Black" on these issues and see how it changes things. Often it's quite acceptable to say some B.S. like this when it's against men, but when you change it to a minority then people start using their brains a little and may rethink things.
  • I wrote the other day about being called nigger by a crazy lady. A week ago I was waiting for my electrician and a woman was walking down the street and she said "I need some money from the China man in the funny suit...and that's you." She stopped right in front of me. I was trying to be on my phone hoping she would ignore me, but it didn't work. Apparently the China man was me. She got right in my face and started talking some gibberish and reached for my face. I leaned back and told her not to touch me. She walked away and cursed at me. TIO. Ever since Blood Diamond and the K'Naan song introduced me to T.I.A. (This is Africa) I have adopted it for Oakland. Just another day in Oakland when I'm called a China man and a crazy lady tries fucking with me.
  • On the other end of the spectrum this is just a couple blocks from where a woman offered to suck my dick. Unfortunately I think she probably would have wanted some money as part of this, so it wasn't as flattering as it would have otherwise been.
  • One of the issues that came up with the Amazon union vote was the workers were urinating in water bottles. This was seen as an awful affront to basic humanity by intelligentsia commenting on the story. They were shocked. BFD. I'll just say that I've been on many jobsites (especially when drywallers are involved) where this is the norm. Drywallers are notorious for this because they are often paid by the board. I'll also add that the number of times I've pissed in my water bottle is too numerous to count. Often in traffic while stuck on the bridge. Just gotta remember to empty it out before going to get something to drink the next morning...
  • Schools aren't sites of big spreading events. Schools where only teachers are showing up have the same rate of transmittance and infection as schools where kids are also there. Elementary schools are better than high schools. Again, facts and science don't matter unless we're talking about things we're interested in like climate change.
  • Why are we encouraged to prepare for some things and not others? Which of the following things should we prepare ourselves for? Earthquakes, hurricanes, other natural disasters, losing our job, being assaulted by someone, being robbed, being raped. There are some who would prepare for all these things. The local media will do stories on preparing yourself for natural disasters, but I don't see stories on the other things. There are specific books, etc. that will focus on preparing yourself for financial issues or self defense. Overall, though, it seems like preparation is limited and I'm not sure what they base these limitations on.
  • The girls have been doing soccer classes for the last few months. One time one of the administrators of the program came up to us and told us that Zoe had one of the best coaches in the country. I thought this was ridiculous. Who the hell is ranking coaches for 7 year olds? How does one rank coaches for 7 year olds? This is smoke being blown up my ass. I wonder if he believed it or if it was purely marketing.
  • We live in a very trendy time. From things like Crocs and barefoot running to the software that everyone uses...ICQ, AIM, Snap, Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, Periscope, Clubhouse, Vine, TikTok, Discord, Twitch, Twitter...they all ebb and flow. I don't take the monopolies very seriously since they are so ephemeral. Competition truly is a click away. Anti-Facebook type will argue against this, but when you see how quickly people go from one way of talking to each other to another it's amazing the churn rate just in the last 20 years. Sure, it's a problem if Facebook just buys them all up, but that's more an argument against allowing for mergers (don't forget Obama admin approved Facebook buying IG) than it is for some big legislation or breaking the companies up. People are fickle and it's so easy for people to go from platform to platform that I don't think we should over react.
  • I remember when the Facebook IPO was seen as overvalued. NPR put people on the radio who were complaining that they bought at too high a price and felt like they were duped. Poor them. It's called investing. It's a risk. What part don't you understand? Are these same people shedding tears now that the stock is worth 10x what it was at the IPO? Maybe NPR should follow up with these sad sacks who were complaining then and see how they feel now. Give me a break. Shitty reporting.
  • If Facebook disappeared tomorrow do you think everything would be better or do you think another firm would be doing the same shit (gathering your information and selling it to advertisers) the next day to fill that vacuum?
  • How much of another person's job should I be required to do to expect a suitable outcome? I could have one person work for me and I do essentially all the work while I watch every move they make. It would be harder for me physically and I'd make less money, but I would have 95% control and could minimize issues like counters not being installed correctly or wrong colors being painted on the walls. The painter I like to use has raised his prices so much that I almost never use him anymore unless it's a high budget job.
  • I've said before that the best customers are the ones whose budget and expectations are aligned. Many people, though, want something cheap and amazing. Oh, and they want you to start next week. Maybe I should start every client interview with the project triangle discussion. If they don't understand the concept then I should just walk away.

  • 4/16/21 (17:42)

  • Well, I was touching upon the fall of society a bit yesterday so let's continue that today.
  • Meryl was in SF today and saw a drive-by. Don't think anyone died, this time.
  • I was in Berkeley and saw two guys chase down another guy and beat him up.
  • I contacted a tenant about some maintenance work she wanted done and asked her schedule for next week. She replied back "Monday?" and I replied that I can be there 8am on Monday. She replied back "Omg lmao any other slots?,," (sic). I gotta find a way to stop dealing with these people. It's just bad for my mental health.
  • Oakland homicides are up 215% this year from the same time last year. If homicides are up it's usually a bellwether for other crimes also being up. The difference with homicides is that they actually get reported, unlike the assault I saw earlier or the many property crimes that people don't even bother with anymore. I've been optimistic in the past, but I think we're living in a failed city at this point. The ideology that has cut police funding by $25 million amidst a pandemic and civil unrest isn't exactly operating on all cylinders.

  • 4/15/21 (20:47)

  • One thing I've found about pundits and the media especially, but probably people broadly, is that they dig until they find what they're looking for. So, some (let's call them R's) might see Bin Laden and draw some quick conclusions based upon a very superficial analysis of his look and ideology. They might say that Bin Laden and his group are bad people with bad ideas and a bad religion. Others (let's call them D's) see the same thing, but they might look into his personal history and the history of his people and region and, though they may not let him off the hook, they might have a variety of reasons for his behavior - or at least for the behaviors of many of his followers. "They are just disaffected youth without opportunities, they're freedom fighters, etc."
  • Then you have the Proud Boys. Those D's might look at them and draw some quick conclusions based upon a very superficial analysis of their look and ideology. They might say that the Proud Boys are bad people with bad ideas and a bad religion. Others (let's call them R's) see the same thing, but they might look into the personal history of the Proud Boys and might have a variety of reasons for their behavior. "They are just disaffected youth without opportunities, they're freedom fighters, etc."
  • Anyway, something to consider. How much do you dig when presented with a narrative?
  • I prefer to dig as far as I can to find something approximating the truth. I think we have a crisis in this country of man boys. Boys who haven't become men. Boys looking for a fight. Warriors without a war. Couple that with the parenting epidemic I've written about and an educational system that is in complete shambles and you get a bunch of idle and gullible hands looking for something to do. Mix that with a media that has completely failed and someone like Trump and you get the Proud Boys. Maybe if our educational system worked none of this would happen. Maybe if the media was worthy of trust none of this would happen. etc. etc. etc.
  • Watching a Frontline documentary on the capitol insurrection. Frontline has really jumped the shark with this one. Really over-wrought and dramatic. Clearly they are looking for a narrative and juicy content, rather then looking for a story with depth. It's a very superficial look at the modern militia movement. AC Thompson is the lead on the story and his agenda is pretty clear here and his other Frontline work. Not only is it a superficial look at a disturbing rise of right wing militias, but it also marks an overly stylized way of filmmaking. The interviews with UC Berkeley reporters, for example, look very staged and planned. The reporters are on the verge of smiling in their glee to talk about the evil of the militias. The music is overly dramatic. Every question framed with a certain answer in mind. The handheld camera work is like something out of an action feature film. At one point they're following the Proud Boys holding guns while they're walking around a city and the narration is talking about the Boogaloo Boys' potential for violence. Meanwhile, in the background there are boarded up windows with spray paint on them that reads "A.C.A.B." Did they not see this in the background? Did they not see the irony in this shot? It's right there - the subject of your film in the foreground (armed men being idiots) while in the background a clear symbol of other idiots with a different agenda. Let me spell it out. The boarded up businesses are boarded up because of BLM and Antifa rioting. The ACAB stands for "all cops are bastards" and it's largely associated with the George Floyd protests. Tunnel vision.
  • Masculinity hasn't been doing so hot lately. "Toxic masculinity" is a widely used term these days. Some think this is redundant (because all masculinity is toxic) and others are less misandric and say that only some types of behaviors associated with masculinity are deemed toxic. I think masculinity, like femininity, can be great when balanced out. Unfortunately we live in a state of Koyaanisqatsi (life out of balance) and so we are where we are. Masculinity is great for things like self-sacrifice or chivalry or forceful enforcement of norms or any number of other things. Part of masculinity is this desire to fight a war. It doesn't have to be a literal gun battle, but a physical struggle for something larger than yourself is something I think that is more likely to be engrained in men than women. Sometimes it leads to WW2 (oops) and other times it can be tapped into to end WW2 (yay). Yes, this is biological essentialism. No, I'm not saying that women don't have this desire. Part of what I'm seeing, and what I see in some of the young men I work with on the jobs, is that they have this desire in them...they don't have role models...they don't have an outlet for this desire and so they get into fights, they disparage women to feel better about themselves (after all what is their life if they have no purpose?) and society suffers greatly as a result. So, yeah, in a way men (and masculinity) are the cause of a lot of problems in society, but this is the digging thing I mentioned above...if you don't want to dig any deeper then you're left with masculinity is bad for society. But, if we're being honest, nothing exists in a vacuum. These boys who haven't grown up may have been coddled by a society that is increasingly feminine. Toxic femininity might be the over-developed desire to nurture and help and enable everyone. Sounds great until you raise a kid who can't take care of himself because his mother did everything for him, for example. Take that to the state level and you have a nanny state, the coddling of the American mind, the lack of self-esteem that leads to being weak and fragile, etc.
  • I've said it a million times before - you need a left wing and a right wing to fly. Yin and yang and all that. Femininity and masculinity need to be in balance just like everything else.
  • One thing that's interesting these days is that the Trans community is perhaps the biggest defender of gender roles in society...certainly in academia and amongst the intelligentsia. If I say that men care about things and women care about people then I'd get fired from Google (James Damore reference). If I were Trans, though, it would me just reaffirming why I felt like a woman trapped in a man's body. I care about feelings and people more so I feel like a woman and so I identify as a trans woman. It sure seems as though the trans community is upholding those norms more than anyone else these days, which is odd because I feel like just 5-10 years ago those norms were considered patriarchal.
  • This is very similar to the anti-racist crowd that claims that Barack Obama is definitely Black. He's not biracial because of the one drop rule. It's odd because the one drop rule is a rule imposed by racists and yet the anti-racists are the ones holding onto it more than anyone else.
  • We're living in a topsy turvy world.
  • The Left has "speak YOUR truth." The Right has "alternative facts."
  • Apu hasn't been on the Simpsons for a while and I think he's gone from the show forever at this point. What exactly was "problematic" about that character? The fact that a white guy did the voice? The stereotypical occupation? I, for one, liked Apu. I always thought he was treated with respect - he's not just a big dummy like Homer or Ralph or Nelson or Barney. He's an entrepreneur and, the fact is, that many people of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent are in that line of work. Nothing wrong about it. Odds are relatively good that the owner of a mini-mart (or [even better] motel) will be of similar descent.
  • One thing that I don't do as a parent is blow smoke up my kids' asses. No, you're not a perfect angel descended from heaven. You, like all of us, are a work in progress. To me, you're perfect, but this doesn't mean you know it all or are great at everything or that everything you do is thrilling to me. Yes, you can do wrong. It's my job to teach you what wrong is. What things are desirable and what things are not. What your priorities should be and what's a waste of time. This notion that kids are somehow great without doing anything is actually harmful in my opinion. I support you, of course, but you gotta do something great in order to be great. Otherwise I'm just lulling you into thinking you're better than other people or that greatness is free. What kind of parenting is that? What happens when that kid gets into the real world and no one knows them or gives a shit about them and they realize that they're average at most things (if they're lucky)? I'm playing the long game.
  • Paul Krugman was on the Ezra Klein show a while back and they talked about the stimulus money from Biden. Both of them talked about the $2000 checks and how it wouldn't lead to inflation, etc. Krugman won a Nobel Prize in Economics, but he somehow missed (several times) - and Ezra neglected to correct him - the fact that the check from Biden is actually $1400 (maximum, for those who qualify). This is aggravating.
  • In that same discussion they talked about Solyndra and claimed that the perceived problem with the Solyndra case was that Solyndra took government money and failed. They said that the government should do more of these Venture Capital type deals because it's good for innovation, etc. No, the problem wasn't that the government was backing businesses in the way that VC firms typically do, it's that they did so with a company (Solyndra) that had people who gave money to Obama's campaign. This is a clear pay for play or quid pro quo type of arrangement. Did these two super geniuses (they are both legitimately very bright) just misunderstand the problem or are they being willfully ignorant? Hmm. I mean, I expect this shit from Hannity and Young Turks, but not Ezra Klein...though he has been declining in my book lately. And Krugman has long been a party hack.
  • This is from Warnock's actual Twitter page. This has always been implied by those who offered this carve out or that benefit, but it's galling just how blatant and naked it is here. And this is the better of the two parties...we're fucked.

  • SF seems to attract a certain type of person. One of those types is the nosy neighbor. On a few occasions I have had random people walk into a house I'm working on and starting looking around. These aren't agents who are showing the place, or friends of the owner, or contractors looking for me or anything like that. It's just random people from the neighborhood who feel entitled to walk into someone else's home and look around and even comment on the work we are doing. The other day an old lady was walking around on the stairs where I had drop cloths laid down. She very well could have tripped and fallen. I would have probably been screwed as a result of this. I just don't understand these people.
  • I've never had this happen in Oakland. In Oakland the most I've had is people ask to see a unit I'm working on when they live in the same building. But in those cases they have asked instead of just walked in.
  • When COVID first got started I thought one consequence was going to be a move towards a cashless society. Thankfully that move hasn't been too hard. There's been the coin shortage and some businesses not wanting to take cash, but I thought we could see something from the government about it and that didn't happen so that's good and I was wrong about it.
  • Another thing I thought might happen was that once the vaccine came out there would be a more widespread move towards a two tier society where those with vaccines can do x, y and z and those without couldn't. I've heard talk about a "vaccine passport," but so far I haven't seen widespread adoption of such an idea. We'll see where it goes. With the power of the teachers' unions I'm wondering if it'll be another mandatory vaccine for kids.
  • I haven't talked about the schools much during this other than to point out several months ago that the unions essentially didn't want to come back until the pandemic was over. They're demands at the time were essentially equivalent to that, without stating it outright, and that hasn't changed much. I really don't see why teachers aren't essential workers. Why did they get  pass on everything while I (and grocery clerks and gas station attendants and UPS drivers and cops and and and and) had to go to work every day? The simplest answer is that the unions are very strong and the people in government are weak willed. Science has backed up keeping schools open for a long time, but that didn't matter to the Democrats who are the party of science. Typically the party keen to point out all the ways that America sucks and Europe has it all figured out, turned a blind eye to the many European countries that chose to keep schools open and close the bars and bra shops.
  • One of Gandhi's seven social sins is politics without principle. Neither party, neither wing seems to really have principles anymore. It's just whatever is politically expedient.
  • We all know about the compound effect in a mathematical or financial context...a little money now compounds to a lot later in life. But there's also the compound effect in life. A book by the same name lays it all out pretty well. It's kind of a self-help book and is a sorta cheesy compilation of wisdom about how to live a good and successful life. But there's also the compound effect in society. You could even call it a butterfly or domino effect...the mistakes of people in an interconnected society affect others and that affects still others. Lately I've been sensing a lot of this from COVID or something. A lot of people and companies making a lot of mistakes and it has affected my ability to do my job and it causes stress and that affects my ability to do an unrelated job. For example, I order blinds online all the time...the company didn't ship the proper hardware. I contacted them and they resent the hardware (so I had to wait a week to finish the job) and then when the hardware came they only gave me half (need two pieces per blind, they only sent one per blind). So these effects compound into time lost on other jobs and less work billed and that leads either to less money for me or higher prices for me to offset the inefficiencies of my suppliers. The blinds example is the latest, but even earlier today I went to two different HD locations to get something I needed (the app said both locations had some in stock) and both locations were actually sold out. Their inability to keep accurate inventory count stole an hour of my time...an hour I would have spent with my daughters. How many hours a year do my suppliers steal from me? Accident happen, but it seems like accidents are piling up a lot more the last 6 months especially.
  • It seems like the groups of people we're feeling sorry for seem to be getting smaller and smaller...and I suppose that's a sign of progress. I'm wondering what the next groups are. Fat shaming is already not allowed. I've started to hear a bit more about Lookism as a thing...I expect that to be a bit bigger with time, but I think it's harder to enforce and mobilize than some of the other stuff like racism and fat-shaming. I'm not sure where it goes for people, but I'm sure they'll find another oppressed group soon enough. I think the next really big one will be animals, though. There will be a big anti-factory farm movement first and then that won't be good enough and it'll be a full on vegan anti-animal cruelty movement after that.
  • I heard a podcast the other day and the guest was remarking that the US has only been a real democracy since the Civil Rights Act. Which I'm sure he thought showed how woke he is. "Wow, he's so right to point out that we can't be a democracy if Black people can't vote, we suck!" Unfortunately it just shows his blinders and obliviousness. Felons still can't vote, children (24% of population) still can't vote, non citizen residents still can't vote, mentally insane people still can't vote. So, we're still not a democracy. Hopefully in 100 years his statue is torn down for being so callous and ignorant that he would simply forget about 30%+ of the population. What an asshole. Cancel this POS.
  • Is there a universal lived human experience or is everyone a unique snowflake? I don't think you can have it both ways.
  • I believe in the right to repair and am generally not a fan of companies like Apple or many car companies that purposely make it difficult to work on your own property.
  • Usually planned obsolescence is a bad thing for the environment and consumer, but sometimes planned obsolescence has its advantages. If you have a water heater from 1970 or a toilet from 1985 then you're locked into a technology that isn't efficient and so having a 10 year life cycle for the average water heater is actually a good thing for society.
  • By the way it's a water heater. Not a hot water heater. No point in heating hot water. And I've yet to see a sexy water heater.
  • Apparently Biden's dog had a bathroom accident in the White House. This was news. Someone went to college and studied journalism, graduated said school, and wrote a story about a dog taking a dump in the White House. The Hill (a serious publication) decided that this was newsworthy. How many more examples do I need to throw up on here to prove that the media is a bigger problem than the last president? Honestly, if I were this writer's dad I'd be disappointed.
  • Meanwhile there's this article from a day before the other one. It's about the separation of powers, the power of the president to use military force...you know just minor issues that I've discussed here before. This article received 5 shares and 11 comments. The dog article received 5,304 shares and 1000+ comments. We're fucked.
  • To be clear, I don't care if Biden's dog impregnates Putin's mom. I don't think the presidential family pets should ever receive any coverage.
  • Something like a third of millennial dads don't own a hammer. This might be a gendered situation where maybe the millennial moms own the hammer so there's still a hammer in the house in, at best, two-thirds of cases, but this can't be a good sign for the survival of the species. I have certainly found this is be supported in many of the house calls I've been on. People call for replacing light bulbs and some of the dumbest, most basic repairs. I've also found that if you don't respond to some people within a few hours then you'll get a follow up text or email. People seem habituated to apps and an on demand economy. "I get my sushi delivered to the door in 30 minutes why haven't you fixed my blinds yet?" "It's difficult living without blinds."
  • About 8 years ago I remember the media having to fact check Republicans who were claiming that the Civil War wasn't about slavery - it's about States' Rights! But in this topsy turvy world we now have the likes of Nikole Hannah-Jones being lauded for her claims that the Civil War wasn't about slavery. White Northerners wouldn't stick their neck out for such worthless cause, is her assertion. What a mixed up world we live in when both extremes believe the same b.s. What's worse is that when these ideas are put out by the Republicans you'll get Vox doing pieces on how stupid they are. But when NHJ says the same stuff it's crickets. She asserts and they affirm with their scared silence.
  • Abraham Lincoln is a bad guy these days I guess. Very strange time to be alive.
  • The tipped minimum wage has a racist history so let's abolish it. It's kind of a weird thing that people do where they go as far back as needed to find some bad root cause or association of a thing and then impugn its entire existence because of some portion of its past. They do this with the police as well. Because policing was once (in part) about stopping runaway slaves that means cops today are racists. Simplification of the basic argument, but there it is.
  • "Stand back and stand by" is what Trump said to the Proud Boys after he was pressed during a debate on the issue of inciting violence. This perfectly summarizes Trump on these issues. "Stand back" is exactly the kind of thing you would want to hear from a president. And then he immediately follows it up with "stand by," which is exactly the opposite of what you would want to hear. He did this frequently - despite assertions otherwise, he actually disavowed white supremacists probably more than any other politician ever (because he was asked about it more than anyone ever). Here's a compilation of him doing so in case you still believe he's never disavowed them. But the thing is, just like that "stand back and stand by," it kind doesn't matter that he says the right thing when he later says the wrong thing. "No offense, but you're fat fucking pig." This is his MO. No offense theoretically shields you in the future, but then when you're calling a person a fat fucking pig it doesn't much matter that you started with "no offense." So, yeah, give the devil his due - he's disavowed the KKK and others more than anyone else I can think of. He's done it in so many words and he's done it clearly and repeatedly. But then he says "stand by" and it's clear he's just talking to two different people in the same sentence so that both of them can find what they want in him.
  • Some speakers are very good at this. They will say things throughout a speech that may contradict each other or appeal to seemingly separate constituencies and, I think, they know that different people will latch on to different parts of the same speech and find the things they like and forget the things they don't like. Later, their campaign team will cut the speech up and have different parts delivered to different demographics in targeted ads. It's just the way things work.

  • 4/4/21 (12:45)

  • I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts. One thing you'll notice is there are a lot of them with female victims. Women aren't the biggest victims of crimes - men are. So why do these stories focus disproportionately on the women as victims? Is it because we like to think of men as predators, or of women as victims, or both? Does it just naturally make for a better story somehow? If so, how/why? There's one podcast that focuses on women criminals. I've said before that we'll only approach equality in our minds when we can view women as as bad as men - something that Kill Bill did very well. Or when we're comfortable with all those black protagonists that are in movies now as being the worst person in the movie. In the old days you would have the bad guys be black or gay and it was because of their otherness or perversion that they were killers. Now we're woke so to use those immutable characteristics as sources of evil is wrong. But until you can conceive of all people as being capable of both good and bad, then we can't have equality in our minds.
  • When I first saw Pho restaurants I assumed it was a noodle that was pronounced like "foe." In reality it's pronounced like "fuh." When I first realized that it wasn't long before I thought that there should be a place called Pho King (like fucking). Then I discovered that there is such a place and all was right in the world.
  • A good Asian steak and noodle place should be called Pho Lei Minh Yun. Like filet mignon.
  • Remember when the TX governor declared that the state was going to be wide open - no masks, etc. and everyone gave him a hard time. I took a snapshot of the cases and deaths numbers on that date and I'll follow up after it's been two months to see how that state fared relative to CA, FL and some other populous states. Not exactly a perfect experiment, but something to consider. What do we expect to see from TX vs. CA over those two months? Ask the average Democrat and they'll say that TX numbers will soar as a result. Ask the average Republican and they'll say it probably won't matter.
  • Relatedly, FL has been very open relative to CA during this time. Economically we would expect FL to be much closer to 2019 "normal" numbers in terms of their GDP and employment, etc. relative to CA, which as been much more cautious and shut down. From a pandemic standpoint you would expect a lot more lives lost in FL than in CA (as measured on a per capita basis). FL has an older population so you would expect the number of deaths to be quite a bit worse, actually. There are other factors as well, of course, but I'm not going to do graduate level research on this. I'm hoping to revisit these questions after the TX governor announcement is two months old to see how much that mattered and how much Newsom's approach vs. DeSantis's approach mattered.
  • Heard a stat the other day from David Shor - 5% of the population is white and college educated. More than 50% of Democratic campaign staffers are white and educated. These are the same people who lament the lack of diversity in media and call for reparations and have BLM lawn signs and all the rest that goes with the woke movement. Why don't 90% of them give up their jobs to someone who isn't college educated or white?
  • This brings me to another question about white people with college educations (like me). Why did you take a spot in college from a poor person of color and then not do anything with that education? Many of us (like me) got a political science degree and then used that to renovate houses for a living...or volunteer on the PTA or be a part time Etsy crafter or a house parent or, in some other way, not use our education. Aren't we part of the problem?
  • At the lumber yard the other day and I gave my receipt to the lot attendant who is supposed to pull the lumber and deliver it to your truck. He gets my lumber and then starts delivering it to another guy's truck...talking to him about where he wants it, etc. The guy finally looks confused and tells him it's not his stuff. I'm watching all this trying to catch his eye when he finally looks up and I wave him over. He says sorry, I say no biggie and load the lumber and move on. He was black and I am white. If the races were reversed this would be an example of racism (if I were so inclined to view it as such). It's scientifically established that people have a harder time identifying people outside of their race. Some true crime documentaries have focused on this fact when showing the inability to rely on eye witness accounts. So, there's science to back it up and it's not unreasonable to see the racial aspect to this if I were so inclined. So, should we reinforce this so people make the decision to see this as a sinister and insidious form of racism or should we just laugh this kind of thing off? Let's ask the Critical Race Theorist geniuses of Twitter to see which way our society should go with this microagression...
  • Forget where I heard the stat, but apparently more than half of Americans will spend at least a year in the top 10%. This is an aspect of the inequality talk that doesn't get enough attention...the fact that the same people are often all over the income scale - depending upon when you measure. Good scholars will look at this, but the media (and politicians) pretty much ignores it because it's too complicated. For example, I've been in the bottom 5% (I assume) for a couple years in my life when I made less than $6k/year. When I worked in OH as a park ranger I made $60/week (though I got a free room). Now I charge more than that an hour.
  • "A doctrine of black supremacy is as dangerous as a doctrine of white supremacy. God is not interested in the freedom of black men or brown men or yellow men."
  • Do you think that quote is racist? If you're told it comes from Trump then 50% of the people polled said it's racist. If you're told it comes from MLK then 2% think it's racist. What does that say about our critical thinking? I've pointed out before that the same thing happens with D vs. R issues. If a quote comes from a D and you're a D, then you're much more likely to agree with it, regardless of its content....and vice versa.
  • By the way, the quote comes from MLK.

  • 4/3/21 (13:40)

  • This is going to be a problem. I expect to see more dumping soon. Luckily it's not deck building season yet. Another well-intentioned government intervention that will likely lead to negative consequences. There's a creek near my house where people throw their refrigerators and car parts and now they'll throw their pressure treated lumber there as well....thereby doing more envrionmental damage than the alternative. It's important to consider alternatives, or ask "compared to what?" when making decisions like this. The left and right are both guilty of this. The right says let's have abstinence only education and the left says let's ban throwing away PT lumber. The result is that teens fuck without condoms or proper education and contractors dump their trash on the road (or in a creek which then further pollutes the water table).

  • 3/17/21 (18:41)

  • Bunch of videos out there of anti-maskers getting in trouble. Saw one of an old woman in Galveston who gets arrested in a bank for not wearing a mask. I'm not a fan of wearing masks and I'm not a fan of dumb rules, but this is what we have to do - for now. Further, when you're on private property it's the decent thing to do to follow their rules or leave - there are choices in life. She doesn't. She refuses to put on a mask or leave and so she's trespassing and arrested. Then she complains about police brutality (she resisted so the officer put her on her stomach to cuff her) and other customers in the bank say it's not brutality. Pretty good stuff. If she were Black I think it would be more fraught, but it's nice that she's white because then it makes for a nice, guilt free video about accountability. Play by the rules or get in trouble. Resist arrest and get in trouble. Pretty simple concepts that you should teach your kids.

  • 3/11/21 (21:02)

  • Trying to hire again. We'll see how that goes.
  • One of the guys who works for me is Edwin. He's from Guatemala. He's an average worker. He shows up on time and I trust him. Doesn't hustle a lot and doesn't grasp many things I try to teach him until after a while, but he's earnest and that's about all I expect these days. If you work hard, are honest and earnest then I can pretty much work with you. He's good enough as a helper. I think he'd rather be a tattoo artist, but you do what you have to do in another country to make ends meet so I respect that. So, I'm pretty much going to keep him around as long as he wants because I think he's holding up his end of the bargain as well as he can. When he fucks up, he feels bad about it and it's not because he doesn't care.
  • Part of my unwritten deal is that I don't mind giving small loans (no interest) to my guys. He's had to borrow money many times for this or that and he always pays it back eventually. It's much better than getting a payday loan and paying crazy interest. He's borrowed money for an immigration lawyer, rent, car trouble, etc. He has a Honda Pilot and it has a rear door that has blown struts. He'd always put a stick under it so it didn't fall down while he unloaded the back. A lot of these guys don't know much about the internet so I ordered him new struts.
  • My painter was the same way. He didn't want to deal with the internet and credit card and all that so I bought him a Festool sander and vacuum and he paid me back. Edwin also has two tires that are constantly losing air so I told him to come over my house the other day. I took the tires off, patched them (two nails), and rotated the tires because the wear was uneven.
  • Then Wednesday he was going real slow and his mouth was all swollen. I looked at his teeth and they looked pretty bad. He said he called the clinic and he has an appointment for next Saturday. I told him you need to get in there tomorrow. He said he wants to work. I said you can work Saturday and Sunday if you want, but you can't wait 10 more days (he didn't sleep the night before because the pain was bad). I told him to get clove oil (helps a lot with dental pain) and reschedule for tomorrow. So he does that. Next day he calls me and tells me it feels a lot better - one filling and two teeth pulled. The dentist needs another $400 (I gave Edwin $200 yesterday, but it wasn't enough). I call them up to give my credit card, but it's just some woman who doesn't know anything about it. Long story short, it's the "dentist's" wife. The "dentist" is a guy who was a dentist in his home country and does this kind of work on the side so he wants his cash today. So, I made that happen and Edwin will be back to work tomorrow. The "dentist" was recommended to Edwin by Moises (my old worker who moved back to Mexico) and apparently he does a decent job so hopefully Edwin won't have any infections or other complications.
  • I have a notepad where I jot down topics for the webpage so I can remember when I get in front of the computer (rare these days). I have one from a few months back that reads "Cuomo failure but they want as AG or Pres? Dems are stupid." I don't think I wrote enough about Cuomo and his failures...I guess there were other things to write about, but I did note in my 5/24/20 post that he didn't do a very good job in February. As my note indicates - I think he was largely a failure. If you look at the deaths per million number NY is #2 on the list (last I checked) and not far behind NJ. But because he gave press conferences people mistook his activity for achievement. This is another great quote by John Wooden - "don't mistake activity for achievement." Unfortunately, this is what most people did. Cuomo gave press conferences wherein he blathered on and on about how much Trump sucked. He also said (as I remember) that COVID could stay alive on surfaces for months (no one of good repute ever claimed this to be true as far as I can tell). He said that he needed 30K ventilators when it turned out those weren't that important after all. Basically, I never bought his bullshit. He's like Newsom - very full of himself and eager to show off how important he is. I'm sure they both get goosebumps thinking about how important they are in these critical times.
  • As it turns out, he's even more of a douche than I realized. The made up quotes from made up people. The sexual misconduct allegations. The lies and manipulation with the elderly homes. Never trusted him. Then he comes out with a fucking book about how great he was and the left wing media get behind him in full force, granting him interviews all over the place. I remember hearing the interview on KQED and throwing up in my mouth. Fuck this guy.
  • Saw the Frontline documentary about COVID and China. Reinforces the idea of a China virus, not a European one (as Cuomo claimed). Also reveals that they knew it was a respiratory virus in early January. Overall a lot of withheld information from them. This is one reason why I got so upset early on when the NYT and other seemed to revel in the fact that the US had more cases than China. 1. It's annoying that the media loves rubbing the our collective nose in shit. 2. It assumed that China's numbers were even close to accurate. 3. Of course you can stop a virus when you don't care about personal liberty.



  • 3/8/21 (21:37)
  • Working as much as ever, but not sure I'm making as much money as I could. The business has changed a lot the last couple years...whereas before we were doing a lot of work on big renovations, now I'm doing a lot of unit turnovers and handyman type stuff. Keeping me very busy, but hard to say if it's as profitable as it should be.
  • I think these jobs are leading to a lot of unbilled work on my part, which goes largely unaccounted for. So, when I do my post mortems things look good, but partly because the post mortems take into account time spent in the field by me and the guys.
  • Another thing is that much of my mindset has been thinking about hourly wage, but I think I should be thinking more about net total daily, weekly, monthly.
  • Been getting beat up on price a fair amount lately as well. I was hoping that the property management jobs would be relatively free of back and forth and haggling, but that hasn't proven to be true.
  • Shoulder, elbow, and wrist hurt every day now.
  • There's a reason being a contractor is a tough gig. Hard on the body, beat up on price, some people don't trust you, some people don't value what you do, competing against guys who will say whatever it takes to get the job, etc. Overall, not easy. I think relationships are probably the most important part of the business. Knowing the right subs. Cultivating the right client base. Knowing the right people who can help on a temporary basis. Keeping employees happy. You don't want to deal with tire kickers all day. You don't want to do work for people who say things like "I could do it myself, I just don't have the time."
  • Contracting is like many things in that people can figure it out themselves if they are so inclined. It's not always about knowing how to install a sink or paint a room. It's about doing so properly, efficiently, and for money that makes you a contractor. Most handy-ish people can do many of the individual things I do on a daily basis if they take the time to educate themselves and buy or rent the applicable tools.
  • I like to learn so that I can do things. Other people like to do things so that they can learn. The doing is the end, the learning is the means.
  • If I told you in October that the election would be called "the most secure election in history" you would have guessed that Trump won and his people were blowing smoke up our collective ass. You would have guessed that Trump had stolen the election and that voter suppression was rampant. Right? Instead, it was Biden winning. Pretty funny times we live in.
  • Listening to the NYT Daily podcast a while back and a science reporter was on talking about the vaccine. She said that the trials have barely begun so we don't know if they are safe in kids yet, for example. The host asked if she would get her kids vaccinated and she said that she believes in science so, yes, she would get them vaccinated. Is it just me or are people really blinded by the ideology of this vaccine stuff? She just spent the last few sentences talking about how the science wasn't in and then she says she trusts the science. Science is about collecting data and interrogating it towards as much certainty as possible. That's not the situations she described with the vaccines that are available. What she's describing is faith. She has faith in scientists. The science isn't in yet...much less settled. She has faith. And, hey, that's fine enough. These are smart people and they developed these vaccines very quickly and did a great job. In the long run, we'll see how it turns out. So far, I'm not seeing much to be worried about. But absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.
  • Read Siddhartha the other day. One interesting part was when he was talking about a communist idea that each person gives what they can. This seems to be glossed over by many of today's pseudo-communists who just seem to want more stuff with less work. In the book he says that he's able to give fasting so he goes without food because he has nothing else to give. I can almost get behind this because at least it's a person who is taking some responsibility and seriously dealing with the the notion that each person should give what they can to the common cause. Much more likely is the communist who has nothing to give so they become a communist so others will give to them. It is odd that you never find a communist who has good shit they are willing to part with. I remember Vern taking food from me and Jon and then he said we could take any of his food. As I remember it, we both told him at the same time that he didn't have anything we wanted so he should just eat his stuff and we'll eat ours.
  • Apparently there's been an uptick in anti-Asian racism lately. I don't think KQED got the best examples, however, because the first two people on the radio talking about it were recalling stories of people who were clearly mentally ill saying racist shit like "go back to China." Obviously this shouldn't happen, but shouldn't we also consider the source? I was walking in Berkeley once and I looked at a woman and she then yelled at me and called me a nigger. I mean, this is just funny, right? Regardless of my race or the words she used...she's nuts. It doesn't warrant anything more than a chuckle. Just another day in the bay area.
  • Don't pave the jungle, put on better boots.
  • Why is it that some people constantly remind us of the racist history of our country's past, but these same people then insist on scrubbing that history from cartoons, films, and, now, Dr. Seuss books? I've got some Droopy cartoons, or maybe it was another Tex Avery cartoon, wherein they give a disclaimer at the beginning that these cartoons may offend, but they are from a different time and yada yada yada. Why can't that be the response? This is the populism run amok on the left. Cancel culture has led to removing books and other art. Rage Against the Machine have a lyric that goes "they don't have to burn the books, they just remove them." All the leftist stuff I grew up with like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 was about controlling information and censoring things. We fought against the PMRC and banned book lists. Now we have this shit coming supposedly from the woke. When I was young I thought that this was the kind of thing only the religious right, conservatives, and Republicans did. Things have totally flipped. If you listen to Jello Biafra today then you'd think he was part of the Right.
  • Something that really confounds me is why people aren't making the police killings issue a more bipartisan, biracial one. Why make it just about black people? Seems like you're really limiting your potential audience if you don't talk about Trevor Seever or Tony Timpa or all the white people who are killed by police every year. If you made it about abuse of police power I would suspect that you could get more small government types on board with the issue. I guess the answer is that it's not really about police killing people. It's about mistreatment of black people and police killing people is the lever to activate that cause.
  • 6 paragraphs before they get to the numbers: 135 unarmed black people killed since 2015...6 years so that works out to 22.5 per year. The more you look into the numbers, the more it leaves you scratching your head. The article goes on to point out that several of these cases were repeat offenders. So, not a systemic case of racist cops hunting black people down like Lebron indicates, more an example of nut jobs who become cops and are then protected by shitty police unions and police chiefs. I'm 100% behind fixing that problem. I haven't bought into the "black people are literally being hunted everyday we step foot outside the comfort of our homes" idea, however.
  • If you care about black people and disenfranchisement it seems a good thing would be to help them get IDs. It's a hedge against disenfranchisement. It's also a critical step towards getting a job, traveling by plane, getting a bank account, etc. All these things currently require ID and would greatly enhance a person's ability to function in society. Instead, the thing I see are people fighting against ID laws for voting. I guess that's fine, but can we help these people get ID also? Make it easier to get ID (make government work, lower fees, etc.). And literally help individuals get ID by telling them what the steps are and following through with help (information, support, $). I hear all these stories about people who don't have IDs and they're afraid they won't be able to vote. I can't help but think that they probably have bigger problems if they're living without ID.
  • Relatedly, this is another area where there could be bipartisan support if people were so inclined to look for it. Make government fees much lower. Getting an ID can be expensive for poor people. There should be caps at every level on how much the government can charge for the things it requires of its citizens. Libertarians and small government types would likely support this and liberals would as well if you just told them how it disproportionately affects people of color. These aren't sexy arguments I'm making, but they should be no brainers for anyone looking for consensus and actual progress.
  • Some people are quick to point out how virus-like humanity is. We're selfish and unlike other animal species in our impact on the environment, etc. Yeah, people suck. However, I'd also point out that no species I know of is so good at taking care of its disabled, impaired, murderous, etc. According to one (flawed definition) 20% of the UK is disabled (you have to get into the weeds, but I think the real number is more like 10% based upon how they asked the question). If 20% of honeybees weren't producing at all do you think the hive would be okay with that? Lions? I think we're pretty damn compassionate by animal standards.
  • Under the Bush administration NPR saw the writing on the wall when the Reps started going after their funding. NPR made the decision to broaden their base of funding to include more corporate funding. They started doing more corporate messages and all that. I've never loved it, but it was a wise decision. You don't want to become reliant upon any one source - especially the government. Self-reliance.
  • Science has found that gratitude increases happiness. There have been a lot of studies and talks about this that I've seen the last few years. Congratulations to scientists who have figured out that which has been known by religions for thousands of years. This is what happens when you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Religions have been monetized and so people like me have been rightly wary of them for a long time. However, this comes at your own peril should you choose to eschew the collective wisdom of things like prayer before a meal (showing gratitude for the simple things in life). The did some study that found that people in Islamic countries were far more unlikely to commit a crime during the times of day when the call to prayer (adhan) could be heard. "If god didn't exist it would be necessary to invent him."
  • I'm not a fan of Tom Brady, but I am a fan of competence. After 3-5 super bowls I remained unconvinced. I could say he got one ring because of Vinatieri or the tuck rule or a lucky last second interception against the Seahawks or whatever. But, the guy has 7 fucking rings now so I'm running out of ways to minimize his greatness. He's won a super bowl every other year since 2014. He's done it with Belichick and without. TB wasn't a very good team last year and he took them to a win in his first year with them. He's just the best. I wish it was someone else, but it is what it is.

  • 2/28/21

  • Not much time to say what I need to say.

  • 1/25/21 (21:25)

  • Backlash to the backlash. Ryan Long is great.
  • If you think that Trump is the problem then you're either clueless or wildly optimistic.
  • Good episode from Jordan Peterson recently. S4E2 with Douglas Murray. I don't agree with everything Murray says, nor do I disagree with everything he says. Murray is definitely on the right and Peterson is center right. If you haven't heard anything from Peterson (where have you been?) then this might be a good first episode. Not because it's quintessential JBP, but because he seems to be reacting to his place in society as a center of controversy who is feeling introspective. I like this incarnation of him
  • If I were president I would have done a lot of things differently, but one thing that I would have done, that would have been in keeping with the Trump ethos, is to make the COVID thing into a national competition. "Look the chinks are beating us right now and so are the Japs and the Nazis...we need to get our numbers down. Let's kick their ass by wearing masks, taking vitamin D, quitting smoking...go outside and get some cardio to help your general health, etc. We're number one." Something like that.
  • I've heard our policy called abstinence only, which I think is pretty accurate. We know how to shut down the economy and pay people to not do anything. Beyond that we're pretty much closing our eyes and plugging our ears. Why is getting plastic surgery okay, but eating outside isn't? None of the decisions being made are making much sense. I used to really dislike governor Newsom's reaction to COVID and then I came around to it. Then he went to the French Laundry with his buddies proving how important his guidance really is and he botched the vaccine roll out so I'm off team Newsom again. What a douche.
  • Another chapter in the changing demographics and entitlement of current bay area residents...I got a service request about a tenant (in Berkeley, figures) who needed some work done (I didn't do any of this work) and the list was: needs blinds, windows have paint splotches, baseboards in closet don't completely align, bedroom outlet is crooked. I texted the tenant and told him "I ordered the blinds for you. I'll be in touch as soon as they arrive to install them and take care of the other items you listed." He replied "Hi Chris, sounds good. Please let me know as soon as possible, it is difficult to live without blinds." I'm going to need a few bullet points to unpack this...
  • It's difficult to live without blinds. This might be the most first world sentence I've seen in a long time. Again, my general disposition in life is that I'm lucky that I get to shit in a heated room, press a lever, and have the shit disappear. I don't have to go outside to the out house to take a crap and this is a glorious thing. I don't take indoor plumbing and electricity for granted. I definitely get annoyed when the internet isn't working (in part because I can't even use my phone without internet because I don't get cell coverage at home), but I've never uttered a phrase even close to "it's difficult to live without blinds." Life is difficult. Sack up you shit head.
  • Let's give the devil his due...maybe he works nights so he wants blinds to help him sleep during the day. I plan on asking about this when I'm there. But, let's go ahead and stipulate that he works the graveyard shift (I've done this before so I can sympathize)...in which case it wouldn't be very difficult to use a thumbtack and some sheets or towels to block the sunlight.
  • Lastly, this is the unit that you looked at before you rented the place. None of this was a surprise.
  • Another one I'm dealing with...young lady wanted two broken blinds replaced so I ordered new ones online. Color was kinda tan so I ordered the "biscuit" color, which is the builder's version of light tan. The blinds I got are from a different manufacturer so the color is different. She wrote an email complaining that they were white and didn't match the third set of blinds in the room. No, they're not white. No, they don't match perfectly...why exactly does that merit a complaint? So, I'm going to order a third set of blinds to match the other two. I'm going to throw the third, perfectly functioning set of blinds, in the landfill where it will live for a few hundred years because she couldn't stand looking at mismatching blinds. Can't be reused unless I find the same size window elsewhere (very unlikely). I could take it to a salvage place, but my experience with those places is that they are quite picky to the point of it not being worth my time.
  • Perhaps this is the core problem driving global warming and overconsumption...people not being willing to put up with slight discomfort or things that aren't perfectly aesthetically pleasing. Deal with what you have and move on. Keep the thermostat a bit outside your comfort zone and take one for the team. I definitely am keeping employed (at least in part) as a result of this, so maybe I shouldn't be pointing this out, but it's really aggravating to see people send me pictures of perfectly nice kitchens that they want to rip down and replace. People want to throw out well functioning blinds from a place that they rent...this shit kills me. You're a renter, just live with what you have - this is the place you signed the lease for.
  • Have I mentioned recently how much I don't like the identity politics of our times? Everything has to be made into a race or gender issue. People not wearing their masks...hm, I noticed that men aren't as good about it so let's call them out about it. Of course this all goes one way ----> white cis men. It's not like anyone ever is allowed to say "wow, the students in our country are really fucking dumb and 37% of them don't know any of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights...let's blame women since 76% of teachers are women." This isn't a useful way to go around the world. It's going to get us in a lot of trouble if we insist on seeing things this way all the time.
  • Men commit the most crime, solve the most crime, and are victims of the most crime. Blacks disproportionately commit more crime and are disproportionately victims of crime. Up to you and your narrative what you want to focus on - if you're inclined to think of things this way.
  • Heard a little radio bit about a city (I think it was Fremont or Hayward or some smaller East Bay city) council meeting where they voted on an issue (can't recall what) and some people didn't seem to like the way the vote turned out. In the story they mentioned that the vote was at 1am. This, to me, was meant to signal to the listener that this vote was surreptitious. In reality, many of these votes take place quite late and there are a couple good reasons for this. In many cities council members and board members make very little so they often have other jobs. They also often have city/board meetings "after hours" in part because of the members and in part because the citizens are encouraged to give their feedback. During these meetings you'll often get many people coming to the microphone giving their two cents. This, along with the formalities of these meetings, makes the meetings drag late into the night. All this together equals late night votes. Of course the media doesn't say anything about that...they just give an untethered fact...one without context, but heavy in innuendo. This, again, is not useful. The media is failing us at every level and this is a way bigger problem than Trump, Republicans, Koch Brother(s), Mercers, corporate personhood, racial inequality, and whatever else you're getting from the Nation and Mother Jones. And, in case it isn't obvious, the media are a way bigger problem than Pelosi, AOC, Soros, unions, Antifa, and whatever else you're getting from the Blaze and Gateway Pundit.
  • I've written about it before, but it really sticks in my craw...MMT is one of those so smart you get dumb issues. You have these super genius economists who go full retard and end up on the other end of the horseshoe (my version replaces "far left" with "dumb" and "far right" with "smart" [or vice versa if that offends]) to the point where they become so smart they're actually closer to being dumb.
  • To reiterate quickly...according to MMT the government can spend as much as it wants and debt doesn't matter. Inflation matters. If inflation gets too high then the government can just raise taxes to bring some of the money out of the economy and it's all good again.
  • One issue they will bring up is that Congress isn't very good at raising taxes quickly enough to bring that money back. So, they say let's just have an automatic trip wire that raises taxes if inflation reaches, let's say, 4%. Problem solved...free money!
  • My issues with this are many and range from the conspiratorial to the specific to the fundamental nature of life:
  • conspiracy - This whole thing sounds like a good way of just raising taxes and taking way our money. If you, a middle class-ish person, think that won't affect you, you're living in la la land.
  • specific - I don't think they are good at measuring inflation and SO much of this scheme relies on accurately measuring inflation. Does anyone really think that inflation has held steady at just 2% for the last several years? Our biggest life purchases (education, health, home) occur at varying times in our lives and have all gone up by double digits. This just doesn't pass the sniff test. I know there's a lot of debate about tracking inflation and they debate the CPI basket and what can be substituted, etc. I'm not saying they're not thoughtful about it, but things just don't add up. Add in wage stagnation (also debatable) and I think you can definitely make the case that relying on a single metric like inflation is dangerous at best.
  • fundamental - you don't get shit for free in life. You can't just make money, spend it, and think that the gravy train can last forever. Life doesn't work that way, so why would a macroeconomic theory like MMT work if that's what it's essentially doing?
  • Another fuck the media point - how often and vigorously do your media sources cover bipartisan legislation? It does exist, but they just don't cover it the same way that they cover the issues on which the D and R parties disagree. The First Step Act is a good, recent example. It's the kind of bill everyone should celebrate, yet it got very little coverage. Probably received about as much coverage as the Mike Pence fly.
  • Aphorisms are the collected memory and wisdom of a society. If you see variations of these across cultures and time then there's a pretty good chance that there's a fundamental truth that they are getting to. One that I like, and is apropos of the tenant discussion above, is "if you give an inch they'll take a mile." A Mexican friend of mine said they have one that's similar - "give a man a hand and he'll take your whole arm." Sayings like this don't last because they're false.
  • Found a podcast with Bill Gates and Rashida Jones. It's okay overall. I think Gates is one of the great people we have living in the public consciousness today. In episode 5 Jones is talking about how when she was younger she was pretty militant and saw people who disagreed with her as her enemy...but now she has matured and understands that the world is very complicated. This occurs around the 3 minute mark. Then about 4 minutes later she talks about whether or not it's possible to change your mind and understand how your enemy thinks. Gates calls her out on her use of the word "enemy" right away and I'm glad he did. I found it especially hilarious because she was just, 4 minutes ago, talking about how she didn't see people who disagreed with her as enemies anymore. I think what's more likely is that she came to the point where she knows not to call them the enemy anymore...to tolerate them to some extent...but she still probably sees them as a hindrance to her vision of the world. I don't fault her for this, necessarily. I think it's pretty much the norm for humans and I really understand it. However, this is the crux of the problem. This is what we need to get away from. Again, it's not just that the right wing is shitty, but let's tolerate them. It's that we actually need the right wing in order to be our best. We need to take the best they have to offer and the best the left has to offer and combine them. There can be a tug of war in the middle as things go back and forth a bit in that middle zone, but you really do need the strengths of each side's ideology in order to achieve a productive and fulfilling societal balance.
  • Maybe we need a single issue voter bloc that places accountability or compromise above all other issues. Probably better than the single issue voter who picked gun rights or abortion.
  • One of the things that's happened in the era of wokeness is that racism has been redefined to include only whites. It's explicitly stated that you need to be white in order to be racist today. It's because of this Marxist obsession with power that the definition has warped in such a way to exclude blacks, latinos, or asians from possibly being racist. I don't really accept the new definition, but whatever. Ultimately, I don't see the point. So a Latino person who doesn't like blacks isn't racist, they're just a prejudiced bigot...what's the difference? It's a very odd thing to have done, but we live in odd times. I don't understand much of critical race theory.
  • It's no coincidence that Trump finally won the presidency when the attention economy was at its height. How many other times did he run and lose? He didn't change, we did.
  • It's no coincidence that Blacks and Native Americans are the most screwed over groups and they're the ones still doing the worst.
  • Bill Barr was totally spineless until the last few weeks of his tenure. What a piece of shit.
  • What's the deal with Kimberley Guilfoyle? Married to Newsom for 5 years. Now partnered with Trump Jr.
  • Jill Biden's title as "doctor" was in the news for a few days. This is pathetic for so many reasons. It's weird to insist on being called an honorific of any kind, imo. It smacks of wanting to be called Maestro. It's pathetic that someone wrote and op-ed about it. It's pathetic that it was published. It's pathetic that people drew battle lines over it. It's pathetic that I took note of this and brought it up weeks later. It's pathetic that this bullet point has continued for this long. Sad!
  • I was against the recall of Gray Davis when it happened. I thought it was a slippery slope at the time and didn't think much of Arnold as a politician. He turned out to not be that bad and would have done better under the pandemic seeing as he funded emergency masks, etc. as part of a pandemic preparedness team which Jerry Brown later defunded. Anyway, now people are thinking of recalling Newsom. I think I've changed my mind on the recall issue. Now that I see accountability as of extreme importance, I'm not as against recalls as I was before. Newsom should at least be threatened with a recall...and the threat means something since we've done it before.
  • Should I point out that the Obama administration was the one that said all the Facebook purchases and mergers were a-OK? And that the Trump administration was the one that fought Facebook?
  • up too late. too much work to do.

  • 1/20/21 (21:24)

  • Watched the 60 minutes segment on Alex Smith. Long time readers know I have always liked him and was upset when Harbaugh benched him for Kaepernick. Anyway, in 2018 he had a really bad broken leg and someone pointed out the following coincidences about his injury and Theisman's equally brutal leg break:

  • Joe Theismann - Nov. 18, 1985
    Alex Smith - Nov. 18, 2018
    -Both breaks happened in Washington
    -Both games ended 23-21
    -Both broke right tibia and fibula
    -Both quarterbacks were tackled by the only three-time defensive played of the year winners, JJ Watt and Lawrence Taylor
    -Both happened near the 40 yard line
    -Both quarterbacks were playing against red, white, and blue jerseys
    -Joe Theismann was at the game when Alex Smith broke his leg
    -Theisman's Pro Bowl left tackle, Joe Jacoby, wasn't on the field due to injury
    -Smith's Pro Bowl left tackle, Trent Williams, wasn't on the field due to injury
  • Trying a new color for a bit. Good?

  • 1/19/21 (22:27)

  • My line of work is kinda fun because it takes me to a lot of places. I have clients who are rich and middle class. I work for a property manager who has properties that run the gamut from low to high end. I get to see the variety of ways that people live. How messy their house is, how it smells, what kind of work they do, how picky or not they are. I go through the best and worst parts of town on a regular basis. I see the burnt out cars, the cars with the engine removed up on blocks, the homeless encampments all over the city, I've worked in one room while a junkie is doing crack in the other, I've worked around needles on the job site more times than I can count, I've worked upstairs while I can see the prostitutes working on the street downstairs...these are all just realities of urban decay and the work I do.
  • I work more with immigrants than I do with natives. I think I've written about that before - people from Uzbekistan, Russia, Ireland, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador...all coming here for a better life. All have a better view of the country than most of the people I went to college with.
  • Since COVID the job has changed a bit...people have gotten more picky (maybe gentrification, maybe people just more isolated and wanting to control things more). I've written about the volume fluctuating and the type of work going from mostly renovations to mostly tenant improvements. I've also done a fair amount of jobs for commercial properties (storage facilities). They have been lucrative and fairly easy. Commercial maintenance work is good because you don't have crazy codes and union requirements since it's not a new build, but you get to charge a bit more and the customers are more function oriented. You're not going to get five emails about the paint color, like you might from a residential customer. This is much more preferable to me.
  • COVID has also helped the traffic situation a lot. I do a fair amount of driving and being able to get around has been a really welcome change. Especially March-June-ish was wide open.
  • It hasn't helped the permitting situation, however. Getting a permit that once was a 4-8 hour task can now be months long. City workers are using all their vacation time and, apparently, the vacation time is being matched 100% by some kind of COVID pay...so people can take up to 40 weeks of vacation without any downside to them. So, you have city bureaucrats, working from home, with a bunch of vacation time...recipe for months long delays.
  • Ezra Klein had Stacey Abrams on a while back. They talked about the "tyranny of the majority" argument as a false one used by Republicans to actually have a tyranny of the minority and how it's destroying democratic rule. I don't think they understand the concept, which is odd since they are both very smart. This is motivated reasoning at work, though. They've lost the clear and simple definition of a concept like the tyranny of the majority and twisted the argument to such an extent that it loses the point. Tyranny of the majority refers to the democratic idea that the majority can vote away the rights of the minority. It's a very real thing. A simple example is that if there are three people in a room and one of them is Bill Gates...it's not going to be long before he loses most of his money because the other two will vote to institute rules that confiscate his wealth. That's an abstract example. A concrete one might be slavery. The tyranny of the majority idea is a reminder than democracy isn't the highest good - which is something a lot of Leftists are leaning on these days.
  • The Left is understandably upset because Republicans are ruling Congress and the Executive from a minority position (they have recently received fewer votes than the Democrats in the House, Senate, and Presidential elections and yet were (until 2018) in power of those branches for a good deal of time). This is clearly unfair and undemocratic. Fair enough point. However, that doesn't mean that you can place democracy above the rights of others. Democracy is important, but it's not a first principle in this country. Limited government power is a first principle. It's laid out in the Bill of Rights. Anti-democratic principles are laid out in the Constitution - in the makeup of the Senate, for example.
  • You can argue that this was a practical consideration that needed to happen (like the 3/5 compromise) in order to get the new country reformed after the Articles of Confederation proved a failure...but it's nevertheless a part of the Constitution. I think that the founders didn't want a democracy. Not just an Athenian democracy where you vote on every single thing...I think they purposely wanted something less democratic because they didn't think the people made great decisions overall. In other words, I think Abrams and Klein are very wrong when they discuss democracy and our government. They're working off faulty assumptions, they're missing the point of protecting the minority, and they're doing it because they are motivated to do so. I don't think they ever really tackle the core problem - even though Klein brings it up.
  • I think the problem of Republicans winning despite consistently winning a minority of votes is indeed a problem. However, I think they are wrong in their approach.
  • Football games on some stations are covered really poorly. This weekend the NBC coverage was really awful. Specifically the view of the field was way tighter than it should have been. Most coverage consistently leaves a quarter of the players out of the frame almost as soon as the play starts. Safeties, DBs, WRs are all off screen doing god knows what while we're focused on the QB and the lines. These are important elements, to be sure, but the fact that we always miss what's happening in the secondary is a major loss in the viewing experience. Football is the only sport where this is a big problem. Soccer misses players, but they're not important until the ball comes near them and they get on the screen by then. Basketball and hockey are small enough that everyone is included in the frame. Baseball is slow enough that you can show shifting fielders, etc. without missing anything. Baseball may have the most to gain from being on TV because it's easier to see the pitch selection, strike zone, etc. Football really needs to be seen live to get the full experience. Most people have TVs that are 40"+ nowadays so I don't understand why they don't zoom out a little.

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    1/14/21 (21:34)

  • Interesting year. COVID, Trump, George Floyd, etc. We all know the long list.
  • Personally it was interesting. Seeing two kids die and not being able to save them was pretty rough. COVID changed the business a bit. We also stopped doing much work for Meryl's brother, but that was more because of market conditions than anything else and was planned to happen before COVID. Laid off one employee, lost another to him returning home to Mexico (I miss him). Hired another employee and he's working out. Got more PPP money than we probably deserved. Saved more money than we could have hoped for given what happened this year. That said, it was also the first time I was struggling to fill a work week. Signed a new agreement with a property management company to handle the vast majority of their maintenance work - something that's been in the works for a year and came at a really good time.
  • COVID slowed things for us for sure, but about 95% of the year was pretty much business as usual in terms of staying busy and making money. The type of work shifted, but we were out in the field nonetheless.
  • Merritt started kindergarten online, which is a bummer. Zoe continues to teach herself better than I could ever hope. Both my girls are so great and I'm so lucky to have them. They both have tablets (for online learning only) and Zoe and I had an email exchange once that went like this:
  • zoe: Dad where me and Merritt good at getting ready today???
  • me: Yes, you guys did a great job! We were out the door before 8am and I'm working right now. I love you guys so much! Love, Dad
  • zoe: Ok!
  • me: I am such a lucky Dad to have two such wonderful daughters who are so full of love and life and happiness. Love, Dad
  • zoe: You are!
  • I highly recommend the new Carlin podcast episode (garbage in garbage out). Listened to it twice today. His last two have been absolute gold and I agree with pretty much everything he says. It's really heartening to hear someone who sees the world in the same way. It can be pretty lonely being a true independent. I pretty actively avoid having any allegiance and the result of that is I'm not on a team so there's not much solace because everyone thinks you're not on their side. I have a lot of political stuff saved up, but I'll be up all night if I start writing about that.
  • One thing I really hope for is that when Trump isn't in office the media stops talking about him. He will no longer be required reporting and he's never been very interesting or important - outside of his role as president. No reason to talk about him anymore. I've been making this point since he lost the election and seeing him banned from Twitter, etc. actually gives me hope that this will happen. My inclination until now has been to think that the media will continue to dip into the Trump well for content, but now I'm less certain. We'll see.
  • The vaccine timeline is interesting. We're seeing this in a few sectors in government now where things that usually take a long time are now greatly accelerated. It leaves you wondering why things take as long as they take if they can obviously take a lot less time. I wrote before that the record before this was 4 years for the mumps vaccine. This isn't just an issue of developing the vaccine, but also of doing the tests and getting through the regulation. So we're faced with a situation now where we either have to question the old timeline/process as excessively long and onerous or question the safety of the current vaccine. I'm inclined to think that the old timeline/process was overly drawn out (as is typical with the government). That said, it's impossible to know the long term effects of a vaccine when it's been developed over the course of less than a year.
  • I incorrectly predicted the GA senate outcomes. Surprising outcome imo.
  • "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize that half of them are stupider than that." - George Carlin. I think he means median person, but, pedantics aside, this is a good way of understanding why we are where we are.
  • According to NPR's Indicator podcast Amazon warehouse workers are making more than market rate and this is pushing wages up. This is probably bad news for people who like to hate Amazon.
  • The stories we tell each other about our family, the videos we watch over and over again...those become the perception of our family. Stories and images matter. Now extrapolate that out to how the media presents our country. What are the stories the media tell? Have they chosen to focus on the positive or the negative? One more way in which the media is so corrosive to our socio-political situation. And as I've been pointing out a for a while now - Trump will be gone soon and the media remains with us.
  • One thing that's nice about getting older is that you start to see patterns in society. Things aren't as novel as they once were. It's a lot easier to see how shifty things can be. For example, when I was growing up it was clear that conservatives were the ones who wanted to run your life - no abortion, rap is bad, being gay is sinful, puritans telling you how to run your life. Nowadays, though, the liberals are the ones telling you what car to drive (SUVs are bad), what coffee to buy (Starbucks is evil, need to buy fair trade, shade grown, organic whatever), what movies to watch (Gone With The Wind is verboten), what views to have, what jokes are off limits, etc.
  • Work lately has been a lot of unit turnovers. People are leaving the bay area and rents are dropping. People who didn't want to agree to buyouts before are now asking if the offer is still on the table. Landlords are the ones hurting and I'm sure no one is shedding any tears.
  • Our goal for a little while has been to buy a warehouse and live there. We'd build it out for living and also have storage space for all the staging materials (Meryl is fully into the staging business now) and tools, materials, shop stuff. We figure we need 6,000 s.f. minimum to make it work. 1500-2000 for living and office space and the rest for work stuff. More would be even better. Found a nice place and put an offer on it, but it's in contract so we only get a chance if it falls out of contract. I'm not super hopeful, but would really like to get the place. Lots of room so I could finally have the space I need.
  • One thing about being a GC is that I do a bit of almost everything. If I were just a plumber then I'd only need plumbing tools. I'd probably have more materials on hand like extra copper or cast iron or whatever, but I wouldn't need any of my electrical stuff, carpentry tools, tile tools, HVAC tools, extra hardware, simpson strong ties, etc.
  • Then you add up all the tools that I have multiple copies of...Sometimes I'm running 3 jobs at a time. I could cart one set of tools all around the city, but doing that just gets old. All that stuff takes up a lot of space. I've wanted more space since I was building CD cases in my apartment. I'd say a warehouse would finally be enough.
  • The other thing is that I have a car (the Chevy Volt) that I try to use most of the time for commuting and I have the truck that I use for bringing tools and materials to/from the job. Demo day means I usually bring the trailer and of course that means I need the truck. When I take the Volt I don't have as much space so keeping the tools on site is a much better option. Of course that also means I run the risk of a theft and that's an unfortunate part of the calculus for everything. If I'm on a job a long time then I run the risk of a burglary. All these considerations add up to more expense and difficulty. If I lived in the country I'd have a truck and a trailer and I'd bring the trailer wherever I'm working and I could leave it there until the job is done. Around here, parking and theft make that impossible.
  • So much of my job is logistics. What jobs should I go to today? How can I keep Edwin and Antonio busy? What jobs do I need to look at for next week or later down the line? What materials do I need for now and later? Actually doing the work is basically the easy part at this point. I guess that's an accomplishment since there was a time when that was a struggle. Nowadays most of the jobs I get are pretty easy for me to execute from a building perspective. Getting the right materials and people to the job and dealing with people...those are the hard parts of my job.
  • Dealing with flaky suppliers, material availability, and customers are the most annoying things for me on a daily basis. Home Depot is basically the only game in town for getting a variety of materials in one stop (Lowe's is far away) and none of them around here are run worth a damn. I know more about their products than most of their employees. I rented an insulation blower from them a few weeks ago and the guy renting it to me had no idea how it worked or what materials it worked with. I had to give him a tutorial and set it up for him. This is just one example. The lack of basic competence is a constant source of frustration.
  • Customers are more annoying the last year or so than ever before. I'm guessing that part of that is COVID getting to people and the other part is that more people are moving from SF to Oakland. Oakland used to be more working class and laid back - live and let live. These days, there's definitely a shift towards annoying people who are entitled, picky, and overbearing. Basically it's the Berkeley/SF-ification of Oakland. In this way, I definitely can sympathize with the anti-gentrification crowd.
  • So, that's work.

  • 1/11/21 (23:44)

  • Lots to say about things lately, but not much time. Staying up late to work and not much time to gather thoughts and write here. Will definitely get to it soon, though.
  • If you recall the Carlin podcast I recommended a couple times a few months back, that is as relevant now as ever. He talked about being angry when he was young and now just being really disappointed. That's where I am. Really embarrassed and disappointed by everything that's going on. Not only what's happening with the protests, but with the reactions to it. The way the media spins it. The way each side responds. The totally oblivious nature of the responses on both sides. Hopefully this is the wake up call we needed, but I think it still needs to get worse before it gets better. Part of that is each side acknowledging their own stupidity. The reckless nature of their extremes. Their own culpability in ratcheting things up. Their unwillingness to acknowledge the importance of the other side to keep things running well. This is something I write about a lot here. Maybe it comes off as apologetic for the Right. What it really is is an acknowledgment not just of the legitimacy of both sides, but the necessity of both sides. We need a right wing and a left wing to fly. Unfortunately both sides think that the other side is a mortal enemy. What makes it really difficult is that both sides have good evidence to back up some of their claims. There's enough blame to go around and never enough accountability and responsibility. Often I write here about the limitations, hypocrisies, failures, and blind spots of the Left. I do this not because I dislike the Left more than the Right (I've pointed out before that I'm more Left than Right), I do this in part to point out to my Leftist audience that your shit stinks too. If you can't acknowledge your own frailties, how do you expect them to acknowledge theirs? Without consistency there can't be accountability.

  • 1/5/21 (11:26)

  • It's not the podcast I look forward to the most, but it may be the most important podcast I listen to. Hidden Brain has a lot of good stuff and the host is doing a real service to the country. He sees the commonalties between the left and right more than most and, lately, Hidden Brain has done a lot of work to show those commonalties.

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