Category Archives: California

iNews Friday – Hey, You Got Your HCR On My Peanut Butter edition, 2/26/2010

A sampling of this week’s output from the iNews 9000 Turbo wi-fi headline translator—

Headline: Schwarzenegger Says “Worst Is Over” for Recession
Translation: Reporter misheard “Wurst is over” as Governator finished lunch

Headline: FBI Investigates Webcam Spy Allegations Against School
Translation: CIA sends recruiting officer

Headline: Some US Students Learn Mandarin With China’s Help
Translation: China needs an educated workforce to work in its call centers

Headline: Don’t Expect Miracles From Health Confab
Translation: GOP hits Obama – no faith healing in plan

Headline: Michele Bachmann RSVPs Regrets to Constituents
Translation: Miss Bachmann regrets she’s unable to demonize today, madam

Headline: Obama’s health care plan likely to dominate the week
Translation: Palin dominates weak-minded
Translation (Turbo mode): GOP dominates Reid

Headline: Palin to guest on Leno
Translation: Cue card guy gets night off, Leno to write monolog on his hand

Headline: Gibbs- We Didn’t Include The Public Option Because It Doesn’t Have The Votes
: The Corporate Ayes Have It

Headline: Andrew Breitbart Promises Final Solution to Liberalism in 3 Weeks
Translation: FEC v. Citizens United Macht Frei”

Headline: Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws
Translation: States urge sick to get health care at gunpoint
Translation (Turbo mode): New home sales rise after warning shots

Headline: Alexander urges Obama to start with ‘clean sheet of paper’ on health care
Translation: GOP health care plan is a blank sheet of paper

The GOP’s fresh faces – Health reform makes plastic surgery “legitimate campaign expense”

The Republican Party has high hopes for its prospects in midterm congressional elections, and they are crediting health care reform.

For even though no GOP senators voted for the measure that passed 60-39 on Christmas eve, a little-noticed provision of the bill stands to put slates of fresh new Republican faces on ballots this fall. “Thanks to health care reform, plastic surgery is now a legitimate campaign expense,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, chief deputy whip to minority leader John Boehner.

“America has the best privatized health care system in the world, and we are going to use that system to help us take back control of Congress,” said the Bakersfield Republican.

At McCarthy’s direction, Republican incumbents and recruits alike are being booked for appointments with the best Beverly Hills and Manhattan cosmetic surgeons.

“We will have the newest-looking, tautest candidates on the campaign trail this summer. Voters will be too busy looking at them to pay attention to what they’re saying,” he declared.

One of the first lawmakers McCarthy signed up for a makeover is Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota). “I think Michele will benefit from extensive work around the eyes, to soften her weird undead vibe,” McCarthy said.

Asked whether there wasn’t a danger Bachmann and others might no longer be recognizable to constituents, McCarthy said: “We’re counting on it.”

Her health plan covers dental sharpening, night vision.

Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?

The State of California this week began hitting up it’s tax base for Payday loans.  A little discussed change embedded in the crisis budget the State passed allows California to raise state withholding to 10%.  This isn’t a tax increase though.  Oh no, it’s a short term loan.  California will refund your money in your tax return.  Sure they will.  They expect to pull $1.7 billion into the State Treasury thereby making California appear solvent (as if), and giving the state “wiggle room” during their current financial meltdown.  All I can say is Kvatch and I got out in the nick of time.  So long suckahs!

Zillow – Real Estate Market Manipulator

So… Are you a homeowner? Have you used to check the supposed value of your house? Do you believe what they tell you? Well I sure as sh*t wouldn’t. Here’s why…

As many of you know The Frogette and I recently sold our San Francisco condo, and although the price wasn’t what we could have made a year earlier, we did well—a combination of buying well below our capacity and a market region that hasn’t completely cratered. But…if Zillow were the definitive guide to our home’s value, not only would we have taken a bath, but the new owner would have realized a 15% appreciation in just the time between when we accepted an offer and today.

What Zillow did was to torpedo their estimate of our condo’s value, dropping it 25% in the 3 month span from Nov 2008 to Feb 2009, with no evidence of a corresponding drop in our area. In fact, when the condo across the hall sold well above market in Mar 2009, Zillow did nothing. They didn’t even count it as a comparable.

Here’s the time-line:

  • Early Jun 2009 – We decide to sell, Zillow’s estimate is 20% below the eventual asking price
  • Late Jul 2009 – The condo goes on the market, Zillow’s estimate is 16% below asking
  • Late Aug 2009 – An offer is accepted, Zillow’s estimate is still 10% below the sale price
  • Late Sep 2009 – Escrow closes, Zillow’s estimate (even with MLS data to the contrary) is still 7% below the sale price (but they’re dragging it up almost daily)
  • Late Oct 2009 – Now… a month since the close of escrow, Zillow finally has their estimate at the sale price, and guess what?  That price is almost exactly what you would get if you drew a straight line across that huge valley on the graph.

It seems pretty clear. Zillow isn’t just reporting real estate prices and statistics, with maybe a zippy algorithm here or there to get a good bead on property values, they are blatantly trying to manipulate the market, for what reason…I have no idea.  You can draw your own conclusions, but we’re very glad that potential purchasers of our condo, paid little or no attention to Zillow, and with good reason I’d say.

California Ain’t All That

Not having steady work for six months has certainly helped me commit to the Frogette’s and my upcoming travel plans. But California and San Francisco have done there level best to make sure that I don’t regret leaving.  Some of the things I won’t miss about California:

  • Dozen’s of bloody ballot initiatives, requiring hours of reading and research, every time I step into the voting booth
  • Hi-tech companies that the think that ‘all the junk food you can eat’ is a better way to retain talent than decent wages and health care
  • Crap on the sidewalk outside my flat…every damn day!
  • Drunks, addicts, hookers, and bangers…barfing, shooting-up, turning tricks, and stabbing each other at all hours of the day and night!
  • Graffiti-f*cking-vandals!  “Artist” is too good a word for these talentless amateurs.
  • The SFPD, whose idea of effective law enforcement is shuffling the junkies around the neighbourhood.  “Arrest him?  Do you know how much paperwork I’d have to fill out?”
  • Arrogant mayors. Absentee council members. Illiterate Governors. Paralysed legislators.
  • The f*cking 405!  (Asshole drivers,  sh*tty second-rate pavement.  Everything that is wrong with America in small.)
  • CAGERS!  Cagers on their cell-phones.  Cagers who won’t yield!  Cager’s who use their 2-tons metal cocoons like f*cking weapons!
  • San Francisco MUNI — The most comprehensive public transit system in the US with the rudest, laziest, most entitled employees you’ve ever encountered.
  • San Fran— “I left my trash in…” —frisco!
  • Retire, join the G.O.P, or just f*cking Die-ane Feinstein!
  • Floods, fires, earthquakes, rivers running dry with…dust, $80 Cabernet and Britney-god-damned-Spears.
  • It ain’t 1906 but the SFFD likes to run their f*cking sirens like it is!
  • Skynet’s calling you home Ahrnult.  Take the f*cking hint.

In short, I’ve had enough!  True there are still opportunities out here, but if it means living in a shitty Silicon Valley apartment because every decent house for miles is owned by some vulture capitalist, no thanks.  I’ve got skills, and will bloody-well take them elsewhere.

Exit Stage Left

A couple of weeks ago I promised that the ‘other shoe would drop’ sometime before the end of the month. Well…

The California experiment is over. What began with the Frogette saying, “I start a new job in San Francisco in July [1996]. Figure out how to get your little green ass out there,” has ended with the sale of our condo in preparation for the mother of all roadtrips.

Yes, on October 18th, these two frogs will take the mess that has become their lives on the road, around America, overseas…traveling until they decide they want to stop, or until the United States stops f*cking around and fixes the economy and the health-care situation, whichever comes first.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’d like to lift a beer with Kvatch,” or “That Frogette…I want her at my next dinner party.” Well now is your chance! Let us know, and we’ll do our best to get to your neck of the woods for a pow-wow.

Be happy for us (really, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime); Wish us luck; Let us know you’d like to meet; But most of all stay tuned as ‘Casa de las Ranas’ hits the road.

iNews Friday, 9/4/2009

From the iNews 9000 Turbo wi-fi headline translator—

Headline: California Governor Urges Citizens to Heed Evacuation Warnings
Translation: “Fire BAD!” urges Schwarzenegger

Headline: CIA Says It Will Not Reveal Any More Details on Interrogation Program
Translation: “You’ll have to beat it out of us”

Headline: Snow Leopard incompatibilities
Translation: Latest OS X neurotically paces back and forth on desktop

Headline: Spitzer denies report that he’s running for office
Translation: Ashley Dupre not taking new clients

Headline: Boxing legend Ali traces roots to Irish town
Translation: Rope O’Dope

Headline: Bachmann – It’s time to “slit our wrists, be blood brothers”
Translation: Single Payer would cover that
Translation (Turbo mode): Bachmann elected head of House Stigmata Caucus

Headline: Some Parents Oppose Obama Speech to Students
Translation: How about a story about a pet goat with no insurance?

Great California garage sale

GarageSaleTransIf you’re looking for the “f-A-k-e. P.” logo here you’re not going to see it.  The great State of California really is running an online garage sale.  Gov. Schwarzenegger hopes to sell off extra vehicles from our state fleet, confiscated items, unused computers, desks and even an antique piano (?).  You see our guv figures if he signs these items, given his celebrity, they will be valuable and will bring much needed cash to the coffers of California.  He sure isn’t going to balance our budget the old fashioned way.  So he’s harnessed the power of eBay and Craigslist to move our junk.  So grab your pennies and stop by.  You never know when you’ll find a great deal on one of those nine Hummers parked out front of the governor’s mansion.

Back to the Dark Ages

Thanks to our conservative California Supreme Court and some Mormon fat cash same sex marriage is once again banned in our State.  I had such high hopes.  Mayor Newsom was right to challenge as unconstitutional the missing right of gay marriage in our state.  I supported him when he decided to take a stand and started marrying off same sex couples as fast as he could.  But they shut him down.  And then they went back and tried to invalidate all of those marriages.  Thank goodness that failed.  All I can say is it is a sad, sad day when I have to fly to Massachusetts to see a gay couple wed.  Oh and the first chance I get to send money to Utah to outlaw polygamy, you better believe I’ll be writing THAT check.