Sunday, June 29, 2008

updating utopia

I wrote in January 2007 that The crazy weather has the environment on everybody's minds, and gov'ts will react. Whether (no pun intended) they react with vision remains to be seen.

Since then, they have reacted with some vision; the provincial Liberals have enacted a carbon tax of 2.4 cents per litre of gasoline, which takes effect the day after tomorrow. Is it too little too late? We got our cheques (and cashed them), but rumour has it that there is a fair bit of backlash, and Campbell is wavering. I'm not giving my 100 bucks back! The federal Liberals have also proposed a carbon tax, and are taking it as an election platform.

Personally, I don't understand all the crying - energy prices have sky-rocketed beyond imagination all by themselves (thanks to speculators?), and it is just going to get worse before, and if, it ever gets better. I figured out the other day that we spend 8.73% of our gross income on fuel for our vehicles. Ouch. We need the one gas pig for business, but my 17 year old 6 cylinder pig could use replacing with something of greater efficiency. Can someone spare me $40K for a Prius?

So what does that mean for the city? Less cars on the road (or more energy-efficient cars...), less pollution - lower insurance premia? It will probably mean more densification as people move back into the city and the emptying of suburbia. Back to small, self-contained towns. But what about employment? Vancouver has been hollowed out as far as jobs are concerned - fewer office buildings in the core as companies have moved out, and condos replace them. So what kind of economy will we have? Tourism is returning to the ambit of the affluent, so low-paying service jobs will be lost too. If it wasn't for the pending lack of employment, I would venture to say that property values would actually increase as people move into the cities.

Things are going to get harder before they get easier. With escalating food prices, more people will be turning to produce their own food in their gardens, so we may well see the end of manicured lawns, and litle-used streets may well be turned to food production, infill housing, etc. The only comment on that January '07 post was someone who said that my utopian view of the Vancouver of the future could not happen because of all of the sewers, fibre optics cables, power, water mains etc., that run under the streets, but those are quite deep for the most part, so tearing up the asphalt and planting corn will have little to no effect on that aspect. What about police, ambulance, fire services? We could keep the alleys as they are and tear up the streets for infill housing, gardens, etc. Condo dwellers are going to face a bit of a challenge to grow their own food, so maybe more community gardens in parks? Allotments are old hat in Europe, why not here? The skies will be quieter with much less air traffic (and less chemtrails?!).

It looks like the USA might not be wanting the dirty oil from the tar sands very soon, so it will be interesting to see what happens to Alberta, I suppose China may want to buy it though.

Speaking of China, with the rising cost of transportation, it will soon be uneconomical to import everything that we wear, computers and electronics, etc., so there will be opportunities to start producing what we use here, and that will recreate jobs that have been lost to globalization.

There is a time of transition ahead, and that will not likely be smooth, but in the long run, we will likely be better off, and living much simpler, and hopefully, more meaningful lives. I read a good book some years ago called The Fifth Sacred Thing. It was an interesting and idyllic look at how we would live post-oil economy. It sounded great.

From that January 2007 post, here is a link to some of the ideas for a more livable city. It is a good start, and was produced before energy prices went hay-wire.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


A few shots of the sky over Vancouver last might.

Got Chemtrails? Climate change? HAARP? Tune in for more details - it might just turn into a series - The Skies Over Vancouver, or such.

Don't know about chemtrails, or HAARP? Google them for some background.

This was to be a post, but time is not on my side. li'l solipsist has moved to one nap a day, and I have even less time than ever. It's well after midnight, and 5:30 AM comes early, and I still have to eat dinner. I want to write about carbon taxes, and oil prices, and suburbia, and back to the future, and I will...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

letters, queftions...anfwers?

clicky pic for biggerness

I got an e-mail yesterday (below), and sent a response.

I see no need to write a thesis on it, so without further preamble:

What would you do/say?


20 Jun (1 day ago)


I am moving from Yaletown to Port Moody, because I have a new job there. Should we keep our condo in Yaletown as an investment? Or should we sell and buy a condo out there? Which is a better investment: Yaletown or Port Moody?

Our condo here is at xxx Cambie on the 26th floor w. SW views. 1150 sq. feet w. engineered hard wood floors, 2 bedrooms and solarium. Assesed (sic) at 550k.

In Port Moody, we would buy a 2000 sq. foot townhouse for about $500k

My theory is to keep our condo here, and wait 10 years or until it reaches 1 million - whichever comes first.


(name removed)




I would sell the condo, and rent until the correction has bottomed. Common consensus has it that the market has peaked. Look around at formerly "impregnable" markets (UK prices off 30%), and repeat the mantra - It is not different here, this time.

In 10 years, your condo may only be worth $50k - let alone a million. Your townhouse might be worth the same, and you would be on the hook for the mortgages on both.

If you have read much of my blog, you will know that I have been predicting a meltdown akin to, or worse than the Depression of the 1930's. Do you want to owe at least a half a million (for the TH) in a situation like that? If you want to make an investment, sell the condo, and buy two TH with the proceeds when the market bottoms.

My opinion is worth what you pay for it. I am not a financial planner, nor an RE guru, but I do have much, much more than I owe, and live very comfortably in my rented house, with no stress.

Best of luck, no matter what you decide.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

all bets are off

or, your guess is as good as anyone's.

Good grief. The TSX blew over 15,000 for a couple of days - setting it up to be worth almost 25% more than Wall St. Is that historical? Hysterical maybe. It shaved off a bit today with oil dropping by over $5/bbl. And the dollar edged up on expectations of the BoC raising interest rates to counter inflation. Gird your loins. (and why did it take so long to acknowledge that inflation? We have been noticing it, and commenting on it for ages!)

I look forward to higher interest rates so that my savings will actually mean something. It will, hopefully, cool the RE market a bit more too. Not that I really pay much attention to that anymore anyhow.

Mining companies are receiving federal permission to use pristine lakes as tailings ponds now. At least 16 Canadian lakes are being used thusly at present, with more to come. Got waterfront?

This weather is taking its toll too on our food crops - especially the weather in the American Mid-West, where the Mississippi is inundating cities, towns and villages - not to mention all that corn.

Turns out that what is killing all the amphibians is a type of fungus that infiltrates their skin, leading to a horrid death. Many species are now extinct in the wild, and there has been a concerted effort to salvage as many as possible for captive breeding, and release back to wild habitats. 30% of species are now extinct in the wild, and 50% of the remainder are endangered. Canaries in the coal mine?

The US presidential race is particularly uninspiring. I don't think that Americans are ready for a "black" man and his wife to take up residence in the Whitey House. If Obama does win, expect him to be assassinated post haste - especially if he is reckless enough to have Billary Clinton as his VP.

What else?

The federal Liberals unveil their carbon tax plan today, and I have doubts about whether Canadians will swallow it in any forthcoming election, and we will probably have another paralyzed minority government which acts like a majority until the world ends in 2012 (no, I do not really think the world will end).

A complex crop circle showed up in England representing Pi to 9 digits. The aliens are warning us, or the hoaxers are getting more proficient.

Some guy on Vancouver Island has been making electric trucks for the past 5 years and selling them into the US. Transport Canada will not pass them for use on Canadian roads (not the Zenn Electric car either), but has approved an American manufacturer's more or less identical vehicle to be sold and used in Canada. What's with that?

The American military has been making raids across the Pakistan border, and Canadian soldiers are likely doing the same - in pursuit of "Taliban insurgents". I thought that they were after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Oh, that's right, it's really about the gas pipeline into Pakistan and India. Whatever happened to the good old days with al Qaeda and the "Axis of Evil"? Got liberation and democracy?

My neighbour has not sold their press board mansion yet, and I doubt they will without taking a huge loss. Tough tofu, I say.

It's kind of a grab bag day because there is so much going on, I can't keep up. I can't even get my police helicopter surveillance video up. I feel like I am in the calm before the storm. How about you?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

random repair residences

Yay! I was allowed back in!

I was out perambulating with li'l solipsist today and grabbed a few shots for curb appeal/appall/whatever. I don't think that the correction has happened yet, and I can't even be bothered to check.

So, a few shots of what East Vancouver has to offer, though none of these are for sale to my knowledge.

From not too bad to worst.

This place isn't too bad for some reason. There is something that I like about it. The colour is bold, the lines are fairly clean, but the designer seemed to have nothing really to say.

It reminds me of northern Europe if you scale it down and get rid of the cheesy cultured stone facing, and butt-ugly entrance doors. Actually, the whole front entrance area needs re-working.

This non-descript little place is dwarfed by its neighbours, so they put up a big, ugly sign to compensate.

The advertisement looks to be threatening with a 45 gallon drum of various colours of paint, or a nuclear device of some sort.

I don't know, maybe spruce yer place up before using it as an advertisement, and use a little imagination in your sign.

This unfortunate little place has no windows on the sides at all. The front windows are shuttered. I think vampires live here.

This place looks plain abandoned, and is an eyesore. Perhaps the police should investigate. It just has that air to it.

Well that was exciting. the pope, mohican, paulb, Rob Chipman, et al have the news and numbers, I am just a random commentator.

Stay tuned for my copper chopper/VANOC/CSIS/RCMP surveillance post.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

i pick the ending

I have not been posting so much for a number of reasons. l'il solipsist is the biggest one, but I have been engrossed in other areas of study besides. I wrote a post over two days (many, many interruptions), and was just finishing, when blogger crashed it, and it was gone. I will try to reproduce it...

Politics are very interesting these days. I don't fixate on US candidate nomination races - that is all part of the "look at the pretty bauble", or the "lay back and think of England" type of distractions. Canada is a rudder-less ship over-taken by pirates who drink from lead tankards (it is the Canadian politics that have my attention lately).

I picked up a little snippet of curious information; the various churches, of various denominations, own 7-8% of all inhabitable land on Earth. That is a lot of land, and you can bet that those holdings are not mortgaged. Talk about cornering the market...

Driven to distraction by gas/energy prices? (pun intended) Do you think that it is "Peak Oil"? Hurricane Katrina? All those emerging economies like China and India? Horseship! This article on the Oil Pimps might have you revisiting those ideas. And you thought that price manipulation on a vast scale was unlikely...

This article entitled 20 reasons new megabubble pops in 2011 might have you thinking that all we "bears" who refused to buy over-priced Real Estate are actually pretty prescient, if not down-right genii. Those who bought in the last few years will be under water for a very long time, and may never recover their "investment". I smell a lot of foreclosures and bankruptcies in the pipe. I'm glad that I have respectable savings while the rest of the hemisphere has negative savings.

Still excited about the Olympics? An article over at The Republic has a few things to say about that. A couple of excerpts; (emboldening mine)
...the Olympics is not just the two-week show that happens on television in February 2010. It is a decade-long preparation process that includes real estate deals at a ferocious pace, road and rail and venue construction through zones that would never be allowed under normal, calmly-considered circumstances, and of course there is the ubiquitous security preparations comprising the biggest single expense item in the whole expensive affair.

...the IOC’s rules that insisted that publicly-released cost estimates for games preparations borne by the citizens of host cities cannot include allowance for inflation during future years of construction, even though all normal and routine budget plans for all projects public and private include calculations of the future value of today’s dollars over the course of multiyear construction projects. The purpose of this rule can only be to obscure the true costs for cities thinking about making bids to host future Olympic games.
Kevin Potvin goes on to explain that the only Olympic experience that Vancouverites will have is through television, and a city carved up by security perimeters (he neglects to mention the property tax increases and the years of living in a city under construction - with the concomitant traffic snarls, noise, dust, etc.)

My wife and I, and li'l solipsist are planning on being in Mexico for that time in 2010. We can't really afford it, but I won't be able to take running into military road blocks, etc. - especially as we can expect to see an American military presence here (thanks to Harper/Bush deal on that). I am likely to be shot, or at the very least arrested, in such a scenario.

This is all a bit of a pessimistic rant, but there is a bright spot; the neighbour who is flipping their house after 9 months are having an Open House today, and it is very quiet. Just a few tire-kickers, from what I can tell.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

sixes and nines...and eights

I've been at sixes and nines over the RE market for some time. But what about eights?

I came across this place (V712672) when checking the state of the market. The wish price is $888,888.00. Do you think they are marketing to the Chinese demographic - who have a thing about the number 8?

Rob Chipman talks about "sharp pricing"; I think that this place is sharply priced (though ridiculous). Would a Chinese buyer risk bidding $850K, or $799K? That would wreck the numerological perfection of the pricing, and wipe out any good luck and prosperity associated with the price.

What about over-bids? 'I'll give you $888,888.88'.

Maybe it will just sit until it is $444,444.00. But that might mean death. Hmm. Maybe this place will indicate the death of the boom.