Prognostications and other thoughts

Monday, May 16, 2005

Median Home Prices in the Bay Area

On the news today, they said SF Bay Area median home prices were at another record high; about $550k. That means considering the highest and the lowest for avail inventory and taking the midpoint.

Here is the story from the source.
I don't see how residents can afford to live here. But the odds of home prices coming down are probably slim and none. Perhaps the bubble will burst, a la dot com days--but I don't see it happening. But we need some market correction.

Mountan Lions (Pumas) in SF Bay

This story about recent/very local Mountain Lion sightings here in the San Francisco Bay Area was just on the news a few days ago (May 14th).
Apparently, they've been seen on a more regular basis in some very accessible, traditionaly "safe" local parks (foothills park and arastradero preserve, which butt up against one another in Palo Alto/Los Altos Hills/Portola Valley area).
This is remarkable to me--first, they should be in more remote places. Second, that they are become less afraid of humans/dogs is alarming. City of Palo Alto is even considering banning Park Use.

It is amazing to think that Mountain Lions are becoming the next "coyote"-meaning previously low populations of animals that have adapted to human encroachment and who also have no natural predators. Unfortunately, though I usually side with Ma Nature, i think these animals have to be removed (peacefully) and transported/reintroduced elsewhere where there is less chance for human interaction. Sadly, the alternative seems to be to introduce limited hunting to keep #'s in check. The unfortunate thing is that the argument for keeping deer populations in check is to make sure there are enough predators. Quite obviously, we have an overpopulation of deer, and, an overpopulation of mountain lions.

Last year, there was TV coverage about a Mountain Lion that had strolled in to midtown Palo Alto-total residential neighborhood, some 6-10 miles from Arastradero preserve. That cat had to get through either a drain culvert or PUBLIC ROADS to make it that far. Police ended up shooting it (caught up in a tree) with a high-power rifle. Good thing the bullet hit the cat and not a person.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Yahoo Music Unlimited

Yahoo Music Unlimited is a pretty good offering from Yahoo! $60 annual sub to unlimited songs, from over 1 million titles.
The critical flaw is it isn't compatible with iPods.
Yahoo states it has 345 million subscribers; with just 1% adoption, that's $207 million/year! Of course the margins are really low though.

Here is the press release.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

United Airlines-sad story

Jeez, United has been trading on the OTC mkt for the past few years. Less than a buck a share. The second largest airline in the world.

What's hairy is that retirees just lost 25% of their pension. Granted, pensions may be a thing of the past, but imagine working your whole career for a once great company, then having to "adjust" your standard of living by 1/4? Whew.

Here's the story
"CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal bankruptcy judge approved United Airlines' plan to terminate its employees' pension plans on Tuesday, clearing the way for the largest corporate-pension default in American history.

The ruling, which carries broad implications for U.S. airlines and their workers, shifts responsibility for United's four defined-benefit plans to the government's pension agency.

That will save cash-strapped United an estimated $645 million a year, part of the $2 billion in annual savings it says it needs to line up enough financing to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as soon as this fall.

But the cost will be painful to its employees, many of whom stand to lose thousands of dollars annually off their pensions when they are assumed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. A total of 120,000 current and retired United workers are covered by the pensions, including 62,000 active employees."

Monday, May 09, 2005

Time to buy PalmOne!

The reality is that virtually any of these kinds of devices could do what people need-essentially a portable hard drive that let's you store data, esp music and images. Add PDA functionality and you've got something.
iPod's are simply a very cool way to store/play your music. Why not go to other file formats?

PalmOne will blow it, tho, by offering devices that don't have enough storage to make it meaningful.

In any case, here's the story on the new PalmOne "LifeDrive". That is a killer name.

"PalmOne plans a new category of mobile computing products called mobile manager, and will unveil the first such device later this month, the company says in a statement. But it appears Amazon.com has beaten PalmOne to the punch by offering details of the PalmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager on its Web site.

PalmOne has created the mobile manager category of products for users who want to carry, file, and manage content such as music and video, the Milpitas, California, company says. According to analysts, PalmOne is planning to officially announce the new product on May 18."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Wildflower 2005 triathlon recap

Here are the results

- Raining and cold on Thursday when Gary and I got there. Met this nice little Wild Boar sniffing through the camp site.
- 48' on Friday morning, foggy. We were pretty nervous about cold weather, possibly rain on Saturday, but it turned out great for racing. Water was cold - 66'.

Saturday: 1.2 mi swim/56 bike/13.1 run:
It is so difficult getting up at 5:45AM when it is butt cold and while hungover. In any case:
- Jimmy had an awesome swim, 29:33, and Keish edged me out of the water in 32:33; I saw him in the transition but never again until the finish line.
- Bike course was tough as usual--def need more time in the aero bars next year and Keish put another 1 1/2 mins on me in the bike. Aero wheels (hed or zipp!) are def 3+ minutes faster.
- On the run, the "nagging calf injury" reared up 1 1/2 miles into it, and I was very close to quitting and walking back. Decided to slow down and trudge along at 8:18 pace. Caught up with pro Linda Gallo, who had won the woman's swim in 24 mins but got a flat w/her tubular tire and spent 30 minutes fixing it. Hopefully she'll be joining us for some runs/rides in the future. Check her out:
- Had to take a potty break (#1 and #2) at mile 12 of the run. That was unfortunate. 3 mins lost there for sure.
- Finished in 5:04, second slowest ever but pretty reasonable considering the leg and the bathroom stop; should have gone 4:57 but wouldn't have caught Keish who did a smokin' fast 4:51!
- Dr. Anthony Powell was all grins with a sweet 5:17, and Jimmy needed an IV after going 6:41.
- Meanwhile Simon Lessing set a new course record-just under 4 hours (unf'ingbelievable), averaging 23+ on the bike and 5:45 miles.
- Gatorade may have become the new drink of choice for me. I think i need the salt.
- Went to bed at 8PM, exhausted, after some of Gary's awesome tri-tip.

Sunday: .9 mi swim/25 bike/6.2 run
Maniac Keish convinced me to do the Olympic distance race too, so we joined Gary, Conrad in his first tri, and Conrad's brothers/friend who did a relay.
- The swim wasn't that bad and helped stretch out the muscles. Keish was still fresh; put 2 mins in to me.
- Bike was awful. Legs were completely depleted. Keish put another 3 mins in there.
- Run felt surprisingly good. Calf didn't even hurt that much
Keish finished 6th in the age group with a 2:23; I did a 2:33.
Next year, I think we'll do a relay on day 2 instead of back to back races. Simply too painful.
- Gary had serious bike issues. Flatted, fixed it, then flatted again with no tube, no glue, no C02. Got help from a guy in an RV--they fitted a 650 tube into his 700 rim--and it worked!
- Conrad had an AWESOME first attempt-bringing home iron and 5th place for the 50-54 age group. Fantastic effort, Conrad! Next year, I expect him to have aerobars and maybe wheels-to shave 7 mins off his bike split.

What a great weekend. Congrats to all of you who suffered through it and had a ton of fun.
Wish the rest of you were there.

-twain