Sat. Aug. 22, 2020 – home again home again jiggity jig

Hot.  Humid.  and now ocean breeze,    yet…

Left Galveston for home after spending an hour in the water, and a half hour flying a kite.   Wind was too variable for my new stunt kite (well, technically, too variable for ME to run my new stunt kite.)   The early part of the day the sea was calm and quiet, cooler, and there was no breeze at all.  It was like floating in the bathtub.   The wind picked up and so did the waves, and it eventually started raining.  So we beat feet back to Houston, where — it started raining shortly after we got home.  At least we didn’t have to drive in it.

Everything was fine at home, and the dog is happily tucked into his bed next to my wife as I write this.

I had a couple of observations comparing this trip to our last visit to Galveston.  We never go into town, or do tourist-y things, just the beach.  That said, it was super quiet in town and at the beach.  To get to where we stayed you have to basically drive along 12 miles of oceanfront, which I’ve never seen as empty as this week.  Even if I went down for an auction pickup, the beaches and parking along the beach, were always busy.  Not this week.

Our beachhouse rental happened because they didn’t have a booking and reduced the rate enough that my wife jumped on it.  They didn’t have a rental for this weekend either.   As is normal for second homes/beach/lake/or other houses, the owners use them for part of the year and count on rentals during the rest of the year to pay the upkeep and outrageously high taxes.  With rentals down, there are sure to be families that lose houses that have been in their families for a long time (pretty much the only way normal people end up with beach houses is they inherit them.   The only way to keep them is as income properties.)  If investors and speculators playing a cash flow rental property game lose out, I’m not that heartbroken.  There are risks with every reward, and airbnb super renters are not much more than gamblers in my book.

There was a lot of economic collateral damage visible too, with  restaurants and other small businesses closed.  Even the strip clubs were shuttered.  We would normally have eaten out at least one night, and probably would have bought at least some food and drink in local stores.  Instead we brought it all in with us (the owner told us we should) and cooked for ourselves.

One of the things I noticed was the complete lack of commercial shipping visible.  Last time we were down there, there was a line of ships waiting to get into the bay to unload that stretched across half the horizon.  This time there were NONE.  I didn’t see any steaming in or out either.

There are usually a couple of sport fishers out and visible too.  Only one this trip in three days of looking.

Road traffic was light both going and coming home, even though we were coming north on the Beltway into an area that is reliably congested on most afternoons, and backed up and slow on a typical Friday.  We sailed right through the toll plaza with barely a brake light showing.  This is the last weekend before school starts, and would normally be crowded with trailers and RVs trying to get out of town.  Not now.

There are going to be some really long term effects on real estate from this year’s events.  If you have the money and want to live in NYFC, apparently rents and sale prices are WAY down already.  Elsewhere there are going to be vacation houses for sale soon, as people can’t make the payments, or pay the taxes.  Local economies based on tourism are either going to crater, or see an influx of new ‘refugee’ residents, vis The Hamptons or other toney areas near NYFC.  Good schools and high speed internet are probably going to be very important to which way each community goes.  The influx of people from a different culture is going to be disruptive to those communities too.  It’s also probably going to depend on if the community has a lot of outsiders who are familiar with that community.  The Hamptons are already familiar to the new monied ‘refugees’ whereas Panama City Beach, or Galveston draw primarily from the local area anyway.   There will be some even longer term effects when the new ‘refugees’ realize there are good reasons not to live in those resort areas year ’round…

Stepping aside from all that for a moment, it looks like Florida and the Gulf Coast are about to get smacked around by TWO named storms in the same week.   Or one giant superstorm, if the Gates have opened and the Horsemen are on the prowl….

All of it tells me that we really ‘ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.’   And there will be opportunities for the prepared and well positioned, as well as devastation for the unwise and unlucky.  I know which of those groups I want to be in.  I want you in there too, so get stacking…

 

n

Author: Nick Flandrey

Mid 50s, stay at home dad, with two elementary school age girls. Love my family and my life.

38 thoughts on “Sat. Aug. 22, 2020 – home again home again jiggity jig”

  1. There are going to be some really long term effects on real estate from this year’s events. If you have the money and want to live in NYFC, apparently rents and sale prices are WAY down already. Elsewhere there are going to be vacation houses for sale soon, as people can’t make the payments, or pay the taxes.

    Prices and sales here in Austin have actually been up over last year. As long as interest rates stay artificially low thanks to the Fed, people are going to roll the dice, especially here, where The Real Life Tony Stark (TM) just broke ground on his truck factory thanks to a $68 million concession from an ISD that couldn’t afford such a concession. And who can’t resist the “culture” — cough … bacchanalia … cough — of 6th Street.

    Am I too hard on my chosen place to live? Austin was a compromise. My wife wouldn’t return to FL, and I was done with Portland long before Black Lives Matter got a couple of billion dollars from mystery donors to cause the current mischief.

    I make no apologies for being tough on Tony.

    We drove out to Panama City Beach to visit the venerable Goofy Golf during our trip at the beginning of July. All the new construction on the water east of Destin to Panama City looked like AirBNB superhost bait. Anything older looked like it was in trouble, including Goofy Golf.

    Closer to where we stayed, in Fort Walton Beach, the locals’ areas looked like any other community, but the town is obviously dependent on Eglin Air Force base and residuals from Destin. Plus, like everywhere else in Florida, lots of Publix store employment.

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  2. First high school football game of the season. Only about 25% of the people in the stands wore masks. No one on the field wore masks. During the coin toss the officials stayed 6+ feet apart, only one captain from each team allowed, no touching. Then minute later the players are slamming into each other’s sweaty bodies. But not allowed to touch during the coin toss. Kabuki theatre.

    Here is a link to the pictures if you have some time to waste.

  3. Nice pictures, Ray. Some big players. Photo equipment has come a long way.

  4. Still a little above normal temps here, with dew points in the 40s, and some smoke and clouds. Translates to a forecast high of 108F, with RH 10% at the high. Not cooling enough at night. The last couple of lows were low 80s instead of 70s.

    It always cools by November. Not looking forward to winter.

  5. First high school football game of the season. Only about 25% of the people in the stands wore masks. No one on the field wore masks. During the coin toss the officials stayed 6+ feet apart, only one captain from each team allowed, no touching. Then minute later the players are slamming into each other’s sweaty bodies. But not allowed to touch during the coin toss. Kabuki theatre.

    Don’t the same officials work together every week even if they are at different places?

    iPhone pics? Nice. We may upgrade my wife to the Pro when the refresh cycle starts.

  6. Stepping aside from all that for a moment, it looks like Florida and the Gulf Coast are about to get smacked around by TWO named storms in the same week. Or one giant superstorm, if the Gates have opened and the Horsemen are on the prowl….

    Sharknados!

    It really is too bad SyFy killed that franchise after the first sequel.

    The opening of “Sharknado 2” is worth the time even if you don’t see another minute of the series. My wife saw the carrier name on the Airplane (cough), looked at the pilot, and asked “He’s still alive?!? Where’s he been for 40 years?”

    “Conservative.”

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  7. Well, it’s actually cooler today so far than normal… 92F at 1030. And a bit overcast.

    Just finished my instacart orders for HEB and Costco. There was a lot of stuff out of stock. searching on ‘clorox wipes’ got nothing at either store. There was bleach. No lysol though. I ordered TP and paper towels.

    Costco had some decent prices on quality meat. Choice rib eye roast for <$13/pound, and prime was <$16. Both stores had beef tenderloin available, and both had precut filet mignon that wasn't ridiculously high. I did notice that both have more lower end cuts available than they would have previously. Diced tomatoes were OOS at HEB, and puree'd OOS at Costco. I was able to buy one shrink wrap of canned chicken. The TP was limit one. I better get out and cut the grass before the rain comes, or the heat gets worse. n


  8. Don’t the same officials work together every week even if they are at different places?

    No, they change people to keep any favoritism from happening. All refs are from a different area and thus are supposed to have zero affiliation with any of the schools playing.

    iPhone pics?

    Too dark. There were lots of dark clouds. The stadium lights are not very good, flicker for the camera but not the naked eye. ISO needs to be about 5K and the f-stop at 2.2 to get 1/500 of a second. The lights also change color depending on where in the A/C current cycle the picture is taken. Most annoying.

  9. There was a lot of economic collateral damage visible too, with restaurants and other small businesses closed. Even the strip clubs were shuttered. We would normally have eaten out at least one night, and probably would have bought at least some food and drink in local stores. Instead we brought it all in with us (the owner told us we should) and cooked for ourselves.

    The economic damage is twofold. Both the virus and the disaster in the oil patch. I haven’t spent the money that the feddies gave my business in March yet. But sales suck and I am considering a severe price decrease of our software. And 2021 is looking even worse.

  10. I do not understand the crazy going on out there about 5G but obviously Scott Adams does.

    The humor is that it would be the typical telecom manager’s response. The people who are currently in charge at AT&T since the departure of Randall the Rat are legacy PacBell, some of whom directly inspired Dilbert, starting with CEO John Stankey.

    (I’m not kidding about the name)

    The irony is that Dilbert’s popularity is waning just as the material is more relevant than ever.

    I’ve lived this one:

    https://dilbert.com/strip/2020-08-19

    I got in trouble last year because I said that a female co-worker “needed to be on top of things”. Nothing came of it, but who knows in a post-Plugs victory era next year.

    The other day I dropped a Dilbert TV show reference, saying our test lead was “like Bob Bastard”. God help me if it turns out he grew up without a father.

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  11. There are going to be some really long term effects on real estate from this year’s events.

    BTW, I bought our home in 2013 that we sold in July. We bought it for $120/ft2 in 2013 and sold it for $120/ft2 in 2020. Not good.

  12. FYI, Dollar General has all their seasonal clearance merchandise (and a bunch of other stuff) on for 50% off. Sale ends tomorrow (Sunday). The variety includes some medicinal products (pain relievers, etc), Kingsford charcoal, some kinds of cleaning products, some foods… I found good buys on several things that were already on my list.

  13. I make no apologies for being tough on Tony.

    You do know that you are the only one doing so ? If the dude was to create a flying iron suit and start fighting crime, people would not be surprised.

  14. You do know that you are the only one doing so ? If the dude was to create a flying iron suit and start fighting crime, people would not be surprised.

    I’m not the only one, but the religious fervor around TSLA makes prominent voices scared.

    Musk just has to hang tough until the election. A Plugs victory means Cash For Clunkers 2.0 and more extortion -er- “compliance credits” sold as CAFE goes to 54 MPG with full penalties restored.

    Cash For Clunkers 1.0 took a bunch of beater pickups, decent 80s/90s survivor cars, and the last Iacocca-approved Cherokees off the road. I’m predicting pre-2000 Ford F150s, Toyota Tacomas, and various Nissan pickups in round 2.0, just as the Cybertruck factory is predicted to open.

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  15. The last thing that I do before I do before I leave the office on Friday nights, or the end of the week, is to plug in the USB external hard drive that I brought in that day, hopefully, and start the backup program when it synchronizes. My hard drive last night would start synchronizing and then quit. After several times, I suddenly remembered Pournelle’s law of computers and started checking the two cables, usb3 and power. When I started moving the usb3 cable around, the drive would go on and off. I replaced the usb3 cable and all was good. My first usb3 cable failure !

  16. Yard work is paused. Heavy rain just started.

    I got the bird net down off the blueberries, and weed wacked around them. I don’t when the net is covering them and they were looking pretty overgrown. No more berries for the year so the net can come off.

    I cut the front yard, and started raking up trashed pecans in the back. I was just starting to pick up the piles when the sky opened up.

    Power just blinked.

    n

  17. “I’m not the only one, but the religious fervor around TSLA makes prominent voices scared.”

    $2,000 for a share of Tesla stock is excessive in my opinion. But maybe I am jealous since I do not own any.

    Two quarters of $400 million in “compliance credits” means they’re now eligible for the Fortune 500. Unbelievable.

    Disclaimer: I currently have the spare cash from my broker account stashed in PSQ.

  18. Costco run today.

    – Masking still enforced, but, unlike Sam’s Club near the house, no police vehicle parked at the entrance to reinforce the message.

    – The low sodium Spam is out of stock at the store closest to the house, the first time that happened since March. Hurricane hysteria or something else? My kids have been eating the stash for lunch.

    – Meat selection and prices were almost back to pre-virus levels, similar to what @Nick saw at his Costco. Still a lot of lamb rounding out the refrigerated case, however.

    – On the way out, I spotted the car buying program “deals”. GM Arlington Tahoe. Two wheel drive. V8. The 10-speed Ford-GM transmission GM can’t make work right. $70,000 sticker. Dang! The other “deal” was a similar-sized Infiniti SUV, for the same price.

  19. My dog is mostly deaf now, fairly suddenly since we first noticed. He doesn’t like storms at all, but doesn’t even twitch when there is thunder. He never used to be bothered but now he pants and wants up on my lap. I think he feels the pressure change, or maybe there is some low freq vibration that bothers him. If he keeps up, I’ll put his sweater on him. The ‘squeezing’ calms him down.

    n

  20. “Marco likely to go east of Houston, still lots of questions about Laura”
    https://spacecityweather.com/marco-likely-to-go-east-of-houston-still-lots-of-questions-about-laura/

    1. Marco is forecasted to make landfall Monday at noon.

    2. Laura is forecasted to enter the Gulf of Mexico at the same time.

    So we will not have two hurricanes in the Gulf at the same time.

    Wow, NOAA has both hurricanes going in at NOLA.
    https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT13/refresh/AL132020_5day_cone_no_line_and_wind+png/234525_5day_cone_no_line_and_wind.png
    and
    https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT14/refresh/AL142020_5day_cone_no_line_and_wind+png/025457_5day_cone_no_line_and_wind.png

  21. Wife and I stopped at Costco today too. Meat quantity and prices were back to normal. Paper towels were low and only 5 jumbo packs of Charmin TP – I got one. Everything else seemed normal. We did get more of their sea bass from the freezer section. We got one pack last trip to try. It’s much cheaper than fresh. It wasn’t as good as good fresh sea bass, but for the price it’s not bad at all.

  22. The regular grocery store had fewer gaps when I went a few days ago: meat coolers closer to full, a bit more variety in the canned soups. Meat prices were still higher than back in March. The soups, and canned meats, though present where they hadn’t been a couple weeks ago, were only one row deep, so there’s still a supply chain disruption. I can’t tell you how the prices of Chunky soup compare now to five months ago, as I seldom eat that sort of thing and have been buying them only for my daughter.

    I’ll note that except for milk, eggs, and meat, if it were just me I wouldn’t have had to buy anything since March. Even those items weren’t strictly necessary. No doubt I’d have gotten really sick of bread, rice, and beans, but I wouldn’t have starved. (Though I think I’d be about out by now. Estimated 2-3 months supplies on hand for her and me eating normally should extend to five months of me eating lightly but I’ve never put that to the test.) My daughter, on the other hand, is too used to her PopTarts, chips, canned soups, and other things which either I can’t make at all or which I can’t make like she’s used to. I’ll further note that her grandmother, mother, brothers, and I are not fussy eaters. Where did we go wrong with her? Anyway, I’ve mentioned the PopTarts and such before but it bears repeating: when you’re stockpiling food, don’t focus just on bare calories or carb/protein/fat breakdowns. Make allowance for what people will actually eat.

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  23. Make allowance for what people will actually eat.

    So, no canned rattlesnake meat?

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  24. – On the way out, I spotted the car buying program “deals”. GM Arlington Tahoe. Two wheel drive. V8. The 10-speed Ford-GM transmission GM can’t make work right. $70,000 sticker. Dang! The other “deal” was a similar-sized Infiniti SUV, for the same price.

    The selling price would be at least $15,000 off the MSRP. Maybe $20K off MSRP. The Ford Expedition is priced about the same. There is no way that I am paying $55K for an Expedition. So, I paid $40K for a 2019 F-150 4×4 last October that had an MSRP of $54K.

  25. The selling price would be at least $15,000 off the MSRP. Maybe $20K off MSRP. The Ford Expedition is priced about the same. There is no way that I am paying $55K for an Expedition. So, I paid $40K for a 2019 F-150 4×4 last October that had an MSRP of $54K.

    $55k is still a lot to pay for GM Arlington with that transmission. GM has been buying the old transmission again and sneaking it into the line since losing the #2 truck slot to Ram Classic.

  26. – On the way out, I spotted the car buying program “deals”. GM Arlington Tahoe. Two wheel drive. V8. The 10-speed Ford-GM transmission GM can’t make work right.

    Huh. The ten speed automatic in my Ford F-150 4×4 is awesome. I get an occasional hard shift and it downshifts a little too much in my opinion. If I accelerate hard at all, it drops from 10th to 7th gear. Then it upshifts slowly back through the gears. No hunting back and forth between gears.

    I have a great vertical display on my digital instrument panel that shows all ten gears. The current gear is always in blue, the other gears are in white.

  27. Huh. The ten speed automatic in my Ford F-150 4×4 is awesome. I get an occasional hard shift and it downshifts a little too much in my opinion. If I accelerate hard at all, it drops from 10th to 7th gear. Then it upshifts slowly back through the gears. No hunting back and forth between gears.

    I have a great vertical display on my digital instrument panel that shows all ten gears. The current gear is always in blue, the other gears are in white.

    Ford and GM manufacture the transmissions separately. Plus I would imagine they went their separate ways on software.

    And Ford doesn’t try to drive a 1500 class pickup with a 4-cylinder engine.

    Ford has their own hell with the new Explorer.

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  28. You’re on your own… battles in the street have started in earnest.

    Portland police stand down while alt-right groups and anti-police protesters brawl with weapons as cops ‘did not have the manpower to deal with large crowds willingly engaging in violence’

    ‘Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations.’

    ‘Crowd management events are complex, especially when they involve groups with differing ideologies with members who wish to engage in physical confrontations,’ added Chief Chuck Lovell.

    ‘PPB had to be judicious with our limited resources today especially since many of our members worked during the riot this morning and had very little sleep. Our resources are finite and we also have emergency calls for service to manage across the City.’

    The statement added that there was also an investigation underway after a video posted to social media appeared to show a man pointing a firearm at the crowd at some point during the day.

    n

  29. Funny, this article proceeded the other, yet the other is titled “protests TURN violent”…

    Despite the warnings, officers were ‘almost immediately’ targeted by protesters throwing bottles and eggs, and pointing green lasers toward their eyes, the department said in a statement.

    The encounter resulted in a three-hour clash during which protesters allegedly pelted police vehicles with ‘softball-sized rocks’ golf balls, ball bearings, metal railroad spikes and plastic eggs filled with paint.

    Police said some members of the crowd had hurled balloons filled with feces at the cars and some used a torn up street sign to vandalize the vehicles.

  30. “Cops can apparently do anything now. ”

    –under the law, the dog (K9) is a cop and anything you do to it, it’s the same as if you did it to a human cop. Which is just messed up. The question to ask in this case is “What was the HANDLER doing to allow her dog to stick its nose thru the fence?”

    n

  31. And didn’t Indycar used to run 4 cyl engines? (google says 6 cyl now, and I can’t find the reference…)

    Indianapolis: The Offenhauser Story – The Power AND The Glory:

    The Post Depression Indy Austerity Formula

    It was in this highly successful period that Miller designed the engine that was to become the Offenhauser. It was a 151 cu in (2.5-liter) four-cylinder engine with two valves per cylinder, designed as a marine racing engine for Dick Loynes, one of the boat-racing champions of the times. Because it was intended for marine use, it was much more robust than the others racing engines but, again, it retained the basic Miller layout. Following the depression of 1929, what might be called an austerity formula was introduced at Indianapolis, superchargers being banned. Miller straight-eights continued to be the most popular engines for Indianapolis, but Bill White, one of the leading figures in track racing at that time, thought that a ‘big-four’ might give better torque than the eights, especially since it could be half a liter bigger.

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