76 thoughts on “December 28, 2016: Watership Downer”

  1. Bears are cool. RIP, Mr. Adams. Shardik was not as famous as Watership Down, but it was at least as heavy.

  2. Offer on house rejected. Somebody waltzed in and offered well over our max, all cash. We were already $11k over list. Not gonna get in a bidding war.

    Boo. The Mrs is buying a pair of boots today....

    1. 11K boots?

      When both me and my MIL sold our houses, this year, we both sold to people who paid straight cash. In one case, there was a higher bid that wasn't cash, but we took the cash. Rich get richer.

      1. Remind me again why this makes a difference to the seller. Something about not dealing with mortgage broker and/or guaranteed sale?

          1. And depending on the timing, faster can be really helpful if you are in the process of buying a different property while you're in the process of selling.

    2. List price, ahahahahaha. If a house in Seattle doesn't go for at least 10% over list, there is probably something super wrong with it. And sometimes there wind up being crazy bidding wars on tear-downs, though that's usually between developers on lots that have been upzoned.

      We were super lucky to buy back in September, but that involved cobbling together an offer in 2-3 hours on a Monday evening when the offers were supposed to be reviewed on Thursday. We had the highest offer of the 4 bids reviewed on Monday evening, but I'm confident there would have been at least 7-8 bids had they waited until Thursday and I'm not sure if we would have been the strongest bid at that point. (We most certainly did not pay all cash and plenty of homes around here are being bought with cash offers.) I'm a bit surprised the sellers were so eager to look at bids ahead of their scheduled date given how hot the market is here.

      Anyway, good luck out there, buying a house is stressful enough even if there aren't any competing offers.

      1. The area we've been looking at isn't insane, but the good ones go fast and mostly over list. I'm still stuck at the "$XXX only buys you this!?" phase.

        1. For example, we stopped by Winona along our holiday travels for a bit. I saw this house for sale while driving. Out of curiosity I looked it up. Same price as a modest 3BR where we're looking.

          (For those of you in the know about Winona, check out where that house is)

          1. The market here is simultaneously insane (you have to pay how much for what?) and rational (limited real estate, strong economy, terrible commutes so premium value on convenient locations), but given that my wife and I both have good jobs, I'll hold my nose on paying through the roof for housing.

            1. We are at minimum, 80 minutes from downtown SF (can be 2-3 hours, depending on traffic) and 20-25 minutes from downtown Sac. When the Bay Area real estate market is bubbling, like now, SF types come into our market and snap up homes. Right now, it's the types of smallish, older custom homes we are interested in. πŸ™

              1. Allegedly a lot of the all-cash purchases here are foreign (i.e. Chinese) investors looking to diversify their holdings. They are certainly out there, but mostly when I was out at open houses it seemed to be people looking for a place to live.

                1. The buyer of my house was a Chinese investor. The buyer of my mother's house was a local family of four. Both cash. I wonder if the latter got an inheritance or they simply sold the old home before they bought the new one.

      2. One of the reasons I was looking to leave Austin was the housing is just simply unsustainable down there.

        1. I know a few people who swear by living as a single person in NYC in your 20s and then moving away. The housing costs are crazy, but at that age you can live with a crappy apartment and roommates, while potentially banking up a good amount of money at a good-paying job.

          So in some cases it can make sense to pay a lot for housing/rent, but generally speaking I hate viewing housing as an investment and think it makes more sense to treat it mainly as an expense to be minimized. I mean, if my house goes up in value, that only hurts my cash flow in the short term (property taxes) and only helps me long term if I move away to a cheaper area or to a smaller house, which I might not want to do after living in one place for a while.

          1. Both of the Mrs's brothers live in NYC. One is in Manhattan, on the edge of Spanish Harlem; the other, in Brooklyn.

            Housing costs are silly. The Manhattanite, a h.s. principal, is paying something like $2400 per month for a two bedroom apartment, where he lives with wife and kid. The Brooklyner pays like $1800 for a similar apartment, I think. His kids mostly live with their mother.

            I cannot imagine trying to raise a family in NYC, but they seem to cope.

            In our case, owning a home really is economically efficient. The investment has proven to deliver reasonable (paper) returns on our capital. Real estate taxes get built into rents, so it is not like you avoid them by renting, and you add the dubious value of a landlord being responsible for much of the maintenance. Which often means dealing with recalcitrant landlords and crappy appliances, etc.

            1. Which often means dealing with recalcitrant landlords and crappy appliances, etc.

              Yes, but you don't have to face costly repair bills when emergencies arise. I had a $1,200 plumbing repair bill 3 weeks before Christmas.

              1. Yes, but if a pipe bursts and you have no renters insurance, you might be royally screwed.

                If markets were efficient, there would be little difference between the two. But they often are not. So it can swing either way.

                1. I didn't have the most stuff in the world, and maybe the policy wouldn't have covered everything, but our renters insurance cost almost nothing. Maybe $30 a year or something like that. So just a plug for any renters to price out some renters insurance.

                  1. we paid something like 2K in premiums over 6 years while living in Albuquerque, and when the place burned down we were paid out 40+K. I can't imagine not having that coverage now.

    1. Certainly read Watership Down when you have a chance. I remember when The Plague Dogs came out, and it being a big deal, although the reviews were mixed; probably high expectations after his first book.

      1. Shardik was his second novel. It was a massive tome and something of a slog to read. Or at least it was for elementary school me. But still interesting.

      2. W.D. book was real good - but I remember seeing the movie also - animated, but very stylishly/watercolory.

  3. This article discusses something I've noticed (and appreciated) while watching the Wild this year: fighting in hockey is dying. It took me a long time before I realized I hadn't seen a fight, which I think speaks volumes to the fact that it isn't really missed.

    1. College hockey is a lot of fun and there's essentially no fighting. It's certainly not necessary from a fan standpoint.

  4. AMR, I went to Red Rabbit last week for lunch and highly recommend it. North Loop Citizens should have it on their radar as well: Twayn, free, ben . . . anyone else?

      1. Yes, with caveats.

        -Must be after January 10.
        -sean must be able to be there as well. (I have an item for him.)

        1. I believe Meat was wondering if anyone was available Jan 2 (probably not: Holiday) or Jan 3 (yes for me).
          I don't remember where that went. Probably found a ton of takers in St. Paul.

  5. Took advantage of the ongoing cheap fares to Europe to book a trip to Germany at the end of March.

    Now to figure out how to fill the itinerary. I'm thinking we'll try to hit Munich, Salzburg, Zurich, and Frankfurt.

    1. If we didn't have The Little One on the way, we'd be looking at going back to Spain. Heck, the PR even mentioned wanting to do maternaity leave there.

      1. My wife and I traveled to Barcelona (it was a work conference for her) when she was about 5 months pregnant. We sprung for Economy Plus (or Comfort or whatever it's branded these days) for about $100 per person per flight, which was not cheap, but really made a surprisingly big difference in comfort for the flight, that much more so for a pregnant woman. We could have done more if she was not with child, but it was really fun anyway. I like settling down for a week in big European cities, though, busily hitting up a bunch of locations is not as much in my wheelhouse. We did a week in Rome the year before that and a week in Paris on our honeymoon before traveling down through France.

        1. The PR's thinking was "if I'm going to have 2-3 months paid off of work, I might as well spend it in Spain."

          To which I replied "Sure honey, but the reason we don't currently live in Spain was wanting to be nearer our mothers for help with the baby."

        2. busily hitting up a bunch of locations is not as much in my wheelhouse

          Same here. We like to pick a base camp, unpack our stuff, and do day trips out/back, but not have to schlep/repack multiple times. We usually rent houses or places with kitchenettes (VRBO/airbnb), eat out once in a while, but mostly shop at local markets and cook our own meals.

          1. Yup. This is generally how we travel as well, though we're usually at a library for research or a printshop for teaching. Seems we don't travel just for fun anymore.

    2. My favorite thing in Salzburg was seeing the Berlin Philharmonic play in the Salzburg Music Festival, but that's late July/August. The Grosses Festspielhaus was a nice venue and it was fun seeing people legitimately dressed up in formal lederhosen non-ironically.

      Since you listed bigger cities, I'm assuming you're planning on taking trains, but if you are driving, I would recommend stopping in Baden-Baden on your way from Zurich to Frankfurt and hitting up the Irish Roman baths. Wasn't sure I would like it, but it was a cool experience. You might be able to do it by rail, too, just not sure on those logistics since we happened to have a car when we were there (got a free upgrade to a Jaguar since I requested an automatic and they had such limited inventory of AT cars.)

    3. A couple weeks back did a short-week in ZΓΌrich - nice environs, hiking, etc. Took the train to Liechtenstein for lunch.

      1. Another plug for ZΓΌrich - awesome Kunsthaus.

        Haven for old money = haven for good art. Huge permanent collection with roomfuls of Old Masters, Impressionists, Chagall, Munch, Hodler.

    1. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! And went out with a bang, too. The glory of this momentus victory might be enough to prop up my fragile sense of self-worth for another season...

    2. Speaking of fantasy - current EPL prediction table

      Place Player Points
      1 MagUidhir 16
      2 The Dread Pirate 13
      3 Philo 13
      4 Spookymilk 12
      5 davidwatts 11
      6 Jeff A 10
      7 HomerDome 9
      8 Freealonzo 9
      9 nibbish 8
      10 rowsdower 7
      11 yickit 4
      12 Zee German 2
      1. So, random.org has me in the middle of the pack.

        I'd probably do a lot worse if I thought I knew something.

  6. Went to Murray's last nite in Mpls with some friends for an annual holiday outing. NBBW and I split a Silver butter-knife steak (was good, but too big, are you kidding me? - ate about a third of it, the rest is waiting in the fridge) but everyone had a good time. (I think the only other time we have ordered a shared-dish in the last 29 years was Paella).

    Along the entry wall, they have a lot of photos of past celeb diners: I spotted pix of: Tony O. and Rod C., Mariano Rivera, Cap'n October, Walter Mondale, Amy K., Reusse, Grandpa Sports, Bertleven, Lindsey Whalen, Mark Rosen. I know I missed a bunch.

  7. It comes down to the wire and yet, this Wolves team knows how to salt it away. L in the old W/L column.
    Also, I don't understand what Thibodeau is doing with this squad's rotation. I mean, not one of the starters had less than 34 minutes and (as per usual) half his bench were DNP and the other half gave him 8!pts on a cumulative 3/15 shooting night, but man, if they can't play, what the heck did you sign them for?

  8. On the topic of travel, tomorrow morning I board a flight to Japan. I want to thank everyone here for all the half-baked joy you've brought me in 2016. May you all have a Happy New Year and just in case the plane goes down (which I'm sure it won't . . . I realize modern air travel is extremely safe . . . but just in case anyways) I need to come clean and publicly admit that I love

    'Spoiler' SelectShow
      1. We were actually the last tour group and got to pose to replicate a photo from when the dioramas opened.
        New place doesn't open in St. Paul until Summer 2018.

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