Tater’s Takes

May 28th, 2010 by Potato

I haven’t done one of these for a while. There was some bad weather for a few weeks there, and I didn’t get on the bike at all for a fortnight. Not owning up to my downfalls in the exercise routine kind of defeats the point of the public update/shaming, but I also reasoned that I didn’t have any links I wanted to share, either.

The last two weeks have been much better though: I broke the 20 km barrier, and rather easily at that, returning home feeling like I still could have done more, and wasn’t much sore the next day. Now the problem is going to be that to keep pushing myself to be able to bike further (e.g., to train for the Rona/MS bike tour), I need to start committing serious time. I did a (fairly hilly) 18 km on holiday Monday, and that took me about an hour and a half — I just don’t have the time right now to push it any further than that.

Diet: aaaah, you don’t even want to know. So far the multivitamin seems to be keeping away the scurvy.

Random thoughts:

Realtors to Canadians: Chill Out

“There will be no drastic drop in Canadian housing prices, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday, because house prices will stabilize and climbing household income will make owning a home more affordable.”

Wow, I barely included tautology in my list of logical fallacies because I couldn’t think of any examples where it really came up, and circular reasoning is usually fairly easy to spot. But, here it is: there will be no drastic drop in house prices because house prices will not drop drastically.

Then that last tack-on about incomes doesn’t mention a timeframe. Incomes rise at about the rate of inflation, say 2%/year. If houses are 10% overvalued on average (and 30-50% in Toronto and Vancouver), that could be a very long period of flat-lining. If even the CREA is saying that the best case is a flat-lining of house prices for years, then why be in any hurry to buy, especially with uncertainty about where rates will go?

And if everyone’s in no hurry to buy, then won’t sellers have to lower their prices to attract buyers back? I just can’t see a stagnation as a likely scenario. Yes, house prices have stagnated for long periods of time before, but not usually so far from equilibrium, and not following such epic volatility (down ~10% in ’08, and then bouncing back ~20% in ’09!).

Plus there’s the issue that Canada is not homogeneous… a nation-wide decline of just a few percent could very well mean that Toronto and Vancouver got smashed while the rest of the country stagnated…

Michael James has a good set of links in his roundup this week, including a couple on your financial advisor, and whether small investors have no choice but to become DIYers.

My Bell bill arrived for the month, and I was greeted with a $30 over-usage charge. Bell’s cap of 25 GB is way more restrictive than Rogers’ 60 GB one (and even that is getting tight as more and more uses for the internet come out but the cap hasn’t changed in years). So even though I had a fairly moderate month (~40 GB in usage, well under what my cap was when I was with Rogers), that qualified me for the full $30 overage fee. What really ticked me off is that even though they have my email address (and phone number) they never notified me that I was getting close to (or exceeding) my cap. I thought I was being good. You can bet I’ll be switching to Teksavvy (with a 200 GB cap!) when my contract’s up…

Stephen Novella has another interesting post up on science and public perceptions. “[P]eople find stories much more compelling than data.”

Spoilers ahead!

Borderlands: I finally finished this thing. I had no idea I was that close to the end… it just simply ended. I must say, it was very unsatisfying. The beginning of the game had so much promise (and with multiplayer it would probably still be fun), but it felt like they rushed through it and did a little too much cut ‘n paste, as the charm and humour from the first little bit seemed gone completely by the end. It was a grind-fest basically. The reward for beating the final boss? The ability to run through the game all over again on a higher difficulty to unlock “achievements”. Whoopee. The last boss didn’t even drop any epic loot! Oh, and there is no treasure vault: the vault is a prison for some kind of Eridian demon thing, that is unlocked every 200 years by the alignment of the moons, which gives our hero the chance to finish the demon off once and for all. To quote the PA guys: “It is at this point that people begin to question the wisdom behind moon-powered demon prisons.”

5 Responses to “Tater’s Takes”

  1. Michael James Says:

    The pronouncements from CREA about it being a great time to buy/sell a home remind me of a former boss of mine who always had a story about how recent news was good for our group. On one occasion it went something like this: “All funding for our main project has been canceled. This is great for us because we can focus on our other projects.” Of course, only a subset of us got to focus on the other projects.

  2. Netbug Says:

    Re Exercise/Nutrition: Nice work with the biking. Feeling better? I finished off 12 weeks of P90X about a month ago, took 2 weeks off (light workout) and then started Insanity. Insanity is doing a hell of a lot more for fat loss/cardio than P90X was, but I’m worried about losing muscle. I’d highly recommend it. And I hate to sound like a broken record, but 80% of the health thing is diet. ;)

    Re Borderlands: That game bored me to tears. The amount I played with you (like what, 3 hours?) felt like a really crummy, single player version of WoW. More and more I’m finding that most games are being built with an eye to make them as long as possible with as little content. That’s not to say that there aren’t great long games out there (Fable, Fallout as examples), but personally, I MUCH prefer the linear story-telling model of games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Uncharted, Gears of War, and Force Unleashed. Though the single-player components of these games top out at under 20 hours (well under 20 for some… I think Uncharted was something like 9?), the narrative was fantastic.

    That’s kind of what bugs me about sandbox games like GTA, Spiderman: Web of Shadows, Prototype, and the recently released Red Dead Redemption; these are games with fantastic premises that I just found to be a grind to get through the story. Red Dead Redemption looks like an amazing game, but I’ll never play it simply because of the lack of direction. I hate having to go do 50 side-quests before I can pursue the main storyline.

    Even the fantastic Batman: Arkham Asylum I found to be getting somewhat tedious towards the end (the running back and forth crap).

    Anyways, done with my rant.

    Re Broadband Caps: I’ve totally given up staying under the usage caps with Rogers. I understand the predicament that the ISPs are in (which gets a little complex and I don’t really want to get in to it right now) but there’s such a discrepancy in the usage for different customer types that creating a business model is almost impossible. Looking at my past 6 months, I’m averaging about 150GB per month of transfer.

    That’s a lot.

    The problem is that I’m ahead of the curve. As more and more content is delivered through the web, household usage is going to skyrocket, especially with multimedia.

    What pisses me off though, is when the companies (both Bell and Rogers) start services like Rogers on Demand Online or Online Storage and then count those towards your usage cap… ah, but you see, if they didn’t count that usage, then there would be SERIOUS net neutrality implications.

    Anyways, I’m just rambling now.

  3. Potato Says:

    I have to agree, the video-on-demand giveth, and the bandwidth cap taketh away. And I can also see the need for some limits, but like I hinted in the post, they’re coming in too low these days (Teksavvy’s 200 GB limit is much more reasonable — you can weed out the truly abusive users without any normal media junkie feeling the pain).

    I think for tomorrow’s ride I’m going to do some hill training to try to step it up a notch without having to commit more time.

    And as per my usual response to the diet thing: but I like food! Waaaahhhh. Plus, thesis stress eating, yum! (A habit that I hope to break this fall).

  4. Netbug Says:

    Further reading on caps: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/04/congressman-to/

    It’s really bugging me lately… the costs are decreasing yet caps are not increasing nor are the customer costs.

  5. Netbug Says:

    That last sentence of mine was fail. You figure it out.