The hand update

I have been battling with what I originally thought was an injured thumb. A couple weeks ago, I went to my GP, and alas, the tendons seem fine, but the x-rays show that there is a bone spur, and what is likely the beginning of arthritis. Groan. Heavy anti inflammatories and a brace to immobilize the thumb.

A week later, the brace was not helping (if anything, it was beginning to damage the nerves, numbing my thumb). So I call a hand specialist.

FFS, what is it with these specialists? They are all booked through November. I can get in on Oct 28th to see a PA.  Sigh. I guess I will take it.

It still hurts (even with 800mg ibuprofen twice a day), cycling is not good for it (but it isn’t going to stop me), and it hurts to play guitar. Sigh, getting old sucks.

Unfortunate Name Choices

I got an email in my inbox today that seemed to imply that I ‘missed’ a big announcement last week.

Well, I certainly didn’t remember any big announcement, but if I had I probably would have ignored it.

You have to wonder if their marketing team has a pulse
You have to wonder if their marketing team has a pulse

This startup has called themselves “Alpha Software”. Really?  ‘Alpha’? Now I love playing with new and edgy things on my ‘puter, and have installed a lot of buggy, pre-release candidate, alpha quality software, but to name your company ‘Alpha Software’, that really takes the cake.

For those who didn’t grow up steeped in computers and software, the software development process has a few milestones. The “Proof of Concept” that demonstrates the capability. The “Alpha” phase which is early, not ready for prime time, and certainly likely to crash in spectacular ways. The “Beta” phase is when you are comfortable releasing it into the wild to get some early feedback. And finally “Released” which means that you are comfortable standing behind the product, selling it, and providing at least a modicum of support.

Only the brave or the foolish will install “Alpha” level code. Funny name for a company though. I think I will pass.

Foreclosed Houses

About 7 months ago, we moved to one of the foreclosure hot spots in the country, Phoenix. When I was first looking for houses, I was thought I would be able to pick up one of the many short sales, or foreclosed properties. Clearly, there was a large inventory, and finding a lot of listings in the $150K price range was easy.

However, it wasn’t as simple as that. First, it is pretty clear that you are coming to a bank owned property when you arrive. To say that there is no maintenance on the yard, or the outside of the home is an understatement. You could tell from half a block away. Next, the insides were often rough. If there wasn’t a family living there (about 50/50 chance) the appliances would be gone and you would see damage to a lot of fixtures. Clearly you could tell that the prior owners had given up, and decided to take their misfortune out on the house.

After looking at a couple dozen of these choice units, I was losing enthusiasm for finding a deal.

Then I learned the truth. As someone who was looking for a home, there was virtually no chance that I would be able to buy one of these distressed properties. Whether it was foreclosed and up for auction, or whether it was one of the properties where the bank had acquiesced and allowed a short sale, the people who would be buying the home as a primary residence are pretty much out of luck.

First, the bank is usually not in a hurry to sell the property. They have already recognized that the value they are sitting on is worth much less than they have it on the books for. They are willing to wait for months to close and write the property off. So people who are interested in buying much write a bid, prove access to funds, and wait. And wait some more.

The process is rigged. Only investors are successful in buying these distressed properties. The hope that a family might be able to snatch up one of these is pretty much nil.

We ended up spending $100K more, got a nice house in a nice neighborhood that was bought by an investor, cleaned up, and res0ld.

The good news is that the inventory of bank owned properties, short sales, and foreclosures is shrinking.  The good news is that means the prices are rebounding, and we got in at a good time.