$1MM house rule

Noe Valley, SF Home
Victorian in Noe Valley SF, sold for $2.5MM, photo by Open Home photography

Here’s the new rule. If you buy or own a house that’s worth $1MM, it *must* have a toilet with a washlet (aka bidet).

$1,000,000 has to mean something. Used to be a house had a $1MM view and those houses exist and those houses are probably worth $1MM because of that view/size/architecture/finishes.

Now, $1MM homes, especially in the Bay Area, are just houses — maybe 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, maybe in a generally ok neighborhood, maybe recently renovated, maybe near BART. None of those things combined or separate are enough to justify a $1MM price tag – ever. So install a toilet/washlet where you can at least say for your $1MM house, you have a toilet that washes your ass for you.

Don’t even need to buy the most expensive toilet/washlet combo out there, a cheap $250 washlet will suffice. You don’t even have to use it. It’s the idea that matters.

See here/below for a decent toilet/washlet #lifegoals, #iwantone

toilet/washlet pic
Carlyle® II 1G Connect+™ S350e One-Piece Toilet – 1.0 GPF

thoughts on solar panels (again)

Sunpower and Tesla/Panasonic seem to have the best solar panels with over 300 watts and 20% efficiency. Next gen solar panels may reach 45% and even greater efficiency still after those go to market (w/ in next 5-10 years?).

The problem for us is still breakeven. We’re low in our electric consumption, about 250kWh per month on average. We’re usually under 300kWh and sometimes even under 200kWh during the summer. That usage comes out to be $500 a year on electrical (even with PG&E raising prices/price gouging after the San Bruno pipeline explosion) .

$500 a year on electrical with a 7 year breakeven point means the cost of the solar system that makes sense would have to be $3,500 total. Even extended to a 10 year breakeven, we’re looking at $5,000. The cost of a 2kW system is roughly $9,600 ($7,000 after incentives). For 2.5kW it would cost $11,500 ($8,000 after incentives). So, we are getting closer on price but we’re probably still a good 10 years away because the cost isn’t just in the solar panels, it’s mostly the labor for installation.

Cost of one panel is around $300 – $350. We need about 6-8 of them which is about $3,000. The rest of the material costs are the railings, converters, wiring so another $1,000 or less. This DIY solar system kit is about $4,300, if I was super handy, this kit could be an option.

Anyhow, won’t be surprised if we start seeing 500kWh panels at 40-50% efficiency which means all we’ll need are four panels to power up the house and that’ll probably happen within the next 5 years. It could even be 1000kWh panels and all we’ll need are two panels. That would aesthetically (to our roof line) be pretty nice.

In any case, we’re still a no go for solar panels because our breakeven just isn’t there– enough so that Tesla/Solar City and others won’t even bother to come out. But I have a feeling a 500kWh panel w/ 45% efficiency at $200 a panel isn’t too far away. Then we’ll be at $3,500 for a fully installed system sooner than later, *if* we can find someone to do the install.

MacBook Pro 2016

I love the non-touchbar version of the MacBook Pro. Looking down at a keyboard to find buttons doesn’t make sense to me so went with the non-touchbar model. I could also complain about the price and battery life (which you can do every time) but the specs and design are solid. There seems to be quite a few lukewarm reviews out there but that’s mostly because people are in need of ad/page views.

The MacBook Pro is still the best laptop in the market by a wide margin from a quality, design, and spec perspective. The Dell XPS laptops and Razer Blade laptops (stealth version) are also ones I’d consider.

Specs:

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core i7
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 2k display, although I’m hooking up to a Dell P2415Q 4k external display
  • weighs 3 lbs. and effectively has a 4 hour battery life (this does need to be way better)
  • USB C and the headphone port are great as the only ports

The sad thing about the MacBook Pro is that it’s pretty close to complete as a product (which is what you would expect after 25 years!). You can certainly improve on the internals but this thing can’t really get any thinner, lighter, louder, or brighter and no more ports to remove.

Of course a laptop can always get faster but this thing is already pretty fast and the bottleneck is on the connectivity and the server side. The real innovation is happening w/ the iPad and iPhone, still quite a few things that can be done there.

So yet again, this particular MacBook Pro defines laptop because there’s really very little left to do to make this an even better product. However, I’m curious to see how Chromebooks continue to evolve (especially versus tablet improvements) since a browser based OS or just a web based experience is what most folks use and need, and a significantly cheaper price point gets the Web out there to more people.

 

if you like Meyers lemons you’ll also like…

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Specific varietals of fruits and vegetables to seek out especially in good grocery stores and farmer’s markets in the Bay Area/Northern California:

  • lemons: Meyer
  • strawberries: Chandler, Seascape, Albion
  • tomatoes: Early Girl
  • lettuce: Little Gems
  • carrots: Nantes
  • oranges: mandarins (Kishu, Golden Pixie, Murcott)
  • apricot: Royal Blenheim

stepping out of the razor/razor blade model

TT-2012-11-18-merkur

Several years back, I got really tired of buying way too expensive Gillette razor blades, $35 for 8 cartridges of $4.38 per blade. The actual razor that you can buy from Gillette is cheap, $11.50 or less. This is of course the razor, razor blade model of pricing.

I got really sick of it so I flipped the model and I went and bought a $30 razor (the one pictured above) and nice razor blades that cost $0.32 each or 30 blades for $9.00. Yup, $0.32 per razor blade versus $4.38 per cartridge. That’s kind of a big difference.

There is slightly more work since I need to use shave soap, 3 for $14. You can get away with not using shaving cream/soap with a Gillette razor/cartridge. Shaving cream or gel are fine too but shave soap is cheaper and lasts a really long time. With shave soap, I can rock out with a $12 badger shave brush to lather up the soap which is kind of a pleasant experience making it and applying the lather to my face. There’s some cost savings down the road here but it’s negligible.

I finish up my shave with a splash of Osage Rub, it’s inexpensive and makes our bathroom smell like a barbershop for a hot second. I do get nicked sometimes and I’ll use a styptic pencil to fix it when that happens.

So finally tally:

  • before
    • $11.50 for razor, $4.38 per cartridge
  • after
    • $30 for razor, $0.32 per blade

All those commercials for Dollar Shave Club had been bugging me. I don’t get why you need to join a club to buy expensive razor blades at a slight discount. Get a decent razor and buy the old school razor blades for $0.32 and you won’t need to join a club for shaving. I’ve already been priced gouged by Gillette for over 20 years, I don’t need to be slightly less gouged by some startup.

End rant.

tech specs for next MacBook Pro

macbook-2015-gallery4

The new MacBook is nice but it’s not the upgrade for my current setup. At this rate, I won’t be upgrading from a MacBook Pro until 2016, darn. I’m hoping the next MacBook Pro has at least:

  •  3GHz Skylake/Cannonlake chip or higher
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 13 inch 4K display
  • weighs ~3lbs, 10-12 hours battery life
  • USB C and the headphone port as the only ports are fine

I’m still rocking a MacBook Pro from mid-2009 and it still feels more than fast enough. There isn’t an OS upgrade or any specific apps that makes me feel like I’m slogging in mud. Minor nits are the effective 4 hour battery life and its weight of ~4.5lbs. That’s about it though, can’t really complain.

The new 13″ Dell XPS also looks pretty good. Too bad it runs Windows and it would still be better to wait for a Skylake version of it.