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Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 776 776

Rent doesn't go up fast if you move frequently. They only jack up the rent when you stay there a long time. Then they lower it to attract new tenants.

You're never going to pay off a house if you buy a house, move in 2 years, buy another house, move in 2 years, etc. The overhead costs of buying and selling are just way too high. So it makes more sense to rent until you're in a place where you're pretty sure you're going to stay for at least 5 years.

Personally, I really don't want to be where I am now in 5 years, so I rent. My current location is just a stepping stone. For most engineers, it should be the same; these positions just aren't long-term any more.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 776 776

The economy already recovered.

According to whom? Official government figures? The stock market?

All the unemployed and underemployed millenials would disagree with this assertion. What you're seeing is a widening gap between the rich and the poor, with the number of people on the latter side growing. A small number of rich people getting richer on paper does not make for a sound economy.

If the newer car has side-impact airbags, it will have a much higher safety rating. If not, then it won't have a higher rating

Even sub-$20k new cars these days have side airbags and side-curtain airbags. They also have better-designed chasses; the IIHS small-offset frontal crash test is only a few years old, and a lot of new cars (which are older designs) aren't faring well on it, but brand-new designs are doing well because the automakers have designed for this. Something from 1995 is not going to do well in that test at all, or in a side crash since cars back then didn't have side airbags or curtains.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 776 776

When I lived in Portland we shopped at Whole Foods for fish, and a few other items. They have the best labeling anywhere. Yes, it was more expensive.

I've had the same experience with meats: WF is the best place to buy them usually, because they have great selection, including grass-fed beef which shitty grocery stores don't usually carry, and free-range chicken. The meats at regular stores are really lousy.

And no, the specialty cheese shop will be much, much cheaper.

I'm not a big cheese eater, so I don't know much about this. I've only noticed that WF has a far, far better cheese selection than regular grocery stores.

That said, most shoppers will find everything they buy at WF at Trader Joes for 20%+ less money, and often higher quality. But there is no fresh fish.

I have to disagree with this one. TJ is simply a much, much smaller store than WF, at least at every location of each that I've been to. There's no way for it to have a comparable selection. And for things I've looked for, it usually doesn't. They certainly don't have a comparable selection of hot cocoa IME. This isn't to say that TJ sucks: it's a great store, and usually cheaper than WF, but this comes with the disadvantage of a more limited selection. Also, I don't believe TJ has a butcher department at all.

Another thing that's nice about many WF locations is the deli department, and the prepared food tables next to it (not at all locations). At the one I used to go to in New Jersey, they had a huge hot-bar buffet section, so you could just go get your lunch there and eat it in the large open area in front with free WiFi. Or you could get something made for you at the deli. TJ's doesn't have any of that. The hot-bar stuff is a bit pricey ($8.99/lb I believe), but generally good and lets you pick and choose what you want. Deli sandwiches and wraps are actually pretty well-priced IME, compared to the King's grocery store that it competes with in that area, which is even more expensive than WF.

As a side note, WF is not the most expensive grocer around. In NJ, they have King's which is rather pricey, and in AZ they have AJ's. At least at WF, they have a policy forbidding anything with HFCS and trans fats, so the foods all have to meet a certain quality level; the other fancy stores will happily sell you mass-market junk from Coca-Cola, at an inflated price, and with really nice tile floors in the aisles.

On the west coast, there are a variety of stores that offer these types of higher-quality items without the extra premium that WF charges. ... In places without a strong health-food culture, WF might be the only game in town for things like organic fair trade cocoa in a glass jar; on the west coast you can actually find that almost anywhere.

So basically I need to move to the PacNW?

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 776 776

Yep, from what I'm seeing, in a lot of places it seems to make more sense to rent than buy (a home) because of this. Landlords may have bought the houses when they were cheaper, so the rent isn't as high, plus with more people renting there's more competition.

Plus, at least in my line of work, and with the crappy economy, it makes more sense to me to not be locked into a mortgage payment, so I can be more mobile. If my job disappears, I can pretty easily pack up and move for another job; that's not so easy when you own a house.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 776 776

Exactly how did it do that? CfC was a one-time thing (or was it two-time?), you can't get cash for your clunker any more. And it only applied to gas guzzlers as I recall. The cars I've been looking at (both new and used) have been ones getting at least 25mpg and usually over 30.

That did seem to be a rather stupid program though, as it concentrated too much on fuel economy rather than emissions. The focus should have been to get old, poorly-maintained cars off the road, because they're the ones creating the most pollutants, by orders of magnitude. Some 10-year-old car getting crappy fuel economy because it has a big V8 doesn't produce nearly as many emissions as a 30-year-old 4-cylinder. The latter is the one that should be prioritized in removing from operation.

Comment Re:Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 776 776

That's nice, but it doesn't help me keep track of it. Even cars which display some of this info to the driver don't help much; my car tells me the instantaneous mpg (which is somewhat useless as it varies so much), the "average mpg" (which is since the last time it was reset, even more useless), and then the trip mpg (since the car was last started, probably the most useful, but only displays for a few seconds when I turn the car off). It has no facility to track fuel economy over time or by the tank. (The trip mpg isn't even that useful, because a 3-minute trip with poor economy isn't comparable to a 3-hour trip on the highway; seeing the per-tank mileage gives you a better perspective of how your car is performing.)

Comment Re:Easy Conclusion If Perceived Costs & Range (Score 1) 776 776

The range thing is a red herring, and the people who complain about it are short-sighted and stupid. Even right now, EVs are perfectly adequate for most families, since most families have multiple vehicles. It's very simple: one vehicle is electric, and the other is gas. When you need to drive far, you take the gas-burner. For daily commuting, take the EV. For a dual-earner household, obviously this means that one of the spouses will be driving the noisy gas car, but it's better than both driving them. Right now, there's only so many people doing this because EVs are relatively expensive, but that's changing and before long they'll be much more common, even if used mainly for commuter vehicles.

These short-sighted idiots were the same people who said they'd never use a smartphone, and now they all have one. They were the same morons who said they'd never have a computer at home, and now they all have one. They were the same morons who said that 3 TV channels was all they needed, and now they all have cable, and pretty soon even though they're saying they'll never give up cable, they'll be cutting the cord with the rest of us Netflix users. These people are sheep: they follow trends after enough early adopters do it and prove that it works, even though not long before they were loudly proclaiming that "this will never happen".

EVs don't need any more range than current models to be completely viable replacements for at least half of the US's personal automobile fleet. Their main problem is cost: nice ones (Model S) are really expensive, and cheaper ones are $10k more expensive than similarly-appointed gas cars. Hybrids are a decent middle ground, and honestly I'm surprised those haven't done better, but I guess having an ICE plus an electric drivetrain ends up inflating the cost too much, but the Priuses have been doing very well.

Comment Re:restaurants (Score 1) 776 776

It's already going that way. "Service stations" are completely dead, and regular gas stations are being replaced by upscale, fancy places like Sheetz in the south where there's tons of food (both packaged and cooked on the spot) and drinks for sale. You can go to one of these places and get a pretty decent lunch. They probably make all their profit on the food and drinks. The clean, nice facilities help draw people in, both for the food and also the restrooms (which used to be a bad joke--2 decades ago no one wanted to use a gas station bathroom unless their life depended on it).

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 776 776

Things have changed a lot in the past 25 years. New cars are frequently offered with loans of less than 1%, and even 0% now. And they don't depreciate that fast any more because cars last so long, and also the shitty economy has made used cars hold their value more (because a lot of people don't have the credit rating necessary to get a low-interest new car loan, and don't have the budget for it anyway).

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 4, Insightful) 776 776

Your advice made sense years ago; these days it does not. 2-5 year old cars with low mileage don't cost much less than brand-new models these days, unless it's some unpopular model (and they're unpopular for a good reason). If the model is popular and well-known to be highly reliable, it'll keep its resale value very well, making it much less worth it to buy used. Also, $15k in cash isn't that easy for most people to come up with on the spot, so most people have to finance. You don't get 0% interest rates on used cars; the rates are much worse. In fact, those low rates are reserved only for people with a good enough credit rating.

Today's crappy economy and ultra-low interest rates have made it so that buying new really makes a lot more sense than buying used.

In addition to this, brand-new cars have much better safety ratings than even 5-year-old models. You're going to fare much better in a crash with a brand-new model that got top scores on the IIHS crash tests than in anything made a half-decade ago. You seem to be worried about risk, from your line about the potential for value to drop, but you're totally ignoring the risk to your health and safety by driving an older model. 50,000 people die every year in the US alone in auto accidents; you could be the next one.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 0) 776 776

Complaining about Whole Foods' prices is like complaining about the price of a Mercedes S-class. You're not going to get a car with that kind of quality and amenities for $15k or even $30k.

WF is definitely overpriced for everyday stuff, if you're comparing apples to apples, meaning the exact same product at a "regular" grocery store. But the advantage with WF is that you can get all kinds of foods and brands which you just can't get at a normal store (though this is changing, as regular stores are adding better brands slowly but surely). For instance, suppose you like high-end cheeses; at a normal grocery store, you're just going to find some crappy mass-market cheeses made in the US. At WF, you'll find a huge array of boutique cheeses from France, Greece, Britain, etc. The prices will be high of course, but probably less than you'd pay at a specialty cheese shop (if you can even find such a place nearby). Or maybe, instead of cheese, you really like chocolate, hot cocoa, etc. At a normal grocery store, if you look for hot cocoa, you're just going to find nasty cheap shit like Swiss Miss. At WF, you'll find a huge array of high-quality hot cocoa mixes in metal cans and glass jars. They won't be cheap, but you don't get high-quality food for cheap these days. High-end stuff costs money.

The secret to using WF is to buy all your mass-market-brand stuff at the normal grocery store or Walmart at cheap prices, and go to WF to get the fancy stuff that you're willing to spend extra on. Don't buy mass-market brands at WF; on that stuff, they're just taking advantage of people who are too lazy to shop at different stores and want to get everything in one trip.

Comment Re:Drone fear - Baker Beach (Score 1) 1150 1150

There's a difference here. A public beach is a public area, by definition, and you don't really have any expectation of privacy there (beyond, say, being stalked or harassed). A private residence's back yard with a 6-foot fence is a totally different matter. You can legally film people in a public area in most places (though the stalking/harassment stuff still applies, so don't focus too much on any one person without permission), but you cannot film people in a private area without permission.

Also, a house's front yard and back yard are very different, especially if the back yard is fenced. People are allowed to walk into your front yard and knock on your front door, though they have to leave the premises if ordered to by the resident. They're not allowed to wander into your fenced-off back yard. They're also allowed to photograph your front yard (within reason: the Google car is OK, stopping for a long time and taking zoom shots in one house's window is not). Photographing a fenced-in back yard is not allowed, and falls under peeping tom laws.

He who is content with his lot probably has a lot.