comments by bmwman91

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Fri, 23 Aug 2013, 8:19am PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 1

Well, it's good to know that there's reason to be positive where it counts (where the kids are). For some reason I thought that you were up in the PNW since you speak highly of it.

I'll take you up on the offer sometime. Isabella's over by 280 & Winchester is also pretty killer if you are into South American food. Not sure if I have tried Salvadorian food before.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Fri, 23 Aug 2013, 6:31am PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 2

B.A.C.A.H. says

Not full tilt towards learning and growing.

Just full tilt towards high scores. ( Grade grubbing). Call it academics if you want to.

Fair enough. Personally, "academics" is something that is more reserved for post-graduates. Learning to think is what kids are supposed to be doing prior to that. There is plenty of information to be absorbed while doing that. I am not sure if ANY school system in the US is set up for that anymore. Reading about the great mathematicians and thinkers throughout history, one thing that they all seemed to have in common was a lot of free, unstructured time during their youth coupled with parents that knew the importance of scholastic rigor when the time was appropriate. Walks in the forest, hiking, kicking around in hay fields. They weren't being forced to memorize facts to pass scantron exams during every waking moment. Causation isn't correlation, but the human mind seems to need freedom to grow.. I guess that we both know that "growing the mind" isn't what the whole top-schools discussion is about though.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Fri, 23 Aug 2013, 6:24am PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 3

Gotta keep a finger on the area's pulse. If it goes full-tilt toward dog-eat-dog, I am outta here. When my wife and I have a kid, it stops being about what we want (aside from our kid being a well adjusted adult someday). I bet I could convince my parents to retire somewhere else.....

Seattle and the east side of the lake are a little too pricey for me if I was actually going to leave CA to somewhere cheaper, and I'd lean more towards the area north of Denver and just east of Boulder. Lots of growth there, clean air, people with common sense. I love it when my work sends me out there. A guy that I work with out there got a 2000SF new house on 20 acres with a 5000SF workshop/barn for $300k and a 25 minute drive to work. Nice summers, the winters are cold but nothing like the northeast, and people actually know how to drive. He complains that all the Californians are moving there and turning it into a welfare state lol.

SFace, sorry to thread-jack you. FB popped a bit today amid news that mobile is getting stronger for them. It'll be a very interesting couple of years to come as we see whether or not they can keep executing on their strategy to monetize human interaction.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Fri, 23 Aug 2013, 6:13am PDT   Like   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 4

SiO2 says

Well. I am high earning, and don't believe that my peers are my enemies. Many people on this board are high earning, and don't hold this belief. BMWman, you must be fairly high earning to buy a house in SJ, and I'm sure you don't hold this belief.

The advantage of Fortress schools is that the general expectation is high achievement, and people can respond to high expectations with high achievement. Of course, not every child has the same innate capability, so parents have to consider this. But having low expectations will correlate to low achievement.

I should have been more specific. When I say "high earning" I generally mean pulling a single income of $300k+, more specifically in law or medicine. By any rational standard, engineers and such are high earning in the context of the nation and world. It's just SV silliness that makes an engineering salary seem "small." Hitting mid- to high-six-figures is pretty uncommon for engineers though (GOOG and AAPL are exceptions), and you sort of need to be in an executive seat to pull that money if you are in tech. I have relatives that have been through law and med school over the last decade, and it's dog-eat-dog. Only the top percentage of people in their class get the really good, high paying positions. As more people want to get to those positions, so increases the competition. Parents that want their kids to go that route probably need to train them from an early age. Maybe it didn't used to be that way, but competition is fiercer now than ever.

I certainly don't view my peers as enemies, and very few of them seem to have an attitude like that. We also don't make anywhere near $300k. You are right in that being in an environment where there are high expectations and an academic focus is the norm can be very conducive to learning. Attending a school where kids with good grades get beaten up for being nerds isn't. There's a balance though, between encouraging academic excellence and living life. The "top" school districts seem to have gone full-tilt toward academics such that it IS life for kids and parents have pre-determined what their kids will do in life.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Fri, 23 Aug 2013, 5:47am PDT   Like   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 5

E-Man, your comments about westerners being willing to share knowledge for free highlights some interesting points. I think that that is a big part of why America rose to where it is (aside from the rest of the developed world being reduced to rubble in the 1940's). The free exchange of ideas and human collaboration is very powerful. My travel experiences in Asia are pretty limited, mainly to industrial China, but it is readily apparent that even there things are different. There is sort of an attitude of, "Why would you give someone anything unless you get something out of it? Are you stupid?" And over there, it probably is stupid to give away anything, particularly knowledge, because the recipient may well turn around and take everything you worked for. From what I have observed in talking to coworkers from there and my own observations, even being blood-related to someone isn't enough to keep you safe from being ruined by a family member for their financial gain.

Perhaps it is a symptom of most people having barely enough to get by (or the memory of living that way only being one generation back), but it is definitely a case of kill-or-be-killed in many parts of Asia as far as I can tell. If you take a moral stand and pass up any opportunity, you may as well go lay down and die in a ditch. Americans have had more than enough to get by and live lives of leisure for the better part of a century, so maybe people don't feel as threatened by sharing knowledge or something. Complacency? I am not sure if I would call it that. It seems like it sort of harkens back to America's roots when people came here and had to work together to survive in the new, unknown land (unknown to the European settlers that slaughtered the natives anyway). Maybe as America matures it will become more like the much more established nations and lose its spirit of innovation and become ruled by social dogma. Hopefully not, but it seems to be the way we are headed.

That's how it seems to me, anyway. I was fortunate enough to be born in the US to educated parents, so I'm well aware that I might be off-base in what I think I know about life elsewhere. Feel free to correct me. In my opinion, understanding life in tougher parts of the world is vital because people from those parts are the main demographic that is coming to the SFBA right now, and if the demographic is going to shift to eat-or-be-eaten then it's probably a good thing to be aware of! It worries me more that it is the wealthy people from those places that are moving here because you don't get rich in tough places by being a nice person. If it was hard working people that wanted to come here and build a better life for their family, I'd not be worried, but it seems like are a lot of people coming here to whom RE is an accessory and they believe America to be culturally inferior. Americans did just that to much of the rest of the world for decades...not so fun when the tables turn though.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Fri, 23 Aug 2013, 3:04am PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 6

cloud15 says

Bmwman where did you end up buying ( zip code ) ?

I'm probably not going to get that specific about personal residence information on a forum.

SiO2 says

And BMWman's plan to send kids to parochial school is good too; from a financial standpoint it's better to buy in a cheaper place and send one kid to parochial school. Maybe even two. With three or more the math may be different.

I ran the math a while ago, based on today's tuition and such. It is indeed a better dollar value to buy a cheaper house and send one kid through the parochial system. Two kids and it is almost a wash. Three or more, you would be financially better off in a "good" district, although you had better have health coverage that includes psychotropic meds for your kids.

E-Man and I were talking once, and he had a fair point that buying in Cupertino or some such place is really just a pass-through cost. Live there, put your kids through the system and then you will very likely be able to sell the house to the next aspiring tiger parent and move somewhere cheaper. That's a valid point, as long as you want to put your kids through there. I don't, so it wasn't the most compelling argument to me personally, but it is perfectly valid for many people. It all depends on what your goals as a parent are. If you want your kid to grow up and be a high earning doctor or lawyer, then you need to get them used to and numb to suicide-inducing pressure from the start, and they need to be taught that their peers are their enemies that will consume them if they want to survive law or med school. That seems like child abuse to me.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Thu, 22 Aug 2013, 4:00pm PDT   Like   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 7

I suppose that the definition of The Fortress sort of varies by person. My definition is largely based on the cynicism found over on Burbed. It consists of Cupertino, (now) MV, PA and Menlo Park. "The Schools" seems to be the main driving factor, and the drivers largely seem to be those that are unaware that there's no GaoKao system here and people that want to keep up an appearance that they are doing everything to "give their child the absolute best."

The only coworkers of mine that tried to convince me to buy into Cupertino or Palo Alto were from China, India and Russia. It started out being all about the schools, but their core reasoning in the end was all based on future house price appreciation. When I told them that I bought in what is effectively San Jose, they were like, "oh...well...good for you." I found it righteously amusing, but to each their own. I almost think that it is better that that group covets specific areas and self-confines to them. There are still plenty of normal people in the south bay. You just don't notice them all that much because they are busy minding their own business and living life.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Thu, 22 Aug 2013, 9:58am PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 8

mdiablo says

lifestyle you deserve

'Murica, FUCK YEAH

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Thu, 22 Aug 2013, 5:40am PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 9

B.A.C.A.H. says

bmwman, how many of your level headed friends are gonna populate your kids' Fortress School with their own level headed kids 20 yrs from now?

Enough for your kids to have the kind of growing up / values-forming / formative years experience you'd want them to be immersed in?

Go childless or leave The Fortress.

Or, when the time comes (and times goes quickly), be prepared to scrape them off the Caltrain tracks; or turn into adults with the kinds of values of the largest and dominant peer group.

I guess that the Fortress has grown? I am not in one of the "desirable" cities by hip and cool standards.

My plan is to send my kid(s) to parochial school anyway. Having to wear a uniform and being in an environment where teaching staff can actually enforce discipline is a big deal to me. Parental involvement is VERY important there (not all private schools are boarding houses where parents pay for someone else to do their job). I went through the parochial system and it was just fine. From what I can tell, the crazy tiger parents aren't interested in those schools because they aren't held to the same standards as public ones, and therefore don't get the same all-important numeric rating. Some of my cousins' kids go to the same school I went to, and it sounds like not too much has changed. It is CLEARLY not the most economic choice, but I have a hard time putting a price on not being able to visit extended family easily.

When the time comes to start seriously worrying about the schools, I'll reevaluate. The PNW is really nice and I like it a lot, so it is an option. I am certainly not going to be the type of parent that puts enough pressure on my kid that he/she jumps in front of a train, and they aren't going to be in a PA or Cupertino pressure cooker school either. The goal is to raise balanced, self-sufficient adults, not big neurotic children with arbitrary name-brand goals. One of my cousins works in children's mental health for the SCC school system. She purposely settled down in Cambrian because of how terribly unbalanced PA and Cupertino schools are. 6 year olds on psychotropic meds, kids killing themselves. Her take is that most South Bay schools, minus Cupertino and Fremont school districts, are still fine.

You just have to ignore the nonsensical types and focus on you and your family. The crazies are mostly confined to specific areas, and I don't live in one of those areas. Maybe it is Stockholm Syndrome, but I am not convinced that the SV is a totally lost cause.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Thu, 22 Aug 2013, 3:42am PDT   Like (3)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 10

Straw Man says

Yawn. Last time the rents grew this fast (1998-2000) they crashed even faster (2001). Don't order that Ferrari just yet.

Ferrari? PLEASE. Lamborghini uses locally sourced, fair trade, hand-tanned leather from free range cattle. Honestly, it should be criminal to buy a car with anything that doesn't meet that ethical standard. I mean, I guess you could get cloth seats, but it should really be direct trade Bolivian cotton stuff that was hand-crafted to the tune of pan-pipes.

/Bay Area

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Thu, 22 Aug 2013, 3:33am PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 11

B.A.C.A.H. says

BMW, you two are young and don't have any schoolagers yet.

Everything you write about this region is true.

Just about all common sense locals of the "middle class" left a long time ago. For the most part what we have remaining is psycho crazy losers like someone posted a story about in a thread that has since disappeared, and folks who inherited their Fortress homes and prop-13 tax basis. (A lot of the latter have left too either cashing in or renting out after they relocated).

If you're planning on being Cool and Hip Dinkster techies all your life then whatever. But if not, is this the kind of place with the kind of values where you want your kids to grow up? Even Cool-Aid drinker iwog is (rightly, I think) so paranoid about the values of his son's local cohorts that he thinks most of the potential mates for his son are opportunistic Princesses.

From what you wrote on different threads it sounded like you work for MSFT from your previous posts, and your spouse somewhere like APPL perhaps. Consider jumping ship from The Fortess and relocating to Seattle. You really think a "career" at a place like APPL is worth the trade off of raising kids in what The Fortress has already become, and is evolving into? I doubt it. Besides too, I would not take longevity of a "career" for granted in our age of rapid obsolescence of consumer tech products, H-1 visas, and age discrimination. And raising kids with both parents in SFBA "tech" jobs is not easy. Lotsa compromises, etc., very difficult to do a good job at both and that's when things go perfect.

Miss the extended family? Come'on back down and visit. A lot. You'll have all that extra money to travel with.

Or stay here and see how growing up in The Fortress affects your kids. (You might wanna keep them away from the CalTrain tracks).

All fair points. Yes, in my mind I do have some serious reservations about raising kids here. So does my wife. The crazy workaholic vibe and status-seeking nonsense is increasingly difficult to get away from. It's avoidable now, but it won't be when we have a kid or two going into school. There are still common sense people left here, although it is a shrinking demographic for sure. What it will be like in 10+ years, I have no idea, but I don't expect there to be more common sense than today. More and more money is coming here, and generally speaking (there are of course exceptions), piles of money make people stupid. Maybe part of me thinks that a kid that I raise here will have a similar experience to mine when I was raised here, but I know that's not the case.

Anyway, it isn't ALL bad here and there are still plenty of nice people with feet on level ground. I find that we all tend to notice the flashy narcissistic types a lot more because they are trying to be noticed. Regular, hard working folks are out there too, but they are busy living life rather than trying to show everyone that they are busy living life. This isn't denial that the narcissistic types' numbers aren't increasing, because they are, but it isn't like you get arrested for walking out the door without posting about it online first.

One of the best, LONG, articles I have read that summarizes the Silicon Valley is this one (it mentions PA HS kids jumping in front of trains...holy shit).

The line, "It suddenly occurred to me that the hottest tech start-ups are solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand, because that’s who thinks them up," was one of the best summaries that I have seen of the current "tech boom."

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 3:34pm PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 12

REpro says

I like to do some home improvements, where can enjoy immediately effect of my work, maybe because I like art, but mowing or jackhammer is sold immediately.

Haha well...that sort of thing brings me back to childhood! I think that I got my first taste of a jackhammer when I was 8 or so lol. As for mowing and such, I don't have anything so important to do on a Saturday that I feel like paying someone $100 a month to do 15 minutes worth of work. I'm one of those weirdos that finds physical exertion to be relaxing though. One of my favorite workouts right now is biking out to the end of a trail and hurling 50lb concrete blocks back and forth for 30 minutes and then riding home. There's something therapeutic about going out and acting like a neanderthal for a while. Or maybe I am just a weirdo.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 3:02pm PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 13

REpro says

Why don’t place incentive for developers to build affordable housing, where they can enjoy similar profit margin as the luxury ones.

NIMBY's are very wealthy and powerful. They tend to think that blindly voting for Democrats (in the SFBA anyway) absolves them of doing everything they can to ensure that lower income workers have no hope of living anywhere near them. Most of the members of the baby boom generation have their entire retirement staked on the value of their house. There is NO way that they would willingly let higher density housing anywhere near their magic retirement investment since it could jeopardize their goal of unloading their house on whoever can afford it someday. On top of that, they don't want lower income people near them because "they are criminals". The SFBA gives a great deal of power to neighborhoods (with the money and free time) to determine what is and is not developed. A great deal of the development going on now is in former commercial areas or areas that already were lower income and the people there don't have the means to do anything about it.

Developers want very much to develop anywhere and everywhere that they can. The reason that they aren't isn't because of a lack of willingness on their part. It is because they simply can't due to 3rd parties with huge incentives to stop them.

Despite all of the great stuff here, the SFBA is one of the most poorly balanced places in the US. Manhattan probably has it beat still.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 2:48pm PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 14

It is a CEO's job to do exactly what Mayer has done at Yahoo, except it is a supposed to be a man doing it. Mayer is supposed to partake in the success by having dinner ready and waiting for that busy Mister CEO when he gets home. How can he save the company on an empty stomach! Maybe watch the latest episode of Leave it to Beaver after dinner, fill up the Cadillac with some premium leaded.....better not hear any of that Elvis nonsense on the AM. Sounds like colored music.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 2:27pm PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 15

REpro says

New coming to SFBA has now a variety of housing option: Expensive or Very Very Expensive. What happen to the rest?

Yup. If this keeps up, it is going to get terribly interesting here. The fact is that all the highly paid tech workers and types that make sure to post pictures of their $10-fair-trade-organic-hand-crafted-local-coffee on their social media brain drain still need all of the regular hard working people that staff retail outlets, clean things, service their fancy cars and so on. Those people are being forced to pile into dangerously small spaces and move further away. Unlike the tech hipster types, they don't need to remain here for their jobs because they can pull about the same money almost anywhere in CA or the nation doing the same thing. Will they leave? Maybe, maybe not. As the disparity gets worse and worse, so too will crime.

Honestly, I think that aggression from the lower income demographic will be directed more and more towards those with the means to live comfortably here as the gap widens. The highly-paid trendy-techie contingent makes itself fairly obvious. Screened tee's with code lingo and web meme references may well become big red bullseyes to the frustrated working majority. I'm an engineer, but I don't run around "celebrating it" or striving to be "relevant" in public settings so hopefully I'll get left alone. Hell, if anyone sees me mowing my lawn or running a jackhammer on part of my driveway that I plan to remove, they'll probably figure that I'm the poor bastard that whoever owns the house hired. No "smart" person has the time to waste doing THAT stuff, right? They would be out saving the world, one frictionless web service at a time!

That isn't to say that all of the well paid young techies here are bad people or douches or anything. Plenty of them are nice, highly intelligent people that are really into what they do, to the point that they actually ARE proud to walk down the street brandishing clothes and accessories that identify them as being in the hottest professions the area has to offer. It doesn't mean that it is a good idea to make it so obvious, but that is just my opinion of it anyway.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 1:28pm PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 16

You know, one could actually make a reasonably compelling argument for living in a motel if you are single and busy. Free utilities, free internet, free cleaning, possibly free breakfast and you will routinely have nobody in the units next to you. I bet you could work out a long-term rate with an extended stay type place too.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 11:20am PDT   Like (2)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 17

There is no surprise on my part that the landlord is doing it. The thread isn't here to try to figure that one out. It's to give another example of the relentless rent-seeking that is going on all around the nation, and especially the SFBA. It's bad for the majority of people in the SFBA, minus the cohort of tech couples that make enough money to not care, and it will likely lead to a myriad of problems down the road when inequality is even worse and the bottom 75% gets restless and tired of being pushed further and further out.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 7:57am PDT   Like (1)   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 18

REpro says

After years of saying put, people start to move wherever job is. House I rented for $1825 in 2011 in Northern Dallas; now is rented for $2300. But please, this is not an outdated 2 bedroom. House has over 4,000 sq.ft. on 9,000 sq.ft. lot with short walk to two shopping malls, excellent elementary school and park. My tenants love it.

Yeah...this was a ~950SF 2-story 2BR with neighbors on both sides and a 100SF patio area. Maybe a 20 minute walk to downtown MV. Almost in a notorious TCE superfund site, too.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Wed, 21 Aug 2013, 7:56am PDT   Like   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 19

edvard2 says

Wait a minute.... I thought you had bought a house?

Yeah. We were on a lease and we were going to be out of 2 months' rent (penalty) if we broke it early, so we decided to use that time to do a full interior repaint and floor refinish. MUCH easier with an empty house.

bmwman91   befriend (7)   ignore (1)   Tue, 20 Aug 2013, 3:27pm PDT   Like   Dislike     Share   Quote   Comment 20

Good to know, thanks. What are the chances that we'll see the return of easy-money loans at some point when retail buyers are REALLY chomping at the bit, but can't qualify to borrow enough to maintain house prices? Is HELOC abuse going to come roaring back as house prices continue their inexorable rise? Obviously you don't have a crystal ball, but it would be interesting to hear some theories from people that have made pretty good predictions so far.

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