Saturday, February 28, 2009

Some charts of the falling Case-Shiller Housing Index

The latest Case-Shiller home price index came out earlier this week. They show decreases in the 20 city composite of 2.5% November 2008 to December, and the most damning statistic is the decline of 26.7% from the housing peak in 2006.

The results are more obvious visually. I think the relevant comparison is from today's prices to the earlier peaks. Here is the full data for all of the cities (click the picture for larger) showing data from 1987 to today. The index is 100 in 2000. The peak is quite obvious and the current fall off even more so.

I took the indices after the peak and looked at the % decrease as a fraction of the peak index, essentially using the peak as the basis. The numbers look even scarier then.

The places in which home values have evaporated the most dramatically are cities in California, cities in Florida, Phoenix and Las Vegas. The California housing bust seems to be a combination of speculation and general California high home values. The other cities appear to reflect a bust in speculation on vacation homes and second homes. Detroit stands out as an example of a city whose housing prices are gutted because the car industry that built the city has fled.

Another way to see what places are down a lot and what places are down a little is to look at a map.
Here the are of the bigger circle is the index at the peak, and the area of the circle inside is the index in December. The more the circles shrink the more the value is lost. I like this view more than the percentages because you can see that, for instance, Detroit has lost a lot but they weren't as high as the cities in California or Florida, so there is more value per house being lost in the California cities than in Detroit.

I suppose that because it was a housing bubble, it eventually had to burst and was built on speculation rather than a sustainable increase in value. The question is how far will it burst.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jeopardy question - rivers and world capitals

Last night's Jeopardy final question was:

"With 4, more national capitals are located on this river than any other river in the world"

The key to jeopardy is that the questions give more clues to the answer. the first thing the contestants seemed to think of was to pick a long river to answer. That appeared to lead them astray as two picked the Nile, which is incorrect. Rather, if it is four national capitols then it must be in a place in the world that has many nations close together, that they might share a river. That had me thinking of Europe and so I picked the Danube, which was the correct answer.

Since I think I am a big hotshot, and I like to test my intellectual limits , I tried to think of the capitols. I guessed Prague, Bucharest, and Vienna, but I could not think of a fourth. I suppose that is for the best since I only got one, Vienna, correct. The four are: Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), Belgrade (Serbia). Prague is too far north, and so is Bucharest. That is why today I looked it up so I could learn something.

What capitols are on the Nile? Cairo (Egypt) and the Blue and the White Nile meet at Khartoum in Sudan, but Addis Ababa in Ethopia is not on the Nile. Thanks for playing, though.

Another interesting thought inspired by this question is the number of national capitals that have rivers flowing through them. Since most cities are situated in places which have natural transportation by water like rivers I am sure that most national capitals have a river associated with them. That might be a good Jeopardy category itself. Given the river, name the national capital.

Thames: London
Seine: Paris
Hudson: New York
Liffey: Dublin
Molonglo: Canberra

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A new Honest Hypocrite - Welcome Linus!

Three weeks ago (on January 30th), Lynn and I welcomed Linus Richard Koehler into our lives. This new honest hypocrite was highly anticipated and we are so glad to meet him.

Readers are welcome to guess the origin of Linus' name. Is he named for...

A.) A relative
B.) Linus Torvalds, a programmer, the creator of the Linux kernel
C.) Pope Linus, the second Pope of the Catholic Church.
D.) Linus Pauling, a chemist, winner of two Nobel Prizes (chemistry and peace)
E.) Linus Yale, Jr., an American mechanical engineer and founder of the Yale Lock Manufacturing company.
F.) Linus (mythology), any of three sons of Apollo
G.) Linus van Pelt, a character in the comic strip Peanuts
H.) Linus Caldwell, a character from the films Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, played by Matt Damon

I will give you a hint. I am a chemical engineering and my parents once got this person's autograph for me at a convention where he discussed the merits of Vitamin C. Any one of these august personages would be a good role model for Linus, but for whom is he named?

To keep up to date on Linus' childhood antics you can follow along at Childhood Antics. Childhood Antics will focus on all things Linus, kids and parenting. Did you ever notice that when you get a new car it seems that when you are out driving, everyone else on the road has that car too. I don't think it is more cars, but a change in focus and attention. I suppose it is the same with babies, once you have one you start noticing all of the baby and parenting topics out on the internet that you might not have noticed before. The birth of Cory Doctorow's daughter and Mark Frauenfelder home life posts have seemingly increased the number of Boing Boing posts related to children, I have also noticed an increase in kids stuff at Neatorama. I will keep the kid stuff to Childhood Antics and the science, science fiction, general commentary, and honest hypocrisy to the Honest Hypocrite. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Asymptotically approaching the infinite Oreo Double Stuf

I thought that I was a little crazy when I started taking chocolate Oreo Double Stufs and combined them to make extra filling versions. I constrained myself to making stacks that were still edible (four double stuf fillings between the cookies ends).

I have been outshone by this 36 double stuf (72 regular) cookie tower of Oreo filling capped with some cookies. I did not make it. I hope they ate it after they were done and did not waste the filling. Perhaps the extra cookies could have been crushed for a pie crust.

This cookie represents as close as is reasonable to get to the infinite filling Oreo cookie since I doubt someone would get more than one package of Oreos to build an even bigger tower. (No, that wasn't a challenge.)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

First light on a snow day

Today was not really a snow day as I am on vacation. However I tried to get the light shining through the trees because the snow stuck to all of the branches looked very nice.

Even a simple digital camera can do magic if the scene is right.