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Everything posted by Recycled

  1. Another Chamonix / Alps questions thread

    I forgot to mention: the apartment is obviously larger than you need, but you might be able to cut a deal. The back area is a bunk room and 2nd bathroom. They might just rent it as a 1 bedroom at a lower rate if they don't have a lot of demand. The apartment was a great refuge on hot days. When the rest of Cham was cooking in 90 degree heat, we were kicking back on the balcony overlooking a glacial melt stream. It was great.
  2. Another Chamonix / Alps questions thread

    Our family stayed in Chamonix for 3 weeks last August. We rented this place and would stay there again: http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/France/holiday-apartment-Chamonix/p12639.htm#photos-bar The owners are Brits and locally available. BTW, we found a better selection and better rates on the UK holiday rental sites than VRBO and other American sites. You probably already know that Chamonix is overrun by Brits and has been for a century - so most of the deals are on their websites. We rented a car on arrival in Geneva and were glad we did. There's a lot of great road tripping that you can do in the immediate area that you can't do easily via public transportation (e.g. St. Bernard Pass loop over the Italian border and through the Mt. Blanc tunnel), or a day trip to Zermatt. Prices vary a lot - keep checking. I was quoted rates from $300/wk-$1000/wk by the same company for a compact 4-door, depending on when I checked. Clear your cookies if you keep checking and they're fairly sophisticated at screwing repeated price checkers. I didn't check out the feasibility of daily rentals in Chamonix - depending on your mix of local versus road tripping, it might make sense to do short term rentals instead of what we did. Parking in Cham is a bitch, though that might have been partly due to being there during the big Alps footrace in August. If you rent in Geneva, make sure that you have Euro change for the toll road on the way to Chamonix. It can be a bit disorienting to hop in a car after an overnight flight from Seattle, so little things like having your toll change in order can help a lot. A word of warning: the Euro car companies are well known for charging for imaginary or pre-existing damage to the cars. They dinged us for $500 for a couple gravel marks on the spoiler that I'm sure were there when we arrived. The clerk at check-in walked straight to the spot, so I suspect they had it flagged and were waiting to run the scam. Visa covered it and their adjuster told me that this was common. Take a dozen photos from all angles when you check out the car.
  3. I'm looking for someone with skills to do some construction projects at some rental houses. Work includes installing windows, vinyl flooring, bathroom/kitchen remodels, reposting a garage and house and a lot of other small projects. I probably have a couple months of full-time work. I'd like someone who can do fairly good quality work efficiently, but this isn't Bill Gate's house, so you don't have to be perfect at everything. The good news is that I'm fine with someone disappearing to the hills during good weather breaks - I'm very flexible with that as long as I know what's going on. I'd like to hire someone on a contractor - not employee basis - for about $3500/month. If needed, I might be able to provide a studio apartment as part of the deal while the work is happening. I wouldn't normally post this here, but I figured it might work out for the right person who wants to be in B'ham for Spring climbing. I need someone immediately. If you've got a lot of maintenance and construction experience, send me a PM outlining your experience, interest and timeline. Thanks - Jeff
  4. Bellingham Gig - Construction/Handyperson

    Normally I wouldn't bother replying, but just for kicks, here goes. First, I do hire regular contractors for certain work. Plumbing, electrical, framing, roofing, etc. They are all licensed and bonded. I know the drill. I also have a couple handymen on call. They respond quickly to quick fix-it jobs that last a couple hours or half a day. I gladly pay the $40-50/hr because I realize that it is a spot job and their whole day is not booked with work at that rate. They have access to renters' living space, so I'm very careful about screening and pay well. As a matter of fact, I'm a contractor (though not in construction trades) and I know how it works. I was advertising for something else entirely. It's a lot of odds and ends that I can make in to a temporary gig for someone. Some painting, fixing doors and windows, replacing locks, replacing counters, laying vinyl and odd jobs. It's not the sort of thing that involves GCs and subs. You scoff at paying "only' $21/hr for this sort of work, and all I can say is you're out of touch with the labor market in Bellingham. As far as licensing and bonding - well, mostly I care that they have medical insurance, report their income (I'll file a 1099 on it) and they can deal with the rest. I'm not asking for any work that is a licensed trade. That's all I have to say on it. I put myself through school doing this kind of work (and climbing on the side), and I was very glad to get it. It beat the hell out of working at McDonald's. Sorry for providing such a sub-par opportunity.
  5. Bellingham Gig - Construction/Handyperson

    Gee, thanks for the advice. The position's filled.
  6. The next big cuts in Washtington

    Right, so that only rich people can afford to be in office. Fail. How do you figure? If it was a low paying job, then nobody would want it. Unless they had a large supplemental income with which to support themselves while they were in office. Ergo, rich people. Are you always so dense? Or, they want to get a large supplemental income while in office. Let's really get the bribes going now.
  7. Time to buy real estate?

    On the original question and with the caveat that free advice is worth what you pay for it: I would still sit out the single-family housing and commercial RE markets. Multifamily offers some good opportunities IF you know the local market, have a thick skin and can deal with the bullshit. One of the interesting developments over the past couple years is that plenty of small investors are facing a squeeze with multifamily (MF) properties. In some cases, they bought complexes with 25% down a few years ago with 5-year paper with a balloon (MF financing is like commercial - not standard single family terms). When some balloons have come up, investors have been told to come up with a lot more equity because lenders might not touch the property unless there's a 50% LTV ratio. Those owners might be forced to bail on the property, even though it's a good performing investment, just because they can't meet the new LTV requirements. Another option is fixer MF's. If you have cash, you can buy some non-financeable properties and then turn them around, just like the old days with single-family. Avoid ghettos. My favorite is old [legally] divided houses in areas that have been downzoned to single family. One thing to consider for retirement is cash flow. Having a stash of cash isn't enough if you are only able to reliably and safely crank 2-3% return out of it. MF should have a good return on investment, if you choose carefully. YMMV
  8. Shuksan grand central station NYC pic/mural?

    My all-time oddest glimpse of that mural was walking into run-down 60's style motel in the middle of the desert (Gila Bend, AZ) and seeing an entire wall (10x10 feet+) covered by a Shuksan photo-mural. That was probably about 15 years ago and now the motel is gone. It was truly a WTF? moment.
  9. HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS...... Finally the answer!

    It's obvious, but I suppose it's worth pointing out that the less experienced the legislator, the more power that staff, political parties and various outside interests will have to help "guide" the inexperienced figurehead. That is not necessarily a good thing...
  10. Setting up an s corp

    Maybe on the health insurance costs - I don't know. The usual way to do it is just to pay individually, then take the deduction on the front of the 1040. Of course you end up paying SS on that income, but at least it is shielded from income tax. There are a lot of tax angles to a sole LLC (including being able to do a solo 401k) that might weigh in to that decision too. If what you are after is being able to formally retain significant earnings within a company, then I think you would want a corporate structure for a LLC and you would want a really good accountant to ensure that the bases are covered. On the other hand, you can expense just about anything and if you use cash accounting you can probably figure out some ways to do what you want.
  11. Any car mechanics out there?

    You could also have a loose or wet ignition coil wire connection. Maybe the vehicle went through a puddle and died. Would be fixable with no tools and would apply to any gasoline vehicle (but not a diesel). You could work in some backfires and shudders, being unable to start, and then a miracle fix by mr. or mrs. studly. Woohoo!
  12. Setting up an s corp

    Yes, I've been involved with several over the last 20 years. They've fallen out of favor since Washington enabled LLCs a few years ago. Unless you have very specific tax (want to take huge initial losses) or formation requirements (lotsa people and corps would be shareholders) that would lead you in that direction, you probably want to consider doing an LLC. You can run a LLC as an individual, partnership or corporation and then report on the appropriate for attached to your taxes. Last time I formed a company a couple years ago, I did a one page LLC which provides the liability protection of a corp, but I use Schedule C on my taxes just like a sole prop and my wife reports the income from her partnership LLC as regular partnership income. It's a lot nicer than the Sub S tax forms. Note this isn't legal or accounting advise - just what I've learned over the years. I have my one page formation document (which you keep, don't file) in Word if you want it. PM me.
  13. Prius vs Jetta TDI

    Matt, I'm on my 4th TDI and I must admit that I'm frustrated with my new 2009 Jetta. I was used to mileage in the 45-50 mpg range, but the 2009 has a larger engine, heavier body and is only getting in the high 30s with a 6spd. I drive conservatively, so it's not my driving style. I think VW has really screwed the pooch on their products in the US. The base option package on the 2009 includes a lot of "options" that drive up the cost, maintenance complexity and failure rate compared with the older Jetta TDIs. Unless VW starts marketing their smaller, cheaper, simpler diesel cars, this will be my last VW. When Toyota gets an economical common rail diesel on the market in NA, I think VW will be toast. On the other points: -I've never had problems finding diesel. -Regarding the "premium" on the retail price - I laughed in their face when they told me that charged a premium over list due to demand. They called me back a couple days and said there would be no premium. -The car is very low to the ground, so it is pretty much non-functional if there's more than a few inches of snow. I use my Trooper if I need clearance or 4WD. I find that I use it rarely and almost always use my Jetta. Also, the Jetta has a low CG, so it's much safer at highway speeds on ice than my 4x4 SUV. -Finally, I've always used B100 biodiesel in my other TDIs. Not so on the 2009. Apparently they are very touchy about BD. I'm still in break-in, so I haven't experimented yet. If you have specific questions, feel free to PM me your phone # and we can talk. -Jeff
  14. Yeah, my kid kept asking me about the large naked woman on the bed. "That must have been photoshopped, right?. Ummm no... Good show!
  15. What was this guy thinking?

    Photo captions: "Dood, I'll show you my molars if you show me yours" Pre-date nosehair check Waiting for the Bukkake long shot...
  16. NY Times: What women want

    An interesting NY Times article on the "science" of desire this last weekend: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25desire-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine&pagewanted=all It seems to me that there are a lot of methodological holes in the "science," but it's interesting just the same. More diversionary grist for the spray mill, and thankfully, it's not politics.
  17. Movies that were ahead of there time.

    Diva. Not way ahead of its time, but it certainly led in new stylistic directions. Repo Man too, but probably less so.
  18. The Republicans are doomed!!

    You realize, of course, that the Economist gave a front page endorsement to Obama in the issue prior to the election? The Economist is no fan of corrupt or incompetent corporate management. They have pulled few punches over GWB's expansion of government, erosion of liberty and incompetence over the past few years. They've also consistently argued for gay civil rights, against overreaching religious fundamentalism and for a more rational approach to US health care. Actually, it's an interesting mix of Liberalism with a Euro social touch. You might want to read it a bit more, if only to better stand how evil job-creating businesses work and how much trade ultimately matters.
  19. Auto Industry Bailout

    An interesting aside: I've had many discussions with people over the years about the misguided patriotism of blindly "buying american." My argument is that the WORST thing you can do is to buy an inferior product because it is American. Detroit had a captive market for decades in that all government, rental and corporate fleets had formal or informal "buy American" policie, as did many well-meaning Americans. It didn't matter that imports had better fuel economy, were fun to drive, easy to park and had better options for the money. The end result of this captive market is crap like the K-cars, Pacers, Pinto/Vegas and even the pieces of shit that I have to rent from Alamo when I'm traveling. And people bought them because they thought it led to a strong US car industry. This undercut American competitiveness and opened the window to the continuous improvement and better product lines offered by foreign automakers. As soon as alternatives were available, people shifted fast. The shift in the US has been slower than some - look at how Russian cars fared when their market opened! In my view, our future is in building world-class products with attractive prices and selling them worldwide. Building crap, hiding behind subsidies, trade barriers and misguided "patriotism" is counterproductive, a waste of resources that could be put to better use and worst of all, is ultimately futile.
  20. Auto Industry Bailout

    Seems to me that Chapter 11 + enhanced unemployment/retraining benefits would be the best for everyone. The good parts of the Big 3 will keep running, the bad bits will be scrapped. The employees of the scrapped operations would get some slack to retrain or do whatever they want. A $50k training/unemployment payout to employees of scrapped operations (maybe 1/2 of total employment?) would "only" be about $6B/yr or so. That's peanuts compared with the costs of trying to prop up operations that will ultimately crumble anyway. Hell, Toyota or Honda might even buy up some good parts and run with them (though that's more likely under Chapter 7). Since they make cars with a higher % of US components than the Big 3, that can only be a good thing. Right?
  21. Opinions are like assholes...

    Ah yes, the good old CC I've missed so much. Much better than politics!
  22. Frannie and Freddie

    Yep, just completed a 1031 exchange Friday to dump another house. The problem is that although you avoid capital gains, you're still stuck with RE assets in an overvalued market. The real test will be to see whether the two organizations are unwound and sold off or expanded in to another quasi-government agency to be used as a conduit to repay favors and hand out manna to favored sons of the current+2009 Administrations. Time will tell...
  23. Finally. God Defined.

    Scroll down a bit to "What Makes People Vote Republican." Both the article and the responses are interesting, once you get past the first page or two. http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge256.html#haidt
  24. ISO Residential Electrician

    If it were me, I would just go ahead and replace the breaker if you're sure you're not overloading the circuit. It's cheap and easy, though be very careful with an open panel. 220 can kill you fast. If that doesn't fix it, I'd suggest going professional unless you want to go though checking wire connections at every outlet and spending the time tracking it down.