Comments on day starts with a doorbell
commentson 5 May 2004 : 17:39, bubba sez:

hey due, just rent the house, you're going to hate grad school, and l.a. and you'll be back to oakland for Christmas.

commentson 5 May 2004 : 17:42, robin sez:

hrm... i could probably bump my LAX flight up a bit and fly to Oakland....


commentson 5 May 2004 : 18:31, hilary sez:

fun times. I'm trying to sell my house as well. It's no fun having to get up every morning and make sure your house is completely straightened up before you leave. good luck selling it though.

commentson 5 May 2004 : 20:22, The Other Guy sez:


OMG you're into AI and Pilot Multiballs! If you can find yourself a Parker Vector pen, that is even better than the Multiball IMHO. Back in high school, my English teacher "stole" it from me after I'd misplaced it and he insisted, as did I that it was the best pen ever. He wouldn't give it back, but by that time I'd purchased a replacement. Sadly, I can't seem to find any local stores that keep them in stock.

Quick question since your blog has no comments area. If you were stuck on an island with only one AI-related book as your sole possession, which book would it be? I'm feeling lucky, so I'll ask you a second question. I'm not as well-versed in AI as you and am mainly a hobbyist, playing with artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms. I'd like an easy way to prototype these. I bought a book on prototyping neural networks in Mathematica, but do you have any preferences in this respect that you're willing to share?


Have you considered renting your house to someone willing to fix it up? You know, give them the money for the material to fix it up but let them do the labour? Keep your house while they pay rent and increase the value. Use the rent money towards the mortgage on a second, lesser-valued dwelling. Obviously, there is probably a price discrepancy between real estate in Oakland vs L.A., but you might be able to have your cake and eat it too. Unless you want to cut ties with Oakland. Just a thought.

commentson 5 May 2004 : 21:22, Lulu sez:

Yeah Justin, why don't you rent your house? :)

Hey, that cauliflower was a big hit tonight.
here's the cooking blog since you were asking.

commentson 5 May 2004 : 21:52, James sez:

If you have not been accepted to grad school yet, why is your house on the market? What if you don't get accepted?

commentson 5 May 2004 : 23:16, eloise d'boina sez:

you are so not material (you will be bored by all the talk and no action), you will hate L.A. (after living in the pleasant bay area), then you'll want to move back to Oakland but find you are now priced out of the market.

Rent man rent your home; you'll need it in a few months when you come back with your tail between your legs.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 08:25, Witz sez:

Rent your house - get a managment company to overlook maintenance, collecting rent, etc.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 08:39, tony sez:

Gotta agree with the chorus of folks calling for you to rent rather than sell.
Just get a good management company to take care of it all for you. From what you have written, you love the Bay area (as do I). You never know when/if you might want to come back. With real estate the way it is, it may not be so easy to return.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 09:22, justin sez:

I love the Bay Area, it's true. And I love the place I live. But it needs some love - it needs an owner who can pay good attention to it and pour some money into it. Each time the toilet is flushed or the shower runs, a large mud puddle forms in the basement. I'm currently turning on the hot water in the shower with pliers. There's a leak in the roof, maybe two of them.

So in order to rent, this place needs at least $30,000 injected within six months. And maybe more than that if I want to be able to rent it for more than the monthly mortgage/taxes/insurance costs.

I did a lot of math on renting versus owning, and some emotional calculations. Between not wanting to be too attached, having faith that I can find a way back into the Bay Area if I need to, and the amount of love/money required to keep this place in good running condition, it seems like the time to pass it along to someone who can give it more direct attention.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 10:19, James sez:

I don't agree with all this talk that Justin is not grad school material. He's good at making the best out of--and getting the most out of--any experience he has.

He went to Swarthmore, a challenging college, and apparently thrived.

I bet Justin will go to grad school, and will teach us all lessons about "how to excel in grad school on your own terms."

commentson 6 May 2004 : 11:45, Yu-sama sez:

You're soft. And flaccid.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 16:31, souris sez:

being a landlord is not as easy as it sounds. there is a big PAIN IN THE ASS factor that needs to be considered. in renting, you always want to make sure that your monthly take-in covers the basics justin listed above: mortgage, taxes, insurance, not to mention, money for a management company (ranging in $100+/month), plus money to set aside for expenses that will certainly arise (an exterminator for an ant problem, a plumber for a clogged drain/toilet, an electrician for wires gone wild, etc.).

justin mentioned nearly having to spend $30,000+ to just make his home habitable for a tenant paying good rent. thatís a lot of up front money! and after you amortize your upgrades/investment, itís going to take some time to break even again (if youíre not renting for at least double your mortgage).

if youíre home is an investment you care about, i wouldnít let just anybody do the home improvements (whether they were paying rent or not). unless of course, that person was a certified contractor. sure we can all learn from books and do some DIY, but having someone tear out your kitchen vinyl flooring to install tiles can be a nightmare. and i would never recommend anybody but a pro to touch electrical wiring. and definitely donít trade rent for labor, a lease with these terms could be tricky if you ever wanted to evict someone.

also, your time is money. if justin's at school, will be hard to deal with a housing issue if he's in the middle of testing or a if term paper's due. iíd only suggest renting if you had the time and patience for being a landlord (big upside: your equity grows). what if your tenant decides not to pay rent for two or three months? iím not familiar of oakland eviction laws, but itís quite a process to evict someone in santa monica, even if they are in the ďwrongĒ. obvs, you will do your best to pick a tenant, but hey, you never know! can you cover your mortgage if your tenant misses rent? can you cover legal fees to take care of a potential tenant problem?

we rent out our home in california and live in new york city and unless you get a fair tenant, having a rental can be an enormous burden. weíve been lucky so far, but hey, you have to consider everything.

what i want to know is, are you planning on buying a home in LA? how will you reinvest your money to avoid tax penalties, etc.? westside real estate is gonzo at best. and in terms of safety, etc. iím not sure where you live in oakland now is comparable to south central (by USC). wherever you are, i guess youíll have a car so there are plenty of options for flipping homes down south.

justin, youíll do great at grad school because youíll make it what you want it to be. you do great at everything anyway and maybe thatís why peeps are sad to see you go this route Ė is school less sexy?! and if you find you hate grad school and want to move back up north, i hear bay area rentals have gone from ridiculous to just ludicrous these days. and as many friends as you have, youíll just end up couch surfing between trips anyway. who needs a home when you are a nomad? yo homey, go for it. big ups for making a change. my two cents.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 16:37, souris sez:

ugh. i will trade rent for tech help if anyone can tell me why all these weird symbols show up in my post every time i want to use an apostrophe.

see you e3! :)

commentson 6 May 2004 : 16:45, Yermum sez:

I have a good friend who is a property manager in Berkeley and Oakland if you want to talk to him handling your place email me. You might even get him to put in the $$ to fix up the place. Of course having cash in hand after the sale - out in front of soaring interest rates - ain't such a bad idea. Sorry can't help you to pack - have to pack myself if I'm going to have any clothes for E3.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 17:41, modesty verve sez:

oh come on, guys. this is a dude who practically accosts strangers on the street to ask them what he should do with his life. justin desperately needs structure and constraints, and an external fixed scale of validation will work wonders on his rapidly diminishing self-esteem. besides, he's only going to usc, not oxford or cambridge. he'll do fine.

so yeah, justin...dump that money pit and flee the parochial, inbred environment of the bay area before you become entrenched. a real urban fantasmagoria like los angeles will be a stimulating education in and of itself. do it, baby.

commentson 6 May 2004 : 23:15, a dick head you met in japan but you forgot my name and even put the wrong name for me on one of your camera phone pix sez:

Hi. I love the bay area but like modesty verve said, something seems very inbred and wrong up there. Its like there is nothing going on, and everyone is going to lame non-famous person art showings but pretending they are famous. Everyone else is a brand manager at Yahoo! and commuting to san jose, doing yoga so they don't kill themselves, and pretending that one day they will own a surf camp in costa rica, even though they didn't start surfing until they were 29 (and only surf Linda Mar on weekends). Bay Area costs as much as manhattan, yet unless you started Applied Semiconductors, you ain't making shit. I would recommend renting out the joint, but the only people renting in Justin's part of OAKLAND are the faux art-fag derelicts going to the faux art-showings (and theraputic yoga). BAD RENTERS. Whoops we spent too much on pabst and coke and the pitch black old person sex party: can we pay half this month, dude??

As much as LA sucks, it is a real city, where people are doing real things, and even if he is just going to USC ripoff masters degree in "media" he will have a better chance to meet real movers and shakers instead of dirt bag slackers and dot com burn outs.

I don't know why I am posting (drunk websurfing) but as much as you will DESPISE grad school, if that is what you need to do to escape from Oakland, go for it dude! And if I ever meet you again, I am going to make fun of your ADD ass in real life. Enjoy.

commentson 7 May 2004 : 00:09, brian sez:

i thought for a half-second about taking you up on this, asking you to get me on a plane this weekend so i could show up and help pack.

but it's rained the last three weekends in austin and this one's supposed to be good and i'm dying to go camping.

if you want to ship me your belongings i can pack them for you and ship them back.

hee hee.

don't forget to take your emergen-c and some good teas -- sounds like this whole thing is kind of stressful / hectic! (not that 'hectic' is a real change of pace for you...)

thanks for giving lulu that recipe; i've never had such delicious cauliflower.

commentson 7 May 2004 : 09:25, robin sez:

On "the other guy's" comments:

a) The greatest AI book for the situation you described would be a newborn. Plenty to keep you thinking about vision, speech, robotics and knowledge representation - no outdated algorithms or boring examples.

I like lots of books for AI that are not really books on AI - as in ... books about character and personality disorders, creativity, design and so on. But Phil Agre's Computation and Human Experience is a favorite.

b) You probably tinker more (esp. with nets and genetic algorithms) than I do! Especially lately - with all the writing. For comments & pointers on those topics in particular - ping my office mate, Rob.

c) Will look for the Vector - thanks for the tip!!

February 2005 - comments are closed on Thanks.