Monday, December 24, 2012

Best Floor Tile on the Market

Now I must learn far too much about things which go in homes. Today was tile. Being an engineer who would like to make things practically indestructible I decided to focus on a few aspects of tile:

First is its PEI rating. There does not seem to be much additional cost associated with using PEI 5 rated tile. This tile is good enough to put into a mall, so it should certainly be good enough to go in my bathroom. It does limit me to mostly porcelain tile though.

Second is that I want thru body porcelain. This is tile which is the same color in the center as on the top. This means that if it chips the bottom of the chip will be the same color as the tile around it. This used to be standard in porcelain tile, but slowly has gone out of style because it limits options.

Last is coefficient of friction. The higher the coefficient of friction, the less slippery the tile is. Anything less than 0.8 cannot be used in Los Angeles for sloped tile, so I should be able to find many options which exceed this value.

Unfortunately, normal people do not shop like me. Most sites made it very difficult to find all three pieces of information about each tile. I was able to find four tiles which stood out though. They had a minimum dry coefficient of friction of 0.87 while meeting the other two criteria. The first two actually look decent so I will likely go with one of those.

Tile #1
Tile #2
Tile #3
Tile #4

New House

Well, I finally got talked into buying a new house. Not just as in new for me, an actual new house.

I have been convinced for some time that we need to start increasing the density of Southern California. The primary thing that needs to happen is 10+ story residential and commercial buildings within a half mile of existing train stations. It is a whole lot easier to build interesting things near public transit than it is to expand public transit to meet up with already existing homes, entertainment and workspace.

Of secondary importance is building a whole lot more housing in Orange and Los Angeles counties. This can help stop more people from commuting from Riverside and San Bernardino counties. This should be done by tearing down existing buildings rather than destroying more of the already limited habitat for coastal creatures.

Buying this home, rather than an existing home, encourages this trend. Rather than bidding up the price on already over-priced assets I am assisting in modeling the future.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We better get working on that space program

We don't have long to escape from the robot army.

A far more impressive drone is the following. If you can survive through the bad dialog it is quite impressive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Credit Score Scam

I have long known that credit ratings were a scam. They are more a judge of how much of a sucker you are than how much of a risk of default you are. Those who pay tons of interest on time will always have the highest credit scores.

I did not realize just how bad they are until today though:

In the past four years I have paid off around $20,000 in student loans and credit card debt.

I have no debt at all.

I have nearly a decade straight of paying utility bills of one form or another including many years of paying rent to large apartment complexes.

I have a credit card which is at least six years old (but I stopped charging anything to in the past year or so since the interest rates are damn near criminal.

I have three and a half years at one job in one of the more stable industries there is.

So I figured when getting a home loan my credit would be sufficient. I am obviously someone who can be trusted to pay back a mortgage.  No luck. When the bank ran my credit score it came back as inactive because I haven't had any debt for more than six months. Not only would they not send the bank a score, they wouldn't even send them all the information about the credit history they do have. The 20,000 in debt I payed off in the past four years? All kept secret as punishment for my refusing to play their game.

Fortunately I will have in excess of a 20% down payment. There clearly are banks with intelligent people who will go through manual underwriting, or some other procedure to take what is obviously free money to them. Still, this really makes me want to find a way to push for reform in this industry.