i feel bad we called 911

last night phil and halle i and we were driving back from martinez around 1 a.m. we were traveling on the west bound 80 right before the san pablo dam exit, when the station wagon ahead of us suddenly wiggled a bit, then lost control, slid sideways across four or five lanes of freeway. he hit the guardrail with the car facing the wrong way down the highway, and the back end smacked into the railing with enough force to launch one metal section up the hill 20 yards and lift the vehicle up onto the posts.

we pulled over and i called 911, telling them i believed it was an injury accident. mike and phil helped the driver out of the car while i was talking to the highway patrol operator. he was shaken up, having trouble moving and probably in shock. he had just spent $200 to buy the car and was driving to highland hospital in oakland to be with his sick aunt.

fifteen minutes later, there was no sign of the highway patrol so i called 911 again. i reiterated that the driver might need medical attention, we believed he was in shock. they told me help was on the way. several other motorists pulled over to ask if we needed help.

when the CHP finally showed up 25 minutes later they seemed completely unconcerned about the driver’s well being. we started expressing our worries that he was in shock and needed to be looked at, and the cop held up her hand and cut us off. her partner questioned him about insurance (he had none) and examining him with an eye towards establishing a DUI (he did not appear to have been drinking). i did not hear him inquire once about his injuries.

the other cop took our statement, brusquely cutting us off several times, and then told us we could go. we wished the guy getting the third degree good luck and drove off, wondering whether we had done the right thing by calling 911.

disney/abc docudrama

abc is airing a docudrama in two days that apparently distorts the facts of 9/11, and was written and produced by a republican operative. it appears this is part of a concerted partisan PR effort to color the fifth anniversary of the event.

there are several organizations with petitions to abc asking them not to air the special: move on, true majority, and the daily kos has more information and suggestions for action.

i’m torn a bit by my decision to join the petition. i believe strongly in freedom of artistic expression. propaganda is not good however, and given that educational materials were prepared in conjunction with the film and then pulled, i think it should be kept off the air.

conanator hits 60

tonight my main character reached level 60 in world of warcraft, the highest level in the game. i have been playing for a long time and nearly all of the people i started playing with have long since made it to this point of advancement.  i have had several friends so far who have quit the game because they were spending far too much time playing (as in addicted), and i have been determined to play at a measured pace so this doesn’t happen to me.

i really cranked in the hours though as 60 approached. i did very little this weekend other than play, lift weights, and ride my bike. i slugged down peet’s and ran a lot of PUG (pick up groups, people who are not in our guild) instances.

tonight i dinged. and now i am just another level 60 with crappy gear who needs to figure out what to specialize in. i have assigned talent points along the way with some regard for the advice i have gotten and the forums i have read, but mostly  i have played to suit my style and have fun. when you get to 60, you have to really think more as a guild team player, and the role you want to play. i have been soliciting advice and reading a lot about endgame considerations.

one problem with WoW is the lack of gameplay that involves both lower and higher level players. once my friends got ahead of me level-wise i was kind of isolated. they could help me out by sending equipment or occasionally running through a dungeon, but if you are more than 5 levels apart, you aren’t really playing the same game. i made other friends of course, but when i was only logging in every couple of weeks or so it was a little discouraging to discover that  playing with a more casual approach means you primarily group together with OTHER casual players, who on the whole are less informed and more apt to be poor players, so the gameplay is often more frustrating and less rewarding. not always that’s for sure, because i love playing.

i sort of wish i had leveled in a more auspicious manner, but here i am turning 60 alone, grinding (methodically killing monsters for experience points) skeletons and ghouls.

conanator turns 60

a question from the comments about housing graph

mr. ken looked at robert schiller’s graph of historical home prices i republished from the new york times and asked a logical question:

i always have to look at these kind of things and wonder… how did this person unearth such marvelous findings while others have spoken so passionately in argument of the exact opposite (in this case that there is no bubble)? are the “opponents” sufficiently motivated by greed or is the writer just pimping pulp? what is the truth, cap’n e? somewhere in between, i’m guessing.

i guess one way of answering this question is to provide links to the insider transactions for two of the nation’s biggest homebuilders, kaufman broad and toll brothers. if you look at the amount of selling that was done last summer, at what is now regarded as the peak of the market, you start to get a sense of the amount of money that was being made pushing the idea that we were in a “new paradigm” for real estate. these managers with access to the best realtime data about the US housing market were encouraging everyone else to buy houses and shares of their companies while they were aggressively selling. they needed buyers to take those houses and shares off their hands. the shares of those two companies both lost over 50% of their value over the following year. there were millions of players getting their piece of trillions of transaction and appreciation dollars, from agents to brokers to appraisers and speculators. why wouldn’t every property owner want to believe the story? it made them feel great about their financial acumen and their future. they could borrow against that skyrocketing equity and spend the money enjoying a richer quality of life.

whenever i read an article about the housing market, there is invariably a quote from david lereah, the chief economist for the national association of realtors. the title of lereah’s  book pretty much sums up what he and most realtors would like you to believe:  Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?: Why Home Values and Other Real Estate Investments Will Climb Through The End of The Decade—And How to Profit From Them. two of the key leading indicators for US house sales are published by this organization.

alan greenspan coined the phrase “irrational exuberance“. seth godin says that all marketers are liars, and consumers often believe the lies because they make them feel good about themselves. many commentators and economists  think house prices are a result of the federal reserve policies post dot bomb and 9/11 intended to reflate the economy.  my best guess, a layman’s opinion among many, is that it’s a combination of these factors.

i was just surfing around looking for supporting material and found this must-read article on wikipedia discussing the (alleged!) housing price bubble. it covers the topic more exhaustively and authoritatively than i ever could.