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Whole Foods Market’s Vegan TTLA Sandwich Has Gone Viral — Here’s Why You’ll Want a Bite

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BLT has NOTHIN' on TTLA.
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samuel
14 days ago
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Gonna try this next time I’m in the wood shop, which has a Whole Foods down the street.
The Haight in San Francisco
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Build This Snack Stadium If You Are Insane and Also an Architect

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Do you love football? Do you love snacks? Do you you have a 10” double bevel miter saw? Then get ready for a DIY project that’ll delight small children and Super Bowl party guests in equal measure. Because we all know it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s how many layers of dip are under the avocado turf of your…

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samuel
15 days ago
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Kudos
The Haight in San Francisco
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The thing about renting an apartment in NYC

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There’s a lot of weird stuff about NYC real estate and this post attempts to cover some of the things that I’ve experienced. I’ve spent years renting apartments in NYC, mostly from rather small-time landlords with pre-war, rent stabilized buildings. If you’re looking for luxury rentals in new construction, a lot of this advice probably doesn’t apply.

The Mysterious Other Renter

When I’ve found a place I like, invariably the real estate agent calls me a couple hours later telling me that someone else is willing to take the apartment for $100-$200 more per month. Luckily, I’ve never been in a position where I need that particular shitty rental, so I’ve always said, “That’s too bad, I guess I’ll keep looking.” Then a couple hours later the real estate agent calls back and tells me that the other deal miraculously fell through, would I still like the apartment?

This is, I assume, a scummy trick on the part of real estate agent to get an extra $100 commission for a few minutes of extra work (and ingratiate themselves with the landlord). If you have options, don’t fall into a bidding war over a rental.

“Legal rent” vs. what you’re paying

This can actually works out in your favor (at least in the short term). If you are looking for a cheap place, you’re likely to end up with a rent-stabilized apartment. Often, when you sign the lease, there will be an alarmingly high rent listed on the lease (e.g., if you agreed to pay $1,800/month, the lease lists $2,600).

How this works: for rent-stabilized apartments, the landlord is only allowed to raise the rent by a certain city-determined amount each year. For example, if you’re paying $2000/month and the city says landlords can raise rent-stabilized rents by 2%, the landlord can ask you to pay $2200 next year. However, let’s say you’re a good tenant: you always pay your rent on time. You threaten* to move unless the landlord keeps the rent at $2000. So they do: they’d rather have another “guaranteed” $24,000 than risk months of vacancy, a bad tenant, etc. for an extra $2,400.

The city also sometimes puts the rent increase at 0%. Up until last year, there were ~5 years of 0% rent increases. If a landlord had been bumping the legal rent by the max allowable amount before that, though, they could keep bumping the actually rent (up to the legal rent’s ceiling).

Gentrification also is an issue: if you are renting a rent-stabilized apartment and the landlord wants to renovate it into luxury apartments, they have to get rid of their current tenants, first. A great way to do this is to suddenly bump your rent to the max legal rent. If you balked at paying an extra $200/month for a crappy studio with no view, how would you feel about a $1k/month bump? Only the old tenants are gone, the landlord is free to renovate the apartment. Renovations increase the allowable rent they can charge for the apartment, often bumping it out of the range that the city will consider rent-stabilized… allowing the landlord to charge the new tenants absolutely anything.

The migratory patterns of renters

Most people move in the warmer months. Once it starts to get cold, people seem to have a nesting instinct and just don’t want to go out and find a place. This means that landlords are more likely to make concessions and give discounts in the winter months, if you can move then. And they’re more likely to be friendly about letting you out of your lease in the summer months.

Rental agents: the crème de la crap

Real estate agents work on commission: they literally make $0 salary. Like strippers, they generally pay the brokerage for getting to use their space. Because brokerages can charge agents to work for them, they’ll often hire literally anyone that can pass the licensing exam.

Now guess which gives a better commission: signing a lease on a rent-stabilized apartment or closing a $2.5 million sale. The lease gives the agent one month’s rent (maybe a thousand). The sale gives them a few percent of the listing price (maybe $30,000 for the example above).* There are more expenses with selling a listing, but still. Thus, the real estate agents you’ll be working with will generally be the least-experienced agents at the brokerage. A broker once told me, “If a new agent has a deep network and skills, I’m not going to waste them doing rentals.” Putting together rental deals is the latrine duty of real estate.

Thus, if you can avoid it, don’t work with an agent. They’re unlikely to be good at their job and are generally a huge waste of money. However, landlords of big buildings (especially) will sometimes only work with real estate agents. This is because the real estate agents will do some pre-screening (if you make $30k/year they’re not going to waste anyone’s time showing you a $3k/month place) and they will steer tenants to the buildings that they work with (which works out well for everyone, pretty much: the landlords get tenants, the tenants find a place, the real estate agent gets a commission fairly easily).

If you are trying to avoid a broker’s fee, though, you’ll want to avoid those buildings.

Leases

In Manhattan, you’re almost certainly going to have standard year-long leases. The landlord sends you a new lease within 90 days of your lease expiring and you either sign it, ask for modifications, or decline and move out. If you need to move out before that, try to find someone to take over your lease (hey, I know a startup that can help with that) or your landlord is likely to fine you at least a month’s rent (good bye security deposit) for breaking the lease.

A perk of Queens and Brooklyn is that leases often turn into month-to-month leases after then initial year is up (and occasionally will start as month-to-month leases). This gives you a lot more flexibility: often you only have to give 30 days notice before moving out. (I don’t know much about renting in the Bronx or Staten Island.)

Wrapping up

When dealing with landlords: remember that they really just want someone who will reliably pay rent. And, I mean, not burn the place down or turn it into a drug den, but hopefully you won’t have to work very hard to convince them of that side of it.

When working with agents: remember that they are in it for the commission and you are probably more skilled at literally everything than they are, but they have connections and (some) experience. But do your own research and don’t trust anything they say. And since I’m a real estate agent… and I wrote this post… well, I guess this was a huge waste of your time 🙂

I’d love to hear what your experiences have been, let me know in the comments.

* Threatening your landlord: I use the word “threaten” loosely. I’ve always had good luck with just calling the landlord and saying, “I’d really like to stay, is there any way you can see your way to keeping the rent at $2k?” So I’m not going all First Blood on them.
* Commission on sales and rentals: I’m assuming that a brokerage is likely to take at least 50% of the commission for either, although this varies widely.

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satadru
15 days ago
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"Legal Rent" also often ends up being a much higher official rent minus a multiple month discount the first year. Just like scummy cable companies.

Also, getting housing in NY like in many places is literally a lottery. There are lotteries for a small number of "affordable housing" units in new buildings. Of course many of those actually go to connected people. And of course you can't expect rent to go down in a big city because all the people with cushy rent controlled housing are opposed to new development in their neighborhoods for fear of altering the nature of the community, which is code for letting you in, you poor newbie heathen. Sadly there's plenty of "Fuck you, I got mine" here in NYC... and YIMBYs promoting more housing have quite an uphill battle here.
New York, NY
samuel
16 days ago
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This is an A+ guide to renting in NYC.
The Haight in San Francisco
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The magic carpet ride scene from Aladdin dubbed with realistic audio

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This is silly and I loved it: someone took the clip from Aladdin when he and Jasmine sing A Whole New World while riding the magic carpet and dubbed realistic audio over it. I laughed embarrassingly hard at this. (via @JossFong)

Tags: Aladdin   audio   movies   remix   video
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satadru
32 days ago
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lololol. Though clearly the fact their hair isn't being pulled behind them indicates they're in some sort of bubble.
New York, NY
easyshopy
22 days ago
WOW
samuel
32 days ago
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Ahahahahahaha
The Haight in San Francisco
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Box breathing box

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I built a box breathing box.

Box breathing is a technique for keeping track of and controlling breath: four seconds inhaling, four holding, four exhaling, four holding. I read about the trick a year or two ago, and rely on it to get back to normal when I notice I’m holding my breath. I hold my breath when I’m nervous.

You can do it by counting to four, but it’s nice to have an external guide so that you can just concentrate on breathing. There are guides already, like iPhone apps and websites. I wanted something else.

I wanted something that didn’t receive notifications or show me content, a specific object for this task.1 So I built this device from scratch.

The parts for the box breathing box, neatly arranged

The electronics came in one $50 order from Adafruit.

The microcontroller is overkill: a 32u4 Basic Proto Feather would have run more efficiently.

I spent much more time working through newbie mistakes and setting up software than I did writing code. There’s little code involved.

I wanted the object to be excellent. Tactile. Soft but stark. With access to my dad’s workshop and his advice, and with a craft box donated by my mom, I built an enclosure from wood and plexiglass. These images, too, were taken in his studio. Many thanks for help on this project.

Three-quarters view of the box breathing box with the top off

The enclosure is finished with many coats of a Minwax wipe-on polyurethane. The plexiglass top is lightly sanded to eliminate any shine.

Top-down view of the box breathing box

It’s essential that the hardware stays in place, so we constructed wood shims for the sides and near the toggle switch.

The top is drilled out for the SPDT toggle switch, and the bottom has a Micro-B USB port for charging and programming. That’s one of my favorite features of the Adafruit Feather devices - a built-in battery charging circuit.

Someday I’d like to build a simpler version, possibly with an analog circuit.

It’s a good object, and building it was lovely. This is a box breathing box.

View of the box breathing box in the hold-inhaled position

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samuel
40 days ago
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I just love how easy it has become to build beautiful pet projects.
The Haight in San Francisco
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Mute Switches

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In my iPhone X review, I wrote:

And for reasons I’ve never been able to understand, Android handset makers seem willing to copy everything and anything from Apple they can get away with (and even things they can’t get away with), but [almost] none have copied the iPhone’s mute switch, despite the fact that it’s a brilliant idea.

I didn’t mean to imply that the iPhone was the first device or first phone to include a mute switch, but I can see how “it’s a brilliant idea” could be taken that way. I’ve changed that to “despite the fact that it’s extremely useful”.

On Twitter, Dieter Bohn pointed out that nearly every phone Palm ever made included a hardware ringer switch. Seth Weintraub pointed back to the 1985 Trimline — a landline phone that included a ringer switch. (When I was a kid, the only way you could keep a telephone from ringing was to take it off the hook, which prevented any incoming calls from getting through.)

What I think Apple deserves credit for is defining which hardware buttons were necessary for the modern smartphone: home, power, volume up/down, and mute. Every other button moved to software, inside apps on the touchscreen. It was considered somewhat radical that the iPhone omitted the Send/End (green/red) hardware buttons that were present on just about every cell phone ever made prior to the iPhone. If Apple, the most hardware-button-averse company in the industry, has always included a mute switch, why don’t Android handset makers?

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satadru
52 days ago
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The usual Gruber selective memory. Google moved away from even the home button years ago, well before Apple did with the iPhone X.

And is the mute switch really essential?
More phones are sold without a mute button than with. Sure I started by missing the mute button, but I've kept my android phones on permanently vibrate mode for incoming calls for years now.
New York, NY
dvenema
52 days ago
Turning the ringer on/off can be important if you don't always carry your phone in your pocket. For example, it can be hard to notice a phone vibrate if it's inside a purse.
lasombra
52 days ago
The thing here is that the iPhone's volume buttons, by default, only change the media volume, as Android users would call it, and you have to dig through the settings to change the ring volume. You can make the volume buttons control the ringer volume as well, but then you can only control the media volume when media is playing. I think the Android 6+ solution is perfect, meaning, the notification panel for volume can be expanded to control alarm, ringer and media volumes at once. I always thought Android OEMs never had a hardware mute button because of patents.
wreichard
52 days ago
I had a laptop of a brand I can’t even remember now that had an actual volume wheel in the front under the mousepad. Loved it.
eviljim
52 days ago
@lasombra it's been a lot easier since a handful of versions ago; when you volume up/down it controls a single volume but there's a little toggle to expand to see all three volumes. Not that this is a super awesome UI or super intuitive, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy to access. (Also, the volume controls media if media is playing, otherwise it controls the ringer. So it's somewhat context aware which can be confusing.)
wim_s
52 days ago
It's not that you can change from ring to vibrate using a hardware button, it's that you can check if your phone is on vibrate without having to take it out of your pocket.
satadru
51 days ago
There can't be an Apple patent on the mute switch though, since as Gruber points out prior art goes back to 1985. (And yes I have fond memories of the Treo 650 and its mute switch.) But then volume down past zero to vibrate has always maintained state for me over the years on Android too. I wonder if mute is most useful when you really don't trust the OS and the apps that can control volume to leave the device silent when you want it to stay silent. I can't remember the last time I accidentally had my phone make noises when I didn't want it to. (Android's Do Not Disturb settings, with automatic silent based on rules like time probably help that.) While we're at it, can we get TV & Movie script writers to stop using "phone accidentally left off silent" as a plot device? That's getting pretty tiresome.
samuel
52 days ago
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A very good point.
The Haight in San Francisco
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1 public comment
superlopuh
52 days ago
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The mute switch has been consistently the first thing to break on all my iPhones. Volume buttons should go too, the volume model is broken on iPhone.
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