Yeah, I own a house in the San Francisco Bay area.  I just missed the anniversary of the date I purchased it, Nov. 1, 1981, and I hope it isn't too upset with me.  Perhaps having a section of my website dedicated to this fine bit of paradise will make it feel better. Probably not as much as if I cleaned it up real nice, but it's a start.  


This section has grown to include the house, the yard, the garage, the car and environs.

Shin the Homeowner

Last Update: January 2, 2020

The John Shinnick Web Site

A Homeowner's Lament

First, a bit of a follow-up to last month's homeowner article, regarding my storing of Larry's stuff as he awaited a single room at his health care facility - Larry passed on in December. He will be missed.

Larry's passing added a sense of urgency to some long standing business. What of my house? I mean, really. I usually devote this section to some specific project or shortcoming, but in the bigger perspective, what's the plan?

This October, fire season arrived with a vengeance. PG&E stopped pretending that it could leave the electricity on then absorb billions of dollars in lawsuits resulting from the fires. It would preemptively cut power when conditions (dryness and winds) made leaving it on too risky. My neighborhood faced three threatened outages, one of which materialized for a length of two days. My experiences with this were chronicled in my main article that month.

I was left with several outstanding issues - what should I do to prepare for such shut-offs? Is a generator for me? Or perhaps a battery system based on solar panels? Or should I just prepare to hunker down like last time. Maybe go somewhere else? Sadly in this last one, all my likely destinations (friends and family) were in the same boat!

How should I prepare for an actual fire of this type? What if I have less than a minute to get the hell out? Where would I go? What should I have packed? What records will I need saved? Again, if I have to flee, where would I go? What's the overlap with being prepared for an earthquake?

And is it worth it? Do I really want my own house in the Berkeley Hills? Based on the real estate blurbs I'm sent every month, I could get a disgusting amount for this house, and even after taxes, and rent a nice apartment of some kind, something where my equity wouldn't go up in flames. Perhaps some senior living situation. I'm old enough for it now. I have to face it - as I get older, I often wonder what would happen if I suffered a massive

Typical pose of a typical aging homeowner.

stroke or heart attack? Who'd know? And even if I live out my days peacefully, what happens to my house then? Not to mention the rest of my worldly possessions aka estate? Is it time to research reverse mortgages and stuff.

Time to put some kind of will together. And perhaps some kind of trust. And figure out what I want to happen to my leftovers. Funny, I've been so successful leaving a small footprint (vegan diet, no children, recycling when I can, all that stuff) but what about the good stuff I'll leave behind? Where will it go and how will it get there? Or do I actually WANT the IRS to be the beneficiary to pay for universal health care?

Oh yeah, health care! I need a health care directive in case I'm incapacitated and can't tell anyone how to handle my medical condition. Life support? Pull the plug? And that has nothing to do with my house, except that it might if I'm in the hospital for two years on life support and... darn THIS IS SO HARD AND SO DEPRESSING!!! My brain hurts. Time for another game of on-line sudoku.