Finally made it to EXPERT level in GuruShots

It has been a long haul and I have had to get lots of votes, but I have managed to make it to EXPERT level in GuruShots.

My picture with the most member votes is this one. This shot has a total of 2,528 votes and has also chalked up an All Star ranking and made it into the Top 10% in one of the challenges it was entered into.

Following is my second highest rating picture with 1,682 member votes. Although it has not got as many votes as the picture above it has managed to get two All Star rankings as well as a Top 10%.

Coming in third overall is this picture of an old Rolls Royce which has accrued 1,347 member votes in challenges. I really liked the look of the pink undercoating coming through from the blue finish.

The next level is Champion; but this needs a lot more votes and I need to get a total of ten All Star rankings in challenges. Plus, and this is the hard one, I need to get one of the existing Guru members (and there are not many of them) to award one of the pictures I submit into a challenge with a star.

New model Forester slated for mid-2018

Subaru are expected to release a 'new from the ground up' Forester mid-2018. This completely new Forester will sit on Subaru's new global platform chassis as used in the latest Impreza and XV releases.

While not a lot is known about this new 2019 Forester (Subaru always give their new models a year date that is one year ahead of the year they actually get released) you can get some hints and guesses from looking around the Web.

The turbo model will almost certainly get the new injected 2.0 litre boxer power plant. This is the same engine that is now in the 2018 XV—but with turbo boost added (which the XV does not have). One article I found has even suggested the turbo might have electric help so that there is turbo boost available at lower engine revs rather that at around the 2,200 RPM mark as is the case with the current XT turbo model.

Another item I found talks about a significantly lower centre of gravity in the 2019 XT Forester. This is attributed to a combination of the new injected 2.0 litre engine, the new global platform chassis, and the new CVT transmission. However, just what a 'significantly' lower centre of gravity actually means is anyone's guess. It could be 2cm or 2". But I guess any lowering of the centre of gravity in an SUV is always a good thing.

The other 'guess' I found, in fact I found three articles on this, is that the 2019 Forester might be offered in a hybrid model or possibly—even more radically—in a full electric model. It seems that the new global platform was designed with an electric engine option in mind.

As is almost always the case with each new major model revamp I suspect, somewhat sadly, that the new Forester will also be just a little bit bigger. I am not sure why it is that each time a car maker brings out a completely new version of one of their vehicles it always has to grow by just a little bit each time. I say sadly because in my opinion the Forester was about the perfect size back around the 2005 model. I think the current version of the Forester, which has been around since about 2011/2012, is too big.

So, watch this blog for more information about the 2019 Forester as it leaks out.

The wife and I are 'downsizing'

After 22 years at our current address, the wife and I are taking on the significant challenge of 'downsizing'. We are currently on half an acre; being 2,012 square metres, or—for my US readers—2,406 square yards. Obviously the house only sits on a small part of the 2,012 square metres. The rest of the land is a little bit of garden, some paving here and there, and then all the rest is owned by the weeds.

We have summer weeds, winter weeds, autumn weeds, and spring weeds. Keeping on top of the weeds is a full time job and about 10 years ago—maybe longer—I totally gave up on any attempt to control them. I tried all the good advice but, weeds being weeds, they always end up winning.

So we are moving from 2,012 square metres down to 650 square metres. That should mean a lot less weeds.

The other problem with the current block of land is that it has about 4" of dirt and then you hit coffee rock. Really hard coffee rock. So to plant anything you basically need a half stick of dynamite to break the ground up and someone with a shot-firers license to do the blast; or you hire a mini-rock breaker for the day and break the rock up with that. Hard work. Needless to say, we have not planted very much in the yard.

The weeds seem to do okay but. Even where it is paved!

And getting weeds out of paving is actually (much) harder than pulling them out of the ground. They manage to get their roots under the paving so you only ever manage to snap the top off and leave the roots behind. Sure, you can slice them with a shovel; which then marks the paving. Or you can poison. But with two cats (three really, if you count whingy McWhingy) poisoning is also a tricky option.

There is a bit more to this story, apart from the fact that my wife has now been formally diagnosed with MND (see post on this here), and I will likely cover this in future posts on the subject of downsizing.

Made it to All Star in the "Ground Floor" challenge

I have managed to make it to the All Star ranking in the GuruShots challenge "Ground Floor". This challenge required submissions that are somehow related to the Ground Floor or the ground level or just the ground.

This means I now have five All Star rankings. To get an All Star ranking requires a minimum of 1,950 votes from other GuruShots members and—as you would expect—this is not easy to achieve.

Each 'challenge' on GuruShots requires four submissions. Here are the four submission I used for this challenge. Click on image to see it full size.

Now that I have five All Star rankings I should be able to level up to Expert level soon. I am currently at Veteran level.

Next Reserve Bank rate change will almost certainly be upwards

From everything I am seeing in the Financial Review and the business section of the Australian, the next change in the Reserve Bank cash rate will be upwards. This being the case then the remaining two questions are: by how much will the rate be lifted; and how often will future rate rises be paced?

The general view of the experts seems to be that the reserve would like to get the rate back to around the 3 percent mark; which is double what it is now. And they would like to get back to this level by the start of FY20—which is mid-2019.

Increasing the cash rate to 3 percent would push the market rate for house mortgages up to around 5.5 to 6 percent.

So, the remaining question is: how will they pace the required increases?

Firstly, and this is purely just my input, they have to decide if the first increase happens before or after Xmas. There are upsides and downsides to both options. One of the aims of increasing the interest rate is to try and stop people from going further into debt because Australia's household debt is skyrocketing and out of control. From this viewpoint they would like to increase the interest rate before Xmas—in order to calm down Xmas spending and any further increase in household debt. On the other hand, they do want people to spend at Xmas in order to help the ailing economy. So it is a difficult decision to make.

I think they will do a small increase before Xmas. Possibly not enough to stop people spending at Xmas but enough to get the rate hike started. My money is on a 20 basis point increase (i.e., 1/5th of a percent) before Xmas.

I will be sure to let you know if I was right :-)