And now for something totally unrelated to Houdini :-)
I recently started to finally get into Blender after looking at it for almost 20 years and thinking "it's almost there but..."
And now it finally is (for me at least).
2.8x is amazing and especially the modelling part is really great. I love designing with subdivision surfaces & edge weights and missed this since XSI went belly up. Houdini - with everything I love about it - just isn't really made for manual modelling, the tools feel extremely clumsy to me and the whole workflow is weird. The procedural tools are more in the way than helpful and relying on point numbers really isn't a good way to deal with groupings or edge selections in this case.
So Blender to the rescue and it really is great in this regard, very fast even at SDS level 3-4 in the viewport, good modes for dealing with working on the cage or the SDS directly, edge creases work very well and are easy to work with.
I also like Cycles. It's really fast with my two GPUs and shows great quality - would love to have it in Houdini actually, way more than Karma... ;-)
So yeah, if the Houdini modelling tools don't convince you, give it a try. Back and fourth works well with Alembic, and USD is in the works already. VDB too...
Some recent fun things:
So yeah, Blender 2.81 & Cycles.