Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Daily Living’ Category

For the first six years that I’ve lived in the Seattle area, I’ve had to drive to work. It was simply too far to walk as it would have taken 1.5 – 2 hours every day to get in. But in 2013 we moved closer to work and since then I’ve been able to walk. It takes between 20 and 30 minutes depending upon what building I am working in (the company moves us around a lot). I walk almost every day except when (a) it’s pouring rain in the winter (or snowing), or (b) it’s really cold, or (c) I have to go somewhere before or after work. So, basically I’d been walking to work for about 4 years.

However, earlier this year the company temporarily moved my team to downtown Bellevue, a distance of about 5 miles. This is too far to walk, it would take me two hours both ways so I had to drive in.

I was ambivalent about moving to a high rise in downtown Bellevue, but it turned out that I liked it for the most part. I could listen to the radio on the way in and the way home, and I liked being in the middle of all the action in downtown (there are lots of good restaurants around there, as well as being across the street from a shopping mall). I think most people enjoyed working in the downtown office, including myself.

The drawback was that I missed walking into work. I would deliberately park further away while working downtown so I still had to walk about 10 minutes to get to my office (if I took the stairs to the 11th floor). And, if I wanted to walk during the day, I had to motivate myself to do it during a break in the middle of the day, which I didn’t always do.

After moving back to the main campus, I started walking to work again. I realized that I really missed those early and late walks because I would listen to podcasts on the way. I never did that while driving to work, and only once in a while did it when going for a mid-afternoon walk or in the evening when I would try to catch up on my 10,000 steps. Not only that, but walking to work – depending on the building I am in – is a “free” 6000-7500 steps because it’s part of my daily commute of 20-30 minutes. When driving to work, it took 30 minutes but I would only get about 1000 steps each way, so I had to make them up in the evening somehow.

This is now part of the problem of living and working where I am living and working. I like walking to work because it’s decent exercise that I would otherwise struggle to get. It’s close by so if I ever have to drive, it takes less than 10 minutes; if I have to walk, it takes about 30 minutes.

If I want to switch jobs, my commute will increase as I will either have to drive or take the bus (or both). That means it will, once again, be more difficult to get my daily step count. And if I had to commute into Seattle, it would take me more than 30 minutes to get in, probably 45 minutes at a minimum. In rain, it would probably take 60-90 minutes.

I am fortunate that I enjoy doing what I’m doing, but on the other hand I sometimes wonder if I should try something different just for a change of pace. I hear all the time that it’s unusual for someone to stay in the same job for decades, yet that’s what I have done for the past 13.5 years. But I don’t want to extend my commute because a long commute time is one of the biggest causes of life-dissatisfaction. I’ve driven across the bridges in this city during rush hour, and it’s not fun. Even on the bus, it sucks the life out of your day.

But for now, I guess I’ll sit back and enjoy the ride.

I mean walk.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today, I turned 39.

I know a lot of people start freaking out about the passage of time, and getting older and whatnot, especially as 40 years of age approaches. And sometimes, I do too.

But for the most part I don’t.

My birthday was lower-key this year than in years previous. We were a little tight for time. I had to go to church to run the lights, and afterwards the wife and I went to Costco to get groceries (we’re real swingers here, doing responsible things and all).

We came home to put stuff away, and saw that the guy who was doing some work on our bathroom was gone. So, after quickly changing clothes, we headed off for lunch in Seattle to the restaurant of my choice – Cafe Turko!

You may recall that we went there last year for my birthday, although that was a Saturday evening and this was a Sunday afternoon. Since we went last year, we hadn’t returned. It’s not that easy for us to get to due to Seattle traffic, the only exception to this is on weekends.

Just like last year, we started off with the rainbow hummus which has four kinds – regular, sweet potato, beet, and olive (or something green, it may not have been olive). The wife then got a Turkish black tea and some lentil soup, while I got some lamb dish with rice and salad. For dessert, I got a Turkish coffee and some havlah with chocolate on it.

Speaking of havlah, it’s an eastern European powdery-dessert dish that the wife and I really like. But no one else seems to. I’m not sure why that is.

We came home, and an hour or two later I had to head off again to help out with a youth group where I am one of the assistants. Finally, I returned home where we relaxed a little bit while the sun went down on my 39th birthday.

As for next year, my 40th, what will I do? I’m not sure. I was thinking of having a big party but I’ve realized that December is not a good month for a birthday. On weekends, people are either out visiting family, or doing office Christmas parties, or going to friends’ parties, or doing church events. That means they are typically booked up which means that I’d be (probably) out of luck next year with respect to scheduling unless I promised a massively great party (note: I am not a good party planner).

But it doesn’t matter. The fact is I am another year older, and I’ve enjoyed the past 365 days. I discovered I like wine much more than I used to; my neck pain has reduced; and I even got a promotion at work. So it’s not all bad.

And, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year holds.

Read Full Post »

About two years ago, we got another cat, Zelda. She was a kitten, about 3 months old. We brought her home and our other cat Ruby did not like her at all. There was hissing, and growling, and frequent beatings. Ruby does not like other cats in the house, and this little intruder needed to be gone, and pronto.

We’ve now had both cats for two years, and now they both more or less co-exist. As long as Zelda stays out of Ruby’s face, it’s fine. They can sleep 6 inches apart from each other, and there’s no hissing.

IMG_0462

It’s only when Zelda gets really close to Ruby – face to face – that Ruby hisses or sometimes swats.

But here’s the thing – Zelda gets in Ruby’s face all the time. In face, one of Zelda’s favorite games is one she invented, it’s called “Beat up Ruby.” The way it works is she walks over to Ruby and tries to tackle her, succeeding about half the time. That’s it. No other rules. Ruby hates this game and hisses at Zelda every time, but it doesn’t stop Zelda from trying to play it almost every day.

Ruby has figured out that Zelda likes this game, so she often walks around Zelda because she knows she might get tackled. That usually works. But it’s also not when Zelda attacks; instead, Zelda attacks at inopportune times, usually out of the blue. A common tactic is the sneak attack when in the morning, Ruby is sleeping on the bed and Zelda walks in, jumps up, and pounces on her. Oh, there’s lots of hissing (from one cat)!

Earlier this year, I took a picture of a faceoff. You can see that Zelda is about to tackle Ruby, and Ruby knows it. She lays back, paws up, ears pointing backward, ready to defend herself. In this case, Zelda abstained from going in for the pounce.

IMG_0390

But another time, I was able to take a series of pictures of Zelda beating Ruby up. This lasted about 3 seconds.

It starts with a face-off:

IMG_0118

Then Zelda pounced and they separated:

IMG_0117

They split apart:

IMG_0116

The sync up and fight again:

IMG_0115

And then it ended with another staredown, with Zelda finally backing down:

IMG_0113

Zelda is having a great time with this, but Ruby not so much.

Still, it’s entertaining to watch. Ruby has never fully gotten over the fact that there’s another cat in the house, but she has decided to live by the non-aggression treaty.

She just can’t understand why the other one keeps breaking it.

Read Full Post »

This past Thursday, I took part in the Seattle Stair Climb challenge for Cystic Fibrosis. This is a charitable fundraiser that raises funds to fight Cystic Fibrosis; two of my friends (who are married to each other) have a son with the disease, and so I decided to give some money to charity and take part in the cause.

That’s me below, the only one without a team T-shirt as I only signed up the day of the challenge, although I had been thinking about it for a couple of weeks.

2017-11-18-ClimbingStairs-1

I hadn’t done a charitable event like this before – no runs for charity, no bike rides, no anything. At least, not in the past few years.

This one was a simple stair climb down in Seattle. You climb all 56 floors, bottom to top, to complete the event.

I figured I could do it; I occasionally climb all 28 floors bottom-to-top in the building where I work in Bellevue, so I figured this would take me a little more than twice as long. As it turned out, it only took 50% longer as the distance between each floor was smaller (that is, in the building at work, there are more stairs between floors than this one).

Still, on the way up I never stopped but I was breathing hard when I got to the top. When I reached the 55th floor, I “sprinted” the rest of the way. That is, I tried to go as fast as I could. My legs felt like rubber and I wasn’t moving quick at all, but I finished in 11 minutes and 52 seconds. That was good for 55th out of 171 total participants. In my age group (30-39), I finished 15th out of 33 people, so about in the middle.

I don’t know all that much about Cystic Fibrosis (I had to read about it), but it’s a disease that affects the lungs and your body produces too much mucous, and it is genetic (both parents must be a carrier of the gene). I know even less about research for a cure, but it sounds like technology such as CRISPR, which allow you to edit your genes or DNA, may be promising.

As difficult as the challenge was, I had a good time and felt like it was important to support my friends as they struggle through this challenge.

Read Full Post »

The wife and I have done a ton of renovations to real estate this year:

  • The wife replaced the bathtub walls and counter in her rental condo
  • I replaced the tub and tub-walls in my rental condo
  • We replaced the master bedroom’s bathroom in the house where we are living
  • The wife’s parents sold a house and the wife is acting as the power of attorney, and had to oversee a whole bunch of required upgrades before we could sell
  • I am on the Board of my condo association, so not only do I manage my own property but help manage the entire complex
  • We are looking to do some more renovation work of the main bathroom in the house where are living, not mention fixing up some drainage issues (and not to mention taking care of another drainage problem earlier this year, as well as adding insulation to the undercarriage of the house)

Whew. That’s a lot of work.

However, what I’ve found is that I’ve gotten good at noticing when something is done well and when it’s done cheaply, and not been impressed with expensive housing.

Across the street from Microsoft, there’s a $1.7 million house for sale. It sold last year, and the wife and I went to look at it. At the time, we were like “Wow! This is a nice place! We’ll never afford it of course, it’s way too much money.”

But this year it was up for sale again. The previous owner who bought the year before had to move back to the east coast, and put it on the market for $100k above last year’s price. The wife and I went to check it out again.

We were not impressed.

While some parts of the house were nice, the walls had been drawn on by kids and it wasn’t totally cleaned up. The master bathroom was nice, but it gigantic. It was the size of a large bedroom, and the walk-in closet the size of a small bedroom. I said to myself “What a waste of space.”

But it’s not just that, the other bathrooms had cheap plastic tubs installed. The counters were okay, but just… okay. Indeed, most of the house was adequate, but for $1.7 million I expected way more. We remodeled our own bathroom this year and were trying to keep costs down, and all bathrooms in this $1.7 million house – except the main one – were no nicer than our new one.

Even now when the wife and I go snooping in open houses during the summer or fall, we’ve started getting pretty good at seeing if something is well-built or not. And there’s a lot of overpriced junk out there. It’s pretty clear that real estate prices are driven primarily by location, and not by quality. This is doubly true in Seattle where houses go for even more than they do on the east side of the lake.

I feel like if I wanted to go into real estate development, I could be pretty good at it since I have some experience at it now. For sure, I’d need to get a lot more training under my belt, but if I’ve gotten this far just doing it haphazardly, I could become a real expert if I did it full time.

Of course, if I get a degree in diplomacy, when exactly when I have time for that?

Read Full Post »

The wife and I hand wash our dishes.

This means that instead of using the dishwasher, we pop them in the sink and do them by hand. I don’t mind doing this, it only adds perhaps 10-15 minutes to clean up. Plus, the dishwater often leaves ugly water stains which don’t come off.

The drawback of hand washing dishes is that we break a lot of them. I’ve broken several plates and glasses, and so has the wife. But it accelerated this past week.

I was washing a plate in the sink when it slipped out of my hand and fell against the bottom of the sink. It didn’t drop far, maybe 3 inches. But it left a chip and a crack in the side of it, rendering it unusable because it could cut you if you weren’t careful (most people won’t be careful).

Then a few days later, I was washing a wine glass. We had bought two inexpensive wine glasses from an estate sale a few weeks ago to replace the previous wine glasses that we had broken. Well, the wife broke one of those. So anyhow, I had the other wine glass in the sink and was washing a frying pan. It slipped out of my hand and landed on the wine glass, breaking it.

Argh!

The next day I decided to head down to the store to pick up two new wine glasses to replace the pair that we had broken. I went after work and had my backpack with me. I bought the two glasses and the clerk wrapped them in paper and put them in a shopping back (I didn’t put them in my backpack). I headed to my car and tossed in my backpack. I then got into the car, and brought the other bag into the car… and whacked the bag of wine glasses against the side of the car, breaking one.

I had broken yet another wine glass on the very same day I bought it!

Argh, again!

Washing dishes by hand is getting more and more inconvenient the more clumsy I get.

Read Full Post »

Some time ago, we discovered that our garage door opener wasn’t working. I tried to debug it, but was unable to. My ladder didn’t go high enough and I didn’t have the right tools.

Some time later, a handyman came by to inspect it. I showed him that neither the remote control opener, nor the button connected to the garage door opener, was working. He checked the electrical power and it was working, so the diagnosis was that the garage door opener motor was dead and we’d have to get a new one.

The handyman got a new one from the store but was unable to install it himself, but I said “No problem, we’ll get someone else to do it.” I secretly thought I could do it myself.

I never did it, though, as I didn’t have time.

Fast forward to today, and we’re getting our master bathroom remodeled. One of the tasks we asked one of the guys to do was to replace the garage door opener. So, this weekend, me and one of the contractors proceeded to try to fix it.

We already had the new garage door opener sitting in the garage, and I thought it would be a matter of snapping off the old one, and snapping in a new one.

Nope.

It turns out we had to disassemble the entire garage door opener – disconnect the power, take down the motor, take down the chains, take down the steel bar that connects to the door, remove the brackets connecting the bar to the wall as well as bar to the door… everything.

It was not fast work. We removed it piece by piece, and I got to use a bunch of tools I had in the garage (my ratchet set came in handy). I also had to make a couple of runs to Home Depot because some of the required pieces were not sent with the opener.

Six hours later (3 hours yesterday, and 3 hours today) we are almost finished. We just have to install a couple of motion sensors. That will complete tomorrow.

However, the uber point I am making is that I was completely wrong in my estimation that it would only take an hour or two to replace the opener. I was so very, very wrong, I couldn’t have been wronger if my name was W. Wrongie McWrongenstein.

Even though I am good at programming and abstract concepts, and not too bad at mechanical engineering, this was beyond my ability. As straightforward as the installation now was in hindsight, at the time I would have been perplexed; my patience would have grown too thin, and I also probably would have broken a whole bunch of things, too.

What I have discovered about house repair is that it is really difficult to gain all the necessary expertise yourself to maintain your own place. Basic yardwork you can do, and maybe even weeding, and maybe even painting, and maybe even gardening. But you can’t possibly know how to do all the plumbing yourself. Or electrical. Or insulation. Or structural remodeling. Or any number of tasks. You have to do it fulltime to gain the necessary expertise.

Why does that matter?

Because amateur work looks like amateurs did it. In the house we’re living in, it’s clear that amateurs did a lot of the work, and the quality is obvious. For example, the insulation in the attic was too thin, it was installed as a cost-saving measure, and it allowed rodents to get in. We remodeled the house before we moved in, but saved costs. The paint on the house interior is not that great, it scuffs up super easily. It seems like it’s just a single coat.

If I were to do all this stuff myself, it would be just as poor quality. The paint strokes would be obvious. The flooring would be uneven. The fence wouldn’t be straight. And on and on and on.

That’s why you should never buy your kids a house if they couldn’t afford it on their own. If they can’t afford the maintenance if they were to buy it on their own, they wouldn’t be able to afford it if you were to gift it to them. And that means either they’d do an amateur job and it would show, or they wouldn’t do it at all and the house would deteriorate.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »