Tacquerias and yuppies
Aug 3rd, 2007 by blogger

… pretty much sums up the Mission District. That’s where Nicole and I will be hanging our hats come this weekend. After so many long months of planning, packing, moving, traveling, dancing, wedding, and hunting, we are almost ready to start to settle down again. Whew! It’s been quite a tumultuous time. Since May, we have gone on a road trip from Seattle to California; hosted guests while our house collapsed in on itself; enjoyed pina coladas in Tamarindo, Costa Rica; imagined phantom earthquakes; written a new feature for Facebook (not yet released); ascended a mountain on the island of Ometepe in the middle of lake Nicaragua; learned how to pack liquids in carry-on and not get caught; read the full series of Harry Potter books …. oh yeah, and joined two families with a bond of lifelong commitment in the eyes of God. Almost forgot.

Our whirlwind existence is ready to come to an end, or maybe just the beginning? We already are imagining when we are celebrating our 31st year anniversary instead of 31st day, that we’ll reflect on these times and wonder why we did it all at once. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s been stressful. Quite. But I think doing the wedding in the midst of all of this has had its perks as well as its stresses. How wonderful was it to have so many of our close family and friends surrounding us while we go through this? It’s been exhilarating, and it’s all for the purpose of adventure, and living our lives out, so there’s really nothing to complain about.

So - the new apartment. It’s really quite nice, a bit smaller than the previous place (which feels like a mansion in comparison), but still roomy considering that it’s in San Francisco. Hardwood floors, one-bedroom, nice big kitchen, and a place for the bikes - it’s really everything we need. The Mission District is a formerly almost entirely Latino community that has undergone huge gentrification in the past few years. I’m not sure whether Nicole and I are helping the balance or not (I think we’re probably adding to the yuppification of our block). Our windows look out over a school, which is fitting for Nicole - hopefully she can work there or somewhere near there, although that is still up in the air. There are tons of tacquerias, burrito joints, coffee shops, clothing shops, and other stuff we haven’t discovered yet. Yes, folks, this really is the dense urban lifestyle I’ve craved. We’re really excited to move in!

Oh, and the address is 2458A Bryant St, San Francisco CA 94110. There ya have it!

Grant’s Pass, here we are
May 19th, 2007 by blogger

What a whirlwind of a week! In the past few days, I have quit my job, packed my belongings, and ended up at a bed and breakfast in Grant’s Pass, Oregon, where I write now. It’s a strange feeling, no longer being a resident of Seattle. I lived there for almost three years, made several good friends, and now to pack up and leave for a strange and new city - it’s so much at once.

The idea behind this move is exactly this though. If Nicole and I can make it through this in one piece, then I figure we will be less afraid of change in the future. I’m trying to just conquer it. Leaving Amazon, I felt a huge piece of my identity slip away. Since college, that has been who I am - a developer at Amazon. I had power to look at and change orders, and I had knowledge about how the insides work. Now that knowledge will grow stale, and my access passwords are gone, and I am just another one of the millions of customers. I met plenty of great people there, who I will definitely keep in touch with, but it’s still a big missing piece. However, I don’t want to be identified only by my work, and I feel that the longer I stay at one place, the more likely that is. I am more than just a software developer at Amazon. I’m more than just a software developer, although that part isn’t changing. I’m trying out a smaller company, a newer company, with a different philosophy, in a new region, with new people. So much change, but it’s all for the best, I think. Facebook will be a great place to work, I can feel it. I start there in just two days, and I am excited.

Nicole and I are taking this cathartic trip down the coast to clear our heads and more formalize the move. It’s a long drive! We slugged through Washington and most of Oregon last night, and today we head down the California coast, bound for Fort Bragg. Tomorrow we’ll finish up into the city. Then Nicole flies back to Seattle, leaving me alone in San Fran. Andy is kind enough to take me in, make me his roommate for a few months. I am so excited to dig into Facebook, meet the people, learn the software and business, and create new features and fix bugs. I feel like I’m part of something really special down there.

The past few weeks have been kind of meandering. Without an anchor at Amazon, I’ve been drifting into work, spending my time training and mentoring others and trying to pass on some knowledge before I check out. I have full confidence in the team I’ve left - Jacob, Cary, Alex, Vikas, and Ed are going to do some great things with the software, as long as they have Mike to guide them. Nicole and I are moving in two phases. This past week, we moved a lot of the “unnecessaries” - things we can live without for a few months. Then we’re going to get married at the end of June, honeymoon in Costa Rica, and then back to Seattle for some intense packing and a final move. Lots of whirlwind of activity in such a short time, it’s going to be great :).

Well, back to the road trip. Here we are, driving along what some say is the most beautiful stretch of road in the country. Hopefully we’re not too tired to take it all in.

Is that a delocalized electron in a benzine ring?
Apr 2nd, 2007 by blogger

I visited Clark University today. No, I’m not looking to transfer - I was there with my brother, Scott, and my dad. He’s on his junior year college tour, and I decided last minute to tag along. At Clark, we had a tour guide who had no clue about the school. Here is a sampling of Scott’s questions and answers:

[She describes the UC].
Scott: What does the “UC” stand for?
TG: Umm … uh … University? … uh …
Scott: Maybe University Center?
TG: Oh yeah!

Q. How is the sports teams? What are their ratings?
A. Ummmm. .. I don’t do sports, maybe you can find out online?

Q. Does the BioSci building do only bio sci?
A. I don’t even know what they do here!

Q. How many courses are required for graduation?
A. Math? Counting? Huh? I’m afraid of math.

Anyway, he didn’t even bother asking about Physics. Instead he just went into the Physics building and found a professor, and chatted with him. The prof found out that Scott knew what he was talking about, and they dug into the research papers from the past several years. “1-4-di-nitro-penzine? Oh my god that’s so cool!”

Tomorrow, he’s going to more Clark classes, then off to Amherst. Should be good.

Feb 14th, 2007 by blogger

Five minutes each. That’s all they got. Yet these presenters were able to fill my head with swirling images of two-man pogo sticks and robots taking over the world. Not to mention the career advice, a computer-aided cure for autism, and an awkward yet somewhat interesting take on the world of messenger bags.

This was Ignite Seattle, a geekfest with a surprising number of women in the audience.

Tech highlights:

* Ever wondered what it would be like to not have to type in your password at every site you go to? OpenID solves that problem for you. Instead of typing in your password, you type in your “open ID” (which is just a website). Then you are taken to your own website, where you authenticate (maybe with a password) and then you are taken back to the calling website, this time with your credentials. Now the site has access to whatever data you want it to have access to.

I’m thinking this concept could be expanded. The privacy policy of the site you’re going to could be automatically checked against what data you are willing to give … i.e., if the site has a policy that it never sells your data, then you let them have your email, but if they don’t say so, then you don’t — automatically. This would be a start at giving users control over their data without the headaches of actually keeping track of the control. And your OpenID server keeps track of all the sites you’ve logged into and when, and what data you gave to each of them, so you know where you’re data is going.

* Matt Maclaurin from Microsoft talked about programming languages for eensy weensy children. Interesting … how do you get a 5 year old to program? Make it into a game.

* A program that provides therapy for autism. That could be awesome.

* Finally Mike Arcuri from Ontela.com talked about how to leave a big company. There are a lot of reasons to stay - money, “prestige”, work with smart people, make a big difference, etc. But there are often more reasons to go. And he pointed out the reasons to stay, and encouraged us all to go out and start that new chapter in our lives. Well, he didn’t say it as such, but he meant it. It made me wonder if maybe he didn’t get a payoff from all the other teams there tonight - many of them were hiring, and he probably helped them recruit more than anything else.

Lazing about
Dec 3rd, 2006 by blogger

Nicole and I mostly lazed about this weekend. Friday night, she was *very* sick, but by tonight, she’s gotten quite a bit better. She’s been drinking Thera-flu and lots and lots of tea. Yesterday we were both in the house most of the day, but today we got up and went out to a coffee shop for a few hours. I brought my second love with me, AKA my new Macbook Pro. We hung out for a little while. Nicole still felt pretty sick, so we came home and skipped the first Sunday of Advent. ¿Què làstima, no?

I’ve been playing a lot of guitar, and trying my best to learn some fun songs. I can tell I’m getting better, which makes me feel all accomplished. I’m sure my neighbors are sick of me by now, but whatever.

Life is okay as we go into the holiday season. Nicole and I both feel like we’re missing out on some of the holiday charm. We have put up a tree and some lights, and we have some eggnog in the fridge, so some of it’s nice … but really the holidays are all about family, and we are in short supply on that front. I think a visit home will fix that up, and I’m still basking in the Thanksgiving dose I had last week.

Thanksgiving Quotes
Nov 28th, 2006 by blogger


* “The Gimp”

*– nametag given to Scott at Too Much Light, due to the crutches*

* “You want me, Crutch Boy, to get you, Leg Girl, a drink?”

*– Scott, in response to Nora’s request that he hobble inside to grab her a Sprite. We gathered around the campfire Saturday night and roasted mini-marshmallows (although mostly Nora and I threw them at Eric and Nathan).*

* ” ‘I KNOOOW!’ ”

*– Nora’s impression of her schoolmate, the “queen bee”. The “I know” was in response to another student griping that her teacher had lied about her bad behavior at conferences.*

* “Oh yeah, he’s the one always looking for a hug. He walks into St. Nick’s just looking for someone to hug”

*– Mr. Pape, in reference to the newest faculty member at Loyola Academy, a scruffy-looking Mr. Heineman.*

* Tina: It’s a house divided …
Me: That can’t stand.
Tina: It can’t?
Me: Not a house divided, nope.

*– My lame punnery, Saturday night with the Regina girls at the annual “Carrie’s friends dessert”*

* “Soooo-neeeeee”

*– My dad’s attempt to pronounce the name of their new exchange student, Sanni.*

Leaving On A Jetplane
Nov 11th, 2006 by blogger

This morning it appeared as though we had escaped the rain for the past week. Instead of being greeted by the now-typical patter of rainfall, I was instead woken by a phone call from my beautiful fiance, who had the advantage of being three time zones ahead of me. She is spending today at a wedding for her high-school friend Vanessa. She took some well-deserved time off to go home, but I wasn’t able to go with her. I was stuck here in Seattle. The sky was clear, the birds were singing. After her phone call, I got in the shower and I started singing, probably scaring those birds right away.

See, I usually sing in the shower. And I’m not just a hummer. I belt out the tunes, try different harmonies, think of rhyming couplets, whatever. At this point it’s just habit - I can’t even remember what I was singing when I get out, but it’s quite possible that my neighbors do. I’ve been thinking lately that besides these little morning renditions, there’s not a whole lot of music in my life. Not the kind I make anyway. And I don’t have an iPod or anything fancy like that - I am still convinced that the iPod is overpriced.

I used to play the trumpet, but it’s been a long time and besides, I don’t have a trumpet. A few years ago I tried to pick up the harmonica. I got some self-taught lessons and made a go at it, but frankly, the harmonica has its limitations. It’s just not that fun. It’s great to belt away at, but it is not a complete instrument - you can’t play melodies on it, not many anyway. So to make up for this shortage, today I decided to buy a guitar.

I rented a car and drove all over Seattle, from the Guitar Center to the Guitar Emporium to Dusty Strings. Most places were high-end guitars, but I ended up getting a pretty good deal for $200 at Guitar Center. The salesman was pretty cool - he taught me a few cords in the store.

I remember back when my dad first got his guitar, and we made plenty fun of him. I thought of guitars as a young person, rock musician kind of thing, and the idea of my dad being that cool sort of scared me. I guess that was so many years ago. Although I do remember Carrie, Scott and me sitting in my parents bedroom singing “Leaving On a Jetplane” while my dad struggled through the chord sequence. Every time he’d mess up, we’d get frustrated but keep on singing anyway.

Most recently, my little sister Norabegan playing guitar. She is already a super genius with the piano and the french horn, and she decided to pick up Yet Another Instrument and conquer it. She took her guitar camping a few weeks ago, and played a few campsongs for us. Most twelve-year-olds would probably be bashful, maybe not want to play in front of their whole extended family, but Nora really didn’t care. And she’s really good! I asked her afterwards if she found it tiring playing piano AND guitar AND french horn, but she said “This is the most fun EVER!”. I took that as a resounding endorsement, and decided I wanted in on some of that fun.

My sore fingers and I are getting in on the fun. It’s my “Nicole-is-in-Miami-so-I’ll-play-the-lonely-musician” weekend, I guess. I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll be hearing “Leaving on a Jetplane” coming from my very own basement.

ABC : Apples, Beer, and Costumes!
Oct 29th, 2006 by blogger

Hey! Apples and Beer!

Here’s a fun fact: more than half the apples eaten in the United States come from Washington state. With that little tidbit to motivate us, Nicole and I decided it was about time for us to go see some of these apples up close and personal. So last weekend, we rented a car and headed for the hills just outside Seattle for some apple picking fun.

5895 We found a place that sold apples, squashes, cider, popcorn, and they even had a maize maze (whew, i love that pun). We didn’t do the maize maze because (a) it looked pretty lame and (b) cost $10 or something. But the apples went over great. I was able to pick some of the good ones from up high that nobody else could reach. We also ate a few while picking, and by the looks of the cores on the ground, we weren’t the only ones. But of course, now we have a “problem” : we have a ton of apples in our kitchen, and I don’t know how to cook them! So far I’ve made a lot of fresh apple cinnamon oatmeal, which is really good, and I think sometime soon I’ll have to do apple crisp.

5862 Last night we went out for Halloween. Given the amount of time we’ve spent watching Buffy lately, it only made sense to dress as vampires. Nicole was a little hesitant at first, but she did get dressed up and we had more fun because of it. While I don’t think anyone would confuse us with the real thing, I think we did a reasonable job of approximating Spike and Druscilla. On the plus side, there was one person who actually did guess my costume (after being told that it was from Buffy). The night saw a good mix of people, mostly from work. The fangs only lasted for part of the night, and it became apparent that I might not have pulled off the vamp look that well when some drunk guy yelled “Charlie Chaplin!” on my way out of the bar. But a good Halloween night.

Encounter with a Retreat
Sep 20th, 2006 by blogger

This past weekend was a big step forward on the way to marital bliss at our Engaged Encounter retreat. While there were some couples that were clearly only there because they had to be, Nicole and I fell into the category of “giddily in love and therefore actually interested in talking stuff out”. There was a lot of talking about topics as diverse as love, sex, and money. Appropriately enough, for the sex talk, one of the host families carted out their two year old boy to demonstrate in no uncertain terms what the Catholics think sex should be about. That was before the “Natural Family Planning is the only way” talk :).

Of course, despite feeling wholly connected, there wasn’t much I could do about my typical fidgety behavior. On Saturday night, we gathered in a big circle for a prayer ceremony. The idea was that each couple received a candle, which represented our love for each other. But you know, when you’re holding a candle, the wax can be very entertaining. It melts, and burns, and swishes around. So … anyway, I put out the candle, and not only that, but I buried the wick in the wax. I went to the middle to relight, and it wouldn’t light. So they just gave me another candle. Nicole wasn’t too happy about the implied ease with which our love could be replaced.

Happy Anivaaaarsary!
Sep 19th, 2006 by blogger

Thar she blows - twenty five years of marriage to my parents. On this day twenty five years ago, while wedding bells sounded in a Chicago-area church, Simon and Garfunkel performed their famous Concert in the Park in New York City. In the time since, my parents have had quite the life. They’ve volunteered at Misericordia when Carrie and I were really young. They had four beautiful children, the oldest of course being their favorite. They’ve owned several homes, put us all through school, and still had time for each other. And of course, my parents still make my home feel like home, whether it’s by planting an herb garden or fording a stream. Gotta say, these are some good parents.

It is also Talk Like a Pirate Day. Scurvey ye mates, for here is an annivaarsary entry!

Happy twenty-fifth, ‘rents.

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