Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Spice shelves

Our kitchen is really small, so Karren and I made some shelves for our spices to add a little more storage space. And some color. :)

The problem

Six coats of paint: 2 primer, 3 red, 1 clear finish

How to dry paint when you don't have a garage

The solution

We had to stealthily drill holes in the wall during quiet time at our apartments. Well, somewhat stealthily.


Karren helped. It was a team project. I'm just in the pictures to get the credit.

Oooooh! Shiny!
Just in case you want to get some cool shelves like ours, here's a handy guide to how to make and mount shelves:
  1. Buy oak boards, angle brackets, and screws at Lowe's in California.
  2. Fly them to Portland so you can use your dad's table saw, drill press, and random orbit sander.
  3. Fly them back to California.
  4. Figure out how to covertly paint and dry them without arousing the suspicions of the landlord or turning your carpet red.
  5. Paint them with primer. Let them dry in your living room.
  6. Sand.
  7. Paint them with primer. Let them dry in your living room.
  8. Sand.
  9. Paint them with red paint. Let them dry in your outside storage unit.
  10. Sand.
  11. Paint them with red paint. Let them dry in the shower.
  12. Sand.
  13. Paint them with red paint. (back to the living room)
  14. DON'T SAND! It will ruin the shinys!
  15. Paint them with water-based satin polyurethane (to prevent spices from sticking to the tacky oil-based paint).
  16. Attach the mounting hardware to the shelves.
  17. Drill holes in your wall.
  18. Buy drywall anchors and install them in the holes.
  19. Notice that the wall in your kitchen is not straight.
  20. Buy washers to fill the gap between the angle brackets and the wall (see previous item).
  21. Screw the shelves into the wall.
  22. Beautifully arrange your spice collection on the shelves, taking into account size, color, container type, spice family, and lexicographic order.
  23. Run around like it's Christmas, high-fiving everyone in the apartment (i.e. your wife).

I got married

Two months ago. I guess I haven't posted in a while.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Gripes about finding housing

Karren and I are getting married a month from today, and we have no idea where we're going to live. (OK, maybe we have some idea, but haven't chosen a place.) We've been looking for housing, and I've noticed a few things about the process. Before I get all negative, though, I have one positive thing to say:

PadMapper ( is awesome. Like, really awesome. If you need to find an apartment, you should use it.

OK, maybe one more: the internet is awesome. It's amazing that I can see hundreds of listings, with pictures and descriptions, and have my computer automatically filter them by criteria that I care about and plot them on a map. That's really cool!

Now that I've gotten all of that positive stuff out of the way, here are the promised gripes:
  • I wish there were an easy way to find places with features that we care about. You can search by number of bedrooms, or price, or square feet, which is great, but what about things like:
    • Washer/dryer in the unit
    • Dishwasher
    • "Nice" (good paint/floors/carpet/appliances/cabinets)
    • Kitchen fits more than half of a person and has more than 1 square foot of counter space
  • Everyone seems to think that their property is "adorable", "cute", "lovely", or "charming". Uh huh.
  • Why can't they show pictures of, well, you know, the actual apartment in the apartment listing? I mean, it's really great that the community has a nice sign with flowers in front, but I care a lot more about what our kitchen will look like. Or our bedroom. Or even the closet. I don't really care that much about the pool, the fitness center, the road, the office awning, the sidewalk, the lounge, random bushes, or any of the other things that everyone seems to include pictures of instead of the actual place that we're going to live.
  • While we're on the subject of pictures, why can't they be bigger than a postage stamp? It's not 1995 anymore; big pictures won't break the internets.
  • A 500-square-foot apartment is not "LARGE".
  • All caps isn't acceptable. The probability of me reading your listing goes up dramatically if you use some lowercase letters every once in a while.
Hopefully we'll find a place soon.

(And if you know of a nice place with a washer and dryer and dishwasher for [preferably quite a bit] under $1600 between Menlo Park and San Jose, let me know!)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The week I moved, quit my job, and got engaged

Here's what I did a couple of weeks ago:
  • Monday: FHE
  • Tuesday: stained glass class
  • Wednesday: told my manager at Apple that I was quitting.
  • Wednesday evening: Karren and I decided to get married(!!!).
  • Friday: ring shopping.
  • Saturday: moved from the apartment I've been at for a year and a half to a house.
  • Also Saturday: bought the ring.
It was a pretty stressful week. :)


My current roommate and I moved from our cheap apartment to a really nice house that we're renting. It's way nicer (dishwasher! washer and dryer! granite counters! less than 10 years old! carpet! AC! a yard! heater that works! garage!), and actually slightly cheaper since we'll have four roommates instead of two. I really dislike moving, but this one was definitely worth it. I don't know why we didn't move earlier.


I've been at Apple for about two years (if you count my internship, which I do, since I was doing the same work on the same team), and it's a great company to work for. They're releasing amazing products and doing very well financially. The people that I worked with were very smart. I worked on some really cool stuff.

"So why quit?", everyone asks. Unemployment is high, you have a great job at a great company, your career is really starting to take off, and you're leaving?


Don't worry, though: I'm starting at Google a week from tomorrow. :)

I left for a few reasons:
  • I'd like the option of moving from the Bay Area (like, if I ever wanted to buy a house), and Apple's only engineering offices are in Cupertino. Google has offices all over the world.
  • Google has more rigorous engineering practices that I think will help me to become a better engineer.
  • I identify more with Google's values.
  • More freedom to work on different things. It's pretty easy to move from project to project, and I really like working on new things.
  • Free lunch. :)
I still like Apple a lot, and I like their products. The decision was hard, but it felt right, and I hope that it works out well. I'm excited to start my new job in a week. (Since I'm sure people will ask, I have no idea what I'll be doing there. They interview people for a general "engineer" position, and assignment to a team happens right around the time that you start. Hopefully it will be something cool. :)


Last, but definitely not least, I got engaged! Karren and I have been dating for almost a year, and we're getting married on October 9 in the Oakland LDS temple.

There was no proposal.


Sorry girls looking for a story to gush about; you'll have to look elsewhere.

We've been talking about marriage for several months, but it didn't feel right until a few weeks ago. Something changed, and we both quickly became confident that it was the right decision. We were talking one night a few weeks ago, and realized that we were going to get married. We never had a conversation early on where we decided that we were officially dating; we both just naturally knew that we were. Similarly, there was no official proposal when we decided that we were going to get married; we just naturally knew that we were.

I had no idea that wedding planning was so much work (or so expensive!), but it will all be over in five weeks, and then my wonderful girlfriend (and now wonderful fiancée) will become my wonderful wife! :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mt. Rainier

I climbed Mt. Rainier with my old roommate Erik this week. It was incredibly exhausting, but the mountain was spectacular.
  • Friday: I flew to Seattle.
  • Saturday: we got our gear together.
  • Sunday: church, plus birthday cake with Laramie and Loralee (yum!)
  • Monday: we drove to Mt. Rainier National Park and hiked to Camp Schurman. Erik's dad, a med student named Ana who's staying with their family, and Erik's and brother-in-law hiked with us to Glacier Basin.
  • Tuesday: rest day, with some crevasse rescue practice.
  • Wednesday: got up at midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning to begin our summit climb via the Emmons-Winthrop route, which is the safer (but longer) of the two most popular routes up the mountain. Left camp at 2 a.m. after spending quite a while anchoring our tent so that the high winds wouldn't blow it away. Summitted a bit before 9 a.m., started back down around 9:30, and reached camp around 1:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: hiked out. Had a wonderful dinner on Lake Washington with Erik's family back in Bellevue.
A few random facts:
  • Pack weight (each): between 65 and 70 pounds.
  • Total ascent from parking lot to summit: 10,400 feet (10,000 net)—almost two vertical miles.
  • For comparison: elevation gain from Mt. Everest base camp to summit: 11,500 feet
  • Monday (hike to base camp): about 7 miles horizontally, and 1 mile up
  • Wednesday (summit day): about 2 miles horizontally, and 1 mile up (one way)
  • Base camp elevation: 9400 feet.
  • Hummingbird sightings at base camp: 2.
  • Bedtime on Tuesday night: 7 p.m.
  • Wakeup time on Wednesday morning: midnight.
  • Hours of sleep I actually got the night before we summitted: 1/2.
  • People who summitted via our route on Wednesday: about 25.
  • Visible crevasses crossed on the way to the summit: 6 or 7.
  • Beauty of the sunrise and sunsets: stunning.
  • Freeze dried meals: lasagna with meat sauce, spaghetti, granola with fruit, chicken teriyaki (my favorite).
  • Pounds of food I carried up and didn't eat: about 5. :(
  • Squares of toilet paper remaining between the two of us at the end of the trip: 4.
  • Sunscreen applications: about 10.
  • Only place I got sunburned: the bottom of my nose.
  • Bears seen: 1 (near Glacier Basin).
  • Blisters: zero.
  • Massage that Karren got me for my birthday after I got back: priceless!
There are a few pictures below. You can see more in the gallery.

In the parking lot at White River Campground, about to start our climb.

Partway up the Inter Glacier on Monday.

Traverse from the Inter Glacier to Camp Schurman.

View from our tent on Monday night.

Erik at camp.

Our tent.

Mt. Rainier's shadow in the haze at sunset.

Sunrise on Wednesday morning, from about 12,000 feet.

Erik leading the way to the summit, next to a crevasse.

Me and Erik on top.

A little crevasse that we crossed (looking straight down).

Me near a crevasse on the descent.

At the bottom of the Inter Glacier after a fun glissade.

Back to the car on Thursday.

Our route.

More pictures are available in the gallery.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Chase ATMs

I'm sick, so I stayed home from work today. Since I rarely get sick, I wasn't really stocked up on sickie supplies like cough drops and vaporizers, so I needed to make a drugstore run. The bank is right across the street from the drugstore, and I had a check to deposit, so I stopped to save myself a trip later.

First some history, and then I'll finish today's story. I've had a Washington Mutual account since I was 14 or 15, and I've always been happy with their service—until they became the largest bank failure in U.S. history, that is. Late last year JP Morgan Chase purchased Washington Mutual Bank (with some facilitation from the government), and so after more than 10 years, I suddenly—and involuntarily—had a new bank.

Not long after the switch, I went to a branch to make an ATM deposit, and I discovered a problem: there was no "deposit" button on the ATM anymore. I could withdraw money, but deposits were apparently no longer accepted.

I went inside to talk to a teller, and after waiting in line for a few minutes, I explained my situation. The teller had no idea what was going on, but helped me with my deposit. I was annoyed that what should have taken 45 seconds took over 10 minutes, and decided that I didn't like this new Chase thing very much.

(As a side note, I've never understood why I can't just hand my deposit to a teller, perhaps after swiping my debit card, and leave. Why in the world do I have to wait for them? One time I even asked the teller if I could just pretend that she was an ATM and walk away, but she wasn't allowed to make the deposit if I left.)

The next time I needed to deposit money, I again asked the teller why the deposit button was gone. He said that while the bank branches had been switched immediately to Chase, the accounts would not be switched until October 2009, and ATM deposits would not be available until then. Great. A whole year of waiting around in line to deposit checks.

Since I hate waiting in line, I made as few deposits as possible until October. In mid-October I had collected a few checks, and decided to try my luck again. Doh! It turns out that I was one day too early, and I still had to wait in line.

That brings us to my drugstore trip today. I figured that deposits should work by now, so I made another attempt. Thankfully, there was a deposit button today. Even better, they had a new no-envelope ATM that directly accepted my check! No envelope, no deposit slip. I didn't even have to enter the amount on the screen. I just stuck the check in a slot, the machine read the amount, I pushed "finish transaction", and I walked away. The receipt even had an image of the check printed on it.

I'm not sure what to think of Chase now. I was really irked that I had to deposit checks with a teller for a year (and I'm still irked about Chase's higher fees), but I really like that I don't have to futz around with envelopes or deposit slips anymore. Now if only they had the ability to deposit a check by snapping a photo with my iPhone like USAA....