2008-09-12 16:20 in /life
It shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but the root of ‘useful’ is ‘use’. If you don’t actually use an object, regardless of whether you abstractly feel it to be useful, perhaps it isn’t. There is a particular risk with objects that are both beautiful and useful that we fail to use them, whether because we feel they are too expensive or unique and irreplaceable to risk damage, or because we put them on display as works of art but then fail to reach for them when the need arises, or whatever excuse there may be.
Recently there are a handful of objects I’ve been treating this way: my pocket knives and my fountain pen. Yesterday, I actually did take the intentional action of putting a knife in my pocket, along with my wallet and keys, before heading out the door. Today I did some paperwork with my fountain pen. Hopefully this marks a return to these habits.
2008-09-11 12:40 in /life
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
I’ve been reading Emotional Design, and the inclusion of this quote inspired me to try to take an inventory of my house using this criterion. Of course, ideally I’d have only objects that are both beautiful and useful, but initially I’ll just make it my goal to be rid of things that fail both and make some notes for future improvements.
This morning I tackled the easy rooms: the living room and dining room. No surprises there. Most things are both beautiful and useful, except for my futon and folding chairs which are only useful, and the plants and artwork which are only beautiful.
Now I wonder if I should make the kitchen or the office the next room. Either way, it’s going to be a much bigger task.
2008-06-17 08:10 in /life
On Friday I climbed Mount St. Helens with a Mazamas crew. It was a little rough; between vacation and moving, my training regimen sort of fell apart and I hadn’t done a serious hike in over a month and a half. But, at a certain level, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you end up at the top. (Well, that’s not true for all mountains, but it’s pretty much the case for St. Helens. Just don’t keep walking into the crater.)
In case you hadn’t noticed, we got a lot of snow this year. Most of the roads in the Mount St. Helens National Monument have been closed until the last week. As a result, all the earlier Mazamas climbs of the mountain have been canceled. We lucked out on timing, as they cleared the road to Marble Mtn Sno-Park just a couple days before our climb. We drove up and camped there Thursday night, rising at about 4AM to hit the trail at 5. We cleared the treeline around 6:30, and by 8 we were well above all the neighboring terrain. But, still only about halfway up.
Three hours later, we made the summit, and plopped down for lunch.
The trip down was a bit faster. We were able to glissade all the way to treeline. That’s a technical term that means “sliding down the mountain on your butt”.
(Photo by Travis Schweitzer)
2008-05-09 21:10 in /life/house
I closed on the house a week ago, and I just got my first re-fi offer in the mail.
2008-05-02 23:30 in /life/house
I closed on the house yesterday. Wow! I’m excited and nervous and overwhelmed. I’ve got 2 weeks to move everything in before I go off on vacation, but that shouldn’t be too bad. I started moving some boxes already; the big day of furniture moving will probably be put off until next weekend. And some point soon I’ll actually post some pictures.
2008-04-28 20:01 in /life/house
Right. I keep meaning to update and failing. I’m closing on the house on Thursday. I’m in a sort of very low level, continuous freak-out at this point. I’m sure it’ll go fine; but the reality of moving and setting up a home, again, is sinking in. Oh, and have I mentioned that I’m leaving on a two week vacation two weeks after closing day? Some recollections of the past month:
The inspection itself was quite educational. I followed the inspector around and got quite a few pointers about maintenance and such. The big issue that came up is that the roof is close to finished. We had a tense day of negotiations, but did get the seller to agree to cover the cost of a new roof.
Settling on the mortgage was a little stressful, but only because I didn’t just trust my instincts. My feeling going in was that I wanted to use my credit union, who I have a life-long relationship with. Over the years, plenty of people have looked at me funny for continuing to do all my banking with a bank on the other side of the country, but they have never made me unhappy as a customer, which is a pretty amazing thing to say about a bank. So, I got my preapproval through them, but then I let my agent talk me into getting some mortgage quotes from a broker that she often uses. That ended up taking most of a week, due to some phone tag, and in the end the broker couldn’t beat my credit union’s rates (or their fees, or their guarantee not to resell my loan). Unfortunately, at that point when I called my credit union to finalize the application, the first person I talked to wasn’t sure they could do it, because they usually want 30 days to do an out-of-state mortgage (which would have been no problem had I not wasted a week getting quotes from other people). Then I talked to another person and said “Look, I really want to do this with you, but if you can’t hit May 1st I have to go elsewhere”, and he said he could make that happen.
Getting insurance was straightforward, although part of me really wants to know why they ask some of the questions they do and how it affects your risk (and premium). I don’t want to game them or anything, I’m genuinely curious why drywall vs. sheetrock matters to them.
Tomorrow I need to call the utility companies and take care of all that.
Okay, better post this now, or it’ll never happen before the purchase actually happens.
2008-03-27 14:15 in /life/house
On Sunday I had an offer accepted on a house! It’s a cute Victorian bungalow, just a block down the street from where I am now. Although there’s lots of small houses in this neighborhood, most of the houses on the market have been bigger than I need, and pushing what I can afford, leading to questions of whether I’d be happy renting out a room to someone, or buying a duplex and living in half of it. This house is just about perfectly sized for me, and comfortably priced.
We’re in the inspection period currently, but the house seems to have been well cared-for, so I’m hopeful that we won’t discover anything problematic. Beyond that, things still move pretty slowly at this point in the process. Stay tuned for updates (and pictures) later.
(Aside: please don’t feel that you need to comment on this post with your speculations about the future of the housing market or mortgage market. Suffice it to say that I’ve been paying attention too, particularly to the local market here, and given my needs and plans (and my ability to still qualify for a mortgage on excellent terms) I am comfortable with this purchase.)
2008-02-16 10:01 in /life/portland
Last Sunday was the annual Worst Day of the Year Ride. Like last year (when I didn’t ride) it was actually a pretty nice day.
I took the short option — 18 miles. If you don’t bike much, that might sound like a lot, but especially with rest stops every 4 or 5 miles, it went by pretty easily. Unfortunately, the friend I was planning to ride with forgot to register, but it wasn’t too bad riding on my own for a couple hours.
Part of the fun of the event is the people who ride in costume:
I was definitely inspired by this ride to get out on the bike more. I think I’ve ridden nearly every day this week, going to user groups, meeting friends, and running errands. I really want to try living without a car for a while, so this is definitely a good trend.
2008-02-05 17:02 in /life
On Sunday, I took advantage of most of the population being glued to the TV to enjoy some really good skiing up at Timberline. I also took the little one with me, for her first day of skiing. I didn’t see much of it, since she was in the kids program all day, but she seems to have had a good time and asked this morning if this weekend was another ski day. The only complaint I heard was that they wouldn’t let her do snow angels with her skis on. Heh.
2007-12-30 08:01 in /life/holidays
So, when I posted about attempting a $100 Christmas, I had forgotten that my brother’s apartment was robbed about a month ago. Naturally, that limit went out the window in order to help him replace things he lost. Other than that, gifts were fairly modest. I haven’t tallied things up, but it looks pretty close to $100. Next year, I’d like to follow the suggestion of others, and move more towards gifts I made or that have some sort of personal touch to them. And, we’ll see whether I can get the rest of the family on-board as well.