Posts made in April, 2014

A Follow-up to “How Verizon Scammed Me”

Posted on Apr 29, 2014 in General | 1 comment

Initial post.

This all occurred many months ago, but my frequent writing also ended around that time. I followed the advice that I received via comment and contacted Verizon’s legal group (they have an address if you dig around for it) to notify them I was taking them to small claims court. Within a day or two of sending that e-mail, I received a friendly response stating that my account was being looked into. Another day or two later, and I was contacted again asking how I would like to receive payment. They couldn’t get the amount owed straight for a few days since we had made a couple of partial payments as these odd amounts (our regular bill, this fee, and then a late fee) came due, but they finally got it right after another couple of back and forths, and shortly thereafter I had the full amount deposited into my bank account.

A happy ending, and who doesn’t like those?

Lesson learned: GET EVERY DAMNED CLAIM IN WRITING AND READ THE FINE PRINT. SERIOUSLY, BE THAT GUY.

Long time, no post

Posted on Apr 22, 2014 in General | 0 comments

Sorry about that. This home ownership thing has been keeping me pretty busy.

I won’t bore you with the million little things I’ve done over the past months as a homeowner, but will instead hit the highlights with no detail. Fixed a leaking washer pump, replumbed our kitchen drain stack with a vent and installed the utility sink below it, started weeding the billion dandelions that own our lawn, sealed up every decently sized hole and crack that lead outside, got our chimneys repaired, hung a bunch of stuff, repaired a hole in an exterior wall, hung some curtains, and a zillion other little things. Suffice to say, I’m marking off a completed project near every day.

In order to complete those projects, we’ve bought a handful of new toys/tools that I’d highly recommend. Since we have a shoddy electrical setup in the house and don’t have any outlets outside (I seek to install one soon), and because it is more green and flexible, I’ve gone all cordless with the new purchases. Battery technology is to a point where you can get some serious voltage with lithium-ion (read: does not wear out like nickel cadmium) and at a reasonable price so we’ve adopted that.

First up, the Dewalt 20v tool set. We only have the drill and reciprocating saw at this time, but will expand our collection as we need to. There were concerns over just how powerful batteries could be, but the drill could easily rip itself out of my hands, and the sawzall cut through cast iron pipe like butter.

With spring upon us, we also needed some yard tools as we sold our mower before moving (at a profit, I might add!). After a lot of research, we ended up with the GreenWorks 40v mower and trimmer setup. Between the two batteries that came with the mower, I can mow the entire lawn, trim everything, and even edge most of it before running out of juice. My back runs out of juice way before that, though. The mower is not a perfect replacement for gas and if the lawn is long, I’ll need to run over some strips twice to mulch it properly, but I’m happy. I went with this brand because the batteries are very portable, which is ideal since I have to charge them in our basement. Some brands have a single battery that weighs a ton; these combined weigh nothing. No more need for a stinky gas can, spills, noise, and terrible pollution, either. We also picked up a Fiskars garden knife, which has made weeding addictively fun.

Our only other notable purchase is a badass new ladder. We’ve got a bad roof, our gutters are clogged, and every house needs a ladder. I debated this long and hard, but Home Depot had a crazy sale on a Werner 22-foot telescoping ladder that we couldn’t pass up. I was eyeing the 17-foot, but they were basically giving the 22 away so we had to pick it up. Far larger than we need, but really, the price was ridiculous. It has some pretty slick features and for a massive ladder, is pretty light. I need to pick up a roof standoff since we have gutters pretty much all around and they’re my main concern, but that’s only 2-days/1-click away.

And I lied. We had another notable purchase. A car. We moved here with plans to go to one car. Learning new roads in a hilly town while also trying to learn manual (my car) was not ideal for Heather so we’ve gone auto and the GTI is for sale. We’ve replaced it with a 2009 Audi A4 Avant Prestige (fully loaded). Note that the perspective of that photo makes it look massive; it is large, but hardly massive. I normally wouldn’t buy an “older” or higher mileage (50k) Audi, but this is certified pre-owned for another year and a half so we’ve got time to safely find out whether it is a dud or not. Aside from consuming some oil (100% of them do), it has treated us well. It is a little less sporty than I’d like, but its softness soaks up the miles and makes driving an effortless joy. We also earned a healthy amount of cash by going from two to one so that’s nice.

Our first trip with the car was for our 2nd anniversary weekend to the coast. I was in Arlington for work the preceding week, and as has become the norm on anniversary weekends (two in a row!) I told Heather to pack a bag with very little notice (I think I was at the airport in DC). I got home late on Friday night, and we had hit the road by early Saturday morning. First stop was Cannon Beach, which is the home of Haystack Rock aka the beach in The Goonies. We walked around for a bit (great little town that we hope to spend many a sleepy weekend at), grabbed some crepes, a kite, and made our way up to Seaside. Again, a nice beach and we flew our kite around it, but the town was very reminiscent of Manassas meeting… I don’t know. Think of a grungy, touristy beach that you’d see a bunch of people from Manassas at. Yes, I said it. We won’t be back. From there, we made our way up the coast a bit more (on US-101 – so money!!!) to our final stop at Astoria, where we’d grub properly, do some scenic stuffs, and spend the night to the tune of barking sea lions. Very cool little town with great views and some smaller, but really nicely done museums. Will be a great day trip for us in the future. Oh, also the town that The Goonies was filmed in. That’s right; the town and the beach from the movie are not the same, and the kids did not make the 30-mile trip on those bikes of theirs. A great, adventurous weekend to celebrate what’s been a great and adventurous marriage. Photos from the weekend here.

Above I mentioned being back in Arlington. I spent a week back for work. I managed to see a lot of folks and eat entirely too much good food. Ray’s, Super Pollo, halal, Grand Cru late-night bread pudding, and much more. I put on a solid five pounds despite getting a few miles of running and 40-miles of sometime drunken stationary cycling in at the hotel. We’ll be back in town for a very short visit (this is our NC visit for the year) for the Race For Hope on May 4. We might be available to see folks on the 3rd, but it’d be awesome if people came out to the race and participated in any capacity to show support for this terrible disease. Mom is still trucking along despite some crappy MRI results… It’s all the love that she feels from others that I’m sure is keeping her going 🙂

Heather is still enjoying her job and beginning to really get into the groove of making Portland life work. Getting a car she can drive has surely helped that. She just completed a rock star weekend around the house. The place looks great. Her Mom also paid us a short visit while she was on this coast and did some fun stuff for the house (made some curtains, pillowcases, and painted our front door TEAL) while enjoying never-ending culinary delights; Heather had to work so we’d meet her for breakfast and lunch many days. She also found her Mecca in Powell’s Books. Oh, and while still in the Heather paragraph, she has started her own blog. I think it is private, but she’s doing a pretty good job at it. If you’d like access, shoot her an e-mail.

I’m still working from home 4 days a week and trying to get out at least one. I’ve been making time to get out to group rides at lunch on Mondays and Thursdays (weather pending, which means at most once a week). I’ve also found a great board game group and snuggled in with some friends of friends. Dare I say life is a little bit easier with fewer friends and events to constantly attend? I feel awkward saying so, but it really is so much easier to get our own stuff done with so many fewer obligations. We could use more friends, for sure, but… Alright, I don’t know how to continue on with this without sounding like an antisocial asshole. Work itself has continued to go well. I’ve gotten the hang of started my days at 6:30am now. I have yet to get in the hang of ending them at the appropriate time, but I’m sure my boss isn’t complaining about my 10 hour days. Unfortunately, my productivity hasn’t really risen due to some technical issues inside the office that I’ve been trying to resolve for months. Pro tip: You can’t double the size of your team without doubling the size of their resources… But I digress.

My athletics are starting to get going again. I missed “base” season where you build up your body for the coming pounding so I’m playing a bit of catch-up. I missed it due to our living situation, mainly. I could have run, but my knee had been acting up for a few months. All is now resolved (minus a back/neck/shoulder issue that has been plaguing me for months, but I’m working through that and seeing a chiro multiple times a week) and I’m getting back to shape, but it’ll all be for late-season stuff. Likely no road bike racing, probably no mountain bike racing, might focus on cross racing (would need a new bike), might be in great shape come summertime for running races, and maybe get a tri or two under my belt if I can get to the pool at all. I’m having trouble getting to race weight (drop 10 pounds) with all the amazing food and beer here, but I’m not giving up eating so it may simply be time to adjust the definition of “race weight” 😉 I’ve created a new album on Facebook for photos taken while riding or running so check that scenery out.

Despite being as busy as ever, I’ve found Portland to be a great place to read. If I find myself with fifteen minutes and nothing to do, I’ll break out a book (digitally). A rough estimate says I’m reading twice as much here, which is fairly significant since I already read about 6k pages per year. I’ve mostly been blowing through the “last” two Game of Thrones books. I love them, but they’ve defined my reading over the past two years so it’ll be nice to be done [until the next one comes out] and onto other things.

We’ve been keeping up with our movie watching and the end of our Netflix queue is in sight, but we probably won’t get there this year. There were a ton of great movies that just came out so they set our queue back a bit. 12 Years a Slave was likely my favorite of the bunch. American Hustle was fun too. Oh, I was in a movie too. Remember? Well, it came out. I’ve grabbed video of the full scene and put it on Vimeo. The password is “mikey”. I also got stills of every spot I can been seen.

Aside from movies, the only other constants are beer, wine, and food. We had a great beer winter and I’m still trying to figure out how to adapt to spring beer in the Northwest. We became members of an amazing nearby winery, Willamette Valley Vineyards, so we look forward to getting two bottles from them every quarter and introducing friends to their wines. We discovered a tasting room coming back from test driving the car, sampled about 15 wines, loved many, and liked them all. Joining up was a no-brainer. The food here continues to amaze and having a properly sized kitchen and dishwasher has gotten us cooking more. We’ve found that we can both prepare a piece of a meal and it is done with half the effort. Very cool finding. We also just discovered our local farmers market down the street. We walked over for the first time this past weekend and picked up some basics as well as some fresh salmon and halibut, which we made back to back nights. Both pretty amazing.

We’re still loving it here. The city has so much to offer, the weather is good and only going to get better, the scenery is unbelievable, the people are friendly, and I’m pretty sure there are jobs… Everyone needs to move here now. Not joking. If my words aren’t enough to convince you, how about this? Stop making excuses and break free from the chains that are Northern VA. DO IT.

I think that’s it for now. I apologize for the lack of updates. If you’re on Facebook, you know I’m still up to a lot of stuff and posting cool links and awesome photos nearly every day. It has kind of redefined the purpose of this blog, I suppose. So… stay tuned to both, and thanks for reading.