7:09 pm, Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Okay, time to catch up a little. I just got back from the Tri-Cities. The snow is just awful… three feet in places. I took some pictures here in Pullman and while I was in Pasco — they’re collected in this Flickr set: Snow in E. WA/Winter 2008.

Let’s see, what happened during my blogging hiatus? Christmas… I got an iPod Nano and a Kindle. I’d dropped some hints about wanting a Nano, but the Kindle was a complete surprise. It’s really fantastic though — so far I’ve read five books on it (Fleet of Worlds, Hit Parade, Autumn, Making Money, Stories of Your Life and Others) and I’m partway through my sixth (Stephen Baxter’s Vacuum Diagrams). (Also tried to read Stumbling on Happiness and The Areas of My Expertise, but they just didn’t hold my interest.)

Around the middle of January my car stopped working (couldn’t shift it out of drive/turn it on). Had to get it towed to Jerry’s Auto Repair (the only AAA-certified shop nearby). Cost $700 to fix, but it runs well now. I guess the main problem was a broken shift cable (?). (I’m not really sure what that is. My car know-how is limited to replacing batteries and changing tires.)

Cooked a bunch of stuff, including two huge batches of stew that fed us for almost a week (boy was I sick of stew at the end). Some highlights:

Pork ribs and spinach fettucini    Chili with cornbread and cottage cheese    Chicken, bean, and orzo soup    Beef, udon noodles, snap peas

Left to right: Pork ribs (roasted with a special dry rub, then doused in Longhorn BBQ sauce) and spinach fettuccine in an Asiago Mornay sauce; chili with cornbread, colby jack, and cottage cheese (mixes in nicely); a chicken/kidney bean/orzo soup (with other stuff too, but those were the main ingredients) — kind of an experiment, but it came out good; and a beef, udon, and snap pea stirfry.

I also did some really great steak/tortellini and spaghetti but didn’t photograph those plates.

My pepper ball grinder broke (the lever just snapped off), so I replaced it with this 8-inch walnut peppermill. The mill is way better — easy to load, holds more, smooth grinding action, does many levels of coarseness. Not like that stupid ball which only cranked out ultra-coarse fragments (and took a lot of squeezing).

Got some new shoes at Burlington Coat Factory (leather Skechers slip-ons) and some business-casual attire at Men’s Wearhouse (finally found the perfect sleeveless sweater). How great is their service, BTW? Being called “sir” so much irks me a little, but their salesmen really know their stuff. The best shirts I’ve ever had are their “no-iron” ones. Super comfortable and easy to clean.

I started using TiddlyWiki for my notes and records. It’s a local, self-contained wiki; just a single HTML file, so you don’t need to run a webserver like you do for a real one. I used to Gmail this info to myself, but this is way better. Here’s a screenshot of mine:

My TiddlyWiki

And then the biggest news is that I’ve started looking for a house in Pasco. I’m really sick of renting — it’s such a waste of money if you’re not building equity. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you what a pain landlords can be. (Remember how our back bedroom flooded on December 10th? Yeah, it’s still not fixed. Carpet’s all torn up, all the furniture is still crammed into the living room… Heritage Realty is a slumlord operation, plain and simple.)

I looked at a bunch of places on this last trip, and I’ve decided I really want a yet-to-be-built home out in the Loviisa Farms Phase 8 development. Specifically, the 1,437 sq. ft. 3-bedroom single-level with a den, vaulted ceiling/skylight, and optional bay window. Now, whether I can secure the financing for that is still up in the air. I’m working with a few different lenders. One mortgage broker quoted me $130K, but I need slightly more than that. Hopefully I can figure out a way to make it work. If not, I might have to settle for something in a crappier part of Pasco (though I really don’t want to live east of 20th Avenue). Anyway, this is the floorplan of my maybe-dream house:

1437 floorplan

It looks kind of squished together, but I’ve been inside it and it really feels more spacious than you’d expect.

Alright, that’s all for now. Later: Super-Mega Carcassonne, music, P.F. Chang’s, Sonic, and filthy book-thieves in Richland.

10 Responses to “#925”

  1. Mom:

    The snow pictures are amazing. Where is your car that it looks like its in a canyon of snow. The picture of the house makes it look like a one story, the upper. How do you get to your front door that is level with the driveway? When that melts its going to be ugly.

  2. Krunk:

    I’m not sure if you’ve played with OneNote, but it’s rather amazing and fun to take notes with. I just started using it a week or 2 ago.

    Your dream house floor plan looks really nice. I found the master bedroom opening up into the kitchen a bit weird, but I really like the overall plan.

  3. Chuk:

    I bet The Areas of My Expertise would be weird on a Kindle — that book is partly about the formatting. Unless the Kindle just replicates it exactly…

    I hate when people who live outside of Vancouver talk about house prices — $130K won’t get you a bachelor suite here.

  4. Logan:

    Filthy filthy thieves, indeed.

  5. Tim:

    Those look like the most delicious things ever.

  6. Logan:

    I like how the fanciest meal is topped with Coca Cola. Should we have red wine or white wine tonight? Neither! Tooth decay!

  7. Amy:

    good to see you back!! bummer about the carpet/slumlord. the floor plan on the “dream house” looks fantastic! keep an eye on the housing market though, the bubble has burst down here, i don’t know if you will feel any of that in the tri-cities but it’s good to be in the know regardless. also i would love to see the Kindle in action, i’m curious if the electrophoretic display is easy on the eyes…

  8. hjo3:

    Wow, I’m getting lazy.

    Re: mom: There was a trench dug out to the door.

    Re: Krunk: Someone on MetaFilter recommended OneNote, but I thought TiddlyWiki would be easier for going back and forth from my desktop to my notebook (which I do a lot since I travel to the Tri-Cities about 5 days a month). Nothing to install; just a <1 MB file to Gmail to myself. And yeah, that master bedroom door is oddly placed. ‘Course, it’s hard to put it anywhere else without making things weirder (like, you could put the two smaller bedrooms over there, but that’d be even less convenient).

    Re: Chuk: Yeah, something I discovered about the Kindle is that it tends to screw up tables. And John Hodgman loves him some tables. Vancouver’s crazy.

    Re: Logan: This from the guy that chugs Mountain Dew with his hotdogs? :P

    Re: Tim: Aw, thanks!

    Re: Amy: I think it’s bursting in the Tri-Cities too. Kennewick and Richland are offering grants to new home buyers (matching their down payments sometimes) and there’s a lot of newer homes near Rd. 100 being sold. And interest rates have been around 5.3-5.5%, so that’s good. I’ll post a Kindle pic shortly. :)

  9. JediBear:

    Holy Cow, you’re alive! For that matter, so am I!

    I’ve been saying for years that they were overbuilding and overselling housing. Makes you wonder how much the experts really know, no?

    Why is it you always seem to post “I just got back from the Tri-Cities” rather than “I’ll be in the Tri-Cities for the next few days”?

  10. hjo3:

    Well, I’m always in the Tri-Cities around the 25th of every month for combined excise taxes and payroll processing.