Do you watch all of those renovation shows on HGTV? Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, Good Bones, House Hunters Renovation – a seemingly endless list of programming. And in every one of them, a massive renovation budget. $17,000 custom cabinets. $6,800 quartzite countertops. $13,000 appliance packages. Total budgets start to eclipse $200,000 even when they’re only doing a few rooms of the house. That’s just ridiculously too much for most people I know. Since the shows are meant to be entertainment, not instructional, that’s fine. But it’s not difficult to make a renovation look great for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s aRead More →

I haven’t updated since my “spring break” trip, so what have I been up to? Thankfully, a lot more than last year mid-pandemic! May 2021 Road trip: Nashville, TN and Lynchburg, VA When I drove cross country in 2019, I resolved to bring my mom and sister to Nashville, Tennessee. I really enjoyed it and knew they’d love the city, the music, and the scenery. Those plans were put on hold in 2020, but once all three of us were vaccinated, we decided to go for it. While my sister goes all over the U.S. on travel, my mom hasn’t gone out of state forRead More →

One of the few positives to come out of 2020 was that people found they had spare time on their hands, maybe for the first time in years. Baking homemade bread and cooking exploded in popularity. Home workouts and video yoga took off. Judging by social media, people were able to spend tons of time outdoors with their partners and kids, and even try new hobbies. I was unemployed this year on sabbatical, so instead of traveling as I’d planned, I had even more free time at home than most! One of my goals was to scrutinize and cut back on my spending without feelingRead More →

It’s been about a year since I built a two (ish) car carport with my Dad. I documented that process here and wanted to give a followup on what worked, what I tweaked, and what I’d change if we did it again. The good First off, the carport performed great in the winter. I was worried that the 4/12 pitch wouldn’t be steep enough, but the snow slides right off in big sheets as soon as the sun warms it up. Even when ice forms, there’s enough of a roof overhang that the plastic on the sides hasn’t been damaged.  The 11.5′ width of theRead More →

Hi all! Haven’t done an update in a while, so I recorded a short vlog update of what I’ve been up to. As I mention in the video, two things I did in the past couple of weeks were replace the hard drive in a 2015 iMac, and encode and upload all of our family videos to a private YouTube channel. If you’re interested for more details about either, or a different topic, please let me know. Read More →

I thought the first two months of the global virus outbreak was tough, then last month rolled in. The video of Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting in Georgia went viral in early May, and the footage of George Floyd being choked to death was viewed nationwide on May 25th. Both events saddened me, and have sparked demonstrations nationwide about the racial divide and police use of force.  Without video, it’s unlikely that either case would have resulted in charges. This is particularly evident with the Arbery shooting, where the event itself happened on February 23rd, but no charges were filed until the video was leaked three months later.Read More →

Escalating unemployment is one of the top news stories right now amid the coronavirus shutdown. Many industries are completely shuttered, others are operating but dramatically scaled back, and this has resulted in a vast number of people becoming unemployed.  I was curious to know, at what point will the United States hit levels higher than those we’ve ever seen in recent history? Well, based on the numbers, that figure is about 10%, or 33 million based on the current U.S. population. But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. To get that number, we have to look back pretty far in history. The Balance hasRead More →

Last year, I decided to quit my job and take a sabbatical. I’ve talked about it before in a previous post, but a couple of my goals were to spend more time with my family and do some travel. I maintained my dental and vision coverage through COBRA since it was reasonably priced ($66/month), but healthcare would have added another $600 a month to that figure, and I couldn’t justify that. I maxed out my HSA contribution first, to provide me with a small safety net, and decided to go without coverage for a while.  As I write this in April 2020, COVID-19 has beenRead More →

But wait, there’s more! If you order today, we’ll throw in a versatile six-in-one kitchen tool! No, not really. Still, this simple life hack is pretty exciting for book nerds like me. I recently learned that Google Docs contains its own OCR capability. OCR stands for optical character recognition, which is a form of computer vision that can translate images of text into actual text documents that are editable. This saves a tremendous amount of data entry time, since you don’t have to retype a document if you have an image of it.  This means there’s a very simple way to digitize your own books,Read More →

I’ve been sheltering in place for a while now, spending more time at home than I usually do, and I’m running out of things to watch! It also occurred to me that unlike TV shows or movies, which I often discuss with friends, I rarely talk about what I’m watching on YouTube. Even among my closest friends, I really have no idea what they watch there. So I thought it’d be fun to take some time and address that in a video. Check it out and let me know what you think. Links to all the shows I mention are in the description of theRead More →