What we’ve been up to

November 11, 2011 at 10:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Since we arrived on October 20, we’ve actually been pretty busy. Here’s what’s been going on:

The view from our balcony at Archstone San Bruno

Blake went to Startup School. Many of you know that Blake would like to start a company, and Silicon Valley is of course the best place to do that. Startup School is a free two-day event where famous successful entrepreneurs come and speak to people (like Blake) who would like to be famous successful entrepreneurs. The event is hosted by a famous startup funding firm called Y Combinator. It’s invitation only, though, and only a few hundred people are accepted out of (I believe) thousands of applicants. Which makes it pretty nifty that they invited him!

I would have liked to go also, but due to a miscommunication between me and Blake, I thought I was covered by his application but I wasn’t.  So I stayed at home while he got to listen to Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen (founder of Netscape and other things), Max Levchin (cofounder of PayPal and other things), Mark Pincus (founder of Zynga – creator of Farmville), Ashton Kutcher (the actor — who is apparently a big investor in tech startups), and many other famous people who are less well-known if you aren’t into startups. I was pretty jealous.

Apartment hunting. For those of you who haven’t heard, we finally, finally, finally sold our house in Austin. Coincidentally, we were actually in Austin for the closing date when my friend Beth got married in September, so we didn’t have to mess with faxing and notary publics and other inconveniences. Also, as my regular readers know, we came very close to buying a house in Seattle. If we had done that we’d now be in the same situation that we were before: moving to a new city and paying rent there while also having a house payment back where we used to live and trying to sell from afar. As a result, we’re feeling a bit reluctant to jump into another house right now. (Like many people.)

Nano can make the tiniest ball ever.

Additionally, since we plan to stay in California for a while and houses here are insanely expensive, we don’t want to buy a house until we know the area a lot better. Like, in a year or two. A series of mopey news articles continue to inform me that the housing market will still be crappy by then (for sellers), so maybe we can get an inexpensive $1.6 million house for only $700K. (Seriously, housing here is SO pricey!)

Anyway, this is an extremely roundabout way of saying that we decided to find an apartment here instead of jumping into house hunting the way we did in Seattle. Google covers thirty days of temporary housing, which means that we’ll be out of here on November 19.

So we spent much of our first two weeks driving around looking at rental houses and apartments. We had four main constraints: under $2000/month,  some sort of fenced-in yard (so we won’t have to walk the dogs), at least 1000 square feet (so we can fit all our stuff in), and within 35 minutes of YouTube. Sadly, this mythical paradise of an apartment just doesn’t exist in Silicon Valley — at least, not at that price. After searching in vain for days and days, we slowly inched up our max rent until we found a place for $2240 — which increases to $2340 after pet rent. The place is lovely and is in the also-lovely town of Foster City, but I’ll talk about that more in a future post.

I made cupcakes the other day. Yum.

Arguing with Plus Relocation. Google contracts with a relocation company called Plus Relocation, and they manage a series of other move-related contractors — the people who ship our cars, the guys who pack and load our stuff onto a truck, the people who handle our temporary housing here in CA, and etc. Plus has mostly been great throughout the move, but they kind of screwed us over at the end. They accidentally gave us incorrect information that was going to cost us six or seven hundred dollars, and then they were unwilling to make it up to us even though they admitted it was their mistake. I may go into the details in another post, but every time I think about writing it my smile turns into a frown and I become irritated all over again. So we’ll see. But it’s taken a lot of time to argue with them on the phone, write emails explaining our circumstances, and etc. It’s been very frustrating and time-consuming and has somewhat tarnished what was otherwise a charming stay in our temporary housing.

Finding a place to stay until November 29. Our little dispute with Plus is related to the fact that our new apartment in Foster City won’t be available until November 29 but our temporary housing expires ten days earlier on November 19. As a result, we’ve had to scramble to find some place to stay — for a carload of stuff and two dogs — for ten days over Thanksgiving. Now obviously there are places to stay in this area, but they all cost a kajillion dollars. In the end we found a place using Airbnb.com that looks pretty nice: it’s a mother-in-law suite in a Victorian house on the south side of San Francisco. There’s a little kitchen and they take dogs and it looks great in the photos, so I think it should be pretty fun to stay there for ten days. We finally booked that this past Wednesday night, and now we can finally relax. Before we had that lined up, there was always the nagging feeling of us having no place to go and the clock ticking on our time here.

So now there are no nagging problems to be dealt with, which is fantastic. We can truly relax for our last week in temporary housing before heading to SF.

Dining in Chinatown

November 1, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Blake and his cream cheese puff

Blake and his cream cheese puff. You can see Chinatown's Chinese gate in the background on the left.

Well, we had a lovely weekend in the new apartment. Aside from the obvious benefits of living right next to Amazon, this is really a neat area. After sleeping til noon on Saturday morning (after our harrowing move during the preceding few days), we got up and walked over to the nearby Yummy House Bakery for breakfast. Like all the businesses here in the international district, it’s run by some Asians of indeterminate nationality. It was a charmingly rainy morning and we strolled the 100 or so feet under my big umbrella and then had coffee and other delicious stuff. Blake had a cream cheese puff and a sponge cake, and I had a ham-and-egg puff and an egg custard tart. We were the only non-Asians in there for most of the time, but everybody in there was friendly and chatty (with each other in some other language) and it had a real home-town neighborhood feel even though we were in an Asian bakery in the middle of downtown.

We’ve checked out a few other restaurants here, and I’m determined to try lots of interesting and different foods. It’s really easy for me to just order the chicken and broccoli at all these restaurants, but there’s so much authentic and different stuff on the menu that I don’t want to miss. We’ll probably never live in a place like this again, so I’m forcing myself to eat outside my comfort zone. Sometimes it backfires, though — the other day we stopped at a different bakery after dinner and I adventurously bought some sort of date-egg pastry and a tiny mooncake. The date-egg pastry was just awful, so I gave the mooncake a try. It was… acceptable, but sort of like a big Fig Newton with a disproportionately large amount of fig. I threw them both away but have resolved not to let them dissuade me from my goals.



Kittyball is live on the app store!

August 19, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Kittyball was submitted to the app store last week, and today it went live! Here’s the official Kittyball blog, and here’s the Kittyball iTunes page.

Kittyball screenshot

Blake did all the programming, and I did all the artwork. He worked a lot of hours on this, and I’m proud of him. :D

A walk by Elliot Bay

August 2, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Yesterday Blake and I walked down to Elliot Bay with Pico in tow.  Elliot Bay is a small part of Puget Sound that lies adjacent to Seattle’s downtown and is famous to most people as the namesake of Frasier Crane’s fictional residence, Elliot Bay Towers. Here are a few nice and colorful shots from yesterday:

Pico and Blake standing on a street corner in front of some flowers

Pico and Blake spent a lot of time waiting for me to catch up because I was taking so many photos, but they didn't seem to mind.

An apple sitting on a bench all by itself

This lonely apple was just sitting here being sad and lonely. :-(

An alley with a bunch of colorful buildings at the end of it

A colorful alley looking south from Denny Way

A pink sign for a car wash that is shaped like a giant elephant

The other side of this sign just said "CAR WASH" -- I wonder what differentiates the car wash from the elephant super car wash?

A train, a boat, and some Queen Anne's Lace

Down near the bay; the white flower is one of my old favorites, Queen Anne's Lace, that doesn't seem to grow wild in Texas. (It looks a lot like Texas' Yarrow.) I recently found out, much to my horror, that Queen Anne's Lace is actually a wild carrot! D:

Blake and Sarah at the Olympic Sculpture Park

At the Olympic Sculpture Park. Lots of pretty flowers and modern art.

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