Goodbye Instagram

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Since 2016, I have almost entirely checked out of social media. I made my Twitter account private and no longer log into it. I also do not check Twitter anymore. I initially deactivated my Facebook account, then eventually deleted it altogether as I realized I had no use for it and I also did not like the thought of Facebook retaining my data 1. I still occasionally check Snapchat, but only when people share things with me; I rarely share anything with Snapchat. The only strong hold out to social media prohibition had been Instagram.

Instagram was in this weird gray area with me. I obviously knew they were owned by Facebook. However, it almost felt as though they were sandboxed from the parent company. I would tie myself in knots to justify it in my head that it was okay to use Instagram but not okay to use Facebook. This past weekend, I finally became fed up with Facebook and decided to delete my Instagram account. I’m sure I will eventually miss some parts of Instagram, but so far I do not. If I want to share photos with people, I’ve realized I have a perfectly good vehicle for sharing photos: blogging. Sure, it’s a hurdle for people if they want to view my photos, but I think it’s a good trade off. If I’m not tied to as many social networks, that’s probably a good thing in the long run.

  1. I’m not delusional here; I have no faith that Facebook has actually deleted my data and it would not surprise me in the least if they still retain some or all of my data. 

Expedition: Gatlinburg

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Back in August, Ashley and I decided to get a new car. Our Land Rover had been in the shop quite often over the last six months. The cost of gasoline had started to wear on me. I had been lusting over a particular electric vehicle over the past few months. After calculating the cost of the vehicle and researching our charging options, we finally decided to buy an electric vehicle: the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.

Since August, the I-Pace has been our only vehicle. I adore this vehicle. It is a delight to drive. The acceleration is thrilling (0-60 mph in 4.5s). The lane assist and heads up display are superb. The design of the exterior is bold and attracts attention whenever we are out. We opted for the model with the wheel package upgrade; the 22 inch rims are the largest I have ever driven with. Due to the extended wheelbase (with no internal combustion engine in the front, Jaguar has moved the front wheels up significantly), it has taken an adjustment on our part to become accustomed to the new turning radius. I always felt our Land Rover LR4 had an astonishing turning radius for such a large vehicle. The I-Pace’s radius seems much more arching, not quite as maneuverable in tight spaces. After a few weeks of driving it, we were still adjusting. At nearly six weeks with the vehicle, I finally feel at ease with the new radius.

We have done quite a bit of local driving (around the middle Tennessee area) as well as quick excursions to Clarksville to meet up with family. These round trips have been well within the I-Pace’s advertised range of 234 miles. However, October is a special month in my family. My father’s family travels to Gatlinburg every October for a family vacation. Approximately fifteen relatives rent two cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains. We were aware of this upcoming trip and, with a little research, we knew the mileage there would be approximately 223 miles: just under the advertised range of the I-Pace. Not being the gambling type, I made a plan to stop in Knoxville to make use of a DC fast charger (0-80% charge within 40 minutes). My plan called for a fast charge in Knoxville, some light level 2 charging in Gatlinburg while we played, followed by a fast charge just south of Gatlinburg (in a state park) on the last day of our trip, then finally a fast charge in Cookeville on our way home. All in all, four days, three fast charging periods, a few slower charging periods. Best laid plans…

The first part of the trip was a success. We made it to Knoxville with about 15% battery remaining. I should have started the trip in Eco mode; we possibly could have made it to Knoxville with 20% remaining. One thing I did not account for in my planning: steep inclines and the power drainage when climbing steep grades. The interstate from Nashville to Knoxville has a few areas of steep grade, but has long stretches of shallow grade inclines. The part that scared me most here was knowing we had more to climb once we started approaching Gatlinburg. No bother; my estimates planned for some wiggle room.

We got to the cabin fine. The next issue was the lack of charging in Gatlinburg. There are chargers, but they’re all on the Blink network which is apparently very flaky. Additionally, these stations were not well maintained and most were not functioning. The ones that were functioning were frequently blocked by internal combustion engine vehicles. Fabulous.

We did find some refuge in Pigeon Forge at the Tanger outlets. However, traveling to these outlets and back would zap about two hours worth of charging at the outlet. We would need to stay at the outlets for more than two hours to have a positive impact in our charge. No bother, I still had the fast charger just south of Gatlinburg at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Until I didn’t. I started to get a bit panicky on Saturday and decided I needed to ensure the charger there was functioning. After some research, I discovered the fast charger at the Sugarlands Visitor Center has been out of service for months. This is the time to become concerned.

I brought my trusty slow charger with me, one that I can plug into a wall outlet. It’s less than ideal, but if I’m going to be stationary for hours and hours, I could accumulate some charge. I quickly hunt for a receptacle outside our cabin and find one. I plug in, only to see a bad omen: fault code. Something with the plug is not sufficient for my charging needs. I will not be getting any charge at the cabin.

I start planning. There is a fast charger in the wrong direction. It’s the closest and we easily have the range for it. We can stop there on our way home. I also look and realize we are technically in range of the fast charger in Knoxville. This charger has the benefit of being located on our route home, as well as being familiar (this is where we charged on our way to Gatlinburg). After eating breakfast, I become resolute: Knoxville or bust.

We opt for the shortest route (mileage is our axis and ally at this point). The roads are smaller roads and highways. Even better, since this will require slower speeds and thus extending our range. We plan our route, ensure we’re in Eco mode, and we go on our journey. I am happy to say we made it to the fast charger in Knoxville, with 15% to spare. Relief.

Now that we are home and I have had time to reflect, I realize a few things. The first: I still love this vehicle. It makes me incredibly happy when I drive it. The second? I need to start trusting my math and the vehicle’s range some. Especially knowing what I can do to increase the range of the I-Pace. I do wish the fast charging network was more saturated. I hope these chargers will roll out in more places, especially along interstate highways. I figure more electric vehicles being sold will lead to more fast charger installations. I hope I can trust this instinct as much as I can trust my math when planning out trips.

Eddie Money, 'Two Tickets to Paradise' Singer, Is Dead at 70

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I will not pretend that I am the world’s biggest Eddie Money fan. However, his music played a special role in my childhood. Like most children, I listened to much of what my parents considered “good music”. The typical radio station of choice in our home or vehicles was one of the few “classic rock” stations broadcast in the area. I have fond memories of Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, and Queen. Eddie Money was firmy in that second tier. I could name a few of his hit songs, but would recognize many more songs from him if played them for me.

I was not familiar with Money’s life story until I read his obituary. Being a child when my parents were listening to his music, I was blissfully unaware of his personal life or his struggles. He definitely seemed like a personable, self deprecating person.

I’ll probably be listening to some Eddie Money music for the next few days and reliving my childhood some. Thank you Eddie for providing a piece of the soundtrack for my life.

10 Years

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Ten years ago, during our honeymoon in Hawaii, I told Ashley that we would come back to the island for our ten year anniversary. I wasn’t sure what would happen during those ten years, but I was adamant of what would happen at the end of that period. During that time, I have had six different jobs, while Ashley has had two. We bought our first house. Ashley gave birth to our beautiful son. We moved across the country. We lived on the beach and wet our feet in the Pacific Ocean. We lost a friend. We moved across the country again. We adopted new friends; we lost another. We missed our return trip to Hawaii.

This summary does not adequately cover the depth or richness of the last ten years. There are many laughs and many tears that I have conveniently glossed over for the sake of brevity. I feel very fortunate that I found someone to spend my life with: someone to laugh with, to cry with, or to make silly jokes with that no one else would understand. I have found someone with whom I can share everything and for that I am lucky and grateful. I’m not sure if I would quantify the last ten years as easy or hard; I’m more likely to quantify it as fulfilling.

I look forward to our time together. I am excited to see what new memories we make during the next ten, twenty, thirty, forty, …


A special note for Ashley: thank you for sharing your life with me. I may not always show it, but I am grateful for every moment we share together.

Tips

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I had a first while staying in a hotel on a recent trip. I usually try to leave a tip for the housekeeping staff. Even if it’s a business trip, I’ll try to leave a tip out of pocket. This trip was no different. The first morning, I left a tip on the nightstand. When I arrived back at my room, I realized that housekeeping had not entered the room (bed was not made, towels not cleaned up, etc). The tip was still on the nightstand. No big deal; the room was still clean and I don’t need the bed made every day. I had plenty of towels and still had some coffee. The second morning, I left the same tip on the nightstand. When I arrived back at my room on the second evening, my bed was still not made, towels not cleaned up, coffee not restocked. However, this time, the tip was gone. 😱

This was a first for me. It made me feel uneasy, but I reported the incident to the front desk. I’m still not really sure what to make of it.

Research

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After moving back to Nashville, Ashley and I decided to buy adult furnishings for our new home. We hired an interior designer to help us fill our space. As part of that design, the designer picked out floor coverings for our living and dining rooms. One lesson I have learned, now too late: research the materials used in rugs and carpets before purchasing them. Specifically, it’s a good idea to know how to clean and treat them before adopting a new dog or before your first spill. If you procrastinate, you might be learning to live with spotted or splotchy floor coverings.

Perspective

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We’re on our second big vacation of the year. In February, we took our second trip to Disney World. Ashley wanted to take another vacation during the summer months. This time, she wanted her family to accompany us. We hadn’t had a family vacation with her family, outside of her parents joining us on our first Disney World trip last year. She wanted her brother to join us this time. Max had asked to go to the beach. Since we no longer lived next to a beach, this seemed like a natural destination.

There are quite a few options for beaches in the southeast. Ashley put a pretty harsh filter on our options though; she didn’t want anything in the Gulf and she preferred to stay away from heavy tourist destinations. Her initial suggestion was Outer Banks. After recognizing how much of a drive it would be for us and her parents, she looked elsewhere. She eventually landed on Tybee Island.

During our first Disney World trip, I watched a family have their pictures taken with one of the Big Four characters. One of their youngest, who seemed shy, was carrying a camera. As a way of getting him involved and to open up, the parents had their kid take pictures with his camera. I adored this idea. Years ago, when my nephew Dallas was about Max’s age, perhaps a little younger, Ashley and I handed him our point and shoot digital camera while in New York City. We gave him simple instructions on how the camera worked, then we let him take whatever pictures he wanted. We ended up with quite a few “bad” shots. However, we also ended up with my favorite shot from New York: a ground perspective shot of Ashley and me, with sky and skyscrapers above our heads. It was a different perspective. To this day, that picture still brings a smile to my face.

With all that in mind, Ashley and I bought Max his first camera. We wanted something simple that could take digital photos. Additionally, we wanted something easy to understand, fun, and cheap… just in case it took a bath. We landed on the Polaroid Snap. So far, I have been very pleased with this (and so has Max). The picture quality may not be the best, but Max loves the camera. I am excited to see the world, one snap at a time, from his perspective.

Ode to the Cadillac ATS

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After buying a house in Aptos, Ashley and I realized we needed to get a second vehicle. There are shuttle options from Santa Cruz, but getting to those bus stops would be a nightmare with only one vehicle. Unfortunately, there were no good public transit options to get to the coach stops and it would have been quite a trek on a bicycle. Additionally, I was in charge of dropping Max off at daycare in the mornings. We didn’t want to buy a vehicle. We also weren’t sure what would be the best option purchase-wise (after just buying a house). We opted to lease instead.

This was our first lease. I had heard and read about the process. I had also been raised to believe that renting or leasing was a “waste of money”. I understand the argument, but I also don’t believe that rushing into a large purchase is necessarily a good idea for the sake of “saving money in the long run” (sort of like selling a house that you bought in Aptos two years after buying it…). I put together a list of possible vehicles. I had decided I wanted something a bit more premium, but not ridiculous. I also didn’t want a huge vehicle. A small sedan seemed practical. The list was shortened to three makes: BMW, Jaguar, and Cadillac.

The Cadillac brand has always held a special place for me due to nostalgia and my family. My family always believed that a Cadillac was a symbol of status: you were doing well for yourself if you drove a Cadillac. After test driving those three, I deliberated. Even though the Cadillac was Ashley’s least favorite, it was my favorite. Seeing as how this was going to be “my” car, I opted for the ATS.

For a bit over two years, the ATS was my commuter car. I did not always drive over the hill from Santa Cruz to the office, but I at least had to drive it from Aptos to Scotts Valley almost every week day. Once we decided to move back to Nashville, I realized I wouldn’t have a need for a commuter car anymore. We decided to ship it with us to Nashville anyway. After adjusting to our new setup in Nashville, we also realized that we really don’t need two cars (or at least, not with any regularity). We knew that once the lease was up, we’d return the Cadillac.

I knew the day was coming, but it still made me a bit sad to hand over the keys. It only took a few minutes to complete the process. I hand them the keys, they do a quick visual inspection, then have me sign some paperwork. The paperwork basically details that I’m not lying about the mileage on the odometer and that I’m turning over the vehicle back to GM. There is a more involved inspection that I did a few weeks ago to determine if there were any damages to the vehicle that would warrant extra charges (to which there were none warranted). I believe the thing that affected me the most was how attached Max seemed to be. He even had a nickname for my car (🚀). Fortunately, he understood and handled it well; I had prepared him for the car going away a few weeks before we turned it in.

It was an interesting process. I would definitely consider leasing as an option in the future if the situation seems appropriate. It’s basically a long term rental of a vehicle. I believe that long term rentals are appropriate in certain circumstances and not always a “waste of money” as so many in my circle attempted to impress upon me.

One Year Later

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It was Memorial Day weekend 2018 when our house shopping in Nashville began in earnest. Ashley and I adored the real estate agent we had used to buy (and sell) our first home in Nashville and had reached out to her months before. She was familiar with our style and we knew which neighborhoods we wanted to focus on. She had put together an automated email of listings that Ashley and I used to help point out what we did and did not like. (Side note: one of my weird hang ups is that I love sidewalks and I almost always consider it a non-starter if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.) We planned a trip back to Nashville for Memorial Day weekend so that we could physically see houses. Our families would come visit that weekend and take Max to different places so that Ashley and I could focus on the task at hand: finding a new home.

The culmination of this process was a long road. Ashley and I had decided months before that we were ready to move and live closer to family. There were things we liked about living in California, but one of the hardest things about living out there was being far away from family, especially with Max wanting to spend time with relatives. We both agreed that we wanted to live in a city. So we looked at cities relatively close to western Kentucky. There were cities we ruled out immediately. We were left with two options: Louisville or Nashville. I went to school at the University of Louisville and I love the city. I will probably always have a longing to live there again. Ashley has no connection to the city, other than visiting me during college. I tried to convince her that we should give it a chance.

During our holiday trip to visit family in December 2017, I convinced Ashley to come with me overnight to Louisville. I thought the best way to sell her on the idea was to show her what it was like and hopefully my adoration for the city would rub off onto her. We rented an Airbnb and spent a day with a realtor looking at some of the different neighborhoods in the area. Over the course of the following month after our visit, we continued to look at home listings for Louisville. Eventually it became obvious that Ashley was not as excited about the prospect of moving to Louisville as I was. My pitch landed flat. We discussed our options and landed on Nashville as our future destination. This led to us contacting our realtor in Nashville and to us scheduling that home finding trip over Memorial Day weekend in 2018.

I sometimes still wonder what it would have been like moving back to Louisville. I love Louisville. I love Nashville too. I believe Nashville became the better fit for us because we were both comfortable with the city, having lived here previously.

Anyway, that is what is on my mind this Memorial Day: what brought us to this point.

Getting out of Your Comfort Zone

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One of the most difficult transitions for me is to know when it is time to get out of your comfort zone. There are many of these transitions throughout life. There are many of these:

  • Is it time to get married?
  • Is it time to have children?
  • Is it time to change careers?
  • Is it time to try a new project?

You can try to reason whether or not you are ready. You can create a list of pros and cons. You can dwell on your choice. You can talk to friends or colleagues and ask their opinions. You can dwell some more. However you decide to approach one of these decisions, there is really no way of knowing whether or not you are ready for it until it happens and you start to adapt. I always find it impressive at how capable humans are at adaptation. When we are presented with challenges or changes, the opportunity to overcome those challenges becomes motivation. Once you are able to push down the “Woe is me” thoughts, you are able to accomplish great things.

It is time to push down those feelings. It is time to adapt.