Category Archives: My life


Serious question – is it possible to be stylish and keep your ankles warm?  And/or wear socks?  I really like to have an interrupted line of coverage from foot to shoulder in winter.  I don’t want bare ankles hanging out.  I like to wear shoes that cover toe and heel and socks.  I can see wearing ankle length pants, but only with socks.

At the link, however, you can clearly see that fashion is telling me to expose my ankles.  Isn’t that a crazy choice in winter?  Or have we simply proceeded to spring fashions, given that it’s February?

Are socks uncool?

What do you wear in winter?


I got sick on 12/21 with a cold / cough.  I remember the date because of my birthday on the 23rd.  it was pretty nasty.  I ended up taking 3 days off between 12/26 and 12/31 to recuperate, since things were quiet.  I had several nights were I just could not sleep due to coughing.  J was in the same boat – it was pretty brutal.  Three or four days ago, I was still coughing.  Not constantly, but enough to be annoying.

Then, I got sick again.  Basically, the old lingering cough combined with a brand new cold / cough.  I’m on day 3 of having no voice whatsoever.  As in, I couldn’t talk even in a raspy voice even if I was really, really motivated.  Today, on day 3, I’m finally at a point where I can squawk out a word or two.  Did I mention J has been out of town since Sunday night?  It has been a brutal week.  And there has been a surge of pressure at work, so I have been struggling through half days.  It’s actually surprising how doable it is to conduct smallish meetings (<= 6 people) in a whisper.  It’s also funny how I’ll be whispering away to someone, and they’ll start whispering back unintentionally.

Last night was the worst yet, and I came so close to puking this morning due to severe coughing, so I decided to stay home.  Having spent the entire day in bed (now 1 pm) except for getting the kids ready for school, I’m actually starting to feel better.  It’s amazing what complete rest will do for you.   I also think not talking at all, except for an hour this morning with the kids, has helped a lot.

I’m on the hook to lead a review for management on Tuesday, and I really need to be able to coordinate that, which is really difficult when I’m feeling so awful.  Regardless, thank goodness the weekend is nearly here.

Subaru Outback Purchase #2

We are the proud owners of a new Subaru Outback.  We bought the following specs:

2019 Subaru Outback
2.5i premium
Exterior: abyss blue pearl
Interior: Gray cloth
Optional package with blind-spot detection, power rear gate, and turn signal mirrors
Auto-dimming exterior mirror with approach light
There are seven Subaru dealers in the Seattle area, so I went to all seven for quotes via e-mail.  Ideally, I would have received 14 quotes, 2 from each: one for best on-site option and one for factory order cost.  Despite exchanging at least a dozen e-mails with each of the seven dealers, I received only a total eight quotes, and from one dealer, I never managed to get a quote on a Premium, only a Limited (a more expensive version.)
The most expensive dealer (excluding the one that only quoted a Limited) was a dealer that quoted $32,004.  Then my local dealer quoted me $31,387 after several days delay.  I was corresponding with a sales associate who was clearly not empowered to name prices.  I gave her the opportunity to meet my lowest price, since I’d gone on a test drive at her facility, and she was not able to do so.  For perspective, I also got two quotes $28,734 and two quotes for $28,400.  (The latter I negotiated down by letting the dealer know about the other quote for $28,400.)  The remainder of the quotes fell somewhere in between.
(Note that all these prices include taxes and fees.  Local tax rates are 10.3%, and statewide tax rates are in excess of 9.5%.  One of the dealers I spoke to was from outside my county and has lower tax rates, but even with that taken into account, they were not quite the cheapest.)
To me, the difference is extraordinary.  $28,400 vs. $32,000?  That’s a difference of $3600!  If I had stuck to my local dealer, would I have paid $31,000+ for the car?  I don’t claim any ability to negotiate, so I doubt I could have “talked them down” or anything like that.  I don’t really understand what MSRP is or any of that stuff.  My approach was to simply ask the dealers for their lowest price and to advise them that I was seeking additional bids from competitors.  I have no idea if I got a great deal, but I think I did at least OK.
The other interesting thing to me was differences in who I was talking with.  In some cases, like with the dealer I bought the car from, I negotiated with a sales manager who had an office and clearly had the authority to offer pricing.  In other cases, like with the local dealer that offered the terrible price, the sales person I spoke with had to go to a manager to get a price and sometimes took ages to do so.  In another case, an associate generated a price for me (and their signature declared them an “internet sales manager”) but the price was wrong, and after probing, I got shifted to his manager, and it was clear the original individual didn’t really know what he was doing.   Something similar happened in another case.  I was offered what looked like a good deal on a local car, and I was about to call and consider closing the deal, but e-mailed back, “Just to confirm, this vehicle meets the following specs . . .” and repeated the specs I’d originally sent.  It rapidly became clear that the vehicle did not in fact meet those specs, and I was shifted to another manager.
All in all the process took about 2 weeks.  Last time, I exchanged a few e-mails but most of the process took place in a single weekend.  After a weekend of doing nothing but phone and e-mailing with Subaru dealers, I was about to lose my mind.  Overall, this process of lots of e-mailing and using a spreadsheet to track status and quotes took longer but was significantly less stressful.  It was also easier because this was the second time I bought a car and not the first.
We are lucky to be able to afford to buy a new vehicle.  We got $23,800 back for our old Outback, so we had to come up with roughly $5000 to buy a new one.  God knows what the impact on our insurance rates will be from the accident because as anticipated, the vehicle that ran into me from behind is trying to say I’m at fault in our collision.  I suspect the vehicle that precipitated the whole incident is under-insured for a variety of reasons, one of them being the super sketchy insurance company he called out in the accident report and their super sketchy website.  I feel like my decision to swerve to avoid direct impact with the vehicle in front of me may have saved one or both of us from injury, possibly serious injury, and even if it does cost us thousands in addition to the 5K for the new car, I obviously don’t regret it.   I wasn’t distracted or impaired in any way whatsoever, no cell phone, no food, not switching stations on the radio, and I honestly don’t think there’s anything I could have or should have done differently.
On a more positive note, I love our new Suby (as we affectionately call it).  I got spoiled by our old one, and tooling around in the 2002 stripped-down Focus has been quite the come-down.  Most annoying?  That lack of adjustable intermittent windshield wipers.  Not ideal during a Washington winter, since we so often have light rain that’s not heavy enough for on and too heavy for off.
The new Suby has some major upgrades over the old one, mostly electronic safety features, including blind spot detection, cross-traffic detection when reversing, auto-braking when you’re about to hit someone in front of you, blind spot detection, and lane departure detection and correction.  After the recent accident, my interest in safety features has definitely increased.  In addition, the entertainment and mapping connectivity with my cellphone has significantly increased, as it’s compatible with android auto.  Android auto and cellphone connectivity is still definitely in its infancy, but it has taken a step forward from before, as I can now display Google Maps on the Subaru display in the car.  Gas mileage is also a little better, so that’s another plus.  Interestingly, it cost us a few hundred dollars less than the old one.  Overall, I’m thrilled with it.

Treehouse and test drive

We found out a week or so ago that the Subaru is a total loss.  Our insurance company is cutting us a check for about 24K, roughly $1000 short of what I think they should be cutting us a check for, but it could be a lot worse.  For a while, I thought they were going to build us a new psuedo-Subaru from non-OEM parts.  We test drove a 2019 Subaru Outback and a 2019 Honda CRV today.  They were very similar.  Each had a few advantages and disadvantages, but I feel like they’re fairly comparable.  Any thoughts on which compact SUV to purchase?  The one thing we are doing differently is spending on safety features as needed.  That really ends up being about $1000 for the Subaru, which isn’t bad.  For that you get lane cross detection, blind spot detection, and a few other features.  Having been in the crash has made me more paranoid about being in another one, but I don’t think there’s anything human or computer could have done from my vehicle to prevent it.  Looking at the bright side, new car.  Fun, right?

Amusing conversation with B and L.  I’ve been plowing through the treehouse books for the two girls.  L is not a huge fan, but B absolutely loves them.  Our two nightly chapters are seriously a highlight of her day.  We’re on something like Book 18 – the Titanic.   We finish the chapter with everyone boarding the lifeboats and both girls look terrified.

Me: B, are you scared?

B: Yes, but not really because I’ve looked through the book lots and lots of times and I know they didn’t get sinked.

So cute.  I love her turn of phrase.  You’d think by book 18 they’d have figured out everything always works out for them!

taylor swift

My sister is getting married today, and her team at work did a send-off for her.  See the video here.  (You have to scroll right to the second image to see the video.)  My mind is seriously boggled.  I can’t imagine people doing that at my company for anyone.  The snippet in Insta is actually just a subsection of this 5 minute video with a couple dozen people participating singing Taylor Swift.  They love her.  She is probably top 5 to 10% technically and works like crazy, but she is top 1% in people skills, and that is what has made the difference for her in her career.  If you look at the people page for her company, they have the top execs pictured, of which my sister is one, and you can see that she is AT LEAST 10 years younger than the next-youngest person.

I love to see my sister succeed, and I love to see a woman succeed.  I hope getting married and having babies doesn’t derail things for her.  She deserves those things as well as career success, but it is so hard to have both, especially for a woman.