Archive for the ‘Day-to-day’ Category.

Gutter Conversation

Me: We need to clean our gutters.

Michael: I need to see otters.

Me: Gutters. Gutters.

Michael: I need to eat gutters.

The Financing Contingency

I am writing to you tonight with a rendition of “Skip to my Lou” playing in the background — children’s music is often the genre of choice here.

We have been spending some time looking for a home to purchase (our first). I enjoy the process since I get to learn a lot about something new to me (I was totally that way during the pregnancy, too).

The Seattle market is very competitive right now, at least in the neighborhoods we have been targeting. It’s not uncommon for homes to receive multiple offers (say three, four, five, or twelve) before bidding opens, and of course, the homes are being bid up. The house then sells immediately (discounting all of the time that passes before closing). Basically, if you want to get a nice home in these neighborhoods, you need to see the house before bidding opens, and if you like the house and want to know if anything is critically wrong with it before bidding, you need to do a pre-inspection. If your plan is to do a full inspection after your bid is accepted, don’t expect your bid to ever be accepted since all of the other bidders have waived the right to back out of the offer (without penalty) due to discovered maintenance or safety issues after being under contract.

This leads to the topic of this post: the financing contingency. Buyers are waiving this too. For the uninitiated: the financing contingency allows the buyer to get out of the contract without penalty if they are unable to secure financing (after an earnest attempt) or if the lender’s appraisal of the home comes in under the offer price. Not waiving this contingency can currently be the only reason for having an offer beat by a similar offer.

We may be in this situation right now (if you are the seller: we love your house!): we did not feel comfortable waiving the contingency because we worry about the implications of appraisal coming in low. This is not because we have any information to suggest that will happen, but because are being cautious. We are less worried about our financing falling through (although that can, of course, happen — even with pre-approval). For the latter, it falls into the “risk we are willing to take” bucket, but in a less competitive market we would feel better being more cautious.

It occurred to me that the financing contingency is really covering two distinct and different situations. In the case of a buyer confident in their financing, the concern is appraisal coming in low, but in the case of a seller the concern is the unknown buyer being unable to obtain financing. These are both very legitimate concerns, and it is unfortunate they are put together in one clause. If the contingency were split into two contingencies we could allay the fears of a seller by waiving the “obtaining financing” contingency while keeping the appraisal contingency, which is what we would have done with our recent offer.

Michael Jumping

Michael started jumping (for the first time) ten minutes ago! It was so exciting that he kept doing it for several minutes.

Joining Walk Score

Next Monday I start a new job at Walk Score, a Seattle startup that promotes walkability by producing a measure incorporating information on nearby businesses and attractions. You can learn more about the company here.

From a mission standpoint, the appeal of this company to me is obvious to anyone that knows me well. I care a lot about resource consumption issues (which is what initially attracted me to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for my postdoc), having a good commute (good to me is being able to conveniently reach work by transit, foot, or bike), and having tools to assist in finding a home that has sufficient nearby attractions. I like the languages and tools used at Walk Score, and this job is going to give me an opportunity to learn a bunch of new technologies. I will be making contributions that are visible and are valuable to the company, and my contributions will be used by a large number of users every day (a number that I intend to help grow), which I find very motivating.

Also, don’t forget that I a really enjoy compelling and informative visualization. I like Walk Score’s heat maps (here’s Seattle)!

As for my commute: I had a pretty good set up for my job at Microsoft. I was walking to work daily since I live just down the hill. Since Walk Score is in Seattle (and I live in Redmond) it is a more complicated. I will start on a bike and bus commute and expect that to work pretty well for me most of the time.

Announcement: Last Day at Microsoft

Today is my last day of work at Microsoft. After a one-week break, I will start a new position at a different company. More details on that will be posted later. Until then, have a nice day!


I received a book about orienteering over the holidays (I had requested it). My trip back to Washington from Iowa last week was long enough, due to a four hour wait for the connecting flight, for me to get through the book.

Conveniently, there was an orienteering event in Seattle yesterday, and I went (results here). This was my first event, so I ran the beginner course. I liked it and plan to continue attending events. I think the sport will be really interesting on more challenging courses because of the decision making that will go into navigating to the controls.

Back to the book: it would benefit from updating and releasing a new edition. The basic information is still accurate, but parts of the book have become outdated, based on what I saw and learned from talking to an experienced club member.

Michael, Apple

This evening Michael looked at an apple I was eating and said something that sounded awfully like, “What’s that?” Chao-Jen and I both looked at him and then each other, both surprised. I looked back at Michael, pointed at the apple, and said, “Apple.” Almost immediately, he responded, “Apple.”

He said it a few more times, clearly referring to the apple, although it did become “bapple” a couple times.


He has said other words (including “owl” when looking at one of his sippy cups), but this seemed much more interactive.

Airplane Baby Changing Facilities Continued

Well, I spoke too soon; the 737 is not so bad when it comes to changing tables. We were on a 757 today and found that it had no baby changing tables on board.

737 Versus A320 Baby Changing Facilities

This is not of general interest, but for anyone who wonders, A320 lavatories have better baby changing tables than 737 lavatories. If your baby is under five or six months, it probably does not matter, but the 737 table is really short. This somewhat redeems the A320 for me.

Blackbird Pie Caching Experiment

I decided to do an experiment to verify that Blackbird Pie is caching tweets locally. If it does not, then it makes more sense to stick with Lifestream for everything or to use screen captures.

[blackbirdpie id=”1026089585483776″]

Try clicking on the date to verify the tweet is actually deleted.

For more context on what this post is about, see “Site Revamp, Again — Now Embedding Tweets“.