Saturday, January 31, 2009


I don't do a ton of reading, and what I do read comes from:
  • Bible and/or other book reading regarding living life with Christ that comes in the morning and any other opportunities I have to read (e.g. falling asleep, bus rides, waiting for people).
  • JavaScript, Java, software development, and general technology blogs I'm subscribed to under my work account that I read almost every work day.
  • Work email primarily for communication on projects I'm involved in plus day-to-day logistics. This happens every work day.
  • Additional technical reading for a project at work that varies based on the project and my familiarity with the project.
  • Mac, U2, friends', and homelessness blogs I'm subscribed to with my personal email address that I read almost daily.
  • Personal email reading that happens daily.
As I reflected on 2008, and looked toward 2009, I decided to focus on on applying what I read better. For the blog reading, both for work and personally, I find it's helpful to skim a lot of the feeds to get a feel for what's possible. I hardly ever recall the specifics, but am incrementally building up a search index in my head. That way if I hear someone describe a situation at work or a friend having an issue with their Mac, I can say, "I remember reading...", and then a minute later with a Google search find what it was that I read. To aid with this effort, I'm going to leverage Google Reader's tag functionality more to further categorize the technical blog entries that are worth remembering.

With email, I treat my inbox as my todo list. If it's in my inbox, I haven't dealt with it. Dealing with it may mean reading it, responding to it, or doing some other action item (e.g. signing up, making a payment, etc.). Because of this inbox mentality, I will often send reminders to myself over email. If I need to call someone, I'll email myself at work that I need to do this. As soon as I've taken care of the item, I usually delete the message. This works great for my personal email as it's hosted by Google Apps. With Google as your email hoster, your messages are never fully deleted. You can always search for anything in the past, thus I don't worry about deleting. This isn't the case with my work email though. I have been bitten by deleting email messages that I eneded up needing again in the future, particularly around project details. As a result, I've started creating a folder for each project. That way when a year later someone asks about why we made a certain design decision, I can quickly pull up the correspondence.

Concerning the reading that involves relationship with God and applying it in the world around me, I'm trying to first ask God what he's saying and then ask what he wants me to do with it. I'm really not interested in acquiring more spiritual knowledge. It only has value if applied.

In order to apply, I usually need to summarize what I've learned. If I can articulate it, then I usually have a better change of doing something with it. Sometimes articulating comes from just trying to articulate (e.g. sharing with people who'll have patience when trying to get the words and ideas out). And sometimes, it means taking time to consciously think, recap, review notes, and write a summary. I expect to have more of that on the blog. I find typing much better for me than handwriting, as handwriting can take so long that thoughts queue up and eventually get dropped. Since it's already digital, my as well post it!

I know I'm most successful at this process if I do it when I'm at my best. For me, that's in the morning before the day has really started. At the minimum, I have to engage God before I turn on a computer. The computer gets my mind racing and focused on the details of the day, distracting me from the bigger movement of God. The day's details of the day are important, but they shouldn't be the focus or starting point.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blog URL has changed

This blog's url is now: The purpose of this change is to host the blog on Blogger/Google's servers so that user's get a faster experience.

"Kara and Steve" blog created

Since undergoing this Costa Rica adventure, Kara and I have set up a new blog at: Posts that apply to us both will be there, but I will still use this blog to post thoughts or observations that are more me than us.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seattle's water temperature

Q: what is Seattle's water temperature coming from the street into one's house?
A: 45 degree F

A little explanation::
I won't get into the fully backstory, but we need to move the water heater in the upstairs unit of our home comply with code. One option we've been considering is a tankless hot water heater. One thing that affects how effective they are is how much they have to increase the incoming water temperature to bring it to shower temperature (around 115 degrees F). In order to answer this question, you have to know the incoming water temperature. Ideally one would just run water over a thermometer, but I was not at home when I needed to know this, and I couldn't find the information online anywhere. Fortunately someone at Washington Water Heaters informed that incoming water for the Puget Sound is around 45 degrees F. I just wanted to post this so hopefully Google can redirect someone here and help answer the question.