Adventures In Housing

Whoo, boy. I just got housed! I hope to share with you some of the joy of finding a house in Silicon Valley here. =)

The short of it is that, yay!, my new address is

950 Pershing Avenue
San Jose,
CA 95126

I’m pretty busy, though, so please don’t just call me randomly.

It all started out, strangely enough, with a slashdot thread. There was a slashdot post on Constructing A Geek House on September 20th. I posted a reply, joking “What now, Personals?” and wondering if anyone had a place that I could stay at for a few months to a year. Surprisingly, I got quite a few responses, some on slashdot and some over email. One was from one of Cisco’s security folks, Dan Kaminsky, who mentioned that he was planning to set up a Cisco house with other employees but that I was welcome to join in. After exploring a few other housing options, I decided that this was my best bet. Dan had found a Cisco intern by the name of Jason Abele and the three of us started looking for housing.

Now you’d think that three engineers with minimal living requirements and
decent salaries would be able to find a place to rent in a real jiffy, yes?
Well, not really. It took us around three weeks to finally find a place that
was near to Cisco, near to Caltrain, near to the airport, near enough to
the telephone company’s office to get high-speed DSL, had 3 bedrooms, and
was generally livable. Finally, we found one property managed by Cal-Western,
at 950 Pershing. We took it. Yay!

Figuring out net access was interesting (and it continues to pan out). As it turns out, we don’t really have cable modem access in our area, as RCN hasn’t really made it down here yet. DSL delays are now up to nearly 2 months, and we were desperate for some kind of fast netlink, so we had to find something else. Satellite access looked unwieldy and fixed wireless looked like it would take a few thousand bucks to set up and be unreliable. But much to our delight, we found out that Sprint was testing a new fixed wireless Internet deployment – $300 setup and $50/month for a 5 to 1.5 megabit downlink and 256kbps uplink. Not too shabby for something up and running in less than 5 business days! The engineer comes on Tuesday, so we should be nicely wired by Tuesday night.

We’re considering getting SDSL at some point (it seems that speakeasy is king in this world: 1.1/1.1 service for $200/month!) and maybe even Sprint ION (which gives you two phone lines with pimped-out options and a 8/1 megabit ADSL link for $120/mo), but this is largely dependant on how happy we are with the Sprint wireless broadband connection.

Interestingly enough, there’s actually a choice of power providers now in California! After some research, we’ll be getting our power from, which actually uses only renewable energy sources and costs less than the power from the standard power provider. Very cool.

Today (October 22) we raided Home Depot, Walgreens, and K-Mart for basic home furnishings. I’ve never been happier at a K-Mart: after quite a bit of shuffling around looking for home furnishings, I had been getting pretty depressed at how expensive it was to furnish a home. Then came K-Mart! Yay! I felt like I could suddenly afford things, like my spending power had been magnified by a factor of ten. It was a grand moment. =)

We’re still figuring out stuff like beds, though. Ack. New beds are expensive! ($1000 or so! ~$600 for a futon+frame!) We did get a massive (1000ft) spool of Cat5e Ethernet cable for the house, which we’ll probably lay in the next few days.

When we get broadband in here, one of the first things I’ll do is move the server here, which will mean that the website should get A) actually updated and B) will be faster.

Okay, it’s 4 in the morning, I’m sick, I’ve got hiccups, and the drugs I took to take care of the coughing aren’t working. Ack.

UPDATE – 23oct2000
We rented a fridge, washer, dryer, and a queen-size bed (for me!). Yay!


Why I Came Back

Well, I’m back. I spent two weeks in New York, two weeks in Italy and France,
two months in Sweden, two weeks in Boston, and have now arrived back in the
Bay Area, probably to stay for good.

I’ve been through a lot, seen a lot, enjoyed a lot, read a lot, and thought a lot. I have not coded much, or done too much email, or even that much writing. I think I have grown quite a bit.

Of course, none of these plans were what I indicated I was likely to do. Life works like that. I’d like to share with you a bit of what happened, and why, and how things are turning out.

First off, you probably are wondering when I’m going to Tahoe to join the California Conservation Corps. Many of you have even emailed me to ask how my time is going / has gone. Well, I’m not working for the CCC in Tahoe and probably won’t for some time; it’s not that I don’t think that they are a superb organization, but there are a few reasons why I
don’t think that that would be a good step for me right now.

The brunt of the reason why I needed a break is that I was suffocating in technology by the end of my senior year; I had been increasingly involved in high-tech for the prior six years of my life, without any break at all. I was too far ensconced in my own coding pressures to realize that it was a choice. It wasn’t until I got a chance to separate myself from it and open myself up to the possibility of doing anything I really wanted to do that I realized that my true desire is to be involved with technology. That this has been my calling since I started programming at the age of five. But without a proper sense of balance in my life (at the end of senior project, I was quite literally doing 18+ hour workdays for days on end), it was hard to see that and hard to appreciate the true joy that coding and innovation

But my time abroad gave me the time I needed to understand this, and I
began to slowly feel the pull, the desire to program and think, growing
steadily within. I realized that I couldn’t run from technology any more
than I could run from my feet: life without programming and technical
thoughts would be lacking many of the joys that life could bring to me.
But an unhealthy immersion (in anything!) just causes resentment,
frustration, and disappointment – balance and moderation are required in
all things. (Eating nothing but ice cream won’t make you happy.)

I then reconsidered my need for further time off. I couldn’t figure out
how I could do the CCC and be involved with technology at the same time.
Likewise, I was feeling less and less like the CCC was really designed
for me: further investigation showed that the organization is essentially
tailored for high-school dropouts with a strong need for discipline and
something to put on their resume. While I certainly think there would be
an interesting crowd of people there, I’m not sure it’s a group that I’d
find fulfillment in.

So perhaps I’ll do something like the CCC before long, but in the interim,
the itch I’ve got to go back to programming is stronger than ever before.
I’m figuring out what I want to do, where I’m going to live, etc. I was
really incredibly scared at first because the enormity of facing LIFE
with its infinities of possibilities hit me. But now, having come back to
campus to visit Vanessa, I realize that I’m now empowered to do all the
things I dreamed about doing but couldn’t do as a student. The late-night
essays I’d sneak in, the business meetings I’d schedule around sections,
and the side-project coding jobs I’d be working on I now not only don’t
need to hide, but are the things I am supposed to do! How very cool!

So I’m back, I’ll be unfreezing my website, and I’ll be in the Bay Area for the forseeable future! As soon as I get a home, drop on by!