Category Archives: Personal

WOOHOO!!!!

I received an innocuous looking email today in my inbox with the subject line:

I-485 / AOS Approval Received

I’m used to getting emails about immigration matters all the time seeing as I’ve been living in the US on various work visas over the past 8 years. Usually it’s about immigration policy changes, delays in my processing, or a notification that my current work visa is about to expire.

All the work visas I have been on expire periodically, with the most recent ones expiring every single year.

However, throughout all of this, I’ve been patiently very patiently waiting for my Green Card application to get approved (also known as “Permanent Residency”).

When I got today’s email, I slowly opened it as read these words:

We are pleased to inform you that your application for adjustment of status has been approved. We have received a Welcome Notice and the Permanent Resident card. We will forward these to your office via courier.
We encourage you to review the webpage entitled, “Now That You Are a Permanent Resident” on USCIS’s website (link below) for more information about your new status…..

WOOHOOO!!!!

I never thought this day would come, and have been increasingly pessimistic as seemingly everyone around me was getting approved years before me.  I’m ecstatic to have finally put an end to this entire ordeal!

WOOHOOO!!!!

:)

Personal Goals for 2009

I started formal goal setting last year, so to continue that trend, here are the 7 personal goals I’m looking to accomplish in 2009 in no particular order:image

  1. Drink 64 ounces of water at least 5 days a week: I definitely don’t drink enough water on a regular basis, and given there are so many health benefits, this will help me get back on the healthy rehydration train.
  2. Hit the weights at least twice a week: Over the past 6 months, I’ve been the gym at most once a week and can definitely feel myself more tired and stressed out.   I used to go to the gym 3+ days a week to lift weights, but since work and my personal life have gotten much busier in the last year, it’s been harder and harder to find the time.  To make matters worse, the shuttle bus I used to take to work, really took a chunk out of my day and reduced my flexibility with when I could go to the gym even if I wanted to.  With a renewed commitment for fitness and my return to driving my car at least 3 times a week, I’m confident I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things again.
  3. Stick to my financial budget 9 out of 12 months: I’ve never been great at creating a personal budget, mostly because of the time investment required to stick to one.  However, I came across the 60% solution earlier this year, which not only aligns with my personal view of budgeting, but also requires far less time than other traditional budgeting solution.  I’m still looking for a great financial tracking solution, and have wafted between Microsoft Money and Mint.com for the past few months.  I love that Money has the 60% solution budget system built in, but despise the fact that it is rich client app with no cloud service for access to my info from different PCs.  I love Mint, but hate the fact that they don’t allow customized root-level categories which is required for the 60% budgeting solution.
  4. Start and finish the Strobist and OneLight DVDs: I’ve had these sitting on my shelf for over 2 months and haven’t even cracked either of them yet.  I have no excuse other than just prioritizing other activities over it, so I’ll be going over and finishing the material over the next few months.
  5. File my 2008 taxes by the end of February: I am the worst procrastinator when it comes to filing my taxes and it was particularly bad last year with my mailing my 2007 return on the last possible day.  I vow to be less rushed this year and file them before the end of February.
  6. Complete the 365 days project: My first go-round with 52 weeks was an utter disaster with me dropping out after only 3 weeks.  I blamed the lack of regularity in my failure, so I took on the 365 days project recently after purchasing my new Nikon D700.  For those that aren’t familiar with this project, it is a photo project where you take a photo of yourself every day for a full year (hence the name “365 days”).  I have a remarkable set of friends that are super supportive of my participation in this project, many of which are doing it themselves.  I’ve had some great photos come out of this project already, and just finished Day 46 on my final day in St. Thomas.  Here’s to finishing up 319 more days!
  7. Spend more time with friends: I know this goal is ambiguous and definitely not easily measured, but I’m going to set it anyways.  This past year has been terrible for my time spent with friends, and it is particularly bad when I look at the possibility of my best friend moving away from Seattle.  I’ll be focusing on doing a better job prioritizing time with friends over other work and other solitary activities (except if they are related to #1-6 above :))

So there you have it, my goals for 2009.  Any ‘09 goals you want to share?

Seattle Snowmageddon ‘08

I am officially trapped in Seattle.

After hitting a record low temperature, Seattle got dumped on with a crazy amount of snow for the past 3 days.  Normally, I would welcome a huge snowfall like this, but the weather has been nothing but a curse for my holiday travel plans.

I scheduled an 7:40am Amtrak train ride back home on Sunday, but that was canceled due to snow.  I didn’t find out until 5am that the train was canceled, and the next day’s trains were already booked solid.  I then managed to snag a reservation for the last seat for Tuesday morning’s train.

As Monday progressed, the travel situation got worse.  Monday’s trains and buses were all canceled, as well as many flights out of Seatac due to problems with their de-icing trucks.  I got a call from my sister’s boyfriend who had his flight canceled out of Seattle and he ended up crashing with me last night.

We both have reservations for tomorrow’s train, and the day after just in case Tuesday’s train is also canceled.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can make it home in time for Christmas day.

The only highlight out of all this mess was last night’s sledding down Queen Anne Hill.  Here are some images and videos I took with my new Samsung NV24HD point-and-shoot digital camera, which takes 720p videos.

Photos:

Don't be a wuss!Street fires in Queen Anne

You can watch the video embedded below, or click-through each one to go to YouTube to watch them in HD (no idea why YouTube doesn’t allow embedding of HD video yet).

Contemplating whether sledding down is a good idea:

It’s a great idea

Watch a guy ride a scooter down the hill beside a sledder:

Jason fails at sledding down the hill:

Europe in a whirlwind

I’m currently in Europe for the shortest international trip I’ve ever taken. I’m cruising through 4 countries in 6 days meeting with the Microsoft subsidiary in each country.  Dealing with the time zone changes while diving straightaway into work was tougher than I anticipated, and to make matters worse, I’m pulling double duty working remotely with my team in Redmond in the late evenings.

My sleep patterns are totally erratic with me being able to sleep some nights a full 8 hours, and other nights I’m waking up at 3am and unable to fall back asleep.

Even more disappointing, I haven’t been able to take more than a dozen photos while I’ve been here.  The weather was gorgeous in Madrid, which I saw through the office windows.  Arrived in Paris yesterday morning and the weather was complete crap with non-stop rain. Ugh.

I have a few blog posts currently in progress related to technology but are all on hold until I get back.  I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow on a 6am flight and return to Seattle on Friday.

10 things

10 things randomly from my life right now:

  1. I’m am totally over worked right now.  With working on the end game of an important product at Microsoft and with a few side projects also going on, I am regularly doing 11-12 hour days.
  2. I’m excited to go home to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this coming weekend, coupled with a recruiting trip for my college and my grandma’s birthday.  I was back home about 5 weeks ago to celebrate my sister’s birthday, but it feels far longer than that.
  3. My photography is suffering right now.  Since it’s not my main source of income, it’s the first thing to go when I’ve had to make tradeoffs.  See #1.
  4. On the flip side, I’ve had 3 killer ideas for themes for next photoshoots come to me in the past month.  If I can find the time to do them, they will be really fun to shoot, and produce some wild photos.  But until I can find time, they are just wishful thinking.
  5. Some people very close to me are having a tough time with a personal matters, and it pains me to see them going through such a hard time :(
  6. I’m 99.99% sure I’m changing from Canon to Nikon.  After shooting for years with Canon, it’s going to be a huge adjustment process, but the price-to-performance ratio is vastly in favor of Nikon and the new Canon 5D Mark II didn’t introduce enough new features to make it compelling enough.
  7. My shoulder is feeling much better, but I still have lingering pain after straining my rotator cuff 4 weeks ago during a game of golf.
  8. My ugly dolls are very photogenic.
  9. I restarted the Hundred Pushup Challenge after being forced to abandon it (see #7).  I’m starting Week 3, Day 1 today.
  10. For the first time in a long, long time, I can honestly say I’m incredibly happy with everything in my personal life.  I don’t think anything is ever “perfect” in life, but this is closer than I ever dreamed it would be.

What are your 10 things?

Coupage Restaurant – Worst customer service experience ever

I alluded to it previously blogging about my 30th birthday, but recent events brought this to the forefront of my mind again.  I was so upset about the events that transpired on my birthday that I decided to write a review on Yelp:

I had dinner at Coupage last Saturday for my 30th birthday and was looking forward to finally eating here given all the great things I’ve heard and read about the place.  I had a reservation for 14 people.

The food was quite good and everyone enjoyed it. The restaurant was a bit on the small side and the tables were a bit close together for my liking.  I think the proximity of tables is great if you have a party of 4 or less, since the conversation will naturally be quieter. However with a party as large as ours, or actually any party greater than 8, it might get uncomfortable given how close the other tables might be.  I couldn’t help but feel that everyone in the restaurant could hear every word of every conversation.

Following the meal, we asked for the bill from our server which included an 18% gratuity.. He was an absolute dream all night and very courteous.  However, when it came to the bill, we were told they could not take more than 2 credit cards.  Given our party size, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone except 2 people to have that much cash in hand, or us to piggyback tabs on top of only 2 credit cards.  We kindly asked our server to take more cards at which point he went to talk to the owner. He then got "permission" to take up to 6 cards, which was still very hard for us to do.  We tried to be as flexible as possible, and got it down to 7 cards which in itself is an amazing feat for 14 people to do considering there was only 1 couple at the table that could join tabs.

We asked them to take the 7th card, and were given a complete hassle.  One of the members of our party asked to speak to the manager, and kindly talked to him about how we were disappointed they wouldn’t take the 7th credit card given the party size, the bill total and the obligatory 18% gratuity that was tacked onto the bill.  The owner first tried to explain that the credit card fees are too expensive for him, and when challenged on that point, the conversation degenerated to what was effectively name calling where the owner declared that he "runs the 3 top restaurants in Seattle and we should be thankful for our experience".

I always write very balanced reviews and would normally be understanding when I have a negative experience. However, in this case, I’m not at all writing about the credit card limit or their inability to take more than 2 (or 6) credit cards.  Instead, I’m reviewing the owner’s extremely poor attitude towards his customers.  The specific conversation we had indicates something more fundamentally wrong with his customer service and his perceived right to verbally abuse his customers.

Not only did this ruin our evening, but it will ensure that we will never eat at Coupage ever again nor any of his other restaurants.

After posting this review on Yelp on June 30th, I’ve received 6 messages from other Yelpers in the Seattle area (3 of which are in the Yelp Elite group) praising me for the review and iterating how bad their past experiences have been at the restaurant.

What makes me re-write this in my blog you ask?  Well today I got a message from another Yelper named “Joseph S” (who just joined Yelp this week) who is brand spanking new and berades me with this gem of a message.  I’m quoting his message word for word so forgive the poor grammar and spelling mistakes:

give me a break dude when a paryty of 14 has dinner in a restaurant it is completley rude and disrespectful to assume you can split a bill 14 ways which is what your party attempted to do!    Try going to any fine dinning restaurant anywhere in the world and ask to split a bill 14 ways or even 6!  The manager, matre d, server, kitchen staff as well as other diners will be laughing at you.  It is unfortunate that the complete lack of respect your party has for the restaurant industry fueled an umpleasent experience on your birthday……You should repremand your friends not our establisment or better yet try going to Canlis or Crush with a group of 14 people and ask to split a bill any other way than one or two cards and see what kind of response you get.

It should have been crystal clear to anyone that read my review in entirety that I didn’t write the negative review based on their inability to take more credit cards than we wanted them to.  I was writing about the verbal abuse and poor customer service.  Seems that the newly joined Joseph S didn’t read it, but also seems to imply he works at the restaurant.

What’s ironic is that not only have I been to both Crush and Canlis, but have had some of the best dining experiences there.  They not only took more than 6 credit cards on several occasions with large parties I’ve been with, but their attention to customer service (and satisfaction) is something that the owner of Coupage should learn from.

If this other Yelper really does work at Coupage, it really chaffs my butt to receive a message like this from someone that represents their restaurant. If he does, it definitely is helping to continue their tradition of poor customer service. 

I’ve asked the mysterious Joseph S whether he does indeed work at Coupage, so we’ll see where this goes from here.  In the meantime, I encourage any of you that are Yelp users to mark my review as “useful” :)