Tag Archives: Personal

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?

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” 🙂

Trevin turns 30!

My 30th birthday weekend was kicked off formally with tandem sky dive in Snohomish, WA with Chaitanya and Todd.  It’s the 3rd consecutive year that I’ve done this for my birthday and, as always,  it was an unforgettable experience.  Chaitanya had been before near Mt. Ranier, but this was Todd’s first time. So not only did I get to do my annual “scare the crap out of myself by jumping out of a plane”, but I got to help Todd lose his sky diving virginity. 

me_skydive The ants go parachuting 2 by 2, hurrah, hurrah... II

 The ants go parachuting 2 by 2, hurrah, hurrah... The instrument of terror

Sky diving was chased with dinner at Coupage, where I had a fantastic meal with some of my closest friends.  Can anyone say ground short rib burger with seared foie gras, kimchi and truffle potato chips?  Dinner was marred by a terrible customer service experience at the restaurant, but I’ll save the venting for my Yelp review and instead think of “happy thoughts” for now.

Following Coupage, we headed over to Chez Gaudy to close the evening out with some debauchery over drinks, food and more of my friends.  Throughout the evening a ton of my friends came through and it was so great to finally be able to have all my different circles of friends mix together for the first time.  Here are some shots from the evening:

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Here’s the video slide show that was put together by Craig with help of my sister which features some horrific pictures of my childhood. Eep!

Thanks to everyone for coming out Saturday and I’m looking forward to many, many more years of memories.

What to do if your mail is stolen

Over the last two days I’ve been dealing with the issue and consequences of having my mail stolen.  What  a great way to kick off my weekend 🙁

I came home really late Friday evening and discovered that 2 days worth of mail was stolen.  It was impossible to know everything that was possibly in my mailbox, but I do know for certain that it contained at least one credit card statement, a bank statement and a credit cart statement.

I was fearful of having fraud or identity theft committed against me, so I did some quick research to find out what exactly I should do in this situation.  Here’s the info I have gathered and figured it was useful to share it with others:

  1. Call your bank and have a “watch” put on your account. All major banks and credit unions will have this capability and most will also have the added protection of adding a supplementary password added that must be given for any access to your account.
  2. Call all your credit card companies and also put a watch on your accounts.  If you’re ultra-paranoid, you can get your credit card company to issue you a brand new account # and card which you should be able to get within 3-5 business days.
  3. Contact the credit reporting agencies to put a “Fraud alert” on your credit file.  Calling each one individually is a pain in the ass, and in the process I found out that if you place a fraud alert through Transunion, they will automatically notify and process fraud alerts to Experian and Equifax also.
  4. Update (6/16/2008): As an extra precaution, I’ve also added a Credit Freeze on each credit bureau. This is a higher level of security on your credit file, and basically nothing can get pulled or approved without my specific approval.
  • Transunion: You need to submit a written request including your full name, SSN, address and credit card # and expiration (for the $10 fee).  Address is on the Transunion site.
  • Equifax: Same as Transunion except they also want you to include a copy of a recent utility bill to prove your current address.  See info on their site for mailing address.
  • Experian: Has the easiest way to request a freeze with an online application process.  Unfortunately in my case, something about my info didn’t line up with their records so I had to submit a request in writing anyways.

I also filed a police report through the non-emergency number (206-625-5011) and a separate report with the US Postal Service “Postal Inspector”.   For the latter, you have 2 choices to file a report – you can either call them on the phone at 206-442-6300, or alternatively file an incident report online at the US Postal Inspection Service website.

It was  real eye opening experience to have my mail stolen due to both the invasive nature of it, but also the uneasiness of not knowing exactly what was stolen. Eep.

The good news is that my building has security cameras that has the little f’ers on tape which the police now have.   Since mail theft is a federal crime, I hope those punks get what they deserve.

Turning 30 has its advantages

I just got my auto insurance renewl notice and my premiums are shrinking nearly $600 per year.  According to their “risk model” I’m less risky and more stable now that I’m about to turn 30 next month.  Getting old has its advantages I guess 🙂

Musical smorgasbord

I’ve been hitting the concert tip this year in a hard way and enjoying every minute of it. Here are a few of the notable shows I’ve been to this year and what’s coming up for me in music land.

Ben Gibbard (May)

I always find it weird when lead singers of band tour solo but still play songs from their bands. However, after seeing Ben Gibbard’s solo show at the Showbox, I forgave him very quickly 🙂 An utterly amazing show.

Daft Punk (August)

This may have been the best show I have ever been to. Daft Punk had the sell-out crowd swimming in musical nirvana for their entire performance. See my past post for videos.

Arcade Fire with LCD Soundsystem (September)

This was unfortunately at HEC Ed Pavilion at UW and since they limited the number of people that could be on the floor, we were forced to sit in the stands which eliminated any possibility of an intimate setting. Something weird about sitting on wooden benches for a concert.

I wasn’t that impressed with LCD Soundsystem’s performance. They were WAY too loud and chose too many of their harder hitting tracks than I liked.

Arcade Fire, on the other hand, completely rocked the house. They have such an phenomenal stage presence and a really impressive stage setup.

Band of Horses (November)

I missed them the last time they came in the summer due to an insane work schedule, and regretted ever since. When I heard they were coming again, I snatched up tickets right away. They played at the the Showbox near Pike Place Market and completely rocked the house. I’m always surprised at how good the vocals are

Evanescence (November)

Amy Lee’s voice is surreal; just as good live as it is recorded. Wonderful performances of Immortal and Bring Me to Life, but I was largely unimpressed. Volume dial was turned up to deaf proportions. Thank god for ear plugs!

Here are the concerts that are on deck for me:

  • Prefuse 73 @ Neumos on December 6th
  • DJ Shadow @ The Showbox in February ’08

Here’s my wish list of artists I need to see before I die:

  • Radiohead
  • Junior Boys
  • Mute Math (yes I saw em earlier this year, but would love to see them again)
  • Placebo
  • Quantic (I missed him at the Decibel Festival this year)
  • Explosions in the Sky (I was forced to miss this in the summer because my tickets were lost in the mail. Sigh)
  • Feist (I just missed her at the Paramount!)
  • Hot Chip (I had tickets for their show in June but they cancelled!)
  • Nadia Ali (I just missed her show at Heaven. Damn)

I’m sure there are more artists I’m missing, but with my music insanity I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to list them all.

Life update

Here’s the random update from my life:

  • Went to my first NFL game last Sunday and surprisingly I loved it. It helped that we whooped Chicago and along the way caused 5 false starts. I might actually like this whole football thing.
  • Craig left for India last Thursday for 3 months as he pursues his outsourcing business. You’d think I’d be used to my best friend always leaving town, but each time it happens there is a big void in my life. I already miss you bro.
  • Work has been a bit crazy as we figure out our release strategy and form the product plan for our new product that is shipping next year.
  • I leave for my 4 week trip in China and India in exactly 16 days and I haven’t really done any preparation for the trip. This is adding further stress at work since I have that much less time to get things in order before I leave.
  • I have to scramble to make a dessert to bring to Thanksgiving dinner at Matt and Denise’s tonight. I found a recipe I want to make but realize I don’t own an electric mixer. God almighty.
  • My sister is finally coming for a visit this weekend. I really wanted her to come for the entire long weekend, but alas, Canadians don’t celebrate turkey day on the same day as you Americans. I’m getting ready for a weekend of bonding, eating and laughing. My sister is the best.
  • I just signed up for a model and lighting photography class in early December. It was $200, but I figure it’s worth it because (a) I’ll finally get some formal instruction and (b) class is only 8 people.

That’s all, I’m off to try to beg/borrow/steal an electric mixer for this cheery cheesecake recipe. Wish me luck.