Personal Update – April 6, 2020
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John
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I am healthy and I still have a job

Water damage trauma

  • I am terrified about future water damage in the house. I learned that water leak such as this is common. You are likely to have water damage in your house before your house gets robbed.
  • For immediate peace of mind, I installed a water-detecting alarm system with 10 sensors.
  • I plan to re-route water pipes. That means I will install entirely new water pipes running over the ceiling. That will cost $5K or more.
  • I now turn off the main water valve every night, or every time I’m away from home.
  • I will install a remote switch for the main water valve. So, I can turn on and off the water with a smartphone.
  • I shall replace my water heater that’s getting old.
  • With that, I hope I don’t go through this traumatizing event ever again.
  • Coronavirus pandemic is multiplying the level of anxiety and stress.

Recovery and repair

  • Phase 1 was emergency recovery work – to stop water leaks and dry the interior of the house.
  • Phase 2 was repair – replace damaged carpet with new flooring.
  • It took 4 days to dry my house. Those 4 days were miserable with noise and heat. I slept over at my friend’s house for 4 nights.
  • They found asbestos in the bathroom and the laundry room. My insurance company sent people for quick clean-up. For that, we had to wait 8 days.

Insurance Process

  • My insurance company sent an adjuster to my house and gave me the Dollar figure on how much it would take to repair my house. I told them I would use my people for repair, so they would write me a check. Now, it is up to me to use that money wisely.
  • I claimed 7 items for property damage with detailed pictures. And received $1.200.00

Rainy Day Fund

  • I have a rainy day fund. It takes one full day to move money to my checking account. This emergency fund is allowing me to keep calm and take care of everything that’s going on.
  • First few days, I wrote a few checks in the amount of over $12,000.00. Then the insurance check arrived afterward. I could have used my credit card. I could have asked my guys to hold my checks for a few days. But, it was easier to write checks and say “The check is good”. My mind was at ease.
  • Things are moving smoothly because I could pay my people quickly.
  • We are living in a scary time. Many people lost a job at my work. If I didn’t have a rainy day fund, I would have a mountain of stress and worries. I live alone, so money is my strength. I am glad I saved during my good time.
  • From this point, I will save for not just one, but two disasters taking place at the same time. For example, I can lose my job and need a new roof at the same time.

Please take care. God bless everyone.

My closet room
I Stand Corrected – Toilet Paper
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John
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(I am healthy and I still have a job)

At first, I listened to the initial news and media reaction about toilet paper. A few weeks have passed since then. Now I see more in-depth reports.

There are two kinds of toilet papers, ones we use at home and ones we use in public locations such as work. Since people are staying home, there is much more demand for residential toilet paper.

This report (below link) makes sense. I stand corrected about toilet paper.

Hoarding not the only reason for toilet paper shortage

###

Bad News
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John
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First of all, I am physically and financially OK.

Here’s the bad news. The main water line inside my house broke Saturday evening. I suffered significant water damage in 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, laundry room, and the hallway. My house is carpeted. Although it was Saturday evening, both plumber and water damage people came to my house within an hour. I called my insurance company (Wawanesa). I hope insurance will come through for me.

I am tired and emotionally drained. I hope the shock will wear out so I can deal with the situation rationally. I thought coronavirus was too much to deal with. This is heavy.

I am sure I will laugh about this 1 year from now. In fact, I will write a blog 1 year from now to talk about the outcome. But, for now, this is difficult.

Anyway, please take care and be extra careful. I will handle my situation and get better. All I’m asking from you is to think about me. I must go.. I have a lot of things to do. Insurance adjuster is on his way.

God bless everyone.

Closet room full of water – some dry spots (but there is water underneath).

Talk about coffee mug warmer
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John
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“I heard you bring a coffee mug warmer to meetings,” a female colleague of mine said with a goofy smile.

But how? How does she know about my coffee mug warmer? and why is that even a topic? How did that topic come about? Is there a group of people at work making fun of me all the time?

My team likes to make fun of people. As a king of nick-names, I came up with classic nick-names such as Mr. Failure, Shirley Temple, dirty hands, penguin, Allergic to Money,… Karma was finally catching up on me, I thought.

I go to daily stand-up (meeting) every morning to report my work progress and to hear from other departments on their progress and forecasts. There are over ten people in the meeting. Some of us bring coffee, tea, and water. I bring coffee, but I also bring a coffee mug warmer. It’s a beautiful vintage cast iron coffee mug warmer, that I paid one Dollar at a garage sale. The meeting is 30 minutes long. To me, it only makes sense to keep my coffee hot. It would be stupid not to bring a coffee mug warmer to a meeting. You are with me on this, yes?… yes??…

Well, I will not drink lukewarm coffee like a savage.

Conference room – meeting in session.

Anyway, nobody said anything about my coffee mug warmer at the meeting. They didn’t seem to care. Then a female colleague who doesn’t belong to the daily stand-up, pointed out that I bring a coffee mug warmer to meetings. How crazy is that?

“Who told you?” I freaked out.
“R told me right after he came back from the meeting,” she explained.
“Was he making fun of me?” I asked.
“No, he thought it was cool,” she replied.
“Mm… OK,” I rolled my eyes.

I don’t care what people say about me. I am my own person. I know I am a little different and it entertains people around me. I enjoy being that person. It’s just… I thought it was fascinating to be reminded that people watch me and they talk about me. Also, there is no topic too small. After seeing my coffee mug warmer, R couldn’t wait to tell his office mate. My coffee mug warmer made an impression on him. Who knew?

I don’t know why, but a few days later, I still think about that boring episode. So much so that I had to write about it. Hence, here’s another boring story. Hahaha.

Have a nice day. Keep in touch.

Upgrade your Windows 7 – Free
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John
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If you didn’t know – Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7. So, Windows 7 is finished and not safe.

If you still use Windows 7, Microsoft is currently providing a free upgrade to Windows 10. Visit this link at Microsoft and follow the instruction. If you need further information, search articles online.

I just upgraded my computer last night, the entire process went smoothly. I made complete hard drive backup before AND after the upgrade as a routine procedure.

The free upgrade is going on right now. I don’t know when they will stop providing free upgrades. I have one more computer to upgrade.

These don’t count
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John
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One of my new year’s resolutions is NOT to buy more than 3 pairs of Italian shoes. Today I received 2 pairs of Italian shoes in the mail – one pair of Oxford with full brogue and the other pair of suede sneakers. (FYI: The tag says Lactae Hevea. It’s a French company that makes natural rubber soles.)

But I ordered these shoes in December 2019. So, these shoes don’t count on my new Year resolution. I still have 3 pairs of Italian shoes to buy this year.

Anyway, why don’t Americans make shoes like these? I have two pairs of Allen Edmonds, but…mm~~ They don’t sing my name.

Happy New Year – 2020
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John
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Happy New Year. I have a big Costco shopping coming up tomorrow after work. I am excited about my first Costco shopping in 2020. Roaring 20s is here. I am more excited about the ’20s compared to Y2K we had 20 years ago. It’s good to be alive and healthy.

I may cancel my executive membership this year. I think I spend less money at Costco now. I am running out of things to buy. Shopping doesn’t excite me as much as it did 10 years ago.

I still feel awkward talking about my improved financial situation. That’s why I didn’t blog about my car shopping trip to San Francisco. It’s awkward to talk about things that used to make me feel jealous in envy (sometimes painful). Anyway… now I have two cars; a Prius for commute, and a convertible for weekend pleasure. Driving my convertible has been indescribably satisfying. I shall continue enjoying weekend driving this year.

For next Christmas (2020), I would like to learn how to play at least one classical Christmas tune with my guitar.

I would like to get a California real estate agent license this year. I don’t plan to work in real estate, but… we’ll see…

I would like to travel some more. I would like to visit different cities and experience normal everyday life. I like American cities, but I have no problem flying anywhere in the world.

I wish to lose 1 inch around my waist and hips. I have about 80 pairs of pants in 30 Inch waist. I would like to fit in them comfortably.

Oh, and I will try not to buy over 3 pairs of Italian shoes this year.

Happy new year. Take care.

Test Your Kitchen Thermometers
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John
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My Thanksgiving Turkey was a disaster due to my faulty kitchen thermometers. I had three digital meat thermometers and all three of them were trash. I tested those thermometers on both ice water and boiling water. All three of them failed miserably.

It was my fault for not testing the thermometers. Now that I look back, I was naive to trust cheap kitchen thermometers without testing them on my own.

Thermometers that I threw out, two Mavericks and one Taylor
I’m not sure if I will ever buy another Taylor or Maverick.

I trashed all my thermometers and bought 3 new ones. I also bought 2 extra probes. They all passed my test. Moving forward, I will use two thermometers with probes at the same time to double-check my progress. When I’m done with cooking, I will use the third thermometer to confirm my work.

And I shall test my thermometers every year, at least 1 month before Thanksgiving Day, rather than 1 day before Thanksgiving, so I will have time to buy a new thermometer if I have to.

To test the kitchen thermometers, I shall…

  • Take the temperature of ice water – Temperature should read almost 32 F (0 C).
  • Take the temperature of boiling water. – It should read 212 F (100 C), or very close to it.

To redeem myself from the Thanksgiving turkey disaster, I baked a Christmas turkey with my new thermometers. Finally, my turkey came out super-fantastic.

New thermometers – all tested.
Turkey Disaster
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John
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I cannot believe what happened to my turkey this year. Maybe Costco God was punishing me for not buying a turkey from Costco.

This year, I bought an 18-pound Butterball Turkey from a local supermarket. I gladly paid $43, instead of $18 I would have paid at Costco. I wanted this turkey to be super fantastic.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day. The turkey was in the oven, and everything was going OK. I was watching the temperature going up slowly on my digital thermometer. And then the temperature appeared to be stuck. My turkey was getting darker and darker, but the thermometer still read 153 degrees. So, I took out my backup thermometer and a backup probe. To my shock, I found out that my turkey was over-cooked by 40 degrees. (205 degrees instead of 165).

Turkey was all I was thinking about for the last 2 weeks. I was very disappointed. I wanted to cry. Dinner was still OK, but it was not super fantastic. I kept thinking ‘next year’, but I don’t know if I can wait that long. I may have to bake a turkey for Christmas. I don’t know. I try not to think about it too much, but this bothers me.

I need to troubleshoot my thermometers and probes and make sure this will not happen again. Also, from this point, I will always use 2 thermometers when I cook ANYTHING. And I shall keep a backup thermometer and backup probes. It will be like when I used to be a wedding photographer. I have photographed hundreds of weddings. I carried 2 cameras at all times and had a backup camera in the car. My camera broke down only once during the ceremony. But I had another identical camera already on my body, so everything went smoothly. That’s the mentality I shall adopt when I cook with an oven. I shall prepare and focus.

I hope you had a super-fantastic turkey dinner.

80’s reference
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John
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I have a coworker who’s in my age range. I often test him with 80s trivia.

I went to his office a few days ago. This is how the conversation went.

John: Good morning. Hey… do you remember EPMD?
Coworker: Yes.
John: What was that one thing he hated?
Coworker: (looking right at me) Bitin’ MC.
John: Oh yeah~~~. Thank you. Have a nice day.

EPMD, You Gots to Chill – 1988.
Bitin’ MC at 1:50