- RT @grayj_: Few things make a programmer as happy as finally getting a different error message. 10:41:12, 2015-07-22
- From 3 co-founders to hiring 14 full time developers, in 2 years. Congratulations! https://t.co/WOVonqH65x 11:00:41, 2015-07-22
- @speno Nope, just saying nice things about my former employer in reply to speno 11:09:02, 2015-07-22
- Awesome – looks like I'll be making a trip back to Philly in December! https://t.co/12y0k2TbPL 12:00:46, 2015-07-23
- I'm sorry but that's just wrong http://t.co/g2tYcJKhMQ 14:11:39, 2015-07-25
- .@zamoose You inspired me look closer – "This is why the McDonald’s lobster roll is offensive to real New Englanders” http://t.co/rTJlFFDo80 in reply to zamoose 20:57:46, 2015-07-25
- Wow, @WordCampBoston got all the talk videos up fast! Here’s the playlist, starting with my Agile Contracting talk https://t.co/oMytV4b5uv 13:43:27, 2015-07-27
- RT @mikkotor: That code in the picture… just looking at it hurts 😀 #programmersproblem https://t.co/AhDc5SUp5n 16:28:32, 2015-07-28
- RT @TheAllBox: @mtoppa @bostonrb Great talk! I've made egregious violations of the Law of Demeter before that I'm now eager to try and fix … 08:50:06, 2015-07-15
- @TheAllBox @bostonrb Thanks! in reply to TheAllBox 09:19:47, 2015-07-15
- A moving obituary for Nicholas Winton, who quietly saved 669 children from Czechoslovakia when the Nazis invaded http://t.co/7XMvZfDW5N 20:48:56, 2015-07-16
- New blog post – First-world problems: Lurching towards home. The unwelcome drama of moving into our house
http://t.co/Jum1XnQbSU 11:28:35, 2015-07-17
- RT @pokayokedesign: We're a sponsor for WordCamp Boston & we can't wait! https://t.co/rjKIteQ9au Come see our CTO @mtoppa present https://t… 13:48:24, 2015-07-17
- Come to my @WordCampBoston Agile Contracting talk at 11! Why? Because I have slides like this #wcBoston #wcbos http://t.co/FtFgV6GWF8 08:52:41, 2015-07-18
- RT @dimensionmedia: Armchair WordCampers: Plethora of WP knowledge in @wordcampboston w/ @bobbiec @williampd @mtoppa @scottwyden @professor… 09:55:28, 2015-07-18
- RT @dariamark: Loving the agile contracting idea presented by @mtoppa at#wcbos. Turns out I've been doing this all along without knowing it… 12:02:37, 2015-07-18
- RT @andygagnon: Good talk by @mtoppa making the argument for agile development with time & materials contracts @wordcampboston #wcbos 12:02:40, 2015-07-18
- RT @AmandaGilesNH: Great takeaway from @mtoppa's session on Agile contracts at @WordCampBoston #wcbos http://t.co/UG3VywnnP7 12:03:09, 2015-07-18
- RT @PatC508: Agile consulting @mtoppa agile focuses on agreement about collaboration rather than deliverables and deadlines constant feedba… 12:03:23, 2015-07-18
- RT @WPSuperService: Eager to explore the Agile Contracts Primer and revolutionize the way we run our projects. Thanks, @mtoppa! @WordCampBo… 12:03:34, 2015-07-18
- Thanks #wcboston! My Agile Contracting talk was fun, and great questions. Slides are here: http://t.co/lYi7AyhWnx @WordCampBoston #wcbos 12:44:31, 2015-07-18
- Good advice on how to process negative feedback https://t.co/rcqnclw3iH 13:32:09, 2015-07-18
- I really appreciate the warm welcome I received from the Boston Ruby Group @bostonrb and at @WordCampBoston https://t.co/lIk9UagCDE 09:43:42, 2015-07-21
I mentioned a couple months ago that Michael Gyura and I were starting our own consulting business, Poka Yoke Design. We’ve had a good start, and we’ve already launched our first project: the Greenway Health ROI calculator, through our client Hobson & Co.
Our house is still overflowing with half-unpacked boxes. Despite all the craziness of moving (or perhaps because of it…), I was a speaker at WordCamp Boston this past weekend, and also gave a lightning talk at the BostonRB Ruby meetup last week. I wrote all about it on the Poka Yoke Design blog. I’ll be doing my technical posts and work related blogging there from now on, but I’ll always link to new posts from here.
This is the 3rd time we’ve bought a house and gone through the delightful process of getting a mortgage, and it was by far the most stressful and unpredictable. We had some nights of lost sleep and a couple genuine nail-biters along the way, when it looked like things might go very wrong.
- “For the last 10 years, please provide a hand-written, detailed explanation of your relationship to every dollar you’ve ever encountered.” That wasn’t quite what we had to do in applying for the mortgage, but it was close. We provided probably over 100 separate pieces of financial documentation, including several that had to be hand-written. Apparently this is because people often sign things without paying attention to what they’re signing, so the banks have decided that a 19th century approach is the best solution to this problem, by making you hand-write it yourself. My hand actually cramped up! Sad to say, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve written more than a few sentences by hand. Also, at one point I got caught in an argument between the bank and our accountant. The bank was insisting we provide a profit & loss statement for Maria’s fellowship last year. Our accountant argued (correctly) this was absurd, and refused to do it. He surmised all they were really trying to do was spread their liability to him if something went wrong. The bank would not relent however, so I had to figure out how to write a profit & loss statement myself. I could fill up several pages with stuff like this, but this should give you an idea of what the process is like, and it went on for about 2 months. I can only assume these extreme and seemingly arbitrary documentation requirements are all a consequence of the 2008 financial crisis, as we never experienced anything like this before.
- The loan process was taking so long, we had to change the closing date. This caused a big problem with our movers – they said if we couldn’t keep our early July delivery date, they would have to push back our delivery about a month, since they were swamped for all of July. We’ve been living out of suitcases, and the movers have our beds, so this was not an attractive option. After sharing this with our mortgage broker, he felt confident he could have everything ready in time to close before the movers came, so we gambled on keeping our scheduled moving date. He succeeded, and he told me he had been coordinating all this with the agents and attorneys, but it turns out he actually hadn’t. They had no idea he was pushing the loan through ahead of the new closing date, so we weren’t able to close before the movers came. This led to a frantic negotiation with the sellers to move our stuff into the house early (just our furniture and boxes – not us actually moving in). At first they said no, but after we agreed to getting an insurance policy, they said yes (some very expensive insurance, which I think went directly into the seller’s pocket, as I was instructed to make the check out to the seller’s name with the word “Insurance” added to the end). This all happened at the last minute, so I was also checking out storage options (and not looking forward to the prospect of moving all our stuff again a few days later). The movers were on the road during all this, and were quite understandably calling me every hour to find out where they were going!
- We thought that would be the end of the drama, but at 4:50pm on the day before the closing, we got an email from the closing attorney (Massachusetts requires attorneys for closings, not just your real estate agent). It included a change to the final amount, and instructions that they would only accept wire transfers. The closing was at 1:30 the next day, which normally is not enough time to arrange a wire transfer (our bank requires 24 hours notice, and I didn’t see the email until after the end of the business day). Luckily we have a good relationship with someone at our bank, and, just as importantly, her direct number. Even though it wasn’t her department, she was able to take care of everything for us in the morning.
Things mostly went well with the movers. We had some damaged items, but nothing tragic, except, of course, the only truly valuable piece of furniture we own: the leg of Maria’s antique desk was completely broken off. Aside from that, we’ve been buried under boxes since the closing earlier this week, and we’re slowly digging our way out. This house is smaller than our last one, and we have decided we have way too much stuff – it’s time for a purge! The boys are happy to be here. Eidan has made friends with the boy who lives across the street from us. We’re pleasantly surprised that Kai’s enjoying being a counselor-in-training at a sports camp, which Eidan is also attending. The only downside is driving them there and back in Boston’s absolutely brutal traffic. Maria’s enjoying her new job so far, and I’ve already given a talk at the Boston Ruby user’s group, and I’m a speaker at WordCamp Boston this weekend.
- RT @keyajay: Leaked email convo between Jeb Bush and his graphic designer http://t.co/XJCyqn302t 06:20:16, 2015-07-09
- RT @ChariotSolution: #PhillyETE 2015 Screencast – @mtoppa – #Agile Contracts for #Software Consultants http://t.co/3pVVtlfaVp 09:07:59, 2015-07-09
- So, I'm going to a big family gathering today http://t.co/xWbH3iDMVP 10:46:57, 2015-07-12
- Home sweet home http://t.co/8uCJxKc73s 12:25:24, 2015-07-13
- At my first @BostonRB! Meetup! I'll be giving a lightning talk on the Law of Demeter http://t.co/9oDshEXg8x 18:05:11, 2015-07-14
- RT @bostonrb: @mtoppa on Law of Demeter http://t.co/lyS7RrgWEK 18:58:17, 2015-07-14
- RT @jboursiquot: Having a blast with the @bostonrb lightning talks tonight. The variety is awesome! 19:40:56, 2015-07-14
- My @BostonRB lightning talk was fun! Slides are here http://t.co/zknMdNr7vD 19:54:32, 2015-07-14
- RT @WordCampPhilly: The US started here — WCUS should, too! #WCUSinPHL https://t.co/6DgOVy2uxL 20:00:30, 2015-07-01
- I’m looking forward to speaking at WordCamp Boston, and becoming part of the Boston WordPress community! https://t.co/3cnnTFEsHL 09:00:56, 2015-07-02
- RT @GlennyRodge: "Hi, this is room 213. I'd like a wake up call"
"Certainly, sir. You're in your 40s and have achieved nothing in life"
"… 07:39:51, 2015-07-04
- RT @RonJeffries: More on estimation: Keep seeking better ways.
- New blog post: 4th of July in Newport, with cannon firings, Jaws, and Fireworks! http://t.co/YVZXVBvtSS 10:33:21, 2015-07-05
- RT @avinash: Autopsy: Why @microsoft's ad business withered: http://t.co/dE0sgUPWhR http://t.co/jybGm0IIln 18:12:20, 2015-07-05
- RT @WordCampBoston: We have a packed schedule this July 18 & 19 https://t.co/Xc89gVxFxq #wcbos Only $40 per ticket! 06:26:35, 2015-07-07
- RT @matschaffer: Love this http://t.co/6vfCBcEonX 06:35:00, 2015-07-07
- Great post on what it means to be a senior developer. Maybe I’m slow, but I’d say it took me 12 years to get there https://t.co/kyYNWoU5fe 07:02:43, 2015-07-07
The boys and I are taking a break from living in our student apartment in Boston this week, to spend some time with my family in Newport. We had a good 4th yesterday. We started in the morning at a reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Old Colony House in Newport. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard it spoken. It’s quite a diatribe against the King. If we had cable news and social media back then, I doubt the revolution would have happened: their voices would have been drowned in the political noise machine of modern media.
The reading was followed by cannons fired by the Newport Artillery Company (“the oldest military unit in the United States operating under its original charter”) on Washington Square. I’m happy to report there were no actual cannonballs involved. Right after that was a free screening of Jaws at the Jane Pickens Theater, which the boys had never seen before. They said they will not be going in the water at the beach today.
Dinner was at the Tavern on Broadway, with my sister E’loise. It’s a nice spot, and isn’t related to the old Colonial Tavern that used to be there and was pretty seedy. Then we watched the fireworks from the far end of the harbor, so we wouldn’t have to contend with all the traffic afterwards. There was a little kid next to us, maybe 7 or 8 years old, that struck up a conversation with Kai and gave him a glow stick. He wouldn’t stop talking about dinosaurs.
- Our move to Boston! New blog post: From Havertown, to Boston, to Winchester http://t.co/pDUMnMxzll 09:23:02, 2015-06-24
- @mholowiecki Shashin does store Picasa album descriptions, but currently does not display them in reply to mholowiecki 07:36:00, 2015-06-27
- At my first @bostonwp meetup! Great view of Boston from the NERD Center http://t.co/Vll8Wz1MJP 19:12:06, 2015-06-29
- @mholowiecki It used to be an option but I removed it. Shashin’s usage was becoming too complex with too many options. in reply to mholowiecki 05:39:55, 2015-06-30
- @mholowiecki If you submit an issue at https://t.co/VvJGLq8ZuC I can point out the relevant code if you want to dive in in reply to mholowiecki 05:41:41, 2015-06-30
- @bostonwp Now that’s a great shot of the back of my head 😉 in reply to bostonwp 05:43:24, 2015-06-30
- RT @martinfowler: We should not be using the techniques of addiction to hook users onto our tech products
http://t.co/MhzoKu31pS @thisruns… 09:03:25, 2015-06-17
- Great turnout for #libertyJS at @ImpactHubPhilly – I’m headed to the Ember session! http://t.co/Mx14xVzYjW 09:21:58, 2015-06-20
- Best slide of the day at #LibertyJS in @kacphl’s talk – the reality of writing apps for multiple devices http://t.co/nUAvcAgnSm 15:41:02, 2015-06-20
- RT @bgantick: Big thanks to the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and speakers at #LibertyJS It gets better every year! 19:37:24, 2015-06-20
- RT @msdevUK: Honest dev exam (via @imgur) #programmerhumor http://t.co/kLe5TvNrv8 13:01:25, 2015-06-21
- @bozoskeleton Nice work! in reply to bozoskeleton 13:02:02, 2015-06-21
- Today is the day! We’re looking forward to Boston, but we will miss you, Philly! http://t.co/ajkqvy9ecP 10:14:41, 2015-06-22
- Last meal in Philly – going out in style at @TheYanako in Manayunk http://t.co/QC0WzGnplY 22:17:30, 2015-06-22
- @TheYanako We did – thanks. Some of the best sushi in Philly! in reply to TheYanako 18:27:33, 2015-06-23
After several weeks of multiple sessions sorting through 12 years of accumulated stuff, giving away old doors, filing cabinets, and a ton of other junk, selling a steam cleaner, a skate ramp, and about a dozen other things, packing about 150 boxes worth of things, eatings too many meals consisting of hamburgers or pizza, moving a bird’s nest out of my ladders, handling complications with the movers, throwing a farewell BBQ for ourselves, and taking a long drive in a car jam packed with stuff, I think the most intense phase of our move is over.
Movers came on Monday to our house in Havertown and hauled away all our belongings, except for the car full of stuff we’ll use to live for the next couple weeks. It took them most of the day, and right up until they took the last box, I kept finding things to pack. Some things you get so used to seeing, you forget they’re not part of the house (like the nice brass hooks we put on the back of Eidan’s door); others are revealed as furniture is moved (Eidan’s seemingly endless collections of rubber balls and nerf bullets, and Kai’s …yamaka?). When I did my final walk through to make sure the movers didn’t forget anything, all I found was a lone but very hard to overlook Commodore 64 monitor sitting in the middle of the basement floor. Can’t leave that behind! (yes, I still have my C64, and it still works, thank you – it’s one of the few things I haven’t shed over the years).
We borrowed air mattresses from the neighbors so we could stay the night. Then we loaded up the car yesterday morning, gave a neighbor an unopened half gallon of milk from the fridge, and said our goodbyes. But we split up and headed in opposite directions – Maria went to DC for the day to a symposium (related to her new job). So the drive to Boston was just me and the boys, which worked out fine, because there was no room in the car for Maria anyway!
We’re staying in a Suffolk University student apartment for the next couple of weeks. The location is fantastic – we’re a block from Boston Common, just off Tremont St. We got in late yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to explore yet, but we’re surrounded by restaurants and plenty of things to do. The apartment is a suite with 2 bathrooms, 3 dorm rooms (with 3 beds each) and a shared kitchen. We have it all to ourselves, so there’s more than enough room. I told Kai he might live in a place like this in college – he wasn’t impressed, but it’s nicer than the dorms I lived in.
After 2 weeks here, we’ll move to our new house, in Winchester, which is a suburb northwest of Boston. Our closing is July 7. We spent several weeks this Spring scouring the real estate listings online, to figure out where we wanted to live. Winchester has good schools, and they’re near the house – Kai can almost literally roll out of bed into the high school parking lot. Maria can get to Suffolk with just a short ride on the commuter rail. It’s a 3 bedroom house with a partially finished basement.
Maria made a trip to Boston about six weeks ago for work, and made an offer on the house, which the sellers accepted. I made a trip on Amtrak a couple weeks later to see it for myself. Overall the process is going fine, but we’ve had some nerve-wracking moments. The brand new vinyl siding on the house was installed incorrectly (it was bubbling and buckling), and after some negotiation, the sellers have agreed to replace it. The paperwork process for the loan is endless. The level of scrutiny is unlike anything we’ve been through before, I think because of all the new financial regulations – we’ve provided literally hundreds of documents. I talk with the mortgage broker so I often, I feel like he’s my new best friend.
It’s a house that’s “flipped” – the sellers bought it 6 months ago and renovated it, so I’m pleased to report that, unlike our last 2 homes, I won’t be dedicating a significant chunk of my life to fixing up this one. I enjoy the work, but my big project right now is trying to start my business!