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November 09, 2011: Kitchen, part 1

My house is originally from 1918 (its pretty crazy to think about what the world was like then). It has, however, been added onto since then, in several phases. One phase extended the kitchen towards the back, and another enclosed a patio to form a new "bedroom". Unfortunately, much of this addition was made with shoddy construction and questionable layout and functionality.

I intend to fix all of it given enough time and money (no need for monkeys and typewriters). But first, the kitchen was the least usable space, so out it went. For kicks, allow me to list the problems with it:

  • The walls are a combination of lath and plaster, drywall and wood paneling. Some of it is covered by a fake brick, made of cardboard.
  • The stove is old, and needs work (It's a "nice" 50's-era Wedgewood, if you're interested). The dishwasher is old and broken.
  • The countertops are fake wood laminate, sagging in the middle (by two inches or so), and the cabinets are dirty, dark, and smelly.
  • Finally, the entire room kinda smells

The first week we tore out the cabinets and started on the walls, finding "interesting" things like a squirrel nest underneath one of the cabinets and in the walls. Awesome. But as we tear it apart, any reluctance to go and dig in disappears.

Stay tuned for the next episode on plumbing. Or some other topic.

added 9:46 PM

October 06, 2011: House Blog, entry 1

Well well well, it looks like I'm back on my website after a multi-year hiatus. In the mean time, I have, in cronological order:
  • Got myself a girlfriend [and still have her :)]
  • Graduated from Cal with a Ph.D.
  • Tried my luck in Vegas with a startup company in the solar industry. We got bought out, then fizzled out.
  • Am now working at a hybrid-electric vehicle startup called Wrightspeed, designing power electronics for their hybrid-electric trucks.
  • And finally, bought a house in San Jose

The last item will be the focus of this entry (and more to follow). It's a bit of a fixer-upper, and I think that's right up my alley. A blog seems like a good place to talk about my progress and adventures, as well as share some knowledge and "don't examples".

And don't worry, I'll end up throwing in some engineering commentary as well as hybrid truck related entries as well.

added 10:56 PM

March 15, 2009: Homemade bread

I've recently been cooking more stuff from scratch. Whether it be from watching the Food network too often or more involved Monday-night dinners (used to be Thursday nights), who knows. However, for the last few months, I've wanted to make some bread from scratch so I can eat a nice warm, moist loaf of tasty bread.

So about a month ago, I decided to take the plunge and did some Googling. I found thefreshloaf.com and looked around for an easy beginner loaf. I chose the Rustic bread, and made it. It was pretty tasty, although next time I'd choose something with more flavor. However, the bread did actually work, which is pretty good for bread. The site seems very detailed in its instructions and explaining what each step is good for. To get your yeast to 'wake up' from their dormant state, proofing is necessary before mixing all the dough up. Anyway, to find out more, just go there.

Two weeks later, I made a whole-wheat Challah bread, which was denser than I'd like, but made excellent french toast. Another important thing in breadmaking is to use a bread stone (or a clay tile from Home Depot), preheated with the oven. It makes the crust form right, and prevents the bread from sticking as much.

I'm kinda wondering if it's really worth taking the effort to make my own bread when the Cheeseboard (the cheese and bread section) is less than a block away, but it's still fun, and tasty!

added 8:59 PM

November 10, 2008: Portland Mini-Review

As my last blog entry (back in the day) indicates, I'm currently up in Oregon doing an internship for Intel. I'm working on integrated power electronics for their ultra-mobile group. Anyway, here's a number of three-sentence reviews of everything Portland:

Intel: As employee #1271086, it took a few weeks getting used to the scale and bureaucracy associated with a company of its size. However, they have many smart people and do cutting-edge research on any field near their market space. From a management perspective, environmental, social and economic responsibility plays a large roll (particularly of note these days).

Portland: It's a pretty small city with a young, active crowd. Almost renamed to beertown, there's lots of nice restaurants, breweries and bars, but unfortunately smoking in bars is allowed here. We also have the largest (an entire block) independent bookstore.

Hillsboro: A small farming town, 15 miles (30 minutes) west of Portland, taken over by Intel and other tech companies and turned into a stereotypical suburbia. Strip malls, pickups and SUVs, and obesity mark the territory. However, I do live within walking distance of the world's largest Costco.

Nature: Portland is really close to the outdoors. Within 20 minutes of the city, there is plenty of outdoor climbing. Within an hour, the Columbia River Gorge offers many beautiful hikes and awesome waterfalls. Within 3 hours are three glaciated peaks in the Cascades for climbing (Mt. Hood, Adams and St. Helens).

Burgerville: A fast-food chain, "inconveniently located for most of America," offers the standard fast-food with a local, sustainable twist. They also have items like sweet-potato fries and seasonal milkshakes (Berry, Apple-Cinnamon and Pumpkin in September, October and November, respectively), both very good. Some locations also have recycling and compost bins.

Life: After coming from a social house of 10 in Berkeley, it's quite a change out here with a single roommate. As most our colleagues at Intel are older, we haven't socialized outside work much with them. I've focused more on personal projects that have been neglected, but I do spend time hiking and/or climbing during the weekends.

That's about it for today. If you're lucky, another entry might show up here sometime before I graduate.

added 10:18 PM

April 21, 2008: Summer Fall internship

So about two weeks ago, I decided I wanted an internship. I\'ve been in Ph.D. for a long time, but I want to get a job in industry (the corporate world) after graduating, at least for a few years. So, I decided I should do an internship while I still had time to feel it out.

So two weeks ago, it was pretty late to get a summer internship. After minimal tons and tons of work, I got three offers, two for the summer and one for fall. After thinking about it (after the impulse), I decided a fall internship would be better (I like my summers:). However, I couldn\'t decide between an internship at Intel or Freescale. In the end, I liked the Intel internship better, and was able to convince them to postpone it to start in the fall. So I\'ll be at Intel research in the fall, near Portland. Should be fun.

added 12:01 AM

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