MINI Countryman

I’ve been doing a lot of looking around at cars for the past few months, and I decided to go with the new MINI Countryman. You may not have seen one on the road yet, because there aren’t many on the roads.  There also isn’t much stock of this model at the dealers yet. Seattle MINI only had a few, and it seemed like 2 were being used exclusively for test drives. There was even a line to take a test drive the way we went, it seems to be popular.

The main purpose of this page is to give a timeline of order to delivery, maybe you’ll find it helpful. When I ordered, I was told that the total time to deliver was running about 2 1/2 months (10 weeks) to Seattle. Delivery to the west coast is slower than to the east coast.

  • (0 days) Saturday 3/26 – Ordered
  • (2 days) Monday 3/28 – Made some changes. Decided to add the sunroof.  The dealer was really helpful on this, and processed the changes quickly.  I received my production number today, after the changes were processed.
  • (5 days) Thursday 3/31 – Color and model updated in the owner’s lounge (OL) on miniusa.com
  • (6 days) Friday 4/1 – Moved to “scheduled for production” status on the OL. VIN number assigned.
  • (12 days) Thursday 4/7 – Vehicle in paint shop
  • (13 days) Friday 4/8 – Vehicle complete, awaiting transport!
  • (14 days) Saturday 4/9 – Vehicle released to transport company
  • (19 days) Thursday 4/14 – Vehicle is at the exit port in Germany
  • (32 days) Wednesday 4/27 – First confirmation form MINI that my Countryman is in transit! (probably left on a ship a few days earlier)
  • (54 days) Thursday 5/19 – Unloaded at the BMW/MINI Vehicle Distribution Center at Port Hueneme (Near L.A.)
  • (59 days) Tuesday 5/24 – Arrived at Seattle MINI
  • (60 days) Wednesday 5/25 – Delivered! Drove the Countryman home.

 

 

The super out-dated blog post

I’ve been neglecting my blog. Part laziness, part re-prioritization. I’m still maintaining a very busy lifestyle, but I’ve learned to stop and do nothing, or stop and read, or better yet, just stop and be. My new job finally doesn’t feel like a new job any longer. I’m all set on SIGCSE 2011 work, and I’ve gotten a huge jump on SIGCSE 2012. I’m actually working on CS research again. My yoga teaching is going really well. All in all, life out west is good.

One previous event to detail (among many that I should catch up on), is a photography class that I took last fall. The class was at the Photo Center Northwest, and I highly recommend the Digital SLR workshop if you have a SLR camera, but would like to learn what all of the menu items do, plus how to take some really good pictures.

Photo class trip to Pike Place market.

Here are some of my pictures from the class. We took a field trip to pike place market after dar and practiced some fun techniques. We worked with long exposures, blurring a moving object, blurring the background, ghosting objects and people. I even got to make my first trip to the gum wall (something we will be adding to the tour itinerary for visitors).

Summer

Summer is in full swing, and it almost passed my blog right on by. I kept meaning to post, and now I’m going it! The best intentions are not worth much without action.

When last we spoke, I was about to go to level 2 teacher training with Baron Baptiste. I went, and it was awesome. I’m back, and I’m continuing to work. Being a practitioner and teacher of yoga are both never ending. There is always something to learn, a new experience, and something bigger available at each moment.

Since then I have also changed jobs! I accepted a software engineering position at Google. Yes, the Google. I’m working at the Seattle office, which is about 2.5 miles from my house, making for an awesome 7 – 10 minute commute. I went down to Mountain View, CA for orientation. That was pretty fun. I spent one evening in San Francisco and got to meet up with some friends that I had met turing my teacher training in May.

And, I’m very excited to announce that beginning on August 28th, I will be teaching at 4:30pm on Saturday afternoons at Shakti Vinyasa Yoga (Seattle)! See you on the mat!

Getting Ready for Mexico

Our Baptiste teacher training bootcamp is approaching pretty quickly (less than 2 months now).   We have been putting in the physical preparation (4 to 5 practices a week).   I start every week wanting to go 6 times, but that is a huge time commitment, and just is not always a possibility.

16 changes of Yoga clothes

Shortly after signing up for the bootcamp, I went through a rough spot in my Yoga practice.  This was, as one might imagine, mostly related to rough spots in my other obligations.  Work has been (and continues to be) extremely stressful and mentally draining.   I let this carry over way too much, into my non-work life and into my Yoga.  This resulted in lots of mental distractions, physical missteps, and a generally bad quality of life.  Kind of depressing, I know.

So, I’m happier now than I was two weeks ago.  I’m more focused than I was two weeks ago.   Quantifying how this happened is a little difficult.   Of course, Cortny has been a big help, because she is probably the most supportative wife out there.  Thanks 🙂  Getting back to the Yoga, she even supports my crazy Yoga schedule.   She joins me most of the time, but she does like to skip Saturday at 8am… I don’t really blame her.   This support extends all he way to Mexico, as Cortny is also going to the teacher training (even though she doesn’t want to teach Yoga right now).

Over the last two weeks or so, I’ve been trying to change things.   I can’t get rid of the stressful work environment (unless you need an assistant professor of computer science).   What can I do?  Let it go.   Don’t react.   Those are the tools that I have at my disposal.   This is one reason I find Yogic philosophy so appealing, helpful tools for everyday life.   I’m not leaving things up to someone else, I am in control.   I don’t have to wait, I can make changes now.   This is just a sampling of what we’re learning and what we will be learning.    What really helps me, is that the asana practice (the physical part, what most people say then they mean Yoga) really ties it all together.

When we first started Yoga (intro series a year and a half ago), one of our teachers said that your Yoga mat is like a mirror.   The mat is like a mirror in that how you are on your mat reflects how you are in the real world.   Do you quickly react to adverse conditions, can you work through a difficult spot, can you keep your mind clear and focused?  These are tough issues.   What happens each time I come to the mat changes.  Sometimes I can hold a tough pose for a long period of time and not notice, sometimes 3 or 4 seconds in and we can’t move on fast enough.   The point is, I’m trying to make changes to get towards the non-reactive side, both in my Yoga and in my life.

It has been a long journey, and at times I feel like I’m still at the beginning. But here we are.

I can say that I’m ready to go to teacher training now.   Not only because I have enough clothes for 16 practices (I get very sweaty…), but because I am mentally ready.   I know that I am ready to let the experience happen and now to have expectations about what will happen, not because I can do every yoga pose with perfect alignment.

In 3 weeks, I start the teacher assisting program at our studio here.  24 hours of training over 2 weekends.   I’m very excited about this for 2 reasons: it will give me 2 weekends to just let go and be present in the Yoga studio, and it should be a great preview to our week long teacher training experience.

Wow – longer entry than I intended, and it went a totally different direction.  But I think I’m happy with the way it turned out!  I’m sure that some people have wondered why I’m always going to Yoga, maybe this sheds some light on that.

Toy Story in 3D

We are grownups!   Cortny and I went to the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 double feature today, in 3D.

Yes, we’ve seen these movies a bunch of times, but it was really cool to seem them in the theatre again.  And 3D has gotten a lot better.  And, now we’re both even more excited to go to Disneyland in a few weeks.  There is even a Toy Story ride at California Adventure.   I am also excited to go to California for the first time.

Other than that – life is just busy.   Work has been going full blast for over 6 months straight.  At least I have some down time in sight (Disneyland and Yoga teacher training).  Not that teacher training will be downtime, but I will have zero time to think about anything but Yoga for 8 days.   That in itself should be well worth it and a cleansing experience.

I’ve also been doing lots of work on Cascade (www.cascadelms.org).   I’m trying to think about how to handle the next major area of expansion – making the whole system more social.   I think it is important to remember that I’m not trying to build the next facebook, but that getting students to interact with each other more is a good thing.

The Return of TV

Finally! New TV shows are back! So here is the run down of what we’re watching this fall:

My favorite show now – How I Met Your Mother. I love this show because it is consistent every week, and being the same age as the characters I identify with a lot of them. Of course because of this, can I see that some of the time based stuff they’ve done in the show is a little off 🙂

We sort of stick to CBS for the rest of Monday. I’m not a fan of Two and a Half Men, but watch anyway. And the Big Bang Theory has been upgraded from “watch it if its on” to “season pass” on the Tivo.

Tuesday is an off night for TV I guess.

Wednesday, we are now watching Glee.   I don’t think it will last, but will enjoy it while it is on.

Thursday is the big night on NBC (hey, that’s tonight).   SNL is on (for now – until 30 Rock comes back), Parks and Recreation, The Office, and Community (which was OK last week, we’ll give it a chance).

Nothing else on the schedule until SNL on Saturday night.

Then Sunday rolls around.  We always watch “Sunday Morning” on CBS.   Then Sunday night, there is the one reality show that we watch, “The Amazing Race.”  And the week is rounded out with “Mad Men.”

Apparently, when you write it down… we watch a lot of TV.   Of course, I’m always doing something else while watching TV.   Typing the blog post, handling email, working on Cascade, learning to program the iPhone, etc…   Always busy, but I must admit, I work better with a little background noise (or background TV in this case).

Productive Weekend

We managed to have a pretty productive weekend!

We both did various work things Saturday.   I’ve been working on some research at home, trying to ramp up a second area of on-going publishable research.   This is difficult as my current employment involves a lot of original work, and greatly restricts the areas that I can publish in.

Saturday afternoon was Yoga time.  This week there has been lots of time to work on inversions – my headstand (Sirshasana) is getting much better.  I can hold the pose for about 15 breaths, but still have trouble getting upside down without the assistance of the wall.   Will get there… it is always a journey.

Sunday – some more work.

The day started with a Vespa ride!  I scooted up to Mae’s Phinny Ridge Cafe to pick up a couple of their frozen cinnamon rolls.    They are very good, but pack a lot of calories.   I made it my breakfast and lunch!   Maybe next week we will take a Vespa ride onto the ferry – we haven’t had a chance to do that yet.

I did some bug fixes and made a big performance improvement to CascadeLMS.   It was against my first judgement, but I de-normalized some data in the database, leading to duplication (of just a 32bit integer field), but greatly improving performance.   Some pages render 20% faster because they don’t have to recursively query the data any longer.    Today / tomorrow is a bit of a stressful time.   Miami U. will really start working with the system tomorrow as classes start this week.    The install at https://my.csi.muohio.edu had 1736 users during the spring 2009 semester.   I’m not sure what the user base will be like this fall, but I am hoping for an equally strong showing.   So far, we have 40 courses set up for fall 2010, and I expect to see more this week!

Sunday afternoon-ish: we gutted the office!  Our office on the bottom floor is combination of mine and Cortny’s desks and office stuff.   I have a bunch of (like 8 shelves worth…) of books.   Most of these lived in my office at Miami, but they are in our house now.   I keep promising that when I have an academic position again, the books will go back into my office.   I was able to get rid of a bunch of stuff, always a good feeling.   But, also a bad feeling – as in “I moved this 2000 miles??? why?”   I did keep 1 crate of “outdated” technology – I still have an Apple Newton, an original iBook, 3 other 800Mhz G3 iBooks (I plan on incorporating these into some research at some point…), and Tapwave (a 3rd party PalmOS device).   There was a lot of stuff I just didn’t need anymore – and it is now gone.

We also disassembled my giant desk.   It was just taking up too much room.   We moved the iMac to one of the book shelves.  It is really just our Web server, music service, and sometimes use computer.   This opens up the center of the room.   We now have a better open space for home Yoga and room for someone to sleep down there on an air mattress.

Then we headed down to my office.   I brought in a bunch of stuff to sell on our for-sale list.    Tomorrow, I will be selling an Atari 7800, a Nintendo GameCube, a pets.com sock puppet, and giving away a bunch of books.   Feels good to lighten the household load.

And now – bedtime.   Full week of working coming up.   Actually 8 full weeks of work until I take half a day off… Just realized that I don’t have a full day off until the day after Thanksgiving.

Why “Customer Service” Isn’t

I got my August Comcast (Cable, Internet, and Phone) bill today.   My bill is normally $148, but today it was $209.   That is quite a big jump…

On the bill, there is an explanation of the pro-rating, and change in service.  It says, based on your change in service.. blah, blah, blah.   It also says that I changed from plan “A” to plan “A.”   Hmmm, I didn’t call to change anything, but my service changed to the same service that costs $40 more a month, with a $30 pro-ration charge…. fail.

So I called.   The first guy tried unsuccessfully to convince me that I had agreed to a 12 month promotional rate.   Seems odd, because I have been a customer for 19 months now, and didn’t sign up for any promotions.

I explained that my previous bill didn’t tell me that my rate was going to go up, and my current bill did not tell me why my bill went up, and why this is an unacceptable and disappointing customer experience.

Anyway, I talked to the first customer service guy for 5 or 6 minutes with no success.   I had him walk through all my options, but all of them were either a substantial reduction in service, or not much savings at all.  Eventually, I had to get mad, loud, and threaten to switch to satellite.    Well, those are the magic words.

I was transfered to a higher level of customer service.  This new person game me all kinds of excuses.  She tried to explain how they transferred all their good-paying customers to this extra level that is $10 more and then took the $10 off, and then, oh-no that’s not what happened.    So, I had to get mad, loud, and complain and complain and complain.    Eventually, I was able to get 12 months of $10 more a month.  I will also be returning my second cable box to get it back down further.

So, not an exciting story.   But what am I really trying to say?

Comcast did not want to keep me happy until I threatened to not do business with them any more.   I don’t feel like they care about me as a customer, but just want to keep my checks rolling in every month.   This is the problem, customer service is dead.

As long as I was calm, nice, and reasonable, I got no traction.  I had to become audibly angry in order to get results.

Note to Comcast, and everyone else out there.   Treat your customers with respect, and like people.  When you screw up (or sometimes even if you didn’t) a happy customer will stay with you longer than one than one who you temporarily appease after they express their anger.