What's been on my mind lately? Read on...

The best deals in Boston so far:

  • Kimball Fruit Farms (at most farmer’s markets) — $15 for 20 lbs of heirloom tomatoes (technically, they’re seconds, but great for sauce and the like).
  • Chez Henri — $15 (or so) for the Cuban sandwich at the bar, which is fantastic and feeds two people more than adequately.
  • Pemberton Farms — $1.99 for enough kale to feed a family of 6.

That’s what I’ve got, for now.

posted October 2, 2013 – 9:07 pm

We moved! Dina and I live in Somerville, Massachusetts, now, just a couple blocks away from my former home on Wallace Street near Davis Square. A lot has changed in the 8 years since I left for points west, so it feels relatively “new” to me, though I’m happy to find it’s still a great neighborhood.

I think it was on Dan Shapiro’s blog that I first read about Moveline.com, but I can’t find the post and now I’m not so sure, but nonetheless, when it came time to set up our move, I turned to them. Their schtick is that you send them a video tour (via iPhone app or the like) of your apartment/house, tell them where you’re moving, and they’ll create a list of all your stuff and get quotes from moving companies for you. They say the quotes are exactly what you’d get if you went to the companies directly, and Moveline is paid a finders fee by the company you choose, separate from your costs. Additionally, they assign you a move coordinator who’s supposed to help you with any issues that come up. It’s a great idea, in theory. In practice, there were a few issues that left me wondering if I would use Moveline again.

First of all, the quotes you receive are no guarantee that any of the companies will actually be able to perform your move. We got quotes from 4 or 5 moving companies and looked them over, comparing notes from Yelp, the BBB and Moveline’s own rating system. After we made our selection via their online system, I got an email with the subject “You’re Officially Booked!” Sadly, it turns out we were not — they emailed more than a week later to say our chosen company couldn’t accept the job, and they (Moveline) had chosen another company for us, one with worse ratings and very mixed reviews. Not cool, especially with time to seek alternatives running out.

Moveline makes a big deal out of how the move coordinators can help with any changes you might need to make, and indeed, we added quite a bit of stuff to our manifest about a week before the move. Unfortunately, the company that packed us up in Seattle either didn’t know about the new stuff or (more likely) just didn’t tell their crew about it, so they were woefully unprepared. They showed up at our door with a tiny truck, three guys, and asked directly if we had a dolly since they had forgotten theirs. Oof. Not necessarily a strike against Moveline, but using them does add another link in the chain of communication, each one representing an opportunity for someone to miss something.

As part of our moving package, we had asked them to essentially delay delivery of our stuff by about a week. Normally, it only takes a few days for a long-haul trucker to drive cross-country, but we wanted to be there on both ends (pickup and delivery) and were planning a 10-day drive ourselves, so we agreed to pay quite a bit extra for storage in the interim. Two days before our goods were slated to arrive in Boston, the truck driver called to say he was late picking stuff up in Seattle, and our move in would be 4 days late. Not only was the delay a real bummer (we would have loved to have spent those extra days in Glacier or the like, if it had to have taken longer), it gave us a behind-the-scenes view not many people get: even though we had paid extra for an additional transfer to a warehouse and back on to a truck somewhere between there and here, our stuff had been stored in Seattle and that extra transfer never happened — that’s a tidy way to make a profit, charging a fee for no extra work. This is where our coordinator has been quite helpful, giving us an idea of what the industry standards are for compensation after such a delay, and I don’t think we’d be getting as much of a refund if it hadn’t been for Moveline.

No one likes moving, I think, and certainly I don’t like moving. In the end, I do think it was easier because we used Moveline, but I still feel like they could have communicated a bit more clearly about what was happening behind the scenes. Three and a half stars out of five.

posted September 30, 2013 – 6:40 pm

Before we left Seattle, I took Dina out to the Olympic Peninsula for her first backpacking experience. We spent a couple nights in the interior of the park with our friends Faye and Nick, and then another night at Shi Shi Beach by ourselves. That, combined with a few nights of camping on our cross country drive meant plenty of time outdoors in beautiful places.

Sunset in Glacier National Park

Both Olympic and Glacier National Park are places worth visiting and (hopefully) re-visiting; there’s no such thing as “enough time” in either place, and we’re eager to go back whenever we can.

Harrier in Montana

All the pictures from our Olympic trip are up here and the ones from our cross-country drive are here.

posted September 30, 2013 – 12:20 pm

You might recall that I gave a talk at Ignite Seattle not that long ago. While we were traveling, they posted videos from the night, including mine:

I’m glad to get the chance to see how it went from the other perspective, and glad that folks who weren’t there will have a chance to watch it, too.

posted August 11, 2013 – 6:10 pm

We are back from our eastward adventures, and doing our best to enjoy the days we have left in Seattle. We were away for 40 days, with stops in New York, Connecticut, Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New Jersey again, Portugal, Sweden, and another visit to New York before returning home. Yowsah!

After our time on the East Coast, we jetted off to Portugal for a more proper celebration of Dina finishing her residency. We spent a few days in and around Porto before meeting up with friends near Lisbon in Portugal, and really enjoyed our time up there.


Porto, from Vila Nova de Gaia

The week we had in Cascais with friends was pretty fantastic, too — we had a big house that overlooked the beach, and spent equal time exploring the area and doing very little, all the while eating great food and drinking our share of vinho verde.

Guincho Beach

Guincho Beach, just down the hill from our house in Cascais

Guincho Sunset

Sunset over the ocean, from the house

We made it into Lisbon one day, and up to Sintra another; both places worthy of future re-visits.


Looking up the well at the summer palace in Sintra

From there, we flew to Sweden for a week in Stockholm. Unsurprisingly, it was quite different from Portugal, and though we liked it somewhat less, we still had a great time. Highlights included a visit to Millesgarden, a tour of City Hall, a trip out to Grinda — an island in the archipelago off the coast — and of course, mass consumption of gravlax.

Lily at Millesgarden

Lily at Millesgarden

Stockholm City Hall

Vaulted ceiling at City Hall

Our flight home from New York to Seattle was perfectly timed, and we had a 5+ hour sunset as we crossed the country.

Sunset from the air

Lots more photos from our travels are up on Picasa:

We did find a place to live in Somerville come September, and I’ve just booked movers (via the very cool startup Moveline) for the end of August. The countdown is on…

posted August 9, 2013 – 10:54 pm
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