The End Of The Beginning

Today marks my 90th post in the 90 in 90 challenge. It’s been quite a journey. When I was challenged back in June to take on this project I wasn’t sure what to expect. Initially I had a hard time writing anything at all, believing that what I came up with wasn’t worth saying, and depending on your opinion, you may still think that what I write isn’t worth reading, but you’re here, aren’t you?

I’ve managed to learn a lot through participating in this challenge. Initially it was about getting the blog itself up and running, then as I continued to write I learned more about how to plan out my writing, and ultimately I learned a lot about myself. Posts have covered a wide range of topics. Some updates were me working through my own issues, others were an attempt to help others by sharing things I’ve learned and most recently I’ve been posting about buying a house. I’ll admit, there were some days where I just wrote in order to keep up with the challenge.

Over the course of the challenge there was quite a lot of attrition and I got frustrated with those who dropped out for varying reasons, because I thought if I was able to do it, they should be able to as well. Looking back I realize that this was intended to be a challenge, and by that very definition, not everyone would be able to finish. Everyone had their reasons for starting the challenge and for those that stopped, they had reasons that aren’t anything for me to judge. In the end I decided that I was writing for me, even if at times it was just so I could tell myself that I wasn’t going to fail at the challenge.

I’m glad I decided to participate. I’ve found that it’s gotten easier for me to write in general, even if it’s not much easier to write about myself. I’m still very critical of the quality of my posts, but I’ve finally been able to adopt the mentality that something 90% done and published is better than something 100% complete but never escapes being a draft. Even though the challenge is over I’ve decided that I’m going to keep writing, so I’m looking at this as the end of the beginning as opposed to the end of this blog. I don’t aspire to be a great author, but hopefully one day my writing will at least be on par with Lehigh Valley with Love.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive through this process. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

A Simple Request

Today I received an email with a simple request:

[University Relations] would like you to write a message from the President of Alumni Society. It would be a few paragraphs. Also, could you include a brief bio of yourself (2-3 paragraphs)?

I would need this information by Oct. 1, 2011.

Please let me know your thoughts

That’s a fair request and I should be honored for being asked to be included in a magazine article, but the first feeling that flowed over me was one of paralyzing fear. Even though I’ve been diligently writing something in my blog every day for months now, when it comes to writing about myself, it’s still painfully difficult.

When I look at that request all I can think of is, “What can I possibly say?” I have no idea what they want me to say as the President of the Alumni Society, let alone what they would want to know about me biographically. The last time I wrote anything on behalf of the Alumni Society I had my grammar criticized like an English teacher with a brand new red pen. I wouldn’t want to embarrass the group with incompetent prose.

So, as the requester asked, what are my thoughts? Well, my initial thought is that I don’t want to do it, at all. Even now, I’m sick to my stomach over it. That said, I know I should do the article, it would be good for me, but I still have no idea what to say.

It’s OK To Not Be OK

I’d be a liar if I said that I was happy all the time, but one thing I have learned how to do is to reach out to a select group of people who I trust to confide in when things aren’t going how I’d like. In the past few weeks I’ve seen a few people I care a lot about going through some tough times and while it’s certainly their right to internalize their struggle it’s painful to watch them hurting.

When trying to discuss the problem it seems that a common theme among some is that they feel that it’s not OK for things to not be perfect. For some reason they’ve gotten it in their heads that if it’s not good news that it isn’t worth sharing with another person. They feel like they’re bothering someone by discussing how they’re unhappy or that things aren’t going well.

I’m not a mental health professional but I can say from experience that keeping hurt inside doesn’t help, and in many cases can make things worse. It can be scary to open up, even to someone you trust, but it’s OK to not be OK. The people who know you and care about you can tell when something’s wrong and you aren’t fooling anyone by pretending that things are fine when they’re not. No one is trying to push you to open up when you’re not ready, but know that when you are, there is someone willing to listen.

Anxious To Get Started

To say that I’m anxious to close on my new house is an understatement. It’s gotten more intense as I’ve essentially completed everything that I need to do before the closing date. With just about all of the paperwork stuff done I’ve been putting together a post-closing to-do list.

I’m sure that my list will evolve as time goes on, but so far I’ve identified a few things that I’ll want to address:

Get all the locks rekeyed
Even though the owner should be handing over all of the keys at closing there’s no way to know if there are any copies floating around that were given to a neighbor or relative. Better safe than sorry.
Buy an American flag
This one should be self explanatory. The only reason I haven’t picked one out yet is because I have to figure out where I’ll want to mount it.
Get asbestos removed
The home inspection turned up some HVAC lines that were wrapped with an asbestos covering. I want to get that removed before I go moving things in.
Replace all receptacles and switches
Most of the house is 2-prong receptacles and the light switches are mismatched. I want to switch to 3-prong outlets and if nothing else it’ll help me figure out what circuit controls what, because the circuit breaker panel is currently labeled with faded pencil.
Address code-related issues
The city code inspection requires carbon monoxide detectors and GFCI outlets. It also mentions extending the hot water heater overflow pipe to within six inches of the floor and grounding the water meter. Those are inexpensive, easy fixes so I didn’t ask the seller to fix them.
Run RG-6 and Cat 6 cable to all rooms
Even though I only currently have one television and a lot of network-related things are wireless I’d like to be prepared for adding more TVs and while wireless is great, a wired connection is faster and more secure. With digital media becoming more common, being able to transfer large files between rooms will eventually become more important.
Remove funky carpet
The house has hardwood flooring under the living room, hallway and bedroom carpets. After talking with a few people I’ve decided to reveal the wood flooring in the living room and hallway and leave the carpet in the bedrooms. The den is currently clad in a high pile red shag-esque carpet that may be a great conversation piece, but it’s not for me.
Add insulation to attic and crawlspace
To make the house more efficient I’ll be adding more insulation to the attic and to add insulation in the crawl space under the living room and kitchen where there currently is none. That should help keep my utility bills lower.
Look into adding soffit venting and an attic fan
At one point there was a functioning attic fan, but as of right now it’s not functioning. I’m going to want to see if it’s something that can be repaired, and if not, I’ve priced out a replacement which is pretty inexpensive. I’ll also want to look into adding some soffit venting so the attic can breathe properly. Can you tell I’ve been watching too much HGTV?

There are bound to be more things that I’ll discover after I move in, but that should be enough to keep me busy for a while.

WTF BPA

Today was the inaugural Bethlehem VegFest which took place on the Bethlehem Greenway on the South Side. By all accounts the event was a huge success. It was filled with vendors, demonstrations, musical acts, speakers and thousands of visitors. I was lucky enough to work with some great volunteers and saw a number of friends show up to support the event.

With VegFest taking place on the South Side a number of people were questioning where to park. According to the VegFest website:

The whole day features free parking courtesy of the Bethlehem Parking Authority. There are nearby garages as well as metered street parking

It was heavily promoted that patrons should park in the nearby Comfort Suites parking lot, on the street in any metered space or at the Starters Riverport parking deck and that while they may receive a “courtesy ticket” to thank them for coming to the festival, it would merely be a reminder that on a normal day they would get a real ticket if they didn’t pay. Unfortunately someone at the Bethlehem Parking Authority forgot that they agreed to this because numerous people received very real parking tickets at the Starters Riverport parking deck.

Downtown Bethlehem responded to the tweets about the parking mishap saying they would look into it and Jaime K of Save the Kales, one of VegFests organizers, posted on her blog today that she’s also aware of the problem and that she’ll be posting updates on her website as soon as she hears something. Hopefully this will get resolved quickly because short of this mishap, Bethlehem VegFest was a tremendous success.

Update: After tweeting out this post I got a direct message from Downtown Bethlehem which will be helpful to anyone who got a ticket today:

Sorry about any mistake with tickets on sside today-plz send ticket # to karaj@lehighvalleychamber.org and it will be taken care of!