Skip to main content

New Year, New Resolutions

How much has changed since we moved here in July?  Let's find out!

We've been in California for over 6 months now, and the biggest change is that we've become a two-car family, as of today, January 12th.  Yes, we held out for half a year, but ultimately decided that we each needed our own car.  I fought it for months, starting when the weather turned cold and dark (see: Biking to Work), although not yet rainy - apparently we've been having an unusually dry year, which has allowed me to bike more than I probably would have during a normal year.  We'll see what happens during the rest of the winter.  At any rate, my dismal attitude toward and fear of biking, combined with the impossibility of scheduling separate evening activities with only one car, conspired to convince us that we needed to go for it.  So with some reluctance we began the search, starting with craigslist and ending up at a dealership near Santa Cruz.  Our actual experience with the dealership was fairly uneventful, perhaps surprisingly, given the near-universal horror stories found on the internet.  Needless to say, we read up on all the used car lore we could find before foraying into the battle of car buying.  In the end, we got what we wanted for roughly what we wanted to pay, so - success.  We now drive an old Pontiac Vibe ("my" car) and a new-to-us Honda Fit.  We like us some hatchbacks, as you can see, although we have yet to test the Fit to see if we can stow our bikes inside it like we can with the Vibe.

Where does this bring me on my resolutions of August of yesteryear?

I think we're doing ok on the not-buying-stuff front, despite the massive purchase we completed today.  We built our own bike rack (needs its own post, sometime soon), replaced our missing/stolen camera, and that's been about it, aside from a few kitchen odds and ends.  I figured out composting - I just bring it to work in Palo Alto, where they have city-wide composting.  Cooking more meals has been a challenge but is one we will tackle anew, together with eating less meat.  On the energy front, we turn off our heater when we leave for work, and that's pretty much all we've been able to figure out how to do to save energy.  PG&E in Mountain View doesn't yet offer green energy for purchase.

One idea we've had to address our (now larger) carbon footprint, aside from changing our eating habits and continuing to bike as much as possible, is buying carbon offsets.  Free carbon calculators are available online (eg, the EPA's and the Nature Conservancy's) so you can figure out the impact of your lifestyle in tons of greenhouses gases produced annually.  Unfortunately, we found that the calculators can vary wildly.  In our case, it seems that 60% of our emissions are due to air travel, which was probably what threw off the calculation, since the EPA's calculator doesn't account for air travel.  In any case, once you know what you're offsetting, you can buy carbon credits from any number of sources.  Google, for example, maintains carbon neutrality as a company through a combination of green energy production and carbon offset purchases.  See this delightful infographic for more information.  We are considering buying offsets from the same places as Google, since the company already spends a lot of time thinking about the best ways to buy offsets.  See their whitepaper for more details.  Hopefully soon we'll take some time to figure out our own offset plan.

And so, without further ado, here are my all-new, turbo-charged, high-octane, insert-used-car-words-here resolutions for 2014!

1.  Bike to work at least twice weekly.  Now that I have my own ride, this has gone from a necessary evil to a Resolution.  Wish me luck in the rainy season.

2.  Complete the AREs (Architect Registration Exams).  A month or two ago I received my "eligibility to test" from the California Architecture Board, which means I can now start on the arduous process of taking my architecture licensure exams.  My goal is to complete them all before my required internship hours are finished, and before they change the exam, both of which should happen in 2016.  Wish me more luck on this one.  Hopefully by making my goals public I will provide myself with some additional motivation!  Feel free to remind me about this at every opportunity, as annoyingly as possible.  (Unless I'm busy studying.)

3.  Continue exercising.  My exercise routine of choice, aside from the aforementioned biking?  Quidditch.  Or more precisely, Muggle Quidditch.  Yes, I now consider myself a beater for the Silicon Valley Skyfighters, a local community team that practices weekly at the park near our apartment.  "Srsly?" you may well ask, in your best lol-cat impersonation voice.  Indeed yes, I have an International Quidditch Association (IQA) membership card and everything, for realz.  And let me tell you, this game is a workout.  Go find some Youtube videos and watch if you don't believe me.

4.  Keep up with my earlier resolutions - all those things about cooking and composting, &c.

This concludes my resolutions update, and probably all the personal information you can stand to read as well!  A few concluding side notes: In addition to these formalized resolutions, I also hope to accomplish a few other things - monthly blog posts; a mini-garden on our apartment landing; finding more volunteer opportunities; etc.  Perhaps if things go well I'll provide some updates here for these side projects.  I wish everyone the best in their own personal struggles and goals, and here's to a healthy and happy 2014.


  1. I think these are great resolutions, Caroline! Thanks for sharing. And as far as boards (to which I say "Eek"/"Ew"), best of luck!! Looking forward to catching up this Saturday.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: "Theory and Design in the First Machine Age"

Reyner Banham's Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960) is an engaging overview of the important theoretical developments of the early 20th century leading up to the "International Style" of the 1930s-40s.  Banham does a fairly good job, in my opinion, of avoiding excessive editorializing, although he has a clear viewpoint on the Modern Movement and finishes with a strong conclusion.  In opposition to his teacher, Nikolaus Pevsner, whose own history of modernism came out in 1936, Banham dismantled the "form follows function" credo that became the stereotype of modernism, arguing instead that formalism (a preoccupation with style and aesthetics) was an important, if not overriding, concern of Modern architects.  Two sections of the book struck me in particular: his analysis of Le Corbusier's famous book Vers une architecture (Toward a [new] architecture) from 1923, and his Conclusion (chapter 22), where he breaks the link between functionalism and …

Voter's Guide - June 5, 2018 Election, Santa Clara County

If you're like me, you spend a lot of time figuring out who to vote for, because there is no single place to get all the voter information you need.  So, since I have already spent the last several hours deciding how to vote, I've compiled all the information I used here, so you can decide for yourself!  This is relevant to the Santa Clara County election here in California, so if you are looking for San Francisco-specific information, you can try SPUR or other sources.  Obvious disclaimer:  I am looking for progressive candidates who support strong liberal policies on the environment, housing, education, human rights, and the economy.  If you disagree with me, you may want to look elsewhere.

For each position or proposition, I'm going to list the position, my recommendation, link to my sources, and then note other viable candidates (if any).

State & National Offices

Governor:  Gavin Newsom
Former SF mayor Gavin Newsom has an almost overwhelming amount of policy object…

Vertical Bike Rack

The work of our hands!

A little backstory:  We bought two bikes as soon as we could after moving here, so we could both bike to work.  After a few uneventful months of chaining up our bikes next to our car in the carport of our apartment building, Justin's bike was stolen.  (Mine was mysteriously left behind, together with Justin's pannier, which the thieves helpfully folded up and placed on top of my bike.  My only guess is that the chain holding my bike was harder to cut than the chain on Justin's.)  Since then, we've kept our bikes inside, hauling them up and down two flights of stairs to our third-floor apartment every time we take them out, which is usually a few times a week.  Ugh.  Better than buying a new bike every few months, though.

We needed a rack that would keep the bikes off the floor, off the walls, and in as small a footprint as possible, without requiring us to drill into or otherwise damage the walls (or floor or ceiling).  This proved a challenge t…