Movie Night Tonight - come network and eat!

If you're thinking you don't have much going on tonight, and you want to meet some new people, come play with us tonight at the Cristalla condo building, in Belltown. We'll be cooking some BBQ, drinking, playing pool, socializing and watching a movie or two. There is also a nice patio so we can enjoy the good weather, and a hot tub for later on. If you're reading this then you probably are the kind of person we'd love to meet. The building is secured, so you will need to email me at morrilldanielle (at) gmail (dot) com to get on the concierge's list.


You Attract What You Are

"You attract what you are." - Warren Buffet

The first time I heard this quote was a couple years ago, in a lecture about Warren Buffet. It struck me as salient and I contemplated it, and since then it has come back to me over and over again in different forms, and has come to make much more sense to me than it originally did. There are many things I can say about it, but today's reflection has to do with relationships.

I think the people you love (date, marry, family, friends) are mirrors to your own soul, to the extent that you are close to them. They help you see yourself clearly, as a kind of sanity check to your own introspection, because they are close enough to you and your daily life to see you fully for who you truly are. If they are selfish (which most people are, at least to some extent) then it is in their own interest to see you objectively, and to help you to achieve the character you wish to possess. To the extent that they are selfish, and wish to be with someone they can admire, they will be more and more objective, and through (kind) feedback can help you shape your life and self to your design.

To some, this probably sounds really strange. You might not realize it, but you are shaping yourself every day. Why are self-help books so popular? Why do we read beauty magazines, or take classes, or exercise, or solicit feedback from coaches, mentors, and peers? We want to become something, someone, and we aren't there yet. In fact, we probably never "get there" - the people I know are always looking to improve their lives in some way. This aspiration to become more is a huge motivating factor in our lives. Sometimes I wonder if it is possible to go on living, or at least remain sane, without it.

What this all boils down to is that the purpose of our relationships is to find people who we admire, who help us to see ourselves clearly, and love what they see in us. My husband, immediate family, and closest friends do this for me - and I think it is the most powerful outside influence on my personal growth and ongoing endeavor to become more ME.


Generating Seed Content for Blogging

I've found a neat little trick for always having something to write about when I want to update my blog. Whenever I think of a new topic, but don't have time to write a full blown post and copy-edit it, I can just write up a quick draft and save it to use later as the starting point for a post. I have started to use the tagging feature along with this trick to accumulate a lot of topics I want to eventually post on but need to do research or more thinking on. Just a little thing, but I think over the long time it will lead to higher quality entries in my blog and hopefully more interesting topics as well.


Book Recommendation: Marley & Me

The author of the book Marley and Me, John Grogan, is definitely a kindred spirit. I started reading this book last night while winding down from hosting a BBQ at our house and before I knew it I was 160 pages in. I am a lover of dogs, and grew up with a succession of crazy labs, one bipolar sharpei, and blind and insane hound/mutt. Although the subtitle of the book is "Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog" it is clearly said with affection. Grogan and his wife, Jenny, start out very much like Kevin and I - newly married and ready to take on their first dependent. After reading about their adventures I feel less worried that we might accidentally kill off our "son" - they went through all sorts of nightmarish situations with their dog, many related to his fear of thunderstorms (which doesn't work out well in Florida).

Our dog, Rafe, is doing well. We have to exhaust him daily with long walks, wrestling, kicking around the soccer ball, and fetching at least a dozen different toys. Yesterday he met a bunch of other dogs in the neighborhood and also my nephew, Matthew, who is almost two years old.

To see more of my book recommendations, friend me at GoodReads


How to Be a Great Landlord

I have been renting out our condo for almost a year now on short term leases, with great success. I feel like there are a few things that I do that make my job much easier and make my tenants very happy as well. There is nothing like word-of-mouth to bring in the next tenant, and I genuinely care about give good "customer service" as a landlord. Here are some things that I do that I think have been part of my success:

Getting the Place Rented Out
  • Don't just rent to the first person who contacts you. You don't have to honor first-come, first-served, pick the tenant who you think you will like working with since you might end up seeing them a lot.
  • Use a standard contract for your state on Google Docs to collaborate with your tenant on the lease agreement. Each tenant will add more new stipulations, but you don't have to agree to them - just point out it is a standard contract and that you aren't interested in hangling over legalese.
  • Create a binder with all the information you went over in the walk through, down to the most detailed thing. Include the homeowner's association rules, any contact info, and a list of all amenities and how to they can take advantage of them. Include the building's emergency plan. Show this to all potential tenants.
  • If you have furniture in your place and you're moving out, consider renting furnished. Furnished places rent fast, and odds are good that your current furniture will not look as good in your new place.
Signing the Lease
  • Opt for people who are willing to pay both first and last month's rent up front, you know they can afford rent if they can part with this much money at one time.
  • Make the security deposit fully refundable. People always feel like deposits are a scam. If you want to make more money build it into the rent price, not the deposit.
Move In Day
  • Meet your tenant in person and do another walk through, especially if it has been more than a week since they signed the lease and took the tour.
  • Introduce your tenant to the concierge and any other staff and help them get set up with any orientation they might need, and arrange for the freight elevator on their behalf.
  • Leave the binder, a bottle of wine, extra keys and a handwritten note thanking them for being your tenant in the rental unit the night before they move in.
  • One week later send them $50 in fresh groceries using a delivery service like Safeway.com or Amazon Fresh.
Maintaining the Relationship
  • Always respond to their calls, messages, and emails within 4 hours and never make them wait 24 hours for you to take care of the problem.
  • Stop worrying about your place, it will be fine and if it isn't homeowner's insurance and will covere the damage and their deposit will cover your deductible.
  • Leave them in peace and quiet, to enjoy the space.

Life Without a Mobile Phone

For the past six weeks I have been living without a mobile phone, as I await my purchase of the 3G iPhone. When I tell people this, they react like I've been sleeping under a bridge - they can't believe I've lived without a device to keep me in touch with the world. The most common question I hear is, "Aren't you missing out on doing fun things with friends?" and the truth is that my social life has been excellent this entire time. Thanks to Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook it's still easy to coordinate.

I work for a company that builds software for mobile phones, so it really is a bit strange that I don't have one. Pelago released the new version of the mobile application Whrrl on Tuesday, and I can't wait to have it with me 24/7. At the same time, I am relishing these last few weeks before I go back to 24/7 connectivity. When I return to having a phone it will be vastly different than before, a huge upgrade from a Chocolate phone with Verizon... to basically a computer in my pocket all the time.

Even when I do have the phone I am not going to spend much money on a voice plan, all I really care about is data. I hate to answer my phone and I hate even more processing voicemail.


Contemplating BarCamp Seattle

I am seriously considering attending BarCamp and I imagine I could get away with going and not presenting, but I kind of want to. I want to put that pressure on myself to actual talk to people about the things I'm passionate about. It's a bit intimidating though, since I don't feel like I'm an expert in these things - but the website says I don't have to be, so I'm going to go with that.

Some ideas:

Things That Shape Us: Why Enterprise Software Matters

The New "Blue Collar" Worker - Defining the Future of Customer Service

Creative Uses for Call Centers & Outsourced Operations

Info Addicts: Share How You Get Your Info (blogs, news sources, forums, etc)

Personas: Who Uses My Stuff Anyway?

Hmmm, I could find a way to weave in location aware mobile tech... I'll have to think on that.


Puppy Has Consumed Life-Sleep-Sanity

As you might have noticed, since I blogged that the dog was coming home, over a week ago, there hasn't been another peep out of me. That's because this little ball of chocolaty goodness is a total time suck! I was expecting that, but I've got to drag myself kicking and screaming (well, not quite) back to the adult (and human) world. In this pic he's running around in our back yard with one of his many toys, keeping us very busy with his high-energy demands for pretty much constant play time.

I'm looking forward to eating at Branzino tonight, a new restaurant opening Belltown. Maybe in addition to scoring the first review on Whrrl, I'll get the first on Y*lp. We'll see.