My Home Office

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Seven years! That’s how long I’ve been “working from home”.

The video above is from several years ago, by the way. I now have a couch and have made more office improvements.

Yes, I’ve had some great offices over the years. Most of your remember the amazing 7,000+ square foot office space we shared with a bunch of architects. Or the superb office space in San Francisco. However, my home office is where I really like to be. This video is from when I first moved into my office. I really need to get a new video together showing the latest improvements, including a nice couch, and artwork.

When it comes to a home office, my advice is to spend the money early and create a great workplace. I bought high quality carpet typically used in a high end office building. I spent a lot, but it is amazing and looks great.

All that said, I really do love working out of client offices when I have the opportunity.

Switching to a Mac – I’ve finally done it

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2011: Many of you know I’ve been using a Windows machine for what feels like decades. I’ve owned Mac’s since 2005 but never used them as my full-time machine. Instead, I used them for trips and casual computing.

Until now.

I recently purchased a nice new MacBook Pro with a nice new i7 processor and 8 GB of memory. This thing flys. And with Vmware Fusion running Windows in the background, I can still run a few programs I need. I switched for a number of reasons, but the timing was because my other computers were getting old.

I’ll have to write more later about my experience switching. I tried once in 2005, but it didn’t work out. Today, the tools are much better. We have Dropbox for synchronizing projects, and fonts now work cross-platform, and I love Sparrow (instead of the Mail app).

Update April 2013: Planning to upgrade to one of the newer MacBook Pro’s here soon because they have 2 Thunderbolt ports and an HDMI port. That means you can effectively run 3 external monitors without breaking a sweat. Something that’s hard to do with the 2011 MacBook Pro I have.

Additionally, I’m now running 16 GB of RAM and an SSD which is fantastic. The machine is so fast.

Update April 2014: Not much has changed in the last year, except that I’m now using a 15″ Macbook Pro Retina with 8 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. Haven’t had any problems over the last year, and the machine runs like a charm. I’d say the primary reason to upgrade was the ability to run more than one external display.

Owning a Home: 1st Year

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Today marks 1-year since I bought my first house. It’s been an adventure, to say the least. Here’s a list of improvements:

  1. Raised the block wall in the back yard, added stucco, and painted it white.
  2. Raised height of gate.
  3. Filled in sunken living room with concrete.
  4. Wood floors in the living room and dining room.
  5. New baseboard in living room and dining room.
  6. New carpet in entire house.
  7. Painted entire house.
  8. Cleaned, then painted garage floor blue.
  9. Fixed sprinkler system.
  10. New toilets.
  11. New sink / cabinet in half bath.
  12. Repairs to kitchen cabinetry.
  13. New stucco on indoor fireplace and new paint.
  14. Installed crown molding in living room.
  15. Repairs to sprinkler system and pool backwash piping.
  16. Installed recessed lights in foyer.
  17. New knobs on kitchen cabinets.

Besides all of that, I bought a lot of new and used furniture and my mom and dad helped me decorate and set everything up. They’re a big reason that list above is so big. Without their help I would have never accomplished so much in just one year.

What’s next? I need to get some additional artwork on the walls and get busy finding me a wife!

In case you wish to see photos, you can browse my Flickr gallery.

Bought a new house!

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Well, I purchased my first home and it’s going great. Here is a photo. I’m currently working on setting up my home office and just painted my desk a slick black. Having lots of fun maintaining the backyard, too. Everything from mowing the lawn with my push mower to cleaning the pool.

My New House

Balloon Ride

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On Saturday I went on my first balloon ride! If you’ve never been, I highly recommend the experience. The balloon ride lasted about an hour and a half. Since the wind was moving in different directions at different altitudes, we were able to land only a quarter mile away from where we took off.

I took a video of the experience, and a few photos. Enjoy!

Balloon Ride

Balloon Ride

Balloon Ride

Buying a house

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I’ve been looking at houses now for a couple of months. I’m not in any hurry and my Realtor and I have been looking at all kinds of houses. Many of the tips about buying houses say that you’ll have to look at a good dozen houses before you really know what you want. That’s true.

On Saturday, we looked at 7 or 8 houses and the last one was a house in Scottsdale near Shea that turned out to be pretty cool. It’s cool enough that I decided to put in an offer (watch the video of the house). I won’t know for 10+ days whether I have it (because it’s a “short sale”) but it sounds like my offer was “in the drivers seat” according to the broker.

My Thursday

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Around 10 o’clock this morning I was returning from a meeting when I decided to get a bite to eat. An early lunch! Much better than eating at 4 pm (like I tend to do). I had never tried this one coffee shop over on Washington by the freeway, so I stopped in.

I decided that as often as I can when I order a coffee I would order a doppio macchiato. For a couple of reasons: Firstly, because I feel like that’s how a true coffee professional would test a coffee shops aptitude for coffee preparation. The second is because I’m a growing fan of that drink which is two shots of espresso with a dollop of foam.

One thing about the word doppio. It means double in Italian, but nobody even knows the term except Starbucks baristas. I may have to revert to saying double macchiato, instead.

So the coffee was fine and I went to Cousins next door to make my sandwich. They’ve got a different business model than Subway. They don’t prepare your sandwich in front of you, instead they prepare it back in the kitchen area. The other thing is that the sandwiches are 7 and a half inches long (Subways’ are six inches).

By mid-afternoon I was starved for food again and glanced to my left.”

“Hey Tom, you know what sounds good right now?” I asked. “Some pizza!”

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing” he said.

We were in the car within a minute and headed over to this little pizza joint called Mama Mias Pizza (40th & Indian School). It was my first time there and just for kicks I decided to try some anchovies on my pizza. I’ve seen anchovies on the menu my entire life and never tried them.

I couldn’t convince Tom to even take a taste.

Anchovies are hugely overrated. But then again, I haven’t seen any ratings. They tasted like fishy little slugs with a lot of salt. Well, it wasn’t that bad! But I wouldn’t say they are amazing.

Since there were only a few places to sit we ended up sitting with this UPS delivery guy. He was telling us about how he drives around for 12 hours a day in his 1985 UPS Truck. There’s no air conditioning and no power stearing. Talk about a great way to strengthen your arm muscles!

We asked him if he listened to the radio much in the car and he said no. At least not since his radio fell out of the car when he made a sharp turn. He said that the truck comes with no accessories. Not even a radio.

It occured to me that more restaurants should have community tables where you get a chance to sit with new people. It’s such fun. You get a chance to ask them about their job and what they do.

Plus it was fun to tell him how the anchovies were all gooey inside.

Spring Cleaning in the Elevators

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This is an old one from November 2005:

Five years ago when I had a real job I woke up early one morning and came into the office. I had prepared a couple of fun April Fools pranks which I had for some reason decided to pull in the middle of winter. Those who know me probably have figured out that this is not abnormal. Hey, I’ll do an April Fools prank every day of the year if I knew I could get a laugh out of it.

So I show up to work at 6 am and bring my materials to pull my pranks. I say pranks because I actually had two that day. I’m there early because I don’t want anyone to know who did it. In fact, nobody ever did find out.

I have printed signs I am going to place outside each elevator door on all levels including the parking garage.

The signs say “We have just completed our Winter cleaning. Please remove your shoes before entering.” They were signed The Management.

It was perfect. You should have heard the complaints. I hid in my cubicle listening to the receptionist and HR manager. Since they got in early I could hear them in the kitchen.

“Gosh, I just can’t believe the building management. They’re getting worse and worse.”

Other people complained and refused while others calmly complied with the written request.

That is, until all of the signs came down around noon. The building management took them all down — however the damage was already done and I had conned many people into removing their shoes.

Fun times. I need to pick a building and try that again.

I have a Spanish Latte for…

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This is a story I wrote back in October 2005:

Down the street at La Grande Orange grocery store they have these wonderfal Spanish Latte’s that I love to get however I have one slight dilemma when I order my drink…

“What’s your name?”


“Last initial?”


Several minutes go by as I wait for my drink to be prepared and then I hear it.

“Spanish Latte for Chris T.”

Except instead of sounding like it should, the words blend together. So it sounds like a drink for Christy. As far as I know I’m the only name that has this type of problem. Drives me nuts.

So what did I do to resolve this problem? I started using different last initials. Like I’d say “M” or “W” or “P” and that would solve the problem.


I walk in last week and I order a Spanish Latte and apparently I’ve ordered from this woman before and she’s learned my name.

Yeah, you guessed it.

She says “It’s Chris, right? Chris M., or W??”

Not much you can say than “Um, yeah, M” and that’s the end of the story.

I suppose it’s not half as bad as the day I ordered coffee with shaving cream all over my face. Yeah, I’ll have to tell that story again sometime.


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This is an old one from September 2004:

So this morning I wake up and do my normal routine before heading in to the office. On the way to work I say to myself “you know, a nice cafe vanilla would be a great way to start the day.” So I stop at a Coffee Bean (one of my favorite places) to get my coffee.

So I go in and I order my drink and all the while the barista is looking at me like I just walked out of a snowstorm. I didn’t think anything of it at the time thinking she was just odd. So then minutes later I see my reflection in a mirror and low and behold I have dried shaving cream all over my chin. Ugh.

I’m just glad I noticed it before walking into a meeting with a client. Can you imagine the horror? I suppose, if anything, it would be a nice icebreaker.