Why I have a car

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I’ve long been unconvinced of the convenience and necessity of the City of Redmond’s “Loop” transit program.  Living on the hill it has always been easier and more convenient to get in my car and go where I need to go, when I need to go.

As I care for children on a daily basis (I nanny for 3 families), my regular routine is to take several children to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon.  I also have a 6-month-old infant I care for during the day (while the others are in school).  Today, the infant was not with me, so I decided to take my car in for detailing.  The dog frequently likes to go on the drop-offs and he’s shed all over the seats; plus, kids and snacks and cottonwood tree fluff have taken over the floor of the vehicle.

I took the car to Acme Auto Detailing in the ‘south’ Marymoor area.  Friendly and they could get me in right away; the owner drove me home with a promise to have the car finished by 3 pm so I could do my afternoon school pickup. I could have called a friend, borrowed or rented a car or even called Acme to arrange for a pickup.  Instead, I decided to ride the Loop Shuttle service.

I checked the Loop schedule by planning my bus trip through King County Trip Planner.  The trip seemed easy enough – according to the schedule I would leave the bus stop at 2:22 pm and arrive near my destination at 2:37 pm.  This gave me plenty of time to walk to the service shop, get my car and make it to school pickup on time.

Making sure I had the correct change of $2.50, I arrived at the bus stop on 166th and 95th at 2:12 pm; just as the 221 (northbound) was pulling away.  This was 10 minutes before the Loop was ‘scheduled’ to arrive.  It’s always a good idea to be early to a bus stop.  I waited, waited and waited.  At 2:38 pm (yes, I was taking notes), the 221 came by a 2nd time (northbound). I told the driver I was waiting for the Loop.  This same drive waved as he passed me on 166th while heading southbound at 2:55 pm.  The shrug and a grimace of empathy as he drove by was illustrative of how I was feeling about this time.

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I waited until 3:00 pm – looking at the schedule at LEAST one Loop should have been at the stop by this time.  After 48 minutes of waiting at the stop with no sign of the Loop, I walked down the hill from the bus stop, picked my grandson up from school and called for an Uber driver to take us to the Detailing shop.  The Uber drive from app to drop-off took less than 15 minutes, including wait time.  It cost me under $7 with a tip.

I had hopes that this experiment would work out; and I’m disappointed (but not really surprised) that it didn’t.  Will I attempt to ride the Loop again?  Probably not.  I am exceedingly glad it was a cloudy, yet not rainy day or I would have been soaked.  I am thankful that I wasn’t late for an interview or a job or another appointment.  And, it’s convinced me more than ever that Uber (and the likes) are much more reliable for this type of situation than the Redmond Loop program.

The City of Redmond is fond of telling people to “bike, walk or bus” instead of driving.  For those of you that do this on a regular basis, you have my praise and encouragement.  I occasionally feel guilt at my choices in driving, although this is mostly alleviated by my justification that I’m ‘carpooling’ several kids to school and I try to run my errands in an efficient way.  I am not that person that even considers dragging 3 school age children and an infant up and down Education Hill to schools or errands by using the bus or by walking.

 

However, based on this, my first, and likely last, attempt at using the Loop, I am more convinced than ever that driving my car from my home to anywhere I need to go is more convenient and efficient than waiting for a bus for nearly an hour.

 

A shortened version of this was sent to the Redmond Reporter, Letters to the Editor on Friday, May 25th.

 

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My (month) with Optavia

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I need(ed) to lose weight.  43 was a tough year for me as my metabolism decided it was time to slow to a crawl and all the things I had been eating and all the exercise I hadn’t been doing caught up with me.  I consider this the year I entered pre-menopause.  It was pretty evident when six months later I gained nearly 15 pounds. I’ve never been a stress eater; more of a ‘bored’ eater – I eat when I read or watch TV.  I love food and there are very few foods that I won’t eat.  I’ve even learned to enjoy Brussel sprouts, squash and eggplant.  I still cannot eat organs, including liver (although I love liverwurst and pate’).

Forward 11+ years (I’ll be 55 this birthday) and I’ve grown from a size 12-14 to a size 18-22 (depending, as usual, on the brand and item of clothing).  I don’t wear button up blouses anymore because they gap in front.  I wear a lot of stretchy clothing (yoga pangs, leggings) with tunic or longer tops to cover my butt.  I look fat in the mirror, in photos and when I look at photos of me before ‘pre-menopause’ I wonder how I let myself get this way.

I’m tall, semi-active and in pretty good health.  As far as I know there is no heart disease, cancer or other health challenges in my DNA.

I called a high school acquaintance who has posted on Facebook about her weight loss and all the benefits.  It was pretty spontaneous (which I’m not) and called her to ask about it.  I started on March 12th after ordering the starter pack.

According to the Optavia BMI Table, my BMI at this weight is 32, “Obese”.  My plan was to try it for a month and see how it went.  So far I’m on the 3rd month and have purchased my 4 month of products.  Here’s my review.

The Good

Cost:  Roughly $400 for 30 days of “fuelings”, plus unlimited counseling (online, phone, social media support).  This comes out of grocery $$ (per my counselor) and the only additional items I need to buy are my “Lean and Green” meals which are proteins and vegetables.  As I have to buy these items for feeding my family anyway it’s not an additional expenditure for the Lean & Green meals.  Other plans like 30/10 charge upwards of $1500/month PLUS FOODS.

Taste:  For the most part the fuelings taste good.  Not cardboard-y, not delicious.  The chocolate ‘shake’ was better than I expected for a water-mix drink; the bars are pretty tasty.  The savory snacks are a bit bland, but not so much that they taste like cardboard or sand.

Counseling:  Although I don’t really feel like I ‘need’ the counseling, I will admit she calls me every week just to check in.  She’s upbeat, encouraging and listened to me whine about the taste for several minutes the first week.  I’m probably the least passionate client she has; I really am not all that jumping up and down about the process.  I am enthusiastic (although in a subdued way) about the weight loss (see below) and I am noticing a change in how I look; although it took almost 8 weeks for me to notice it (friends noticed earlier than that).

The Bad:

“Fake” sugars: I have never been able to use any of the faux sugar/substitutes.  Diet sodas, sugar-free drinks, anything that has any of the substitutes have a nasty after taste to me; including sugar-free coffee syrups, etc.  Some of the fuelings are sweetened with substitutes; like the Cinnamon Crunchy O’s which are sweetened with both Stevia extract and sugar.  The first bite was like Cheerios until the aftertaste hit.  Some fuelings are sweetened with brown sugar or regular sugar (like the Silky Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Bar).  I’ve been able to look through all the ingredients on the website and choose for my next month/s fuelings items without the Stevia.  However it pretty much cuts out all the dessert and breakfast items in their product line.

Hunger: Although I was never starving, I was hungry the first few days.  I guess that’s to be expected when cutting down on the carbs/calories, etc.  There is some retraining on when to eat and it was suggested to set an alarm to remind yourself to eat.  I found this very helpful as I get busy and don’t eat on a regular schedule.

Textbooks: I am not the type of person who NEEDS to read two thick books on lifestyle change.  I get the purpose, design, need and motivation of it, I just would like to get to the actual program part of the program.  It would be helpful to have all of the measurement charts in one place without being spread over several pages with a “point” system.    I have not read much of the books.

Online:  The website is sparse and mostly promotional.  It would be helpful to have an online journal, a place to post measurements/statistics so you can track progress.  I’ve been logging my fuelings on myfitnesspal.com which is more convenient than dragging the book around or remembering which fueling I ate when; I’ve been logging my measurements on Excel to keep track of my progress.  It would also be great to have a way to filter the product ingredients online (so I could take out the Stevia items, for instance).

Reviews: Mostly positive online,  as with any program, there are always a few people who are dissatisfied.  There is a Facebook group (private) where you can post your “NSV” (non-scale victories), questions, concerns, emergencies and find recipes or ‘hacks’.  I don’t use this much as it’s not really about the cheering section for me.  It is interesting to see a lot of people and their journey though.

Socializing:  I enjoy beer and wine when out with friends.  It’s a pain to bring my own flavored seltzer water to the movies or to parties; and I haven’t had sushi or (real) pasta or pizza in months.  I have to special order at restaurants and as I’m only supposed to eat one ‘real’ meal a day, sometimes I have to eat a fueling while the rest of the family is eating dinner because we had breakfast out, etc.  I find that food smells so much better now — likely because I cannot have it anymore — and that I can identify fried foods from the next county (okay, an exaggeration, but…)

We went out to the movies and dinner one night.  It’s the first time in my life I didn’t have something while watching a movie.  No soda (remember I don’t do diet), no candy, not even water.  For dinner I had unsweetened ice tea with lemon, and a hamburger, no bun, with tomato, Avocado and pickle slices.  That’s a special order BTW, which I HATE to do at a restaurant.  I’ve never been like Meg Ryan in “When Harry met Sally”.  Waiter brought it out, he forgot no cheese on the burger, I forgot to tell him no fries.  I didn’t eat the fries (really difficult), but I did eat the burger with cheese. Calorie total for that meal was 564.

I don’t like to calorie count, it takes the joy of food away. This program doesn’t really count calories; but is a ‘keto’ diet.  Think Atkins or Medifast.  It’s still odd to have to think about everything that goes into my mouth.

Cheating:   I’m not supposed to drink any alcohol during this phase (because it’s a depressant as well as additional fat).  I’m also supposed to cut down on coffee and teas/caffeine products and the additives (sugar/cream).

I do allow myself cheats throughout the week; two glasses of beer or wine a week, a non-fat, no-whip mocha (not sugar-free) at Bible Study once a week, and yes, I have an occasional cheese quesadilla as a snack mid-day.  And, of course there are the church brunches where I have the meatballs in sauce or the rice and curry dish.

The Ugly

I’m supposed to be drinking 64+ ounces of water a day.  That’s a lot if you don’t usually drink that much or like water.  I have discovered that I can drink some brands of flavored water; but remembering to drink water instead of coffee is a challenge.

My, ahem, bodily functions are, more, ahem, regular than they’ve ever been in the fast.  I’m not sure if that’s because I’m eating clean or just a by-product (see what I did there?) of the keto diet.  I also have heartburn and more gas than I’ve ever had in my life (except when I was pregnant)

My progress

My starting measurements March 12, 2018 (in inches):

Hips    47    Thigh    26    waist    42    chest    43.5    arm    15              Weight 236.6 lbs.

Measurements May 13, 2018 — 8 week mark

Hips 45     Thigh    24    waist   37.5   chest 41   arm 13                        Weight 213

That’s a loss of 23.6 pounds and several inches in two months.  I continue to lose about 2.5 pounds a week which means I should reach my goal weight in about 3 more months.

Future: I cannot picture myself eating like this for the remainder of my life.  No pasta (the spinach mac & cheese is not even close to pasta), no alcohol (the book recommends vodka if you ‘must’ drink).  Nothing against vegetables, but I’m getting pretty tired of salads and broccoli and asparagus.  I miss butter and toast and pizza.  And french fries.  And sushi.

After I’ve reached my goal weight I will move into the transition portion of the plan; we’ll see how that part of it works when I get there, I guess.

Overall, I’m more impressed than I expected to be with the program.  The food is pretty good, there are a variety of fueling choices and the counseling and encouragement is consistent (and doesn’t cost extra).  Pricing is within my budget and I’m not starving or feeling deprived.  There are some life changes I’ve had to make (which, to be honest got me in this mess to begin with), and family and friends have been supportive.

If you’re looking for a lifestyle/weight/health management plan, I’d recommend Optavia.

I’m not receiving any compensation for this recommendation, nor am I a representative of Optavia or the Optavia program.  You should always check with a medical professional before taking on any kind of weight loss plan.  (there, the lawyers should be happy now)

IF:Gathering 2018

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I was invited by a friend to attend the IF:Gathering 2018 at a local church.  I was only able to attend the Friday evening session; there were also two sessions on Saturday.

Friday’s session was a sit down dinner with a buffet-style soup & salad bar.  There was also a coffee and tea station and dessert.  We had plenty of time for table conversation, meeting new people and catching up with others I haven’t seen in a while.  Our table host gave each of us the sweetest bag with goodies:  hand lotion, tissues, note pad, 2 Daily Bread devotionals and a couple of snack bars.

The evening started with prayer and some worship songs then a live-stream of the event in Austin, Texas with 4 speakers, including IF:Gathering founder, Jennie Allen.

Bible text for this session was 2 Timothy 1.  (NIV)

Jennie Allen

God can change the world through us together.

Faith is the flame.  What threatens to blow the flame out?  DOUBT!  Everything feeds doubt, but it’s in our heads and the ENEMY puts it there.

We can fight our doubt together.

Verse 6 talks about “fanning our faith into flame”.  This is an active, not a passive approach.  We are to stir up the gift.

What does doubt do to you?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4  Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

“by this gospel”

“Either it is true and it means everything, OR it ISN’T true and it means nothing” {our faith, salvation and belief in God}

You just have to believe!

James 1:5-6  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  

Ask of God.  Ask in faith with no doubting.  How we fight our doubt can build great things!

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  

Be a FLAMETHROWER (Elon Musk) not a candle!  If every one of us discipled just 2 people a year and each of those discipled just 2 people a year in 5 years there would be 541 NEW DISCIPLES!

“The very things we think disqualify us is what God needs to use in us!”

Jo Saxton

Paul is writing this at the end of his life to Timothy who is at the middle of his life.

In the middle, you can’t always see what is ahead.

Proactive, Pacifivity, Perfectionism

verse 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Reminds Timothy of his faith, who he is, the call of God, good news, set-apart life.  God has a dream and a vision for your life.  Faith isn’t dependent on success.

Verse 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Remember who and what empowers us.  Are your motivators comparisons (doubt), competition, fear, jealousy, envy, perfectionism, pacifism?

Verse 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Re-engage.  Fan the faith into flame — don’t wait for the flame to grow/come back.

Verse 13  What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.    Hold On.

Verse 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Guard what has been entrusted to you.

Worries
Expectations                            What makes us WEAK?
Appetites
Knock Us Down

FAN THAT FLAME!

Vivian Mabuni

“I Didn’t Know”

The New Testament was written to churches and is not chronological.  Study John 14 – 17 for Jesus Final Words.

Verse 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 

Kindle afresh / fan into flame  This is a verb — constant.  (from the Greek, charisma/kharisma)

Christian life is not hard — it is impossible!  (Without God)

Chocolate Milk.  The milk in the pitcher is life.  If you just add the chocolate syrup it still looks like plain milk.

You have to Want it.   Who is Jesus in your life?
Deal with your Wrongs/Sin.  Taking it seriously and deal with sin.
Be Willing  Surrendered, God is the Potter, we have NO control in our lives (But God Does)

12-step program is based on teaching of James.

Stir it up to change the world (when she stirred the milk, the chocolate syrup changed the milk to chocolate milk).

Rebekah Lyons

  1. Power is light “Let There be Light”  2 Corinthians 4:7-13  “Nothing is beyond the power of the cross.
    Ephesians 6:10-18 the armor of God
  2. Love Ephesians 3:14-19  we are co-heirs with Christ
    “Health of the nation is contingent on the health of the family.  ”
    We need to be spiritual mothers of the generations of women
    It’s not the BATHROBE of God, it’s the ARMOR of God!
  3. Sound Mind
    Bible verses on Anxiety
    Satan picked the wrong girl to mess with because of the SWORD of the Spirit!

Christine Caine

“Perseverance” Hebrews 12

The race we are called to run is a marathon, not a sprint.  Endurance is mentioned 3 times.  We are “surrounded by a cloud of witnesses”.  We are supposed to be participants, not commentators or spectators.

Let us also run with endurance.  You need faith AND endurance!

There’s no app for endurance — you don’t download endurance, you BUILD IT! (through resistance and pressure)

Christians are misunderstood, called intolerant, backwards, ignorant.

Drop your weight and your sins (there is a difference between weight and sin).

If we don’t share the good news, we are guilty of “spiritual malpractice”

Run the race that is set before YOU (not the race set before someone else)!

Fix your eyes upon Jesus so that you may not grow weary or discouraged.

Jesus ENDURED!
I wish I could have attended the Saturday sessions; hopefully my calendar will be cleared for next year’s event.  This was a fantastic event and filled me with some great energy and spiritual nutrition.

I’ve included links for the IF:Gathering2018 site, as well as links to each of the speaker’s and their websites.

Tax Increase

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King County Property taxes rising between 9 and 31% depending on your city

According to the chart at the bottom of this article, Redmond taxes will be increasing from 9.55466% in 2017 to 9.97384% in 2018 (4.39% RATE increase for the year;  tax increase of 19.59%).

2018 tax billings aren’t available until February 15th so I don’t know my tax bill for 2018. According to this chart, using MY property, my taxable total $ for 2017 was $481,000 (increases to $552,000 for 2018).  My tax bill was $4,608.45 for 2017.

2017 Pie Chart of Levy expenditures:

Levy Code 2020                 Total Tax Levy Rate: $9.55466            Total Senior Rate: $6.15735

chart 2017

2018 Pie Chart of Levy expenditures

Levy Code 2025                 Total Tax Levy Rate: $9.97384              Total Senior Rate: $5.75297

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Let’s compare….
Expenditure              2017                             2018                                         Increase/Decrease
School                         3.16241 (33.10%)        3.03059 (30.39%)                    Decrease
City                              1.35057 (14.14%)        1.25080 (12.54%)                    Decrease
Port                             0.15334 (1.60%)           0.13518 (1.36%)                      Decrease
County                        1.38294 (14.47%)        1.32735 (13.31%)                    Decrease
Hospital                      0.35854 (3.75%)          0.32589 (3.27%)                      Decrease
Library                        0.45118 (4.72%)          0.41190 (4.13%)                      Decrease
EMS                              0.26305 (2.75%)          0.23940 (2.40%)                      Decrease
Flood                            0.11740 (1.23%)          0.10708 (1.07%)                      Decrease
RST                               0.25000 (2.62%)           0.22745 (2.28%)                     Decrease
State School Fund   2.032205 (21.27%)      2.91820 (29.26%)                  INCREASE

You can see by the numbers I’ve posted above for my house that the increase is in STATE taxes earmarked towards schools.  All the other taxes are indeed going down.

Of course, this doesn’t include any taxes that will take effect for the 2018 or future years.

You can look up your own numbers here by going to King County Parcel Viewer  and selecting “Start Parcel Viewer”.  Enter in your address and you’ll get a view of your neighborhood with your parcel, etc.

From here click on “Property Report” and you’ll get a report of your parcel including a photo of the property/structure (in my case pre-green paint), a pie-chart of “Total Levy Rate Distribution” (2018) and a “Tax Roll History” for the property.

Select “Click here to see levy distribution comparison by year” (below pie-chart) and you’ll see a Levy Distribution by year comparison for 8 years (pie-chart graphics).

There are all kinds of great charts and some valuable information on these pages so I encourage you to click around and see what you can find.

 

Property Tax increase and Schools

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There has been a lot of conversation about the upcoming Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Bond and Levy proposal in February 2018.

  • What is a Levy? A “Levy” is a pay-as-you-go-model; a certain amount of money is collected each year for a limited number of years.
  • What is a Bond? A “Bond” resembles a mortgage; a bond is sold with a promise to pay back the money to the bond buyer with interest. The payments are made with the portion of the property tax devoted to bond measures. Bonds are up to 20-years in maturity dates. Bonds are sold as needed to build schools; so not all bonds are sold at once.

<from https://paigesprattle.blogspot.com/2013/11/>

Over the years I have NOT been a supporter of Bonds because I have felt the District didn’t use the money in valuable ways for the future of the District.

In the past the District has used “leftover” monies from Bonds to build Portable/temporary classrooms (that turn into long-term classrooms) instead of using the funds to build brick-and-mortar buildings that house more students and have a longer life-span (not to mention bathrooms and aesthetics).

In July of 2013 with a new Bond and Levy vote looming, I asked the District about the cost of Portable (“temporary”) classroom cost vs. the cost of a building called the “B Wing” at Redmond High School.

To recap the post, the cost of 4, two-room portables was $1,520,000 while the cost of the “B Wing” was $728,484 (2013 dollars).  That’s 8 classrooms for $1.5 million vs. 14 classrooms for $728,484.  To further break it down that’s $187,500 per classroom ($7,500 per student at 25 students) for a portable vs. $52,034.57 for classrooms ($2,081.36 per student at 25 students) in a permanent structure.

According to this there are 171 portable classrooms (14% of classrooms) in the District (equivalent of 7 elementary schools). That’s roughly $68.4 million dollars in portable classrooms.

The 2016 Bond approved funds of $398 million and added space for 3,000 students. The upcoming 2018 Bond is asking for $299 million which will add space for an additional 2,100 students. Two future bonds in 2022 and 2026 will ask for additional funds (dollars not listed) for additional projects.

The District has repeatedly promoted the bonds with the phrase “no tax rate increase”. Although this is technically true (I can’t even begin to explain the math but the tax RATE is not increasing), the AMOUNT we are being taxed on increases yearly.

To help with the math, we’ll use the assessed value of my home on Education Hill.

‘Total taxable value’ in 1986 (when my husband purchased the house) was $66,500 for tax year 1987. That total taxable value has jumped to $552,000 for tax year 2018. The District is using a total tax rate of $2.93 per $1,000 for all three measures – a reduction of $0.23 per $1,000 from the expiring bond.

The assessed value of my house has increased 803% in 31 years. Great for selling my house, not so great when paying taxes.

Using my house valuation (not appraisal value) of $552,000 times $2.93 per $1,000 would mean my taxes for these measures ALONE would be $1,617.36. The math is confusing (again), but that rate would be my annual contribution to the 20-year bond. That amount might fluctuate depending on Assessed Value (AV), as bonds mature, and as the bonds in 2022 and 2026 are added into the totals.

According to this pie chart; 32.14% of my taxes go to “local schools”, with another 19.74% going towards “state schools”.

My tax for the 2017 property tax year was $4,608.45.  Of that $1,521.12 is distributed to “Local School” (the percentage here is 33% which is higher than the percentage listed in the pie chart above).

The remaining $3,087.33 is split between:

State                    $977.41        21.2%

County                $665.20        14.4%
City                       $649.62        14.1%
Library                 $217.02        4.7%
Hospital               $172.46        3.7%
EMS                      $126.53        2.7%
Sound Transit    $120.25        2.6%
Port                      $73.75          1.6%
Flood                   $56.47          1.2%
Other                   $15.96          0.3%
Fees/Charges     $12.66          0.3% (Noxious Weed $3.21, Conservation $9.45)
Road                                            0%
Fire                                               0%

Based on these numbers, under the new bond scenario my taxes will increase $96.24 (from $1,521.12 to $1,617.36).  That increase is likely more to do with the increased valuation (AV) of my home, but it’s still an increase.

The annual taxes I’ve paid on my house in the last 3 years have increased by $349.38 – from $4,259.07 in 2015 to $4,608.45.  In that same 3 year period the AV of my home has increased $56,000.

Calculate how your taxes are ‘spent’ by entering your Tax account number here

(If you don’t know your tax account number you can look on your “Official Property Value Notice” or by looking it up here

So, yes, your tax RATE will not be increasing with the new bond.  It will decrease by $0.23/$1000 of assessed value.  However, as the math above shows this is neither an easy nor sincere representation of our school tax structure.

And it still doesn’t address how the District uses the funds they raise, or their integrity in planning and building for the future.

I’ll cover that in my next post…

This has been cross-posted on the Education Hill Neighborhood Association blog

Vote November 7th

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Originally this was going to be a “Letter to the Editor” of the Redmond Reporter, however I put it together too late for them to put in their paper (Redmond Reporter does not post letters regarding political races for the issue immediately prior to the election).  Although I find this an odd practice, it gives me the chance to post this to my blog instead and ramp up the word count from under 300 to whatever I like.

 
November 7th will be an important election day for our state, county and city.  In addition to contentious races for Legislative Districts 45 and 48, there are also 3 Redmond City Council positions up for decision.

 

If you’re pleased with a downtown park that appears to be more concrete than “park”, traffic at all hours of the day in residential areas, out of sync traffic lights, skyrocketing rents (commercial and residential) and the loss of small businesses then you should stop reading right now.

 

However, if you are concerned about the lack of affordable housing, finding parking, the growing crime rate and saddened by the loss of Frankie’s, Spicy Talk and Nara (to name just a few), then I hope you’ll read on a bit.

 

 

I recommend you vote for some new voices on November 7th.

 

Steve Fields is a small business owner who has a background in budgeting, project management and working with teams of people.  He has been an active member of our community for over 20 years.   A long-time volunteer for the City of Redmond, he has coached youth basketball, baseball, and soccer; he annually raises money for small local charities at his coffee shop.
I met Steve through Cub Scouts and he’s been a friend and mentor ever since.  When he ran for mayor, I was amazed at his energy and willingness to talk to everyone about any issue.  He hosts coffee times to discuss issues of concern to Redmond and has been responsive in communicating ideas and strategies, not just sound-bites for solutions.

 

Eugene Zakhareyev is a 9 year Redmond resident; he lives with his wife and two children in Overlake.   Eugene’s campaign focus has been on community involvement, balancing growth with the needs of the residents and addressing transportation issues in Redmond. He is non-partisan candidate who will stand for the interests of the residents of our city.  In the last three years he has been closely involved in different aspects of land use planning in our city (due to a pending project in his neighborhood), has spoken with multiple residents, and is informed of the city processes and the citizens’ expectations. He is an advocate for small businesses and community engagement.

I became acquainted with Eugene when he attended our first Neighborhood Association meeting over a year ago and he’s been a sounding board and knowledgeable ally; someone I’d certainly trust to make fair and informed decisions on issues that would affect all of Redmond.

Jason Antonelli has lived in Redmond for over 20 years and has decades of professional experience growing teams, mentoring junior engineers, building consensus and making the right trade-offs necessary for individual and team success.

He will represent the people of Redmond as he works to resolve the traffic and growth issues that plague us every day.  He supports small businesses and is concerned about increased crime and out-of-control spending by our current council.

I’ve only recently met Jason but have always found him to be relatable, and interested in solutions to many of the problems that citizens find frustrating.

If you’re happy with the path the City of Redmond is taking us down, then by all means vote for the same people who took us there.

If not, then please join me in voting for a much-needed CHANGE in Redmond City Council.

 

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old

~ Peter F. Drucker

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
~ Narcotics Anonymous

 

Apple breaks Windows

Standard

I’m sitting in the mall waiting for my iPhone 6sPlus to be repaired.  I switched to an iPhone in February when we changed cell carriers and haven’t regretted the change for a single moment.  The customer service experience is just one of the reasons why.

 

I have an Otterbox case for my phone, and one of the hard screen protectors (I think it’s an InvisibleShield product); purchased at the Sprint store where we bought the phone.  Neither the case nor the screen protector have ever been off the phone (*see below) and I’m pretty careful with my phone so I rarely drop it.

 

The other night, trying to carry too many things (including my phone) while opening my car door, I dropped my phone.  It fell face down on the pavement.  I checked and it worked (phone, text, email, apps) so I went on my merry way.  The next morning I was going to take some photos to post on social media and noticed my camera didn’t work.  I rebooted the phone (twice), tried the camera in a few different apps, and then took the case off to see if I could see if the lens was cracked or damaged.  (*this is the only time my case has been off my phone).  No go.

 

I look up a couple of links to see if I can fix it myself, but none of the suggestions work.  So, I look up iPhone help online, expecting that I’ll get a faceless web page with lists of community help points that don’t resolve my issue (Ahem, Microsoft Customer Support).  INSTEAD, I get  the nearest Apple Store “Genius Bar” listing.  With a LOCAL phone number.  I call the number and, after a few phone-tree selections that made sense, and a voice recognition of my problem that ACTUALLY HEARD MY PROBLEM I’m transferred to an actual human being, named Jorge.  Jorge walked me through a couple of steps, checked out a couple of other things, and finally, after 45 minutes of trying told me we’d need to reset the phone.  He explained how to do that, and gave me my claim number so that “if it didn’t work, I could call and schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar to have it fixed”.  Unfortunately, the reset didn’t work, so I called the number, gave them my claim number and was immediately transferred to the Genius Bar in Bellevue who made an appointment for the next date I could get in.  No muss, no fuss, no “I’m sorry, we can’t help you”, no script.

 

I’m a bit in shock here.  I’ve had numerous issues with Microsoft products (links below); both phone and PC.  EVERY TIME I needed assistance from Microsoft I’m expected to read through pages of community help boards (that aren’t helpful).  There’s no phone number to actually get in touch with a human — I had to search through several pages of “help” and “contact us” to get a phone number for customer service.  When you actually get a number, you have to wade through several levels of hell phone tree button-pushing before you get to a customer service representative.  And then you have to wait , on hold, for a long time.  When you FINALLY get a human, they are either 1) unintelligible (even though they have an ‘American’ sounding name 2) following a script 3) not helpful because they aren’t really listening to your problem 4) unable to actually resolve the issue.  I have had a CSR at Microsoft actually tell me SEVERAL TIMES on several occurrences that they are unable to help me.  Or blame it on some app or my laptop (not their precious OS).

 

The last time I had to contact MS Customer support was after I’ve upgraded to Windows 10.  The initial upgrade was ‘fairly’ simple, but about two weeks after I booted up my computer “Windows couldn’t locate Cortana” and put me into a swirl of reboots that never resolved the issue (plus locked me out of using my laptop). Using my phone, I found MS Support and tried to resolve through the online support community.  Nope.  Finally get a number for MS Support only to have the CSR tell me (after 30 minutes of script) he didn’t know how to solve my issue and I’d just have to wait until it resolved itself.  EXCUSE ME?  I ended up using the “Phone a friend” option and getting an in through a series of f-buttons and coding strokes.  From a non-MS employee, just a friend who’s figured it out on his own.  Problem solved in less than 15 minutes — through my friend — after no help at all from MS and a cost of about 2 hours of phone time

 

Back to the Apple Genius Bar.  The woman asked when I could come in and she laughed when I said I couldn’t come in until the weekend.  I think she said “You just made my day.  Most of the time people are upset because I can’t get them in immediately.”  So I made an appointment, gave her the pertinent details and waited for my appointment date to come up.

 

I missed my phone.  I was attending a concert in the evening and had several times I could have used my phone over the roughly 3+ days I was without.

 

So this morning, I drive into Bellevue and am greeted at the Apple Store by a very friendly employee who seats me at a bar.  I waited maybe 15 minutes before a representative greeted me, went over my claim with me and tried a couple of new things to diagnose the issue.  No go, so she says to me “well, your phone is under warranty” and she was checking to see if they had the part in stock.  It will take roughly an hour to repair, she makes sure I backed everything up (I had already), turns off my security settings, takes my password to my phone and has me sign the agreement.  No hassles, no fuss, no “sorry we can’t fix it”.  In fact, if they can’t fix it I’m getting a new phone.  ONE hour later I have my phone back, repaired and am on my way.

Based on the customer service of Apple vs. Microsoft, I’m converted.  In fact, even though it may cause a rift in the time-space-marital-continuum, I may switch completely to Apple products.  Because when customer is king, it’s a win for everyone. Apple CLEARLY respects it’s customer base and doesn’t ignore the single user in favor of the corporate.

 

BTW, I did find a use for my old Windows phone…I used it as a camera at the concert I attended.  But that’s the only use I can find for it now…other than a reminder of which company really appreciates their customers and values their equipment.

 

Kindle vs Microsoft

Hotmail Issues and phone

Thank you Bill

Dear Bill