How to Find, Choose, and Book Airbnbs

by Michael Scepaniak on April 4, 2018 in finance, sustainability, travel

November Sunrise

When buying something, how often do you consider buying that something used? Whether that something is a car, house, appliance, bicycle, article of clothing, piece of furniture, etc., how often do you give real consideration to buying one that has already been used by someone else – instead of one that is shiny and new?

When it comes to normal, everyday life, we want everything to be new. However, when it comes to traveling, absent some rare exceptions, everything is used. Think of the airplane seats you sit in, the rental cars you drive, the hotel rooms you stay in, the tours you book, the well-worn paths you walk, and even the sights you see. All are used. Hundreds and thousands of other people have preceded you. And we accept this without qualm or complaint.

But, there’s a difference, isn’t there? Those used airline seats and hotel rooms are professionally maintained in such a way that they become indiscernible from each other. There’s a certain standard to which they conform. As a result, you don’t have to suffer through messy inconsistencies. The same can’t be said when buying used in normal, everyday life. Buying a used bicycle, article of clothing, or piece of furniture means researching, inspecting, analyzing, scrutinizing – inconvenient activities that take time and effort.

There’s now a relatively new option in the world of travel that can cause the traveler to suffer through the same messy inconsistencies that is typical of normal, everyday used. That option is Airbnb, the online marketplace for people to rent short-term lodging. If buying used (in your normal, everyday life) just isn’t your thing, then staying at an Airbnb when traveling probably wouldn’t be, either. Buying used is typically inconvenient, time-consuming, and risky (at least relative to buying new). The same can easily be said of booking and staying at an Airbnb. Why bother with either?

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Starting Stopping Working

by Michael Scepaniak on March 12, 2018 in finance

Morning Glory

I’m giving early retirement a try this year. I’m 43 years old. I’m not sure it’s going to work.

In my mind, and the way I present it to those I choose to tell, I’m giving early retirement a try this year. Note – I’m not saying I’m retired. With this approach, I’m seeking to temper my own expectations and hopes so that failure, should it occur, does not prove to be too shocking. But, I’m not sure how much I’m buying into it. 😛 Hopefully, it works out as well as I anticipate it will and I never feel compelled to return back to full-time employment. I’m thinking there’s two major reasons why it might not work:

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Ankylosing Spondylitis: A Good Start

by Michael Scepaniak on December 24, 2017 in diet & exercise

Winter Sunrise

What happens after a piano falls on you? I suppose your initial question would be “What do you mean ‘after’”? Well, what if the piano doesn’t kill you? What’s the next day like? How does your life proceed?

In July of 2014, I was hit by a metaphorical piano – I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Now, for me, it’s probably more appropriate to characterize that diagnosis as the final stroke of what had been a slow-motion, months-long piano drop. The diagnosis at the end was the swiftest part of the saga. But, obviously I survived. So what happened after?

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Fixed-Length Level Logging in Winston

by Michael Scepaniak on November 29, 2015 in software development


Do you do Node.js development? Do you use winston for logging in your Node application? Are you a stickler for having consistently-aligned content in your log entries? Have you struggled to prevent the log level portion of your log entries from shifting the positioning of your log entry formatting? If so, you might find this helpful.

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Fall Splendor

“Where there is great power, there is great responsibility”
– Winston Churchill

If you have a Java-based application that makes HTTP requests, there’s a good chance you are using Apache HttpClient to make these requests. If the application in question needs to make these requests at scale or with any sort of concurrency, there’s a good chance that you are using HttpClient with the PoolingHttpClientConnectionManager.

If you aren’t familiar with the PoolingHttpClientConnectionManager, in short, it makes requests via a pool of re-usable persistent connections. Re-using connections (to the same destination) is (I assume) more efficient and more performant than repeatedly tearing them down and re-establishing them. If you would like to read more about how to make use of this class, Eugen Paraschiv’s article about HttpClient Connection Management is a good read.

Dangers Outside the Cocoon

While the PoolingHttpClientConnectionManager is very cool, working with it properly (in a way that won’t leak connections) can be challenging. [click to continue reading…]


How To Use CasperJS with Mocked Data to Test Your Site’s UI

September 5, 2014

Did you know that you can use CasperJS to script, in an automated fashion, usage of your site – including clicking links and filling and submitting forms? Did you also know that, if you’ve got a site where most/all of the data is being delivered straight to the browser via Ajax-ified payloads, you can mock […]

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Are You Still Not Testing Your Site’s UI Because of Your Database?

September 4, 2014

Just like peanut butter plus jelly is a satisfying and delicious combination of two otherwise individual ingredients, CasperJS plus data-mocking is a powerful and effective pairing of two otherwise individual tools. However, whereas bringing peanut butter and jelly together in a sandwich is pretty straight-forward and requires a bare minimum of instructions, getting CasperJS and […]

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Stop Eating Processed Foods

September 2, 2014

If you couldn’t exercise for six months, do you think you’d lose weight – or do you think you’d gain weight? During the first half of this year, I had to stop doing all of my normal physical activities. I had to stop lifting weights, riding my bike, going for walks, using my standing desk, […]

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Whac-A-Mole Physical Therapy, Meet Ankylosing Spondylitis

August 3, 2014

On January 1st of this year, I weighed a pleasing 178 lbs. About 45 days later, I had involuntarily lost almost 20 of them. And so began a progressively deteriorating 7 months for me.

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Why I Stopped Funding My IRA – The Roth, Too

June 13, 2013

Do you think you might retire early? Earlier than 59 1/2 years old? Are you putting a significant amount of your savings in a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k)? Well, that might not be a smart move. In a previous article, I explained why I’ve stopped funding my IRA. That article spurred a series of […]

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