I. Am. Retired. (Kinda)

by Michael Scepaniak on June 22, 2019 in finance

Wooded area with fallen trees and path through grassy floor in Summer - Cockeysville, Maryland, USA

I’ve been giving early retirement a try for the past year and a half or so. I’m 44 years old. By all indications, it’s working!

Despite that, when given the opportunity, I frequently hesitate to declare myself “retired”. When filling out surveys (and forms for things such as loans, credit cards, and new accounts) I tend to select “Self-employed” rather than “Retired”. I find this interesting, partially because I didn’t see it coming.

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How I Got My Ice-maker to Make Ice Again

by Michael Scepaniak on January 6, 2019 in sustainability

If only a moose came by...

In which our hero fixes the ice-maker in a Samsung french door bottom-freezer refrigerator (model #RF260BEAESR) using nothing but a hair dryer and his own two dexterous hands!

So, my lovely Deborah mentions to me that she thinks the ice-maker in the refrigerator isn’t working – that the ice bucket is empty. I don’t typically use ice on a regular basis, so it isn’t something I would notice. But, when I take a look at the ice bucket, it sure does look empty-ish.

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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

November 29, 2015

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 […]

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How to Read HttpClient Logging and Prevent Connection Leaks

November 25, 2015

“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 […]

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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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