New Quarantine Habits

Whew, it’s been a hot minute. All this stay at home business, though, has gotten me thinking about this ol’ blog again! So much has happened in year since I last wrote. Mainly career-wise.

Basically there is a really important award for junior faculty, and if you get it, you are basically set. Maybe about 20% of junior faculty receive it. I never in a million years thought I would get it, but on my second try this year, I did! The difference in my work-related stress levels is like night and day. I feel like a newborn baby. It’s basically validation of all my research ideas and the effort I’ve put into the last 4 years of being an assistant prof. And it feels amazing!!! Tenure should be in the bag now (knock on wood).

Along with feeling way more relaxed about my career, one of the reasons I stopped writing was I had gotten weirdly obsessed with checking my blog metrics (like page count), and it was stressing me out to try to write “good” posts/comments and track how well the blog was doing. I know, I know, it sounds silly for this tiny personal blog, but I guess that’s the Type A part of my personality coming out. Anyway, I deleted the WordPress app from my tablet and am making a promise to myself not to check any blog metrics, and just enjoy the act of writing and sharing my thoughts with the world!

For this post, I wanted to collect (and document for future me) some thoughts on the whole stay-at-home thing, what I’ve been up to, and how it’s changed my lifestyle and habits. As a white collar worker, I’ve been really lucky not to be severely affected by the current state of affairs. Besides working and teaching from home (which is a whole other story), we haven’t had any furloughs or other major lifestyle restrictions. (Although furloughs are likely coming given the university’s budget shortfalls.) It’s been a good time for self-reflection and resetting. So here’s what’s changed so far for me, the good and the bad.

The Good

Lots of sewing

Being home all the time has resulted in lots of sewing time. I’m all sewed out for a bit now, to be honest. But here’s what I made during this recent spurt of productivity:

  • The brown duster is my fave! It can be worn both open and closed, and has that robe-y style that is oh-so-popular now (or am I outdated).
  • The navy skirt is a basic that will be a workhouse in my wardrobe (why is it so hard to find a good, simple skirt??)
  • The white wrap blouse (inspired by MM Lafleur’s Deneuve blouse) is honestly not that great. It looks OK in the photo, but in reality it’s kind of blousy and pirate-y. Oh well, despite that expensive silk noil material, it might bite the dust.
  • The pink jacket (sans buttons, for now), was inspired by the recent flooding of chore jackets on the market. I saw one from Madewell that I think subconsciously influenced me to make this. Yay trends.
  • The aprons are well, aprons. My old one was a souvenir from China which I’m pretty sure was kids size, so I wanted to upgrade. One of the aprons is for my sister, who’s in college and becoming quite the cook herself 🙂

Cooking upgraded

So much cooking… I’m tired. S is pretty useless in the kitchen, so it’s been all on me. Because of all this eating at home, I upgraded my CSA box to come once a week, instead of every two weeks. I also discovered juicing! It’s a great way to use up all these random veggies that come in the CSA box, which was a major source of guilt before I got the juicer. There is way less food waste this way. Leftover lettuce juice? Zucchini juice? I know, it sounds weird, but throw in an apple or a beet, and it all tastes good!

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Some strange juice mix.

Early bird + gym

I have been discovering that I am, in fact, an early bird. I’m not sure if this is a pro or a con (I’ll also talk about it later below in “The Bad” section), but I’ve been waking up at 6-7am almost every day, without an alarm clock, filled energy and the need to jump out of bed. This has led to very productive mornings before settling down to work – gym, household errands, cooking leisurely breakfasts – all things that I never did before. It really makes you feel accomplished to get a bunch of stuff done before 9am!

Speaking of gym, with the school gym being shut down, I’ve been making do at home. Dumbbells are sold out everywhere, so my dumbbells are now my pots and my laundry detergent 🙂 Thank goodness I already had this pullup bar, a yoga mat, and the stretchy elastics. The IKEA stool has also turned out very useful to do exercises requiring platforms of different heights. After many months of training (starting pre-quarantine), I’m finally able to do one non-assisted chin-up!!! It feels amazing, and I can actually see  the shape of biceps and triceps on my arm (wut). For someone who’s always been the typical “skinny Asian girl” with no muscles, this feels amazing. Now to get that second chin-up…

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At home gym

Plant lady

I’ve also accumulated quite the collection of plants. Some of them are evacuees from my office, and others are just… well… more plants. I’ve also been on a planter buying spree from Target, and have way more planters than plants now. Will have to return them later. My current favorite (although you shouldn’t pick favorites from your plant children, right?) is the rubber tree. I saw it in the store and thought it looked kind of like that home blogger favorite, the fiddle leaf fig, but is supposed to be much easier to care for. I love the leaf shape and color.

And isn’t that scenery outside gorgeous? The bougainvillea (I think that’s what it is) blooms for probably half the year here… I love it.

The Bad

Insomnia

Like I said earlier, I wake up every morning filled with adrenaline/energy, and can’t go back to sleep. The energy’s not all positive, though… it seems almost like nervous energy, and I don’t feel very good. I think this got triggered from the early stages of the pandemic, when I would wake up and compulsively reach for my phone to check the latest virus statistics. Although I’ve calmed down a lot lately (and thankfully the pandemic also seems to have), I need to break this habit and be able to sleep in again. I’m going to try meditation, which I’ve been doing on-and-off for the past year (mostly off).

Elbow/neck pain

All this working from home has been very comfortable in terms of being able to take useful/productive breaks (laundry in between meetings, anyone?), but it’s been killer for my neck and elbow. I first noticed this during my home workouts, when I started feeling some elbow pain in my right arm during push-ups. I don’t think this is a good sign, given my relatively young age. I think this is from poor posture when using my mouse, so this past weekend, I went to my office and stole my chair back (after getting appropriate permission). I hope this will help solve the issue. This was also part of the motivation for my chin-up exercise routine, as I’m trying to strengthen my back/chest muscles to improve posture.

I’m also planning to order a standing desk, because it looks like we’re going to be working from home for a while. The latest rumours don’t even have us being fully on campus in the fall quarter 😮 So I want the home office to be in good shape.

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Finally have my work chair at home!

How are you handling the stay at home measures? Have you formed any new personal habits?

My Condo Buying Experience + Closing Costs + Mini-Tour

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View from the balcony. Flowers are out in full force this spring!

Recently, house buying has been on my brain! I bought my condo three years ago, but last year, S finally moved in, so the 1000 square feet of space seems to have shrunk a fair bit. “No, I would not like to watch Avengers at 12:30am on a Tuesday night, so could you please turn down the volume?!” 😛

I’ve been house hunting a bit recently, and that got me thinking back to my condo purchase, and the uncertainty and excitement of the process, as well as the random fees. So I thought I would write down how it all happened, things I learned, a breakdown of those pesky closing costs, and what I’m planning to do differently this time around. I’ll also show some interior photos for posterity’s sake! (plus, play “find the cat” in every photo!)

1. Browse to narrow down the choices

Since I was new to California and to my city, I didn’t have a clue about the really fine-grained stuff that matters when buying a property – which neighborhoods are safe, which are walkable, which are new/old, which are near to good grocery stores, etc. Stuff that you can’t find out just by reading online statistics about an area – you actually have to visit the places in person to get a feel for things. So the majority of my time initially was spent browsing real estate websites (Redfin is my favorite), and visiting  open houses in prospective areas.

At first, this was really overwhelming – so many choices! But gradually after seeing a tons of options, my preferences started to bubble to the top. I realized I wanted a 2-bedroom condo,  relatively new for easy maintenance (built in 2000+), somewhat upscale (e.g., granite counter tops), and close to the university (for future rental purposes, since I eventually wanted to upgrade to a house).

With those preferences in mind, the number of possible choices dropped dramatically, and there was basically only one condo complex that satisfied all my criteria. So I settled in to wait for the unit to be listed.

What I  would do differently this time: Nothing. Just remember to be patient with the process, and your personal criteria will eventually become apparent, and feel “right”.

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My favorite room in the house: bedroom! The tan hua plant went kinda wild over there in the corner. The photo above the bed is from our wedding (printed poster-size at Costco).

2. Find a good real estate agent

Ohhh boy. This was where I really went wrong the first time. I asked my colleagues for agent recommendations, and one colleague recommended me an agent called B. B was about my age and seemed really friendly and helpful, so I figured I’d work with her.

B was indeed very friendly and nice, and did her best to help. But I later realized that she was a newbie agent, and was also the girlfriend of my colleague (which was not disclosed by my colleague until later, ugh). You can tell this story isn’t going to end well!

My first offer was a unit that I found in my desired condo complex. I emailed B and set up a meeting to go over the offer paperwork. As a first time buyer, I had a lot of questions. For example, if I backed out after X days, how much money would I get back? How long was the mortgage contingency? What did this particular clause in the paperwork mean? Maybe I’m a detail fanatic, but I like to know what I’m signing for in a large purchase! B basically read back the clauses to me verbatim, and upon my pressing her to explain things in layman terms, responded “I’m not a lawyer”. Pfffft.

Anyway, needless to say, that offer didn’t work out! By the time we submitted the offer, the property was gone. I feel this was an issue on B’s part, as I had asked her at the beginning to contact the selling agent and get a feel for how competitive the bidding would be, and whether there were other offers on the property. She didn’t do that, and had no idea how competitive the process would be, hence we were late. OK, /endrant

Anyway, it was awkward disentangling myself from B, since she was my colleague’s girlfriend, but it had to be done. I told her I was taking a break from house buying, and left it at that. Meanwhile, I met another agent, J, at an open house. She had a ton of good reviews on Redfin/Zillow, and also had purchased/sold many properties in the exact condo complex I was interested in, so I decided to continue my search with her.

What I would do differently this time: Don’t be a part of another agent’s learning curve! (I read this somewhere on another agent’s website, heh). Find an experienced agent in your area who will negotiate on your behalf.

As a side note, I’ve also heard good things about OpenListings from a colleague who recently used them. OpenListings is an online startup where they assign you a local agent, and they give you back half of the commission. I feel that with information dissemination on the Internet today, the value of a real estate agent is much less than in the past. Don’t get me wrong, you still need a good agent, but 3% commission ($7000 in my case) seems like hefty sum of money for the amount of work they do. I’m considering trying OpenListings for my next house purchase. But please correct me down in the comments if you disagree! (PS: not sponsored or anything, this is just my personal opinion.)

3. Swoop in quick on the desired property

For me, the hardest part of the house buying process was knowing what I want. Once I know what I want, it’s just a matter of patiently waiting for the right property to come on the market, then swooping in on it quickly once it appears.

My new agent J emailed me one morning to tell me about a property that had just been listed in my desired condo complex. I went to see it on the same day, and it looked good. It had been used as a rental for the past few years, but was in decent condition. It also had a great view of the canyon, although it was a little closer to the road than I liked. After thinking about it overnight, and discussing with my family, I decided to make an offer. We had the paperwork filled out the next day (with all my contingency questions answered fully by J!), and made an offer at full price.

A few days later, I got the notice that we had won, and were officially in escrow! I later found out that there was another offer on the property for $5k less in cash, but the seller still went with me because I was a reliable buyer in terms of mortgage risk.

What I would do differently: Nothing. Just make sure to be quick on the good properties, they won’t last long.

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Second bedroom, which is for guests and also doubles as a home office. The sign in the corner says “I work hard so my cat can have a better life”. Truth.

4. Lots of paperwork and inspections

J was fantastic and helped me with everything! She scheduled the inspection and several repair quotes (HVAC, carpet) to negotiate repairs with the seller. She recommended what items to push for and not to push for in the negotiations, and was aggressive on my behalf. I appreciate that, as I think I’m not the most aggressive person.

The rest of the process went pretty smoothly once we had agreed on the necessary repairs. It was just a matter of responding to information requests from the mortgage broker or real estate agent when needed. All the forms were electronic, which was great. Although with the amount of forms I signed, I could’ve signed away my left pinky toe to drug smugglers, and I still wouldn’t know it…

What I would do differently: Nothing. Again, as in step 2, just making sure the agent is good and on top of things. The agent can schedule inspections, repairs, etc., so that you don’t have to chase around those details.

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Living room. The carpet was one of the first things I replaced in the condo, as the seller refused to fix it (the old one was wrinkled and stained.) My favorite part of the room are the plants next to the window, they make me happy.

5. Pay up the monies and close

At long last, we were done with escrow! Next came the final closing costs and title transfer. You typically read online that the closing costs will be 2-5% of the total purchase price. I was curious, and dug through my old records to see how much it cost. In my case, it came to about 3% of the total purchase price.

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Closing costs

Some of the fees made sense (e.g., flood certification, credit report), while others seemed like a money gouge. Why $500 for a house appraisal? What is a $50 document preparation fee? $20 audit fee? Fees, fees, and more fees. Oh well, when you’re making a huge purchase, they slip in all these little fees, and you can’t be bothered. There was also an additional ~$2000 (not shown in the screenshot above) for prepayment of property taxes, HOA, and other necessary things.

It was pretty nerve-wracking sending the final closing costs through a wire transfer. I got all these scary notices from the escrow company saying to double-check the wire numbers and to call if there was any confusion, because apparently there were cases in the past where people accidentally wired large sums of money (i.e., their down payment) to scammers.

Another issue that came up was that I was actually out of town for work on the closing date! So I had to sign and notarize all the final forms in a UPS office in downtown DC and fax them over. It wasn’t exactly the most glamorous or exciting experience. My friends told me that at their closing, there are hugs and celebrations all around, although that sounds a bit useless anyway, so maybe I’m glad to have skipped that 😉

What I would do differently: I would be more aware of the timeline so I could be in town at closing, and do a final inspection. I might also consider negotiating all those darn fees, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle, or if the fees are even negotiable.

Summary

Anyway, that’s the end of my condo purchasing story! I bought it for $230k, and Redfin now estimates that it’s worth $270k, so I think that’s reasonable appreciation over the last 3 years. In terms of finances, my parents gave me the down payment ($50k), for which I’m very grateful – thanks mom and dad! I’ve been mostly happily living there since then and gradually making small home improvements, which has been very rewarding. But that’s a story for another day.

Do you think the commission of real estate agents is fair value? How do you narrow down what property you like? Any general house buying tips or struggles?

Turning 30 – Thoughts on Housework

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Casual celebration at home! Ignore the mess 😉

It’s storytime!

It was the start of a great day. It was Friday, the last day of school before spring break, and also my 30th birthday. I woke up to sunlight streaming in my window, and felt great. It was going to be a good day! I stumbled out of bed to the kitchen, ready to make my usual breakfast (oatmeal with milk, honey, berries, and nuts), which I eat every day without fail.

In the kitchen, I froze. There was a GIANT PILE of dishes in the sink. I had seen this pile of dishes last night, but I had been expecting that the pile would magically disappear by morning. After all, dishwashing, we’d agreed, was my partner’s job in this household (he even had it on his calendar!), and he had gone to bed later than me with plenty of time to load the dishwasher.

Ugh, I thought, irritated. I’d just have to use a large cup to make my oatmeal, since all of the bowls were dirty. I dumped all the ingredients in the cup, put the cup in the microwave, and set it to heat for 3 minutes, which I knew from past experience was the optimal cooking time.

When the microwave dinged, I opened it up to find all of the oatmeal overflowing out of the cup. Argh! This morning was turning worse and worse. The smaller cup size, compared to my usual bowl, had caused milk to boil out of the cup. I reached out to remove the cup from the microwave and nearly dropped it onto the stove. It was burning! More oatmeal spilled everywhere, and my right hand was throbbing. Great.

I stomped back into the bedroom, angry now at my partner. “Why are there no clean dishes?”, I raged. “Why do I have to wake up on my 30th birthday to dirty dishes and not even have the ability to make my breakfast in peace? Why should I have to deal with this at my age?”. I burst into tears and started crying into the pillow.

Not exactly the best start to the day, and certainly not how I wanted to remember my 30th birthday. But it was memorable, and leads me to something that’s been on my mind lately – housework.

I suppose on its own, missing one day of dishes is not a big deal. I consider myself fairly lax – I don’t mind dishes piling up in the sink for a few days (to the irritation of my college roommates, sorry guys!), but I would certainly get them done once every few days.

S, on the other hand, was even more of a slob than me. When he’d first moved in, we’d agreed that I’d do the cooking, and he’d do the dishes. After some initial friction about the frequency of dishwashing, S had agreed to put dish washing on his calendar, twice a week. Initially, it was good, but after a while, the the calendar reminders got ignored. This led to huge arguments.

What would usually happen is that I would notice the pile of dishes growing larger and larger, encroaching on the counter space, and making cooking or just being in the kitchen a less and less pleasant task. I had two options: either I could bug S repeatedly, which was exhausting on my part, and would lead to responses like “stop nagging”; or I could bottle up my emotions, which was also exhausting, and usually led to an explosion at a later point, with S’ characteristic response being “why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

It was frustrating, to say the least.

Underlying all of this frustration was a sense of unfairness – I felt that I was already doing more household chores (laundry, general tidying, vacuuming), and S was only assigned a single task: dishes. And he couldn’t even do that! I’d like to think that I’m a modern day woman with her own career and independence, and I want equality in my domestic life. But somehow I’d ended up shouldering most of the household burden, like an old-fashioned housewife. I knew that S simply didn’t notice the state of the house and its general cleanliness. (I’m not talking extreme cleaning – I mean things like vacuuming once a month – don’t judge 😛 ) If I didn’t do it, it would never get done. And my taking up the burden was causing resentment on my part and hurting our relationship.

(By the way, I don’t mean to bash S repeatedly. He’s a good person and a fantastic partner in other ways, and I love him for other reasons. But as far as I can tell, he never had to do chores at home, and his personality is a bit scatterbrained in general. He’s the type of person who would forget to respond to a social invitation by email, but would be delighted to show up to the actual event and would be the life of the party. I should also mention that S has exactly the same job title as me, so that’s why I expect him to pick up an equal share of the housework.)

When I look at my own family, I can see this household imbalance, although I didn’t realize it as a kid. I feel positively guilty now when I’m home for the holidays, and my sister, my dad, and I lounge on the couch while my mom spends all evening bustling around the kitchen, cleaning up and preparing food for the next day. Of course, my dad does handle many chores outside of the house (at my mom’s insistence – good job, mom!), but my mom still seems under-appreciated by my family.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. There’s a great Harper’s Bazaar article that went viral a few years ago (Stop Calling Women Nags), and when I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking “yes, that’s exactly how I feel!” or “omg, that situation has happened exactly in our household!” There’s also a New York Times article (Mom: The Designated Worrier) with a similar premise, more centered on childcare (which thankfully, at the moment, we don’t have to deal with). I don’t feel as much of the guilt mentioned by others (An Invincible Summer), but more the burden and weariness of being the only one who cares (enough) to deal with it.

The most full-fledged reflection of my emotions, which I devoured this weekend, is a book called Drop the Ball, by Tiffany Dufu. Dufu talks about her own experience with domestic life while balancing a busy career, her perfectionism with household tasks, and how she gradually learned to let go of perfectionism (hence the title, drop the ball), allowing her partner to pick up the ball and assume some responsibilities as a result. I learned a lot from the book, and one of the most reassuring things was hearing someone else voice exactly the same frustrations/resentments that I feel, and to know that it can get better over time.

So based on the book and my thoughts, there are some action items that I’m going to try:

  • Doing my own laundry only: I used to do both of our laundry, because I thought, well, doing one person’s laundry isn’t that different from doing two peoples’ laundry. But my partner generates way more laundry, and folding takes time. Without doing his laundry, I can halve the amount of time I spend doing laundry. I’ll still do the general household laundry, like sheets and towels.
  • Not doing/reminding about the other person’s tasks: Along with major tasks like dishwashing, there are plenty of minor things that I think each person should be responsible for. For example, putting your own clothes in the laundry basket, or putting away your own dishes after dinner. Just simple things that I would expect from a child, must less an adult partner. Once expectations are clear to both parties, I will not remind or do these tasks, even if they are piling up (this might be tough!).
  • Write down a list of household tasks and divide them: This was one of the things suggested in Dufu’s book. Make a list of tasks, allowing both people to add to the list, and then divide them equitably with discussion. The list can be adapted over time if life circumstances change, but having the list to refer to can hopefully help forestall future arguments. Sort of like an informal contract, in a way.
  • Hire a house cleaner: I’ve heard this advice from sooo many people. We’re lucky enough to be able to afford this. I’d like someone to come in once every two weeks and vacuum, clean the bathrooms and kitchens, and do general dusting. I don’t enjoy this task, and getting my partner to do it is like pulling teeth (I’ve tried!) I have some leads on finding such a person, although this is just another task that gets added to my to do list…

Well, that’s all for today. I didn’t realize I’d write such a long post, veering towards the negative side, but the thoughts really poured out as I started writing! I guess it’s a topic I feel strongly about. And it’s not a topic that I have anyone to discuss with IRL, because my friends/colleagues are not in a similar situation (i.e., their spouse stays at home, or they’re single).

I don’t really have any answers either, as still this is still a work in progress. But I’m optimistic that things can improve, as I think my partner is starting to understand my concerns and wants, at least in theory, to help out more.

How do you handle splitting housework duties in your home? Any tips or suggestions?

Automating Our Home (Roomba 690 and Nest Thermostat Review)

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Semi-peaceful coexistence between the cat and the robot vacuum.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much home automation can simplify household chores. There are so many little chores to do around the house, which individually are quite simple, but on their own, can really add up! For example, every night before I go to bed, I clean the cat’s litterbox, feed the cat, turn off the air filter, turn on the air humidifer, and close the curtains. In the morning, these steps are reversed (minus the cat parts). They are little chores, but they do take up a small amount of brainpower every day. With all this talk of automating your personal finances, why not automate your home?

Not all chores are automatable, though. (I wish someone would invent a machine that automatically cleaned the toilet! Or maybe they have?) But I’ve been trying some home automations around the house recently, and thought I’d report on them here.

Electric timers

There are so many “smart” things these days (smart blenders, smart lightbulbs, smart paper towels, and so on…). Most of these I find to be overkill for our household, but I do like the idea of automatic scheduling. So I picked up five electrical outlet timers at Home Depot as a low-key solution. And they’re amazing! They automatically turn on/off the air filter, humidifier, string lights, nightlight, and Christmas tree lights (when applicable). They make me happy. Although it sounds like such a small thing, having all those items switch on and off on their own schedule, without me having to think about it, has been pretty freeing.

Robot vacuum (Roomba 690)

Vacuuming is my favorite chore, not. Cat + carpet (mandated by my condo) + dust allergies is not a good combination, but still I don’t drag out that vacuum often enough. So last Black Friday, we got this Roomba 690 for $250 (the simplest model), and have been using it for the last few months.

The good

  • It picks up visible dirt, and then some. For example, after an hour of vacuuming every other day, it picks up a large handful of dust and pet hair. Although that may not seem like much, it’s better than that dirt sitting on the floor, isn’t it?
  • It runs on a schedule!
  • If I know the Roomba’s going to run that day, it encourages me to tidy things off the floor that it might get stuck on later (like charging cables = Roomba’s nemesis).

The bad

  • It gets stuck pretty often, at least once or twice a run  (rug corners, inside the bathroom when it pushes the door shut). In the several months that I’ve had it, it’s successfully completed an entire run on its own maybe once or twice.  It runs best if I’m home and can rescue it when needed.
  • The smartphone app is pretty buggy in terms of reporting its progress. It works great for controlling it though (and it even syncs up to Alexa, the height of luxury).

Conclusion? A pretty good buy. I wasn’t sure if the Roomba would work well on carpet, but it seems to be picking up a reasonable amount of dirt. One downside is that it’s made me even more lazy about regular vacuuming though, since I feel like Roomba’s taken care of it already.

Smart thermometer (Nest 3rd generation)

I didn’t have as good a reason for getting a smart thermostat, except that the old thermostat was falling off the wall, so I needed to get a replacement at some point. Plus, the Nest looked all fancy and flashy with the turnable knob, so why not give it a shot.

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Nest set to a chilly 18 C. This photos is actually an excuse to show off the hand-painted plates from my in-laws, which were a wedding gift 🙂

The good

  • It works. It’s handy to control the AC/heat when you’re lying in bed, or when you’re away from the house. It’s nice how it only turns on when it senses that you’re home (it knows when you’re home through the smartphone app).
  • It’s easy to schedule. A normal thermostat could do that do, but it’s easier with the app with the pretty user interface.
  • I got a rebate from my utilities company ($50). That’s nice.

The bad

  • The much-touted “learns your schedule and adjusts the heat automatically” feature isn’t very useful. I didn’t find the schedule it learned very accurate, so I just manually set up the schedule instead.

Conclusion? It’s fun to use and used pretty regularly, but a regular thermostat would’ve done just fine. Oh well, it looks cool and it works, so no harm done.

Summary

The outlet timers are amazing, the robot vacuum is pretty useful, and the smart thermostat not so much. If I take a step back and think about all the “gadgets” that we have in this house to reduce household chores, it’s really the traditional appliances, like the laundry machine and dishwasher, that are the greatest time savers. I get such a kick out of sitting on my couch and hearing the laundry machine wash my clothes, or the dishwasher clean the dishes, while I relax in leisure. Am I weird? In any case, thank you, modern technology! But please hurry up and develop that toilet cleaning robot and dish stacking robot right away.

Have you tried any smart devices? Any tips for reducing the amount of little chores around the house?