Silver Spring Lunch Calculations

Lunch Time!

Lunch Time!

If there are two things software engineers like to discuss and optimize the most during their work day, they are the commute and where to go for lunch. The latter is the topic of discussion today.

A few weeks ago I decided to put a makeshift lunch-chart on my whiteboard. I listed all the lunch places along one axis and all the people I generally go to lunch with on the other and had everyone rate their choices from 0 to 10. Later on I back-ported a meaning onto this 0-10 scale: multiply by ten to get the percentage chance I could get you to go to this place if I proposed we go there.

Eventually everyone got annoyed that we couldn’t fiddle with the numbers to generate cool statistics. One person even proposed doing an “affinity” chart to see who generally likes the same places as others. All this was too tough to do on a whiteboard, so I ported the numbers over to a Google Spreadsheet (in my spare time, of course). The image above is a slightly dated version of that Spreadsheet.

I think Google Spreadsheet is really awesome and I hope that maybe if you live or work in Silver Spring, this chart will be somewhat beneficial to you, too. And if not, maybe you can make your own chart for the places near you!

View the whole spreadsheet here!


Throwing Darts at the Social Calendar

Even though I usually only end up going out and doing things two or three times a week, it’s inevitable that a couple of those two or three things are on the same day.  I don’t really know how to avoid this, and it would be nice if everything always fell to a different day, but with a fairly random distribution, you get repeats and that’s okay.

One particularly vexing conflict occurs tomorrow.  The Montgomery General Hospital Picnic and Bazaar is going on, which I helped set up for with the Lion’s Club and ostensibly I should be helping break down as well.  It only happens once a year, but I don’t think there’s a very good chance of meeting anyone there.  I see Lions and I see family but I have a hard time making new friends at such events.

The other option is the Scrabble Meetup.  They only meet once a month, and some months at locations that I can’t get to easily.  This time it’s at my favorite location.  I meet people at these events and generally I have a great time.  I think I’m going to have to go with this option, because I partake in so few events where making new friends is a likely outcome.

If any of you wanted to attend either with me, though, I’d be glad to bend one way or another to accommodate you.  All I really want is good company.

Question about tipping etiquette

I’m very silly about ordering in restaurants, and being a picky vegetarian who doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on himself, I end up ordering very cheap and strange things, like an appetizer only, or the cheapest thing on the menu with water to drink.

For example, at the Quarry House in Silver Spring on Mondays, they have half-price burgers, so I ended up getting my whole dinner (with no beer for me) for $3.25. Now, when this happens, I have a tendency to tip on the order of 100%. In this case, $7.00, which is still pretty good for the great burgers they have there.

How do waiters and waitresses feel about this sort of behavior? Would they rather I spend $20 and tip 15% and get the same tip? I guess they probably don’t care…

Road Trip by the Numbers

I’m home again.  I drove from Silver Spring, MD to Grinnell, IA and back.

Here are the stats:

  • 44.6 gallons of fuel
  • 2011 miles
  • 33 hours
  • $34.50 in tolls

From this, we can calculate a few things:

  • $178.40 for gas @ $4.00/gal ($76 was covered by riders)
  • Average MPH: 61
  • Average MPG: 45

That seems really crazy, maybe I got the numbers slightly wrong.  Either that, or hybrids are totally awesome! Which they are anyway!

Buy my house!


The realtors came by yesterday and I am amazed at the speed at which things occur once the ball starts rolling. I signed the papers saying I wanted to sell my house, they slapped on a lockbox, and then it was on the market. I’ve already had two calls from realtors wanting to bring people by to look at the house, so that’s kind of exciting.

The picture they chose for the listing on the first day is a little old and a little weird. I hope they fix it before you read this, but we’ll see.  I only had to do a few last minute things to get it ready, they said:

  • check the smoke detectors
  • clean off the dining room table
  • move some things in the basement
  • wipe clean the door
  • empty and get rid of the catbox
  • clean out the screen door runners

So, all of that is done and hopefully everything is about ready.  Apparently, the realtors also list on craigslist, which I find strange and hilarious.

Nerd Convention

I’ve always wanted to have one of these.

Decisions, Decisions

I have to figure out where to live after Melissa leaves.

I have never been good at making these kinds of decisions, and I’ve been trying to get my head clear on this, so I’m just going to make a list of options.

  1. Keep the house, and try to stay afloat whilst living here alone. I would have to be VERY frugal. I would also have to take care of a whole house by myself. I would also have to work out a deal with Melissa to pay her some amount when I sell it.
  2. Keep the house, and try to get a roommate I know. My brother would be the most obvious candidate, but I could also try craigslist.
  3. Sell the house, get an apartment within walking distance of work. Apartments in downtown Silver Spring are EXPENSIVE. Not as expensive as paying my mortgage, I grant, but still, a big money sink. Also, a year commitment.
  4. Get an apartment in Silver Spring with a roommate. Not too appetizing.
  5. Get an apartment somewhere with my brother. Probably in Rockville, for the ease of his commute. I would be commuting on the MARC train. I also don’t know if he will be able to cover his half of the rent!
  6. Live with my parents. This is also not an appetizing option, though it would allow me to do some pretty serious saving.
  7. Move to Portland or Seattle. I have college friends there who would help me out until I find a place, or make good roommates. The “scene” there seems exciting, but I would miss my family.
  8. Move somewhere insane. Like South America. I am not a very adventurous person.

I am not a very decisive person. Advice, people! I need it.