25 years in Seattle

Today is the 25th anniversary of my first day at Microsoft. I remember this date because I started on March 3rd, or 3/3, and 3 is my favorite number. It’s significant to me because I moved to Seattle a few days before that (not a memorable date), a place I expected to live five years at most, and I met the person who became my best friend, wife and the mother of my kids few days after that. It’s a life-changing event for me that wasn’t well thought-out or appreciated at the time but appears perfectly planned in retrospect.

In 2 years I will have lived in Seattle half my life. I find this remarkable because I still feel like Seattle is fairly recent in my life and living in Virginia before that still feels like a much longer part of my life. Time sure does fly by the older you get.


For the kids’ mid-winter break, we took off to Miami for the week. We’ve never been to Miami before, we wanted warmer weather and Miami has literally tons (note the rare correct use of “literally”, boats each weigh many tons) of boats to look at. To our surprise, Seattle was hit with a cold snap a day after we left and even had snow!

Our flight left at 9pm on Sunday and we arrived at 6am on Monday in Miami, which was 3am to us. None of us slept on the plane so we were all tired. We got to the hotel at 7:30am and were lucky enough to be able to get into our room at 1 Hotel. We all took morning naps and then went down to a cabana at the hotel pool and spent the afternoon there. No one wears masks in Miami, it’s as if Covid doesn’t exist!

Miami Beach
Our room at 1 Hotel in South Beach

We had sushi dinner on the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, Watr. That was very good.

Sushi at Watr

Our yacht broker, Hamid, flew in from LA and we met him Tuesday morning at the Miami Beach Marina — 20 minutes to drive 2 miles! — to look at a boat we’re interested in. Then to another boat nearby, then lunch and then to a third boat in Coconut Grove. This took all day because traffic in Miami is insane.

On Wednesday, we chartered a yacht, an Azimut 64 named Olimpo, for the afternoon cruising the waters around Miami and anchoring near Key Biscayne for hanging out.

We had a great and fun Greek dinner at Poseidon, I think the kids even liked it and they don’t like Greek food (yet).

Poseidon in Miami Beach

We did nothing but go to the beach on Thursday and Friday and hang out at the beach and the pool. Our last night, we had dinner at Tom Colicchio’s Habitat in the hotel, which I had been looking forward to all week but it was the least good food we had had all week.

Havana Lager

It’s funny, there’s a Hudson Pale Ale (from New Jersey Beer Co) and a Havana Lager (from Concrete Beach Brewery). I couldn’t resist getting a beer named after our daughter.

5 years of Peloton

I remember when I was tired of using our elliptical machine, that I’d been using for 7 years or so, and was looking for something new. I’ve always liked cycling and wished there was an exercise bike, but in my experience, there wasn’t a good one. But there was a new small company called Peloton that had an interesting bike with a screen on it. It was for spinning classes, something I’d never done and didn’t even like the idea: do what you’re told to do when they tell you to do it. Nevertheless, on November 20, 2016 I ordered it. It was delivered on November 26, 2016 and I did my first two rides and rode it practically every day since. I did my 5th annual Thanksgiving “Turkey Burn” ride yesterday.

I’ve done 1,982 rides and I’m on a 125-week streak. We added a Peloton Tread in February 2020. The bike has been maintenance-free too, I’ve never had a problem with it and aside from wiping it down after I use it, it doesn’t require any maintenance at all. I’ve watched the company grow and become a household name, I’ve seen instructors come and go, some of which have become minor celebrities, I’ve bought several pieces of Peloton apparel (which are all high quality), I beta-tested their new cycling shoes this year which they let me keep and I bought 20 shares of PTON stock several months ago. I’m a fan.

Coincidentally, they’re having a Black Friday sale for $350 off the new Bike+ and $700 off for trading in my current bike. So on my 5th anniversary, I treated myself to the new bike. It’s scheduled for delivery in 7 days, December 3rd.

2 years of Tonal

Today is my 2-year anniversary of using Tonal and today I completed my 14th program, Unleash the Beast, with my favorite trainer, Coach Paul. I still love the thing, maybe even more than I did a year ago. I’ve surprised myself with the consistency — except for vacations, I’ve used Tonal every other day.

Over the 2 years, my strength score has gone from 442 to 1,310. I’ve “lifted” 3.88 million pounds in 320 workouts doing 130 different movements.

I originally planned to do only upper body exercises thinking that I do enough lower body on Peloton. But after about a year, I started doing full body workouts and I’ve noticed that I feel more stable, have better balance and, strange as it sounds, I feel like I have more control of my body.

I’ve also seen a lot of software improvements over the 2 years, like Smart Flex and Apple Music integration and all the subtle graphical improvements — like Peloton’s good design, it just gets a little better all the time without drastic changes. The trainers and the videos have improved so much that doing an old program feels old. And just yesterday they started doing live workouts, similar to Peloton’s classes, which seem interesting.

I feel like a shill for Tonal, but I’d give up Peloton before Tonal (and I ❤️ Peloton!). I’m super glad I got it 2 years ago.

Besenzoni P246 Smile seat and their quality control

Our boat has helm seats made by Besenzoni in Italy and the model is the P246 Smile (pleasant name). The seats are very nice and very comfortable, I can’t help but say. However, when our boat arrived, I couldn’t get the captain’s seat to work properly. It’s supposed to go up and down on a pneumatic cylinder like an office chair: pull up on the lever and it goes up, sit on it while engaging the lever and it goes down, release the lever and it stays at that position whether you’re sitting on it or not. But the lever couldn’t be moved at all and the seat always went to the highest position and when I sat on it, it went to the lowest position. It was as if the valve on the cylinder was always engaged. It turns out that it was.

I contacted Cranchi and Besenzoni about it and after 3 or 4 weeks, I received no good answers and no guidance to make it work. The other seat was also missing a bolt and a spacer that the bolt goes through that held the frame to the seat cushion.

One bolt is missing
One spacer, the other is missing

Besenzoni referred me to Marine Solutions, a Besenzoni partner in Florida, for the parts. It seems odd that knowing the model of seat and my description they couldn’t tell me the part that I need. The seat doesn’t have many parts to it. Marine Solutions asked for the serial number on the seat so they could tell Besenzoni and then could determine what size bolt I needed. Have they really made that many different versions of this seat with different size bolts in the last several months? Besenzoni said the serial number is “stitched” into the pedestal — I think they meant “etched” (probably an Italian to English translation mistake). Trying to figure out what the serial number was impossible since it wasn’t visible anywhere on the seat or pedestal that I could find, not even on the base of the pedestal under the boat deck. I sent photos to Marine Solutions asking where I would find the serial number, they forwarded the photos to Besenzoni but they never answered. I decided to take the captain’s seat off the pedestal thinking the serial number night be on top of the pedestal because it wasn’t visible anywhere else. It isn’t there either. But I discovered why the seat’s pneumatic operation didn’t work!

The problem was that the two steel plates shown in this photo were not fastened to each other.

Check out how poorly that hole was cut and how lousy those welds are!

They were clearly supposed to be, there are 4 bolts that were just dangling from the top plate and the bottom plate was separated from the top plate, the plates could easily move up and down separately so the whole pneumatic cylinder and lever mechanism was inoperable — the pneumatic cylinder was all the way up, the lever could not be moved because it was pinned to the underside of the seat by the cylinder. Sitting on the seat caused the lever to engage the valve pin at the top of the cylinder and the seat would go down but it wouldn’t stay at any position because the valve was always open. and the spring in the cylinder could always push the seat up when no weight was on it.

The bolts were not attached because the bolt holes were too big for the bolts — they could easily slide in and out of the holes. It’s hard to tell if they were even threaded, but maybe they were and whoever put them in did such a sloppy job that they stripped the threads. How did that person not realize the bolts were not secured?! And note the sloppy welding job around the circular hole. The steel was cut very jagged too, my fingers have lots of little cuts from reaching inside it to secure the new bolts. Granted, this part is not normally visible so they probably don’t care but a well-built product by a company that takes pride in their work should not look like that, in my opinion. It’s surprising given that Besenzoni seats are well-regarded and expensive.

I fixed it by buying longer bolts and secured them with washers and nuts. This was much easier said than done because the tube is so narrow that my arm could not reach into it to secure the nut on the underside of the plate. Thanks to my son for helping me! Now the chair works perfectly and has quite nice action. Unfortunately, Cranchi and Besenzoni were of no help at all.

I also replaced the missing seat bolt myself thanks to one of my favorite stores: McMaster-Carr. It’s stainless steel and not painted (yet) so it doesn’t match the color, but McMaster-Carr’s drawings are so precise and complete I could measure an existing bolt and figure out the correct diameter and thread sizing and my first attempt at sizing was exactly right. That’s rare for me! I now have 4 extras in case I need to replace any of the other bolts. FYI it’s this part at McMaster-Carr: 93395A544.

Besenzoni seems to be entirely at fault for the manufacturing and assembly issues and their customer service was not helpful. However, Cranchi’s quality assurance people should have tested the seat to verify it works as it should! They should have also noticed a missing bolt and spacer in the other seat. Furthermore, I initially contacted Cranchi for help with all of this but they were not helpful at all either.

January 20 2022 update: It’s taken this long to get a response from Besenzoni through the dealer in Florida. They won’t send me a spacer, I have to buy it from them. And they won’t sell me just one, I have to buy 5 of them (for $135!). And they refuse to ship it to the dealer with another order to save on shipping from Italy, so I have to pay to have them shipped too. In other words, Besenzoni didn’t give me all the parts to the seat I bought and I have to pay more to get all the parts and I have to buy 4 things I don’t need.