Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thoughts on the prospect of living with my mom

Cathy has long known that I hope to one day move my mother stateside to live next to me. I have some dreams and some concerns on how this may work out.

We have lived in a triplex before and that worked well for us. I can envision purchasing a triplex or a quad, with Cathy and I in one unit, my mother in another, and Rhona and Dave (Cathy's mom and her husband) in the other. One big happy family, but each with their own space. I would convert a space for Cathy's studio, and life would be perfect.

I don't think we could pull this off financially, except that my mom has two sources of retirement income and would be willing to help, like praying rent. Rhonda and Dave would do the same, so our payments on the property should be quite manageable.

California is just too expensive. I would love to enjoy all that the Golden State has to offer, except the taxes and the deficit. Perhaps the Joneses would have to move to somewhere like Georgia. My employer has an office and they were quite positive about the prospect of a transfer. Dave already wants to move there and Cathy has family out there. I would simply acclimate.

Culturally, Cathy and I would learn to fit in, and we would have help from family. I am mostly concerned with climate and finances. I think we are spoiled by California's temperate seasons, and real weather and seasons would take some getting used to. However, I think we are up to the task.

Very little of concern has crossed my mind in regards to living with Rhonda and Dave. After all, we lived with Cathy's mom in our house for 10 of the first 12 years of our marriage. We got along. Dave takes good care of her, and he is a good man.

Most of my concerns stem from my mother's expectations of living with me, as I do not believe she realizes that I, her son, am American. That may sound strange, but though I grew up in Taiwan in a Chinese culture and environment, my mother had far less influence on me than my late (and great) father. My father took great care in preparing me to go home to America; I do not think he intended for me to stay in Taiwan, as he always spoke of my presence there as visits. I wish he had moved back here with my mother, but dad loved her too much to take her away from a familiar and stable life.

Common practice among American families is for the patents to prepare for their own retirement. My dad did so to some extent, and my mother has always relied upon my father's plans. He did not intent to die so soon, as his plans assumed my mother's eligibility for social security. We did get that all sorted out, but it was not an easy couple of years, particularly for my mother.

Common practice among the Chinese people of Taiwan is for the parents to move in with the children. Further back, it was multi-generation families, where the son builds an addition to the shared structure of the growing house for his new family. Now, with land at a premium, parents move in with a child. I joke about how the Chinese 401(k) plan is to have four or more children. Unfortunately, my mother's portfolio is not very diverse, so we find ourselves with a single long-term investment.

Although I consider myself a Chinese American, the "Chinese" part is the modifier, and "American" is the primary aspect of my national, cultural identity. Sure, the Chinese part is important, but it isn't as important as I believe my mother likely thinks.

If she is to move here and live with us, my mother will need to understand that she'll be living with her American son and his American wife. We will need our own space, and while I would see her almost daily, my life will not revolve around her. And, as an American male, the thought of having two women trying to share a kitchen (again) is simply off the table; it didn't work with Cathy and her mom, so it certainly isn't going to work with her foreign mother-in-law.

Within the landscape of my mother's imagination, I believe she envisions living in the same house, walking the same halls, and sharing every meal with me. When she speaks of the future, she does not picture Cathy, merely how mom and I will relate to each other, with Cathy in the backdrop of the scene. Those who know me know that Cathy and I are rarely separated. It is of growing concern that my mother has had no way to learn of this or experience this, and she does not seem to grasp it when I tell her in letters and photos.

A language barrier has grown quietly but steadily over the years between my mother and myself. My Mandarin is not what it used to be as those language and vocabulary muscles have atrophied. My mother's somewhat limited English has begun to deteriorate in my father's absence. Particularly challenging is the fact that I have only lately come to this realization. Without my father to mediate and bridge the gaps of our communication, my mother and I say less and less that the other actually understands.

We have perhaps two years (three tops) of time to prepare for my mother's intersection with our life. I must find a way to make clear what our new arrangement may entail, the commitments I am willing to make and what I am unwilling to sacrifice. How shall I get an accurate picture of what mom expects, and how do I best honor her in her old age? I do not know, but I believe I shall pray for inspiration. And I suppose I should begin brushing up on Chinese.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some Thoughts On Registering a Expiring Domain Name

I have never tried to grab an expiring domain before, so here are some thoughts on the matter. I do IT stuff for family, friends, and non-profit organizations like churches (especially those I attend). Commonly, those making decisions about an organization's web site do not know how web sites work, so sometimes we go off in a direction and have to backtrack.

Suffice it to say that a new church plant registered one domain name specific to a region, but then saw indicates it may be too specific. We went from "Church Name At City" to "Church Name at City and City" to "Church Name (at city and city)".

Unfortunately, I had registered ChurchNameAtCity.TLD as requested, and as ChurchName.TLD was taken I could not register it as well. But as Providence would have it, several day ago I decided to do a WhoIs lookup on ChurchName.TLD, and found that it was already PendingDelete.

Back when I was told to register our domain, ChurchName.TLD was three months from expiration, and I had no reason to think it would expire. My WhoIs lookup of ChurchName.TLD showed this:

Updated Date: 2014-02-11T11:07:05Z
Domain Status: pendingDelete

I did some Google searches and found that there are no hard-and-fast rules on what a domain registrar may do once a domain expires. However, once it enters PendingDelete, then six days after the "Update Date" the domain is released for registration or auction.

First, the time was in "Z" or Zulu time (that is, GMT). I did the math and realized that six days from the would be a little past midnight my time on 2/17.

Second, I considered the possibility that the original registrant just messed up. Also, if I contact them, even if they don't have the church they may keep the domain. And how would I feel if someone snatched my own domain from me while I was on a missions trip? So I looked on Google, Facebook, and yellow page entries for a church at the registrant's address. I found that the Facebook page had been closed and merged with a school page, the church was listed as closed on a review and on Foursquare, and that the registrant is now the pastor of a different church (with a functioning web site). I concluded that the domain is fair game.

At this point, I considered using a domain purchase service, or a domain auction service.  The TLDs I was most interested in were .ORG and .NET, but I would bundle .COM and .INFO to be thorough. I looked up registrant information on all the domain names were minor permutations, and found that most of the relevant ones were registered by one person.

I considered the possibility that too many WhoIs lookups may make some domain parking service grab the domain I am interested in acquiring. So I used my go-to registrar and tried to register it at 00:08 on 2/16 my time, and it wasn't available.

Yes, that wasn't six days, but since there were no hard-and-fast rules, I figured I would play it safe. Again, I though about using a domain acquisition service, but didn't want to spend the money.

I tried registering again at 06:08 on 2/16, then 00:08 and 00:15 on 2/17, then 06:08 on 2/17. It was STILL not available, but the registrant hadn't changed.

Briefly, I flirted with acquiring .Org and .Net with a domain service, but dismissed it again. I tried registering at 15:00 on 2/17 and found a curious result... most of the ChurchName.TLD domains were available except for .Com and .Org. I watched .Org change registrants twice in 15 minutes, then it seemed to settle on NameBright.com. That makes me think that a registrar or a service acquired that domain moments before I was able to do so. And, the .Org domain was registered by someone in Japan. So, I got ChurchName.Net and .Info, but not the .Org I wanted (and not the .Com I would just park).

I had also kept an eye on TheChurchName.TLD, and I was able to acquire all the TLDs I was interested in for TheChurchName, so I did. It is now likely that I will push the church to use TheChurchName.TLD instead.

Would I have acquired ChurchName.Org if I had used a service? I cannot know for sure, but had I spent the $60 per domain name, I have spent at least $120, maybe $240, and I got all but one of the desired domain names without paying the fee. I would have like to sit on ChurchName.Org and .Com, but frankly if someone else has a real use for it, I would rather it be in the wild.

If there is an expiring domain name I really, really want, I'll probably try the auction service next time. Otherwise, I'll just keep trying to register it on day 6 every few minutes or so.