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    • A grand entrance. Ready for a fantastic night! #albakchan
    • #albakchan the main event
    • Commute
    • Meat, bread, and succotash.

Decision Time

I have a big decision coming up. It will likely be between choosing to start my work career at Facebook, where I’ve heard good things are coming down the pipe in my direction, and Amazon, where I have had an offer on the table since mid-October. The Amazon offer expires December 1, so that is more or less the timeframe in which I am working.

I feel pretty good about this decision because, even if I make the worse of the two decisions without knowing it, it will still end up being a pretty good decision. Both companies are well-respected places to start a career and both offer interesting engineering challenges that need to be addressed. Each job would also have its pluses and minuses, which I will have to consider carefully once i actually have the Facebook offer in front of me and I can make the most informed decision possible.

Greetings From San Francisco

After what I would call a successful interview at Facebook, I met up with Scott and his roommate at a sushi place in Los Altos. I don’t have a lot of experience with Sushi, but I decided to give it a real shot and enjoyed it a great deal. Scott, meanwhile, was scheming up a last-minute trip to Boston for a friend’s birthday party. I ended up dropping him off at SFO before returning to his place to crash for the night.

The cold ended up waking me up this morning before my alarm, so I enjoyed a luxurious shower before heading north to Burlingame to meet with the Cloudera folks. What was originally slated to be a short morning turned into an all-day affair with me using their internet to finish up and turn in my team’s Hadoop assignment (which Vince went way overboard with, in a good way — examples will be forthcoming) between interviews with three of the four company founders. I had met previously with the fourth founder (or perhaps the first founder) in Seattle.

After leaving Cloudera, I travelled north to San Francisco in pretty ugly traffic, where I met with Martin. We caught up on recent life events and ended up eating at a quirky little restaurant called “Wierd Fish,” which is really a misnomer because the food was all excellent, well-priced, and really, not that weird. After food we considered a photography trip, but ended up instead meeting up with former classmates Sierra and Justin at a local bar.

At this point, I’ve been up since 6:40 am, so I think its a good time to consider sleep.

Greetings From Palo Alto

Tonight, Spencer drove me to Sea-Tac, I boarded a plane which took off, and then promptly returned to Sea-Tac due to a malfunctioning landing gear sensor. We changes planes, and eventually took off again about two hours late. I arrived in San Francisco after midnight, picked up a rental car and drove down to Palo Alto. Later today, I will be interviewing at Facebook. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with Cloudera. Since I am down here, I might as well check out Meebo as well.

Two Weeks of Work

Today, two weeks ago feels like an eternity to me. I’m not even sure I can recall all that I’ve been up to in that time, but I’ll work backwards and see how far I can get. Yesterday afternoon, I set up additional backups on the computers at my Mom’s office. Yesterday morning, I was playing football in North Seattle in preparation for the upcoming Turkey Bowl.

On Halloween, I went to bed early because I was completely wiped out. Waking up refreshed yesterday, though, it was definitely worth missing the Halloween festivities that night. Before sleep on Halloween, however, I traveled to Fry’s with Theo and Bobby to pick up a new WRT54GL — our old router just wasn’t cutting it. Before that was school, where I had a problem set due in my AI class and before that, a midterm in my Databases class. The Databases class is not going well, but that is another story.

Thursday, I ended the day talking to an old friend while biking home from the Ram, where was kind enough to feed me some delicious blackened salmon. Before that, I was finishing up the second assignment for my distributed computing class while in that class. Before that, as always, was the second lab section I TA, in Advanced Digital Design. Before that I kept busy with the Distributed Computing project and studying for the Databases midterm.

Wednesday night I was up late working on the Distributed Computing project after finishing the Othello-playing AI project with my partner around 11pm. Before that came my regular slate of Wednesday classes, including turning in some databases homework, which brings me to Tuesday night, where I was up until 6am, working on the Othello project, the Distributed Computing project, the Databases Homework, Attending class, TAing the first of the two weekly lab sections, and then, in the morning, finishing up my last two interviews at Google. The interviews went well. Before that, I worked out the circular array searching problem that I stumbled over at the end of my interview on Friday, to get the juices flowing.

Monday, I got to sleep early so I would be well rested for the second set of interviews. I also had my regular set of classes. Sunday I visited the parents after playing Frisbee, and Saturday I caught up on sleep from the previous week, which ended on a Friday where I visited Google for the first three interviews and hit up the UW CSE Affiliates Career Fair.

Before that, I don’t really remember anything.


I am very busy!

How Much Does an MRI Cost?

Opinions around the internet vary widely in regards to how much an MRI costs. I’ve seen estimates from $200 to $5000. I had an MRI performed on me after I tore my ACL just over a year ago, so theoretically I should have a pretty good idea of how much they actually cost. However, amidst all of the various bills and procedures I had during that time period, I realized that I actually had no idea how much my MRI had cost when my friend Alice asked me because she couldn’t get a straight answer out of the UW Medical Center.

An aside: This inability to get good pricing information about medical problems is a major problem with our healthcare system and a significant contributor to high health care costs.

Regardless, after Alice asked that question, I set about to find the true cost of my MRI, and now I have decided to share that information with the world in hopes that disseminating good information on the subject can help some people make more informed decisions about their health care.

In each case below, there are four costs: The total cost of the procedure, how much my insurance at the time (United Helathcare via Honeywell) paid, adjustments (usually these are contractual changes to the price based on your insurance), and patient responsibility, which is how much money I ended up paying when it was all said and done.

Date of service: 2007.10.05
Cost of MRI: $1871.00
Insurance Payment: $1227.38
Adjustments: $336.78
Patient responsibility: $306.84

In addition, a radiologist had to look at the film to diagnose the torn ACL and sprained LCL. That breakdown:

MRI, Joint of Leg: $195.00
Insurance payment: $8.41
Adjustments: $84.49
Patient responsibility: $102.10

Furthermore, a surgeon had to refer me to the MRI and he did a follow-up visit where he basically agreed with the findings of the radiologist. For each visit, the breakdown went like this:

Office Consultation: $256.50
Insurance Payment: $179.95
Contract Adjustment: $46.55
Patient responsibility: $30.00

So, how much does an MRI cost? The short answer is about $2000.

The long answer is it does depend on your insurance, but this really doesn’t change the base cost which remains around $2000. With relatively good insurance (like I had at the time), expect to cover around $400-$500 out of your pocket for the whole process. Of course, if something bad is diagnosed, your adventure into the vagueries of modern medicine has just begun!

Glacier National Park

After a quick stop in Idaho for Cason Dotson’s Wedding reception, my parents and I drove to Glacier National Park. Despite weather that didn’t cooperate very well and a famous highway that was closed in the middle, the scenery was still spectacular and the time was well spent. Definitely a park to return to in the future.