Benihana with Grandparents and Aunt Jen

My parents came to visit for a couple weeks and Jen was also in town for a week or so. We had some nice family time and grandma and grandpa were super helpful with preparing meals and shuttling the kids.

We capped off a great visit with a trip to our local Benihana. Grandma requested a window seat, which was arranged.

Memorial Day with the Michigan Crew

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 26th, we hosted the Michigan gang for a BBQ at our house. It was the first time having everyone over. Having a flat lot with a walk-out back yard is proving to be a benefit. We never ate outside at the last house.

Go Blue!

Birthday Dinner

On March 27, 2014, Grace had just walked in the door from a work trip to London. We had dinner at our usual spot with the kids. It turned out to be a late dinner and the kids were fried, so we ended up taking our entrees to go. This is what birthdays are now, which is okay. Happy to be together on our birthdays.

New Year’s Eve with Snickers at Home

After traveling for the holidays, it was nice to just spend some time relaxing at home (i.e., all playing Candy Crush on our devices). Although I had suggested dinner out, our schedule was a little off and we just ate at home. Snickers must have missed us a lot because he was unusually social all evening and even hung out with us on the couch (usually he’s under the bed upstairs). The kids love him.

We watched the ball drop on Times Square live on EST. And, just like that it was 2014. Happy New Year!

Golden Unicorns – Last Game of the Season

On Saturday, October 26th, Olivia and her team played their last game of the season. Olivia had a slow start to the first season of AYSO, but she finished strong, scoring in each of the last two games. I hope she remembers the feeling into next season.

Thanks to Coach Robert, Coach Neal, and all of the wonderful families on our team. Looking forward to next year. Go Golden Unicorns!

New Commute: Bike + Train – Day 8

There’s a lot of shuffling going on at home. New nanny is driving Grace’s car. Grace is driving my car. I’m driving…

For just under 7 years, I’ve been driving to San Francisco every day. I’ve just calculated that I spent about $36K on parking during that time, plus gas. We’ve always lived near public transportation, but each time I try it, I find it would be just easier to drive. Now the closest BART/Caltrain station is only about 1.5 miles from home, but by the time I drive, park, pay, get on train, it’s like 20 minutes and I could have been almost to the city by then. For a few years, Grace and I commuted together, so the cost was for both of us, which helped to justify it.

I’ve been joking/talking about getting a Vespa to ride to BART (which conveniently stops just below my building) for a while now. Over the past month or so, Grace has asked me several times if I’m getting said Vespa. To me, that is implicit permission to get a Vespa! When I brought this good fortune up at work, the response was, “why don’t you just get a bike?”  Why does everyone have to be so practical?

I started to research my options and found that theft is a major issue for bikes. Thus, I looked into renting a bike locker. I then inquired whether or not I could park a Vespa inside and the answer was no. Before we left on our last trip, I rented a locker, which I thought would help me commit to the bike. My key was waiting for me when we returned.

I had been scouring Craigslist for weeks looking for a beater bike – one I wouldn’t care about being stolen or stripped down. I never found the right one and then I got obsessed with finding the last bike I owned (20 years ago in college). It wasn’t easy. During my search, I realized how many people were posting pictures of their stolen bikes and it made me feel like the secondary market for bikes was a shady one.

I researched some more and then found a bike that had some interesting features. I’m not hipster enough to ride a true fixie, but the idea of an urban road bike appealed to me for my purpose. The bike I chose has a two-speed “kick shift,” which doesn’t have any gear levers. You just pedal backwards a bit to change the gears, which are internal to the rear hub. In addition, it has a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system, which uses a belt instead of a chain. I don’t need to worry about greasing a chain or chain grease on clothes. It’s nothing exotic (steel frame vs. aluminum or carbon fiber), but it gets the job done.

So, a week ago Monday was my first day. I rode at a decent clip, wondering along the way if I could do this daily. I pulled over to my locker, which is under the huge overpass on which I’m trying desperately to avoid by commuting on our side of the train tracks. When I stop, I feel seriously light-headed. I barely get the bike in the locker before I start looking for a place to sit or pass out.

Now, if anyone knows about “the incident” of 2000, which was the last time I exerted myself like this, this whole episode will sound familiar. At that time, I went for “a run” of about 3 blocks, and became so spectacularly debilitated on Lincoln Way in San Francisco that it took me at least 30 minutes to regain my vision. The details are always funny, but I had diagnosed myself with having a vasovagal response and have been recounting it as such ever since – for 13 years.

This time, I laid down on the sidewalk near the Caltrain parking lot. I pretended to text so no one would call 911. I actually texted Grace, letting her know of my condition, and to possibly call 911. After a few minutes, I made my way to the train and by the time I got to work, I was okay.

I researched what happened a bit more and now have made a different self-diagnosis. Aside from being seemingly out of shape (okay, pathetically), it appears that my episode was the result of a number of things:

  1. Stopping exercise very suddenly, which causes your heart rate to drop
  2. Low blood pressure – I’ve always had this
  3. Dehydration – I didn’t drink or eat anything before I left (I never do)
  4. My legs were doing all the work, requiring additional blood flow in my extremeties
  5. I got hot, so all my blood vessels were dialated to cool me

And thus, there was little blood going to my brain at that time. I knew to lay myself out. This time, I did not go deaf or blind (like ’00).

So, I felt a little better – like I could mitigate these circustances with some water and conditioning. I’ll admit I shopped for Vespas that day, but decided not to give up and rode the train home and biked, too. Grace even offered to pick me up.

We live on a little hill, so even that one extra gear was helpful, but it’s no joke getting up it each day. Today, I completed day 8 of my new commute. I’ve made it up the hill every day. The train has been the dodgiest part of the experience: strong evidence of urine, crowded with broken AC, breaking down in a tunnel with no lights or AC, etc. I chalk it up to the gritty SF Bay Area I’ve learned to call home.

We’ll see what happens when it’s dark, rainy, or dark and rainy. Something tells me there’s a Vespa in my future. What’s the over under on when???

EDIT: Warren, who was my roommate at the time of “the incident,” corrected me (from Singapore) that it was 2000, not 1999. He said he remembers very well when I came home and told them what happened.