About Me

Semi-retired technology (originally) entreprenuer living in Seattle with my partner, Michael, and our three cats: Barnum, Bailey and Buster.  Currently mostly on hiatus from technology; exploring new things I couldn't when I worked full-time.  And...continuing my love of all goods baked. 

About this Website

Musings on things that interest me: the stock market, personal and enterprise technology, pop culture/entertainment as well as my family and other general observations in my daily life.  Also, this is the place to find out more about our charitable foundation and what non-profits we are currently supporting.

The Family
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Posts on general observations in life, with my family and I might also write some pop culture/entertainment quips.  This is the closest thing I'll likely ever have to a journal.

Sunday
Jul112010

New Wheels (of the four-wheel kind)

I wrote that we were getting the X6-M previously.  It finally arrived in all it's 550 bhp glory!   The car is a looker (he said in his best grandpa Wheeler voice).  Don't know if that is due to the color, the car's shape or the fact that they are very rare in Seattle, but we do get quite a few head turns.   This was the first time we were offered the option to "wrap" a car to protect the paint job.  Usually when you go into the finance manager's office they try to sell you a bunch of stuff that most people say you should decline because it is a huge markup for the dealer and you could have done (or had done) yourself for less $.  This option though, was the only add-on people said was valuable (yes, you could also have this done yourself, but given the potential to make the car look like crap, I decided to go with the dealer's installer and associated install warranty).   The wrap material comes in many different names:  StoneGuard/ClearMask/Ventureshield/Durashield.  It is difficult to install flawlessly so a professional is recommended.  I had heard about this process in the past, but only in the context of covering smaller areas such as the car's front end, the first 3rd of it's hood (together commonly known as a clear bra), and as door edge guards.  I had seen a couple of these applications and hated the line in the hood where the material ended and worried about "yellowing" of the material over time.  Research showed that yellowing wasn't really a problem with the modern materials and most have at least a 5 year warranty.   Also, because the material is applied much like window tinting, most of the higher-end materials can supposedly be removed without affecting the underlying paint job to allow new material to be applied.  Because I wanted the entire front-end covered including the front fenders and the entire hood (known as a 1/2 wrap which also included door guards, side-mirror guards, headlight lens guards) we needed one of the materials which came in large enough rolls to cover the hood in one piece...Durashield in our installer's case.  The result is fantastic even on our non-metallic paint which shows every little flaw.  The cost was fairly expensive but not when considering how much it would cost to re-paint a panel (which never looks as good as a factory paint job) and now I don't have to worry as much about paint chips.

Car comes with all the latest and greatest in auto-technology including integration with Google maps.  Coolest new electronic gadget:  the heads-up display.  Wouldn't have ordered it had it not come as part of some other package, but now that we have it...AWESOME!  Use it all the time.  Thought it would annoy me at first, but it definitely blends in to to the background unless you make a conscious effort to look at it.  But you don't ever have to look down.  Pretty cool.

Monday
Jul052010

New Wheels (of the two-wheel kind)

Now, why a new bike as well?  I don't want to go into too many details here...lest people think I have a short fuse :).  Let's just say that after 4 tube changes last weekend,  the phrase "Your bike is not a shot put!" might have been uttered while out on the road.  It was time to abandon my 14 yo super-uncomfortable-on-bad-roads hybrid for something a little less bone-jarring and a little more reliable.  

My biggest quandary in this once-in-a-decade (or so) purchase process was road vs. hybrid.  It seemed to come down to three significant differences:  tire size; rider's stance and flat vs. drop bars.  Since I had never taken my old bike on any kind of non-paved trail, I assumed that I could probably go with road- size tires and get myself the speed/acceleration boost.  One of my main challenges was the more aggressive stance of road bikes given that I spend so much time navigating crazy car drivers and clueless pedestrians.   I found out that there were "road" bike models which had significantly less aggressive geometries more approaching that of a typical hybrid.  I tried a couple of these and convinced myself they were good enough for city street travel.   The other challenge was my lack of familiarity with drop bars.  I tested out "road" bikes with both drop bars and flat bars and I always felt more comfortable with flat bars:  I liked the wider stance of flat bars which I felt gave me better control.  But I had read over and over on the "interwebs" that drop bars were recommended for distance bikers because of the multitude of hand positions available.   I am usually cycling 30-40 miles or more at a time, so it seemed experts would tell me I should go with drops.  After narrowing down the choice to two all-carbon bikes, one with drop bars and the other with flat bars, I tested them side-by-side at least 3 different times.  I still felt more comfortable with the flat bars, but figured it was just a familiarity issue and in the end ended up with this Specialized Roubaix, all-carbon baby.  So far it has 100 miles on it, even with the crappy 4th weather and I think it was the right choice.

Monday
Jun212010

Epic (for me) 60 mile bike ride

I don't know what possessed me, but today I ended up doing a 60 mile ride around the north end of Lake Washington and back home via I-90 (commonly known as the Lake Washington Loop).


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It started out as simply a way to extend my breakfast ride by a few miles on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Once I hit Kenmore, it was clear that turning around was going to be almost the same as going down the other side of the lake, so I thought, "Why not? My calendar is unusally clear today".  Unfortunately, I was just guessing at the eastside route and missed the primary and alternate "official" turn-off points.  I ended up heading into Woodinville before I realized I had gone too far east (it should have been obvious when I went under I-405, but my type-A personality just ignored the signals).  Even though I could have continued south through Redmond, my type-A personality also wanted me back on the original route...go figure.  For those that don't know, Lake Washington is essentially in a valley between the hills of Seattle and the hills of Bellevue/Kirkland.  Woodinville is in another valley on the other side of the Bellevue/Kirkland hills.  In order to back to the Lake route, I had to traverse across the Bellevue/Kirkland hills.

See that spike at mile 35, that was my 0 -> 386 foot climb in a matter of 1 mile to get to the top of those Bellevue/Kirkland hills.  Hardest cycling hillclimb I have done so far this year.   The rest of the trip was a piece of cake compared to this.  I would never think of getting off a bike and walking it up a hill, but I will admit I had to stop 1/2 way up to rest and drink water.

Total cycling time was 4 hrs.  Total trip time was 6 hrs.  Food intake was pretty moderate:  Medium breakfast at 10mi.; coffee at 37 miles; coffee and bagel at 60 miles.  I wondered how tired I would be at the end and luckily, not very.  My backside was more worse-for-wear from 4 hours on a tiny bike seat (even with padded shorts).

Thursday
Jun102010

Should we donate to help oil spill cleanup efforts?

Yes we should, if only for the additional lobbying strength the $ can provide in Washington and my belief the money will get where it is needed, faster. The Stranger poses the question.

 

Monday
Jun072010

A boy scout is always prepared...not!

After a week of being cooped-up because of our "Junuary" weather here in Seattle, I decided on Friday I was going to go cycling come hell or high water.  My ride started out sunny.  But at about 14 mi. south of home, I looked up to see coming at me yet another of those dark cloud banks which meant to do no good.  I turned around thinking I could beat them home, but alas, with about 9 miles still to go it began to pour like a mutha.  Well, "Suck it up.", I said to myself,  "You live in Seattle."  In reality, the only reason I thought this and not something more colorful was that I was chastised the previous day by a friend for complaining about the weather.  She essentially told me to suck it up because I lived in Seattle (Thanks Christina).

So I soldiered on, even in my non-rain-prepared state.  Suddenly, at about 5 mi. from home, the bike started to drag pretty badly.  I initially thought it was because of what seemed like gale-force winds coming directly at me, until I looked down...I had a flat. 

Now for most cyclists this would be a walk in the park.  They're all carrying extra tubes and patch kits and all assorted MacGyver tools to make simple work of the act of repairing a flat.    In my head, because I am a recreational cyclist, I didn't need any of that stuff.  I was never going to get a flat.  Well, when you are 5 miles from home with the prospect of walking the rest of the way home...in the rain, you learn pretty quickly that you probably should keep all that stuff with you too.

Well, I naively thought that I could just stop and pump up the tire every mile or so to get home.  Did you know that tubes that won't hold air in the first place, generally still don't hold air when you simply pump them up? :)  Houston, we have a problem!  What was I to do?  Oh, and by the way, my cell phone was dead as well, so I couldn't even call for help.  So, I just started walking the long walk. 

Luckily, as I approached a major cyclist thoroughfare on my way, I was blessed with what I will call Seattle's network of commuter-cycling guardian angels.  The very first cyclist riding by stopped to ask me if I needed help in addition to no less than 100% of all the other cyclists who passed me by.  I took the first guy up on his offer of a patch kit and even the offer of his spare tube if I needed it.  I couldn't believe it.  I have never felt such generosity from a group of strangers.  In the end, we got my tire patched well enough to get me home and I immediately acquired a spare tube, patch kit and other assorted tools to take with me on the road.

Needless to say, I now pay that stranger's kindness forward every time I see a cyclist which looks like they need help.