Mar 222015

There is this Cupertino Education Endowment Foundation. I didn’t really know much about them, except that they do school fundraisers. Sometimes we goto particular restaurants or grocery stores during the year and money gets kicked back to the Cupertino schools. They have a party every year. Casino themes, Hawaiian themes – all interesting to me, keeping me curious about going but we have never gone.

This year though, I noticed that Sal’s teacher won the teacher of the year award. Which was the tipping point. Strangely enough, in conversations with Sal’s Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers, they didn’t find me bringing up this reason to be as amusing as I did…

We got the tickets not really knowing what we were in for. Some folks we talked to brought up the prospect of spending the evening dining with bureaucrats and fundraisers. Which I hadn’t really considered, but by then, the tickets were bought. And right after we got our seat assignments, I ran into a teacher selling bead necklaces, to be part of a “heads or tails” game to win a dinner. Maybe there was something to that hustling perspective. But the teacher hadn’t really sold many. Thinking that it’s for the kids, I told him we’re in for a couple of necklaces.

A few food tasting stations and wine tasting sessions later, I see him again. And we’re still his most recent sale. So I buy some more, to share. And while we’re talking about how many, another lady working the fundraiser comes by, with a neck full of beads, encouraging me to buy some beads…but I have to take them off her since her hands are full (food station and wine stations).

It’s for the kids I’m thinking again, but since I’m reminded of the kids, I turn back to the original teacher selling the beads and buy some beads from him for our table. And then some more for Sal’s teacher and her fiancé. And I think I bought a few more later too.

The game works like this. Someone’s going to flip a coin. And you’re going to guess if it’s heads (hands on head) or tails (hands on rear). And if you guess right, you get to continue. If you’re wrong, you lose a necklace. If you’ve got no necklaces left, you’re out. The game was more entertaining than I had expected. Though I was out pretty quickly. I was out in 4 flips and I had 3 necklaces…so pretty bad. But fun to cheer on the folks continuing.

The winner had pooled together some of my other gifted necklaces though, so I consider it a partial win.

But all that was a setup to the live auction.

Winning hatI haven’t been to many fundraiser live auctions before. And the last one I really remember taking seriously, I regretted afterwards. Had a chance to win a round of golf with Larry David. Which would have been a great gift for my father. And I let it slip away. I didn’t want to let that happen again.

But nothing really jumped out at me on this auction. Hockey tickets. Some Napa getaway. Another Napa getaway with balloon rides. A diamond pendant. Stay at a resort in Mexico. Dinner for 8 at Testarossa though – that could be interesting. And dinner for 8 at a firehouse – sounded kind of interesting too. But more as girls’ night out. No alcohol on the firehouse premises. Seems like a good policy in general, but certainly quite different themed than the dinner at a winery. Girls’ night out dinner though with firemen cooking leaves a lot to the imagination. Maybe with a chauffeured car. Maybe visit a winery beforehand for a tasting…that could all come together nicely. The Testarossa dinner started at high price and I think I bid with my number facing the wrong way. Embarrassing!

So now I have a fireman’s hat and a toy firetruck too. And plans to get 4 of Sal’s teachers together and his principal (who seems like a blast – very different to talk to principals at a parent instead of as a student) for the dinner.

Catherine tells me it was the most expensive item for the evening. I am not sure I bid properly. In hindsight, I think I treated it like a poker game, where I was bidding aggressively, and that might have been dumb. As soon as the other guy bid, I re-raised. He’d think about it and I’d re-raise instantly. Before the auctioneer could finish asking for the next price. I don’t know if I thought I could bluff him out or what I was really thinking. Probably something like “auctions are fun!” or “Catherine’s putting her hand on my arm as a sign of support!”

I never gave him the joy of seeing me think it over and feel like he might win. And I regret that. Cause I just kept raising my hand instantly. It would have been more fun, for him and crowd, if we had let it go to “going once…going twice…” a couple more times, both ways. I think I have played too much bad poker and haven’t studied Storage Wars enough. (That fire truck is a solid 3 dollar bill though!)

Then he made me feel worse, afterwards, coming up and congratulating me on the win. He pointed out how he could make reservations at Testarossa anytime, but he couldn’t call up the firehouse and ask them to make him a home cooked meal for him and his 7 friends. I think he really wanted to go see the firetrucks and maybe slide down the pole and wear some big pants with suspenders. At that moment, I was already wearing big pants with suspenders…and me saying it was going to be a fun girls’ night out didn’t seem to make him feel any better.

Oh well, it was for the kids!

Jun 222014

Here’s what happened on the ride:

  • My max speed: 43.6 mph
  • Times I will ride the bus: 1
  • Number of miles spent riding the bus: 4
  • Will I ride my bike over the finish line: Yes.
  • Weight difference between 5/31/14 and 6/8/14 (negative means I lose weight): -1
  • Average speed for all miles cycled (mph): 12.3
  • Day of my fastest average speed: 7
  • Day of my slowest average speed: 1
  • Number of minutes I wore a tutu: 0.
  • Total steps taken during trip (pedal strokes relate to steps the way I use Fitbit) (in thousands): 361
  • Number of times I do the QuadBuster hill (1.5 mile hill on day 3 @ mile 10 out of 67 for the day; 0 means I rode the bus, 1 is normal, 2+ means I went back to do it again!): 1
  • Number of strangers hugged: 1
  • Time of checking my bike in on final day (minutes): 1:38 pm
  • Earliest start time of day (minutes): 6:50 am
  • Latest finish time of day (minutes): 6:47 pm
  • Number of times I get someone to help me adjust my bike somehow: 3
  • Crashes: 0
  • Wardrobe malfunctions: 1 (ankle tape ended up wrecking my knee)
  • Difference between my 6/8/14 weight and the total of the first game of the NBA Finals: 16
  • Number of seconds iOS Mail is featured during the WWDC keynote: ~125

IMG_0098Seems like having someone “borrow” my towel in the shower on the first day should either count as a hug or a wardrobe malfunction.  But not sure which it is.  Didn’t matter for the betting pool anyway.

Turns out, no one gives my weight enough credit for max speed (highest guess was 30).  Kari got the latest finish time on the dot.  But at the same time, she also wanted chaffing to count for wardrobe malfunctions and wanted 3 of them to happen to me. Those were kind of disturbing guesses that were on my mind in the saddle occasionally.  When Candy predicted I was going to fall twice, at least she joked about it.

I do not hug enough strangers.  Or as many as folks want me to at least. Though with this new knowledge, things might change. If people take the hint?

I was also shaved a lot more on this trip than I had expected. That was an unexpected side effect of this ride. And the swollen ankles. And carpal tunnel issues.

Anyways, after a lot of spreadsheeting, Kari and Sonny won dinners. Too strange trying to break the tie. It wasn’t clear if I was biased or not either. Sonny made me sign up for this silliness (he actually signed me up) and Kari was rooting for chaffing. I didn’t have a favorite.

Other randoms:

  • Best Good Morning from the breakfast line: “I like the way you eat your banana.”
  • Best line not said in response to a compliment in the breakfast line: “I like the way you’re handling my sausage.”
  • Road kill: A skunk tail – no body, just the tail. Also saw a dead baby deer. Saw a 3/4ths eaten adult deer too. And a decapitated blue bird, with its head about 20 feet away from the body. Too many squirrels to count.

I signed up for next year already too.

Maybe feeling will return to my fingertips by New Years so I can start training again. Parts of me wants to try it on a road bike, cause my road bike friends were definitely having a different trip than I was. They were washing clothes and not standing in line for showers and getting massages, while I was just trying to survive. But doing it on a road bike is lose lose. Either I’m an idiot for doing a trip so hard this year, or I’m a lame cyclist and a road bike is just as miserable…

May 302014

There was a time when I was riding off on my own and we thought for safety’s sake, I should pay for Runkeeper so it could broadcast my trip. And then if Catherine ever needed to find my body on the side of the road, she’d know where to start looking.

The day after I paid for it, RoadID came out with the same service for free.

Oh well.

The benefit is now you’ll be able to follow my ride at this link – but to really follow it live, they’d like you to sign up for a free Runkeeper account too.  I think it’d be worth it. But maybe I’m biased.

Anyway, that was one way I thought I could cheer people up during the week. Ever feel down?  Go load that page up and enjoy a good laugh at me…

But then, I was thinking I wanted to do something to help keep people more engaged with the whole phenomena of the ride. And prop bets seem like the right answer.

So let’s play.

Right answer gets you a point.  If no one hits the number perfectly, closest answer, without going over gets you a point (aka Price is Right style). I’ll do my best to update my stats daily.

Most points win. In the case of a tie, all the people with the most points will have the deltas for the ones they didn’t get perfectly right summed up.  Smallest delta wins.

What do you win?  I’ll take you (and your family/significant other) out to dinner.  If you’ve sponsored my bike ride for any amount, it’ll be a nicer dinner.

Here are my props:

  • My max speed:
  • Times I will ride the bus:
  • Number of miles spent riding the bus:
  • Will I ride my bike over the finish line:
  • Weight difference between 5/31/14 and 6/8/14 (negative means I lose weight):
  • Average speed for all miles cycled (mph):
  • Day of my fastest average speed:
  • Day of my slowest average speed:
  • Will I wear a tutu?
  • Total steps taken during trip (pedal strokes relate to steps the way I use Fitbit) (in thousands):
  • Number of times I do the QuadBuster hill (1.5 mile hill on day 3 @ mile 10 out of 67 for the day; 0 means I rode the bus, 1 is normal, 2+ means I went back to do it again!):
  • Number of strangers hugged:
  • Time of checking my bike in on final day (minutes):
  • Earliest start time of day (minutes):
  • Latest finish time of day (minutes):
  • Number of times I get someone to help me adjust my bike somehow:
  • Crashes:
  • Wardrobe malfunctions:
  • Difference between my 6/8/14 weight and the total of the first game of the NBA Finals:
  • Number of seconds iOS Mail is featured during the WWDC keynote:

Entries need to be posted/emailed to me by midnight Sunday night.

Good luck!

May 222014

Sal’s third grade class had job interviews for doing chores around the class. The kids would do those jobs for Inghram bucks.  Inghram bucks can be used to buy a class party. Sal told me about an ice cream party they had. I was jealous.

Catherine and I go into the class every now and then and teach the kids programming with Scratch. After I heard about the ice cream party, I needed to get some Inghram bucks, so I asked the kids to tip me for the classes I’ve been teaching, cause that’s a job too. One kid wanted to give me a penny. He’s not on my list of favorite kids. And there isn’t even an Inghram penny.

With 23 kids, I pulled in $45.

This week, I found out that the end of year party was going to run about 100 Inghram bucks. tourDeCure

I thought of asking for another round of tips, but I wanted to make it more meaningful…and get more bucks too.

So I told them that for every Inghram buck that they gave me, I would match it with a real dollar donation to my Tour de Cure bike ride on June 8th. There is a diabetic in their class, so it seemed more relevant than my AIDS ride.

The kids asked me if they gave me $1000 if I would match it. Of course! What about a million?  That made me ask the teacher how much money they had at that point.  They said they were rich.  I asked if they were generous though.

Mrs. Inghram figured the average was $300…across 23 kids – that seemed doable. Some were thinking of giving me all their money, except then, they wouldn’t have money for the end of year party. Real issues now with Inghram bucks!

It definitely gave them something to talk about and discuss for the rest of the day. And I left there trying to think of more ways to get all their money for some reason. Somehow I felt like I was playing Monopoly.

I got a text after school. They gave me over $800.  A couple of standouts – someone donated $115 flat out.  Another one donated 80% of their money. I think I’ll be buying a lot of her wares at the open house product showcase, to make sure she’s got enough money to get to the end of year party…but I love the thought.

It was extremely touching. Of course, it would have been even more touching if they actually hit that $1000 mark they tried to scare me with in the morning. But in the end, we’re donating $911 (x2, with a corporate match).  Not too shabby for our little ride.

Feb 242014

But I did it again yesterday.

20 years ago, it was for fun, for beers at Ensenada. And tacos. I didn’t train. I was young enough (and dumb enough) to just be able to will it to happen.

Yesterday, I rode 50 miles just as training for a larger ride, with more meaning. I’m doing the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from SF to LA in June.

Things have changed a bit over the years. It has definitely gotten harder. I don’t remember cramping up last time – but felt it yesterday. Priorities maybe shifted. There is a kid around that I want to make a lasting impression on.

Catherine called my bike “crappy” when talking to a friend of hers. I asked later on, what she meant by that. “It’s old, too heavy, and not built to go long distances on the road.” It felt like she was talking about me. I figured we’re a good match that way. (Me and the bike that is…)

Instead of dropping a large chunk of change on a road bike that’s half the weight of my current bike and would lead to buying new shoes and wearing a lot of spandex as outerwear, I donated the money. Your eyes can thank me anytime you see me not wearing spandex outerwear.

Waving a magic money wand would definitely make the obstacles ahead of me shrink. But my obstacles seem tiny compared to the obstacles those living with HIV face. If there could be a magic wand, I want it waved for their obstacles, not mine. One of the leads for my training rides had a post a while back (couldn’t find it to link to, so need to paraphrase) about how all of us will face various challenges on this ride. Fundraising, equipment, conditioning, time, health…no one will have an easy time. Upbeat huh?

And yet, over 2000 folks will do it. To help others. Through awareness, fundraising, or just inspiration and/or support. I am expecting it to be an emotional event and I’m also expecting that I’ve underestimated what I’m going to get out of it.

But to get there, I’m going to need support too. Right now, I’d really like someone to go on one of these rides with me.  But if you can’t make it out, I’d be more than happy to thank you for sponsoring my journey

Nov 192013

White Wabbits

This was our first season in the under 10 league, with 2 practices a week.  That was kind of interesting as it tested the limits of attention, yet allowed the boys more time to interact with each other.  The guys were closer at the end of the season than they were in the under 8 leagues (one practice a week) but that lead to me having more issues with control over the guys who were interested in goofing around instead of practicing. Our game results started to suffer later on in the year too – maybe correlated. Or it could have been that our leading scorer was out with a fractured wrist.

We did make it into the end of season tournament though.

Because a team just had to say they were interested in playing in the tournament.

The tourney was great.  Practice was kind of a bear, due to daylight savings time, but our leading scorer was able to get his cast off and the team was happy to be together again.

Even though we lost our first two games pretty badly.  We didn’t even score in the first game. Against the Blue Boogers even!

The second game brought tears to a mother’s eyes though, when she saw her son score his first goal.  That right there made the whole season worth it to me.

Though in the third game, that same kid’s father brought his son over to me to say that his son felt like I was picking on him and he was too shy to tell me himself. We talked about why he felt like he was being picked on and I was able to spin it like the journalism teacher did to Jo in The Facts of Life. I’m pushing him to do more, because he’s able to do more. He’s faster than a lot of other kids – so he can get into more plays. Once we put it that way, he had a smile back on his face. Didn’t score again, but he had a smile on his face at least.

That third game was tense though. It was against a team that hadn’t lost all season.  We were looking at our 3rd loss in 5 hours. Sal was a little bummed out before the game, using words like “suck” and “doomed” and “we”. But we had a long, private chat on the picnic benches a field away and when we came back, we were looking forward to giving it our best.

He was goalie for the first half. In the first quarter, somehow we scored first. On a play with an assist even. The parents were out of their seats for the rest of the game. It was fun.

Then a couple of  minutes later, they’re putting pressure on us. Sal’s had trouble through the years, getting himself centered between the ball and the goal when it’s at an angle. It’s a difficult thing, to come out and still be blocking the goal behind you at an angle. And they were coming at an angle. And he was coming out of the goal mouth. And somehow, things bounced around a bit, and he was leaning to the side and then they shot…

…and hit him squarely in the ribs. A solid shot. The parents all gasped. But he crawled over to touch the ball and then didn’t move much.  Some of the parents felt like it hit him in the head, but I was pretty sure it was the ribs. The ref stopped play and called me over. The parents had me wondering a bit as I came up to him. He was bawling into the grass. Motionless. I asked him if he got hit in the face or the ribs. He said the ribs.

So I picked him up, gave him a hug, told him he had a bunch of ribs, I wasn’t sure how many, but there was a lot of them, so he could go on. Put him on the ground and he was alright.

Then about 45 seconds later (he’ll say more like 20 – and neither of us really knows) they were putting pressure on us again, shot on goal from an angle, but Sal’s in place again.  He takes this one right in the gut.  Another gasp. Another keeling over. Another stoppage of play. I don’t know if the coach is supposed to be laughing on the way in, but this coach was doing it.  It was just so fast and perfect. And another save. I was super proud of his performance and knew that it sucked getting hit like that. But the first hit didn’t scare him from the second one. That was the victory in my mind.

We had one guy on the bench. He wasn’t excited about it, but was willing to play goalie. Sal didn’t want to relieve him in the second quarter, so he was on the field. Sal got a foul called on him for pushing another kid in the back. The little dude was letting off a bit a steam!  We went into the half up 2-0.

I was beside myself.  This team hadn’t lost all season and they only tied once.  To us.  That game took me hours to relax afterwards. I was so pumped up. They weren’t used to being in that spot and they were falling apart.  Now we were up 2-0 and they certainly weren’t used to that.  We talked about how we couldn’t advance to the regional tourney in 3 weeks, since we lost our first two games, but we could send the Galaxy home if we beat them. The kids had something to play for.

And we did it. That guy that felt like I was picking on him? He kept coming back on defense and guarding the middle of the field, throughout the second half.  And supporting our offense as well.  He was all over the field. Our 2nd half goalie also made tremendous saves – diving after a few even.  The whole team played that second half with a sense of confidence that no one would have guessed possible during the first two games. I was so proud of how these boys rallied and turned the day around for themselves. Hopefully, they got some life lessons out of it, cause things certainly were gloomy going into that third game.

That night I got an email from the tourney director that a few of the Galaxy parents were upset that they weren’t going on to the regional tourney. We know that made me smile even more…