a left-eyed girl

living in a 2 dimensional world

Archive for January 2010

5 for Friday: End of January edition

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Oh hello last week of January! You’ve been a very good month and have treated me incredibly well. I hope February is just as wonderfully awesome.

1. Bikey life
Finally went out with the SJ Fixed kids on the Thursday social ride. Really super fun and we saw these other kids ripping up at DDR. Craziness. Will definitely head out on another ride with them soon! Super friendly and awesome.

2. Music
I adore Dragonette, especially their . Seriously… I think I need to listen to this while I’m riding.

3. Food
Been discussing this Slow-Carb thing lately with a girlfriend. I haven’t been following it very strictly, but definitely have been eating more lentils and beans than before.

4. Friends
Got to see Those Who Matter this week and everything is right in the world.

5. Books
I borrowed a copy of Omnivore’s Dilemma from a friend to be my daily train reading. So far, it’s pretty interesting, but I’ve barely made a dent in the book really. It’s been a while since I’ve read a new book (I usually re-read old books that I love over and over again), so it’s actually pretty exciting to have a new adventure in front of me.

Next installment of 5 for Friday will be in February. See you then!

Written by Reese

January 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Posted in just life

rain, boys, and sewing machines

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You know what made me particularly happy today? Well three things in specifically, starting with the rain, or lack thereof. I got drizzled on this morning on the way to work, but this evening looked so clear that I even chanced it and didn’t put the little rain cover I made for my basket on, and somehow I didn’t get even a single drop on me. Good times.

On my rain-free way home, I stopped on campus to say hello to the fixie boys and my oh my are they adorable and nice! I asked where they were going tonight and Thursday for the rides and decided to roll out with them on Thursday for the social ride. Boys on bikes are nice. SO NICE.

The last thing is that I finally got my sewing machine unpacked and set up and even made myself something too! Ha. Frank had gotten me a sewing machine and it had sat in the living room fresh in the box for a while before I got around to opening it tonight and setting it up. Within 20 minutes, I’d already wound the bobbin and threaded the thing and was ready to sew! Awesome… I’d been meaning to make something out of this ridiculous free XXL hockey shirt Frank had brought home and I finally got to make myself a little skirt out of it. Of course, it is a bit too short to wear outside, but maybe I’ll do it with leggings one day. Otherwise, it’ll be a nice house skirt for the time being.

Written by Reese

January 26, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Posted in just life, making

Bikey lunch dates

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I wasn’t born to organise events, but lately I find myself taking charge, suggesting, and organising group outings. It started with my photography group (which I sadly do not organise much anymore since I haven’t been as interested in photography anymore), and now I am moving on to my cycling club at work.

My what? Yeah you heard me, my cycling club.

Now, I am not a spandex person by a long shot, so why the heck did I join a cycling club that is full of people who do ridiculous rides on the weekends and enter races and wear lots of and lots of technical gear? I mostly joined because I knew that they would help to organise a Bike to Work Day Energizer Station in May, so I wanted in on that (I love handing out free stuff to people with a smile).

Now that I’ve gone to a couple very useful group meetings with topics like assembling a travel bicycle and easy DIY maintenance, I find myself wanting to help out more with the group. I haven’t been on any of the long rides and felt like we were lacking in the more social type of outings. And of course, when I want something out of a group that is not being provided, I like to step up and try to fill it!

But but but… I am not a scuba steve. I don’t know how to relate to people who go for 60 mile uphill rides for kicks. I’ve never signed up for a race or even gone faster than 15 mph on my bike. Heck, I’m not even sure I have a desire to go faster than 15mph! I don’t even know much about bikes in general other than, "Oooh that’s pretty!!" and how to install a basket. I’m just a lowly girl who rides her bike to work in, god forbid, street clothes.

Well, of course I didn’t let any of that stop me. (If you know me, then you would wonder why the thoughts even crossed my mind in the first place.) I have gone ahead and notified the cycling club that I will be organising bikey lunchtime rides for anyone interested. The idea is that we will choose a place that is less than 4 miles away, ride together, eat lunch, and then ride back to work together.

So far, one person is interested. Yay.

I think this is going to need to gain some momentum, so I am willing to start planning the lunch trips and see what happens. If people come, then yay, but if not, then hopefully I will meet at least one or two other people who wouldn’t mind going to lunch once in a while with me.

My secret hope is that other people will see us congregating outside the main building at lunchtime and ask where we’re going. Heck, maybe they will bring their bikes for the next outing and join us! And yes, of course this requires people to either bring their bikes to work or to commute with them, so hopefully it will encourage people to do the latter!

Yay, more bike commuters.

Just don’t be taking up too many of the racks on the Caltrain. Thanks.

As an aside… Sir Francis said that he’s noticed that I never used to organise stuff like this and suddenly here I am, the grand organiser for pretty much any group of people who will have me! Seriously, I like doing it so much, maybe because I’m slightly bossy and I like making plans and getting people excited to come. Yeah. I just can’t help it!

Written by Reese

January 26, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Posted in just life

Reconnecting

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This weekend I got to see a friend from Boston who moved to San Francisco. It’s been a long time since we’ve hung out, and it was really good to see her. I was pretty amazed that we seemed to get along well and I am already thinking of setting up another meeting with her to hang out and talk more, but I’m not quite sure what to do.

Lately I’ve been meeting with people I haven’t seen in a long time. Usually, I’m a little wary of meetings like this because sometimes I’m expecting them to be a certain way and they are sometimes different. I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve been able to get along quite well with most of the friends that I’ve attempted to reconnect with. Well, maybe I just think we get along and the other person is kinda "blah" on me, but I’m hoping the feeling is truly mutual. People change with time and it has been very comforting to find that I can still get along with people I haven’t seen in years. We grow and sometimes we grow closer towards a complementary relationship.

I’m trying to think of something fun to do with her next! I’ve lately realized that I prefer to have something to do with a friend, rather than just doing a lunch or coffee meet. I’d like to set up an activity (e.g., ice skating, shopping trip, photo walk, karaoke outing) for us to do. I never seem to be very close to people that I only see over mealtimes, and maybe it’s because we just need to have more in common than eating a meal. A meal can bring friends closer together and lets you catch up, but I do believe a shared activity/interest does more.

A perfect case in point is my friendship with J. We try to meet for lunch during the week, but we also do other things together outside of that. We both like photography so it’s rather easy for us to get together for a photo walk around town, maybe to meet other photographers, or just the two of us. Having that common hobby really does help to bring us together and make our friendship more interesting!

But anyway, back to my Boston friend. Since she’s new to San Francisco, maybe a good idea would be to pick a neighbourhood and do a little walking tour around to see what’s there. Or maybe we could go to a bar together and check out the scene.

Seriously, this makes me wish that I lived closer to SF so I could get up there more easily to see my friends. I tend to make a lot of friends who live in SF and it can be difficult to see them as often as I’d like when the train ride is 1.5 hours and the drive is about 50 minutes. Even cutting the train ride in half to 45 minutes would encourage me to head up to SF almost every weekend. I already have my Caltrain pass, so it would be that much easier to hop on the train.

The only other solution is to stay here in South Bay and simply find more friends here. I have yet to find a circle of girlfriends, and I really need to work on that.

Written by Reese

January 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Posted in just life

5 on Friday

with 8 comments

Wow, is it Friday already? The week seems to have gone really quickly. Ok ok… I’ll just get straight to my week’s list.

1. Bike commute advocate in the making
Got in touch with the bike commute organiser at my work’s cycling club and am going on a bikey lunch date with him to discuss possible future projects. I do love getting people excited about bike commuting, so it’ll be great to talk to someone about actually implementing some projects.

2. New 27" aluminum wheels
Tonight I will go to meet a guy who is giving me his old Schwinn Le Tour with 27" aluminum wheels. I posted to my cycling club about options for changing out my steel wheels for better braking and he said he had an old bike he could just flat out give me to cannibalize for parts. Needless to say, I am excited!

3. Not one, but two hot lunch dates with J
We usually only have lunch once a week or less, but this week, we have the chance to have lunch twice, and it’s pretty exciting. Our lunches are always ridiculously fun.

4. Satsuma oranges are amazing!
Last week we saw some satsuma oranges at the market, so we bought a bunch and I ate them all within a few days. It made me really sad to finish them, but earlier this week I arrived home to find that Frank had gone out and bought another giant bag of them during lunchtime. Aww… I am the luckiest girl in the world!

5. Ideal body weight
I checked a couple websites to see what my ideal weight is for my height and found that I should lose another 20 pounds. Wow… I’m going to try to lose another 15 pounds just to see if I can do it. I will never be one of those really skinny girls, but I think I could stand to lose a bit more. The plan is good old-fashioned healthy food and exercise. It just works.

Written by Reese

January 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

Posted in just life

Five for Friday

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I just realised that I completely forgot to do the "10 for Tuesday" blog thing. Wow, way to drop the ball after the first day. Anyway, maybe "Five for Friday" would be a better way to wrap up each week. Tuesdays are kind of in the middle of the week, so it’s hard to remember to write them up.

So right, here we go with Five for Friday:

1. Cute Lunchtime

Except for the days when I meet with Jason for lunch, I brown bag it without fail. Yes, I am a diligent brown bagger. I typically eat a cheese sandwich (sometimes I get fancy and put fried egg whites in!). I usually put some spicy mustard in there too, and maybe some sliced zucchini if I’ve got them.

Anyway, I bring my lunch in this lunchbox, made by Built NY and designed by Stephen Savage, a children’s book illustrator. The bag is perfect for a sandwich and a piece of fruit and features a super-cute dog face on it. (I was going to put a link here, but I can’t find the products on the Built NY site anymore. Just take my word for it that it’s cute.)

More than one person has looked at it and said that it’s really cute. Someone even asked if it’s Sanrio.

2. Shifting by feel

Girl Blue has friction shifters, so I do not get to "click" up and down gears. Instead I have two knobs that I move back and forth until I feel the gears click into place. When I first started riding her, I thought shifting was really hard, and I always had to look down to get used to what positions corresponded with the different gears. These days, I notice that I can shift solely by feel and rarely look down to check that the shifters are in the right position. I feel that much more accomplished.

3. Hot tea to warm up

Like most offices, mine is kept frigidly cool all year, so I have been rather obsessed with drinking hot tea all day to help warm up. I bought a bunch of bulk tea from SpecialTeas.com and have been happily drinking the following:

– Superior Grade Organic Rooibos
– Egyptian Chamomile
– Peppermint, Cut-leaf Organic
– English Breakfast Blend

I also have a box of green tea that Frank’s parents brought back for me during one of their trips to China. The tea is actually made of whole leaves, like medium green needles, and I think it is only lightly fermented so it retains the very grassy, fresh taste to it.

4. Lentils for health

Lately, I’ve been on a lentil soup kick. Lentils are not only economical, but also quick to cook and can take on whatever flavour you give them. The latest recipe was a black bean and lentil soup, made with a bit of tomato sauce. It is thick and hearty and contains all my vegetables and protein servings. It keeps me full without weighing me down and it’s a nice hot dinner.

5. Beer for health (?)

If you know me, then you know that I like beer. After we returned from our Germany trip, I told myself that I wasn’t going to waste my beer calories drinking crappy beer, so I have been picky about what I drink these days. If I’m going to drink my calories, I might as well drink something tasty. This is totally a case of preferring one small, high-quality beer to 2 (or three) low-calorie, watery beers.

The current beer of choice is Warsteiner, which adverts itself as "the queen among beers" in German on the label. It’s easy to find and relatively inexpensive. We’ve been buying it from Trader Joe’s, a six-pack for about $7. I will usually follow my dinner with one (I use it as a signal to my body that I am done eating for the night), so a six-pack lasts a decent amount of time.

Hmm… 4 out of 5 on my list are about food or drink, and the other one is about biking. Ha. I suppose that is pretty indicative of my life. Next week, I’ll have to put more friend- or Frank-related items in there!

Written by Reese

January 15, 2010 at 11:49 am

Posted in just life

Weighty problems

with 3 comments

Weight is a touchy subject for some people, depending on the circumstances. When someone has lost (or gained) weight and is now looking more healthy than before, then it’s usually a good thing that they (sometimes) don’t mind talking about. It’s when someone has moved in the unhealthy direction that it may become a touchy subject.

Now, I am not about to go pointing fingers at anyone, and this is my blog, so I may as well discuss my own weight and my feelings about it. After all, I can be sure of my own feelings about my weight, while I can only conjecture as to how other people might feel about theirs.

I grew up as an overweight kid. I knew I was overweight, but I was also pretty darned healthy and never really had a reason to be fitter since I was healthy (no horrible sicknesses and could still do what I wanted physically). Sure, when it came to the subject of boys, the ones I liked usually didn’t give me a second glance, probably because of my physical appearance. I wasn’t very into sports, simply because I wasn’t fast or nimble enough. I spent a lot of time reading books, studying for school, and practicing the piano. I was used to being the girl that had to make up for what she lacked in physical appearance by having the big personality and brain.

Now, don’t you go thinking that I was huge or anything. I was definitely not in the obese category, but I was certainly out of the normal category. I would put myself squarely in the overweight category through college.

It was after college that things really started to get out of hand. Having grown up heavy, I never really thought much of the fact that I would have to keep buying new clothes as I gained weight, but the problem was that I was getting older and bigger and constantly finding that my clothes didn’t fit me as well as they used to.

These days, things are different. I’m still not exactly sure of why I decided to pick up running as a hobby, but it stuck and now I’m much lighter than I used to be. I get a lot more attention from the opposite sex these days, but maybe that also has to do with my own confidence and how that comes across to others and not really my physical appearance.

I would estimate that I am now the same size as I used to be near the end of middle school (wow, that is a SCARY thought). Actually, I may now be slightly slimmer than I was then (ok, this entry gets scarier by the minute). Ha, so this means I was either YOOOGE in middle school, or I’m teeny now.

I’m thinking it’s the former.

Since I’ve been thinking about this a little lately, I wonder how it is for other people who have gone opposite me (grown up thin and plumped up over the years). It makes me wonder what people think about their weight when they see it going up. Are they afraid? Do they do something about it? Do they attribute it to just "getting old" and "that’s just how things are"? Or maybe they’re in denial and don’t really want to deal with it.

I wonder if people even think about it all? Life gets so hectic that sometimes it feels like months and maybe years pass by before a thought like that might cross your mind.

Maybe this just means I have too much time on my hands, which I probably do.

It seems like an easy equation to me, the whole calories in and calories out thing. I know it’s harder than it sounds, but it’s doable. But wait, that is a whole other blog entry.

I’m not asking anyone to share their thoughts on this topic, just sort of wondering aloud about these things…

Written by Reese

January 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Posted in just life

The elements

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Silicon Valley has been scheduled for rainstorms, but they’ve neatly occurred at night and not interfered with my bike commute at all. Just in case, I have been carrying two essentials with me: a) Giant poncho for sudden downpour since my jacket is only water-resistant and not waterproof. Oh wait, do ponchos come in any size other than ridiculously giant since they’re supposed to fit everyone? b) Waterproof cover for the stuff in my basket. This is actually a plastic coated reusable shopping bag that Safeway sent us in the mail when they opened the new one downtown. I put my stuff inside and fold over the top and secure with a binder clip I swiped from work. It works pretty well, but then I haven’t taken it out in a deluge yet, but I think it’ll be at least decently functional.

The first couple times we were forecasted for rain, the people at work asked me if I was going to ride my bike in the rain. Apparently this is an odd and freaky thing to do, especially since I wear civilised clothing for civilised riding. People simply do not think that someone like me would bother riding in the rain because… news flash… I might get wet.

In reality, I don’t mind riding in the rain and find it actually pretty fun. It’s usually a bit cooler and it’s fun when the raindrops hit you in the face. Well, I have a couple hangups:

1) Riding in the rain is just fine. Parking in the rain is not. For some reason, I don’t mind bringing Blue out in the rain as long as we’re actively riding somewhere. If she’s just sitting outside in the rain, it makes me feel really sad, like I left a puppy locked to a pole in the rain.

2) Blue’s brakes suck. They just do. The brake pads are original from when she was first assembled back in the late 70s and I just haven’t gotten around to changing them yet. This means that it takes me a long time to stop when it’s dry and even longer when it’s wet out. Also, each wet stop is accompanied by a really horrible screeching sound effect. Between the bell ringing whenever I hit a bump and the screechy brakes, people are usually aware of where I am.

Lastly, I’d like to share (another list, sorry) a few more general tips for riding in the rain. There are about a million lists out there that are probably better done, but hey, I feel like sharing so deal.

1) Fenders work. they keep the mud stripe off your back and stop the spray from the front wheel from hitting your face.

2) Get something to keep the rain off your body, like a jacket combined with a brimmed hat. The brimmed hat (or helmet) will help keep the rain out of your eyes (and off your glasses if you wear them). It’s not perfect, but it helps.

3) Gloves are nice and can keep your hands dry in case the rain is chilly.

4) Know how your bike behaves when it’s wet out. This includes understanding that your brakes may not be as effective and your wheels may not be as grippy when it’s raining. Know how your bike will react. This is especially important when it comes to riding with other bikes and on roads with cars that may do unpredictable things. Speaking of riding with cars…

5) Ride in a straight line. I seriously cannot stress this enough. If you have a bike lane, ride in the bike lane, far enough from the right that you won’t get doored by parked cars. I tend to ride closer to moving traffic, about 3/4 of the bike lane over. This is usually far enough from parked car doors, but still well within the lane so that I don’t have to worry about traffic hitting me.

If you don’t have a bike lane, for god’s sake, do NOT zip in and out of the traffic lane. I feel like this is worse than simply taking up space in the lane. At least if you are in the lane, the car is aware that you are there and might grumble to have to change lanes to pass you, but at least they are aware you are there.

Ride where the car’s passenger-side tires would go and ride in a straight line. Of course, if you have a parked-car-free shoulder to ride in, just use that instead. Sometimes I see people darting into the lane for a short distance and then back into the shoulder to pass parked cars and I think it’s a little scary for a car when you suddenly jump into the lane.

Cars are usually only aware of what is on the road since that is what affects them directly, so when you are in the shoulder, you are "out of sight, out of mind." If you take the lane, then you will be consistently in a driver’s field of vision and will not be a surprise when you dart into the lane to avoid a parked car.

6) And finally, be aware that cars have more limited vision in the rain and ride defensively. With wipers on and possibly fogged up windows, a car may not see you, so be ready to get out of the way or stop in case someone pulls out in front of you. When it comes to car vs. bike, the car usually wins, so prevent it from happening at all.

I feel like we should educate the cars on how to ride with bikes on the road, since most cars simply do not know how to act when there is a bike in the lane. I don’t remember there being any guidelines when I was taking Driver’s Ed way back in high school other than, "Do not mow down a bicycle with your car. Thanks." The only way to get cars used to riding with bikes on the road is to have bikes on the road. Everyday I ride at the same time on the same route and I probably see the same cars. I feel that the more I ride this same route at the same time, the more the drivers will expect me to be there riding in the right lane and will learn how to deal with bikes on the road. As for me, I ride very predictably, stopping at lights, riding in a straight line, acting like a really slow moving car with only two wheels. I think the more I ride like this, the better the cars treat me.

Just trying to do my part.

Written by Reese

January 13, 2010 at 10:38 am

Posted in just life

Morning doughnuts

with 2 comments

This morning I left the house 15 minutes early and stopped by the local donut shop for a dozen doughnuts on my ride to work. The shop wasn’t busy at all and I was able to bring my bike in with me and park it next to the door instead of locking it outside (more time lost). I ordered a dozen small doughnuts and asked the lady to please cut all of them in half before putting them in the box. I paid my $7.95 and a few minutes later I had a happy pink box oozing the wonderful smell of sweet fried sugar. Luckily, the box fit perfectly in my basket on top of my handbag and bag lunch and I was off to the train station. I even got to the train station early and ran into Biketwin on the way there (that never happens because I am usually so late and barely making the train).

After I got on the train, I opened the sweet-smelling box and was pleasantly surprised that the lady at the doughnut shop had thrown in some doughnut holes in too; that was really nice of her! Once the train started moving, I went down the aisle of the bike car yelling:

Hi everyone! Thanks for riding your bike today! Would anyone like a doughnut?

There were a lot of takers, some very enthusiastic, but a few refused with a polite smile; I did another round after people got on in Mountain View too. It was fortunate that there were the doughnut holes because some people wanted something sweet, but didn’t want to eat an entire half doughnut.

I still had doughnuts left by the time I got off in Palo Alto, so I entrusted them to some fellow bike commuters. On my way out of the bike car, a guy handed me a dollar and said thanks for helping him start his day off positively (that totally made my day, nice guy!!). As I got off the train, I let people getting on know there were doughnuts in the bikecar and to make sure to grab one, and I heard a few of them tittering about it.

A lot of people on the train asked me what the occasion was and why I brought the donuts and I replied that 1) it was Friday, 2) you rode your bike to work, and 3) I just felt like doing it. A bunch of them said it was a really nice thing for me to do. Now, I would not call myself a super-nice person by any means (I am downright catty at times), but I do like doing things once in a while that make others happy and this seemed like a good thing to do. Plus it was easy and totally minimum effort. I didn’t have to go out of my way to get the doughnuts and I didn’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money too.

Also, it affects people who are right here, people I see most mornings, rather than giving my $8 to a cause where I don’t have constant contact. Sure, $8 could probably be more useful feeding children in [enter third-world country here], but I won’t immediately see the effect of my $8 and I sure won’t be showered with gratitude and happy smiles if I send my $8 off to some poor kids. I’ll just have to hope that my money helped some kids and didn’t get eaten up in administrative expenses like mousepads, paper clips, and red staplers.

Wait, so I’m pretty much saying that it was a selfish act to give people donuts. Hmm… yeah that sounds about right. I do something "nice" for others so that I can feel awesome and generous. Look how awesome I am, I brought you sweet fried dough rings! I bet you are loving me right now, as you should! Oh and look, I’m going to write a blog entry about it too so everyone can know how awesome I am! Bow down, people!

Pretty gratuitous huh, not that I have a problem with that. I only wish I’d taken a photo with my camera of people enjoying their doughnuts. Dammit!

I hope you had a pretty awesome Friday too and that somehow your day was brightened by something that happened.

Just so you know, my other option was to bring a 6-pack of beers on the evening train to hand out, but the morning donuts worked out better logistically speaking.

Written by Reese

January 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Posted in just life

10 for Tuesday 5 Jan

with 2 comments

I don’t know if I want to make this a resolution (I break them like crazy), but I would really like to get the blogging thing done more often this year in 2010. Maybe this will be easier if I have a set thing I do once a week, so here is the start of "10 for Tuesday." It’ll just be a random little list of 10 things I’ve been thinking about or doing lately.

I gotta start slow with these things, so let’s just ease on into this. Maybe eventually I will turn this into a hybrid list of stuff and gratitudes.

1. Tried New Manhattan coffee at Philz because I wanted something different from the usual Tesora or It’z the Best. New Manhattan was okay, but I think I still like the regulars more.

2. Decided to work my way down the list at Philz and slowly try all the different coffees they have.

3. Bonded over bike commuting with a total stranger at a work seminar. Funny how bikes bring people together.

4. Learned that an acquaintance’s relative was killed by the light rail in downtown San Jose. Those things move so slowly that I never thought they could kill people, but apparently they can.

5. Almost done learning hiragana via realkana.com. I’ve been adding one column of practice a day and trying to do at least 150 correct in a row. I learn this stuff best by brute force repetition and it’s working pretty well so far.

6. Renewed my daily food diary effort and am making sure to write everything down consistently.

7. Haven’t gotten any faster on my bike commute, but I do feel less winded and it’s become a lot easier in general.

8. Got my Philz in with J today and it was very good. We talked about making retarded babies, new names for sports that already exist, ultra-gay tattoos, and how not to stalk someone.

9. Was advised by the Mister that we be nice to others for diplomatic reasons and I realised that it’s a very good thing he is there to balance out my innate evil.

10. Succeeded in smiling at a random stranger everyday for the past week. This morning, I smiled and gave the thumbs up to a guy going down the Bike Blvd opposite me on a unicycle. How could I not smile at something like that!

Written by Reese

January 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Posted in just life