a left-eyed girl

living in a 2 dimensional world

Archive for August 2010

A cycling lesson well learned

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I took my longest ride ever this past Sunday. I know it doesn’t sound like much if you’re a long-distance rider, but I finally rode my very first metric century (104 km or ~64 miles) from San Francisco to San Jose via beautifully scenic Skyline Blvd. I was originally only planning to ride down to Palo Alto as usual (68 km or 42 miles) and then take the train back home, but of course plans change.

While taking a nice little break in Woodside, some friends heading down to San Jose from San Francisco rolled up, so I decided on a whim to try going all the way with them. I was feeling really good at that point, so I thought it’d be a good idea to join them.

Of course, I completely forgot:

  1. They are boys and boys ride faster than I do
  2. Actually, everyone rides faster than I do
  3. But more specifically, these boys ride faster because they are badasses on fixed gear bikes
  4. To eat enough to make up for the extra miles

So yes… the boys are fast. They got lost and I still only barely made it down with them. Goddamn fast boys!

Also, it turns out that while my body is just fine eating a PB&J sandwich, a small handful of nuts, and a big meal at home after 68 km, my body is definitely not fine with eating a PB&J sandwich, a small handful of nuts, and part of a friend’s burrito after 104 km.

Mistakes I made:

  1. Not eating enough during the ride. Eating a large meal afterwards can be tough because your stomach can only hold so much food (see next item).
  2. Not eating calorie dense food afterwards. I filled up too quickly at home because I was eating my normal dinnertime food, which is typically pretty healthy with a large volume and low calorie count.
  3. Over-exerting myself by trying to follow someone else’s pace. This is why I hate to ride with other people. I am a slow rider. I like to ride at my own pace, which is good for my body. I’m usually the last person in a crowd for this very reason.

As a result of these mistakes, I ended up feeling incredibly sick the next day. I was tired, cranky, and feeling lightheaded and dizzy every time I stood up. I am pretty sure this was because I had just done too much the day before and hadn’t refuelled myself (still running on empty the next day). I had no idea that something like that could last into the day after, so I was surprised I was still feeling quite ill and out of sorts on Monday.

I will definitely keep this in mind next time I attempt a ride longer than the usual 68 km (probably again on Monday due to the lovely US holiday). I feel like I need to conquer the metric century; then I can move on to the imperial century!

Written by Reese

August 31, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Posted in just life

Five on Friday: The happy edition

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I tried writing this entry as a list of things I’ve bought lately, but, well, dammit, it was just plain boring. Who wants to read about all the crap I’ve bought recently? Maybe it’s interesting to someone out there, but it’s not all that interesting to me.

Besides that, someone already made a snide comment to me this week and implied that I’ve got all the money in the world to burn buying stuff. The fact is that I do get paid well at my job, and I do have a substantial disposable income, but really I do not go around flaunting my financial situation and I hope that I do not give anyone that impression. Let’s be clear here: I don’t really care how much money you make, what you spend it on, and what you don’t spend it on. If I like you as a friend, then we’re friends. I’m not here to judge you.

(Unless you’re whining about money problems to me and simultaneously telling me how you just bought a really awesome something or other that cost an arm and a leg. Then I’m judging you. Sorry.)

Yeah, I’m still a little sore about that, but I’m going to go sailing on with a smile on my face because, let’s face it, I’m a happy person. And so let’s get on with this happy business:

1. Siddhartha

Guys, this book is good. Really good. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people saying that the book is really good. And they are all correct. Yes. Read it. It’s not exactly changing my life, but it’s influencing it very slowly and making me think more.

2. Photography

I’ve been shooting more lately, and it feels good. Really, really good.

3. A friendly smile, a little effort

It really makes a difference in my day when a stranger smiles back at me. I’ve been smiling at people more often, and I am so happy to find my smile returned back to me. Spread a little sunshine, get a little back.

4. Oom-chick oom-chick

I have a playlist of about 40 songs that I love. Everyday I listen to this playlist while I’m on the train. It might be boring to some people, but when I really love music, I will listen to it on endless repeat until I find myself humming it (almost exactly in tune too) even when I’m not listening to it.

5. A beating heart

I have not been riding my bike as much as usual lately. My leg has been feeling sore lately, so I’ve been giving it a rest during the week and restricting myself to one long ride on the weekend instead, and what a nice long ride it is. So far, it’s my third time riding down to Palo Alto via Skyline, and I have my route worked out almost perfectly now. Wonderful. I was going to try another route this weekend, but since they’ll be closing the Crystal Spring Dam soon, I figure I might as well keep doing this route until I can’t anymore. This is a wonderful solo ride for me. The solitude and physical exertion does a body good.

Bonus: I also have to add that I am very happy to hear of good news from friends. Occasionally, I will smile broadly to myself, thinking about some good news a friend related to me. I know it probably seems like I’m insane to someone else watching me randomly smile, but who really cares. I can’t keep happiness shut inside of me. When I’m happy, I smile, and I’ve been feeling very happy recently.

Written by Reese

August 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Posted in just life

Selecting a primary care physician

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Since we’ve moved to San Francisco, I’ve been looking into changing my primary care physician to another person located up in town. My previous doctor was located in Santa Clara, which was wonderful and convenient when we lived down in San Jose, but now I’m finding the commute down to be annoying to say the least. I’d even prefer to find someone in between work and home.

But anyway, for now I’m looking at some doctors up in town and completely basing my decision on what they write on their websites. Kaiser is wonderful as it provides every doctor with their own website where they can copy and paste whatever boilerplate text they’d like. They can even include a photo, so I may fully judge the doctor based on how they look too.

Does this person look friendly? Do I think he/she would care if I was whiny and complainy? Are they going to give me crap when they find out that I’ve foolishly gone on exercising through an injury?

(Wait, that last one never happens, right? Right?)

Today I judged candidates based on their hobbies, how much they filled out their personal profiles, their appearance in the profile photo, and how long they’ve been practising. It’s come down to a choice between:

  • A female doctor who is fluent in Spanish, proficient in 4 other languages, and believes in acupuncture and holistic healing
  • A male doctor who meditates to balance himself, has a fish pond in his backyard, and believes in educating his patients to make informed decision

Seriously, I cannot decide between the two. I like being informed and I like meditating and finding inner peace, so maybe Mr. Doctor is better for me. But… I also am a big believer in non-medical medicine and would prefer to have some kind of holistic approach to healing, so maybe Ms. Doctor is a better choice. Their profile photos are both horrifically touched-up, so I don’t exactly know how they’ll be in person. One of them looks unfit from the photo, but it could just be an unflattering angle (unfit doctors are one of my pet peeves, especially ones who go around telling me I should lose a bit more weight to lower my BMI).

Either way, they both speak Spanish. Oh wait, that’s right, I only know food words in Spanish, so unless they’re going to take me for tacos and order for me, this is probably not a big deal.

Right. What do you guys think?

Written by Reese

August 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Posted in just life

Five on Friday: Food, Friends, and Fun

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1. Hot hot heat

No, not the band… I’m talking about Sichuan food, especially the hot and spicy, mouth-numbing dishes that make me so happy. I was feeling the need for some tasty Sichuan food, so we headed to East Bay for a visit to China Village. We had the water-cooked fish which was perfectly spicy and tongue-numbing thanks for a healthy dose of red pepper oil and peppercorns.

What I really wanted, though, was some really good spicy beef tendon. This place was alright, but just not hitting the spot. They put a lot of coarsely crushed black peppercorn, which made it really gritty to eat. Ugh. Otherwise, the flavour was really good, but I’m still in search of good spicy beef tendon that doesn’t have the texture of sand.

2. Reconnecting with friends

Ah, got back in touch with a couple friends this week and that’s always a good thing.

3. Lovely bike rides

I have not been doing longer rides as often as I’d like this week due to a bit of pain in my right knee, but I did have a very nice weekend ride, and I’ve planned another nice weekend ride for Sunday morning. I’m hoping to do another Skyline ride to Palo Alto and to get it done faster this time. Google maps says that the route I take is 42 miles and should take me 4:38, but I’m thinking it should be more like 3:30. I spent quite a while getting lost and doubling back last time, so this time I will be better prepared and try to get the ride done faster. If I leave SF early enough, then I can get back in time for a photo social in the Mission.

4. Going it alone

Truth be told, I am quite enjoying learning to be alone. So far this week I’ve managed to eat alone in public at a restaurant, do a long solo bike ride, and also spend some quiet time with myself at various points in the week. As much as I love people and it makes me nervous to not be around others, at the same time, it’s been nice learning that I am actually okay with being alone sometimes. Ha. I won’t become a hermit anytime soon, but it’s been a good exercise for myself. People are great, but I find myself so frustrated with flaky friends that it’s been better to learn how to do what I want alone instead of depending on a friend to go out with me.

5. F5 or Apple-R

I need to refresh my interest in activities other than riding my bike. A friend recently asked me how my weekend was and said something like, "Let me guess, a nice bike ride?" I know that I’m pretty stuck on this bike riding bit, so maybe it’s time to try balancing that stuff out with a few other activities. I’ve been knitting a lot on the train and have been recently looking into finding a knitting group to join up in SF after work. It’d be really nice to find a knitting group again just to have another venue for making friends with a common hobby. I’ve also been thinking about taking some kind of language class so I can brush up on my French or learn a new language. Or maybe get back into doing more photography. Or maybe take a cooking class or a woodshop class. Or plan a big trip somewhere. Hmm… Yes, time to rethink my leisure activities and make sure I’m a well-rounded individual.

Written by Reese

August 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

Posted in just life

A love for museums

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If you want to make me an offer I can’t refuse, just tell me you’ll get me into a museum with your membership for free. I have a really hard time turning down a free museum admission, and will most likely arrive 10 minutes early to meet you and will definitely not cancel on you. (I actually don’t cancel on people often at all. I am not the flaky type for sure.)

I will also love you forever.

It doesn’t even matter if the place has an interesting exhibit happening or not. I just like going to museums, looking at art, and watching people. When it comes to art, I don’t really much of an opinion on what’s good or bad. I just know that there is some stuff I like and some stuff I don’t like. Popular and critical opinions are pretty much beyond me, so I can’t really speak coherently about most artists and popularity. What I can do is quietly appreciate art, listen to someone rattle on and on about art, and nod my head as necessary.

But anyway, even if I am no good for high-brow artsy-fartsy conversation, I am good for low-brow food afterwards and taking photos of just about everything.

The floor is lava

Written by Reese

August 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

Posted in just life

A wooly experiment

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I have a wool sensitivity (I won’t really say allergy, because I don’t know if it’s a true allergy or not). When I wear woolen things, I become incredibly itchy with possible rash and my eyes will get watery and red before I rip it off and realise that I am just not made for wearing wool.

I must be some kind of masochist, because a few weeks ago, I decided to try to reduce my sensitivity through moderated exposure. I chose an old knitted wool scarf and wore it for 20-30 minutes everyday. The plan twas to increase the time until I could steadily wear wool without a problem.

Of course, this was pretty much self-imposed torture that I discontinued the experiment soon after it started.

Then I decided that I had to try merino wool. Why yes, it’s still wool, but it’s a softer, finer version. Supposedly it’s the best wool to wear close to your skin since it’s way less scratchy compared to other wools. I settled on some virgin un-dyed superwash merino wool. Oh, and it’s in sockweight because I just wanted a lighter weight scarf, plus it takes longer to knit.

(Un-dyed means less chemicals to irritate my skin. Superwash means the yarn is sealed to prevent felting during the wash cycle, so maybe this means less lint particles to bother me.)

The knitting part has been surprisingly good to me. With the last wool scarf I knit, I was getting bleary-eyed and itchy just handling the wool for less than an hour. I think that might have had a lot to do with how much woolen lint came off that last scarf (this new yarn has much less lint). Once that stuff gets in the air, it completely ruins me.

Even though it’s going well so far, I am pretty sure I know how this is going to end up: I will have a gorgeous handknit scarf that makes my eyes water and my neck itch uncontrollably.

But then, I’ll give it away to someone else who can wear wool and all will be right in the world, so I guess in the end this will be a worthwhile experiment.

Written by Reese

August 17, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Posted in just life

Ride report: SF to Palo Alto via Skyline

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So this ride report deal is something that some cyclists do after doing a ride. I have never written one of these before, but I’ve read a ridiculous number of them from people in my cycling club (yes, I am in a cycling club). Some people write long, meandering descriptions of their rides, but my eyes tend to glaze over after 4 or more very long paragraphs, so I’m going to keep this nice and short.

Route: San Francisco to Palo Alto Caltrain via Skyline Blvd
Details: 41 miles, 3.5 hrs
Date: Sunday 15 Aug 2010, the Ides of August (haha)

I rode this solo, leaving my house early on a Sunday, about 8:45. I wanted to leave early so that I could avoid the crowds of people using the Sawyer Camp Trail. There are a lot of people out exercising on the weekends, and the later you get to the trail, the more people there are.

(I hate having to weave around people and call out, "On your left" a billion times. Don’t worry, I am perfectly polite and always slow down when there are people around. I don’t rush past them without a warning, because that’s just plain rude.)

Instead of going up to Golden Gate Park and then down to Ocean Beach, I decided to try a little shortcut that had me going down Mission/San Jose to John Daly Blvd to meet Skyline, but of course I got super lost and ended up snaking around in side streets. Made me wish I had a street map with me, especially down in Daly City. I did end up doing a very nice ride through the suburban residential Westlake area.

Once I got onto Skyline, the ride was pretty straight-forward and I made the usual stops, ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich.

I tried a little experiment and smiled at everyone I passed. Approximately 80% of people smiled back or said hello or good morning. That was really nice. I think I’ll keep doing that all the time. People are pretty damned friendly, for the most part. I’m not the type to skulk around ignoring everyone else anyway.

Ah so anyway, the ride… It was fun. I liked it. I’ll probably do it again soon. It’s just the perfect length for me right now, and has just the right amount of climbing, downhills, and flats. One of these days I’ll do the entire route from SF to SJ, but for now, I’m pretty comfortable with ending in Palo Alto. I was minimally sore after the ride and still feeling energetic, which is just where I want to be.

Really enjoying this so much.

Wide open space

Crystal Spring Reservoir from the Sawyer Camp Trail

Written by Reese

August 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

Posted in just life

Five on Friday: The week in review

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I’ve had a stellar week, guys. Really, it’s been pretty amazing. I’ve had my same old routine, but had a few very nice firsts that have put a wide, toothy smile on my silly little face.

Really.

I cannot complain about my life. I really can’t. Life is good, life is amazing. This week has shown me how to embrace what I have.

1. Practising being alone

Not only am I an an incorrigible extrovert, but I am also somewhat co-dependent on people. Knowing this is in my nature, I’ve been practising being alone, learning to understand how to be by myself. I am slowly learning that solitude is not something to be afraid of. It’s difficult, and I really want to be with people most of the time, but I’ve completely run myself ragged the past month or so and I really do need the downtime.

Hey, I even managed to go to a restaurant and eat alone this week. Big deal for me. And I didn’t even resort to being on my phone the entire time. I actually sat by myself and just ate my food like a normal person.

(Also, I completely love this .)

2. Checking things off

I have a list of rides that I would like to do around the bay area. I didn’t used to have a list, but now I do (go figure). One of them was to ride up to Twin Peaks, so that’s exactly what I did yesterday, and solo too (see number 1 above). There was an incredible amount of fog and it was so cold that I could barely get my gloves on when I was up there, but it was worth it. I felt like I conquered something big.

Oh, and the ride down was way scarier than the ride up into the fog. I rode the brakes almost the entire way down and slowed to let cars pass me so they didn’t ride my ass for the entirety. But man… so worth it.

3. Disconnecting ever so slightly

I love my mobile phone. I really do. And yet, I’m trying to reduce my dependency on being so connected all the time. When I’m at home, I have a laptop that has internet. When I am on the train, I have a phone with MobileWeb. When I get to work, I have a computer that is hooked up online. I am so connected it’s sickening.

Reflecting on that a bit, I started to ask myself why I needed to use my phone between home and work? I spend just over an hour commuting everyday, between the bike ride to the station, the train ride, and the bike ride to work (the sweetest 20 minutes of my morning). On the train, I used to catch myself reaching for my phone to check my email (as if an important email has somehow arrived), but lately I’ve made more of an effort to stop myself from doing that. I really don’t need to be so goddamn connected all the time.

Besides, I’d rather knit or read on the train or chat with my commute friends instead.

4. New territory, new people

I did a ride out in east bay this past weekend and got to meet a bunch of bikey folk that I mainly know online. I really love exploring a new area, and east bay by bike is the new frontier for me. I haven’t lived there since college, and I didn’t have a bike at the time and didn’t really out so much either (other than taking the bus to SF sometimes). I was much less of an explorer back in college.

Riding around with a group in Oakland really reminded me that there are lots of new places to explore. I’ve never been one to resort to the comfort zone, so I’m really quite excited to go there and explore more. And hey, I can combine this with my introvert project and do this alone too.

5. Love and life

Ah life. I really can’t express how lovely this past week has been. I’m so happy beyond words. I feel loved and treasured by the ones I love and treasure. There are new people in my life that I am excited to get to know more. There are old friends that are just so easy to talk to. I’m getting to know myself more, and to understand my own inner workings. I’ve been riding my bike with a giant smile plastered on my face, sometimes singing aloud to myself. I feel carefree and amazing.

Written by Reese

August 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

Posted in just life

One hill at a time

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Since moving up to SF, I’ve been slowly trying to acclimate myself to the hills around. They’re really not so bad if you know the right way around and you’re in the right mindset. When I see a series of hills ahead of me (each steeper than the block before it of course), I just take them one hill at a time. You can’t look too far ahead, or it’s demoralizing, but at the same time, you can’t think of each block separately because then you might not be able to pace yourself correctly to make it up the whole set.

It’s hard balancing this stuff out.

I used to be much more cautious when it came to hills, always reserving energy and going very very slowly, but lately I’ve been feeling more confident and much stronger, so I’ve been climbing them more quickly and efficiently. I’ve found that it’s all about keeping up some kind of rhythm and keeping an upbeat attitude about it. It’s tougher to succeed at this if you go into thinking that there’s no way you can make it up the hill. It’s also about understanding your body and listening to it. You have to know when to slow down because your legs are going to be rubbery in a few minutes if you keep it up.

Well, it’s just about getting up there, one hill at a time.

Tonight I head up Twin peaks. Wish me luck!

Written by Reese

August 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Posted in just life

Five on Friday: The search for inner peace

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I’ve noticed a trend in my recent reading material; I’ve been reading a lot of books about people searching for spiritual enlightenment. I don’t exactly know why I feel like I need to read these books right now, but they do feel very appropriate. It feels so corny, but I do need to find some kind of peace with some parts of my past. The problem is that, for the most part, I’m afraid of resolving them. I feel like I need to retain these experiences as a part of me and that if I resolve them, then do they go away and I start to lose a critical part of my identity? I know it doesn’t really work like that, but it sure feels like I would be wiped clean and then what? Can I still exist without my past? Can I still define myself if I let go of what’s happened? Do I need to define myself? Can I just accept that I simply am?

But enough of these open-ended questions that only I can answer. Let’s get straight to my weekly list. I don’t know that I have any wisdom to impart, but here are 5 statements I’ve been telling myself recently in an effort to find some kind of inner (albeit temporary) peace.

1. Peace is attainable if you allow yourself to find it.

2. Different methods work for different people. Don’t scoff at the path others choose and don’t let anyone scoff at your own path.

3. You are responsible for yourself. Other may affect you, but you ultimately control your life.

4. Balance is crucial.

5. Love, of others and of yourself, is essential. Most importantly, love yourself and remember that you are loved.

Written by Reese

August 6, 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in just life