Day 626 OUT OF Beijing: Minimizing My Family.


2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace.  All upgraded carbon components.  $1100 or best offer.

2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace. All upgraded carbon components. $1100 or best offer.


I’m not actually minimizing my family but I’m helping my family minimize their stuff while we travel and stay with them.

My sister’s husband has an incredible bike that he isn’t using anymore so I offered to help them sell it and took pictures, wrote the description (with the help of Christopher Rubin) and posted it on craigslist.  It is a steal at the price especially compared to what it originally cost.  It is so light you can lift it with a single finger.

I’m a huge fan of craigslist because it is local and I don’t have to ship or box anything up.

It is also much quicker because I don’t have to wait the 7 days for an auction, like ebay, to finish.

And, last but not least, there is no commission to be paid to the site when the listed object sells.

I also posted an older 50 inch tv, in perfect condition, that they don’t need.

It is another reason I love social media, when used for productive purposes, because it lets people find something they may need while allowing others to get rid of things they no longer want.

In case you, or anyone you know are interested, here they are.  Click on the pictures if you want to see the ad and know more about the bike or tv:


2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace.  All upgraded carbon components.  $1100 or best offer.

2005 Specialized Alumimun/Carbon frame with full Dura-Ace. All upgraded carbon components. $1100 or best offer.


50 inch tv with stand, remote and HDMI cable for 200 dollars or best offer.

50 inch tv with stand, remote and HDMI cable for 200 dollars or best offer.


Day 622 OUT OF Beijing: Happy 46th Birthday to Me!


Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.

Jill and me celebrating my birthday and enjoying our ride on the SVT Salsa and Rueda Party bus.


Jill and I are getting ready to have a major party this weekend at the 7th Annual Salsa Rueda Festival.

The party started last night, when we hired a few private party buses and drove all over San Francisco.

My friends, Nick and Serena, run the whole event and it is one of the biggest in the USA.

Some of the best teachers, performers and fans of Cuban music and dancing come from all over the world just to be at this festival.

Luckily, it is always on the same weekend as my birthday so I get to celebrate with loads of friends and pretend as if this is my birthday party every year.

Jill, always willing to try something new, went on the party bus for the first time last night and seemed to have a great time.

She was able to meet a lot of my friends that she had never met before, and was able to do a little salsa dancing also.  It isn’t really her scheme but she’s a trooper and danced with me a few times.

Most my friends are new to her since we met only 8 days before I left for China.  Since we’ve been back we’ve been working non-stop since we got back to update San Francisco Tourism Tips, she hasn’t really had a chance to meet a lot of my salsa community.  That is going to change, BIG TIME, this weekend.

Since I won’t be around my immediate family on my birthday, I will be around mi familia salsa.

A wonderful way to start the party and to begin my 47 year of being alive on this little blue marble we call Earth.


Our friends, Nick and Serena, watch as their team practices for their performance.

Our friends, Nick and Serena, watch as their team practices for their performance.


Day 615 OUT OF Beijing: North Beach and San Francisco City Guides.


View from the parking lot.

View from the parking lot.


Jill and I headed off to San Francisco to check out another San Francisco City Guide walk as we continued to update San Francisco Tourism Tips.

We took the bus in and then walked from the drop off point up Columbus Avenue to North Beach.

We were pressed for time, since we had a tour at Anchor Steam Brewery at 1 pm so we knew we’d only be able to stay for about half the 90 minute tour.

Our guide did a great job and introduced us to a lot of the old San Francisco and how North Beach started up with lots of Italian families moved in and started to incorporate their favorite parts of Italy into the USA.

We started at Saints Peter and Paul Church which is located at 666 Filbert.  Jill mentioned this to me and I thought it was rather humorous and a bit of classic San Francisco craziness.

One of the facts that we were told was that Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were actually married at City Hall, since the church wouldn’t let them marry there because she had been married before, and then they took pictures at the Peter and Paul Church because they wanted their families to think that they were married in a church.

There has also been a lot of movies filmed here and it has become quite famous.  It was almost empty and we took our time walking around and enjoying the gorgeous interior.

After we left Saints Peter and Paul church, we walked into Washington Square.  There were a lot of Chinese people dancing and exercising here, at 11 am, because they have started coming here to enjoy the day since Chinatown is so crowded and many of the older apartments have very little room.  So, it was fun to watch a bit of Chinese culture that had been transported here and remind us of something that we truly loved living in Beijing.

We saw one man, in particular, doing his exercises alone and then he hugged a tree for about a minute.  It was so comforting and he seemed so happy as he was enjoying his day.  As we walked by, he smiled and waved at our group.

We then moved over to Liguria Bakery, which is famous for its focaccia.  They are also infamous for their family being rude, abrasive and pushy.  It is all part of their way of being and I hope they never change it because San Francisco would lose some real characters.  And amazing focaccia!

We then walked by Joe DiMaggio’s family’s old house and passed a woman who ran a day care company and her little “bus” of kids that were so cute.  Just in case you wonder, we asked permission to take their picture and she agreed.

Last but not least, we went to the parking lot above a police department for some of the best views of San Francisco.  It is also located above the parking lot for one of the mortuaries in San Francisco and I just loved the perspective that this view gave to the shot.  Sadly, we had to leave so we could get to our Anchor Steam tour but we want to go back and do the whole thing as soon as possible!


Day 610 OUT OF Beijing: Why We Walk, Part 4.


The Wild Turkeys of Petaluma.

The Wild Turkeys of Petaluma.


Jill and I are trying to lose some weight, get in better shape, and not be stuck in front of the computer doing work for San Francisco Tourism Tips all day long.

In that vein, we are making sure to do walks each day that we aren’t out in San Francisco getting more information for the site.

Petaluma is such a wonderful little town and it is so easy to get out in to the countryside and away from traffic, cars and noise, especially compared to places like Beijing, where it is almost impossible to find silence and solitude, even in parks and nature since it is so polluted, packed with people, and dirty.

For that reason, alone, we need to be out and taking advantage of what we have been given here and we are doing that.

On the days where we don’t walk, I’m trying to run or do something else to continue getting in shape.  I’m definitely not where I want to be at this point and so I’m doing something about it.

As we walked over a rather large hill in the outskirts of Petaluma, Jill said, “Hey, look at that!” and pointed out a few turkeys that had just finished crossing the road in front of us.  No, I didn’t ask them if a chicken had crossed the road before them or why if it had.

We stopped, watched them walk around and realized, once again, that we are in an area where there is lots of life and nature and that we almost never saw birds in Beijing.  We both mentioned this fact to each other, a few times, when we lived in Beijing, but it really comes to life when you see so much flora and fauna in its natural environment.

The only place we really saw that was at the Beijing Zoo and that was a truly horrendous event of which I will only say that that there were people feeding cheese to the monkeys, gazelles and zebras. I’m sure that is exactly what those animals diets are supposed to be, right?

A friend of mine said he saw people hit the pandas with apples in the head so the pandas would look at them and be more active.  Suffice to say, NEVER go to the Beijing Zoo if you care about animals at all.

We, on the other hand, were able to see these amazing animals, treat them with respect and let them live their lives, and then see a few tiny quail walk out of the blackberry bushes as an added gift.

If we had just sat at our computers, working all day, we’d have missed this wonderful gift.

That is why we walk.

Day 605 OUT OF Beijing: Crissy Field.


The Golden Gate Bridge peaks out from behind trees at Crissy Field.

The Golden Gate Bridge peaks out from behind trees at Crissy Field.


After Jill and I left Fort Point we walked across Crissy Field.

The Presidio Trust has done a fantastic job of making Crissy Field a peaceful, calm and gorgeous place to enjoy yourself in nature.

The beauty of Crissy Field is the ability to get to this park by so many different modes of transportation from anywhere in the city.

I used to ride my bike through the park when I lived in San Francisco and always enjoyed the peace and tranquility that I was afforded as I cruised through as I was working out.


The Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.

The Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.


I rarely stopped, because I was trying to get the best workout possible, but now that I can walk through it, I’m glad that I’ve had this chance with Jill.

It is a magical place and everyone we passed, whether they were cycling, running or walking, seemed to be happy and content.

Many people also had dogs and there were a lot of dog sitters with up to 8 or 9 dogs having a great time!


Day 598 OUT OF Beijing: 7D Experience at Pier 39!


The"Legendary"score that I got.  Almost hit 100,000.

The”Legendary”score that I got. Almost hit 100,000.


The next stop in our fact and fun finding mission for SF Tourism Tips was the 7D Experience.

It has to be one of the most fun rides Jill and I have ever been on. We both totally loved it beyond belief!

First off, I have to comment about how friendly Phillip and Richard were when we visit stepped in to visit the attraction.  It is obvious they love their job and helping people have a good time!

Secondly, it was a total blast and worth every penny. We loved it so much we actually went back and did it a few more times. We started with the Zombies one (which was awesome) and then did Gigamom (a very cool sort of like Godzilla like creature and adventure) and then did the Los Banditos which is a bit more “family” like because it is a bit more fun for kids and younger adults since there are just evil robots to shoot and it isn’t quite as scary as the others. I loved being able to fire the guns and blow up stuff while laughing at my fiancee and our silliness as we bumped around in the chairs and had fun “falling through space” as it really feels like you are moving in a car, train or helicopter depending on which experience you go on. I saw lots of people laughing and having a great time while also trying to be the best shooter and get the highest score.


Two contestants that didn't fare very well.

Two contestants that didn’t fare very well.


The price, for the ride alone, is $10 and you can do a second ride for $5. Trust me, you will want to do a second, and a third, ride. You can also get pictures of yourself after the ride is done as you are in action during the ride. I believe they are $5 each.

We also did the LaZer Challenge, which is a room that has all kinds of lazer lights criss-crossing it. You try to move around them, as carefully and as quickly as possible, without crossing them to touch a yellow light on the other side of the room. After you touch the first yellow light, a second one appears and you have to go through the lazers to touch it. When you reach that one, a final red light appears and you have to touch it before you finish. It is actually quite a workout and a lot of fun. If you hit a lazer light, you lose 30 seconds off your time and, believe me, if you are at all competitive, you won’t want to hit any. Time wise, I did great (something like 30 seconds) but hit 3 lazers so I added 90 seconds to my time and ended up at 120 or so. Just means that when we go back, I’ll will definitely try to beat my time. The cost of the LaZer Challenge was only $5.


The LaZer Challenge Room. This picture won't help you figure it out.

The LaZer Challenge Room. This picture won’t help you figure it out.


Click HERE to watch a video of me trying to get through the LaZer Challenge.

If you buy both the ride and the Lazer Challenge together, you get a deal as they are only $13.

It is definitely worth it and I would suggest doing that. Also, it wasn’t very busy so we were able to get on the ride without much of a wait and the same with the LaZer Challenge. I asked about how long the wait can be, when it is super busy, and they told us that, at most, it is about 20 minutes because they can move about 20 people at a time. So don’t worry about it if it does look like there is a line, there isn’t really one. 🙂

Lastly, the 7D-Experience ride is wheelchair accessible. I thought that was quite cool and was glad they pointed that out to us because they want everyone to be able to enjoy this fantastic 7D Experience!

Day 591 OUT OF Beijing: Tiny Tesla.


The All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

The All-Electric Tesla Roadster.


Strangely enough, on the same day that Jill and I saw the Austin Healey, we also saw this tiny little Tesla.

Many decades apart but both on the cutting edge of design for their time.

If you don’t know about the Tesla cars, they are all electric powered vehicles and Elon Musk was the originator of them.

Also, if you don’t know about Tesla, research him.  He was a genius and wanted people to have power that was free of charge and easily accessible.

Thomas Edison basically stole his ideas of Tesla and ruined him.

If you’ve never seen a Tesla coil in action, go Google it now and watch it on YouTube.  It is truly magical.

There was movie called “The Illusionist” directed by Christopher Nolan of Inception fame.  It stared Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman a few years ago where a Tesla Coil was a major feature. If you’ve seen the movie, you know of what I write.

Either way, I wanted Jill to stand beside this car so people could get a good representation of how small it is beside her.

It barely came up to the top of my hip when I stood beside it.

It must be like driving a go-cart and basically sitting on the ground.

I can only imagine how fun it is to take corners, at high speed, and just know your car won’t flip or lose traction since it is set so low to the ground.

Fun for kids of all ages.


Jill standing beside the All-Electric Tesla Roadster.

Jill standing beside the All-Electric Tesla Roadster.


Day 585 OUT OF Beijing: Frugality, Fitness and Minimization.


Two pair of shoes for $54.99.

Ready to run.


Jill and I love to go running.

Sadly, because of the pollution in Beijing, we were not able to run nearly as much as we wanted to each day.

It became a struggle to be motivated since we’d have 3 or 4 days of decent weather and air quality and then a week of deathly pollution.

We ended up giving up and knew we’d get back into it once we arrived back in the USA.

We are now getting ready to get in shape and start our working out.

Part of this endeavor has also been to minimize as much as possible.   We are close to being down to one suitcase each, and maybe a day pack, for our travels.

Therefore, when we buy something, we need to get rid of something else.

This includes running shoes.

I’ve had the same pair of running shoes for about 2 years now and they are in horrible shape.

We walked over to the Petaluma Outlet Mall and went to the Adidas store.  They are having a buy one get half off the second sale and so we took stock of what we have, and what we can get rid of, to see if it was worth having two pairs of tennis shoes.

I knew I’d dump my old tennis shoes when I bought these so there is one piece gone.  I also won’t really need my dress shoes after a month or so because we won’t have much business that requires us to dress up by the time we leave for Los Angeles to stay with my friends Christopher and Tina.

I also got rid of one backpack, full of clothes, 2 days ago that was full of winter clothes I’d no longer need.  I also donated my winter jacket to a friend who will give it to one of his social work clients.  We could probably sell some of these things but it is just easier to give them away and help the needy at the same time.

Therefore, my pack has gotten much lighter and I could afford to have two pairs of shoes.  The sale also allowed me to buy one pair for 39.99 and the second for about 15 dollars.  Adidas is also having a 5 dollars off promotion when you donate your old pair of shoes.

The sum total for 2 pairs of brand new shoes for me?  $54.99.

Jill and I ran home, me wearing one pair of my new shoes, and carrying one of the pair in one arm, while Jill wore her shoes she bought 3 weeks ago and carried the other shoe to my pair in her arm, about 2 miles.

A good work out, a good lightening of our load, and a good start to be more fit and frugal at the same time.

By the way, I’m off for a 2 mile run right now.  The weather is perfect, the air quality is fantastic, and I just had a nice healthy breakfast of yogurt and fresh strawberries.

It is so nice to be home.

Day 578 OUT OF Beijing: 201.1 and Just Run…


201.1 and time to Just Run...

201.1 and time to Just Run…


Jill is in much better shape than I am right now.

She tends to keep the weight off and lose it more quickly than I do.

This is partially because I eat too much and partially just body type.

My dad has a belly and my brothers seem to have the same body type that holds that fat if we don’t eat healthy, exercise and take care of ourselves.

It is what we are born with but it is not an excuse.

It is a motivation.

That is how Jill and I see life: You can either use what you are given as an excuse to fail or as a reason to try harder and succeed.

Think about this: Jill has run a website, about travel and tourism in San Francisco, for the last 1.5 years in Beijing, China.

There is a reason she’s succeeded in this endeavor: She did a massive amount of groundwork before she came over.  She took so many pictures, visited so many places, and talked to so many people that she had a huge collection of information to keep building her site and her business while not being anywhere near it.  That takes skill and dedication.

Then, even with the daunting task of dealing with China’s “Great Firewall”, she continued to work and not give up, so that when we finally would come home, she could build the business into exactly what she wanted and make it possible for us to succeed and prosper.

We are building our second site, right now, and are looking forward to sharing that with everyone by the end of January.  I will also be selling my first ebook on it and we think it will be a fantastic new beginning for us as we continue to build the SF Tourism Tips site at the same time.

That is where exercise and Just Run… comes in for both of us.

Just Run… is a group that my friend, Bonnie Vasquez, put together for people that are inclined to get in shape and start running again.  She just decided she wanted to make a change and did it.  No excuses, no waiting until tomorrow and no other reasons needed.  Her choice.  Her change.

It isn’t for hard core runners, although they are welcome, it is just a group for us average folk trying to do a half marathon in the next few months and lose that extra weight, gain that extra confidence, and build a better mind and body.

Jill and I went for our first run a few days ago and I did 2.65 miles and she did about 2 miles.  She had a lot of lower body issues and so she took her time and rested so that she doesn’t injure herself.  I walked a block or two with her, in the middle of the run, and then took off by myself to finish it.

I felt great, other than a stitch in my side, but that is probably because I’m so out of shape and haven’t been drinking enough water.  So, when I got home, I drank a bunch of water and had a very healthy salad for dinner.  Jill and I made it together and it was a wonderful way to start a new year and start being the new people Jill and I want to be in 2015.

My plan is to do push ups in between the days that I’m running.  I’d like to get up to around 200 push ups a day doing 4 sets of 50 at a time.  This may take longer than 12 weeks but that is fine.  I have a plan and will stick to it as much as possible.  If I need to adjust it, I’ll do that.  A plan is just that: A plan.

Keep building your dream, working hard, and it will happen.  One never knows the path to a dream but it will be paved by you.

In case you are wondering what the 12 week week half marathon plan is, and want to join along, I’ve posted it as a picture here:


Our workout plan for half marathon within 12 weeks.

Our workout plan for half marathon within 12 weeks.

Day 539 In Beijing: Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


This is Jill’s and my second Thanksgiving in Beijing, China.

It is a little weird.

All kinds of expats go out, party it up, and have fun.

Many of them aren’t from the USA but they enjoy having the community setting and just having another reason to have a nice time with others.

We decided to go to Shunjing Spa, near our apartment, with our friends Dorota and Francois.

They are both doctors where I work and wonderful people.

We’ve spent many a night sharing wine, cheese and Francois’ amazing home made bread.

The air quality was pretty decent, even though it was very overcast, so it seemed like a good day to venture out.

Both Francois and I decided to wear the silly little outfits they give to the spa members so we wouldn’t look out of place (sarcasm intended).

We noticed that when the four of us went into at spa pool, almost all the people in it would get out, and we’d be left alone in the pool.

Usually, that kind of thing would annoy me but it was sort of nice having all the different spa pools to ourselves and not have to deal with a crowded pool all day long.

After the spa, Jill and I met up with some other friends, from all over the world, for Thanksgiving at The Big Smoke.

Jill had her first meal in Beijing at The Big Smoke, and we did Thanksgiving there last year, and we thought it would be a nice way to celebrate.

It definitely was and the food, friendship, and conversation was fantastic.

Sadly, we forgot to get a picture of all of us together but there is always next year!