Day 580 OUT OF Beijing: The Great Purge of 2015.

 

Jill and me on the 17th floor looking out over Coit Tower and Alcatraz in the backgroud.

Jill and me on the 17th floor looking out over Coit Tower and Alcatraz in the background.

 

Jill has about 900 friends on Facebook.  I have 2,710.

I had 2.710.  I am now down to just over 1,000.

I decided, last weekend, to do the great purge of 2015.

I’ve been reading a book titled You Are not so smart by David McRaney.

It primarily deals with cognitive distortions and why we think we know or believe something when, in reality, we tend to either be primed by something or we make up reasons to justify our beliefs.

We even make up stories and memories to prove our own beliefs and this can be fairly easily manipulated.

At one point in the book, he writes about how we can only really focus on a certain amount of stories/people at one time and any more than that we lose concentration and the themes of what they are telling us.

Since Jill and I are working on our new site, our books about life and how you want to live it, and how to minimize your things to maximize your life, I wanted to minimize my friends list to have more control over who I interact with each day.

I also set a goal of only being on Facebook for 30 minutes a day for the month of January and seeing how it affected my mood and my ability to reach important goals that we need to get done for our new site to go live and our books to be published.

We need to work on the covers for our books and our bios for them.  They also need more editing and we have a lot of places to visit, people to see, and events to update for our site SF Tourism Tips and we are working with our friend on building the new website which takes time and effort.  We have our logo, which we are still in the design stage but getting close, and it will need concerted effort and not wasted Facebook time.

We are heading off to some museums today to see them and take pictures, update information, and make connections.

Yesterday we went to a local and were shown around it and treated to lunch because our site has brought them business and they were thankful for everything we’ve done.  It was really wonderful to put a person to the page and know that we are making a difference in their business and they see all the hard work Jill has put into it and that they wanted to hear her story, and our story, and how much we had in common.  It was also delicious food and we had excellent wine.

Back to this weekend and The Purge:  I just decided I want to drop people I don’t really connect with or post to my wall.  I just don’t see the need for so many friends if I’m not actually connecting and being “friends” with them.

I still have over 1,000 friends but these are people that I do actually tend to connect with in some way.  They are fellow travelers, or from high school, or salsa dancing, or somewhere else and I think they will be important as Jill and I start our life of being vagabonds and traveling the world.  They will keep me grounded by being able to check in, say hello, and also meet up on our trip around the world.

It is a pretty daunting change to think of moving to another country, after living abroad for the last 1.5 years, but as long as we can spend time seeing our friends and family in the next 6 months, I think it will work itself out quite well.

I’m excited, and nervous, to be taking on this adventure because we will be able to see so many exciting sites and locations around the world.  We will also be able to meet so many new friends.

The part that makes me nervous is being away from family and friends in case something negative happens and not being able to help or be there in time.

This is the trade off one makes when they are an expatriate.

 

You see things others may never see but you miss things you wish you were there for.

Day 579 OUT OF Beijing: Mario Robledo and Me.

 

Looking cool with our shades on.

Looking cool with our shades on.

 

I’ve been trying to catch up with friends since I’ve returned to the USA.

I got in touch with my buddy, Mario Robledo, a few weeks ago and we decided to have lunch together.

I wanted him to meet Jill and just check in on how his life is going.

He wanted to see how my trip had been and what my plans were for the future.

As most of you know, I grew up in Healdsburg, California.

Healdsburg is now a major tourist area and barely resembles the town I remember from my days there.

Most people that visit there seem to love it and enjoy it because it is so fashionable and trendy.

It wasn’t that way when I grew up there about 20-30 years ago.

It was a small town that most people didn’t know about and just drove through it as they went up to Humboldt, Oregon or somewhere North of San Francisco.

I grew up working in wineries there and there was a small contingent of people the knew our wines were as good as, if not better, than Napa’s wines, but we weren’t nearly as well known or famous.

It was just voted the #2 small town in America according to Smithsonian magazine.

Back in the day, Healdsburg was a small town with a very tightly connected community.

Everyone knew everyone and if someone was in trouble, people usually found out quickly and could help each other or knew the family member and could do something useful to intervene.

An example of this is Mario and me.  We’ve known each other since 1st grade and have stay in contact most of the time since then.

We either use facebook or some type of social media, since I’ve moved away, to do that but wanted to see each other face to face this time.

Mario works in the Sonoma County Jail in Santa Rosa and lives in Santa Rosa also.  He seems to be doing well and has a 17 year old son.

He’s always been a very positive and outgoing person and this was still the same when we met for lunch.

We had burgers at Super Duper Burger and then walked around the Castro and took pictures of the murals and sites that we found interesting.

Mario does a lot of photography and has a good eye for photographs and scenes.

I’m glad we got to hang out and catch up, and that he was able to meet Jill, because he is one of the kindest people I know and someone that I trust implicitly.

It is nice to have friends like Mario, who you may not see for years, but when we do meet up, it is like we never were apart.  Things just fall into place and we laugh and joke and fall right into who we are without any pretension or worry.

I hope everyone has friends like Mario and can have this kind of connection.  It is truly wonderful.

 

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 577 OUT OF Beijing: New Year’s Eve.

 

Happy New Years!

Happy New Years!

 

Jill and I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Singapore last year with our friend Dipesh.

It was an 8 minute show of fireworks and then a very delayed walk home to our hotel because they aren’t used to crowds of that size in Singapore and they forced everyone to walk down the same route which led to massive people jams and nowhere to go for a long time.

The day before, we did the same walk home in about 30 minutes.  That night took 3 hours.

We prefer smaller, and more intimate, parties with just our friends.

Luckily, our friends Alvaro and Kelly have their New Year’s Eve party most years and had it again this one.

We were in San Francisco and the party was in San Leandro, over the bay, so we had to figure out a way to get there on mass transit since we are going carless from now on.

We hopped on the Muni train, then moved over to BART and then Alvaro picked us up at the BART station near his house.  We were going to grab a bus to his place but he was nice enough to offer and we accepted.  Muni was free from 8 pm that night until 5 am the next morning so our trip only cost us about $6 bucks each way which was a steal as far as we were concerned.  Jill hasn’t had a car for over 5 years, and I haven’t had a car since I left for China, and the savings are amazing.  I mostly rode the bus the last two years I was in the states and took carpool whenever I could.  It is also a nice way to meet with people I may not have met in any other circumstance.  It is also part of our drive (pun intended) towards minimization and being more frugal.  We find we don’t make as many frivolous trips when we don’t have a car and plan out our days to be more efficient in regards to what we do and when we do it.

We arrived at the party and said hello to Kelly, her parents, Alvaro’s parents and their twin daughters.  They are incredibly cute and love to dance around.  Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of them.  Simply stated, they were wearing princess gowns with tiaras and are about 3 years old.  We were having a great time just watching them run, dance and play with each other for a bunch of the night.

People started arriving, many who didn’t know I had returned from China, so we were able to catch up with many of them and update them on our adventures.  It was wonderful to see so many happy faces at our return and to realize that we are part of this small salsa community that seems to grow and add people but still stay close and like a family.

We danced a bit and mostly talked and ate delicious food while talking and catching up.  As 12 pm arrived, we all gathered by the tv and started to countdown the seconds at 10…9…8…7….6…5…4…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!

We had a great one.  I hope you did to and wish you the best 2015.

 

 

 

Day 576 OUT OF Beijing: Food. Delicious Food.

 

A 32 oz Corona at Hecho.  Jill's guilty pleasure is Corona beer.

A 32 oz Corona at Hecho. Jill’s guilty pleasure is Corona beer.

 

One of the many things that Jill and I missed was the fresh and delicious food that is so easily available in San Francisco and California.

California is the bread basket of the USA and we can get pretty much any food we want, fresh, at any time of the year.

Beijing isn’t horrible for this but it is a painful adjustment when the tomatoes there taste bland and so does pretty much everything else.

Our friends were able to find some amazing fruits and veggies for their restaurtants but Jill and I had trouble doing the same at home and we guess it was because they were all very good cooks and used fantastic sauces with them.  We were too lazy, and didn’t care enough, to figure out how to do that.  We just ate at their places instead.  I guess it is that we were efficient.

Either way, we are so happy to be home and be able to have a wonderful meal.

We’ve already gone to about 7 different restaurants in the 2 weeks we’ve been home and each one has been excellent.

They’ve ranged from Mexican, to Mediterranean, to burgers, to sub sandwiches, pizza, and pub food.  One of true benefits of SF Tourism Tips is that we can go to these restaurants because we need to be able to advise people whether they are worth eating at or not and we want to stay up to date with all the changes and advances in the SF restaurant world.  Jill is definitely more of a “foodie” than I am and she has decided to teach me more about the nuances and I’m enjoying it greatly.

It is a tough life but someone has to do it.

Enjoy some of our pictures of our delicious meals!

 

Day 575 OUT OF Beijing: The Windy City.

 

Jill, Dante and the fallen tree.

Jill, Dante and the fallen tree.

 

All apologies to Chicago but San Francisco was doing its best to be the Windy City a few days ago.

Jill and I took Dante, the dog we are sitting, for a walk and almost got blown away a few different times.

Supposedly there were gusts above 60-70 mph at certain times.

The winds knocked trees over all around San Francisco.

Even Divisadero Street was shut down because of a huge tree that was blown over and blocked it completely from sidewalk to sidewalk.

At Corona Heights Park, above where we are house sitting, a beautiful old tree was knocked over and it ruined the fence beside it.

We did a short walk because Dante is so tiny we didn’t want him to get hurt.

He seemed to actually enjoy the wind and was running around like mad.

Maybe he was smelling all kinds of new scents and having fun with that.

I’m just glad we got him home and safe and secure!

 

 

 

Day 574 OUT OF Beijing: San Francisco City Hall For The Holidays.

 

The man was holding his date's head so she could take a picture with shaking from the cold.

The man was holding his date’s head so she could take a picture with shaking from the cold.

Jill and I needed to take some pictures of City Hall for our website, SF Tourism Tips.

We went down a few days ago and were reminded why we love San Francisco.

You could say, without question, that we left our heart here and have found it again.

The City Hall is so beautiful and lit up so nicely that it took our breath away.

Of course, it could also be the incredible winds we had lately that blew over trees and cut people’s power but I think it is more likely the beauty of San Francisco.

It definitely was much colder in Beijing and it is nice to walk around in a windbreaker or a fleece sweatshirt and be warm.  No need for massive jackets, gloves, scarves and definitely no need for air quality masks since the air quality here is fantastic.

We cannot explain how amazing it is to have fresh air, every day, and not take it for granted.

Almost everyone in the USA would take it for granted, as we did, before we lived in Beijing.

I also don’t think anyone that hasn’t lived in a polluted city won’t be able to realize what it is like, even if I explain it, because it is such an overwhelming and all-important feature of your life each and every day.

There were days when we wouldn’t leave our apartment because it was so bad and we could barely see apartments 1 block away.  It is like San Francisco fog but your eyes start to tear up, you feel your throat tighten up, and you are lethargic for no logical reason other than the air is not breathable.

If Jill or I had babies, there is no way we’d raise them in Beijing.  I’d be afraid for their health and their lungs being born into that toxic mess.

One doctor stated that living in Beijing is equal to smoking 1/6 of a cigarette a day because of the pollution.  I would have to think it is more equal to smoking a full cigarette a day when the air quality gets bad enough.

Suffice to say, we are unbelievably happy we are home.

 

Day in 573 OUT OF Beijing: NSFWCF: Not Safe For Work Chinese Fashion.

 

Is this really what you want to wear out in public?  I guess so.

Is this really what you want to wear out in public? I guess so.

 

Happy New Year’s Day and I thought I’d start the year off with a laugh for everyone.

As you all know, a lot of people get tattoos with Chinese, or Japanese, characters on their bodies.

Most think they know what they are saying and think they are probably pretty macho or existential.

I refuse to ever get one since it isn’t my culture and it doesn’t really seem appropriate.

To each their own.

Also, I know people who have gotten script tattoos and then found out they don’t mean what they thought they meant.

There is way too much of a chance for that to happen and be stuck with something on your body that it incredibly painful to remove.

In China, from what I’ve seen, they tend to wear shirts that proclaim their inability to understand English and what is appropriate.

Now, I’m just guessing that these people, in general, have no clue what their clothes are trying to state.

I’ve also noticed it is almost always women wearing clothes with swear words.

The one guy I photographed spoke perfect English and knew exactly what his shirt had written on it.

Same with the woman wearing the, “Gay Okay!” shirt.  I told her I’d be putting in on social media and she said, “No problem!” I was pretty impressed with her speaking out and willingness to be heard.

Jill and I loved wandering around, seeing shirts like these, and just laughing at the absurdity of it all.  No matter how bad of a day we were having, little things like this made us smile and forget our troubles.

 

 

 

Day 572 OUT OF Beijing: Happy New Year’s Eve!

 

Goodbye Airpocalypse!

Goodbye Airpocalypse!

 

Jill and I have started our new life and are moving along swimmingly.

Today is New Year’s Eve and we are going to be celebrating with friends and doing a little salsa dancing.

We will probably drink a lot of champagne, eat amazing food, and have a truly incredible time since we are back home and things just feel “right” again.

We are definitely missing our friends back in Beijing and wishing them a wonderful New Year’s Day since they will have crossed the New Year’s Eve dateline before we do here.  We love you all and wish you were here to celebrate with us.

I have posted before about the Airpocalpyse app on my iPhone.

This will be the last time you, or I, see it since I deleted it.

I don’t plan on ever going back to Beijing, and I don’t want to be reminded of the pollution and conditions of living there, anymore.

Neither does Jill.

We are moving on to bigger and better things and want to focus on that.

I will be, however, writing a book about our experiences so we will be looking back at it.

But not right now.  Today is for the future and for enjoyment.

The air is clean in San Francisco and not a cloud in the sky.

Our website SF Tourism Tips is doing incredibly and we are working on our new site to help others live the life they want and figure out how to change what is in their way to being more content.

So, say goodbye to the Airpocalypse App.

Give it a good send off and a huge, “Thank you” for the laughs and the information that allowed Jill and me to figure out if we would leave our apartment on certain days or just stay home, order in, and watch Breaking Bad, 30 Rock or some movie that we’d have downloaded.

Happy New Years to all and I hope 2015 is the best year of your life so far.

I am sure it will be for Jill and me.

 

Day 571 OUT OF Beijing: Christmas Morning above the Castro.

 

The view from one of the houses we are staying at over the Castro District.

The view from one of the houses we are staying at over the Castro District.

 

Jill and I have been house sitting, at two different houses, for the past week.

One house has a gorgeous little Italian Greyhound named Dante and a very cute tabby named Goya.

The other house has two super cute kitties named Buzz and Coco.

We walk Dante everyday and most days we walk him twice.

We also go check on Buzz and Coco when we walk Dante and he seems to enjoy hanging outside the house and checking out everything in that part of the Castro District.

It is nice because the houses are only about 15 minutes walking distance from each other and we are able to meander through Corona Heights Park and a few staircases and back alleys.

It is also quiet and calm here and the exact opposite of the constant hustle and bustle of Beijing.

We can not express how different it is actually.

It is like going from Manhattan on steroids to a town of 400 people in Nebraska.

Coincidentally, in about 4 months, we will be living in a town of 400 people in Nebraska as we will stay with Jill’s parents, Bill and Emma, for a month or two.  They live in Cedar Rapids and she wants to catch up with them and introduce me to my soon to be father and mother in law.  The wedding is probably gonna happen in 2016 so there is no rush but it will be nice to meet each other’s parents, other than on Skype, since we haven’t been able to yet.  This is what happens when you meet someone 8 days before you leave for China and then ask them to marry you in Turkey.  It’s an expat life for us!

On this trip around the USA, we will also see our friend Christopher Rubin and his family down in LA and spend a week in Cancun with Jill’s sister’s family in Cancun.  After that we will head to Galisteo, NM to hang with my mom and step-dad for a few weeks before heading to Costa Rica or some place in Latin America to start looking for a long term residence as we build our websites and businesses.  It is one of the true wonders of the internet age that we can work “anywhere” and strive.  We plan to teach others to be able to do the same once our new website is up and running in a month or two.  We love the vagabond life and what it affords to us.

So, Jill and I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Wonderful Kwanzaa and any other holiday or pagan ritual that you subscribe to.  Here’s a little view from the second house we are house sitting and of the Castro District.  Just another gorgeous Christmas in San Francisco.  And not wisp of smog anywhere in sight.  So glad we are home.  Whatever, and wherever, home is.