Tuesday, May 25, 2010


(Bransen Reynolds, Ashkan Motamedei, Chase Reynolds, Hayden Reynolds, Steve Osterberg)

“A little less talk and a lot more action” is a line from a well known country song. Translated, paraphrased and thematically altered to produce a healthier lifestyle I’ve been trying to live by the axiom, “Eat less, Move more”. With this in mind I began thinking about the glory of doing all six stages of the Pole Peddle Paddle race in Bend, Oregon. About a mile into the five mile run that makes up one of six legs of the PPP I began to realize just how limiting it is to train in the ultra flat Central Valley where an overpass doubles as a hill for those who are trying to train. Suddenly surviving the five mile uphill both ways run was monumental.

None the less, through perseverance we conquer. By conquer I mean we finish that which we started.

Chase, my oldest of four boys, along with a two friends managed to place second in their age group, for which they were duly rewarded with custom coffee mugs. The coffee mugs were taken with them to every restaurant they visited, to which they were greeted with shouts of “Good job DUDES!!!” A just reward for skiing, biking, running, and paddling their lungs out.

Now I turn my attention to Eppies Great Race, a no swim triathlon, where in lieu of swimming you get to paddle six miles.

Thanks for humoring me while I brag a little and try to keep the pressure on myself.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Urban Kayaking

(The funny look and pose is because I'm taking my own picture)

Annually I participate in the Pole Peddle Paddle race in Bend, OR. The PPP as everyone calls it is a six stage race which starts at Mt. Bachelor Ski resort and ends at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bends West side. The PPP is a six stage race starting with a downhill ski run followed by lengthy cross country skiing leg, a 20+ mile bike ride down to town, a hilly ten kilometer run, a 2.3 mile kayaking leg which starts out going up river, returns down river and end on a grueling up river stretch, then finishes with a quarter mile sprint into the amphitheater.
While many people do the event solo, we tackle it as family along with the Alexander’s. The task of kayaking falls to me. Normally I barrow a kayak from my old High School buddy, Dave Nissen, founder and owner of Wanderlust Tours in Bend ( www.wanderlusttours.com ). He set s me up with a two man kayak with an adjustable seat. The extra buoyancy makes the kayak fast once the rear seat is brought all the way forward for balance.

This year for my birthday, and to improve my time in the PPP, my wife bought me a kayak of my own, a little solo job from Costco. Like always Costco stocks some quality items and once I’ve shopped around I usually return there to get some all-around versatile piece of equipment. Of course there’s better stuff out there if you want to pay for it or specialize, but for me, a generalist, it’s just fine.

To this point my PPP training has been simulated kayaking with a pair of dumbbells and some cable rows. This year it’s going to be different. I’ve taken the kayak out a couple times on the river that runs by our house, enjoying the solitude of the river and isolation that a river can afford, but last week I discovered something new. Urban Kayaking!

Many major metropolitan areas have water ways running through them and do a nice job of building up the nicest parts of town around them. Last week my boys and I took the kayaks to the Stockton Asparagus Festival in the heart of Stockton, CA. Loverboy was playing at the water front amphitheater. Remember him? I was surprised how many good songs he they had done. While I couldn’t see the stage, which is probably ok, because he’s probably a sixty year old great grandfather in tight pants.

The view from the water of all the people having a nice time, the sun warming the winter bones, the tossing of my boys into the water from the dock (You bet I can still do it). The workout in prep for the PPP. It was all good.

I highly recommend, if you have any water within a short drive, that you get yourself a kayak and do the rural thing, but also try out the Urban exploration via water way.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eighteen Till I Die

Bryan Adams wrote a song entitled “Eighteen Till I Die" in which he says, “Someday I’m going to be 18 going on 55” Well I just experienced 18 going on 48. That’s a thirty year gap between fantasy and reality, between wishful thinking and delusional. Now days when I look in the mirror, I see someone strongly resembling my Dad.

Still there are those of us that WILL NOT surrender.

So what are my options? I figure I could have a mid life crises, but I haven’t seen that work out too great for most men. The hair plugs look painful and ridiculous. The Corvette costs too much. The gold medallion around the neck went out of style. And the Bimbo? Nah, that’s not for me.

So I’ve settled on some serious self improvement and goal setting instead. Something I probably should have done a long time ago. I’ve shed a few pounds. I’m eating better (Which translates into less). And I’ve set a few goals. (Feel free to cheer me on or set and share your own goals and I’ll cheer for you)

Here they are…

May 8th – Rina’s Run a local 10K in Ripon

May 15th – My annual go at the Pole Peddle Paddle in Bend OR. I do the paddling.

July 19 – Eppies Great Race, a no swim triathlon. (10k + 12 miles + 6 Miles in the Kayak)

Late July – The boys and I are working on a plan to Kayak from our house in Ripon to Jack London Square in Oakland, probably a three day trip. (Thank you Cheri for the new kayak)

So to celebrate my birthday I went for a long run, kayaked with the boys, played golf twice, went to the movies, and indulged in some pretty good pizza from Pizza Plus not to mention a quick stop over at the Canal Street Grill with a friend.

So I’m on my way to an action packed spring and summer.

Like Brian Adams says, “It’s not how you look, it’s how you feel inside… it sure feels good to be alive”. What are you going to do to BE ALIVE?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The First Descent

In my world travels I’ve found some pretty cool places to drop out for a day or two, to do some hammock time (You can’t touch this), or to adventure yourself. On a recent trip to Honduras I had the chance to return to the Rio Congrejal near Las Ceiba, Honduras. About fifteen minutes up the rio from town is a place called the Jungle River Lodge. The Jungle River is an open aired bar and screened in dorm style sleeping place literally hanging over the Rio Congrejal. For less than $20.00 you can stay the night, enjoy a fresh fruit breakfast and zip-line through the jungle. In my book that’s a better deal than any luxury hotel with its “FREE” continental breakfast.

On this occasion after a day of hot work we decided to rent inner tubes from the local Llanteria (tire shop) and float the river. For ten bucks we got four over inflated tubes and jumped in at the Jungle River Lodge for about two hours of riding the rapids, a kind of first descent of the Rio Congrejal by Gringo’s in inner tubes (as far as we know). The very first rapid swallowed my tube, or at least I thought it did, which left me coming down the rapids “au natural”. My good friend and Homeboy (also from Morgan Hill) Tommy Groen, whom I went to high school with hiked back up stream and found it circling in the eddy on the other side of huge rock.

Also with me was Dan Cooney, master tool organizer, planner, artisan, detail carpenter and founder of LOML Design( www.lomldesign.com ), Andy Carmichael the muscle and DJ of the trip responsible for all heavy lifting, reaching of high objects and finding the right playlist for iron working and of course Sean Felker, engineer extraordinaire and true brain of the operation. I acted as chief translator of job site Espaniol and “Head Seeker Outer” of places to find good grub. I also have the final say and responsibility for all work (something best done from the shade).

The moral of this story is, when in Honduras, work hard, perspire a lot, and then save a couple hours for a float on the Rio Congrejal.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Somewhat Perfect Plan

It has been said, and I concur, that you should not let the hopes of a perfect plan keep you from acting upon a good plan. To this end we, (Assist International for whom I happily toil during the day. www.assistinternational.org ) and our partners, (Most of whom shall remain anonymous for the purpose of this Blog) are moving forward with our short, mid and long term plans to help Haiti get back on her feet.
Immediately following the earthquake we sent into Haiti a five “person” team, all of which were men, but I've heard it is improper to say, “a five man team” even though they were all men. (Why is that?)

Out of that trip the Early Assessment Team (EAT; kind of a curios acronym for five, “people” of the male gender, who go into places where there is really very little to eat, but then I digress) has hatched a short term, midterm and long term plan.

In the short we are funding one large, Creole and French speaking, brother who previously lived in Haiti for 12 years to coordinate the reception of relief goods which are being shipped. (Not to imply that we haven’t yet sent relief good, because this would be false. Within the first ten day Assist along with her partners had chartered planes into Haiti with medical supplies and high tech medical equipment and solar water filters to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts.)

In the midterm we are sending containers full of food, water, clothing, shoes, and shelter items. What makes these shipments of great interest to me is a little twist I brought to the shelter shipping process. Somewhere along the way I got the idea that instead of just shipping shelter items we should purchase the container and turn them into shelters also.

To accomplish this I asked Dan Cooney, founder and owner of LOML Design (www.LOMLdesign.com) to create a model for converting the containers into dorms to house some of the thousands of children that have recently been orphaned. Many of these children were transported several hours outside of Port au Prince for medical care and are now being released from the hospital hours from home with no knowledge of the status of their parents.

Here is the design Dan Cooney came up with. BTW- the finished model will have windows.

Through my metal building company www.reddogsteelbuildings I am working to get the roof structures donated for the two already donated containers. Thank you GE.

Each container has the capacity of housing 30 kids with the goal of providing immediate shelter, ample food, and the security of belonging.

In the long term Assist International will be building a family style village where the kids will be placed into homes with a mother and father who love them and will shepherd them into adult life, much like perhaps your parents did for you.

In my opinion this is a crazy great plan. You fill a container with the food and clothing necessary to care for children and then turn the container itself into the shelter. As more containers arrive and more permanent family homes can be built you reduce the density of the population in the containers until they eventually become classrooms for learning.

It may not be a perfect plan, but for the time being, let’s not let that stop us. If you want to get involved give me a call at 209 599 1890.

Friday, February 5, 2010

See What I Mean?

So it’s twenty ten. Another year is out of the shoot and before you know it, if you haven’t already, you’ll be having another Birthday sometime this year (Hopefully). Not really a Birthday, but the celebration of a day in ancient history on which you were born.

I’ve noticed some changes as the journey of life gets a bit longer. I’ve noticed I’m having a harder time reading the fine print, especially in dim light or early in the morning which actually occurs at the same time, especially in winter.

I’ve always known people that use “Reading” glasses and it’s kind of always been in my consciousness that at some point I would need them also. So from time to time I’ve picked up a pair in the drug store and tried them on to see how they are. They seem bit tricky to get used to and I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of stylish “dime store” frames for women, but only one style for men, “UGLY”. I guess they figure we don’t care. Why don’t they realize that while we may not care the women in our life probably do. And for that reason we would be more likely to embrace our four eyed self if the peepers made us look cool, or dashing, or hip.

As the day that I will need my own pair draws closer I’ve noticed something else that’s a bit disconcerting. I don’t just need reading glasses, I need ironing clothes glasses too because I can’t see what setting the iron is on. And evidently I will also need “working under the kitchen sink” glasses because I can’t get far enough away from the pipe to see what the heck I’m doing. And then there’s the “taking cold medicine in the middle of the night” glasses. Definitely going to need a pair of those also and a special set to see which way the charger plug goes into my cell phone.

So I went to the dentist the other day only to find out my gums were receding. Come to find out I’d been brushing my teeth with Preparation “H” instead of Peppermint Paste. Honey, have you seen my “teeth brushing” glasses?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Name Game

I never realized until I started traveling how many American names are one syllable. I have a group of guys that travel regularly with me and most of them have single syllable names. This realization is really driven home to me when I have to introduce the group. It goes something like this, “Hi, I’m Tim, this is Tom, Jim and Dan. (On one trip to Ghana we were asked if we were Chinese. I guess it had a certain ring to it) On one trip we had Ray, Rod, Rob and Bob.

Another interesting thing occurs occasionally with names. I remember on one trip to Vietnam we had two guys travelling with us whose names had Vietnamese phonetic equivalences. I discovered this when I caught a young Vietnamese assistant giggle during an introduction of our team then quickly try to hide it. Later when I saw her alone I asked her what she heard in Vietnamese when they were introduced. In that case she heard the introduction of Dr. Hungry and Mr. Reindeer.

I was thinking about this on my recent flight to Cambodia and going through the names of the guys that would be with me. It’s all fun and games when your own name doesn’t have a phonetic equivalence, and surprise… either does my colleague Ray. But my good friend and often travel bud, Dan Cooney is another story. In Khmer, the language of Cambodia “Cooney” sounds like “Ku Nee” (I may have the spelling wrong, but then we’re talking phonetics, not spelling).

Jokingly, I was going to send him a text to cancel his plans to join me part way through my trip stating that his name had some terrible meaning, but instead of making up something I decided to ask our Cambodian host if “Ku Nee” meant anything in Khmer.

And this is where reality get’s better than make-believe. You can only imagine how happy I was when he responded that “Ku” meant “Ass” and “Nee” meant, “is here”. I could hardly wait to introduce my “former” friend as Dan “Ku Nee”.