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Vintage family photos

April 21, 2015 |  by  |  Personal  |  No Comments

One of the best things about getting ready for a wedding is the opportunity to root through old family photo albums. It’s so interesting to look through old pictures of me, my parents, sister, relatives and family friends and hear stories about the pictures, why they were taken and the significance of the pictures.

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These two pictures are just one of many that I could share, but I think it’s just so cool how the offspring of these two couples, one wed in Taipei, Taiwan and the other in Harper, Kansas (I’ll let you guess which are which) would find their way through the world and eventually meet and get married in Colorado. Also, it’s funny to giggle at how our parents dressed back when they were young.

46 days to go…so much to do in seemingly so little time.

 

 

My lifelong love affair with German shepherds

April 20, 2015 |  by  |  Personal, Pets & Animals  |  No Comments

Rocky

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Rocky and me

Rocky and me

Rocky and me

This is Rocky, the first dog I remember. I only know of one other dog we had in the family prior to Rocky, but I was really young (we were living in Kansas at the time) – that Cocker Spaniel got ran over in an untimely death.

Rocky is the dog that my dad still holds as the gold standard of dogs. Even though we had Rocky at least 20-25 years ago, my dad still frequently speaks fondly of his memories with Rocky. He was such a patient dog…when I was a young boy, I was never scared of the monsters under my bed. No, I was scared of being abducted by aliens (thanks for letting me watch the X-Files, mom!) Whenever my parents went out at night while my sister babysat me, I would lock Rocky in my bedroom with me when I went to sleep. Because there’s no way any dumb aliens would try to take me with a big German shepherd guard dog watching me.

He was also my dad’s favorite running buddy. He was alive during my dad’s marathoning hey-days, so Rocky went on a lot of training runs with my him. I think his record was twelve miles…amazing.

Rocky passed away during the night during one of my birthday parties. We suspect it was a cooked chicken bone that he ate, but that is unsubstantiated. He lived until seven years old.

Rocky’s son

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Rocky’s offspring: Shaffer

I walked home from the school bus one day minding my own business when I walked into our yard to see not only Rocky, but also a mean-looking German shepherd in the yard with him. I’m sure my memory has skewed the actual events, but I remember screaming and running into the house while the mean-looking German shepherd  chased me. All the while, Rocky sat there and did nothing.

It turns out that one of my dad’s running buddies’ dog was in heat and he wanted to mate her with Rocky. So he took the initiative and just dropped off the dog without telling my parents. I also recall seeing them do the dirty later that evening, and I tried running out there because “they were fighting.”

So the puppy in the picture above was the pick of the litter, which my dad then gave to a close family friend. He grew up to be a spitting image of Rocky, both in temperament and in looks.

Thunder

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Thunder and me

Thunder and me hanging out

Thunder and me hanging out

After Rocky’s untimely demise, we were all heartbroken, but my sister and I were especially saddened. We didn’t waste much time getting a new dog, so we went to a breeder somewhere in San Bernadino and I picked out a puppy.

Thunder had the unfortunate luck of coming after Rocky. Thunder didn’t turn out to have the classic black-and-tan German shepherd coloring and one of his ears didn’t come up, so I’m pretty sure my dad was disappointed. Soon after we got Thunder, we left for a vacation, so we left him with a family friend (who had also bought one of Thunder’s brothers.) I don’t know what happened while we were gone, but when we came back, Thunder’s personality had changed…he was much more timid and docile; I think he might’ve gotten picked on by our family friend’s dogs.

Thunder was a very hearty dog. We never neutered him, I was a careless kid/teenager and he was an escape artist…a recipe for disaster. He ran away one night and was hit by a car. Luckily, somebody brought him to an animal shelter and we were able to track him down. My dad went to the pound to see him and the vet recommended that we put him down. He had a fractured skull and a shattered hip and was in an extreme amount of pain. My dad was ready to agree to put Thunder down, but when Thunder heard my dad’s voice, he tried looking at him and wagging his tail. When my dad saw that, there was no way that he could put Thunder to sleep and still be able to look at his children in the eyes. (I still tear up when I hear or tell this story.)

Post-surgery, Thunder had a long road to recovery. But he recovered and lived on with a piece of his skull missing and a bionic hip. After his surgery, he stopped doing much running. As he got older, he got hip dysplasia, which is common in German shepherds. We gave him a steady regimine of glucosamine and other supplements and he was able to keep trucking along until he was about fifteen years old. After that, he just couldn’t move anymore and we had to do the right thing and take him for one last trip to the vet.

Even though Rocky was the “perfect” dog, Thunder was my favorite. I spent my awkward junior high and high school years with him, he saw me off to college as a boy and he saw me return from Santa Cruz as a man.

It runs in the family

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My late uncle’s German shepherd

Love of German shepherds must run in the Wang family, because my late uncle Charlie also had multiple German shepherds. His dogs were always trained more as protection dogs than family dogs.

Friends

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Wolf and Bear

While we were in college, one of my best friend’s from high school Arjun got a pair of high-end German shepherds, Wolf and Bear. They have European bloodlines and have some a lot of training. I haven’t seen them but I hear that they’re doing great!

Miles

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Miles and me on a short hike

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Miles’ dinosaur costume

And now we’re in the present. Miles is the latest in my lifelong love affair with German shepherds. Sara and I treat him differently than my family has treated any of our dogs in the past. All of our family pets in the past have been primarily outdoor dogs, who stayed mostly in the yard and didn’t go beyond the property much to socialize with other dogs. Miles goes to the dog park, goes hiking with us, goes running with me and even goes to doggy day care occasionally. And he stays inside almost all the time…he doesn’t like being outside a lone too much for some reason. Spoiled brat.

Where has the month of April gone?

April 20, 2015 |  by  |  Running  |  No Comments

I can’t believe May is only 11 days away. April hasn’t been a good month for running for me…between my bachelor party, extra-soggy weather and the cold I’ve been battling, my mileage is down significantly. I’ll be running a 10K in Fort Collins on May 3rd with my nephew-to-be, which shouldn’t be too bad. The worst part about that will (probably) be trying to get him to evenly pace the race and not sprint ahead in the beginning. Next is May 9th, a local half marathon here in Arvada…I haven’t gotten any long runs in since my last half marathon, so I’ll have to start piling on the miles as soon as I feel better. I’m running that one with my old coworker Eric, with whom I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver a few years ago. I get a respite for a couple weeks and then I run the BolderBoulder 10K, again with Eric. Maybe I can PR there again…break 50 or 51 minutes maybe?

After the BolderBoulder, no races on the calendar for a couple months because of my wedding/honeymoon! But after the wedding and honeymoon, I’ll be entering a training phase for the Portland Marathon.

My Bachelor Party

April 16, 2015 |  by  |  Personal, Travel  |  No Comments

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We’re less than two months out from the wedding! I went to Austin, Texas this past weekend for my bachelor party. Some of my best friends came out for the trip and I will be forever grateful that they took the time out of their schedules to join me for this adventure. This was my first time visiting Texas (if Austin counts as Texas) and it was an absolute blast.

So what did we do?

Boots, hats and bolo ties were purchased

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Beer was drank.

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BBQ was eaten.

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We went to Hill Country and horses were ridden.

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We got into the Texas spirit

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Cheers, ya’ll!

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San Francisco: April 2015

April 7, 2015 |  by  |  California, Travel  |  No Comments

I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco for work last week. I don’t travel too much for work, but when I do, I’m always pretty busy. I have the work I have to do at the event on top of all the work I’d normally have to do in the office. My free-time on these trips usually depend on the conference schedule, so I have to shoe-horn in any running I want to do. This was my first time running in a major city downtown; it was really cool to be running through skyscraper canyons (even if it messed with my GPS watch signal) but it was simultaneously really annoying stopping every block for cross-walks and dodging bicyclists and pedestrians. My hotel was right next to Union Square, about a mile from the Embarcadero, which was seemingly the only running path in the area. So back and forth, there was two miles of downtown running.

My sunrise run was my favorite. It was nice and cool out and there weren’t a lot of cars or pedestrians. Plus I got to see the city during sunrise, that was a big plus.

I know this is a data point of one, but here’s some evidence of running at sea level. I ran faster and my average and max heart rates were 10 BPM less on this run than on a comparable run in Arvada.

Market St. and Embarcadero

Market St. and Embarcadero

Bay Bridge during sunrise

Bay Bridge during sunrise

A great walking/running/biking path on the Embarcadero

A great walking/running/biking path on the Embarcadero

Obligatory selfie

Obligatory selfie

The Ferry building

The Ferry building

My afternoon run a day later wasn’t quite as great. I didn’t get out the door until rush hour, so there were tons of cars and pedestrians everywhere. There was a San Francisco Giants baseball game that evening, so the Embarcadero was pretty crowded as well.

Bay Bridge from the other side

Bay Bridge from the other side

My other running selfie

My other running selfie, first time out my new sunglasses

AT&T Park, home of the SF Giants

AT&T Park, home of the SF Giants

I was also lucky that my schedule allowed me to grab dinner with a lot of really good college friends during my trip. A couple friends even made the long drive from the South Bay/San Jose through rush hour traffic, so I am especially grateful to them.

Too good to be true? Too good to be true! Part 3

April 7, 2015 |  by  |  Interests  |  No Comments

The sunglasses came in a week and a half ago and as suspected, they were as fake as a three dollar bill.

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There are no permanent “stickers” on authentics. Radars don’t come with temporary stickers or hang tags. The nose piece was all plastic. It took about 10 seconds to figure out they were fakes. Again, this was expected. So, I emailed the seller and requested a refund. I woke up to this response:

Dear Friends Sorry to hear your news,Item is 100% real . I do not know what happened , if there any problems, I know you are a good buyer , I can resend you a new glasses You can send me the address I will send it tomorrow. if you don t agree . I can sendback you $11 You keep item and gift I know you are a good buyer , I hope us cooperate happy

After an uncontrollable fit of laughter, I emailed the seller back and let him know that I wanted a full refund. After not hearing back for a couple of days, I opened up a dispute with eBay and they provided a shipping label for the sunglasses. I wonder if the owner of the eBay account even knows that their account is being used for fraudulent activity…hopefully she isn’t surprised when these fakes arrive back in Florida in a couple days along with a bunch of others!

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I’m not the only sucker.

 

So long story short is, like the titles said, if it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. Luckily I was protected by eBay and it made kind-of-a-good story. I ended up going to the Oakley store when I was in San Francisco and got an authentic pair with the Friends & Family discount (hey, I did say I like a good deal on Oakleys!)

Another mile, another ache

March 26, 2015 |  by  |  Running  |  1 Comment

I took six days off of running two weeks ago after having some really bad shin splints and started running again last Tuesday. After self-diagnosing the cause of my bad shin splints as a result of poor running form, I decided to “fix” myself with some of Doug Wisoff’s 60-minute wisdom. I forgot his exact metaphor, but he encouraged us to imagine our legs as a bicycle crank, with a fluid turnover and motion. Well, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I think I tried to imagine my legs as a bike crank a little too much, because now my left hip flexor/IT band are really tight and sore.  I’ll keep the volume down this week again and continue stretching/foam rolling. In a way, I’m glad this is happening now and not while I’m training for the Portland Marathon (knock on wood.) But on the plus side of things, my shins feel a-okay again.

Too good to be true? Too good to be true! Part 2

March 26, 2015 |  by  |  Interests  |  No Comments

This is the closest I’ll probably ever get to being a detective, so please bear with my cyber sleuthing.

More hints and clues that I will be receiving junk in the mail soon:

The item was supposed to have shipped from Boca Raton, Florida.

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Let’s revisit the Google search for the seller’s username from my previous post:

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I don’t even know why I’m protecting the seller’s username…

 

Checks out. Boca Raton, Florida.

But the tracking says…

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International shipment? Last I checked, Florida is still a United State. There’s another red flag.

 

And my final clue? This feedback on the seller that just got posted today.

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A negative comment with a positive feedback rating? Ooookay…

I sure can’t wait to get home to check out my sweet new FOakleys! I hope the dispute process on eBay isn’t too drawn out, even though the seller asked me to, “Please don’t open a dispute at ebay . I hope us cooperate happy !

So remember people, if it’s too good to be true…

Too good to be true? Too good to be true! Part 1

March 26, 2015 |  by  |  Interests  |  No Comments

I like Oakley sunglasses. Nay, I love Oakleys. But the only thing I like better than Oakleys is a good deal on Oakleys. So when I saw a listing on eBay for some Oakley Radar Path glasses that I’ve been eyeing for 70% off, I instinctively knew it was too good to be true. But the seller had good feedback (all as a buyer, admittedly) and had a bunch available to be sold, so I gave it some consideration. Since eBay, PayPal and Mastercard will all protect the buyer on eBay transactions, I figured the risk was low for me. So I decided to give it a shot. I was 95% sure that I was either going to get FOakleys (Fake Oakleys) or nothing at all, but after receiving this email today, that estimate has gone up to 99.9%:

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So that’s not to say that people who speak/type broken English aren’t trustworthy, buuutttttttttt…everything screams fishy. Why? Because a cursory Google search of this username netted someone who left Walmart reviews in fluent, native-sounding English:

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The shades arrive today or tomorrow according to USPS’ awful package tracking mechanism. I can’t wait to see what I get…

A patrimonial Crosthwait gift

March 23, 2015 |  by  |  Personal  |  No Comments

While we were in Brush! this past weekend, Sara’s grandfather surprised me with a gift. As they were leaving to go home, he stopped me and took his hat off.

Grandpa Art: Hey Phil, can you fit this?
Me (slightly wary of a potentially sweaty sweatband): Oh sure, let me see!
Me: Yup, it fits!
Grandpa: Well, it’s yours. It’s a gift from me to you for your wedding shower.

Well, I didn’t know what to say! You don’t just take somebody’s hat from them, especially when you know it is a beloved hat! I politely insisted that he should keep it, but he turned around and insisted that I take it. And with that, I got a cowboy hat! I’ve always wanted one, but it’s nice that this one has really special meaning.

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A road runner pin, the state bird of New Mexico. Is there significance to it? I’m not sure.

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The feather of a pheasant, which he raised as a hobby last year.

 

When I walked back into Sara’s parents’ house, everybody ooh-ed and ah-ed over the fact that he gave me the hat off his head. When I told her dad that the hat came from “Sammy’s Saddlery & Western Wear” in Brush, he seemed surprised…he said that the store had been closed for decades now! That makes the hat that much more unique and special.

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Google turned up an image of the old saddlery building:

A photo of old Sammy's Saddelry (photo credit: drkenjones.com)

A photo of old Sammy’s Saddelry (photo credit: drkenjones.com)

 

I also found an excerpt from the Brush Chamber news about the building and saddlery:

HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT BRUSH BUILDINGS – 105 Clayton Street constructed in 1893. Originally the building’s south half had the address of 444 Clayton and the North half had the address of 445 Clayton. Between 1904 and 1910 the south half of the building was a drugstore, while the north half was a barbershop. By 1921, the north half was a creamery while the south half was being used to sell automobile tires. In the 1930’s and 1940’s it is believed that a harness maker and boot and shoe sales and repair business were housed in the building. In the early 1950’s it became home to Sammy’s Saddlery and Western Wear, owned by Samuel and Ruby Holster. It became one of the most successful businesses in downtown Brush in the next three years. To advertise, the Holsters acquired a life-size plastic horse which they mounted atop a pole in front of the building. At some point in the 1960’s the horse was stolen. At some point in the 1960’s the horse was spotted on a farm near Otis, but it was never returned. After operating their business here for some thirty years, Sam and Ruby Holster retired and moved away from Brush and the building sat vacant for a number of years. (Source: Brush Chamber of Commerce, January 2010)

So, it looks like the store has been closed sometime in the 1980s, which means that it’s been at least thirty years since the Holsters sold their last cowboy hat. To me, the hat looks brand new; it’s hard to believe it’s over thirty years old. The only giveaway is it’s old style (shorter brim and taller crown – according to my coworker/actual cowboy Ben.) This is a helluva gift that I will greatly treasure.