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My dad’s lifelong love affair with German shepherds

May 26, 2015 |  by  |  Personal, Pets & Animals  |  No Comments

I recently blogged about my lifelong love affair with German shepherds and I briefly touched on my family/late uncle’s love of the breed.

I was searching for something in my email inbox and I happened across this email that my dad forwarded me a couple of years ago. The original correspondence was between my dad and my cousin about one of my uncle’s German shepherds, not long after my uncle passed away:

From: My dad
To: My cousin Paul
Date: March 21, 2013
I remember those days. This is one of his fantasies – law enforcement and German shepherd (which means authority). We had our first GS when we were in high school. I used all my saving to buy a puppy, Kuro. We loved him so much. There were no dog food available at that time so we need to cook the dog food each morning before school. Our father was not happy about that he thought we  spent too much time with the dog and not STUDY(sounds familiar?) He gave the dog away. For many days we rode the bikes looking all allover the possible places finally find the dog and brought him back. Your grandfather eventually gave in and became attached to the dog as well. This is about 50 years ago, oh no, I am so old.

This is the type of story about my dad (and uncle) I love to read about! It’s hard for me to relate to their childhoods because the environment in which they grew up in is so different than mine. They were raised in Taiwan under martial law in the 50s and 60s whereas I grew up comfortably in Southern California suburbia. I still think about my uncle a lot and I really wish he could’ve been here for my wedding…he was my only uncle that lived near me when I was young. I’m glad all of his children/my cousins can make the wedding, even if it’s logistically hard for them because they all have kids. Reading stories like this helps me relate to my dad and uncle and understand them more.

One year down, two weeks to go

May 23, 2015 |  by  |  Personal  |  2 Comments
Proposing to Sara

It wasn’t as cold as it looks

Exactly one year ago (and I do mean exactly one year…I think I’m within an hour or so!) I proposed to Sara at Rocky Mountain National Park. And every morning since then, I wake up I thank God that she said ‘Yes!’

But actually, she didn’t say ‘yes’ at first. In fact, she exclaimed, “What?! NO!!!” because she was (hopefully) so surprised that I was proposing. But after what she made sense of what I was doing, then she said yes! She left me hanging there for about five seconds.

Exactly two weeks from now, I will be watching the love of my life and my best friend walk down the aisle to marry me. We’ve had a fairly long engagement of a year and two weeks. It’s been a fairly leisurely engagement for the most part, but now that we’re in the home stretch, things are starting to get crazy.

I’m beyond thrilled that we both have family coming in from near and far (as far as Taiwan!) and our closest friends from every phase of my life flying in to Denver just celebrate with us. I hope that it is a reflection of Sara’s and my character that people are willing to sacrifice not only their own time but also in some cases, a significant amount of money to see us enter the next phase of our lives. It truly humbles me.

I hope these two weeks go by fast because I can’t wait!

Kansas Trip, May 2015

May 22, 2015 |  by  |  Personal, Photography, Travel  |  No Comments

I had the opportunity to go to Lawrence, Kansas this past weekend to attend the hooding and commencement ceremonies for my sister-in-law-to-be Becky, who recently received her PhD in anthropology at the University of Kansas. It was a huge accomplishment for her so I was thrilled to be invited to go to KU to celebrate with her and the Crosthwait family. The trip I planned last year to go to Lawrence with my parents and Sara to do a triathlon stalled out (after I paid my race entry fees of course) so this was officially my first trip back to Lawrence in about 30 years.

But enough about making this about me! We drove from Colorado straight to Kansas City on Friday and after gorging on Kansas City BBQ, we settled in for the night, tired from the 8+ hour drive.

We made it to campus on Saturday morning and walked around a little bit. I went nuts at the gift shop to buy things for my family.

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Follow the brick road

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The intersection of Jayhawk and Lilac

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East coast-style architecture

We went to two ceremonies, the hooding ceremony for all doctoral candidates and the commencement ceremony for all 2015 KU grads. The hooding ceremony was obviously more intimate, with such a smaller number of doctoral candidates compared to undergrads and masters candidates.

KU department heads and distinguished guests

KU department heads and distinguished guests

Becky getting her hood

Becky getting her hood

All the smartpants leaving the ceremony

All the smartpants leaving the ceremony

The next day was the big commencement ceremony for everyone.

KU's football stadium

KU’s football stadium

Where all the grads walk down into the stadium

Where all the grads walk down into the stadium

Sara and me again

Sara and me again

Sara and me

Sara and me

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It was a great trip. I was happy to spend time in a city and a university that has significance to not only my family but also Sara’s family. I don’t think my parents are super-psyched about visiting Lawrence any time soon (for whatever reason) but I still want to visit with my parents (and hopefully sister) so they can share some of their memories of their younger years with us.

Summerfield Hall - This is where my dad (allegedly) spent all of his time at KU. Beth, any relation??

Summerfield Hall – This is where my dad (allegedly) spent all of his time at KU. Beth, any relation??

Allen Field House, home of the Jayhawks basketball team

Allen Field House, home of the Jayhawks basketball team

It's not a trip to Kansas without a tornado watch

It’s not a trip to Kansas without a tornado watch

Where we ate:

We had some authentic Kansas City BBQ at Jack Stack Barbecue at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City on the Missouri (Misery) side of Kansas City.  I opted for the Jack’s Best combo platter, with a Crown Prime Beef rib, pork ribs and beef burnt ends. The burnt ends were juicy, fatty and mouthwatering. The beef rib was outstanding; it was probably the best beef rib I’ve ever eaten. The pork ribs were really good as well, but definitely weren’t show stoppers.

Sandwiches were eaten at WheatFields Bakery and Cafe in Lawrence. The bread there was so good! Maybe it’s because the wheat is so “fresh” and locally sourced or maybe its all the flavor baked into their brick oven, but the bread just tasted really good. I have no idea what I ate since Sara chose for me, but whatever it was, it was delicious.

We officially celebrated Becky’s graduation at 715 on Massachusetts Street.  The lasagna bolognese was okay, the sauce didn’t seem very seasoned when it came to the table. But once I added some table salt, it kicked the flavor back into high gear. The bites of steak I stole off Becky’s plate were delicious! If I ever go back, I’m opting for steak.

Weekend celebration festivities were closed out with a hibachi lunch at Kokoro. The restaurant was actually closed when we got there, but when they saw a big group of 12 hungry people, they immediately unlocked the doors and let us in.

An obligatory quick stop was made at The Bourgeois Pig for coffee and/or cocktails. It was hippy and counter-culture enough to be at home in Berkeley, Santa Cruz or Boulder…I could definitely imagine working on papers over wine and/or coffee there.

We also meandered over to the oldest brewery in Kansas, Free State Brewing. There wasn’t much time for more than a beer, so I gave the Copperhead Pale Ale a try, on recommendation from an old coworker’s husband. It was hoppy and delicious, but not overwhelmingly hoppy. I wish they sold this stuff in Colorado, it has such a unique flavor since they dry hop the beer after brewing.

A lifelong Jayhawk

May 20, 2015 |  by  |  Basketball, Personal  |  1 Comment

I’ve mentioned in prior blog posts that my dad got his MBA from KU and turned us all into Jayhawk fans. So even though I never attended the school and I only lived there for a couple years as a baby, I still consider myself a lifelong Jayhawk fan. I know my sister feels the same way too; she graduated from UCLA (B.A.) and the University of Oregon (J.D.), two Pac12 powerhouses, but the only collegiate apparl she wears is KU. Both of my alma maters don’t have cheerable Div. 1 sports teams (minus DU’s hockey team) so I don’t have that problem :)

Since I’ve been scanning a ton of old photos of me as a kid, I’ve noticed that I’m decked out in KU gear in a lot of them. A small sampling:

lifelongjayhawk

My parents got my sister and I had a lot of KU gear when we were kids. I finally got the opportunity to return the favor this past weekend when I visited KU’s campus bookstore: I got my parents and sister a bunch of KU tshirts, golf shirts, other apparel and random golf accessories. I treated myself a couple items as well…so now I’m an apparel-official KU fan again.

Now when does NCAA basketball season start???

Race Recap: Colorado Marathon 10K

May 13, 2015 |  by  |  Running  |  No Comments

After finishing dinner at the Taiwanese consulate relocation banquet, Sara and I jammed from Greenwood Village up to Fort Collins to get to our hotel motel at a decent hour. Sara’s sister Erin and brother-in-law Matt were running the half marathon the next day, so we were in charge of running the 10K with Matt’s boys.

I teamed up with the older one, who talked a really big game…he wanted to run a sub-55 minute race so I told him to trust my pacing (aka don’t go out the gate in a full out sprint!) but our game plan fell apart at the 0.5 mile mark when he wanted to take his first walk break. I tried to encourage him to run most of the race, but we ended up doing a good deal of run-walking. To his credit he never gave up and never stopped moving forward, even when I could tell that he desperately wanted to stop to catch his breath. We finished the race at 1:12 – even though he didn’t get his sub-55 minute race, I still think his time is pretty darn good for a 5th grader! I mean, I don’t think I even ran six miles until college. The thought of running 10K at his age was completely foreign to me, even though my dad was running them!

My finishing photo

My finishing photo

Group photo

Group photo

Sara ran with the younger one and they ended up coming in 20 minutes after us. I hear there was a lot more complaining and grousing from that team of runners…but I’m not sure who complained more, Sara or him ;). Erin and Matt came in and finished their half marathon minutes after Sara came in. After taking some photos and relaxing a little bit, we headed back to the hotel to take showers, go eat with the rest of the Crosthwait clan and then head back to Arvada.

Taiwan “Consulate” Relocation Banquet

May 13, 2015 |  by  |  Denver, Personal  |  No Comments

Sara and I were at our favorite dim sum restaurant in Denver a few weeks ago waiting for our number to be called when we stumbled across this flyer:

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The flyer announced that the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) moved from Kansas City to Denver and that there was going to be a welcome banquet. It’s called the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office” because Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign nation by most of the world, but for all intents and purposes, these offices function as embassies. There’s a detailed summary of Taiwan’s sovereignty on Wikipedia if you’re curious at all.

I’m excited for the TECO office in Denver for a couple reasons: 1) It shows that there is an increasing Taiwanese population in Denver, which in turn will hopefully result in more/better Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants (dare I hope for a Din Tai Fung?) and 2) If and when I decide to get a Taiwanese passport, it will be much easier for me to do so with an office here in Denver, instead of needing to fly to LA to process it.

It’s pretty uncharacteristic for both Sara and I to go to random events we see on restaurant windows, but this was a rare opportunity that we figured we should take advantage of. We also thought that it would be nice to go to show support for Taiwan and its TECO office here. Now that I live Colorado, a fairly racially homogeneous state, I don’t get to explore my Taiwanese heritage very much – this was a good opportunity to do so. I also wanted to see what the groups that put the event on were about and if I would want to get involved with them.

TECO Director General Jack Yang speaking, Colorado state rep. Mike Kauffman to the left

Banner reads “Welcome Taiwanese Consulate moving to Denver” (according to my dad)

TECO Director General Jack Yang speaking, Colorado state rep. Mike Kauffman to the left

TECO Director General Jack Yang speaking, Colorado state rep. Mike Coffman to the left

Sara and me

Sara and me

We were pretty much total outsiders at the event, which we expected walking into it. We sat down with some people our age, but we got moved right before dinner started to another table. The random move notwithstanding. we still ended up having some pleasant conversations at the table we ended up at. The food was good and plenty, served Chinese banquet style. This probably sounds weird, but it was also kind of comforting to hear people speaking Mandarin with Taiwanese accents that my parents speak, instead of the Beijing or Cantonese accents I usually hear at restaurants. It’s the little things.

Overall it was a very nice event. There were a couple short speeches given by club leaders, the Director General of the TECO office, local politicians and even US Representative Mike Coffman. I probably won’t get involved with the groups that put the event on, since everybody was my parents’ age, but I’d be open to going to more events like this in the future. Unfortunately, we had to cut our dinner short because we had a long drive up to Fort Collins immediately after dinner since we were doing the Colorado Marathon 10K the next morning.

Race recap: Arvada Park to Park Half Marathon (10K)

May 12, 2015 |  by  |  Denver, Running  |  1 Comment

You look like a wet rat.

That sums up my race this past Saturday!

I got an email from the race director of the Arvada Park to Park Half Marathon at 6 AM on Saturday; it said that while the 5K/10K races were still on, the half marathon course was flooded due to the rains and were impassable. We had some torrential downpours all week, so while I was a little disappointed, I wasn’t surprised by the cancellation of the half marathon. My bib was automatically changed to the 10K race and that was that!

Source: Feat on the Street finishers video

A good representation of the conditions on Saturday (Source: Gif created from Feat on the Street finishers video)

The race started Ralston-Central Park, a quick five minute drive from my house. My friend Eric came over around 7:50 AM and we hit the road at 8:10. We were parked by 8:15, had some time to do a quick warmup run and walked up to the starting line. When I picked up my packet at Road Runner Sports last week, the race director said that there were about 100 runners for each event. The starting line looked far less sparse than 300 runners…no doubt the number was down because of the weather and half marathon cancellation.

The course was pretty fast and flat for the most part. It was also exceedingly wet. I stepped into giant puddles of water more than a handful of times, which netted me some very wet socks and shoes. I felt good the entire race and probably could’ve pushed it a little more, but it was pretty slippery in spots. I stopped for some Nuun at the halfway point (I’m glad they’re drink sponsors at more races now!), but I could’ve done without. Kudos to all the volunteers and police officers at the race dealing with these awful conditions.

Finishing strong

Finishing strong

Eric and me

Eric and me

Our finishing time was 53:31 (8’37″/mile.) My Garmin showed the course short 0.13 miles, but that could have been due to the rain and clouds interfering with my watch’s signal. My next race is the Bolder Boulder…hopefully I can shave a minute or two off this time.

I thought our finishing time was pretty darn respectable, but the humbling thing about our time is how poorly we did in our age division: we finished 13th and 14th out of 16 runners in our division! And the two guys that came in after us didn’t come in too much later than us either.

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.

crosthwait-wang

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  |  1 Comment

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.