Dan (+Leah) in California.
Ophidiophobia

I went for a run this afternoon at work. I ran on the trail I use to bike to work, but in the direction away from home, so I could see part of the trail I don’t normally visit.

It was windy (windy like a mountain road, not windy like a hurricane), and a bit hilly, but otherwise very nice. The trail follows a creek on one side, with some lovely foliage on the other.

About five minutes into my run, while I was coming out of a curve and looking down at the creek, my peripheral vision picked up some strange movement on the trail in front of me.

I turned my head and immediately stopped moving, because there was a giant snake on the trail.

You’re probably picturing a snake in your head right now, and if you’re not completely terrified of snakes, I bet you’re picturing a garter snake. One of those thin, 20-inch, harmless guys, just out for some sun.

Not today.

This snake was over 4 feet long. It was bigger around than a champagne flute, and if I hadn’t been literally paralyzed with fear, I’m fairly certain I would have struggled if I tried to lift it it with both hands.

And it was moving, towards me — it’s little head bobbing as it slithered.

I was physically unable to move for over a second. As soon as I could, I turned around and sprinted until I could no longer breathe.

While fleeing, I tried to warn an oncoming cyclist, who I’m sure was very confused by my running, flailing and yelling.

After catching my breath, I tried to resume my run. This failed for many reasons.

First, my pace was all messed up because of the sprinting. I don’t run intervals, so my body doesn’t really do the whole sprint/walk thing.

Then there was my heartbeat; I know how fast my heart is supposed to beat when I’m running, and this was definitely too fast.

Finally, there was the squirrel. About 15 minutes after my encounter with the snake, a squirrel hopped out of the bushes near my feet, and I jumped several feet into the air.

I nervously half-jogged back to the office, and took a cold shower. After calling Leah to explain what happened (if you count a bunch of bawling and gibberish as “explaining”), I made myself a root beer float, and sat through a meeting that was hopefully not very important, because I was thinking about snakes the entire time.

40 minutes of diligent research later, I’m fairly certain what I saw was a large western yellow-bellied racer, which you can read about here.

I assure you the one I saw was considerably larger than the “up to 3 feet long” varietals shown in most of those pictures; adults can grow up to 6 feet in length.

It’s non-venomous, of course, which I knew the second I saw it. The only venomous snakes in California are the six breeds of rattlesnakes (which are easy to identify, even without the rattle).

So, not exactly the manliest story ever told, but… that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a snake in the wild, and I can confirm that if you also have an irrational fear of snakes, seeing a giant one slither towards you is absolutely terrifying.

Single Barrel and Original Gravity

Two weeks ago Dan and I had the chance to check out a few bars in downtown San Jose.

Single Barrel is a speakeasy-style bar where the bartenders wear suspenders and hats.

www.metroactive.com

There are “house rules” like not speaking too loudly, and the ambiance is really nice. It has an exclusive (ie, douchy) feel and the drinks are phenomenal. It’s a bit like a show to watch the bartenders do their thing. The whole experience is really fun and we can’t wait to go back!

Another bar we checked out is called Original Gravity. They make their own sausages and also serve poutine. Dan and I went one Saturday morning and enjoyed a few beers from their 25 beer rotating selection. Here’s me with a milk porter and Dan with a beer we don’t remember the name of.

We both agreed that the poutine was kind of “meh”. The problem with finding poutine here is that they always make it fancy. It still tastes good but it’s nowhere near the soggy mess of ski chalet poutine in Quebec. (Poutine not pictured due to immediate consumption).

I’m really liking what’s on TV today.

We’re going to explore a few more bars in downtown San Jose soon. Despite living about 5 minutes from downtown we don’t go nearly as often as we should. Hope to change that soon!

Moving Comfort bras

Attention any women with a largish chest who work out! I’ve discovered the greatest line of sports bras ever.

Moving Comfort makes incredible sports bras for women with a C+ cup (they might make some Bs but I don’t think so). For someone who normally has to wear two sports bras to exercise they’re a welcome change.

I bought mine at some local sports stores. The first one I bought is called the Rebound Racer. I love the amount of support it provides but I found the straps dig into my collar bones and neck a bit. It’s been my go-to sports bra since I bought it.

Yesterday I came across the Fiona model while we were picking up our race kit for the July 4th race. The Fiona is basically the Rebound Racer but without the racerback, and therefore no straps digging into my neck. It’s amazing!

I love how much structure these bras have. They don’t have flimsy straps and note the lack of boob spillage out the top and sides. The best part is that they’re between $40 and $50. I know for small-chested people (and Dan) that sounds like a lot but anyone in my position knows that these are priceless!

Advocare 10 Day Herbal Cleanse

So I did a cleanse.

Please don’t judge me.

I feel like I need to justify this because I totally don’t believe in cleanses AT ALL and yet here I am. I decided to try this for a few reasons. I follow a fair amount of fitness and food blogs and a lot of people have tried this cleanse and loved it. It’s not one of those juice diets or anything like that. All you do is drink a (totally disgusting) fiber drink in the morning followed by some pre- and pro-biotics at night. As for eating, you just eat very cleanly. Lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, no fried foods, etc. This part was super easy for me because that’s basically how I eat anyways.

I personally don’t believe in the need to rid your body of toxins but I figured if I wanted to be a dietician I might as well use myself as a guinea pig and try the safest cleanse I could find!

On to the hard part. You aren’t supposed to eat dairy on this cleanse. I suspect this has to do with the fact that dairy can slow things down (if you know what I mean). I believe that eating/drinking dairy is a great way to get protein and fat. I eat full fat dairy a couple times a day so it was really hard to go without. But that wasn’t the worst of it….

Guess who hasn’t had coffee, tea, ALCOHOL, or Diet Coke for the past ten days? This girl.

Let me start by saying that I can go months at a time without coffee. Until you tell me I CAN’T have it. Then every Starbucks and Peet’s is calling my name like I’m a mom of 3 kids under 4. Going without Diet Coke isn’t too bad. I replaced it with sparkling water with lemon/lime/strawberries/raspberries and I think I’ll actually keep this habit up.

Which brings me to alcohol. Dan and I never drank regularly in Ottawa. Not even a glass of wine or a beer after a hard day at work. When we moved to California the price of alcohol and the local beers/wines/bourbons led us to drink much more. Probably no more than most 20-somethings, but still a fair amount.

We also enjoy a lot of alcohol-related activities. We love going to brew pubs and trying new beers, heading to the wineries for tastings, or going to speakeasies for fancy cocktails. I’ve tried to cut out alcohol before and made it about 2 days (Hey! It’s not my fault girls on my hockey team keep beers in their bags for after the game!).

Being the idiot that I am I started this cleanse on a Friday which means it spanned 2 full weekends. Not a good choice, past Leah. You don’t realize what a big role alcohol plays in your social life until you stop drinking it. Anyways, I’m happy to say I haven’t haven’t had a drink (other than a tiny sip or two) in the past week and a half.

On to the good stuff. I feel really good. I wasn’t overly tired or bloated during the cleanse. It’s supposed to be “gentle” and I can’t really say my system would agree, but that part of it really wasn’t bad.

Another good thing that came out of this is my introduction to Spark. This is another Advocare product that’s essentially a “healthy” energy drink that doesn’t make you jittery or cause a crash. It does contain sucralose, which isn’t great, but the rest of the ingredients are fairly natural. I’d say it’s no worse for you than Crystal Light. I ordered the Cherry flavour and thought it tasted pretty gross, but I loved how much energy I had. I checked Amazon and all the other flavours have 4.5 stars except for Cherry which has about 3 stars. The good news is I have a huge tub of Fruit Punch coming my way soon!

If you’re interested you can purchase the cleanse here for about $30. I’ll very likely try it again sometime and would definitely recommend it if you’re curious.

http://www.advocare.com/products/well/W3171.aspx

If you decide to try it, here are some tips: -order the Peaches and Cream flavour of fiber drink. It still tastes like ass but is apparently better than the Citrus. -drink the fiber drink quickly and with a straw. I also added much more water than the recommended 8 ounces. -eat as often as possible. I found myself with less appetite than I normally had and it was hard for me to keep eating sometimes.

Finally, here’s a pic Dan took of me on the last day of my cleanse. Super excited for Canada Day tomorrow and to crack open a beer or 5 on the patio!

Race Tomorrow!

I mentioned the relay race I’m running in a little while ago.

My team is starting tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at 2pm, and expecting to finish sometime around 5pm on Sunday.

If you’d like to see the 191 mile (308 km) route, check out this map. I’m running legs 4, 16, and 28, a total of 16.3 miles (26km).

Since we’re starting at 2pm, I’ll probably start my first leg around 4:30pm. My second leg will be at night, starting at roughly 2:30am, and with any luck I’ll be starting my final leg by noon on Sunday.

Wish me luck!

Look what arrived in the mail today!

I have to say, as someone who only ever builds virtual experiences and writes for digital mediums, it’s pretty cool to physically lift something I’ve created and flip through the pages.

So… my day’s going pretty well. How ‘bout yours?

Look what arrived in the mail today!

I have to say, as someone who only ever builds virtual experiences and writes for digital mediums, it’s pretty cool to physically lift something I’ve created and flip through the pages.

So… my day’s going pretty well. How ‘bout yours?

Speaking of U of O, I had to fill out some stuff about my education earlier today, which meant digging up my transcript. It makes for fascinating reading.

Here are my grades for the four years I spent earning my degree, ordered by letter:

A+0
A2
A-4
B+12
B3
C+3
C7
D+7
D3
E1
F1

It averages out to a C+. If anyone ever tells you you need to do well in school to get a good job, tell them you’re taking Software Engineering.

That said, school is a fine place to learn, and I’m happy I went, and it definitely is a huge part of where I am in my life right now (gainfully employed). A better summary might be:

Stay in school, kids; even if you suck at it.

Ottawa U Alumni Meetup

Back in February, a really cool thing happened. (And yes, I realize it’s April. I’m behind on my writing.)

The school from which I graduated — the University of Ottawa — hosted a get-together in the valley for all its alumni that happen to have found their way to the bay area.

As you can see, I was a little underdressed:

(That’s me on the left.)

Next to me in the handsome salmon shirt is my buddy Mo, who graduated the same year I did. He works at Microsoft, and has an impressive track record for doing amazing things online.

Next to Mo in the killer suit is Vijay, someone I met a few times in University and now sort of regret not connecting with more often. He’s doing his Ph.D. at Stanford, on full scholarship, which he earned with his winning combination of being really good at everything and being extremely personable.

Rounding out the photo is the current Dean of Engineering at U of O, Claude Laguë, who was a gracious host, and gave me an awesome pin — which Leah later lost, much to my dismay. (I read that line out to Leah, and she claims she “vacuumed” it. When I said that that was the same thing, she insisted that “it’s different”.)

There were some delectable snacks and free beer, which is always a win in my book. During the “networking hour” I met up with a woman named Pam who also recently migrated from Ottawa to San Jose, and who also has an awesome blog about it.

The focus of the evening was a panel about how to encourage entrepreneurship through the university. The panelists were all bay area venture capitalists, which was really neat because they had really insightful stories, none of which I remember well enough to type out in full. (Sorry.)

Following the panel, we all just hung around and talked for a while. I met some fellow Netflixers, and people that worked at LinkedIn, Yahoo, Adobe, and Dropbox, plus a smattering of startups.

It was a lot of fun. I really hope this becomes some sort of an annual tradition, I’d like to see a number of these people again.

I’ve wanted to run for about 2 years now. It seems like something I would be good at, because I have generally good discipline and I already run faster than a lot of people. You may remember Leah and I ran a 5k way back in July, and we both totally rocked it.

Well, back in January someone at work sent an email asking if anyone wanted to run in a relay race.

"Sure!" I thought. "It’s a relay! You don’t even need to run the whole thing!"

The relay runs from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. Because I’m sure many of you don’t know how far apart those places are, I can tell you: 312km (194 miles).

There are twelve people per team, which after some basic division is 26km per person, or a little over half a marathon each. Because it’s a relay, this is broken into three legs per runner, each leg being 10km or less. Each team member takes turns running, so I’ll run my three legs about six hours apart — meaning I’m going to be up for at least 21 consecutive hours.

I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

I’ve been training since then, and I’m coming along. I can run a 5k in a little more than 20 minutes, and I ran my first 10k a couple weeks ago in just under 50 minutes.

Yes, I know how fast that is. I’m fast. As long as I don’t overtrain and injure myself, I will have no trouble running this race.

I’m actually so confident that I’ve already signed up for a half marathon in August. So yeah, I’m a little committed to this running thing.

I’ve kind of been pinging Facebook with some running stuff every now and then, and I meant to mentioned it much sooner here… anyway, I’ll try to post about it here more often.

In the mean time, do you run? I wouldn’t mind reading a success story or two in the comments…

I’ve wanted to run for about 2 years now. It seems like something I would be good at, because I have generally good discipline and I already run faster than a lot of people. You may remember Leah and I ran a 5k way back in July, and we both totally rocked it.

Well, back in January someone at work sent an email asking if anyone wanted to run in a relay race.

"Sure!" I thought. "It’s a relay! You don’t even need to run the whole thing!"

The relay runs from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. Because I’m sure many of you don’t know how far apart those places are, I can tell you: 312km (194 miles).

There are twelve people per team, which after some basic division is 26km per person, or a little over half a marathon each. Because it’s a relay, this is broken into three legs per runner, each leg being 10km or less. Each team member takes turns running, so I’ll run my three legs about six hours apart — meaning I’m going to be up for at least 21 consecutive hours.

I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

I’ve been training since then, and I’m coming along. I can run a 5k in a little more than 20 minutes, and I ran my first 10k a couple weeks ago in just under 50 minutes.

Yes, I know how fast that is. I’m fast. As long as I don’t overtrain and injure myself, I will have no trouble running this race.

I’m actually so confident that I’ve already signed up for a half marathon in August. So yeah, I’m a little committed to this running thing.

I’ve kind of been pinging Facebook with some running stuff every now and then, and I meant to mentioned it much sooner here… anyway, I’ll try to post about it here more often.

In the mean time, do you run? I wouldn’t mind reading a success story or two in the comments…

Gosh Leah’s getting good at writing blog-like posts. And here I haven’t written anything in ages. Let’s fix that.

I Lift so I can Eat

So you may have read my post from a couple months back where I talked about being on Weight Watchers. I was doing great with weight loss but decided I wanted to start weight training as well. To sum it up without being too “I have a degree in biology”, weight training is what REALLY change the shape of your body. The added bonus of putting on muscle is that it increases your resting metabolism better than cardio. The general consensus is that while cardio causes you to burn calories IN THE MOMENT, weight training boosts your calorie burn throughout the entire day. Also, I like being the only girl in the weight room and making fun of the meatheads. What can I say.

For the last month I’ve been weight training 5x a week (with one rest day and one hockey day). I alternate legs and arms and go back and forth between doing weights, doing cardio, and doing a combo of the two (think jump squats and other plyometrics). I purchased an amazing heart rate monitor that also tracks your calories burned. I don’t know how I worked out without it before. It makes me up my intensity and makes it so much easier to determine how hard I’m going.

A misconception about weight training is that you should do low reps, high weight to build muscle/bulk, and that women should do high reps, low weight to develop “lean muscle”. This is so not true!

Women don’t get huge like men when they weight train because they have less testosterone. We’re not built to get massive. It just won’t happen. Stop being girly and put down the pink weights. Bodybuilder women take testosterone supplements to get huge. It’s as simple as that.

That being said, my weight lifting mentality is “go big or go home”. I like to feel pumped (side note: if you’d like to watch a hilarious non-parent/in-law appropriate video that explains how California became the state it is, search for the “Arnold Schwarzeneggar pump” video on Youtube. We made that man our governor).

(yes, this is the background on my phone)

The side effect of increasing your metabolism is that you’re hungry ALL THE FREAKING TIME on weight lifting days. I decided to try out My Fitness Pal, which is a free calorie counting and exercise tracking app that works a lot like Weight Watchers. The added bonus is that it breaks down all your macro and micronutrients so you can specifically adjust your diet to what it should be. For example, I tend to go over my recommended sugar intake. This is mostly due to my high fruit and veggie intake, but it’s still nice to be able to keep an eye on that. Right now I’ve decided to double track (track on both My Fitness Pal and Weight Watchers) to get an idea of what’s going on. So far it seems like I can eat more using My Fitness Pal (which still gives you a calorie limit for weight loss).

The “problem” with weight training is that you gain muscle and muscle is heavy. Because of this I’ve actually gained a bit of weight in the past month. I’m OK with this. It often takes a few months of weight training for your body to start losing fat. I know that if I’d stayed doing just cardio I’d be losing weight but I’m not too focused on the number on the scale right now.

I’ve truly started loving weight training. I look forward to the gym every day. I feel strong and powerful and fit when I leave the gym. I’ve also adjusted my diet to be much more clean and full of whole foods. Ironically I need to boost my fat intake, which is taking a fair amount of effort! Olive oil and avocados are becoming my friends.

I’ll do another fitness update in a month or two. I’m hoping to shed more fat so that my muscles show through a bit more. In the mean time, here’s a totally embarrassing muscly arm pic for you:

Hiking with Mr. Holmes (not the title of a children’s book)

A couple months ago our friend Craig Holmes (aka, Holmes) came to visit us. He missed us tremendously and just couldn’t stay away from Dan’s sexiness. This is not true. He works for Adobe and was in town for a conference. I prefer to think of it my way, though. Much more glamorous.

Anyways, we wanted to show him a good time while he was here, but his fiancee said no. Also not true. He said he wanted to do something “extreme” on his day off. I suggested a trip to Big Sur to go hike this:

With an elevation gain of 1600’ over about 2 miles, the 5 mile Ewoldsen trail boasts ocean views and redwood forests. Unfortunately, much of the trail was destroyed by a forest fire a few years ago. The most up-to-date information I could find said that while the trail was closed, you could ignore the signs and still hike it, if you don’t mind climbing over some burnt stumps. I even went on their official website which said you could ignore the “Trail Closed” signs and do the hike.

After grabbing the essentials we headed off for the 2 hour mountain drive to the trail. I was super pumped to try out my new “girly” backpack. Apparently if you buy a backpack specifically designed for women with..ahem..boobs, you only get one colour choice: purple. Of course. Nothing sexist about that.

We spent a bit of time looking for the trailhead but by following the “trail closed” signs we eventually found our way. Thus began our vertical hike. The switchbacks were killer and Holmes has legs like an antelope. I, on the other hand, have legs like a mountain goat. On the Simpsons. Go watch it.

We got a mile in before we noticed that something was amiss. I’m pretty sure jackhammers aren’t left in the middle of the forest too often:

Sure enough, we soon came upon some construction workers/hippies (I mean, more hippy-like than most Californians) who politely said “Oh, I guess you didn’t see the signs. This trail is closed for construction”. We backed out of there sheepishly mumbling something about the internet.

We decided to hike whatever we could while we were there. Here are some pics of some burnt stumps:

And the always gorgeous California coast line:

We ended the day with a trip to Monterey Bay and the Cannery Row Brewery. Dan and I had been here once before and the food and drinks are delicious! We also stopped in to a record store where I had a bunch of fun sorting through tapes from the 90s.

Dan and I are planning to go back and do the hike once the trail’s been re-opened. We still had an awesome time and saw a lot of the beauty of California, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. It was also a great way to spend time with one of our Ottawa friends, which is always fun!

The funny thing about really busy weeks…

…is that you have so much to write about, and no time to write. I’ll try to get caught up this weekend.

My cousin Nikki is a better and considerably sassier writer than I am, and posts like this are exactly what I aspire to write some day. (She’s spot on about food and culture, by the way; I’ve noticed the same thing since moving to the US.)

Muscles: Happy; Liver: Unimpressed

Leah here!

For those of you that don’t know, Dan and I joined the Chandon wine club, which delivers us bottles of Chandon every 2 months. We signed up while on a trip to Sonoma/Napa with Lindsey and Marc. And yes, we were a little tipsy by the time we handed over our credit card.

Our most recent shipment was 2 magnum bottles (1.5L each) of champagne.

After having them take up too much room in our liquor cabinet (OK, liquor bookshelf) for too long, Dan decided we should just devote a Saturday to drinking all of it. That means we’d each be drinking the equivalent of a normal (750mL) bottle each. After picking up some post-drinking Gatorade, we were good to go.

Dan also chose Saturday to start training for his crazy Netflix run (will likely be discussed in a later blog post). I went with him for his first run. It went….OK. At least the weather was great!

After showering, we started the drinking. Dan’s first glass was accompanied by blueberry waffles. How refined!

I also accidentally took a picture of our apartment while trying to figure out the settings on my camera. Here it is on a nice, sunny day:

As the drinking continued we watched The Meaning of Life, before deciding (as all drunk people do) that we absolutely needed Mexican food immediately. Thus began our drunken journey to Tlaquepaque. On the way Dan had to restrain me several times from trying to “steal” oranges from everyone’s orange trees. He said it would be trespassing and theft. Pshhhh.

We passed this house and it made me laugh. The sign on the door says “We Love Snow!”. Really? Maybe California was a poor choice. (Dan pointed out that WE love snow, but whatever)

After a long journey, we finally reached our destination.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that Tlaquepaque has something called Chavelas. They also have something called SUPER Chavelas, and those are…well…super. It’s a beer with a shot of tequila and fresh lime juice in it, served in a goblet with a salt rim. Basically all my favourite things rolled into one.

After gorging ourselves on flautas, fajitas, tortilla chips, and salsa, we headed home. On the way back (stumbling a bit, I might add) we passed this sign. There’s nothing like passing a sign for Alcoholics Anonymous when you’re drunk at 2pm on a Saturday.

The rest of the afternoon was spent napping and watching TV. We didn’t get through the whole bottle but we came pretty damn close, so…small successes and whatnot.

Other than the hangover that lasted from 5pm to 11pm, it was a really fun day!