Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Love-Hate Relationship with my Bike

I purchased the SC 700C Solaris Hybrid bicycle over 3 months ago at a discount and was super excited to start getting fit. It helped with my daily dose of exercise, clocking in at 22 km per day on my bike commute. I have been riding to/from skytrain station from Monday to Friday for the past 3 months and love it.

Just like wearing my Fitbit Flex consistently, I have gotten used to this routine and love my bike that way. I hate my bike when it affects my routine and takes me off-kilter. I have already had numerous issues with the front and rear derailers so I had tons of practice adjusting it so that it's perfect. The bike also does not go as fast as other bikes because I see riders easily pass me on similar routes using other hybrids. It just seems to lack efficiency which is actually better for me because I end up exerting more effort on a 40 minute bike route. Using Endmondo on my phone, I average around 17 km/hr using this bike and that's on a good day when all my muscles are at peak performance.

The other day, the rear tires were deflated so I had to miss 2 days of bike commute until I was able to get to patching the hole. It was the same hole as before so I knew exactly where to look but still it was a nuisance. Last week, the right pedals wore out because they were made of plastic but I didn't expect 3 months. So I went back to the store and requested for a warranty replacement of the right pedal which I easily got. A few days later however, the left pedal also started to break apart so I again went back to claim another parts replacement which was a little more difficult. I had to explain to the sales person that I could put on the pedal myself without having to wait on Thursdays for the technician to do it for me. Regardless, I now have replacement pedals which should last me until end of September.

It is a love-hate relationship I have with my bike. I hope this bike holds for at least a year until I buy a more efficient road bike.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Daily Bike Route Errday Errday

Here is my new daily bike route to and from work (marked in blue). The distance is approximately 11 km and it takes me about 45 minutes to complete one way. That's a solid 22 km with the return trip daily, if the weather plays nice. The terrain is not quite flat and has some slight inclines (shown in the pop out) so it takes some getting used to. I plan to cut down the time to 30 minutes hopefully in 3 months time, but for now I'm just happy to be able to complete a day of cycling.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How I Improved on my 10K Race Results

We just finished running the Vancouver Sun Run this past weekend and am happy to see that I improved significantly from last year's Sun Run race results by 9 minutes. It took me 52 minutes to complete a 10K run!

I ran the Granville Island 10K Turkey Trot last November and finished that in 55 minutes but I also don't think a 10km route for one event equals a different event in terms of time it takes to complete. So looking strictly at the stats for the Sun Run, I also dropped to being in the top 22 percentile for my age category instead of being in the 50 percentile from last year and the years before that. It must have been 4 years since I was able to run the Sun Run in under an hour so I begin to think what it was that let me break out of the cycle.

Lose Weight 
I weighed close to about 170lbs every year that I ran the Sun Run, except this 2015. I lost about 12lbs to prepare for the race through a combination of daily exercise and diet. I would say it's the diet that actually helped me get over losing the last 5lbs. I looked at the Whole30 program which focused on reducing carb intake, and this helped a lot I'm currently trying to understand how to decipher the ingredients in the food I eat, specifically which powerbars are good to have when the hunger-cravings kick in.

Improve Endurance 
Reducing weight helped build my endurance by being able to easily carry my body through 8km runs around the Stanley Park Lagoon every other day. I find that I am able to get back to my normal at rest heart beat much quicker now and I attribute to having more endurance through constant training. I insert swimming and cardiovascular workout at the YMCA gym in between to help reduce wear-and-tear on my knees.

Get Home to Son's Birthday Party 
My son had a 12:30pm birthday party the same day as the Sun Run so I had to make sure I finished in record time so that I can get home to help out with the preparations. It would have been in very poor taste if I missed it.

Regardless, you should find your own motivation for beating your previous year's Sun Run time. To find out about your race results in 2015, go to

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Name That Saint or Hero Challenge

Last week, I helped my kid with his homework to name as many saints or heroes from a poster of cartoon characters. It was difficult and we could only name a few like Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, or Joan of Arc. These characters always wore the same clothes so it was easy. It was especially difficult naming the other characters  because I had just come back home from a week long trip by bus from Seattle. I wasn't really into it and could hardly see the image that my wife took of the poster. At one point, I named rapper Tupac Shakur as one of the characters on the poster (I'm a big fan). Under different circumstances, we would have named more but apparently our efforts were good enough because my kid received a medal for it. That's awesome.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Samaritan's Christmas Child Program - Our Shoebox for the Year

My wife and kids put together this present/package for a 2-4 year-old girl to receive this Christmas. The kids didn't want to part with their red fox plush toy so we put in a teddy bear instead. On top of that, they put in crayons, a dress, toothbrushes, a story book (which took my daughter some convincing to let go), monetary donation, etc. I was late in bringing the shoebox for our group dropoff at the downtown location so I had to go to the Greyhound bus depot at 295 Terminal Avenue,in heavy rain, to drop it off personally. Happy to do it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

How to Fix Error Code F21 (Water Not Draining) on a Whirlpool Washer

We own a Whirlpool front-load washer, Model WFW8300SW01 and Serial HLT4932808. About a month or two ago, the wash cycle would not complete with error code "F21" on the console. To get around this in the meantime, I manually set the dial to drain cycle and this would fix the problem, most of the time. I called around for a local Whirlpool technician and was told it would cost $81 to just come out and have a look. It might have to come down to this but I wasn't about to just hand over my money so I googled some fixes.

The error code would also come up some times on drain cycle and am never sure which of the two troubleshooting techniques I applied really made a difference. The manuals say that error code "F21" could be caused by a kink in the drain tube or that the wall power was low on voltage. With this in mind, I tried the following: 1) unplugged the other power bar that shared the power circuit with my washer, and 2) drained water from the drain tube by removing it from the wall drain and raising it high over the my head. Neither 1) nor 2) were consistent in draining the water however, until my wife rearranged the drain tube this way (see illustration). By having the drain tube elevated above the washer, we were able to complete the wash cycle without ever seeing that dreaded "F21" error code again. Knock on wood but it's been working well like before.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where to go for your last week of Summer?

The end of summer is fast approaching but don't let that stop you from making one last trek down south of the border with the family before we all start donning clothes from our fall wardrobe. Head down during the week instead of the weekend for less lineups at the border crossings and at the zoos. It's also cheaper in terms of accommodation. Here is a transcript of our latest adventure.

Fun Center at Tukwilla
This is our second time at this facility and it's always a good time for the kids. There are arcade games indoors and fair rides outdoors. We drove the race kart twice around the track (once for each kid), did the trampoline, and sailed around in a rubber dingy with water guns on them. In the arcades, kids accumulated about 288 tickets, from winning games and by contribution from a couple who didn't care about redeeming the tickets for prizes. Kids were able to redeem about 4 different toys each with this number of tickets.

The Inn at Gig Harbor
We looked around for a decent hotel close to the Point Defiance Zoo and we decided to stay here because it was only 15 minutes away and also because the rate was reasonable at $145 per night. There is a bridge that separates Tacoma and Gig Harbor, and the view is amazing. The hotel is surrounded by dense vegetation, close to the freeway, has a view of Mt Rainier but no view of the water, and was marked a heritage building. It was like staying at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, which was quite nice and classy. There was a hot tub (which we didn't get to use), no pool, free breakfast, and places to eat at outside the hotel.  It was a very nice, cozy, relaxing stay for us.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium at Tacoma
Before you head out to this zoo, print a copy of these coupons for each visitor to take $2 off your entrance fees. It's good for up to 4 visitors The entrance to the zoo is like driving through Stanley Park in Vancouver, with winding roads through thick vegetation and a view of water (Owen beach). Parking was free and the entrance to the zoo and aquarium was very inviting. With well maintained gardens and grass, and a view of the water in the horizon, it's what kept it apart from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, in my opinion.

The zoo layout is nice too especially the exit out of the zoo directly to Owen beach. It's a great pittstop after a day of walking around the park. Having the aquarium was nice in that we didn't have to venture out like we did during our Portland trip this year

There were no dolphins at the Point Defiance aquarium but they had massive exhibits for sharks. First time I saw saw-like teeth on a shark. There was a shark scuba dive, zip lining, camel rides, an outdoor theater, but we only got to do the last two. It was definitely a good time, and the kids said they liked everything about this place. Hakuna Matata.

Holiday Inn at Downtown Everett
After a day of walking around, we headed out to Everett which was close to 2 hours North of Tacoma but only 12 minutes from the Premium Seattle Outlets at Marysville. We wanted to do some shopping at the outlets the next day and found this hotel to be a very reasonable alternative to paying over $500 per night at the Tulalip Resort Casino hotel. In comparison, the Holiday Inn only cost us $157 per night. It had a pool and all the amenities that my wife demands. At first we were placed in a handicapped room on the ground floor because front desk said they were all booked that night and because we had two kids with us, these were the only type of rooms with two queen-sized beds? With the Expedia booking that I made for the room, I was told that it meant we were placed in any available room, even if it was meant for handicapped patrons which I had no issues with but was not our preference because of the room layout. When I asked to be moved to a higher floor and to a standard room, they said there was none available so I asked to cancel our room but was told there was no same day cancellation with the Expedia booking that I made. I simply asked them to put me on the waiting list when a room became available, and that we weren't happy customers. A few minutes later, front desk calls back saying that a room was available because of an early checkout at 6pm, which I suppose is entirely possible. We were more than happy to move and thanked front desk for her prompt attention to out requests. Next time, I'll be more specific in our room requirements when booking through Expedia or Priceline. The rest of the night was fine. There was a Chinese restaurant within walking distance and then we went swimming in the indoor pool. Parking was free and they offered a voucher for free breakfast for kids the next day. It was fine.

Premium Seattle Outlets at Marysville
The outlets by Tulalip Resort Casino is a popular destination for many Canadians. If you haven't gone shopping for your kids'back-to-school supplies yet, head out to the outlets as you may still get bargains. We bought soccer cleats for our kids soccer game season starting in September, some swimming trunks for weekly swim lessons, and lunch bags from the Disney store. Michael Kors outlet store is now open and of course we had to go once, twice, three times to make sure before buying the watch that my wife really wanted. It's an expensive detour before heading back home.