Dear Js,

love the new bike
new world of pain


Day 1 – rode bike back from seller. Rear shifter pall was gummed up, didn’t shift down. Didn’t matter, I didn’t change gears once. Seller said front might have slow leak. I think he was downplaying it. Fell off bike because of toe cage.
Kept raising the seat all the way up. Was good for road riding. Felt nervous. Cars, curbs, crossing streets, bumps. Nothing felt right. Best part was going through a Creek trail, which ended with a bicycle-only flyover over 17.

Morning after Day 1 – front tire flat. Ordered 2 new tubes and tire strips. No more riding. Found mountain bike instructional videos on Youtube. Decided I want to learn bunny hop. But first, manual and rear wheel lift.

Day 2 – Changed front tube. Rode bike around the neighborhood. Seat around midway. Yanked back on handlebars and scooped up on pedals for an hour or so. Came back saw thorn in back tire. Pulled out thorn – HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Oops. Rear tire went flat in a few hours.

Day 3 – Changed rear tube. Rode bike. More practicing, found a few new parks for you kids near our house. Schools and parks were my water break spots.
After day 3 – front tire was squishy – new front tube was leaking air.
Ordered patch kits and new tires with kevlar lining. Opted for hybrid tires instead of aggressive trail tires. These old tires are useless. Also ordered a bunch of bike accessories like seat bag to keep bike tool and spare tube and light.
While waiting for the patch kits to come I took the front tube out and dipped it in water. j you and I worked together and we found a slow leak spitting tiny bubbles. I decided to find and mark the holes in the other 2 tires too. I could patch them to use as spares.
Couldn’t wait for the patch kits to come, so I thawed out the aquaseal from the freezer. We had bought it to fix the pool toys. Patched the tubes and a leaking watermelon donut float. Set them in the garage.

Day 4 – new tires arrived and they are great! Super smooth and quieter, perfect for the riding I do. But threads are shallow so dirt is super slippery and can’t go too fast but it’s fun. They’re a little springy too, in a good way. Not sure why but they soak up bumps better than the old tires and I like squishing them down and bouncing on them. Slipped off the pedal and scraped my shin while I was testing the bike in the backyard with flipflops.
Rode around and felt more confident. I can lift the front and back wheel now. It’s not pretty and my whole body has been sore from all the practice. I’m still using too much muscle. But the tires roll nice and smooth, and it helped me find the blanace point.
Stand on the cranks while the bike is rolling briskly. Move hips forward and back and let the bike slide back and forward in the opposite direction of your hips. The wheels will make a zip zip sound as you move your hips and it slides under you.
I also practiced leaning all the way back to shift my weight over the back tires, almost touching my butt. I practiced going downhill like this. At first my steering was twitchy – I had trouble keeping handlebars straight.
But it got better and I tried tugging a few times to lift the front wheel while I had all the weight back.

Day 5 – No new injuries. More practicing. I found a park with a long straight flat path. Perfect for practicing lifting up front and back wheels. School yards are nice too. Then I found that the grassy spots in the park next to the paved spots make perfect little ramps for practicing. Just enough help to get the front wheel up. Because the trouble I was having was if I lean back to manual too hard to lift the front wheel, I can’t get my hips back forward fast enough to lift the back wheel.
So the little grass-to-path bump was just enough to help me lift the front, while keeping my weight closer to neutral. And I could shift forward faster to unweight the back wheel.
After 15 minutes of that, I could get some sort of rhythm.

I can bunny hop

If I took my modified 90’s bike back to the 90s and showed them what I did, they’d laugh at me. Seat is too low, handlebars are too high. Wrong pedals, wrong grips. I felt like I went through 15 years of bike evolution by upgrading my bike to ride more like a modern bike. Which fascinates me, because the few things I changed about the bike made all the difference in how much more easily I could execute techniques.

My bike functions like a nice lever now with the crank as the fulcrum when standing on the pedals. I rock back, front wheel goes up. Rock forward, back wheel goes up. Before, the weight was biased forward and the bike was set up for riding in the saddle. Trying to lift the front wheels with the old geometry was like trying to open a door by pulling the doorknob toward the hinge, instead of outward. It’s amazing. It’s all about leverage. And the fact that I could make it behave so differently with a few tweaks is crazy, because it means that the guys in the 90s were SO CLOSE. They had no idea what the bike was capable of, and they were so close to discovering it.

I am enjoying this journey of discovery. Like I’m rediscovering the history and evolution of mountain biking by watching 2016 YouTube videos and upgrading my bike to behave more like today’s bikes. I feel that I am learning much more this way than if I had just bought a new bike where everything was set up perfect for me. This way I learn why things are set up the way they are set up.

Day 5 –

Left shin bashed

Left shin bashed

right shin bashed
trying like Ollie
manual then shove front forward while leaning forward scooping pedal
that seems to give momentum needed to explode forward
everything is more different at night
more alien
something ordinary as a baseball field can be scary bumps and shadows of loose dirt

Day 6 – practice trackstands – got chased away by high school security
crab walks
riding off curb to road plus manual – fast (touch both wheels same time), slow (practice unweighting, no sound)
I think there should be no slack on the pedals and handlebars when chaining manual and rear-manual. Gotta squeeze the bike nice and tight on handlebars and pedals
Practice toe curls. Heel toe heel toe hips forward back forward back


Race face Chester flat pedals. Nylon with studs.
Odi Rogue grips.
Tire liners.
LED light mounted on handlebar.
Mini bike pump strapped to top tube with velcro straps.
Raised front handlebars, seat down to lowest.

Cleaned & lubed chain
Trued front and back wheels
Inspected frame – no cracks

Shin guards
right wrist brace
My old FiveTen Savant hiking shoes to go with the flat pedals.

First day shin guards.

First day shin guards.

Right wrist – from landing bunny hops too hard. I ice this after every ride now.
New frame geometry and grips help.

Biggest crash so far:
Tried hop up a curb without warming out, 5 minutes after leaving home. Mis-timed it, lifted front wheel and it dropped right before the curb. I flew over the handlebars. My bike didn’t manage to make it over the curb, but I did. Chain got stuck between the casette and the frame. I had to open the quick-release to wiggle my wheel lose and free the chain. It shook me up and I was nervous the rest of the night.

tried to jump curb before warming up
ate it front wheel jammed into curb, over I went tired into sidewalk
hurt my pride more than anything scraped knee on top of shin guard

shaking pedal wouldn’t turn flipped bike over chain went into frame
quick release wheel freed it
but still shaking legs were jelly
didn’t trust myself for a long time
fear paralyzed afraid to go for it meant nothing would work
but at the same time it made me mad
I wanted it back
by the time I got it I was tired

lesson learned today, push fear away
it’s all about timing
video showed it clearly
As soon as you manual you already gotta be over the handle bars 0.2 seconds

learning is sticking it out long enough
willing to stay uncomfortable for long enough
for something to click
if you quit early you don’t give yourself a chance to click
especially important in today’s fast-paced world
gratification is too fast
don’t learn patience,
don’t get enough time to pass to allow things to happen


I ride for about 1-2 hours. The city is never really dark, even at night. There are street lights everywhere. I go to schools, parking lots, playgrounds, anywhere I can find interesting features. It could be speed bumps for me to hop over. Or a nice length of curb/kerb I can practice hopping on and off. As time goes by I collect my favorite places, each with a feature I particularly like.

For example there’s a park I like that has lights that turn on super bright if it detects anyone walking through it. And it has a long paved pathway. I like to use that long path to practice any balancing technique where you try to balance for as long as you can. E.g. balancing on the back wheel and balancing on the front wheel. I make a mental note of all the schools and parks in the area because they have water fountains where I can stop for a drink. Yesterday I found a new place that looked like an outdoor patio of a small company. The entire ground area was covered in loose gravel. So I had fun going round and round, slipping and sliding all over the place. In the end I left my tire tracks all over the place, like when you see hooligans doing donuts in their cars. Except this was bike donuts in gravel so tomorrow when they go to work they must be wondering WTF I didn’t know this was a thing.

No I don’t go to the trails because that is completely dark. I can bring lights but what I’m afraid of is we have mountain lions. Mountain lions are quiet and they can catch up to bikes. I wouldn’t even hear one coming until it’s on my back, buried deep in my neck.


After riding at night I get cravings.
pounded 2 slices of cold pizza
jalapeno chips mama had lying around
1 brownie 1 cheesecake square from work
took a shower
milk cereal and ice strapped on wrist and thumb


Then I heard someone shout from a car driving by: “F* you f*ggot, you f*’ing f****g…..”
I was confused. I wasn’t sure if they said that as an impulsive thing, or if they had seen me there enough times to form an opinion of me.
Anyway, time to switch locations. It is dangerous when you or your schedule are easily predictable.

“It’s all in the hands”

rolling pin?

track stand practice
curb bumping drill thanks Marty n

wheelie coaster
crouch pedal stomp brake

FOUND THE BIBLE – “Dirty tricks and cunning stunts”


martyn Ashton is right
balance is everything
track stand
coaster wheelie
bumping track stand
and strength
balance x strength
one or the other not enough
and practice
glove wrist brace

shin guards saved my shins many times now
it’s about finding leverage in everything
find the leverage
everything is hard until you find the leverage

Martyn Ashton inspires me to ride while I still can. Father of trials, paralyzed. But in all his interviews after the accident he is positive and never regrets.

I’m going to enjoy my next bike very much
thanks to everything I’ve experienced and learned from this one

New chainring, new chain. Thanks bro for birthday gift!

New chainring, new chain. I asked mama to order my parts. Mama told my brother. My brother offered to pay for them. Thanks bro for birthday gift!

Mutant bike

Mutant bike

Manual tip:
try to fall off
practice walking out the back
I did it a few tin times and now when: I try to fall I don’t and I just do a gangsta manual

Bunny Hop 1

Bunny Hop 2


New progression
track stand, front wheel on incline
track stand on ground, front brake locked
track stand rock into endo
track stand endo turn


track stand
bunny hop
that’s all
practice for one year
find balance point
build strength with exercise like pedaling in manual off seat behind rear hub
coast on manual position steer around


I didn’t buy myself a $1500 bike for my birthday
I checked my bank account balances, checked the monthly credit card bill, looked up the upcoming Dec/2016 property tax and decided maybe next year…
I went to your room to say good night.
j was already asleep.
“Happy birthday dad”
I kissed you goodnight.
“Your chin tickled me a little”
“Sorry. Good night, I love you.”

I closed all my tabs for new bikes.
I started researching how to replace the chainring on the old 1991 bike.


bikes have a sweet spot
hands hips legs
it clicked today
handlebar creak made me lower it
with it a little low I could move g hips front to back smoother
hit all the pivots with back straight
track stand is a super slow turn

haven’t done something new abd physical four so long that I forgot what it’s like to feel I’m improving

there is a sweet spot for every ride in every bike
tonight I just got a little closer
I was itching for a new bike but tonight I’ve discovered a newlove for the old one

it feels good when things start to click
must practice trackstand both sides
because it teaches you how to turn
at the end of tonight’s practice I was turning like a snake, shifting my hips to turn from my shoulders instead of my arms


Car hit in parking lot

But bloody hell, I live about 5 minutes’ drive from my office now. You’d think that because of that it’d be very unlikely that I’d get into an accident. Nope. I got hit but someone in the parking lot.

What I was surprised by was that he left a note. He gave me his email and phone number and told me where his cubicle was. I’m pissed because I don’t really want to deal with this shit, but I gotta admire his honesty. I thought it would’ve been a hit and run for sure…


“How to know if you’ve found ‘the one'”

I think the trick is to sample enough of the world so you can decide that what you have is good enough and you don’t have to look further.

Back to using a food analogy. Imagine eating good chili crab and loving it. Then one day you find the best chili crab in KL. Then one day you drive to port klang. Then one day you want to find the best chili crab in all of Malaysia and you check out Ipoh Penang Johor.

After a while, you’ll have tried enough chili crabs. Such that if someone says HEY there’s a new place in town and it’s AWESOME. You will still want to go, but you feel like you are not missing out on anything in life if you don’t. Because you already tasted enough of the best to know that even if this new one is better, it won’t be by much. And after a certain point it’s just splitting hairs.

That’s what I felt with mama anyway. I “knew she was the right one” not because some of some fairytale ending. But because she fit me well in so many ways that I asked myself could I do better? I thought maybe… but at that point I’d probably have to give up something to get something else. There might be someone more perfect out there, but I don’t believe she could be more perfect for me. At most, she’d just be perfect in a different way. But I’m okay with how things fit right now, so why bother. Plus there’s the factor of time. Once you have something that’s good enough, time makes things better — you start sharing memories and good times, inside jokes, you understand each other better, more intimate, etc. So even IF someone more perfect comes along, they will have a hard time beating someone you’ve invested a lot of time in.

But it always starts with sampling enough to first get the cream of the crop. You have to put in the work to find a good product to start with. Then you polish it with time. If you start with a bad product, no amount of time can polish it into a diamond.

For a while after I broke up with my ex, I compared every girl I met in their raw form to a polished image of my former relationship. The odds were stacked against them because you’re comparing rocks against a diamond. This caused me to be single for longer, but it also set my bar high. It forced me to have better quality control. So when I finally met mama, I knew that if she could make my heart beat as a raw rock, against the polished diamond I knew, I knew time could make it even better in the long run. The first few years were still comparable in quality. But now time has polished my relationship with her further with new memories with you kids in our 2 homes and everything. So now I have a few diamonds in my memory banks. One old one that I still have lying around just because it feels valuable and it feels wrong to throw away valuable things. And this mountain of new ones with mama and you two monkeys.


Mama: for helping me, you have a choice – you can get some money or some yogurt
if you get yogurt you’ll eat it once and it’ll be gone
money = you get to save it and buy something you want
j: Yogurt!
J: er…. money
I want money because I can save it to help you
Mama: aww you don’t have to save it to help. This is for you
J: Socks. But I’ll have to get the 5 year old socks
Mama: maybe if you help rake leaves every week you can get some money


worked too hard in November
got sick
had to keep working like swimming in a nightmare
all thoughts became louder in my dreams
I knew I was finally better the morning because when I woke up and I couldn’t remember my dreams, and it was quiet


mama likes to run
can’t ride bike or exercise indoors now
loves watching scenery change
and knowing you have to run back
to pick up j on time
run after dropping j off at Bing

“Cut down by time at this trail by 10 whole minutes since the last time I was here 1.5 months ago! Fastest pace was 5:40!
Congrats! 10 minutes is a lot.

Drop off was good. J helped me a lot. He was worried I wouldn’t make it so he kept rushing me to brush my teeth and get dressed.

We had a good walk to school. And I think because of that he was sad when I had to go.

While we were walking he said I wonder how j is doing. Then he said I wonder if j is wondering how I’m doing too. Then he said sometimes when I’m playing too much I forget to think about j. ”

Mama’s new aquariums
Dad has gotten into bike. Mama got into aquarium


Morning walks to school

J tried to wake me in the morning to take you to school
zzzz didn’t wake up
I didn’t hear you
you later said you felt alone and scared
I just have to make it a point to sleep earlier on monday/wed nights
that wed night I was out riding my bike…

you didn’t want to go to school
so I said come I’ll tell you a story about episode 5 of star wars
you had asked me but I was too lazy
I figured this was a good time since we’re walking anyway
and maybe morning storytime can be a regular thing
Morning storytime has become a regular thing

Me: are you cold
J: no I just don’t like to have my hands dangling
I woke up late that day. I felt like a dead beat dad. You were awake and ready for school, and I was rushing to get my shit together. I forgot your water bottle while we were walking and envelope you had to bring to school.

mama walks J to school with j every other morning


Last day of summer

pool, then burgers and fries
Reminded me of when I was a kid. We went to our club pool. Ordered fries when we took our break from swimming. Cold water + warm crispy fries.


New developments

finding dory first movie at night for being good
Ending choked me up when Dory found her parents

Mama: “I am not going to drag them to school kicking and screaming. They’ll have to do whatever else I need to do today. I’m so over it. J started it and j followed. I sometimes hate reward based programs. He got his movie so he doesn’t care now……
Maybe i should make a pitcher of sangria and sew or something gah.”

J first armbar
Love BJJ now. Want to get next stripe before j gets her 2nd.
Raises hand to ask for turn to roll.

A nice dad at clasee gave j white gi. they said j was ready. you have been listening and learning on the side.

j you’ve been sneaking into our bed at night
I come in and find you under the blanket and give you a kiss

j having lots of fun at Bing without J
mama thought you’d be sad but you’re doing fine
playing pretending with friends and teachers in the boat – rocket ship
mama snuck in early for pickup and could hear you from across the grove

really like girl myla
she really likes my dinosaur gummies
can you put more in my lunch box tomorrow
j I don’t think we’re allowed to share because you don’t know who has what allergies
yeah maybe it’s not a good idea

drilled some holes for outdoor sofa
Just wanted to make some progress.
I want to finish this Christmas break

downloaded app for CO2 tolerance and O2 deprivation tables
“fun” to practice whenever I have to kill some time.
E.g. waiting for the rides at Gilroy Gardens

Me: j can whistle
Mama: been trying hard every day
doesn’t give up
I love that about her she doesn’t give up
q q q
(I popped out of shower)
j: did you hear that? I whistled

J learning to tie shoelaces

J wobbly teeth hurting molars
Puerto Rican tooth fairy
abu’s idea, tooth for money

Scratch programming book from library
mama left it on coffee table for me to check out
J read it after gilroy gardens and j went to sleep
asked me about it while mama was out running
I thought what the hell let’s try it.
So we programmed your first game “Star hunter” cat octopus underwater hunting stars
your brain is off the charts
You got the concepts, you knew what we had to do
and you understood the cause-effect and variables

You two wake up play with each other now.
mama gets to sleep in

I looked behind one of mama’s aquariums and found a snail on the floor. It escaped.

Gave my red alarm clock to J. Because I noticed all our other clocks digital and you don’t get a sense of time without the hands sweeping round. I popped in new AA battery and it still keeps time! It was my clock while I was in school in Malaysia. I brought it to Michigan, then California and now I gave it to you at the breakfast table. You set the alarm to 10:50am and popped up the switch. I said to turn it off you push it down. You grabbed it from me and popped it back up.

Hour of code.
Teacher asks what is programming
J raises hand, didn’t put it down. Teacher calls you.
J: I do programming at home. On Scratch.
Teacher: Scratch jr?
J: No, Scratch. (Then you look at mama. She was there heliping that day.)

kids love mama
when signing in they spot her and shout J your mama’s here!
some kids come to hug
say hi to j
j was helping some kids in class again teacher looks and laughs

Spino was your favorite dino at this year’s Christmas festival of lights. You held your Christmas hat in your hand the hold time. You didn’t want to wear it or let me hold it. We went their with your friend D.

First webpage

First webpage

Under construction

Under construction


Curious convos

j: no I want the Belle diaper
Me: this is Belle
j: no see this is Cinderella it has the glass slipper. I like Belle because she really loves the beast. And see there’s a candle in the back.

j on toilet: the thing that I had was poop. Poop came first, pee came last. But usually pee comes first and poop comes last.

j: you can take care of these books and read them in your head. That’s what I do when I’m learning to read.

J: I finally managed jump back in time in my dreams. But I only went back to the Devonian period.

J: sometimes when I’m hanging upside down
by penis hangs upside down too
it feels funny

J: I want to keep climbing fireman pole but my penis keeps gett hurting
Me: use your leg skin instead of your foreskin

J to j: “Hey don’t put your butt cheeks right at me”

Tried to eat spicy sauce with chicken and rice this dinner

j: do you know what summer and salt make?

j cries
J: Hit me if you want to
j: I don’t want to because it’s not the right thing to do
j: sorry J

J: minus beats plus and plus beats equals

appears in the living room naked at bathtime:
“this is what it looks like when I pull the skin on my penis back”
“I can’t pull it back very far yet”

J: I hope j has a good day!
Mama: We hope you had a good day too!!!

Abuelo to mama: “How do I send J $10?”
Mama: “What? Why?”
(checked sent emails)
J to Abuelo: “Give me $10”

J: aren’t you lucky to have me as a good driver
(going through tunnel train horn)
“your turn to drive”
Gilroy garden

J to j by email: “CAUTION. The cat chased the rat!”
J to me: “Could you please make sure that you send the message that i sent to j?”
Me: Yes J.
J: I love you!

at the door I theghee way out yup friend’s birthday party
dad you wore that to the party on the last day of Bing
yes it’s okay to wear the same shirts more than once

j: do you know why I like blue? because it’s the closest color to purple

“mama put us in charge of the day today”
j naked
room mess

Mama: things J asks when trying to fall asleep
Are all the people in the world related to the first modern human?
I think the answer is yes.


Me at 5 vs you at 5:


Interesting things

Buster Keaton best stunts

Last day of hot metal typesetting

Purdie shuffle

Rapping deconstructed – the best rhymers of rhyme

World’s largest ship elevator

Turning wooden bowl

Thai train market

Japanese Hakone Marquetry

live sculpting for surgeons

Jurassic Park – pushing the limits of visual effects

Deconstructed burger – behind the scenes

visual engineering

Stop drinking Thai ads

Truth about death of woman freediver Audrey Mestre

25000 ft freefall into net

Packing parachute

En Pointe


I stopped working on my things so that I would stop resenting you
I’m not as stressed or angry.

dad sent me an electronic birthday card.
on Sep 16
That’s Mama’s birthday, not mine

Work was been crazy. Days, nights and weekends, bleeding to meet an unrealistic deadline. I burnt out several times. I worked til I got sick and kept working anyway. But we finally did it. It’s still not that great but good enough to catch Amazon and Microsoft’s attention.

So it was nice to get to take a break from this letter. But I’d like to get back into it. I just think I need to change the format a little. Or have a new system of doing things. The old long/rambling format is hard to keep up. Especially when I was posting all the images I had for the month. That takes much longer than typing. Maybe that’s the change then. Fewer pictures and only post up the best ones. The rest you can look up by month/year in our picture archive (wherever that ends up being).

Now I’m looking forward to enjoy Christmas. Abu is here. I would like to either make some progress on the piano stand or the outdoor sofa. I got to ride my bike again today. First time in 3 weeks. I have been wanting to ride but I couldn’t because I was tired or busy. It was good to take a break anyway, since my sacroilliac joint started hurting from all the bad bunny hop and manual practicing. And I flooded the hub with lube because it started clunking when coasting. It felt good to ride again. I felt some improvement. Not being in pain helps too.

What a year!

Love, Dad