Bike for less

Ever since I realized that it will take 15 minutes to get to work biking vs. a 40 minute bus ride, I have been on a journey to reduce my commute. For the past week, I have been jealous of those bike commuters. The ones with a messenger bags (chrome, timbuk2…) strapped over their bike. And the bike gangs that appear here and there. I watched even as adults rode bmx bikes, crouched in a fetal position pedaling across the street.

Today, I walked into Performance Bike and walked out with approximately $80 worth of gear. Then, I went home and put the air back into my bike’s tires. And finally, I decided to give it a test ride in the garage. A short 10 feet.

Turns out I have forgotten how to ride a bicycle. It was an experience teetering back and forth. Nearly crashing into my roommate’s car multiple times. But when I return Monday, I shall attempt it again

Design for a better customer service

Despite an earlier belief that I wasted tuition on a Designing for Service class, I am surprised to see myself pointing out notes of great service design.

While standing in the checkout line at Costco with three items, a guy with a wireless scanner stepped over to us and scanned our three items. He told us that we could just show our costco membership card at the cashier without taking anything out of the cart, pay and we’ll be on our way. Someone took the time to figure out how to address the less common use case of a customer buying a few items and make the experience better.

And then today when I wanted to switch my departure airport for Pittsburgh on Southwest, I only had to go to the website and click on View or change your flight. Within minutes, I switched my airport from Oakland to San Jose. No extra fees. No worries. And I had a freedom of choice. Within 5 minutes. I was happy. Someone too thought of what hassles travelers had to go through and designed the service to reduce those hassles.

And yet, there are services (and products) out there that are designed to be deliberately difficult. I always found that instruments were deliberately designed to be difficult because the pleasure is not in the act, but the pleasure comes from the mastery. The same with many games. And walking into a Diesel store. For some, it’s an confusing experience meant to make someone see a salesperson as the knight in shining armor. For others, it’s almost a feeling of exclusion–only a certain demographic would shop there.

Don’t dress me

“Dressing on the side, please” I say.

More than 50% of the time, my request isn’t honored and I get a salad drenched with dressing. Even at nice restaurants. I used to know someone who always requested coke, no ice. People forget little things like that. Especially when we’re paying $40+/head.

But why do people forget? Is it because of priority? Is it because it’s not important enough? What little things do we choose to remember or to forget? Do you sense the flicker of disappointment or disapproval on someone’s face? Do you tell yourself that you shouldn’t do it again?

Do you remember when I say I love kiwi that when you pass by the gelato shop on the way home and you spontaneously buy me a pint of kiwi gelato? Because I remember your love of chocolate and saved you a piece from today.

Dine about town!!!

My first year doing Dine about town in San Francisco. A prixe fixe menu at at San Francisco’s fancy restaurant for all of January. This is the last weekend!

I went two weeks ago to Rubicon. Just for the occasion, I had dressed up in a dress I had spontaneously bought because it had ruffles. Had my second glass of wine (ever). Went through all three courses of the perfect-sized portions. At a table for four, but only two of us.

Then today, my friend and I chose Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Started off with a 1/2 “steak” salad. Hot plate with sizzling butter holding my 6 oz petite filet. Sides of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. And followed by bread pudding. Oh and all of this complemented by a light red wine (my request). Service was a bit questionable as was the music. But my friend pointed it out to the oblivious me.

These are the few times that I forgo my non-drinking habits. Great food must go with wine.

No injuries this time around

It has been almost one year since I broke my hand last year. While skiing at seven springs.

When the opportunity arose to stay at my company’s cabin in Tahoe, I jumped at it. My doctor had looked at x-rays of my hand and said that I was good to go. This weekend, I went skiiing at Kirkwood. Fell more than 5+ times. Fell off the chair lift and got hit by it. Skiied through a closed-off area. Conquered many of those blue squares. And I just left with only slightly achey shins.

Although the prices were more than the $40 rental/lift package I had last year. But I am back!

In other news, today January 21st is the 5 year anniversary of this blog. Happy birthday blog!

Favorite movies and people

A recent observation of my favorite movies. The movies I list as my favorite movies are movies that I have watched alone. Is it because I enjoy something better alone (relish the greatness of a movie) or because I don’t usually see great movies with people?

Regardless, I recommend: Say Anything…, Goodbye Lenin, Run Lola Run, The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, and Twin Falls Idaho.

Race of the chairs

I never thought I would be involved in chair racing again. Of $600 Aeron chairs. But how can anyone avoid hardwood floors and chairs with wheels?

Note: I am too old (and broken) to actually chair race myself.

The last time I did was almost 3 years ago in a newly built university building. The janitors were taking their nightly 1 am break. I was there as part of a late-night attempt to save the computing centers’ servers. Someone suddenly had the idea. For whatever foolish reason, I also joined and sat myself in a chair. We raced through the empty hallways past the cubicles, winding in a circle ending in the break room. Exhilarating. The chairs had served their purpose.

Wedding invitations

Today during commercial breaks of 24, my friend and I discussed his upcoming invitation list for his wedding and the difficulty of narrowing down those who matter.

How do you do that? From year to year, you meet different people. There are some you consider close and some you don’t. And then they change the following years. Who stays in your life and who doesn’t? Especially when each invitation is $10 each.

I am a list-maker. I tried to make a list of 365 people who influenced me, but found it difficult to list 365 people. But to limit to 150 people (including their possible +1)…is that possible to share a momentous occasion?

Twenty-four is TODAY!

After being disappointed with season 4, I took a break from 24. Then someone got me to watch season 5 of 24 over Christmas (and I really mean, Christmas, because that’s all I did during the holiday). Season 6 starts tonight at 8. Jack is supposedly in China and there is a new president, Wayne Palmer. Almost everyone from the original 24 is dead. But I am now ready to take on the challenge now I am 24 and my ringtone has been the 24 ringtone for the last 2 years.

And somewhat related, countdown to the iPhone release. I don’t like the interface and probably will not buy it. But it’s the buzz. And how it really does look pretty.