Thursday, December 17, 2020

As Merry as it Gets


This is it. This is the Apollo 13 of Holiday Seasons in the Apollo 13 of years. We're not landing on the moon - or, in my case, JFK International Airport in New York - so let's break out the duct tape and keep the life support going until we get back to Earth-That-Was.

If you still have a job and a place to live, you're like me and one of the lucky ones - and if you don't get to fly where you want to this Christmas that means you have a little money to spend donating to a few nonprofits. 

This is my third round of making donations: the first was in the wake of a cancelled Spring trip to Italy, the second was when my parent's 50th anniversary bash in New England was cancelled in August, and with December officially flight-free, it's time for a third since I'm not flying to New York and taking a train to Connecticut.

This one's especially tough. It's not just the tradition of not going to Connecticut but also the microtraditions that are associated with it, like bowling with my sister on Christmas Eve and renting a CitiBike in Manhattan after a red-eye flight.

Riding in New York City, December 21, 2019. 

Here's the list of (most) of #MyNonprofits, and I'd be grateful if you made a donation to any or all of them with money you were supposed to spend on a plane ticket AND if you'd go on your own social media platform and introduce your followers to nonprofits that matter to you. 

Bike New York

Community Cycles of California

Good Karma Bikes

Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley 

Highways Performing Arts Center

Institute for Local Self Reliance

Lick Observatory

Project Explorer (the founder of Project Explorer, Jenny Buccos, created Crash Test World - a show starring Kari Byron that premiers on Science Channel January 8th - be sure to watch - I want smart things to succeed in 2021) 

San Jose Spotlight (an easy way to do this is to become members/buy tickets for their 2 year anniversary celebration in January

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley 

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition 

Valley Verde


YWCA Silicon Valley 

As I type this I'm looking at the Christmas tree in my living room that was brought home on a Burley bike trailer I modified for the purpose of carrying a tree. It didn't take much: some bolted aluminum bent with a pipe bender. Here's a better photo:

We rode five miles in South San Jose to a lot and picked out a 7' noble fir (they look good and don't have the porcupine quill effect when you touch them, but they don't smell like a pine tree). This is the first real tree in my house in 17 years. 

I almost couldn't believe how well it worked: the tree was carried at a 45 degree angle and the trunk was lashed with a solitary strap. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to transport your tree by bike (if you haven't gotten one yet) let me know and you can borrow this in exchange for making a donation to one of #MyNonprofits. 

That's it. Settle in. This is as merry as it gets and it's up to us all to add whatever humanity, perspective, support and community we can this year. I'm counting on you. Also be sure to shop local: I recommend coffee from Nirvana Soul in the Sofa District and books - for yourself or books for others - from Hicklebee's in Willow Glen. And if you're local is Stamford, Connecticut, visit Lorca on Bedford Street and get merch from the creative force that is the Danger GalleryThanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Cycle of Hope 2020: Biking for Affordable Housing with Habitat for Humanity EBSV


There's still time to register for the Cycle of Hope or you can donate to my page! Whoever raises the most in the 24 hour period of Saturday, October 17th will win a six-pack of beer from Lagunitas Brewing Company I don't drink but I'm excited Habitat for Humanity is closing in on their fundraising goal anyway :) 

Today I went on the Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley Cycle of Hope ride. You can do it too, but you don't have to wait for 2021 - you can do it anytime between now and October 25th. 

That's because this event - just like most others these coronavirus days - is virtual. To Habitat for Humanity's credit, they leaned into the advantages of a virtual event.

You can do it anytime, you can choose your own route if you want, and the cause - the building of affordable housing - did not lose its importance during shelter in place.

Unlike last year, when I found myself in a lousy mood and decided to do the ride anyway (on my then-just built Back to the Future theme bike), this year I really wanted to do it and signed up. The problem I had was I didn't commit to the date and decided, literally this past Friday, that Indigenous People's Day would be the day that I'd ride. 

Since I picked a 62 mile ride, I chose a route that would fill that distance. Going to Lick Observatory was an obvious choice but unsure the main building - and the room where the coveted vending machine and water fountain are kept - would be accessible since it had been closed due to the fires. 

So I picked Mt. Madonna County Park as my destination. It is about 30 miles to get there - about the same as getting to Lick Observatory - but would involve about half of the climbing. That meant I could probably pack a 2 liter Camelbak and have enough water to do the whole distance.

Last night I gathered my cycling kit, several protein bars that were not expired - which is a big change for me - and a few other items. Then I sat down and checked my email, and found one from Cycle of Hope reminding me to download an app called RaceJoy, which would be used to track the ride. With an old iPhone busting at the seems with photos, I downloaded the app reluctantly, but after following several prompts I had everything all set in a few minutes.

With the Back to the Future bike all shiny and tuned (since the 2019 Cycle of Hope ride I added a larger rear cassette for easier climbing, a Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost for comfort, and a Flux Capacitor just Because) I headed off to my personal start line.

I switched on Strava, and then I opened up the RaceJoy app, selected my ride, and much to my surprise (and any nearby household that may have had the windows open) a recorded message played that welcomed me to the ride. Assured I had started the app properly, I set off - first heading to the Coyote Creek Trail.

Over the past several weeks, I've used my old recumbent and my Box Bike Collective/Box Bike by DIYBIKING.COM cargo bike for riding, so the Back to the Future bike felt like a rocket as I headed into the 57 degree morning (thanks for the weather, Kari Hall of NBC Bay Area).

A few miles in, while I was still on roads, I heard voices coming from somewhere and I thought someone was blasting NPR from one of the cars ahead of me...but it was actually the RaceJoy app. Every five miles, a woman's voice would tell me about my pace and average speed, followed by words from a sponsor of the event (and one was even a story from someone who has gotten a home because of Habitat's work - I slowed down so I could better hear that one). If you have a handlebar phone mount I recommend you use it since I felt like I had tiny people talking to me occassionally from my waistpack.

Vineyards always make me think of a friend of mine in Napa - and there are quite a few to see on Watsonville Road. The bike was working perfectly and I was feeling good about my time.

I pedaled up Hecker Pass Highway - a road that has so much potential. As you can see it has recently been paved, so the asphalt is very smooth. It also has a rumble strip in the middle of the road, which creates a disincentive for people to pull into the middle to pass a cyclist. With only a luxurious inch-and-a-half shoulder most of the way up, it was a white-knuckle stretch when cars would pass closely. But the larger cassette on the back paid off even though I didn't even go into the tiny front chainring for this part (I wanted to pass through this part as fast as possible).

When I did reach the top, I did a lean against the Hecker Pass sign, and read the stone plaque just behind. Hecker Pass was named after Henry Hecker, who was behind this road and was apparently not a cyclist back in his day or he would have designed it differently.

A few hundred yards beyond is the long shuttered Mt. Madonna Inn. I rode up there to catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean before heading into Mt. Madonna Park, where I did use the tiny chainring to climb the first hill. Without any rangers around, I had little idea of what to do or where to go when I arrived, but I thoroughly enjoyed riding in the tall, Endor-like trees.

The RaceJoy app again broke the silence by congratulating me for hitting the halfway mark. It even suggested I drink some water, so I did as I listened to the message from the lead sponsor, Patelco Credit Union. I was even within sight of the bench overlooking the valley you can see in the first photo when I hit 31 miles.

I tore open a couple of protein bars and ate in silence, trying to think about what to do next. I didn't feel like riding down Hecker Pass Highway, but I saw on a map Mt. Madonna Road, which looked like it led to Watsonville Road. When I arrived at the intersection for Mt. Madonna Road, I saw what I first thought was a crude, gravel driveway. But no: it was Mt. Madonna Road.

Then I remembered something a friend told me the day before. She was recommending Mt. Madonna as a destination and said she had been there herself and "the last mile and a half you're gonna want gravel tires."

I headed down the road that she must have been referring to not with gravel tires, but with the 120 psi Continental road tires the Back to the Future bike has had for over a year. 

I had just enough confidence in my handiwork to be convinced the bike would stay together. Me personally, less so. Fillings were relocated from my teeth and eyeballs rattled in their sockets as I descended. I kept thinking of the trip I did on the Bike Friday years ago in the hills outside of Paraty, Brazil, where I biked on a similar mountain road on similar tires and the only flat I got on that trip was in the hotel room. 

Thankfully, the rough gravel eventually turned into asphalt, so I was able to open up the throttle a little - but not before being reminded of my comparatively less-than-stellar time from the RaceJoy app.

After passing several ranches I arrived at Watsonville Road, and was presented with a chance to head back on Uvas Road. I decided to do it and was once again presented with newly painted asphalt. But at that hour and on that road, there were few cars as I passed Uvas Reservoir. I stopped to prop my bike up on a conveniently-located stick and wondered if another rider had used the same stick for a similar photo earlier - or would later. 

After several more miles, I knew I was closing in on the finish - just in time for lunch! - so I took a cool down lap in a residential neighborhood for about a mile as the congratulations message played over the RaceJoy app. I had completed the Cycle of Hope 2020 ride. There were no RouteArrows, no bumping into the publisher of Cycle California Magazine or the owner of the women's cycling apparel company Tonik Cycling at the end of this one, but it was still a great ride worth taking, and an adventure I wouldn't have otherwise. 

At my house, I leaned the Back to the Future bike against the door and updated my miles on analog. I also taped the wrappers of all of the things I ate on the ride as a general reminder to others not to litter. I went in the house and ate lunch. 

Right now I'm sitting in my living room. I showered, changed, and have a Gemellos Murals coffee mug nearby that has her drawing of the San Jose skyline on it. It's quiet and it's peaceful, and everyone should have one of these things called homes. 

Please make a donation to one of #MyNonprofits, Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley, and/or register for the Cycle of Hope ride. Thanks for reading and thanks for making a difference where and how you can.

Friday, September 18, 2020

#MyNonprofits - This is Bike New York


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

If I'm in New York City - like I usually am in late December - I have to bike there. Mittens, a winter coat, a helmet I packed in my carry-on bag, I will ride. A CitiBike bikeshare bike does the trick because I usually just have an hour or two. It's a great city to ride a bike in and the city is headed for a future with a lot more biking. 

If your name is Bill DeBlasio, read that line again. Tattoo it backwards on your forehead so you have to read it in the bathroom mirror every morning if you must. Keep challenging him, my New York friends, and make sure no politician can even take a half-glance at public office, much less Gracie Mansion, without speaking to how they will improve cycling.

Bike New York is a big reason New York in the place to ride in that it is, and they are a major reason why I still enjoy riding there. Their Five Boro Bike Tour - a car-free ride through 42 miles of New York City with 30,000 other cyclists - I did ten years in a row.  I still have a couple of my T-shirts. 

The pandemic put a stop it it this year, but they're adapting as they can: they have a Spoketober Challenge next month and they're making some of their education programs virtual. Also they now have Recycle-A-Bicycle as part of their offerings, so you can shop for a used bike or donate one yourself. 

Donate to Bike New York here 

And that's a wrap on this edition of #MyNonprofits: I took the amount of money that would have been spent on a plane ticket to (sigh) New York to visit family in Connecticut and over the past week and a half divided it up among some nonprofits that make a difference and matter. Everything about this pandemic tells me there are more hard times to come so if you are healthy, employed, and had your summer plans ruined too, make a donation to any nonprofits that touched you in some way. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

#MyNonprofits: Good Karma Bikes in San Jose


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

Good Karma Bikes has had a tough go lately - in the Arts Mercantile building on 460 Lincoln Avenue, they had another bad break in in June - not a year after another significant one (both of the burglaries were covered by another one of #MyNonprofits, news organization San Jose Spotlight). 

Like another nonprofit, Community Cycles of California, they've had to scale back too. Their hours are reduced these days to 12 - 4 Tuesday through Saturday - less if there is a fire. Just my morale is affected by the wildfire smoke - they close the shop when the AQI is 150 or higher. When you have to rent a large industrial space for your work, the only air conditioning you sometimes get is when the windows are open. 

It's only $50 to sponsor a bicycle for a stranger who needs one, so please Donate to Good Karma Bikes here so they can come out of all this stronger. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

#MyNonprofits: Highways Performance Space


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

I've decided that I'll eventually compile all of the painted river rocks I've found on my walks in Santa Teresa County Park. I saw this one not too long ago and I read it as 'Live' as in 'live performances, live music'  but it probably meant 'Live' as in...'Live Free or Die' or 'Live Through This'...the album by Courtney Love's band, Hole, back in the early nineties.


Anyway, I probably read it that way because of a friend who commented that she misses museums, misses going to live shows, just...misses a physical interaction with people and culture. We all do, and we have to make sure these places are still there after COVID is gone.

Just as another one of #MyNonprofits is doing, City Lights in San Jose, Highways Performance Space is holding virtual events. Cellista was to perform there on March 27 and she eventually did a virtual show with Highways but I missed it since I didn't follow Highways Performance Space on Twitter at the time, but I do now. 

Donate to Highways Performance Space here.

Closing in on the bottom of #MyNonprofits list - hope you start at the top of yours, help some places out, and turn up some music.  Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

#MyNonprofits: YWCA Silicon Valley


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

YWCA Silicon Valley had their Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to raise money to fight domestic violence this past May - and this year was the third in a row I've done it. Only this time, instead of Santana Row, I was alone in an empty VTA parking lot where I walked a mile while attempting to Strava-art an image of a house. A friend at work did it in Milpitas and we exchanged pictures of our shoes. 

It was a nice moment, but domestic violence isn't a moment - it is a pandemic that has gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. YWCA Silicon Valley noted they've had a 300% increase in requests for emergency shelters and/or financial help.

The next YWCA Silicon Valley event is their Inspire Luncheon which is coming up on October 29th from 12:00 to 1:30. Susan Rice will be the keynote speaker and I hope you register for the Inspire Luncheon here. 

Donate to YWCA Silicon Valley here. 

I'll see you tomorrow and I hope between now and then you take some of the money you saved having trips cancelled this summer and put it towards some nonprofits that matter to you.  Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.  

Where my size 12 wedges dwell. Till next time, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Monday, September 14, 2020

#MyNonprofits: Be a Friend of Lick Observatory

Lick Observatory, August 24, 2019.

If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

The most worried I got during the SCU Lightning Complex Fire - which was both yesterday and a million years ago at the same time - was when I heard Lick Observatory was threatened. The worst part was there wasn't a lot of information - and it stressed me out that I could no longer see it from my garage thirty miles away. When the smoke finally cleared I could see the flames had indeed burnt the hills all around it, but it still stood. Matt Simon at Wired wrote a great feature about Lick Observatory and the fire here.

My first trip to Lick Observatory was on a bike on April 7, 2019. After a summer car trip to one of their photography nights, I rode my Back to the Future-themed roadbike back to Lick Observatory on August 24th. Twenty-five miles into a thirty-mile bike trip, I learned the riding up there in August is a lot different from April. My 1.5 liter Camelbak went dry and I crawled the rest of the way to the relief of that stupendous vending machine (which, if it is ever retired and I am eccentric and wealthy by then, I want that thing in my workshop).

For now, my workshop can support the space for postcard I got from the vending machine and carried all the way down the mountain on my first visit.

I'm not sure when my next visit is (I think the road is still closed) but I know that Lick Observatory could use our help (they also need San Jose to not install electronic billboards and add light pollution but that's another conversation). 

Donate to Lick Observatory Here

The smoke is still hanging in the Bay Area air as you can see (that photo was this morning - look at what it looked like in May) With wind, time and some support we'll see clear skies again. Hope you donate to some nonprofits that matter to you w/ the hashtag #MyNonprofits. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

#MyNonprofits: Veggielution in San Jose


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

Well, it's Groundhog Day...again. 

Things are getting cancelled, but instead of falling to COVID and Shelter in Place rules, they fall to wildfire smoke. Veggielution has a market on Saturdays and it was cancelled today so I wasn't able to go today - which is why the sky in that photo is suspiciously blue. For those of you keeping track: the AQI is in the 200eds around most of the Bay Area, so seeing as we are indoors, there really isn't any reason for you not to start donating to some nonprofits - and this is an easy one:  

Donate to Veggielution here 

Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

#MyNonprofits: Valley Verde in San Jose


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the do
nation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

Writing a brief post this morning since I'm not riding or hiking this morning because the air quality is terrible. Valley Verde is a nonprofit that was introduced to me by another one of My Nonprofits, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. One of the best memories of the pandemic was a socially distanced ride to deliver seedlings for free to families that needed them.

Valley Verde is engaging in a big fundraising effort right now and I'd love it if you donated. 

Donate to Valley Verde here.

I'm writing this indoors (where I hope most of you are) and just saw a segment on the Today Show that will not age well: people 'fleeing' cities, which has been debunked in several articles including this great one by Curbed. Cities are more important than ever (Hello! Climate Change!) and we have to think about how we want them to look when this is over. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

#MyNonprofits - Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley


Armadillo Willy's in San Jose, a few months into the pandemic (they lost the 'Clerks' reference a while ago)

If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the do
nation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

Tonight's edition of #MyNonprofits starts with me giving a h/t to my sister in New York: she mailed me a care package randomly.

I was not expecting this. It is a bubble machine for a bike. You attach it to your seatpost, put in the provided bubble fluid, turn it on, and it emits bubbles while you ride. It's meant for those aged three and up - so I just get in under the wire. 

I admit, I hadn't thought about bubbles in a long time. But a glance out the window at the still post-apocalyptic landscape made me thing I should bubble up the skies. 

I have room in my head - and in my schedule once I finished work - to think about bubbles because I didn't have to think about food. Well, I do think about food constantly but it's more about when and what I am going to eat.

I don't have to think about the how. But a lot of people in the Bay Area do, so tonight's edition of #MyNonprofits brings me to Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley. I just learned from their newsletter it is Hunger Action Month. The same document reminded me that we are six months into shelter in place, which means six months into a world where a lot of people are out of work and have scaled-back hours. 

Remember you're not just helping an organization, you're helping the people who cut our hair, clean our houses, wait on our tables, and deliver our food, and do a thousand other things that make our neighborhoods work. Donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara County here. 

Also please remember the #MyNonprofits thing doesn't just apply to the Bay Area - COVID has made a lot of people food inscure across the country. In New York one there is City Harvest - which I know about because Seth Meyers talks about it at the end of each A Closer Look on YouTube. Donate to City Harvest here, and if enough of us do we'll eventually get to a place where everyone can think more about bubbles than about how to get food. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

#MyNonprofits - Donate to the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and take part in BTWD


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you.

Today I am leading with the photo above - taken on a ride to Morgan Hill in April - to remind myself what a real sky looks like. For those of you in the Bay Area and living through a historic wildfire season, you've surely noticed today that the sky looks like a cross between what Viggo Mortensen was pushing his shopping trolley under in 'The Road' and a hotel carpet with a light urine stain. It's been dusk since breakfast and every single photo on Twitter looks like this:

That's the sky* if you're in the South Bay - in San Francisco the sky is Mars red (and if you look closely in one of the apartment windows you can see Matt Damon planting potatoes).

Anyway: instead of tweeting pictures of the post-apocalyptic wonder that is the greater Bay Area make a donation to a nonprofit and tell the world about it on Twitter (Like Jennifer Golson in New Jersey just did).

Here's another one of mine I just donated to: Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Advocacy, education and outreach - and like I said: if there is intersection in the Bay Area that is suddenly safer for bicycles than it was before, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition almost certainly had something to do with it. 

When the plague hit, they worked quickly and had postponed Bike to Work Day to September 24th and created a social media campaign called #JoyRideSV. Now, with COVID of course not letting up, Bike to Work Day is Bike to Wherever Days which has random prize drawings and competitions all through September. Sign up for Bike to Wherever Days here and... 

Donate to the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition here

Bike to Work Day in San Jose in non-social distancing times

A lot of people started biking when COVID started and we gotta make a world where they'll feel comfortable doing it after, so I hope you support the SVBC - and that you share your favorite nonprofits on social with the hashtag #MyNonprofits. I'll be in the saddle tomorrow and hope we'll be riding under a prettier sky. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

*sorry - that wasn't the sky; just a piece of paper placed over the power indicator button on an IBM ThinkPad. But I had you there, didn't I?

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

#MyNonprofits: City Lights Theater Company in San Jose


If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you. 

This morning, I checked - which is a thing that you do in California during fire season - and was happy to see that downtown San Jose had an AQI that seemed unlikely to kill me. I wore a decent quality n-95 anyway and took the Back to the Future bike for a spin. 

One of #MyNonprofits is San Jose Spotlight, and last week the reported two sisters are starting a new coffee shop called Nirvana Soul, where Cafe Frascati used to be. According to the article it will open later this month so keep a sharp eye and pack a handlebar cup holder. 

On the way back, the sight of the sign at City Lights Theater Company - a nonprofit that the artist Cellista introduced me to - made me stop for another photo. Possibly an homage to the sign-off that Seth Meyers does at the end of A Closer Look when asking viewers to support City Harvest. It made me smile - and I made a small donation to City Lights Theater when I got home under a grey sky.

A lot of theaters are obviously closed temporarily because of COVID-19 but City Lights has a lot of shows online, a podcast, and is producing an online show on Friday evenings called The Next Stage. The words on their homepage include the stage is dark but the light's aren't out. Let's keep them on forever - and when COVID is over we'll jam a table at Nirvana Soul and stand in a crowded line at the box office. 

Donate to City Lights Theater Company here

That's all for the moment - hope you have a chance this week to find nonprofits that matter to you and tell the world about them. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Give Blood on Saturday (and donate to Be the Change Wellness Today)

If you're healthy, employed, and traveled less than you wanted this summer, please make a donation to a nonprofit organization(s) that matters to you and share the donation link on social media with the hashtag #MyNonprofits - encouraging others to do the same. I hope you take part - thank you. 

Like a lot of you I have good days and bad days in terms of Coping With The Pandemic - and sometimes the former can flip unexpectedly to the latter with almost no warning. 

One time that happened was in late May - one of #MyNonprofits, Good Karma Bikes, was hosting a blood drive. I'm afraid of needles but I give blood anyway, so I was excited to do it. When I got there - masked and ready to go! - I marveled at how well that had everything planned out so donors could be safe distance from each other and the staff.

I filled out a questionnaire on a tablet, but when I got inside the Bloodmobile the nurse gave me some bad news about my answers: On the travel questions I wrote I had traveled to Hyderabad, India late last year, which is considered a malaria risk area - which meant I would be ineligible to give blood again until December. 

As professional as the nurse was, it still felt like a bad breakup. I shuffled out of the Bloodmobile without a cookie and no bandage on my arm. The reasoning was the worst part: all I've wanted to do for months is travel - the #MyNonprofits initiative was born from a trip in Italy I never got to take - and I couldn't even go across town to give blood because of travel I had done before the pandemic. 

It left me demoralized for days.  

That brings me to now: Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area is coordinating the 4th Annual NBC Bay Area Proud blood drive this Saturday, September 12th at 1375 Blossom Hill Road (Princeton Plaza) from 9am to 2pm. As I mentioned, the social distancing and other safety measures the staff at Stanford Blood Center engages is great but they just can't accommodate as many people as they did in pre-coronavirus times, so every appointment counts. If you're eligible to give blood visit the NBC Bay Area page of the Stanford Blood Center site and make an appointment. You can also go to the Stanford Blood Center site and enter the sponsor code of 2440 (and when you give blood use the hashtag #GiveBloodSBC

In the meantime, please consider taking part in #MyNonprofits by donating to the nonprofits that matter to you - and on the off chance we share one I urge you to please make a donation to Be the Change Yoga and Wellness - a nonprofit yoga studio. The pandemic hit them hard - they quickly moved to hold classes through Zoom but they still had to close their physical studio this summer. 

And the organization is going to pause with even the Zoom classes later on this month - which I can tell already isn't going to be good for my own well being. So please, help them out if you can.

Donate to Be the Change Yoga & Wellness here 

That's all I've got for now - hope you stay indoors today (it's over 100 degrees in San Jose right now) and make donations to some of your nonprofits and tell the world about them with #MyNonprofits. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

#MyNonprofits - September Edition - Continues w/ Community Cycles of California

Community Cycles of California, August 15, 2020

 For those of you just tuning in: I started #MyNonprofits back in April: donating to one nonprofit that I like every day and sharing the donation link on Twitter with the hashtag #MyNonprofits. It began as a way to live through the pandemic and spend a little money that was earmarked for a trip to Italy that was cancelled. Now that my annual Labor Day weekend trip to New York and Connecticut was dissolved by COVID, I'm doing another round of MyNonprofits to cheer myself up and keep some perspective.

Friday I donated to San Jose Spotlight and yesterday to Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley

Now it's day three (and the day before I'd like you - if you can, to take part in #MyNonprofits to show organizations that matter that we have their back) and it's time to talk bikes.

Community Cycles of California, as I wrote back in April, was in the unlucky situation of having to close the doors of their downtown San Jose retail location just weeks after opening (not before I 'panic bought' a gently used folding bike).

Summer has been intense - the well-documented demand for bikes during COVID times was felt in the walls of CCC, but the process of updating their web presence stalled in that time. Also - and this is the case with other nonprofits - COVID has impacted the work volunteers can do. For months, two people were staffing a bike shop usually worked by eight or more. In their well written update a couple weeks back, they announced they are scaling back shop hours and other work for about a month while they rebuild inventory and engage in efforts for their long-term prosperity. I want them to be even stronger by the time COVID ends, so I made another donation today.

Donate to Community Cycles of California here 

That's all for the moment. Starting tomorrow I want to see some of you using the #MyNonprofits hashtag and supporting nonprofits - if you want some examples please look at my original list of My Nonprofits. Thanks for donating what you can to the nonprofits that mean a lot to you. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

#MyNonprofits: Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley (and the 2020 Cycle of Hope ride)


It's early on Saturday morning. I'm watching the Tour de France - not because I care about any of the teams but because I haven't been to another country in ten months and am soaking up the scenery (also to see if I can get a glimpse of the chef Hannah Grant).

I'm also thinking about one of #MyNonprofits, Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley and their upcoming event to help raise money for affordable housing, Cycle of Hope

Now some of you remember I did the Cycle of Hope ride last year even though, at the time, I was in no mood to do it and said so when I wrote about it. I was having a difficult autumn to begin with and don't ride in groups often...but now there's a long list of things I'd love to do and riding in a group is one of them. 

I've written on several occasions on the links between bikes and affordable housing - so much so I'm not going to interrupt the flow of my writing to embed the hyperlinks. But last year's Cycle of Hope ride was a lot of fun - and maybe net year it will look more like a group ride we all know and love - and this year's ride you can choose your course. So please register for the Cycle of Hope ride - just like I did.

If biking isn't your thing I'm not sure how you found this post, but either way I hope you donate to Habitat for Humanity East Bay Silicon Valley Here.

That's all for today - hope you think about some of the nonprofits that have touched your life in some way and tell the world about them the week starting Monday, September 7th and use the hashtag #MyNonprofits. Let's mark the end of the summer with the start of a better world. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 

Pausing during the 2019 Cycle of Hope ride. Register for the 2020 Cycle of Hope ride here