Here we go again!

Two years ago I participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society‘s Team in Training program to complete my first marathon. I had a terrific experience, made many new friends and raised over $5000 for the organization from the overwhelming generosity of my friends and family. I received a brochure for their Hike for Discovery program in the mail and knew it was time to do some fund raising again.

So this year I’d like to repeat the experience doing something I have a passion for in a place that I love: hiking in Yosemite National Park. I will be training, hiking and fund raising in memory of my wife’s grandmothers Barbara Pugsley and Dorothy Andrews, both of whom past away in recent years due to blood cancer-related illness. I’ve committed to raising a minimum of $3700. If you have not already, please considering donating. Your support is greatly appreciated.

I’ve set up a separate blog to record my thoughts and experiences while training for the hike. I’m sure it will be a terrific experience and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Kaija’s First Birthday

Today we celebrated Kaija’s first birthday! We just had our immediate families over for a small, intimate celebration in our new house, though unfortunately Robin and Andy couldn’t make it due to the weather conditions. We experienced our first snow of the season (well, except for in the Sierras on the drive from California). The west side of the state received almost two inches, which made it difficult for Robin and Andy to arrive in time for dinner and gift openning. Rachel was there with her 2-week old daughter. Brian had a previous engagement with a bowling league so he couldn’t make it.Jennifer made a terrific cranberry & pork stew for dinner. Kaija was allowed to eat her first cupcake (with frosting and everything!) and therefore we let her stay up an hour past her bedtime until the sugar buzz wore off. :)Kaija received lots of fun toys and warm clothes (just in time!) from family as well as a number of her friends from back in California. And she loved all of them, though we couldn’t make her keep any of the hats on indoors.

New House

Back in September, I elluded to some big news that I would eventually share. Well, now is as good a time as any.Jennifer, Kaija and I are now proud home owners in Michigan! After 5 years of living in California, we decided the time was right for moving back to our home state. With the assistence of many of our California friends (THANK YOU!), we loaded up a truck with all of our worldly belongings on Tuesday of last week. Jennifer’s mom and my mom flew out to help and then drove across the country with us in our two cars. We were able to stop in Carson City, Denver and Chicago along the way to visit with relatives. Fortunately the cars made it back with only minor incidents (needed to buy chains for driving over Echo Pass into Tahoe, the oil dipstick sheath broke in Carson City, one headlight burnt out on the way to Chicago, and the oxygen sensor just blew today on the Cabrio!).It’s good to be back in Michigan, though I’m sure I’ll miss the California weather. Michigan gave us a fine how-do-you-do yesterday morning that left us scraping frost off of the car windows.And despite some stress caused by our less than competent mortgage company representative (you’re just getting back to me about the mortgage closing costs and want to go over them? um, we’re sitting in the closing meeting with the title company now, we’ve already gone over them and signed the paperwork. *silence*), we’ve got the papers in our hands! We’ll be moving in this weekend. Crazy.

Remembering Justin Wojdacki (1976-2004)

My friend Loi called me today with some terrible news. You know it’s going to be bad when someone calls you up and tells you between sobs to sit down if you aren’t already. She happened across an article in Saturday’s Palo Alto Daily News [pdf] today about a motorcycle accident resulting in a fatality on Thursday evening. She didn’t think much about it and was about to skip over it when a name in the article caught her eye: Justin Wojdacki. Justin is a good friend of ours who happens to be an avid motorcyclist… one whom nobody had heard from in a few days… in fact, since after the weekly Thursday night dinner club.After talking to a number of our friends, we were able to track down his parents and confirm that he had indeed been the victim of the motorcycle accident. They flew into San Jose from Michigan this weekend but did not have any contact information for his friends in the Bay Area.I met Justin at some point in 2000 through mutual friends from the University of Michigan who had moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area. We started hanging out together every Thursday night through the dinner club he had helped migrate from U of M. Soon it became twice a week for a number of us, gathering over at our friend Mike’s place to catch the latest Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode or to watch a movie in the off season. For a short while Justin and I started hanging out every Wednesday night as well, just to jam on our guitars together [mp3]. And then of course there were the occasional weekend events such as ski retreats, sea kayaking, BBQ’s or watching U of M football games on TV. With common tastes, enthusiasm, and appreciation for food, music, and computers, it’s easy to understand how we ended up spending so much time together over the past 5 years. Justin was fairly camera-shy so I don’t have many photographs of him, but here are a few snapshots that span most of the time that I knew him.Though working with computers was his profession as well as a hobby, he found time to pursue his other interests. He enjoyed building furniture and built a number of pieces for his apartment. A number of times he mentioned that if he weren’t working with computers, he’d set up a small custom furniture shop.He enjoyed cooking as well, and always brought something delicious to a BBQ or potluck dinner. His love of food took the dinner club to restaurants of many cultures and many cuisines over the years.He loved music. He loved going to used CD shops in the area and picking up new music… mostly tending toward the progressive rock or blues side of the spectrum. He attended concerts regularly from San Jose up to San Francisco. He enjoyed playing guitar and bass guitar when he had a free moment or two.And most of all, he enjoyed hanging out with friends… from the dinner clubs, to Buffy/movie night, to poker nights, to snowball fights, to ping-pong tournaments, to hiking, to the Mimezine group and Defcon. Justin made a lot of friends where ever he went. And we all miss you already, Justin.A gathering for Bay Area friends and family will be held at Justin’s condo this Monday evening. A viewing is scheduled in his home town of Clinton Township, MI on Friday from 1 PM – 9 PM. The service will be on Saturday at 11 AM.

Our First Wedding Anniversary

Jennifer and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday by going out to dinner at La Pastaia in San Jose. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by already. It seems like we just got back from Yosemite. How nice it would be to be heading to Tahiti again! Quite a lot has happened in the past year: we’ve both had job changes. I took a trip to Malaysia/Australia/Germany. We’ve taken a few weekends off to stay in bed and breakfasts. It has been a great year and I’m sure we have many many more ahead of us!