Building Power Soccer Equipment

This month I’ve been working on power soccer equipment for Borp. Not to brag or anything, but I think it’s OK to toot your own horn every now and then, and now seems like a good time to do it. Here’s a list of what I’ve been up to:

  • Installed extra-large motors in one powerchair.
  • Created a faster anti-wheelie method and installed it on two chairs.
  • Re-balanced two chairs (plus the chair that received new motors)
  • Created a new method of attaching a guard to a midwheel drive chair and installed it on one chair, letting somebody play who hasn’t been able to play for months since his last chair broke.
  • Welded a new foot guard.
  • Fabricated wheel spacers for two chairs, installed them on one chair so far.
  • Reprogrammed and reconfigured a donated chair to work for somebody who’s daily chair isn’t cutting it for soccer.

All in all, I have made about 80 welds, machined 13 aluminum parts, six steel parts, and spliced six wires. This allowed one person to play who could not play before, and hopefully improved the competitiveness of five other players. It has been a good month, and I’m not done. Hopefully I’m just getting started.

I have big plans for new things to build, and ways to get more people playing at higher levels of competition. Let me know if you want to help!

Totally should… hire me!

I’ve had an amazing time traveling the country, working on personal projects, and making new friends for the last few months. However, it’s time for a new chapter. My dream is to work in a product design firm, or at least the R&D department of a company that regularly makes new products. I have assembled my resume and portfolio, and have begun submitting applications.

If anybody out there reading this might now know a position, please email me and let me know. I am focusing on jobs within commuting distance of downtown Oakland, California, but for the right job I am ready and willing to relocate.

Also, if you looked at my resume and portfolio and you have any feedback or criticism, hit me! I’m all ears.

Keep biking! (and beat internet addiction?)

After my bike tour I spent the first couple of weeks off of my bike, and was slow to get back on. First I was trying to let me hand heal (trying to regain 100% sensation in the fingertips of my left hand!), and then I caught a nasty summer cold. I set up my desktop PC to begin my job search in earnest, since there’s only so much you can do from a cell phone. As I set up my PC and regained full connection to the world wide web, I noticed something was going on: I was spending too much time surfing the internet! This absolutely wasn’t something I had been interested in while I was riding 60 miles per day. I kept up with my blog and checked my email, but not much beyond that.

Just by chance (Or not? I was looking at a lot of websites as I recovered) I came across an article about internet addiction and brain chemistry. I don’t remember the exact article, but if you google for “internet dopamine” then you’ll see that there are a lot of articles on the subject. It boils down to the idea that there are a few psychological things going on that trigger a little hit of dopamine on a very regular basis while you surf the web.

The first mechanism that I find interesting is the way we’re wired to want to know our surroundings, and constantly scan for danger or changes. I think it’s one of the reasons that when we live in the suburbs we like to have wide flat featureless yards of trimmed grass around our homes, and why games like Farmville take off. This is a pointless way to trigger your reward center because the internet is always changing, and by and large those changes you discover are not relevant to your life in any way. You just see something that wasn’t there before, “Someone just posted a picture of a cat!” and you get a tiny hit of dopamine.

The second part that I feel more ambivalent about is the way we are rewarded when we learn something new. It’s satisfying to learn something new, right? Even if it’s some stupid little random factoid that doesn’t apply to our lives, and may not even be adequately supported- it feels good to learn. The internet is also a great source for learning, not just a constantly shifting sea of ‘new things’ to spot. The internet is an incredibly powerful tool for gaining useful knowledge, but it also lets you go and click on the random wikipedia article, and spend half an hour learning about things that have no relation to anything, at a superficial depth, and in such an undisciplined way that you’ll only retain a tiny fraction of that knowledge.

Social media also triggers this small (meaningless?) release of dopamine. Seeing a loved one’s face, or hearing of a friend, or thinking of somebody you have a crush on are all things that give this rush of brain chemicals (great TED talk on that, by the way), so by flipping all over the internet and revisiting facebook/etc, it’s possible to sustain a lot of little hits of dopamine, and something like an addiction develops.

I didn’t set out to write this post about internet addiction, although that’s how it seems to have turned out, I began on the subject because of what I noticed while I was riding 50+ miles per day. I had a constant ‘high’ going, and my level of interest in all things ‘trivial internet’ went down a great deal. I definitely had days where I’d take a break and surf on my phone, but I didn’t feel the same ease of losing an hour to it that I do when I don’t have a baseline level of exercise going on.

During my regular routine before the trip I had about five miles per day of biking, plus some walking. It was enough with a reasonable diet to not feel like a total slob, but I realize now that I wasn’t getting nearly the level of exercise that my body craves. Since the trip I start getting an itch to go for a ride. I guess that developing an addiction to real exercise is a great outcome from all of this. Hopefully it will allow me to remain more focused and relaxed, and maybe get down to a really healthy weight.

That’s all for now, I’m going for a ride!

Totally should… Be a good sport

Totally should… Be a good sport

Who’s this guy?


That’s Jeff, and he just hustled me out of a few bucks. I’ve been living and working in San Francisco and Oakland for over eight years now- how’d that happen??

Well, I guess it started a few weeks ago as I was getting used to riding down the coast, living life at a slower pace and interacting with people in a different way. On the road you might be alone for hours at a time, except for the occasional car whizzing by, and only run into people outside of cars in small groups. Usually you’ve all been traveling, either on a bike or at least on vacation, and you have some common ground to talk about. Folks say hello, and they really do ask how you’re doing and check to make sure you’re OK, make sure you’re not out of water or anything, and it’s really pretty odd not to make a little small talk. It wasn’t just me, it’s really a thing as you get away from the metropolis.

I was used to taking a little time to chat, and not being rude to people because sometimes those little interactions made a big difference between a free (or cheap and delicious) meal, and wasting time pushing on to the next town to eat dehydrated food in a KOA. It’s amazing how much a little communication can benefit everybody, and how we really don’t connect with anybody in the big city.

I hadn’t really been reminded to put the walls back up yet when Jeff said hello. He was shining shoes, and realized that he couldn’t shine my sneakers. He started to ask me a question about them, and I did what I’ve been doing for the last month- I stopped to talk to a stranger. He launched a well practiced hustle, and before I knew it the dude was washing my sneakers.

So there I was, Jeff’s scrubbing away, an obviously I didn’t agree to a service or a price. Deep down I had known before breaking my stride that nothing good could come of stopping to talk to a guy shining shoes in downtown San Francisco on a Saturday afternoon, and even after he squirted some cleaner on some toes I knew that I wouldn’t have been out of bounds to just walk away. I could have gotten pissed off and argued about what he was doing. I could have been upset and felt like a dummy about falling for such a simple trick. I could have probably threatened to call the cops, or walked over to Occupy SF to see one in person.

Instead, I decided I’d go ahead and pay him. Rather than get bent out of shape over a couple of bucks or somebody being leas than neighborly to me, I considered it a lesson, bought and aid for.

Planning another ride… for BORP!

While I have your attention, I’d like to get a little publicity for something I’m doing this October. Since about 2007 I’ve been volunteering for BORP, the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program. BORP provides sports and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities, and runs programs for wheelchair basketball, power soccer, goalball, adaptive cycling- they have a great website if you want to check out what else they do!

I am the team equipment manager for the three power soccer teams, and the equipment specification committee chairman for the national organization. I helped with the US national team in their journey to win the 2011 FIPFA world cup in Paris, France. Power Soccer is a sport played by athletes who use electric wheelchairs to strike a 13 inch soccer ball with cage-like guards around their feet in the front of the chair. The sport is played on in an indoor basketball court with four players per team.

I am trying to raise at least $750 for BORP as I ride 65 miles in October. The page to donate is here:

If you want to ride with me let me know! If you want to help more, you can send my donation page to your friends, corporate philanthropy contacts, or your family. That would be great! Even if you donate you should totally do that!

As an added incentive to donate, I am offering something special this year. If you liked the pictures from my bike tour, then or the rest of my Flickr photo stream, then I will send you a print for your donation! I hope it’s something that will make people more likely to donate (not less!), so here it goes!

  • For a $25 donation I will send you a post card sized print from the bike tour set.
  • For a $50 donation I will send an 8×10 print from any of my Flickr galleries.
  • For a $100 donation I will send three 8×10 print from any of my Flickr galleries.
  • For a $250 donation I will send three 8×10 prints, and one mounted print up to 14″ on a side.
  • For a $750 donation I will send the above, plus a mounted print up to 24″ on a side.
  • For a $5,000 donation, I will fly anywhere in the USA to do a photo shoot, and give you the above prints plus a framed print up to 24×36.

After you make a donation, just email me at to let me know which picture(s) you want. Prints will go out approximately a week after the ride. If you want to donate but don’t want a print, that’s OK too.

Another story from the road

I’ve kept in touch with a couple of new friends from the road, and I just heard from my Dutch friend, Ferdinand, and he told me another story that I’m happy didn’t happen to me (but easily could have).

If you recall, I had a hard time finding my way to the proper route across the Golden Gate bridge. In Sausalito people were less friendly than they had been for the rest of the trip, and I had trouble getting directions. It’s not that the people are different, it’s just a different environment. It was a transition from a rural countryside to the halo of a bustling city of a million people. There were signs, and advertisements, separate bike paths and bike lanes, and numbered streets going in every direction. If you were paying close attention, you’d notice that my picture in front of the golden gate was at least a hundred feet above the bridge. Did I really chose to climb a huge hill at the end of my journey for a photo? No I did not! I followed what I thought was the route, and ended up on top of the Marin Headlands looking down at the bridge I wanted to cross. It’s OK though, it was a nice view.

What happened to Ferdinand was worse. He continued on highway 101, and missed the sign that said “no bicycles!”. The traffic became very dense, and the shoulder disappeared completely. There was no safe way to continue across the bridge, so he called 911 from his cell phone. The police shut down traffic across that section of the bridge and a motorcycle cop came and towed him off of the bridge! If anybody reading this has a picture or video, please email me! He didn’t get one because he was holding onto a police motorcycle and a touring bike.

Done riding??

Done riding??

It’s strange being back!

For the last month I have experienced things differently. Whether these count as leaving my comfort zone, or they are just a symptom of changing scenery, some changes from the norm include:

  • Maintaining an average velocity of 1.8 mph for 27 days.
  • Consuming over 3,000 calories daily (including bacon, beer, donuts, and pasta) and losing ten pounds
  • Blogging two and a half times daily.
  • Taking an average of 35 pictures per day without days off.
  • Talking to strangers every day.
  • Making new friends. (Should this be on the list? Why is it harder to make new friends at 30 than at 20?)
  • Flirting.
  • Receiving unsolicited hot food from strangers.
  • Reading food containers trying to maximize calories per dollar and per pound.
  • Finding fruit by the road and eating it.

So what do I do now? I had to mentally shift gears as I walked into the grocery store tonight. I was able to buy things that require refrigeration, and I had to think about meals that are appropriate to my reduced level of activity. I lost some weight on this trip, and although that wasn’t the point of any of this it would be cool to keep it off or continue to lose a few more pounds. If I go back to how I’ve been eating for the last month, I’ll outgrow my pants in no time! I also found that it didn’t feel right to just sit around all day, and I needed to go climb the Lake Chabot hill on my bike just to get the blood moving. If this trip turned me on to regular exercise, how weird is that?!?

The “plan” now is to find a job as an engineer, and to move into my own apartment. In the meanwhile, I am aiming to get rid of some of my physical possessions and to work on a couple of projects that will get their own pages here. Keep an eye out, and I’ll have more here soon.


Day 27 (2)

Day 27 (2)

I’m sitting in Sausalito having a sandwich, drinking a coke, and looking at the bay bridge. I made it!


It was such a culture shock when I made it into Marin/Saualito. I was suddenly surrounded by traffic, and had a choice of bike paths, bike lanes, and signs, and I needed to know which way to ride to make it to the bridge. I was at an intersection and tried to stop about ten cyclists to ask this simple thing, but they were all headphones and heart rate monitors, and I couldn’t get a glint of recognition through their silvered wraparound sunglasses. It’s totally different from the way people were just 30 miles ago.