VW GTI

After 4 years in San Francisco and being car-less, I finally caved in and got one this weekend. I appreciate everyone supporting me. I play it off like it’s not a big deal, but it kinda actually is.

I’ve been trying to save money and live minimally for a while now. But, it’s time to make the most of the west coast. I still love my e-bike, however, I needed something that could extend my radius and transform California into a true playground. If you’re in the Bay Area, let’s find some twisties and do a weekend run.

I wanted to take a moment to honor one of my closest friends, Mark Smith, who passed away in 2014. He and I used to talk about everything, but most of all, cars. I’m going to do something a little different this time—I’m going to share something more personal. There are plenty of car reviews on the GTI, and I don’t want this to be another one just echoing the same things. If Mark were still alive, I’d write him an email like this (picking up where we left off):

Hey Mark,

As you know, I’ve been test driving some cars. I finally landed on something–the new VW GTI. I know it’s not a Porsche, but it’s still German and has a ton of character.

I’ll get the GT4 one day. Until then, this will have to do. Hah!

I needed something practical—so it’s got 4 doors, a 6 year bumper-to-bumper warranty, and has a dual clutch auto transmission. As respectable as it is, the DCT isn’t as good as PDK. I was reeeeeeeeeally leaning towards a manual, but all my friends in SF recommended me to get the auto since there are so many hills… and traffic can be brutal, even on weekends. So this seemed to be the most logical choice.

I’ll be honest, I still miss my 911. I probably should have never sold it, but I’m happy (and lucky) that I was able to own one for a while. It would have been a thrill to have it here in Cali. Some of the roads here are pure driving nirvana. And, it seems like there are less cops hiding around each corner! Hah!

Anyway, the GTI packs a respectable amount of performance for the price, and it’s better suited for the city. I got mine for under $6k MSRP—it required a lot of haggling, but I managed to walk away with a deal that felt like a tremendous bargain. I got the base model, and it’s honestly just as good as fully loaded version. I just needed something for the weekends.

I went for a short run this weekend, but there was a little too much traffic (b/c of labor day) to really open it up. However, I fumbled with some of the settings and experimented a little. I think the key is to keep the car at higher RPMs (above 4k), sport mode, with the turbos spooled. When the turbos kick in, the GTI pulls. It’s a car that you can really applaud because it does so many things well. It even has heritage, and fan base loves each new iteration. The GTI isn’t a flashy car, but I actually kind of like that it flies under the radar. It’s really growing on me, and I’m also really digging the color.

By the way, Annie got a new car too. She got a new Accord–the safety features are amazing. She was driving a used Accord that had over 180k miles on it, and we were worried about it breaking down at some point. I’ll have to send you some pics soon.

Hope your GTS is running smooth! Don’t make the same mistake I did—don’t ever sell it!! I’ll be back on the east coast new a few weeks. Perhaps I can make it down to Richmond to say hello to you and Julie. We have a lot to catch up on. Let me know if you’re free!

Cheers!
Jeff

Ps. I started BJJ again… it’s like riding a bike!

Pss. Noel is in SF as well. I was able to quickly catch up with her over the phone. We wanted to collab on a project together, but the timing didn’t work out. Anyway, you should ping her sometime too. She was asking about you.

Hot Pot with Joe and Jho

Justin and Joe in front of our first hot pot dinner together.”

It’s great to see these two back in town. It was fun hearing their tales of travel. Both Justin and Joe have been wandering around the world for the last couple months and their stories are pretty inspiring. They have endless tales of meeting new people, blazing new trails and getting occasional food poisoning. I’m hoping to have them over again so they can share more.

~1 Year Since My Bike Accident

Photos of my bike with an updated Surly touring frame.

I can’t believe it’s been about a year since my bike accident last year. For those of you who don’t know, around this time last year, I got in a nasty bike accident last year which left me with stitches, a concussion, two chipped teeth, and a damaged bike. It was pretty rough because it overlapped the time when I was shutting down Flare and transitioning to a new project. Thankfully, I had insurance and a strong support network here to help me out.

I made a fast recovery… and when I was able to ride again, I made a video that documented my crash as well as an issue I had with my bike. This all happened last year, but I’m finally getting around to sharing this video one year later.

One of my first vlogs on youtube I created last year.

Anyway, everything is okay now. Since then, I get my bike serviced once a month to make sure all the parts are in working order. I also got a full face helmet along with a GoPro to document my daily commute.

By the way, since last year, New Wheel (the company that sold me my e-bike), replaced my damaged frame free of charge. I had to twist their arm, but they stood by their product and rebuilt my bike after the rear wheel dislodging. So, if you’re in the market to get an electric bike in San Francisco, I’d recommend them.

So, I ride super conservatively now and I avoid questionable conditions.

HOWEVER, Google Maps managed to navigate me through a really sketchy path. I would say this felt as sketchy as walking around in the Tenderloin at night. I really wish there was a checkbox on Google Maps that says, “Avoid Sketch AF Routes”. Since I’m sharing some crazy videos, here’s another one…

Sketch AF bike route by Google Maps.

#neveragain

While I love San Francisco, there are times that I’d like to get away from the craziness. I live in Bernal Heights now, and it’s pretty safe/clean… but all you have to do is walk a couple streets down the hill, and it gets seedy.

Okay to lighten things up, here’s one more video of another bike ride. This is a time lapse of a bike ride I did with Patrick from Sausalito back to Bernal Heights.

Timelapse video of a 56 mile bike ride from Sausalito to Bernal Heights.

Hopefully you won’t get too dizzy watching it. It kind of starts smoothing out once we go over the Golden Gate bridge. Next time I’ll see if I can run these kinds of videos through a hyper lapse filter to remove all the jittering. Enjoy!

Input Team Retreat

Glorious view of LA from our AirBnb.

So… it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Actually, that’s not entirely true–I’ve created content–I haven’t posted it yet. There’s a ton to share, so we have some catching up to do friends.

Our team had an offsite two weeks ago and we all met up in LA. It was great to collaborate with folks in person–we’re a distributed team, so getting real face time is rare. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer working in person. Remote jobs definitely have their perks, but nothing can replace being around creative people in the same room. It was a great offsite, and I’m looking forward to more jam sessions like this in the future.

Timelapse of theview from ourAirBnb.

The house was a total surprise, and it was super comfortable. There was actually a pool and hot tub overlooking the city skyline with a beautiful unobstructed view of the stars above. I honestly could have just brought a tent and sleeping bag and could have been in heaven.

Huge kudos to Belinda for coordinating everything. The house, the meals, travel, team activities, etc were all on point. Speaking of which, let’s look at some of the photos.

Vincent and Dan talking tech with the LA skyline as a backdrop.

Ben, Roberto and Naveen moving stickies around using the KJ Method

Brainstorming session outside.

Korean BBQ, LA style with the team.

Cooking class at Sur La Table.

Ben pouring a perfect pint.

Ben, Belinda and Naveen taking pictures of the Venice Beach sign.

Dinner with the team and celebrating Naveen’s birthday.

Naveen rocking the Halal Guys wayfarer sunglasses.

Cheers!

The steak here was aaaaamazing.

Everyone checking their phones after our escape room adventure.

Vincent getting his portrait taken in the corner of a bar.

Anyway, those were some fun times. Now it’s time to get some work done. We’ve got a pretty ambitious vision, and it’s going to take a hungry team to build it over the next few months.

Photos from My Bike Ride

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Photo of a blocked off road beside Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

After the storm cleared up this morning, I decided to go for a bike ride. I ended up doing a 25 mile loop around the city. Here are some photos from my ride.

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Crossing the road.

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Shadows and pruned trees in the city.

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Stairs near the Painted Ladies.

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A small beach between Lands End and Presidio.

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Museum at the top of Lands End, featuring a collection of work by Monet.

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Photo riding down Ocean Drive.

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Close up photo of flowers in Golden Gate Park.

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Ocean beach.

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The court yard between the California Academy of Sciences and de Young Museum.

An Encounter with a Coyote

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Photo at the top of Bernal Heights, shot with the iPhone 7 Plus.

On my way to watch the sunrise this morning, I saw a coyote walking around in the middle of the road. There was a woman curiously chasing them around. She introduced herself to me, sharing some basic guidelines around coyote interaction and safety. If you want to learn more about Coyotes in San Francisco, check out Janet Kessler’s blog.

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Screenshot from my Facebook Live stream of the Coyote.

I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t bring my camera along with me this morning—it could have been a great photo opportunity. Instead, I shot a Facebook live video.

According to my conversation with Janet, coyotes were hunted for such a long time that they virtually disappeared from San Francisco; however, in recent years they’ve come back and repopulated. The coyotes roam along the streets, often chasing and stopping cars. People typically feed them, which encourages this unusual behavior.

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Panoramic photo of the sunrise from Bernal Heights.

As the coyotes return, Janet explained to me that everyone in San Francisco will need to find a way to co-exist with them without feeding them, similar to raccoons or skunks.

Here are some tips from her website:
• Never feed them
• Don’t approach them
• Walk on and don’t linger
• Keep dogs leashed
• Don’t let cats roam free

And here are some photos from her website so you can get a closer look at the coyotes.