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The Long Day


I’m sitting in a plane, pushed against the window, sitting in a crowded row. If I look a bit tired, I should be.   I woke up today at 5:15 am to leave at 5:45 am.  I’ll be returning around 11:30 pm tonight, with my most likely “to bed time” around midnight.  That means that I’ll be gone roughly 16 hours.

Classically, I do well with somewhere around 7 to 7.5 hours worth of sleep.  If I get much under that, and I think I’m a little under 6 last night, it is a long pull of a day.  It’s a long pull anyways because of the 16 hours being away from the house.

In those sixteen hours, I’ll fly to Denver International airport, get a car, drive to Longmont, participate in a whole day face to face meeting, jump back in the car, drive back to Denver airport, then fly home.  I need to be in San Jose on Friday, and this is the only way to make things work.

I’m very indebted to my wife for her selflessness in serving our marriage.  I am pretty close to the airport if we leave early, but our house is a little off the beaten path, and I really did not want to catch an Uber in the morning because I was afraid of them not finding the house.  Therefore, my wife, without a question, said that she would drive me.  This has been her de facto behavior for the more than 30 years that we have been married.  She knows how much I appreciate how she treats me, and I love her and take care of her because of who she is and what she has demonstrated for me in the past and in the current.  What a remarkable partnership, which I hope that all of my children find in their mates.

I just passed two years in my current employment.  This is actually a pretty critical juncture because I lose a significant overhang.  When I joined my current job, they moved me from Orange County to Los Gatos.  This turns out to be very expensive.  After 35 years of marriage, and having a bit of a pack rat mentality driven by being cheap, we simply don’t throw much away.  If you go back in my blog, you’ll see our moving in day.  It’s a lot of stuff.

My company moved me with a decent package.  As part of this, they paid all the sales commission on our previous house.  This is 6% of my house’s value, and this is a big chunk of money.  They paid a point on the house that I bought, and this turned into a pretty big chunk of money.  All in all, if I had contracted a mover and paid all this money, it was worth something like half of a years worth of salary.

I’m within viewing distance of the end of my career working for somebody else.  In 10 years, I’ll be moving onto the consulting business, and I should have enough resources for me to continue to generate a substantial income by working my own investments.   Then I will open up my 401K piggy bank, which effectively will mean that I will have a income level that will be a little above my work income.  I plan to not start pulling from social security until seventy, and this would trigger another major uptick in income.  (I am assuming social security does not go bankrupt.)

So, I will have a lot of opportunity at 70 years of age to go be a real mini-Warren Buffet.  I’m in very good physical shape.  I am praying that I die at 85, which seems like the perfect age to die.  85 is old, but I have seen so many bright people in their 80s (my mother and father as examples) that I know that these can be really good years.

So the real question is what do I do during the next 10 years.  I believe that my business role is very marketable, and while the value has a lot of ageism, I think that as a business guy, I could get a promotion and uptick in salary by finding a new job.  I have written about this before, but the question is do I pursue more, or do I wait for the Lord’s leading.  I know that I already know the answer.

As I reflect back on my life, it truly has been the wandering in the desert.  Not that I had any of the hardships, but that God has been a pillar of cloud in front of me.  When things went bad at work, or I made a bad mistake hurting my career, the Lord would open up a door for me to move.

I tell this to my kids all the time, “Let it go.”  This means that you need to let go of what you want and wait for the Lord to place something in your hand.  I am very blessed right now, and while I could possibly get more, the Lord placed me in this spot.

Back to the Israelites wandering in the desert.  God lead them by a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.  When the cloud or pillar stopped, they stopped and lived there.  My cloud has stopped in Los Gatos and in my job.

I’ll wait for it to move before I move.


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Here I am standing in front of the latest addition to our property.

We are on a mad push to finish up the final touch-ups on “The Treehouse", our secondary rental on our property, so Zach and Molly can move in March 1st.

Last Friday, we added a new shed that sits outside of the Treehouse.  In reality, the “shed” is for all purposes an outdoor office that gives our renters an additional 120 square feet of optional living space.  It turns out that the maximum size of a building that you can do in Los Gatos without a permit is 120 square feet, and we took it to the max.  This is the first real building added to the property in roughly 20 years.


I wish I could say that it was cheap, but it was extraordinary expensive.  Most of this is wrapped up in the fact that there are seven windows in the shed, and a beautiful glass door.  If I had decided to make it a stereotypical shed, without any windows, the cost would have only been half as much. 

While it doesn’t have the architectural lines of the houses, it does have the same coloring, which my wife worked hard on.   We are getting very close to the end of our six month project to clean up the rental.

There was just a tremendous amount of work that needed to go into this rental to bring it to market.  Lisa, our previous renter moved out in September.  Lisa had lived there a very long time, and she was willing to live with a bunch of challenges because the rent was very, very cheap for the local area. 

For example, she was willing to walk down what was a hiking trail from her parking space to get to her front door.  The trail was carved into a side of a very steep hill, and the hill was held up by wood retaining walls that were in a state of failure.  We ripped out the old retaining walls, put in a beautiful cement gravity retaining wall, and then we made a wonderful cement path that led from the parking to the front door.

Then we freshened the insides of the rental to make it into a little gem in Los Gatos.  By the time we were down, we had changed out all the appliances, replaced cabinets, replaced counters, cleaned up some very dated wiring that was unsafe, change out plaster walls for sheetrock, and fixed more than a few plumbing issues.

Why put all this work into the place?  Because we wanted to match the site to the rental.  Out the front window and off the front porch of the Treehouse, you have a striking view of downtown San Jose, which can be seen in the following picture.  When you have this much beauty, we wanted to carve out something really nice.


Renting to Zach and Molly was an interesting tale.  I had a goal of renting out the place by March first, but I didn’t want to finish it, then have a long wait for somebody to find us.  So, even though the place still had a lot of work to do, I posted the following on Craigslist and Zillow just 14 days ago.

Be a part of California history.

Soon to be available! Live in the cottage that is part of the 4.2 acre Yung See San Fong estate–registered by the US Government as a National Historical Place, described on Wikipedia, and featured in the 1922 Sunset magazine as a key House of the West.

Perched in the hills of Los Gatos, the property sits just over a mile away from Los Gatos High School, four miles away from Netflix, and approximately 11 miles to Apple Infinite Loop Campus.

Nicknamed as the "Tree House," the cottage was built over 100 years ago as part of the estate of author Ruth Comfort Mitchell and her senator-husband Sanborn Young. The old time outsides of the cottage are enhanced by the beautiful and modern insides of the cottage. Featuring quartz counter tops, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Samsung duel-fuel range, and Kitchen-Aid convection microwave hood, the cottage is a cook’s dream.

Accessed by key-less door entries, covered with trees and with a striking view of downtown San Jose, the last resident stayed here for 10 years, only leaving because of a proposition of marriage.

While small at 500 square feet, the floor plan is thoughtfully laid out with 1.5 baths, laundry/pantry room, generous walk in closet, and custom en suite bathroom. Color scheme is neutral gray walls and white ceilings.  Brand new dark wood Felsen Ceramic Composite Plank flooring. Outside parking for your horse or horseless carriage.

Up to 120 square foot out-building will be built depending on your desire. While a one year lease is offered, preference will be given to individuals that will sign a 2 year lease, with second year locked in at 5% higher rental rate than first year. We are in final stages of the refresh, and are targeting a March 1st move in date.

If you act now, you will be able to help us finalize the window coverings, laundry room sink, washer and dryer combo, and specify what you would like in the outbuilding, which can be a workshop storage or possibly even extra space for a separate office.

Pets are not accepted–unless you really want one–and then we will consider interviewing the pet and making sure that he or she won’t upset the numerous deer wild life and Bryce–the current presiding dog–that populate the property.

Historic gardens for vegetables and fruits is not currently being used but we would happily support anybody that decided that they would like to show off their green thumb. For those times when your in-laws want to visit, the main house on the property has an additional 300 square foot bed room, with an outside separate entrance, en suite bathroom, and sitting area that is rentable for tenants of the property. Originally created for the Senator’s mother, the room is the perfect place to stash the in-laws that insist that you haven’t been spending enough time with them.

Private estate thus shown only by appointment. Tree house is not visible from street. Credit score of 680+ required with verification of income. Owner pays for water, shared trash. Tenant pays for electricity, gas and other amenities.

Yes, I know it is very long, but I think it was an entertaining read.  And we are very proud of the history of the place.  After it was posted, we got an email within an hour.  Then another inside of another hour.  Things slowed down a little bit, but by the time the next day had come around, we had roughly four people that wanted to come and see it.

Zach and Molly were actually the first to get there on Saturday, and by Sunday the next day, they decided that they wanted it.  They stated that they were highly charmed by the place, which must be true because we still had a ton of electrical cords, work in process, and other junk laying about the place.  The shed wasn’t even up, when they decided that they wanted it.

Zach is going to work for Apple, after being recruited from Michigan, and Molly applied for and got a job at a local dentist office.  While Zach’s commute is a reasonable 11 miles, Molly’s dentist office is just 2 miles away from the Treehouse.

I’ve told Zach and Molly that I hope they stay for a long time, and we’ve locked them in as renters.  However, we continued to pour money into the place during the last couple of weeks, even though we knew we had our renters locked in and some people might back-off putting in more money .  For example, we are also placing in a very expensive custom closet in the Master bedroom on Monday. 

Why do this although I’ve already been able to rent the place in a day? 

Because I’m fixing it up so that Zach and Molly decide to move out, I know that the next person will snap it up even faster.  The new outdoor shed/office is just a totally cool room, and it strongly adds to the appeal of the place.  My oldest son was at work when it went up last Friday.  We got up Saturday morning, and went up to tour the new building in the daylight.  After looking around the inside, he remarked on how cool it turn out to be.  If it was up to him, he said it would make the perfect place for a workout studio or DDR room.

“How much more, now that you can see the new outdoor building, do you think we could have asked for?” I asked him.  He thought maybe 12% more.  I though maybe 8% more.  Regardless, it makes the place a lot more interesting and fun.  And it will be ready for whomever moves in to the treehouse in the future.

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The last that you heard from me is when I was going to a funeral in Portland Oregon.  Its not that I haven’t been doing anything notable since that time, but that I’ve been doing way too much of note.

The above shows the boys and me screeding off the top of the concrete pad for our new fifth level in our house.  When I say fifth level of the house, I really do mean fifth level.  The room is very small, some 80 or 90 square feet, but it is a room under everything else that we have.   This pour of the concrete came after the boys spent weeks digging out the foundation and building forms.  In retrospect, I should have bought them a jackhammer, which I did after they were finished, but overall it was a hard, fun, long project.

By the time we finished pouring, we had something like three tons of concrete, which the boys had carried down several flights of stairs.  They then went on to frame in the room, run a new circuit for electrical wiring, and put in some old windows that were stashed under the house from some long ago renovation of our 100 year old house.

This is the state of the room today.  Not finished and painted, and the access ramp is just some 2 x12 boards that we had, but they are using it a lot.


So what do the boys use it for? 

In 2010, I saw that the kids were playing video games, so I wanted to figure out how to get a video game that got their heart rates up and gave them exercise.  As I looked around, the only thing that I could find that did this was Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).  There  are multiple things that I found very interesting about this sport.  First off, it features music.  When they say dance, they don’t mean dance per se, but you need to tap out with foot moments a particular pattern to a musical theme.  So, you involve whole body movement, rhythm, and music.  Rather than using the standard DDR game, I got Stepmania, an open source equivalent, set up.

If you have tracked my blog before, you know that I am an anime fan.  One compelling part of anime is a cadre of world class composers doing original sound tracks in every genre.  Stepmania happens to have a very large set of anime music as a base of their games.

At the time, I bought a couple of very expensive (for not knowing if they’d be interested) dance pads for approximately $800.  Somehow the boys got interested, and they have been playing them ever since.

I wanted two pads so multiple kids could play at one time.

After we finished the room, the boys then decided that they wanted better pads, and the older of the two bought commercial pads from an arcade reseller locally for around $1500 or so.   During Christmas, I decided that it was time to upgrade our television upstairs to an OLED model, and the boys got my very serviceable 55” flat screen for the room.

This is a picture of them just moments ago.


They are both very good at the game, and the younger pounds at it even more constantly than the older.  Over summer, he posted scores that would have gotten him invited for a regional contest, which we never went to, but shows his capability. 

As for aerobic exercise?  The one on the left will wear his pulse monitor from time to time.  He captures heart rates in the 190 range, which is the top of his sprint heart rate.  It is an exceptional workout.

However, this little project is such the tip of the iceberg, you have no idea of how much we have been doing.  As time or interest allows, I’ll update you other things that have happened over the last nine months:

*My neighbor who thought he had me over a barrel and could force me to give up my pool easement, which has escalated into a war of lawyers sending emails back and forth.

*Having seven people coming to five with us on the property in our extra room and the two rentals on the property.

*Doing a massive refresh of one of our rental properties

*Fixing a series of dangerous retaining walls

*Getting the spring on the property running again, and using it to water our gardens.

Two days ago, I finished my first two years at my new job.  It was a little over two years ago, when I had just walked into work to tell them that I was quitting.  Since that time, I’ve gotten my new job, sold my old house, bought a new house, married off my daughter, moved my kids into a new high school, saw my son switch from Biola to finish his engineering job at CalPoly, spend a ton of money on fixing up rentals, and wake up every morning on a 4 acre piece of land that overlooks the Silicon Valley.

A while the change has made my wife and I very tired at times, we don’t live a boring life, and our life has been good together.

I’m grateful to my Lord and Master for the adventure he’s given us.

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In the hallways of Portland Internal Airport or PDX.

I boarded the Portland, Oregon, flight at 8:05 this morning to fly to my Uncle’s memorial service in Portland.  It’s been a long pull this week, and I’ll be landing back home at around 10:30 tonight.  I’m sitting here in the terminal because the Uber to the service is only 20 minutes away, and I’m a bit early.

Work has been hectic.  Unfortunately because this is a blog that can be seen by other people, and I do run a substantial part of my companies business, I really can’t say more.  What I can say is that I’ve been throwing my heart and soul into the business trying to figure out how to make us more profitable.

Somebody sent me a note, after I had done an email blast, and said, “You seem to know how to motivate people.”  The nature of the note was about a decision that I made.  Making a few calculations, I figured out how much the activity was really worth.  I sent the note calling out that this would contribute to multiple millions of dollars with an actual figure, and just was not a trivial task that would not have any impact to the bottom line

I basically wrote back to the person that said that I could motivate people, and I stated something like, “You know, I both speak and listen money. A lot of people can listen money, but they can’t speak it.  So if you can call out the impact of the money, they can listen and they will act.”

Money can be the roots of all types of sins.  However, it can also be freedom to allow you to do things.  I have been blessed with some type of security, and this has given my wife and I the ability to support our kids through college, and contribute to the work of the gospel.  I would not call myself out as a sacrificial giver.  I am a giver to what I believe the Lord has called out in scriptures.

My father ended up making a fair amount of money that gave him security in this life.  Some of this was driven by his years at Boeing, where he ended up in a strong position.  But even more of this was driven by investments that he made outside of his normal work.  Finding himself at 50 years of age, he decided that he had better do something more for retirement and ended up buying a farm, an apartment, then finally a nursing home.  Right after he retired at 62, he flipped the nursing home, then 20 years later, he flipped half of the farm while the real estate market was at an all time high.

My mother came from a very large family of kids including:  Aunt Norma, Aunt Dixie, Uncle Bert, and Uncle Bud.  My mom always got along with my aunts, but she was extraordinarily close to her brothers.  One of them had a troubled marriage then divorce, which caused her to spend a lot of time on the phone with him.  The other was a brick layer and hard worker, but never had a lot of money.  He was good to his kids and a wonderful man.  He was close to my Mom and my Dad.  When my mom died, he was a source of comfort to my Dad.

It is this Uncle who I am flying to remember his time on earth.

Around 25 years ago, my uncle had gotten to the age where he could no longer lay bricks, and while my Uncle and his wife had a separate small line of business, they really could not make this go.  So, my Dad and my Mom knew that they did not have the resources, and they offered to allow my Uncle and his wife to live in our farm house for free.

When my my Mom died, my father never questioned if he would continue the arrangement.  When my Dad died, my sister and I never questioned the arrangement  It was my parents wishes to grant him this favor, and who were my sister and I to question this.  What is a house rental worth?  A substantial amount of money considering that we could have rented the house all those years.  I speak money and I recently told my sister how much this was equivalent to for our family  She said, “I never realized that, but now that you mention it, it is a mind blowing amount.”

The question of how to use our money is a funny thing.  My sister and I currently have a LLC that our Dad and Mom left us.  We share thing unequally because my sister has taken the bulk of the work.  However, since September, I haveare also been heavily engaged.  In a completely different way, but engaged. 

My Dad had bought muni’s, Optax and Ornax, to be exact.  While they throw off money, which allows us to keep the rest of the property going, the fund has shrunk over the last decade.  When compared to the S&P 500, we have done okay after divideneds, but nothing like what we should have done.

So, I have been working the account since September.  I believe that by looking for value and dividends, with some covered call plays, you can moderately outperform the S&P500.  Now mind you, this is dangerous, and I recently told my sister, “you need to keep praying for guidance.”  However, we have slowly started to rebuild the fund, while continuing to keep enough dividends from the munis to finance our needs.

Over the last couple of days, I took some time to layout my finances.  I have heard that to get to security, you need multiple sources of income.  I believe that this is very true.  There are three main sources of income that you can pull from:

1. You can work for somebody else and be employed

2. You can place your money in dividend stocks, and use the outflow from the dividends

3. You can have rental property and have somebody pay you to live there

In my own personal portfolio, I have all three.  My job continues to pay at least half of my income.  My financial drain is at an all time high.  As mentioned in this blog before, I changed jobs and moved to the Silicon Valley.  God saw to bless us with an incredibly unique house just above Los Gatos, and while this was a once in a life time opportunity, it was expensive.  So, I have a rather large mortgage payment every month.  On top of this, I have one son in college, with no bills, and I have two kids in private school, which my wife and I think is important considering that we wanted a Christian environment for our kids.

Life changes dramatically over the next 8 years.  This comes in two fashions.

1. At the end of 8 years, my kids are all through college.

2. At the end of 8 years, I believe that we will have established a steady rental stream from our properties.

3. If the stock market doesn’t crater, and if God leads, I should increase my dividend flow.

So roughly 100 months to a dramatic new life.  I am hoping that God will give me the strength and the providence to keep working full time to this goal.  So, what is the end state of this?

Really it is continuing my earthly Dad’s vision.  My earth Dad decided that he wanted to create something for his kids, so he bought and created a wonderful place in Port Orchard, Washington.  I may have the opportunity, God willing, to do the same thing in my place in Los Gatos. 

Only time and God will tell where this will end up.

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I have totally changed my life style and regressed almost a decade.  After going somewhere around 6 years of not biking to work, I took out my bicycle last week and got onto the old stead.  My wife tracked me on Life360, and around 45 minutes, I had pulled into my new work.

When I lived in SoCal, I actually bought my house so I had a bicycle commute to work.  It was great.  However, about 6 years ago, the company grew so much that it had to move.  It found an enormous building close to the Irvine airport, and relocated everything.  The problem is that their were no real good roads to the new place from my place, and the commute went from around 12 miles to around 22.  There was no way that I was going to spend 45 miles or more bicycle commuting.

So I basically changed sports to golf. 

Now I’m going back.

The Los Gatos area and San Jose in general really does not have the same golf culture as SoCal.  Again, my previous neighborhood had two brilliant golf courses just 5 minutes away from my house.  So, there are few places on earth that can replicate what I had.

However, the biking to work is a much smaller piece of a bigger puzzle.  I am not just commuting to work, but I am restructuring my life so that I can workout more.  I have re-engaged my triathlon life style, and I hope to do another triathlon before the end of this summer.

As I get older, I am constantly interested in the actual process of getting older.  I read a recent article that as we age, we clearly have differences in our personalities.  In other words, the younger version of ourselves would not be the same personality that the older version would be.

However, I notice that I have a few things that have stayed the same.  My wife for one thing.  We were just teenagers when we met.  I’m a very happy person because of it.  Maybe we have both changed, but we’ve changed together.  However, when we met, we immediately started doing things together.  When I say we did things together, I mean that we ran, swam and biked together.  Although we had met, we were not together back in 1982.  However, we both did the United States Triathlon Series on Mercer Island in Seattle in 1982.  She went on to place somewhere in the top 3% of women, and I went on to get lost and ended up in the bottom quarter of the men. 

As mentioned before, 2016 was basically a year without any workouts and a lot of stress.  It placed around 10 pounds on my body, and it established a bad trend for my overall waistline.  While athletic exercise is not required for losing weight, I find that it incredibly helpful.


The above chart shows my athletic calorie burn.  As you can see, in 2015, I was burning around 7000-8000 calories per month.  This would be equivalent of walking around 70 to 80 miles for for 150 pound person.  Basically nothing happened in 2016, then you can see a small attempt of re-engaging my athletic routine in October when we moved into the new house.  However, January was the real beginning.

February set a new record of 9000 calories burned, and if March stays on track, I’ll set a two year record for calories burned.

Now, we just need to see this turn into weight loss…..

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My father-in-law spent his 89th birthday with us, and today was the day he left.  His flight was onto a plane that left at 4:10pm.  However, the days have been getting longer, and my wife came back from the airport in time so we could take our bike ride up St. Joe’s hill in Los Gatos.  As I’ve stated before, I’m getting back into shape, and this ride is a great way of getting  back into it.

Although the ride is short, just a little over 9 miles, it has some real climbing in it, with the rider needing to climb somewhere around 1400 feet over the length of the ride.  My heart rate averaged somewhere around 122, with around 12 minutes of my heart rate being over 140.  So, not a bad workout.


The trail was a bit muddy, and my wife and I got off our bikes a couple of times to wade around the mud.  The temperature was somewhere around 60 degrees or so.  While not warm, it was very acceptable.  The water has really been coming down this year, and it is the wettest winter on record over the last 10 years or so.  The average rainfall is around 24 inches.  California, as everybody knows, is in a drought, and we are not getting our average rainfall.

However, this year, we are already at over 29 inches of rain.  Seattle gets around 38 inches of rain per years, so with just a little more weather like our current track, we’ll have Seattle in Los Gatos.

As we biked up to the Lexington reservoir, we could see that the spill way was in full use.  This means that the Lexington dam could no longer hold back an overflowing amount of water.  Indeed, as we came down the mountain, we got an exceptional view of the water, and, as you can see, there is no room left.  This is a dramatic change from even this summer, when the water was much lower.


As we were in the middle of the ride, my wife chirped up and stated that she was having a lot of fun.  We started to chat about how many years we had been doing this.  My wife and I have been biking together for over 30 years.  We actually think that we biked together before we ever rode together.

After all these years, we still enjoy doing stuff together.

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So I told my wife that I had a good day of mountain biking yesterday.  As we went to church, my wife, who had been laying off biking because of a bad knee, said that her physical therapist would allow her to bike, and she would like to go out with me next weekend.

Now, I was pretty wiped today, and my wife knew it.  However, I could tell that she was actually pretty excited about biking in the new area.  She absolutely loves the outdoors, and ever since she was a young kid, she loved running in places she’s never been.  So, she is raring to go out and see something new.

We got home from church, and I remarked that although I was pretty tired, I thought that we should go biking.  It didn’t take any real conversation, and she was ready to go.  We found her biking clothes faster than mine yesterday, and we took off on the same trip as yesterday.

Now I have to tell you that I was not feeling super strong.  There are three things that hit me immediately:

1. My seat was really sore.  After not sitting on a saddle for a long while, your posterior really needs some time to acclimate to the workload of your body weight on a tiny seat.

2. My quads were immediately feeling it.  I knew that I had ridden just yesterday.

3. Finally, while mountain bikes are more upright, there is still a lot of weight on your arms.  If you are not use to it, your upper body get tired.  And I started off tired.

Now, I bought my wife’s bike a while ago, but it is actually a solid dual suspension bike that weights something like 4 or 5 lbs more than mine.  However, my wife is a crazy aerobic human being and nothing seems to slow her down.


The chart demonstrates this very well.  Over the course of this ride, we monitored our heart rate. In the chart above, her heart is the blue line and mine is the red line.  You can see that while we generally had the same ups and downs, and she even had a few peaks up to 140, generally she was almost 20 beats per minute slower than I was. 

What’s nice about having a wife in really good shape is that when I came home, I collapsed into a seat and drank my smoothy.  My wife was happy and cheerful and even made dinner for me while I took a hot shower.

So not only is she an aerobic animal, but she is a kind wife.  I got a great sweetie.

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