Thanksgiving Field Goals

Another year, another Thanksgiving in the books! It's always great to see everyone and eat ourselves silly. It's also the time for our traditional field goal kicking competition! Except for Ken, the reigning champ, we all had no problem hitting our practice shot). Then, when it counted, it got real interesting. Below are some of the video highlights.

Spoiler alert: there is finally a new winner this year!

Ken's first kick

Tony's first kick

Matt's first kick

Matt's second kick (there was also a third attempt, but I'll spare you the agony... it looked just like the first two)

Joe's second kick

Ken's second kick (which looks a lot like Joe's second kick)

Ken's third kick

Ken's final kick

Angelo's final kick from 35 yards out 

Joe's kick... for the game...

And the winner is...

z angelo victory

Happy Thanksgiving. And see you all next year!


Colorado Vacation

In early October, Dawn, Makenzy and I drove to Colorado to spend a week with my high school friend, Van, and his family. We took the northern route, staying on Interstate 80 through California, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. It was the first time the three of us had been in Wyoming. Dawn and I split the driving duties while Makenzy stayed comfortably in the backseat and fulfilled the role of our chief Googler. When we'd see something that piqued our curiosity, we would ask Makenzy to Google it for us. Some of the random things we learned along our trip:

  • Sinclair, the new gas station here in Stockton on Hammer and West Lane, comes from Sinclair, Wyoming
  • There are more people living in San Joaquin County than there are in all of Wyoming
  • OJ Simpson is serving time in Lovelock Correctional Facility in Lovelock, Nevada
  • Green River, Wyoming was the first city in the US to outlaw door-to-door sales
  • There is a band named after the aforementioned law, Green River Ordinance

We stopped in Fort Collins, Colorado to see my friend Rich and his family. He and his wife, Dorinna and their son Nate, showed us around Fort Collins. It wasn't enough time to see much of Fort Collins, but there was enough time to do some site seeing, and visit the famous Walrus Ice Cream, where Rich convinced me to try their "Mystery Flavor". If you ever find yourself in Fort Collins and someone suggests you visit Walrus, you definitely should, but stay away from the "Mystery Flavor". It was great to see the Ruh family.

Then we finally made it to the Saukam house and the week of fun got kicked off quickly! We had such a wonderful week hanging out with Van, Christine, Evan, and Liam. We hung out a lot and just talked and laughed, but we also did some typical touristy things.

We spent a day in Downtown Denver and walked around the wonderful 16th Street Mall. We also visited the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Cave of the Winds caverns and drove to the Pikes Peak Summit.


We sure crammed a lot of fun (and food) into the week we spent with the Saukam family. It was so great to see them and spend some time enjoying the beauty of Colorado. Can't wait to get out there again!

Check out all of the pics here -


A Year of Running

One year ago I started running. Ok, as some have reminded me... it was really the 1 year anniversary of me running this time. Yes, it's true that running and I sort of hung out for a while but it was totally casual. I mean, I did buy a (terrible) pair of running shoes, and I did do two 5k races, but no one on this planet would have considered me a runner.

Not that I identify myself as a runner today, I just run. I am still far more comfortable on my bike. But I have enjoyed this last year of running.

Anyway, as I was saying, it was one year ago that I "started" running. One year ago that I walked into Fleet Feet, was fit for a (much better) pair of running shoes, and went home and ran. You see, the reason I didn't run much before was I always started hurting after just a couple of miles. And did I mention that I had terrible shoes? Well, what I had described as a pain on the outside of one of my knees was probably really Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). "Probably" because that was never diagnosed by a doctor. I was shown some stretches that completely alleviated the pain I had always had. Regardless of what ailed me, the stretches that the fine folks at Fleet Feet showed me helped me a great deal. As did my new shoes. After trying on shoes for half-an-hour, and learning that everything I knew about running and shoes was completely wrong, I settled on a pair of Brooks. I liked them so much, I bought another pair when I wore them out.

I started running after doing a 5k mud run. I finished it, but barely. I thought I was in good shape, but clearly not as much as I believed. My motivation was set: complete the Tough Mudder, a much harder mud run than the Mud on the Farm I barely finished. With that goal in my head, I started running.

I have really enjoyed running. I have completed four half marathons, the tiny Half in Galt, the Modesto Half Marathon, the Pleasanton Half, and the Avenue of the Vines, and even completed a Tough Mudder. I enjoy half marathons and have no plans to run a full marathon. After a year of running, I have mad amounts of respect for the hard work it must take to train for a full marathon. What I have enjoyed the most about running this last year isn't the miles (just under 600 miles), the half-marathons, or even the shoes. Running has introduced me to early mornings. I prefer running early in the morning. That is something I never experienced as a cyclist. There's just something special about lacing up and getting out on the road before most of my neighbors were awake.




Harry's - The Best Shave Ever

Yes, this post is about shaving. And shaving razors, and shave lotion. Normally, pretty boring stuff. Not with Harry's. My friend Tom Moccia posted a link to Harry's recently and I decided to take a look. I wasn't in the market for new razors, had no plans that day to change the shaving ritual I have honed for more than 20 years, but something about their website piqued my interest so I made a purchase.

I decided on The Winston Set which came with a Winston handle, three blades, and a tube of shave cream for $25. I have been using the same name brand, disposable razors for about 10 years but the idea of handling something that felt more permanent appealed to me (given my very small pen collection, this makes complete sense).



Before I received my order I had some questions and e-mailed their customer service e-mail address. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a response within a day.

I opted for the free shipping and within a week I received my new shaving implements.

The product was packaged very well and included shaving instructions and a thank you card, always a nice touch.




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Photo Sep 07, 12 56 57 PM

The proof is in the shave.

And the shave is the best shave I have ever had.

Photo Sep 07, 2 53 54 PM Photo Sep 07, 2 53 29 PM

The economics.

So, you may be asking about the price. As if you can put a price on a great shaving experience. But I get it, I don't want to pay more even if it means it'll be a better shave.

The razors I have been using are about $12 for 8, or $1.50 each, just a tad less expensive than what I am about to pay to Harry's ($1.56 - $2.00 per blade, depending on quantity ordered).

My first razor from Harry's has lasted 4 shaves and is still doing great! With my old name brand razors, I only kept one for two shaves, after that it would destroy my face. Sometimes I could get three, but I would never attempt four! I am hopeful that I can get at least five. From a price perspective, that makes Harry's razors less expensive!

It did take a few shaves with the Harry's shave lotion for me to get used to shaving with it. I've been using the same name brand shaving gel for many years but now that I am used to the Harry's lotion, I really prefer it over the gel. At $8 per tube, it is more expensive than what I normally buy but given the savings from the razors, I am still coming out ahead (or at least not coming out negative).

Harry's offers a customized auto-refill schedule to get regular shipments of blades and lotion. If I run out between regular shipments, I can even text my order to them.

Back to the shave.

The razor has the perfect weight and balance. It actually feels like it is on auto-pilot. As corny as that sounds, it does feel like the weight, shape and design of the razor create a great shave without the dreaded cuts.

Since I've been shaving with my Harry's razor, I actually look forward to shaving... for the first time since I was a teenager.

Great customer service.

So far, Harry's has won me over with the quality of their product. Their service will turn me into a raving fan. The brief e-mail encounter after placing my order demonstrated that the company cared about the small details of delighting customers.

A couple of days after receiving my kit, I received a wonderful e-mail from an employee at Harry's. It came from Katie, an actual person. She e-mailed me to thank me for supporting Harry's and offered to help in any way she could. "Please don't hesitate to reach out with any thoughts or questions about our products (or shaving or life in general.)"

I can already hear you bemoaning, "Ooooh, you received an e-mail. Big deal."

You don't understand. I received an actual e-mail from an actual person at the company. A person with a first AND last name, and a phone number, and an e-mail address. An actual e-mail address, not one of those don't-even-think-about-contacting-us, do-not-reply e-mail addresses, but a real e-mail address to Katie. Now that is impressive.

Want to try Harry's for yourself? Use this link ( and I'll get some free blades... you won't be sorry.

Happy shaving.


Pebble Watch

The Pebble watch has landed. Finally. Well, it landed for me on July 15. So now, after more than a month with the Pebble, here's my review.

I was going to do the good, the bad, and the ugly, but there's really only the good and the bad.

First, what is the Pebble Watch?

The Pebble Watch is a digital watch that interacts with iPhone and Android smartphones. In May 2012, Pebble successfully funded their Kickstarter project with over $10,000,000 from over 68,000 backers. Kickstarter is a website where companies and individuals can get funding for their projects from all over the world, normally by giving incentives to those that "back" them. (side note: I had the honor of making the Kickstarter video for the successful "Amazing Fist" project, a comic book written by my friend Adam Messinger, illustrated by Matthew Farnsworth, and inked by Frank Stone.)

First, the bad.

I missed backing the campaign by just  weeks and ended up pre-ordering instead. I pre-ordered in June 2012. At the time, they estimated a late 2012 launch. The company hadn't officially been launched and they had only built prototypes before the massively successful Kickstarter campaign. They still hadn't determined who would manufacture the watch, or how it would be manufactured.

The updates started to come in. With each of them came a later launch date. First 2012 was a no-go, then early 2013, then Spring 2013. While the early updates seemed to have some details, time eroded not only my hopes, but also any concrete date when my wrist would actually meet my Pebble.

I was finally charged for my Pebble in January 2013 and was promised that my watch would soon be ready.

Then nearly all communications ceased. No responses to my Facebook messages or e-mails for months. They had originally promised that they would send regular updates via e-mail so it was disappointing that after I paid I heard nothing from them.

pebble emails mattbeckwith

Then, in late May 2013 I received the message that I had been waiting for: my Pebble would be shipping SOON!

Pebble then announced that they would be selling black Pebbles in Best Buy stores across the country. They assured backers and pre-order customers that this was in the best interest of everyone, and that this move would mean we would get our Pebbles sooner - easing the stress off the supply chain or something like that. My pre-order was for a grey watch, but I was invited to request a refund from the company and then could go buy a black one in a Best Buy.

The salt in the wound came from the CEO and founder, Eric Migicovsky. On July 4, 2013, featured a piece titled , "Deconstructing Pebble's Mainstream Push", where the CEO said he was unfazed by complaints.

"Migicovsky is unfazed with the complaints. Because Pebble charges a customer’s credit card only after their watch is ready to ship, he says that those who pre-ordered Pebble have not paid in advance. Availability of Pebble at a local Best Buy, thus, makes it quicker and easier for such customers to buy the watch, he adds."

Unfazed with the complaints. That is something no company should ever aspire to be.

Clearly, the second sentence was factually incorrect; I had paid for my watch six months before.

And what did "shipping soon" mean? Six weeks. On July 12, my Pebble shipped. I received it just a few days later.


The good

Thankfully, once I received the Pebble watch, the story began to improve. That is, after I unpacked the watch from the box. No aesthetically pleasing packaging here. Just a watch stuck in a box. Stuck to a box that was also the shipping container to be more precise.

Within a couple of minutes of getting the watch out of the box it was on my wrist and working. It didn't require much setup other than discovering it as a bluetooth device from my iPhone.

Text notifications work great. I have always preferred getting no alerts for e-mail, no buzz, no sound, no dancing paper-clip or other animation on my computer, nothing. I have, though, used the built-in VIP feature within iOS to get notified when I receive e-mail from certain people. That works great because my family and close friends don't often e-mail me, but when they do, I can get a notification on my watch.

I don't carry my iPhone with my all day long. I usually throw it on my desk when I get to work (well, more like slide it on the desk) and only rarely look at it. Now, if I am within bluetooth range of my phone I'll get my text and e-mail alerts to my Pebble. I like that it gives a short vibration, but somedays I turn that off.

I really like having caller ID on my watch. My phone doesn't ring when I get a call (or make any noise for anything) and only sometimes do I have it vibrate when I get a call. That means I actually miss a lot of calls. Well, I miss a lot fewer calls now that my Pebble tells me I am getting a call. Although it is supposed to work with the latest version of the Pebble OS, it doesn't always give me the name of the caller (from my contact list), but the number is fine.

I really wanted the watch because I like the changeable watch faces, and those are great! Pebble doesn't offer many watch faces, but a third party site,, has a lot. I rotate through several throughout the week depending on what I'm doing.

There are apps, but it is still pretty limited. The RunKeeper app is great and works flawlessly. I hope someday they'll let me change the display to show current split pace rather than entire workout pace, but for a free app it works great. Plus, it convinced me to move from Strava to RunKeeper.

FreeCaddie is a great free golf app that I recently downloaded. I have never used my iPhone to get the distances while playing golf, but having it sent to my Pebble is nice.

I also really like being able to control my music from the Pebble. Works perfectly when I'm out on a bike ride, especially since I no longer have to ask Siri, "who sings this song?". The small added bonus of seeing the album name is cool, too.

Overall? Awesome first generation product! The lack of display colors is fine... but I'm sure that will evolve, if not by Pebble than likely by Apple or Google. I really, really, like having a watch that I can wear to work, as well as on a run, or a bike ride, or a swim (did I mention that it is waterproof - up to 5 ATM, which is great for wearing it while I swim or water the lawn, or get hit with an errant water balloon). The battery life is great, only having to charge it every few days or so.

For the price, $150, I have been very pleased with it. Every once in a while someone will compliment the watch, and then when I show them all the stuff it can do they usually have a very surprised reaction. I'm happy to have been an original pre-order customer.

I still can't seem to get the foul taste completely out of my mouth about how they treated me as a customer. They surely didn't treat me in a way that would cause me to be loyal to them. The Pebble watch is a great product but I'd feel a lot better about owning it if the company seemed to care about its customers.

Did you get one? What do you think? What do you think is next in the "wearable" market"

Check out for more details on the watch.


Podcast Stockton versus California Rays

originally published on Podcast Stockton, August 10, 2013

This morning, the Podcast Stockton team challenged the California Rays Beep Baseball team. The home team has a new name (they were formerly known as the Stockton Stingrays) but the result was exactly the same as every other time these two teams have squared off. In case you don't know about beep baseball, here's a brief primer: Beep baseball is an adaptive version of baseball played by athletes that are visually impaired where all players wear blindfolds.

We started off with a two-run lead in the first inning with runs from Shawn (our most consistent hitter and scorer) and me (yes, Matt actually scored a run, his first one ever). The Rays blanked out in the bottom of the first inning and we all thought this was our year!

But then, fresh off her trip to the 2013 NBBA World Series in Columbus, Georgia, team captain Jennifer Boylan connected on her second pitch and had no problem scoring.

Jennifer scored another run and Luke came out of retirement to add two runs as well. Rays rookie, Miguel, who has shown incredible skills during practice this year, scored his first run.

The final score was 2-5. But for those that have heard us talk about beep baseball before you know that is not the end of the story.

In the sixth and final inning, the Rays allowed us to hit sighted (did I mention that we play with blindfolds) . This tradition of allowing the sighted team to hit without blindfolds has yet to change the result of the game, but this year we felt different. Although our first three batters were able to connect with the ball, none were able to get to the base before being fielded out by our opponents. Shawn even knocked the BEEP out of the ball, and I'm not censoring, he literally knocked the BEEP out of the ball! They even gave us go through our entire rotation and still, none of us were able to score. Eric, who also played in the 2013 NBBA World Series, made a few putouts look easy. Jennifer and Terrence also helped ensure we'd score no more runs, and Miguel, gets his first putout!

Stay up to date on the California Rays by liking them on Facebook at

Thank you to the California Rays for taking the field with us: Jennifer, Eric, Luke, David, Miguel, and Terrence. And thank you to the wonderful volunteers: Robert, Rosemary, Josie, Araceli, and Terrence Jr.

And thank you to the rest of our team: Manny, Greg, Missy, Rod, Shawn, Shawn Jr., and to everyone that came out and watched us.

Check out the pictures at





The New Phonebook is Here!

That's right, the new phonebook is here! And I'm on it. I'm not in it, but I'm on it. My photo of downtown Stockton was selected to be the cover shot of Stockton's Valley Yellow Pages.



I realize that most people don't use the phone book anymore, but every now and then I see it at a local business. It's still pretty cool to see my pic on the cover.




If you want to actually use the phonebook online, you can go here.



Tough Mudder Tahoe Summer 2013


Tough Mudder is billed by the organizers as "Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet".

I will be the judge of that.

It is. It is the the toughest event on the planet. At least it was the toughest event I have ever done.

On July 13, my brother Ken and I participated in our first Tough Mudder. The local mud run at Dell'Osso was not really a preparation for the Tough Mudder, but for both of us, it served as the inspiration for what we wanted to accomplish.


The starting gate is like nothing else I had ever experienced before. The starting line emcee, Sean Corvelle, gets the crowd psyched like no other. His inspirational opening really got me jazzed to start the challenge. Even though he gives the speech all weekend long and throughout the year he delivered it in a way that showed true passion for this event.


He reminded us that the challenge was just that, a challenge, and gave some pretty cool shout-outs to Tough Mudders from the military. He also reminded us of our pledge as Tough Mudders:

As a Tough Mudder I pledge that…

I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.

I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.

I do not whine – kids whine.

I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.

I overcome all fears.


And then we were  off!

Tough Mudder Tahoe Sumer 2013 was a 10 mile course at Northstar California Resort. We climbed over 8,000 feet over the first 5 miles of the course. Within the first mile, we experienced the first two obstacles: Glory Blades and Kiss of Mud.

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And then, just after the first mile, the obstacle that would prove to be the hardest one of the day: THE ARCTIC ENEMA. Yes, it is nearly exactly what it sounds like. After you've ran up a steep incline and you're really starting to sweat you have to jump in a tank of ice water. Although it seemed to me that it was nearly all ice. And there was no skimping on this one... in order to get through the obstacle you have to go underwater (notice the wood divider with barbed wire in the pic below... that is half-way through the obstacle). The most challenging part of this obstacle was catching my breathe afterward. I was already short of breathe because of the elevation, the cold water dunk just made it worse. I thought about quitting right then. I'm glad I didn't. But I truly didn't think I could keep going after that.


After a few more obstacles we reached the summit and went through the Electric Eel: crawling through mud and water where wires are hanging down ready to jolt you with 10,000 volts of electricity. Sounds like a lot, and although it certainly gets your attention, it is not as bad as I was afraid it would be.



There were a total of 19 obstacles, and I'll spare you the details for the rest of them.


Tough Mudder Tahoe Summer 2013 map


Here are some of pics they snapped of me. If you want a better idea of what the obstacles look like, visit their Facebook album for that day - Tough Mudder Tahoe Summer 2013, Saturday, July 13

At the end of the Mud Mile obstacle, grateful it wasn't actually a mile:



The obstacle that I was the most worried about, Walk the Plank, a 15 foot jump into cold water (thankfully there was no ice):

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The last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy, was painful, but at least I had some idea of what to expect after having gone through the Electric Eel at the summit:

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At the end...

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Overall, it was an incredible event. Lots of excitement and energy before and after (not to mention all of the Tough Mudder branded stuff you can buy).

As I mentioned, it was the toughest event I've ever done, mentally and physically. Did I mention that I had to carry Ken on my back for part of it? Not that he needed it, it was just part of the Warrior Carry obstacle.

Already looking forward to Tough Mudder Tahoe 2014. I'll be there with my orange headband!


Canyon Classic Century 2013

canyon-classic-2013Or, a better title would be, Incomplete Canyon Classic Century. With temperatures forecasted to be over 100 degrees I knew it was going to be a tough day.

And that would prove to be an understatement.

I had planned on doing the full century, 110 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing.

I headed of Patterson about 6:30 AM and it was already starting to get warm. After a couple of miles through town, I started up Del Puerto Canyon Road. There was a little breeze and the sun was out and casting long shadows. There was a tad bit of chill in the air as the small little climb started, but it was clear that it was going to be a hot day.

Turning right on Del Puerto Canyon Road

I rode easy up to Frank Raines Park before heading up toward the junction. There's 8 miles from Frank Raines Park to the junction. The last 3 miles of that isn't much... the first 5 miles, however, is tough! I had forgotten just how tough this climb was. Five miles, climbing 1,400 feet, in the heat, was about all I was going to muster this day.

I stopped at the top before the last 3 miles to the junction and decided I would turn around at that point. Maybe I'll head up to Diablo Grande when I get to the bottom of the canyon. There wasn't going to be a full century in me today. And I was okay with it. Did I mention it was hot?

I did not do Diablo Grande. I just headed back to Patterson. I was starting to feel ill.

The ride back to town was tough and getting tougher with every single degree of temperature increase. SAG seemed to be taking loads of riders back to the start.

Back at the school, I got back in the car, turned on the AC and drank all the water in the ice chest. Once again, they served an amazing lunch! They also had towels in ice water and were handing them out to riders. I talked to many of the other riders. Interestingly, there were a lot of similar stories. Almost everyone I spoke with rode less than they intended and many had to wait a long time for SAG to pick them up.


Del Puerto Canyon Road




My glasses at the end of the day. That's a lot of salt!

Great lunch! Chicken, chili. And RC!!! Score!


55.6 miles

3,667 feet of climbing


14 bottles of water

Next year? Well, if it's 90 degrees or below, maybe.

Avenue of the Vines

After just a couple of weeks since the Pleasanton half-marathon, I ran another one one Sunday, the Avenue of the Vines. This race started at Woodbridge Winery in Acampo. Interestingly, the same starting location as my first century almost 10 years ago.

We got started about 20 minutes late. There had been an accident on highway 99 and the race organizers were kind enough to delay the start so everyone could get there.

The course wasn't very interesting and there was very little shade. There were a lot of very friendly volunteers and a great turnout.



Not my favorite of the races I've done so far but still a fun race.

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I still didn't reach my goal of a sub-2 hour half-marathon. In fact, it was my slowest half-marathons of the 4 I have done. At 2:09, I am just glad I finished. I know that sounds cliché but there were a few miles during the race when I thought there was no way I'd be able to finish the 13 miles.

At around mile 10, Ken came riding his bike down the road... he took this shot. Thanks to Ken, Kenny, Megen, Dawn and Mak for being there at the finish.