30 Acts of Kindness Birthday Recap


As you might know, I celebrated my 30th birthday over the past few days with 30 acts of kindness. It was truly inspiring and fun – I really recommend this as a great way to have a fantastic birthday. It reminded me about how much doing something kind for others really provides just as much benefit for you as them – it’s a great time.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of the 30 acts. I also tweeted throughout the day – read my tweets here.

  1. Had pizzas delivered to the fire station near my apartment to say thanks for their service.
  2. Found the online wish list for the Oakland Animal Service and bought a dog toy from it to send their way.
  3. ImageDonated blood – I really have to do this more frequently! I was a very regular donor in high school and college and I haven’t donated very much since then. Thanks so much to Allison, Jon, and Joseph who also are donating later this week!
  4. Donated to help my friend William David Williams get his mom a place to live.
  5. Set up a donation page for Camp Phoenix, a nonprofit that is kicking off this summer with an amazing free summer camp for kids who otherwise would never have access to camp. We’ve raised $250 so far – if you have a few dollars to give, I’d appreciate your support!Image
  6. Dropped off a bag of Bath and Body Works lotions, body washes, and toothbrushes at MISSEY, an organization that works with sexually exploited youth.
  7. I bought my mom a photo panel and a photo she liked of the dog from this year’s Christmas celebrations.
  8. I sent an email to my favorite blogger to let her know how much I appreciate her work.
  9. I let a grandmother who was with two grandkids cut in line at the grocery store. This was probably my favorite of all of the acts – she was so, so grateful! It made my entire day.
  10. ImageI got a manicure and pedicure at my favorite spot for this (seriously – it’s the best manicure to be had) and gave a big tip and some homemade jam to the awesome women there.
  11. Wrote a Thank You card to my colleague Marc who is a great teammate.
  12. Placed inspirational quotes on random parked car windshields.
  13. Left a note on a parked ambulance with a Starbucks gift card.
  14. Plastic bags are now banned in my county as of January 1st, so I bought some tote bags and handed them out at the grocery store to people who had forgotten theirs.
  15. Took a bouquet of flowers to a hospital and gave them to a woman whose nurse told me she hadn’t had any visitors.
  16. Bought litter to give to the East Bay SPCA from their wishlist.
  17. ImageLeft two copies of books I’ve enjoyed (both by John Grisham) in coffee shops for others to find.
  18. Taped quarters to a Coke machine.
  19. Bought a game of Superheroes Chutes and Ladders to give to Children’s Hospital – something they ask for on their donations page.
  20. Taped quarters to the car wash and the car vacuum machines.
  21. Made a donation to two fantastic Oakland organizations, Oakland Schools Foundation and Boost! West Oakland.
  22. Paid for the breakfast of the car behind us in the drive-through.
  23. Left a big tip for the outstanding staff at Samurai Sushi Boat, my neighborhood sushi spot, where I had a fun birthday dinner with friends.
  24. Bought coffee for the woman behind me in line at Starbucks.
  25. Put plate of homemade muffins in lobby of our apartment building for my neighbors.
  26. ImageLeft quarters on the washing machine in our apartment building.
  27. Contributed to three of my favorite Oakland schools – Think College Now, Elmhurst Community Prep, and Lighthouse Community Charter School.
  28. Gave back to the Semester at Sea scholarship fund, which is a key reason I was able to study abroad in college.
  29. Gathered up clothing and books and added them to the things already in “To Be Donated” box in the closet and packaged them up for Goodwill. I actually still have this in the back seat of my car – I’ll be dropping it off this week.
  30. Said thanks to my friends who joined me for my birthday dinner by bringing them each a jar of jam, marmalade, or fruit butter.



Turning 30

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turning-30_thumb2I’ll be turning 30 in less than 48 hours!

I’ll be sure to write an update on my 30 by 30 list soon (headline – got most of them done, but not all). One of the thirty things I wanted to do was to celebrate my 30th birthday by doing 30 acts of kindness for others.

I’ve nearly planned all of the 30 acts, and I’m really excited to get started! Here are a few ways that you can be a part of these acts of kindness and help me celebrate my birthday:

  1. Join me to donate blood on Saturday at the Red Cross on Claremont in Oakland at 11 AM.
  2. Help me reach my goal of raising $250 for Camp Phoenix, an amazing summer camp that is launching in a few months for Oakland kids. Some of my favorite people are starting this, and I believe in them deeply and am so proud to be a part of this camp.
  3. Come hang out with me on Saturday morning when I’m doing many of the 30 acts – I’d love to have company for all of this fun! We’ll be doing everything from delivering in-kind donations to taping quarters to vending machines to complimenting strangers on cute shoes and many more. Let me know if you want to ride along for some of it.

If none of these work for you, I hope you’ll do an act of kindness or two on your own and tell me all about it. Nothing is too small!

Jon’s 30 by 30: The Complete List

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Here is the final list in its entirety!

  1. Keg a homebrewed beer
  2. Build a jockey box to serve homebrewed beer from keg
  3. Create my own home brew beer recipe
  4. Take an introductory Spanish course
    1. Researched classes at local community colleges.  Most likely will enroll in a Spring class.
  5. Lose 30lbs – only 21.4lbs left!
    1. This past week was not so good, but I’m committed to biking to work and getting back on the running trail (see below).
  6. Complete a 30 mile bike ride
  7. Run a total of 300 miles – only 257 miles left!
    1. I’m 16% toward my goal after completing 17.5% of the year so far (birthday-to-birthday) so I have fallen a bit behind, but I ran 2 times this week and will run around the Lake Merritt tomorrow.
  8. Visit 12 new restaurants in Oakland – 4 down, 8 remaining
    1. This week the Aspire team visited Ghazal Indian Cuisine on 2nd and Broadway in Jack London Square.  It was a solid Indian buffet for $12.  I’d recommend it for lunch if you are in the area.
  9. Enroll in an improv comedy class
  10. Eat vegetarian for 30 consecutive days
  11. Investigate my family ancestry
  12. Travel to a new city in the U.S
  13. Enter Homebrew competition
  14. Floss for 30 consecutive days
  15. Visit a shooting range
    1. Found two spots nearby that look promising.
  16. Ride in a hot air balloon
  17. Build a compost bin
  18. Organize an apartment-wide yard sale
  19. Cook 12 new recipes
  20. I’ll let you know when this one is complete
  21. Bike to work every day for one month
  22. Volunteer for the local school board races
    1. I’d like to do 2 phone banks and 2 walks
  23. Volunteer for the Obama campaign
    1. I think Jess has scheduled us for a phone bank soon.
  24. Make an offer on a house
    1. We’ve just started the house searching process and aren’t sure if it will work out, but I think it would be cool to at least put an offer in at some point.
  25. Refrain from eating out for one month
  26. Track what I eat every day for one month
    1. If I track what I eat I almost always eat more healthy food
  27. Install a solid state hard drive (SSD) in our home theater computer (HTPC)
    1. This is the best upgrade you can make to a computer in terms of noticeable increase in speed.  Prices have gotten reasonable for 128GB drives
  28. Find a mentor
    1. I’ve always thoughts about, why not do it now?
  29. See a Broadway show
    1. We will be visiting NJ for my brother’s graduation in June, so we can stop by NYC while we are visiting.
  30. 30 nice things for other people

Let me know if you have suggestions for other things to put on my list


Jon’s 30 by 30: 11 – 20

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It’s been over a month since the last time I blogged about my 30 by 30 list.  Since starting my job at Aspire, I’ve been a bit busy but I’m still thinking of my list!  First a quick update on the first 10, then onto items 11 – 20.

  1. Keg a homebrewed beer
  2. Build a jockey box to serve homebrewed beer from keg
  3. Create my own home brew beer recipe
  4. Take an introductory Spanish course
  5. Lose 30lbs – only 23.4lbs left!
    1. Unfortunately, I haven’t done so well tracking what I’ve been eating recently, but I have been consistently biking to work.
  6. Complete a 30 mile bike ride
  7. Run a total of 300 miles – only 257 miles left!
    1. I haven’t done a great job running recently, although I did manage to get 2 runs in while I was traveling.  Also, RunKeeper now tracks goals so I can easily see my progress every time I run.
    2. I’m 14% toward my goal after completing 13% of the year so far (birthday-to-birthday)
  8. Visit 12 new restaurants in Oakland – 3 down, 9 remaining
    1. Jess and I visited Wood Tavern on College Ave.  The steak was delicious.  Definitely worth a trip, but make sure to get reservations.  (Thanks Greg and Mariah for the GC!)
    2. This weekend we stopped by Home of Chicken & Waffles in Jack London Square.  The chicken was OK, but the waffle was excellent.
  9. Enroll in an improv comedy class
    1. I found a class in Oakland this Fall that looks very promising
  10. Eat vegetarian for 30 consecutive days
    1. I’m planning to do this in October – after the BBQ season slows down.
  11. Investigate my family ancestry
    1. Jess has been using Ancestry.com with lots of success, so I figure I will give it a shot as well.
  12. Travel to a new city in the U.S
    1. We are excited to be traveling to Austin, TX for New Year’s.  Let me know if you have any suggested spots
  13. Enter Homebrew competition
    1. I have an Oktoberfest lager that I am planning to submit to the Oaktoberfest competition.  Just hoping they don’t spit it out.
  14. Floss for 30 consecutive days
    1. I never quite been able to floss consistently, here’s hoping!
  15. Visit a shooting range
    1. I’m not exactly Charlton Heston when it comes to guns, but I am curious about going to a range.
  16. Ride in a hot air balloon
    1. Happened to see a groupon so we are booked for October 6
  17. Build a compost bin
    1. Living in an apartment building this may be a tough one, but we do have room on our porches and perhaps I can convince our landlord to let me have it in our communal space.  This way it would be easy for all tenants to use.
  18. Organize an apartment-wide yard sale
    1. We are always trying to get rid of stuff to create more space in our apartment, perhaps other folks in our building are as well.
  19. Cook 12 new recipes
    1.  We have a tiny kitchen so cooking can be a chore, but I would like to cook more.
  20. I’ll let you know when this one is complete

Let me know if you have suggestions for other things to put on my list


Jon’s 30 by 30: The First 10

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So I’ve gotten inspired by Jess to complete my own 30 by 30 list.  That is, 30 things that I would like to accomplish before I turn 30 (on June 22, 2013).  Without further ado, here are the first 10 items on my list:

  1. Keg a homebrewed beer
  2. Build a jockey box to serve homebrewed beer from keg
  3. Create my own home brew beer recipe
  4. Take an introductory Spanish course
  5. Lose 30lbs – only 22.6lbs left!
    1. I’ve lost 7.4lbs since returning from South Africa
  6. Complete a 30 mile bike ride
  7. Run a total of 300 miles – only 265.64 miles left!
    1. I’ve run 34.36 miles since returning from South Africa
  8. Visit 12 new restaurants in Oakland – 1 down, 11 remaining
    1. This week I visited Cafe Romanat near the Grand Lake Theater.  Great Ethiopian food.  Share the meat combo with a friend, it’s delicious!
  9. Enroll in an improv comedy class
  10. Eat vegetarian for 30 consecutive days
    1. I’m planning to do this in October – after the BBQ season slows down.

I’m still brainstorming ideas for the remaining 20 items.  Let me know if you have any ideas!


Africa Pictures

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We are back from our trip and I’ve finally had the chance to sort through our (literally) thousands of pictures to find the best to share. I created a Facebook album here – go check them out. I did my best to caption them to provide context.

I also put together a photobook on Shutterfly that you can view here.

In other news, Jon graduated and we harvested the potatoes I was growing on the porch (and devoured them with a pot roast).

Firefighters, meat-eatin’, and a new gym.

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Updates on this crazy and fun life I am lucky enough to lead.

#11 on the list is complete – my new Nikon D5100 arrived on Friday and is looking beautiful. I have no idea how to use any of its many features, but I’m looking forward to both an Intro to D-SLR class with Laila early next month and to taking Sierra up on her offer to show me a few things.

I took a few pictures this morning using it just as a point-and-shoot just to see how it felt in my hands. This picture of Barnum is the result of that mini shoot. Nothing special in terms of photography, but the happy accident of taking several pictures in a row quickly. It’s begging for a good caption.

Fried Food
Last weekend, Jon was working hard (less than a month out from graduation!) on various school and work related things, and I was happily doing anything but work. I was thinking about what to make for dinner later that night and thought it would be a good idea to do something interesting with the bit of goat cheese we had left in the fridge. Pinterest to the rescue, and I found a recipe for fried goat cheese. I have never fried anything in my life, but I thought it was a great time to start.


Afterwards, I still had a decent amount of the ingredients left over but was out of goat cheese. I felt the need to fry something else, so I pulled out a jar of pickles we made last summer and fried those up. Also yummy.

Not pictured: Olive oil and its very low smoke point ended up with the fire alarm in our apartment building going off while I was in the middle of the pickles. The firefighters had to come to turn off the alarm. Ugh. I felt awful and ended up passing out strawberries to everyone to apologize for making them worry that there was a real fire happening. Sorry, neighbors! Maybe that’s enough frying of food for me for a long time.

Growing food
The potatoes continue to look like they’re going strong (won’t be able to tell until it’s time to dig them up, of course). The carrots I’ve been trying to grow seem to be stalling, though – the same is true for the basil and rosemary.

We also have been growing “cat grass” that I saw in the store and bought on a whim. We bring it inside every week or so and the cats go nuts eating it. We have to rescue it and put it back outside so that it can grow again.

My colleague and friend Marc has recently started going to Club One, a really nice gym in Downtown Oakland relatively close to our office. It’s about three times as expensive as my cheap gym, but oh man. SO. MUCH. NICER.

He gave me a 3-day pass and the folks there at the gym turned it into a week pass. I went 4 or 5 times and tried to check out everything it had to offer – a pool, great showers, a running track, lots of classes. I failed fast at a step class (that’s harder than you’d think!) but generally enjoyed myself and actually looked forward to going to the gym. I am going to join for a few months and see if it continues to entice me to love exercising. Might be a key ingredient to helping me accomplish #17 on my list. It will be well worth the money if I actually work out consistently.

B-Side BBQ and Chop Bar
I knocked off two more restaurants off my list (#25) recently as well, and both were very impressive. You know they’re good when I chose meals at both places with meat as the main ingredient (I normally eat a pretty meatless diet).

Chop Bar and B-Side BBQ – I recommend both to anyone in the Bay Area. Chop Bar is also a big supporter of GO (the nonprofit for which I work), which is another great thing about them.

See Jane Run 5k
I’m registered for this one on June 5th. It’s only 5 days after we get back from Africa, but I imagine I’ll make it work out somehow to complete #29 on the list.

So here’s an update with progress to date on the 30 by 30

In progress

  1. Start looking into my family tree
  2. Six weeks of not drinking any soda
  3. Go back to Bermuda
  4. Visit Africa (everything is booked – we leave on May 12)
  5. Finish a half-marathon
  6. Take a vacation by myself
  7. Take a bike ride
  8. Scan my old photos and share them
  9. Grow some sort of food to eat
  10. Take a photography class (scheduled for early May!)
  11. Buy a better camera
  12. One month of being fully hydrated (64 oz. water per day)
  13. Two months of writing down what I eat every day
  14. Plan a “30 Acts of Kindness” day for my 30th Birthday
  15. Finish the scarf I started
  16. Read two books about South Africa
  17. One month of exercising every single day
  18. Introduce 5 friends to Eatwell Farm (2 so far!)
  19. Two weeks of stopping my workday by 5 PM
  20. Two weeks of not reading any email before 10 AM
  21. Finish funding our 6-months of expenses emergency fund
  22. Visit the California Academy of Science
  23. One week of eating every dinner with something from our CSA box
  24. Help out with Casey’s Girl Scout Troop at least once
  25. Try 5 new Oakland restaurants – B Side BBQ, Pican, Vegan Soul Food, Chop Bar, and ________
  26. Donate meaningful amounts to at least two Oakland school board candidates
  27. Volunteer for at least two Oakland school board campaigns
  28. Volunteer for the Obama campaign
  29. Finish at least two 5K races (one down!)
  30. Try out more variety in the shoes I wear

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