Club Med, Ixtapa, Mexico

•April 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

After a rough beginning to 2008 (lots going on at the office, Michelle being pregnant, selling our house, buying another house, cycling accidents & surgery, etc), the Etter family needed a vacation. Actually, we planned this one quite a while ago, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re down here for the week at Club Med Ixtapa, enjoying an awesome week of R&R. The place itself is beautiful and, in fact, better than I imagined it would be… and the kids are having a blast. Better still is the fact that this family resort has a “mini club” for the kids where we can drop them off for a few hours of fun, while the adults hang out on their own… and the boys keep asking to go back!

We’re here with the Walls for the week, and were supposed to be joined by the Bittles but they ran afoul of some passport issues (read here for the story.) We miss you Meg, Joel, Kate & Clara!

Here are some photos from the first day… more posts to come, but expect them to be story-light and photography-heavy! The full gallery of shots is over at SmugMug.


The Fall

•April 20, 2008 • 1 Comment

March 15th was a beautiful Saturday morning. It was cool, but the sun had come up and had already started to warm the air. My Team in Training team met at 7:45 for a 40 mile training ride. We set off on our ride, heading up into the hills behind Stanford. A nice climb up Alpine, cutting over to Page Mill, to a grueling 2-3 mile climb to our highest point of the ride. We turned south, winding along the hills, until finally beginning our descent back toward Foothill. And that’s when it happened.

We were heading down Altamont Road in Los Altos. It’s a steep road, but I’ve been down it numerous times over the years. I wasn’t doing anything crazy, wasn’t going unusually fast, wasn’t even feeling overly nervous… but heading into a left hand turn, my back wheel hit some gravel. It started to fishtail, and I immediately knew I had to let off the brakes if I wanted to recover. I did, but then quickly realized that, in order to recover, I’d never make the turn. I had two choices: 1. try to recover, and risk likely hitting the guard rail, going over my bike, and down the hill on the other side, head first… or 2. bail out. I chose option 2.

I was probably going 25-30 miles at the time, and basically laid the bike down a bit ahead of me, landing on my left side, and sliding into the guard rail. All I remember from the impact was a loud bang – in hindsight, probably my front tube bursting (it always sounds like a gunshot – they’re at 120 psi.) When I sat up, I remember thinking a few things:

  • Everyone always says that most people fall off their bike for the first time doing something stupid, like forgetting to take their shoes out of their clips at a stop sign. Why couldn’t I have done that?
  • My shoulder is grinding in a very odd way. I remember them saying that a broken collarbone is one of the most common cycling injurieswhen I watched the Tour de France. I’m betting that’s what it is.
  • Holy crap, my bike is in pieces!
  • Looks like I won’t be riding away from this accident.
  • Michelle is going to kill me!

My bike and I had basically slid headlong into the guard rail, which resulted in me shearing off the front forks and front wheel from the rest of the bike. The handlebars were mangled, the wheel was bent & cracked, the brakes were tweaked… even the front chainring was bent! That’s some crazy damage. Pictures are below.

The next 7 hours were spent in the Stanford ER. I had a shattered clavicle (5 pieces!), fractured kneecap, torn tendons, lacerated chin (5 stitches!), and lots of road rash. I’ve seen them cut clothing off of folks on “ER” but never imagined needing to have it done to me! Ugh. They loaded me up with Dilaudid and sent me home with my stiches, a sling, and a visit to the Orthopedic Department on Monday.

Most collarbone breaks don’t need surgery. Of course, I managed to break mine in such a way that to let it heal normally would result in significant loss of motion, and potentially other damage to nerves & muscles in the area. So, surgery it was. I waited 5 days at home, hopped up on major narcotics, and headed in to surgery on Thursday morning. 3 hours later, I emerged, with a new steel plate, 5 screws, and an 8-inch long incision in my shoulder to show for it. And for the knee? “Just keep walking on it,” they said. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll heal itself.”

It’s been a month now, and I’m well on the road to recovery. Michelle has been an amazing wife and caregiver, as always. How she managed to care for 2 small kids, her more-or-less incapacitated husband (I couldn’t even lay down or get out of bed without help), her father-in-law (who very kindly came to help during my surgery), AND our newest baby who she’s still carrying, I will never know. Women are sometimes simply amazing, and all I can do is look on with awe and say “Thanks Michelle – I love you.” The prognosis is good – the plate is holding up, the screws are in the right place, and they expect I’ll have full range of motion back at some point. I still can’t lift my arm above my shoulder (the fracture is still there; the bone takes another 4-6 weeks to heal) but at least the pain is gone. But so much for my triathlon season this year.

When I look at my bike, I continue to be amazed that I’m in as good shape as I am. These pictures don’t really even do it justice:

In any case, now you know part of why I’ve been silent on this blog for the past month… it’s taken that long just to get back on my feet and back to work. Can’t say I’ll be posting every day, but for those of you still out there reading this, I’ll be back more often now… especially since I don’t have any races to train for. Wildflower, the event I was training toward, is next weekend… and I’ll definitely feel a bit of sadness about not being able to race with the team. But who knows, perhaps I’ll be back next year? (That is, if Michelle lets me get on a bike again…)

Thanks to all of you out there that offered help, food, rides to/from work while I couldn’t drive, or just words of encouragement. I really appreciate it. It’s good to be back in one piece!

Racing to find a cure… Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

•February 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

tnt_20_years.gifHello readers,

It’s that time of year again! The winter solstice has passed, the days are getting longer… and triathlon season is upon us!

Last year some of you readers may recall that I raced the Wildflower Half Ironman triathlon with Team in Training, on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, I’m doing it again – and I’m blogging to ask for your support! I’m committed this year to breaking my time last year – I will attempt to finish the race (touted as the “most difficult Half Ironman in the world”) in under 6 hours 30 minutes. This race is a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56 mile bike ride, topped off by a half-marathon (13.1 miles.)

Why am I doing this again? Leukemia or lymphoma strikes over 10,000 Americans each year – and kills over half of them. Here are some more sobering statistics: Every five minutes, someone new is diagnosed with blood cancer. Every 10 minutes, someone dies. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20. But research can change the outlook for patients. From 1960 to today, the five-year survival rates for acute lymphocytic leukemia (the most common form of childhood leukemia) have improved from an appalling 4% to 80%. Improvements continue to be made every year, with research funded in part by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Continuing this research takes money… and that’s where you come in! I’d like to ask for your support, and for a donation to the Society for my training and my race. One of the great statistics of TNT is that at least 75% of all donated dollars goes directly to support scientists, physicians, educators, and patients. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible and supports research, patient services and educational programs. Every little bit helps bring us one step closer to a cure!

Please join me in donating to this important cause. You can do it online, and all you need is a credit card. Here is the link to donate:

I appreciate anything you can do to contribute! I’ll certainly be blogging as my training progresses, and I’ll write up a recap of the race once I’ve crossed the finish line!


Favorite 2008 Superbowl Ads: Chester Pitts & E*Trade

•February 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I posted last week about my most memorable Superbowl ad… so I thought I’d followup here with my favs from 2008. I’m pretty sure I won’t remember these in 5 years, but I really enjoyed them yesterday.

I think this first one’s my “top pick” because it’s not really so much an ad as a great story… and perhaps speaks to my childhood dream of when my own sax playing (also a member of the woodwind family!) would lead to glory and stardom…

And of course you can’t help but love creepy talking babies when you’ve got a few running around your house too!

E*Trade 1999 Superbowl Ad: My Most Memorable

•February 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

There have been many classics over the years, but the only ad that I can still vividly recall years later was this one, from E*Trade in 1999. A classic example of the sentiment during the tech bubble!

I’m an eBay PowerSeller!!

•January 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Woohoo! I’m now officially an eBay PowerSeller! I’ve been stretching to get to this for the past few months, hoping I could hit the minimum sales levels to make it. I just got my invite today!

I’ve now got the PowerSeller badge next to my ID – here’s how I look when someone checks out one of my items:

I’m going to live it up for now – you have to maintain your minimum sales volume on a *monthly* basis to keep the PowerSeller status… I’m pretty sure that by March or April, this will be gone – I’m running out of inventory!

P.S. For you readers that only met me after college and wondering about my username, ‘etterpop’ was a nickname given to me back in my fraternity days.  It’s a tribute to a Pledge Mission that, among other things, led me and some fellow pledges to the loading docks of the Otterpop factory in Los Angeles… if you want to know more, that story is best told over a beer 😉

eBay Happy Hour at Hooters?

•January 9, 2008 • 2 Comments

hooters.jpgJust next to the eBay campus is a Spoon’s restaurant, a favorite spot for a quick beer or some appetizers after work before folks head home. Happy Hour is about to get a bit more interesting – apparently Hooters is moving in! I’ve got to admit, I can’t see eBay workers frequenting the place (rather awkward I’d say) but with the Pruneyard nearby, the whole area gets a lot of traffic so I’m suspecting it may do quite well. (Hat tip to Valleywag for the info, though evidently the SJ Mercury news also reported it a few weeks ago…)