Wednesday, June 29, 2016

daddy got some new clothes

Recently I have acquired a couple new articles of clothing. If you are curious about how two expensive pairs of shorts and one free pair of socks are working out for me, read on. If not, check out lemon party dot com. (Mom, if you're reading, do NOT check out lemon party dot com).

Chrome Folsom Shorts

My search for the ultimate short that will not reveal ass sweat (while commuting/running errands on a bike) and that is not a gym short, led me to the Chrome Folsom Short. The bad news is that they wound up failing that test. The good news is that they are probably the nicest shorts I've ever owned. Normally $120, I got them for $60 on clearance. Their "olive" color, is actually more of a greyish olive, and I prefer it to the more "olivey" color online.

They are stretchy, feel bombproof, feature solid seam placement for on-the-bike durability, and feel great. Apparently they are liquid resistant too. Though not liquid resistant from the inside, especially when seated on a bicycle mashing up hills like a mofo. I tested them out on a sunny, warm ride to the grocery store, and when I got home, I did notice visible light ass sweat. This was likely present when I was shopping too, lol/crap. It did dry super fast though.

My only gripes are that the front pockets are a little shallow, and that the other colors are still $120 each. I will be looking at their cargo shorts in the nearish future.

Side note here, Chrome makes really nice stuff. I have their Warm Shirt Jacket, and it is warm as hell. The Chrome wallet I have, forget the name, is really sturdy and nice, but the edge sewing got frayed really fast.

Chrome Merino Crew Socks

A couple years ago, I discovered wool socks, and really, just nice socks in general. While Smartwool Run-light PHD socks are as good as it gets for me, at least in terms of comfort and performance, these Chrome socks are fantastic for cycling. I like that Smartwool sock because of the really cush padding, where Chrome's doesn't have that, but they are foot specific, which is cool.

For cycling and casual usage though, it will be tough to beat this sock. They feel fantastic on my feet. And their socks are priced to move; I think they're running a deal where you can get three pairs for the price of two.

Pearl Izumi Journey Shorts

In my search for the ass-sweat-no-show-short-that-isn't-a-gym-short short, I found this particular piece. After the Chrome Folsom short, I decided I would have to go with something in black, due to it's natural ability to (kinda) hide when I'm pitting out (in the pit or otherwise). What we have here is a casual looking short, that comes with a bonus liner! So for $60 I got a light, stretchy pair of shorts AND a really nice liner/chamois!

The shorts themselves are really nice. Only two pockets up front though, but fit great. The liner is dope too - really big and really padded. My first ride in them was awesome. Also, the liner is removable, but I don't totally trust the mechanism that attaches liner to short, as putting on the tight liner when attached made me feel as if I might accidentally tear it out of the shorts. No biggie, I'll wear the liner with other shorts too.

Bonus Pearl Izumi coverage: I have a long sleeve jersey and cycling socks, both really nice. A lot of their stuff screams OBVIOUS ROADIE, while I prefer a more casual look.

Update: I typed this draft about a month and a half ago and then forgot about it. The good news is that I can confirm that all the stuff here has been used furiously and is holding up really well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

parade of homes

The annual Parade of Homes is happening here in the Chippewa Valley and it is a bunch of homes opening up for visitation by the (paying) general public for a week. Obviously this is something a reasonable person wouldn't give a shit about, but this year it hits close to home. Like, across the street close to home.

For as long as we've lived here, there'd been a tiny empty lot across the street from us, between two normal sized lots. It was so tiny that we didn't even know it was a separate lot. Anyway, the lot got sold sometime in 2015, and in March of this year, ground was broken on a new house. But because it's such a small lot, they had to build up. So now the neighbor to the North has a nice view of nothing but house out her south-facing windows. I'm sure she's stoked (she's not). The neighbor to the South is unaffected. Unrelated: that guy has too many goddamn boats.

The big deal is that OMG a new house is being built in our historic neighborhood, the Third Ward. Apparently that never happens, as all the houses here are already built; we're not a burb or subdivision. The Parade of Homes included this new house, because apparently the contractor tried to mind the Third Ward aesthetic and styles when building. There was even a newspaper story about it, and cars had been driving past to look, lol. Spoiler alert: they did a pretty OK job.

Having no idea about this Parade - what it is really - other than on Saturday (and Sunday, and all week), a bunch of people were parking like assholes in front of our house and waddling over to the new house, we decided to walk on over. Turns out it is a paid event, where you get to go look at new houses and fancy renovations. We told the door dude that we live across the street, so he told us to put on the shoe cover booty things and go in for free. We did.

The house itself was underwhelming. It looked like a cleaner, more modern, un-lived in version of ours. Except smaller, and unfinished. Decent house though. When we left, we walked by a siding sales guy with a table full of literature, talked to him for a minute. Nice enough dude.

Obviously the first question any sane person would ask would be, "why the fuck would anybody pay to do this?!"

Heckyeahwoman tried to brush it off, "some people think it's cool to see what other people do with their houses". Her pretty smile almost made me not hate it anymore.

Not so fast.

Who the hell wants to see what an unnecessary family of four, headed up by an overweight dad with a crooked goatee that drives a huge, underused pickup truck, does with their interior or landscaping? I'm not saying that's the family that will be moving into the house, just an approximation. But am I nuts for not giving a shit about that?

You trying to tell me that tasteless shitheads of the Chippewa Valley are some sort of taste makers here for us? That I should give a crap what other people do to their houses, inside and out? And then pay to see it? Nah, Google free, bruh. Besides, I can shop at Kohl's. I usually don't, but I also don't need to view the houses of those that do.

This went on from like 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday, and then 5 to 9pm Monday through Friday. I bet the average Parader spent at least a couple hours on two (2) different days, driving around the Parade and looking at houses. What a waste of time.

"Oh but I really like interior desi"-SHUT THE FUCK UP NO YOU DON'T

You are actually probably unaware of how much you hate your life, and you are expressing that by willfully attending the Parade of Homes, like it's some sort of educational or inspirational activity. There is a dislike of some feature or features of your current domicile, and you have no idea that it's fueling the underlying self hate. Maybe you want a bigger TV. You probably do. Maybe you want to re-landscape the back yard. Your ultimate hope is that the Parade will push you from sedentary to artist. It won't.

That ship has sailed and you're played out.

Bottom line: the Parade of homes is for people that buy pets from breeders, that are psyched about eating at Texas Roadhouse on weekend nights, that still have fake fingernails in 2016, that have intricate and shiny designs on the back pockets of their jeans.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

netflix and chill

We recently overhauled our Netflix DVD queue because it was getting pretty barren. Yes, we still receive DVDs in the mail. It's nice - there's no dicking around about what movie to watch; it arrives, and we watch the two DVDs per month. But don't worry, we now subscribe to stream Netflix too (about a year now, and Amazon Prime).

Last Friday's Netflix arrival was Trainwreck, the hilarious comedy from the guy who brought you the other hilarious comedy, Bridesmaids. No idea how it got on our queue because I thought it looked stupid, whatever, so we watched it.

Going in, I wasn't familiar with Amy Schumer outside of knowing she's another blonde vapid celebrity comedienne. Cool. Also, she gets attention for being what Hollywood calls "plus size" or something; that's insane. She's not as skinny as a typical starlet, which is refreshing, but certainly nowhere near plus size or fat. I'd guess she's somewhere between kinda skinny and normal.

It started off pretty funny with Amy's dad (Colin Quinn) comparing extramarital affairs to dolls, light lollage there. But then Amy took center stage, and the first thing I noticed was that her delivery came across like a standup routine, like she wasn't talking with the other characters, instead delivering a comedic routine to them.

I don't think she produced a LOL until two thirds of the way through. She wrote the movie, so I don't know, maybe she generously distributed all the funny stuff to EVERYBODY ELSE.

In fact, John Cena, the WWE wrestler was in the movie, and he was hilarious. Dude had both Heckyeahwoman and I ROFLING during the movie theater scene. Lebron James had a supporting role, and despite not being a very good actor, he was great! He seems like a turd off the court, but his role was a perfect complement to everybody else, and his lines were funny enough. Nice job, Bron Bron.

Overall, it was pretty dumb, which makes me wonder, who the hell would purchase this movie to presumably watch more than one time? What kind of person would that be?

BONUS! Here's a quick recap of our Netflix activities over the past couple months.

Love, season 1 - short eight show season about two hipsters/degenerates that fall kind of in love. The main female character starts out likable, but by the end is kinda nuts. Some funny parts, would watch season two (not till 2017 or something!)

Flaked, season 1 - Will Arnette is a recovering alcoholic and sprinkles goofy and sometimes geniunely funny comedy in with more serious stuff, like the alcoholism. It was good, but they didn't always nail the comedy/serious dichotomy.

Bloodline, half of season 1 - Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights returns! Only this time as a dude that curses sometimes! And not as Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. We are only a couple episodes in, but it's pretty good, though some of the plot lines seem far fetched.

and chill

Also, not interested in Game of Thrones.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

please don't vote

We've been kinda quiet on politics over this horrible election season. Considering the media sponsored candidates, there's not a lot to say other than, "this sucks".

Ever since I've been able to vote, I've voted for the anti-war, pro-equality, anti-racisim, pro-freedom, pro-peace, anti-violence candidate. Well, every year except for 2004 when I voted for John Kerry lol embarrassing. I faltered. And in all these years, I've seen society move in the exact opposite direction of what I'm voting for. That sucks.

On politics and punk rock: 

When George W. Bush was President, it was impossible to not notice the punk rock community rallying against his completely failed presidency. Eight years of that guy would make any reasonable person pretty pissed off. But what I did not expect was what would come as a result: the widespread, unquestioned embracing of the Democratic party by the punk community. MoveOn, John Kerry, Barack Obama, all received blind endorsement by the loudest voices in punk rock.

What started as rage directed at shitty presidencies, became mindless endorsement of the closest, most visible opposition they could find. But for a community that is supposedly about DIY, the underdog, thinking critically and independently, working hard, and all that other bullshit, they sure do tend to support huge corporations and the government telling them how to live their lives. Is that punk?

Bush got a lot of heat for two main reasons: the war in Iraq and being a corporate lapdog. But the minute a Democrat took office and did the exact same things, it's all of a sudden cool. The current president has killed more non-whites than Bush did, and then he gave his buddies at insurance companies the best gift ever: a law that forces Americans to buy their product. I can't make this up. 

Punk rockers, lol.

On Trump: 

A lot of people seem to not like Trump so much. Understandably so: he's a loudmouth, he's arrogant, his hair, he doesn't apologize for being white, straight, or male, he might be borderline racist, all among other things. Seems he just can't win with any of the most vile groups of politicians either: establishment Republican politicians and Democrats or "progressives".

But he does appear to resonate with some folks who are sick of 16 years of shitty presidentry, along with what might be described as "tea-partiers". When I say "tea partier", note that I mean Republicans basically, the group the media assigned as (the new) tea partiers. Because that's really what tea-partiers are now, just shitty Republicans. Not that most Republican aren't shitty; they are.

Anyway, the media is painting a picture of Trump as the worst thing ever. Full disclosure here: I don't plan on voting for him (assuming he wins the nomination), and am not a Trump supporter beyond having to choose between him, Cruz, Sanders, or Clinton. Well, and the important fact that "progressives" seem to be getting triggered furiously at the mere thought of him. I do fully support his candidacy being a microaggression for chumps.

Think about this comparison: African American males commit crime at an insane rate. I don't think anybody would dispute that. The reasons for it happening, yeah, that is debated and slightly more complex. But you have folks defending it by blaming everybody but the actual perpetrators; they're blaming poverty, white people, low income, white people, racism, white people, everything. That all can be grouped together and called "the environment" and of course "white people". When Tyrone and Jerome and friends burn a white girl alive, we blame the environment, while excusing and defending these young pleasant lads.

BUT, when Trump says something stupid, he and only he is the worst thing in the world. I am not sure how things can work two ways. The off-kilter blame game kinda undermines the whole thing. Freewill is both a thing and not a thing, apparently, depending on convenience and political leaning.

This is skepticism, basic scientific reasoning and logic all being cast aside for an agenda. That to me is more terrifying than a Trump-Cruz-Clinton-Sanders super mega presidential ticket.

Political fun facts: 

There are (a few) candidates, a whole party even(!), running for President that are against violence, war, inequality, government greed, and corporate greed. Bet you didn't know that. There are also those same candidates running locally!

If George Bush did what Hillary Clinton did, you can be sure the media would be hanging that Presidential failure even more than they did. Liberals and progressives would think it's the worst thing ever.

Come to think of it, when George Bush did the same things that Barack Obama does, it was the worst thing ever.

The only things Donald Trump really has going for him are a ruthless marketing team and a seemingly peaceful foreign policy. He is pandering to the same IQ level that Clinton and Sanders pander to, and both groups both seem to be equally open minded: not very.

If Michael Moore was not alive any longer, the world would either not notice, or slightly improve.

I am not a Republcan because they hate me for not being rich.

I am not a Democrat because they hate me for being white, straight, male, and not rich.

Monday, April 4, 2016

adventure race report

A couple months ago I was invited/hand selected/included on an email chain gauging interest to be on a team for the Stubborn Fool adventure race.

Real quick, an adventure race is a four to eight hour race (sometimes 12 or 24 or more!) featuring some combination of biking, hiking/trekking, paddling, trail running, rock climbing, and puzzles - all while orienteering and trying to find checkpoints. You get a time limit, hit as many checkpoints as you can, report back to the headquarters by the cut off, and hope for the best.

Our race was cycling, paddling, and trekking for six hours. Sadly, due to the weather, the paddling leg got cancelled. So did the surprise repelling section, bummer!

Where: Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI.

Weather: Shitty. Mid 30s, up to 50mph wind gusts, lots of snow blowing sideways, and generally very strong winds constantly.

The race: We started out with a two mile trail run, hitting all four checkpoints. We must have jogged for a quarter mile, then resorted to walking. I was happy with that. Nothing too eventful on this opening leg, just wind gusts. Got back to the shelter to get our cycling directions.

Onto the bikes! This included some of the steepest hills I've ever done. As the weather jumped from really shitty to sunny, back and forth throughout the entire day, it made for a tough 19 miles. Wearing my running shoes on this part was horrible. The water on the roads splashed right back onto the toebox of my shoes, soaking my feet completely. With the brutal downhills and winds, both my hands and all of my toes were numb, sometimes when we'd pedal, I would be able to feel them again. Sometimes not though. A lot of times not though.

We hit three of the five checkpoints and decided to head back to the shelter to get our trekking directions. I think we were all over the cycling portion anyway.

Got back to the shelter, put on a dry pair of socks and my shitty gore-tex hiking boots. Wise choice, as it was pretty snowy out there. This part would have us climbing a very steep bluff made entirely out of large snow-covered rocks, in addition to wandering through a forest, and descending very steep dirt hills. And then climbing them too. We got two of the 11 checkpoints, but it seems like not many of the other teams fared much better.

For being pretty a brutal day, it was really fun. The crew put on a really well organized event. Having an awesome team helped too. Jereme and Sarah are adventure racing pros and knew exactly what to do. Danny, like me, was new to the sport, but ready to hit it, and hit it we did. Nobody got pissed, nobody argued, All the other racers and teams were really nice, always sharing words of encouragement as we would pass.  Also, furiously cat-6ing other racers on the bike does wonders for the inner-PUMP fun meter.

Well what did I wear!? I nailed the gear. Aside from the running shoes getting soaked, I felt really good. Tall gaiters kept my legs dry, packing extra socks was a cr00sh choice, four pairs of gloves kept my hands mostly pretty good, a nice light vest kept me warm when I needed to be, a Camelback daypack hauled my crap nicely, and the sweet rain jacket I purchased a day earlier was perfect.

One sour note though: I was advised that these events generally have pretty good post-race food. So after six brutal hours, I was ready to crush some noms, ya feel me. We get back, and guess what it was. Fucking Pizza Hut. I like pizza as much as anybody, even Pizza Hut, but dog I'm on vacation and I ain't trying to eat chain pizza.

Last thing: shout out to both Gem City Saloon and Eatery and the Thunderbird Motel in Baraboo. Good food, and clean enough rooms.

Fun trivia: we got to Baraboo Friday night, had dinner - pizza. I ate my leftover pizza on Saturday morning for a pre-race breakfast. We had pizza after the race. I got home to Eau Claire and Heckyeahwoman and I ordered pizza. Then I ate the last slice of homemade pizza on Sunday evening.

Monday, March 14, 2016

aspiring concubines

Last fall I purchased a lightly used Trek baby trailer for my bike to use for grocery shopping. And also taking Orange Guy on bike rides around the neighborhood.

Anyway, last Saturday, I took the bike path on my way to Woodman's, only the thing about last Saturday is that it was the second really nice day so far this spring. That means that everybody was out on the paved path - runners, bikers, homeless people. Whenever I blow by anybody with the trailer in tow, I notice eyes always peeking in, trying to get a glance of what they expect to see: a baby or two. People notice it. Equally as noticeable is my mint green bike, a rigid, singlespeed, Surly Karate Monkey. Obviously a handsome dude on this rig is gonna grab attention.

And this is where it gets crazy.

By the time I got to Woodman's, I bet I had a contingent of 25 to 30 mostly helmet-less babes and wives on both hybrids and department store mountain bikes all following me. A couple joggers too towards the end of the pack. Jesus Christ, the way home, loaded up with groceries was just at packed, if not worse, as it had gotten even nicer out!

Happily married couples, really just looking to get outside for a leisurely bike ride or jog, either just the two of them or with their kids, were split up, with the aspiring concubines looking to take up with me instead! I tried to drop the first couple, but I couldn't shake them, so I just embraced it.

I even saw a husband-wife jogging combo, pushing one of those jogging strollers, and watched as the wife spotted me, smiled, shoved the stroller off into her husband, and bolted the opposite direction to follow me. One mother up ahead even flagged me down as if she were in some sort of distress, just to ask if she could put her baby in my trailer while she jogged behind. Heh, more like my baby into your trailer heh. At any rate, I told her to leave it with her husband; she did.

Even hipsters were joining in on the fun. Obviously they were attracted to the situational irony of a good looking dude on a sick singlespeed, hauling a baby trailer that only fits two babies, WHEN HE LIKELY HAS FATHERED TONS OF KIDS ALL AROUND THE WORLD PROBABLY.

If you're reading this, and you're one of the dudes whose wife left you hangin' on Saturday, sorry about that.

Last thing: when I relayed this story to my wife, she was obviously in disbelief as she told me, "oh my god you're an idiot". 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Fat Bike Birkie 2016

In the event of you being interested in a write-up of my Fat Bike Birkie experience, you are in luck.

Last year: The 2015 FBB was my first one, and despite overheating/over-exerting and puking, I had a great time. The hills were brutal, so I was determined to train for the next year to make the actual race more enjoyable.

The race itself is a great production, and I don't generally care for racing, but if you're gonna do one expensive race a year, this is a great one to do.

Training: In the weeks leading up to the race, I trained exclusively on my singlespeed mountain bike (thanks nice weather!). I'd head out for 12-15 miles at a time, hitting a lot of hills, usually four to five times per week. It sucked. For you locals, one night I did the Carson Park hill repeatedly for nine miles, up and down and up and down. Also, I threw in one night of resistance training/yoga each week.

The race: I signed up for the 20k, intent on improving my performance. Last year I was 111 out of 179 racers, 13 out of 20 in my age group, with a race time of 1:28:17 for about 12.5 miles. Not horrible for a turd like me.

This year I wound up 108 out of 269 racers total, 22 out of 39 in my age group, with a race time of 1:15:55. I was happy to have cut my race time down by just over twelve minutes! And actually the race this year was a bit longer at between 13.5 and 14.5 miles!

I warmed up longer, and took it easy on the 1.5 mile roll out, planning to CRUSH racers once we hit the snow. And CRUSH I did. I cat-sixed people like crazy, especially on the hills - likely a bunch of roadies trying to mash in the snow, while I kept my butt planted in my seat, and hammered on up. Only times I had to walk were when somebody just ahead of me washed out and I couldn't swerve around them, a huge improvement over last year.

A couple kilometers into the trail, I settled into leading a group of about five of us that would remain behind me until the aid station. Speaking of the aid station, it came up fast, which was nice because it was just past the halfway point. I stopped for a gel thing and some water and many of those that I passed blew right on by me like I was standing still (I actually was standing still). I hate getting passed, but the race entry fee was expensive so I made sure to choke down some gel packs!

Anyway, after probably a minute at the station, I was off! My training paid off, as I caught just about every single one that passed me! One dude was even trying to draft me. But a hard brake had him eating trail. I even caught some dude that I couldn't shake from before the aid station. I think having it come up so quick got me all kinds of PUMPED.

And now to the last stretch, 1.5 miles of pavement to the finish. Remember those roadies I crushed in the snow? Well a few of them reappeared and then proceeded to fly by me like I just did to them over the last 15kms. Two ladies in purple (and pink I think) overtook me close to the finish and I tried to catch them, but couldn't. If there had been another km, I bet I could of, but I'm kind of glad there wasn't. One dude in blue, he was on my tail for the last km or so of trail, and once we hit the pavement, dude shot forward to the finish line so furiously I kind of thought he was going to just explode.

Overall, I feel really good about my performance, despite the bummer in how I finished in my age group.

The after party and raffle: The Seeley Sawmill again hosted the after party, great venue. Last year, everything was up for raffle. Buy a bunch of tickets and throw them into the buckets for whichever items you like. Then an hour or two later, they had "random" draws for a winner of each. Note that the local mountain biking org (CAMBA) puts the raffle on, and did a great job of acquiring awesome prizes. The problem here is that many attendees noted that a strange majority of the winners were CAMBA members and volunteers. Also observed was a lack of mixing up the tickets, with the person doing the drawing just grabbing one from the top, rather than stirring them all up, weird. We (Heckyeahwoman and I) actually won one of the top prizes, so note that we are not bitter losers here.

This year, the format changed: all of the big items were in a silent auction. Most of the smaller stuff was in a traditional raffle format, with tickets being drawn throughout the evening, and likely the auction winners getting announced at the end. I don't know for sure because we took off after a beer. It likely resulted in people with a bunch of disposable income purchasing the prizes and then later flipping them online for a nice profit. In fact, the singlespeed 907 fat bike (on silent auction) was up for sale already as of Monday morning. I left happy knowing that I did not contribute a cent.

Funny note: we bumped into some friends, and the husband and wife both won the same shirt via the raffle, though hers was likely used, and had bonus light stains on it. And was too big.

Next year: I will be back, looking to shave ten minutes off my race time.

Shout out: The Flat Creek Inn was great! The room was huge and clean. Also the Angry Minnow brewpub was fantastic.