Safe As Milk

Best Coast at The National, RVA.

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Monday night rock show. I love the latest Best Coast album and was excited to hear them play a lot of it. She can flat-out sing. No joke. Like how Neko Case can hit notes in person. It was great.

Michelle and I also enjoyed both opening bands which hasn’t happened in a while. The Lovely Very Bad Things were fast kind of 90’s style indie rock. The Guards are the new band from the lead singer of the Willowz, a band I got into for an album way back when. I thought they sounded good and put on a good show. It was cool to look at.

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Whole 30 is finished

Well, that wasn’t so bad. The last 15 days of my Whole 30 weren’t so different from the first 15 and they even got good toward the end. I started to feel good again energy-wise and had settled into a solid meal routine: juice and egg for breakfast proved to be more then enough to get me to my lunch of grilled chicken over greens without cheese or dressing. Dinner was more grilled protein with some veggies. Standard “healthy eating”.

My goals getting into this thing were to lose some weight, course correct my eating habits back to something healthy, and dial back my drinks. I met them all and I’m cool with the results. I think a 2-week “Whole 14” is something I’m going to use as a way of getting back on track when I stray from health in the future. A strict plan will be a useful tool after the excesses of a vacation or holiday meal season.

2013 Bike MS: Ride Virginia

This was my 5th year riding for Team Capital Ale House in the Bike MS: Ride Virginia. It’s a fund raising effort for the National MS Society that culminates with a two-day bike ride from Richmond to Williamsburg, Va., and back. 150 miles over two days is a tough ride but it’s for a good cause. If you’re so inclined, this is my donation page.

There were a couple of big changes this year that made for a different ride than in years past. First, I finished my Whole 30 on the Thursday before the ride so I didn’t have the week of carb-loading that I have used as an excuse for a 4-day pasta binge. I had serious concerns about being able to ride my bike for 4-5 hours in a row because I didn’t know how my deeper energy stores would be after a month of fat adapting. The silver lining of the Whole 30 was that I lost a bunch of weight, mostly fat, so I’d be a lighter rider than I’d ever been on this ride.

Second, I didn’t get nearly enough training miles this year. The weather and schedule this Spring has been tough on our normal riding schedule. 75 miles is tough on my body even with our normal foundation of miles so going into it at 60% of normal training made for extra tenderness in all of my “contact points” (hands, feet, backside). I had a world-class 10-minute massage after Day 1 and I think it may have saved my Day 2.

Day 1 was good enough. I was worried about my energy levels after the Whole 30 but I made it okay. I ate mostly fruit at the rest stops to avoid any trouble that might crop up from bread or whatever. It was hot out, too, which mostly meant drinking lots of Gatorade and water. Everything worked out okay.

I was tired and sore most of Day 2. I had a couple of runs where I was strong but it wasn’t like it used to be before Whole 30. It was a “raw” strength, not a “feeling good” strength (That doesn’t make sense and I’m still working on how to describe this feeling). It was weird. Our group got split a little as the day went on and I got really fatigued/cranky over the last 20 miles. I was over riding my bike and that put a damper on the weekend for me. Lunch at the finish was great and I passed on the pool to get in a lengthy nap when I got home.

I’m reassessing my cycling calendar for next year. I love riding my bike. This was my 5th MS150 and I might need a break. The whole process felt more like a grind than it ever has and that’s not what I want. I’m not making the call today because I’m still pretty beat. I’ve got 6 months to mull it over. I’m a helluva muller.

Comments are on.

When I rebooted things around here I set comments as closed by default. The previous iteration of this blog turned more into a spam-management exercise than any kind of writing outlet. I don’t want this to turn into that again but that’s where things are heading. I’ll leave comments open for another couple of weeks but if things keep getting worse I’ll shut them down again.

Gnarled Winslow

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via Spanky Stokes and in the spirit of Robert Cop, this is Gnarled Winslow, A Cop With Gorilla Arms.

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GORUCK SK26

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I mentioned that I’d gotten a GORUCK SK26. I’ve been using it daily for a month and I’m into it. I haven’t carried a backpack on the regular since high school (’89!) and it took a couple of days to find the sweet spot where the straps were snug enough to be comfortable without having to contort myself to get in or out of it.

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The bag is almost absurdly overbuilt. The fabric is thick 100D Cordura which feels like it should wear forever. The straps are crazy thick and almost too stiff at first. From what I’ve read, they will break in over time and end up with almost a custom fit for the wearer. We’ll see. The extra thinkness in the straps also helps make heavy loads more comfortable (I can vouch for this).

SK26open The open plan of the bag lets you have access to all 26L in whatever configuration you believe best. I have a couple of standard EDC-dork things hooked to the internal PALS webbing: a couple of velcro straps, some small lights, and some carabiners. I’m a paracord bracelet away from being a doomsday prepper. The “SK” in the name of the bag refers to the “slick” look of not having any of the PALS webbing on the outside of the bag. Since my daily use was going to be carrying to the office I didn’t think the full-on techincal look was a good fit. A backpack is hardly professional office wear but I’m not as far over the line of propriety as I would be with buckles and straps and bungee all over the outside of the bag.

It’s tricky to see in that photo, but there is an elastic pocket there below the PALS webbing. It’ll hold a standard file folder easily. The folded down portion of the bag there has a closed zippered pouch and separate zippered mesh compartment. I haven’t used those much yet but they will end up being useful at some point. Probably. There is also a zippered slash pocket on the front of the bag for quick access if you need something at hand right away.

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The SK26 wasn’t 100% office-ready for me. I need a way to carry my coffee mug, pens, notebook, and some more EDC junk (pocket knife, leatherman). I purchased a Tom Bihn Vertical Freudian Slip to fill these gaps. It fits almost as though it was designed for the SK26. This combination results in exactly what I want to carry to the office every day. The other side of the Slip has 4 pockets for carrying papers and folders. I fit a large Moleskine squared notebook in there with no trouble. Like every other piece of Tom Bihn I own, the quality of the manufacture is top-shelf.

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I was able to justify (to myself and the Household Appropriations Committee) the cost of the bag by it’s versatility as more than just a glorified briefcase. I had occasion to need to haul a dozen LPs I was selling this weekend. I removed the Freudian Slip and the SK2 swallowed them with plenty of room to spare. That photo above is 25 LPs in the bag. I could have probably snugged another 2-3 in there but 25 is a good max. capacity number for rating purposes. FYI, 25LPs make for a heavy load but those straps I was talking about made it almost comfortable to carry.

I didn’t even mention the laptop compartment that lives under the straps of the bag outside of the main compartment but that’s because I don’t carry a laptop every day. I have no idea how effective it is.

After a month of daily use I’m firmly in favor of the SK26 as an every day office carry bag. I have some travel coming up this summer so I will have more points of reference as to the bags versatility. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Spotify playlist, Q2 2013

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My Spotify playlist for the 2nd quarter of 2013 has been up and running and I’d say it’s got some damn fine songs in it. If you’re looking for something to listen to over this long Memorial Day Weekend I think you’ll find something you will like. If you go all the way and subscribe to that playlist you should get updates as I make them.

15 Days into a Whole 30

I spent close to 2 years on the 4 Hour Body plan wth good results. I lost a ton of fat and was able to keep it off by following the simple plan. My weight loss had plateaued but it was as at okay number and I felt good. During Thanksgiving week last year I was bored and hungry so I took a week off and promptly gained 10 pounds. I wasn’t worried because I’d been able to drop weight easily by getting back on the plan. Only it didn’t work this time. I never got “strict” about being back on the plan and I was stuck with that 10 pounds until this month. A friend of ours posted on Facebook that she’d just finished something called a #Whole30 and she was excited to get back to eating food again. I did some reading on it and figured I could probably use the reset and a tight ruleset to kick my self back into gear when it comes to paying attention to food.

So I am spending the month of May working on a new “diet challenge” (what a weird expression. is that the gamification of food?). The Whole 30 program is a “nutritional reset” that uses the paleo diet as a foundation. The gist is that you cut the most common problem-causing foods out of your diet and get to where you’re just eating eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, fish and nuts. That means no grains, no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol(!), no legumes, no white potatoes, and no MSG (or other sulfites). It’s strict.

Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making.

I don’t come to this from a place of where I’m looking for answers to why I feel bad. I don’t have gut trouble or joint pain that might be the result of some gluten or dairy incompatibility. I felt bad because I was eating like garbage, not exercising enough, and probably having too many drinks. In Whole 30 I found a framework I could sit in for a month and get back to right.

The initial adjustment wasn’t so bad. The carb and beer quitting pains were way worse when I started the 4HB so the feelings weren’t anything new or unexpected. A big positive for us was Michelle discovering the joy of a juicer so we’ve been having lots of our vegetables by the glass. The trickiest part has been getting enough calories in a day. I still feel kind of run down even after a meal.

I miss drinks, too. May was not a great choice for this plan. Craft beer week is this month, the (beer friendly) pool opens, and the warm weather means it’s time for dusk beers on the back porch. I’ve been sticking to the plan well enough and I’m halfway through.

Charlie Papazian “My Beer his coffee”

Charlie Papazian wrote this nice little reworking of a Jerry Seinfeld coffee-centric interview. It’s good insight, especially since I agree with him.

Paul Thomas Anderson movie posters

Hoo Boy. Mondo asked Aaron Horkey to curate a movie poster series based on the films of Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s an impressive list of artists and the work is top-notch. The Horkey is especially good. He modeled it on vintage stock certificates and it’s just outstanding.

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Mondo being Mondo, the onsale for these is going to be a pain in the ass and it will likely take a deep pocket and a substantial amount of luck to get them. I’m personally most interested in the “Boogie Nights” poster by Rockin’ Jelly Bean (NSFW there, btw). I’ve been a fan for years but have never had the stones to actually buy a print of his. The subject matter of his work isn’t something I could get clearance to hang at my house. My odds are slightly better since this is a poster for a movie that Michelle and I both enjoy. We’ll see, I guess.