Thursday, June 30, 2011

We Got the Beet!

Beets. They're the one thing from childhood that I still haven't developed a taste for. Tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant -- I've overcome my dislike for their odd textures a long time ago. But beets?! What are they supposed to be? Fruits? Vegatables? Canned purply roots?

C'mon you damn beets, make up your mind!

But then I saw this video. I think if mom prepared beets like this, I would love beets. Chocolate, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter -- is this food porn or what?!

And how can I possibly write about beets without recalling "The Beet Runner!"

beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Thumbs Up!

The new "Downtown Milwaukee Night Out" video is fabulous.

I feel as though I have lived in this city at just the right time. After being born and raised here until I was 8, my family moved north of Green Bay. After I graduated from the University of WisconsinStout, it was back to the Mil for me. In the early 90s, we thought Milwaukee was pretty cool. It actually surprised my then-girlfriend (now wife) and me. We had spent some time in other cities and looked back at Milwaukee like an archaic rust-belt has-been. However, once we relocated here, we became pleasantly surprised -- Milwaukee had a "feel" to it that we just didn't feel in other places. Call it an independent streak ("We're not Chicago dammit! We do things our way. Sometimes they don't make any sense, but dammit, they are OUR way!")

Fast forward 20 years and Milwaukee has really grown up. We no longer can keep up with all the things there are to do here. New bars and restaurants open monthly, the concert scene has become huge, performing arts and cultural events are plentiful, museums offer lively exhibitions and activities, and the festival scene explodes in the summer (not just the big ones either—there are plenty of small ones that deserve attention (last year's New Belgium Tour de Fat and this year's Beer Lovers Festival come immediately to mind!) ).

And people are cool here.

The new video below is great not only from a marketing perspective, but it feels like my Milwaukee. It shows the city that I've come to love over the past 20 years. I think it is exciting to look forward towards the next 20 years. I believe only good things are headed our way.

Milwaukee. Check it out.

Oh, and those Brewers aren't bad either!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My 25,000th Tweet

Like sands through the hourglass, so go the tweets of our lives.

How I got to 25,000 tweets I have no idea. You write a couple a day and over the course of a few years, they add up. I know during last year's NFC Championship Game, I probably dropped a couple of hundred right there!

I noticed yesterday that I was approaching 25k. I almost went over too, as I was on a roll with the #cheesysongs meme. [My favorite: 30 Seconds to Mars Cheese Castle!] When I saw the number 24,999, I put twitter away for the day so I could use it for something ... special. If I could make it only 12 more hours with no tweets, I could use my 25,000th to celebrate my 16th wedding anniversary to my wife Kay [@kbctourcompany].

I thought about it over the course of the day and especially during my 2-mile #dietbolical run this morning. I wound up keeping it nice and simple with this little rhyme:

Tweet 25,000 
Is a big one you see, 
It celebrates 16 years wed 
to @kbctourcompany!

That tweet was posted about 7 hours ago. It's like a house of cards -- one new tweet and it'll tumble. I'll lose the synchronicity between the tweet and the number of tweets. But before I tweet again, I did what any blogging nerd would do: I grabbed a screen print of it so I could save it forever!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Stirring Song: Gather by Jay Farrar

I'm a music lover -- always have been, always will be. But lately I'm finding too much new music boring or uninspiring. There's some good stuff out there, no doubt, but seldom does it seem lasting. It's good for a few weeks or months, but soon forgotten.

However, I recently heard a song -- now 9 years old -- that just floored me and made me recall why I love music so much. It's from the Jay Farrar produced "The Slaughter Rule" movie soundtrack. The song is Gather. I never saw the movie and can only barely remember ever having heard of it, but recently, Amazon offered a Bloodshot Records sampler ("Bloodshot Records Spring Cleaning Sampler") and Gather was the second track. I listened to the whole sampler one straight though before starting another listen. On the second listen, driving home from work, Gather played again. This time I was riveted. I played it over. More riveted. A third time. More riveted; more moved.

Simple. Soaring. Beautiful.

At home, I put the song away for a few hours until I could sit down with my wife and I told her "You must hear this song. I love it. Turn off Twitter, shutdown Facebook, and just sit here and listen with me for the next 4 minutes." She did. By minute 2, my eyes had watered up and I could barely talk. Verklempt, I said "I don't know what it is about this song that moves me so much. It just does!" And together we listened until the song was over. I think she liked it too, but wasn't used to the chordal progressions the way I was.

I discovered that the song has a video to go with it (I don't think it's official) and the video is nice, but I think the visual stimulation in this case hinders rather than helps the song. This is a song best appreciated with eyes closed and just taken wholly in by the ears. Also, tinny PC speakers don't do any song true justice. If you'd like, the whole sampler is still available as a free download from Amazon (click on the link above; it's got many good rockabilly songs on it too). Get it and play Gather through your highest fidelity set up. I'm sure you'll be moved too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Not for the Squeamish

Today's run was unusual and proved my growing dedication to #dietbolical. There's a part of this post that may not be for the squeamish, but I'll give you forewarning when that part is about to come up [maybe the whole post to some!]

I've had a few dermatological blemishes that I figured it was time to have checked out. You know, just to be sure. The main one was one that I never could see -- it was a mole right in the middle of my back. A General Practitioner about 3 years ago told me it would be good to have it checked out by a Dermatologist. Never one to be too prompt, I finally made an appointment for today.

So the guy does what Dermatologists do -- he gives me the once over ... twice! He was thorough, if you get my drift. And in being thorough, he examined the space between my tiny toe and the one next to it on my left foot. To my surprise, he suddenly looked at me and said, "How long has this been here?!" I said "I dunno. Maybe since birth, or maybe within the last year. I never noticed it before."

"You don't ever look in between your toes?" he queried.

"No. I don't."

But the mole that he spied between my toes concerned him. Apparently to dermatologists, some moles look benign and some look threatening. He said "Let's remove that and have it tested, just to be sure."

"Okay. When?" I asked.

He shot back, "Today, of course! You don't want to have to come back here do you?!"

So he left the room and returned in his surgical mask and overcoat with an assortment of stainless steel tools. While he was out, he gave me a document to read for care of the healing wounds. I noticed one line very clearly: "No strenuous activity for 24 hours."

WHAT?!!? I didn't get my daily run it yet! Is my runstreak doomed?

The doc asked if I had any questions. I asked "Can I run tonight?!" and he quickly replied "No."

He could see that I was dissappointed and asked what the matter was. I told him about #dietbolical and my streak and how I was worried it was doomed. He never gave me outright approval, but hinted that it might be okay and that I'd have to be very careful.

[Squeamish alert!]

The procedure involves shooting up the area with a local anesthetic, cutting out the blemish, and then cauterizing the wound to stop blood loss. His fear was that physical exertion will dislodged the cauterized clots and bleeding will begin -- a sizable amount of bleeding too. As I was staring up at the ceiling, he gently tapped on my now completely numb foot. He said "You feel that?" I said, "I don't feel the contact, but I know that you're tapping on my toe." He replied, "I'm simulating the effect of running to make sure the cauterization stays in place."

Procedure complete, I recovered from my wooziness and headed for home. After sitting on the couch for a few moments (woozy again) I headed out the door for a short run. I was only going to go for a mile, but I felt pretty good with my odd gait which greatly favored my right foot over my left, so I decided to go 3. That last thing that I wanted to see a mile and a half from home was a blood-drenched K-Swiss. And it could have happened, 'cause I still couldn't feel a thing on that foot! But I successfully made it back home where I proceeded to keep active by instantly switching into lawn-mowing mode.

So as I finally comfortable settle in for the evening, I am happy to say that #dietbolical is still alive at day #29 and counting! Heck, if you consider that my body is less 2 pigmented nevuses, I'm even lighter too!

#dietbolical 29:191

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Think I Should Write an E-book

Seeing how everybody strikes it rich with self-help books and fitness advice these days, I think I need to write an e-book. Topic? #dietbolical It's really working and working well. I am down 7 pounds since starting it 26 days ago. I shouldn't get too cocky -- I haven't reached my goal yet. But when I do, I'll have Chapter One of the book written! Chapter One is going to read something like this: write down your goal, exercise, and eat less, but I'll spice it up with fancy phrases like "establish your nutritional paradigm" and "define your fitness selling proposition" and similar buzzword jargon.

The bigger challenge is figuring out what the other 8 chapters will be about. But I've thought long and hard about it and I've finally figured it out...

The other 8 chapters will be about beer.

#dietbolical 26:191

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Collection X

Yesterday we went to the Members' Preview at the new Harley-Davidson exhibit named "Collection X." Collection X is a number of previously undisplayed pieces from the Harley-Davidson archives. Some of these items were very interesting. The exhibit is small -- it takes about an hour to view -- but it's worth it. My favorite was a "snowmobile" kit that could be made from a Harley engine. The "Pop's Trolley" shown here is one of the surviving examples. I love this thing -- it's like something my childhood imagination would have thought up! A rocket-shaped sled powered by a propeller?! Yes! Imagine how fun this thing would have been to ride around in on a frozen Wisconsin lake.

A great segment of the exhibit displays ways that Harleys have been used in non-traditional ways. In the first half of the 20th century, necessity was the mother of invention and there were many ways the power of the motorcycle engine could be adapted to suit a particular need. Another favorite was this straight-out-of-a-horror movie ice cutter! I can't even imagine how unsafe this beast would have been to operate! A series of chain reductions coming out of the crankcase powered this giant oscillating blade. Oh Mark Borchardt, the things you could do in movies with this maniacal device!

Another part of the exhibit displayed some of the Harleyware items which have been made for the Harley enthusiast (For the record, I like their motorcycles, but have zero interest in anything else Harley related. Maybe a particular t-shirt or a decal, but that's about it). When you see the exhibit, you may wish to hold in your laughter when viewing -- what you find hilarious and gaudy, the 6'8" bearded guy next to you might find delicate and gorgeous. Exhibit "A" would have to be the complete Harley wedding ensemble including a white leather tuxedo and a gorgeous his and hers, pewter eagle-embraced wine goblet set (pictured). I found the wine goblet set too much to hold back and I let out an "OMG! Look!" gasp. "That's so hideous!" I didn't get a punch, but I can't say you won't be so lucky!

The last great benefit is that they have a beer brewed by Lakefront Brewery specially for this exhibit. The beer's name is Collection X. It's a slightly sweet, malty brew where one glass is enough before you look for something lighter to wash it down. It's good; I'll get it again.

Collection X runs through August 21 at Milwaukee's Harley Davidson Museum [site].