Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jake's 2010 Year in Review Post!!!

In what has become a tradition of mine, I sit at the computer and type out a review of my past year. I'm gonna take the easy way out this year and share some of my favorite entry's from this blog I wrote over the past year. They're ranked in no particular order. Click the italicised titles to visit the actual post.

1) Welcome to Hell--I've done the HHH the past 4 years, and every year people ask me "what's it like?" This post was a way of answering that question, although you can't know what it truly is like unless you are there pedaling over that scalding tarmac.

2) The Great Taylor Family Excursion to WI Dells!!! --We decided we needed to take a trip as a family, just the 3 of us. Between Elli and I we threw up 4 times and I hurt my back. Dav didn't seem to notice.

3) Just be the better person--Age old debate between cyclists and motorists. I was pleased with the response from people saying that they would take my advice on this one. That's all I wanted from this post.

4) Bragging Rights--Easily one of my favorite stories to tell, and arguably one of Elli's biggest accomplishments.

5) The 5 stages of pancake eating (according to Daven) --Daven has lots of funny mannerisms. He doesn't get as worked up over pancakes these days, but when he did it was a sight to behold.

6) Snap, Crackle, Pop! --This year I made my highly anticipated return to deer hunting. And like most of my hunting excursions, I returned empty handed. But I think I managed to make the situation funny.

7) The Doctor will not be seeing you today--Although I wish it all turned out a different way, this to me is my best writing to date. This experience helped put what I had into focus, and also close friends shared kind words that otherwise I may not have ever gotten to hear. I sometimes find myself rereading this post and thinking of those words, and rather than getting all upset over it I'm smiling instead.

2010 was a eventful year. And it was a good year. It's nice to be able to constantly say that "this year was a good year." I've gotten to say that about the past handful of them. We watched Daven turn from a toddler into little boy (although if you call him such, he will profoundly exclaim that he isn't a little boy, he's "Daven!"), we learned that Elli was pregnant again, some friends got married, some others had kids, both Elli and my Mom celebrated academic achievements, I became an Uncle for the first time, and finally, after 3 failures, accomplished my goal of finishing the HHH bike ride. Not too shabby of a year indeed.

From my family to yours, Happy New Year! I hope you can look back with good vibes from the last year, and I look forward to seeing what 2011 has in stock for me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What do you think Reindeer tastes like?

Currently Dav's favorite bed time read:

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

-Clement Moore

Christmas activities are off and running for us over here. I can't believe we are already at this point! Anyhow, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas!! If you are out and about, drive carefully.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shoveling blows...

The following are actual ideas I have had to clear my driveway other than using the shovel. This is what Elli has to deal with on a daily basis.

1) Pouring gasoline all over the snowpack and setting the snow ablaze--Illegal, and was also pointed out to me that it would probably not do anything other than melting the top layer and then allowing the layer underneath to freeze solid do to the water produced.

2) Laying out tarps, and then hauling the snow to the side of the driveway and dumping it-- This idea was just idiotic, but that's how much I hate shoveling. I'll try anything to get out of it.

3) Use the 4 wheel drive in the truck and pack the snow down--Good idea at first, but what happens after we exceed two feet of snow. Plus I drive a Ford, it would be embarassing to get stuck in your own driveway.

4) Commandeer a fire hose from Maplewood Fire Station and blast the snow away-- Again, highly illegal and also would cause a skating rink like surface on the drive as well as the road in front of our house. Many lawsuits would ensue.

5) Buy industrial strength ice eater in industrial size portions and melt snow away-- Too expensive, and would probably result in longer time spend outside than just shoveling.

6) Use the hose and spray the snow with water. Once frozen, break up and throw large chunks of ice away to the side-- Really?

I hate shoveling. And by actually writing out this list (which again I emphasize is not made up, I've really thought about doing this stuff) it would appear I need counseling.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Seriously?!! How the F%ck are these two getting away with this?!!!!

I'm used to the world being unfair. We all should be. I'm also used to hearing stories in the news that really urk me. Most of the time I let them pass rather quickly and then don't give them a second thought. Because they don't affect me, because when it boils right down to it I don't care, whatever the reason I let it go.

And then I was introduced to Mark Hurlbert. And have since labeled him the biggest douchebag I have ever heard of. And I've met some awful people in my lifetime.

For those who do not know, this Hurlbert jerkoff is the DA out in the Eagle County Colorado area. He has a reputation of being crooked, yet somehow keeps his job. You'll see why I now hate this guy with a passion in a minute.

Back in July, a mercedes driven by Marty Erzinger struck a cyclist by the name of Dr. Stephen Milo. While the impact didn't kill him, it left him with serious injuries, ones that affect him to this day yet and will for possibly years to come. That would be a bad enough story as it is. However, rather than stopping, Erzinger continues driving off, claiming he didn't realize he hit anyone because he was suffering from some bogus medical condition (which has all been proven BS but again doesn't seem to matter). He drives 3 miles, and then calls a road side assistance service to see about getting his car towed because of the front end damage and he is concerned about driving it further. Eventually the story of how that damage occured comes out, and Erzinger is arrested.

And then this DA asshole shows his true colors. The following is a direct quote from dickless wonder when asked to explain why he wasn't charging Erzinger with felonies:

"Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession"

Are you serious? This guy almost kills a person because he's a moron, but no felony charge. How is this possible? Furthermore, how does a court agree and move on with misdemeanor charges? This guy almost killed someone.

Still not convinced this Hurlbert is not slime? Consider this: Back in August after the Leadville Mountain bike race a story came out about how one of the female bikers said they were someone else (a friend of hers) so that she could get admission to the race when the actual person was unable to participate. The fake one ends up winning. Is this bad? Yes, but in the long run simply stripping them of the title and awarding to the 2nd place person would've been a justified punishment. Even a ban of some sort I could see. But Hurlbert think differently. He won't charge Erzinger with a felony for damn near killing someone, however he went after both of these ladies and got felony convictions against both of them. One was a teacher who lost her job because of the felony record she now has.

Both of these stories can easily be found online. Google "Leadville Mountain Bike felony convictions" and/or "Marty Erzinger hits cyclist".

I just don't understand how this can be acceptable, or this DA is still around. I guess the law doesn't protect us cyclist and really does favor the rich.

We are truly on our own out there, which is completely unfair.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And now, your moment of zen...

A few quotes that Dav has said this past year:

"Go pick some food!"--He very sternly said this to Elli (while pointing towards the garden) when he wanted her to move so he could sit on the couch.

"I really like garbage trucks. Garbage trucks drink garbage cans."--I think he said this when we saw a garbage truck while out driving on the highway.

"I love buses, I love garbage trucks, I love tractors." To which I asked, "Well do you love Mommy and Daddy?" His response? "No."

"Garbage truck goes in the god-damn truck."--I was getting frusturated with him while trying to load up the truck to take him somewhere. He insisted on bringing one too many of his trucks and finally I got so frusturated I said the above. He then repeated it when we were leaving. I wasn't all that upset after that.

"We bought Daddy a bike watch."--I came home from work a few weeks ago and saw Erik's bike shop stickers on Dav's shirt. I pointed them out to Elli who had forgotten to take them off. I then jokingly asked him what he and Mama got me for Xmas. When he replied, both Elli and I were speechless. Elli didn't talk to him about the gift and he only briefly saw it in the store. Goes to show you they know more about what's going on around them then they let on.

"Hey Elli Johnson!! Hey Jacob Taylor!!" He yells this frequently now-a-days.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'd like to share a story I heard a while back:

A man lay in his hospital bed one day. He had been there quite some time, and for the most part wasn't getting any better. His nurse walks into the room. He looks her straight in the eyes and asks, "I'm dying aren't I?" The nurse hesitates a split second, wondering whether or not she should say the truth or talk around it. She realizes that she would want the truth told to her, and after taking care of this gentleman as long as she has, she also knows he wants the truth as well. So she responds, "Yes."

The man shifts a tad in his bed, lets out a small sigh, and then looks back at his nurse. A small smile comes to his face. There are no tears. The nurse sits down in a chair next to the bed and asks him, "Are you ok with that?" The man responds, "I've lived a good life. I married a wonderful woman who I had the good fortune of spending my entire adult life with. We raised kids who went on to be successful themselves and raise kids of their own. I never truly wanted. I also had friends and family to turn too, and I was able to experience most days without hardship. If it's time to go, then I'd like to think I leave this place a little better than when I started out, and I'm thankful for everyone who experienced it all with me."

This story has stuck with me ever since I heard it. I like to think this is how I go about things. While it's true that my life has given me scars both mentally and physically to this point, I've had a great run so far. I look forward to many many more years. And with a son who seems to be thriving and another child on the way, and a wife who has stood by me through thick and thin without so much as blinking, I have much to be thankful for. I'm also thankful for the fact that tomorrow the hardest decision I'm gonna have to make is what to load the plate with as far as food goes instead of wondering where I'm gonna eat, if I'm gonna eat, or whether I'll lose it all tomorrow.

I don't need a holiday to remind me of what I'm thankful for. I can look at my family or to my friends whenever I want and be reminded of my big picture. I hope all you reading this have much to be thankful for as well.

Happy Thanksgiving All!!! If you are out and about today or tomorrow, travel safely!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Last weekend I, like many many other people, was out in the woods in pursuit of deer. I saw nothing. Plenty of signs, but with the warm weather they were moving at night and staying good and hidden during the day. Anyhow, one of the things I really like about hunting is the quietness of it all (until you unload your gun at something). But going for deer is different than my other passion of duck hunting. Going for ducks, you can and are noisy. You see ducks in the distance, you start railing on your call to entice them. And forget about worrying about scent control while duck'n. You bring all kinds of snacks and drinks and what not and sit and keep a look out.

But not when going for deer. Scent control is crucial. Not as much as when bow hunting, but even with a rifle in hand you have to be mindful of the wind and you need to use the scent killer and what not. You can bring some snacks with you, but forget about the big tasty stuff. And you want to stay still and silent. Deer both smell and see very well, so the less you move the better.

Which brings me to this last weekend. There I was in the woods up North without another soul around. Sitting on a stump waiting for a deer to come on by, I went into heightened sense mode. Being still and quiet amplifies everything else around you. Birds fluttering between trees, leaves rustling on the ground. At first it's kind of overwhelming with all the subtle noises, but then after a little bit it all becomes normal white noise and you can tune in to your surroundings and not be distracted by all of it.

But then you almost subconsciously pick out some small noise. Something wasn't right with that last sound you heard. It was different. But before you can completely process it, it's gone. But somehow you are looking in the direction it came. Focusing on that area, you now hear another sound. Yup, not leaves or birds, but definaetly something that normally isn't there. Was that a twig snapping? That sounds like footsteps. Big, not a grouse walking around, and not a little bird fluttering on the ground. But something actually taking steps and moving closer. You don't bring the scope up yet cause you can't see it, but you are gripping the gun with both hands now, ready to shoulder it should the target present itself. Your heart rate quickens because you have now eliminated any doubt in your mind that you're hearing things. Another twig moves or breaks. The sound is getting closer and closer, until finally it's right on the other side of the brush you're hunting by. Your mouth is dry from excitement, you're trying to control your breathing so you can keep a steady shot when you bring the rifle up, and just when you are about to explode with anticipation, the sound emerges into full sight.

And it's the biggest squirrel you've ever seen.

This scenario played out a handful of times for me when I was out there. The last time I almost shot the squirrel out of frusturation. But it's one of the things I like most of hunting. You never know what you are gonna get. Sometimes I get lucky, most times I don't. It's all part of the sport, and it's the X factor that keeps waking me up those mornings and groggily going out in the field.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ahhh Democracy...

Did you miss me?

There is no good excuse for my absence. True I have been sick for approximaetly 47 years now, but that wasn't the reason. I was just lazy. I had plenty of ideas, but again, I was just lazy. But the urge returned and we're gonna run with it.

Lets talk politics shall we? If you didn't involuntarily groan just now with that statement, something is wrong with you.

What happened to politicians? If the founding father's could see the circus that is Gov't now-a-days, they'd go back overseas to the King. Whenever election season comes around, it's all I can do not to punch a puppy. It's nothing but all the candidates saying how much the other candidates suck. If you follow the logic to the letter, than we shouldn't vote for anyone since everyone sucks.

Ever notice how it is exceedingly hard to find the views of the candidate? It's buried because you have something along the lines of 2,429 different websites for each candidate all claiming to be the official one. Even if you do find the official one, it so loaded with useless shallow info that all you get is whether or not the candidate supports some major thing. Nevermind why, apparently that isn't worth our time. And forget about smaller issues. They don't have time for those.

Whatever happened to actually campaigning? Going out there and expressing your views. Ignore the other candidates. Your voice should be that of how you play the game. But that's not how it is. Now we repeatedly here that this candidate supports big oil, this one gave himself a failing grade in office, this one wants to use kittens as an alternative fuel source. Enough I say. It's the age old saying: worry about yourself. I'm not saying knowing whether or not a candidate supports big oil isn't an important thing to know. I'm saying let us figure it out for ourselves. And how would be do that? By having you morons running for office use all that airtime for negative garbage politics and telling us about yourself. Forget about your rival, let your platform do the talking.

Seriously, if any candidate came along and didn't say one bad thing about the other candidates, didn't even so much as say their names, clearly stated their views and didn't give the other candidates the time of day, I would vote for them instantly. I wouldn't necessarily care about their stances because that's the type of person I want representing me.

Unless it's someone like that nutcase Michelle Bachmann. Seriously, what's wrong with you people over in the 6th?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Any minute now...

I saw at Cabela's a few weeks ago they were selling a giant duck call that was really a coat rack. I may have to try and sneak that purchase in some how.

Happy Duck Opener All!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Kidney Walk...

Some of you may remember that last year I helped raise money for the National Kidney Foundation's "Kidney Walk". And it's that time of year again so I once again come to you all via cyberspace with bag in hand looking for charity. If you feel compelled to donate, click the following link:

You may have to copy and paste the link into your address box and go from there. That should take you to my personal fundraising page. Click on "Make a Gift" underneath the thermometer. Follow the instructions and go from there.

The reason for me doing this is the same as it was before: My Mom's side of our family deals with Polycystic Kidney Disease. It is a genetic disease, and the only treatment for when it gets really bad is a transplant. There have been multiple transplants amongst my relatives, my Mom included. The money raised goes directly to the National Kidney Foundation and is used accordingly based on the needs. I thank you for your generosity!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It approaches...

I start getting antsy this time of year. When the temp starts going the right way (which is down. Want it hotter? Move to Florida Tiffany!) I start getting gitty. A few weeks ago it all kicked off for yours truly. The two month lightning strike that is my Ducks Unlimited magazine happened. But this was a special issue, for this is the one that we all get right before the season. It has the duck forecast for all the flyways, and I eagerly went to that article and saw what I suspected: Good numbers anticipated.

Course that means nothing since I don't always hunt ideal private land, but more ducks around means more likelyhood they'll scamper my way. But the magazine arrival is just the tip of the ice berg. There's decoys to check out and touch up as needed, the boat needs the same once over and possibly a touch up of it's paint as well. The gun needs checking, shells need a lookin', and items need a buyin'. I absolutely live for this time of year. Fall is upon us, and with the opening of the Grouse and archery season last weekend, it's finally, after 365 days of waiting, open season. And in just a shade over two weeks, the Duck Opener happens.

And Daven is helping. Today we were practicing and tuning my duck calls. Drove the neighbors and the dogs nuts no doubt, but he loved it and I had fun as well.

Let it all begin again! Happy Hunting All!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Day America stopped...

Let's not dwell on the terribleness of this day. Let's dwell on how many heroes were born. To those that made it out, we thank you. To those that did not, not only do we thank you but we also wish that you peacefully rest. It's not cheesy to raise a flag today, it's respectful.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just sit down, relax, and let the magic happen...

I've dreaded this time.

It was the one aspect of raising a child that I knew I would be bad at.

I knew I would have trouble with patience during this.

In case you haven't guessed or heard, we've started potty training Daven.

And truth be told, it's not going terrible. But we've also just started so we're not making a whole lot of headway because it's all pretty informal. Most of it revolves around every hour or so we ask if Dav want to use the potty. 9 times out of 10 he will agree to at least sit on it. It's then a crap shoot (no pun intended) as to whether anything happens.

But today we had a breakthrough. One of those moments that looking back as a parent you kind of shake your head and think "I really got THAT excited over this?" For the first time, Dav finally peed in the potty when it was just me around. I praised him to no end and gave him an extra fruit snack while we read our book at bedtime. It was another one of those things that just seemed so silly to react that way too, yet at the same time another memory that I'm sure to enjoy for many days to come.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Cat 6 racer...

Cycling, like all sports, has a hierarchy. You are measured based on what category you are in. In the world of bikes, there are 5 categories. If you are a Cat 5 racer, you are making a commitment to the bike, and you wish to try and make this something bigger than just staying in shape. Cat 4 you have succesfully won a few small time races and have qualified in some TT's to move on up the ladder. At Cat 3 you have gained sponsorship with the local bike shop and may not have had to pay for the jersey and shorts you are wearing. Cat 2 you haven't paid for any of the clothing you are cycling in and the bike you are on is some sort of Trek knockoff, yet it still only weighs about 15 pounds. Cat 1 you are training to try and be selected from your team to support the captain during the Tour de France.

But like many things, there is a grey area. An area reserved for those that don't quite want to make cycling their life, yet they sneer and scoff at those that buy high end bikes and then proceed to pedal them at a mere mortal 15mph.

These people, including myself, are the Cat 6 racers. What makes you this type you ask? If you agree with the following, welcome to the club:

1) You know that wearing a full team kit yet not shaving your legs is ridiculous. You vow never to wear anything that correlates nicely together, however it is acceptable to buy the Columbia team jersey if and when you find it on sale. But only if it is the model from 2 or more years ago.

2) You obsess constantly about food and drink choices for your long rides/events, yet not only did you have to pay for them, you didn't once look up what "Sodium Benzoalecylisate" does to your anaerobic capacity.

3) You know what "anaerobic capacity" means, yet you haven't been scientifically tested for it.

4) You know what the test for anaerobic capacity entails.

5) While training for the big event, you cut back on the snacks and completely cut out carbonation and what not, yet that slice of cake or donut is just too good to not eat.

6) You've never once thought about weighing the portions you are eating.

7) When people see you, they first notice that your tan lines are strange and foreign to them. Only when you put on your helmet, sunglasses, and jersey does it come crystal clear why the lines are the way they are.

8) Of course everyone knows Leipheimer, Armstrong, and Contador, but you are curious to see how Ryder Hesjedal does in next year's TDF.

9) 100 miles is "epic".

10) You vow to never, EVER, get passed on a hill climb by a recumbent rider.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Perhaps one day...

I know this will come as a shock, but I have very little training or experience with writing.

I'll give you a minute to recover from that shock.

Better? Good. It's true though. The closest thing I ever took to formal education in writing was a creative writing class way back in junior year of high school. It was honors but only because you had the option of going that route, and for some reason I wanted to take the more challenging option. But other than that, I just sort of wing it when it comes to writing. Throughout my education, I always wrote papers the day before they were due. No matter if it was 3 pages or the dreaded 20 page paper, always the day before and usually after supper. It's just the way I do it. I let inspiration guide the whole thing and just sort of put the first thing that pops in my mind down and make it fit as I go. The English teachers and grammar sticklers are cringing right now, to which I reply: bite me you prudes.

Which brings me to the point of all this. A while ago I was talking with some of my peeps and we were discussing dream jobs, or at least what we would like to do if given the opportunity. Personally, I would like to write for some outdoors affiliate. No preference as to what. Ducks Unlimited, Cabelas, Outdoor Magazine, whatever. I would like to research and then put my spin on something and share it with the readers. I think it would be fun. I could hang my hat on that.

But until then, I'm stuck where I'm at, which isn't terrible, but it has nothing to do with the best duck decoy layout when it's party cloudy and the wind is blowing from the SW. In case you're wondering, I am particularly fond of the horeshoe layout.

Perhaps one day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Right Direction...

Thank you State of California for finally, hopefully not temporarily, pulling your head out of your ass. Hopefully other states not already tolerant will follow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Fat Cyclist

The internet sucks. I mean really, the majority of it is garbage. I heard a stat somethere a while back that somewhere around 30% of the internet space is devoted to porn. And wasn't there a story a while ago of some lady being killed after responding to a babysitting ad on craigslist? It's like the news these days: there's more bad and you hear about more negative stuff than you do about the inspirational, the good stuff. They seem to use the positive as filler between all the negative. It's one of the reasons I've stopped reading the newspaper and watching the news. That and I don't understand some of the big words they use.


However like looking for that perfect rock amongst all the other ones to skip across the water, if you look around long enough and keep an eye out, you'll find a good thing amongst the internet archives. About 5 1/2 years ago, I made such a discovery. Along with about 2 zillion other people. If you want a laugh while at work, you need to go check out Even if you don't ride a bike, it is a great read each day a new post is up.

I won't sit here and give you a whole biography about the guy cause I've never met him. But through the years of reading, I, much like all the other people who regularly read, got to know him. He shared his life with tasteful discretion: enough to allow us to live the trials with him, but closed just enough to maintain his own thing with his family.

A few years ago his blog took kind of a dark turn. He revealed to all of us that his wife of many moons relapsed with breast cancer. She fought it off once before only for it to come back with vengeance. Over the next few years, we all lived each day of Fatty's fight as his wife went through treatment. We pulled and breathed a sigh of relief with each victory of the fight, and we dreaded and winced at each harsh blow the cancer turned out along the way.

It was truly amazing to me. A man who had the courage to share with a bunch of strangers this fight and doing so tactfully. You never felt sorry for him, you truly felt like you were a friend helping him along the way. Throughout it all he maintained his humor; and somehow his sanity.

He also inspired. Not only did his stories help those who were going through the same battle with loved ones, but he decided to do something about it. He joined forces with the famous LiveStrong foundation and together with a whole bunch of people literally around the world, he and his teams raised over $700,000. It was truly awesome to watch unfold.

I wish this story had a happy ending to it, but life is not always fair. One year ago today, Fatty's wife Susan lost her fight to cancer. She left behind not only her husband, but 2 boys and 2 twin girls. And the entire FatCyclist nation as well. Life moves on, whether we want it to or not, and after one hell of a punch Fatty is back up on his feet and continuing his one man crusade against this unfair and often cruel entity.

And the blog is bright again. We will never forget the story we were all privelaged to read. I thank Fatty for ratcheting up my faith in humanity by showing that strangers can truly do great things for each other. And I urge all of you the next time you have a free moment to take some time and get to know this incredible man as well. His website again is Read the current stuff, but also look at the archived stories as well. You will NOT be disapointed. And if you ever feel like giving a few bucks here and there, LiveStrong is a great foundation to give to. The statistics don't lie: Cancer will affect everyone in some way or another during their lives.

Thanks for the stories Fatty!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Those Damn Yankees!

I have always prided myself on my sportsmanship. I have been taught to be humble during athletic achievements and be gracious to the people that helped make the accomplishment what it is. And for my entire sporting career, I've always been one of the good guys.

Until now.

I play in a coed softball league on Sunday nights. It started out as a family league with most of the team being related to one another in some regard. It has since morphed into a different team with certain members electing not to play anymore and other people coming in. And this year something has clicked big time and the team is very solid. Nay, the team is downright dominant. We've only had one challenging game this year, and the rest of the games we haven't just won. We've blown the other team clear out of the water. We are undefeated going into the playoffs this weekend.

But being a team like this instantly makes you a target. Even in a Sunday Coed league, there are plenty of competitive juices going. During our run this year, we have been booed, called every name possible, we've had our pitcher hit at a few times, and we've even been protested against. In short, we are easily the "Yankees" of our league.

And you know what? I kind of like being the bad guys for once. I like walking arrogantly onto the field and having a boat load of confidence and not being overly worried about our opponent. It's fun in a way, and I can see the appeal in walking the dark side from time to time. It kind of goes against what I've been all about with respect on the field, but a part of me likes having that bullseye on them and when it's all over and we walk to shake hands after another annihalating victory, seeing the pissed off look of the other team and looking them in the eye and just smiling slyly and saying "good game".

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Stage 5

I have been on the bike for damn near 8 hours. I've been on the course for damn near 10 hours. I've climbed a shade over 9,000 feet. I've lived on GU, water, bananas, HEED, and PB&J sandwiches for all that time. I'm tired, caked in sweat and road grime, and if I move my legs in any wrong position they cramp up tighter than a perfectly executed Boy Scout knot. I am not happy on my bike anymore, and I don't want to go another 20'some miles. But like I said in the last post, at this point I knew I had this ride in the bank, it was just a matter of getting to the finish.

And so I climbed back on the bike and rode away from the safety of the last rest stop. Not more than a mile or so into it, I am assaulted by Pinnacle Road.

And cleaned it fabulously. Seriously, I passed everyone on that hill. And that boosted the morale to uncharted territory. I locked into the big ring and churned away on the rare flats, got into the climbing gears for the hills, and put my head down and went. The stage takes about 2 hours to finish, 1.5 if your superhuman like my friend Ian. But I didn't notice the time. I was riding possessed, and the country rolled by. Unlike before, I wasn't worried about not finishing, I wasn't dreading the fact that I was gonna quit. I kicked the pedals over and over and rode my way towards Mounds Park Road part deaux. At the last water stop before that horrendous ride, I filled up on the bottles and then gazed melodramatically across the scenic countryside. For the first time in my 4 attempts, I appreciated the view. I was having fun on this ride the whole time. It was hard, it was a sufferfest the whole time, and I wished many many times that I was not on my bike but drinking a beer in the shade somewhere else. However this year I raced my race. I did my pace, and I was smart, and I was now sitting here with about 10 miles to go and starting to realize what I was about to accomplish. I was about to have ridden 123 miles in one day, climbed a mountains worth, and finish a ride that in year's past had a field finish rate of something around 1/3 for the long course. I had to smile a little bit before I put the bottles in the cages and went on my way.

But I still needed to climb Mounds Park Rd., and the last 10 miles or so you can see it looming as you snake your way towards it. The sun was setting so I knew the climb was gonna be in the shade, but that was a mute point. By that point my legs will have the most they ever had in them in one day at 120 miles. This climb, whether or not I was feeling good and having an awesome day, was gonna hurt. And it didn't disappoint in that regard.

I turned onto the road and saw the street sign printed with the infamous name, and I give it the finger. I then churn away. There is only one person ahead of me at this point, and I make a point that I'm gonna catch and beat him to the top. One because he's on a hybrid style bike, and two he's doing the candy ass approach of paperboying the climb. So I go. The legs cramp and I ignore them. Even though it's shaded, the core temp is skyrocketing from the fact that I'm going up again. Mercifully, about 1/4 of the way up you come to a picnic table that has a hose sitting on it with a spray valve. These people do this every year and if I ever saw them in person I would hug them. I proceed to hose my head down and top off one of the bottles so that I can spray my head down throughout the rest of the climb. I clip back in and away I go.

You climb. And climb. And climb some more. Mounds Park Road is relentless with an average gradient of 11% or so. I'm out of the saddle, I'm back in it, I'm up again. I'm doing everything I can to keep the legs working. Then mercifully it levels out and then you are coasting down. The downhill doesn't last long, but it is rejuvenating. This year they were doing road construction at about half way up the last small section of this climb, so I make the right turn, climb a few feet to the ticket booth, and have to clip out. I'm too tired to try and navigate my bike through gravel, and I don't want to risk a mechanical or something else at this point. So I walk my bike through it. Once back on solid ground, I take just a few breathes, a sip of water, and throw my leg back over the bike. Cars are coming down now and people are honking and shouting "You're almost there! Keep going!!". I smile back and give a salute and think to myself "I know." Only 300 feet or so separate me from one of my huge goals and I set off. And wouldn't you know who I see paperboying around? My carrot, that guy on the hybrid. And I churn away with a little more purpose, and then I see a volunteer telling me that it's just around the corner. But even more motivation is I hear Elli scream at me. I can tell by her voice that she is crying. This is a huge victory for me and something that has taken me 4 years to achieve, and she has been through it as well. For past 3 years she has suffered each failure with me. She even confided in me this year on the drive back to the hotel that if I didn't finish this year she may not have been able to go through a 5th time. Truth be told, I'm not sure I would've been able to either. But back to this ride, with her, Jen, and Ian shouting encouragement, I somehow summon some deep energy reserve and jump out of the saddle and sprint to the line. Officially, my on bike time was 9 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. I made my goal of 10 hours of saddle time by one second. I find a tree, let the bike fall, and fall to the ground and use the tree as a back rest. I've finally finished the most torturous ride I've ever done. And I'm laughing. Elli is crying with joy. And Daven gives me a high five. It doesn't get much better.

So what now? People have asked if I'm going back since I've now finished it. And I answer with an enthusiastic yes. I'm looking forward to it even more now. And it has done wonders for my cycling now. I'm a little more confident in my abilities, and possibly a little more arrogant when it comes to hills. But it's nice to have finally conquered that ride and join a rather elite group of people who can say the same.

Bring on 2011!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

2010 Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Stage 4


I'm not a religous person, however I do understand the concept of Hell. In my mind, it would be custom tailored to each person sent there to make it as miserable as possible for them. If I were sent to my Hell, it would no doubt involve some or all aspects of stage 4 of the HHH.

I started out this post by typing "Endgame". This is what stage 4 has been for me the last 2 times I attempted the long course. The first year I made it through this stage only to succumb to heat exhaustion and took the sag wagon back to the finish. Last year I made it through this stage only to be broken by the end of it and took a shortcut to the end. So here I was getting ready to go back on the bike for the most torturous part of the ride. At the start of this stage, you are only at the halfway point, around mile 65 or so. When the stage is done with, you'll be at mile 89 or so. Stage 4 is almost 34 miles long, which as I've said numerous times is an incredibly long stage for a normal century ride. For this ride, it's insane and cruel. And if the distance wasn't bad enough, the wind was gonna be in full play this time around. I took a calming breath, one last swig of water, and then clipped into my pedals and took off.

Starting out, you're hoping that the ride stays flat. By the overall standards of the ride, the stage you just left was "flat" and you realized that was very nice. And for a few miles of stage 4 it is, until you bomb down into the valley. You have to come back out, and they waste little time having you climb your way out.

But now your legs are failing you. I notice for the first time this ride I'm starting to get leg cramps. It starts in my quads just about the knees, but quickly starts going to the inside of my leg. This is not comfortable in case you were wondering. The only thing you can do is try to stretch on the bike, which is possible but not all that effective in the long run because you'll end up in the same compact position again so it'll all happen again. But if you can tough it out and block out the pain, eventually the cramp does "flush" itself out. So you slug down some water and keep spinning and try to do just that: block out yet another thing that hurts.

This course is end loaded, and if you think the hills are bad in stages 1-3, they fail in comparison to the monsters that lurk in stages 4 and 5. We are assaulted time after time on this stage, and all you do is climb.

And you're completely alone. Most people drop out in stage 4. They either don't start it, or only get a few miles into it and succumb to one of the first climbs you get too. All I do this year is put my head down and churn away. It is painful, it isn't all that fun, and I'd rather be somewhere, anywhere, else just then. Climb after climb, cramp after cramp, the miles very slowly churn by. And after almost 3 hours, those 34 miles or so are gone, and I'm coasting down the road to the rest stop aptly name "The Graveyard". I pull in, put down my bike, and find a shady spot to lay down in. The hardest part of the ride is over and I somehow survived it. And I distinctly remember one thing while lying there:

I'm smiling, because I know that this year I got this.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2010 Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Stage 3

Ahh, that wind is refreshing. Wait a minute, it just damn near knocked me off my bike.

Stage 3 is the recovery stage of this ride. It's 18 miles long or so, and more of a rolling climb than wall climbs. There still plenty of climbing to be had, and this stage hides the gem that is Spring Valley road, a quaint climb in the middle of nowhere that takes you up, up, and up. But there is plenty of opportunity to spin along and get the lactic acid out of your muscles and maybe get some food and drink down as well. It's still hard, but not as terrible as the first 2 stages. All the while you know the worst is yet to come, but you spin along and try to recover.

At this point of the ride, the main field is pretty much set. The 100K riders have split off and the 200K group is spread out into cells. So from here on out you're pretty much riding with the same group of people. I would pass a group, another group would pass me, and you would end up seeing the same people on the next climb or out rolling on the flats. People are starting to crack, and I see more bikes on the sag wagon trailer than there were earlier. But I'm feeling really really good. In fact this year I even managed to spin in my big ring for most of the flats. I think that was another key to my success this year: not only was the heat gone, but I rode my race instead of trying to pace someone else. When I train, I spin along at a cadence of somewhere in the high 80's. On the climbs, I try to stay in the mid 90's. So this year I tried to stay at my normal cadence of high 80's instead of trying to spin and it paid off. See, racing is all about smarts and little about muscling through.

Anyhow, the wind is picking up. Stage 3 has you rolling out in the open more, and that wind is either your friend or foe. Sometimes it's at your back and you revel in it's majesty as you easily cruise. Other times it's blowing straight at you, and you wish a pox against it's very existence. Other times it's a cross wind, and that sucks too because it doesn't completely hinder, or completely help, and as you lean into it while it's gusting it will suddenly let up and you violently swerve either into the road or onto the shoulder. I will give it credit at this point though, it was keeping the air moving and when it was a gently breeze it was heaven.

As I said earlier, the field is split and spread out heavily, and many points on this ride I'm all by my lonesome. It is beautiful country, and on this stage as I roll along I take it all in. I know it sounds cheesy, but at times like this I truly am thankful for things like my health and the ability to be out on an epic ride like this, and I try to remind myself not to take it all for granted. Especially while out on the open road, it can all be taken in a heartbeat.

While thinking of all that, I suddenly roll into a small town, and realize I'm coming into a little park in the middle of it that is the rest stop for this stage. Stage 3 is over. I love this rest stop because it always has a volunteer with a hose and you get a good dousing of cold water. It's heavenly. I then load up on some food, find a shady spot where Elli, Dav, Jen, and Kaitlin are playing around, and try to relax a bit. And while I'm doing that I can't help but realize I'm on the cusp of the absolute worst stage of this ride. Stage 4 is 33 miles long, has absolutely brutal climbs including the infamous Sweeney Road, and while I'm sitting here trying to eat and recover I'm only half way done. The demons start talking again in your mind and the doubts start creaping up in your mind saying that "you're not gonna make it. You've always faded at this next stage and it will happen again."

However this time another voice shouted out from the back: "F' that!! Get your ass back on your bike and continue owning it like you have been!!"

And for the first time in my HHH career, I didn't believe the doubting thoughts.

Monday, July 5, 2010

2010 Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Stage 2

One stage down, 4 more to go. Although it's never a good idea to think about how much you have left.

Stage 2 is normally when the heat starts getting to you. However this year we all noticed that there really wasn't a stifling heat going. It was actually fairly pleasant, and although there was some wind going, at that time it was just a breeze that kept the air moving. In short, it looked like the weather may look favorably upon us this year.

Stage 2 is slightly more challenging than stage 1. The climbs start showing up a little more frequently, and at this point you now have to start eating while on the bike. Breakfast (if done correctly) carries you all the way through until the first rest stop, but from here on out you now have to start popping GU. And you also have to pay attention to your hydration as that is starting to get behind as well. In short, you're body is starting to rely on reserves and in order to survive, you'll need to start eating and drinking more frequently than stage 1.

One of the first tests of stage 2 happens quite quickly. Just a few miles in you run into Barlow road. Upon clearing that you happen upon Garfoot, where you pose for your picture. I made it up these 2 without a whole lot of difficulty and for the first time that day I start to get the thought in my head that I may just in fact do this thing this year. All other years, even last year when I was in the best shape I've been in, I started faulturing just a smidget on these early climbs. No doubt now that that was due to the heat. The other years the heat has been nothing more than stifling. The sun beats down, and the humidity is so high that the air is thick with water. Taking a deep breath is about as refreshing as breathing in a sauna. However this year when you breathe in, it does what it's supposed to. It revitalizes you, and the cadence you hammer out on those hills just kind of beat themselves out. I cleared the first 2 major climbs (Mounds Park Road and Barlow/Garfoot) and thumbed my nose at the HHH. My confidence starting going up and with each hill on that second stage, it ratcheted higher and higher. More people were walking on the side of the road, and I plowed (well, however much you plow while doing 3-4mph on a bike) by them. I even managed to pass a few people. And I wasn't redlining or at max suffering. By no means was it easy, and it was far beyond challenging, however I was pulling it off far better than I ever had in the past.

The thought repeated itself in my head again, a little closer to the surface this time, "I may just pull it off this year."

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Whether or not you agree with the direction things go at times, you still have to appreciate the opportunity to be able to disagree with the direction.

Happy 4th of July all!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2010 Horribly Hill Hundreds: Stage 1

It's different the morning of the HHH than any other ride I do. All other rides I'm up and eating and not nervous at all. It's easier to figure out. Compared to the HHH, all other rides are cake walks. As of yet, I haven't done any other ride that comes even close to the difficulty of this beast. With that in mind, the morning was like all the other times. I got up and proceeded to start forcing food down and guzzling fluids. I ninja sneaked around the room gathering stuff up and went over to the corner by the window and tried to calm myself down. Nerves are at an all time high at this time. At around a quarter to 5 I got too antsy and went to walk around the lobby and tool around outside. Once down at the lobby I met up with a handful of other cyclists taking on this ride. We chatted about what we thought was in store, people marveled that this was my 4th time, we wished each other good luck, and we all went back to our prerace routines. I went outside and immediaetly noticed the lack of humidity. Even though it was way early, all other years the humidity was already noticeable by this point.

A little after 5 I went back to the room. I was now so nervous that I was worried about throwing up. Tacking the number to the back of the jersey is when the nerves reach their peak. It's game time. This is it. For the past 7 weeks everything I've done has brought me to this point right now.

Everyone loads up and we drive to the start line. I don't talk much. Elli and I are like that when it comes to events. We're thinking of what we are about to do and don't want to mingle even with each other. So the ride over is mostly silent. Daven points out the tractors on the ride over like he has on all points of the trip and I look back and give him a smile. Once at the start line I start to relax a little bit. We crack some jokes, load water bottle on the bike and gu in our jersey pockets, strap on helmets and walk to the start line. Seeing as though the HHH is not an official race, there is not mass start. You can hang around for the 7am start time if you want, or you can launch early. We decide this year to launch early, so a little after 6:30am, we bid goodbye to our loved ones, clip in to our pedals, and roll away on the road.

If you read my walk through I did about the ride a few months back, you'll remember that the first 6 miles of this ride are quite easy. It's a good warm up. You spin along doing a few small climbs until you get to Mounds Park Road. This is my litmus test for the ride. If I can make it up this climb without putting a foot down I'm gonna have at least a decent ride. So as the climb starts, everyone goes into suffer mode. Ian rides on ahead and I don't see him again for 12 hours. I put my head down and spin along with everyone else. And surprisingly I'm at the top before I realize it. This is how the first stage went for the most part: when the climbs came, I just churned up them. I was kind of worried about my fitness level for this years ride, so when I pulled into the first rest stop feeling relatively unscathed I relaxed a little more because it seemed that my legs showed up just fine. A little bit of food shoved down and some drink and about 15 minutes later I'm clipped in and back on the course for stage 2. I take note that it doesn't seem to be too hot out but that the wind is picking up.

Bring on stage 2!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

2010 Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Preracin'

From July before the ride until the actual ride itself in June the following year, there really isn't a day that goes by that I don't have at least a fleeting thought of the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. It's even worse during that time whenever I'm on a bike. My entire biking career now is centered around this ride. All the centuries and 50 milers and even the time trial workouts are tune ups for the ride. I experiment with different cadences, work on techniques out of the saddle, position in the saddle while climbing, food combinations, water/energy drink ratio, when to go hard, when to back off. You get the idea. Once you do the ride, and if it's something that connects with you, you can never let it go. It's all consuming.

This was my 4th attempt at this ride. The previous 3 years all resulted in failure. Year 1 I pulled myself from the course due to heat exhaustion. Year 2 I failed to train properly and opted for the short course. Year 3 I foolishly tried to keep pace with Ian and that plus the stifling heat caused me to bail on the last stage and shortcut to the final climb. With that in mind, I was unable to completely shut off the doubts in my mind. But that didn't dampen the enthusiasm for the ride in the least.

The week before the ride is my taper week. Basically I go out on low intensity 30 minute rides just to keep the legs spinning and loose. These are not stressful in the least bit and they serve as a way to let your mind start playing all kinds of tricks on you. "Was that a twinge I felt in my quad?", "What's that noise, was that my bike?", "Son of a bitch that chick on that bike is TOTALLY kicking my ass!", "I'm screwed for this ride". I also added up all the training miles that I had for this ride and came up with a number right around 650 miles. Ian then informed me he had double that mileage. Taper week sucks in that you have too much time to think about you and your bike and you psych yourself out.

I also keep a weather vigil up the entire month before. probably flags my domain name in it's registry since I'm there so often. Ian and I emailed/texted back and forth for about 3 weeks before the ride. And mother nature was less than cooperative. One day it would predict 85 and sunny, the next 79 with partly cloudy, then rain, then back to high heat, then humidity, then no humidity, than hail, meteor showers, snow, back up to 107, etc...It finally settled at around 80 degrees with a very tolerable 56% humidity level. I remember thinking that this year, finally, may yield desirable riding conditions. "Could it be this year we will actually be able to breathe on the course and not be beaten down by the sun?" I asked Ian. "Perhaps", he replied, "but look at the wind prediction."

16-18mph N-NW winds. Remember that, it will play a factor later in the story.

The fateful Friday finally came. This day rocks. I've taken it off every year so there is no rush to get going. I'm in an awesome mood because it's race weekend. Ian and Jen pull up to the driveway with Kaitlin loaded in the car, Ian and I crack jokes how the other one looks fat and how the other guy is saving his legs so he needs to be carried to his car and what not. The atmosphere is one of excitement and anticipation. Even Jen smiled this year when she noticed that Ian and I had our matching shirts from last year on. The ride looms on the horizon and all we have to do today is drive the 4.5 hours out to Verona WI where we are staying.

Upon making it to the hotel, we drop the wives and kids off and go pick up packets. This year Specialized had a demo going on so we got to see the bike that both of us want. It weighs about as much as both of my water bottles filled. I comment how this would make the ride that much easier. Anyhow, packet pickup also serves as a way to size up the competition. This ride is different than the other ones I do. This being a challenge ride means that most of the riders have a few miles under their belts, and looking around I always feel like a fraud among these people. They have uber nice bikes and deep bronze tan lines. But it also adds to the excitement because I feel that I'm also running with the big dogs and we're all members of some special club.

Once back at the hotel, we decide to go and load up on the calories for tomorrow's event. I make the wise and sensible choice to go with a bacon cheeseburger. I wolf it down, make the comment that I managed to beat Ian at one thing this weekend, and even ate a few slices of Dav's pizza. Apparently nerves aren't affecting my eating yet. Don't worry, that shows up later. Once dinner is done we walk back to the hotel and the two families go their separate ways for a night of good sleep and prepare for early rising. We get Dav put to sleep, I set the alarm for 4am, and try to will myself to sleep. Will this be the year I finally make it? Did I ride enough? Did I train smart enough? Am I gonna go out too fast?

As the cliche goes, time will tell, and although it felt like forever before I fell asleep, 4am Saturday morning came awfully fast.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The 5 stages of pancake eating (according to Daven)

Daven enjoys pancakes. No, that's an understatement. Daven LOVES pancakes. That still doesn't do it justice. If there were no pancakes, there would be no Daven. The loss would be too great for him and he wouldn't be able to go on. But watching him eat (i.e. inhale) the pancakes is only part of the show. There are distinct stages that we go through when it is pancake day. I'll review each of those now.

Stage 1: Excitement-- Usually pancake day happens on the weekend when both Elli and I are home with Dav. Lately this has been harder and less frequent, so we've resorted to just making pancakes on the weekend whenever one of us has the time and nothing planned. When you announce to Daven that it's pancake day, you are rewarded with a shout of "Pancakes!" and then having him run frantically around the kitchen and the rest of the house squealing excitedly. You are now on the clock and you'd better get moving with the making and cooking of those hotcakes.

Stage 2: Anger-- No matter how fast you mix the flour and the milk with the eggs and brown sugar, it is never fast enough for Daven. Mind you he exists to eat pancakes, and he is not pleased with having to wait. I have actually debated about making the batter the night before so that it's ready to go, but have never done it yet. So about 5 minutes after announcing that we're eating pancakes, Daven comes back into the kitchen exclaiming how he wants pancakes. "A couple more minutes and they'll be ready", you reply, to which his reply is simply a whiny "want pancakes!". Best to ignore him and he'll eventually storm back into the dining room and wait for your incompetence to resolve itself.

Stage 3: Anticipation-- At this point the pancakes are cooking on the griddle and you can now ask Daven what he wants to drink. His reply more often than not is a juice box, but you can simply ignore him and fill up a glass with milk. After putting it on his spot in the table, you ask him if he is ready for pancakes, in which he blurts out a very enthusiastic "Yeah!". You then go back to your pancake flipping and get everything ready with regard to the silverware and plates.

Stage 4: ADD-- By now Daven has managed to find his trucks and what not and is busy playing with those. Even the allure of pancakes isn't quite enough to overcome his attention deficit, so although he may not have forgotten about the pancakes, he simply is too busy with other stuff to bother you about how slow you are preparing the flapjack feast. However, simply asking him to get into his chair snaps him back to the task at hand and he runs over, again requesting a juice box, and climbs eagerly into his chair. He may or may not request a fork at this point.

Stage 5: Whirlwind-- Now it's time to eat. I've always given Daven two pancakes right off the bat, but it would seem wise to just prepare and hand him 4, cause that's always the MINIMUM number he eats these days. By the time you've sat down with your own plate of steaming pancakes, he's already done and asking for more. You have to remind him to take a sip of milk to wash everything down. He does so, and then repeats his request for more. He does say please, and it's hard to resist when he smiles while he asks.

It's all just another fun activity we do. Plus Elli and I like pancakes as well, so it's a win for everyone.

P.S. I know some of you are anxious to hear about the HHH. Rest assured I will be posting something (or somethings) about the ride starting next week hopefully. It's tough because how do I put into words the single greatest ride I've had up to this point? I'm sure I'll find a way. Keep checking in!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Doctor will not be seeing you today...

I've wanted to be a Doctor for a good long time now. It started after I got mixed up into the Med Tech field, which was about a month before I was supposed to graduate with my Biology degree. Regardless, once I got going in the lab my fascination with medicine kind of starting running.

However it took me 3 years of college to actually buckle down and study. Before that I was a C student or so. The first two years I was kind of bored with my classes and didn't try all that much. Then the 3rd year of college I made my glorious come back to baseball. That was a lot of fun however school was put on the backburner and my grades suffered because of it. Only at the start of my 4th year did a light come on. Maybe it was the classes got more specialized or maybe I just matured some. Regardless, I pretty much did a 180 and aced most of my classes. As I dove more into Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Anatomy and Phys, and Biochem, I realized that my passion wasn't all about Micro. It was getting more into the body, and what can go wrong and how do we fix it. The idea of being a Doctor starting blipping on my radar.

But then I sat back and truly looked. Yes I was getting good grades and living up to the potential student wise that I should be. But let's face it: I pissed away 3 years of school and even if I got straight A's, the GPA wouldn't be where it needs to be. Also, I was almost done with school, I was recently married, and I was looking forward to getting out of the classroom and getting a job and making some money and not flipping textbooks. My job as a Med Tech looked stable and promising, and I was able to push the whole Dr. bit back into the recesses of thought.

Or so I thought.

The more I worked in the lab, and then even more so when I went into the BB full time and started dealing more personally with surgery and what not, the more the fascination with medicine built up. I would see new procedures I never heard of before on the surgery schedule and look up all kinds of things about it until I had a firm grasp on what the basic principle behind it was. If a patient was admitted with some sort of disease I didn't hear about, I looked that up too. It all fueled the fascination until last October I couldn't keep denying the thought of going to Med School. So I announced shortly thereafter to Elli that I wanted to take an MCAT prep course, take the MCAT, and see what happens. I had read that Med Schools like the Med Tech degree, and couple that with my work experience, good letters of recommendations, and a strong MCAT score I could make up for the lower than average GPA and put together a competitive application. The MCAT score was my key I thought, so I wanted to prepare as best as I could. Therefore I thought the MCAT class was needed to guide me to the promised land.

The course did help a lot. My brain remembered lots of stuff, it was just a matter of pulling back up to the surface. I improved each week, studied hard, and saw my practice test scores reflect the hours of putting my nose to the grindstone. As the date got closer to the test, I got less and less worried. "I know this stuff" I thought. I worked harder at Organic Chem and Biology to make up the slack that I would have from Gen Chem and Physics. I even took a whole week off of work so that I could do lots of review and tie up loose ends. The date was nearly here and I felt good and prepared.

Test day came one Saturday. I opted for the afternoon session which started at 1:30pm. I got to the testing center around noon. I found a place to eat and tried to remain calm. I went into it feeling great. During the test I was good and focused, and thought that I paced myself well. I had about 5 minutes left after each section so I was right on the mark with that regard. When it was all over, I couldn't get a read on how I did. I told people I either did really well, or bombed it big time. But I honestly thought it was the first scenario, in that I did really well.

I needed to score slightly above average in order to make a competitive bid. The scores weren't gonna be released for about 3 weeks, so I just tried to go about my business until that time.

When the day finally came, I was checking about every hour or so for a score. And at 2:30pm on May 11th, my score was finally released.

And my dream of being a Doctor was instantly shattered.

I haven't told anyone my score except Elli. I needed slightly above average. I didn't even come close to average. I have no idea what happened. When I saw the score, I was in nothing more than shock. I remember swearing out loud and struggling to wrap my mind around the number I was looking at. Life sucker punched me. Bigtime. When I went home and told Elli, I remember saying to her that I felt like I let everyone down. Lots of people were rooting for me and saying what a great addition I would be to the field, and even though I joked that this was all for not I truly believed I would at least be able to be in contention. With the score I received though, it wasn't even worth doing the application.

I was at rock bottom morale wise, but Elli quickly started picking me back up that night by looking me in the eyes and telling me that I didn't let anyone down and to never say that again. She wasn't the only one. Throughout this journey all of my friends have rallied behind me and encouraged me to go for it. They all asked how the class was going, and after I took the test they were on me every day asking me if I heard anything yet. And when word started getting out that I bombed the test big time, I was instantly flooded with the same people telling me to keep my chin up. No matter what the test number was, it means nothing as far as what type of person I am I was told. I was reminded to take stock of what I had: a very supportive and loving wife, a healthy and spirited little boy, a great network of friends and family, and a stable job that allows me to provide for all of it.

I consider the whole experience a success. Yes I wish I would've at least been able to get to an interview for Med School. However this situation really let me see the big picture. Life delivered one hell of a sucker punch, and it floored me. I struggled to get up from it, but then I was offered a whole bunch of hands to help me back up. These same hands then dusted me off and pointed me back in the right direction to look at life right in the eyes and ask it, "Is that all you got?"

If you are reading this, chances are you were one of those hands. And for that, I sincerely thank you. What's next for me? I'm not sure yet. I'm kicking a few ideas around but nothing big and exciting. Mostly for now I want to sit back and put in hours at work and be a good family man. With Elli graduated from Nursing School, this is the first time in our 11 years together one of us hasn't been in school. So we're looking forward to slowing things down and having a little bit of peace and quiet.

Although that won't last long if at all. We have a toddler son who turned two last March and knows only running as his speed.

And Elli is due with our second in January.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Light/Lite/Crappy Beer...

Light beers are only good for one thing: funny commercials.

Both Bud Light and Miller Lite have commercials that are hilarious. Even Keystone Light recently released the "Keith Stone" commercial. Funny stuff. But that's it as far as positives from me about light beer.

Listen up Nancy's. If you have one of these can's of weasel piss in your hand, you do not get to do the following ever again:

1) Insult other people drinking beer, especially real beer. Ever notice how no one with a bottle of Summit or a mug of Guinness ever gets made fun of?

2) Complain how you'd better slow down so that you don't feel like crap in the morning. You're basically drinking water so you're fine.

3) Say how "absolutely destroyed" you are when drinking your barley flavored water. No you're not. Stop it.

4) Demand that other people drink more. One can of real beer is basically 4 of yours put together. We're drinking plenty. You're the Girl Scout of the crew.

5) At most you may have a slight headache the following morning, but you do not get to compare it ever to the massive hangover those of us professional drinkers experience from time to time.

However, those with a lite brew in hand are allowed to do the following:

1) Fetch the real beer for the real drinkers.

2) Wear a skirt.

3) Put a lemon wedge in it. Hey, I do it with water sometimes so why not give a little taste to that goat spit you're drinking huh?

4) Tap the top of other lite beer drinkers bottles. It's funny to see the reaction of the victim and it's not wasting actual beer.

5) Buy drinks for everyone else (Appendum: It IS acceptable to complain about free lite beer. It's that bad).

Grab a Stout, slug it down, and experience what beer is supposed to be you ninnies.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Gone but not forgotten...

For the ones we've lost but will never forget, we celebrate this day.

Happy Memorial Day all!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Congratulations to the class of 2010!!!

Our next door neighbor's son had his open house today for high school graduation. I remember mine 11 years ago (that means yours was 15 years ago Heather!) and remember thinking that it took forever to get to that point.

Then college flew by, I got married, landed a job, bought a house, had a son, and now here I am 11 years later. That time also flew on by.

It is amazing how quickly time goes by, and thanks to the events held next door today and the fact that it is Memorial Day weekend I take a moment to reflect on where I'm at. It is a very good point right now. Stable and happy.

But it does go by really fast. And like I've said countless times before, reminders are needed to slow down and take each moment in. Every second is the past.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bragging Rights...

(It's a long one, but hey, it was a long journey.)

Last weekend was a busy one. It started Thursday night and ended Sunday afternoon. Today I took off of work to recover. Anyhow, the activities involved in the busy weekend included the following: My Mom graduated with an Associates degree in Administrative Assistance, Elli graduated with her B.S. in Nursing, and I had my annual pilgrimage up North to partake in opener. The highlight though was my wife's achievement. It was 3 years in the making, and they were anything but smooth.

Elli went to school initially at Madison. While there she gained the highly coveted degree that is Scandinavian Studies. Yup, that's what I said. It's a branch of History if I understand correctly. What do you do with that you ask? I honestly have no idea. She never really used it. There was a blip once with a travel agency and Norway trips or something like that a few years ago, but after college she moved up North with me to Bemidji while I finished my degree, and then went out west to teach skiing in Utah for a season, and then went with me out West to Montana for my internship. Along the way she held jobs at a few different banks as a teller, she worked at a tanning salon, and at a JCPenneys. She also did temp work. Once I graduated, we moved back to MN and I promptly procured work down at the VA, and she went back to work as a bank teller downtown.

For those of you with kids, if they ever want a degree in any form of history, do me a favor will you? Hit them. It's a pointless degree.

Anyhow, as she tells it, she came across Nursing while looking at the want ads and noticed all of the nursing jobs available (what a difference a few years make huh?). She then thought that may be something she could get into. She liked the idea of working with patients and hey, it seemed like it would be a steady job. So she ran with it, getting a Nursing Aid certificate and took prereq's for the School of Nursing down at the U of MN. The pre stuff took a year to do, and then she went ahead and applied. She had high marks, a little experience with the NA stuff, and had a rather strong application. She applied to both programs at the U and then we waited around for an answer.

Things did not work out as we had planned.

Elli got "wait listed" for both programs, which pretty much meant she shouldn't count on getting in. Lots of people were applying and it would be rather doubtful that a spot would open up. They pretty much told her this much when she called asking why someone straight out of high school would be a stronger applicant than her. This was our first taste of what type of place the U of MN Nursing School was. Anyhow, we pretty much went into plan B.

It should be mentioned now that Elli and I have never ever had a boring life. We've always had multiple things going on at once. We've pretty much had to juggle time our almost 11 years together. As a point of reference, the last time we had a weekend free together with nothing going on was back in March sometime. We won't have another one until July 4th weekend.

So what was Plan B then? We agreed that we didn't want to put Life on hold for her to get into Nursing school. So we thought that if she didn't get in for some reason, we would try to start a family and reevaluate later.

The summer moved on. Elli continued working as an NA at Fairview University, I went on with the VA worklife, and we just kind of went about our business. We didn't really talk about Nursing school or anything along those lines. There wasn't anything we could do. They were gracious enough to tell Elli how many people were on the wait list (lots) but wouldn't say were on that list you were. We moved into the long days of July, and one day while Elli was napping our fate was delivered to us in a form of a letter. I checked the mail that day and saw an envelope that for some reason thought was mine. So I committed a federal crime and opened up someone else's mail. I opened the letter and saw the seal from the U's Nursing school at the top. "Eh" I thought, "I went this far, may as well read what it says." And so I did.
"Dear Elli" it began, "Congratulations..." That's all the farther I got. I remember clearly stumbling in the driveway due to the shock. "It said Congratulations!!" I said to myself. It was from the Nursing School and said congrats. Which means she got in. I sprinted to the door, forced my mind to comprehend the difficult task of opening the door, raced through the kitchen, maneuvered around 200lbs of dogs, flew up the stairs and burst into the room where my wife was sleeping peacefully after a long nights work. Her eyes fluttered open sleepily.

"Hi!" I said.

"What do you want?" said my wife drowsily.

"You got in." I said as I showed her the letter.

She almost hit the ceiling. She was very much awake now. We hugged, reread the letter about 5 times to make sure it was what we thought, and then she needed to call someone. Anyone. She got ahold of her sister. Once the initial excitement went away, we then took stock. We agreed that we better stop trying for a baby seeing as though we were staring at 3 more years of school for her. We were both a little disappointed with this idea, but thought it was for the best. It would be just too hard to raise a kid with one of us in school full time and the other working full time, and her working while going to school full time. Where would we find the time to do that with a youngin' in the mix.


July ended up being a great month. Elli got in, and we were rapidly moving forward with that. She got everything squared away as far as admissions info and was all set to start school. At this point I should tell a little back story. When Elli was initially wait listed, (i.e. rejected) from Nursing School and we decided to try for a family, we would joke about that this was us we were talking about. "You know what's gonna happen don't you?" one of us would ask the other, "We're gonna find out that we have a baby on the way and then also find out about the same time that Nursing school will have an open slot". We'd just laugh and say how silly the other person was.

I was typing at the computer. It was a rather hot day. Elli walked by me in an unusual way. I remember thinking that. She's the worst at sneaking, and she was definitely up to something. But I really didn't pay her much notice and she retreated back upstairs. Type type type went I. A few minutes later she came back down, acting the same unusual way. "Remember how we said that I would get into Nursing School and then we would find out that I'm pregnant?" she asked me. "Ya." I said still typing away. It was then she layed down "The Stick" so that I could see the positive sign. I was floored. I didn't even think about how we were gonna do all of this. I was just uber excited that we were gonna be parents.

The Summer went by and Fall came. Game on. It all began. Elli was kind of nervous being that pregnant student. Not that there's anything whatsoever wrong with that, but you know, it's just kind of a thing. Anyhow, I think she was relieved to find out that the class was basically split down the middle: Those baby faced youths straight out of high school doing this as their B.S. degree, and the other half composed of the philosophy, history, and swimming pool management degrees held by the older students. She fell into the appropriate crowd and went about her business. The first semester of school was relatively quiet. She did great, got bigger, and the only mixing of the two was due to her bouts of throwing up. She has a great story of taking the bus where vomit is involved, but I'll let her tell that. Anyhow, she made it through the first semester. We both agreed though that that would be the easy one. The real fun would start towards the middle of the next one.

March 2008 came very very fast. You're never ready when your child shows up. Try going to school AND working when that happens. As the date came closer, Elli made the arrangements with the instructors and they were all understanding. She did fine maintaining the work while also getting everything in order for the baby to show. Then Tuesday March 4th happened. Specifically 3am March 4th. Elli came up complaining about back pain (she had since been sleeping on the couch for the past 2 months or so because it was more comfortable then the bed) and it wasn't going away. Complaining about "rhythmic back pain" to be exact. I'll spare you the details, but Daven was born at 1:40 in the afternoon on that Tuesday.

Elli was back at school the following Monday.

And life got exponentially more complicated. Now, instead of having to worry about our schedules and time we needed, we had our little son around as well. Thankfully Daven came late enough that Elli could be on Maternity Leave from work through the rest of the semester. We would then have the whole summer to figure out the logistics of school and parenting while working. All the credit for that goes to Elli. She found the daycares, asked the needed questions, came up with the budget, and just took charge and owned all aspects of being a working Mom who goes to school. I just did was I was told and tried to be supportive.

For the following 2 years, it really wasn't as bad as either of us thought it would be. We were swamped sometimes and yes, we had many many arguments along the way. We got overly tired and sometimes felt overwhelmed. But those storms passed and we realized that we would make it. It got easier as we got used to the new schedules. We also found time for ourselves as well. We were able to still compete in athletic activities, we travelled a little bit, and Daven seemed to be thriving along the way.

At this time, a shout out needs to be given to our support team. There is no way, NO WAY we would've been able to do this without help from our family and friends. We always had someone come through for us with daycare needs to cover school or work, or someone would offer to take the little guy for us so that we could have a date night or if I was at work someone would offer to watch Dav so that Elli could get caught up with school. Thanks to everyone who pitched in either with time or words of encouragement. There were plenty of times both of us were getting down on morale and you would pick us back up by saying we were doing fine and it will be done soon. This accomplishment belongs to you all in a way as well.

And the end did come. On May 14th, 2010 Elli graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Nursing. Seeing her walk down the aisle with the other grads while Daven was playing with cars on my lap was an incredible experience. I don't mind saying that I got a little choked up. Here I was with our son watching my wife celebrate an enormous accomplishment. Very few people would be able to pull off what she did, and others who could pull it off would have a tough time doing it as well as she did. But she made it. We made it.

I'm tremendously proud of what Elli did. It was hard on both of us, many times more so on her end. But she did it, and even though she won't gloat about it, I already have to everyone I know. All that's left to do now is for her to pass the NCLEX and then secure a job (which may be a whole nother battle to go at), but I'm not worried about either of those. The hard part is over, and she came through just fine.

Congrats Elli!! Daven and I along with everyone else are extremely proud of what you pulled off. Thanks for being a wonderful Mom through it all and making it go as smooth as you did. We love you on this end!

P.S. Can I buy a boat NOW?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To the Moms...

To the ones who can make an owie feel better with a simple kiss, who organize extracarricular activities while balancing the household good and husbands, to the ones who keep everything running smoothly on little sleep, and read the same book countless times willingly, we celebrate this day.

Happy Mother's Day Moms!!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Jake's Top Ten Good Guys...

There have been many memorable characters created over the years. We all have our favorites. Today I would like to share with you my Top Ten favorite "Good Guys" that have been created for our viewing pleasures. Feel free to chime in with your favs, and note that the list starts with #10 (the lowest position in my list) and ends with #1 (my favoritest good guy as it stands now). Enjoy!

#10-- The Punisher. Right off the bat, some of you may argue that this guy really isn't "good". He's not. He's more of a tweener, meaning he is kind of neutral in the whole good bad guy scheme. But the original premise of the character is a vigilante going postal on crime dudes. I'm a huge van of vigilante justice, therefore he needs to be on my list.

#9-- Dirty Harry. I grew up with Clint Eastwood movies. My Dad has all of his movies. Not only does he carry a really big gun ("Seeing as though this is the .44 magnum, the most powerful gun in the world, and would blow your head clean off your shoulders, you've got to ask yourself one question... 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya punk?), but again he's sort of a vigilante as well, and anti-establishment. We're already seeing a trend here aren't we? He always gets the job done, and lots of bad guys get shot along the way with that hand cannon of his. Perfect!

#8-- Ironhide. I am a lifelong fan of Transformers. I've had many different toys over the years with these guys, and now that they are on the big screen I'm in love again. Ironhide is Prime's right hand man. He's cranky, doesn't care about a whole lot, and carrys two really big guns. He's a bad ass, and easily makes my list.

#7-- Bond. What's a list without the gadget king. Plus he's just a cool guy.

#6-- Voltron. I had the original Voltron Toy growing up. A metal piece of beauty that would swoop in and kick everyone's ass. The cartoon was nothing great, but the toy rocks and the principal behind the character is sound as well. Not quite cool enough to break into the top 5, but still awesome enough to make my list.

#5-- Qui Gon Jinn. Huge fan of Star Wars I am. Qui Gon is a Obi Won on steroids. He has awesome knowledge, good conscience, and is wicked with a lightsaber. Unfortunately like most of my favorite characters in movies, he ends up dying. But while he was around, he was the man.

#4-- Jason Bourne. Matt Damon actually nailed this role on the big screen. Bourne is just cool. All kinds of wicked skills to pretty much get out of any predicament, and along the way he tears shit up. Perfect guy role. Also, he's pretty arrogant, but when you're as good as he is, you can be.

#3-- Batman. I've always said, you put another super hero against Batman, the other guy will lose. Don't give me any Superman bullshit. Batman has something either in that utility belt of his or back at the bat cave that would hand that underwear on the outside wearing clown his ass any day. Batman is also a vigilante type character, and like stated before, I likes me them law in their own hands guys. Plus his outfit in the new movies is just bad ass. Batman is the man.

#2-- Optimus Prime. He's powerful, yet also doesn't overly use it. He has a conscience and does hate to fight. But when it comes to exchanging blows, you want him on your side. He's the perfect "Good Guy" in that he always wants to do what's best for everyone, yet will back up what he believes in. He is wise yet powerful.

The #1 Good Guy according to Jake: Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, or simply "Master Chief" from the Halo gaming series. Awesome body armor look, all kinds of combat skills, cowboy attitude when it comes to fighting, and has access to all kinds of big guns. Yes please. The Chief is a fun character to play. If you really get into it, since he doesn't talk much you can almost assume the role yourself. But again, he actually does have a sound moral compass, and he's not afraid to walk alone. He'll jump right into the mix without hesitation, and all the bad guys end up dead. And like a few other characters on this list, he blows alot of stuff up along the way. In short, he's awesome, and easily trumps all other Good Guys in my world.

Honorable mention (in no particular order): The Brothers from The Boondock Saints, Blade, Hellboy, William Munny, and Hannibal King from Blade 3.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The joys of racing...

For anyone who does any sort of racing, I ask this question:

When do you ever feel good?

Think about it. For me, I do endurance races (side note: even though the events I sign up for are deemed as "recreational" and not "a race", whenever you get 2 or more cyclists together you just made a declaration of racing) and as such they involve a hell of a lot of training. So with training, the idea is to start from a good base, build off of it, and when race day comes you are in awesome shape for that event. But break it down. When you train, the idea is to push and push your body up that fitness mountain to get to the top where you are ready to go. Along the way, if you're doing it right, you occassionally overload the body and break it down. Anyone who has ever done an interval workout knowns this concept well. Unless you push your body, you're not gonna get better. So with training comes pain.

And then the big day comes, and now you go into race mode. The fast mode. The give it all you got mode. You launch from the gate and away you go, and how you go. The body is pushed and pushed and screaming the whole way.

So what about after the event. Don't you get to feel good then? Ha. If you are asking that question, you've never gotten to experience what it's like to be recovering from your body eating itself all day.

When do you feel good? Never. It's all about seeing how much pain you can put your body through. And yet those of us who do it choose to continue doing it. We are asked why, but there is no good answer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A final thought on the MCAT

After almost 3 months worth of time, 2 of those spent in the classroom, it is over. My MCAT is currently in the process of being graded. What was it like? Quite frankly, it wasn't quite what I expected. During class, we were told that if we did enough practice tests, when it came time to do the real thing, it would feel just like any of the other practices. However that wasn't the case. I found that during those practice exams, my mind would wonder. No doubt this was due to me taking them on my home computer thus being distracted by things around me even though Elli was kind enough to leave me to my own devices during practice time. Also, in the back of my mind while doing the practice tests, I couldn't shake the thought that this was just practice, and when I came to a passage I didn't quite get right away, I didn't try too hard because it was just practice.

But the real deal was different. I found myself incredibly focused the whole way through. No doubt this was due to the fact that I knew it was go time. This being the real thing, I shut everything else off in the brain and focused squarely on this task. And when it comes right down to it and I look back now, the test itself went by quickly. It sure didn't feel like I was taking a test for a shad over 4 hours, and not once did I feel clastophobic in the room or did I get bored and want the test to be over. It was weird, I've never been in that mind set before.

Maybe it was because I did really well. Or maybe it was because I completely bombed. Who knows. One thing for certain is that I don't think I will take it again though. I've said from day one that what the Med Schools see the first time I turn in an application, that's what they get. I'm not retaking classes, I'm not doing any extra volunteering or anything like that. Take it or leave it is what my mantra is.

Thanks to everyone who supported me with thoughts or kind words during the classes and before the actual test and even some during the test. I appreciated it all! And I'll have an answer for all of you as to how I did sometime before May 11th.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Lesson of Sara Tucholsky

Softball season is just around the corner. And although it was, shall we say, suggested by my Doctor and PT that it may be a good idea to wait a few months before playing, I choose to ignore both of them and start the season on time. Besides, I just bought a new bat and my wife would be pissed if I didn't use it.

Now, back in the day I was sort of a hot head when it came to sports. When I started pitching, since I could throw a little harder than the other kids, I got cocky. And when someone got a decent hit off of me, the next time I wouldn't rule out a pitch up by their chin. And if one of our batters got plunked, well it was guaranteed that the next hitter I faced was gonna get an inside pitch. My Dad finally cured me of this, saying that that wasn't the way to get respect anymore. "Strike them out, and it's all the statement you need." So I learned to throw a changeup, and heeded his Obi-Wan like advice.

Though even though I was a hot head, one thing I always had was a very good sense of sportsmanship. Not once did I refuse to shake hands at the end of the game. If someone hits a homerun for the other team in softball, I congratulate them on the "nice shot". If someone on the other team makes a good play, I let them know about it. Even when I was throwing at people back in the day, I still would tip my hat to them at the end of the game if they finished ahead of us.

I feel today that sportsmanship is getting less and less emphasis. Kids are getting better at sports at a younger age thanks to multiple off season sport camps, weight training being taught younger, and the "fun" aspect of the sports are getting lost at a younger age. The emphasis is all about winning, and you learn early on that you do what it takes to get to that. And with that attitude, sportsmanship is getting put on the back burner.

Or is it?

2 years ago there was a Division II fastpitch softball double header going on. It was the second game, and the teams were locked at 0-0. It should also be mentioned that these teams were 1 and 2 on the depth chart of the league, so it had postseason implications as well. Then a player by the name of Sara Tucholsky came to bat. She was a petite thing, standing a shade over 5'2". It was her senior year, and she was a part time starter due to the teams depth at outfield. Anyhow, the story goes that she had never hit a homerun in her entire career, so wouldn't you know that with 2 runners on, she goes and jacks a pitch straight over the center field fence. Her first homerun of her career was a big one, putting her team up 3 runs over their division rival. However, in her excitement she overran first on her homerun trot and went back to touch it again. In the process, she steps wrong and tears her ACL and crumples in a heap short of first. By league rules, her teammates cannot touch her otherwise she will be declared out. While her teammates are arguing with the umpires about this dumbass rule and everyone is trying to figure out what to do (Sara was adamant no one touch her so that the books would show that she hit a homerun), the opposing teams pitcher and shortstop walk over with the pitcher asking, "Would it be OK if we carry her to each base?" The umpires agree that this is acceptable, so sacrificing another run, the opposing players help their opponent complete her homerun trot. Video of all of this can be found on YouTube.

Our generation is seemingly starting to relearn the fun aspect of sports. No longer is the emphasis all about winning; it's about having fun and realizing you're playing a game. With Daven watching, I too have toned down my highly competitive streak. Yes I still take pride in the game and want to do my best all the time, but when the game is over, regardless of the outcome, I shake the opponents hand and "leave it on the field". It's the way my Dad taught me to play, and I hope to take that lesson and the lesson learned from Sara's story and teach Daven that way as well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Genesis of a blog post...

I have been asked more and more questions since I've started blogging:

1) Jake, how is your grammar so amazing and articulate?

2) Jake, how do you come up with all of your clever ideas?

3) Jake, how can I hope to be like you one day?

4) Jake, why do you always smell so good?

The answers:

1) My wife is a grammatical stickler and she, like the rest of her family, will gladly and swiftly shoot down any grammatical error you make and then proceed to berate you incessantly until you are nothing more than a shell of your former self.

2) Take a walk in my shoes for a day or two. It's not that hard to come up with a topic.

3) That bar is too high. Aim lower.

4) Vanilla body spray.

In all seriousness, one of the things I have had people say to me since I've started blogging is that they do enjoy reading my posts and some have indeed questioned how I write the way I do. The secret? There is none. I typically will just get the urge to write about something, then think about it for a few minutes, and then I just sit down and type. And after I'm done, I will publish the first draft of it. Forget proofreading or editing or saving drafts and what not. All of my editing is done by me reading the post a few days later (I love laughing at my own jokes) and finding errors or having my adoring public point out glaring infractions.

So I really don't put a whole lot of effort into my posts. However, I'm glad most of you seem to enjoy them, and to be honest, I'm liking it more than I thought I would. I recently looked at the stats and I now have over 1,000 views of my page. I thought that was kind of cool. But you shouldn't be reading these next couple of days anyhow. The weather is gonna be in the lower 70's and everyone should be outside. But if you happen to sneak a peak, well, I'm OK with that.

Thanks for reading all!
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