Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where you can say "Nice Rack!" and not get smacked for it...

My hunting career started much later than most peoples. I grew up a fisherman, and my old man did hunt before I came along, but it wasn't until I was in my early 20's that I got certified in firearms safety. Sure I walked plenty of hunting trails and even helped gut deer before that time, but I actually didn't start pulling the trigger until after many of my fellow hunters were well seasoned.

In 2004 I made the great plunge into deer hunting. I was working for a DNA sequencing plant up in Becida, MN (yes really!) and the owner built the lab along with his house on 40 acres of land. So when deer season came along, he told me to buy a tag and borrow his rifle and go sit in one of the 2 stands on the property. That first weekend was a rather cold one, and a few days before Ron (the owner of said property) told me there was indeed a rather large buck roaming the area and if I see it by all means shoot it. So with visions of large racks in my head, away to the stand I go. The first weekend I saw 4 does and didn't shoot. It was only after conversing with Ron again at work the following Monday that I learned this was an "Intensive Harvest Area", in which you can shoot up to 5 deer. You don't go through a lottery, you just buy additional permits. So, the following weekend with my new found knowledge that I wasn't limited to just bucks, I went on the premise of "brown it's down". As one could guess, I didnt' see a single deer.

And with that, do to a number of factors, I didn't deer hunt again until last year. That time I went up to a friends cabin up in Hackensack, MN. However I didn't realize I was gonna hunt until later on in Oct, well after the lottery deadline. So I was truly limited to bucks that time. It was extremely hot for deer hunting (flirting with 70 degrees), and although I saw plenty signs of deer activity, I actually didn't see any deer. So I struck out for another year.

You kind of suck at this Taylor.

But I was not to be deterred. Besides, after that first experience I was kind of hooked on deer hunting. Much like most of my hunting experiences I wasn't successful, but as I've pointed out in the past that's not why I hunt. I'm most comfortable in an outdoors setting and jump on any chance to partake in one. So I was all set to go back to the woods of Hackensack, this time armed with the fact that the area was in the new "Hunter's Choice" area. This meant although only one deer per hunter, you could take a deer of either sex. No lottery needed. But then I got a text out of the blue about 3 weeks before the deer opener from my cousin Bill.

"Come hunt with us", it basically said.

"OK", I basically answered.

So instead of going to a one deer per hunter area, I was going back to an "Intensive Harvest" area, although rarely did they each shoot more than 1 deer up there I was told, but nonetheless, the hunting wasn't difficult in that the stands were already set out, and they were easily accessible by numerous cut trails up on the 40 some acres of property. We'd all be spread out nicely and if a deer wandered by it was in trouble. I jumped on the chance not only to hang out with family I rarely get to see anymore, but also to partake in an actual "Deer Camp". Plus it gave Elli piece of mind knowing I wasn't going out hunting solo.

You're in trouble now fu*kers!

After a few more texts exchanges and phone calls, and what seemed like an eternity of days, Friday finally came and we were on our way. My Aunt and Uncle live up in Hibbing, a 3 hour drive, but the miles clicked by rather quickly due to good conversation and before long we were pulling into the local watering hole of the area about 10 minutes out from our destination. We sat down and ordered drinks and talked about the upcoming weekend.

"I think we'll put you in John's stand. He shoots a deer every year. It's probably the most productive stand out there", says Bill.

"I don't want to take the best stand. Really wherever will be fine. I don't want to butt right in and take someone else's spot or deer," I reply.

"Don't worry about it," he says, "it's a great stand. You should hunt it."

This was the type of reception I got and attitude that was up there. I was given the royal treatment by family, and had some of the most fun I've had in the outdoor setting. But that would be later. Friday I was introduced to the true meaning of a "Deer Camp", and it started at that watering hole.

"These are really going down well," Bill says.

"Sure are," I respond.

We pull into the property, meet my Uncle Gary as he comes home from work, and start setting up camp. Our campsite would be out in their large garage heated comfortably to 70 degrees (we backed it down to the low 60's when Gary wasn't looking). We'd sleep on air mattresses over on one side, and live it up at the poker table watching satellite TV and drinking bottled beer dispensed from our own bottle machine on the other side. The other member of our group, my cousin Greg, wandered on in an hour or so later. The crew was set, and eventually my Aunt Marilynn, Greg's wife Shelly, her son Chaez (sp?) and his girlfriend Danika joined us as well. We through some money into a pot, sat at the card table, ate some frozen pizza, walked over to the bottle dispenser very frequently, and had a great time. But then a mysterious bottle showed up, and I was told it was a drink called "Apple Pie". Indeed it tasted exactly like pie, and went down very very smoothly. While working on one of my several pulls from the bottle, I commented to my cousin Greg that that rifle was going to be awfully loud the following morning.

"Yes it will be," he replies.

"What's in this?", I ask.

When "Goo Gone" just won't cut it.

We whooped it up until 2:30 Saturday morning. Needless to say, when I got up a few hours later I was hurting. But I did manage to drag myself out to the stand and sit for a while. The gentle rocking of the stand caused by the tree billowing in the wind did not help settle my stomach, and after a deerless morning I went back to my air mattress seeking relief. After breakfast, another attempt at napping, and wandering around in the fresh air for a while with little results, I figured it was time to back to the stand. It was around 2pm Saturday. Finally, after about an hour or so of sitting up in the tree, my stomach stopped it's mutiny and we reached a truce. Good thing too, because about 10 minutes after that I heard a slightly different noise coming from behind me and to the left. I was told that all of the deer taken from this stand had come in from behind it, and so very very slowly I started turning my head in the direction of the noise, and then froze.

15 yards behind me a rather nice doe was foraging around and slowly walking in my direction. The wind was in my favor and it had no idea I was there. For the next 45 minutes I patiently watched as it made it's way farther into the woods. But it was hanging out right on the other side of brush and trees, not giving me any shot. However it was making it's way painfully slowly to a trail directly to the left of me with no obstructions whatsoever. So I sat there waiting, hoping and willing that it would continue on it's way. Sure enough, it came right where I wanted it too. When it was about 5 yards from coming out onto the trail, I brought the rifle up and lined up the cross hairs. The head came onto the trail first, and I clicked off the safety.

"Gotch'ya." I said out load, albeit in a very faint whisper.

As if following my thought perfectly, it continued out perfectly broadside onto the trail and when the scope settled on the vitals, it popped it's head up. I squeezed off the round. The .44 mag carbine kicked into my shoulder and the telltale sign and sound of impact was both seen and heard. The deer went to run, but only went about 15 yards and fell down stone dead. I tilted the hat back and breathed out a sigh of relief. Adrenaline surged and a smile lit up my face.

I finally got my first deer. And it was a hunt I will not soon forget.

When we field dressed it, I was even more delighted. The deer did not suffer, it was basically dead when it was hit. It was a perfect shot right behind the shoulder. My Uncle Gary helped me gut it out, since my knife failed about half way through the opening (always always ALWAYS sharpen your knives before the hunt) and I was amazed at how fast he did it. Just another way they took care of me.

Back at camp that night there were high fives all around and cocktails to be had, although everyone had their fill the night before so we took it fairly easy this time. We hung my deer out to dry in the cool night air and fried up it's tenderloins in a mixture of butter and onions.

The next morning I was content to hang out at the garage and wait to help the others if they got deer, but my Uncle told me to go out in the stand and if a deer wandered by shoot it and he'll tag it. Party hunting if you will. I didn't see anything but Bill ended up shooting one towards the end of the day. So our camp took 2 deer. We'll call that a definite success.

The Deer Opener of 2011 will not be one I'll soon forget, if ever. Huge thanks to my hosts which included my cousin's Bill and Greg, my Uncle Gary, and my Aunt Marilyn. Thanks to all of you for having me up at your awesome property, and thanks for making this deer season my first successful one. I had barrels of fun and hope to be able to make it back up there again sometime.

Something tells me the venison is gonna taste even better knowing that I was responsible for getting it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The right reason for hunting...

I've been asked many times now: "Jake, why do you hunt?"

The answer? Because nature is a beautiful thing and everyone should take time to truly appreciate it.

No, I'm not some hippy who follows a vegan diet and says that we are robbing resources from our great great great great greatgreatgreatgreat granchildren.

One of the great things about hunting is that you get to enjoy meat that you normally wouldn't dine on. But if that was the only reason for hunting, why go through all the trouble of scouting and setting up and sitting for hours on end when you could simply find a quality butcher shop and buy whatever you desire? The actual harvest of game is only the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more.

Hunters are not killers. People who shoot game and thoroughly enjoy the actual killing of the animal need help and should be committed immediately. While I personally don't take issue with pulling the trigger and ending another animals life, I don't take unnecessary satisfaction in it. It is what happens doing what I do, nothing more to me. I take time to appreciate the animal I took and, in a nonreligious way, give thanks of sorts to it for providing a good meal.

So why hunt then? Why not just go and buy that meat like I mentioned above?

Because like I said above, nature is beautiful.

I am a member of Ducks Unlimited. As such, one of the perks of membership is a every other month delivery of their magazine. One of their columnists, E. Donnall Thomas Jr., is probably one of my favorite columnists of all time. He has lived an obviously storied life and has seemingly lived and hunted everywhere in this great country of ours. A while ago he wrote a column about "Goose Day". This is not a day that is recognized on the same day each year. It is merely a day that a few are lucky enough to witness each year. Goose Day is the day that all the geese in your area seem to take off for the migration, and the sky is filled with literally thousands of birds moving. I was fortunate one year to actually be out at the duck swamp when this happened. I heard them first, and then over the tree line came "V" upon "V" of migrating geese. For about 25 minutes, the sky was alive with the sounds of honking and vibrations of huge wings flapping in earnest for the South. It was truly a spectacle. Beautiful in it's own way.

That's what hunting is about. Getting away. Plopping yourself in the middle of nature and watching how the world works without cell phones, computers, traffic, or social networks.

However you do it, whether it be watching an early morning sunrise from the deer stand, walking through the forest on your favorite grouse trail, or being fortunate to be out at the edge of the pond during "Goose Day", hunting is merely a vessel for doing what everyone should do from time to time:

Slow down, and get away for a little bit.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Good start...

Two weekends ago the duck hunting season got underway.


I'll calm down in a second.

Ok I'm good.

Nope, too excited to type again.

Ok now I'm good.

Anyhow, I ventured on up North to the Hackensack MN area where a good friend of mine works at a nature center. He recently moved into a palace of a place smack in the middle of nowhere and invited me and another friend on up for a weekend of bird hunting. We would pursue grouse in the woods and ducks from the waters. I requested time off from my household duties as follows:

Jake: "I'm going hunting with some of the boys this weekend."

{points to calendar at dates in September with this being middle August}

Elli: {rolling eyes, sighs heavily} "Well are you actually gonna shoot something this time?"

Jake: {lips quivering, voice cracks} "Why you gotta cut so deep?"

The weekend finally came and the truck was loaded with excessive hunting paraphernalia, beer, junk food, soda pop (There! I pleased everyone with referring to POP with both the correct term and the hillbilly inbred reference), more beer, and headed up North.

Our plan was simple: We would hunt grouse during the day, and shoot ducks in the morning. Duck shooting ended at 4pm, so we would mostly go during the day. However one of the members of our gang didn't buy his duck stamps, so instead all of Saturday was devoted to grousing. We had good luck, in that we saw and heard plenty of birds. But Mother Nature has yet to signal to the trees to drop there leaves, and as such most of the cover was so dense that you couldn't see the other guy, decked out in blaze orange, more than 10 feet away from you. So we didn't get a whole lot of shooting but we did get a few shots off and I managed to pull a very lucky shot off and bag one bird.

Sunday after the one guy left, my friend KC and I loaded up the duck hunting gear and proceeded to canoe over to a river running off of a lake. KC knew there were ducks holding up in there, and as it was warm and bluebird skies, we both agreed setting up shop somewhere was gonna prove pointless as nothing was flying. This plan with the canoe allowed us to flush birds holding tight in the backwaters. It produced nicely:

There should be two more there (two more wood ducks) but we spent about 20 minutes on each of them looking for them where they dropped only to never find them. I truly hate leaving wounded birds but we literally scoured every inch of the area that they went down for about a 30 yard radius. One was probably my best shot of my career too. Such is hunting. On the plus side KC shot a wall quality wood duck:

KC's woodie. Ha, I couldn't resist!

It was a great way to kick off the season. And the above harvest was only in a little over 2.5 hours (that's including the 40 minutes or so looking for downed birds on top of retrieving all the other ones). Kind of a spoil type of day in that lots of rewards for little work. But we've all earned those from time to time right?

Happy hunting all!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Man down!! Call everyone!!!!

"Elli is gonna be really pissed when she gets the phone call that I'm in the ER."

"Oh man! Elli is gonna be REALLY pissed that they are gonna cut off my softball pants. These things weren't cheap."

The above were the first two thoughts that popped into my head when I was laying on the softball field with an injured knee

Back in July, I hurt my knee. Pretty bad actually. "Severe patellar dislocation of the left knee" was the official diagnosis. I've never done this before (to this magnitude) and I don't recommend you try it. It hurts. A lot. I don't want to do it again but thanks to the mechanism that is the human body, I've now increased my likelyhood of another dislocation by 50%.

"How'd you do that?" you may be wondering. Well no one knows for sure but there is a theory. I was playing first base in a softball game. The ball was hit to third somewhat slowly so it was going to be a close play. Knowing this, when the ball was thrown I stretched out to my absolute max. I'm 6'5" tall with a 36" inseam. It was an impressive stretch. However, with that long of a stretch, it puts tremendous pressure on the knee joint. So at full stretch, the doctor believes that my knee starting buckling inwards down towards the ground. At that point, all it takes is for your to engage your quad muscle, which I did to keep from falling over, and in doing that it will throw your knee cap out of the joint.

Look down at your left knee. Now imagine the kneecap over on the left side of said knee. That's where my kneecap ended up.

I buckled and went down in a heap. I'm pretty sure I cried out and swore very loudly. Play was halted and everyone rushed over. I wasn't exactly sure what happened myself but when I went to grab my knee it wasn't there anymore. I then felt the cap off to the side and that's when those two thoughts at the beginning of this post occurred.

Someones wife on the other team was a paramedic and knew enough to do two things. One, she shouted to everyone not to lift me or move my leg too much. And two, she called 911. As a tip to others, if you're around someone that dislocates their knee, and it's the first time they've done so, leave them the hell alone! Call the paramedics and let them bring them to an ER to have it set. There could be major damage with a first time dislocation.

Back to me. I managed to keep myself relatively calm. Others were surrounding me to block out the sun as it was one of those uber hot days and the temp was around 93 or so. They managed to get ice on my knee rather quickly and then we all just waited for the ambulance to show. Which it eventually did, however so did a fire truck and 2 sheriff deputies. Everyone must've been bored that night.

I was loaded up into the ambulance and away I went. I never noticed how many looping on and off ramps there were between that field in Arden Hills and St. Johns over in Maplewood, but that ride brought all of them to my attention. Any movement of my foot in either direction sent a whole lot of pain to my brain and I reacted with grimacing. After what seemed like hours, I was being wheeled into the ER bay.

It's a weird thing to look down at your leg and seeing only a quad with no knee attached to it. Other people must've thought the same thing because the looks I got from some of the non-medical staff as I was pushed by were one's of "My God! Did you see that?!"

Once situated in the room, I was hooked up to the heart monitor and blood pressure cuff. My heartrate was in the 90's and my BP was 160 or so over 83. It was safe to say I was having some pain. As the nurses recorded what they needed, I was chastised numerous times about playing softball "out in this heat."

Then the ER doc came on in. I don't remember his name but he's one of my favorite people in the world now. He was younger (I'd guess mid early to mid 40's) and was completely unfazed by what he saw. He had a constant smirk on his face the whole time I dealt with him. He explained to me what he was going to do, which was he needed to lift and straighten my leg and then the cap should just get pulled back into place by the quad tendon. "What if that doesn't happen?" I asked. He replied with, "Well let's just start with this and go from there."

He told me to try and relax, and once he started to straighten and lift my leg I was gearing up mentally for what surely would be a long and painful process. But as I was about to begin slowly exhaling in an attempt to deal with pain, I felt the kneecap pop back into place.

And I started laughing. The relief was exquisite.

He explained to me that next time I do it (NEXT TIME?!!--See above), that I can just do what he did and then follow up with my doctor the next day. Since he was done with his part, I thanked him profusely and away he went. The nursing aid came in and put my leg into a knee immobilizer and shortly after that my nurse came back in. She explained that the immobilizer would be on for one week continuously, even while sleeping, and the second week I could take it off only to sleep. She then offered me 800mg of Ibuprofen and 2 tabs of Vicodin. I honestly wasn't in that much pain anymore and asked if I could just take the Ibuprofen. She did a very noticeable twitch when I said that, and with shock in her voice stated that I could indeed just take the Ibuprofen. She then made the comment that no one ever turns down Vicodin in the ER. The Doctor even made a short reappearance after this to say the same thing. I guess I'm just weary of hardcore pain meds.

So I walked on out of the ER with cut up softball pants and a leg immobilizer on. I was inactive for a little over 3 weeks before I got back on my bike for very short rides. And then just this past Tuesday I made my comeback to the softball diamond. The knee is holding up well but I'm once again wearing a kneebrace on what was once my "good knee", the right one being the one I hurt years ago playing baseball.

Elli has pointed out that they have made great advances in knee replacement surgery. Thanks sweetie.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Greatest Moments (so far)...

A few weeks ago I was reading one of the few blogs I follow, Jill Outside. If you haven't ever checked it out or heard of it, you should visit it. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she takes awesome photos to go with the story. Plus she's lived in a few different places, does endurance events both on the bike and on the trails (and both summer and winter seasons for that matter), and seemingly has a never ending list of ideas to write about. When I was reading a few weeks ago, she was talking about her "Greatest Moments", things she has done that have defined her over the course of her life. I'm stealing that idea and presenting my list of great moments for your reading enjoyment. They are in no particular order.

1) Conquering the Philmont Trail

I have often credited my boy scout troop with shaping me into the person I am today. It helped me build up my confidence and taught me disciplines I would've never learned on my own. That being said, I'm not gonna particularly run out and sign Dav up for scouting. Our troop was very unique, and most of the ones today are, for lack of a better word, a bunch of sissies that only care about book work and merit badges. Anyhow, one of the trips our troop did was going down to a ranch in New Mexico named "Philmont Scout Ranch". Hundreds of thousands of acres set aside solely for scout troops to hike the backcountry. Many different routes existed, and we picked on of the daunting ones. 120 miles over 10 days including going up and over Bear Mountain with full packs. To a 15 year old, this is an extremely intimidating prospect. I'll write more about the Philmont trail at a later time, but we finished the trail and I still to this day think about some of the experiences I had on the Philmont Trail.

2) Becoming a Dad

When Elli told me she was pregnant with Daven, a flood of emotion and thoughts swept over me. I was intimidated with the thought, worried that I would fail expectations, yet overjoyed and thrilled to "test" myself with the ultimate litmus test. So far I think I'm doing alright, and wouldn't want the alternative (no kids) ever again.

3) Finishing the Horribly Hilly Hundreds

2007, 2008, and 2009 all resulted in failing as it pertains to finishing this beast of a ride. 125 miles with over 11,000 feet of elevation gain all in one day during the summer solstice is not many peoples idea of fun. Paying for this privilege seems even more insane. But after being disappointed for 3 years in a row, in 2010 I finally finished all 125 miles, and didn't put a foot down once while on the course. I repeated the same feat this year. Not only is this ride challenging physically, but it is one of the hardest things mentally to do. The long course has an estimated drop out rate of 2/3's of the field. Just finishing proves your worth in the cycling community.

4) Having the courage to move out to Montana and surviving the MT internship

Say what you want about what I do, but the internship sucks. You don't get paid for it, you're required to work a FT schedule, and along the way study, pay rent and other bills, pass quizzes, and then pass 2 bitch of tests. Elli and I both worked 7 days a week almost the entire 9 months we were out there. It was stressful, but a whole ton of fun. I would put in 4 10 hour days at the hospital, followed by 3 full days working as a liftie at the local ski resort, and then repeat it all come Monday. Just to add to the chaos, we adopted Bubba while we were out there, cause you know, we had about 10 minutes of free time for the week we needed to fill. And we didn't know where we were gonna live until the night before we left ND. We both loved MT, and if an opportunity would've arose for me to work out there, we'd probably still be out there.

5) Being the person I am today

With all that went on while I was growing up, my life could've gone a completely different path. I could've easily just went with the half assed approach, accepted things for what they were, and ended up on the other side of the spectrum. The fact that I didn't makes me proud of myself. And not just me, but my two sisters as well. All 3 of us are thriving. It is a testament to our character, and I'm also proud of them for getting to where they are as well.

There's so many more, and I could fill up this post with hours of talk. But these are kind of the ones that stick out when I think about it. It's been a hell of a ride, and I'm anxious to see what lies ahead.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

1 part energy drink, 1 park toxic mold, all that adds up to rocket fuel!

Last weekend I rode the HHH for the 5th time, and completed it for the 2nd year in a row. I won't bore you with the details since they are similar to before. The main differences are that I beat last years time by 21 seconds, and that Ian stayed at my snails pace for the whole time, sacrificing what would've been a much faster ride time for himself. His company was appreciated, and I owe this finish to having someone else to ride with. Our support crew was great as always, and it was probably the most fun out of the 5 rides. More than likely I will now take a year or two off from this ride, and we are thinking of taking our talents out West for one of the rides in the mountains. But undoubtedly, I will be back in Southern Wisconsin soon enough.

As long as I got the ball rolling on cycling, let's run with that theme today. Specifically, water bottles. Behold a common example:

The example here is a podium style water bottle. All that means is that instead of having to pull the nozzle up when you want a drink and then close it when you're done, the podium style has a valve in the nozzle. All you do is squeeze and water comes out of the one-way valve and then self seals when you are done. They are great and I highly recommend them (Note to any Camelbak employee reading this: I do accept freebies. Hit me up with an email. I promise to whore out any product lovingly!).

But these and the old school style water bottles have a supposed problem. Apparently, some people find it too hard to clean the nooks and crannies, and thus mold tends to become rampant within the bottle rendering it completely unfit for use. So much so, that a company has taken action to alleviate the burden of cleaning a water bottle thoroughly. I give you the bottle of the future:

This is known as the "Clean Bottle". See that blue piece at the bottom? That unscrews, thus giving you a easy access point at the bottom to wash out all that energy juice residue that is the harbinger of diseased spores.

"But wait a second Jake", you ask, "I've never seen these new revolutionary bottles at my LBS (Local Bike Shop for all the non-cyclist)."

True that. Because they are pointless.

Cleaning a water bottle properly is no harder than cleaning a glass you drink from every day. And if you have a dishwasher, you have no excuse whatsoever. I have cleaned bottles now literally hundreds of times and I have as of yet to have any mold show up. Even when my wife leaves her bottle in her bikes cage for days on end in our hot and stuffy garage, conditions that should breed mold at rabbit like capacity, not one single spore has successfully multiplied. Here now is my foolproof method of accomplishing this.

Step 1: Acquire dish soap. I recommend the yellow stuff, cause it always smells nice.

Readers who work for Dawn soap: See comment directed at Camelbak above, just change "Camelbak" to "Dawn".

One of the gripes I've heard is that people can't seem to find a good enough cleaning agent for use in their bottles. I see their point I guess. I mean after all, dish soap is so scarce to find. The only carriers of it are Target, KMart, Walmart, Walgreens, Snyders, CVS, Super America, BP, PDQ, Holiday Stations, Gander Mountain, Cabelas, Byerly's, Rainbow, Festival, Lunds, and maybe only about 214 other stores within 5 miles of a persons dwelling. But we mustn't judge right.

Step 2: Acquire hot water. May I suggest your tap in the kitchen:

Hey! I'm washing my kid there. Wait a second, where the hell did you find dish soap?!!

 Step 3 (apparently the tricky part so read carefully): Add just a few drops of dish soap to the culprit bottle. Fill about half to 3/4 full with hot water. Put cap on bottle, tighten, and shake vigorously. After 10 seconds or so of shaking, you may proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Unscrew cap, and rinse with warm water until all soap is gone. Once again, I recommend using the tap in your kitchen for the rinsing part:

Seriously. Where did you find the dish soap?

Step 5: Lay out a towel and place your bottle upside down onto it to drain water and dry out. Even better, if you have one of those fancy drying racks for bottle (whatever "cake-eater"), use that.

You'll be able to spot people that complain about cleaning out their bottles. They're the ones with velcro shoes ("laces are haaaarrrrd"), pants sagging down ("belts are hhaaaaaarrrrddd"), and constantly insist on using paper plates when they have you over ("I've looked everywhere for dish soap and have just given up").

But kudos to the folks who came up with the "Clean Bottle" and hope to capitalize on this niche of the population. Even the truly lazy should be allowed to ride hydrated right? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Baby+Going to Target=Hilarity!

Isn't it amazing how much brain power you lose when you have a newborn in the house?

Oh wait. I guess it isn't that amazing. Only getting 20 minute stretches of sleep for a few weeks does a number on oneself.

And with that lack of sleep and decreased brain power, simple sentences are hard to produce.

In the first week or so Hannah was born, I was summoned to run up and get some supplies for Elli as it pertains to nursing the little one. Now, I don't consider breast pads to be along the lines of other feminine products, however I still wasn't overly comfortable with purchasing them. Don't ask me why, it's just because. Anyhow, it was a chance to get out of the house, which anyone who's ever experienced the first few weeks of new babydom, you jump on an opportunity to leave your domicile. So I loaded up Dav and away we went to Target.

I figured the item I needed would be over with the rest of the baby supplies, so we made a line for that area. However, upon getting to that section we discovered that we went at the very time they were in the middle of completely redoing that area. So stuff was patchy on the shelves and what wasn't out yet was loaded into boxes. Not wanting to experience the uncomfortable and awkward encounter that would ensue from asking an associate where the breast pads are, I set upon hunting them down myself. However, after going up and down each aisle about 6 or 7 times, I broke down and decided I needed to bite the bullet and ask. I hunted down an employee, hoping that it wasn't some younger person. But the one I found was just as bad, an older woman happily stocking more bottles on the shelves. The following is the conversation that took place, with the italicised words indicating what my brain was yelling at me while I was stammering on:

Jake: "Can I ask you for some help?"

Sales lady: "Of course, what can I help you find?"

Jake" I'm looking for..."

It is at this point my mind completely blanks out on the proper term for what I'm looking for. Not wanting to completely abandon ship and run away, I stagger on as best as I can:

Jake: "Ummm...I need, uh those things for Mom (Not YOUR mom dumbass! Dav and Hannah's mom!)...I mean, not MY mom! My daughters mom (but also Dav's mom! Make that point obvious so she doesn't think you sleep around with everything that walks and have dozens of illegitimate children), which is also {pointing at Dav} his Mom...

Sales Lady: {smiles somewhat hesitantly, probably wondering what drugs I'm on.}

Jake: "You know, those things that you put on for when {now makes universal va-va-voom gesture and quickly puts hands back down once he realizes he's gesturing boobs in front of an older lady stranger} you're feeding your baby (well she doesn't wear them while she's feeding them moron. How would the baby latch on with a pad in the way?)...I mean, not when she's feeding but when she's not..."

Sales Lady: {sensing great discomfort from me, puts hand on my shoulder and tries not to laugh too hard} "You mean breast pads. They're over here."

Sunday, May 8, 2011


In my last post I described an incident that occurred when I ran to get some medicine to help Dav along with one of his ailments. For most people I know, this would've never happened to them, or it would've only been an isolated incident.

Sometimes it pays to live amongst the stupid.

As all kids do, Dav got sick quite a bit when he was first starting out with the whole daycare thing. As such, it seemed we were always dealing with something. Most of the time, our end tables looked kind of like this:

Once Dav's nose started running, it was going for the rest of the month, the next month, and basically lasted until August. Anyhow, it was no surprise that after he got over the illness that caused the incident I mentioned last time he came right back down with something else. So, I once again volunteered to run back up to the store for the goods. After all, something else couldn't go down could it?

(Chh chh chh, shh shh shh, ahh ahh ahh)

So I drive back up to the same store as last time. I park, get to the crosswalk, and make a mad dash for the door to get out of the cursed crosswalk as quick as possible. Once in the store, I get things going mind wise so as to not be caught off guard:

(Let's do this!)

It was a week night, and I took note that there wasn't many people to be had in the store. This time around though, I wasn't just there for the medicinal drink. I had some other items to get, so as I got into the front doors, I grabbed a shopping cart on the way by. I then set off to get the items quickly and efficiently.

All was going well. I was making my way through the rows, having most of the aisles to myself, quickly checking off the list as I got the appropriate item, and the anxiety level over last time was going down. So much so, that I didn't even take note of the loser making his way down the aisle in my direction. This isn't him, but it will give you an idea of what I saw:

(Pseudo "flock of seagulls" hair, Elton John'esque glasses, irrelevant finger point...yup, you're a tool.)

To complete the package, he had his wanna be arm candy, well, on his arm. He was doing that walk where as to say "Check me out and my lady on the arm. I am something." All the while said arm candy was yapping rather loudly on the phone. To give you an idea what she was like, I present this:

(I'm sexy in a way normal people don't understand.)

Anyway, I was paying them no mind. My shopping cart was all the way to the side of the aisle, and I was marveling at how many different choices one has now when attempting to conquer the spice rack. The couple approached and the spunky arm candy came off the arm, and proceeded to pass me first. She was uttering phrases such as "like" and "OMG!" quite frequently. Impressive since I eavesdropped on her conversation for about 4 seconds. But when poser made his way by, he made a point of deviating his line and running into my cart. I was flabbergasted. "Yet another incident is going down over a Pedialyte run?" I thought. But again, I'm not really that confrontational, but when dealing with the galactically stupid, I cannot let things slide. As I've told Elli numerous times, stupid people don't know they're stupid. It's up to people like me to inform them of their stupidness. As such, after the initial shock wore off I commenced to action with the following verbage:

"Easy friend, there's no fire here. No need to push."

At this point, Mr. "Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino is my hero!" turns and says, "Was up!"

(Seriously, what IS up?)

I don't think of myself as imposing, however I stand close to 6'5" tall. I'm not built like a brick shit house, but I've been told I have a presence. On this particular night, I had on my Carhart stocking hat, a flannel coat, and jeans along with boots. I was tired, probably not clean shaven, and when confronted by this sort of BS, I do get confrontational.

Testosterone both gets people hurt, and hurts people.

As such, I had a popular brand of Paprika in my hand. I let it fall from my hand into the cart, turned rather slowly in poser's direction, and stared at him with everything I had.

"Excuse me?", I bellowed.

At this point arm candy returns, still talking on her phone. She seems to take stock of the situation, and makes a move. Grabbing tool bag's arm, she very directly says to him:

"Brandon. Don't. He'll kill you."

And they retreated rather hastily around the corner and down the way. I chuckled to myself, pushed the cart to checkout, paid, and went home with another story to tell.

And to think, when I was a kid I thought the grocery store was boring.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Duck and weave, and grab the Pedialyte on the way by...

Despite my persona, I'm not a confrontational person.

Really, I'm not.

When people argue, I get somewhat uncomfortable. And unless I'm really pushed, I'll keep my mouth shut for the most part. Unless my opinion is asked, then I may spew forth venom like a geyser.

But for the most part, I don't stir the pot as they say.

But sometimes, one cannot stay silent and let things past. For me, it's when dealing with the galactically stupid.

A few years ago, Daven brought home one of the many daycare acquired illnesses he has been exposed to. The whole works, including some action involving evacuation of fluids. At both ends. Being the good and loving parents we are, we took care of the little guy. And with medical knowledge to both of our credits, we know that when the little ones are expressing fluid violently, you must replace expelled fluid with some new stuff. Enter the pharmaceutical gurus:

Unfortunately, this stuff doesn't have a long shelf life once opened. 5 days if I remember correctly. As such, we don't keep a ready supply on hand. So, being the hunter and gatherer of the household, I volunteered to quickly run up to the grocery store and pick up a jug.

"How hard could that be?" you ask. Well apparently you've never gone to the grocery store over here in "The Wood" after the sun goes down.

I jump in the truck, drive to the store, park, and begin the trek into what I'm thinking will be an uneventful excursion. But as I get closer to the crosswalk, I notice headlights out of the corner of my eye. Realizing that they haven't even made the turn onto the main drag, I figure it's safe to cross.

I forgot where I was. Lack of sleep with a sick kid will alter your mental state so that common sense isn't so common. This is Maplewood, and the cup of idiots runneth over.

I'm halfway into the crosswalk when I notice the lights are now pointed at me and approaching quick. Just as I make eye contact, the car stops (about 6 feet away or so) and douchebag driver lays on the horn. Now, tired or not, I'm pretty sure the law says that one must yield to pedestrians when they are in or about to enter the crosswalk. Also, dickweed decides that the stop sign before the crosswalk does not apply to him. Regardless of all that, I'm pretty tired, pissed at the world because everyone else is sleeping through the night and not dealing with a sick child, and I'm really not in the mood to be honked at. All that in mind, something shifts in my brain, and the inner bad ass comes out:

"Bring it Bee-otch!!!"

Why a pug dog you ask? Take a look at one. Anything that stupid looking better be able to back something up.

Back to the story. There I am in the crosswalk trying to comprehend where this guy gets off honking at me when I was just trying to cross legally well before he even got anywhere near here. At this point, with the inner bad ass activated, I take action:

Unoriginal? Yup. Appropriate for the situation? What do you think? I didn't want to waste time, so I flashed him the old one finger salute. At this point, he backs up rather quickly. But if he failed to yield to a pedestrian much less stop for a stop sign, do you think he's gonna check his mirror? When he stomps on it to back up, he almost runs down another couple exiting the store. The gentleman whom almost became road kill does not seemingly have a hesitation to confront, as he ditches his bag to the ground and slams a rather angry fist on the guys trunk, all the while cursing heavily.

The jackass driver stops, and proceeds to swing open the door.

It is at this point I decide Pedialyte is not worth dying over, as it would seem the situation has reached a whole new level of volatility, and in my less than optimal mental state, the first thing that springs to mind is a shootout between the two. But as I'm weighing the options of running back to my truck or diving behind the pallet of discount chips right inside the door, a very authoritative voice pierces the chilled night air:

"Get back in your vehicle, and shut the engine off! NOW!!"

All at once, I'm aware of the blue and red lights swirling and reflecting off the windows and other cars in the parking lot. Apparently, there was a squad car parked just a few spaces down from where this was all going on, and the law enforcement officer was now making his way over to the action. I watched from the safety of the bulk buns, and after a few moments decided I needed to be on my way. I had enough drama for one night. After locating the goods, exchanging the currency for it, and walking on out, I noticed that the squad was now parked behind the idiot driver's car. The driver was conspicuously absent from behind the wheel. The good officer was writing in his ticket pad, and I stopped and asked if I needed to make a statement or something. He answered in the negative, saying that the other couple provided enough statement and unless I really wanted to make one I could be on my way. I thanked him for doing his job, and proceeded to go home.

And that was that, until the next time I needed to make a run to the store for items to deal with sickness. That's right, another situation evolved. Elli has since banned me from making sick item procurement runs.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Raisins. They suck...

Raisins suck. You may like raisins, in which you suck. Why not just eat the grape? It's so much better.

But it seems that the world is not in agreement with me on this one, because raisins continue to rear their ugly selves all over the place.

They even look bad. Ever seen a pile of mouse turds? Look familiar then?

But no place do I hate raisins more than when they ruin perfectly good dessert items. The worst offense? Dressing up like an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie. We've all done this. You spy the prize sitting invitingly on a table either at work or a party:


You snag one and then take what you expect will be that first big blissful bite. However the second the teeth hit what should be sweet chocolaty oatmeal lovechild combo goodness you sense something isn't right. Chocolate chips shouldn't be chewy right? All at once a chain reaction of realization goes through your brain:

Chocolate chips chewy = not right = wait a minute = not what I wanted = fruity = BAD! = RAISINS!!!

At this point it is ok to cry and then throw away the cookie. But if only it were done there. If you're like me, this unfortunate circumstance sets of the whole 7 stages of grief scenario. When I bite into what I think will be chocolaty oatmeal goodness only to have my taste buds molested by the mouse turd impersonators, my mood shifts as follows.
Shock and Denial: This cannot be. Surely the bakery made a mistake and the next bite won't have raisins.

Pain and Guilt: Why put raisins in here? WHY? I just wanted a cookie and I got this?! {sobbing}

Anger: JAKE MAD!!!!! What asshole does this?! Raisins belong in old people's pantries and little kid's lunches. NOT COOKIES!!!!

Depression: Well that's it. First this, now I'm gonna get an upset stomach, vomit, and my whole day is gonna be ruined. Why did I even take this cookie? Stuff never works out for me. {over exaggerated sigh}

Hope: You know what? I don't have to finish this abomination. I can throw it away and maybe next time it will have chocolate chips instead of raisins. Anyone else think these look like mouse turds?

Reconstruction and Working Through It: Actually, if I take the other way home, I could stop by the bakery and get the proper cookie. This day may not be completely ruined.

Acceptance: It's ok this cookie has raisins. Some people like them. Some people also like getting kicked in the nuts or having their nipples shocked. Or even both. The point is, some people are just weird, and weirdos need their cookies too. We may not agree with it, but damn it, this is America, and if people want to put things in their sweet treats that look like mouse excrement, I say do it!

Seriously though, raisins are terrible. Don't put them in cookies. Weirdos.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What? They're scary!

Few things truly terrify me. For instance:

Aliens scared the hell out of me when I was younger. And even now I'm a little uneasy outside alone when it's dark. But even if there are a few of them trying to take you to their ship, they're supposedly skinny as a bean pole and stand about 3 1/2 feet tall. Doesn't sound like something a swift kick can't take care of.

But they aren't the only scary thing around. How about these:

If you know me at all, you'll know how terrifying that was for me to search for a picture and have hundreds of them come up. Some people call them bees. I call them "winged spawns of Satan". Bees serve no purpose other than to sting. Wind, butterflies, and hummingbirds can pollinate flowers just fine. And why can't honey be produced in a level 4 containment lab where there is little to no chance of a bee escaping? I'm just saying.

And yet another thing that I find scary:

Pillsbury rolls are delicious. The buttermilk ones are heaven when coupled with sausage gravy. The crescent rolls? Orgasmic. But why, for the love of all things holy, do they have to put them in those god damn highly pressurized containers? This is one of the things I grapple with often: I want the prize inside the package, yet am terrified to open them. I'm convinced that every time I go to open these things they are gonna not pop open nicely, but completely explode and take my hand with 'em. But now having to deal with them for many moons, I have come up with a system that works relatively well.

First, I get my heart rate back down to normal using Buddhist breathing techniques. Then I peel the very first bit of the roll. If at this point I feel the slightest vibration or shifting of contents indicating explosion is imminent, I hurl the package as far as possible and dive behind the couch. If however I get that first bit undone and everything remains calm, I proceed to the next step. I hold the container at arms length and begin to shake the whole thing so that gravity starts peeling the rest of it off. Once it is completely peeled, I let it fall on the counter from a bit of a distance and jump back. Usually this results in it popping open, however sometimes it doesn't. When the latter happens, I fight back tears knowing I will have to engage in hand to hand combat with the beast. I usually opt for a weapon at this point. The preferred instrument?

That's right. A 50 lb maul. I figure it splits wood no problem and can pulverize concrete with ease, surely it can make a little paper thin cardboard package container it's bitch. However Elli always vetoes the maul since she's concerned more about her "flooring" and "counters" than my safety, so alas I must find another tool. Defeated, I return the maul and pick up a wife approved device:

Fuck off. It's the heaviest thing I'm allowed to use in this case. And it's end loaded nicely so I get incredible swing speed. So, finally armed I go on the attack. I creep up to where the ticking bomb is resting, careful not to make heavy footsteps which would cause jostling and set the package off, and in one swift motion strike from above, aiming for the seals of the exposed paper innards. At the moment of impact I close my eyes so as not to be injured by the flying debris caused by the pressure release of opening. Sometime I must strike up to 3 times, but most times only one is needed. When it does finally split open, I feel like I truly conquered something. Sadly, few other in the house appreciate my accomplishment. Elli rolls her eyes and Dav just looks and then goes back to his playing. Hannah normally has crabby time going on around dinner, so she's selfishly ignoring me anyhow.

I then have to sit down until I'm done shaking. The biscuits always taste sweeter knowing the hell I had to go through to get them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thank you Tony...

Last week a friend of mine lost his Dad to kidney failure. It was a long process and he put up one hell of a fight from all accounts. He was a good man, and there are many people mourning his loss these days.

Back in the day I was a member of Boy Scout Troop #186 based out of Roseville, MN. We were not your typical scouting troop. We cared little about merit badges, and we hardly ever wore our uniform shirt much less the necktie. What we did focus on is character and building confidence and useful life skills. We didn't care much for the book and the status quo, yet we were probably some of the best damn scouts that ever came out of that organization. If you were lost in the woods, broke something out in the middle of nowhere, or needed to survive a few days away from civilization, you should pray someone from our troop was with you.

Tony was a huge influence on all of us. He wasn't polished; he made you do things on your own, because that was the only way you were gonna learn it and/or get better at it. He told it like it was, and if you were being a dumbass or slouch, he'd let you know. He was the assistant Scout Master in our troop, and even though he didn't quite look the part, I know he took that title seriously.

If you pulled your weight, didn't complain, and did a good job, you were invited to be a part of the inner circle in that troop. Slackers weren't wanted. I managed to get in that group and felt honored to be able to go up to where the leaders tents were at the campgrounds and sit in their circle of chairs and just BS for a few hours.

That troop, and Tony's influence, laid the foundation for the person that I am today. I didn't have a whole lot of confidence when I started scouts, but I sure found some quick. I never made it to Eagle Scout by my own choosing. One of the things supposedly that played into whether or not you got that level was your character, and there were plenty of examples of people getting it in our troop that should not have gotten it if that was truly taken into consideration. So I chose not to do all the tedious merit badge requirements for it. I remember Tony being one of the ones disappointed when I said I had no intention of fulfilling the requirements for this. But when I told him why, he didn't try to change my mind. He accepted it even though he didn't like it, because I had made a choice based on my feelings and not because I was being lazy.

I turned 18 and left the troop, went off to college, but managed to stay in very distant touch with Tony through my Dad and also the Haunted Shack (a fundraiser Tony helped make me a part of for Special Olympics up in Duluth, MN). I learned of his illness after it had taken quite a toll on him, and was fortunate to hang out with him for a weekend last summer. He was tired and run down then, but still battling and still the same Tony spirit wise. When I learned of his passing last week, it saddened me greatly. The world lost a good man.

I don't believe in heaven or hell. I don't believe that after we die we live eternally in some beautiful field somewhere. But I do believe in a persons spirit, and each of us has energys of sort that can't be seen or heard. But they are there. Tony's pain is at an end, and I take comfort in knowing that he is now resting peacefully.

Thank you Tony. I hope that all of us that were scouts under you made you proud, and I will honor your legacy with trying to continuously better myself as the years go by.

You will be missed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How many kids are in this house?

Jake: (squeezing chocolate syrup into glass and causes farting like noise) "HA HA!"

Elli: (typing in other room, most likely rolls eyes) "How old are you?"

Jake: (squeezes a little more syrup into glass, causes more noise) "hee hee."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Here I am...

I forgot I had a blog. And I haven't written in over a month.

Two the 4 people who read this, I apologize.

The truth is there has been plenty to write about. Hannah showed up, Republicans have run amok over in WI, gas is fast approaching $4 a gallon, my quads are rapidly approaching "make out" status thanks to the active training miles, etc etc. The truth is, I just haven't gotten around to this thing. But I'm gonna try to update a bit more often, with the original goal I had of at least once a week.

There's really no point or direction with this post. I just wanted to check in quickly and let you all know that this site hasn't been abandoned. Stick around and I'll be around a bit more often in the future.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

You can't please everyone...

Change, by definition can be this: A transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another:

Some welcome Change, others resist.

Now, let's try Perspective: The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

The process for registering for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds is changing, evolving, transforming...

I've been volunteering and working with this bike event since it's inception, participating in various roles and becoming the director in 2005. In the past 8 years, many things have changed and evolved. But none of them have thickened my skin quite so much as the transition of registration.
The intent of a full lottery is that of 'fairness' and equal opportunity for a spot in the ride. Many comments come across my desk about the issues with on-line registration...it fills within minutes, one doesn't stand a chance if they're not at a high speed connected computer at the precise moment of opening, etc...

So, let's work on a feasible option to eliminate many of these concerns.

I'd like to say "Much to my surprise" this has angered a handful of loyal riders. But it's not surprising.

Loyalty to this event is ever so appreciated. Truly.

Unfortunately, it's a bit challenging to correlate why the transition of a registration process is discounting our loyal participants. Luck and technology are on your side if you've been able to register on line for the HHH several years running. None have been given preference with the on-line process.

There will be a few snags and snafu's, change can be a learning process. It's in my nature and is a part of the way this event is run to smooth out the snags and solve problems to best benefit our customers.

Living in a less than perfect world, I've come to accept the fact that I can't make everyone happy. That doesn't stop me from trying, however...

As one loyal participant wrote: "Thanks very little for going to a full lottery. It really rewards those of us who have supported this ride for 6, 7, or 8 years. Now the lazy people who wouldn’t sit at their computers at the appointed hour with the hope of getting in the ride will get a “fair” chance - very “progressive Madison” of you. Oh well, there’s always riding rogue if I miss the cut. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t touch a thing at the rest stops – I’d make my own."

A GUARANTEE: If the routes of this event are overrun with a larger than approved number of cyclists, local authorities and townships will put an end to the Horribly Hilly Hundreds.

Here's where I ask for a bit of perspective from anyone reading this blog post.

You ARE important, we WANT you to participate in the Horribly Hilly, but supply and demand are not in balance for this ride. Please consider being fair, conscientious, honest and mildly selfless in regards to registration and participation.

The above was the response from the director of the HHH regarding the change he made to the change he made in registration.

Confused? You should be.

The HHH has turned into an immensely popular ride. Since it's inception, it was grown and grown, attracting riders from farther off in the country. Unfortunately, while the popularity of the ride has increased amongst cyclist, the popularity has not improved with the townships the route takes us through. As such, there has been a very strict rider limit for every year of the ride. Last year, 1,000 were allowed to register from the start, and then an additional 300 were selected via lottery. The whole idiocy of the local folk not accepting more riders is an entirely different issue all together and won't be discussed right now.

Clearly something needs to change with regard to how registration takes place. Before it was a free for all and you would sit at the computer at the designated time and curse, possibly cry, and constantly reload a dead server until you were fortunate to get through and have your spot processed. Some made it. Others didn't. The above statement from the director points out valid complaints with this, however I don't feel they warranted a change because of that. One comment was about slow Internet access, another was about it filling in minutes. While these are warranted, they are hollow complaints. I personally have registered the last 2 years with a computer that has been "touchy" with regard to Internet connection. And not being at the computer at the designated time, well, that's too bad for you. The people who put on this ride announce plenty early enough so that you can get your day in order to be at the computer at the time. And don't whine about your job or home life preventing this: The last 3 times I've registered I've worked in the healthcare industry with healthcare hours, my wife was working as well as going to school full time, and we were chasing around a toddler son. Point is, I knew when the HHH opened for registration those 3 years and made the necessary adjustments to allow myself the 10 minutes needed to register. If you couldn't do that, well too bad. Those of us truly interested in doing the ride knew what to expect and planned accordingly.

So what should've been done? Well they had it right this year...for about a week. They announced in December that the registration process was going to a lottery for all except those that rode last year. If you rode in 2010, you had first dibs and would fill out a form and mail it in. This is how most big cycling events do it. There is a grandfathering of sorts system that not only builds loyalty but rewards those that have already demonstrated loyalty. However, someone must've got there panties in a bunch and in tuned bunched other people's panties and rather than tell the people with bunched panties to shove it, the rider directors caved and said let's make this a completely open lottery.

They claim this to be fair. I couldn't disagree more. Those of us who have put years of hard work into this ride need to be recognized. If you're not gonna increase the rider limit then you need to build loyalty. Saying one thing and then folding and meeting demands of a few put a bad taste in the mouths of those of us who want to make this our thing.

I planned on making this the 5th year in a row that I participated in the HHH. I'll find out this coming week as to whether or not my name was drawn as one of the lucky few. If not, I'm gonna be particularly bitter and will probably pen a pointless letter to the director (pointless because it's obvious now that they only recognize a few individuals and couldn't care less what the whole say) and walk away from the ride. I did indeed plan on taking a break next year and trying my hand at a ride out west, but I had every intention of going back to the HHH. Whether or not I get in, unless they show some sort of recognition or come up with a better plan than the whole "open lottery" that planned one year vacation may just be a more permanent one. Which is really too bad because the HHH has been the whole basis of my cycling habit. It would feel really weird to not have that to look forward to.

UPDATE: As of earlier this afternoon (Mon Jan 31st) I received an email from the HHH saying that my name was amongst the lucky ones who were chosen via the lottery to ride. While this made me happy and I'm excited as always to ride this event, I still stand by the above. Those of us who have devoted thousands of miles and countless hours both training and working out travel logistics and what not need to be rewarded for their dedication. Repeat riders should have first dibs; it's how you build loyalty and build a solid base of riders. Also, if more riders were repeat ones, they would get more familiar with the route and area and possibly less traffic run-ins and less littering would result. This in turn may befriend the host townships and they may be open to increasing the limit, which is the #1 problem anyhow. So no bitter email this year, but again I'll wait and see what, if anything, changes with the registration and see if I'll come back to the ride. Chances are good that I will. The ride is unique and truly is an enjoyable thing to partake in, rather I finish or not.
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