Monday, September 18, 2023

One night in Chicago

Actually, 4 nights in Chicago. 

Let's start with food. Pizza #1 was from Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company. Pretty much as I remember it, including the 90 minute wait. They take reservations now, but I had not expected everyone to be hungry after 12 hours of flying...

Donuts from Stan's Donuts and Coffee. Note to future self: In the future, just buy six of the same donut to avoid the high likelihood of fights over donuts.
Hot dog and Italian beef from Al's Italian Beef. Sorry, no link. Either their website is dead or American Airline's satellite link has failed. Seeing as my father never took me here, it's probably not very good, but this non-Chicagoan was fooled.
Pizza #2 was a tough decision. Giordano's has always been my preferred traditional Chicago pizza, but the Internet says it's for tourists. My family says go to Lou Malnati's, but the beer list tops out at Stella Artois. Beer is very important when travelling with my children. Pequod's seemed to care at least a little about my happiness and had a reasonable selection. We were starving by the time the pan finally made it out of the oven which may explain why it was the best pizza ever. 

Our hotel claims to have invented the brownie. That's a photo of a regular old fashioned. They also make a brownie old fashioned (not pictured). 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

New Phone Day

Nothing fancy, but I've switched to Android, which means there's a blogger app, which means I can write short stupid posts like this one.

Monday, October 03, 2022

Things to do While You're Still Young


Something like 113 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. I don't even want to talk about how long this ride took. I wish I had a GoPro, as most of the best views were during white knuckle descents so I couldn't easily pull out the cell phone and shoot pictures. 


I had considered the Auwahi Wind Turbines my final turnaround spot in case I wasn't feeling up for the whole loop. I had figured most of the climbing was out of the way and it would be easier to press onwards rather than turning back. As it turns out, google maps grossly miscalculated the elevation changes and I had underestimated how bad the terrain would get. Also, the locals seem to get more and more angry with cyclists the further away you get from Kula. 

Auwahi Wind Turbines
I decided to stop a couple of miles before Kaupo to eat all my remaining food and drink all my remaining water. This plan turned out to be a poor one as the Kaupo Store was closed. 

A well maintained section of unpaved road.
I had scheduled a stop for the purpose of spitting on Charles Lindbergh's grave, but was so thirsty, I rode by without seeing it. Instead, I begged my way into the National Park for a water bottle refill. I'm pretty sure I have a pass at home and didn't feel spending $55 for another one.

Finally back in civilization, I had lunch at Hana's finest Mexican restaurant. I wondered how long I could sleep on their picnic table bench before it got too late to pedal home. 

I opted for Mexican Squirt. It was terrible. 

The rain began around Keanae and did not stop. All my planned water stops were closed. Fortunately, Jaws Country Store was open for a few more minutes and didn't mind me eating pistachios on their lanai. 

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Jet lag usually prompts me to blog and a 12 hour time change is about as bad as it gets. I'll start with something easy: favorite bars. [Combining a bicycle tour with children who do not often want to bicycle made this a necessary category.] Note: these are just bars. If I get around to it, I'll write about restaurants that might also have bars later.

1) In de Karkol We had a couple of hours in Maastricht before dinner and the children did not want to leave the boat. This was the day Jancie did not want to leave the boat at all, so we bicycled as a triplet. Deciding we had spent enough time in the ship's lounge, we stepped into town looking for somewhere with a quiet bar where we could sit without children. The door was so well hidden, we walked around the corner looking for another entrance.

Once inside, we were greeted by loud music, old ladies dancing, and almost no room. This place was coronavirus heaven. A large bald man who might have been a bouncer yelled something at me in Dutch. I started wondering if we had wandered into a private club. "Beer?" I replied. "Bier!" he yelled. And the other bartender started pouring tiny glasses of beer. We drank like six of them and ended up with a €16,40 bar tab. 


Nico with a 0.18 L of Brand Beer

Did they have a different glass for every bottled beer?
2) Het Elfde Gebod This bar was near our Amsterdam hotel and the "16 beers on tap/100 bottled beers" painted on the window caught my interest. It was about 9 PM on a Tuesday and there were a couple of falling down drunk people standing (sort of) at the bar. The large bartender had politely cut them off and they were half-heartedly arguing while half-heartedly leaving. The bartender had what sounded a lot like a fake American accent. When I asked about it, he said he was from New York, but had lived in Amsterdam 25 years. 

3) Brouwerij 'T IJ Though actually next to a windmill and not inside a windmill, this seemed like an acceptable way to get the kids to sit in a brewery with me. It's a couple of km from where we were staying, but we were already at NEMO, which was about halfway there.

The food menu is limited. €10 gets you a platter with cheese, eggs, bread, sweet pickles, and peanuts. The walls are adorned with old Dutch beer bottles. 

All the beer names are in Dutch
4) I don't know if Brouwerij de Prael is worth mentioning. It was mostly interesting because the two or three servers that came near our table seemed a little off. I thought it was a language thing, which in itself was strange because up until that point everyone in Amsterdam had spoken flawless English

One of the employees kept directing us to the beer menu. I was going to order one of the one or two beer names that looked familiar, then I noticed the translation board. (It was Dutch to German, which is not entirely helpful to me, but still much easier to understand than Dutch.) The same employee did not want me looking at the translation board and kept pointing me back to the Dutch menu. 

Dutch to German translation

Fries, cheese, pickles...maybe 10 Euro?

I can't remember what these were

Hidden under the clamp on the clipboard
on the English side of the menu

Eventually we spotted the above disclaimer on the menu. The uncomfortableness of interacting with the staff was sort of transformed into a feel good story, I guess. 

5) Brouwerij Bosch (Maastricht) came up in my google search looking for breweries while we had time to kill waiting for the boat to catch us. I was surprised when we walked into the tasting room and the old man told us they made two beers, light and dark and we should drink the dark first. This was the only English I heard him speak. Both beers were in bottles. All the literature was in Dutch. Later, upon reviewing their website, I ascertained that they no longer make beer at this facility, but are transitioning it into a craft beer brewery. I see no timeline for when this is happening. Anyway, it's a 350 year old brewery and they give tours.

Monday, November 08, 2021

So we're getting near the end of the year, and I've yet to post anything at all. The lack of posting is in part due to covid. Covid is boring and not worth writing about. The lack of posting is also due in part to a "site not secure" warning that has been appearing every time I typed into a browser for the last two years. You see, when I first started this website, I was young and the internet was easier. At one point, I was using our desktop PC as a server. Whenever somebody happened upon my site, the hard drive would wake up and spin. I don't remember how I learned to do this or why I bothered going to the trouble of doing it. But time moved on, things got more complicated, and I could not figure out how to get that site not secure warning to go away without paying somebody far more than my site is worth for an SSL certificate. Fortunately, this kind person who must be much younger than me and have a whole lot more time on her hands and was apparently in the exact same situation as me (free blog courtesy of google/blogspot with a paid domain name/domain name forwarder hosted by godaddy) wrote a step by step guide that was simple enough for an old guy like me to figure out. So welcome back everybody. Please enjoy some secure browsing. For my next trick, I'm going to go through all the dead images that were at one point hosted by imageshack and now are nothing and replace them with good links.  


Wednesday, December 02, 2020

First Quad Tandem Tour

Loaded for touring
A little before the toursists came back, we woke up early packed up the bike and set off for Kaanapali. In our prime, this would have been a very easy tandem ride, but with a few years, a couple of kids, a super heavy bicycle, and 30 pounds of gear, I was a little concerned. Note to self: I will never honk my horn through that tunnel again.  
The Pali
View from room

If you're looking for somewhere to stay with your 13+ foot long bicycle. I'd recommend the Marriott Maui Ocean Club. They have a covered surfboard rack that they offered to us (which I assume is usually available) or an indoor locked hallway (that's probably used for luggage storage when there are actual tourists on the island). The reception desk clerk also upgraded us by about 5 room categories. 

Close to nothing was open in Kaanapali, so we rode into Lahaina two or three times to eat.
Breaking the law

The ride home was considerably worse than the ride there. The late morning crosswind/headwind didn't help. We were so exhausted that we had to stop 2 miles from home to rest. 

Shave ice stop

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz on your 5 grand stereo

Way back in high school, I used to have a job selling speakers. Most of the speakers I sold weren’t exactly great, but after a year or two in the business, I had put together a pretty decent sound system (particularly for a teenager). The speakers and aging components made several cross-country (and at least one international) move(s) with me, but were eventually replaced with a 5.1 home theater in a box. Technology had advanced and I must have decided that both the space and financial commitments would have been too much to upgrade to a modern AV setup that actually sounded good.

The perspective is a little off. The sub is
about the size of three Dingos.

An unexpected and unfortunate side effect of the cheap 5.1 system was that my music routine changed significantly. Specifically, I mostly stopped listening because everything sounded unpleasant. Even more unfortunate, I did not notice this had happened until 10 or 15 years later when I made a somewhat extravagant coronavirus lockdown purchase. I won't bore everyone with the details, but this subwoofer would have gotten me kicked out of any apartment in which I used to reside. 

And on to one of the numerous problems the 2020s have presented: My music collection was previously contained in a 300 disc changer, which replaced an older 100 disc changer that kept getting stuck every time disc 67 came up (if memory serves, it was a Red Hot Chili Peppers album). This was high-tech in 1998, but stopped working sometime around 2016. I had made a couple of half hearted attempts at ripping everything, but never got very far. Although I have used Pandora as background music for years, paying for streaming music seemed almost obscene. I went through several free Spotify trials, one of which caused me to lose a free Hulu subscription. I tried Tidal, because what's not to like about master recordings? [I used to collect Mobile Fidelity records of music I didn’t even like because they were supposed to sound better.] But the Tidal interface is terrible and their highest quality recordings will not play through my receiver without a lot of extra equipment. I'm currently on Amazon Music. Overall it seems to work, and my nine year old can play Taylor Swift in her room without disturbing what’s happening in the rest of the house. 

I'm now on month five with the new setup. I would say it's been almost life changing. Definitely life altering. We’ve had music going in the family room fairly non-stop. The music of my youth; music my parents listened to; music my grandparents might have enjoyed; and quite a bit of music that I never would have bothered listening to, but figured would sound good on this stereo. Which finally brings me to the reason I started writing this post: Tim Quirk’s Five Star Songs. He was the front man for one of my favorite bands in high school and college. Nico and I once drove from Indianapolis to Chicago and back, possibly on a week night to see them at the Empty Bottle. I passed up a $200 offer for an out of print record while I was a starving student because I figured I would never find another copy. And come to think of it, I stole the name of this blog from one of their songs. Tim Quirk must have started posting about his favorite songs 4 or 5 years ago. I paid occasional attention, usually thinking "I should listen to more Pavement" or "How have I never heard of a band called Ted Leo and the Pharmacists?" I rarely played a song when it came up in my feed as I would usually be at work and never have headphones on my person. Anyway, the search for new tunes made me think an Amazon playlist of Tim's songs would be a worthwhile expenditure of my time.

Let me now spend a few sentences complaining about the Amazon Music app: It might be better than Tidal's, but it's still horrible. If you're looking for obscure music (as much of this playlist is), it's either not there, or very difficult to find. A single mistyped letter results in nothing returned (I can't tell you how many times I accidentally wrote Camper Can Beethoven or Camper Van Beerthoven). Compilation Albums (which is much of the soul I was able to find) are almost invariably attributed to "Various Artists". After a few hundred songs, I would cheer when I was able to find a song on the first try without googling anything or reversing the title and the artist or searching for the artist and then scrolling through 200 songs. I almost cried when Amazon matched "Shed" up to Henry Wallace Shead, Sr. (AKA Shed). I found myself going to greater lengths to find hard to locate songs if the descriptions made it sound warranted. I spent a solid 20 minutes on Padraic Morrell because my family had a similar experience in an Irish pub a couple of years ago (or maybe pubs is more accurate). 

I seriously doubt I would have attempted creating this playlist had I realized how long it takes to add 1200 songs on Amazon (I only found 989 of them). If you've read this far, you deserve this link.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

15 more minutes

Photo courtesy of ex-girlfriend who must have
been a recipient of one of my father’s 30 copies.
When I was in the third grade, I learned to solve the Rubik’s cube in a little under a minute. Don’t be too impressed, I was in a couple of competitions and my old nemesis won in under 20 seconds. But my father, who was hoping I’d be smarter than I am, was impressed and called up some reporter he knew at the local paper to write about me. That night, we drove all around Monrovia buying up every available copy. I’m using the term “buying” loosely, as we went to every machine, put in a quarter (or whatever the paper cost in 1980) and took all the remaining copies. Years later I started thinking this approach was exactly wrong. If you want the public to know how great you are, you can’t take all the evidence out of circulation.

Our quad tandem was built by Rodriguez Bicycles in Seattle.
Anyway, a few decades later and I have once again become newsworthy. Which reminds me, have I failed to mention that we now have a really, really long bicycle? For those happening on this page that might be interested: It has 15 S&S couplers (which enables the quad to be converted to a triplet or a regular tandem and also to fit into 3 airline standard cases), a Rohloff Speedhub, a bar end shifter controlled rear disc, and two child stoker kits. The rest of the bike is pretty standard.

They spelled our name wrong and mixed up
Jancie and Zooey, but we were powering by
so quickly that I suppose the errors are
I made sure to tell my children that if we went out to buy multiple copies, we would be paying for each one. But when I saw that the Maui News sells for a whopping $1, I started to reconsider. Fortunately, my ethics were not put to the test because the machine at the hospital only had one paper left. Nico went out to buy another 10. I'm going to assume she paid full price.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Dear friends, family, and coworkers:

It is with much excitement that I tender my resignation immediately. I have enjoyed my career as a pharmacist immensely, but recent world events have taught me at least one important lesson: most of the four thousand something unique pharmaceutical entities available in this country are not that effective for their intended uses. 

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, there’s been some evidence that a previously unknown, untreatable virus has been slowly making its way to our island paradise. As a former pharmacist, there is nothing worse than an untreatable disease. And of course, this virus could not have arrived at a worse time for Nico, who had recently settled into a new position teaching Maui’s youth. How will she cope with being cooped up with her own misbehaving children instead of everyone else’s? The same way she copes with everything else: By sewing and fulfilling an important community need.

And so I announce our new business venture: The Lasko Covid-19 Personal Protective Mask and Gown. Unlike cheaper imitations, which if you’re lucky might contain flower petals and mint, the Lasko Covid-19 mask is infused with pharmaceutical grade hydroxychloroquine, ground into a pharmaceutically elegant powder guaranteed to provide the exact prophylactic dose needed to protect the wearer from SARS-CoV-2 and/or possibly many other viruses.    

Please get your orders in quickly. Due to extreme demand, we are anticipating material and medication shortages in the near future.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

10 Things I've accomplished in the last 10 years.

Facebook reminded me that I wrote this post exactly 10 years ago, so today seemed like a good time for an update.

1) Moved across an ocean (and then moved halfway back).

2) Held a baby for the first time. Yeah, that's right I hadn't held a baby before.

3) Became a citizen of New Zealand.

4) Had a few photographs published. I didn't get paid for them, or anything, but at least three people thought they were good enough to bother asking if they could use them. One of them is on this website.

5) Visited seven countries (though only four of them were new).

6) Qualified for the Boston Marathon (unfortunately I was a little too slow to be able to register that year and I'll probably never be that fast again).

7) Learned how to perform maintenance and a whole lot of repairs on an old Jeep.

8) Held down shockingly steady employment (especially compared to the last decade).

9) Taught two little girls how to bicycle.

10) Stayed married another 10 years.