Thursday, February 26, 2009

Most of the time when I'm watching a food tv show that concentrates on a specific city or style of food (The history of pizza, Chicago, etc) and I personally know enough about the place to have an informed opinion, I end up annoyed and frustrated, which means I start talking to the magic box.

Why didn't they go to this place? What about that other, better place? Why do they immediately go to the tourist trap? Nobody that lives in Chicago goes there unless they are carting around visitors. I hate Gino's East. Giordano's is so much better for deep dish. My pockets hurt. I want my bottle.

After the whiny 5 year old takes a break, I usually end up getting sucked into the entire episode and wishing I was eating at Palermo's or Chi Tung. However, lately the tv programmers have been hitting home runs in my little culinary world. Anthony Bourdain's Chicago No Reservations was simply out of the park. He set the tone as one in opposition to the standard tourist slog.

Diners, Driveins and Dives visited Nick and Vito's on the southside of Chicago. I really do miss their pizza -- very thin and not greasy at all. It's almost like inhaling a cracker.

Man V. Food is my guilty pleasure in the lot. It's usually disgusting, but the host is pretty affable and his joie de vivre is exciting. His St Louis show had him attempting, and failing, to take down 5 milkshakes at Crown Candy. I've had the pleasure of eating their once, and I think I had either the monster blt or something smothered in chili. I do know that I had a chocolate shake, which was just perfection. The place was delicious and legit it every way possible. Maybe that is the root of my inability to avoid getting a shake every time I eat at the Snow City Cafe?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Everyone at my gig in Madison, WI knew I loved fishing, and that fishing along with camping and hiking was what drew me up here to the Great Land. So when the time came for a gracious and generous good bye from the Business Services department at my insurance company in Madison, I received a delicious cake with a large plastic Bass on top of it. As the cake was devoured over the course of the day, everyone decided that I needed to take the Bass with me, to maybe give it some degree of a tour across the ALCAN. I decided that the plan would be to photograph the Bass in as many places as possible to bookmark the long slog up the two lane ribbon into the wilderness before emerging in Anchorage. They chuckled and agreed it was a fun goal. For a reason I cannot remember, Greg's camera was nominated as the official Bass photographer. I had a nicer 35mm camera so I concentrated on the scenery and Greg gambled with out of focus, two handed Bass shots. His pictures made it into my email box today, so here is our meager attempt at a skewed parroting of the stolen and photographed garden gnome so often chattered about as urban legend. I believe the Bass met its end in an Anchorage landfill, successfully completing its journey.

Full set here

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How do you train for a triathlon, even if it is a small one? 10 round trips in the pool, 12.2 miles on the bike, and finally a 3.1 mile jog. I'm leaning towards taking that on in Eagle River, AK May 31st. At the very least I'm training for it, and it's all about the journey rather than the destination, right?

I'm told by those that know that the transition from cycling to runnng is the real stumbling block. Moving from swimming to cycling is merely shifting from upper body muscles to leg muscles. You'll be huffing and puffing for sure, but you'll have those moments to let your shoulders recover. Also, cycling is my strong suit. 12 miles is a breeze. But the cycling to running transition involves moving from leg muscles to slightly different leg muscles, with plenty of overlap in the middle.

So on Saturday we head over to Elmendorf Air Force Base and I try to tear through 20 lengths as quickly as possible with no break between laps. I'm at about 17 minutes right now, which isn't too fast. After a few laps of freestyle I end up alternating breast and back strokes to best control my breathing. I'm hoping to get down to 14 minutes, which seems achievable.

Running 3.1 miles is actually pretty comfortable for me these days. Most days of the week I run at least that amount, though I only work on the cycling transition a few days a week. I'll pedal the trainer for 7 miles or so, get off and spend a minute to wipe it down, and then jump right on the treadmill for the 3 mile run. I usually walk 1/10 of a mile and then start into my jog. I can't wait for the snow to melt enough for me to ride outside and then turn around for a jog. Those will be the real miles. But for now I'll do my training on machines and keep building up my strength and endurance.

Do I train to exceed the distances? Or do I train to maximize my times at those set distances? I'm doing a little of both. I know this is an introductory level triathlon and I could survive it if I had to do it tomorrow, but I want to do it and walk away with a spring in my step and some gas in the tank. Also, all of this training is a great way to shake off any wedding planning stress or annoyances the given day gives me.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I'm a complete sucker for anything Hemingway related, especially if it sheds some new light on his body of work or biography. It just endlessly fascinates me. I feel that at times I see frequent glimpses of my life and experiences in his life and works -- particularly the Nick Adams stories. I happily do not have manic depression, but the stories of time spent in the North Woods of Michigan ring the bell of my summer days in Northen Wisconsin. The resonance continues into the themes he explores, and I just cannot get enough of good Hemingway scholarship and rereadings of the works themselves.

However, most new Hemingway media is a wash at best. This new film seems to be an exception to that though, as Hotchner's information should fuel a precise portrayal. Now who is playing whom?


I'm no fancy boy, but I have really become enamoured with a sharp Filson field bag I received as a Christmas gift from my uncle this year. I carry the thing to work everyday and look forward to hiking and fishing with it as soon as break up commences. Until his retirement a few years ago, he carried it all over the world for 15 years as his carry on luggage, so it is well broken in and also well traveled. Filson came into being to outfit the Alaskan Gold Rush over a century ago and they are still hand made in Seattle, so it is very appropriate that it comes to rest here in Anchorage. I'm sure I'll get a great deal of use out of it before it gets handed down yet again.


It looks like if I ride the Fireweed 200 mile race I'll be without personal car support, and thus without a ride back to Anchorage from Valdez. There are plenty of official rest stops with food and drink, but there is no official shuttle to get you back to the start. Hmmm. I'm looking into some carpooling options but the risk of being stranded in Valdez with only a ferry to take me to Whittier the next day is not something I'm completely comfortable with accepting (at Whittier I would have to ride 60 or so miles back to Anchorage). The 100 mile race option is an out and back loop, so that is a decent fall back plan. I really want to nail the 200 though.
What else can be said. Becky replied with a yes and I am completely happy and blessed. Late summer in America's Dairyland seems to be the plan.