Pancake Day

As you’re all well aware of, today was and still is Pancake Day.  It’s the traditional day of feasting on the last bits of goodies from the pantry before the 40 days of Lent fasting.  It began as a way to use up the good food: sugar, milk, butter, flour–the unholy foods that give pleasure, and Lent is all about being miserable.  But like any good holiday, Pancake Day’s religious roots take a back seat to what people really care about: gluttony!  Yesterday I rode to the grocery store and went well out of my way to buy all the fixings and toppings for some extra pleasurable ingredients for my P-cakes.  Take that Lent!

The rules of Pancake Day are simple: you eat pancakes all day long and NOTHING else.  If you had a bad day today, like if a lot of things went wrong and you just came home feeling like crap for some unknown reason, it was most likely due to you not participating in Pancake Day’s golden rule: eat anything BUT pancakes and bad luck will be bestowed upon you until you consume more pancakes.  I was unaware of this rule until early this afternoon when I ate a tiny sample of a coffee cake at a frozen yogurt shop (of note, I was not there to eat frozen yogurt, I had to meet someone there).  Anyways, not five minutes after consuming the tiny morsel of ovencake, I was hit by a car.  I shit you not.  I wasn’t hurt and my bike (luckily I was on my mountain bike, not my road bike) was fine.  I decided that since no harm was done, and since I’d been riding on the left hand side of the road on the sidewalk (although it still wasn’t my fault for getting hit) I’d let the guy off easy and we went our separate ways after he apologized and I told him to pay attention.  No legal authorities, despite my constant hope in getting hit by a car so I can get another bike.  I’d let him off easy because deep down I knew that it, in fact, HAD been my fault.  It was my fault because I’d forlorn the Pancake Gods.  My belief in them had momentarily wavered when I’d been lured in by the Sirens of crumbly brown sugar-topped coffee cake: the exact opposite of a pancake and therefore the most disrespectful food to eat on this day, the day of Pancake prayer.  I had tempted the Pancake Gods to show their existence, and show it they did!  Their wrath, wrapped in the form of a careless auto driver, sent me hurrying home to mix pancake batter as fast as I could.  I made sure to add extra faith.

Turns out faith tastes pretty damn good.

Breakfast pancakes #1 through #3 were half whole wheat, half white flour.  I make all my pancakes from scratch since I’m not an idiot who’ll be tricked into buying expensive pancake batter with the two dry ingredients pre-mixed (flour and baking powder).

P-Cake #1: almond butter, regular butter, agave syrup.

Simple yet probably my favorite toppings for a pancake.  Nut butter and syrup.  Unfortunately I didn’t use maple syrup.  I’m saving all my rations for race season.  Milk, as you can see in the background, is always a necessity when consuming heavily-toppinged pancakes.  Keeps the throat lubricated.

Agave and almond butter.

For pancake numero dos I made a special pot of plum and cranberry sauce jam.

Result: good.  Very good.  Base layer of almond butter as well.

I decided I needed some more vitamins in my third pancake so I went with strawberries and a banana.  Base layer of almond butter and topped with a hint of agave syrup.

Now very groggy and sluggish with my stomach full of 2,300 calories of sugar, I set off on some errands by bike to help digest and wake up before my training ride.

My lunch pancake meal consisted of three medium-sized banana pancakes.  I blended these three bananas up, added in an egg, almond milk, baking powder, and some whole wheat flour to create some ultra sweat and fluffy banana cakes.

Mmmm perfect.

For toppings I went with more almond butter and strawberry jam.

I strayed yet again from my pancake diet for dinner, unwisely eating a salad instead of more pancakes.  This, as you may have guessed, resulted in another unfortunate incident: having to issue an $87 reimbursement for an item I’d sold on ebay a few weeks ago.  The reason being was that the said item was lost in the mail, supposedly.  Though it can be argued that the post office already lost it well before Pancake Day and before my ill-chosen salad dinner, I believe the Pancake Gods knew weeks ago that I’d eat the salad today and so therefore created my punishment in advance.  I went back on pancakes after that.  I’ve learned my lesson.  If a higher being wants you to consume ultra savory and sweet pan-fried goodies, you do it.

Dessert pancakes: one regular pancake and one with cocoa powder and cinnamon.  The lower half slathered with butter, almond butter, and agave syrup.  The top half bearing a large scoop of my roommate’s French carmel salted chocolate chunk ice cream, unbeknownst to him of course.  I’m just doing the bidding of my gods, it’s not stealing!

Oh man those two were good.  They only made me hungrier.  That puts my quota at eight solid ass pancakes.  There’s actually one more rule to Pancake Day: you must eat at least one more pancake than you did the Pancake Day the year before.  So leave room for improvement.

Valentine’s Day Madness

(Below written Feb. 20th, today.)

I’m posting this ish today no matter what!  It’s been procrastinated on far too long now, and it’s not even that good of a post.  I am currently (that stuff below is not current, it was THEN, but not any more which is why I’m using italics to let you know that those past present tenses are actually long gone, so don’t get confus-ed and think that any of the horrible things from the past week are still going on in my life)–as I said, I’m currently sitting in the cafe section of Alfalfa’s, a trendy, spendy Whole Foods look-a-like here in downtown Boulder.  It’s a great place to drink decaf coffee, use the internet, and eavesdrop on homeless people’s conversations (usually they’re pretty good but right now these two women are just talking about the wind outside).  Plus they have lots of free samples here at Alfalfa’s and a good bulk food section.  About an hour ago, while riding to the post office–which is closed today because of Washington’s birthday–and then to the library–which is also closed today–I was almost destroyed by a car.  Well, I wasn’t almost destroyed, but the SUV right in front of me almost was.  It was INCHES away from being nailed by another SUV that blatantly ran a red light at 40mph.  This almost death happened not five blocks from my house amongst a sleepy neighborhood with a slow speed limit, not out in the back roads with some jacked up pick-up driving red neck who hates faggot cyclists, not during rush hour in a busy intersection, not down town with a bus merging into the bike lane, not at night, not in the snow, and not descending a mountain at 50 mph (all situations that I assume are the most dangerous while riding a bike).  Here’s how it happened: the stop light was red for me and for the car in front of me.  It was already sitting at the light before I got there.  The light turned green for us when I was about 25 meters from the intersection.  The car started through the intersection and luckily jammed its brakes on just in time to avoid getting hit by the other car from the right, as it ran a red light and didn’t even break to slow down.  I assume the driver was on their cell phone or some stupid shit, not looking at the road in front of them.  I was still just entering the intersection when I saw that the car, coming down a slight hill so therefore going extra fast, wasn’t going to stop.  But if I had left home five (5) seconds sooner, I would have reached the stop light just as it was turning green, I would have stood up to pedal hard and accelerate through the intersection and beat the car to my left to the crosswalk on the other side (because every race counts).  I would have come even and then passed that car that had been waiting at the light (I was in the bike lane and it would have been just to my left), and I might have noticed, in one split second, out of the corner of my right eye, a huge, black metallic beast careening towards me at bone-crushing speed.  The way I imagine it, I would have been partially sandwiched in between the two cars, with the SUV running the stop sign plowing into my front half and my back half being scissored off from the bumper of the other car behind and to the left of me.  I would not have survived and, despite wearing my helmet and thick puffy jacket, which in the past I’ve always assumed would be good enough to protect me (kind of like a motorcyclist’s mindset with leather).  Luckily, my appetite saved me and I had stalled momentarily in front of a bowl of fruit in the kitchen before I left, deciding whether or not to grab an apple for the road.  But now I’m safe and sound at Alfalfa’s and I’ll finish writing the stuff down below.

(Started writing the below on Feb. 19th)

It is now February 19th and I’ve almost wrapped up another very heavy, hard week of trainings, including some good days of intervals and my first real group ride in months, the Gateway ride.  The legs are strong, but the mind is stronger still.  I’m very excited to see what this last chunk of training has done to my fitness once I rest up for half a week before my next block of hard work.  I’ve finally had a minute or two to finish writing what I started earlier this week.  The past week has been packed full of activities.  To name a few: bike riding, more bike riding, working 5 days in a row at Ras Kassa’s, which is almost 35 HOURS of standing up, walking around, being polite to strangers, and carrying things (not a cyclist’s forte whatsoever), finishing Twilight Break Dawn Part 1 (a highlight of the week, which took me three different tries to get through), posting sarcastic comments about people’s beliefs on facebook (a civil duty these days), and last but not least: I was walking through Sunflower Farmer’s Market the other day, mouth full of bulk food, grocery cart full of cheap bananas and lettuce, when I happened upon a loan loaf of bread sitting in a discounted bakery basket stand thing.  I normally don’t buy bread, as I don’t want to get really, really fat, but I had a long ride planned for the next day and I was chalk out of my banana bread and rice cake ride food.  I quick, guilty thought raped my mind like a raccoon stealing a new garbage bin’s virginity.  Discounted oat bread fresh from the bakery+grind your own honey-roasted peanut butter+jam.  This may not sound like anything special to any of you, but it was the BEST thing I ate in a long time.  Like at least 40 minutes.  Once I got home I immediately cracked open the bag and had myself one and a half slices to get a taste for the next day’s ride before.  The ride tasted wonderful (I associate how my ride will go based on the food I bring–this is a given).  The bread, discounted for reasons I do not know, was fresh, super soft, yet dense and packed full of grains like Bob’s Red Mill.  But the best part about it was that it wasn’t pre-sliced, meaning I could cut extra thick chunks–not slices–of the the delicious, mouth-watering whole grain goodness.  I’ve always known that non-sliced bread is the best thing since sliced bread.  Once the PB&J slid down my gullet my mind went on a wild rampage, very forcefully trying to convince me that it would be a good idea to down the entire loaf right then and there.  After all, I needed the energy for tomorrow!  But I thought better of it as I came to a more rational rationalization, for I still had over a POUND of salmon to eat!!!! Yes, I had gone all out and bought a big as (<–the New Zealand version) chunk of salmon to bake.  And guess what else was on sale at my favorite grocery store of all time, Sunflower Farmer’s Market?  Strawberries for a buck a pound!  That question mark seems misplaced but it’s not.

Note: image in image is larger than it appears.  This was a lot of salmon, trust me.  But still not nearly enough.

To accompany the salmon, I had quite a few strawberries and a dish full of cooked mushrooms, onions, and asparagus.  Man I STANK the next day!

(Started writing the below the morning of Feb 15th).  

My legs have not been feeling very good lately.  I haven’t been able to put out good power in the cold, and on top of that, each cumulative hour spent with numb hands, feet, face, and core take their toll more I ever think.  The riding has been miserable.  You know that numbness you get in your forehead and face that makes your eyes go crossed?  It’s pretty much a general rule that this will happen riding here lately.  After coming in from the cold I go immediately into the shower and stick my face in the hot stream of water and it comes back to life, my eyes slowly and stiffly unfreezing and returning their gaze straight ahead instead of towards my nose.  I’ve trained myself to ‘enjoy’ the pain of blood rushing back into my hands and feet once the hot water hits them.  I turn the heat up extra and flip the drain shut to make a bath for my feet to thaw in.  I use extra hot water to train myself to deal with a little extra pain.  Is it bad to force all those blood vessels open like that?  Maybe.  I’m not sure, but I don’t care.

The mental aspect of this continuously shitty weather is the worst part, since after we get snow and cold for a few days the weather forecast looks like it’s about to start warming up.  Then, as soon as the thought of warm, dry roads has planted itself in your mind, another snow storm and cold snap comes along and ruins everything.  Luckily I think (I’ve thought this before though) that we’re out of it for good now.  Yesterday and the day before were both 40 degrees and partly sunny.   Very nice riding conditions.  Unfortunately I did not take advantage of them since I needed some rest days.

Despite telling myself that training in sub freezing conditions must have some benefit, I know I’m lying and it’s just causing extra fatigue and slowing my recovery.  Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, I went out to attempt my first set of v02 intervals of the season.  I had high hopes for good numbers, as I always do, especially since it wasn’t freezing out.  I did the first interval with a lot of effort and not a lot of power.  It hurt way more than it should have.  A little discouraged, I shrugged it off as a combination of things: not being used to v02 at altitude, not having done many efforts this intense yet this year, and unopened legs.  Interval two would be better since my legs were definitely now open.  One minute and 20 seconds into the second interval I stopped and rode home.  My body was having none of it that day.  I called it a rest day before I did any serious damage and would try again tomorrow.

Well after writing the above, I’ve now decided to post pone those intervals until the 16th.  It’s maybe 30 degrees outside right now (the warm weather I was hoping for didn’t come) and I slept in past 11, meaning I was extra tired to begin with.  I had a late night last night on Valentine’s Day, but not because I had a date.  I had a late night because it was the BUSIEST and most HECTIC day of the year at Ras Kassa’s and I didn’t get off work until midnight.


The hype had been building over the past two weeks.  Valentine’s Day would make or break me and would be my final initiation into Ras Kassa’s.  I was told horror stories of how busy we’d be, with dozens of inpatient, angry people waiting at the door and standing in the bar area, of horror stories of things going wrong when they absolutely could NOT go wrong, like the dishwasher breaking or the computer crashing or something catastrophic like that.  On a normal busy night like this past Sunday or Monday, even when it’s busy I get to sit down at the bar and drink water or eat food once in a while.  It’s strange: the days leading up to and the days following Valentine’s Day are all extra busy because of people not being able to go out on the actual day of Feb. 14, so they celebrate it earlier or later.  I wasn’t even aware Valentine’s was an actual holiday people pay attention to.  I’ve always assumed it’s a greeting card holiday.  Not so.  It’s a restaurant holiday, and the most stressful night of the year at Ras Kassa’s.

Here’s a run-down of the characters at play, their nationality, and the languages they speak.  Kind of like I did with my teammates.

Tsehay, pronounced ‘sah-hi’ and also known as ‘Ma’: Ethiopian.  Speaks Amheric, which is just one of the 90 languages spoken in Ethiopia.  She also speaks English and some Spanish.  She’s the owner of Ras Kassa’s, having opened the restaurant south of town 24 years ago in a tiny cinder-block building.  The place still exists as a legend and any Boulderite that’s old enough to remember it still rants and raves about how amazing it was back then, having to wait outside in a long line to be seated, buying beer at the liquor shop next door and taking it into the restaurant to drink since at the time Ras Kass’s didn’t sell alcohol, and then once they’d ordered at the register and had taken their seats around their tables on the low stools in the tiny one-room building, leaning against the person behind them for support, back to back, since the place was so packed and the stools were backless.  Tsehay is a short, round woman with a huge laugh and an amazing ability to hug and smile away stress.  If a customer is pissed off at me or one of the other waiters, Tsehay can and WILL fix the problem no matter how mad they are and she’ll have them laughing and smiling within 30 seconds.  I don’t know how she does this.  I guess my fake smile isn’t very convincing.  If things are getting stressful for the staff, even while we have twenty things to do that were supposed to be done ten minutes ago, she’ll trap you in a hug and tell you how happy she is that you’re here and how good of a job you’re doing.

Malang: Senegalian.  Speaks English, French and one of the languages in Senegal I think.  I’m not sure which one.  Malang abandoned his goal of playing for his country’s national soccer team to come to the States and play the drums, which is one of his other professions aside from working at Ras Kassa’s.  Malang is always really excited and rushes around like mad doing the work of three people most of the time.  His catch phrase for almost any situation: “I’m telling you man…”  He’s easy to get along with and seems to have a continuous 5-Hour Energy IV drip.  He and Jason are both on rival soccer teams.

Jason: American.  Speaks English and Spanish.  Jason is 24 and is going to school at CU.  He’s originally from New York, but you’d never guess it due to his laid back mentality.  Jason can go on for hours talking to the guests and has a knack for entertaining the single cougars that come prowling to the bar.  His work history is pretty rich, with the coolest sounding job (to me anyways) being a year working on a produce farm outside of town where he was part of a long line of field-men who’d lift and throw watermelons rugby-style to each other and onto a tractor all day long.  His shoulders are at least twice as broad as mine.  Jason has done most of my waiter training and I couldn’t have asked for an easier-going person to teach me the ways.

Abesha: Ethiopian.  She speaks Amheric and is learning English.  Being a waiter and not speaking English seems like a tough task, and it is.  I think her job is three times harder for her than for everyone else since she’s in a constant state of confusion due to language and culture shock.  She’s only been living in the States for six months now, having come over from Ethiopia’s hot, 8,000 ft highlands to Boulder’s frigid “low lands.”  Abesha is short and thin, built for the heat and is not at all used to the snow.  I thought she was 16 or 17 when I first met her, but she’s 23.

Elizabeth: Mexican, speaks Spanish.  She’s the head cook.  She’s friendly and is willing to let me practice my Spanish on her all night long.  She always makes a huge community dinner for everyone and likes us all to gather round and eat at the bar with her before the customers start arriving.

Eric: Mexican, speaks Spanish.  He’s a cook sometimes and a dishwasher others.  He rarely smiles and seems pretty angry most of the time.

Mitch.  American.  Dishwasher.  The only white kid in the kitchen and he doesn’t speak Spanish, so he gets ganged up on somewhat when things get hectic in there.  I don’t know him that well yet but he’s recommended some good authors to me.

There are a couple other people that come in pretty usually to help with dishes and to hang out and eat some food or whatnot.  People that either used to work at Ras Kassa’s, who help out with the restaurant’s advertising, or are just friends of people who work there.

Now that I’ve written all this I don’t really feel like writing about the actual Valentine’s Day night.  I’ll sum it up quick.  I got to the restaurant early, prepared a lot of injera (the bread all the food comes with), we all ate a huge platter of food that Elizabeth cooked, and then people started coming in before we even opened, at like 4:45.  The place was soon packed and there was a constant door-jam of 20-30 people waiting to be seated.  We’d moved the tables closer together to make more room, littered the place with red shiny tinsel and Valentine decorations and candles, dimmed the lights to the lowest setting, and were playing love songs on the speakers instead of the traditional afro pop we usually jam to.  We were extremely understaffed, with one waiter not coming because she was sick and a dishwasher just not showing up, so there was no time to think.  Just take orders, bring food, clean tables, repeat.  Customers would ask for water or extra napkins or whatever and sometimes I wouldn’t get back to them for half an hour (if I remembered at all) since there were so many other things to do.  A minor disagreement broke out in the kitchen from the plates stacking up and things falling on the ground, an angry patron tried to get extra food, tried to get a free drink, failed at both, Abesha soon became shell shocked from the stress, we ran out of injera like three times that night and had to make more, I dropped some glasses, Jason dropped glasses, people were eating at the bar so there was no room to make drinks, the floor was sticky with champagne (we were giving free champagne and chocolate brownies to everyone), my insulin was JACKED the entire night from the brownies and adrenaline…the madness didn’t stop until well past 11.  Though it was stressful and packed the entire night, just about everyone who came in left super happy (it’s the best restaurant in town for crying out loud).  And with most people ordering the special Valentine’s day feast, all of us servers made more money than a super solid day of snow shoveling.  Success.

This is a picture of a re-furbished ride food sandwich I had yesterday.  I made a monster, triple decker sandwich of strawberry jam, a small avacado, and a banana about a week ago for a big ride.  I ended up turning that ride into a recovery day since I was too tired, but I didn’t want to let the sandwich go to waste.  So I froze it.  I forgot about it for a week or more, then remembered it yesterday.  But after I thawed it out it was so soggy that it would have fallen apart in my pocket, despite being wrapped in tinfoil.  So first I toasted it in the toaster oven.  Then I made a batter of flower and egg, spread it on both sides and cooked it in a pan.  Then I dipped the still-soggy ends in corn flour and cooked it some more.

And there we have it.  A treat not to be beat, lest ye eat the feet of a sheep, which are so tastey I’d bleep a bleep.

The Hagens Berman Show

Check out this great video Winger created of our team get together last month.  We’re making one webisode every month or so throughout the season so you’ll be able to follow our progress as we stomp some heads in this season.  HB Show Episode 1.  Man was I fat back then.

Here’s a rundown of the last week:

It snowed again.  I had to ride the trainer twice during the miniature storm because the snow wasn’t thick enough to shovel.

My rash cleared up.  I suspect it was caused by using too much detergent in the laundry machine (repeatedly) since I thought extra soap might kill whatever might be in my clothes that was giving me the rash.  Goes to show that humans are our own worst enemies.

It’s really cold now.  I did a long ride the other day and another longish ride today with some hard intervals and I can really feel the cold zap the life from my body.  I’m looking forward to anything above 38 degrees.  I’ve also been wondering how riding and living in the cold will affect my racing this season, since it’s been three or four years since I spent a winter in a wintery place.  In a way, I think it will help.  I’ve been reading a bit about the cold and how it affects certain growth hormones.  Living in a warm place the entire year might affect the on and off switch for those hormones in an adverse way (so I’m telling myself).  One thing the cold does help with is increasing fat-burning capabilities, since more calories are needed to maintain core temperature homeostasis.  If nothing else, as long as I don’t get sick, training in the cold will result in quite a bit of hardening up.

If you’re on Twitter, please follow my team, hbcycling.  If you’re not on Twitter, create a Twitter account or two and follow us.  For every Twitter person I recruit I get one Chipotle burrito.

The strange thing I recently found out about using a fluid trainer in below freezing temps is that the fluid inside turns slushy (I’m assuming this is the case) and creates more resistance.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen individual snow flakes this clearly before.  They say every snow flake is unique.  So what.  Every grain of sand is unique too, just like every molecule of anything.  The only non-unique things are ideas and catch phrases, which are both a dime a dozen.

HB video.  Watch it:  HB Show Episode 1.  Follow us on Twitter.  Be our fan.  Support us by supporting our sponsors.  Support Kennett’s burrito consumption.  Burritos are good.  Follow KPburritos on Twitter.



While many of you weenies are enjoying an extremely late Indian summer out in the tropical pacific northwest, I’m hardening the F up in the Rockies, where we’ve been getting absolutely pounded with snowstorms.  Just this last week we got two feet in a little over 24 hours.  Being the ever-vigilant capitalist, I’ve acquired quite a few snow shoveling clients in the past couple months.  After this weekend I’m now shoveling at six houses every time it snows (this isn’t including all the doors I knock on).  The most lucrative household I have in my portfolio includes a house with a long L-shaped sidewalk section, sitting at a cool $60.  Aside from this being the best-paying home, the people who live there are also my favorites.  They include a 73-year old retired geologist who believes in animal-to-human telepathy, three cats, and the geologist’s daughter who’s an entrepreneur, meaning she buys house-fulls of stuff on sale and sells it on Amazon at a slightly increased price.  They always invite me in a chai chocolate tea with liquor.  They also usually give me a ride home since I’m on my bike and I always save their house for last, resulting in it being dark by the time I have to ride home in the snow, which I’ve done a few too many times.  This last week  the three of us all spent a good hour chatting and drinking liquored hot chocolate and tea while feeding peanuts from the kitchen window to a friendly squirrel.  Part of my snow shovel job is providing company.  The snow, like any out of the ordinary natural disaster, brings people together.  While I walk down the streets in the white early morning beauty, everyone I pass has a bright smile on their face and is eager to sing a cheerful hello and a ‘good morning, some storm huh!?’  The minor inconvenience forces people to take a day off work and pull their kids around in sleds, take their overly-excited dogs on long walks, and help each other push their stuck cars out of the deep snow.  The value of human companionship is the most undervalued commodity in our world.  It’s lacking in a monumental way, which is seen in the overall deep depression in most of our lives–something that’s becoming more and more un-noticed by younger generations who grew up in front of a TV sitting in the back of an SUV.   It’s just natural to feel depressed now, which is something you can easily get a prescription for.  While we live 50 feet away from our neighbors and sit 10 feet away from the car next to us on the highway, our souls exist in universes populated by one.  Loneliness among cities of millions.

Friday was a big day for me in terms of snow shoveling profits.  I won’t say the number, but it was big.  I’m always amazed at the price someone will pay for me to spend 15-45 minutes shoveling their driveway and sidewalk.  I’m amazed and grateful.  I try to hit up the hills, where the wealthier people live, and I struck gold this time with a new neighborhood I recently discovered within walking distance of my house.  I usually underbid if I sense any hesitancy after asking if they’d like any shoveling done.  And time and time again, after I’ve completed the job for $15, they throw in an extra $5 or $10 or even $20, feeling bad for taking advantage of my overly affordable price.  After all, the snow removal companies would charge them three times as much.  But it’s just amazing to me that they’ll drop $20 or more on something that takes me 20 minutes.  It would likely take them around an hour (I’m a professional after all) in which case that’s $20/hr-worth of their time.  I assume most of these people make more than that.

After a long day walking, riding, and shoveling in the snow, Tricia stopped by Boulder in the evening on her way up to the mountains for a weekend of skiing.  We went out to dinner, searching for a Thai place, but instead found ourselves at a Moroccan restaurant.  I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with some more African dishes and compare this place to Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Resaurant.  It didn’t look like much from the outside: a cinder block office-complex-looking building with only one or two windows.  It was situated next to a Subway and a Mexican meat market.  A cheap neon light flashed ‘Open.’  Expecting the place to be cheap and empty, due to the snowstorm, we walked in surprised to see it bustling with customers and decorated to the ceiling with gold tapestries, rugs, and statues.  We took off our shoes, as requested by a sign, and barely got in without a reservation.  Within 20 minutes the place was completely packed with people.  The food was good and rich, though not filling.  But what it lacked in quantity of food, it made up for in quality of entertainment.  A belly dancer came out and performed for at least half an hour.  She used a sword AND flames, much to my approval.  She made the entire restaurant get up and dance with her, teaching us some basic moves and turning the restaurant into a Moroccan belly dancing club.

The next morning I woke up to move more snow, since it snowed again that night.  I can’t think of a more menial task: moving soon-to-be liquid water from one area to the next.  What am I producing for the world?  All I’m doing is speeding up what would happen anyways.  The sidewalks will be void of snow in a few days no matter if I shovel or not.  The modest amount of human contact and the friendly smile that I’m giving at the door are worth more to the world than my shoveling service. So why do we value non-valuable things? We’ll pay an extra ten bucks for the fancy laundry detergent but won’t invest that same ten bucks in a community skate park or a larger swimming pool at the local YMCA. Instead of visiting a friend in person we’ll pay extra money for a smart phone so we can check our email anywhere we go (a mockery to real communication): keeping us staring at screens everywhere we go, ignoring one another while we’re distracted by the bombardments of modern day media in our hand-held billboards. Billions spent on tricking people into buying crap…money that could go to something useful. The free market reigns terror on humanity, opting to crush thought, creativity, and quality of life in order to brainwash a society into buying and indebting itself with things it doesn’t need or want.  Hoarding money is the American dream and those who do it best are regarded as heroes.  Regardless, I went out to shovel snow and earn some grocery money for the second day in a row and tried not to think about how huge my arms and shoulders would become after all the heavy snow lifting.  Snow storms are a time of forced rest for me, and I think I’ve already benefitted from the extra rest that I KNOW FOR CERTAIN that I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d been in Tucson this year.  So while I’m unfortunately working out my upper body, it’s a small price to pay for my legs’ extra recovery time.

Some bad news I have in the form of a health issue: it began a little over a week ago.  I started noticing small red dots on the tops of my feet.  I didn’t think too much of it until a few days ago when I realized the dots had moved up my legs most of the way to my torso.  A day later (yesterday) and they were on my hands and arms, somehow skipping over my stomach and chest.  Today the rash is slightly worse.  I assume it’s an alergic reaction to something I ate or touched in the last week, but before I came to that convenient conclusion I worried about bed bugs, flees, a recently acquired allergy to the cold or exercise (two things that I came upon on my Google searches), bacterial infections, and last but not least, scurvy.  Scurvy was more of a hope really, since it would be pretty damn funny if I got scurvy.  Not really, because it would mess up the entire year for me, but I know in hindsight it would make for a funny story and hopefully lead to a new pirate-inspired nick name.  Alas, I eat too much vitamin C to get scurvy.

Some good news I have in the form of that same health issue is that I no longer care about my rapidly spreading rash.  I’ve decided that if I ignore it, it will most likely go away.  Sort of like debt collectors and cavities.

No transition: While my last post included a detailed story of a very hard day on the bike that I thought was thoroughly bad-ass, I want to clear up the incorrect notion that all my rides are like this.  My intentions were to describe to and entertain my readers with a HARD day, because I for one like to hear about hard training.  It’s more interesting and exciting to hear a description of an all-out suffer fest than a one hour recovery spin.  But many of my rides are easy recovery days, of course.  Today I rode two hours total and focused on keeping a smooth and controlled cadence of 110-125.  I did this for an hour and a half.  No hard efforts.  No suffering.  No leg bleedage.  Just relaxed and focused riding.  So for anyone out there that thinks I’m training like an idiot or too hard, remember that I only do a Shaky ride once or twice a month (at most).  Hopefully my racing will speak for my hard (yet focused and smart) training this winter.

Final thoughts: Every time I’m broke it snows and I get rich quick.  What do I do with the money?  Celebrate with a fully loaded backpack of the best groceries money can by at my favorite grocery store in the world, Sunflower Farmer’s Market, the poor man’s Whole Foods (I’m pretty sure that’s their real motto).  I’m living a true gangster life-style, even banking on powdery white stuff for cash. My street cred is rising, despite my up-bringing in white middle-class suburbia. Gone from my ipod are 80’s rock ballads, Green Day, Modest Mouse, and Katy Perry. Now all I listen to is rap. It pays to get paid.

“The world is yours end everything in it. The world is yours, and every bitch in it.”
“Niggaz still hate but they can kiss my ass, still get a hard on when I count that cash.”
Thug Motivation
Let’s Get it

I’m glad to have Young Jeeze preaching these great American values. He knows what’s really important and has obviously taught us well. Get on your grind and get it.