Wednesday, October 28, 2015

World Peace Through Beer

Maybe you're asking yourself "What the hell is World Peace Through Beer". Maybe you are, maybe you aren't. But if you didn't partake you really missed out. (Unless you're teetotal or just plain lazy, then you wouldn't have enjoyed it.)

The short story of World Peace Through Beer (WPTB) is that it's simply a way for us hashers to celebrate United Nations Day

But there's a little bit more to it than that.

The Hash is notorious for shitty beer. Shitty, shitty beer.
And it makes sense. 

During the middle of a run you don't really have time to bother enjoying a good beer. 
For doing Down-Downs you probably don't want a good beer, for a similar reason.
Why waste the money, effort and resources on good beer?


World Peace Through Beer is one of those special events where shitty beer is shunned like a liberal at a rodeo.

Different kennels may celebrate WPTB a bit differently from one another, but typically it involves different kinds of beer from around the world. It's a real nice change from PBR, Busch or the dreaded Bud Lite. WPTB gives us a chance to try something new, something international and probably even something good. 


On an important note: not all imports are good, I had the grossest Sour Beer last weekend and there was even some other beer that smelled like ass. 

The first WPTB we were involved with was with the Pooflingers H3, a New England traveling kennel. Once a year they offered the WPTB Challenge. 
Any participants in said challenge had to bring to trail one beer from 5 different continents, for 5 total beers. But, those beers could not match the beers from another contestant. If they did match, you both blow the challenge and have to wait another year to attempt it again.

WPTB Patch on top. Don't worry about the bottom patch yet.

That challenge is a pain in the ass. (See previous Ass picture)
How many beers from Asia or Australia can you find at your local store? Ya, maybe Kirin and Fosters. But if you have 3 or 6 people trying this challenge and you all show up with a big green can of Fosters, you all lose. So you need to do your research, you don't wanna be the schmuck that thinks Tecate is from South America. And the best place to research this is at your local specialty beer store. Something like Ryan&Casey's.

But this challenge is also awesome because after trail and circle, all that beer gets drunk, as do most of the hashers. 
In fact WPTB 2013 was the drunkest I've ever been. Thanks for the On-After Roscoe!

Proudly displayed, we've both earned the Poof WPTB patch.

Now we're living in the South so on October 24th 2015 we ran with Cape Fear H3 for their celebration of WPTB. (Also their 100th trail.)

No Challenge for this trail, but instead our trail, as opposed to having standard beer checks with shitty beer, had beer stops with international beers. Both at various bars in Carolina Beach and out of the hares' trunk.

Trunk Stop. (The driver does not partake.)

Man, I love running Urban. Ya, you can have more fun and debauchery in the woods, but there is something so great about running through a busy downtown with a bunch of other fools just trying to get to the next bar. And the bars we stopped at were pretty great. I don't remember their names, surprise.

All the bars we stopped at were year round out-door set ups. Kickass.

What'd we do? Three or four bars and one or two trunk stops? I was going to wear the GoPro so I'd have it saved to digital memory, but I gotta respect that some hashers want anonymity. So no GoPro.       

My girl and I decided somewhere around the last beer check that I'd be designated driver for this outing. Sometimes you gotta take one for the team, and that meant for circle I couldn't really drink much. But my hunny had a good time and drank enough for both of us.      

It's interesting to see how different RAs\Kennels run their circle. Our RA set up a second cooler outside of circle to send noisy hashers to. Pretty cool idea. Instead of having to yell "Hash Hush" just send the guilty parties off to their own cooler. Bummer there wasn't ice for them to sit on.
Different songs are good too! Cape Fear knows Yogi, which sucks, I hate that song. But they've a bunch of stuff we've never heard before. Oh, they also know Dicky Die Doh, or whatever it's called, here too. I hate that damn song more than Yogi. 

On-In. Lonely Pirate? Lazy Pirate? Lumpy Pirate? Anyway, that was a kickass On In. Hunny continued to drink some good beer, we got some killer nachos and fried green beans.
(I feel we lost the DTW and Trashers at the On-In...did we?)
And I finally got see Shagging. I know! I know! Not what you think though, it's just what Southerners call East Coast Swing. It's big here. 

When all was said and done, twenty to twenty five us ran about four miles through downtown Carolina Beach. We ran through some really nice areas, we ran through town and we checked out a few bars that I never would have found on my own. I met some cool new people and got to hang with the wicked fun Cape Fear Hash House Harriers. All in all, a helluva great way to spend a Saturday. 

Proof reading this, I can't tell if this was supposed to be a Product Review or a Race Review. Bah, whatever.

Solidarity Comrade!

I've highlighted Pooflingers and Cape Fear.


What are you doing next United Nations Day? Other than nothing because who the hell celebrates that anyway? 

Get a hold of your local kennel, or even me, if you'd like to participate in WPTB. It's a good time. You'll make some new friends to run with, and you'll make some new friends to drink good beer with. Win-Win right there.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Product Review: Night Runner 270

We run a lot at night. Whether it's due to some crazy overnite race training or because it's cooler out, we do it.

It adds a huge sense of adventure to an otherwise hum-drum run and it makes every trail feel brand new.

But the risks of running at night are quite obvious and these Night Runners help alleviate the biggest one. Visibility!

Even brighter against a yellow toe box

 At 150 Lumens, these are quite bright. The 270degree of light insures anything heading your direction (car, dog, bear) will see you. 

There is also a bright red rear facing light, again making sure you are readily seen.

Unlike a steady beam flashlamp or reflector, the movement of these lights on your feet is almost impossible to miss. Similar to pedal reflectors, the eye really catches the motion.

We've worn these on several trail runs, using several different pair of shoes, under different weather conditions. But the consensus for each run has been the same:

These are a great supplemental light source

Let's get into some thoughts on the product itself:

They are light weight. With the possible exception of running in Vibrams, you won't notice anything extra on your feet. (We don't have scale to weigh them.) 

They are very simple to get on your shoes, and better yet, easily interchangeable. There is no need to unlace your shoes. Simply slide the clip in place under your laces. And they always felt secure.
This factor is quite important. If you are doing a race where you need to change your shoes for some reason, you probably dont want to have to unlace your shoes to re-apply your lamps to new shoes.

They are weather resistant. Running in the rain presented no problem. However, we did not submerge them.

One button, easily accessible, to operate. Steady and Flash mode. 

USB charging. That's pretty convenient. You can charge them anywhere.

There is a 5-8hr battery life. We can currently easily attest to 2.5hrs .
Easily adjustable tilt angles.

Running at night requires you to able to see, and you being able to be seen. These lights do the latter with flying colors.

Using only these lights on your feet however, you never end up with a steady light source on the ground in front of you. In fact, the constant up and down movement of the light can be rather discombobulating.

And although bright, the way these set on your feet don't really allow you to see many technical trail features, even with the multiple angle adjustments.

When used with a headlamp or knuckle light however, these lights rounded out a good lighting system. A brighter main lamp will drown out the previously mentioned  up-down movements. The light weight of them makes them easy to forget they're on, yet if you're in a pinch and your main lamp were to fail, you could easily remove one of these from your shoe and utilize as a hand held. (My advice is to always have a backup lamp.)

I also can't stress enough just how visible these make you. Always wear reflective gear and lamps.

Dual USB cable included

These are currently selling directly from Night Runner for 59.95

Update 10-23-15
I've since taken these on a couple of road runs. I received complements from other runners on how bright I was. That's a plus.

But the right unit no longer works. It faded out 2miles into run last week and now won't even charge properly. I can't say why, but these little units are definitely not meant for being fixed at home.

I haven't tried to contact Night Runner as of yet, but I can tell you this...unless you have a lot of extra money to spend on a unit such as this, I would just stick with ankle reflector bands and run smart, ie, don't run on busy roads at night.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Race Review: Myrtle Beach Mini-Marathon

This probably isn't going to be a very exciting re-cap. Honestly, there really isn't much exciting about a road half marathon compared to a trail run or OCR or a Hash, but here's the skinny my Myrtle Beach Mini.

A picture of my cat, Shitten. Just because she's cute.

My last post I had mentioned that I was given a bib for this race. That was really damn awesome of my buddy to do. It was around 85$ to do this event, and no way in hell did I have that kind of money to throw at a road race. But I really did want to do this race, it's local, my running club was doing it, and I haven't run a half in a loooong time.

The start line was the Grand Coastal Mall, just a short drive from my house, ten minutes or so. And of course, start time was 7am with gear check until 6:45 (the course was A-B, not a loop or out and back). 

So it's dark as a pocket and coooold, well, cold for here. It was 47.  People are bundled up in garbage bags and throw away gloves, hell, I almost busted out those hand warmer packets that you shove into mittens. I'm a pussy about the cold.

Ten minutes before go time we all try to squeeze into our corrals. There were around four thousand runners trying to jam in. I'm not quite positive what pace I'm going to run, but I line up in the 9-10min corral. 

OK, here's a spiel. 

Every damn event feels the need to play the National Anthem. Ok, that's cool. But what the fuck is up with all the artistic liberties being taken with this song? It's the godamn National Anthem. Sing it the way it's meant to be sung, it isn't some shit rap song for every Joe, Dick, and Harry to re-mix. 

I propose that the current president has to sing it and we just use that version throughout their incumbency.

Or Danny Elfman could do it. There, I solved another problem.

After the National Anthem we get the countdown."On your mark", "Get set", then...not a horn, but what sounded kind of like a four year old with a kazoo. It was hilarious. Maybe the DJ squeezed a duck or something. Some how we all managed to squeeze under the starting arch and get on the course safely. Road races are always such pandemonium.

I mentioned the cold, ya? Well it takes me a good three miles to warm up, at which time I have got to pee like a sumbitch. And thank goodness there's porta-jons on the sidewalk at about mile three.

Being the polite runner that I am, I look over my right shoulder, to make sure it's clear, hell I even signal, then I jump onto the sidewalk and sprint to the shitter. And of course I tripped and fell.

Tis but a scratch.

Mile five and my gut is getting angry. That kind of angry that can't be ignored. Mile six had more porta-jons! 
This is another reason I really enjoy trails so much more. Having to wait for designated porta-jons sucks.

Why is there some idiot in a full camo jumpsuit out walking his dogs? He's smoking too, there's a surprise. He needs to put that cigarette down and eat something, scrawny redneck. Bet he drives one of those jacked trucks in the parking lot. 

I heard a lot of bitching while sitting in the porta-jons. There were a few Jons with no line when I got there, but then some people queuing out front were complaining they were losing precious seconds waiting. 

What the hell. You ain't winning bitch, take a pill. If you're really trying to PR, just subtract your wait time from your bib time, nobody cares about your PR anyway.

From this point on, the course was rather nice. We previously had been on some major roads (closed for the race, of course), but now we were on a nice wooded bike path. It was a bit congested, but nothing too horrible.

The bike trail, unbeknownst to me previously, spit us out where we often start our Saturday group runs. Cool beans, home territory and I now know where we're going. To the beach! Well, sort of. To Ocean Blvd anyway.

It was fantastic running the last few miles down Myrtle's main drag. There were a good bit of people out and about, many cheering for us. Although the ocean itself wasn't always in view, there's plenty of other distractions on the boulevard, all kinds of souvenir shops, T-shirt shops and general goofy Myrtle Beach stuff.

This course does something a little cruel to the competitors. We've been running south on the blvd until, I'd guess, maybe mile 12 or something like that. At mile 12 you basically run past the finish line which is just to the left of you. You can see it! But you run past it then do a full hairpin turn and run down the boardwalk. And the boardwalk is constant chicanes. It's kind of funny because your legs are shot, everyone near you at this point is cooked and yet we're all trying to kick to the finish while navigating this. I'm glad/surprised I didn't crash here again.

The finish line is quality. You're basically under the SkyWheel, a big Myrtle attraction. There were bottles of  water, bananas, apples, nuts and cookies. And of course the legendary big ass medal.

It's big.

There was a post run party area set a bit further down the boardwalk. I was ID'd  at the entrance to the beer garden which was pretty empty when I got there. But hey, the beer supplier had a bunch of cups ready, so I just walked up and took an Octoberfest.

Shuttle service back to the mall was quick and easy. Although our bus was having some serious mechanical problems, it only took about ten minutes to get back to our vehicles at the start line.

So like I'd mentioned, not a lot to tell. 

If you're a runner, it was fun. It was pretty well organized with plenty of volunteers, staff and police support throughout. The pre-race expo on Friday was good sized with lots of vendors. Registration and gear check were efficient and easy. There was musical entertainment along the course and at the finish. The swag was decent with a tech T, gear bag and that monster bottle opener medal.

Surprisingly subdued colors for Myrtle. Where's the Neon?

 If I'm still in Myrtle maybe I'll do it again next year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gym Karma, Running Karma, Life Karma.

I'm a certified Personal Trainer. I have been for a few years. It wouldn't be out of the question for me to charge from 25 to even 60 bucks an hour.

I'm not the best Trainer in the world, I'm not the most famous, smartest or fittest. But I am the best looking, and I really enjoy what I do.

So I often work with people for free. 

I'm a blue collar schlub. Always have been. I work/live paycheck to paycheck (when I have a damn job) and often have to sacrifice things I enjoy to deal with other "real" responsibilities. So I get that not everyone can afford a trainer, but I didn't get into this to get rich (good thing).

I got into this because I freeking enjoy it. I got into this because I know the awful side effects of a sedentary lifestyle. But mostly I got into this because I really like teaching and helping people feel better about themselves and life in general.

When I taught at Truckee Meadows Community College, class was scheduled for 60min. I'd have 15-25 students for 60min per week for a semester. And that's just not long enough. So I'd work with many students after class, on my time, on my dime.

And it's worth every damn second! Man, I hope I can find a video or something to post here and show some of my former students (you may have to be Friends with me on FB to see that).

But even after leaving Reno and moving back to shitty Brattleboro, I was still helping co-workers out at the gym. Have you seen most idiots at the gym? If somebody asks for help, you gotta help them. There needs to be some kind of Hippocratic Oath for Trainers. 

Two guys in particular come to mind, and I'd happily spend hours and hours teaching/training or working out with them. Just for the reasons I posted above. My own fitness would be sacrificed, but so what? I'm helping these dudes in so many more ways than just teaching them to bench press or explaining the benefits of cardio.

We're arguing over who gets to be Rocky.

Heather and I also put together a weekly Ranger Run. A group of us would run the trail behind work and stop every quarter mile or so and do some kind of plyo or other exercise. Anyone and everyone was invited.

Who doesn't enjoy tire flippin'?

And not until I moved to Myrtle Beach did I realize I'd been building up some real good karma. (You don't have to really believe in karma, but I think most people would agree that one good turn deserves another, ya?)

Since June I have been given 3 race entries. THREE! I would bet the total money price for all three would be around 275 bucks.

The first was for a Fourth of July race here in town. A fellow Hasher is also involved in race directing and chip timing. He hooked me up. (On-On Rigor!)

The second race was given to me by a fellow I'd never met from my local running group. It was for the Francis Marion Dirt Dash just outside of Charleston. How cool is that? He has no idea who I am, he hooked me up all the same.

The third and most recent is being given to me from a friend and  local Tri-guy who has decided to go pace a half marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine instead. It's for the Myrtle Beach Mini. 
(It's going to be warmer here.)

But wait, that isn't all. Grand Strand Running Club also put on a free race earlier this summer. FREE RACE! 

The local running store, Black Dog, also puts on weekly runs, often with demos, contests or free swag.

This is fantastic, great, awesome and all those kinds of words. I really enjoy living in Myrtle, but Heather and I haven't been able to do the kind of racing we did in Brattleboro, and this payback is keeping me motivated to just run. (I still really miss OCR though)

I haven't yet had the opportunity here to help any buds or co-workers at the gym, or on the bike, skis, board, trail or whatever. But I know the time will come again. Well, it'd better, I'm getting bored and weak without a gym workout partner...

So to all my former students, gym rat buddies and anyone I may have helped on the way...You actually gave me these opportunities, so thank you.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Working Man's Gym

I go to a working man's gym.

It's 25 bucks a month, all classes included. Pretty cheap.

With that however, are some drawbacks: The equipment is beat up, there's rust on the barbells, we have non-matching  plates from at least four different manufacturers, there's no air-conditioning, the insulation on the roof is decaying, non of the physio balls are clean or pumped enough, the battle rope is frayed, the staff is eclectic, etc. etc.

But who the fuck cares about that?

Seriously, if you know what you're doing, you make due. A 45lb plate is a 45lb plate (for the most part). 

Any Nautilus machine is as good as another, if you use it regularly.

If you don't like rusty barbells, you can wear your sister's gloves.

Dirty physio ball? You're gonna shower anyway right? Don't be a pussy germaphobe, give it a quick wipe yourself and just use it.

Ok, the insulation decay should really be addressed as a safety issue, you don't wanna inhale that during a heavy bench, but cosmetically it doesn't matter. 

My girl works at a more bourgeoisie gym.

It's pretty posh. Super nice and clean equipment, Juice Bar, customized gym clothes for sale, the staff are all attractive, uniformed and educated, it's air conditioned, and there's three campuses to choose from,etc. 

But it's like 80 bucks a month! With an enrollment fee. Wtf...

Regardless of which kind of gym I'm working out in though, I always see the same kind of jackassery. And I'm going to tell you about it, so hopefully you won't be that jackass.

Bye the way, I worked and taught in College Gym in Reno for many years. Ya maybe I don't have Masters Degree, but I know what I'm talking about and a lot of this spiel comes from one of my lectures. 

Rule 1.
Re-rack your shit. 
Don't leave your plates racked, ever. Nobody is impressed by your 450lb squat if some grandma has to come over and try to unload your bar. Dick.
Don't leave your dumbbells all over the floor making a trip hazard. It is kinda funny when somebody falls, but maybe that guy you just tripped is half way thru a cycle of Andro. Now what are you gonna do?

Rule 2.
Clean up after yourself.
Don't leave your little yoga mat thing in the middle of the weight room. There's a place for those. It's called Yoga Class. Namaste,schmuck.
If you moved a bench from it's designated area, put the damn thing back when you're done. If you moved the couch closer to the TV to watch the stupid football game and didn't put it back, your mom would smack you. The gym is your home away from home, treat it as such.

Rule 3.
Wipe that shit down when you're done.
Goddamnit man. Show some respect. Pure and simple, respect the other gym members. You sure the hell aren't special, so wipe it down.

Rule 4.
No Flexing.
Feeling pretty pumped? Well you still look like a turd. 
Step away from the mirror and go play with yourself in the bathroom. 
Whether you're jacked or not, nobody but you cares. So relocate from the dumbbell rack and let the people working out through.
Oh, never, ever take your shirt off on the gym floor. Ya, I've seen this. Had it been my gym, I'd have kicked that little fucker in the vajajay then kicked him out the door.

Rule 5.
Watch your Supersetting.
I understand the Superset. I really do. It can be a great workout. But that doesn't prevent me from hating Supersetters. Because most supersetters have no goddamn clue what they're doing and they're just bumbling around from machine to machine getting in the way.
If you are going to superset, make it obvious what you're doing. Keep the exercises in your set to 2 or 3, if you can keep them all in the same area too. If you have to march clear across the gym to do the next exercise in your superset, somebody is going to jump into your first exercise. And you can't blame them, they aren't there to keep track of whatever you're doing. Politely ask to work-in with other members if you need that piece of equipment. Don't un-rack anybody's gear. And wipe the thing off when you're done.

Rule 6.
Go to a Crossfit Box. You're a liability here. I appreciate what you do, I respect what you do, I can't wait to do it, but you're getting in the way, and are you supersetting?

Rule 7.
The Heavy Bag/ Speed Bag.
These have no place in the weight room. They belong in a boxing gym or in their own area. How often do you see someone on a Heavy Bag that knows what they're doing? You don't. Because any self-respecting boxer/martial artist knows to keep that shit where it belongs. And the Speed Bag is just a loud annoyance. 

Rule 8.
Don't stand right in front of the damn dumbbell rack and workout.
Get what you need, and get the hell out of the way. You standing in the way of someone who needs those 35 pounders just isn't cool. Now you're interrupting someone else's workout. Tool.

Rule 9.
Don't offer un-asked for advice.
A few reasons for this one. Perhaps the person doing something weird has an injury that you don't know about? You'd feel pretty dumb trying to fix someones bench if they have a mending rotator cuff.
Or maybe they're just an idiot. 
This is a good probability, so don't waste your time. The staff on hand should be watching to see if anyone is doing anything dangerous and they can fix them. Well, hopefully the staff is paying attention...

Rule 10.
Don't be a Douchebag.
You knew that was coming right?
It's really damn simple actually, treat the gym, it's equipment and facilities as if they were yours.
Treat the other members as you would want to be treated.

I really could have saved a lot of typing and just done Rule 10.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Product Reviews: Cat Litter. Gross.

There's a reason I chose the handle Bigcatbox, I'm a cat guy. I have been for as long as I can remember. My cats have Facebook pages. I have tattoos dedicated to my cats. I regularly spend hundreds of dollars at the veterinarian. There are cat toys thrown everywhere.

As I'm writing this, there is a video on the television of birds and rabbits and squirrels, made just for cats. 

And of course here's my coffee cup.

Crazy Cat Guy.

With that connotation comes great responsibility, not only to my cats, but to my girlfriend/roomie.

Read: I can't have the apartment smell like cat piss. 

I currently have 2 cat boxes for my cats. And fortunately, I'm able to keep both of them in the master bath.

In an attempt to minimize mess, I keep a catbox in a box.

There has been some controversy on clay litter being unhealthy for your pet. So please do some research to make the best choice for you and your felines.

But all that being said, I'm going to tell you about my cat litter experiences. 

Ya, this blog is pretty much all over the place. 

Very Different.

I honestly have been trying out alternative litters, Non-Clay based, such as the Purina Renew on the left. Prior to that I was using some wheat based. I'm undecided on the feline health controversy, but I figured non-clays at least are easily renewable and open another market for farmers.

The scoopability of Renew was less than ideal. But this I've found true to any non-clay litter. There are some non-clay litters that claim to clump, but the very nature of wood chips, news paper, etc. makes that a hard claim.

My cats are totally fine with non-clay, the problem with the Renew however, is that it STANK. Holy mother of meat, even from thirty feet away, it smelt like a cat had peed on my pillow. Gross gross gross.

After a week of suffering through the stink, I decided to switch back to a clay based litter, the Purina Tidy Cats.

Odor problem gone. Gone gone gone. 
It clumps really well to boot.

Neither product really tracked to bad. The Renew is lighter and although more seemed to stick to kitties feet, it was typically brushed off on the mat under the catbox. The Tidy Cat is heavier and only sticks to fat Doughnut's feet. 

The Renew comes in a nifty recyclable/biodegradable cardboard container. That's a real nice option I wish all litters had. 

So there's your brief summary on a couple different kinds of cat litter.

If you're planning on getting a kitty or perhaps changing litters, there is a bit more to think about than just tossing down a cat box full of litter. Talk with your vet, or find one before even getting a new kitty, about proper catbox training.


Cats are wonderful pets, but it only takes a mistake or two to make your home stink to high heaven. Finding what works best for you and kitty may take a while, but it's well worth it.