Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Product Review: Reebok AT Thrill

I got two new pair of trail shoes this week. These kickass Reebok AT Thrills and the super comfortable Altra Lone Peak 2.5. Two really different shoes, I mean reaaallllyyy different. Here's the Reebok review.

Out of the box and onto my feet. (There's no picture of just my feet.)

Can you tell I'm a professional photographer?

They feel stiff and unyielding. Not a lot of cushion in these. The material feels thin. I'm used to my Reebok Outdoor Wilds and my ATV's. These feel funky. I don't like change...

Texas likes them!

But wait! Look at them. They have some pretty decent tread. A familiar looking pattern, but differing from the Outdoor Wild. Notice there is no extended heel. This sole is very similar (maybe even the same?) as the other All Terrain series. Why the hell can't I get the Reebok website up? What's a "long running script"? Shit. Stupid interwebs.

Also note the arch. Not nearly as aggressive as the Outdoor Wild.

This shoe has some serious drainage ability. The insole is perforated, as is the actual sole of the shoe. And they drain very effectively. Hopefully I remember to add the video after these two pictures.

The horizontal lines on the sole are drainage ports.

Inside of shoe with insole removed.

Not the best quality vid. But you can def see the water draining. 

Remember how I said they felt funky out of the box?

That didn't last long.

Out on the trail these things kicked ass. The feel/fit is still stiff, but not at all uncomfortable.

The tread both climbed and descended very well. I never felt like I might slide out. Steep stuff I climb on my forefoot, and typically descend on my heel, but when descending gentle grades more towards the forefoot, they still felt solid.

There's some mud out on my local trail right now, this shoe barreled through it without losing traction or feeling like it was going to come off my foot.

The interesting material they're made of actually felt pretty damn durable when trekking through some swampiness. Swampiness is a word now. There's also a rockplate hidden in there. Nice little extra bit of protection when running on dicey terrain.

Pre-mud picture.

This shoe, even with the interesting feel, is very reactive. All the twists, corners and short little hills on the Hulk were crushed under this thing. I never felt any disconnect or sliding inside the shoe. Every bit of energy I put into the shoe felt like it was returned 150%. Nothing sluggish going on here.

Fast and responsive. When I ran some fartleks, these things responded and took off like a hasher to a beer check.

Are they light? I don't know. I know they're not heavy though. After half a mile I couldn't feel them on my feet. (Reebok says they weigh in at 11.5)

Oh hey, I'm a heel striker. I often run in Vibrams, but as rule I heel strike. (These shoes have 10m drop. 20m at the heel to 10m at the forefoot) As previously mentioned there is NOT a ton of cushion here. I didn't get any ankle or heel pain, but I haven't run anything over seven miles in them. My personal feeling would be anything longer than a 10-12miler may become un-cumf. I will try to update this blog when I do that.

I want to take these Obstacle Course Racing, as much as my Vibrams. Reebok does make an OCR specific shoe (Heather has it), but I think this shoe would do fine.
If I can finally convince my better half to get back into OCR, I will post an update for that as well.

OH DAMN. Pandora is playing Sisters of Mercy. Bet you haven't heard this in years.

Reebok has always done fine by me. Their shoes anyway. I don't wear those awful basketball clothes. But I've been a Reebok fan since wearing those hilarious big white puffy shoes in high school.

They retail at one hundred ten bones. Huh. That's a pretty good bit of money, that's a race entry for a Spartan..or food for the week. We'll see if they hold up to the $110 price tag though.

So there ya go Sports Fan! Go get yourself a pair of kickass treads, crank up some weird 80's Goth Metal and enjoy your damnself.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Product Review: Pioneer Dinner Plates

I don't remember when I bought these. Who am I kidding, the ex-wife probably bought these. Joke's on her though, she didn't get everything, I got the tea kettle, Smooshy, and this awesome set of camping tableware.

I'm not one to really need fancy things. Ya, my former bicycle collection was made up of some pretty damn sick shit, but that's about it. And who really needs fancy dinner plates anyway?
(Hint: Nobody.)

I've been eating off these plates since my divorce back in...2011? 2012? I don't know. It doesn't matter anyway. The important thing is that I've been using these for years.

Two of the coffee mugs are somewhere in the cabinets above the sink at New Chapter, but I don't know where I lost the other two.

I still have the plates and bowls though. And this is what Heather and I have been using since our first Tofu dinner.

With these dishes, we never have to worry about chipping, breaking or staining. They're made of fancy kiln hardened heavy gauge steel with a shiny steel rim.

Part of my nutritious diet

We don't have to worry if the guests will like them. And by "worry" I mean "care".
C'mon. I'm not going to impress anyone with anything in my kitchen so these dishes are just following the theme-less attraction that is our home.

These dishes clean very easily. I don't use a dishwasher. I do the dishes by hand, and with a quality scrub pad they come clean in no time. (They are dishwasher safe however.)

They stack in the cupboards nicely. They have a very low profile when placed on top of one another.

Less height than a foam roller. Foam rollers are dumb.

You can readily throw these plates.
If you're pissed at your significant other or the dog or your mom, just chuck one of these plates at them!
It won't break. It may make a loud clatter, but that's ok, you're pissed and you want your target to know.
(I'd actually recommend throwing two bowls instead of a plate, you get more effect.)

I don't recall actually ever taking these camping...

But we have served some serious cuisine on these.

Bilge Rat and some ridiculous rat food sugar cookies.

These plates and bowls are very light. I can hold them easily with my arm extended and not worry about dropping them.

I've been hitting the gym.


A few things to note:
1)They come in a set of four.
2)You can have any color you want, as long as you want blue.
3)DO NOT microwave. I haven't tried it, but just don't.
4)Wicked hot liquids in the coffee cups may burn ya a bit. Wear gloves or something.

These plates retailed for 59.95 American. I got them from Campmor so here's a link directly to them, because you're going to want these plates

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bitchslapped by The Invisible Hand

I've been in Myrtle Beach for 8 months now. Eight months.

When I moved here in June, I was very excited to be back in a bigger urban area. I love the rampant commercialism and the ridiculous amount of flamboyant capitalism. It reminded me just a little of Reno.

But now...it's looking a little different through these bleary old guy eyes.

Myrtle Beach is based 100% on the Service Industry. Tourism is indeed the heart, blood and soul of Myrtle Beach. There is very, very little manufacturing or trades to be found, except those that directly support the service industry.

So if you're a semi-educated 45yr old blue collar schlub trying to make it in Myrtle Beach you are boned. (That's me, by the way)

I have been looking for work since I got here.

Although I despised the company I worked for in Vermont, the pay there was good enough to frighten potential employers here. The few years of lower management I had at the college seem to be enough to make an employer realize I am not content to be an average grunt. Yet my AFAA Personal Trainer certificate is not enough to land me a job in the handful of local gyms.

I'm overqualified for the Service Industry and under qualified for the supporting fields.

So, I am now on South Carolina's Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

You can call it Welfare, Food Stamps whatever you want. But I am now a product of, and a patient of, the State.

I'm a white forty five year old male with no kids and no felonies. 

Because I cannot find a job. And it sucks. I hate it, it's humiliating. Humiliating because it seems, after looking for eight months, I am essentially un-employable.

However, it is not at all humiliating actually be on State Assistance. (For the record, Vermont denied my un-employment and without ever working here South Carolina issued me SNAP. Thanks Vermont, you're welcome for the years of me adding money to your coffers. Dickheads)

I started working at age 15. I worked two jobs while in high school. I was in the service in my early twenties. When I got out I landed a job in the Printing Industry making 13.25 an hour. This is back in 90's. The economy was excellent then. (Gas was a dollar a gallon, and I was making thirteen plus an hour) I stayed in Printing until the Internet basically killed that trade in the mid 2000's. Then I went into the Fitness Industry. Blah, blah, blah.

What I'm getting at is that I have been paying my taxes since 1985. Thirty plus years. So I don't give a damn that the state is helping me out a bit now.

There seems to be quite a bit of argument about our Welfare system. And I will definitely agree that the system is sometimes misused and abused. But maybe instead of trying to treat the symptoms (Welfare and Assistance), we treat the problem?

I don't like to complain without offering solutions. My solutions although, probably aren't the most popular. For instance, I can stop world hunger, genocide, global warming and terrorism within one hundred years. All we need to do is stop having kids.
(No kids equals no people equals no problems.)

Getting back to this bitch session about our welfare system...The Hundred Year Solution would obviously work. But maybe something a bit more pragmatic is called for here.

How about addressing financial inequality? There's this issue of raising minimum wage. Why is this a problem for anyone? Oh wait, it's only a problem for people NOT making minimum wage.

I propose a janitor can work just as hard as the CEO of any company. Should the janitor have to live in poverty because their employment didn't require education, nepotism, luck, etc?

It's almost as if we're saying this CEO is a better person, a better human, than a janitor. Holy shit, this point just came to me now.

I knew I was communist.

I was given a fair hand to start with. My mom and dad both worked and both tried giving their children everything they could within their means. Although we hardly had everything, I certainly wasn't born into poverty or born into the welfare system.

The cards I played, the choices I made, were my own. I made the decisions that lead me to where I am now. What was best choice for me then, didn't turn out to be the best situation for me now.

When I lived in Vermont there were a lot of bumper stickers saying "We are the 99%", in reference to the 1% of the rich that own whatever percentage of everything. Well, screw that 99% nonsense too.

How can someone that makes 75g a year even think they compare with someone on state assistance?

I've been working on this post for weeks. The economics of my unemployment and the distribution of wealth are daunting. Too much for me write about, and possibly, at this point in my life, even biased. But I think it'd be hard for anyone to argue that a better educated, happier and healthier workface wouldn't increase the standard of living for everyone.

Post Script:
I'd like to thank my friends, old and new, for all the great karma.
I also need to thank my family, especially my mom, and Heather for their unending generosity and understanding during this shit.
I'll get you back when I can.