General

Board Games, they’re what’s for lunch

Posted on Feb 8, 2018 in General | 0 comments

The following is a post I made to our company-wide intranet, a highly trafficked space for our 12,000 global employees to share things from their lives, work, research, etc. “Adult” board gaming is a subject a lot of folks don’t know about, but are intrigued and hooked by when introduced so here’s me trying to intrigue and hook you.

Our daily Slack interest gauging poll

If you’ve ever found yourself in [my office] at noon, chances are you’ve seen a group of employees crowded around a table lying, cheating, stealing, and sometimes threatening ruin upon one another. Other days, things are a bit more friendly as they expand medieval kingdoms, colonize the far reaches of space, improve Caribbean islands, or construct the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Regardless the theme du jour, they’re having fun, flexing their brains, and building a stronger team via board gaming.

If “board gaming” evokes fond childhood memories of Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley favorites, and nothing else, that’s okay, but allow me to introduce you to “Eurogames.” In 1995, Settlers of Catan was released in Germany, and reinvented board gaming as most of us knew it. It introduced deeper strategy, advanced mechanics, less randomness, and a universally appealing (or acceptable) theme; characteristics shared by nearly all games in this category.

Over the decades, Eurogames have spread across the world like wildfire with some estimates showing ~30% year over year growth in the US. No longer are board games and board game stores the sole purview of the prototypical male geek toting their collection of hand-painted miniature figures and Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks. My own anecdotal data reveals these businesses visited by a healthy dose of children, families, women, and hygiene! For years here in Portland we’ve had numerous Meetups for board gamers, but recently we’ve had a bar open specifically for them! Conveniently, it’s on the bike route home for a number of us.

The benefits of board gaming are numerous. They improve relationships, lower stress and blood pressure, improve cognitive ability (logical reasoning and critical analysis skills), reduce the risk of mental disease, and in our own case tend to encourage employees to bring their own lunches; saving a few dollars and [usually] calories. Beyond the science, these daily sessions have done wonders to build bonds within our team and opened relationships between teams that would have otherwise been unlikely to occur due to the nature of how we [as human beings] work.

If you’re interested in learning more about this type of gaming be it for home or with your work team, you’d be well served starting with a “gateway” game. These have simpler mechanics, more universally enjoyable themes, and many are cooperative. Titles to look for are Ticket to Ride (my personal favorite for new players), Settlers of Catan, Forbidden Island, Carcassone, Codenames, Pandemic, Splendor, King of Tokyo, For Sale, and Sushi Go! If you’re looking to dig even deeper, BoardGameGeek is the site for all things board games.

Please accept this post as an open invitation. If you find yourself in [our office] for lunch, grab your meal at the cafe downstairs and join us for a game. We are experiencing a golden age of board gaming. Are you in?

Special thanks to hand models [redacted] and [redacted]

The chances of seeing Rebecca’s purple yoga pants on TV

Posted on Jan 16, 2018 in General | 1 comment

Days I watch the morning news… 1 in 30
Days my TV is accidentally still tuned to Fox (days after football games I cared to watch)… 1 in 182.5
How often a plane is hit by the deicing truck… I’d like to think this doesn’t happen often
How often someone makes the news without knowing it… Rare
How often someone makes the local news while on the other side of the country… Rare

So it was pretty wild to see her purple yoga pants on TV this morning.

EDIT: The chances were even slimmer. I’ve been informed those are not her pants. Damn! So close. Anyway, still her flight.

2017 Year in Review

Posted on Jan 3, 2018 in General | 0 comments

Life – Sold my first house, bought another, went for a hike with a girl in May and still go on them regularly with her (we even do sleepovers sometimes!), lost a job after ten years, got a new job, happily bid farewell to my last client, became comfortable on a snowboard, exercised every day of the year, and did a bunch of bicycles.

Travel – Snowboarding trip with the college guys (January), a weekend in a freezing cold cabin on Mount Hood (March), wine weekend in California (April), a few days in Boulder to bid farewell to my old company with the old coworkers (April), DC for Race for Hope and VA Beach to visit friends (May), camping cycling weekend at McKenzie River (June), annual rafting weekend in White Salmon (June), camping weekend at Stub Stewart (June), weekend in Bend for road bike racing (July), long drive to and weekend in Tahoe for mountain bike racing, (July), week in Leadville for mountain bike racing (August), B&B weekend in Hood River (October), weekend in Bend for cyclocross (October), week in North Carolina for Christmas (December).

CyclingI’ve already written all there is about cycling. Ended the year with 8,005 miles. +24.5% over last year. 2,552 of that was on the trainer. Sorry, haters, that’s still 5,453 outdoors.

Running – Ran 6x more than I did last year (74 vs. 12 miles), but it was mostly at the end of the year and those numbers are laughable. Still managed to eke out an 18:28 5k.

Hiking – She’s all about this so I had to step up my game big time, which I wanted to do anyway. 6.2 hours last year was crushed by 26.2 this year. Up to Tilly Jane, The Flatirons, a first date in Forest Park, Elk Mountain, coordinated a group hike up Mt. St. Helens, made it halfwayup Mt. Adams, Dog Mountain, and Hamilton Mountain.

Health – Yearly average weight was more or less the same as last year (168.8 v. 169.1). Burned 435,095 calories – 26.6% more than last. I think that means my body composition should be much better? Haven’t been tracking it. Maybe I should. I think I look more fit.

BooksRead 25. Absolutely loved Modern Romance and Dreamland. I Love You, Michael Collins was the surprise of the year.

TV and Movies – Netflix has gone full idiot with their rating system so it’s hard to look back on the year and gather any real data. I can’t recall really loving anything. Ozark and The Great British Baking Show (spoiler alert!) got some pretty solid attention.

Losses – Lost two former coworkers unexpectedly. Both young men. One was in the “friend” zone. Most “gentle” (shut up, peanut gallery) guy I’ve ever met. He’ll be missed.

Next Year – How about a little bit more of everything? A good bit more running, a tiny bit more riding, some swimming, Mount Adams will be conquered, an upgrade to Cat 3 on the road (seriously, why does this elude me?). Aiming for same number of books because it’s not feasible to do more of everything forever.

Previous years in review: 20162015201420132012201120102009200820072006.

The summer that can’t stop, won’t stop

Posted on Jul 10, 2017 in Cycling, General | 0 comments

Another two weeks down and another few things worth noting.

High Desert Omnium

I did this event a few years back and had a chance to get back down to Bend for it again this year. I almost didn’t after being hit by a car two nights before it, but that turned out to be a non-issue. Ugh.

Left home early Saturday morning to arrive shortly before the time trial and the Bend Municipal Airport. I did pretty well in the TT last time, TT seems to be a strength for me, and I had an actual TT bike so I was pretty stoked for this. Any other year, I would have likely won this stage with my 27mph average, but the group was exceedingly strong this year and I was only able to nab 4th. Worth noting, the top two guys in my category would have been very competitive/almost assuredly podiums for the weekend in the Pro/1/2 field. Triathletes and time trialers aren’t handled very well in the cycling upgrade system, but that’s life in 4/5.

GPS | Results

That afternoon following lunch and some rest, we made our way back to the airport for the criterium. I hate criteriums. High speeds, lots of turns, lots of traffic. I hate them lots. Since I hate them so much, I typically dangle off the back of the group, which is a great way to waste tons of energy as the yo-yo effect (any sort of slowdown ahead is multiplied the further back you are, which causes you to have to work a lot harder to get back up to speed) is real, but it’s where I’m comfortable so it’s where I stay and how I lose. Luckily, this time it proved a saving grace as there was a nasty crash that took out most of the group about halfway through. Being on the back, I had plenty of time to recognize the crash and avoid it. About six of us were lucky enough to miss the mess, I tried to hold onto the top few strong guys, failed, and was happy with another 4th. Despite EMS showing up, everyone was relatively okay following the crash. A separated shoulder, a smashed helmet, some trashed lycra, and a stiff neck were the results.

GPS | Results

The next morning we made our way up to the Edison Sno-Park for a relatively flat 100km race in the mountains. It’s a funny race that keeps on dragging on with everything being decided in the final 5-6 miles, which is an increasing ramp up to the finish. There was some shuffling of the pack on the final hill, I recognized the stronger guys, when they made a move I followed, held onto them for a good bit, and was able to score yet another 4th with solid gaps in front and behind. It was a really strong finish and I’m really happy with it. Of note, the top four finishers in my 4/5 race were only beat up the final hill of the day by the winner of the Pro/1/2 race. Yeah, strong group.

When all was said and done, my three 4th place finishes placed me in 3rd overall for the weekend a good bit [in the points] behind those two guys that absolutely crushed the field in everything. I returned home with a 12oz Hydroflask Coffee Mug for my efforts ($60, lots of calories, $40 in gas, an entire weekend). Bike racing is good.

GPS | Results

June Short Track

In case you’ve not been paying attention, I’ve been making a strong effort to get better at mountain biking this year. Part of that was committing to the Short Track series, which runs June through July. The last time I did this event, I was close to dead last. A year later and it’s clear my work has paid off by winning Cat 2 for the month of June. I didn’t win any races outright so I’m not smashing the field and in the wrong class (the one time I was leading I got lost, was passed by five riders before figuring out my way, and passed all but one of them back), but I’ve been consistent with 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd place finishes so my point gap is pretty large. Hoping I can hold it through July and win a 12-pack instead of a 6-pack 😉  Yes, I also may have too much fun with the photographer.

Mount Adams Summit Attempt

On July 4th a few friends and I made an attempt to summit Mount Adams. It didn’t go as planned, but part of the group followed Rule #1 of mountaineering (when in doubt, bail) and made the most of our day with eating and drinking our way home.

This is pretty much a 1.5 day hike (you have to start stupid early or camp halfway up) so we did end up spending the night on the mountain so +1 to my nights spent outside this year.

The plan is to give it another go perhaps at the end of the month. Going to be a long and grueling day.

Mount Tabor Series

Since the start of June I’ve also been racing up and down Mount Tabor almost every Wednesday night. Overall, I didn’t enjoy the series very much with a generally sloppy group, some peculiar officiating, and bogus series prize decisions (1st place Pro/1/2 female received the same $20 as 5th place in Men’s 5), but I digress. When I had a decent race I fared pretty well, but more often than not I was left shaking my head and unsatisfied, and for that reason I had no qualms missing a few races. Still, good enough for 8th overall. Not sure I’ll be committing to the series much next year.

Mount Hood Endurance Classic

This slotted nicely into my training “plan” for Leadville (the plan is to ride a lot, mountain bike a lot, and ramp race distance up to 100 miles via other races). This was my first endurance race in the plan and it clocked in at 45 miles and 7000ft of climbing over some technical and difficult terrain on the east side of Mount Hood. It was a small/unsanctioned/fun race so results didn’t really matter, but they were collected on the honor system and of course I got 4th… my favorite place. The trails were absolutely amazing and it was great to learn of them. Much more technical than I’ll be facing in Tahoe or Leadville, but the length of time and amount of effort were really good at helping me figure out my hydration and nutrition needs, and to dial the bike and myself in for long efforts.

Half the field was my team, which was really awesome. I’m hoping to plan a camping weekend around the event next year.

My moving time was 5:15, which I’m very pleased with considering the terrain. Overall time more like 5:24 with two stops for mechanical issues (shifter almost fell off and a cleat twisted when I slammed a rock with my pedal). Apparently I’m also really talented at hiking my bike as I scored a Top 5 all-time time more or less walking up an unridable hill for roughly an hour. Hells yeah!

Biggest accomplishment other than my hiking ability? No real injuries. Spending five and a half hours on a mountain bike comes with its share of bumps, bruises, and minor cuts, but that was it.

We washed the race down with impromptu/undie bathing in the freezing cold Hood River and some beers at Mount Hood Brewing.

GPS | Flyover | Results

What’s Next

Later this week I hop in the car to head to Tahoe for the Tahoe Trail 100. This is a corral qualifier (so I don’t have to start at the back of the pack and deal with traffic all day) for Leadville and is apparently 75% fire-road – great for my abilities, and very similar to Leadville. Very excited for this.

Following that, another weekend in Bend to hang out with Molly and listen to some music, maybe another attempt at Mount Adams, and then… another long road trip, but this time to Leadville… the crux of my year. So soon! Already kind of feeling it in my gut. I’ll be fine. I think.

Summer is how many days old?

Posted on Jun 25, 2017 in General | 0 comments

And I need a rest. The insanity began May 28. Today is my first day doing “nothing” (I rode 36 miles, did 1568 chores, worked an hour, and spent far too long putting this post together).

Sisters Stampede

Kind of got duped by a teammate on this one, but I’m happy for it. “Mike, sign up for this Sunday afternoon race. I’ll drive.” I did. Later into the week she informs me she’s leaving mid-day Friday. Whaaaat? New job and no thanks anyway. I ended up driving myself 🙂 A+ dupage (new word).

I didn’t know what to expect as I’d not ridden in the area or in any real mountain bike race in years and years and years. Things turned out pretty well with a 13th place finish. I was really strong on the flats and uphills, but wasn’t skilled enough and didn’t have the right tires for the sandy descents. I’d laugh with the folks around me as we’d blow by each other depending on whether the terrain was going up or down.

Good race, super dusty, and pretty hot. Next year I’ll show up on some knobbier tires and things should go much more smoothly.

McKenzie River/Pass/Trail Camping and Riding

Then the next week… Each year my team spends a long weekend at Paradise Campground on the McKenzie River. I arrived first out of everyone because I wanted to get a lot of mountain biking in, and I did, finishing the weekend with three mountain rides and one road ride over a mountain (McKenzie Pass to Sisters and back). The weekend included a few dips in the ice cold river to bathe, and a visit to Belknap Hot Springs for a proper cleaning. I’ve concluded that this place and weekend are some of my favorite things in the world.

White Salmon and Klickitat Rafting

Then the next week… Each year Chris puts together a water-based trip. Before him, his dad did so it’s been a very long tradition. We used to canoe and camp on the Rappahanock, which happened about ten times, but then Chris moved to Seattle and at was the end of it. When I moved to Portland, the tradition was reborn, with this being the second West Coast edition. We’ve also gone from canoeing to white water rafting as well. More intense, less overall effort, probably more fun.

This year we hit the White Salmon and Klickitats with Wet Planet. The two days couldn’t have been more different. The White Salmon was a half day in big things with more time to rest in-between, and in an unforgiving granite gorge. The Klickitat was a full day of endless small rapids and some amazing scenery. I greatly preferred the latter, and not merely for the chili bread bowl lunch that was supplied.

The first night we spent in Hood River being boys – visiting all the breweries and riding our bikes down steps and all over curbs. Lots of fun.

The second night we spent just inside Gifford Pinchot at Moss Creek Campground. I got to try out my new hammock and went on a super casual mountain bike ride with no destination in mind. I ended up climbing a mountain via a gas pipeline, found a nice clearing, and kind of turned my brain off laying in the grass taking in the scenery and the fact that there wasn’t a human likely within miles of me.

Stub Stewart Camping

Then the next week… I spent Friday night at Stub Stewart because I could. Left work a touch early and was at and setup in camp by 6pm.

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Learned some new 🔥 skills

The camp was hike-in, which was a first for me and very cool. My particular campsite was in a cluster of about six, which were all booked, but none of the others showed up so there was a massive space and shared firepit for yours truly.

The next morning, made breakfast and coffee, and went out for a mountain bike ride. The trails were super slippery and more difficult than their markings would lead you to believe, which was frustrating and not as fun as it should have been.

On the way back to town Saturday afternoon had an outstanding lunch at a hole in the wall in Banks and picked up some fresh berries because that’s what you do around here. Nice little way to break out of work on a Friday and to welcome in the weekend.

Mount St. Helens – Worm Flows Summit Hike

Then the next week… I took Dad and organized a group of 17 others to go up Mount St. Helens via the Worm Flows Route.

The 8-10 hour hike ended up taking Dad and me 16 with a finish at midnight. Suffice to say, it was a difficult day but it is done and I couldn’t be prouder of him for making the summit and making it back down to tell the tale. Yes, that was questionable at points.

The Worm Flows route is the winter route and starts you another two miles down the mountain from the summer route I’d taken previously. The bottom 3/4 of the route differs as well, taking you through a nice area of falls and water flows.

Overlooking the challenges specific to our hike, the winter route felt much easier and will likely be my preference when I hike again. The snow is much more predictable than the loose sand/dust found in the summer. More snow also means more glissading too.

Dad and Karen Visit

The same week… Dad and Karen came to visit. I don’t think he’s been in town for a year and a half so I gave him considerable grief over that. With my new job I wasn’t able to spend too much time with them, but I think that was best for all as they got to explore on their own and at their own pace. Of course, I provided them detailed itineraries for each day – in town, Coast, Gorge, and wine. I got to join them for the wine wine and even coaxed them into become members of a winery too. A++ for me getting all the benefits of that.

I think they had a pretty good time so hopefully they’ll be back sooner rather than later. I certainly laid the bait with two vegetarian dinners (Karen is an OG veg) and the day of wine, both of which Dad surprisingly seemed to enjoy. The man is turning a new leaf in his mid 60s. It’s good to see.

Other

In the meantime, a lot of racing has been going on and it has been going very well. I’ve been focusing on my diet (no, not “dieting”) very well and am down six pounds in the past month. Four more to go for Leadville target! More on racing and diet to come.

Next

Last night was “goodbye” to Dad and Karen, today I’m catching up on all the things, first weekend in July is a two day race in Bend, Fourth of July I’m hiking Mount Adams (12k+), middle of July is a road trip to Tahoe for a 100k mountain bike race/test/corral qualifier, and mid August is a road trip to Leadville for the main event. In September I’ll take a nap, but not for too long because ‘cross season.

Some weekdays in Boulder

Posted on Apr 24, 2017 in General, Vacation | 0 comments

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Dating back to before my time at the company, there was a tradition to eat at Ted’s Montana Grill following the departure of a coworker (I was there ten years – long standing tradition). When the final bunch of development was laid off last month including the last of the founders, we were not about to let the tradition die so the planning began in earnest. What was not tradition was that the parting soul attends their own wake, but it has been known to occur and besides, was Brian going to go eat a burger by himself?

Fortunately for us, the Ted’s we used to go to in Arlington had closed. Fortunate because only one of the four who were attending lived in Virginia anymore and that place was awful so we broadened our search. My vote was for Bozeman since “Montana” Grill, but that proved more costly than folks wanted so we settled on Boulder. We’d be traveling from the four sides of the US – Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, and Oregon.

The trip involved a burger that was surprisingly better than expected, beers at Mountain Sun (great place – good beer and outstanding service), beers at Avery, ice cream at Sweet Cow MULTIPLE TIMES over a roughly one day trip, random fried and heavy food, a new board game to add to my collection, shouting matches over a ridiculous mobile party game, and a pretty outstanding hike. A great couple of days.

I’m glad I finally got a chance to see Boulder, the 4th place finisher in my “Where Should I Move?” contest. It was a nice place with lots of outside to offer, but it felt very small town, too white, very ticky tacky suburban, and, well, not a place I’d really want to live. I know there are great jobs there and more are flocking, but that also means housing prices are astronomical. No thanks.

RIP to the company and hurray for the friendships and experience to cherish forever.

Note: Brian still has a job. When he goes, we’re doing Bozeman and we will be renting mountain bikes.