Grande Pescados

Monday, March 31, 2014

Maybe I Shouldn't Have Had A V8

I love V8 vegetable juice and have since I was kid. If blood tasted like V8 I would become the least sparkly vampire you have ever seen. I have been known to drink an entire 64 ounce plastic bottle in a day...and can easily knock back 32 ounces in one sitting. I can't shotgun beers, but I can chug a 12 ounce can of V8 like there is no tomorrow.

The thing is, V8 is supposed to be good for you, and I suppose it is in moderation. Most things are good in moderation, except for maybe black tar heroin, but V8 isn't heroin. It turns out that V8 is basically a salt lick in fluid form. One 12 ounce serving of V8 contains 600mg of sodium, 25% of your recommended daily intake. That's a lot of sodium. It's not quite ramen noodles sodium levels, but it is still an ass load.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, it's because I have a sneaking suspicion that my V8 consumption is having a negative effect on me physically. My last two piss poor runs have one thing in common - copious amounts of V8 consumed the night before. Take, for example, last night. I drank two pints of V8 in the early evening and about a 1/2 pint before bed...and then drank about a 1/2 pint with breakfast. That's a lot of V8 in under 12 hours! When I ran this afternoon I felt awful, I couldn't set a decent pace and my calves and hamstrings felt super tight. At around the 3 mile mark I had to pause my run to adjust my right shoe because my foot felt tingly and numb. Four miles into my run and I had to stop to walk because my left calf was acting up. It was a really crappy run and I'm pretty sure having so much sodium in my system was to blame. Sodium in the body pulls water from the cells and makes the heart work harder due to increased blood volume. High sodium can also cause swelling in the extremities...like your feet...causing numbness and tingling. Now, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but even I can add this up and come to the conclusion that V8 in the amounts I sometimes drink it just isn't healthy. That means I'm going to have to start eating more actual vegetables, which is fine...I suppose...

Another benefit of cutting the sodium from V8 out of my life will be that I won't look like a salt crusted Christmas Day prime rib after runs. Seriously, after my craptacular run last week my shirt had visible salt stains...after a short 3 miles! That just isn't normal....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Vinyl Records

I fondly remember the days of buying and bringing home a new LP, tearing the shrink wrap off, staring at the front and back of the album cover artwork, and taking part in the ritual of playing a new record...the quick wipe down of the album, making sure the needle was free of dust, and then dropping the needle and hearing the comforting pop and hiss while anxiously awaiting the music to start on that Men At Work or Human League record.  Good times, but count me out when it comes to replacing my digital/CD albums with vinyl records.  It just isn't going to happen, mainly because I don't believe the hype, but also because I don't really want to go out and buy the same albums again.  Yes, I'm looking at you David Bowie and The Who, two of the biggest offenders when it comes to constantly remastering your catalogs in hopes of squeezing out more sales.  I think I have purchased Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust' album at least four times in my life....on LP, cassette, CD, and remastered CD.  I'm not falling for the 'remastered for iTunes' racket this time around, Senor Bowie.  From a sheer economic stand point, repurchasing albums you already own is folly, unless said album has been damaged or lost.  Since most of my 1st gen CDs have been replaced with remasters, it makes no sense to go back to the beginning to buy them again. 

Legacy acts aren't the only bands getting into the vinyl revival.  Beck's new album, 'Morning Phase' will be released on limited edition vinyl at a 60% premium over the digital version.  (Hmmm, Beck's first major label record was released 20 years ago....that makes him a legacy act.  Bad example.  One sec...).  Lady Gaga has gotten into vinyl, and not just her wardrobe.  Her disastrous 'ArtPop' can be yours on vinyl for $24.99, a price guaranteed to insure no one buys that record in that format either.  Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories' is priced at $34.75, close to 60% over the digital format because it is 'European vinyl' which is interesting because European pressing plants use 44.1/16 CD as the source for their vinyl...  

The superior sound that vinyl enthusiasts are claiming may not be superior at all, but a by-product of the limitations of the technology used to process and deliver the music from the vinyl to the speaker.  Throw in variables like your speaker set up, needle wear and tear, wiring, room acoustics, and the strong possibility that all those vinyl reissues are sourced from the redbook CD, and the claims of a warmer sound from vinyl may boil down to one thing:  User preference influenced by nostalgia, turntable/amp setup, and the sound distortion caused by the variables in the previous sentence. 

Another variable in this debate would be the age of certain albums on CD or digital download.  Comparing analog and early digital recordings isn't exactly a fair fight.  Take, for instance, my CD of Guns & Roses 'Appetite for Destruction'.  I bought this particular CD in 1988 right after my cassette version of this album was stolen during the aftermath of a car crash I wasn't even in the vehicle for (but that's a story for a different time).  This was long before the idea of remastering for digital sound came into play.  I'm pretty sure Geffen Records just took the original recording and used that to manufacture the CD.  That explains why G&R's 'Appetite...' is quite possibly the worst sounding CD I own, even if a second engineer was used to master the CD.  There is no 'depth' to the sound, it's tinny and everything is way up front in the mix.  Sadly, the digital version of this album doesn't sound much better, again, everything is too high in the mix and the drums sound like they are wrapped in tinfoil.  How does this album sound on vinyl?  I couldn't tell ya, but even if it did sound warmer I wouldn't run out and spend '$399.99 and up' for a turntable.  I found a decent set of earbuds/cans and the Bose system in my car can mitigate some of the limitations of a poorly mastered CD or digital download.  Side note - another CD I own that sounds horrific would be my copy of Neil Young's 'Harvest'.  Great album, but Reprise went cheap when transferring the analog recording to digital.  Neil Young is also one of the more outspoken critics of digital audio, which may contain elements of 'get off my lawn!', but he's correct that his legacy recordings sound like shite on CD.  A real audio wonky article mentioning Young can be found here

So, it kind of sounds like I just made the case for vinyl over CD/digital in the last paragraph.  In some instances, based on the age of the CD, that may be true.  However, that is due to the original mastering.  Modern era CDs are created from first generation masters that have been engineered to take advantage of the wider sonic range that digital recording offers.  Talk to any producer that worked through the analog to digital recording days and they will regale you with the difficulties of capturing low end frequencies on vinyl.  I'll take a well produced/engineered album on CD over vinyl any day of the week, say for instance, Radiohead's 'OK Computer'.  Anyone telling me that album sounds better on vinyl than CD/digital is lying or suffering from some serious psycho-audio effects.   

Lastly, let's be honest about how the majority consumes/enjoys music these days...it's going to be through earbuds during their commute, at work, or while working out.  At home, most are using any number of iHome speakers or docking stations.  I personally use an older Altec Lansing docking station to listen to tracks on my iPhone when not using mid-range priced earbuds.  The $15.00 Sony cans The Better Half got me for Father's Day last year work really, really well.  I simply don't have the time or inclination to retire to my den in a velvet smoking jacket whilst smoking a pipe to enjoy the latest musical exploits of my favorite band on a long play album.  If I'm listening to music at any kind of volume, it's in the car via my iPhone being pumped through the Bose sound system.  Otherwise, it's earbuds while running...

Now, none of this is a knock on those that honestly believe that vinyl sounds 'warmer' than CD/digital.  In the end, it is going to come down to user preference.  This guy's opinion is that the vinyl revival is a rather shrewd move by records labels to tap into the nostalgia vein of Generation X types.  In the last couple of years, Gen X (which happens to be the demo I belong to) has become the biggest spenders when it comes to nostalgia.  It is this generation that the vinyl records marketing arrow has been directly aimed at.  I'll take a quality remastered digital recording of a contemporary or legacy band over vinyl any day of the week.  Vinyl was/is a pain in the ass.  Plus, the first thing I would do is transfer my vinyl over to digital to make it portable as I don't own John Lennon's vintage Rolls Royce with a turntable in the back seat.

  You can direct me to sites with lots of neat-o charts and graphs of soundwave breakdowns, how the human ear hears music, etc, and that's great.  Digital vs vinyl is nothing more than a preference.  What I'd like to see is a double-blind test where a digital audio file has the hum/hiss and pops of a vinyl record added to the mix and listeners (audiophile and man off the street) are asked if that audio file or the same one minus the added effects sounds warmer.  Then I'd play the vinyl version of the track alongside the digital recording and ask the same question.  Testers would have to use comparable systems to generate the sound, either head phone setups or controlled sound rooms.  I think that would be an interesting experiment.

To close, the best listening experience I ever had was taking in The Beatles 'Revolver' in a vintage 70's egg chair modified to play CDs.  I'm sure the chemical effects of a prescription pain killer washed back with a couple of swigs of Nyquil amplified the awesomeness of 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.  Why someone doesn't make a modern-day egg chair with a docking station is beyond me.  Those things were suh-weet!                   

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three (Late) Thoughts On The Seattle Super Bowl Win

It still feels kind of hard to believe that the Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champions. Now, I have to admit, I am not a life long Seahawks fan. My vagabond childhood made me somewhat of a sports fan mercenary, especially when it came to football. From 1977 - 1981 I was a Dallas Cowboys fan, partly because of Tony Dorsett and Roger Staubach, but mainly because I liked their helmets. Yes, I liked the Cowboys for the same reason Dwayne Wayne picked the Buccaneers to upset the Raiders, costing ReRun's brother in law $500.00...helmet design is important when you are a kid.

 I started coming around on the Seahawks during the 1982 season, when Kenny Easley was roaming the secondary and Largent was hitting his prime. Dave Krieg started his first game with the 'Hawks, replacing the beloved (and much maligned) Jim Zorn. By 1983, the Seahawks were a force to be reckoned with on offense due to the addition of Curt Warner. The real turning point for me occurred on Thanksgiving Day 1986 when the Seahawks played the Dallas Cowboys. I found myself actually putting money on the Seahawks to beat the Cowboys that day, placing the bet with a low grade bookie in my PE class. I wagered $10 that the Seahawks would win, but his wager was a bit more on the novelty side of things - if the Cowboys beat the Seahawks I would have to fight him after school the Monday we returned from Thanksgiving break. In retrospect, that's a really odd f*cking bet. I was a little bit bigger than this kid with an untapped well of self-hatred that was more then ready to be taken out on someone else. Luckily for him, the Hawks handed the Cowboys their ass that day and I collected my $10, sparing...I think his name was Josh...a Ralphie from Christmas Story type beat down.

 Unfortunately, there really aren't a lot of Seahawks highlights from the 1984 playoff win against Miami to their first Super Bowl appearance in 2005. Being a fan of this team meant cheering for the likes of Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Chris Warren (the only RB in NFL history to lead the league in rushing by running backwards into the line of scrimmage), and the reanimated corpse of Tom Flores on the sidelines. Paul Allen buying the team led to investments in talent on the coaching and player front, so the team returned to respectability at the turn of the century. That's when Seahawks fans began their transformation into the current 12th man.

 Which brings me to the point of this rambling post, my three big takeaways and thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks finally winning a Super Bowl:

 3. I think I was happiest for the older fans, the ones that remember the crushing heartbreak of watching Curt Warner's knee give out during the opening game of the 1984 season. The Seahawks were riding high off of their first playoff win the year before and the outlook was bright, but Warner's injury was too much to overcome. The team resorted to signing Franco Harris, who somehow managed to rush for 170 yards running sideline to sideline in 8 games with Seattle. Things were never quite the same for the Hawks after that season, and they spent the next 30 years mired in mediocrity, a low point being the putrid 2-14 season of 1992. Being rooked by the refs in Super Bowl XL really stung because everything else broke right in 2005. It also led to a bizarre victim mentality with Hawks fans, with them blaming every thing on the refs...Shaun Alexander lost a step? Refs fault! Hasselbeck skipping passes off the turf or sailing them over the heads of WRs? Refs fault! It was really, really, really annoying. Having the Seahawks win the Super Bowl by shutting down the highest rated offense in NFL history will hopefully cure this affliction. It also helps to have players that don't buy into it, unlike the whiny Alexander. These guys just get after it and remind me of what made that 1983 team so awesome. The defense lays people out and the offense does what it has to do with a scrappy undersized QB. Oh, and Marshawn Lynch is the best RB this team has ever had. He may not put up the gaudy and meaningless numbers that Alexander did, but he's a tough runner that gives it his all on every play.

Which brings me back as to why this Super Bowl win should mean so much to the original 12th man, the ones that sat in the Kingdome and cheered and screamed and did the wave. The ones that heckled Elway, Alzado, Deron Cherry, and Fouts in the old AFC West battles. Those fans fought to keep the Seahawks in Seattle when Ken Behring tried to move them to SoCal. Without them, there would be no Seahawks...just the Mariners and the Sounders.

 As it became obvious that Seattle's defense wasn't going to allow Denver back into the game, I thought back to a handful of shipyard workers that used to play sandlot football with me and my friends back in the day. From 1985-1988 during football season, we played tackle football at Orchard Heights elementary school every Sunday. One day some 'old' guys showed up to play, and by old I mean they were in their mid-20s. For four years we met at Orchard Heights, rain or shine, to play football...but the time was dictated by when the Seahawks were playing because the old dudes didn't want to miss the game. If they played a local game that kicked off at 1pm, we played at 10am. If the Seahawks game kicked off at 10am, we played at 1pm. I have no idea what their names were, but they were good guys that loved the Seahawks and loathed the Denver Broncos...and for most of my teen years we beat the living piss out of each other on an elementary school field when the Seahawks weren't on TV. I hope those guys are still around and got a chance to finally see the Hawks bring the championship home.

 2. I kept hearing that Seattle 'needed' to win the Super Bowl so the city would be taken seriously. Uh, what the f*ck? Seattle has been a part of the cultural fabric since the early 90's. Name me another American city that has driven the cultural narrative more than Seattle over the last 25 years. From music to art/fashion to TV and film, technology and industry, Seattle and the northwest has played a significant role that defined the Zeitgeist. Now, I'm not going to go on a long tangent about craft beer, coffee culture, DIY music, etc. I think most of my 9 readers are well aware of Seattle's place in those particular discussions. It just struck me as odd how many local pundits were propagating the notion that Seattle had a self-esteem problem leading up to the Super Bowl. I never got that impression. I'll agree that there was a victim mentality,the feeling that higher ups in the shadowy sports illuminati had it in for Seattle dating back to the abortion that was the Sonics vs Suns playoff series in 1993 and David Stern assisting his buddy Clay Bennett to steal the Sonics and move them to Oklahoma City. Yet, I don't see how that impacted Seattleites on a personal level. Not having an NBA team sucks, I suppose, but I don't feel bad about myself because of it. I have better things to hate myself about.

 Anyhoo, I don't think Seattle 'needed' to win the Super Bowl...and had they lost I don't think Seattle would have turned into the second coming of Detroit. That may happen as Microsoft continues to lose market share and relevance and Boeing ditches the area for Texas. We'll talk about what the city needs when/if those two things happen, and Super Bowl wins won't amount to d*ck when it does. Does anyone think more highly of Tampa Bay as a city because the Buccaneers won a Super Bowl a few years ago? Is Oakland the land of milk & honey because they won a couple of championships during the Reagan era? No and no. If anything, Seattle can feel good about itself for not getting too stupid after the game, no cars burned, no windows smashed...there was some damage to the historical pergola in Pioneer Square, but private citizens have already donated the cash for those repairs. I think Seattle can hold its collective head high about that!

 Winning the Super Bowl was great, don't get me wrong. I just don't buy into the notion that catastrophic damage to the psyche of the 12th man and Seattle would have occurred if the tables were turned.

1. Seattle has always been a 'football town' and has been since I moved here in 1980. This area loves their high school and college teams and, of course, the Seahawks, regardless of win/loss record. Team spirit hits a fever pitch when the teams do well, which leads to accusations of bandwagon jumping...but that is true everywhere. Only the diehards go out and buy Rick Mirer jerseys when the team is 6-10, but you can't swing a dead cat today without smacking a Wilson jersey. A simple formula in sports is winning = fan enthusiasm. Someone much smarter than me needs to break down local economic activity and how it escalated after each Seahawks playoff win this season. It seems everyone was spending money on t-shirts, jerseys, hats, socks, 12th man flags, Fatheads, car magnets, etc. Winning the Super Bowl blew the roof off of consumer budgets. I'm thinking a certain percentage of the 12th Man is going to be late on car payments or rent this month and next as they factor in those had to have Harvin jerseys and commemorative footballs. Once in a lifetime, right? However, Seattle's love of the Seahawks dates back 38 years and this explosion in fan interest is the perfect storm of old fans and new fans drawn in by the success and unique personality of this particular team. While every team has their fair share of characters, there is something different and special about this Seattle roster. Russell Wilson embodies the work ethic, Pete Carroll the enthusiasm, Lynch the drive and toughness, and Sherman the swagger and confidence. This Seattle Seahawks team was assembled with parts that no one else wanted and dominated one of the most celebrated quarterbacks of the modern era and his record setting offense. They played hard every down, sold out on every play. Success won't get to this team's head like it did the 85 Bears, and it won't fuel the owner's ego the way the Cowboys success two decades ago did with Jerry Jones. I'm thinking this team is going to stick around for a while, so we had best get used to the success and start budgeting for those jerseys...

 I'd like to hear from fans in different cities, have you ever seen the outpouring of affection and hysterical devotion to a pro football team the likes of which Seattle just displayed? Steeler Nation might come close, those guys are friggin' everywhere, but does Pittsburgh go nuts the way the Seattle area did this season?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Random Stuff

Windstorm 2014 damaged a portion of fence in the backyard, mainly the gate...which just happens to be the biggest pain in the ass section to repair. The wind pushed the gate out in the wrong direction, breaking the latch off the door section and not only bending both hinges, but cracking the post the hinges were bolted to. Not bad for a storm I described to the newest neighbor as 'mediocre, we've had worse'. I'm going to have to replace the post, an eventuality I have put off with some handy dandy work with some well placed screws. Until then, here's hoping the gate keeps the varmints out of the backyard...and that the varmints don't test the fence for weak spots as most of the wood paneling has rotted to the point of being not much stronger that balsa. The entire fence needs to be replaced, which is a nice to have at this moment, unless a herd of elk move into the backyard... Speaking of things that need replacing...we still need a new refrigerator. The fiasco with Sears has been settled up, finally, but those negotiations did not involve a new fridge. The compressor in our current fridge is absolutely psychotic, whipsawing between freezing everything in the refrigerator section to not freezing anything in the freezer. A piece of plastic flew out of the ice dispenser the other night, startling the middle Pescado daughter who asked what she should do about the plastic floating in her drink. Due to the nature of our kitchen, we are limited in the size and style of fridge we can buy. French door refrigerators with freezer drawers on the bottom are all the rage right now, but that happens to be the one design that will not work for us. The cook top center island makes that particular style a non-starter. We need a side-by-side, preferably counter depth, criteria that seems impossible to meet at the moment. What we do know is that we will not be buying from Sears...and we have scratched Lowe's from the list as well after the shopping experience my buddy Eric had there, an experience he described as 'dicked around'. Yes, well. Our microwave works fine, unless you need to open the door. To open the door you need to focus power like Daniel Larusso driving nails. There's a sweet spot center-right on the button that opens the door...hit that thing just right and the door pops open...miss it and you just kind of jam your finger. It's just one more thing that reminds us that this is no longer a 'new construction' house. All the appliances are at least a decade old. We moved in the weekend after Maddy's 1st birthday...she'll be 11 this year. So, we are going to have to pony up and eventually buy some new appliances, and put up a new fence...and replace the carpet...and repaint the kitchen...and refinish the kitchen cabinets...and on and on it goes...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Putting The 'It' In Insanity

When purchasing a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce, it is important to study the condition of the contents before opening said bottle.  The ingredients tend to separate over time, something I would have noticed had I given the bottle a once over...but no, I had to go and open it right up and use it.  Now, the bottle is specific in the amount that should be used, and that amount is no more than 2-3 drops.  The recommended amount was all I was going to use, but let's touch on the separation of ingredients for a moment...

I bought this bottle of Insanity Sauce during our recent trip to Leavenworth.  For all I know, the bottle has been sitting in Washington state's 'Little Bavaria' since Christmas of 2006 as that was a good year for habanero peppers globally (note:  I made that up...I don't know if 2006 was a barn burner of year for habanero peppers).  Anyway, there's no expiration date on the bottle, or any date that makes sense, so I figure we're all good.  Smash cut to this evening in my kitchen...

I always put a couple of drops of Insanity Sauce in my guacamole.  It adds a nice kick and spicy garlicky flavor, because what good is hot sauce if it adds nothing but heat?  Well, when I went to add my 2-3 drops of Insanity Sauce to the guacamole 2 teaspoons of dark red oil ran out of the bottle...and let me tell ya, it was eye watering and the scent stung the nostrils.  At that moment, I should have stopped...but I was not about to throw out the guacamole. Avocados are friggin' expensive this time of year, and as some of you know, I'm currently on a fixed income. Therefore, I went ahead and made the guacamole, undiluted habanero oil and all. As stated earlier, a couple of drops of Insanity Sauce adds kick to most dishes. My first taste of tonight's guacamole was not a kick, it was uncomfortable. It was as if I had added a couple of drops of blood from the devil himself into the guacamole. I'm quite used to spicy and hot foods, but I had to step back from this to figure out a way to mitigate the heat. The only thing I could think of was to cut it with more guacamole and off the shelf salsa. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, so that's what I did. The end result was good, the heat just right...but Dave should add a 'Shake Well Before Using' label to his Insanity Sauce, especially if that sauce has been sitting on the shelf of a novelty store in a faux Bavarian village in the middle of the Cascade mountains...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nu Shooz

I've been running in On shoes for about 9 months, and they are easily the best running shoes I have ever owned. The only problem is that around mile 50-55, they start wearing out. The 'cloud tec' that makes up the sole of each shoe begins to tear and cushioning is non-existent. So, I started to do a little more research on the shoes and found that the ideal maximum weight for On running shoes is about 180lbs. That ain't me, babe...and that means I have to find a new shoe to train in for the Tacoma 1/2 marathon.

I'm really bummed about the On shoes wearing out on me so quickly. Since I switched over to them from Asics I've been able to run longer and more comfortably. My achy knees aren't so achy and the shoes make being a forefoot striker that much easier. However, when they wear out I start feeling it in my shins and Achilles's, and an Achilles's injury is down at the bottom of my to do list. Research tells me that the Brooks Beast is the best shoe around for, um, larger runners, so I'm throwing down on a pair of those. While I don't appreciate that the shoe eludes to heavier runners being nothing more than filthy animals, I'll reserve final judgement until after my first run in them. If they are as comfortable and supportive as advertised then a filthy animal I'll be...

I still don't have any real cold weather or rain running gear. Yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to run in the rain and wind in a fleece pull over my Under Armor t-shirt. Not wise as I was cold and miserable almost from the get go. I was surprised at how many folks were out running around the neighborhood, people holding strong to their resolutions two weeks in! You know what would be nice? If my first mile wasn't such a struggle. No matter how I warm up, my first mile is uncomfortable from a breathing and heart rate perspective. Back in my mountain biking days I would warm up pretty hard to establish a breathing pattern heading into a hard ride, but that doesn't seem to work for me running. Any tips on warm ups would be appreciated!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Running Out Of Steam

I begrudgingly began running 'for real' on 5/19/2013. Those first runs were not happy runs, they were sad, plodding, pain filled exercises in what I thought was nothing more than futility. However, I kept running and while my early runs could be timed more accurately on a calendar, I got faster...running began something I looked forward to doing. It was a challenge that I actually kept up on, rather than quit in disgust when it became difficult (or my knees began to swell, or my always balky hamstrings began to ache). I think I hit my 'running is fun!' peak right around the time I ran my first official 8k. Since then, well, I friggin' hate running. It's boring, a chore, and something I force myself to do...and something I find more excuses not to do. Now, I did suffer a decent hamstring injury a couple of months ago, an injury that knocked me off my routine for a couple of weeks...but the malaise continues. It's not the weather, although my lack of cold weather running gear does make the endeavor that much sportier. I'm not sure what it is... To snap myself out of the running doldrums, I've decided to register for the Tacoma 1/2 marathon. A 13 mile jog around T-Town is going to be a challenge, and maybe that's what I need, a new challenge. At this point, I don't have a time goal to finish the run in, just that I want to finish without the aid of a gurney or wheelchair. Now I just need to keep dropping the pounds, work on my drama addicted hamstrings, and begin training...