• This Week in Reading

    April 2, 2014 |

    As spring continues to deny its presence in the UP, I've decided to look for more quality reading material on the internet. There is a lot out there, and it's much more satisfying than the "fast-foods" of online media—Reddit, Buzzfeed, Twitter, and Facebook. I've found enough good content that I'm going to start putting together collections so that other people can enjoy it as well.

    Here's what I've been digging recently:

    BBC

    US Supreme Court strikes down overall donor limits

    I don't know if this is good news for freedom of expression, or basically the legalization of unlimited bribes. Campaign funding is a really grey area for me. I think political freedom is extremely important, but elections should be won through merit rather than based on who can be bought most easily.

    Viewpoint: Escape from the 'sink' estate"

    An interesting counterpoint to the idea that people are poor because they're lazy and irresponsible.

    American Dream breeds shame and blame for job seekers

    If you can't get a job, that might not be your fault, but that's not what American ideals tell us.

    How the secret police tracked my childhood

    A fascinating and surreal insight into living in a totalitarian political system.

    Al Jazeera America

    Debunking the pathology of poverty

    Another argument against the "tough love" approach to solving poverty.

    As coal fades in West Virginia, drugs fill void

    I think the question of what happens to people when the industry they rely on dies out is going to become even more important in the near future.

    Adventure Journal

    I can't get enough of this website, especially the essays. They're all fantastic.

    National Parks Head Blocked Grand Canyon Bottle Ban After Meeting with Coca-Cola

    This is old, but still. Sellouts.

    A Conversation With an Environmentalist Oil Industry Worker

    I don't think I could do it. There is too much moral conflict in supporting an industry as environmentally destructive as the petroleum industry.

    An Adventure Life Essay: The Joys of Chopping Firewood

    Chop some firewood. It's good for you.

    The Contrails of the Western Sky

    Great essay on perspectives.

    Happiness Is in the Little Things

    Enjoy where you are and the fun things you can do on a daily basis. It sounds cliche, but they actually make you happier than big trips/occasions.

    The Partner Gap and the Risks of Unsolicited Advice

    Discussion of relationships between people of differing abilities.

    In Focus - The Atlantic

    A Trip to Lesotho, the 'Kingdom of the Sky'

    Not exactly heavy on reading, but I had no idea Lesotho was this beautiful. This photography blog is very much worth following.

    Pinkbike

    East Bound and Down: Brevard Calling

    I can't wait to get back on my mountain bike this spring, even if I won't be riding in North Carolina.

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  • Spring Break, Sheboygan Style

    March 18, 2014 |

    My friend Anthony was nice enough to invite me to stay at his place in Sheboygan, Wisconsin over spring break. It was a much-needed change of pace after a couple of months of engineering classes and exams and the harsh winter in Houghton. The weather was incredible during my stay, with temperatures getting above 60F on Monday and getting close to that again on Friday.

    Sheboygan is a surprisingly nice town to spend time in (I don't know why I'm surprised, I just didn't expect a whole lot), with a nice waterfront and a decent downtown area. We kept pretty busy, biking as much as possible as well as cooking whatever we felt like and meeting up with Anthony's friends in town.

    I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with his dogs as well. It seemed to help a little with how much I miss mine at home.

    Bike Shenanigans

    I bought a dirtjumper from a guy on craigslist on the Monday of break (because I sure needed another mountain bike!). We took advantage of the weather and were able to get out riding every day from then on. We spend a lot of time just messing around in the streets by Anthony's house, but also made a few trips for more excitement and variety.

    We spent a day acting like punks finding fun things to ride downtown, including stairs, barriers, walls, curbs, and parking lot islands. We even got kicked out of a motel parking lot, which was a first for me. It a remarkably pleasant experience.

    During two of the colder days, we made the drive to Ray's Indoor MTB park in Milwaukee. It's a very unique bike park that is entirely contained within an old Menard's building. The amount of terrain and riding features crammed inside is incredible. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I was pretty comfortable after visiting twice previously this year with the MTU cycling club.

    Ray's has a fast and fun pumptrack and a foam pit along with all of their standard technical and jump trails. It's a really good place to practice technique try out tricks that you wouldn't be comfortable with otherwise, or just mess around.

    Paradigm Coffee & Music

    Sheboygan is home to a Paradigm Coffee & Music, a really awesome coffee shop that is one of Anthony's favorite hangouts. It has a vibrant but laid-back atmosphere, with high vaulted ceilings and bikes hanging from pillars everywhere. The furniture mostly consists of comfy old couches and low tables, and local artist's displays decorate most of the walls.

    There's a stage and sound system set up for live music performances. They offer a good variety of food and drinks including reportedly excellent coffee from the Milwaukee roaster Collectivo. I highly recommend Paradigm's Tangerine Ginger Tea and Zeus Sandwich.

    Rebike

    The basement of Paradigm is home to Rebike, Sheboygan's bicycle rehabilitation program. Bikes are donated by community members, and then parted out or restored by volunteers during weekly Wednesday night sessions.

    Everyone I met who was involved was very passionate about bikes and loved working there. There are similar programs in cities all around the world that have sprung up to help ensure that bikes don't go to waste and the people have access to affordable, healthy, and environmentally friendly transportation.

    Thanks to Anthony's parents for being such gracious hosts over the break, and for putting up with all of our bikes scattered around their house.

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  • Copper Harbor Snowshoe Broventure

    February 22, 2014 |

    Overflow downhill mountain bike trail wooden feature in winter

    After a late-night video planning session, some guys from the cycling club invited me to go snowshoeing in Copper Harbor the next day. We took advantage of our free first time rentals from the outdoor adventure program. Quite a few poeple were waiting for snowshoes when we got there.

    Snowshoeing through deep powder

    After the drive to Copper Harbor, we climbed up Brockway Mountain and followed the Overflow downhill mountain bike trail back down. It was pretty different seeing the trail on foot in the winter compared to riding it in the summer.

    The snow was practically untouched. We managed to stay on top most of the time, but there were spots where it was easy to sink in to the waist. We saw some faint downhill ski tracks, but no other signs of people.

    Climbing trees and then jumping out of them

    Like with any good adventure, tree climbing was in order. Snowshoing can be as exciting as you make it. I think extreme snowshoing could definitely take off.

    Beautiful winter forest

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