Friday, December 31, 2010

listomania: top 10 albums of 2010

I will flesh this out (promise!), but my magical formula popped back with this list.

10. Robyn - BODY TALK
9. Broken Social Scene - FORGIVENESS ROCK RECORD
8. The National - HIGH VIOLET
7. Tallest Man on Earth - THE WILD HUNT
6. School of Seven Bells - DISCONNECT FROM DESIRE
5. Sleigh Bells - TREATS
4. Delta Spirit - HISTORY FROM BELOW
3. Junip - FIELDS
2. Sharon Van Etten - EPIC

and the number one album is...

1. LCD Soundsystem - THIS IS HAPPENING

I owe a list of concerts and tracks...but wanted to wait on the former since I'm going to The Hold Steady tonight, which could end up in the top 5!

(Books and movies are also forthcoming)


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

listomania: top 10 fitness events of 2010

My Daily Mile goal at the beginning of 2010 was to participate in at least one community fitness event (organized race, run, or ride) each month of the year. I ended up doing far more than I'd imagined, but here's a countdown of my most memorable ones.

10. Fight For Air Stair Climb - This was a unique event and the first "non-run" I did in 2010. I was super nervous, but ended up being just fine. Plus it was the first medal I received!

9. Miller Park Sausage Run 5k (9:48 pace) - Not my best run, despite the great pace, but I'll never forget the awesomeness of running around the outside track inside the stadium. Super cool!

8. Flood Run (9:42 pace) - Such a great cause and so many wonderful people on this one.

7. Lakefront Discovery Run 15k (10:47 pace) - The race that gave me the confidence to know that I'd be fine at my half marathon.

Photo by Michael Litscher

6. Brown Deer Run 5k (9:09 pace) - Still my most awesome pace for a 5k, but this run is memorable because so many #FitMKE folks there and saw several individuals complete their first 5ks. It was a truly inspiring day.

5. Shamrock Shuffle 5k (10:16 pace) - My first "road trip" race. And awful, killer hills.

4. Harvest Hustle 10k (10:06 pace) - Another road trip race and my first 10k. Ended up building a wonderful northwoods weekend out of the experience and bonding with some good friends. Huge thanks still to the amazing Catherine Emmanuelle for her hospitality in Eau Claire!

3. Miller Lite Ride for the Arts (75 miles) - I managed to raise over $1500 for the United Performing Arts Fund and bike 75 miles without keeling over. Special thanks to all that supported me in this journey and especially to Joe @AJBombers who was gracious enough to allow me a guest bartending gig to fundraise.

2. Samson Stomp (aka My First 5k) (12:18 pace) - The race that started it all. Hard to believe, but I was more nervous for this than I was to run 13.1!

1. Tyranena Half Marathon (aka My First Half Marathon) (10:59 pace) - I tear up a little every time I think about it. Truly one of my greatest accomplishments in life.

Looking forward...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Milawesome Volume 4: Santa Cycle Rampage 2010

Wisconsin and I have had a tumultuous relationship as of late. Especially when it comes to issues of non-car-based transportation. Needless to say, I haven't been in the holiday spirit.

Well, anyone that reads this blog still or has Googled any iteration of "santa cycle milwaukee" could have predicted the inevitable -- Santa Cycle Rampage 2010 filled me with Christmas Joy just as much as the two other years I've participated.

Yes, the weather this year was atrocious and the free beer didn't flow quite as freely, but you can't ever change the absolute magic of seeing 300 Santas spread joy throughout the town by the simple act of banding together on bicycles.

The stops this year mirrored those of 2010, but my group continued to expand. My friend Laura from college biked over to my place, and then we scooped up Bart on Cass, after a quick stop at Walgreen's on Brady, we connected with Tony to get to Cafe Hollander. I kind of love the pre-ride, as the sight 3-4 Santas definitely confuses people more than 300. They do the double-take like "Is this part of something or are these people just freakshows?"

A little of column A, a little of column B.

My gang started to form at Hollander. Not only did my comrades, Ben and Becky, from last year join up, but Ben brought along his awesome friends Lisa and Scott. There was a bit of confusion regarding the availability of "Santa Specials," so we only managed to get one drink in -- for me it was a Lakefront White. This "pacing" likely paid off later.

Pushing 11, it was time to parade over to Lakefront Brewery. It seemed far more people were out and about on in that North/ Farwell / Brady stretch this year so the cheer began to spread. As I mentioned last year, I just love watching my friends as they experience such an incredible phenomenon for the first time. Laura, Tony, Bart, and I were a pack in this part and the three of them were just so excited about it. This part makes me believe that you could *almost* get rid of the drinking aspect and it'd still be amazing. But then it wouldn't be a Wisconsin event. Nor could you probably convince 300 people to ride around in the cold with costumes on for 6 hours. Scratch that. Alcohol is a critical factor in this joy spreading.

Learning from past year's mistakes, we grabbed an essential slice of pizza at Lakefront immediately upon arrival. I washed it down with an Organic Amber, and later sampled a Rendevous (which Monica accurately described as a "nasal" beer and I commented "just like the French accent!") and a Riverwest Stein, thanks to both the "Santa Sample" and rounds appearing. I was thrilled to have Monica round out our posse at this stop, since she was my partner in crime for Year 1.

Speaking of which, the Santa Cycle alumni community is pretty sweet. It's fantastic to chat with people you see year after year, to learn about bike geekery, to feel PART of something organic and cool. Even though the event continues to grow, the bike geeks are still at the core of it. I mean, look at the bike tree above -- there were probably 10 people surrounding it, staring in awe, and saying "that's my kind of Christmas tree." Especially with the weather being the worst I've encountered, as the day wore on, only the hardcores kept on.

Stop three was Great Lakes Distillery, of which I don't have many photos. Mainly because we were outside the bulk of this time and I didn't quite want to take off my gloves. Luckily Bart had overlayered and I got to hijack his extra warm down vest (I described as being as warm as the pelts of 10,000 bears).

A change up from years past was the routing my band of Santas took to get there. We missed the first wave out of Lakefront, so followed another group down Water St. Instead of turning on Wisconsin Ave., we rode through the Third Ward, bringing joy to the shoppers hitting the boutiques. While I missed the hustle and bustle of the Ave., since the stops didn't change, it was nice to add some variety. We then took this crazy shortcut through an industrial area and rode UNDER the Sixth Street Viaduct. The area was a bit sketch, but man, it's a handy shortcut to know. If I can ever find it again!

At Great Lakes I bought a Santa punch (no samples this year), and then connected with my co-worker and his buddy. Apparently his friend had googled the event and emailed my blog link to my co-worker...ah, small world. For this coincidence, and using my feminine wiles to get the bartender to look our way, I was rewarded with a boozy eggnog made with Roaring Dan's Rum. Actually, I'm not quite sure if there was eggnog in there. Groups left GLD in several waves, and the area down there is fairly tricky, so I got a bit turned around and almost followed some rogue Santas into Conejito's. Keeping my eyes on the prize of the impending shotski, I swung around the block and found Monica & Bart in a convoy heading up Bruce Street. I'm not 100% sure the route we took to Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall, mainly as the pomp and circumstance of a ride down the main thoroughfares was pushed to the side for the purpose of getting there quickly as the icy rain was starting to set in.

Fairly chilled after our trek, the warmth of Kochanski's both in atmosphere and crowdedness was very welcome. The ever-present polka band provides that extra layer of awesomeness, and after filling up on some chili and tamales (yay for my decision to eat meat this year!), and being traumatized by a "peek-a-boo" incident with a Santa in hotpants, we set our eyes on the prize -- THE SHOTSKI.

Imagine my disappointment then when we were told that it was "too busy" to bring down that ski. I feel like if I ever write a Christmas episode of my life, this will be a major plot point. But in the end, after some persistence (I may have thrown some blog weight around -- I am a nerd and I'd had a few High Lifes), the bartender's heart grew three sizes that day and we were allowed our Rumpleminze off a ski.

Thank you Mr. Bartender. And I'm sorry if I annoyed you.

Anyway, Shotski #1 was where the trouble started. As I was closing out the tab for it, I ended up chatting with a really cute Santa at the bar. He told me he and his friend had done the shotski with Polish Blackberry Brandy, but it'd been on his list because of a blog he'd read about last year's event. They were actually Madison residents, heard about the event, Googled it, and then read a recap presenting how super fun it is. So, right, guess who's blog that turned out to be?

Well we had to do ANOTHER shotski to toast to that coincidence. And then somehow there were more. I kinda lost count. This is probably a good thing, as the ride to Cafe Centraal was really cold and wet.

The extra layers of liquid warmth were welcome. As it was last year, Centraal is a blur. It's sort of funny because the group encounters families at the start of the day, but then also after a day of drinking. I'm sure the kids who see us at 10 a.m. dream of sugar plums, whereas the kids who see us at 5 p.m. probably have the same dreams as one would if their unsuspecting parents accidentally rented them Bad Santa.

Despite walking out into the worst biking weather ever, I successfully guided wayward Santas back downtown, peddling faster than a road race to try to get out of the rain and into any sort of warm situation.

My post-ride Santa nap was well-earned.

And no, I did not make my friend's party AGAIN this year. It was too cold and I was way too cozy.

Another memorable year of Santa Cycle, and another way Wisconsin swoops in and re-steals my heart...I simply can't imagine missing this event.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

world AIDS day: keep your mocha local

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware that today is World AIDS Day.

Red ribbons are donned, celebrities are hopping off Twitter, and Starbucks is donating a whopping 5 cents to the global fight against AIDS. Yes, I may have a sardonic tone, but I do recognize the importance of these activities to raise awareness and funds to fight a horrible and preventable disease.

However, I have a something I'd to point out.

While it's undeniable that in developing nations, especially in Africa, AIDS is a terrifying issue, I guess I always have on my live local, think global hat and fear that people forget about those in their own community who are suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Maybe it's the impact of seeing pieces of the AIDS Quilt at the Milwaukee Art Museum last summer or having participated in AIDS Walk Wisconsin in the past, but I think its critical for folks to be aware that AIDS isn't a foreign disease, nor a gay disease, but something that can happen to anyone, in their own communities.

That's why today I kept my "mocha" money local and decided to donate $5 to a local organization contributing to the fight against AIDS. While I gave to AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, here is a list of a few Milwaukee-based organizations doing work with HIV/AIDS, considering donating what you would've spent on coffee today to them...instead of just 5 cents, your whole $5 will make an impact.
Know of others? Please leave them in the comments section. Will you keep your mocha local today?

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