Category Archives: Stuff I Like

What’s in the Box: Nomadik April 2017

Sorry for getting this posted late, but life has a way of getting in the way of things.

Niteize CamJam:

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In the interest of full disclosure, I already own a half dozen of these little things for various tasks like tying down items in the back of my truck or securing tarps.  Work like a champ, easy to tighten at 5 AM in the middle of Nebraska, and cheap enough that I do not care if I misplace one due to a hangover induced late start.  I keep them in the cavernous center console of my truck for this “it’s gonna’ happen sometime” events.

Mountainsmith tent stakes:

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I do not camp, so the utility of tent stakes is somewhat limited.  That being said I do use tent stakes to secure coverings on outdoor projects with some frequency.  There might be some utility here after all.  Are tent stakes kind of like getting socks for Christmas?  Sure, we all need them at some time and we all appreciate a high quality rendition.

The PowerPractical LumiNoodle comes is one seriously over packaged piece of allegedly outdoors gear:

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That is just the outer wrapper, a thick laminated foil like material similar to what is used for freeze dried camping meals, that opens to reveal the second layer:

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Yep, it’s a bag in a wrapper that yields the LumiNoodle eventually:

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Nomadik may tell me that the LumiNoodle is worth $20, but it is really worth nothing since it does not work without a battery pack.  Sure, a 25% off coupon was enclosed to purchase a battery pack from PowerPractical but I kind of feel like these items should be useful from the moment I open the box.  Call me critical.

A battery pack from PowerPractical runs approximately $30 ($22.50 after 25% off coupon) for 4400 mAh.  Significantly larger, in terms of power capacity, battery packs are available online from Amazon for the same price.  Seems a little odd to me.

Maybe I am just not hipster enough to use the LumiNoodle for Instagram.

The inclusion of a three month trial subscription to Reelhouse’s Slipstream leaves me the most conflicted.  Slipstream is a streaming collection of action sports films. There are some interesting films in the catalog, but aren’t we supposed to be encouraging people to get into the outdoors as opposed to watching the outdoors on a screen?

This month’s box was kind of a bust.

Stuff I Like: RumbleRoller Foam Roller

I have spent the past month or so really dialed in to getting prepared for the upcoming ski season.  At the ripe old age of 38 I did not want to be that guy on the slopes who goes hard his first day out and spends the next week walking around like his legs are welded at the knee.

The only downside to an intense focus on building a base of strength and explosive power around multi-part kettlebell movements and an array of core focused exercises is that I really feel it in my shoulders and hamstrings some mornings.  As it gets colder, I feel it a little more.

If I were a rich man, I would rely on the trained fingers of a masseuse to work deep into the affected tissue and knead the soreness away.  Alas, the closes I can get to a masseuse on a regular basis is begging my five year old son to pretend my back is a bed of hot coals and have him walk on me.  Not a pretty picture.

Instead, I turn to a RumbleRoller Foam Roller:

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The idea behind foam rolling is that it allows for myofascial release, which is a fancy way of saying applying gentle and sustained pressure to the connective tissue of one’s body for the purpose of relieving pain and/or restoring motion.  Evidence of efficacy is apparently lacking in the scientific or medical journal world, but anecdotal and personal evidence abounds.  I will tell you that I am a believer because I have seen and felt the impacts on my own body.

Using a RumbleRoller primarily on my upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves has allowed me to recover quicker from resistance training.  Furthermore, it has helped to restore range of motion and reduce pain in a shoulder that has suffered from severe tendonitis.  I spend about five minutes, sometimes closer to ten, almost every night and it has made a world of difference as I trundle down the path of improved fitness.  A “nubbed” roller like the RumbleRoller is preferable, in my opinion, because the raised bumps have enough height and spacing to really dig into pressure or trigger points.

The RumbleRoller comes in two densities: Original and Extra Crispy…er, Extra Firm.  I own the Extra Firm version which may be a little aggressive for some users new to foam rolling or who have extremely sensitive deep tissue.  I love the Extra Firm version because I feel that it really digs into the deep tissue to get at lingering soreness from a long day on the slopes or in the saddle.

Now, you may find people online who claim that myofascial release is the stuff of quackery, akin to homeopathy.  This is not a treatment for all that ails you.  Any treatment that claims to be the cure all for a grab bag of ills is likely a false prophet of wellness.  However, for helping to relieve MSK pain and restore range of motion a tool like the RumbleRoller is a home run.

Note: I bought and paid for the RumbleRoller with my own funds and have received no compensation from RumbleRoller whatsoever.

Stuff I Like: Pacha Soap Dirty Hippie

I have a friend.  She has a particular sensitivity to a particular odor.  For some reason, perhaps childhood trauma, she cannot stand to be in the presence of patchouli.  Maybe a Volvo 240D wagon almost ran her over in middle school or something.  I do not know.  If she smells anything that contains even a trace of patchouli she will scowl and cry, “Hippie stench!”

Unfortunately for my friend, my new “go to” bar soap is Pacha Soap’s Dirty Hippie:

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Some people can just use any old bar soap, but not me.  I am a soap snob.  A bar of Ivory just does not cut it.  I love wandering the soap bins at Lush and smelling soaps that almost want to be eaten the aromas are so powerful.  I love the smell of a particularly fragrant soap when it fills the shower after a workout.  It’s my thing.

Pacha Soap’s Dirty Hippie bar soap has the right amount of funky earth aroma—yes, to some people it would be considered hippie stench—and some exfoliation without feeling like 60 grit sandpaper running over your skin.

Maybe it is time that we embraced the term dirty hippie.  Is there anything wrong with playing or working in the dirt?  In this age of local, organic farming and kids suffering from nature deficit disorder the world could probably use a few more dirty hippies running around.

Pacha Soap runs a business model similar to Tom’s Shoes where buying a bar of soap is matched by the donation of a bar of soap to a community in need.  Soap may not seem like a big deal, but simple hygiene can make a huge difference in terms of public health.  The program is entitled “Raise the Bar” and beyond giving soap away it is creating jobs in African countries by involving local communities in the production of soap.  That whole give a man a fish, feed him for a day but teach a man to fish…you get the idea.  Like the slogan on the shirt says, “Dirty Hippie, Clean Purpose.”

About the only downside to Pacha Soap that comes to mind is that they use palm oil in the soap.  Sure, it’s Rainforest Alliance certified and organic but palm oil is a major driver of deforestation across the globe.  Over time I am hoping that the company goes palm oil free like some other soap brands have done recently.

NOTE: Pacha Soap paid me nothing nor did the company provide me with any soap.  I bought this product retail at New Pioneer Coop in Cedar Rapids.

Stuff I Like: Choad Cheese

If you wax skis or snowboards with any frequency you know that some all-temp hot waxes can make your workspace smell like the air around the Pine Bend Oil Refinery in Minnesota. Don’t know what that smells like? Mordor. It smells like I imagine Mordor smelled like. Yes, Frodo, I am waxing my fourth pair of skis. No, Samwise, Gollum’s precious is not going to make this go any faster.

Here’s the answer…Choad Cheese:

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It’s wax for snow sports. Pretty simple. However, the stuff does not smell like a chemical spill delivered by Captain Hazelton. Look that one up you whipper snappers.

I tend to be a fan of the “Jovian’s Brazilian,” which smells like coconut and suntan lotion. Maybe you would be a fan Britney Spears circa the mid-1990s? Get a package of the oh-so appropriately named “Horny.”

All right. The names are ridiculous—anything named Dirty Hippie is a little ridiculous—and the marketing can be a little on the childish side, but we are talking about something that helps you slide down the face of a mountain covered in snow using wood strapped to your feet. Isn’t there something inherently ridiculous about that whole endeavor?

I know, I know. Choad Cheese is for snowboards. Guess what? It works well on skis. The guys who are behind Choad Cheese will probably howl at the mere mention of their product in association with skis, but they can learn to deal. The Gooch can learn to deal.

Pick up a package, melt it on your sticks, and tell me that it is not a better option than that brick of all-temp wax that burned the hair from your nostrils with its nasty chemical odor.

NOTE: I actually bought and paid for Choad Cheese with my own money. I received nothing for actually liking this product and telling people about it.

Stuff I Like: Early Morning Harvest Flour

I have a muffin problem. The muffin is my “go to” breakfast food vehicle of choice. Now, most muffins you see in a glass case at the coffee shop or at the store are little more than fist size sugar bombs. Take a moment and look at the nutrition information from Panera.

A blueberry muffin, with fresh blueberries, is 460 calories and delivers 40 grams of sugar. The same muffin also only has 2 grams of fiber. You might as well be chugging a soda for your breakfast.

So, my muffin problem has turned into a baking odyssey. I want to control what is in my ritual morning breakfast. Naturally this has led me down a rabbit hole of ingredients (e.g. wheat bran versus oat bran, maple syrup versus molasses, etc.). One of the major issues that I faced when perfecting my morning muffin was a source of local, organic flour and bran. Enter Early Morning Harvest:

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Early Morning Harvest is a diversified farm operation located in Panora, Iowa.

At less than 170 miles from my house I am going to count them as local. Sometimes those 100 mile limits seem arbitrary as 170 miles in Iowa might take you the same amount of time in a car as fifty miles in Los Angeles.

The farm produces vegetables, eggs, tilapia through aquaculture, honey, grass fed beef, herbs, and milled grain products.

For my recipe, which will be forthcoming in a future blog post, I use whole wheat flour and wheat bran from Early Morning Harvest. It is certified organic and stone ground. The flour contains the entirety of the wheat grain. Nothing has been removed. The result is a whole wheat flour, owing to its freshness and completeness, that bursts with wheat flavor. It kind of reminds me of the concept that Mark Schatzker was making in The Dorito Effect: the better a food tastes, the better that food will be from a nutritional perspective.

I was able to find the Early Morning Harvest products at the New Pioneer Food Coop. The products are also available at a variety of stores in Iowa as well.

Stuff I Like: humangear capCAP

In this day of fancy water bottles with bite valves and insulated vacuum flasks that double as long range growlers there is not a lot of love for the old Nalgene bottle. I confess, when I am in the great outdoors I look like someone plucked an REI shopper out of the mid-1990s. I proudly carry my one liter Nalgene bottles in my backpacks mesh side pockets.

Why? Have you ever seen the funk that can develop in an unattended bottle’s bite valve or straw system? Trust me, I left some of those items to soak in PBW—a seriously awesome cleaner from the homebrewer world—and it barely did the trick. With a simple old Nalgene bottle I can take off the screw cap and scrub the heck out of it with a bottle brush. Even though my children are well past the bottle stage I still keep bottle brushes handy because these things are so handy.

The only problem? Nalgene bottles with the traditional wide mouth kind of suck to drink out of. The narrow neck bottles are easier to drink from, but harder to clean and harder to put ice or other substances in for drinking fun.

The solution? The humangear capCAP:

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All right, the capitalization and name is ridiculous but the cap rocks. It preserves the versatility of the large mouth opening, but the second cap gives you a place to take a drink without risking an impromptu face wash.

I know that my several ancient Nalgene bottles are declasse compared to the Klean Kanteens or Hydro Flasks, but I am stuck in my ways after so many years on this planet.

The Joni Ernst Watch 1/12/2014

Joni “Make ‘em squeal” Ernst is rarely without something to say.

Fellow Senator Lindsey Graham gave the newly installed junior Senator from Iowa a classy gift. Wait for it…a plaque with a hog castration tool mounted above the words “Make ‘Em Squeal, Joni!” Remember, these are the people who will make policy in the United States for the next couple of years.  Classy.

As Republicans take over committees formerly chaired by Democrats it’s time to take a look at some of the interesting juxtapositions of quotes relative to these new chairmanships. Ted Cruz is now the chair of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness. Thus, a person who tried to defund NASA will now be in charge of overseeing the agency. Never mind some of these classic Ted Cruz statements about science:

“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.”

Or:

“You always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called scientific theory that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory.”

Remember, this guy is a leading candidate to run for President of the United States. Wow.