NORM!!! (Or Why I LOVE “my” Starbucks!)

I may be dating myself here, but one of my favorite shows of all time was “Cheers“, from back in the 80s.

“Norm!” (Photo credit: Teckie Kev)

It of course all took place in a small bar in Boston, owned by Sam “Mayday” Malone, Carla and Diane were the servers, Coach and then Woody were the bartenders, and the resident know-it-all Cliff Claven.

My favorite character though was Norm Peterson.  He would walk in and the whole bar would yell “NORM!”  Woody would say “How you doing Mr Peterson?”  to which he’d reply, “Like its a dog eat dog world and I am wearing milkbone shorts!”

So why am I saying all this?  Because Norm demonstrates why its good to be a “regular” at an establishment of one type or another.  Today, “my” Starbucks proved yet again why this is true!

We walked in, and there was a long line, yet the manager, Kimmie, saw me come in nd yelled “T-TOWN!”  No idea why I picked up that name, but that’s what she calls me.  Ahead of us was some old crotchety guy wanting 6 drinks, a lady who wasn’t sure what she wanted and a myriad of other customers.

As we got close to the register, Daniel the baristo (a guy barista) took my cup.  We always order the same thing, Venti 4 pump vanilla black ice tea with a personal cup.  Its my wife’s daily rink (I just drink whatever swill is at work, or, like now, since I am being healthier, green tea.  It’s always fun when new baristas realize the drink I get everyday isn’t for me, but for my gorgeous wife.

This is the best part though, and here is where being a regular is the best part.  Nicole was still working on crotchety guy’s order “I still have 3 more coming back there!” I heard him growl, there were 4 people behind him and ahead of us.  BUT, when we got to the register, the ice tea was made, and sitting right there for us to grab!  Swiped the card and gone while the old guy was still waiting!

Now, this does not happen in every Starbucks I go to.  For the most part, except for airport Starbucks, the employees there all very nice and attentive.  This one is special.  The is the Ballinger Starbucks in Shoreline, and in addition to those listed above, there is also, Patti, MaryJo, Mandie, Ivory, and Meaghan.  Each time a new employee starts, they introduce me by name.  When its slow and I have time, we linger and chat, but when they are busy I get out of their way.

Part of this treatment is the culture of the company, but a big part is from my Dad as well. He ALWAYS, used the name of servers in places we went.  I asked him why once, and he said “its a hard job, and people sometime treat them like crap.  So I try extra hard to be nice.”  I told my kids the same when they’ve asked me the same question.

So going here has shown me dad was right.  There are benefits to being nice, AND, i honestly like the people who work there.  So much so, that I go out of my way on errand days to hit that one instead of one closer.  They’ve earned it!

Redesigned logo used from 2011-present.
Redesigned logo used from 2011-present. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t EVER want to look like Norm, but I am damn glad I get treated like him!  Thanks y’all for always making us feel important!


Book Review: The Metal Cowboy: Ten Years Further Down the Road Less Pedaled by Joe Kurmaskie

I really like to read! I have been an avid reader since my dad gave me my fist real book “The Sackett Brand” by Louis L’Amour back in the 4th grade. I read many different genres, from sci-fi, to westerns, fantasy, and hard science to name a few. What I pride myself on is my Adventure Library. This was started back when I started climbing mountains in the 90s. It contains climbing books, running rivers, crossings of polar regions and deserts, as well as many books on cycling. (Right now they are all in plastic bins in the attic, but when we have a place big enough….)

Over the years, I have developed one rule on determining whether it s a good adventure book or not. “Does it make me want to go out and do what the author is writing about?” Using ONLY that rule, Joe Kurmaskie hits a home run with “The Metal Cowboy: 10 Ten Years Further Down the Road Less Pedaled.


This is the anniversary edition of this book. First printed 10 years ago. It is a compilation of short stories chronicling Joe’s adventures traveling the world on a bike (only man I know who had to outrun a charging elephant in Africa (true story I’ve seen the video!)). Most importantly, each story, standing on its own, made me want to get the bike and ride, regardless of the weather, time of day, or what I should have been doing.

Taken as a whole, all I can say is that I am glad (or am I) that this book wasn’t around when I was in high school. I am telling you, if it had been, there is a damn good chance this office jockey wouldn’t have gone to college. I’d have been cycling the United States and beyond, seeing and experiencing those things that can only be done on the back of 2 wheels. He inspires you to want to ride that much!

However, that is NOT the only reason t read this. I will tell you from experience, that many adventurers are NOT entertaining writers. Being interested in the quest has kept me performing my own death march through many a mountain climbing trip with the author.

NOT so with Joe. If you don’t laugh audibly at least once during this book (I woke up my wife a time or two reading in bed) you MIT want to take your pulse. Only Joe would find a hotel full of Elvises (Elvi?) dress like a scarecrow, have a friend MAKE him leave Aruba or be named Metal Cowboy by a blind man at a street corner.

What I like about the way he writes, is that even though cycling is the focal point (without the bike, it never would have happened) of each story, they aren’t mundane: I traveled this many miles, in this much time, with these winds and I saw…..

He is an excellent story-teller.  You know when he is on the bike, what he is feeling and whether is a good ride, or he is dying at the time.  You can feel the wind when it is there, and either curse or revel in it (depending on the direction it is blowing).  Better yet though, you find out what happens when he is OFF the bike (Kiefer Sutherland?   Really??).  Non of us spend 24/7 pedaling down the road, its nice to know what can await you when you lean the bike against a porch and it time to eat.

Want to fall in love with cycling all over again?  Want to honestly have a good time reading a book?  Even if you read it once, get the Metal Cowboy: Ten Years Further Down the Road Less Pedaled.  Better yet, skip Amazon and go to and order an autographed copy.  He also does a great presentation about his rides, I’ve only been lucky enough to see him once, but I will see him again, he speaks as well as he writes!

One of my top 2 pictures ever!


I love this picture. It was taken as my group approached the Denali Base Camp area. In essence, ski planes took off and the had to take a hard left through “One Shot Pass”. Aptly names, cuz you only have one shot to make it. Otherwise you smack into Mt Foraker.

I was looking for another pic, and found this one so I wanted to share. Another day I will share the other “best pic”

I Declare Today Spring!

Reading the posts of the people who follow me I am hearing about running in below freezing weather, cold rides, and the feeling that one may never thaw out.  Hell I woke of to Snow a week ago today at my house!  I was beginning to think this was a “Game of Thrones” winter which can last for years.  (For those of you who are not Sci/Fi Fantasy fans, forgive me for showing my geekness.)

Yesterday, however, made up for it.  It was one of those rare days when everything went right!

First, my wife and I decided to move our planned date night from that night to the night before.  We got some stuff done around the house, and I decided she deserved a night out now, so we headed out for dinner. (Macaroni Grill YUM!)

Second, I had meetings at the office that is literally a 5 minute commute away from our house!  Couple that with the fact that the meetings got over 15 minutes early, I was home at 4:05 PM

Thirdly, and most importantly, it was NOT raining!  In fact the sun was out!  BOOYAH!!  the first after work bike ride outside of 2103!

All of this would have made the day for me, but it got better.  It was WARM.  I peeled the helmet cover off my helmet so I could feel the wind in the hair, I wore shorts and the lightest windbreaker I own as well as my new fingerless gloves!  It felt great!  In fact, I had to shuck the coat!  A shirt sleeve ride!

I had honestly intended to take some pictures along the Burke Gilman, and Samamish River trails.  But I was feeling too good.  I had my average speed over 15 MPH, and I was feeling no pain!

That wasn’t all though!  The bike gods were smiling on me!  NO small talks or ladies smoking and talking on cell phones! (there was one in an ugly geo metro convertible, puffing away that cut me off near the end of the ride, but by then I was too happy to even flip her off!)  The little kids on bikes (and there were a couple) were straight as an arrow!

Even the animals seemed to be celebrating.  I saw a blue Heron preening itself across the river, as well as a stellar Blue jay singing (ok squawking) away!  I was looking for our resident bunnies, but no luck this time.

Finally, and this was too much to ask for, I had a tail wind for most of the trip back!!!  That NEVER happens.

We all know that sometimes working out is a chore.  Sometimes we have force ourselves to put on the running shoes, or get in the saddle to ride.  This ride, however, is one of those that reminded me why I started riding, why I continue to ride after so many miles, and why I hope to ride well into the future!

Every year, there is one day and one ride that kicks off the rest of the season for me, when I know mother nature truly loves cyclist and the bike gods will work their magic for me.  I am thinking this may have been that ride!

Hell, even if it snows tomorrow, I don’t car

Dividend Shopping Day!

So, as I mentioned, I started a new job with my previous company this week.  I like the company, and I have enjoyed the heck out of people saying “Hi!” to me in passing, then stopping dead in their tracks, turning around and yelling “HEYYYYYY!!!  You’re Back!”  One guy asked “Did you leave?”  “Nope” said I was just lying low!”   (I left 3 years ago!)

I like the company, I like the commute and the job.  I love the fact that I am able to commute with my wife, and sneak kisses in the elevator!  Yesterday, though, my favorite part was walking across the street to the REI Flagship store!

Outside REI Flagship
Outside REI Flagship (Photo credit: dmolsen)

Yep, like I posted earlier, I can walk out the front door, cross the street and walk into the loading bay dock entrance!  {Cue the angels singing Hallelujah))

Even better, for the trip, I had my dividend to spend!  $167.00!  Add to that, the most expensive item purchased was 20% off!!!!  (Be still my heart!)

Some years, I do not know what I want or need.  This year, no such problem!  My wife requested a pair of wool socks (gotta love a lady who is easy to please) While I needed bike shorts and Fingerless bike gloves.  Pretty simple.

convenient for me, the bike department is just upstairs from my entrance.  It’s almost like I planned it that way! I found my gloves first, only $26, Giro Bravo Gels.  Very comfy, and I can’t wait to try them out!  I had found a pair of shorts, even tried them on to make sure they fit, when my eyes fell on a wonder to behold!  Zoic black-market convertible Pants!  HELL YEAH!  Long pants that zip off into shorts!  I have 2 or 3 pair of hiking pants like this and I love them.  Shoot I have even taken these to Disneyland in the winter, shorts during the day, long pants when the sun went down!

These will be perfect!  In the winter time, I like long pants when its cold outside.  Now that spring is TRYING to show up, there will be mornings when it is cold, and I will start with them on, but as it warms up, I can shuck down to shorts!  I was debating whether to get warm weather pants as well, but this killed two birds with one stone!

I also picked up some cylinders to help with the next flat tire, and YEP, just in case you are curious, I picked up a pair of Merlino Wool socks!


One thing I always do is watch the person ringing up the items wherever I go.  Today, the guy behind the counter forgot my 20% off!  Luckily I caught it!  All of this together was $127!  I still have 40 bucks left to spend!

I decided that since this was lunch time, i would spoil myself a little, and enjoyed a Classic Vegie burrito and Caribbean C Smoothie from world wraps!  Damn good!

I gotta tell y’all, if there is an REI within spittin distance, and you do ANYTHING outdoors, spend the $20 to become a lifetime member!  Then you too will understand the joy of Dividend Shopping Day!

Exercise Music



Well, keeping with the theme from yesterday about using the iPod while working out, I thought I’d take a second to discuss what makes (to me) a good playlist for working out.




ipod shuffle loja online leilao
ipod shuffle loja online leilao (Photo credit: sucelloleiloes)


A word of caution here, I never really left the 1980s when it comes to music, which does result in my receiving a lot of grief from friends. One refers to my iPod as the “8-track playing machine”. (For those of you much younger than me, google 8 track tapes to figure out what the hell I am talking about.). But hey, as long as I enjoy the music who cares!




So what do I look for in music? I like fast moving, decent beat, fun to sing along, and just plain fun. I won’t go over everything on my playlist, but here are some highlights!




Bon Jovi! “You Give Love a Bad Name”. “Livin on a Prayer” etc. You can’t help but ride harder, or run faster with Bob Jovi in your ears! Shoot when I needed a good round back when I threw darts, “Wanted Dead or Alive” always came through!




Kenny Loggins “Dangerzone!” Talk to me Goose!!! Tog Gun! Back before Tom Cruise was weird. This song has gotten me through many things! Major snow storms in moutain passes, studying for finals, and the last 30 miles of the STP!




Grand Funk Railroad “We’re an American Band” this one is just plain fun. Music starts a pumpin, and so do the legs.




From the movie Footloose, “I need a Hero!” I don’t know what it is about this one, but, I remember my short-lived aerobics phase in college. I was about to die in class, then this came on, and I got my second wind! Still works now!




A bit more recent Jimmy Buffett’s “Surfing in a Hurricane”. I love this song, just inspires you to go out and have an adventure.




Jimmy Buffett Boat Donation
Jimmy Buffett Boat Donation (Photo credit: USFWS/Southeast)


And my foray into the new century, Rev Theory‘s “Hell Yeah!” No idea where or how I found this song, but it’s a perfect workout tune!




Journey, Van Halen, John Parr, Lover Boy (“The Kid is Hot Tonight!”) Charlie Daniels Band and Alabama. All of these and more help get my butt off the chair and out in the real world. I had this cranked last night while doing stairs!




What’s on your playlist that you would recommend for me?




How do I Know Biking is Right for Me?

I’ve had a couple of conversations lately, one in person, and one here on my blog, that reminded me of a post I read back when I first started this blog. It was in a post from King of the Hills in which he asked the question, “Are you an externally motivated runner, or internally motivated?” The difference, in his opinion, was whether or not you needed music when you ran. He loves running for the running itself, and therefore doesn’t use music.

A good blog post, in my opinion, is one that you continue to think about long after you read it. I can only hope that I have at least one post that has someone out there thinking about it even now.

This one resonated with me because I have done many things to stay in shape. I was an avid runner for quite a while. My greatest accomplishment was finishing the Seattle Half Marathon.

I ran well enough to complete my one and only Half a thon, 13.1 miles in just over 2 hours!
I ran well enough to complete my one and only Half a thon, 13.1 miles in just over 2 hours!

I will guarantee to you right now though, I ONLY ran without music (discman or iPod) when the batteries were dead! And every time it was a lousy run! I didn’t run for the joy of it, I ran because I didn’t want to get fat. I don’t miss it, and I am not sure, even if my legs would let me, that I will ever run again. I like walking 5 Ks with my wife, but the running days are over!

However, not all exercise for me is like this. When I was a hiker I NEVER wore earbuds for music, I liked hearing the birds and water and wind.

Carbon River Mt Rainier
Carbon River Mt Rainier

Snow shoeing was the same thing, its way to peaceful out in the snow to ruin with music

Chinook pass
Chinook pass
Pratt lake
Pratt lake

With biking, it honestly depends on the ride. On the rollers in the shed, I’d be dead in the water without a movie to watch. I don’t have the concentration nor desire to focus solely on my riding. This is why I finished Game of Thrones season 2 tonight after riding 16 miles during the last episode.

Outside though?  When I rode the Oregon Coast, I rode everyday for 5 days, and only used the iPod for the last 10 miles to my final hotel. I needed the boost! The STP, the first 120 miles, no music, chatted with other riders, and just enjoyed the ride. It wasn’t till I knew I had to kick it up some that I broke out the iPod.

My regular training rides, it just depends on the day, and whether I remember to grab it. I’ve had great rides without it, and sometimes I’ll even bring it and not use it. To me this means I ride for the joy of riding. It has the added benefit of keeping me from getting fat, but after all these miles, it’s still fun. Even on my training routes that I have done time and again, I still look forward to the rides.

I don’t need the music, it’s a nice to have(sometimes) but it is simply not a necessity!  I don’t begrudge anyone who uses iPods while riding, to each his own!  But, since I continue to have great rides without music, I can confirm that Biking really is right for me!

Ride it like you stole it folks!