My Inner Geek was showing

As we all know, my way to keep in shape is the ride the bike.  Be it 5 miles to work or 100 miles in the mountains, keeping the legs moving keeps the body strong, the heart beating, and face smiling.

Michelle is a run walker, and her legs (very nice ones I might add) do the same as she cranks out her miles. On the weekend, I will drive her anywhere from 6 to 15 miles away, and drop her at the trail for her to walk back.  I meet her at Starbucks.

It works better this way as she just has to focus moving forward instead of picking a turn around spot,  and I will have an ice tea waiting for her at Starbucks.

I know, its rough duty for me… Continue reading “My Inner Geek was showing”

The Very First Cup of Coffee

Do any of you remember the day you first had coffee?  Scary enough I do!  I hadn’t thought about it for years, but then I read a tweet today from a student at WSU.  Suggesting that the Starbucks on campus start a mug club, much like the local tavern The Coug does!

I had to reply that back in the day (Ok the 80s) the Bookie (our student bookstore and the location of the on campus Starbucks) had a coffee club mug.  I could fill my cup at home, walk to campus, and refill for 10 cents (no typo there, a dime (or in my case, more often 10 scraped together pennies)), then hit my first class.  I kept that mug for years, but sadly it is gone now, but this is a great replacement!

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But this was LONG after my first cup.

  Continue reading “The Very First Cup of Coffee”

Bike to Work Day

So, how often to you bike commute and actaully gain weight by the time you get there???  Well that was today!  Here in Seattle, it’s the F5 sponsored Bike to work day!  Big doins I tell ya!  People who haven’t ridden for years are out and about!

As usual for this day in Seattle, I woke up to it raining.  I can’t remember a bike to work day when it hasn’t rained!  Add to it, I was up late at an Oregon State University function with my wife.  It was a blast!  And I met the football and basketball head coaches, but at 430 AM this morning I was dragging butt.

THEN I had to do the final packing and prep for tomorrow’s Reach the Beach century.  All in all, I was kinda grouchy when the ride started this morning.

THEN, I hit the first stand at whole foods.  Top Pot donuts, cinnamon rolls, oranges (to prevent scurvy) and smiling happy people.  Not to mention coffee!  The next had cookies and more coffee, the one after chocolate chip banana bread and MORE coffee!

YEP, the tires were sagging under the extra weight if the rider (Tubby Tony they’ll call me today) but I was in a helluva lot better mood by the time I got here!

This was the first bike to work day I’ve had a chance to participate in, and I KNOW it’s now an annual event for me!

What’s a Palate?

There was a time, and I KNOW it will be shocking to many of you, that I was NOT the refined sophisticate that you see (or should I say read) before you today.  Yes, I must confess, I didn’t even know what a palate was, let alone profess to have one back then.  My wife has worked hard to develop my tastes since we met!

 

I just didn’t know what good was, for some things.  For example, when it came to beer, whatever was cheap, or, better yet, whatever someone else was buying, was the perfect beer!  You’ve seen my name, Mountainstroh.  Well we drank Stroh’s (America’s only Fire-Brewed beer, in small copper kettles.) mainly because unlike other beers, it came in 15 packs!  Three, yes three, Extra beers for the same price as a half rack.  This gave rise to the legendary Strohs Bros&Fros  of Washington State University!   In fact, we wallpapered our dining room one year with our leftovers.

 

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Nowadays, when I go for beer its good beer.  I live in the land of microbrews.  The WORST beer I will drink is Redhook.  There are so many others to choose I could kill my liver just trying them all!  My favorites are Mirror Pond  and Rogue Ales.

 

Rogue Ales
Rogue Ales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I can only tolerate bad beer now in case of snakebite!  And even then I am not sure I would allow it!

 

Now let’s move on to wine!  Anyone remember Cella Lambrusco?  Imagine if you will Kool-aid with an alcoholic content.  Loved that stuff!  There was one camping trip in which I was “sipping” out of the bottle while setting up the tent.  In what seemed to be 15 minutes later it was gone!  I distinctly remember one last rational thought “OH this is gonna be bad!”  The next thing I remember is crawling out of the bushes near camp,  and trying to get as close as possible to the fire because I was COLD!  Not a good night.

 

Since then I have moved up to good wine!  Now I am not in any way a wine expert.  I have 3 categories.  Damn that’s good, Eh its ok, and Spit that crap out!  I can’t taste pepper, meat, chocolate or oak, I taste wine when I sip wine.  I can still tolerate cheap wine, but this weekend we are going wine tasting in Walla Walla and I am SO looking forward to it!

 

Now for some things, my palate is the same as its been since I was a kid.  The best Mac & cheese is Kraft mac and cheese!  And I make it better than anyone!  Hell, sometimes Michelle and I have it for breakfast on weekends.  Peanut butter?  Is Jifor Skippy, NOT chunky! (bleh) and I loves Smuckers Strawberry Jam.  Cheese?  Tillamook cheddar is best!  I could eat a block in a night if I let myself.

 

All of this my wife is ok with, she has helped me widen my experiences with food and drink, and helped me find things we both like!

 

HOWEVER, (and this is how this post got started) one thing she hasn’t been able to instill in me is the love of good coffee.  Today in the lunch room I was pouring myself the basic office coffee.  “How can you drink that swill??! she asked?

 

I love bad coffee.  Here I am in the land that spawned Starbucks, Tully’s and bikini barista stands, and I go for office swill.  We use to have this old silver urn in the lunchroom.  I am convinced it was never cleaned.  The coffee had a metalic tang…. DAMN it was good!.  I like to get a drip coffee at Starbucks, but I am just as happy hitting AM/PM for a huge cup of over burnt, brewed all day coffee!  Too thick to drink, but too thin to plow, strong enough to float a horseshoe, and requiring a bit a chewing before swallowing.  Just a little pinch of it between the cheek and gums sure tastes good!

 

I have stopped drinking beer or wine to get drunk, but I still drink coffee for the caffeine buzz!  Nothing wakes you up better on a late night drive than day old, stuck to the bottom of the pot sludge!  Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!  Couple it with a Diet Mountain Dew later, and you can drive forever!!

 

So, as I have stated before, it takes a village to raise a Tony.  But even the village isn’t perfect.  Who’s up for a late night run to 7-11 with me???

 

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!"
“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!