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2016 – The Year of the Bike Shorts

January 1st, 2017

2016 has finally come to a conclusion. For some the end of the year is merciful, many having claimed that it was the worst year ever. This year certainly wasn’t easy, but then again they never are, but I gave everything I had this year and while things were by no means perfect, in fact far from it, we are still here and sharpening our swords preparing for whatever 2017 throws at us.

As a connected society needs to be cognizant of is that with every passing year are going to encounter more and more celebrity deaths. Why, because with this connectivity we’ve created more celebrities and with a larger pool and a 100% guarantee of death, statistically, it makes sense that we’re going to see more deaths. Also, think about all the celebrities getting up in years who were partying hard in the 80s and now their bodies are breaking down. If you think 2016 was bad for that, wait until you see how things are going to go down over the next few years.

Ski Bum Week 2016

This year was our 3rd annual Ski Bum Week and this year we decided to do something different. For those unendoctrinated, Ski Bum Week is an event that was created in 2014 by me and my buddy Mario, who were doing a ski share house for the first time in Killington. We both had some extra vacation time and decided to use it for a week up in Killington and see what it would be like to live like a true ski bum for a week. The initial Ski Bum Week also gave birth to the High Falutin Ski Bum podcast.

After two years in Killington we decided to take our little concept on the road to Whistler, BC.

Over the summer we started throwing around ideas about where to go. Our pal Nick lives in Seattle so we decided it would be a relatively easy trip to fly out to Seattle and then just drive up to Whistler. Planning a ski trip in August is always a risky proposition, you never know what sort of conditions you’re going to get, but we decided to throw caution to the wind and book the trip.

Unlike SBW15, we lucked out with the weather. Whistler was pounded by snow starting back in October and we had top to bottom coverage. It was a quite cold while we were there with temperatures barely topping out over 20 degrees. Having someone like Nick made a big difference since was able to show us some pretty awesome spots where we could bootpack and find some nice lines. One of my favorites was up the Symphony lift to the Flute Bowl. It was roughly a 40 minute hike that lead us to a quite spectacular cornice, shoot and freshies.

Now I had been to Whistler before back in 2013 and it was my dream to go there. I loved everything about the village and the mountain. This time around I was a little less enamored with the village. The mountains are unbelieveable with so much amazing terrain. Something about the village really rubbed me the wrong way this time. We spoke to several bartenders and servers and I had just read an article in Powder on the flight out that the service workers in some of these more posh ski towns have been so priced out that they can’t even live in town anymore. If they do, they’re living with 10 other people in a 2 bedroom apartment. The ski bum dream is dying at places like Whistler, Jackson Hole and Aspen because most property owners own them not as primary residencies, but as their 2nd, 3rd or 12th homes. Many of the properties are empty or are being rented out with AirBnB for vacationers. This significantly reduces the number of available apartments for the people doing all the work to make these towns function – cooks, bartenders, lifties, baristas, maids, etc. Without these folks, the town would not function. Something about that really bothered me when I was there, especially seeing so many wealthy vacationers just trapsing around the town buying a bunch of things they didn’t need and not skiing.

High Falutin Ski Bum Podcast!

This year we stepped up the podcast and continued to build upon the momentum we started out with last year. We’ve managed to get some fans along the way and we’re doing our best to connect with them in real life and spread the word.

Later in the year I was finally able to launch the redesign for the site which I’ve been working on for quite a long time. It features a unique home page and individual podcast pages. I need to put together a blog post on how I came up with the ideas for the design.

I’m not really sure where the podcast is going but my goal would to be able to travel twice a month to a new ski town, check out and ski the town then do a podcast talking about some of the best food, drink and skiing options available in the town. That’s the ultimate goal.

Awards

Mix of the Year

Bob Moses – BBC Essential Mix

The best mixes are the ones that find you in a particular mood and are able to instantly become the soundtrack to that mood and time in your life so that when you go back to listen you can relive that feeling from that time. This year, for me that mix was by Bob Moses. This essential mix was released March 5th and the first time I heard it was on the following Sunday night up in Killington. I was alone in the house and had a deadline for a project and was in need to focusing music. I was freaking out a bit about the project but the chill yet melancholy vibe of the mix helped me get over those freaking out fears and just get the job done. The songs range from Bob Moses tracks to the new Massive Attack track to Gnork’s funky and fantastic Blorp 93.

Whenever I listen to this mix it gets me focused which is why I love to listen to it when I’m designing, coding, writing or just messing around in Photoshop. I loved this mix so much, I subsequently bought both Bob Moses albums as well as saw them in concert (so much BASS).

Honorable Mentions

Song of the Year

Radiohead – Burn the Witch

I always get worried when my favorite artists release a new album. For some reason I worry that they’re going to drop such a turd that it will taint their entire collection to a point where I can’t stand any of their music. It’s completely irrational thinking that all your favorites will somehow morph into Nickelback, but that’s the irrational thought I have in my head. Radiohead did the opposite, coming out with a brilliant album “A Moon Shaped Pool.” “Burn the Witch,” the first single was significantly more pop-y than a lot of the other tracks on the this album but it had such a slick and captivating hook and chorus it had me from the first time I heard it and still does now.

Honorable Mentions
  • Avalanches – Frankie Sinatra
  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Shooter Jennings – Countach
  • Beck – Wow
  • Angel Olsen – Shut Up Kiss Me

Album of the Year

David Bowie – Blackstar

Of all the celebrity deaths in 2o16, the one that hit me hardest was the loss of David Bowie. I’ve also found him and his personalities and ability to morph so fascinating. He was a true artist in every sense of the word. Bizarre, brilliant, thought provoking – that’s the best way to describe him. With his final release “Blackstar” he told us that he was dying, but knowing that he was artist, we didn’t know if he was speaking metaphorically or creating a character until it was too late. If one has to go out knowing it was the end, there could be no better way than how Bowie did it.

Honorable Mentions
  • Avalanches – Wildflower
  • Tycho – Epoch
  • Justice – Woman
  • Radiohead – Moon Shaped Pool

Movie of the Year

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I was a bit concerned when I heard about another Star Wars movie (notice a theme here?), especially one that wasn’t part of the new trilogy. My concern drew from the extreme over-commercialization of everything that is Star Wars ever since Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney back in 2012. With every commercial that I’ve seen for products being whored out with some sort of Star Wars tie-in, with each one I felt a small part of childhood being destroyed. With Star Wars everywhere, the over saturation prevented me from having the excitement that I would usually have for a new Star Wars movie. That and that I was at Whistler for Ski Bum Week so I had skiing on my mind, then Christmas so I didn’t even have time to go see it.

What got me excited was when I read about Kevin Smith’s review of the movie where he said it was, to paraphrase “‘Empire Strikes Back’ good.”

That got me very excited

We finally got around to seeing it on New Year’s Eve day. I managed to avoid 2 weeks of spoilers only knowing that there was a Darth Vader scene that was awesome. Other than that, I had no expectations.

SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD!!!

The first surprise was the cold open without the standard Star Wars thematic opening with the scrolling text and the iconic theme song. After that there was fantastic acting and a superb story tying up some loose ends in the story and creating a beatutiful setup story for a New Hope.

I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s because I loved Star Wars as a kid and the Rebel alliance always signified hope and doing the right thing, or maybe it’s because I think of my own life, my values and where I stand right now as a soon-to-be 40-year old man, but I was in tears several times during the movie. Seeing the struggles of the rebels, particularly Jyn and Cassian, coming from nothing and being able to sacrifice everything for a cause that was most likely to fail was so beautiful and inspriring. I don’t know what it was about that, but it made me thankful for everything I had but also made me question if I could make those sacrifices in my own life. Again, this is a terrible review and I’m making it all about me, but it is my website.

To sum it up, I loved it – the story telling was concise and gave us several new characters that took a bit of time to get familiar with and I know at times I wondered why none of these characters were every spoken of later in the saga, but that becomes very obvious by the end. The film is a tremendous asset to the Star Wars saga and I look forward to watching it again, hopefully this time with less waterworks.

Honorable Mentions
  • Deadpool
  • Keanu

Book of the Year

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

I was introduced to this during an episode from the Podcast of the Year (see below). The title is definitely an eye and ear catching one. The book doesn’t ultimately lead down a path where you don’t give a fuck about anything, it’s far more clever than that. What it all comes down to is focusing on the things that truly matter in your life and ignoring the things that waste your time/money/emotional capacity. Sure, bad things are going to happen and you may not choose to have those things happen to you, but you do choose how you react to those negative things. You can respond negatively and angrily, or you can save that energy and put it towards something you truly care about.

None of this is new, but in the fast-faced world of over-stimulation and over-celebrated celebrity and fame, it’s very easy to get angry at non-sense, wasting emotion and energy getting mad at the Kardashians because they’re famous for being useless and you’re not. They key is simple and it’s to just ignore the things that trigger anger. Your life is not effected by those types of folks, so why give them the power to make you that emotional. Again, not a new concept, but the examples are excellent and Manson’s writing style keeps the reader engaged and interested.

Honorable Mentions
  • The New Tsar – Steven Lee Myers

New Podcast of the Year

Investing in Real Estate

This year I spent a large chunk of time pondering my life, what I’m doing and what I want to be doing. What I want to be doing usually involves something that requires a significant amount of money to make it happen – usually skiing or driving fast cars on a track. Whenever I think about this, the only thing that makes sense to me in order to make these dreams to come true is having some sort of real estate investment that is creating passive income. That’s what this podcast is about.

I discovered this podcast when I was listening to the This Week in Tech podcast. One of the guests on the show was Clayton Morris whom I had followed on Twitter based on his previous appearances but grew a bit sour towards after reading some dismissive tweets regarding cannabis. Regardless, I checked out the podcast and was intrigued by what I heard. I’ve continued to do some additional research but Andrea and I are on board to procure our first real estate investment sometime in 2017. This podcast is a great way to get you thinking about you can get that passive income and start living life the way you’ve always wanted.

Comeback of the Year (Again)

Bitcoin!

Maybe after the past two years of having the comeback of the year, it can no longer be looked at as a comeback but as a coming out party. Bitcoin started the year at around 430 and closed it out around 970. Sometimes things are hidden in plain sight and I feel and have felt for the past three years that Bitcoin could be one of those things. We had the massive bubble in 2013 and the massive explosion of that bubble in 2014 (when I started buying – pretty much in the middle of the freefall, but continued almost all the way to the bottom). When you look at the way governments manipulate their currencies, specifically in India and China, you see that there is a need for a currency that has no borders and is digital. Bitcoin is now the leader in that space.

Digital gold it has been called – a digital wealth storage vessel and that purpose is the perceived reason for the most of the recent massive inflow of money. I know that’s the reason I’ve been putting money in over the past 2 years. That and folks who are way smarter than me have spoke of the technical capabilities and how the blockchain is going to change fintech in ways unlike anything else in our lifetimes. The more I read and watch videos, the more excited I get about the technology.

Now that it’s back to being valuable I made sure to get all my BTC off of exchanges and onto hardware wallets where I control the private keys, ensuring the Bitcoin I control are indeed in my control.

2016 – The Year of Bike Shorts.

I’m naming 2016 the Year of Bike Shorts, both metaphorically and literally. Bike shorts, for those not familiar, are usually made of lycra so they fit tight, but also have a foam padding in your “seat” area to protect and comfort your undercarriage from the pounding and fatigue that can occur while cycling.

This year, there was a lot of pounding going on from all directions. For a lot of these, the only thing we could do is put our bike shorts and just brace for impact. Some of the obstacles we saw from a long distance away and some we just didn’t think would ever need to be seriously contended with, but ended up in front of us. You get past it and you keep riding, that’s all you can do.

Also, this year I started commuting to work by bike, which has been quite adventurous. I’ve only had one crash and it was my own fault for not respecting the complete lack of friction that a wet boardwalk provides. Yes, I went ass-over-tea-kettle, but I didn’t hit anyone (it was close) and didn’t get hurt. I just composed myself and got back on that bike and started riding, which is all one can do.

Happy New Year, everyone!

December 31st, 2015

This year was different. At the end of the year, something didn’t feel quite right. I don’t know if it was the unseasonably warm air that we’re having – it was 70 degrees on Christmas Eve, but something was off. I had almost no Christmas spirit. I’m certainly not proud of it, not at all. I just didn’t feel myself. Here are the ideas that I had:

1. Ski Bum Week

Last year was the inaugural ski bum week. It just came from Mario and I trying to plan our schedules for December and figuring out that instead of doing two long weekend, we could just spend the whole week up at the ski house. It was the first time we were up at Killington so everything was new, different and exciting. Our timing was unbelievable, Killington had been pounded with snow – about 2 feet in the week or two before we went up and the mountain before Christmas is pretty empty. We had an amazing week of skiing, made a journey up to Stowe for a day of skiing, almost scored Heady Topper and got a great story out of it.

The source of all my disappointment stems from the unrealistic expectations that I set for myself and those around me. Can I change that and simplify? I don’t know, I probably could, but I don’t think there’s enough time in one’s life to be able to do that.

The one thing that did give me hope is that on the way to Christmas, we played my Christmas mix which I only listen to at Christmas time (obviously) and I played my first two songs, which are my favorites – The Pogues – Fairytale of New York and Sufjan Stevens – Hey Guys, It’s Christmas Time. I don’t know what it is, but hearing those two songs does something to me and I always just start crying. My best Psych 101 analysis is that all year I spent hustling, working hard, drinking coffee at night to stay awake to keep working, road-raging, putting on the front of a badass, battling to get ahead and then, finally, at Christmas time, I get to step out of this armor that I needed to amass and wear everyday, that fakeness, and just be me. The real me. The super vulnerable, shy, fat kid who just wants to eat stollen, be liked and see people happy. Knowing that me still exists under the Hoboken-derived exoskeleton that I had to develop to survive and thrive gives me hope that one day a clean break can be made and I’ll be able to conjure up that sweet, kind, idealistic version of myself, that I wish I could be every day.

2. Expectations

Fact: expectations, particularly – lofty ones, will only lead to disappointment. For me, that’s been the moral of this year. Whether it’s investment returns, attempted micro-management of life events, snow fall totals or creative output.

Live in the moment, realize how good you have it, be nice and work hard. Everything else will fall into place.

The boring days are often the best, it means nothing bad happened.

3. Too many hospital visits

This year, Andrea, my father and my mother-in-law were all in the hospital. The former 2, each having two visits. I, like most folks, hate hospitals. Luckily everyone came out the other end better than when they came in.

Part of me worries that it’s only going to get worse going forward, but I guess that beats the alternative. You just can’t sit around thinking about the bad stuff that’s going to happen, because it’s going to happen either way. You just have to get out there and squeeze every drop out of life while you have the chance.

Despite all the depression, there were positives this year, quite large ones, as a matter of fact. So let’s talk about those and focus on them!

Got My First Pair of Air Jordans

When I was 11-19 years old I was a total sneaker head before that term even existed. I would draw pictures of sneakers all the time, turning my favorite pair of Nike Air Jordan’s into hockey skates, which seemed completed ludicrous at the time, (then Nike bought Bauer in 1994 and started putting out Nike skates in the late 90s – and I just learned Nike sold Bauer to a private equity firm in 2008). Nike was always my favorite having Bo Jackson, David Robinson, Flights, Air Max, Air Force, etc., but I always wanted and could never get my parents to spend the money on the holy grail, Air Jordans. Now also it’s important to preface this with the fact that I sucked at basketball and my parents were more generous enough paying for me to play hockey, which my pale, husky frame was more suited for.

Things have changed a lot since those days of the Nike Air Jordans. Now, Jordan is it’s own brand and they’re always re-issuing modernized versions of the originals in some funkier color combinations. I decided to go with the original AJ1 in a black/grey/23 red. They weren’t ridiculously expensive, but going to the store and putting them on I felt like a little kid again. That feeling that you got that if you had the shoes that Michael Jordan wore, you could almost transform yourself into him and create magic on the court. I’m certainly aware that the shoes won’t do that, but just looking at them reminds a bit of my childhood and I think the cost of the shoes was a pretty small price to pay to experience that.

First time driving a Tesla

I’m a HUGE Elon Musk fan and pretty much have been ever since I first used PayPal however long ago. I’ve also been a huge fan of Tesla and have been ever since I first learned about the Roadster. The company made such an impression I made a small investment in it company stock which has had about an 8x return at this time. Now when I say small, I really do mean small. Let’s put it this way, the Air Jordan’s I bought are roughly 1/6 of the value of my initial investment. I’ve continued to invest along the way and now have a nice little nugget of value.

But we’re not talking about that, we want to talk about the actual car…and what a car it is. It just unlike anything else I’ve ever driven. It just has this presence to it when you’re standing next to it. The first thing you notice is that it’s a BIG car 196” long (a 2015 Cadillac Escalade is 204”) and weighs about 4700 lbs. A normal, boring family sedan like a Toyonda Accamry probably weighs in around 3300 lbs. The first cool thing you experience is the key fob which is a little Model S. To unlock the car you can double-click the roof of the model and if you want to open the trunk, you click on the trunk of the model and the same goes for the hood. The one that I drove was a Obsidian Black Metallic P85 with the 21” grey turbine wheels – just the way I would spec it out. The interior is so elegant and unlike anything else I’ve been in. The touchscreen massive, but so intuitive. It can be divided into two “hemispheres” north and south so that you’re able to see two different apps at the same time – for example navgiation in the northern and music in the southern.

Now we come to the driving part. I probably had the worst possible conditions in which to drive the car, Friday afternoon in the summer on Route 17 in Paramus, NJ. My test drive involved a lot of regenerative braking, which helps to recharge the batteries, but I got several chances to lay on the gas and MY GOD does that thing respond. No downshifts, no build up to peak horsepower/torque, just power. It had a similar feeling to taking off in a plane, minus the build up. Imagine you’re parked on that plane, then all of a sudden you’re at the speed just before the plane’s front wheels come off the ground. That’s what it feels like in the Tesla. Besides the power, the handling of such a large car was surprisingly nimble. The was very little body roll when taking corners very fast.

I loved everything about the experience and if I were rich dude looking for a large car to push the family around, I’d be all over this. The only dicey bit is long distances and needing to recharge. One day when pondering how to spend my non-existent lottery winnings I grew concerned about how I was going to charge my Tesla when driving up from NJ to Vermont when going skiing. I did notice that there was a supercharger station available in Albany NY which is where I would need to stop both to and fro unless I wanted to really baby the car, roll the dice and wait until I got to my non-existant ski house with solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall to recharge the car overnight. I’m sure by the time I’m serious about picking one up they’ll have extended the range enough where I can use the auto-pilot mode to cruise at 90 mph for the majority of the trip and still have plenty of juice until recharging is necessary.

Sadly, it’ll be at least 3 years until I can even consider buying a new car but that’s OK, the stock will be to the moon by then and I’ll be able to cash some of it in for either the new Model S or perhaps the new Model 3.

First Autocross Driving Experience

At the end of 2014 with Andrea getting a new job, we got a new car, a BMW X3 (because we FANCY) and as a BMW owner (leaser) we get invitations to all kinds of driving events that BMW holds throughout the year. One of those such events was at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ for a BMW Driving Experience. What this entailed was signing up ahead of time for an autocross course.

What is autocross you ask? It’s pretty much taking a giant parking lot then setting up a race course using cones, then driving as fast as you can through it. Ever since I got my WRX back in 2002, I wanted to get involved in Autocross, but was always afraid of using my own $25,000 tarted-up econbox. The WRX is gone, but today I cemented my desire for a BMW automobile. The day started out with basic classroom race course, discussing the physics of braking, acceleration, momentum in the corners, etc. Nothing earth-shattering, but still cool. After that it was onto the track. How it worked is that you got into the type of car you signed-up for, in Andrea and I’s case it was a 428i Grand Coupe and 328d sedan (diesel). To start, the instructor drove a lap explaining how to visualize the house, explaining where to brake and accelerate, then took us around for a real lap, which was awesome. These BMWs were stock, just as you could buy them at the dealership and they were extremely capable. I remember wondering what percentage of owners of these cars had a clue and would ever drive this way. Most BMW drivers in Hoboken just ignore traffic lights and change lanes without signaling.

Then it was our turn to drive. The instructor was a rally driving champion and parked herself in the passenger seat, while the others (Andrea and another bloke) were in the backseat. I went first and because it’s my nature was extremely aggressive in my driving, which the instructor was quite happy with, Andrea and the bloke in the backseat, not so much. I accelerated hard, broke hard and had a blast. After my laps were over I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me and was excited about my next time behind the wheel. We all completed our laps, then switch to the diesel sedan. You could definitely feel the slower acceleration of the diesel, but it was still a blast to drive.

At the end we held a race among our entire group of roughly 20 people. I was one of the first to go and I was having one of the best laps until I creamed a few cones in the last turn. Each cone hit was a time penalty, which all but disqualified me. If I hadn’t hit, I would’ve had the fasted time of our group.

Racing season pretty much the perfect opposite of ski season, so this could be an excellent hobby and keep for from hating non-ski season so much. All I need now is a sweet car in which to autocross with. Can the new BMW M2 coming out next year be that car? Maybe, except that we live in Hoboken and only have one garage spot, but that’s a problem for another day. Autocross was a blast and I really want to make it a hobby in the near future.

First Half Marathon

I’ve never been a runner but over the past decade or so I’ve forced my aforementioned husky, extremely non-aerodynamic frame into sneakers and did some of that-there jogging (or is it “yogging”?). Being the competitive fella that I am once I was able to do 2 miles, I started pushing myself and then started doing 2.5. Before I knew it I was doing 5ks. Then I signed up for a 10k. My normal runs ended up being 5-6 miles per week. Well, I guess the next thing to do now is a half marathon.

Andrea signed up for the “Beat the Blerch” half-marathon back in April knowing full well that the event wasn’t until September, thus providing more than adequate time to prepare. Plus this race was going to be different. “Beat the Blerch” is a fun race devised by comic Matthew Inman of “The Oatmeal” fame. The Blerch is a character he created, that evil cherub that shows up and tells you that being a slacker is fine and that you don’t need to for that run, just sit back and watch TV. To beat your Blerch, you’ve got to figure out what motivates and inspires you, grab that and get it done!

One of the fun aspects of the race is that at a few of the rest areas they had couches to relax on as well as cake and nutella that you could snack on, pretty much allowing your Blerch to take full control of the situation. The organizers also encouraged people to dress up in costumes while participating, adorable, I know!

The event took place at Lewis Morris park in Morristown, NJ (a little know BJS fact, that’s where Brian participated in his first and only mountain bike race – believe the hype!). Now, a few concerns going into this, completely outside the physical challenge of running 13.1 miles – the Oatmeal’s Twitter handle has over a million followers and this event was the only Blerch race on the east coast. The traffic getting to the race was a complete nightmare. It took us roughly 30 minutes to go the last mile just to get to the parking lot before having to take a shuttle to the race. It was a logistical nightmare and that was just the start.

The race advertised “some off road running.” OK, no biggie, I’m cool with that, in fact, I prefer that! In reality it was more like 1/3 trail running, with the last few miles being all very technical single-track terrain. Not a big deal on paper, but when you have a race that’s advertised as “fun” and is being on by a web comic who has a large following of people who are fans of web comics and want to participate in costumes you create a frustrating end to a race where half-marathoners, and 10kers are coming together onto said last few miles of technical single-track. As someone who was trying to get the best time, but getting behind someone dressed up in an oversized pizza slice costume with no way to get around, it was extremely frustrating.

Up until mile 11, the race was great. The hilly off-road course was challenging, but I was tearing through it and felt pretty good. That is, until mile 11. It was at that point, running up a hilly trail where dehydration/lack of nutrition hit me; my calves started cramping something unholy. It was as if some grabbed my calves and started squeezing with all their mite. I had to start running up hill landing on my heels which sucked and forced me to slow down a bit, but there was no way I was stopping or walking – fuck that. Luckily my awesome playlist (see below) helped me get through the last two miles, which were pretty brutal, I’m not gonna lie. It was a dynamite experience and I’m going to look into doing additional halfs next year and who knows, maybe a fun triathalon is in my future.

Skiing!!!

This year was by far my most prolific year of skiing. Not only did I do a full share house up at Killington, making frequent visits all season, but I also went to Ischgl, Austria for a week as well as Telluride, Colorado (my first time in the Colorado). Not only did I have more days of skiing than ever (33), I also took my abilities to the next level – actually seeking out bumps and trees like I never have before.

71.6 mph, bitches

Speaking of Skiing – High Falutin Ski Bum Podcast!

“Everybody keeps on talking about it, but nobody’s getting it done” – James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem “Yeah”

Ever since I became obsessed with the Joe Rogan experience in 2012, I’ve always thought about doing a podcast, but I never knew what I would or could do it about. It just kind of came to me (and my podcast partner Mario) that we should do something about skiing. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know everything about skiing, not even close. Christ, I just started figuring the difference between a front-side and all-mountain ski, but you know what, that’s OK. I’m sure if you’re that super hardcore into skiing and know everything about equipment, you don’t need me to describe that to you.

One thing I’ve always been good at is vetting information and giving people good advice about booze, restaurants, experiences, news, tech tips, etc. Take all that and making skiing the central theme and there you have what the podcast is all about. It started out a bit of a train wreck as we were all over the place, but after about a dozen episodes we came up with a nice formula – Weekly Flavor, Ski News, Topic, Around the Horn. That’s been our formula and it’s worked pretty well for us.

Things learned along the way.

1. A good podcast takes a lot of work
2. We’ve got a ways to go to get good – still too many ums, so-s, etc.
3. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
4. Adobe Audition – how to record, mix and edit audio tracks
5. Using a mixer and microphones
6. Garage Band – I made our theme song!
7. The web development for the podcast – WordPress plugins, iTunes setup, etc.

I have no idea where this podcast is going. Mario and I love doing it and it gives me a great canvas to build my design and development skills. If I were able to develop the ideal formula I would have us going for a week to different location every other week during ski season, interviewing and spending time with folks in town and the best bars and restaurants, sample the local beers/spirits and come up with recaps of the experience. Even better would be if we were sponsored and would have all expenses paid to do these excursions. Along the way, I’d be designing cool shirts that we could promote and sell. We might even do some video along the way. This would become lucrative enough that we could start purchasing vacation houses along the way and rent them out at High Falutin Ski Bum approved destinations decorated with dope art that we created and have available for purchase. That’s the grand vision. I don’t know if it’s even possible, but that’s what we’re working towards.

Awards

Mix of the Year

Tycho – Elsewhere (Burning Man 2015)

Once again, the mix of the year goes to Tycho. This years Burning Man set really did have it all, it had one of my favorite songs to ski to – Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal, my new favorite song to ski to – Jamie XX – Gosh, old school Boards of Canada, then ended with a track from my album of the year (see below) and Tycho’s own “A Walk”.

It’s just so good.

I believe it was performed just before sunrise one of the days at Burning Man. Listening to this mix and imagining that atmosphere is actually giving me chills just writing about it.

Honorable Mentions

Song of the Year

Jamie XX – Gosh


This is one of those songs that when you first listen to it, you kinda ask yourself “is that it?” But then you listen to it a few more times and it kinda gets in your head. Then it kinda gets into your soul, then it gets into every ski movie this season, which just cements the dopeness of the track.

Honorable Mentions
  • Julio Bashmore – Holding On
  • George Clanton – Bleed
  • Tame Impala – The Moment
  • Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin’

Album of the Year

Tame Impala – Currents

Tame Impala - Currents

This one I had to think about a bit. Like most people, I don’t listen to albums the way I used to – especially now with services like Spotify, Pandora, Songza, etc, but every year there’s a handful of gems out there that really get my attention. This year, I’m giving it to one of my favorite bands (who I think I would’ve given the nod to Album of the year on my 2012 Best of List, but I didn’t make one – for shame!). It was’t easy to give Tame Impala the nod, after I heard the first single “I’m a Man, Woman” and let Andrea listen to it, she noted and then proved, the rhythm and background sounded a lot like a New Kids on the Block song. This did not sit well at all. After their first two albums which were incredible, it was conceivable that the third would be point when it all started going downhill. The psychedelic feel of “Innerspeaker” definitely was less pronounced in “Lonerism” but there was a yearning and beauty in that yearning that transformed their music to another level. Now New Kids?

Fear not, once the album came out and you got the first song “Let It Happen” a beautiful 7:47 journey followed by “The Moment” and “The Less I Know the Better” all fears of this album being the downhill spiral of band were wiped out. It took a few listens to really appreciate The album does have a bit of a different feel than their previous two, but it showed a maturity and evolution

Honorable Mentions
  • Jamie XX – Colors
  • George Clanton – 100% Electronica
  • Thundercat – The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam
  • Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down
  • Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

Book of the Year

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk

I’ll admit it, I love Elon Musk. I also love Tesla as you may have been able to tell from my description of my first drive of the Tesla Model S. I knew a bit about Musk, but I didn’t know the whole story, so as soon as I found out about this book, I pre-ordered it and as soon as it became available dove right in (audiobook, of course).

It was fascinating to hear about his journey, especially his family and their history of challenging the status quo – both his parents were entrepreneurs and his grandfather was the only person at the time to have ever taken a private single engine plane from Africa to Australia.

After “reading” the book, I spent the next few nights watching every speech/interview with Musk on YouTube. Truly and amazing individual.

Honorable Mentions
  • Alice In Chains – David de Sola
  • Digital Gold – Nathaniel Popper
  • Chasing the Scream – Johann Hari

Word of the Year

Dope

Yup, it’s back and I don’t care if you think I’m trying to sound young and by doing so, may sound like a douche. I love the word and I’m still going to use it.

New Podcast of the Year

High Falutin Ski Bums

Come on, no one else has us on their list yet. If you don’t vote for yourself, why should anyone else?

Comeback of the Year

Bitcoin!


Forget about Dre, you may be the first billionaire of rap, but this year’s comeback kid is Bitcoin. It looks like it’ll be ending the year around $430 and started the year at $220. And it’s not just the value, it’s the fact that it’s been able to grow and develop use cases from big banks and Wall St. that have helped to legitimize the currency. It’s still very early days for Bitcoin and it’s tough to say what will happen next year or even the next five years, but considering how many scandals it’s managed to survive and still grow its use cases, it should be a pretty good indicator that the product and the technology behind it could make a lasting impact across many industries.

You Called It The Year of the Rear-Ender, but No Explanation.

Good point, it’s actually quite simple. Andrea got rear-ended twice this year while driving (both within 2 months) and I ended the year just getting rear-ended in Jersey City (12/30), about 5 minutes from home. No damage and my car old, so it was no biggie.

As much as 2015 had it’s share of challenges, it also had some amazing firsts which will hopefully set the table for a great 2016.

Happy New Year, everyone!

January 3rd, 2015

Yes, we’ve finished another year, can you believe it? If you can’t try to think back to the World Cup which was 6 months ago. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like forever ago. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that I’m a few days late here and for that I truly apologize. I should’ve started this earlier, but I was living my ski bum dream for 10 days in Killington in December and had to do it right, so I didn’t get much writing done. Anyway, I’m going to reflect on some of my favorite things for the year below, so strap in, get a cup of coffee and please feel free to comment below.

Book of the Year:

The Martian – Andy Weir

The_Martian_2014

Two years ago, my book of the year was Ready Player One, which I found out about from This Week in Tech and this years choice was also a recommendation from TWIT – The Martian by Andy Weir. The book takes place in the near future with a failed mission to Mars leaves our protoginist Mark Watney alone on the surface of Mars after his fellow astronauts aborted the mission, leaving Mars thinking that Mark was dead…but he wasn’t. If you’re into sci-fi you will enjoy this book, if you read about the power of human spirit and ingenuity this is a book for you.

Now, I had the audiobook version of this and I was finished the book while walking around the perimeter of the parking lot at work and all I can say is that I was glad I was alone, because I was in tears as I finished the book. I won’t get into why, because I don’t want to ruin it for you, if you’re going to read it. I also just saw that they are going to make a movie version of it coming out in November 2015, so if you can’t find the time to read it, you can atleast check out the movie version. It will be directed by Ridley Scott and Watney will be played by Matt Damon as well as Sean Bean (SPOILER ALERT – his character DOESN’T die – not really a spoiler, I assure you) so it could be quite good.

Technical Book of the Year:

Responsible Responsive Design – Scott Jehl

rrd

Just like last year’s technical book of the year – I haven’t finished this book yet! I know, that’s pretty lame, but it seems like this may just become the way I do things now. Responsive Design has been all the rage the past few years and even at work, it’s now becoming the defacto way we are creating websites. Responsible Responsive Design outlines the way that responsive design should be approached and defines the use cases and best practices that are often ignored by designers working on the latest retina MacBooks and testing on 4G iPhone 6s. Knowing the types of projects I will be working on in 2015, I know this book will be by my side at all times forcing me to take a different approach to optimizing for all users and make sure their experiences are optimal and they come back to use our site.

Album of the Year:

Aphex Twin – Syro

Syro-1024x658

Last year was pretty tough choice between Boards of Canada, Arcade Fire and My Bloody Valentine. Maybe I just love a comeback story. This year I felt that I didn’t listen to nearly as many albums. That’s the way of the music industry these days, we’re exposed to different ways of consuming music, least of which is listening to an entire album start to finish. Similar to last year’s surprise Boards of Canada release, the cryptic teases surprise news and then very shortly release of Aphex Twin took a lot people including me by surprise. This was Aphex Twin’s first full album release since Druqks way back in 2001.

It was worth the wait.

For me, a great return needs to reminds us of some of the old sounds, but also to challenge us with growth and push into a new direction. This album did just that just right. Songs like minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix] and 4 bit 9d api+e+6[126.26] are sonically amazing songs, but are also fun and playful enough to be considered pop. The whole album is high energy and works well as a soundtrack for a workout, banging out some code or as a soundtrack for a drive through the mountains. It’s an album that definitely works best when listened to with headphones as it’s the best way to appreciate the layers of sound that go into each song. Welcome back Aphex Twin! We hope you still have a few more albums

Honorable Mention:

Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Pink_Floyd_-_The_Endless_River_(Artwork)

There’s nothing new or groundbreaking about this album, we all know that. Much of the music on it was created during the Division Bell sessions in 1994 and a good part of the riffs have been taken from former Pink Floyd hit, but that is reason why I’m giving this the honorable mention. It’s a beautiful victory lap for the band and tribute to their friend and bandmate Richard Wright. Ever since David Gilmour came out to perform the guitar solo in “Comfortably Numb” in London during Roger Waters’ “The Wall” tour (embedded video below), I thought that maybe these doddering old musical geniuses might be able to push past their differences and perform one last reunion tour. As you see them age, those hopes dwindle to the point where it’s almost impossible at this point. But there’s something about this record that provides a soothing conclusion to Pink Floyd’s career and makes the fact that they’re never going to play again together OK. Another wonderful thing about this album is that it makes me want to go back and re-listen to all the other Pink Floyd albums again which has helped re-realize why they are probably the best rock band of all time.

Song of the Year

Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite

Back in June I was listening to the Hot Natured essential mix, when all of a sudden this high energy, synthy monster started. After hearing only about 30 seconds of it, I immediately went to the playlist page and tried to figure out which song was now attaching itself to my brain, not unlike when Venom attaches itself to Spiderman. Often times in these mixes you get some unreleased or white label songs or samples that leave you SOL if you’re trying to find and acquire said song to add to your collection, but this time it was there – Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite. I ended up finding the video on YouTube and watching it about 5 times in a row. The video was a collection of 80 styles graphics and mixed with 80s Corvette dashboard looking like it was plucked from the video game Test Drive. As much as the car geek in me appreciated the homage to the Vette, the song really didn’t even need to the retro awesomeness, but it was a nice bit of icing on the cake.

Mix of the Year:

Tycho – Palms DJ Set

It’s always exciting when weird coincidences occur and you learn something interesting. On New Year’s Eve, Andrea were at her sister’s place and I started talking to some guests and for whatever reason, I started mouth-saxing the saxophone riff a song which one fella knew by name as “Calabria.” I always knew and liked the song, but would mockingly mouth-sax the saxophone riff when referring to ghetto party anthem. Two days later on the Essential Mix Future Stars of 2014, Pete Tong’s essential mixer was Kolsch. As mentioned in Mr. Tong’s intro, Kolsch was perviously known as Rune RK, the man who created as he said “the saxtastic ‘Calabria’.” It was such a great Dj set filled with much of Kolsch’s 1977 album, which if I were to revisited my 2013 list of best albums, I would certainly add it to the list. As the year progressed there were some monster mixes, as there always are including Hot Natured, Jon Hopkins, Ten Walls and Caribou (voted Essential Mix of the year).

But this year, the mix of the year was not an Essential Mix. Nope, this year it goes to Tycho and his Palms DJ set. Over the summer I saw in my ISO50 rss feed, I saw posted that Tycho had posted a set on SoundCloud from the 4th of July weekend in Las Vegas. I took a listen and was instantly blown away. The mix of music was so perfect. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to this mix in so many different situations – working, exercising, driving, relaxing – and it works perfectly in all of them. Tycho has put out several other sets over the year, but none of them are as good as the Palms DJ set.

Obsession of the year:

Bitcoin

opengraph

Bitcoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin – it’s been my biggest obsession this year, by far. I’ve been paying attention to it for the past few years and remember hearing about it at a family party back in 2011 and immediately swearing it at off as something stupid – which is a severe character flaw of mine – that I’ve done several times in my life before looking at things from a different point of view and coming around. Sadly, some of my favorite and best things in my life have come after going through this foolish exercise.

Well, looking at the price of Bitcoin, maybe it would’ve been smarter to wait, but this is how we learn. I’ve watched and listened to several podcasts from “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” to “The David Seaman Hour” to “Bitcoin Rush” and can’t get enough of it, always trying to learn more.

Bitcoin is starting to develop a reputation, much like people who become obsessed with CrossFit or becoming Vegan where they’re obsessed and all they can talk about is this new found hobby. I don’t think most of my real life friends would say that I’ve become one of those people, but my Twitter followers would probably disagree. It’s just one of those things that when you see how Bitcoin works and how it’s such a better solution than what we have, you just want to pound it into everyone’s head so that they can get on the train early with you in doing things the new and better way.

There was a situation a few months back where my wife went to a concert with some friends and needed to pay her friend back, but didn’t have any cash. The wife did what most people would do and got the checkbox to write her friend and check. Then said friend had to take said check, drive home 5 hours, go to bed (it was a Sunday), wake up, go to the bank, deposit the check, wait three days, receive money, pay student loans. Now, if that’s the way your used to, it doesn’t seem like a horrible system, since that’s what you’re used to, but you’ve pulled back the vail and seem what’s capable with Bitcoin and more specifically the blockchain, you realize how antiquated and silly this old system is and wonder how and why it’s still being used.

At this point, Bitcoin has been to my money invested much as a smoke detector is to a 9-volt battery, just slowly draining it while really providing nothing in return, but it’s still early days. There are great things to come in the future for Bitcoin and crytocurrency. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll wonder how and why we ever did things the way we are doing it now.

Favorite New YouTube Channel:

Regular Car Reviews

I love cars, but have only had one cool car – a 2002 Subaru WRX – but I’ve always enjoyed living vicariously through the blokes at TopGear or Chris Harris who get to play with some of the worlds most amazing cars. Somehow while searching for some nugget of car news, I encountered an review on Jalopnik of a 2007 Porsche Cayman by the guys at Regular Car Reviews. It was an absolutely beautiful and hilarious work done in the style of Hunter S. Thompson a la “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Over the next few weeks, I consumed all the Regular Car Reviews videos, particularly the Subaru WRX review. Believe it or not, what they do is take regular cars and do reviews. Mr. Regular, the main reviewer and voiceover, crafts very compelling reviews by combing history, engineering and humor, often times praising overlooked vehicles and criticizes other vehicles that are often proselytized in car forums and magazines (I’m looking at you S2000). Even if you’re not into cars, you’ll get a kick out of the clever writing and humor that Regular Car Reviews brings to all or their videos.

Word of the Year:

Bespoke

be·spoke
bəˈspōk/
adj.
(of goods, especially clothing) made to order.

Maybe I’m becoming a classier fella or maybe I just didn’t notice it before, but I’ve heard the word bespoke more times this year more times than I have over my entire life combined time 10.

Most Hated Word of the Year:

Literally

I literally don’t hear a word you’re saying after you say literally…literally. Please stop.

Best Travel Surprise:

Utah

The only things I knew about were SLC Punk and stereotypes from the Book of Mormon. All ski magazines have championed the “Champagne Powder” of the Wasatch Mountains, but I had no idea what to expect. Besides the one guy wearing Google Glass, my first impressions of Salt Lake City airport were very positive -everything was clean, organized and made for a quick disembarkment from the airport to the mountains. We hopped in our shuttle and were up at Snowbird in less than 45 minutes.

We stayed at the Cliff Lodge and it wasn’t terribly fancy, but it was ski-in and ski-out, which is what we were there to do, so it was perfect. The first thing we did was get a bite to eat and of course, a drink. Now this is something that I learned, Utah only has 3.2% alcohol content beer on draft. Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) are by definition 5% or higher, so you cannot get them on draft in Utah. After waking up at 4am and having been up until 1:00 packing and prepping, not drinking enough water on the plane, being above 8000 feet and then having a beer had negative, almost dire consequences. Andrea and I headed out to Snowbird, right outside our hotel after the meal and immediately had trouble catching our breath. We took the Peruvian Express Quad to the top of the Peruvian Gulch (10,500 feet) and started to ski down. It was an absolute train wreck. We had to stop every 15 seconds just to catch our respective breathe. In addition, we both started to get pounding headaches. We completed one run on the mountain. ONE. It was bad, but we survived the first day. We both slept over 10 hours that night and were slowly able to acclimate to the altitude. We had an amazing 4 days of skiing at Snowbird and Alta. The snow and the terrain were unlike anything I’d every skiied. My favorites were the Gad Valley at Snowbird and the Catharines of Alta where we hiked a bit to find some amazing fresh powder.

The second leg of our trip, we went to Park City for 3 days and 2 nights. Folks about at Alta and Snowbird were talking a bit of trash about Park City (or Park Shitty) as they called it, but we went there with an open mind and exhausted legs. What blew me away was the amount of amazing skiing that was so close together. From Salt Lake City you can go 45 minutes to Little Cottonwood (Alta and Snowbird) or 45 minutes to Park City where you have Canyons, Park City and Deer Valley, so much epic skiing all so close. We only skied Deer Valley which was easily the fanciest place I’ve ever skied. The bathrooms at the lodges were nicer than the bathrooms at a W Hotel. Some of the people that were “skiing” were ridiculous with their $2000+ ski outfits tearing up the green slopes and making sure they were seen at the lodges. Very different vibe than the hardcores at Snowbird and Alta. The mountain was beautiful and we were lucky to have snow fresh snow that day, but it was almost more fun just to take in the craziness of the mountain’s amenities and insane real estate ($23 million house, right on the mountain for sale). Here’s me at the top of the mountain…what a view!
web-IMG_3151

Park City the town.

The town of Park City itself was a blast. We stayed right it he Park City ski resort area and there were free shuttles running every 15 minutes that would take you to the town. What was even more awesome, was that there was a chairlift that went right out of the town, almost across the street from the High West Distillery (worth the wait in line for both the food and the whiskey). The town itself is the host of the Sundance Film Festival, so as you could imagine, it had a very cool artsy vibe, unlike most of what you would think of Utah. Main Street was filled with art galleries, bars, restaurants, shops and if the sun is out, you can see both the mountains and the planes.

I had such a wonderful time out there, I’ve added a Salt Lake City search to my Monster account so that if the right job opportunity comes up I will have an excuse to move out to the Wasatches!

That Does It

So that about wraps it up, my year in review. It’s been a fun and exciting year and this year is already off to a humdinger of a start, so we’ll see where we are a year from today. Happy 2015 everybody!