Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 393: BaconFest

College Boy!
     After yesterday's bummer of a challenge, there was only one thing that could lift my spirits. Bacon. Keystone, a mountain town about an hour and a half from me, was holding a festival in honor of the treat America holds so dear, bacon. I first heard about this festival the day before, when my buddy at work invited me to tag along. I'm not sure why I was even surprised to hear about a festival for bacon. It's America, of course there's a BaconFest. American's are bacon fanatics. I've personally seen tattoos that depict entire scenes made up of nothing but bacon. People's love of bacon seems to know no bounds. This love for bacon, is a love that do not share with the rest of America. Don't get me wrong, I love me a club sammich, or maybe a bacon burger every now and then, but my love of bacon doesn't even register in comparison to the other attendees of this festival. The crowd was a blur of bacon. I caught glimpses of bacon t-shirts, pajama bottoms, and two full on bacon tuxedos. Guests were sporting plastic pig snouts and face paintings of bacon strips. I decided to try to immerse myself the best I could in the culture -and to do so- would have to disregard the pains my heart would inevitably tell me once I started eating.
     We hunted for the tastiest treats the festival had to offer, and I was on the lookout for the strangest. We found chocolate dipped bacon strips, bacon wrapped hotdogs, bacon flavored whiskey, and (my favorite) bacon mac and cheese. Tempting smells filled the mountain town and I followed them wherever they went.
Danny eating something good?
     My favorite part of the entire day, must've been the bacon college that the five of us went to. It was a seminar entitled "Bacon Eating 101", but really it was just a small outdoor auditorium a local smokehouse rented to talk about all the flavors of BBQ sauce they carry. They talked about how charitable they were, and about their low prices -yadda yadda yadda. What was cool about it, was they picked two volunteers from the audience to come up on stage and race to make the owners signature meal; a four pound carnivorous creation called the bacon log, and my buddy Danny was chosen to compete. I'm not sure if I was intrigued because it looked appetizing, or just...intimidating. This excessive amount of food was essentially a blanket of weaved bacon strips with pounds and pounds of meats, cheeses, and chili. The contestants prepared the log and rolled it up when finished. Once the owners were done with their sales pitch, they asked the crowd to judge the winner (of an awful stomachache and $25 gift card) by a round of applause. Obviously we went nuts when it was time for Danny's applause, and he won. They smoked the giant pile of meat, and we got to take it home with us (to feed us through December). Afterwards, we all got diplomas from the bacon professor, and I thought that was pretty silly.  
     It was fun, and strange, and pretty tasty. I'd probably do it again.
The Bacon log
College Boy

Day 392: Take Legal Action

Tom Martino
     I'm sort of just going with this one cause I don't have much choice. Unfortunately, this last year has been really stressful for my car/financial situation. I'll explain in detail, in a letter that I wrote and will attach to this entry. You can read it, but you don't have too. All you need to know, is that I've been sold an unroadworthy car from a dealership (and yes, I'll drop their name in the letter...several times). The car is very dangerous to drive, and I'm very much afraid for my well being while I drive to work. I've tried a handful of times to get the dealership to work with me, but it's proven to be nearly impossible for them to even call me back to talk about my complaints about my purchase. This entry isn't funny, nor was it fun, but I think it's one of those things that happen in life that ya just gotta go through. I've been taken advantage of from this dealership for almost a year now. Most of my income goes to them, or the repairs I was forced to pay for (again, I'll explain everything in the letter below). Frankly, I feel like I have no choice but pursue legal action. I wrote a letter explaining my entire situation, and I sent it off to news outlets, the BBB, and even Tom Martino (a local consumer advocate). I plan on taking this dealership to court, and this was the first step. Feel free to read about my past year dealing with this company. I did my best to keep it professional and objective, I feel like feelings and emotions will get me nowhere when dealing with the cold dealings of a company.

Hello, my name is Kyle Garlock, and I would like to submit a formal complaint about the Mountain States Toyota Dealership. Last July, my car was hit by a driver who fled the scene, and I was forced to find another car. Mountain States was referred to me and I decided to look for the same type of car I had previously (a 1996 Subaru Outback). I test drove a 2005 Subaru Outback, and purchased it. Almost instantly, I learned that this car was obviously un-roadworthy. It gave off a concerning smell as I let it idle (unlike anything I've ever smelled before), and the hood would give off a faint amount of smoke (I noticed this while stopped at a light usually). The acceleration was inconsistent and the brakes made a squealing noise. These symptoms were alarming, and I had the vehicle checked, but no problem was found. 
On New Year's Eve of 2014, I was driving my vehicle to a cabin in the mountains. The temperature that night was down to -2 degrees, and we were far out of any sort of cell phone range when my car's turbo blew. The car (with my friends and myself) was engulfed in a cloud of smoke. The car had no power to climb the dirt roads and we were stuck in freezing temperatures with no way to get back. Fortunately I was able to flag down a lonesome passerby, and use their phone (which had service specifically for the area) and get a ride back home. I read in a newspaper the very next day that someone else's car broke down in a similar area that night. The man ended up getting severe frostbite on his foot.
I tell that story, not because I don't realize that turbos blow, but to explain why this car is so un-roadworthy, and to highlight Mountain States Toyota's horrible customer service ethics once I brought my concerns to them.
The repairs and towing costs of my vehicle were expensive, they amounted up to about half of what the car was worth in the first place. Insurance wouldn't offer any help (because I wasn't in an accident) even though I pay for full coverage. The extended warranty that I purchased (worth around $800) from the dealership, denied any sort of coverage (I was promised by the dealership that my warranty would cover about 60% of the repairs). 
Frustrated and in desperate need of a reliable vehicle for work and school, I asked the dealership to help a struggling college student out. The salesman I was taking too, promised that if I payed for all of the repairs out of pocket, then Mountain States Toyota would reimburse my original purchase of over $11,000, and turn that into credit towards a new/used car. I had no choice but to borrow money in order to repair the damages (a blown turbo and a cracked engine block).
After two and a half months of bumming rides from friends and family, my car was finally "repaired". The repairs added up to almost $7,000 and has had a devastating impact on my financial situation. I took my car, and receipt to Mountain States Toyota to trade in my car in hopes of getting a car that I can feel safe in. Unfortunately, the salesman I talked too previously refused to hold up his end of the bargain (to reimburse me with store credit, if I pay for the repairs of the vehicle myself). The salesman I talked to informed me that the previous salesman quit almost immediately after making that promise to me. When I asked the current salesman to honor the promise that the previous salesman made, he refused and said that the only way I would get a working car, would be if I purchased yet ANOTHER car from his dealership.
It was only after extensive research into possible causes for my vehicle to do what it did, that I discovered that my car didn't have an oil change for several years prior to me buying it. The CarFax report that it had been in Mountain States possession for several years and there was no record of there being an oil change for well over 5,000 miles. I was sold a car that hadn't had an oil change in almost twice the recommended millage. 
I have visited the dealership a handful of times (when my work and school schedule open up) to try and talk to a supervisor, but I'm always met by an employee that promises they can help me, but never do. I tell them my story, then they proceed to try and sell me another car as if I can even afford the car I currently have (with the full coverage insurance/insane interest rates/ and costly repair bill). I've tried reaching out to the General Manager to discuss my expensive, and regretful purchase from their dealership, but they have refused to speak to me.
I do not have any other options at this point. I work full time and am in school. I can not have the most expensive thing I have ever purchase make me feel like I may literally die while on the way to work or school. The health of the vehicle has gotten much worse over the past months. If the temperature is over a mild 70 degrees, the car almost certainly will not start (sometimes it takes several hours before it will start). And recently the engine will buck and shake while sitting at a stop. I have driven it when it suddenly stalls and the power steering cuts out. If this happens while commuting to the Elementary school I work at, I fear that I may very well be killed. 
This is the most expensive and most regrettable purchase I have ever made. It is made worse only by the fact that the company (Mountain States Toyota) that promised several times to help me, has done nothing but lied, cheated, manipulated, and ignored me as a customer. When I asked for guidance and assistance, they replied by trying to sell me yet again. Please help me, help stop a company that has absolutely no appreciation for customer service ethics.

Day 391: Hiking the Apex Trail

     I said it before (when I wrote about hiking the South Table Mountain), and I'll say it again; I'm not doing this project simply so I can rack my brain on the daily. I do this project so that mustering up the effort to say "yes" to opportunities becomes a bit easier. I do it so that finding motivation to get up and go out into the world will (with a bit of effort) become second nature. So I've been on a hike before, so what. I've never been on this hike before. This trail, with these people. The sights I saw, and the experiences I had today were genuine and novel. Just because today's entry isn't as obscure as some of my others, doesn't take away from the experience of it. Hell, I'd count hiking a different trail everyday if the opportunity came up.
     Today's hike was beautiful, which helped distract me from the awful car troubles I've been having lately. Stef and I met up with my sister (Sarah) and her friend, Holly in Golden (a town that I am crushing on hard lately). Golden is beautiful, and a perfect spot for a hike. We got all packed up, and walked from Holly's sisters house to a mountain (how's that for prime real estate?). It was hot, and I kept giving myself kudos for remembering to bring/fill my newly purchased Camel-back. The four of us, and three doggies, trekked up the Apex trail, stopping only so the pups could lay in the cool creek, and so I could Geo-cache. The tail was narrow, often with a dangerously steep hill on the side, and the mountain bikers who raced down didn't seem to care much about my personal space or well being. But we kept hiking, whenever a biker was spotted, we would scoot as far to the side as we could manage, to not get knocked off the side of the trail. The hike wasn't hard, but it sure was hot. I was sweating and panting like one of the pups. The trail seemed to swoop behind the mountain, and kick back and fourth up the backside.
     At the top of the hill, our gang took a much deserved rest under the cover of some trees. The view was stunning, a crystal clear view of a micro-sized city. Denver could be seen on the horizon, just a tiny dirt mound in the distance. We hung out, drank a refreshingly warm beer, and took some scenic photos before descending. The trip down was more of the same; hot temps, and beautiful Colorado views. Take a look at the photos, they're the real story!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 390: Mail a Potato

Spud Brahhhhs
     Why? Why drive to the store, buy a potato, then proceed to mail said potato to someone? The best answer I can think of is: the internet.
     The idea for this came, the same way that so many ideas do, from something we read online. I think it was Reddit, that I first saw a picture some lucky dude took of a potato he received when he checked the mail. It's one of those things that you're not sure if you can or should do, and would only ever find out if you actually tried. I mean, can I even mail a potato? It's totally sealed, and it wont go bad by the time it's shipped. I think that the people on the internet have made the same case that I'm going to make about it. I think, that because Ryan and I bought a pretty damn good looking potato (that potato's skin was sealed up baby), and we slapped on 10 stamps (a gross overkill) on it, then it seems like a legal move on our part. Other than that, there's probably no good reason to mail a potato; I heard they smell after you receive them, and I don't think I'd risk eating a mail-tatter (those postal workers don't scream hygiene to me).
     Ryan took care of most of the work on this challenge while I played with my cat. He wrote the addresses in sharpie, slapped the stamps, and even offered to toss it in his mailbox (so we didn't stink up ours). So now all we can do is wait for our spud to make it to it's new home (Ryan's sisters house...she has a potato launcher. And yep, those two things are very related). We'll find out in the next week or so if our package (which I am now naming Jeremiah) made it. God speed my spud.

Day 389: The Ian Not (Shoelace Knot)

     The Ian knot, named after some guy on YouTube who goes by the name of Professor Shoelace, is a knot that claims to be the fastest way to tie one's shoes. This knot (or more specifically, variation of the standard shoelace knot) is very similar to the standard knot, but with a twist that cuts down on steps, and time. Now, obviously, non of this matters. I get that. It's the difference between tying your shoes in 7 seconds, and doing so in 8. So I'll admit that it's sort of a cop-out challenge, but I do have to say, this Professor Shoelace guy (or Ian) is hilarious. I'll post the video tutorial he filmed so you can learn the knot yourself, but also, so you can meet a man who is so overly passionate about shoelaces. This man as acquired over a million views from his videos, and every single one is about shoelaces and the knots he can tie with them. His hobby was totally nonexistent to me before this challenge, and I feel like I live in a better place knowing that there's a man out there that takes so much genuine joy out of something so mundane. It's beautiful really.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 388: Unicycle

     I've been eyeing this unicycle in the storage closet at my work since my first day on the job. It's the gym teacher's, and nestled between an assortment of basketballs and other random P.E. equipment, hangs a lonely unicycle. I would've tried and failed at this challenge years ago when I first started working at the school, but the single tire has been completely flat since my hire. But today was different. Today I consulted my list of things to try, and -more importantly- brought in my bike pump. After I pumped up the tire and blew the dust off the seat, it was time...
      What I mean when I say "it was time" was that, it was time for me to fail miserably for quite a while. I knew it'd be hard, but come on, this unicycling thing is hard! Ryan and I tried it on and off in the gym but couldn't get the wheel to turn much. A video tutorial helped as it usually does, but this art is the kind that's best perfected by hours and hours of deliberate trial and error. That seems to be the only way around it. We set up mats to crash land on, and hung onto walls, but it's obvious that we still have a way to go (which is ok, because the gym teacher won't be back till the first week of August).
     I still plan on practicing when I can, I know they're goofy, but I want to master this one!

UPDATE: Here's a video taken about a week after this entry was written. Not too shabby in the progress department if I can say so!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day 387: Paint My Toenails

     The challenges are starting to get weird, that's for sure. Some of these challenges; like painting my nails, never really came to mind while brainstorming. Not because it was so crazy or strange, it's just, I never even thought of painting my nails as a possibility. It's something girls (and a handful of awkward middleschoolers) do, right? But Stef had all the supplies, and I had all the toes, so it made sense to give it a go.
     Stef got her shoebox of assorted nail polishes and tools of the trade, and we sat on the bed to get our nails did. It didn't seem like the art was too complicated, it went something like this

     A) Put the base coat (had to ask Stef what that was called again) on the nails

     B) Do two coats of whatever your desired color is. Making sure to start painting from the middle of the nail and extending outward, then working each side.

     C) Put a top coat of some kind of protective polish on.

     D) Clean up any paint with a Q-tip and some remover stuff

     E) Do not kick the cat with paint on your toes

     And wham! That's how it's done! So I followed the steps that Stef provided me, painting and cleaning as I watched Netflix. I was somewhat proud of my attempt, although I made sure not to me too good to avoid suspicion from others. The right foot was blue (in honor of my rec league soccer team) with smiley faces painted on top (cause, why not?), and my left foot was all black except for my ring toe, which I painted a classy shade of piss yellow. I was proud, Stef however, did not share the same sentiments. Below is the video of her reaction to my nails. It's hard to make out exactly what she was trying to say trough the fits of laughter and the tears running down her face, but apparently my left foot looked like that of a hooker's.
     So yeah, I got laughed at, and (more importantly) have these crappy smiley faces painted on my toes for who knows how long. I guess I'll be wearing socks this summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 386: Hypnotize Somebody

     As suggested by Stef, I decided to try my luck with hypnotizing somebody (The Roomies; Stef and Ivette). I'm actually super interested in the idea of hypnotism, and have done several challenges relating to in in the past. I like believing in the idea that, you can become better than you currently are, as long as you have someone (a hypnotist) help you guide you there. That you can improve anything from your confidence to your posture. It's all in your head. In the articles I read, and the tutorials I watched, they all tried to sell me on the same key-points. They all said something along the lines of:
     A) All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Meaning it will only work if the person being hypnotized believes (or allows) in what is happening.

     B) Hypnosis will only work if the hypnotist is able to lower the participant's mental/conscious guard in order to plant suggestive thoughts into their subconscious.

     Although I'm a fan and (to a point) a believer in what hypnotism can do, I could not seem to muster up any sort of optimism for this challenge. I read several articles/videos, and honestly prepared a lot more for this challenge than I normally do for these sort of things. Not matter how much I prepared, I had a feeling that this wouldn't work.
     My predictions were right about how things would turn out within seconds of trying to hypnotize The Roomies. It's just not how it's supposed to work you know? If you want to get hypnotized, then you go to a hypnotist. The act of going to somebody, and seeing their office, their business cards, the assortment of relevant books lining their bookcase, all do their part to reinforce the idea that, "maybe this person knows what they're doing". The same goes for used car-salesman and their tiny, pathetic, cubicles. The flimsy cubicle walls act to mentally confirm what they're trying to portray. But me, me I'm just me. Kyle, the kid that draws and skates, and sometimes tries new things. My roommates know that I'm not a hypnotist. They know that whatever nonsense I spout will be summed up in a quick blog post and slapped on Facebook for my friends to glance at while they're pooping. And I'm not opposed to that sort of fate at all. Actually, I feel like it's an honor to be considered worthy enough to be reading material while on the John. But it doesn't make putting on the illusion of being a qualified hypnotist any easier.
     But I did the best I could anyways. I watched my videos and took notes of their tips. I turned down the lights, had Stef and Ivette lay down comfortably in our apartment. Then I began to read from the generic script I found off a Google search. The script was a word-for-word speech designed to relax The Roomies. It was supposed to lower their mental guard, and allow me to plant positive suggestions into their subconscious (or make em act like chickens). Within seconds they were laughing about how ridiculous this entire thing was, and I was thinking of different thinks I could try. But we got our poop in a group, and I plowed through. I read the script in it's entirety, and they sat still, soaking up every word (or daydreaming, I really have no way to tell). After the fact, they opened their eyes and yawned (which I count as a small victory for some reason) and proceeded to tell me how long and lame that ordeal was. They said that they were distracted, and that they couldn't stop thinking about itches that they wanted to scratch as I talked.
     My predictions were right, but I don't think that it was a complete waste of time. I'd be interested in trying it again sometime. But only if my participants are super, uber open-minded about it. Like to the point that they're already convinced that I'm an real deal hypnotist.

Day 385: Pilates

     Stef suggested this one, and it sounded easy enough, so I agreed. Pilates to me just meant holding in farts while we did poses on the floor. Unfortunately, that wasn't Pilates at all. Pilates is hard, like "I'm going to curse now, and be sore later" kind of sore. I only used my own body weight (and to my advantage, I don't have much of it) but I was still dying the entire time. We did the introduction to Pilates video (which I'll post below if you'd like to make a bad decision today) and I'm not sure I'm strong enough to do anything more advanced. I always knew that my core strength was garbage, but after today, I'm rethinking my entire body. The little leg exercise where you lay down, lift your leg and make little circles with your foot sucked so hard. I felt like my hip was going to poop itself and the lady on the screen just kept saying "don't ya feel it in there? That's awesome right?"
     I feel like if I kept this regiment up, then I'd be Mr. Universe material in no time, but I don't know if I have it in me.

Day 384: Watermelon Rind

     Inspired by a kid in the day program of an elementary school I worked for last semester; I decided to broaden my pallet. This particular child was special needs and had a condition called Pica (basically having an uncontrollable appetite for non edible items), and this poor kid would constantly eat things that she shouldn't be eating. Some things would make her sick, but she would keep trying and trying to eat things like wood-chips, thumbtacks, and anything small enough to fit in her mouth. Her parents would pack her two heaping lunches everyday (I assume to fill her up so she wouldn't be as tempted to eat things that could make her sick), and in those lunches were some surprising items. The most noteworthy of them all, was Tupperware container full of watermelon rinds. Ya know, that hard, green part that everyone throws away. My best guess as to why her parents continually packed her the rind (other than trying not to throw anything in the trash), was that maybe the texture and consistency of the rind appealed to her in the same way some non edible items did. She could indulge in her desire to eat these sort of items, but we didn't have to fear that she would seriously hurt herself, everyone won.
     So while eating watermelon (the red part) at a BBQ tonight. I thought of that girl, and how much she loved the rind (even more than the meat of it). So in her honor, I tried a bit. Now, before I state the obvious and say that it was terrible, let me talk a little bit about the health benefits of the rind. Here is a snipit of an article I found on that backs up this girls case.

     The rind may not be as juicy as the flesh of a watermelon, but you can eat it. A 1-inch cube of watermelon rind contains 1.8 calories. The majority of the calories come from carbohydrates, with 0.32 g per serving. While you will not derive a tremendous amount of macronutrients from eating watermelon rind, this food does contain some vitamins. One serving provides 2 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C and 1 percent of the vitamin B-6 your body requires every day.  This makes watermelon rind good for your skin and immunity, as well as the health of your nervous system.

The rest of that article can be read here

     Now that I shed some light on why its good for you, I can state the obvious. Watermelon rinds are gross. They're flavorless save for the bitterness you experience when you bite down. The most redeeming quality is the crunch and texture I suppose, but they didn't redeem much. I probably won't be eating much more rind in the future.

Day 383: Jeff Bridges' Sleeping Tapes

    I kept the theme of listening to recordings to help me relax, but with a few very noticeable changes. Yesterday, I listened to teachings from one of the oldest religions in the world. Today, I listened to the mummblings of the guy that played "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski. Both helped me go to sleep (or at least that fuzzy state of mind in between), but both did so in very different ways.
     From what I remember (and that's important to say because I don't remember much) Jeff Bridges was just sort of, rambling. He had a very "flow of consciousness" type dialog that would most likely be mistaken as the sort of talking one would do to keep themselves from falling asleep while at the wheel. Whatever his intent, or even his knowledge about how to make sleeping tapes, it worked. I was out. Fast asleep and loving it. That was until one of the last tracks started playing. I was groggy so I don't quite remember, but I do remember making some rustling noises and violently closing the app on my phone so I could sleep undisturbed.
     Not liking one track out of the fifteen or so tracks available isn't too bad. Check out his recordings sometime. I'll link the introduction track below.

Day 382: Buddhist Meditation

     I've done a couple of challenges related to meditation before. And they're usually some of my favorite ones to do. Just kick back and relax...but don't think about relaxing, or you're no longer relaxing. I decided to further explore the art of Buddhism by listening to a tape on Buddhist meditation. For some background, I watched parts 1 and 2 of a video made by a Buddhist monk explaining what can be learned by meditation. He talked about how meditation can be used to cure the moods and mindsets of the depressed -but more importantly- how it can be used to improve the lives of the fulfilled and content. I liked hearing that, because it implied that there is no finishing when it comes to finding happiness. Not that happiness will forever be out of our reach, rather, deeper and more meaningful versions of happiness can be experienced so long as you are willing to search for it.
     The tape was pleasant, and very calming. I can't really go into detail about what all they talked about in the recording, because, well, I was kind of out of it at the time. Meditation tapes are super weird like that. I'll usually remember the intro and then I lose awareness for a while. Like the recording is gently laying me down into a warm, pool of numbing water. I float along with the rhythmic ripples of the water for a while, just letting my mind wander. Then when the tape is almost over and they're waking me up, it feels like I'm being gently lifted out of the water. Softly and slowly, I regain my awareness.
     Below is part 1 and 2 of the explanation videos I watched.

     I really dig these sort of experiences, and I find myself trying them again and again sometimes. It helps me hold onto something calming when I need it, and I couldn't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 381: Crochet


     I gotta say, I wasn't a fan of this one. Crocheting seemed like it'd be an easy enough challenge. Get some string, bug Stef for some pointers, and bingo-bango- challenge completed right? Wrong. All today's challenge did was reinforce the fact that I am terrible at certain things. The kind of terrible that you cant fully recover from. Things like singing, throwing a football, and being able to spell the word diarrhea; keep my inability to crochet company in my list of "things I can not do".
     Everything was in order; Stef was teaching me what techniques she knew, and I had the entire afternoon to fidget with yarn in hopes of creating a crafty scarf or sweater or whatever people even make when they decide to crochet. Taking what know-how Stef blessed me with; I tried my luck crocheting a small bracelet, arguably the most simple thing to make. Unfortunately, it became painfully clear that I was not meant for the yarn and hook life within seconds of fumbling. Stef would explain what it was that I was trying to accomplish, and my mind understood and agreed...but my hands, my dumb stupid hands had decided on a completely new agenda all together. They felt it best to fumble and fidget in response to my brain's directions. I knew what I was doing, but I must have overestimated my level of dexterity. I would tell my hands "Hook 1, then swoop. Hook 2 and swoop. Hook 2 again and swoop, and repeat" but then my hands were all "Hey, lets turn ourselves inside out and cramp up!"
     It was miserable, but at least Stef seemed to enjoy herself while she watched me struggle and curse the null-minded fingers I was born with. After about 40 minutes of crushing any hope of become the crafty crocheter I'd never dreamed of being, Stef offered to finish the second half of my bracelet (I couldn't say yes fast enough). About a minute and a half later, her portion was complete and what was left of my ego was effortlessly crushed.
     Whatever, crocheting isn't my life. It doesn't define me. I still have value...Right?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Day 380: Learn How To Give A Massage

     I liked this one. It's a practical skill that could really score me brownie points with Stef if I ever say something stupid. I looked up some videos and tutorials, but if I'm being honest, these ladies in the videos seemed to be doing just about what I usually would try to do. I picked up some pretty good pointers though, so it wasn't a waste of time or anything. I learned that I should stay away from the spine a bit more, and that I can use my forearm.
     I tested out my new found skills on Stef and even though I don't feel any more equipped to give massages, when I asked her if my massage skills have improved, she replied with a reassuring "totally." Take a look at the video and let me know if it helps.

P.S. I'm always willing to accept massages for people who are practicing their craft. Hit me up!

Day 379: Net Fishing

     So we're at this beautiful lake in Nebraska over the weekend. There's not much to do other than drink cheap beer and eat cheddar hot dogs, and I wasn't about to complain about that. The day was spent playing ultimate frisbee and rafting around in the beautiful weather. I enjoyed myself, and almost forgot to try something new for the second day in a row.
     fortunately, I was given an opportunity while rafting with Mouse. As we paddled through the brush of the lake, we spotted some seriously big fish. Like I don't what constitutes as big, but these suckers were pretty large. So I decided that it's my duty to catch one of there's guys with the net that is available on board. Keep in mind, this is a two-seater raft, so we're rocking the boat with every movement. I tried my best to stay still and plan my attacks the best I could, but my efforts went unrewarded. I swung my net viciously in hopes of catching dinner, but all I did was almost tip us over, lose the net, and get Mouse soaked in lake water. Honestly though, I'm totally okay not succeeding in this challenge, because I was not looking forward to cleaning and gutting a fish.

Day 378: AlmondJoy

     I know, this one sucks. Sorry. But I did have a looooonng day. I worked 10.5 hours and then packed for my camping trip, and then drove 4 hours to Lake Mcconaughy in Nebraska for some camping fun. I had like no time to prepare for something and I paid the price. In a split second decision while picking up some last minute camping items on the way, I reached out and grabbed a candy that I've always seen, but never had any interest in trying; an Almond Joy. See, in recent years I've come to enjoy the taste of coconut (not the texture as much), but I stayed away from anything that resembled a coconut as a kid. Every Halloween night was spent weeding through the crap candy that I received (tootsie rolls, tootsie pops, rocks).
     It was a lame move on my part and I apologize. But the good news is I stumbled upon a new candy that I enjoy! It's really not that bad (the texture is still a little off), but now I understand why my dad was always so eager to take my unwanted Almond Joy Halloween candy. So there's that.

Day 377: Review The Worst Music Ever

     Gotta admit, I wasn't a big fan of this one. And I feel like I should also admit, I have some pretty bad music on my iPod. We all have our guilty pleasures that we jam out to but know deep down that they're crap songs. Music is so subjective, that I wasn't sure that I'd be able to find the worst music, but I figured I'd give it a shot anyways. Trusting Google to not let me down, I came up with a Wiki page full of awful music. It listed (in great detail) the worst bands, albums, and singles in music over the past 60 years or so. While scrolling through the article I was pleased to find a couple familiar names. The likes of Elvis, Lou Reed, and Duran Duran had the misfortune to produce at least one song so unappealing that pop culture magazines all over felt it necessary to add them to their list of worst musicians/songs. I listened to the first three singles listed to get a feel for them (they were awful). But I didn't want to consider myself stuck in my musical ways. Maybe these songs really were good, but I just wasn't cultured enough to appreciate them. Honestly, some of them sounded like they were trying to be funny, or pull a gag of some sort. They often lacked any sort of rhythem and just seemed clumsy.
     I tried my luck with the worst album to ever be produced, which I'll post below. Its really bad, even if I try to be as understanding as possible. Its obvious that nobody in the band could play, and a point could be made that nobody in the band actually wanted to play either. An article said that the band was group of sisters and was put together by their father, who wanted them to become the breakout sensation of the 70's. I think that the girls just kinda went with it while their father pulled the strings needed to get studio time and gigs. I feel bad for the girls, but I feel even worse for my ears, seriously...that was really bad.

Day 376: Hicking The South Table

     Today's challenge is exactly what this project is about! Today, I hung out with my sister Sarah, hiked the South (maybe it was the North one...not sure) Table mountain in Golden, and enjoyed some beverages afterwards at the infamous Coors brewery plant. It was so much fun, and it was basically completely free too.
     The trail was pretty mild, only took about 20 minutes to hike to the top. We were greeted with a beautiful view of Golden's downtown from the top of the plateau. From there, we didn't have much choice but to hop a squat on the edge of the cliff and crack open some victory beers! We chatted about this and that and soaked up the sun for a while, just happy to be there. It was fun, then we took the party to the Coors factory and hung out there as well.
     I do have a friend that claims that today's challenge really isn't much of a stretch for me. His words were "Well, I mean, you've already been on a hike before, so it isn't really that new is it?" And to that I would have to disagree. Sure, I've been on hikes before. But I've never hiked anywhere in Golden, nor have I hiked with my sis. Today was a completely new experience, and one that I certainly wouldn't of had if it weren't for the project. It may not be as notable as some of my more demanding challenges (the ghost pepper is the one that comes to mind), but that doesn't mean that today's experience has any less value. The point of all of this -the project, blog, and challenges- is to help me get off my butt and experience as much as I can. And let me tell you, I did not have to try hard at all to find the motivation to get off my butt this morning when I knew I'd be going on a hike and hanging with Sarah. The reason why I believe that this experience definitely fits in with the others is because I know exactly what I would've done today if I didn't' have the project...I'd be watching YouTube, maybe go skating for a little bit, and probably wouldn't have even eaten lunch cause I'd be too lazy to go to the kitchen. My point is, I don't have to do something that is overly-flamboyant everyday to feel like I'm experiencing my life in a fulfilling way. Today's experience was fun and light-hearted, and I'm okay with that.

Day 375: Geo-Caching

          This was a fun one, one that I can't wait to try again soon. Geo-caching -which was first explained to me by my grandfather when he suggested it for my project years ago- is a lot like real life treasure hunting. Geo-cachers are a subculture of hobbyists that hide and seek trinkets and treasures all over the world. After doing a little bit of research, I found that geo-caching is a way bigger deal than I originally thought. I downloaded the official Geocaching app and looked at the GPS map that showed all the local caches. Turns out, that there are countless treasures hidden all over town, and one in particular was within walking distance of my apartment.
     The gang (Ryan, Stef, and myself) did not need much convincing for this challenge, seriously, who doesn't want to go on a nighttime treasure hunt? I wont go into too much detail, cause I made a short video of our adventure. But I will say that the sun went down quick and the GPS is only accurate to about 30 feet, so we were pretty sure that we'd be wandering around in the dark for quite some time. We were able to stay on a path for most of the trip, following the compass on my phone. But at about 700 feet out, my compass shifted and directed us straight in the middle of a tall grassy field. Snakes, mud, and bugs came to mind as we set off through the brush, but really it was only the mud that gave us any trouble.
     Take a look at the video, it's short, but it'll get you up to speed. We found the treasure, traded our trinkets with the artifact left in the cache (a repurposed vitamin bottle covered in camouflage duct tape) and wrote our names in the log. A simple, free challenge that got us outside and exploring. That's the kinda stuff I'd like to be doing more often!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 374: Star Gazing (For The Moon I Own)

     That's right, I own a moon. Not the moon, but a moon at least. If you don't believe me (for whatever weird reason) you can read all about it right here, or read the brief blurb about it belowww.
     For those of you that didn't click that link and read about how I acquired a lunar satellite; I'll bring you up to speed. Through a series of articles and online videos I stumbled upon some guy who claimed ownership of the moon...Our moon. His name was Dennis Hope and he found a loophole in the paperwork governing the celestial body put in place by the United States and Russia. Basically, The countries agreed that no corporation/nation/country/whatever can claim to own the moon. Dennis saw that and assessed that he in fact, did not fall into any of those categories. Being just some guy, he claimed to own the moon, and no government or country has really minded.
     I decided that I'd do sort of the same thing. Our moon wasn't up for grabs, but that's cool cause I didn't really want it anyway. Instead, I set my sights on a moon that I had learned about in astronomy class. IO, the innermost moon of the planet Jupiter.
          -There you go, you're all caught up to speed.
     I had been planning this challenge for a couple nights now, but I kept having to push it back due to cloudy weather and such. But tonight was clear and mild and perfect for star gazing. Plus, it would be a perfect excuse to finally bust out the sweet telescope Stef got me for our anniversary months ago. I did a little bit of research about what I wanted to try to spot through the telescope. I downloaded a nifty app on my phone that would display the constellations in the night sky wherever I pointed my phone (pure genius). I got my equipment and headed out to try and find a dark corner in the parking lot of my apartment complex. Everything was all set up, and aside from feeling like a total weirdo every time a person with a dog walked by, I was feeling good. I could see some stars without the telescope, so I only assumed that I'd be seeing all the things with it.
     Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to get my sights on anything, even with my fancy star map app. I fumbled with the knobs and the twisty thangs, but I couldn't get a single star in my scope. I did manage to get a faint star in the little guide viewer, but I didn't come here to brag about that.
     Was it a failure? Yeah probably.
     Will I try it again? Totally, In fact, I'm going camping this weekend and there won't be any light pollution there so maybe I'll give it another go.
What I expected to see...
...What I saw

Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 373: Ghost Hunting on Riverdale Road

     Let me just set the scene for you real quick.....
          -There's five of us celebrating with half price shakes at Sonic after our soccer game (We totally lost, but both Ryan and myself scored our first goals of the season. Bangerang).
          -The night is getting late and I had yet to fulfill my challenge to try something new. So we began to brainstorm some ideas while we waited for our cheesy tatter tots to arrive. Stef thought I should kiss a boy, and I was like "nahhhhhh". Then we talking about baking a cake from scratch, but I didn't feel like staying up washing dishes. The carpool kept spit-balling ideas and some of them seemed decent, but nothing that really got me excited. That was until, there was talk of touring a haunted site on the other side of town. Right then, I knew I had my challenge.
     I asked about the haunted site and it soon became clear that I was the lone member who had never heard of it before. They told me that Riverdale road -a road that I've commuted countless times in my 20+ years of living around here- is totally, utterly, haunted. They started telling me stories about
          -A guy flipping his camaro under the bridge
          -A demolished home of a crazed father that killed his family
          -The scene of a scorched tree with the burnt shadow of a girl who was pinned to it by a car. I was told that the car caught on fire, killed the girl, and left an imprint of her body burnt into the trunk of the tree. They say that her ghost walks the roadside in a white dress at night.

       This was perfect! I had driven down this road so many times, but I had no idea that it was like a urban legend Mecca. People have traveled to check out the burn marks in the tree, and there's a whole bunch of stories written about it online. Since I had some self proclaimed experts on the topic with me in the car, they would totally be able to show me the creepiest stuff Riverdale road had to offer.
     I'm gonna keep it short cause there really wasn't much of a payoff. We set off down the road and stopped at The Gates of Hell, which are gates to a house where a crazy father killed his entire family. It's really sad if that's true (not sure either way), but we didn't see much other than a dirt lot and an old chain link fence. The fence was open but I was advised not to drive up it (advice that I was ok taking).
The Gates of Hell, I was told NOT to take a picture
     We continued following the dark, winding curves of the road in search of The Tree. I kept asking what exactly it was I was looking for, but everyone just kept saying "Oh, just you wait, you'll know", which was probably the most unnerving thing about the entire night. So I kept driving with my brights on so I definitely wouldn't miss it, and everyone in the car was like "It's right around this corner!" and in my head I was like "Ahhhhh". And as we took the corner I could see a tree, maybe even The Tree. But this tree looked pretty much like every other tree. I was a little let down, but also relieved as we continued driving. I was told shortly after that the reason why I didn't see what they wanted me to see, was because a large bush had grown and overtaken the burn marks of the girl.
     It was really strange driving down a road that I've been down so many times with that eerie feeling we all helped cultivate with our stories and excitement. I was like taking something totally familiar and convincing yourself that you should be terrified of it. It was fun, but I don't think I have what it takes to become a ghost hunter.
The best picture of some trees maybe The Tree?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Day 372: Butterfly Knife

     So it's been a couple days since the reintroduction to the project and I'm feeling good. I've had some time to get back into the groove of things. I'm starting to remember what it feels like to roam through the isles of a random Whole Foods -not for any item in particular- but for something strange, something noteworthy. That feeling of looking through the lens of untapped potential is becoming more familiar.
     Take this morning for example. It was raining off and on, so The Roomies and I made our way to one of the largest indoor flea markets I know of (I believe that I went to it once before and walked away with an entry for my project the first time around but I cant remember exactly what for). As you would expect of me in these sort of situations, I was on the hunt to strike gold inside this dusty basement of a building (Whenever there's a garage sale, thrift store, or any other informal transaction, I convince myself that I am the rightful heir to the most valuable finds both beautiful and odd. All I have to do is find it).
     But since the reintroduction of the project, my treasure hunting focus has increased two-fold. I've always just liked going to these sort of places just cause. But know, I'm also depending on these sort of places to yield me my challenge for the day too. So I basically like a bloodhound when I'm up in there. Lifting through piles of mostly garbage, and sniffing through the deepest corners in hopes of finding that something.
     Today however, I stumbled upon my new thing to try within the first minute of hunting. It was in the first glass case I looked through. Displayed in the case was an assortment of knifes, smoking pipes and brass knuckles -bingo. I was almost certain that two out of three of those things (butterfly knife and brass knucks) were illegal in Colorado, and a Google search would confirm it. So it had been decided; I would purchase an illegal weapon from this run down flea market. Then I would teach myself how to use said weapon, and then post an incriminating video of myself on the web for you all to enjoy.
     Here's the video. Admittedly I'm not very good. All of my focus was spent on not slicing open a main artery. It kind of goes against my recent urge to become more high class, but whatever, maybe this tough guy persona is a better way to go.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Day 371: Symphony

     So I'm still on my high class kick. I want to be cultured and wise beyond my years and all that jazz. So today, while I was catching up on another project of mine (to draw something every day. If you'd like to see more of that project click here) I decided that I needed to concentrate while I drew or I'd get distracted like I always do. I listen to a lot of different types of music while I draw, and I'm no stranger to listening to classical. But one thing that I've never done, was listen to an entire symphony. I looked up a video of an hour long symphony and began drawing. It actually did wonders for keeping me from getting distracted. I was only interrupted a couple of times from a text or two and I ended up getting three illustrations done! Here they are for ya!

     I enjoyed the experience more than I thought I would, but I did pick up on some strange occurrences from it. Like, I thought that it was uber weird when there would be a break between movements (I'm gonna assume that they're called movements, but you know what I'm talking about right? The pieces of music that make up the symphony) nobody would clap or whistle. All they would do is cough and clear their throat. It sounded really gross and totally not high class. Plus, if I was about of the symphony, I was be so bummed out if nobody clapped at my high class playing.
     I did think that it was kinda cool to watch the conductor. That was an example of a guy that really gets into his work. He was totally lost in it. And at the end, when he signaled the musicians to cease playing, and the audience sat waiting. There was this moment, he stood perfectly still, eyes clenched closed, where he shed a single tear from what he had just heard. It pretty powerful actually. Here's the video if you'd like to play your air-clarinet with me.

Day 370: Whistle Like A Man

     Ok, it's been a couple of days since the resurrection of this project. I've had some time to get back into the groove and I was feeling good about myself. I say was because I remembered just how frustrating this project can be today. This project can be fun, or painful, embarrassing, downright maddening, and a mix of all of them depending on the day. Today was one of those days. I've been trying to stick with the free challenges as long as I can, but I also want to explore challenges that I will somehow benefit from somehow. With those two pieces of criteria established, it was only a matter of time before I came up with "learning how to whistle like a man" as an idea. If you're not sure what it means to whistle like a man, then I suggest you watch this handy how-to video. 

     Now that you've been briefed on how a pro whistles like a man, watch my attempts. I admit that they are astoundingly terrible, but hear me out. This little snippet of video was the result of over an hour of awful, slobbery, miserable attempts. I locked myself in the corner of my room and told myself I couldn't leave until I made a sound that resembled a whistle. Hate on it if you want, but that was really freaking hard. Oh, and Ryan learned it in like 2 minutes. What a chode.

Day 369: Scotch

     I'm all about getting cultured. Trying things to expand my pallet and my mind in hopes of becoming a more civilized gentleman or whatever. Scotch seemed like one of those things that would help me shoot into the stratosphere of classy stuff to try. I decided that it was my time to distance myself from crappy canned bear and the occasional White Russian, to something more mature. I inlisted the help of the a middle aged lady behind the cash register of a tiny liquor store to help me decide just how to introduce myself to this beverage. She said something along the lines of "Well, ummm" I waited for her to continue. "You get what you pay for with that stuff". Genius. I took her advice into consideration while browsing, but threw it out once I caught a glimpse of the prices. So I settled on the single cheapest bottle of scotch in hopes of appearing more prestigious than I actually am.    
     From there I poured a glass and threw in some stones (rich people talk for ice) and gave it a sip. Terrible. It looked like gasoline, smelled like sharpie, and tasted like whiskey filled mosquito bites. But it's not about flavor, its about class and pedigree!
     Here's the footage, straight from the horse's mouth!

Day 368: Frisbee Golf

     Call it Frisbee Golf, or disk golf, or frolf or whatever. Its that spot played by frat boys and dudes that go on that dumb The Chive website...Or so I thought. It's actually way more fun than I thought, even with an assortment of crappy, broken frisbees. Rather than bore you with words, I made a video of the fun outting for you to enjoy. Watch Mouse throw it everywhere but the hole (is it even called a hole? It's more like a cage, or metal dreadlocks on a pole). Hit me up, we'll play sometime!

Day 367: Prank Call

     Yeah I know that it's juvenile. And I also know that it was not the over the top kind of experience I would have chosen to do for my return to the project. But you see, I have a really god excuse. was late, and I was already a couple episodes (epi's for short) in on some Netflix. The bed was super comfortable annnnnd yeeeahh. So if it isn't obvious, I should just let you know, it was super hard to find motivation to start this project. Ryan texted me, because he too agreed to try something new everyday. In fact, he's the reason why this thang is even happening...again. We had been talking about trying it for weeks now, and then (in the middle of my Netflix comatose) he texts me. He says that we should officially start the resolution and I (hesitantly and tiredly) agree.
     But here's the obvious problem, the night is getting late (and yes, 8:00 PM is now late by my standards) and my motivation is out on holiday. I didn't want to disappoint Ryan on my first day back, but I also didn't want to get up either. So after tossing some ideas around with Stef, we settle on something that I could do without even getting out of bed, prank call someone. Deciding who to call was the easiest part. Obviously we would prank call Ryan, that way he would know that I did something new, and I could also ask him if I was believable.
     The good news is that he didn't know it was me calling (from Stef's phone). The bad news is, I'm not sure if I was believable still. See, as the phone rang and I waited for him to pick up, I quickly crafted my character, but I probably should have spent some more time on it. I wanted to sound totally different from my normal self, so I tried to imitate the voice of an aggressive, loud mouthed thug named D-Harm. I even had a back story for him. See, D-Harm trying to reach his friend Trey, because Trey was supposed to pick D-Harm up from the bus stop a few hours ago. Then D goes into some inaudible rant about having some girl eyeballing him from across the street.
     Although I was rather proud of my character, Ryan didn't get to fully appreciate my art of prank calling. Apparently he was at a noisy gym when I called and couldn't hear any of D-Harm's threats. Ryan eventually hung up the phone, and D called back and left a lengthy voicemail message (that I'd like to post here if I can get a hold of it) for him.
     I don't think that I was the most believable, but it seemed like Stef thought it was funny, and it was sort of excited waiting as the phone rang. Not sure why I never did this at a more appropriate 7.

Introduction Part Two

Hey! Hello there, remember me? ...It's me, Kyle...The kid that did all those strange thangs back in 2011. Look, I know that introductions can be awkward, and I can only assume that a re-introduction can be as well, so I'll keep it short for you. Back in last few days of 2010, I wasn't very happy with how things were in my life. They weren't terrible, but they certainly the way my imagination and pop culture had led me to believe it would be either. I assumed that I'd be living the adventurous life that they advertise through characters on T.V. I expected to sail exotic seas and travel the globe with nothing more than an Indiana Jones style wardrobe and a killer tan promptly after high school.
     Unfortunately, my high expectations were met with the devastating reality of what its actually like to be a 19 year old dish-washing college dropout. Fortunately for me though, I realized that my dreams of sailing with a tan just a few shades darker than a sweet potato would not happen over night. Rather, I knew that if I made it a daily priority to do something new (have a new experience, learn a new skill, try a challenge or whatever), then I would be inching myself closer and closer to the mindset and eventually, the lifestyle of the kind of Kyle I'd like to be. An adventurous, cultured, well traveled son of a gun. And then I'd work on the tan.
     So, for my New Year's Resolution for 2011, I challenged myself to try something new everyday. Annnnd, if you're a fan of the blog I kept the accounts for that year (I imagine you might be, cause this is the very same blog) you may remember some of the things I did. If you're not familiar, of you'd like to see what I look like without a beard, you can take a stroll down memory lane and read about some of the wildness that went on by scrolling down. My favorite memories are probably the Ghost Pepper Challenge, the time I Juggled Fire, or even I claimed Ownership of Jupiter's Moon IO. Good times man, gooooood timessss.
     To wrap things up, I had a great time doing this project. I met tons of people, explored places and things I never dreamed I'd see, and found out some things about myself that I otherwise would have been ignorant to. The project was so fun, that I (with a bit of convincing from a friend) have decided to reinstate my resolution to "try something new everyday." My friend Ryan (the one who did the convincing) is taking part of it as well. We've already done a couple challenges and I be sure to add them to the blog so ya'll can read about em. So yeah, be on the look out for some weirdness!
We're ready