tour de…

July 24th, 2014

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So I’m sure you’ve all heard me talk about my passion for cycling. No? No you haven’t. Though I do tune in for much of the Tour de France, most of my athletics are of the watching variety and I haven’t been on a bike for greater than a decade. But my latest vacation planning coincided with members of my family not being able to take a bike/barge trip with some friends of theirs and they generously offered me their spot.

The trip was organized by a 75th birthday celebrant and he and his wife were on a greater cycling endeavor benefiting Tradart Foundation. They chartered the trip for our group of about 25 through Cycletours and the route was seven days of cycling from Bruges to Amsterdam with daily cycles averaging out to around 43k a day. The barge would house us for the duration of the trip meeting us at each finish point and offering a place to decamp for the week, as well as enjoy breakfast and dinner, plus fixin’s for packing a lunch to eat on the road.

Bruges to Amsterdam here I come! Wait, bike trip? Now while one could, and some did, take the trip via barge sans bike, it was clearly set up as a bike trip and I wanted to see if I could embrace experiencing the sites on two wheels. After much training (a couple weeks at the gym and one outdoor bike ride of about 22 minutes) I was planning to do the first short day and then perhaps not cycle again.

Fortunately for me the trip was not only mostly flat but much of it was on dedicated bike paths (or other less trafficked options) with multiple breaks for regrouping, resting, snacking, and scenery. And most importantly the ebike was my savior. Ebike you say? Much as I wanted it to be a scooter you had to pedal the whole time (no pedal no movement) but each pedal was made a touch easier and more productive than without. Cheating some called it, but those of us who took the option were thrilled that it allowed us to enjoy what otherwise we wouldn’t have experienced.

I accomplished many things on my bike. Biking on cobblestones. Biking in the rain. Biking on cobblestones in the rain. From pavement to bricks to dirt to gravel to grass, cities, traffic, train tracks, roundabouts, bike roundabouts, 180 degree turns, drafting (not a good idea if you’re not tour level), stair ramps (not great with the extra heavy ebike)… to name a few. I am not yet ready to ride with no hands and to do things like texting on my bike, ah kids today, but I was overall feeling more comfortable with my bike skills.

By the end of the trip my thighs were sore, my left knee was achy, and my tooshie was done. Was the seat comfortable? Probably, and no, not at all. I was told that the third day would be the worst but the fourth it would get better and not sure better was good enough. Padded shorts are a necessity but can’t solve the issue that a person is not meant to sit on a bike seat for hours and days on end.

And while I don’t know that I’ll do another one there’re a few logistics to consider, I’ve talked to a friend who does other cycling tours and they’re all obviously set up very differently. We all rode together in a group which could get challenging for pace, communication, and sheer number of riders. But sticking with our guide and having a daily sweeper assigned ensured none of us got lost along the way (which totally would have happened even with maps). Plus a group of cyclists with our bright yellow panniers was sort of a warning sign to others which in a couple of traffic situations came in handy.

There were a couple of points where some folks were encouraged to go and ride ahead (I chose to stretch my legs with the quick team) and one day where past a point there were two route options to get back (I chose the short route where you could take a ferry to tour a castle). No SAG wagon meant we brought our gear in our panniers and once committed were committed to the whole ride (thankfully no serious injuries). And being in a chartered group of friends and family meant it wasn’t all folks who would normally sign up for a cycling tour so we had a wide range of cyclist skills and interests. For me, our logistics and the terrain made it a perfect first tour.

All in all, I was glad I traded a little discomfort for what was a wonderful new experience. You see the variety of cities and landscapes in a way you never would if you flew or trained straight from Bruges to Amsterdam, and it was beautiful. It was also a lovely group of people who all encouraged and entertained one another. And as each day was completed it was a joy to be greeted by our barge and fellow travelers moving from happy hour to dinner to share our tales, enjoy what turned out to be delicious food, and hear about the next day’s adventure. Our tour guide even invited us on his unofficial but informative post meal evening constitutional through town each evening.

For more adventures tune back in for my post on Bruges, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen which I’ll get around to as soon as I finish unpacking. Update: Finally unpacked, I guess, so check out the post here.

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new and noteworthy tv: 7/21-7/27

July 20th, 2014

manhattan-key-artA little more reality including the latest Runway (I think we’re almost only a season behind) and a new age of atomic drama from WGN.

  • Monday: Hotel Hell, Season Premiere (Fox, 9pm)
  • Tuesday: Food Fighters, Series Premiere (NBC, 8pm), Face Off, Season Premiere (Syfy, 9pm)
  • Wednesday: Soundclash, Series Premiere (VH1, 9pm), Who Do You Think You Are, Season Premiere (TLC, 9pm), BAPS, Series Premiere (Life, 10pm), Restaurant: Impossible, Season Premiere (Food, 10pm),
  • Thursday: Project Runway/Undone with Amanda de Cadenet, Season/Series Premiere (Life, 9/10:30pm)
  • Sunday: Masterpiece Mystery!: Poirot, Season Premiere (PBS, 9pm), Escaping Alaska, Series Premiere (TLC, 10pm), Manhattan, Series Premiere (WGN, 10pm)

The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.

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new and noteworthy tv: 7/15-7/20

July 17th, 2014

rush

A couple new comedies to check out including undoubtedly slightly off kilter FX with relationship shows Married and The Worst. USA tries its hand at more anti heros with doc for hire Rush and successful family man turned escort in Satisfaction and a touch more odd science with genetic baby raising Lottery and the docudrama Gunslingers. Nothing looks noteworthy but might be some decent summer fare. And of course more reality.

  • Wednesday: My Wild Affair/Sex in the Wild, Series Premieres (PBS, 8/10pm), The Divide, Series Premiere (WE, 9pm), Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project, Series Premiere (VH1, 10pm), Virgin Territory, Series Premiere (MTV, 11pm)
  • Thursday: Untold with Maria Menuounos, Series Premiere (E!, 8pm), Dating Naked/#candidlynicole/Leann & Eddie, Series Premieres (VH1, 9/10/10:30pm), Don’t Be Tardy, Season Premiere (Brav, 9pm), Rush/Satisfaction, Series Premieres (USA, 9/10pm), Married/You’re the Worst, Series Premieres (Fx, 10/10:30pm)
  • Saturday: Cedar Cove, Season Premiere (Hall, 8pm)
  • Sunday: Flipping the Block, Series Premiere (HGTV, 9pm), Gunslingers, Series Premiere (AHC, 10pm), The Lottery, Series Premiere (Life, 10pm)

The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.

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new and noteworthy tv: extended edition

June 27th, 2014

extant

And by extended I mean a little more time, a little less information. The procrastinator is spending a moment away from the computer over the next few weeks so wanted to call out a few noteworthy starts in lieu of a more comprehensive weekly list. Television is unpredictable so be forewarned that the early version might also be a little less accurate.

  • Monday, 6/30: Under the Dome, Season Premiere (CBS, 10pm)
  • Tuesday, 7/1: Time Scanners/History Detectives, Series Premieres (PBS, 8/9pm), Biker Battleground Phoenix, Series Premiere (Hist, 10pm), Drunk History/Nathan for You, Season Premieres (Com, 10/10:30pm)
  • Friday, 7/4: Fireworks!
  • Saturday, 7/5: My Dysfunctional Family, Series Premiere (CMT, 10pm)
  • Sunday, 7/6: Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, Series Premiere (CMT, 9pm), Witches of East End, Season Premiere (Life, 9pm)
  • Monday, 7/7: Ice Road Truckers, Season Premiere (Hist, 10pm)
  • Tuesday, 7/8: Finding Carter, Series Premiere (MTV, 10pm), Restaurant Startup, Series Premiere (CNBC, 10pm)
  • Wednesday, 7/9: American Muscle, Series Premiere (Disc, 9pm), Beverly Hills Pawn/Mansion Hunters, Season/Series Premieres (Reelz, 9/10pm), Extant, Series Premiere (CBS, 9pm), The Bridge, Season Premiere (Fx, 10pm)
  • Thursday, 7/10: Hollywood Scandals/Celebrity Damage Control, Season/Series Premieres (Reelz, 9/10pm), Welcome to Sweden/Working the Engels, Series Premieres (NBC, 9/9:30pm), Leah Remini, Series Premiere (TLC, 10pm), Pawnography, Series Premiere (Hist, 10pm), Ridiculousness/Snack-Off, Series Premiere (MTV, 10/10:30pm)
  • Friday, 7/11: Hemlock Grove, Season Premiere (Net, 12:01am), Almighty Johnsons, Series Premiere (Syfy, 10pm)
  • Sunday, 7/13: The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Season Premiere (Brav, 8pm), Ray Donovan/Masters of Sex, Season Premieres (Show, 9/10pm), Game of Crowns, Series Premiere (Brav, 9:15pm), Lone Star Lady, Series Premiere (A&E, 10pm), The Strain, Series Premiere (Fx, 10pm)
  • Monday, 7/14: Backpackers/The Seed, Series Premieres (CW, 8:30/9pm)

The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.

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sf to do list?

June 23rd, 2014

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A friend has a friend in town and as we started to talk about all the things that we think a visitor should do, we also started admitting some of the things we hadn’t done ourselves. San Francisco is a great city, but it can also be an expensive city to live in, and in order to justify that I think one should take advantage.

We agreed that we would each come up with a list of ten things that we had done that we think should be done in the city. My list is neither comprehensive nor necessarily the list I would make any visitor do, that should be customized based on their interests, but ten things I would do (or to be honest ten categories of things I would do).

So whether you’re entertaining, you’re planning a staycation, or just trying to get out (in no particular order):

  • Eat out: This could be my list one through ten but good food in unique neighborhoods is one of the best ways to experience the city, depending on where you’re from you’re most likely not experiencing good Mexican, good sushi or crazy fresh produce. Check out the SFGate Top 100 for reference.
  • Drinks outside: Ok this is a touchy SF recommendation because you can’t do it on most days, and it’s probably more enjoyable to locals than to anyone else because of the constant chill and few great opportunities, that said there are some great places to experience; if you’re on a particularly cold day you should still go to one of the bars where you might find a quality mixologist (same can be said for our fancy coffee, I tend to lean Blue Bottle if I have the choice). Maybe try Yelp for some options.
  • Golden Gate Park: The options are endless, but honestly for me nothing is better than seeing bison mid park, except perhaps the view of tulips and a windmill as you come to the beach.
  • Window shopping on Hayes Street: A few other streets would do, Fillmore, Mission, etc., but visiting a neighborhood with non-chain boutiques will have a little something for everyone, it’s worth shopping but when the prices are prohibitive a good window shop will do, and then perhaps some food or a drink (and if it’s nice outside!).
  • Museums: I’m a member at SFMOMA and normally recommend that for a pop by even if there’s no major exhibit in play, Blue Bottle coffee on the rooftop sculpture garden is a lovely way to take a break, the food at the cafe is tasty, and the museum gift shop is always stocked with a good selection of jewelry and paper goods as well as books aplenty; that said SFMOMA is shutty for now (though you can catch a modified gift shop nearby and misc art around town) so take a look at what’s showing at de Young which just so happens to be in Golden Gate Park.
  • Take a ferry: It is the Bay Area and what no better way to experience the bay than taking one of the ferries to Sausalito or Tiburon or wherever, get a bite, get a drink, enjoy the view.
  • Ferry Plaza and weekend Farmers Market: The Ferry Plaza was redone some time ago and is a bounty of boutique foods, and the Farmers Market takes it to a whole new level so come hungry and with cash, and perhaps coordinate with a Ferry trip.
  • Crissy Field stroll to the foot of Golden Gate Bridge: I don’t do this a ton but I can’t argue that this stroll isn’t worth it for the view, bonus points if you’re walking a pooch who appreciates the sand and water.
  • Walking tour: Mission Murals, downtown open spaces, you can find a tour on anything you want or didn’t know you wanted do a quick search and it’s worth a good afternoon.
  • Events: San Francisco Lit Quake/Crawl, City Arts and Lectures, Open Studios, and Porchlight are only a few of the opportunities awaiting you, it’s a city of interesting people and culture and there is always something going on somewhere.

I’m sure I could come up with any number of options but these won’t do you wrong. What are would you do?

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new and noteworthy tv: 6/23-6/29

June 21st, 2014

tyrant-key-art-season-1-fx

Taxi Brooklyn sounds ridiculous but rumor has it the chemistry in the cop drama adds a little something though time will tell as with the premise of legal chemistry on Reckless. Speaking of chemistry who would miss Tori and Jenni together again, ok it looks dumb as does the personal chef half hour pairing but sometimes the lighter fare works, and for other nostalgia Girl follows the next generation of the family (from Boy Meets World). Tyrant as FX’s latest offering is of course worth a look as is the latest where did the people go drama Leftovers.

As to our new reality fare, oh CeeLo… but if you like your real estate and you like Miami or nudists there’s something for you; Fat is more about cars than fat while Oprah’s Operation is Haiti focused. And of course dance studios are rescued as is plastic surgery, who could argue with that? And of course Wimbledon starts this week so tune in for the fortnight.

  • Monday: Street Outlaws/Fat n’ Furious, Season/Series Premieres (Disc, 9/10pm), Operation Change, Series Premiere (OWN, 10pm), POV, Season Premiere (PBS, 10pm), Teen Wolf/Wolf Watch, Season Premieres (MTV, 10/11pm), Ceelo Green’s the Good Life, Series Premiere (TBS, 10:30pm)
  • Tuesday: Abby’s Studio Rescue, Series Premiere (Life, 9pm) Botched, Series Premiere (E!, 9pm), Next Great Baker, Season Premiere (TLC, 9pm), Covert Affairs, Season Premiere (USA, 10pm), Sullivan & Son, Season Premiere (TBS, 10pm), Tyrant, Series Premiere (Fx, 10pm)
  • Wednesday: Big Brother, Season Premiere (CBS, 8pm), Young & Hungry/Mystery Girls, Series Premieres (ABCF, 8/8:30pm), Million Dollar Listing: Miami (Brav, 9pm), Wilfred, Season Premiere (Fxx, 10pm), Taxi Brooklyn, Series Premiere (NBC, 10pm)
  • Thursday: NY Med, Season Premiere (ABC, 10pm)
  • Friday: Girl Meets World, Series Premiere (Dis, 9:45)
  • Saturday: America’s Cutest Dog, Season Premiere (AnPl, 10pm), Buying Naked, Series Premiere (TLC, 10pm)
  • Sunday: Last Tango in Halifax/Endeavor/Vicious, Season/Series Premieres (PBS, 8/9/10:30pm), Reckless/Unforgettable, Series/Season Premieres (CBS, 9/10pm), The Leftovers, Series Premiere (HBO, 10pm)

The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.

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phone-dependency

June 20th, 2014

iphone6 The old lady in me occasionally utters phrases that make me cringe, but I don’t know what we did before smart phones? With two near-death phone experiences this month the phone finally was put to rest. And a day and a half of no texts, no calls (I guess I should figure out what my voice-mail password is before it dies again), no Uber, no bus prediction, no maps, no music…

And then, decisions, decision… I was kind of waiting for the iPhone 6 but who knows for sure when that’s coming and whether the enhancement is worth it. Throwing caution to the wind I went 5s (in gold) and then with the swipe of a credit card (and a new industrial case to protect from dropping) I was back in business.

Lessons learned, you know how they say to back things up, well ya. Fortunately I had backed up after the last near-death experience so I just seem to have lost latest interactions (for the three people who text me on a regular basis this apology applies to you for anything ignored). The only other trick? Passwords. Between my five email accounts and my various apps apparently it helps to know what those are.

So next tech pursuit, password manager?

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new and noteworthy tv: 6/16-6/22

June 14th, 2014

The Last Ship banner

Dominion takes Legion the movie that we didn’t pay attention to and makes a series we may pay less attention to, The Last Ship is a new take on the post-apocalyptic in a military fight against a virus, and The Muskateers is probably not surprising but who knows. Reality brings us another comedy comp in Funniest and some fake dumb Brits which I doubt is funny at all and Rising Star brings another take on the musical competition and a search for the next great food combo in Frakenfood while Pools may bring a variety of outdoor makeovers. Other than that I’ve heard good things about Rectify but have yet to catch up on the first season.

  • Monday: The Fosters, Season Premiere (ABCFam, 9pm)
  • Tuesday: Rizzoli & Isles/Perception, Season Premieres (TNT, 9/10pm)
  • Thursday: Critics’ Choice TV Awards (CW, 8pm), Defiance/Dominion, Season/Series Premieres (Syfy, 8/9pm), Rookie Blue, Season Premiere (ABC, 9pm), Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Season Premiere (TLC, 9pm), Rectify, Season Premiere (Sun, 9pm)
  • Friday: The Pool Master, Series Premiere (AnPl, 9pm), Funniest Wins, Series Premiere (TBS, 10pm)
  • Saturday: Almost Royal, Series Premiere (BBCA, 10pm), America’s Cutest Cat, Season Premiere (AnPl, 10pm)
  • Sunday: Wipeout/Rising Star, Season/Series Premieres (ABC, 7/9pm), The Last Ship/Falling Skies, Series/Season Premieres (TNT, 9/10pm), The Muskateers, Series Premiere (BBCA, 9pm), True Blood, Season Premiere (HBO, 9pm), Frankenfood, Series Premiere (Spike, 10pm)

The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.

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binge season

June 12th, 2014

the-wire

Summer used to be known as a time to get outside because there was nothing on tv (and you know because of the nice weather). But today ‘nothing on tv’ is a little less true and even if you can’t find any live tv what better time to do a little catching up on series you might have missed the first time.

Personally I like to balance my standard catch up and new summer shows with one new series I plan to glut on, and I prefer that new series to be one that has already completed. I also prefer series that are available via one of the mediums I already have access to (I’m not yet ready to pay for a new cable or streaming service unless I’ve exhausted all my other options).

Following are a few of the things I’m considering as well as a few shows I might recommend:

  • Absolutely Fabulous (BBC) – These ladies are so culturally ingrained but I’ve only seen them outside the actual show.
  • Big Love (HBO) – Are we intrigued by the polygamists?
  • Caprica (Syfy) – I wrapped BStarG not that long ago and was wondering if this was worth a follow up.
  • The Comeback (HBO) – This is an exception to the complete rule because I read that the cancelled show is in fact coming back, what better time to jump in to Lisa Kudrow’s character try to revive her career?
  • Deadwood (HBO) – Outlaw misfits in the gold rush, oh and Timothy Olyphant, need I say more?
  • Oz (HBO) – Prison drama, as I understand it a little more serious than current OITNB.
  • Prime Suspect (Netflix) – I recently started pulling up this one, lady detective not so revolutionary but reminds me a bit of The Closer in the getting to squad to accept her sort of thing, considering putting it back at the top of the queue.
  • Rescue Me (Fx) – Recently tuned in to Sirens which I enjoyed and was sort of described to me as a lighter version of this.
  • The Shield (Fx) – Corrupt police with Michael Chiklis might fill my recent gap in police dramas.
  • The Wire (HBO) – Everyone talks about this but it’s a lot of episodes and until recently hasn’t been available enough without Netflix dvds, but am I ready to finally commit?

And for some of the shows I might recommend if you’re looking for summertime fodder:

  • Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse - No surprise here, last summer’s plan (or the summer before) was to rewatch the previously unavailable to me Joss Wedon series start to finish, totally worth it.
  • Battlestar Gallactica/Friday Night Lights – Two of my more recent binge shows, very different but both well worth a watch for the characters and drama of their own communities.
  • The X Files – I’m not sure I actually finished this series once we moved to other players but I’ve recently started to re-gander at this one.
  • Arrested Development - I redid this one before Netflix picked up the last season, and though the revisit season was worthwhile but of mixed success the original series sure holds up.
  • Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared - Want to get a taste for early Apatow humor, Freaks particularly worth a look for the great cast in early roles with some teen angst and whatnot.
  • Don’t Trust the B- in Apt 23 – Recently went back to catch this since I’m not sure they ever aired them all and quite amusing.
  • Terriers/Saving Grace/The Riches/Chuck – A few series I haven’t been back to but quite enjoyed the first time around.

Not currently as easily available but worth a watch: Beverly Hills 90210 (the original), Bunheads, Flight of the Concords, Gilmore Girls, Men of a Certain Age, The O.C., Pushing Daisies, Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Southland, and Veronica Mars.

Let me know in the comments what you think I should pick next, I think you can tell what I’m leaning toward.

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new and noteworthy tv: 6/9-6/15

June 6th, 2014

The latest murder series, In the First, is a season long case may be worth a look, as is the new I’m sure somewhat heartwarming Chasing Life. And letting the ridiculous premise go I still am enjoying Suits. I will pass on the latest reality of Smo.

  • Monday: Hilary Clinton (ABC, 9pm), Brazil with Michael Palin, Series Premiere (PBS, 9pm), Major Crimes/Murder in the First, Season/Series Premieres (TNT, 9/10pm)
  • Tuesday: Pretty Little Liars/Chasing Life, Season/Series Premieres (ABCF, 8/9pm), Royal Pains, Season Premiere (USA, 9pm)
  • Wednesday: Suits/Graceland, Season Premieres (USA, 9/10pm), Duck Dynasty/Big Smo, Season/Series Premieres (A&E, 10/10:30pm)
  • Friday: Monumental Mysteries, Season Premiere (Trav, 9pm)
  • Saturday: Dog and Beth, Season Premiere (CMT, 9pm)
  • Sunday: The Escape Artist, Miniseries Premiere (PBS, 9pm), Superjail!, Season Premiere (AdSw, 11:45pm)

The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.

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