Sometimes the best things were a surprise – Reno

I don’t gamble really. I dislike smoking, casinos, etc. So when we decided to fly to Reno to enjoy the Reno Jazz Festival our son was playing at I honestly had tremendously low expectations. We’d been to Reno once before – maybe 25 years ago or so. It was Vegas-lite. Except with a bunch of Harleys on the main drag. There were some good things (take your beer with you when you walked outside²) and plenty of unpleasant things (the food, the casinos, the smoking, and well… kind of everything).

Our expectations were low. We read a bit about the new riverwalk area on the Truckee. But as we approached the airport we were taken by the lovely snow-clad mountains (Tahoe region was clobbered with snow this year). On the drive into town our shuttle driver mentioned how lovely the University of Nevada/Reno was. We were skeptical especially as we hit downtown – the casinos look pretty bad, worn out, seedy. And like all American cities these days Reno has a homelessness problem.

We walked up to the UNR campus and wow! the driver was right. They’ve built a lovely campus that blends new buildings with old, sunny walking paths all over the place, and just a general sense of “yeah, this is a great place to attend college”. I don’t know if that is true or not but the kids walking around all seemed happy so that’s the only measure I went with.

The downtown riverwalk area is also lovely. There is a popup-style bar called the Eddy – cocktails, bocci, and watching the river go by (in almost overflowing flood stage). There are restaurants like Campo along the river too. There are snazzy-looking apartments downtown. With the Sierras only an hour away I can see how the recast of Reno as an outdoorsy place is gradually replacing the older, stodgier, seedier casino (getting 50k new jobs with a Tesla plant isn’t going to hurt either). Our hotel is the first non-smoking, non-casino place. It comes with a great climbing gym, an outdoor climbing wall that is scary-looking, and a nice restaurant¹

The drivers stop at crosswalks. The place is pretty clean overall. More than anything else it was so much better than our low expectations that we just spent a lovely weekend there and would go back.


 

¹ Of note is that service in Reno is generally terrible. Not mean or anything, folks are friendly. But the staff at every bar or restaurant seemed to be pretty much on their first day on the job (exception was the bartender at Whitney Peaks). Four or five waiters milling around… but no one could quite figure out why all these people were in their restaurant. At a lovely pub on the river one poor bartender was just confused with a simple drink order and stumbled back and forth asking for the directions again and again. So reset your expectations, this isn’t big-city dining. It’s honest but sort of stumbling along but with a general good will vibe about it.

² The outside beer thing is gone – they changed the law at some point so it’s pretty much like everywhere else in the US – finish your drink, then stumble on down the road.

Would you ski with Jack?

The Shining? Chinatown?

Look at that smile though.

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(apparently the other guy is Roman Polanski  http://groovyhistory.com/the-most-powerful-and-entertaining-historical-images-ever-taken/38 )

The zipper – patented in 1917

Everyone uses zippers. Every single day. And yet we rarely if ever think about how incredibly amazing these gadgets are. I came across an article in the BBC lately – and was amazed to learn the zipper was only patented in 1917 and not really used commercially until 1923. The name itself was coined by B.F. Goodrich.

As you read the Wikipedia article some things stand out:

  1. Making zippers is fairly complex – only a few companies in the world are capable of this.
  2. The first airtight zippers were made by NASA for spacesuits – imagine going into space with something just zipped up?
  3. YKK, a Japanese company and pretty much the only zipper manufacturer I could name holds 45% of the worldwide market on zippers.

Such a small, innocuous little device, but such an amazing history.

Woodpecker 

A little hard to see but there is a woodpecker on that exhaust pipe. Around here in springtime they hammer on metal stuff like that, I assume to amplify their noise in order to find a mate (sorta like teenagers and car stereos).

March habit – bikini season approaches

I joke of course – the idea of me in a bikini would violate most of the Geneva Convention. But I do want to “lean out¹” a bit.

My habit this month is simple: no alcohol at home unless we are hosting a dinner of some sort.

I reviewed my caloric intake and honestly it’s not that bad. I eat a lot but I exercise a lot. I have quite a bit of lean muscle mass which burns calories nicely (thank you Mom for these genetics and Crossfit for the muscle mass).

The plan:

  1. Do not buy alcohol for the house unless I know we’re having an event. This is the same tactic that removed sugar, carbs, etc. from the house. If you don’t have it, you won’t eat it.
  2. Habit app – I *love* the reminders to be good and trying to build streaks.

I have my starting weight marked, let’s see how we do.

 

 


¹ Apologies to Sheryl Sandberg and all, but I’ve been leaning in a bit too heavily for a while according to my scale.

February review – definitely a mixed bag

My goal in February was “no complaining“. There are some rules around this e.g. you can complain but only when presenting a good solution.

How did I do? Well… 47% feels about right. It was a tough month for a lot of reasons:

  • The current political climate
  • A few injuries limiting me at the gym
  • And so on…

But it was better than nothing and overall I liked the frequent reminder not to just bitch and whine.

I cannot recommend the Loop Habbit tracker enough by the way. Far and away the best tool for this kind of thing.

Baked Romanesco and Broccoli

Need a good recipe for dinner that is easy to prep beforehand? Have kids who don’t eat broccoli? This is a great and really easy recipe.

Often I cannot find romanesco so I just use regular broccoli. I also skip the olives most of the time. The dish is great, we rarely have leftovers.