Wednesday, February 26, 2014

brandi carlile

I love all kinds of music. Well, almost all kinds. Seriously, when we still collected CDs I listened to everything from Clint Black to Coldplay. I love the soundtrack from Sweeney Todd, and solo work from Pete Townsend.  Foo Fighters and Fountains Of Wayne, The Dixie Chicks and Lyle Lovett are all among my favorites.

If you scroll through the playlist featured on this blog you'll see find songs from many artists I'd never heard of when I heard their songs somewhere, and took the time to find out what I was hearing. There are also several well-known artists with famous, or not-so-famous songs that resonate with me. What I really admire is a singer/songwriter who can craft a song that tells a story, and make you want to sing along with a beautiful melody.

There are many great songs in many genres written every year, but I've come to find many that I like in a category called adult alternative. If you go through the Music Choice channels on cable TV, that's one of the choices. And there's usually a radio station or two that features this kind of music. Hearing a new song that I enjoy reminds me of the joy of discovering a new song that I felt as a teen.

photo from

One of the artists I've come to know through adult alternative is Brandi Carlile. She has a great voice, and really tells a story with her songs. In fact "The Story" was the first of her songs that I heard. Luckily she's got several albums to date, and there are some really good songs on all of them. I've put a few of them at the top of my playlist for your perusal. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

give it a try

If you've ever been curious about a vegan, or vegetarian diet, or cutting down on animal protein, or participating in "Meatless Mondays", I'm here to tell you that it's easier than you think. Whether your motivation is better health, smaller impact on the environment, or to lessen the suffering in the world, any step you take is better than no step.

Start by adding lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to the menu. Replace your milk with almond or soy milk. Find one of the thousands of available recipes to make a vegan version of your favorite dishes: chili, pizza, pasta, wraps and more. And try some of the meat substitutes available for taco filling, meatless balls, sloppy joes, etc.

While I think all of the reasons for becoming vegan are good reasons, the more I learn, the more it has become about the animals. Factory farming, or "agribusiness", has perverted the way we raise animals for our food. It has become so horrific that their lobbyists have tried get state laws passed, known as "ag-gag" which make it illegal for whistle-blowers to make public the conditions in which animals are suffering for their entire lives.

Even if you could never be convinced that we should stop using other animals for food, human compassion should compel us to ensure that pain and suffering are eliminated wherever possible. The way animals were raised for food 100 years ago was markedly more humane than today. But as farms were gobbled up by huge corporations, economy of scale took on more importance, and the lives of the animals took on less and less, until they were nothing more than production units.

Sentient beings who can feel pain, fear, and frustration are given life sentences in the worst prisons imaginable, simply because they are a different species than ours, and we've become brainwashed that it's acceptable to take their lives for a little enjoyment in ours. If you can't bear the thought of giving up cheese, can't live without meat, or eggs, at least open your eyes and see where these things come from. If you can't muster the strength to do it on your own, check back here from time to time. I'll help you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

ride the rockies 2014 route

The Denver Post Ride The Rockies announced their 2014 route on Saturday night. It's an almost loop, starting in Boulder, and ending about 20 miles south in Golden. Really seems like they're opposed to the loop, huh? Anyway, it should come as no surprise that this route includes plenty of climbing and descending, and an abundance of spectacular scenery.
Day 1 will take riders on roads frequented by many professional cyclists who call Boulder home, joining the Peak-to-Peak Highway at Nederland, and heading south to Black Hawk and Central City. Then, heading west and parallel to I-70 they will pass through Idaho Springs on the way to Empire. The second half of this day could be challenging. But if they still have the legs to get up Berthoud Pass, they'll be rewarded with some great views, and a nice descent into Winter Park.
Riders will head north/northwest on day 2 through Granby and Kremmling on their way to Steamboat Springs. The climbs over Muddy Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass (both summits) would not be considered difficult climbs. But, 75 miles into the ride, they're enough of a challenge. And, riders will get to descend the steeper side of Rabbit Ears all the way into Steamboat with great views off to the west.
Day 3 is a 53 mile loop out west od Steamboat Springs. I've never ridden on those roads, but I'm certain that the surroundings are as good as it gets for ride in the countryside.

The fourth day takes riders back on part of the route from day 3 to Oak Creek, then heads southeast towards Avon. It looks like about 50 miles of slowly gaining altitude, followed by a nice descent down into the valley where they'll cross the Colorado River. Which leads to a climb of CO 131 Summit. Again, not bad on it's own, but towards the end of a long day, it will be hot, and it will seem steeper than it really is.
Day 5 will cover two thirds of the Copper Triangle. I love this ride over Battle Mountain Summit, Tennessee Pass, and Fremont Pass. But, I would always choose to do it from the other direction if I had the choice.
Once they've reached the summit of Fremont Pass they will be treated to a fast downhill all the way to Copper Mountain where they'll hop on the bike path to Frisco and beyond to Breckenridge.
The final day isn't the longest, but it's a big one. Riding north out of Breckenridge, riders will turn to the east on Swan Mountain Road for a short, but invigorating climb over Swan Mountain. US Highway 6 will take them past Keystone and  onto the climb up Loveland Pass. It's not the longest climb in Colorado, but when you see this sign, you know you have some work to do.
After the summit of Loveland Pass it's almost all downhill from there. There's a little climb on the west side of Lookout Mountain, but the east side will deposit riders down all the way into Golden. If I was doing this tour I know that I would think that making the last day a century would get you back to Boulder where the whole thing started. But after 20 miles that included Swan Mountain and Loveland Pass, and 60 miles of downhill and rollers to get to Golden, I think I would change my mind, get on the bus and get back to Boulder.