Archive | July 2013

Dangerous Minds

I rarely go to My Yahoo. Once upon a time I used to have tons of widgets/gadgets there but now I have gmail and an RSS reader. I still have a my Yahoo account and e-mail but it’s mostly just junk mail now.

I happened to log on yesterday though. One of my widgets is a feed of articles written for Yahoo. It’s sensationalistic and/or oversimplified rehashing of legitimate news or just goofy “news”.

I saw a headline for one article that was about fitness. I wish I would have saved this article because I can’t find it today. The title and the first several paragraphs were talking about how cardio is bad for you, particularly for older women. One should ditch his/her treadmill or give it to someone one doesn’t like. It was such completely over-the-top crap.

Way down, if one continued reading, it said that interval training was the best way to lose weight without losing muscle. Interval training is cardio. And my treadmill has an excellent interval program.

And when is the last time you saw any avid runner/cyclist/[enter cardio activity of your choice here] who wasn’t lean and healthy? Never. The answer is never.

It is dangerous to continue to put out careless misleading “news” articles like this. Obesity is not a disease, cardio is not bad for you. And even though the author went on to offer other exercise options, most people don’t read to the end of an article.

The reason people are fat is because we eat crappy processed foods and lots of them. The reason people are fat is because we have crappy desk jobs and then go home and sit in front of the tv or the computer and don’t move again until we go back to our crappy jobs.

I had a friend who went on this health kick (and it was just a kick, not a long-term lifestyle change) and started going on and on about the size of fruit, particularly apples. When is the last time you saw someone who was overweight because their apples were too big? Never.

Stop finding excuses or shortcuts. If you’re not up to running, then walk, just go longer. Not everyone is a runner. I hate running, I just keep doing it to make sure I still hate it. Right now I’m in a funk where I dislike being all sweaty and gross. But I love the way I feel after a good, long run.

This is My City

And I love it.

Yesterday, I took my fam to the coolest thing. We got to walk the deck under the Detroit-Superior Bridge. The deck used to house the “subway” portion of the old streetcar line. According to the tiny little “article” in the Plain Dealer two days prior, Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works has been opening this deck once a year, usually on the fourth of July weekend, for about 10 years.

This was my first visit. I never heard of the type of opening like they had yesterday. However, I knew that a few Ingenuity Fests were held on this deck. I wasn’t able to make those Ingenuity Fests and the current year’s site is the lakefront. I heard a lot of noise about possibly opening up the deck to bikers and pedestrians. I don’t see that as a doable task. The security and safety issues are huge. Therefore, I didn’t think I’d ever get to explore this area. So when I saw the tiny little article about this being open, I was so excited. And thankfully, my family’s Saturday morning was baseball and softball game free. That is super rare for a Saturday in July, so I figure this was meant to be.

The “open house” started at 9 am and we showed up at 11. It was packed. Everyone was sporting at least a cell phone camera, and many people had tripods and massive camera bags. The views from the bridge were amazing. And the views of the underbelly of the bridge were equally so.

There was an old streetcar, appropriately named Desire. People weren’t allowed in this but there was an old engine car and a cut-open passenger car that were open for people to crawl around in.

Most of the tracks have long been removed. The wire grid, of which most of the “floor” of the bridge is composed, is covered with sheets of plywood. It was disconcerting for my children to walk out on these plywood sheets as one could clearly see how far below the river is when one got to the joins of the sheets. Heck, it was a bit scary for me also. The rumbling of the traffic overhead and the flimsy nature of plywood sheets can certainly make one feel vulnerable.

We spent about 2 hours walking the span. We went east on the lower deck but walked on the sidewalk on our way back west.

In two hours, we took over 200 pictures. I have some great shots of the sailboats framed under stunning, arching bridges in the mouth of the Cuyahoga. I have amazing pictures of the structure of the bridge itself.

My kids don’t appreciate it now, but once day they will. Hopefully they’ll continue this tradition because I want to go back. I absolutely have to bring a better camera next time.

Party on the Patio

So this past Friday, my local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, published a patio list. There was a top 10 and 40 “also rans”.

From the top 10, I have to agree with Shooter’s. Back when the Flats were cool, I was here once a week. But the Flats haven’t been cool in 20 years. I haven’t been to any of the others, although I’ve been dying to try Stone Mad. None of the others are even on my radar, even after reading the article.

Of the other 40, Prosperity Social Club, The South Side, Town Hall Café, Treehouse, and Twist are completely great picks. But there are plenty of missed patios.

Here are no-brainers that were omitted:

  • Fatheads – Ok, granted, it’s not for mingling, there’s no external bar. But it is a patio of which I’m particularly fond. I spend a good deal of time on it. The food is great and the beers are better.
  • Panini’s in Westlake – This is a patio to write home about. This is a patio to which other patios aspire. It’s immense. The outside bar is immense. There are multiple sand volleyball courts. I LOVE this place. The only way it could be better is to serve craft beers and gastropub food, but that’s because those are MY things. It’s a solid bar with decent enough beer selections, Sam Adam’s summer ale, Blue Moon, Great Lakes Dortmunder, etc. And the food is good quality bar food. Panini’s is good at what it does.
  • Panini’s in Euclid – This is pretty close to my work so I’ve spent many a Friday evening playing cornhole and tossing back beers with my coworkers here. The patio is not even half the size of the one at Panini’s in Westlake, but that makes it no less enjoyable.
  • Market Restaurant and Bar – The patio here is excellent. Good food, good drinks. I’ve only been here once because it’s not in my normal traffic pattern, but I enjoyed it
  • Cleats in Westlake – This is another patio that’s not really set up for mingling as there’s no external bar. However, it’s a great spot to sit with good friends and enjoy a nice Cleveland night. The wings are excellent and the big named beers are reasonably priced.
  • Stampers – I used to think this place rather sucked. My dad likes it though and always chose this as a place to meet for dinner and drinks. Boy has my opinion changed over the last several years. First, they started adding more craft beers. Nice Belgian beers. Then they improved the menu. What were once average corner bar offerings are now excellent corner bar offerings (the tacos and fries are excellent) and there are some pretty excellent gastropub type items also. The outdoor bar is really nice, and covered in case of a bout of Cleveland weather. Now when I go here, on my own, I can even find beer selections I’ve never even heard of! One of my new favs.
  • Burntwood Tavern – Must be honest, I haven’t been here since it was the Pub. I went to stop in a few times, but between the prices, menu choices, and older clientele, I opted to try elsewhere. Regardless, that beautiful patio with the wrought iron cannot be undone.
  • Mulligan’s in Avon – Huge patio. They have live music inside. Food and beer are the normal bar selections but it’s all executed well.
  • Muldoon’s on 185 – I have been going here, not by my choice, for almost twenty years. I actually hated this place. The food was fried and fried again. But it’s a favorite of many locals. So, time and again, this is THE spot to go to for lunch. I wasn’t a fan, so I begged off for the last 7 or 8 years, until last week. So many improvements. The menu has improved so much; the beer selection has improved so much. The patio is lovely. You completely forget where you are. Now I will completely be attending work lunches at this great spot.
  • McNulty’s Bier Market – This patio is packed, the neighborhood Is alive, and the people watching is fantastic. The beer selections are excellent and the food is too.
  • Tremont Tavern – I’ve only been on this patio in December, for the Santa Shuffle. It’s amazing even then. And super crowded. I need to stop and sit here in the summer. It just has to be amazing.
  • Viva Fernando – It attracts a much older crowd, but it’s an undeniably nice patio. I’ve been here with my dad. There are often live bands here. And dancing. My dad loves to dance. If you want to dance to a live band with a mostly 50+ crowd, this, this is your patio.
  • Scotti’s – This has to be the most surprising, delightful patio in all of Cleveland. You go through this long, narrow, dated restaurant to this secluded, trellis-ed, patio. It’s a magical little place. Be warned, Scotti’s is cash only. But the calzones are huge and delicious.
  • Bistro 185th – Ok, so the patio is not much of a patio. And being right on 185, albeit behind a high privacy fence, traffic can be distractingly loud. But the food is soooo good. And the drinks. I ordered a blueberry mojito. The bartender went to the roof for fresh mint and muddled the blueberries by hand.
  • Harry Buffalo at Great Northern – I haven’t eaten here. I don’t know why. I adore the outdoor bar. Everytime I pass this, I say “I need to be on that patio”. But so many patios, so little money. Maybe that will be my next outing.
  • Brio at Crocker Park – I love to people watch here. Actually, most patios at Crocker Park are fabulous people-watching spots. And the outdoor bar specials during happy hour are yummy; I’ve had them all and can’t remember a bad pick.
  • Vieng’s at Crocker Park – This may be the only patio at Crocker Park without the people-watching bonus. The patio is large and off the sidewalk. There’s a beautiful outdoor fireplace. It’s a great romantic dinner spot.
  • Brew Garden – This place has been changed hands a lot, which is strange because the location is good, right in front of a Regal Cinema, and the patio is big and pretty. The outdoor bar is pretty big and there are lots of opportunities to socialize with people not in your party. I haven’t visited in the current incarnation because it’s out of my normal travel pattern, but when out that way, this is on the short list of places to stop.

When I went to Montreal about 7 years ago, one of my favorite things was that every place, even the littlest hole, had outdoor eating. And flowers. Just flowers everywhere. At the time, Cleveland just really didn’t have a ton of patios. And the ones that were here tended to be pretty utilitarian. Wow that has changed. It’s fantastic. And so much better than that hacky list in the paper would indicate.

Public Art: Year of the Snake 2013

Every year in the St. Clair – Superior neighborhood, also called Asiatown (both of which are part of the larger Midtown section of Cleveland), twenty some Chinese zodiac sculptures are erected for a few short months. This year, is the Year of the Snake. As one of my immediate family members is a snake, we made sure go on a scavenger hunt to see all the sculptures.

I tried to find some history on this annual occurrence but have come up empty. The oldest sculptures I’ve seen are from the Year of the Dog in 2006. I have never seen any sculptures from the Year of the Pig, 2007 in person but one can still find many sculptures from Year of the Rat 2008 on display. My family did scavenger hunts for the Year of the Ox 2009 and the Year of the Tiger 2010. We completely missed the Year of the Rabbit 2011 and the Year of the Dragon 2012 but I found great pictures. I wish the sculptures were up longer.

If you would like to go on your own scavenger hunt, you get the list of sites here. It’s so worth it. When we went today, I included photographed and Dragons and Rabbits I found. If you only have time to make one or two stops, the best place to go is Technical College. There are a couple tigers, a couple rabbits, a dog, an ox, a snake and there is another snake right around the corner at Horsbough and Scott. It’s fantastic. The best place to see a bunch of snakes all in one stop is Asia Plaza, of course, as there are 5 displayed together.

I hope you enjoy my pictures.

The Feathered Serpeant

601 Lakeside Ave E

Golden Tut
1900 Superior Ave

Unexpected Stitch

East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Cloisonnake
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Python reticulatus
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Naga; Sagacity Snake
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Rocky B. Boa
East 30th Street, outside of Asia Plaza

Madame White Snake
3615 Superior Ave

Serpentes the Sorcerer
3820 Superior Ave

Technicolor Serpeant
3951 St. Clair Ave

Painterly Post Modern Dragon
3951 St. Clair Ave

Golden Heart Rabbit
3951 St. Clair Ave

Blossom
4058 St. Clair

Dragon Pillar

4058 St. Clair – so sad to see this sculpture so ill used

Zig Zag
4515 St. Clair Ave

Copperhead
St. Clair between E 49th and E 53rd

Aqua Snake

1419 E. 40th St

The Guardian

1614 E. 40th St

Treasured Snake

3601 Chester Ave

Blue Racer
3711 Chester Ave

Foo Guard – The Blessing Guard

4005 Chester Ave

Don’t Tread on Me

1374 E. 51st St

Jack Rabbit

1374 E. 51st St

Quick Vic

1374 E. 51st St

The Great Lake Snake
1201 E. 55th St

Nuwa, the Snake Goddess
1274 E. 55th St

Coiffured Cobra
6016 St. Clair Ave

Transformation

6025 St. Clair Ave

Name Your Poison
6409 St. Clair Ave

Look Before You Leap
6111 Lausche Ave

Whoa… Slow Down

I really needed a new pair of running shoes and have been leaning towards trying minimalist shoes.  I’ve heard a bunch of talk about New Balance Minimus shoes.  It just so happened that while I was on a date I spied a New Balance store and decided to stop in.

The Minimus is so expensive; the model I like is $90!

new balance ionixIt’s hard to drop $90 on an experiment.  What if I don’t like minimal shoes?  Then I have $90 shoes to … what? Walk in?  I walk in heels.  I have a closet full of strappy, gorgeous sandals for summer.  Or, if I’m slumming it, I have loads of flip flops.  Cleveland doesn’t have a lot of nice, warm days.  When it does, I want naked feet.   So I don’t want $90 running shoes I can’t run in.

Anyway, I walked into the New Balance store and the manager immediately decided to “fit” me.   So I walked across the paper to check my foot type and the manager immediately decided that the Minimus was not the shoe for me.  He also decided that the the $60 shoes I liked weren’t for me either.

I decided I would allow him to shoe me the shoes he thought would be right for my training (for the Columbus Marathon in October). Minutes later the manager emerged with 3 boxes of shoes and a package of inserts.

The first pair of shoes the manager recommended were $144!  I was having a hard time with $90 shoes and was checking out $60 shoes and the manager decides that I’m going to be shelling out $144 for shoes?  And he had inserts too.  For $144, they better do the running for me and there’s no way on earth I should need accessories.

I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but on top of being insanely expensive, the $144 shoes were some of the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen.  Look:

new balance 1260v3I would never wear these.  I’m not an elite runner so there is no way I need $144 shoes.  And if I was an elite runner, I would be sponsored and wouldn’t be paying for my own $144 shoes.  The way a shoe looks is still important to me.  I’ve run many a race in Nikes and Asics I bought at Kohl’s when they were on sale and I had a 30% off coupon.  And I have a few pairs of more expensive Asics.  There was little difference between the cheap pairs and the expensive pairs.  The biggest difference is how well the shoes last.

The next pair of shoes the dude had me try on were equally ugly, but less expensive.  At $114, they were surely a bargain.

Luckily at that moment, more customers entered the store.  So I peaked into the last box the manager had brought out for me.  It contained the ugliest sandals I had ever seen.

I hate salespeople that treat me like a chump.  He could have probably sold me the $90 Minimus with little problem.  But no, he had to grab the two most expensive pairs of shoes in the store and try and get me to buy them.  And his dreams included selling me inserts and ugly sandals.  I came in the store wearing gorgeous strappy sandals and he thinks I’m going to buy gross, old lady sandals.

So I came home and ordered a new pair of Nikes off amazon.  They are super cute but are more than I really wanted to spend.

Here are my new shoes:

nike flex 2013They are super cute and airy but the padding is rather strange.  It hits right before my heel in almost a straight line.  I did a 2 mile run this evening in them and it was significantly different than my Asics but I think it’ll be fine.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that salespeople shouldn’t be so greedy.  I ended up paying $75 for shoes.  A $75 sale is much better than the no sale the salesman got because he made me uncomfortable when he came out with such ridiculously priced shoes.

And, I may end up with a pair of Minimus, but I think I’ll ask for them as a Christmas gift.