Book Review: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell

The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774-1777 by Nicholas Cresswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found out about this book after watching the Townsends Youtube channel in which they referred to a type of dried fish. I had a surprisingly difficult time trying to find a free ebook of this.

This is a journal, plain and simple. It chronicles Nicholas Cresswell's time in colonies just as their American Revolution kicks off. The most interesting aspects of the book really are his characterization of the people in America during this time. There is distinct notes about George Washington near the end of the book that appear to reinforce the almost romanticized version American's have for the man.

Other notable things that stuck out to me are his comments regarding race relations and his observations on slavery. The passages are generally brief, but notable. In all truth though, there isn't much too this book. It is simply a unique window into the most iconic period in America's history and having that look from the side of a British citizen during the war is very interesting.


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Ridelog: South Dakota 2019


Another year and another great August ride with the Mews Crew. This year's trip was back out to South Dakota. We had an absolutely great group riding this year agian and I once again have to say I was super impressed with everyone's riding. We had large group again and we were able to keep our pace on the highway and it worked great with everyone. Before we get deep into the trip though, let's first talk about thew new motorcycle I bought. 

I Think It's Time for a New Motorcycle

Well, I think it may be time for a new motorcycle. I have loved my 2012 R 1200R for the past seven years, traveled all over the U.S and Canada with it. The bike has served me really well, but I have noticed over the past two years that I get pain in my neck, shoulders and butt on the longer rides that I am doing with it. Especially on these really long weekly trips or days over 300 miles, I get a sharp pain in between my shoulder blades, which shows up as a sharp sting when I roll my shoulders a particular way. That shouldn't be happening and I shouldn't ignore that either. 

I was able to power through it up until this year, when all of a sudden this spring I am getting the discomfort on even shorter daily rides. Saturday and Sunday rides are getting to the point now where my back is starting to hurt on the bike. I did a ride with friends up to SW Wisconsin and New Glarus last weekend. It was a long ride to be sure, but it was only one day and when I got home, I was very uncomfortable.  We have our annual summer trip coming up here in a couple of weeks and the thought of riding 300+ mile days for over a week really doesn't sound pleasant at this point on my R 1200R. Perhaps I am just getting old, but I feel it is finally time to change up the bike. 

This weekend I happened to test ride a bunch of bikes over at Motoworks Chicago and Windy City Cycles. Now, I have had my eye on the R 1250RS for a while, and I heard that it was going to be coming out sometime this fall. That being said, people have told me that I should check out the RT as well, since some consider it to be a "sports touring" bike. Personally, I think it has way to much fairing to be considered a "sport tourer", but it is well known as a great bike. 

I Really Hate Sample Management

As most of you know, I have spent the past year changing out my music setup. I have finally put away my EMU Command Station and Korg EMX-1 into storage. I just haven't found any inspiration with them. In the meantime I have really tried to put some time into the Synthstrom Deluge. I have really had some mixed success get my head wrapped around it, but thhe battery powered portability of it is pretty cool. 

What I have found with the Synthstrom (and the Novation Circuit) is that I need to manage a sample library. I never really had to bother with this before with my previous groove boxes. The Command Station in particular has a really robust percussion library that I have used for years. 

I have found the whole sample management process in general to just be a tedious mess. I bought the superb Samples From Mars master pack that was on sale over Christmas. Having to pour through the samples though to organize them and then load them onto the Deluge is just a truly frustrating process, and it isn't the fault of the deluge. I just don't enjoy sitting in front of the computer for hours on end listening to samples. 

I'm going to try and hunker down this week though and just get through it. I think once I get the sample library setup properly on the Deluge, I an hopefully never need to touch it again.

Swing Tennis App for iPhone and Apple Watch is Amazing

I recently discovered an amazing app for the iPhone and my Apple Watch. It is called Swing Tennis and it will track all of your shots during a tennis match. It does this automatically, using the accelerometer to track the type of shot and spin you use. It is pretty amazing. 

You can input some specific information while you play a match, tracking the score and faults for serving very easily. There is some additional tracking such as unforced errors, etc. if you want to track it, but I have not felt that was necessary at this point. 

One of my favorite apps at the moment. 

Skateboarding

Yesterday Megan and I went out to the mall to just get out of the house and walk around. It was a really nice night outside (finally summer) and we just wanted to be out and about. While at the mall we decided to pop out heads into the Vans store. I'm not sure if the Vans store is new at the mall or if I just had not been into it, but we probably spent a good 15 minutes walking around, touching all of the shoes. 

Up through high schoolI used to wear Vans all the time. To be honest I am not quite sure why I stopped wearing them. I have wide feet and it has always been difficult for me to find a good pair of shoes and Vans always had sizes for me. 

Anyways, I think the nostalgia train immediately kicked in. I'm surprised I didn't go and buy a pair of vans right there, but the conversation immediately went to skateboarding. Skateboarding is one of those sports I have always wanted to get into, but I never did. I am not quite sure if it is because I was so invested in other sports growing up, but my mind immediately went to "why don't I learn how to skateboard?"

Ok, let's back up a little bit here. Why am I even thinking about skateboarding at all? Well, as I noted above I think I have a bit of a nostalgia trying going, even though I have never been a skater. It's summer, skateboarding is very much a summer sport and I have been listening to some mall punk almost non-stop as of late. Sum 41 has a new album coming out and Blink 182 put their new album out a couple of years ago. It's like the 90's pop punk thing is back. I just need to wait for ska it make is resurgence. 

I have also been thinking a lot about LA for some reason. A co-worker of mine went to LA last summer and it always has seemed like a cool city to me. It also has a reputation for skateboarding. 

So, here I am now, thinking about "why shouldn't I try skateboarding?" It isn't that expensive, $100 or so for a board and another $40 for a helmet maybe. There are skate parks at almost all of the park districts around me, and hell, it is summer. I really want to learn something new. 

So, I think in the next couple of weeks here I am going to try and hit up a local skate shop and talk to them to try and get into skateboarding. Goal is to be able to successfully do an ollie by the end of the summer. 


Book Review - The Traitor Baru Cormorant


The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a tough one for me to review. I really liked this book quite a bit, but at the same time, certain elements of the narrative didn't seem to make sense to me. They seemed incongruous to the basic plot-lines or motivation of the character.

Perhaps I'll just bullet point out what I liked and what I didn't like about the book.

Liked

  • The world building was really well done. The cultures and tribes really felt unique and poignant.
  • Baru, our main character was generally well written. She was smart, arrogant and capable. Sometimes too capable.
  • The overall story of empire was extremely well handled. I can't recall any other books or authors who framed the power of an empire through economic and cultural tools in a better way. It made the story extremely unique and more believable. 



Disliked 

  • My biggest hangup with the story really came down to the maneuvering of our main character Baru. Her driving motivations are to save her homeland. She says this several times throughout the story, yet at the same time she or other characters state that her homeland is already gone. It can never be brought back to what it was.  I think I never fully was able to buy into the notion that she was going to sacrifice an entire nation, thousands, if not millions of people to the empire's culture, while at the same time striving to save her own. I think this could have worked a bit better if the author showed Baru with less emotion, as more of the autistic savant. The fact that she did appear to have very distinct emotional struggles and wants though made this decision on her part seem all the more monstrous. I see that is what the author was going for, and perhaps more of that will play itself out over future books, but it came across as a bit hard to digest simply due to the scale of it all.

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Movement Detroit 2019

Last weekend Megan and I headed up to Detroit and we had one of the best weekends we probably ever have had. Detroit was hosting the Movement music festival, an electronic music fest in the heart of the birthplace of Techno. This year, my favorite band, Orbital, was performing. They almost never come to the US and the opportunity to see them in the midwest was something I couldn't pass up. 

Let me first start off this blog post to say that Detroit was amazing. We have all seen in the news how Detroit has has really gone through some rough times the past decade or two. I obviously didn't see all of the city, but it does seem like the city is starting to bounce back. There is a rejuvenation of the restaurant and shopping scene, at least in the Corktown neighborhood and it seems that much of the blight from abandoned buildings has been cleaned up. Several of the older factories and other industrial buildings appeared as if they were going through a renovation into residential and commercial. 

Megan and I had a discussion with one of the shop owners on Saturday and she was describing to us how Ford has been investing heavily in the tech sector, trying to brand itself not as a car company, but as a transportation technology company, and that they were bringing in a lot of young software developers and engineers. It really made the city feel vibrant and it seems like the city is trying to position itself with a music and arts refocus. 

We left Chicago Friday afternoon, around 1:30 PM. Traffic was pretty horrendous and it took us about two hours to make it through Indiana on I-80. We were hoping to swing by Grand Rapids on the way to Detroit to visit Hollander's. It is a store specializing in paper and book making. We didn't make it there on Friday and unfortunately we didn't get into Detroit until almost 8:30. Our hotel was the very artsy Trumball & Porter Hotel. Very hip and they have murals all over the outside, and a great courtyard with bags, a fire pit and a stage. They also had a really excellent bar and restaurant called the Red Dunn Kitchen (more on that later). We ordered a few drinks before heading to dinner. 

Thankfully we did plan ahead for our late arrival and we made dinner reservations for 9:15 at Lady of the House. It was only two blocks from our hotel and was a very hipster place to eat. The interior was decorated with an almost french farmhouse style. The food was fantastic. Unfortunately it was incredibly dark inside. We almost couldn't even read the menus. 


Saturday was the day. The music fest was kicking off around 4:00 PM that afternoon. We had some time to kill during the day, but we didn't want to burn ourselves out. We knew it was going to be a long night.  First up was breakfast at the aforementioned Red Dunn Kitchen. Wow, it surprised us. 

The Corktown neighborhood nearby had a couple of cool shops that we wanted to check out. We hit up the Eldorado General Store, George Gregory and Brightly Twisted. We also spent a good hour in Hello Records and bought have a dozen records there. 

We headed out to the show around 4:00 and walked. It was about a mile. About three blocks from the festival though a major thunderstorm hit that had us scrambled for cover in an office building. It was so bad that they actually evacuated the festival. As a bit of bonus karma, we did discover a very cool building called the Union Trust Building.

Once we got to the festival, the show was fantastic. I'll just let the videos and photos speak for themselves.


Some great acts at the show. Big surprises for us were Josh Wink and Amelie Lens. They made fans out of both of us and of course Orbital was amazing. We didn't get back to the hotel until about 2:00 am at which point we ordered a pizza from Dominos, as it was the only thing still open and we proceeded to wait almost an hour and a half for the pizza to arrive. We got out pizza though around 3:00 am and then finally crashed. The drive back to Chicago on Sunday was uneventful. 

Detroit, we had a great time and I would love to go back to Movement next year.