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. 


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. 

I Finally Bought an Apple Watch

About two weeks ago I broke down, after looking at Megan's Apple Watch for six months, and bought one of my own. 

Since the Apple Watch came out I was one of those people in the camp stating "why do I need that?" I never understood the appeal of a smartwatch. I have been a Fitbit user for a long time, close to five years now and I have loved that device for tracking my fitness and sleep habits. There is something about all of that data that I find interesting. The Fitbit app is pretty good, but I have constantly had trouble with my Fitbit devices. I was replacing the bands on them constantly, as often as every three months in some cases. 

I picked up a Fitbit Charge 2 in the fall of last year and for the most part I was pleased with it, but it was not the ideal device that I wanted it to be. It routinely lost my heart rate measurements when I had an elevated heart rate from a workout. 

Watching Megan have her Apple Watch really began to make me jealous. So why did I end up switching to an Apple Watch then? 

Data/Apps 

Apple's Healthkit is perhaps one of the biggest reasons I switched. The integration of my health data across various apps, which allow me to control which data goes where, with a high amount of fidelity is really impressive. Fitbit has integrations through its API to other apps, but that integration just isn't very deep and there are some significant "gaps" in apps supported. External apps do not have good access to heart rate data and there are certain programs, such as mediation which just aren't effectively measured on Fitbit. 

There are also some fantastic apps out there for the Apple Watch which do measure very specific types of workouts. For example, there is an app called Ace Tennis which can measure my tennis serve, the angle and velocity of my racquet. There are a number of third party tools that can also integrate with the system as well for golf clubs and other sports. Using a third party heart rate monitor is easy to do as well.

Accuracy of Heartrate Monitor

Speaking of accuracy, I have found the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch to be much better. The Charge 2 was pretty good for most exercises, except weight lifting. It would constantly loose my heart rate while weightlifting, which I read online is due to the flexing of my wrist. The Apple Watch has been much more consistent and I have noted it holds my hear rate much better at extremely high rates. My resting heart rate is around 58, but during tennis or running it is not uncommon for my heart rate to get up to 170. The Apple Watch appears to track those numbers much better. 

Build Quality 

The build quality on the Apple Watch appears to be much better than Fitbit. Yes, you are paying at least 2x's as much, but Megan's Apple Watch looks basically brand new after eight months of wear. My Charge 2 had to have the band replaced after just four months of use. The Apple Watch is noticeably more comfortable to wear. That isn't to say that the Charge 2 is uncomfortable, but the silicon band on the Apple Watch is extremely soft and really disappears on the wrist. I thought that the larger and heavier device would be more noticeable than a Fitbit, but it isn't. 

This Smartwatch Thing is Handy

So, this whole smartwatch thing is pretty cool. I bought the Apple Watch primarily as a fitness device, which I still believe is the primary reason someone should get one. The Apple Watch is one of the best fitness trackers out there though, hands down. That being said, there are some pretty neat features for the smartwatch. Quickly viewing texts, declining calls and viewing my calendar appointments is very handy and effective. It does allow me to keep my phone in my pocket and not have to have my eyes on it all the time.