About Me (The Unabridged Version)
Two Turntables and a Microphone
I was a skateboarder growing up and found myself rolling with a crew that had some diverse musical tastes. From Fugazi and Tool to De La Soul and Disable Planets we were all open-minded when it came to music. But we always seemed to circle back to hip-hop. Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, Tupac, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, the list keeps going. There is no denying that the early 90s will forever mark a golden era in hip hop. (Beats the snot out of today’s mumble-rapping…don’t get me started.)
Fast forwarding a little bit to my college days, I was roommates with one of my best friends, Gavin, who was also part of the old skate crew. The year before I got there Gav had been turned onto DJing by his buddy Fil, a house DJ from DC. They were playing parties together where Gav would open up with hip-hop then Fil would transition into dance/house tracks. The bonus for me was having two turntables and a mixer in my living room.
Experts make things look simple and DJing is no different. Mixing songs is definitely not easy though, so I felt like a badass when I first started to get my beat-matching down. It wasn’t long before I was buying records and tightening my mixes. Man, if I had a dollar for every hour we spent remixing tracks and making mixtapes, I’d be a couple grand richer than I am now.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had access to a set turntables but I still like making the occasional mashup. The process is different now because technology handles a lot of the heavy lifting. All my mixing happens inside Ableton Live these days. Here’s a little Wu-Tang C.R.E.A.M remix I made a few years ago:
“He was a wise man who invented beer.” -Plato
I can’t say that I remember the first beer that I ever had. But I can definitely tell you about the last one. It was last night. It was a Maui Brewing Company “Double Overhead” and it was delicious!
It’s hard to say when my love affair with craft beer began. If I had to guess it was probably whenever I decided that I prefer beers that taste like….something. Something more than what’s in the countless generic beers in the grocery stores. In essence beer is just barley, hops, yeast and water. In reality it’s so much more than that.
Some may call me a beer snob, but I don’t think I’m all that picky—it’s just got to be good! IPAs are probably my favorite but I’m not afraid to mix it up. I like amber ales, sours, cream ales, belgians, porters, golden ales, hazies…you get it. My wife and I came up with a concoction last summer that we dubbed “Adult Limeade”. It’s simple: you take half a lime (at least) and juice it into your glass then dump in a Pacifico. It’s okay if it’s a rough pour, it just helps mix the lime juice with the beer. Damn, is it refreshing! After a couple hours of mowing the lawn the Adult Limeade is freakin’ delicious!
A few years back I tried my hand at home-brewing. It can be a lot of work and a little luck doesn’t hurt either. But it’s super rewarding to crack open a beer that you made yourself. I brewed some brown ales and a few ambers that turned out well. Okay, gotta run I’m suddenly getting thirsty…
Why isn’t every day Earth Day?
Our planet is a massive, organic, self-sufficient space ship hurtling through the cosmos at thousands of miles per hour. It’s kind of mind-blowing if you stop to think about it. Although I’ve been a nature lover for as long as I can remember, as a kid, I wasn’t mature enough to understand any of that. Now I marvel at it daily.
When I got into mountain biking it wasn’t (just) about flying over giant dirt jumps, it was about exploring the great outdoors in a whole new way. Although I found my way into snowboarding as a cure for the wintertime blues, it quickly turned into a way for me to appreciate the delicacy and beauty of nature. When a friend offered me a smoking deal on two sea kayaks, I jumped at the chance—not just because it was a great bargain—but because it would be a totally new perspective on adventuring and being outside.
In 2009 my mom an I were driving across the country from Virginia to Lake Tahoe. Neither one of us had seen the Grand Canyon so we were really looking forward to that part of the trip. I remember parking the Jeep and walking through the parking lot towards the south rim. As we got closer the filtered, peek-a-book glimpses of the canyon started to slowly open up. Already I was having this unique sensation, a combination of awe and anticipation unlike I’d felt before. We began to walk faster until we got past the last remaining trees that were obscuring the view. Then, finally, there it was — this wildly spectacular landscape. A thousand “wows” couldn’t properly describe the way I felt the first time I saw it.
Who doesn’t love a slice of heaven?
I’ll be honest, I’m not that much of a cook. I can throw down on breakfast and I’ve got a couple of minor specialties, but it’s my lovely wife that’s the chef in the house. And I couldn’t be more appreciative of it because, well, I love to eat!
I feel like if you ask people what their ultimate “last meal” would be they’d come up with something fancy. Maybe I’m wrong and they’d say “a grilled cheese sandwich”, or would they say steak and lobster?
For the most part we eat healthy. We started eating more organic foods several years ago and you can really taste the difference. But there’s always going to be those “comfort foods” that are perpetual home runs. Let’s put it this way: for the dinner meal at our wedding did we have Beef Wellington? No. We had tacos and they were delicious!
Along the way my wife has perfected a variety of different dishes. Much to my delight she’s really nailing the homemade pizza these days. The thing about tacos and pizza is there are so many possibilities. It doesn’t just to be a pile of meat, cheese and carbs.
When it is time to indulge a little bit if tacos, pizza and beer are near the top of your list, we can definitely be friends!
You like dogs? I like dogs!
I’ve almost always had dogs in my life. Today, I’ve somehow ended up with three spoiled pups living with me. The first one is Charlie.
In January of 2016 Charlie showed up at the place I was working, super-skinny and eaten up with fleas. We don’t know much about his early days but we’re confident he was dumped. There are a lot hunting dogs where I live and unfortunately they’re considered expendable to some hunters. He was timid and skittish for a couple of days, but once he finally let me approach and pet him my wife and I decided to take him in.
Charlie lived with us for a year and a half but when we moved to a new house, where our soon-to-be neighbor had a chicken farm, that wasn’t going to work. Charlie is a hunting dog, with a high prey drive, so we had no choice other than re-homing him. Luckily he bounced into a super situation living with one of our good friends, right down the road from where he’d been living with us.
Last July we had new puppies come our way. Like Charlie they were likely hunting dogs that had been dropped off by our neighbor’s house. We put the word out on Facebook but instead of the, “thanks, those dogs are ours” reply we were hoping for, we instead got dozens of messages from our friends saying, “they’re so cute, keep them!” So….we did. They are girls who we think are sisters, Pepah and Sylvie.
Then out of nowhere our friends with Charlie found themselves moving into a new house where they couldn’t have pets. Charlie needed another place to live. We figured we’d give it a try so we’re living with these three challenging / adorable dogs.
Cats are cool too!
In Hawaii a lot of people have cats to help control the rat population. (Don’t judge, rats are everywhere here.) So at the recommendation of our then-landlord my wife got onto craigslist to find a “ratter” for us. It didn’t take long to find a great candidate. A family, living in upcountry, was going to be moving off island and wanted to find a new home for their handsome cat.
After a camping trip, we swung by their farm to meet the little fella. The cat’s name was “Mongo” and after we’d chatted with his owner for a while he said, “there’s a couple of things you’ll want to know.” He pointed to a blanket and food bowl and said, “when you put that bowl down in your house, Mongo will understand that he lives with you now.” He went on to tell us that Mongo would probably end up sleeping at our feet on the bed. Then he looked to me and said, “he’ll probably take to you more, he prefers men to women”. Before we took off we asked about catching rats and he assured us, “oh, don’t worry about that, he’s a master ratter.”
He knew Mongo perfectly. The expectations he’d laid out were exactly how things happened. The car ride back to our house was hot, long and brutal for the kitty. But once we got him there, he hid for an hour, then came out to slowly investigate our place. Within a day he was cruising around our house comfortably.
We knew it was a match a day or two later when Mongo was lying beside me, did a big stretch, then laid his arm across my chest like a little hug. Seriously, it was the cutest thing ever.
It was two and a half years before Charlie would come along. Mongo had lived with other dogs on the farm in upcountry, so he was cool with it, even though Charlie was a little spastic. Mongo’s was laid back, as if to tell Charlie, “dude you’re trying w-a-y too hard!” There was no way Charlie was going to be as chilled out as that kitty.
We had some great years together but eventually Mongo contracted a rare disease, Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It’s usually terminal and in this case it only needed a few months before it took down my little buddy. I was especially heart-broken because this was the first pet that chose me over everyone else. I got a Dalmatian in high school, but according to him, my Mom was the “master”. My wife had a big, beautiful Labrador Retriever when we met, but there was no question who his favorite person was. Mongo was the first pet where I was their #1.