Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Dope

    I thought before Oprah called, before USADA found me, I would just come out and admit it....I dope.  If there is one thing I learned last season, I can't race without it.  I need it like I need my helmet to walk through transition....It's the rules, without it, I am a sure DNF.   I have to have my coffee.  It wakes me up, calms my nerves, and gives me the courage to not pee my pants....well until I get my wetsuit on that is.  My Pleasant Prairie experience was a huge example of how important it was to me.  I remember driving around for hours the night before looking for a Starbucks, so I would not be stuck with gas station junk.  In the end, I ended up with no coffee.  I had the worst swim of the season and I mentally lost it on the run.  What would it have looked like with my drug of choice?  I won't be able to retry it this year because I will be at a training camp for Ironman Racine that weekend, but I will find out the next year.   After that race I made it my mission to be prepared for how I was going to get my drug.  Every race though after that was issue after issue though.  

     So as I prepare and ramp up for this race season, I have decided that I was going to find something I could make myself.  It hasn't been easy though.  I have tried several small companies.  Local is always my first choice.  As a former small business owner, I am a firm believer in staying local and ditching the big box stuff.  Unfortunately, the local stuff just didn't wow me.  I love my craft beer.  I have 1 or 2 a week, and I mean I love it!  I wanted the same to be with my coffee.  However, recently I have decided that coffee must just be.....coffee.  To get a good flavor out of it you have to get the darkest roast and cross your fingers.  I wanted to still keep and eye out for a good option though and once again I tried a couple folks out.  Then somehow I came upon a company called Grimpeur Brothers.   As a guy who worked in Social Media I was impressed how they used hashtags on Instagram to be able to link themselves with CX Racing.   I don't know much about them personally  but it sounds like they love coffee, but love cycle racing also.  It's like we were besties or something.   I stalked them for awhile, never really taking the plunge   Truth be told, I have made many costly mistakes in the past...trust me, I have a box full of bike parts that I thought would be the next best thing.  Their coffee is not cheap.  On average I would say $18 a pound.  That could equal a costly mistake.  No matter the case though, the order happened.  Thanks to some Norco supplied to me after my recent hospital stay, I made the order.  I repented to my wife he next day. 

     The next Friday it arrived in the mail.  I ordered 2 different kinds, once again, I would never do that if I was not high at the time.  Upon opening the envelope I began to drool.  The smell eminatting from this postal envelope was amazing.  I wanted to make a cup immediately...however I had just finished a cup of coffee and even though I dope, I don't over dope.  The entire night though I sat and imagined how good this coffee would be.  In reality though I was intentionally psyching myself out because I was sure it was going to be sub par burnt water.  The next morning I woke up and the wife made breakfast for the kids, so I could concentrate on my coffee.  There was no way I was going to put this through a standard coffee maker.  The one my wife uses makes everything taste burnt because she leaves the warmer on for 4 hours.  So I ran it through a Clever Dripper.  Now I wasn't messing around, I took this serious.  Everything I did, I did like it was race morning.  So it was going straight into my stainless steel tumbler that I would take in a Transition Bag to a race. 

     I began with some 9 Dub Espresso  It is marked as a medium roast and the CX Racer was a light roast.  I don't really like light roasts, so I wanted my first taste to be of a coffee I traditionally would like.  Once again, we were going for a wow factor and this had the best chance of WOW.  So I ground the beans, put in a filter and began the 5 minute slow process of making this coffee.  I got it all ready and sat down in my comfy chair, kicked my feet up and brought the mug to my lips.  In an instant my life changed.  I cannot fully explain the thoughts that were going through my head, but let's say, I was bummed the kids were awake.  So I just winked at the wife letting her know, we missed an opportunity.   Ok, seriously  let me try to explain this.  I thought coffee was coffee.  It either has a light, medium, or bold flavor.  The flavor was burnt water and you add milk and a syrup if you want flavor.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE coffee, but I never had an experience like drinking an IPA or a good Porter.  Coffee was more like a Bud Light or Miller Lite.  Both crap water that tastes good enough to get you drunk, but not something you drink for enjoyment.  When I drink a good beer, there is an experience, a moment if you will.  Never that with a cup of joe.  This, however, was a thing a pure beauty.  This was single handed the best cup of coffee that I had EVER tasted!  Cue scene of Will Farrell in "Elf" busting in the door saying, "Congratulations, You did it, world's best coffee."  Every sip left me searching for words to express how good this was.  It was like the moment my wife walked down the aisle and I realized, how much I loved her.  I was realizing that I didn't have to spend $5 a day to buy coffee from someone in a green apron.  There was a chocolaty  spicy flavor to it, was that possible?  I searched to find the burnt flavor, but I just couldn't.  When I was done, I waited to come off my high...then I had to do it again.  I made a second cup, I never do that!

     2 days later I decided it was time to try the CX Racer.  To be honest, I was not excited about this.  I really don't like light roasts.  However, I was going to give it a try.  At first I was disappointed.   Not because it was bad coffee, no no, not at all.  It was actually great.  I just felt like a was cheating on my wife.  I could see the bag of 9 Dub looking at me wondering why.  The thing I liked about the CX Racer though, is that it was a completely different cup of coffee!  Literally like going from a Stout to a Triple IPA in beer terms.  It was fruity more than anything.  It had a sweetness, with a floral taste.  As I sit here now I am drinking a cup. It's great, and while it may not be my "Go To"  for race season, I will definitely keep it on the list for an afternoon delight. 

     So I did it, I found the perfect coffee that I will race with this season.  Since I am not going for my pro card this year, I am not worried that they will bust me for doping.  I highly suggest you do the same.  These guys take coffee seriously.  They recently posted a picture of 2 different beans that they rejected.  They said they were good, but not good enough.  That is dedication. 

     By the way, I am going to start blogging more on things I get for race season.  My number one question I get emailed to me or asked by friends thinking about racing, is what stuff do I suggest buying.  So as I find things that I am 100% sold on, I will blog.  If you have suggestions or questions email me at cstaley39@gmail.com.  

     By the way, I am not sponsored by Grimpeur Brothers.  I also paid for my coffee.  Many.....well almost all bloggers get their stuff for free.  I don't want to be that way.  While I will talk in the future about UR and I am sponsored by them, I believe in integrity first.  For instance I think Marathon bars are the most foul things on the market.  If Marathon sent me 7 cases of their junk to blog about, they would hate the blog I posted about their product.  I will never suggest something to my friends and readers, just for the fact of having a sponsor. With that being said though, if a company wants to sponsor me after the fact, then we can talk :) haha.

Click on the link to check out Grimpeur Brothers.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can I Show You My Heart? (Understanding Social Media)

     So a few weeks ago I was just finishing up my time with Jesus when I heard my 6 year old yell from downstairs, "Daddy, can I show you my heart?"  Coming off of a time when I was praying for breakthrough with Chloe and her obedience, I was pumped!  Was she going to come up and tell me how she wants to care for the sick?  Was she going to give me some kind of insight into what Jesus taught her in her quiet time?  I MEAN COME ON...THIS WAS GOING TO BE EPIC!!!  so upon me yelling, "Yes please!"  She ran upstairs and began to meticulously lay out one large heart, then a series of smaller and smaller ones.  I have to be honest...I was feeling a little let down.  Didn't she understand, I wanted more.  

     In January my friend that I have asked to disciple me through my relationship with Jesus, sat down with me...and he brought a challenge.  He had told me that a couple of people had approached him about things I posted on my social media....Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  I have a rule that I live by.  Whenever I am faced with an issue, I first look inward, then upward, and finally outward.  In the past I would easily take this and throw it out, because I would say, "Well obviously these people have issues."  However, if you want to grow in your life, you first need to look in at your heart and actions, then up and and ask Jesus what more there could be, then finally out.  I immediately went on a month long fast from social media... except for the 4 days when I was in the hospital.  Unfortunately in my dilemma of needing help, I had to use Facebook to get help...so I ended up having to give regular updates on my condition:) So I wanted to share my thoughts as this month winds to an end.

     I think first thing we need to understand is that none of the millions of people that use social media, use it for the same thing, or reasons.  Some use it to catch up with old friends, some for posting pictures of their cats, kids, car.  Some people want to discuss religion and politics...some will hate you if you even post, "I voted today"  Facebook alone has become so intertwined into our daily lives that our days can be affected by a simple post.  Now I will admit, I have pet peeves, and since it's my blog, let me share.

1) Hastags on Facebook   This stuff started a long time ago when people first started linking their twitter and facebook profiles.  Hastags are for tracking trends on twitter and instagram, they are useless on facebook....don't use them.

2) People that only use facebook to share pictures from websites. That is what Pintrest is for...use that, leave me out of it.

3) People that link their spotify and pintrest to twitter and facebook.  99% of your friends don't care that you listen to terrible music, no need to share.  Also, keep Pintrest on Pintrest.  If I wanted to know what you are pinning....I would have a pintrest account.

4) People posting their prayers and pictures of their quiet time readings.....This one is more complicated...let me explain.  If you put a status, "Hey guys, can you pray for...." that is totally OK  and I welcome knowing how I can pray for you or with you.   However when you post, "Lord, I pray you would..."  Jesus taught us to keep our prayers in the secret....so lets keep them there.  You come off as trying to show off your holiness...not classy and comes off a bit prideful.  Also, I have been there,  I've read something that was awesome in a book or the bible, and you want to share.  I get it, I understand completely.....when you do it 3 times a day, everyday, well we go back into the showing off the holiness thing.  I get you have an awesome relationship with Jesus, but what he is teaching you, may not be what he is teaching the 475 people that are on your friends list.

5) Correcting grammar.  If I see a mistake here and there, it is 99.9% of the time autocorrect.  I recently deleted a friend because the only thing he ever did was remind me of my typos.  I get it, you are better than me...can we move on?

     So, with this list, you would think that I just delete everyone who does this......Nope, not at all.  Over half of my daily news feed is this.  Guess what....they are there because I know a little secret that my daughter taught me a couple of weeks ago....There is more to their heart than a hashtag.  You see one of the awful things about people on social media, is they think they can actually see what is in your heart in 140 characters or less.  Humans are complex, their emotions and experiences are something that you can never really grasp in a couple of sentences, once or twice a day.   If you have never met me, but are friends with me on Facebook ...well you really don't know me at all.  We simply cannot judge a persons character, based on a status message.  So let me end with telling you the complexity and how I handle social media....

Groups:  Realize that some people have 1 or 2 groups of friends...lets say old school friends, family, and church.  I however have many more areas. 

1) Family
2) High School and College friends
3) Church community
4) Triathlon and Racing friends
5) Weightloss Community 
6) Percussion and Drumming Community
7) Social Media and Networking professional contacts....Yepp I actually have done this gig professionally and I have people that help me with that.

When I post, I may be focusing on a status that only triathletes or runners get....like if I talk about Fartlets....that is a training technique, not an issue of too many tacos.  However sometimes people think everything I post, I post for them...for instance if I post my frustration of how Illinois is doing in basketball....I don't need to hear how awesome UCLA is....Now if you cheer for a team we play...feel free to razz me:)  Unless of course you cheer for Ohio State...then just unfriend me.  I have grace for Indiana people...what else do you have.

Political: I made a huge mistake during the elections.  I got over emotional and began to argue my views on other peoples statuses as well as mine....I am an idiot, I apologize.  I repented at the time.  I will not hide what I feel or who I vote for, but discussing those things of Facebook is a lose/lose for everyone.  

The Midgets: My 2 girls are my world.  I cannot express to you how much I love them.  I have given everything to be able to raise them.  I mean think about how hard it is to be a stay at home dad.  The world thinks I'm lazy and selfish.  If people know me, they know my wife, and they know our relationship with Jesus, then they would know that I don't just do this.  It is a well thought out and prayed over situation.  People don't like that I call my younger daughter Delicious....or for that matter, that I refer to them as midgets.  When I kiss Emma, she used to say, DEEELISAUCE daddy"  I have no idea where she got it from, but it makes me smile, and now I call her that.  As for the midget thing...well I am 6.1, my wife is barely 5 foot even.  My kids are in the 20% in height....clearly they have her genes.  I love in the land of little people.  The girls are all my midgets.  It is also a pretty awesome rally cry in Target, when I am losing control.  All I do is yell, "Midgets!!  On me!!!"  They line up in order of height, and we calmly continue on.

Adding and Deleting friends:  This one is the one that gets people the most worked up.  I look at social media as a way of connecting to people that...I WANT TO CONNECT WITH.  I usually will give people a chance. if someone follows me because of my weight loss or because my profile picture is me in a race and they race too, that is OK with me.  However deleting is what gets people the most worked up.  Sometimes I will add a person and after a couple of weeks, they never even say hi, let alone comment on something.  9 out of 10 times, I am going to find that extremely creepy and delete you.  Now lets say you do regularly comment and I still delete you....does that mean I don't like you.  Nope, just not interested.   Yes, maybe you posted something I found to be offensive, or maybe, I just wasn't interested ..no need to send me messages asking for an explanation ..just move on.  Finally with this, it comes to close friends and family.  Why would I delete them?  I always want to believe the best in people, and frankly sometimes people post junk, that makes me sway on that belief.  Maybe it's the family member that posts scripture, but then I see she commented 2 minutes later on a picture of a kid and is making fun of them.  That is rough and its hard not to get upset, so I delete them.  I recently deleted a girl that I absolutely love.  I have seen her grow into an amazing woman in Christ and I am blessed to have her in my life.  However, she was time and time again being critical of my posts, and offended on how I comment.  I decided that for us to continue to be great friends, then we needed to not be Facebook friends.   It is just better for us that way, simply because I did not want to be the person that fed a critical spirit in her.  I seemed to be the only person that pushed those buttons, so why not walk away so she could flourish? 

My posting filters:  This has nothing to do with picture filters....more of a mental filter.  When I post anything, I do not use curse words, talk about sex, or make fun of someone that does not know me close enough, that they and I razz each other.  Anytime I make a post, I think about it.  I ask myself, "Am I damaging my Character by posting this?"  Does this honor Jesus?  PS....Jesus has an amazing sense of humor, if you think he is dry and stuffy, you are worshiping the wrong god.  I only say this because almost 99% of what I post is a joke...more on this in a second.  Finally with this, I need to say....if you are posting sexual stuff, cussing, gossiping, or just being ugly on facebook....I will not tolerate it.  I will delete you.  You want to post your vacation pictures that's fine...however if I get the feeling all you did was walk around Brazil taking pictures of girls that are not your wife in Bikinis....you are out.  You have to understand that when you post that, you are feeding it to me.  How would you feel if I pulled out a Playboy during dinner and showed it to your kid?  You would want to punch me in the throat...However, when you post junk, you are forcing that on your friends.  I don't want it, it's not funny to me.

Humor:  99% of everything that comes out of my mouth is a joke.  Unless I am talking about Jesus, or a wicked training session I did on the bike...I'm joking.  That is just who I am.  My wife and I still crack up when our kids fart.  We are a family that is centered around having a good time and taking life more lightly.  I recently got a private message from a woman who had noticed what I had commented on a picture post for a Television station from my hometown.  She was upset about how insensitive I had been to the parents of some kids who's bus slid on the road during a snowstorm.  Now here is the story....In my hometown a bus, gently slid sideways.  Not one person was hurt, but the school district decided to call the parents and have them come pick their kids up, before they did get hurt.  The posts were absolutely crazy blaming teachers all the way to Obama for this tragedy.  I brought light to this ridiculousness by posting the following:  This is why I homeschool my children.  That way the aliens can take better care of us.  Plus I will have the knowledge of how to levitate over this mess.  Thank goodness no kittens were hurt in this fiasco.  The entire mood changed after that and everyone got along and more made fun of me.  Somehow this Debbie Downer could not see that and was upset.  I deal with this at least once a month by people on my friends list.  So let it end now...I am almost ALWAYS joking.

    I want to end with this.  I took this challenge very serious.  I learned a lot about myself, and God taught me that I better be able to give a reason why I do what I do.  All of what You  see above, is me looking inward and upward.  Hope this clears some things up.  However realize again, that if you enter into social media because you like a person, or their heart, you may find yourself disappointed when they aren't interested in going as deep, or they may even end up going too deep.  Always remind yourself that online is not always inline with what a person is totally like.  Don't set your expectations too high, you might ask for my heart and I give you a little hand drawn one instead.