Monthly Archives: September 2016

Fruit Ninja #2: Pluot

It’s the second in a series of posts in which I stand in judgment over miscellaneous fruits! This time I’m looking at the pluot, which I’m gonna have to do by memory, since I actually had the pluot a while before I started the series.

What is it? A fruit. Specifically, a hybrid between a plum and an apricot. But not just any hybrid between a plum and an apricot. Pluots are roughly 1/4 apricot and 3/4 plum. If you went another generation to make a 1/8 apricot-7/8 plum hybrid, it would be called a plunt. Messing around with genetics is going to lead to abominations.

What does it taste like? Depends. I had two of them. The first time didn’t taste like much except sort of crunch. Like you had what you thought was an apple but it turned out to be filled with jicama. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t ripe. The second one, almost a week later, was softer, and juicier, and sweeter, and a bit floral.

How should I use it? Eat it raw, carve into a Jack-o-Lantern at Halloween to make people think they’re in some weird parallel universe, serve whole in a pot pie, rub behind the ears as a natural and ineffective perfume, or save the stones and use in the world’s largest rain stick.

What should I be careful of? If you swallow the stone whole, within twelve hours a pluot tree will grow inside your esophagus. “Pluot” is technically a trademarked term, and you can make mostly-plum-with-a-bit-of-apricot hybrids that aren’t pluots, and if you do that but call them pluots then lawyers will eat your face. The inventor of the pluot is named “Chris” but prefers to be called “Floyd,” which is also the name of a pig you can win in football.

What are some fascinating facts, whether true or not? Pluots were born in California, in the wagon of a traveling show. France made the inventor a knight, or what would be a knight if they were the U.K., and since then he’s fled at the sight of enemies, cows, or shadows. Pluots were served to  at the Last Supper, but nobody really liked them much. Pluots come in many colors, including clear. The American Pomological Society is the bestest Pomological Society in the history of Pomological Societies.

How would you rate it? On a scale of one to ten, I give the pluot an ophiuchus.


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Flapper Boy

Today I got my best flappers.

I’m using “flappers” in the climbing sense—where skin peels off the hands due to friction—even though I was brachiating rather than swinging.

I won’t include photos, in part because the loose skin’s already off and in part because they would be a bit gross. Instead, I’ll give you this photo of me dancing the Charleston in a dress made of fringe.

My face on a Flapper Girl body

Far, far, far less disturbing than the picture of my hands would be. If you want the costume, BTW, it’s available at

So, what’s the story? Well, it really starts yesterday, when I went to a Meetup. (Specifically, the Go Infinite Tribe Meetup.)

Meetups, as the name suggests, are meet-ups of people, organized via the website, to do… well, something. I’ve done a couple before, and both were decidedly mediocre experiences. (Both were writing-related, so there was a pretty solid base level of pretension going on; one even featured someone uttering “Time travel is really hard to write,” only unironically.)

This one was a workout meetup, and much more fun. It was outdoors and in a playground, and it focused on (challenging) movements rather than hauling weights. Several of the people there were training with the goal of doing Ninja Warrior, so the movements were approaching those, although they scaled down well. I won’t write much more, since I’m not sure it’s my place to do so yet, apart from the fact that I enjoyed it a lot and will be going back, and to explain that there was one section where everyone got 30 seconds to do something—basically show off. Or in my case, do something and everyone politely pretends to be impressed. (That’s self-effacing humor; it was a perfectly supportive environment, even though I’m not anywhere near the level of most of the other people there.)

Anyhow, my “thing” was to do the monkey bars, jumping rather than swinging between bars. It went fairly well—the rungs were closer together than the ones at my gym, so it was easier. Everyone seemed pleased, and I didn’t replicate anything anyone else did, so all was well.

That laid the base for today, when in class at my regular gym we did… more monkey bars. Not exclusively, but about half the workout was a self-paced circuit that included one stop at the monkey bars. I got through the circuit 3 times, swinging down the bars twice (either normal or hitting every other bar) and then trying to jump bars the third time and not getting very far.

Then, since I had about 40 seconds left after finishing the third circuit, and the monkey bars were open, I went back to them one more time for a sense of redemption or because it seemed more fun than air squats, which would have been the next stop. So I made a lot of effort to go every other bar, and this time made it a bit more than halfway before my hands gave out…

But when I came off, I looked down at my hands, and they looked like partially peeled oranges. Two jagged flaps of skin were sticking up in the middle of my left hand, with a third on my right.

Okay, it’s not all that impressive—maybe a total of two inches, so it’s hardly gymnast-level skin loss. But it’s the most I’ve had, so I’ll consider it both a milestone and a life experience.

It didn’t hurt at all, at least when it happened. But I figured it was worth being safe, so I washed my hands, and that stung. Then I got some bandages at the gym, but before they let me put them on, they gave me an alcohol wipe to sterilize, and that stung like a mother. And now I can feel the skin regrowing, and that’s stinging too, though not as bad as the alcohol.

I guess the lesson is, monkey bars and alcohol don’t mix.

(Also, I’m a bit frightened of tomorrow… that’s a class that usually includes a bunch of monkey bar work. We’ll see how that works.)


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Fruit Ninja #1: Golden Kiwi

For the first post in my fruit-rating series, I’ve decided on the golden kiwi.

What is it? Well, it’s a kiwi. Or possibly a potato. Seriously:

golden kiwi

The inside is even potatoeyer.

Inside of a golden kiwi.

Perhaps we should call it a kotato. Or a peewee.

What does it taste like? Pretty nice, actually. I was expecting it to be the same as a regular kiwi—that sort of needlessly tart mush that oozes through you like air through a whoopie cushion. Instead, it was gently tart, and fairly sweet. And the texture was weirdly cooked-potatolike: soft but with enough body that it would hold your bite marks. The skin was also a lot like a potato skin, in both texture and flavor, which is odd but not horrifying.

How should I use it? Eat it raw, add to oatmeal, throw at a clown who is more menacing than funny, gently braise with honey and ginger and mash with parsnips. If the need is desperate, it could satisfactorily substitute for the second wise man in a Nativity display.

What should I be careful of? Zespri is the international spy organization that controls all kiwi production, marketing and sales with an iron fist, so if you cross them, expect repercussions. Even they, however, acknowledge that some people have kiwi allergies. If you find yourself threatened, claim you have one and they’ll probably let you be. There’s a 14-day kiwifruit challenge out there that, if completed, will indoctrinate you into a cult thoroughly legitimate religion and make you spend all your money and your time purchasing, consuming, and writing odes to kiwis. Whether you should eat the skin or not is the subject of immense controversy, so if you’re not entirely certain which way your friends or family go, eat your kiwi in the privacy of your own bedroom, and make sure you clean up any juice squirtings.

What are some fascinating facts, whether true or not? The golden kiwi was invented in the late 1940s in New Zealand when a desperate shepherd attempted to save his marriage by carefully controlling pollination of a kiwi tree so it is only ever touched by a yellow insect. His wife loved the color, and they managed to stay together for another three years, until the fundamental incompatibilities led her to realize that she could leave and become Audrey Hepburn. Kiwis are also known as Chinese gooseberries, which is a fun word, even though it sounds better in British than American.

How would you rate it? On a scale of one to ten, I give the golden kiwi the news that iPhones will no longer have wired earbuds.

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Fat Boy Big Wall: Fruit Ninja!

Here’s a new thing I’m going to try: Fruit!

Well, that’s not true. I eat fruit. Let me back up.

Diet is the tough part of fitness for me. Fundamentally, I think it comes down to the fact that working out is doing something, where 90% of eating right is not doing something (i.e., eating junk food), all the time, even though I want to.

So to try to make eating right into a thing, rather than a non-thing, I’m going to try making it a thing thing instead by eating my way through the produce section, and then writing about it. So I’ll try as many fruits, both mundane and bizarre, as possible, and write about them, using both fact and fiction.

Okay, maybe not fruit in the purely biological sense. I mean, there are a lot more fruits out there than we think. Tomatoes, obviously, but also peppers and squash and anything that you eat that contains seeds. I’ll be going by the gastronomical definition—anything that you’d put in a fruit salad.

I did sort of a proto-example earlier this year with kumquats, although I didn’t realize at the time that was happening. In this series, you’ll learn about flavor, history, personality, science, judgmentalness, and a billion other things.

Hopefully it will be more interesting than cardamom.

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Fat Boy Big Wall Visits an Adult Playground

About a week and a half ago Chicago opened what the newspapers (or, at least, their online-but-local equivalents) are calling a playground for adults. Either the newspapers are unaware that “playground for adults” typically means Vegas—with it’s gambling, drinking, neon, Elvis impersonators, breasts-of-Elizabeth-Berkeley, and above all, taste—or they are entirely aware and hope that suggesting you can find those things locally will bring in a couple eyeballs.

But alas, those things aren’t available here in Chicago. (Except the Saved by the Bell boobies, but frankly, where can’t you get those?) The papers were talking more literally—an actual playground, with monkey bars and stuff, but for adults.

I went to it over the weekend.

First off, and this isn’t its fault, it’s far away. Specifically, it’s on the lakefront path at about 39th South, which is 3/4 of a city away from where I live. Not a problem, really-I knew what I was getting into, and planned for a decent bike ride as part of the day, but it’ll inhibit me from going back. (Another way in which this isn’t a problem: This is only the first adult playground in Chicago; plans are to install them around the city so I won’t need to make such a haul.)

The bad news is, it’s not super-large. Suggesting it’s a playground is probably overselling it. It’s a rig with a decent number of components, and one little offshoot with a couple extra things, but not the kind of thing you’ll be playing tag on with the added rule that you can’t touch the ground. (That’s still a thing, right?)

Adult playgroundThe good news, as I alluded to, is that it packs a bunch into a small footprint, a lot of which is hard to find elsewhere. It’s got:

  • A very difficult sort of climbing wall. It’s not big-just three rows of grips going up and maybe 7 or 8 across, but there are no foot supports at all. It’s pull-ups or nothing.
  • Monkey bars—high enough that 6-foot-tall me couldn’t touch the ground-and surprisingly narrow.
  • Stepped bars. I don’t know what their actual name is; it’s a set of three bars, each horizontal, but each one is higher than the other. Short, but if you go up and down it a few times it would probably replicate Spartan’s monkey bar rig. These ones are actually quite a bit steeper than Spartan’s, though, with maybe a 60-degree incline.
  • Climbing ropes, although these were a bit of a disappointment, since they were anchored taut to the ground so leg hooks aren’t possible. So they’re basically just poles.
  • A vertical pole to climb.
  • Horizontal bars for pull-ups and the like.
  • Rings for pull-ups and the like.
  • Benches (flat, inclined, and declined) for sit-ups, leg lifts, back bends, and so on.
  • Parallel bars.

I wasn’t there real long, having already biked for an hour+ to get there and knowing I had the same ride home. It was well used in the time I was there, though, with about 7 people or so.

Adult playground

The guy is hanging from the “stepped bars” thingy that I don’t know the name of. Meanwhile, the guy in orange is standing below the “climbing wall,” even though the holds aren’t easy to see.

The stuff is fairly high-level—you need a decent level of fitness to successfully use most of it. Only one of the people there while I was could go anywhere on the climbing wall, for example.

All things considered, I probably wouldn’t consider it a destination—but it is a cool local amenity that I hope comes to my neighborhood as well.

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“Mourning” is a melodramatic way to describe the reason for my recent blogging absence, but it’s not entirely incorrect.

There’s good news that I’ve been pursuing for a long time. Periodically, it comes closer, which both builds hope (Yay!) and requires extra investment of time and often money (Boo!). None of these periodical closer-comings have resulted in the good news actually happening, which is a bit soul-eating. My absences was prompted by a pair of closer-comings, one of which required a spectacular time investment and the other of which was the closest of all the closer-comings, and the duo—combined with the net effect of years of close-comings-but-not-arrivings—broke me.

This isn’t, of course, related to obstacle course racing. But, well, the OCR world can be awful when you’re down. I don’t need other people to tell me how epic they are, and I don’t to be told how I need to work just a little bit more in order to be a real person—I need the work that I’ve done to actually pay off.

Inspiration is useless when what you actually need is for someone to get the fucking boot off your throat.

So I got out. And now, I’ve sort of put myself back together, and I’m sort of functioning again, and I’m sort of back.

I have a feeling I’m going to be focusing more on the intersection between generalized fitness and comedy than OCR—not that I’m abandoning the OCR world, but there are a lot of ways in which it’s not healthy for me.

We shall see.

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