Let's see, in 2015, I:
- Quit my job
- Got a tattoo
- Got married
- Went to Grenada
- Started a new job
- Put in an offer to buy a house
Let's see, in 2015, I:
Liquid Ice Energy Drink – the "hidden gem" of the energy drink industry, according to its maker, aiming to be the "highest quality performance" and "best tasting" drink on the market.
Full disclosure: the manufacturer sent me free samples of these two drinks along with some assorted merchandise in exchange for this review. No other compensation was involved. These are my own opinions of these drinks.
According to the official website, this brand has been around since 2003 but with a somewhat limited distribution. No stores near me seem to carry it, so I hadn't heard of it until now.
Liquid Ice comes in three varieties: Blue, Red, and Zero. Note that these aren't flavors, just labels: one is blue, one is red, and one has zero sugar or carbs. (This review only covers Blue and Red.)
The stated nutritional facts for an 8.3oz can of Liquid Ice are comparable to an equivalent 8.4oz can of Red Bull, probably its closest competitor. (If you're super concerned about sugar content, you probably shouldn't be chugging energy drinks to begin with.) Both brands state 80mg of caffeine per serving in almost identically-sized cans. What Liquid Ice adds alongside that is 1000mg of taurine for a "sustained energy level" rather than a huge upfront jolt (Red Bull states only 1mg of taurine).
It took a while to figure out how to describe the taste. It's sort of a blue raspberry flavor, very sweet and sugary but without any discernible aftertaste. If you liquified blue cotton candy, you might get this drink.
I did feel somewhat more alert after drinking the can, though I can't say whether that was due to the energy blend or the sugar. I'm inclined to think it was the caffeine, since there wasn't a sense of a sugar rush other drinks bring on.
As with the Blue, the taste is tricky to describe. One press release even went so far as to call it a "unique, captive and unidentifiable flavor". My girlfriend suggested it tasted like carbonated red Kool-Aid, or maybe those red popsicles in plastic tubes. Personally, I liked this flavor more than the Blue.
As with the Blue, there was definitely an energy boost within about 20 minutes of emptying the can, and that sense of heightened alertness lasted perhaps an hour. For someone with a less-intense caffeine
addiction habit, this would likely last longer.
Sweet but not too sweet, enough of an energy boost to help you focus for an hour or so but without the sharp crash at the end. As with most drinks of the sort, you'll want to limit how many of these you drink in order to save your teeth and your waistline. Side note: while you can certainly drink this at room temperature, I'd recommend chilling it to near-freezing for the best experience.
The company says these drinks make great cocktail mixers and provides a number of suggested recipes. I'm not big on mixing alcohol and caffeine, but it's easy to imagine this would in fact make for some tasty drinks if you're into that.
After all that, my professional opinion here is not bad. Definitely a contender in the industry for those of us that prefer our caffeine fix come from a can rather than a coffee mug.
, I packed most of my worldly possessions into a truck and drove a thousand miles across the country with my girlfriend to set up a new place to call "home".
Even considering the *ahem* challenges of compressing two apartments' worth of stuff into a single moving truck, the work of moving turned out to be pretty straightforward if not lengthier and more exhausting than anticipated. The exhaustion was equal parts physical and emotional – shuttling furniture and boxes to the truck for hours, summoning every ounce of Tetris mastery in my being to fit it in, making last-minute decisions of what could be considered expendable; saying goodbye to friends I'll only see on Facebook from now on, holding back tears while hugging my parents, getting into the truck and driving away.
But onwards we went, and eventually we made it through and arrived in Denver.
OH HI DENVER YOU LOOK NICE TODAY— Tom Henrich (@tomhenrich) April 15, 2014
The process of setting up a new life is actually pretty tedious. There are emissions tests to be conducted. Vehicle registrations to transfer. Drivers licenses to acquire. Utilities to set up. Utilities to call support about when the internet doesn't work. Utilities to call support about again when the internet still doesn't work, and apparently requires a visit from a technician to resolve.
There's the inevitable trip to IKEA when you realize your new apartment has almost zero built-in storage and you now have nowhere to put any of your stuff that's just sitting around in boxes. The moment of sad realization at the register when you see how much you're spending. The mundane trips to grocery stores to stock your empty refrigerator. The constant re-arrangement of drawers and cabinets.
And then at some point... you look around and realize you're home. This is home now. There's art on the walls, and lamps in the corners, and fewer and fewer cardboard boxes sitting around making you feel guilty.
So here we are. It's been a fairly draining couple of weeks, but now we're all settled in. The weather has been gorgeous – warm and sunny, with the exception of a freak snowstorm on Mother's Day (70°F and sunny on Saturday, six inches of snow on Sunday, with Monday warm enough you could hardly tell it snowed at all). The scenery in Colorado is nothing short of beautiful, with plenty of hiking trails and open spaces for both us and our dog to explore to exhaustion. Even my car gets better fuel economy here.
I think we'll be okay.
In other news, I am now the Web Content Administrator for AORN, a non-profit organization in Denver, a position I'm especially excited to take on. After spending six years in a large corporation, as great as the people and experiences there were, I really wanted to find someplace smaller where each person could make a real difference. It'll also be particularly refreshing to have an income again, so there's that.
In two weeks, I'll be packing all my worldly possessions into a truck and driving across the country, a thousand miles from the only place I've ever really called home.
I've lived in Milwaukee pretty much my entire life. With the exception of my time away at college, this city has been home. And even then, Milwaukee was still home in a way that the cinderblock dorms and cramped off-campus housing never was. I grew up here, made friends here, have friends here. But it's time to move on.
When my last job ended, I knew it was an opportunity that would probably not present itself again for a while. I have no real estate to sell off, no children to pull out of schools, no real concrete reasons not to pack up and go try something new somewhere else.
So we're moving to Denver. My girlfriend Sarah and I are packing up everything we own and moving from a great city on the coast of a beautiful lake to a great city at the base of a gorgeous mountain range.
Why not? It's beautiful in Denver. You can see mountains from just about anywhere. Seasons don't try to kill you. In Wisconsin, winter lasts nine months, during which the snow never melts and you forget how to be warm. Summer lasts maybe three months, during which the sun has a personal grudge against you and you forget what it's like not to sweat. Spring and Fall are myths.
We thought about a few other places. Portland is weird but has never seen the sun first-hand. San Francisco is amazing but has no concept of personal space. Denver has a great climate, tons of places to go hiking, and won't bankrupt us within days of arrival. And, perhaps more importantly for Sarah, it has tons of good breweries.
Sarah and I spent a week there earlier this year to figure out where to live, get a lease in place, and get our bearings for where we'll be spending our time. It turns out the housing market is insane, and the rental market specifically is worse.
Quickly learning our true housing priorities. Affordable house with yard & garage! Okay, house with garage? House? Apartment with parking?— Tom Henrich (@tomhenrich) February 28, 2014
We were originally hoping to find a nice two-bedroom rental house with a fenced yard for Sarah's — scratch that, I've been informed the correct pronoun is our — dog Tiki and maybe a garage. That dream quickly devolved into "let's just find somewhere we can be afford to be not-uncomfortable." We settled on a very nice apartment complex, which isn't quite what we had in mind but is nice enough and affordable enough to make do for a year while we find somewhere closer to our ideal.
The physical side of this process has actually been remarkably easy, if somewhat tedious. You're forced to step back, really evaluate the things you own, and decide just how important your stuff truly is. You have to look at every possession and decide whether it's really worth it to pack it up, load it into a truck, unpack it on the other end of a long drive, and find somewhere to keep it. A lot of the time, the answer is "not worth it" and you find yourself making routine trips to Goodwill and finding friends and family willing to buy or just take the rest. (It helps when you know there's very limited storage space on the other end of the trip and can use that as a perfectly legitimate excuse for why you're trying to get rid of things.)
After months of preparations and waiting, it's down to the last two weeks, and now there's this need to be done with it, to get it all over with. Everything that can reasonably be packed has been packed. Everything that's left out either can't be packed (big bulky items like furniture or my vacuum cleaner) or is needed until right before the move (clothes, some kitchenware and the like). I keep looking around my apartment trying to find something that can be put away, yet finding nothing.
Every unsealed box is radiating a sense of incompleteness. Anxiety incarnate.
My spare bedroom is a study in ordered chaos. Mostly-full cardboard boxes and plastic storage bins sit on the floor and atop a desk along one wall. Empty boxes and packing materials lay along the opposite wall, waiting their turn to join their friends on the other side of the room. Boxes that were once taped shut are pulled open to give access to some item previously thought safe to pack away.
There's also the process of shutting down one life before starting a new one back up elsewhere. There are utility services to be cancelled, change of address forms to be filed, insurance policies to be transferred and apartment showings to conduct. The pantry and fridge need to be depleted. The chest freezer needs to be emptied and defrosted. A truck has to be rented. Each individual thing is easy enough, but it makes a formidable to-do list.
But at the end, it's all just stuff, so it's not so bad.
It's the not-so-physical part of the move that's difficult. But that's a subject for a later post.
Update: I moved to Denver!
Today we buried my grandfather.
While we were never close, it's still difficult to watch someone getting ever closer to the end of their time, when they cease to be a living breathing person and become just another memory in the minds of those around them. To see the loss and pain in the faces of those they were close to, their family and friends.
His passing has helped remind me of some important ideas that we often ignore or neglect to consider.
We are part of this existence for a short time. On the timeline of the life of this universe, an average human lifespan is practically nothing. We come into being, we spend some time making the best of our situation, then we're gone, and the universe marches on unaffected. Yet in the years we have, it's up to us to do our best to change that – to make sure that when our time is up, the universe isn't unaffected. It's up to us to do something meaningful, leave something behind, make our mark on history (as relatively short as human history may be).
Particularly in his later years, my grandfather was fairly private and protective of his things. It was his life, and he didn't want anyone else getting their hands on his stuff. No one else had any right to be looking in that cupboard, or that room, and if they did they were obviously trying to steal something. (This caused some drama.)
Yet, now he's gone, and soon his family members are going to be going through his house. Going in every room, opening every drawer, deciding what to do with everything he owned. He can't protect any of his secrets or his possessions. Now they're all just stuff for someone else to deal with.
No matter how hard we try to make ourselves happy by owning things, it's all just stuff. No matter how much we accumulate during your life, it all gets left behind. We can't take anything with us. It stays here. The pharaohs of Egypt tried lining their tombs with fancy clothing, jewels, food, chariots... and eventually all those things were stolen or put into museums for strange people to look at centuries later.
Our own stuff probably won't end up in glass display cases in fancy museums, but we won't be getting any satisfaction from any of it once we're gone. Other people aren't going to remember us for how much stuff we had (unless you're a crazy hoarder, in which case that's probably going on your epitaph). They're going to remember us for who we were, how we spent our lives.
I went with my family to see my grandfather in hospice care a few days before he passed away. In the few moments when he was awake and lucid, one of the things he kept mentioning was that he wasn't afraid to go. He'd lived a long life, he knew his time was coming, and he wasn't afraid.
Whether this was due to his religious beliefs or not, I don't know. But it's worth noting. Many people fear death, they're afraid of what's on the other side, they're afraid of leaving things undone, of what their absence will do to the world. But in the long run, that fear changes nothing. We can't outrun death, we can only make the best of our time before it catches up with us. Whether we believe in an afterlife or not, death will claim all of us. The only purpose fear can serve is to motivate us to make the best of our time. What happens after (if anything), will happen regardless of how afraid of it we are.
I mentioned my grandfather and I were never close. It was just one of those family things, where various bits of drama and tension over the years between the various generations added up. We saw them for Christmas, maybe Easter, for Thanksgiving dinner sometimes, and that was about it. He was a fairly terse man, so whenever we did see him it wasn't a particularly emotionally-fraught event.
But lying alone in a hospice bed apparently made him think about family and people he'd like to see. He asked to see my sister and me (among others), despite generally having not had much to do with us in years past. At the end, faced with his own mortality, he wanted one last chance to see his family, to be surrounded by those who should care for him.
Too often we focus on the negatives around us, all the things that have gone wrong, the bits of life we don't like, the anger and bitterness and drama, when we should be taking every opportunity to focus on the bright sides. The people we care about, the relationships that matter. We don't have to leave this world lying alone, regretting the bridges we burned behind us. We can go out surrounded by people who care about us, people whose lives we've touched and whose lives have touched us.
But we have to pay attention to those relationships during our lives, like caring for a garden. If we leave them unattended until the last minute when we suddenly decide they do mean something after all, it'll be too late.
No matter what we do, we need to enjoy our time here. We do no one any good by slogging our way through life scowling at everything and enjoying nothing. Take the time to smell the roses, as they say, even if you get pricked by a few thorns along the way.