Articles by " Adam"
5 Aug
2017

August 5th is National Disc Golf Day!

National Disc Golf Day was recognized by the National Day Calendar in July of 2016, which makes it one of the youngest holidays we've ever featured on the KU blog.  Disc golf itself is a lot older, with various individual accounts of a proto-disc golf-like game being played very early in the 20th century, long before the Frisbee was even invented (in 1966, more on that later), or the idea of a dedicated disc golf course, or even the term itself were even glints in proverbial eyes.

This is what disc golf looks like.

Have you ever looked something up on the internet and gotten completely sucked into a vortex of links and Wikipedia articles?  Of course you have.  Looking up National Disc Golf Day is a lot like that.  There are some really fascinating things to learn about disc golf, actually.  Like, first of all, the man who invented the Frisbee, "Steady Ed" Headrick, also invented the first ever disc golf basket, upon which all modern disc golf basket designs are based.  He also founded pretty much every disc golf organization, including the Professional Disc Golf Association and the Recreational Disc Golf Association.

Here's Steady Ed playing the sport that he basically made happen.

But let's back up a second. I can hear you all asking "What even IS disc golf, Adam?"  Ok.  So you know ball golf, right?  That weird, Scottish game where you hit a tiny ball with a super weird stick so it goes into a hole? Yeah, that's the one.  So disc golf is a lot like that, plus Frisbees, which are super fun, and minus all the snooty, country clubby BS which is super not fun.  Disc golf requires a lot less expensive equipment, there aren't any carts or groundskeepers or anything, and it's pretty much just superior in every way (unless you are snooty, then I guess it's worse.)

Interestingly, there are still drivers and putters and stuff, but instead of clubs, they're different types of discs! Here's a driver; it's kind of sharp and the weight is concentrated at the edge, to help it cut through the air and maintain its speed for a longer distance.

Cross section. So sharp!

The Boss. So bossy.

Versus a putter, which is much rounder and more evenly distributed, a lot like a disc that you'd play catch with, which makes it fly slow and straight, right to the hole.

Short game is important no matter what kind of golf you golf, guys.

One of the most popular putters in disc golf!

There are a bunch of other kinds of discs, too, but that's not terribly important right now.  What is important is that you get out and celebrate National Disc Golf Day!  Disc golf is a ton of fun, guys. There are a bunch of awesome courses in the Pittsburgh area, including several that were the sites of the Disc Golf World Championships in 2015! Don't worry if you don't feel up to playing the courses that the pros play, different tee placements adjust for all skill levels!

Here's a video of some pros playing on the course at Deer Lakes Park in Tarentum!

OH! Hey, before I forget.  Never, ever, ever say "frolf".  Ever.

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9 Jul
2017

July 10th is National Piña Colada Day!

Mmmmmmmmm, piñassssssssss.

The pineappleyest, coconuttiest, deliciousest day of the year!

I went to Key West for the first time this past January, and let me tell you, it was amazing.  There were lots of things about it that I loved, but one of the biggest was all the piña coladas I drank.  And they were a legion.  So much rum, you guys.  So much.  I loved them so much that I came home from my wedding trip to Key West and almost immediately bought an awesome Ninja blender so I could make them myself at home.  One of the best purchases I have made.

I need to go to there.

The piña colada was invented in Puerto Rico at the Caribe Hilton Hotel's Beachcomber Bar in San Juan in 1954.  It has been giving us all glorious, tropical, rum-filled brain freeze ever since.  In 1978 it was named the national drink of Puerto Rico.  All of which basically makes me want to move there.

Now.  Many people, who like to think of themselves as aficionados of alcohol consumption, tend to find the piña colada overly sweet.  These people are, if you'll pardon the expression, nincompoops.  First of all, pineapple juice is literally the King of Fruit Juices.  It is patently delectable.  If I could live on pineapple juice alone, I might.  Perhaps only augmenting my diet with cream of coconut, ice, and rum.  Maybe a maraschino cherry every now and then. If you know what I mean.

Secondly, cream of coconut is amazing.  Speaking as someone who is not particularly fond of coconut, cream of coconut is really one of the most delightful substances in the world.  It has all the wonderful, tropical goodness of coconut without the weird textural nightmare that is shredded coconut.

Finally, there's the rum.  Ah, rum.  You may like your margaritas.  You may like your cosmopolitans.  But tequila and vodka are to rum as your high school tennis coach is to Serena Williams.  Rum is one of the best spirits out there.  It's versatile, being delicious on its own and mixed into drinks.  It can have all the beautiful flavor complexity of good whisky and usually has very little of the accompanying bite.  It's liquor for people smart enough to realize that you don't have to pretend to like something that tastes like dirt (looking your way, tequila) in order to be cool.  Plus, it's the drink of pirates.  And, be honest with yourself, you want to be a pirate.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas.

 

Basically, what I'm saying is that this July 10th, go out and get yourself a piña colada.  Or, better yet, make yourself some at home.  If you have a blender, you're pretty much all set.  Buy some good rum, some pineapple juice, cream of coconut, make sure your ice trays are full, and go to town!  My preferred recipe is equal parts white rum and pineapple juice, about half again as much cream of coconut, ice to fill my blender, and blend until smooth! Don't be afraid to let your blender go for a while.  Mine has a "frozen drink" setting (not to brag), and it definitely takes a minute or two.  It blends it up good.  Pour into a tall glass, finish with a dark rum floater and a couple maraschinos (if you want them).  Enjoy!

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23 Jun
2017

June 23rd, 2017! Take Your Dog To Work Day!

On March 4th, 2017, my wife and I went to Virginia, 5 hours from home (we drove there and back in a day, it was somewhat fun), and picked up the world's literal cutest creature.  Her name is Clover, she is an English Setter, and she is perfect.

Perfection.

She is also a pretty frequent visitor to Kards Unlimited. Thankfully, we don't need a special day for our dogs to come to work.  However!  Take Your Dog to Work Day is still pretty exciting, because dogs are the best and we love them a lot.

Omg her little face.

SO!  Here's what I propose.  On Friday, June 23, 2017 (Bring Your Dog to Work Day is always the Friday after Father's Day), take your dog to work!  Assuming your work is cool and not the worst, that is.  BUT!  After (or before or during or whatever) you do that, bring your dog to MY work so I can play with it.  I know, I know, your dog isn't as cute as Clover.  It's okay.  I mean, look at her.

Yeah, she's amazing.  It's cool.  I'm sure your dog is also cute.  Most dogs are.  So, anyway, bring your dogs to KU on Bring Your Dog to (My) Work Day, please and thank you!

Here are some more pictures of Clover!

This is very interesting grass, you guys.

We call it Resting Mope Face. She may look distraught in this picture, but it's really just her face. That's just how she looks.

Here's the opposite of Resting Mope Face.

 

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14 Jun
2017

KU Book Club!

Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors!

We had a lot of fun at Sunday's book club meeting! Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair was the perfect book to start off the summer with!  Intrigue, danger, action, adventure, even a tiny bit of romance, that book had everything!  And it's the first of a series, so if you loved The Eyre Affair, KU has the whole series available, and they could easily eat up your summer, so be careful!

It was a ton of fun to meet a few new members also!  Some of us have been in the book club since the very beginning, so it's super exciting to have a new face now and again.  We love to make new book-loving friends!

Excited to take a chance on Hunter S Thompson!

We'll be meeting again on August 6th at 6 p.m. at Kards Unlimited!  Our discussion will be about Hunter S Thompson's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas!

Fear & Loathing IS a novel (there was a bit of discussion about that, I thought it was non-fiction), a roman à clef to be exact.  So really we were all right.  It's fiction, but it's real life that was fictionalized.

Whether you're already a big fan of Thompson, you've never read him, or even if you've read his work and dislike it, we'll be excited to hear all about what you think at the KU Book Club! Come talk books and drink drinks and have snacks with us!

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27 Apr
2017

Guys. The Gods are coming.

This is Mr. Wednesday. He's my hero.

Ok.  So here's the thing about Kards Unlimited.  We. Love. Neil Gaiman.  Like a lot.  I know I've said this before, and I know you know it, so I won't wax too verbose about how much we love Neil Gaiman. Suffice it to say that his books have had a great influence on most of the employees of the store and that when people need help picking a book we recommend his books 9 out of 10 times (or more.)

Shadow and Mad Sweeney's fight. OMG you guys, read this book.

Coming in the wake of the many successful TV adaptations of awesome fantastical novels in recent years, American Gods the series premieres on Starz on April 30th at 9 p.m. and we could not possibly be more excited.  Here's a link to the trailer.  It's amazing.

Just to give you a little bit of spoiler-free background information, American Gods is the story of how all the various gods that people brought to America from their home countries need to band together to stop themselves from being eradicated by the new gods of America like the internet and TV and stuff.  Neil Gaiman tells it a lot better than I do.  And I have high hopes for how the series will handle his source material.  This show seems especially relevant given the current climate of intolerance and xenophobia going around.  The book doesn't necessarily deal with those themes, but it does feature an America that celebrates its diversity.  The America Gaiman portrays is a country unashamedly built of millions of different people and their stories.  It's a place we should try to remember and to inhabit.

Anyway, we at KU are intensely excited for this show, so if you are too, don't hesitate to come in and share your excitement with us!  The more screaming the better!  And check out our awesome countdown timer on the sidebar to find out exactly how long you have to wait for the first episode!

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22 Apr
2017

It’s April 23rd, which means it’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day again!

Talk Like Shakespeare Day cards! Yes! Get them!

Forsooth! Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day!
The best of all the days throughout the year!
When all of us who love the Bard will say
"To be, or not to be?" in voices clear!
The works of William Shakespeare we shall read
and gaily plays and poems shall recite;
until the words ring loudly in our heads
and people speak in iambs day and night.
Of other days may other poets sing,
I'll keep my words for April twenty-third.
For truly, William Shakespeare is the king
of all the English language, says this nerd.
If you be not a faithful fan of his,
Then kindly up a rope please take a whiz!

In all seriousness, though, April 23rd is Talk Like Shakespeare Day.  It's because he was born (probably) and died on April 23rd. Same day, different years, obviously.  I don't feel the need to tell you any more facts about Shakespeare, as he is probably the most well-known writer the English language has yet produced and if you're that interested in learning more about him, you can read his Wikipedia page.  Fascinating stuff, actually.

What I am going to do is post a picture and a video which are both amazing and Shakespeare related, and leave it at that.

 

Possible best post on Tumblr

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27 Mar
2017

If you give a mouse a cookie, that’s cool, but giving him a sword is better.

"While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise and Peepiceek will be head of the talking mice in Narnia." - Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Ok, so here's the thing about giving swords to mice.  It's the freaking best.  While the symbolism of the swordsmouse probably goes without saying, let me at least say that one of the reasons swordsmice are awesome is that they remind us never to be daunted by long odds and to always persist in the face of adversity (two lessons that are becoming increasingly important).

In the case of Reepicheep, a well-known character from C.S. Lewis's Narnia and my very favorite swordsmouse, the lessons about being fierce despite small size are still there, but they're slightly overshadowed by the main thrust (no pun intended) of the character, which is that you should be a total and complete badass in every and all situations, no exceptions. Full stop.

Reepicheep's whole thing is that he might be the tiniest bit insecure about being, you know, a mouse, so he way, super overcompensates by being really into fighting everyone who even slightly annoys him in any capacity.  Now. On the surface, does this seem like really not an admirable quality?  Yes.  But!  Reepicheep completely makes up for this egregious old-timey bellicosity by being extremely noble, chivalrous, and basically just a big, damn hero.

This is a fanmade piece of art depicting Reepicheep and Matthias in a sword fight. Visit the artist's DeviantArt page, here!

Another great swordsmouse is Matthias, the main character of Brian Jacques's Redwall.  Matthias is a classic unlikely hero and really, who doesn't love that?  Matthias is opposite of Reepicheep in most ways. He's a peace-loving mouse who pretty much just loves working at Redwall Abbey and is portrayed as a bit of a bungler at first.  But he rises in defense of his home and his loved ones when the Abbey is threatened.  Without spoiling the book for you, I'll tell you that Matthias's transformation from hapless pastoral duffer to mighty swordsmouse is exactly what you need to read if you feel helpless.

Narnia and Redwall are very, very different from one another, but aside from swordsmice and being written by Brits, what they have in common is the deep-rooted theme that good will defeat evil as long as heroes have the will to persevere.

 

This should probably be the KU motto. It's definitely one of mine and is a perfect depiction of the best of what swordsmice represent.

Basically what I'm trying to say, you guys, is this: Swordsmice are one of the greatest things ever given to us by literature.  They remind us that valor, bravery, and physical prowess are not the domain only of the large and strong. They teach us not to be afraid to pick a fight, if we feel threatened.  They show us that you can be peaceful and still protect those you love.  These are important things for every child to learn, which is why swordsmice are mostly found in books for children and young adults, but I have found myself needing reminders lately. If you do, too, these books, and others like them, are the places to find them.

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21 Mar
2017

And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul!

March 21st is International Day of Forests, which has honestly got to be one of the best and most important days ever implemented by the U.N. Here's a link to the Wiki article, if you're interested in the boring technical stuff that they do.

I want to go to here.

Forests are amazing.  I have loved them since I was a kid, exploring what I perceived as the rugged wilderness of my grandparents' suburban backyards.  And while I grew to understand that the small stretch of woods between properties in Hampton Township did not constitute a forest, I have yet to outgrow my awe of, connection to, or love of, wooded areas.

Mmm, tropical rainforest. Yes, please.

Did you know that 80% of Earth's terrestrial biodiversity is found in forests?  And that while tropical rainforests cover only 10% of the Earth's surface, more than half of all terrestrial species are thought to live there?  And don't be fooled by the phrase "thought to" in that sentence.  Half is probably a significant underestimate, since new species are being discovered all the time, and many of the rainforests throughout the world remain largely unexplored.

Temperate Rainforests are totally rad, you guys.

Also! When people hear the word rainforest, they usually think of the jungles of the tropics, but did you know that there are rainforests right here in the USA?! On the West Coast of the USA and Canada is what's known as a temperate rainforest, stretching from Kodiak Island in Alaska to Northern California.  Temperate rainforests are also found on the southern tip of South America, in Australia, Northwestern Europe, and Northeastern Asia.

Though most people think of leopards as coming only from warm climates like the African Savannah, the Amur Leopard is native to a region of Siberia that boasts extermely harsh winters.

Probably the coolest forest, though, is the taiga.  Taiga refers to the biome found just below the tundra at the Earth's north pole.  There's not really southern taiga because Antarctica is surrounded by oceans, but the Arctic region is surrounded on a few sides by North America and Asia, and the land below the Arctic Circle is home to the taiga. Taiga is characterized by thick forests of evergreen, mostly coniferous trees, and weather patterns that can most easily be described as tundra-lite.  Winters are long and severe, summers short and mild.  Despite the harsh living conditions, though, the taiga is still home to plenty of awesome plants and animals.  The Asian taiga is home to the Siberian Tiger and the Amur Leopard, two of the rarest big cats in the world.  The taiga also contains approximately one third of all the trees in the entire world, and produces about one quarter of the oxygen we breathe.

"Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green, deep woods." - John Muir

Basically what I'm saying, people, is that forests are totally amazing and are probably the best thing on this entire planet of Earth.  With the way things are going, it's likely that the entire concept of forests is going to radically be changing in the next 50 years or so, so take the opportunity now to experience forests as they are, and maybe participate in some of the ways that people are trying to preserve and protect them.

Here's another one of the taiga, because it's awesome.

You can learn more about the United Nations' Day of Forests efforts here.

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