The Case of the Stolen Lunch

But first, the short video from my latest “WTF happened to the weather?” session: 

Now, back to The Case of the Stolen Lunch
When I arrived at work, loaded down bike trailer in tow, it looked like a recycling bin had exploded. There were thousands of pieces of paper strewn everywhere. Oh well, it wasn’t exactly my problem. I unloaded most of my stuff from the trailer, but left a gallon of water, box of sidewalk chalk, a few other misc. items, and a bagel with cheese slices and an apple. This was my lunch. Well, it was supposed to be my lunch. 
I figured it couldn’t hurt to leave the stuff out in my trailer; it was cool, so the food would stay cool. The rest of it wasn’t exactly valuable. I had the food wrapped in a translucent plastic produce bag and tucked into a side pocket of the trailer, with the sides folded in to a triangle. I thought it would be safe. 
A couple times as I came and went from my office, I noticed students out picking up the trash. From the way they were carrying out the task, I’m sure they were ordered to do it… or else. I didn’t think about my lunch. 
When I was finally ready to eat, I went out to the trailer, and… MY LUNCH WAS GONE. First, I was convinced I had done something else with it, and just couldn’t remember. I searched all the stuff I brought in. Nothing. I went and looked in the trailer again. Nothing. But everything else in the trailer, more plainly visible than the food, had been left alone. At least all the loose paper had been picked up by now. 
Now, rich people stealing billions of dollars from taxpayers, is no big deal. That happens every day in America, and the thieves are practically worshipped. But… stealing a guy’s lunch?!? THAT’S low. It was just a bagel and an apple! I was crushed. I was filled with about 1/3rd wonder that someone would have felt the need to steal a bagel and an apple, and 2/3rds anger that some lowlife prick had actually done that. 
I finally went somewhere and bought a couple “replacement” bagels (but apples are harder to come by downtown). About that time, I had another thought: Squirrels. And the more I thought, the more I thought, “Fucking. Squirrels.” 
The food was not easy to see. But, a squirrel could smell that stuff from a mile away. There were other, more valuable-to-humans things in the trailer, that were not taken. But… if squirrels took it, there should have been some remnants of it, perhaps in the bushes nearby. I searched, but found nothing. Then again, maybe those remnants got picked up when the students were picking up the rest of the trash strewn about the area. I just couldn’t know. 
I was convinced I would never discover the truth about where my lunch went. I got bagels anyway, I got to play footbag anyway, and I realized I had to let go of my disappointment over the missing lunch and forget about it. Life goes on. It was just a bagel, some cheese, and an apple. 
The next day, having just locked my bike to the rack and gotten settled at my desk, my co-worker came in and said, “Hey, did you know there’s a squirrel out there investigating your bicycle?” 

Aha! Don’t criminals always return to the scene of the crime? It took this one less than 5 minutes to come back looking for more NOMs to steal! Campus squirrels are ballsy. But this time, no food. It would leave empty-pawed. Next time, I might even wait nearby, with my trusty “squirrel stick” (just kidding). 
So, the case of the missing lunch is solved: I WAS PUNKED BY SQUIRRELS. There was no evidence, because of the paper disaster. The students picked up and threw away the evidence when they were cleaning up. 
As for the actual footbag session, when I finally got going, well… it kinda sucked. The temperature just didn’t get that warm, and it was cloudy and windy. I had to wear a shirt! You know it’s bad if I wear a shirt when I kick. I never did get warmed up; I felt shaky and chilled the whole time. I played rather poorly. Just don’t call me a quitter: I was still out there for 2-1/2 hours. 
A couple students that have started following me on Twitter came by around 3PM and kicked for a bit. A woman from the school-affiliated radio station KBIA came and did an interview with me. A couple of giggly young ladies stopped to take a video, and then try themselves. Despite the cold, it was still a good day, with lots of positive interaction and no confrontation. 
I only got to kick in the circle for the last little bit, when I got this video. Earlier, there was a Ron Paul supporter group with a tent and a table set up right in the middle. They were totally cool though; not pushy, or rude, and they ended up asking me when I would be out there again, so they could plan to move their tent off to the side so I could take the circle. 
Next Thursday, if the weather is good! Thanks so much for offering! 
Speaking of next Thursday, I was totally bummed when the weather predicted for this Wednesday when I went to kick, decided to manifest on Thursday. I rode through Speakers Circle as I was shooting a service call across campus the next day: Warm, sunny, and a group of musicians with drums and guitars out there playing and girls with hula hoops. Damn, damn, damn, damn, DAMN! If only I could have known, I would have waited until Thursday. I stopped and talked to a couple of the drummers, begging them to come back on the next nice Thursday. Getting to play footbag to live music, sharing the space with girls doing hula hoops? Now THAT‘s my idea of a great time, and a totally awesome use for Speaker’s Circle! 
Now, I’m determined to make that happen. 
2:15 / 15:30 – Thanks for tuning in! 

Back to Reality, Beyond Time Goals

Lots of good news tonight! I had to move my footbag session up a day to accomodate a big family event tomorrow, but today was obviously “Good Enough.” 

I’m such a n00b at going viral. After continuing to see my view count go up on my viral video – over 42,000 views now – I finally thought to search Google for “Hack Man vs Preacher.” I had no idea…. There are 2 main versions of the video now that have found their way onto well over 20 different websites. Holy cow! About the only place it hasn’t shown up is directly on YouTube’s featured videos. 
But, the glory of being viral means nothing in the Secret Hideout. Just me, my brain, my body, and my bags. Back to reality, and a couple problems: Somehow, my iPod lost all it’s playlists. But all the music was still there, so I dove for artists and albums. First choice? Fatboy Slim. It did not disappoint. The part that does disappoint is the fact that the headphone jack on my iPod is fucked, and keeps cutting out. I had to wedge the audio cable and the ipod between my radio and a Tweaker Tool to get a reasonably consistent connection. 
Of course almost every one of those Fatboy Slim songs is 5-7 minutes long, so each rotation of my bags takes almost 30 minutes. I did my Guiltless String counting on the 2nd bag rotation instead of waiting until the end of my session. Much better than last week, but… still a little weak: 
Phatty Pro: 15 
Mr. Softy: 15 
Phatty Original: 18 
Repeat: 16 
The Man: 12 
Not sure what happened to The Man there; he’s usually, well, The Man when it comes to this. No H8 though; even The Man deserves a break sometimes. At least I was fairly consistent tonight, and broke 10 with every bag. Shoulda been able to break 20 with at least one of ’em, though. 
I’ve also started working with a student on another “Hack Man” class project. This one is more involved than most. It will take several weeks, and includes photos, audio, video, etc. Last week’s part was a photo shoot. Since we didn’t have a good indoor place to use, and I’m a bit of a stickler for realism, we ended up doing the photo shoot on Speakers Circle. It was well below freezing: 26F/-3.3C. I spent a good 15 minutes playing footbag out there in shorts and a T-shirt. Thank goodness is was at least sunny and calm! You bet I’m claiming that 15 minutes against my annual goal. In fact, I feel like I should get to charge double for that. I was chilled to the bones the rest of the day. 
Tonight, I was planning to just do an hour, maybe 1:15, and tack on the photo shoot time. But… I just can’t stop! I blew out another solid 2 hour session. That puts me at 13:15 for the year, in just 7 weeks. This is nearly a 100-hour per year pace. I’ve never been anywhere near this far ahead this early in the year before. It seems like my 5-footbag rotation helps drive my session length a bit; I can’t stop in the middle of a rotation; I have to play through all 5 bags before I stop. This keeps making me blow through stopping points. 

It seems like a couple years ago, a solid 2-hour session was my absolute limit. Today, it seems like nothing. I must give credit to a friend and fellow footbag player, Ben Benulis. He competes in Tough Mudder, too. I observe, slack-jawed in awe, of what this guy can do. He’s been kind enough to coach me on diet, and hell yes it makes a huge difference. “Fruits and veggies” he reminds me. “Lay off the pizza. Fruits and veggies.” Well, my muscle stamina has improved by a good 30% so far. I’m not getting cramps, at all. And damn you Ben, now I’m totally addicted to bananas! 

I’ve decided I’m going to set a small “side” goal: I want to be able to do a solid 3-hour session, at least once this summer, without suffering muscle cramps. My diet still has a LOT more room for improvement; if I can keep eating smarter, I’m confident I can do it. 
0:15 / 2:00 / 13:15 – Thanks for tuning in! 

Going Viral!

While I was skulking around in the secret hideout, My Hack Man vs Circle Preacher video was busting out in public big time! 


It all started with a Facebook friend, The Digital Ninja, that I picked up last year during our 1st “Snowpocalypse.” I saw a picture of him, pulling a sled (one of those big-ass red plastic toboggans) down a snow-covered road, packed and piled high with beer and other spirits. I didn’t know him, but I knew I had to friend him. 

A year later, he shared a link to a new Facebook page called Mizzou Meme. That was some funny shit with good local humor, so I had to go like that page. In the process, I posted an innocent “So… when are you going to lampoon that old, shirtless Speaker Circle Hacky Sack guy?” on the page. I was hoping to get some responses from people that didn’t realize who I was. 

Damned if The Digital Ninja didn’t out me within about 5 minutes. It took the Mizzou Meme peeps all of another 15 minutes to get me all memed up: The Most Interesting Man in the World one of actor Jonathan Goldsmith, with the caption, “I don’t always play Hacky Sack” at the top, and “But when I do, I learn from the Speaker Circle Hacky Sack guy” at the bottom. Plenty of Mizzou peeps saw that! 

A short while later, another student posted a link to my YouTube account on the Mizzou Meme post. The ball was rolling, although I didn’t know it yet. I was just getting started with my weekly footbag session at the Secret Hideout. The next morning, another student who had started following me on Twitter, Big E (Eric), posted the video to Reddit. It ended up spending several hours on the front page there. 

All day Friday, with the video featured on Reddit, I saw my video view numbers climb. 2,000 by noon. 5,000 by 5pm. Almost 8,000 before I went to bed last night. When I woke up this morning to check, the view count had jumped to almost 25,000! The interest has finally died down now, with a view count holding steady just under 27,000. I call that “Slightly Viral.” (Truly viral videos get 10+ times that)

UPDATE: The website RightThisMinute has now posted a segment about the video: Hack Man vs Campus Preacher – who will win? that takes a reasonably funny, and kind to me, assessment of the video.

So, I’ve finally gone slightly viral! I’m pretty sure the ~27K view count was driven up by people putting the video on Auto-Play to run up the view count, and the number will probably eventually be reduced to reflect unique hits. Still, I find it rather pleasing to get so much attention. 

One other thing needs a little attention now: my actual footbag session this week at the Secret Hideout. I got out there about 6:30, only to discover the building schedule has changed again, and I can’t get in there until after 8pm. It was during the hour-long wait that all the Mizzou Meme activity took place. 

When I finally got to kick, I had my computer with me, so I started tweeting about it: “Sweet! Secret Hideout is MINE MINE MINE! And I’ve got my computer and I can tweet about it. Footbag / Hacky Sack session starts NOW”

A short while later, while I was still really just warming up: “Uh oh… first shot of sciatica pain already. damn…” Yeah, my back has been pretty fucked up since my blowout 2 x 2 hour sessions last week. 

But that obviously didn’t stop me. Sticking to my 5-footbag rotation, it takes me almost 20 minutes to get to my 5th bag – my favorite – my blue and white Abshire bag I’ve named The Man. Out comes another tweet: “I swear it always takes 1 footbag rotation to get all warmed up. When I get to the last of my 5 bags, “The Man,” It all just clicks.” 

Somewhere in the middle of the next bag rotation, I’m obviously hurting a bit… “Gaaa! Not stretching my hamstrings enough. Classic case of “tennis elbow” but in my knees instead. #footbag problems” 

Still didn’t stop me. My tweets fell silent for a while as I got down to business. Finally, “Pushing past an hour on my footbag session! Back and knees have loosened up, feeling OK, not stopping now!” I’ve learned to trust this will happen, that my body will warm up, loosen up, and the pain will melt away as the shredding solidifies. 

There was only one more thing on my bucket list: “OK, now starts the add counting round… #footbag session is still on!” Not adds, technically, but guiltless strings. I was listening to internet radio – Last.fm – and it turned out that 3 of the 5 songs for this round were really short. I was obviously still hurting a bit too, and maybe a bit worn out by now. I was disappointed to report: 

Whoa… DISMAL numbers for guiltless strings tonight:
Mr. Softie: 9
Repeat: 10
The Man: 13
Hurtin’ a bit… 

I can usually at least break 10 with all my bags, and almost always break 20 with one of my Abshire bags. As usual, The Man won best bag, but only 13?!? Sheesh… 

Still, I got to kick! I love playing footbag, an even when I’m not playing well technically, I can still have a blast on the funky chicken dance side of things. 

1:45 / 11:00 – Thanks for tuning in! 

First Exalted, Then Spurned!

Midwinter footbag just doesn’t get any better than this. I’ve managed to squeeze in TWO 2-hour footbag sessions on Speaker’s Circle this week! First, a special Monday session, where I mix it up with one of the Circle Preachers: 



Then, my usual Footbag Thursday provides another perfect day for kicking. Except this time, I’m totally spurned and mocked by the students… 


If you can hear the song playing in the background, get this: the student group there raising money for Camp Kesem – a camp for kids who’s parents have cancer – had the tunes all set up and cranking when I got there. Sweet! My radio is low on batteries anyway. 

I was about 30 seconds into the 2nd song, with my 2nd bag, when I realized it was the SAME song, again. This went on. They literally played the same one song, over and over, for two solid hours. It’s a darned good thing it was actually a good dance tune to play footbag to! They were out there for a great cause, and have raised quite a bit of money (I even donated a few bucks), and I’m still appreciative that they did supply the tunes, but… please… a bigger playlist next time?!?

At one point, the cops even came, and made them turn the music down a bit. I was like, “NO, NO, NO! Don’t make them turn it down, just make them play different songs!” They wouldn’t listen though. Those cops have their priorities so screwed up… 

I’m pleasantly surprised at how I feel after a 2nd 2-hour session in one week. My legs didn’t cramp. My ankle didn’t hurt. My sciatica didn’t act up. I played strong, and threw down some moves. I approve of this result.

2:00 / 2:00 / 9:15 – I’m so far ahead of my annual goal, it’s almost scary. Feels good though! Thanks for tuning in…