The author found something rather calm and cool amidst the chaos of cooking.
The author found something rather calm and cool amidst the chaos of cooking. (Photo: shutterstock.com)

How I ditched the Lean Pockets and learned to love cooking

I was my family’s white angel of death – the black sheep of the house. I grew up in a household of accomplished and gifted bakers, bearing the hex of being completely uninterested in cooking. At first, it was the frustration of knowing I’d never fry an egg like my father or bake a cake like my mother, but then my exasperation slowly fizzled into utter laziness and an unstoppable dependency on fast food.

Aside from the adventurous night where I’d concede to defeat over starvation and muster up the courage to throw a couple chicken strips in the oven, I had never legitimately made any sort of meal for myself ... ever. Until recently.

I have this particular foible in which the idea of a potentially-positive life-change sends me into a spiral of anxiety. For example, upgrading my sock collection once drove me into a psychological meltdown. Cooking used to give me a similar feeling, and I’d find myself too sidetracked with the "what ifs" to even venture into experimentation. The thought of taking care of myself via the act of chopping ingredients and putting said ingredients into a pan caused me to blow a microchip.

However, sometimes you need someone in your life to put the little things into perspective. This happened to be my girlfriend. As compared to the hodgepodge of cutting, frying, and chopping that was my parent’s method, her calm and meticulous demeanor with food put my mind at ease. Watching her move effortlessly through the kitchen to create these delicious, wonderful meals inspired me in way I’d never imagined possible.

So, I began cooking. It started off slow – boiling pasta, chopping cucumbers, taking ice cream breaks – but I made progress and, oddly enough, got really into it. Compared to my past life of breakfast Hot Pockets and dinnertime Lean Pockets, I found nothing more soothing than roaming up and down the aisles of food stores, hunting for fresh produce.

When you watch your parents cook, or anyone with exceptional skills …

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For the first time in my life, I became excited about vodka.
For the first time in my life, I became excited about vodka.

Duck vodka? Yes, Duck vodka

For many years, I would drink whatever vodka was in front of me cut, of course, with the finest sugary fruit juice. I didn't ever really get excited about vodka. But the moment Aylesbury Duck Vodka graced my lips two years ago, I knew my cheap booze swilling days were over, and for the first time in my life, I became excited about vodka.

Never before had I tasted such a complex and delicious vodka. The flavor is enticing, rich and spicy. There are floral notes, jabs of spicy citrus, and even hints of sea brine with this 80-proof spirit vodka. Should I keep saying vodka?

Aylesbury Duck is obviously satisfying on many levels -- and the tale about how the odd name came about is definitely worth telling. So here's the story. About this vodka. Vodka.

It was the winter of 2013 and I was working at a bougie club in Chinatown where the drinks were expensive and the clientele was composed of socially-inept millionaires in white suits. I was the coat-check boy and, along with my responsibilities of hanging up expensive jackets, shawls, and capes, I got hundreds of dollars of free drinks. Life was fine.

And one day, I stumbled into a tasting where a nice British fellow was pitching a vodka called Aylesbury Duck. I was intrigued by the name, and listened to the story of how it all came to be.

Jason Kosmas, one of the co-creators of the vodka, expressed how he wanted to create an identity that would "stand out against all the stern and serious names used by the vodka industry."

We did a little more digging with Jason and he told us this story: "The name was suggested by partner, Kris Roth. In the middle of a list of over 50 suggestions most of which rather obvious sounding and boring was the name ‘Aylesbury Duck.’ Baffled, the question was asked, ‘what is an Aylesbury Duck?"

His response was that Aylesbury Duck was the most noble of the woodland birds, which of course has nothing to do with vodka."

Naturally, the team was nervous about assigning such a strange na…

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Weiner designed this bike to be accessible to anyone.
Weiner designed this bike to be accessible to anyone.
Weiner in his workshop.
Weiner in his workshop.

The software king who's crowdsourcing a new kind of bike

David Weiner spent a lot of time in software. It wasn't until recently that he launched Priority Bicycles -- a cheap, lightweight, and incredibly sexy line of bikes that have blown up all over the Internet.

We talked to Weiner about his inspiration behind Priority and, most importantly, why he left a lucrative career to start a bike company.

OnMilwaukee.com: What were you doing before Priority bicycles?

David Weiner: I spent eight years in the bicycle industry working as a mechanic and then later doing software for bicycle shops. I also worked for one of the largest bicycle companies in the world before focusing on a career in the software business. As the CEO of a multinational software company, I spent the next 10 years of my life working with brands to grow their business by harnessing new technologies. Having grown up in the bicycle industry and living in bicycle-friendly New York City, I was constantly asked for bicycle advice from my friends.

Whether their bicycles were out-of-tune, they ruined their pants from a greasy chain, or they couldn't afford a quality product, they all seemed fed up. I quickly noticed a trend - all of my friends were looking for a bicycle that was visually appealing but not overly technical, lightweight, comfortable, easy to ride, easy to maintain, hard to steal, and affordable. These ended up being my seven principles of quality, and I’ve used this as the foundation for crafting Priority’s bicycles.

OMC: How did you start your company?

DW: After many years of talking about the concept of this bicycle, I wrote a business plan for Priority. I spent years showing the plan to friends before one day deciding that now was the time. I resigned from my position as CEO at UXC Eclipse, one of Microsoft’s largest business system implementers, in February and began working full time on Priority.

OMC: Why do you think it's doing so well?

DW: I feel like there is a gap in the bicycle market and that we have filled it. Everyone wants …

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See? Life before the Internet was creepy, too.
See? Life before the Internet was creepy, too.

These men's swingers ads from the '60s are horrifying

Retronaut is the time capsule of the Internet that shows us what life was like before we were born. Starting from the early 15th century and spanning over 400 years of history, Retronaut showcases photographs of some the strangest aspects of yesteryear.

By far, one of the most peculiar set of photos is a collection of men's swinger ads from the '60s. Each one of these guys looks like they belong on a sex offender mega-list.

Easily the most unsettling use of the phrase: "willing to learn."

The guy on the left looks like the catatonic love child of Paul Simon and Matthew McConaughey. The guy on the right is wearing a belt made out of people.

"Married, wife doesn't swing. No inhibitions. Discretion necessary. Photo necessary." Nobody will ever believe you.