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Profile for Jeff Potter > Reviews


Jeff Potter's Profile

Customer Reviews: 43
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Jeff Potter "outyourbackdoor" RSS Feed (Williamston, MI United States)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, tho squarish toe might concern. Q: LEATHER CARE?, April 14, 2015
I like these boots. The squarish toe may not be so fashionable these days but who cares. However, I need to find out how to care for the leather! Does anyone know? The leather is almost like suede. It is thin and flexible. It says full-grain but it's not thick or stout. Nor is it shiny. It has a somewhat rough surface. They were getting a bit scuffed and mottled. The toes were getting a bit shiny while the rest stayed roughish in texture. So I took them to a shoe shine. He said they needed Saddle Soap and he applied it and buffed them. They became shiny but now are entirely mottled and variegated in tones, including even some grey tones. They now look bad. I want to wash out this Saddle Soap stuff if possible. What does this kind of leather really need? I haven't been able to find any info online. I really don't know where to start since I don't know what kind of leather it is. I contacted Born, so we'll see how that goes. Thanks for any advice!

Madshus Adult Hyper U Combi Boot
Madshus Adult Hyper U Combi Boot
Price: $145.25 - $185.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Challenging Classic / Touring Terrain!, January 27, 2015
I've had mine a couple years. Great all around. For both skate and classic. Especially for classic. Perhaps not enough overall support for dedicated skating. But perfect for classic. Actually, I do most of my classic on technically challenging singletrack. The extra support these offer is crucial for the technical downhills. The cuff is low enough that it doesn't interfere with my striding as some other higher Combi boot cuffs have. Also, these have held up to extreme use. I've blown out other brands in a few months. (I don't know why the other reviewer complains about "too much flex up front" being bad for classic: you WANT an easy-hinging forefoot flex for striding.)

Reveal the Path
Reveal the Path
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's good to see an indie bikepacking film!, July 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Some good food for thought in this flick and good campfire ruminations by tired riders. I particularly enjoyed the scenes in crowded Kathmandu and with their local farmer friend. Online streaming vid was a great way to watch. Thanks! (Actually, I wish I could've removed the lower gray area with the progress-slider while watching the flick. At least it was kind of transparent.)

Bicycle!: A Repair & Maintenance Manifesto
Bicycle!: A Repair & Maintenance Manifesto
by Sam Tracy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.07
41 used & new from $10.10

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bike repair is social activism!, May 16, 2013
Maybe it's not obvious, but bike repair is part of social activism. It's a message that hasn't been made lately in manuals. It's nice to see it again here, updated to the era of carbon, suspension and brifters. In the '70s (era of Whole Earth Review) bike repair was seen this way, but with the Yuppie Takeover in the '80s the radical nobility of wrenching was lost except as inside lore. Well, the bike is a tool for liberation -- but only when you understand it and can care for at least the basics yourself, and when you can set it up in the first place so it doesn't let you down. Sam Tracy's "manifesto" covers bike care in a neighborhood style, without jargon. He's a San Francisco urban mechanic and his goal here is saving you $ and frustration. Older bikes are still mostly on the road and are still giving great service -- but they need care! Today's bike is often so complex that it's tempting to just bring it to the shop any time something goes wrong. This can impair your self-sufficiency. Now, good relations with a local shop is part of the Good Life, but you gotta take care of yourself where possible. Self-supported riding is key to today's bike boom. (And the coolest new events, like Gravel Grinders, require it.) (I like the 1st ed cover better than the 2nd, but I suppose the 2nd is nicer -- fixed typos, added features, etc.)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2014 7:16 AM PDT

Wild Shot: Struggles and successes in biathlon and cross country skiing
Wild Shot: Struggles and successes in biathlon and cross country skiing
by Andy Liebner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
33 used & new from $5.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Love of Skiing..., January 25, 2012
Andy Liebner is a fast young Alaskan who went from top junior and collegiate XC ski racing results to signing up for the military the day after 9-11 to then racing around the world to see how far he could go in XC skiing and biathlon. He had many surprising adventures along the way and learned what it means to go it alone (with help from friends). Breakthroughs and frustrations alike abound in his story. The barriers were ENDLESS and only got BIGGER, yet Andy persevered. The finale is fascinating with major twists.

This is the newest XC ski "scene" book. And the only one to come out since Pete Vordenberg's "Momentum," which I published. I didn't publish Andy's book, but I helped -- it's been fun working with the very energetic Andy.

Andy particularly enjoys training with various pals, including some of the best athletes in the world -- such as the #1 all-time biathlete, "King Ole." He's trying to see what they do that makes them so good and he passes along what he learns.

His races give us heat-of-the-moment action ranging from big wins to shocking DQ's.

There are adventures with authority of all types. These are boggling, with embassies and mayors getting into the picture, allies who are enemies, and surprising help. Passion and energy don't always equal diplomacy, but much of his snags seemed inevitable. Andy works on comprehending the "Why? Why me? What the heck?", making interesting progress along the way.

There's business and marketing, too, when Andy starts repping for a wax company in the middle of racing and then becomes in demand as a winning wax tech. But he just wants to race!

The candle gets burned on 3 ends -- but there are highlights of focus.

Andy includes practical insights on the factors separating skiers who are on their way up, including his best tips for technique, and advice on the toughest challenge: the mind game.

It's 250 pages of page-burning fun -- with nail-biting cliffhangers.

Last year Andy won the US Marathon series and College Cup individual titles. Nowadays he's back to globetrotting, coaching Olympians, working in the industry, and waxing. Whew!

Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design
Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design
by Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.79
57 used & new from $3.33

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, close to great, whimsical, December 8, 2011
This is basically the best photo overview of bike design. The diversity depicted is inspiring. I just love a big bike book.

Chronicle Books knows what they're doing -- they consistently pick great topics and execute them well. Whenever you see the "spectacles on a spine" you know you're in for a treat.

(Say, I just heard there's now a "Cyclepedia App" available offering zoomable and 360-degree views of all the bikes! ...Plus extra historic footage. [...]

This book is very satisfying. Still, it has a couple aspects that make me hunger for the next big bike book... I suppose no bike book is exhaustive, and there's always room for more -- but a couple came close in their day (Richard's and Durry/Wadley's). This book has a couple aspects that might baffle a reader. First, the book is a presentation of one architect's amazing collection. This is mentioned nowhere. Michael Embacher's collection is world famous in a few ways, including because it has been touring on its own as an art exhibit with bikes displayed on an amazing S-track near the ceiling of galleries. It's been quite an attraction. This exhibit is shown in a tiny sidebar pic in the book but not explained.

Next, Embacher is not a bike buff per se, but a Viennese designer. He picked bikes that seemed quirky and cool to him. He was even accepting of failure. He went for audacity. If a laugh resulted, that was fine.

Now, many of the bikes depicted are enduring classics. But there are so many amazing bike designs that both astonish and succeed which don't appear. I miss them! Goofy false-start bikes might be more satisfying if successes along similar lines are included. (For instance, it only brushes the ultra-creative world of recumbents.) Oh, to have seen a dozen more 'just right' bikes! But I don't hold a grudge -- it's one guy's collection, and it's amazing! I agree that bike design can have a sense of humor, but more of today's important bikes would've made me happier.

Next, Embacher's text occasionally sparkles, but often seems to be riffing a bit too much. A highlight or two is noted then the subject might wander. Light is OK, but you might notice the lightness in this case. Also, it's German translated to English, which is also usually fine here, but is noticeable fairly often.

This basic book first came out as a German book called "Smart Move." That book included a few pages about the famous touring exhibit and the rationale of the collection -- helpful! It was also candid about the quirky nature of the collection (which still didn't really help it as a bike book, in my view). Thankfully, this new "Cyclepedia" doesn't have as much of the quirky bent and includes more pages, which extra coverage is used on bikes which are classic or useful -- good!

Whew, what complication for a pretty book! Now, just enjoy the photos...

(As a disclaimer, I publish a book, sold here, of pretty bike design called "The Recumbent Bicycle," and a website/magazine of indie outdoor culture which has an anthology, sold here, called "Out Your Backdoor.")
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2011 6:11 AM PST

Johnny Moon
Johnny Moon
by Mike Palecek
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.00
25 used & new from $5.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Look at the Real World, October 14, 2011
This review is from: Johnny Moon (Paperback)
Well, I finished "Johnny Moon" and gave it to my wife to see what she thinks. She reads all the new stuff plus some old. I really liked it. I think it'll "stick" for me. The little boy and his classmates, the young nuns, the two black guys, the smoking priest...the secretary friends in their first apartment. They're all good. Plus JFK and his messages: "It takes a strong boy..." and "We don't do it because it's easy, we do it because it's hard." and how they sparked the imaginations of kids and grownups alike, posing a threat that Palacek only hints at. And his obliqueness creates quite the impact. I liked the pride of the Catholic school in the new president. My uncle did one of those 50-mile walks back then, with his dog and a friend.

It brought me back to elementary school and how ideas and relationships worked and became important back then to everyone involved. How kids keyed off grownups, but also how grownups needed kids, who were maybe like little mirrors for them. ...Like when the young nun slides down the playground wall once and sits on the ground next to Johnny and just sighs and talks to the sky next to him. It's life as revealed from waist-high...all the cues Johnny was given from little hand-waves down at the waist from serious grownups. ...The mystery of the gliding nuns, who were mysterious to others as well. Palacek caught all this and snuck many other important notions along for the ride. Lots of subtexts back then...and today, too.

It resonated for me with Ed Sanders' "Tales of Beatnik Glory," a 60's hippy classic. Sanders was the co-leader of The Fugs, a big little band of the day that you might not know but which was plenty relevant and is called one of the godfathers of punk. What Ed did for the 20-somethings Palacek does through a little kid. "Tales" is great with the hippy-era vibe, which is important for us to remember, and is very strong on anecdote, which makes sense because of the variety of action in those days, but "Moon" might have more depth -- depth of relationship and depth of mystery.

Palachek's personal history is worth mentioning. He's a special kind of writer, the kind we don't see much in the USA anymore. Not a trained writer, a desperate one. Not on a track, on a mission. Oh, they're out there, just never helped or acknowledged by anyone who matters. He was trained as a priest then he served hard time. His is the indie dynamic at its best and is the promise of our society. And the mainstream will refuse to admit that it exists. We have to build our own network to keep this kind of work alive. It's a tough row to hoe, eh? Palacek co-hosts the online radio show The New American Dream.

An Uncrowded Place: The Delights and Dilemmas of Life Up North and a Young Man's Search for Home
An Uncrowded Place: The Delights and Dilemmas of Life Up North and a Young Man's Search for Home
by Bob Butz
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from $0.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Living the creative life up north..., September 2, 2011
In this slim hardcover memoir, Bob Butz tells what it's like to live in northwoods Michigan as a guy trying to make a living selling stories to NYC how-to magazines. The freelance nut is always the toughest to crack.

Butz is a 30-something guy who likes to hunt and fish. It's neat that his usual hunting tool is a homemade selfbow. He even uses it for upland game and waterfowl. Wow!

Here are reflections on the slow life in a small town near Traverse City. A local business owner calls Bob to trap a beaver that's flooding his parking lot. Not many folks live slow enough to understand trapping anymore, but Bob takes the catch to a fur-trader who's even further off the map than he is. We meet people like this in Bob's writing. It's a town with one store, where you can show up in your PJ's.

...Then Bob and his wife have a child and things get trickier. But if we slow down even more, he shows how it all starts to fit together.

It's not easy, though. Work isn't steady, which causes marital stress. Something that many can relate to these days, eh? There's a lot of looking out the back window at an overgrown farm field.

The last essay is one of my favorites. It's an intimate small adventure. He floats a little river in the quiet, snowy winter on a bowhunting outing, camps in the snow, cozied up under a shrub...and has various kinds of up-close luck...

The writing is a bit Jim Harrison-y, from a guy who's still clearly young. It has something of a "quirky-yet-clear observations of a weird-yet-average guy" vibe. His main question is a good one: Can you make a living doing what you love? More Michigan writing is more better, I say. We have something to offer. Our culture mix has long been a distillation of the American story. Regional stories can be as good at revealing the bigger picture as the "national" work which comes from NYC or the isles of academia (which are really just other regions and are biased/provincial if they don't admit their small-town aspects, which they often don't).

Fix-A-Zipper 3055-1 ZlideOn Zipper Pull Replacements Coil 5-Black
Fix-A-Zipper 3055-1 ZlideOn Zipper Pull Replacements Coil 5-Black
Offered by THE BT GROUP
Price: $13.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How do I size these things???, August 12, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There seem to be two ways to size these things. On the product homepage they say to "simply" use a digital micrometer to measure you old zipper. I don't have one of those. They ignore all email. I googled and found another way to measure them: compare your zipper with a printout of a scale that someone has made. However, the resolution just isn't so hot and I can't tell what aligns with what on the scale. I'm not even sure what KIND of zipper I have -- there's no info on determining that anywhere. I ended up buying two sizes, 5 and 8, of the Coil type to try to fix my old REI backpacking tent. Neither one fit. What do I do now?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2012 2:50 PM PST

Hey, I'd Eat This at Home!
Hey, I'd Eat This at Home!
by Michael Gray
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.95
16 used & new from $9.29

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zesty, easy outdoor cooking...that you'll bring home!, December 7, 2010
Michael Gray is an outdoor guide who specializes in sea-kayak trips. But I have a suspicion the paddling is just an excuse. What he loves to do is cook. And please people. In tricky situations. The result is great eating and entertainment - both with a "Wow" factor.

I've been acquainted with Michael and his outdoor enthusiasms for a long time. He's a mix of discerning with gung-ho. So he's ended up running his own adventure company, and in several different parts of the world. The occasion of his book is a fun chance for me to write about him!

Even though he's a bigtime outdoor cook, he's still an outdoor guide. But even the guide hat has two, uh, bills on it. One side is your pro trip organizer/host. Flip it around and you have a top-notch instructor. So, if you want to go fresh-air traveling somewhere, he's your guy. And if, in particular, you want to learn about sea-kayaking or fly-fishing he's your guy, too. Check out [...] to see what I mean.

He gives popular sea-kayak symposium presentations on cooking. And when he's in Michigan I've heard stories about him being hired to make big, difficult, outdoor catering missions come off without a hitch. Word has gotten around that he likes a cooking challenge.

The thing is that there aren't any other truly practical modern outdoor cookbooks out there. --Not with great food that's been developed, honed and actually made time and again to raves from clients, and which works great for 3 traits that don't always go together: ease, portability and pleasure. In short, this cookbook is about simple, sensible, single-burner gourmet cooking. Michael doesn't toot his own horn, but if you don't fully appreciate the amazing impact his approach and recipes will have on whoever you cook for, then the "Backword" at the end will clue you in: he's the Mario Batali of the backwoods but his approach to gourmet saves you time and money, and you don't haul anything more around with you than usual. What's more, every recipe has been table-ized and scaled for us, to cover several common sizes of groups. There are even meal lists for common trip-lengths.

The book has a neat "Group of Seven"-evoking cover painting of a feast-of-kayaking scene - with a trail-proof, lay-flat, ruggedly coated cover stock.

In organizing the book, Michael starts at the beginning. What do you need from outdoor cooking? You need food to fuel the furnace. It has to be hard-working, healthy and local/fitting to the region where you are. And it has to be based around foodstuffs that are easy to get and easy to carry. From there he covers what you need to know to pack and carry it. Then there's the equipment to cook it and serve it. Then stoves. Then how to manage your moveable outdoor feasting (and avoid attracting critters). Then come the recipes. Each one is flagged with icons that let you know what kind of trip it's best for. *Heavy, complex recipes are for "base camps" accessible by car or where you'll be staying awhile; *mid-weight meals are for water-borne camping (fresh fish!); *light-weight action for backpacking; and, finally, *fresh produce or vegetarian angles. Most recipes can be spun multiple ways.

This is zesty camp cooking for all levels and regions. But what stands out is the sea-kayaking, canoe-tripping angle. If you can haul a soft cooler along, plus fishing gear, Michael's book will help you make quick food that will send your group into applause. But the dry-land oriented recipes are just as good. Maybe the waterworld food stands out because it usually gets short shrift. Now, water travel can vary a lot: freshwater, saltwater -- northern, southern, Caribbean -- where these angles come into play Michael gives us the nod - as in when to use bananas, plantanos, or canned pineapple. Really, the bases are covered in ways that go beyond usual camp fare while staying within the same cargo and expense parameters. These recipes use few expensive freeze-dried ingredients. There's a LOT you can use in the regular grocery store which Michaels clues us in on, especially the "eternal" cabbage!

The subhead of the book is "A Fresh and Fearless Approach to Wilderness and Home Cooking" and he means it. The big punchline of this book is that you'll have dozens of quick'n'easy - and superior -- recipes for cooking at home.

You gotta know that folks eat better when they head off for a week of wild weather and stuffsacks with Michael than they do at home. That's why they've been requesting this book for a decade. I'm going to be cooking from it, too! ...And my family is going to be happy about that, especially Martha!

Michael loves his tried'n'true old outdoor cook kit, with his priceless antique Woody dutch oven nested in its two heavy pieces closest to his heart. These two 9-inch aluminum pans, which fit together for packing (one flips over to be the lid) weigh NINE POUNDS! It takes real loyalty to haul that baby around. The great thing is that after it had been long unavailable Michael and a friend decided to reproduce it and now he sells a new, improved Woody!

Michael's approach shows he knows what's important. An easy-to-grab lunch fixins' bag keeps people happily paddling through a day of wind and waves, but when the day is done, something else is needed. Thus Michael lets us know that a lot of these recipes SMELL GREAT while they're cooking. Smell counts after a hard day outdoors! And the magic dutch oven pops up whenever Michael writes about great smells. Yes, baking hasn't always been thought of along with quick'n'easy one-burner camp cooking, but Michael shows the way.

Then there's good looks and good times, which come up a lot as well. If you can improve a dish in a few seconds -- in taste AND entertainment -- with something that weighs hardly anything to bring along, why not? Thus we quite often see brandy and liqueurs being used for added piquancy - and sometimes for flaming flare.

With Michael's writing it's easy to visualize the flavor and the action, but I would request for the next edition: more, more, more photos! The text and photos are black'n'white, but the photos we get turned out fine. All I can say is MORE! And BIGGER. And ACTION - I'd love to see picturesque camp kitchen scenes, and folks scarfing down their treats, and maybe a "funny but I'm glad I wasn't there" pic showing why we need hot drinks on a day full of cool moisture.

The sidebar stories are a treat, too - especially the one about the busman's holiday where two guides take time out and skimp it on the cheap. I'm not sure, but it sounded like they baked French-bread in a bottomless coffee can rolled in coals - huh?

Yeah, it's a bold cookbook -- but it's not over anyone's head, so check it out.

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