Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I saw a SPACE SHIP over Madison last night!

I did not expect to have such a fun evening last night.  At work this (and next) week, we are doing what we call our 'spring outage'.  In case I've never mentioned it, I work at a power plant right on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Being a power plant, (even though we don't run all the time) we can't just take apart our major equipment whenever we want. The people need the juice man, they neeeeeeed it. So, what we do is, usually twice a year (spring and fall), we have an "outage" where the powers that be, know we're not going to be available to run (or at least part of the plant isn't available).  Anyway, we just started our spring outage on Sunday.  For me, it means I'll be working a couple weekends, and longer days.  Because of this I try to keep my 'non-work' commitments light.  This is why I didn't expect to have such an eventful evening last night.  There's a lot of back story to this one, so hang in there.

Last week, on Monday, I finally got off my ass and got to work on my (humble for this year) motorcycle projects. They mostly consisted of repair and refinement stuff.  I replaced the stock starter with a heavy duty one. To do that I had to remove the oil tank.  Since I had the tank off, I no longer had an excuse not to replace it with one that I bought at a swap meet (for $20) last year.  The only reason I bought it was because the black paint (what else?) on the stock oil tank had started peeling off of it; badly, and that it was a great deal.  Under the peeling paint was chrome.  I'm no painter, but I can't fathom why the HD factory would simply paint a chrome oil tank.  It seems destined to do what mine is doing,  peel off.  Maybe I'll finish peeling the paint off of it (and recover the cool "patent badge" emblem stuck on it) and sell it on Ebay.  More likely, it'll get added to my ever growing collection of parts that used to be on my bike. 

I also managed to replace the gasket on the top of the fuel tank, where the fuel pump (it's fuel injected) fits into the gas tank.  Last year I had the mounting plate that the pump hangs off of modified so that I could install a different (cooler) dash board.  When I re-installed it, I ignored the service manual's warning to replace all 10 screws, that hold it to the gas tank, with new ones.  I also didn't replace the gasket. It was nice rubber and looked fine to me.  Oops! Of course what happened was the first time I filled up the gas tank last year (for my club's annual Pizza Run in early May) gasoline started running out from under my nice new dashboard and all over my shiny scooter. Of course it happened right in front of everyone because it was the first time I leaned the bike over, onto it's kick stand, after filling up. (Embaaaraasssssinnnnng)   I managed to siphon out enough gas so the level was below the leaky gasket and screws (when on the kick stand), but being the lazy ass I am, I didn't try to fix it until now.  I simply never put more than two gallons of  gas into it all summer.  It wasn't that hard. with the purchase of my new car last spring, my poor motorcycle was severely neglected anyway.  I'm hoping to ride more this year, but the allure of nice summer days with the top down in my Bimmer is still pretty strong. I think it may take a few years to come to a equilibrium.

I know that this post, so far, has not only nothing to do with a SPACE SHIP, but very little to do with last night.  Sorry, but it's my blog and if you want to hear about the SPACE SHIP I watched flying over Madison, then you're just going to have to read the background story.  Bear with me, it's not that bad.  (Hint: you can skip to the bottom if you want, but what fun would that be, you big cheater)

Just as I finished tightening the ten NEW screws that hold that plate down my phone rang. It was Kimmy, a friend of mine who hangs out at a bar I go to sometimes, The Sundown, near where Hwy 51 crosses Milwaukee Ave.  Kimmy, gleefully informs me that I they drew my number for the little lottery they do there on Mondays. It's one of those deals where each week (starting just after the previous drawing) you give them a buck and register for the weekly drawing, which is always at the same time and day (7:00pm Monday).  Every person who's ever given them a buck, has a number (I think it may be limited to a certain number of numbers, but I'm not sure) You have the same number every week. For life, I guess. (I'm #21 because I happened to be there when they first started doing it).  If you're 'signed in' (paid your buck) and you're actually present, you win the money and the pot goes back to zip.  If you're 'signed in', but not actually there, you get half of the pot, the other half carries over to next week.   And, if you're a putz,  like me, who is not signed in, and not there, then you get nada. Not one penny. You do get a heaping load of grief from anyone who is there, and has your phone #, not to mention random people for a week or so.  I told Kimmy over the phone, that I was on my way over and that I wasn't even gonna try and wash the smell of gasoline off my hands, AND that she was going to buy me a drink.  You see, I had doused my hands in the gas inside of my fuel tank while trying to weasel the awkward fuel pump assembly into it. Since I really was at a good stopping point, I put my stuff away, hopped in the car and headed straight over to take my medicine.  Of course, when I got there I was ribbed pretty well, but I got several drinks bought for me, which was a nice consolation prize.  The worst of it was, OK get ready for it, this is the SECOND time I was "not present, and not signed in". Nice huh?  This time the pot was just over $500, the last time I missed out, it was over a thousand bucks.  Ouch! Of course, many people, including Patty, the attractive (and fellow BMW driver) manager of the place, reminded me of that fact. Like I would forget.  Fortunately, I'm not currently in the financial difficulties a lot of people are, so I'm able to shake the 'loss' off pretty well.  At least I got a nice story about it.  And, Yes, I did stink up the place like gasoline.  You'd think I'd learned my lesson, but last night, instead of going to the Sundown to have my number drawn again (It wasn't), I was again working on my bike, and then, later, watching a SPACE SHIP zoom over Madison's pretty skyline.

As I said, I didn't have any plans, to do anything at all after work yesterday, but it was such a beautiful day, I had the urge to finally get my bike running and on the road, for at least a test ride.

 Last Sunday (two days ago), after working all day, I went straight to the garage and finished up getting the bike, mostly, put back together> I installed the new battery, filled the oil tank, etc..... Even though I've had the battery on a trickle charger since it arrived a month or two ago, it didn't have enough juice to start the bike up. At least, I hoped that's all the problem was.  I was, at least, happy that the new starter seemed to function properly, but I'd be lying it I said I wasn't a little disappointed.  There's a certain amount of pride that goes along with pressing the 'start' button after completing some work, and having the machine roar to life. I didn't get that. Bummer.  Since I didn't have any jumper cables with me, I left. I wanted to get a good nights sleep, not only was I starting work an hour earlier than normal (outage hours), but the clocks were being sprung forward during my shrinking window of opportunity to sleep, shrinking it even more.

OK, we're finally up to yesterday, Monday.  Again, after a long day of work, my plan was to simply go home and zone out in front of the tube.  I coordinated, by email, with Lisa that she would hang out for a simple low key, no excitement evening of mindless TV.  That plan changed before I even left work.  Like I said,  it was such a glorious springlike day, that I decided I had to try and get the bike running right after work. I emailed Lisa and told her to meet me at the garage, instead of my condo. I figured I better show her how to install the back seat (P-pad) onto the bike, if she doesn't want to sit on the fender.  There was no time like the present.  She agreed.  Once I got there (with the top down on the bimmer. Hooray!) I took my jumper cables that I brought from home, and hooked them up.  The bike started on the first crank.  Like I said, Pride! I felt great. Not only was the bike running for the first time after working on it, but it was about to be ridden. On top of all that, it was helped to life by my other beloved vehicle, my BMW.  Now that my bimmer's jumped the Harley, I think they're some sort of blood brothers. OK maybe not, but they're definitely not strangers anymore, they've got a bond. Right? I know, I know, I'll stop.

While I let the bike sit and idle, I installed a long overdue set of passenger foot pegs.  I wasn't going to make Lisa put those on along with the token effort of putting on her own seat. The bike hasn't had any (official) place for a passenger's feet for quite a while now.  When I first purchased the bike, I had a set of passenger floorboards installed by the dealer.  After the feet they were bought for, left me, and town, I took them off. I eventually sold them (still the only thing I've ever sold on Ebay). Like a fool, back when I bought the bike, I didn't collect the original foot pegs that the dealer took off of it, so when I decided I better have someplace, other than around my waist, for passengers to put their footsies, I had to buy new ones.  It's been an unbelievable hassle getting these foot pegs. You'd think it would be simple.  If this post weren't already of epic length, I'd get into it, but I wont (your welcome).  After installing them (the right one, is still not quite right, and I need to fiddle with it a little more) I finally got to take that much anticipated test ride. The sun was getting close to setting and was really low in the horizon.  I could feel the warmth of this first really nice day of the year starting to fade away as slipped on a pair of work gloves, put my beloved scoot into gear and headed for the nearby clubhouse on my test ride.  Man, did it feel good!  A few minutes at the clubhouse and I turned around to head back.  Shortly after I got back and got my cycle situated back in the garage, a club brother of mine, Stench, showed up.  I had offered, to him, my old battery. I'm pretty sure it still just fine (I just wanted a higher capacity one to go with my higher torque starter, which I need because of my higher compression motor, etc..), so when I overheard him say he was about to order a new one, I offered it to him. He's my brother after all.  He and his "old lady" (I'm not terribly fond of that term, but it is what it is, and it's really not used disparagingly at all. Really) had been out riding around, enjoying the weather. I told him where it was, and that he could get it anytime, he just happened to show up when I was there. Nice, I like when things like that happen.  While I was talking to him I got a call from Lisa for final directions to the garage. I accidentally gave her the wrong street name, which sent her on a little bit of a wild goose chase, for which I later made up for. I manged to navigate her in.  After showing her how to put the P-pad on, and both of us sitting on the non running bike, to test her seat and foot pegs out (with me making engine noises and pretending to be riding down a country road), we left.  I had her follow me home to try and finally begin that relaxing night in.

Once at my place, the weather was so nice we ended up on my balcony just hanging out and talking. We were both soaking up the remnants of a really nice day.  It was just starting to get dark (daylight savings time in effect and all).  A few minutes earlier, as we drove toward my place, the sky was still fiery red and orange on the horizon from what must have been a stupendous sunset.   We had a great view of the it, over Lake Mendota as we passed by James Madison park.  If it were 15 or 30 minutes earlier, instead of turning on Basset St, to go home, I would have gone up to the parking spots, by Washburn Observatory on campus, to watch the sunset, but instead I just went home, saving that treat for another time.  I think it was about 7pm or so now.  I happened to look up and pointed out that there were a couple stars out.  We were watching the sky and I realized that one star had that familiar reddish tint to it. I told Lisa I think that it wasn't a star at all, but Mars, our neighbor.  I went inside to find my nifty star chart to prove the fact but I couldn't find it. I thought I had left it inside of my stargazing book "Turn left at Orion", but it wasn't there. I'm sure when it turns up, I'll have a V8, "A-ha" moment. Until then, it's missing.  I did manage to find my nifty green (532nm) laser pointer.  This thing is so cool. You use it to point out stars to people, because unlike a regular laser pointer, with this one, you can see the beam. It's perfect for pointing out stars (or planets, or SPACE SHIPS). I also had a planetarium app on my iPhone, but for some reason it wouldn't load up. (I've since verified that I was right, and that was indeed Mars we were looking at.) Since I had the iPhone out, I decided to see if the International Space Station was due for a flyby, using one of my favorite apps "GoSatWatch". Remarkably, according to my app, the ISS was due to be visible from here in less than an hour (at 8:17).  I asked Lisa if she'd ever seen a space ship fly by before, and like most taxpayers, she hadn't. I then asked if she wanted to go see it. She said, sure.  I grabbed my camera, my remote release, and my tiny little tripod and we left for a nice walk out to the bike path next to John Nolan Ave.  After walking around, looking for the best place to view it (according to "GoSatWatch" it was going to break the horizon to the Northwest, get as high as about 1/3 of the distance between the horizon and straight up, and then disappear in the Northeast.  Once we found a place to watch from, I set up my camera on the rocks along the thawing lake. I tried to frame the shot to get the capitol building, the sky where the ISS would be, and the Monona terrace all in the view. In hindsight, I somehow cut the Monona terrace in half, but other than that I got what I wanted.  I tried taking a few practice shots, to get the camera settings correct. This was going to be a long, long, exposure. On the order of maybe two minutes (the entire flyby was to be 3 minutes, but my field of view was smaller than that).  After about four practice shots, and about a dozen queries of  "how much more time" to Lisa, who was holding my iPhone, and I think, starting to doubt she'd see anything at all, I made my final adjustments and watched the sky as cars, joggers, walkers, and bicyclists rode by, unaware that a SPACE SHIP was about to fly right over Madison,s pretty skyline. Then, just after 8:17 pm, I saw it and pointed it out to Lisa. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my nifty green laser, but she soon saw it too.  There's a certain feeling of power that comes from standing  on the edge of a lake, and with nothing more than a gizmo, much smaller than a Star Trek tricorder, be able to confidently tell someone that something that looks exactly like a star, but moves across the sky, is going to appear.  And then it does.  I'm not sure, but I think she was a little impressed.  Once the SPACE SHIP passed by the  light pole that was just outside of my camera's field of view, I triggered open the shutter. The aperture was set to a little f-stop of 18. And I waited, probably with my jaw open until that moving star went past Monona Terrace, at which point I released the shutter, closing it after having had it open for a total of ninety two seconds.  Here's the photo. It's not perfect, but if you look carefully, along the top of the frame you can see a line that arcs across it.  That's the International Space station, A SPACE SHIP, as it flies at 17,500 miles per hour over the mid west, including Madison, Wisconsin. Living inside of that little line of light are five people. The crew of Expedition 22.  How cool is that!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bye Bye Blogger (and an apology to Miss Snips)

I've had a Blogger account for almost a decade. Granted I didn't use it too much until recently, which is why it was a real bummer when I got a message from them a few weeks ago that they would no longer be supporting (or doing) FTP uploading to privately owned domains (like richyaeger.com).  They have some sort of work around that would enable it to feel the same for you (the consumer of my blogging) but I like the idea that MY stuff, is on MY server. It took a long time to cultivate that feeling of ownership of my little piece of cyberspace (is that word still used), so I don't want my blog living on someone Else's servers, just yet.

I've decided to try out WordPress. It seems like it's very nice with the quick look I've given it.  I have no idea how I'm going to relocate all of my past stuff to the new blog. If I have to cut and paste, one entry at a time, I guess that's what I'll do, but I have a feeling that someone who bleeds php, html, and more, may have ginned up some sort of migration tool. I'll let my fingers to the walking (Google should buy that marketing gimmick).

I was hoping to get the initial set up on my server done quickly, apparently WordPress is known for that, but my new mySQL database that I set up with my host is still listed as "pending" even though it's been a couple hours (they say it MAY take up to A hour).

Oh my! I just got an email telling me I got a comment on a previous post. Hooray! Let's see what it is..........

............It was one of the Peach Pies.  She liked the blog.....and corrected me.  Apparently Miss Ginger Snaps is really Miss Ginger Snips (as in the sound the shears of a professional hair stylist makes). Although thinking of the word "snap" makes me recall that at one point, the other day, around the traditional Schwaklakk cluster of tables  we all "snapped" our approval (mockingly) of something that was just too cool to clap for. I think maybe it was the poster for some performer.

Please accept my humble apologies Miss Ginger Snips. If I ever decide to bend to societies unrelenting pressure to get a haircut,  (I haven't been near shears, clippers, or even my dad's Flowbee (yes it's true) in at least 3 years now),  I will put my browny locks in your delicate, yet powerful,  hands.    Hopefully on stage, with you in your, yet undesigned, sexy hairstylist burlesque costume........Oh my........sorry, I got a little carried away there.  Anyway, sorry Miss Ginger Snips. 

Now I can't just go back to rambling on about SQL databases and FTP uploads. It seemed so interesting (and shiny) just a few minutes ago.

Thanks for the comment (and the content of it) Miss Kitty. You guys (and by that I mean gals) rock!

I'm out!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


How did the time get away from me. It seems that I'd barely gotten the soap out from underneath my fingernails when, BAM!, here it was again.  That's right, yesterday was  SCHWAKLAKK!  For those of you too lazy to follow a link to find out what it is, I'll oblige you. Schwaklakk is an invented holiday in which the only main purpose is to carve bars of Ivory soap into whatever thing (or idea if you're artsy shmartsy) your heart desires. From what I gather it used to be a family thing, but it's slowly grown into a 'almost' event. 

It's ironic that my very previous post was about the Peach Pies, because it was my two favorite pies who invited me to this wholesome celebration, last year, my first time.  Way back then, I had just gotten my beloved iPhone and through the use of Google and iTunes, I copied a bunch of images of things I though could  be readily carved from a bar of soap onto my phone.  I had photos of bath tubs, my ugly 'contour' chair (which I hope to introduce you all too someday), beds, and a bunch of artsy sculptures.  I ultimately decided to try and copy one of the sculptures. A sexy bronze (I think) semi abstract depiction of a woman sitting on the ground with her head resting on her knees.  Take a look at the original that I hoped to copy.

I figured it was challenging, but doable. As I got there before the others, I got started right away.  The people who organized it had all the soap you could ever want, and a bunch of fancy artist tools, in addition to tons and tons of toothpicks, to use for carving.  One cool thing I disovered pretty quick, was that the screen of an iPhone is almost exactly the same size as a bar of Ivory Soap. so I simply placed a piece of paper over my screen, and traced it out (I never claimed to be original).  Then, on the advice of the lady in charge, I transfered the image onto my soap by poking holes through the paper, along my tracing lines. It worked just as advertised.  My goal was to get the profile carved out, and then work on getting the right thicknesses done. Unfortunately, I had another appointment (I, for the life of me, cannot remember what, but I think I was going to Chicago for something), plus this was now several hours later and there had been lots of fun conversation with my friends and some new aquaintences.  I got the profile pretty much done, which was a fine stopping point. So, that was it for 2009 Schwaklakk for me.  Here's a couple photos of my soap carving from last year.


Obviously, I didn't finish it, but I's still very proud of it.n (except for the fact that I broke the stupid base while working on it) As a matter of fact, I conscider Schwaklakk 2009 to be some sort of an artistic awakening for me.  Since then, I've felt myself becoming more creative. Maybe some special day, I'll use it to wash with, until then it's sitting smack in the middle of my fireplace's mantle.

Ever since last year I've been torn about whether to bring that one back to the next Schwaklakk, to try and finish it, or to simply leave it the way it is.  I'ts actually a little embarrasing how much I rolled that thought around in my head.  Ultimately I decided to leave it as is, and to do something different this year. 

I'd already decided to go (obviously) again this year, but it was still really nice to be asked, by the same people who introduced me to it, if I were going agin.  They're such a good group of free spirits. So much fun. I told them "hell ya",  I'm glad that they're doing it agian too, I was secretly concerned that they wouldn't be going this year.  I don't know why, maybe because I see similarities between them and myself.  I know I could easily have seen something new, shiny and interesting, and followed that particular rabbit wherever it led me (I just saw Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last week).  But that didn't happen, for them or me, so all was well in the world.

Not only were Kati (she carved a very nice owl, in relief)  and Aaron (he made a fun moustache) already there when I showed up, but they, especially Aaron, were hung over from the previous night's festivities.  They were in attendence (and Kati performed) at "FILTH II", an erotic, boundry pushing art show held at the Inferno (where else).  I missed it last year, and had planned on going this year but decided, as I drove past commercial ave, that I needed a good night of sleep instead, so I flaked out on it.  Foxy Veronica's Peach pies were performing again too.  From what I hear, it was quite the event, with lots, and lots of shots consumed. I felt kind of bad to have missed out, but at least I felt well rested while feeling bad. Right?

Also there again this year was Megan (she carved a butt plug). I gather she's in their group of close friends.  I don't think she's a Peach Pie, but she's in that scene in some way.  Last year I couldn't get a read on her (beyond being cute), she came across as kind of cold (to me).  I remeber thinking that she may just be having a bad day. I like for people to like me, and she seemed indiferent (at best).  This year, I think I must have been right about her having a bad day, because she was a hoot.  A genuine pleasue. She definately seemed to thaw to me, and we've even become eachothers Schwaklakk nemesiss (what's the plural of nemesis?), even to the point that, while I pronounce it propperly, she (being my Shwaklakk nemesis) prounounces it Nem-eh-sigh. (Trust me, this is more funny than it reads).  She brought her boyfriend with her. I can't recall his name, but he was a cool guy (he carved a bunny rabbit), and was great with the movie quotes and other fun banter that made our table the one you would want to be at.  I just now realized that I forgot to ask him about the vintage 35mm camera he had with him.  I really like the simple, non ergomatic design of those things. I think it was a old Lieca, but I'm not sure. 

These people are great fun to hang out with, really fun.  I can't imagine "really" partying with them, I don't know if I could hang, or for how long.  It was a table full of independent, but like, minded folk. For me, it was a rare treat that I savored. I like that I can relate, and get along with all sorts of people, I really think it's my strong suit.  These people are some of the best I've met.

The conversaton was fun, varied, and interesting. All while carving soap, which for me, because I am not much for talking without having something to say, is perfect.  It allows you to simply carve away while the conversation may be somewhere in which I have nothing to add. Fine, just carve on.   Incidentally, that didn't happen often.  Topics ranged from:  possble new porn genres, including CPAP mask porn, and Single Penetration (SP) porn.  Or, the use of the term 'Al dente" (as in pasta) as a description of a state of male arousal (Unfortunately, I just checked, and it's already in the Urban dictionary, so we didn't coin a phrase).  I recall a discussion about a newpaper advice column that dealt with the uncomfortable nature of forgeting peoples names (which I am horrible at), WAY past the point where you should know them.  And countless other things. 

These are the kind of people who would be fun to have over for a dinner party of some sort.  Maybe, I'll think about doing that. It could be a great success!

Alright, back to the soap carving.  This year I decided to use another image from the ones I collected last year. In fact, I'm pretty sure the piece I used as my model must be by the same artist (If you know who it is, please let me know. Really.)  This is the image that I traced from my iPhone this year:

(actually,not that exact image, the one I traced was a front facing image of the same sculpture).

Here's some photos of this one being worked on.  Again, I didn't quite finish it. I had to leave (after over four hours there) to meet Lisa.  She was at some suburban event at a friend of hers, where there were a handful of people that she wanted to meet me (or, for me to meet).  I suppose it was convenient that they were all in the same place. but now I'm sure I'll have problems identifying who is who (much less their spouses etc...)  Oh well, at least I'm honest and upfront about the fact that I'm bad about remembering names.  From there, we went to my place to make homemade soft pretzels (now that I know how). I'd already done the mise en place, so I knew it would be easy, and fun.  Boy was it fun.  Anyway,  As you can see, I definately got farther on this year's sculpture, than last years bar. It's already on my mantle with the other one, although it wasn't that big of a hit with Lisas' friends, or their suburban, poker playing hubbies.  I was seriously tempted to leave my soap with with the Schwaklakk organizers.  They have quite the amazing collection of carved soap from over the years.  They were all on display on the stage (did I mention this took place at the High Noon Saloon ?). It was hillarious to see people pointing out their previous sculptures.  I, being my selfish self, just couldn't bear to let mine go. Maybe next year, I'll both finish one, and leave it behind, hopefully to inspire future Schwaklakkians, or to be discovered as a masterpiece (maybe)

I took a couple group shots of our whole table of carvers, but none of them turned out, too bad, they were fun shots with everyone holding up their creations.

Oh my Gosh, I just realized I completly left out my other favorite Peach Pie. The lovely Ralphie (that's a different story) who I've already introduced to you, as Moxie Rhodes (she carved a chess piece, a Bishop, I think).  She, also was drinking some hair of the dog yesterday.  Apparently everyone is in agreement that there were WAY too many shots taken last night.

Jeesh, I also almost forgot to mention that the adorable new (to me) Peach Pie, whom I neglected to introduce myself to the other night at the Inferno, Miss Ginger Snap, was there.  I'm drawing a blank on what she carved out of her bar of soap.  I must have been distracted, plus, she was way on the other end of the group of tables we had clumped together.  I feel much better now, because Immediately, when I saw her, I rectified my crudeness from the other day and politely introduced myself.   I love having the chance to recitfy the little things.  I was glad to have a chance to get to know her a teeny bit.  Like all these women, she is very comfertable in her skin.  She seems pretty cool.

OK, I hope to see you all out there for Shwaklakk 2011.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies

Last night, in an unusual late night out (on a work night) I schlepped myself over to Madison's local freakfest for some entertainment from some of my favorite people.  No, I'm not speaking of Madison's watered down, and declawed Halloween. I'm talking about the Inferno.  I went to watch Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies. They're a local burlesque troop I've become a great fan of. 

Quite a while ago I met two of them (Kitty LaRue, and Moxie Rhodes) at the Frequency. Back then I didn't have a clue I'd get to see both of them (and their friends) in garters, corsets, pasties, fishnets, and things I have no idea what they're called (but I like 'em). I only thought they were another in a long line of cool and interesting people I've managed to meet while hanging out there.  These women are the embodiment of empowered. Not in a man hater, old school feminist, sort of way, but in the true sense of the word.  When they are performing, they are in utter control of their selves. Not to mention downright sexy.  Did I mention they're sexy? Sexy, and sexy too!

The last time I saw this particular dyanmic duo, was down at my clubhouse. They stopped in one night while I was playing bartender there. As usual they were having a gay old time, and brought some irreverent attitude into the joint. Often the place can get stuffy with a lot of posing and 'acting cool'.  I affectionately call these two professionally teasers, my "Cool mine Canaries", because they seem to be willing to push to the ultimate limit, for cool's sake.  If they're involved, chances are, it's something cool. (IMO).   Also at the house this particular night, were a handful of 1% club members (Google it).  My club usually has as little to do with that kind of crowd, but occasionally, they show up, and we try to be cordial.  They operate in a entire different world than my club does. They're all serious, while we're more fun loving with a side of serious. As I was getting ready to leave (I had plans for later that morning, and it was probably around 2 or 3 am anyway) I noticed that my perky pals were being chatted up by a pod of the 1% crew. They're big girls (I mean all grown up, you know), but before I left, I still took a moment or two to discreetly explain the broad differences between my sort of club, and their type of club. Very often, people think a biker is a biker, is a biker. That is simply not the case.  One of my pair of vaudvillian vixens happens to be married to a chum of mine (who was absent this evening), I felt it was the neighborly thing to do. Plus that chum, also happens to be a bartender that takes very fine care of me, and I'd hate to damage that relationship, by sending his spouse into a possibly dangerous situation w/o any warning.

OK, Back to last night. So, when I walked into the Inferno and sidled up to the bar to try and get a nice beverage among the uber cool crowd there, I hear a scream of "ZigZag" from none other than the effervescent Kitty LaRue. I barely had time to turn when she was in my arms and quickly remembering her intoxicating personality, I had her lifted into the air giving her a huge hug like we hadn't seen each other in years.  Just as quick she wiggled from my grasp and disappeared onto the dance floor. For a moment I thought, 'That's it" but then I saw her gesturing franticly in my direction. I followed her eyes to see that she was gesturing to me, for her bosom buddy, Moxie Rhodes.  Moxie, the pixie like waif, with a near perfect tush, may have the most expressive, yet adorable, face in all humanity. She conveyed a super clear message as soon as Miss Kitty LaRue managed to aim her friends eyes on me.  In maybe less time than it took the punk band that was playing to hit the next beat, her face lit up with recognition, surprise, happiness, and a little gratitude. All of it aimed at me. I was flattered. Now both of them came scurrying over trying to tell my jet turbine weary ears, things I couldn't hear.  I have to admit, I was soaking it up. Two smoking hot peach pies were treating me like a celebrity, and in front of all the super cool , coolios hanging around, seemingly afraid to show happiness, for fear that it would contradict their cool factor.  blah! . My over inflated ego couldn't help but to grow one more size right there. It was blissful. On top of that, my chum, spouse of the Peach pie, was there, and he bought my tasty beverage for me. What a guy, and what a catch he has. The good thing is, he knows it.

After a few minutes of me nodding, or shaking my head as seemed appropriate, the ladies realized that I couldn't hear squat, so they pulled me back, away from the very loud punk band, toward the back of the club. They had a tale they needed to tell.  They went on to tell me how they ended up leaving my clubhouse with the 1%ers and going to hang with them, at their place.  I'm not going to go into what they told me went on (nothing bad) because I told them that they could probably write about it and sell it, it's that good a story. I also told them that they probably would get some unwanted attention from that club, if they did that.  Needles to say, the girls, true to themselves (god bless 'em) seemed to (unknowingly?) walk a pretty dangerous line with the serious boys. Not only that, but apparently they went back again, days later, to recover a forgotten coat.

I still can't decide how much of their actions they knew were needling, and how much was genuine innocence, but they seemed to get out of it just fine, and with a great tale, not to tell too much.

Of course, the whole time I'm listening to their adventures with the underworld, I'm blissfully aware that I'm sitting in the back of an alternative club with, at times, up to maybe five super attractive burlesque performers, and for some reason, they're interested in telling me there stories. I was soaking it up. I love hearing stories. I so often am the one telling them, it's great to be on the listening side, and they were good stories too.

 There was another Peach Pie there, that I hadn't yet met. She sat primly and quietly nearby, while listening to the funny stories from her troop sisters.  In hindsight, I feel bad that I didn't introduce myself during this little BS session, but there was a lot of BS flying about.  But now, after seeing her amazingly spellbinding performance of a young lady dancing (maybe at home?), I'm worried I may only see the sexy character, and not her. Dratz!   She goes by the name Ginger Snap (correction: as you can read in the comment from Kitty, below. The lovely Ginger is a Snip, not a Snap. Got it. Good.), and she's adorable. I hope she's as cool as her partners in tease. Judging by a little facebook stalking, I think so.  I can't wait to find out her story.

 All the women that I've met so far, who do this burlesque thing, in addition to being extreme extroverts, seem to have somewhat mundane, or even normal, day jobs.  I like that my interactions with them is in kind of in the half way point between their stage persona's, and their 'regular' lives (although I've seen hardily none of their regular lives).  I've always like my ability to move among different "worlds", and I think I get on well with these ladies, because they also inhabit different worlds.  It makes me curious, if the darling Ginger Snap, will always be Ginger to me because that's how I first saw her? Hmmmmm. We'll see, I guess.

The performance itself was, as advertised, sexy (especially the belly dancers, and Ms. Snap) and hilarious.  There were cops, pigtails, belly dancing, light bondage, some great Samba dancing (which made me wonder as it was going on, how many other folks in that club had ever heard that music on Copacabana beach in Rio, like me), and even a history lesson. Unfortunately, for me, there is also a male (barely) member of the troop now, complete in high heels and pantyhose. Not to knock him, he's just doing like the girls, and doing what feels good to him, but it ain't my scene, for his bit, I had a drink at the bar.  Oh well, it can't all be perfect, right.

I highly recommend seeing a show, or even trying it out. It must do wonders for self esteem.

I only wish I had photos to put up......but I'm working on that. These girls love to be photographed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bring Google's Fiber to Madison Wisconsin

I've been filling out the Google "nominate your town for Google's High speed fiber". (AS YOU SHOULD TOO)  While doing that, I came across the field in their questionnaire for a link to "supporting material". I figured that I better provide some of that to help ensure that my adopted home town of Madison Wisconsin gets this game changing technology, and that when it does, I can say I helped to get it.  Plus it may also get someone else to read my blog (Hi Google employee-- go ahead and read a couple of my posts while you're here, you may like them)

I've already posted about my idea for a Googe fiber mascot on the FB page  Bring Google fiber to Madison Wisconsin!  I want Madison to have a "Google bird" (think cross between road runner (fast) and Big-Birdish (fun) ,instead of yellow, it would be colored like the Google logo. I haven't decided if it should speak or not yet. We'll see.  Join the FB group, and do the survey for Google, the eggheads will, hopefully, want to see some enthusiasm.  In my opinion, Dane county is perfect for not only Google fiber, but for Googleplex II, but that's a campaign for the future.

Madison is perfect for this project, not just because we want it for ourself, which we do, but because Madison is the perfect place to us as a "test bed" for a technology like this. We have all the characteristics of a metropolis sized city (the good and some of the challenges), without the scale.  Madison is truly a small city, instead of a big town.  All within a very defined geographic area is a downtown area which is as urban as any, sub-urban areas, and rural areas.  Madison is perfect for this for many reasons

  • Geographically
  • Technologically (Home of a prestigious State university & a Google office)
  • Metaphysically (did I mention the Dali Lama is coming here soon)
  • Chronologically  (proven early adopter of technology with our wi-fi)
  • Governmentally (our mayor is fully onboard to get Google fiber)
  • Infrastructurally  (just the right combination of old and new neighborhoods to accurately asses the difficulty of scaling service up for the rest of the world)
  • Emotionally (Everyone I've talked to (who knows about it) is extremely excited, because they too know that Madison is the perfect place for it.
I hope to imbed some sort of funny video here, in order to garner more attention for Madison's bid, but we'll see how things go, before I start sewing a "Google bird" costume for myself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NON renegade radio

Thursday this week (March 4 2010) at 7:00pm I'll be doing my radio show, all about the road trip. Tune into WORT 89.9fm, or listen online at http://www.wort-fm.org/ . If you miss it, I'm sure I'll post it here, but you can also get it from WORT's archive page. I think they stay on there for like two months.

I just wrote out a real nice Facebook Event invite. It's called "A live radio show, all about my NASA road trip of a lifetime." Search for it, and get onboard. How else do I know if you're out there?

I build a Picasa photo album. I have a link to the photos on my homepage http://www.richyaeger.com/ but I'm going to put a slide show in here.  It's most of my favorite photos from the trip (except the ones I cant find). Tell me what you think.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

20 February 2010 --- Winter Fest

Alright. I'm trying a piece of technology from Picasa. It generates a snipet of html that should embed a slide show into this page. I think I'll add a few of my favorite pics as regular link by itself, but I took a lot of photos, and I liked a lot of the ones I took. You can always click on the slideshow to go to the Picasa albumn.

My day started pretty early for a Saturday. My plan was to go the winter farmers market. I got up and headed toward the capitol square. I met my neighbor outside my building and had a nice chat about my recent trip to watch the Shuttle. She was out walking her dog, just like a lot of people I saw that day.

I walked to the Monona terrace. Once there, I quickly figured out that the farmers market wasn't held there anymore.  It moved to the Madison senior center a few years ago. Darn memory! What was going on a the convention center however, was some sort of gay pride conference. After snapping a few shots of some of the characters there, I made my exit.

I stopped by the Winter Fest, where the organizers had trucked in snow and coated the entire capitol square with it, making a cross country ski track, right there. It was early but after walking around for a while I saw that a race was starting. It was the High School kids racing. There were teams from all over the state present. Like I said, most of my photos from there are in the slide show, but I'm going to put a few in here, cuz I like 'em a lot.
After the race, I asked a group of racers, how it went. Guess which one didn't do well.
Then I asked, who did better than they expected. Now that's happy!

Like I said, the dogs were definitely out that day.
 There's apparently even a Madison Winter Festival mascot. I was originally thinking that there was a resemblence to the Sexual harrasment Panda, 
but then I overheard a passerby say "I love your beer, man", and it hit me, it's the Hamms beer mascot. Kind of fitting, but unintended, I'm sure.

Later, when walking down State street, I took more photos. I like this one of a group of girls eating pizza in the front window of Ians Pizza. I think they may even be eating the famous mac-n-cheese pizza.

I watched the skiers and snowboarders grinding down the rail on MLK street. I even got a neat photo of a guy taking a photo (I don't know why I like those so much)

And just a few feet closer to Monona Terrace was the sled hill for the kids. So cute. I really liked the way the line formed, going up the hill.


There was also an ice sculptor there. I got a bunch of photos of him doing his thing, look in the slide show, but this one I like. There's a strange resemblence, I think.


As I was walking by Teddywedgers, I pointed out the store and asked Lisa if she'd ever had a "Pasty" from there (or anywhere), when I noticed this hand written sign.
I spent many mornings BS-ing with Myles as we waited for his first batch of Pasties of the day to come out of the oven. You see, his shop, Teddywedgers, opens at 6:30, and I have to be at work by 7. It was always pretty tight, time wise, for me. My on-time status for work was often determined by when the first batch of pasties were put in the oven. I'd show up and stand outside, trying to look pitiful and cold until Myles would unlock the door and let me inside while we waited together for that first batch. The smell is great.  We would talk about traveling, and the places we've been, or where he was planning on going. He was a good man, and like me, he liked to tell stories. Unfortunately for me, I came a little too close to being late for work, too many times. While I enjoyed talking with Myles, and I really loved eating those delicious pastys, I had to stop going by on a regular basis. I would occasionally get a pasty if I were driving to work (thus negating the time issue), but my desire to cut out food that I don't make myself (on a regular basis)It was a bit of a shock to see that sign. RIP Myles.

OK, here's the slide show, with the rest (of the decent ones)

a bit behind

OK, OK, OK I know I said I was going to spend my day off studiously writing awesome blog entries that you all could read and thus re-experience my fun Saturday from last week, with me.  Uh...I didn't do that. Nope, I ended up (after my 7p-8p shift at WORT) going to the Frequency, and while I was there I somehow got on the topic of the Live Rocky Horror show. So...I decided to go to it. It was the opening show on Thursday night (10p). Unfortunately I had my car, so Instead of just walking over to the Orpheum, I had to drive (which was nice) and park over there(which wasn't as nice). Eventually I found a good spot (actually, I got the rockstar spot by by the triangle market on the corner of State, Henry, and Johnson), it was 30 min only parking, but I decided to risk it (no ticket later, thank you).

I got my ticket, a medium popcorn, and waded into the sea of freaks (but my kind of freaks) to pick out a seat. I got a decent seat, in the front 1/3 of the theater, the farthest left seat of the right hand section. I had a open row in front of me, so I didn't have to constantly get up to allow people by, not that I mind doing it, but it's nice to not have to.

The show started promptly at ten, but only after the cast members mingled about in the audience for a while. Some of 'em were obviously soaking up the attention, some were playing their part, and some were chatting with, I assume, friends and relatives.  One even grabbed a hold of my pony tail from behind. I told her that "it doesn't come off, no matter how hard she pulls" She responded with a sultry, "ya, but do you want me to try", then she disapeared (without trying).  I'm not sure which of the cast it was, but it wasn't one of the overtly queer (is that an OK term to use? I don't want to offend) , male dancers (not that there's anything wrong with that) , It was one of the girls. I'm 99% sure of it.

Once. the show started I was immediately transported back to high school, where I'd been introduced to Rocky Horror, or at least the soundtrack. Between the band (named: Sweaty Nut Sack) and the performers, they did it, IMO, to perfection. Exactly like I remember the soundtrack.  The audience was involved, and having fun, the performers nailed it, and I had a blast. They were given a well deserved standing ovation after the show, and I think almost everyone, including me, did the Time Warp again!

As much as I wished I had my T1i with me, I had to settle for a couple crappy iPhone pics.  There horrible, but I'm gonna put one or two up anyway. Here you go:

Just a note. I've spent hours today trying to bone up on using Picasa, and getting my photos into it, so there may be some problems with these, it's my first try at using Picasa, bear with me. It doesn't seem as simple as Photobucket (for getting links embedded), but other than that it seems pretty good. We'll see. I'm a Googleite. I could probably better survive a major blackout before surviving a major Google outage. Don't fail me Google.


 OK, I won't make you suffer with more awful photos.

After the show. I zipped back over the Frequency and hung out with Darwin, Jess, Liz, Nate, and (as always seems to be the case, for me, there)  a new, interesting friend.  This one with a cool name (that I can't quite remember, but it starts with "ch" and ends with a type of cat). I hung out 'till bar time giving rave reviews of Rocky Horror, and talking about all sorts of stuff. A great place.

Here's a  few photos I took of the place a couple days ago. I like 'em.

This is Darwin, thank him when you see him.

These are long exposures. I'm still learning how to get good shots, so you're gonna see a lot of blurry stuff for a while, I bet.
Darwin, on the move, while a band plays in the back, and one patron is on a laptop, and another on a smart phone.
The Frequency back bar, notice my telegraph, and the rock'm sock'm robots, and also the cool "rain" lamp, with the naked lady.

Anyway, I got home, slept in, and instead of writing all about the previous weekend, I lived this one.  I went over to the day care center,  that Lisa runs, and as promised,  I took photos of her charges, for her.  I had a good time. It's really fun to play with kids that age, especially the ones she has with 'special needs'.  I've got some good photos, but I'm not gonna post them until I find out if it's kosher, or not.  Later that night I took her to the midnight show of Rocky Horror. Alright, even I admit that I may have ODed on the Rocky. I'm definitely don't need to go again for 20 to 30 years, so watch out 2040 revival, a seventy year old me may be there, but still not in drag.

Tonight, Lisa and I are going to the Madison Symphony Orchestra  to hear Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. and another piece that I recognized when I listened to a clip, but I can't remember what it is.

But tomorrow, I AM going to write all about my wonderful February 20th, the first day with my new camera.  Until then, sorry, and thanks.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My new Canon T1i

Whew! I thought the radio thing was going to be the most interesting thing that happened to me for a while, but boy when stuff goes on, it really goes on.  I'm sure I'll have a drought of stories soon enough. That's kind of the way I roll. Hot and heavy for a while, then laid back and chill for a while. I think it got into my blood back when I was doing start-ups of power plants for General Electric.  It works for me pretty well.

Last Friday was pretty low key for me. Fridays are usually reserved for my club meetings, and that's what I did last Friday. The clubs "Anti Valentines day" wopatuli party was the following night, so there wasn't a whole lot going on after the meeting, which was a long one, so I ended up at home, watching the dummy box, and loving it.

The only exception to the boring Friday was that I got a call from American appliances, and was told that my new camera had arrived.  That's right. after blogging about how much I had enjoyed rediscovering SLR photography (and especially in digital form) I ran out, after talking with a couple workmates about their new cameras, and bought my own. I choses a Canon T1i, after doing a good amount of internet research.

 I used to be a Minolta guy, but apparently they didn't do so well in the switch to digital, and they're pretty much defunct. Also the cameras I borrowed from my wonderful sister were both Canons. (I have to force myself not to type two "n" in Canon. I wonder why my brain thinks there should be two?)  Anyway, when I bought it, they had the extra lens (55-250 Image stabilized) in stock, along with the UV filter, a spare battery, a too small case that will ultimately be used for something else, a 8 Gig SD memory card, and a smile from the nice saleslady, all in stock. Everything except the camera. I had to wait.

I hate waiting. Or, I hate waiting for something, once I've decided to pull the trigger on it. I think it's my upbringing in the 70s and 80s, you know, the "me" thing.  I couldn't even charge the spare battery I had. But, as a very welcome bonus, I got time. I had time to download the owners manual from Canon.com and read though it. I actually got through the entire thing. Of course, I'm sure I only absorbed about 3 or 4 % of what my eyes passed over, but trust me, that's probably more than most people. This camera has a LOT of features. A WHOLE LOT. I love it!  I get a kick out of things where it's impossible to "know it all", where there's always room to learn more. I find that I like to learn about a lot of different things. Usually I take my knowledge level in the things I get interested in, to the point where I can comfortably converse (while it's current, or if I've refreshed) with an expert in whatever field we're talking about, and not (I hope) look like total dufus, but also not be threatening with my level of knowledge. Does that make sense?   Even with several days available to me, I was only able to skim through the main camera manual. I didn't even touch (OK well I peeked) the other manuals. There's manuals for a few different software packages that come with the camera, in addition to some others I have no idea what they are. In all I think I downloaded 6 or 7 different *.pdf files from Canon.com .

After work on Friday, but before the club meeting, I drove out to the East side, American furniture and appliance, and picked up my new toy. I ran right home, and got the battery charger plugged in and my serial numbers for the camera and the two lenses officially registered online. Hooray!

After the club meeting I went home (to my beloved idiot box) and to my freshly charged T1i battery for my new soul stealer.  Now,  I knew that I was going to have an epically long day on Saturday, so I only took a few photos before turning in for the night.  Also in my giddiness, I apparently set the date wrong in the camera settings, so if you look at the EXIF data, I had date wrong for a while. Oops.

Here's the first photo ever taken with my new chunky black cyclops friend. I almost deleted it. but that file name:  "IMG_0001.jpg" (so pure)  just wouldn't allow me to do it. I think it may be a touch of OCD. Anyway, the more I look at the photo, the more I like it. My face (or part of it)  is actually in very good focus and doesn't seem to have any blurring due to the two second exposure, and while the background is insane blurry (from movement) I can identify everything in it.  Here it is. What do you think?

Like I said, the following day, Saturday, February 20th 2010, was all lined up to be a amazingly full day. Allow me to include you in on my plans for that day. It may actually have been the fullest day of my life. I was about to be on the move for almost 24 hours, with only an hour break, on the couch. But with my T1i, two batteries, two lenses, and 16 Gig worth of storage media, I was set to document it pretty completely. It was quite a day!

There were three main events for the day, that I was committed to go to.  The first was the annual Wonders of Physics show (which I'll describe fully in it's own entry). That was on campus, in Grainger hall, at one pm.  The second was a dinner date with my friend Lisa, along with her sister and some other friends. We were to meet at Fridays, at around five thirty for dinner, to be followed by an episode of Duck Soup Cinema (which I will also describe fully in a entry to follow) at the Capitol theater in the Overture center.  The final event that I had committed to attend on this busy winter weekend day, was the club's party that I mentioned before (this one I may discuss a little, but you'll have to get an invite for next year to know what goes on there;).

In addition to those major events. I also wanted to go to the winter farmers market, and watch various events at Madison's winter festival.  I also wanted to meet up with Lisa at some point during the day to share it with her.

I think I'll make a separate blog entry for each of these different events.  I've already uploaded the lowered resolution copies (800x600) of some of my photos to my photobucket site, where I'll keep them until I become famous and need more space and bandwidth.

I hope to do a bunch of writing tomorrow, because even though I thought I used up all of my 2009 vacation, I apparently still have one more day.  Since '09 vacation can only be used until the end of February, tomorrow is the only possible day to use it.  As I see no need to donate a days pay to my company (even though I like them) I'll be taking the day off.  Maybe I'll finally get my NASA souvenirs off of my dining room table, and do something with them. Ever since Lisa said that my place is like a museum, with all my trinkets and memories displayed around, I cant help noticing it myself.  I also have laundry to do, and maybe I'll make some Cinnamon rolls as I re-watched that episode of Good Eats  (remind me to make a post about my drive to Chicago to go to his book signing)

Stay tuned for tales and images (mostly images) from the twentieth of February Two thousand ten.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Renegade Radio

Well, for a Thursday, I had a pretty full one. After a day at the salt mines (jk, I love my job), I had a meeting with a good Realtor who was referred to my by Will, the owner (I think) of Terry's car Care.  I was in there whining to him (while picking up my car from having the snow tires put back on) about how I love living in a condo, with no grass to mow, or snow to shovel, etc..., but that I hate not having a garage. Not a garage to park my car, I've got that, a nice underground, heated, and pretty secure one at that. What I meant, was a workshop type of garage.  This winter, is actually the first one in four years in which I'm not doing a major motorcycle project in borrowed space (Thanks Harpo, Thanks Dumpling). I'd really like to have some shop space of my own, that I can afford, to do those kind of things.  Over the last few years I've actually contacted realtors and explained my situation. I asked them to look for detached, heated garages or old small commercial buildings that I might be able to rent, or even buy.  Of course, back when I first started doing that, the housing market was booming and I couldn't get anyone to give me the time of day, much less exert real effort to help to find, for me, what I'm looking for. Plus, it's kind of a pipe dream anyway, so I let the idea lay dormant.  But after crying on Will's shoulder about my troubles, he told me that his realtor mentioned that the old Scooter Therapy building  (Ingersol and East Washington) was up for sale, and it may be what I'm looking for.  I asked him to have his guy give me a call, which they did. I got a call, and a email, from Ben on the same day.

Right after work, yesterday, I met with Ben and Joe (the property owner) to check out the property. It's a pretty cool old building, very plain, and probably a bit too much space for me, not to mention the roof is in need of repair. The building is simply walls and a roof on a slab. Probably about 90'x40'. It's obviously been enlarged at some point, doubling the size.  The front half of it must date back to the '20s or '30s, while the back part could have been added on in the '60s or '70s.  I think I'll pass on this one, but I wouldn't be surprised if I regret it years from now.  If had had lots of money, I would probably buy it. 

The fact that I met a realtor who seems to 'get' what I'm looking for makes me consider the meeting a success. He actually seems interested in finding me a place, and I can rest easy knowing that in the back of his head, he's on the lookout for the kind of quirky old shop type thing I'm looking for. I trust him.

After talking with, Joe, the building owner, about some club brothers of mine, that he knows, I zipped over to the other side of the Capitol, and into my neighborhood to drop off the car, and walk over to WORT ( I live very closeto it) to act as a substitute for a fellow engineer. I'd agreed to sub for the news block that day (5pm to 7pm) because his son, who is apparently the only base player in his 8th grade class, was performing somewhere.  I'm already scheduled to engineer on every Thursday from 7pm to 8pm, for either PNM or Health Writers (they alternate every week) or Radio Literature, anyway; so it didn't really keep me from doing anything (except watching the dummy box), it just made the day more full. 

I got there just moments after 5pm, when the hour long BBC news starts. I told them I would probably be late because of my meeting, so someone else had gotten that show started. There's really nothing to do during that hour, which is one of the things I like about it. I actually get to sit back and listen to the BBC news. Listening to it reminds me of some of my travels abroad, when, sometimes, the BBC was the only thing broadcast in a language I could understand. The BBC is followed by Free Speech Radio News (FSRN) that plays from 6pm to 6:30. It's not my kind of show, but 'mine is not to question why....' .  Next is the locally produced news show called In Our Backyard (IOBY).  This is my favorite show to engineer for. It's real radio news, with live reporters, in studio interviews, telephone interviews, audio clips to play, music to manage, etc... It's exactly what I imagined engineering would be like, the first time I thought about volunteering at WORT.  Yesterday was especially fun, because I was subbing for the normal Thursday engineer. You see, each weekday has it's own team, led by that day's producer. Each day has a distinctly different "feel" to it.  My normal day, Tuesday, is produced by Stacy Robinson (formerly produced by Molly, before she became the News facilitator).  The continually changing crew of journalists and myself, on Tuesdays has a very professional feel to it.  There is always a "post mortum' after each show to discuss how it went...what's coming up for the following week...etc..  Also, for some reason, Tuesday seems to be loaded with women. Attractive, smart, and funny, and interesting women.  I'm a gentleman, so there won't be any problems from me, but it is not unnoticed at all.  On Tuesday I almost always have a completed script in my hand (or on the computer) at least a few minutes before the start of the show. Things are done nicely .  Now Thursdays' IOBY has a completely different vibe.  I think of if as 'Surfer Thursdays'.  The content of the show is top notch, but the production of it is definitely seat of the pants, and casual. I usually get to witness the ending of the show because at that time, I'm on deck to engineer the following hour of radio, so I kind of know how they do things:  No script for the engineer; good communication between the hosts and the booth; and a very relaxed and chilled out atmosphere. I remember on one of my first visits to the station, I watched the normal Thursday engineer (who is like 16 or 17 years old) and was amazed at how well he did the job, seemingly as an afterthought. That kid is going places.

One days show is not better or worse than any other, just different, which is awesome.  I've also engineered on Mondays, which is a whole different thing again. Again, great content, but I think the word that describes it best (for me) is frazzled. However the producer on Mondays, JoAnne Powers, really knows her stuff, and is plugged into Madison.  The other days of the week are, for now, a mystery to me, but I have no doubt that they are just as unique and specaial as the others. 

So, after chillaxing through IOBY, at 7pm,  I stepped back into my own shoes to engineer for the Perpetual Notion (with a "N") Machine. The show that got my foot in the door (other than being a phone answerer during a pledge drive) at WORT. That's a whole different story (which I think I talked about in a previous post).  PNM was pretty straight forward and mostly pre-recorded, with a short intro from the host at the begining, and a short transition to a news segment.  I played the audio clip of the shuttle launch for the crew in the studio, while the pre-recorded piece was playing. I can't get enough of sharing that, I think most people are humoring my when they listen. I can't always tell.

At 7:30 pm, after finishing with PNM (the next airing, BTW,  on March 4 2010 will produced by ME) I was surprised to see that the folks from the Radio Literature show weren't milling about, ready to do their show, like they usually are.  Even with live guests, they often choose to do their show from the studio I am in (Combo B), instead of the middle studio  (Middle studio), where shows that don't engineer for themself (talk) are usually done from. I like it like that with Radio Lit. It makes it fun to listen to the various authors or performers that  they interview, without looking though the glass into the Middle studio.  Occasionally, they have a pre-recorded show for me to play.  In the past when that was the case, someone had always (until now) e-mailed me, to let me know where, on the vast tangle of networked computers at the station, the audio file for the show is located. Or, occasionally, where the cassette tape with the show recoreded onto it, is stashed away.  This time, I assumed they were going to be doing a live show, as I hadn't caught wind of any hint that anything else would take place. I was wrong. It turns out there was a pre recorded show, and that it was stored in a pretty conspicuous location that I should have easily found. I'm sure it was my subconscious that helped me to not see it when, in the few moments before the show was supposed to start, I looked for a obvious file to play after I realized there was no one to do the show live. So, instead of playing their show......

I went renegade.  Instead of playing one of the emergency shows that I know exist, and where they are, I just turned on the mike, did a station ID, and kept talking.  Here's an edited ( for brevity) version of what I did and said on the air. Listen to it, I think it's awesome. Who ever gets a chance to do that. If you want to listen to the whole show (and you should), please go to WORT's    archive page and look for the "Radio Literature" show for Thursday Feb 18th in the grid. Then you can choose to either download it to listen to using your favorite player, or you can choose to listen on line (which I can never get to work).

While on the WORT website, don't forget to bookmark the page and if you like anything you see or hear, why not make a donation.  You can do it right on line. OR, you can wait for the episode of  PNM  (to be) produced by yours truly, that will have something to do with the launch, and my journey to wittiness it, of Space shuttle Endeavour last week.  Why wait to donate?  Because that show, on March 4 @ 7:00pm Central time, will be on the air during WORT's Winter Pledge drive.  This station is a genuine community radio station, and has real bills to pay.  Also there is genuine desire to "prove" the value of each individual show, by using on of the only tangible measuring stick available.....donations received during a pledge drive.  Of course that's more true of the music shows, but I'm sure it's monitored for the news shows also.  It seems kind of 'bad' but rest assured, quality news programming, unmolested by monetary concerns, comes first, but the station would be nuts to ignore it.  Trust me WORT needs your $$$. The fridge just died, the recent (wonderful) upgrades to the news room, in the basement, still need to be paid for (I think), and it's very easy to take for granted, the cost of the satellite feed of BBC etc..etc.. etc.. You get the idea. Please donate!

Finally, I want to give my sincere apologies to Rusty Russell, who's finely produced show I stole a few minutes of; his guest  Pilar Melero, who's reading of her piece "The Harp and the Bees" from her book, is worth listening to; and also I s'pose I need to apologize to Molly Stenz, WORT's news facilitator, who I think was genuinely perturbed with me, although I hope this 'mea-culpa' helps her to get over it.   Sorry Molly :)  I will say, again, that I really didn't think there was a pre recorded show for that day, even if it was my subconscious that made me not see it. I would  never do that.  However, opening the mike and talking myself, instead of playing a re-run, emergency, show just to fill the time slot, is a whole different ethical situation. One in which I don't feel too badly about going renegade.

Listen to my Renegade Radio broadcast