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 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 .

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Yesterday I actually used some of the audio I had acquired  from bunches of interviews and the launch itself to quickly produce a short segment for the local news show I engineer for at WORT F:  IOBY  (In our Backyard).  Along with a sweet Dutch volunteer journalist (and one of the hosts) Yvonne,  who wrote the copy, I managed to cut a few of those audio segments in to a 'audio postcard' of the launch.  My main goal was to play the entire minute of audio of the launch itself. I did, and I think it worked. The recording I made, is a darn good one of the intensity of the sound during the launch. I think it really captured it. The cheering people helps too.  If anyone wants to hear it, it's available for the next two months on WORT's archive page.  It's labeled : "In our Backyard - Tuesday"  with the date: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 6:30 pm.   I've already downloaded it, so, at least on my computer (and the Google cloud, where I'll email it to myself), it will live forever. My segment starts just after 22 minutes into the show. Give it a listen.

Considering I have probably an hour or more total of  recorded interviews and other audio, and I wasn't really planning of doing anything for yesterdays show, I think it ultimately came out pretty good. Unfortunately, Yvonne and I were doing that while I was supposed to be engineering for the preceding shows (BBC news, and FSRN). Both of those shows are pre recorded, so there really isn't a lot to do.  I usually follow along with the production of the live show (IOBY) by pre reading the script, test playing all of the audio files (as they are finalized), and do other things, like verifying telephone #s for phone interviews, etc.... I'm usually very organized because there's nothing else to do. This time I was out of time. Of course it wasn't until seconds before the show was actually starting that I finally saved my audio segment.  I hadn't even looked at the script, or opened any of the show's other audio files, not to mention that I didn't even get a chance to hear Yvonne's copy for my piece.  Of course I paid for the lack of preparation. In the very first news segment, the audio file went crazy, skipping, and stuttering. I, in a near panic, tried to stop and start it (probably more than I should have) before Stacy, the show's producer, finally said to scrap it.  I feel bad for all the people who had to listen to that awful sound. On the bright side, cutting the rest of that story, put the show right on time, even after a late start and Ryan (the real astronomy guy from the UW) didn't get his segment chopped up, as happens too often.

I had a bunch of prints made of some of my photos using Walgreen's online service. I used them before to have the photos of my club initiation day ride made up, before the club meeting that night. I thought they came out pretty good. Here's a few of them. If you're all geek, and don't have a wild side, you can skip them.

Anyway, I used them again. I even ordered a t-shirt with one of my launch photos on it.  Some of my car photos came out pretty nice. I may even enter them into the BMW Oktoberfest photo contest this august,  right here in Wisconsin, at Road America in Elkhart Lake.

Oops, I'm out of time. Time to get on the old bicycle and pedal my  butt to work.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Blog

I think I know what my next blog (or this one, renamed) is going to be about.  My newest 'thing' or obsession. Photography!  Man, I'll tell you, after this trip, and looking over the photos I took, I am "IN".  Something is awake in me. Everywhere I look now, I see photos waiting to be taken. Like souls, if you believe that myth ;) .  I'm going to put up here the photos from the snow train ride Saturday.  I'll let them tell the story.

















It was a fun day, with pleasant company.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I'm home. I've actually been home a full day (in just a few minutes).  I ended up rolling into Madison just before six am. I still cannot believe how perfect everything went. Even my arrival.  Several hours before exiting off of the beltline onto John Nolan Ave., I set this super loud countdown timer alarm for something like four hours and 28 minutes. It was an estimate I made having just woken up from a nap in a I-55 rest stop, just outside of St. Louis, for fun.  I'd even forgoten about it. It went off exactly as I got into the exit only lane for John Nolan, at first I thought it was my radar detector. Now that's a good estimation (envision me patting myself on the back).

   Anyway, I had, while driving, formed a plan when I realized that I would be getting into town around six am.  Here's how it went (the plan, AND reality, because reality ended up matching the plan perfectly):  first, I'd go home and unload everything from the car, quickly.   (OK now bear with me, I'm going to try and add a bunch of photos to this (not links) so there may be some overkill, but I need overkill to learn stuff. I'm also experimenting with resolution and file size, so there's going to be some disparities there too. Deal with it)

Then, it being 6am on a Friday, I'd go to Mickey's Dair Bar for breakfast. I'd  buy a paper, for the super quiz.

Once firmy entrenched on a stool, I'd tell my story to whoever wants to listen (except for Peo and Sadie, they 'have' to listen). The usual suspects were present: The owner Peo was, as always cooking. But, as is our tradition, he came out from the kitchen to collect the sports section of the paper I brought in. I don't read it anyway.

Of course, Sadie is in that photo too, but as she never stops moving, she's a blur as usual. I did manage to get her to stand still for a second. 

Also there, as always, was John, the Professor Emeritus, with whom, I have the best conversations in the morning.


It turned out that the guy behind him, eating,
works at one of the UW's heating plants that we (my work) deal with all the time. He knows the names of all of our control operators, because they communicate about steam flows and things like that all the time. I, as a maintinence guy, blissfully do not have to deal too much with people on my job, just machines, wire, ones and zeros. 

After a hearty breakfast, it still being before 7am, and with me possesing the knowlege that sunrise in Madison today, will occur just before 7am (I used my iPhone to check sunrise time while I was still driving, hours ago) my plan was to go over to Olin Park, on lake Monona to get some nice sunrise pictures, to go with the ones I took in Florida, a week ago, on the beach in Daytona. Boy, I'll tell you ; what a difference a week, and 1500 miles, makes (I accidentaly deleted the good photos that I took on Daytona beach using the  nice SLR camera, but I still have some from the point and shoot, somewhere, I think. That was before I got organized with my photos)

As I left Mickey's,  I realized that in my zeal to unload the car, I unloaded the other camera (with the long lens) and also the tripod. So, like a demon, I raced across town, keenly aware of the reddish glow coming from the East. I was sure I was going to miss the sun coming up. I got to my place, ran in, had to wait for the stinkin' slow elevator, grabbed the camera and tripod, and hauled ass over to John Nolan again, this time headed away from the isthmus, toward Olin Park. I figured I'd get a pretty good view of the sunrise from there.  I was so concerned about missing the sunrise, I even tried to take a photo from my moving car, just in case I missed the whole sunrise, I wanted something. I didn't even check the settings. In hindsight, the camera was not in "easy" mode, or even in autofocus. Not one of the shots from the car were in focus, but it was moot anyway because I made it to the park before the direct rays of yesterdays sun did

I even managed to not crash while getting there, on the ice covered access road, because of the horribly ill advised summer tires on any snow at all.

I parked on the boat ramp,

and got some, I think, OK shots of a pretty nice, fiery sunrise.

I suppose that one of me isn't too vain.

After that, I went home, opened up some of the packages that had been delivered while I was gone. Including a big fat check from the refinance of my home. That and another check that has been sitting around waiting to get sent in (I still bank with a California bank that doesn't have branches in this state, so I have to mail in checks). Also waiting for me, was the power cord for my GPS that would have come in very handy, had I gotten it before leaving.  My GPS log data is still trapped in the GPS, but I'll have time now to fiddle with it, and recover it. Hopefully.  So, before heading over to my freinds at Terry's car care, I wired the cord up to a cigaraette lighter plug (that I bought at a truck stop outside of Mobile, AL) in order to test it out on the short trip to Terry's (that way I can say I had it working ON the trip, not after it, because the trip isn't over untill I have my snow tires back on the car, and the last tank of gas put into it.

It worked fine.

After that, I dropped of the car and chatted with the gang at Terry's.  Such good people there.  Then I walked home, via State St. and the Capitol Square.

Where I slept for quite a while. When I got up, it was Terry's calling to see if I was going to pick up my car before they closed. See, aren't they cool? I went and picked up my car, drove out towards the C.C.Rider clubhouse, as there was a meeting happening in a little while, and filled up the gas tank one last time to conclude the trip of a lifetime. 

Total miles traveled (via odometer):      3568
Total gallons of gas purchased:             173 gallons
Number of fill ups:                                16
Amount paid for gas:                            $517.77 (much cheaper than airfare and a week of rental car)
Average mpg:                                      20.6  ( My car CAN sip fuel, it's just not as fun to do it)
Nights not in my bed at home:              9
Nights sleeping in the car:                    1
Nights in hotels:                                   4
Nights in my tent                                 4
Photos taken:                                      a little shy of 4 Gigabytes worth.

I'm sure there are other stats I can come up with, but you get the idea.

This has to have been the best road trip EVER!  Thank you everybody! I love you all!

I plan to add posts to here as I get time to recall and write down what happened. My first goal is to make a timeline of every day so that I don't forget anything. Once I have that, I'll simply write what happened. I hope you all read it, and let me know what you think.

For today. I'm taking a special lady for a ride on a snow train in North Freedom,WI, then later tonight I'll be at the CD release party for the new Droids Attack album. It's at, where eles, The Frequency.

Bye, for now.