Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year 2018

While we've had only a few light snowfalls so far the winter temperatures have sure arrived.  We've been hanging out in the single digits below and above 0ºF for some time with no end in sight yet.  On Wednesday Lake Mendota, the largest of the local lakes, officially froze over, helped by this cold snap and light winds.  Much earlier than I expected, and some years it never completely freezes over.

The cold weather will not be friendly to new year revelers out and about tonight.  We won't be leaving the house tonight, but we will be having a few friends over to keep us up until midnight.  Nothing fancy, though my wife will be putting in some work on the food.  I've asked her to not try to do so much, but she enjoys cooking and trying new dishes.  Who am I to complain?

Happy New Year to you all.  The ones I read, the ones I love, all my friends and all of you who take the time to read me.  Whether you comment or not, I can see you're there.  Thank you.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

I woke up late this morning to discover snow outside.  We'd been getting, and continue to get, a steady light snowfall that was supposed to miss us south and east this morning.  It is also overcast, though this picture looks very dark.  I used a filter to try and  lighten it a bit.  My display is still darker than it should be (and I have no idea how to correct it) so it's hard for me to judge.

It's not a lot of snow, just a layer of dry, powdery stuff, but I'm sure it will make many people happy to have a white Christmas.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Solstice!

The Winter Solstice officially arrived at 10:28 this morning here.  Finally, the days get longer from here on!  We have a 4 day weekend here, through Christmas, then back at it until the new year holiday.  I plan to relish every minute away from everything else, and have fun with the times I'm out!

The Harp Twins are playing at the Stoughton Opera House on March 24, 2018.  I would actually like to see their performance, and at 15 bucks a seat I think I may try to get tickets.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lake Monona Ice Views

I've noticed the ice on the lake the last couple weeks as I drive to and from work and I'd been thinking of stopping to take a few pictures.  Well, today as I was running errands I took advantage of the beautiful weather - sunny and above freezing - to stop for a few minutes and actually do it.  This is Lake Monona from Olbrich Park, where the Olbrich Biergarten was opened late this last summer.  The migrating water fowl, possibly including a population of trumpeter swans that I'm told is in the area, can be seen in the distance here if you look close, where the ice meets open water.


And to my right as I stood is again a beautifully framed view of the downtown isthmus and our picturesque capitol building.  I like this picture enough I've made this my background on our computer.


The ice closest to shore is mostly rough from being broken and refrozen, with the water spray freezing on the rocky shore making another nice photo opportunity.  I'm not a total stranger to being out on the ice, but it is much too early to trust it.  At least one overeager ice fisherman has already had to be pulled from the lake.


A zoomed in view to the left may provide a better indication of all the water fowl out on the edge of the ice.  Their noise actually made a quite a dull roar from where I was standing.  The Madison lakes are a popular spot on waterfowl migration routes.


And another zoomed in view of the downtown isthmus area that shows the transition from the broken/refrozen ice, to the ice sheet and then open water.  It's too early to say if the lakes will fully freeze over this winter or not.  On the left you will see the Monona Terrace convention center, a bike destination over the summer, and to the right that bit of green you see is the copper top of the Barrymore Theater, also pictured in my last Atwoodfest post.


You may also click on the pictures to see them full size on Flickr.

On a side note, this last week or so Windows had two updates that took some time to install and ever since then my display is darker than normal.  My new monitor is and has been at 100% brightness, but in my windows display settings there is no longer the choice to change the brightness.  I've tried everything I know to do to remedy this, to no avail.  Anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thoughts, And Cats!

Hamish, top, and Basil
Welcome to winter.  We got our second snow last night and this morning, about an inch is all.  My wife went out and scraped it up off the driveway and walks earlier today and the rest will melt when the sun makes short appearances or may stick around in the corners and shady areas since the outlook is for high temperatures around or just below freezing for the foreseeable forecast.  It looks like we may get a bit more Monday, but nothing to be concerned about.  A white Christmas is still not assured.

20171003_19325620171025_203835Speaking of, I need to get shopping, like now.  We won't be traveling far this year so I need to get gifts chosen, ordered and shipped to where they need to be.  I think we may scale it back a bit this year, not due to lack of funds but we're not going to see them opened and I'm, quite simply, running out of ideas.  I've always tried to put much thought into what I get for presents, especially for the kids, but I just don't feel that inspiration this year.  But who knows?  We'll see what happens when I've been on Amazon for a while later today.

DSC00074We don't have much planned this weekend except for the Packer game, so I am looking forward to plenty of rest, the aforementioned shopping, and there are several little things I can get done around the house.  The Badger football team lost in the Big Ten Championship game and have a tough bowl game to finish their season in a few weeks.  The basketball team is young this year and not quite as dynamic as the past several years.  The Packers may get number 12 back soon but it may be too late to save the season.  On the bright side, the Bucks are looking a lot better this year.  Okay, that's it for sports talk.

20170930_204847Not knowing what to write and not having enough ideas for a This-And-Thats post I decided it was time to post some cat pictures.  After all, we have a ton of them.  They can be so adorable and we always have a camera with us, thus the phones fill up with cat pictures.  I wish I could be so relaxed and content with all my needs taken care of.

So now I present to you our cats, brothers, Basil and Hamish!

I want to remind everyone who reads this via email or notification that my posts are viewed as intended on the desktop website:
Other views get the point across in a convenient format, but not necessarily in the view I crafted.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Badgers Time

This is what's on my mind this week.  Our undefeated Wisconsin Badgers have a shot at the national championship playoff, but they have to win on Saturday night for the B1G Conference championship against Ohio State.  There's a lot more to it than that, but that's all for the talking heads on TV.

I'll be watching.  And I believe it will happen.
Go Badgers!

Hotlinks to these pictures may not last long, but the excitement is NOW!  Go, Badgers, Go!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Today we made a day trip about 100 miles or more west southwest into an area of the state that borders up with Iowa on the Mississippi River, with Illinois just south, the tri-state area of Dubuque, Iowa.
This picture faces west, Iowa is across the mighty river.

20171123_102054(0)We were on our way to see my Mom and Dan, and my sister's family.  It was a nice day with a nice Thanksgiving feast, card games, football and good company.  The kids are getting bigger (James may be taller than me next time I see him!), and my sister and niece are also doing well.  Mom and Dan are looking forward to another winter in Alabama and sound like they are keeping happy and busy.
We had a very good time with all.  This picture is the view from the bridge, upriver.


Whenever we make this trip I always want to take pictures, especially when we cross the Mississippi River area into Dubuque.  This trip I made my wife get her camera ready so she could take pictures for me.  Yes, my wife Kate took all these pictures - at highway speed, mind you.  I briefly said kinda what I was looking for and to just take a lot of them.  Several turned out very good, the best are here.
This one is coming off the bridge back to Wisconsin.


There's other scenes along the trip I wouldn't mind getting, too.  Like the big M on the mound in Platteville, seen for miles around.  And other random things, like the big cutouts through the rocky hills for the roads, some had icicles from the spring water that seeps out, and other scenic roadscapes.
This is a brilliant sunset picture over the Mississippi River for 60 miles an hour over a bridge.


I must say - though I've said it before - I've started to really like taking pictures, and this blog this year has shown that.  I don't plan on investing in any special equipment or anything, I just enjoy getting a good picture, and now I'm seeing, or looking for, those opportunities more often.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

First Snow of the Season, 2017

The first snow of the season fell this morning.  What you see is about all we got, and it isn't expected to stick around long, thankfully.  I expect a weekend filled with football and relaxing.  I do have a growing to-do list, but nothing terribly urgent at the moment.


I've noted our first snow here on the blog over the years:  October 10, 2009; December 4, 2010; November 9, 2011; December 9, 2012; October 23, 2013; hard drive issues and a break around this time in 2014; November 20, 2015; December 4, 2016 and now, November 18, 2017.  It was interesting to look back at the dates.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

1000 Posts!

20171104 1000 posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Happy Halloween 2017

The large, bright moon was a good effect.
Trick or Treat!  I got into Halloween a little more this year.  I picked up a window covering that is backlit by your inside lights.  It came in two parts so I put in in the corner windows, and I did get a few compliments on it from friendly parents.  I also bought a mask to have fun with the kiddies.  I waited to get these things until Sunday so there wasn't much left out to choose from.  Oh, and I got candy - loads of candy.  Too much candy.  Anyone want some candy?  I'd say we got around 40 trick-or-treaters or so, not too bad.  I expect that number to grow over the next several years as the kids get bigger and more numerous in the neighborhood, but I could be wrong.  I answered the door all but once with my mask on, bending down to kid height.  Showed the spirit but I didn't make any kids run away screaming.
Unimpressed Hamish

After the break is me, in my scary mask!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

One Minute Of Peace

Late last night, friends had left, cleanup done.  I relaxed by the fire for about an hour as the winds picked up before the front would come through overnight.  This is why I want to put in a permanent fire pit, but without the wind, of course.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October This-And-Thats

I’ve not posted in some time, just been busy, tired or both.  And looking back, I've been pretty streaky with posting the last few months; twice in June, 8 times in July, once in August, 8 times again in September, and now this is the first for October.  It looks like I'm taking every other month off.  Overall, there really hasn’t been a whole lot going on or I would most likely write about it here. But as for now, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say here yet, so it's time to start typing again and see what happens!

  •  The days are getting shorter and we’ve had to turn on the furnace to keep warm.  I’m hoping for several more nice days before winter, and we may get them but it may not be shorts weather again until spring.  At least not for me.  The leaves are changing colors and falling, some trees before others.  It will still be some weeks before raking is necessary, and I’ll need to wait for the trees to be finished before cleaning the house gutters.  I already have a list started for spring, just some projects I'd like to do (fire pit!) and products that will be needed.
  • The gardens are in order after cleaning them up and adding the composted soil to the nutrient-starved east garden.  Kate got the garlic planted a few days ago.  Feel free to visit the garden blog.  Updates come sporadically over there, but I still try to hit all the highlights and usually post a bunch of pictures.
  • It’s football season!  The Badgers are well on their way to a *ahem* hopefully undefeated season and one of the four College Football Playoff berths.  The Packers unfortunately lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone last weekend, but I still have hope of winning games and making the playoffs - then anything can happen.  I enjoy watching Badger and Packer games but it does seem to take up a big chunk of the weekends so I don't really watch the other games like I used to.
  • I’ve begun (or continued) a job search.  What a pain.  Everything is online these days, complete the application, upload your resume, answer these questions – only 38 pages long, you’re almost done!  Then you get to the interviews.  'Star interview' questions?  Never heard of it before my wife mentioned it recently, and that explains some of the questions I've heard before.  I’ll need to brush up on a few work stories, I guess, to make myself look good.  Looking for a job is selling yourself.  My problem is, I’ve never been a salesman.  I better learn quick with more interviews upcoming!
  • We haven't had the bikes out much lately, with the cooler and wet weather.  I should start looking for a place to take them in for off-season maintenance.  Mostly they need professional adjustments of the gears and my brakes.  I think I know of a nearby place, just off the bike path of course, so I should contact them this weekend and schedule it.  
While writing this I thought of the last TATs post, in September.  I mentioned that if I wrote about posting cat pictures that would make it more likely to happen.  It hasn't, obviously.  I will try to remember this time, but for now here's Basil and Hamish from several weeks ago, hanging out on the ottoman looking all cute and innocent.  We know better!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Olbrich Biergarten

Yesterday evening my wife and I finally made it to the Biergarten at Olbrich Park.  It opened about halfway through summer and we drive past it at least twice almost every day, and I've been past it on my bike a few times, but we finally made it there to sit and enjoy the area, scenery and ambiance.   The beer garden is a good idea for the city to get more people to use the park and make some money, and it appears to be working as there were lots of people out yesterday evening but still not all the tables were taken so we didn't feel crowded.  There's still plenty of open green space, the space for soccer fields is still there, and the boaters have their own area on the other side of the Starkweather Creek outlet into Lake Monona.
There were great views of the lake and area, and I've really been enjoying taking pictures this year so here's some more!  This is on Lake Monona, when we're out on the boat we're on Lake Mendota.  The state capitol building is on the isthmus that separates the lakes so this is the other side than the view I usually post here.

We were supposed to meet someone we met at a local hangout but they pulled a no-show and didn't reply to a text until hours later.  We are open to making new friends but this disappointed us.  We do what we say we're going to do and are always on time, and for the most part we'd like our friends to be like that, too.  Still, we enjoyed ourselves while sitting by the lake and sipping a brew as the sun lowered over the lake.  It was a lovely setting, right in the city but so nice, calm and relaxing.

Earlier in the day I got some yard work done and so I posted a tour of the yard over at the garden blog last night.  Stop over there and have a look, and, of course, more beer garden photos after the break!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Vacation Week Recap

Another long, wordy post.  If you've already had enough of me lately then you may move on.  Otherwise, enjoy the wit and charm that is me - now even older and wiser*!

Along with that other occasion this week I was also on vacation, or call it a stay-cation - my favorite kind!  I usually like to have a big project to accomplish, among my other to-do list items, but this time I only had a small to-do list and no real big project to complete.  Not that that's a bad thing, I sure got more rest, but I also probably consumed more alcohol than necessary.  A look back at the highlights of my vacation here.  Did I waste my time?  You tell me.

The Badgers won their home game against Florida Atlantic, their second win of the season against a team dealing with the hurricane back home at the time.  They were unsure if the game would be played for a while but Wisconsin was more than accommodating for their extended stay in Madison.
Throughout the game and after was all party preparation.  I wrote about the party briefly here, I'm still happy for all that celebrated with me - and my Mom created something special that still amazes me.  Picture clippings of me from infancy to recent, and shaped in a big 5-0.  This is the kind of thing only a stalker or someone who really loves you would put the time in to put together.  I've only seen these kind of picture tributes at retirements and funerals.  I told my wife we need to keep it for my funeral (in 6 years!), she can add in the later years afterward!  Seriously though, I was very touched and impressed.
Overall, the party was a blast and I think all had a great time.  The only downside for me was the back spasms I got well after midnight while standing in our kitchen after putting everything outside away.  That was unfortunate and would affect my next several days.

Thankfully, the Packers started the season with a late afternoon game.  That gave me time to sleep in and then try to re-hydrate myself after Saturday night's party.  Even though I started the day with a few back spasms I was able to get everything in order in the garage and porch for the time being, but moving the big stuff would have to wait.  I hit up some hair of the dog, put on my new favorite Packers shirt and enjoyed the game before calling it an early night.

Much the same as Sunday, but no football games, just highlights and interviews to watch.  My back was still questionable so I did some online surfing and shopping.  I started my vacation week off very slowly but fully enjoyed the day of rest.

My back was feeling strong enough that I got all the tables and chairs from the party squared away, just have some we borrowed to return yet.  This meant I was able to park in the garage again, until I decided to get my bike down.  It would stay down the rest of the week.
I was itching to get out on the bike so I chose a couple places nearby that I hadn't been to yet.  First I headed north over the bike bridge, the one I've shown here before, but then I continued a little farther north to go see the next bike bridge, over highway 30.  After two and a half weeks not on the bike I managed to make it up both bridges, but stopped at the top of the second knowing I would just have to come back up it and I still had to go up the other on the way back.  Not the smartest plan for not having ridden in some time.  I got back over the bridges to flat land and headed out northeast to a bike path nearby that I hadn't been on.  Not a long path, but picturesque in a spot or two over the marshlands.

My vacation was running out and I had yet to do the one 'big' project I had planned, resealing between the driveway and foundation.  I got that done on this morning, mostly before the heat of the sun got to me, but crawling around the driveway and getting down and up what seemed like 50 times took it's toll on my knees and back.  No bike rides this day.  I spent time at Brothers Three for lunch and drinks.  When I got home my new hard drive had arrived so I spent the rest of the day backing up files and relaxing.

With the seal by the foundation completed I was able to finish the sawbuck.  The strip of wood I used as a brace is the strip of wood I used to pound down the old seal by the foundation.  With that project completed I could reuse that wood as a brace on the sawbuck, I just had to cut a few inches off either end.  I spent the next couple hours on a bike ride to the Tenney Lock, and finished up the afternoon with another few drinks at Brothers Three, waiting for notification of my new computer monitor being delivered.  I didn't want it sitting out fearing it may get stolen.  Conveniently, I get delivery notifications from Amazon on my phone so I could then come home straight away.  And then, it arrived just after I got home a short time later.

This is it.  The last 'real' vacation day before the weekend.  I spent my early morning hours sleeping in and taking my time getting anything done.  Eventually I settled in and set up my new, 32 inch computer monitor.   It is BIG.  I went from a 24 inch to a 32 inch.  A luxury, as the old monitor still works wonderfully, but I watch a lot of videos and concerts on the computer so bigger seems better.
Otherwise I made a trip to the store for gatherings this weekend.  I dropped the ball, though, I had all week and forgot to shop for a birthday present.  I'll have to figure out something by Sunday.

A slow morning around the house, but the Badgers played early afternoon and then we went to a friend's house for a rib cookout.  This is the friend we went in on the cow with, the ribs weren't packaged to be split up easily so he kept them and invited all who went in on the cow over for a cookout.  Then it turned out it wasn't racks of ribs but one rib roast, almost 15 pounds! It was still delicious and we had much fun, and the Badgers won handily.

Sunday, today:
We will be heading to the new Olbrich Beer Garden on Lake Mendota** for a small gathering to celebrate another birthday.  After that I expect quiet time at home until the Packer game tonight.  Then I need to get as much sleep as I can before the dreadful alarm goes off early in the morning sending me back to work.  Oh well, I had fun while it lasted!

* Well, older, anyway.
**Scratch that.  Just got word it is moved to the Harmony.  I think Olbrich would be more than just fine but the sun isn't shining.  Oh well. (Edit, 5:20 pm, we moved it from the Harmony to Dexter's Pub, we had a grand time with friends and the sun never did really come out.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tenney Lock, Madison

I had been planning on a vacation recap post this weekend to sum up the events of this week, and I still plan on doing that, but today's bike ride destination deserves a post of its own.  I had actually hoped to do this trip yesterday but my back was acting up again so today I made it happen and I'm very glad I did.  It was a beautiful day out, and my timing was accidental but worked out to be pretty fortunate.

As I've noted before, bike rides are fun, but I find them easier to get out and do with a destination in mind rather than aimlessly riding.  I'd probably like aimlessly riding if I didn't usually have other things to do, though.  Tuesday I decided I wanted to ride my bike to the only lock in Madison, or anywhere else in Wisconsin as far as I know, on the Yahara River that crosses the isthmus and connects lakes Mendota and Monona.  I'm sure I'll know if there are more locks in Wisconsin soon.  There would figure to be a few on rivers that meet up with one of our Great Lakes, on Superior or Michigan.

20170914_114821See, I've been watching a lot of narrow boat videos on the canal system over in the UK on YouTube recently, and have even subscribed to a few channels.  Notably; CruisingTheCut, Journey with Jono, Countryhouse Gent, among several others.  My interest actually started with those tiny house videos, which led me to find the narrow boat videos, starting with Great Canal Journeys, the show with Tim and Pru, two elderly English thespians, and following their adventures on different boats and canals.  (I'd love to link to all I mentioned but that takes time and you may copy and paste into YouTube, if you're interested.)

20170914_114857I've always known about the lock here in Madison, I just never had a need or interest before now.  I do know it was under repairs earlier this year, is all, but I do not ever remember visiting before.  Riding my bike there sounded like a good plan, I thought.  I purposely have not looked up anything about the lock other than the bike paths to get there as I wanted to see it for the first time upon my arrival.  I didn't take a lot of pictures on my bike ride there, but I those I got were pretty good so I'll post a bunch here, as I'm sure you've seen by now.

Just after I arrived the lockmaster was letting himself in.  He welcomed me and said he was just opening it up so stick around if I want to see it in action, so of course I did!  The Tenney Lock is nothing like I see in the canal videos from England, but they are very much newer, fewer (being only one) and fully automated.  I told him about watching those videos and he was fully informed on the history of canals and lock usage, from the early Chinese and Greeks to the newer but still very old English and German canals.  The railway made those canal systems obsolete for commercial use.  These days they seem to be much more for pleasure, and I can see the appeal.  I told the friendly, even jovial lockmaster that this must be a great job to have.  He came in close, grabbed me by the arm and told me he couldn't imagine a better retirement job, and I could sense his glee!

Above is the second video I took, it was of several older females out on kayaks going through the locks.  I skipped a portion for timeliness, but there is a longer, almost 5 minute video after the break of the first group through the lock today, start to finish.  Plus all pictures full size from above and more from the breakwater out on the lake past the locks.

All that, after the break!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Birthday Party

I have a lovely wife who went through a lot of trouble to put on a wonderful birthday party for me last weekend and great friends who showed up to help us celebrate.  There was beer brats, cake, a nacho bar and some really good wings.  Also tiki torches, a Jack Daniels Whiskey bar and a fire pit in back.  The food was awesome but the company was even better.  Thank you to all who were there with us to celebrate my milestone birthday!


A few more pictures after the break.  Forgive the quality of some, I had other priorities that night.


Here's one of my favorite short stories to tell.  It's been a few years now, so don't ask for the site because I don't remember, but I took an online questionnaire that was supposed to tell me how long I had to live.  What the hell, I thought.

I sat and went through this whole quiz, well more than a dozen or so questions, and detailed.  I got done and it said 56.  What, I thought?  Certainly I'm healthier than this.  I called my wife in and showed her.  It's just spitting out a random number, she said.  So I had her do it.  It came out with 93 or 94, I don't remember exactly.

How can this be?  Do it again, she said, so I did.  I went through each question all over again and answered honestly and completely.  56.  Again.

So that's it.  I have 6 more years to live.  It's on the internet so it must be true, right?

Monday, September 11, 2017



Monday, September 4, 2017

September This-And-Thats

I haven't done this too much recently.  I guess it's best not to think about it too much and just start typing and see where I end up.  You know, kind of like the usual.

  • I've been sick with a dreaded summer man-cold, and a nasty one at that.  When I woke up last Wednesday I knew it was inevitable.  I stayed home sick the following two days, and have been recovering the rest of this holiday weekend.  My wife even felt sorry for me, that's how bad I felt at times.  But I should feel mostly better in time for going back to work tomorrow.  Yay.
  • Even though I was under the weather I enjoyed the sun and fresh air out on Terry's boat yesterday, but I did not use sunscreen except on my knees and wound up a little bit sunburned elsewhere.  I guess between the hazy sun, laziness, and wanting a little more color made me throw caution to the wind.  I did switch sides on the boat so at least I'm even!
  • My wife is planning a pretty big party for next weekend.  She likes having people over but this is looking to be quite a big deal.  The week will be spent cleaning and preparing for the weekend.  I've been told to butt out and not worry about anything, which is very hard to do.  Friday night and Saturday will be my biggest contributions, cleaning the garage and preparing the yard.
  • I've been putting together a playlist for the above event.  Other than adding a couple albums to my phone, I just chose music from my phone.  But I do have a lot of music on my phone.  Being selective, I thought, I narrowed it down to well over 300 songs.  Way too many, so I took it down to 200 songs.  Still way too many.  Finally I got it down to 150 songs, less than half of what I started with when I already thought I was being picky.  That's it, I've spent too much time on it already for just background music.
  • I've not had the bike out recently due to this cold, but I had been trying to use it on the weekends.  Just over a week ago I rode a distance to my pharmacy and back.  (Not the closest pharmacy to home but it is on the way to work.)  I was hoping for more but the skies were promising rain.  I have some time off coming up so I'm sure to get a few rides in soon.  And the seasons may allow for riding for some time yet, although probably not in shorts for much longer.
  • I haven't yet flattened the feet or added a brace to the sawbuck of a few posts ago.  I have a board that is perfect for the brace but I'm using it for something else at the moment.  I'll have that other project done in short order once I'm on vacation then can finish the sawbuck.  I've also thrown a hand saw in my car for scavenging more firewood.  Does anyone care about this?  Probably not, but it is already written so it stays.
I can't think of anything else right now.  I haven't posted anything about Hamish and Basil in a while.  Mentioning it here increases the chances of that happening.  Otherwise, stay tuned, I'm bound to do something interesting eventually.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Labor Day Weekend 2017

I didn't seem to write much last month, so let's get it started already for September!  I plan on writing some tomorrow, but for today enjoy pictures of our afternoon boat trip.  Thanks, Terry!  Just a short trip today, and we seemed to beat most of the holiday traffic on the way out, but the boats were just streaming out onto the lake when we came back in.  More after the break!


Saturday, August 19, 2017


20170819_105812I got up today with plans in mind, things I needed to get done before relaxing for a while and then watching the Packer's preseason game tonight.  I made a plan last night, and plans somewhat, and there's always tomorrow to get a bit more done before going back to hell work on Monday.

20170819_105835I wanted to get the few branches I scavenged last year cut for firewood.  Last year I got a good deal on an electric chainsaw and used an old wooden folding chair to raise the wood while I cut it, and my foot to keep it stable.  That chair broke last year so I needed a new way to hold the branches for me to cut them safely - and safer than I was.  Just a short search on the internet gave me lots of ideas.  I saw one idea that I could run with so late last night I went out to the garage and drew up a rough idea.  I wanted to make it smaller than the ones I'd seen because it won't be used often and I have to store it in an already filled garage, but it also had to be big enough to be stable and safe.  This morning I headed to the lumber store for a few cheap 2x4's and got to work.  I didn't take many pictures during the process, but I got these few.

20170819_112544For the size logs I plan to cut I think this will work nicely.  I have a lot of smaller stuff pictured here, most collected with a hand saw in mind.  But I would think it would be safe for up to a 6 inch branch or trunk, properly trimmed, sectioned, dried and placed.  I'm not in need of much, after all.  And tomorrow I will put a flat edge on the bottom of the legs and a side brace, probably a 1x2, on the bottom of the far side.

I really do think that I want to put in a permanent fire pit next year.  The one we have is a very old one we got as a gift, but not leaving it out in the elements has let it last these many years with maybe half a dozen uses in a good year.  The ones I see advertised are 36 inches in diameter and I would like to find one that is closer to 24 or even 30.  I'm not trying to spit roast anything here, and the space to put it in isn't that large.  In fact, technically, it isn't legal for us to have a fire pit because we don't have a space the required length from any structure.  I think it's like 30 feet, if I remember right, and our lot is only 40 feet wide.  It's one of those city ordinances that is really only enforced if needed, thankfully.

20170819_114022I see a permanent fire pit in the back yard as getting used much more often because of the convenience, if nothing else.  It would also be a good place to drop the random sticks and dry yard waste I pick up rather than leaving a stick pile out for the city to pick up eventually.  I like the fact that we don't put any leaves out to be picked up in the fall - we mulch them into the lawn or collect them and mulch them into the flowerbeds.  We also compost our organic kitchen and yard waste (in my super cool compost bin I built) and use it in the garden.   We even put out our garbage only every other week, when they pick up recyclables too, while most use smaller bins and put it out every week.  Sure it's too little and too late to save this world, but I like to think we're doing more to help than most.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Atwoodfest 2017!


I took these pictures yesterday, we had a lot of fun but there was a lot of people - even though there are several local festivals happening this weekend.  There were tons of vendors for food and ware, and music is always in the background.  It's always a good time.  The weather was beautiful, sunny and very warm but not overly hot.  We just got back from a nephew's first birthday party otherwise we'd probably be there again today.  Just as well, we're probably better off resting for the rest of the day.  After this post I think I need to let my cameras cool off for a few weeks.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Another Bike Ride

20170727_111711I took Thursday off this week to get a few things done and I was also hoping to get a bike ride in.  I did get a few things done in the morning, but not as much as I planned.  But I also did get a bike ride in, even more than I planned.  This time I did go into it thinking I would post about it, you may blame Delcatto for encouraging my behavior by commenting on the last bike post!

That last post about my ride took a quite some time to put together, so this is more of a picture blogpost, or amateur photojournalism, but I'll caption the pictures for a sort of running story for some context.  Less writing is what I'm aiming for this time.  I don't think I'll do this again because I pulled over quite often to take pictures and, while there are some good ones, that just isn't what riding is about.  It became tedious so eventually I just stopped taking pictures, but still plenty to share.

Lots of pictures after the break.  Enjoy!

Apparently Google recognized that I took 3 pictures from the same spot and stitched them together for me.  Cool.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dear Madison (Food Place)

I wrote and sent this last night:

26 July 2017

(Food Place),

We have been very good customers for a long time, I know you have access to my orders to see this.  Tonight we placed an order that included the Cookies and Cream ice cream, and we are very disappointed.

Well after enjoying our (Food Place Item) and (Food Place Item), we went to have some of that ice cream. At that time we noticed there was no plastic safety seal and when we opened it we saw several large spoonfuls missing, and it had frost on it like it had since been in the freezer for some time.

When I called to let you know, I was first given the option of a 6 dollar credit or replacement.  I chose the credit.  After a few moments of silence I was told I would be given a 3 dollar credit.  I disagreed.  I was again given the option of replacement so obviously chose it to be redelivered.

A few minutes after that call I missed a call from the same person requesting the one that was delivered be returned.  By now his disbelieving tone was very obvious.  I called back but he deftly didn't care to listen, I gave up, the replacement ice cream was on it's way.

And shortly, the replacement was delivered.  No problems there, the delivery driver was awesome, most all of them are.  He seemed confused about taking the other one back, so I explained.  It was only later I noticed that the replacement ice cream was Chocolate, definitely not the flavor I originally ordered.  Not that they would know, but I do not care for Chocolate ice cream.

In a situation where a mistake or defective product has to be replaced and the replacement is also incorrect, well, that would be gross incompetence or, I suspect, purposeful negligence.  I'm not innocent, we should better inspect what we get on delivery - even though we've found you trustworthy for years.  Our bad.  But your people don't have to be defensive, suspicious and spiteful when their mistakes or tampered products are pointed out.

We love your food and would like to keep it that way.

(They have my contact and account information from the form I completed to send this.)

I was out on my bike today when I received a call.  I pulled over and listened to the message, it was the manager of the food place above.  Several hours later (post coming soon on the time otherwise spent here) I returned his call.   Without going into detail, we have a 20 dollar credit coming and an apology.  The manager may have over-shared when talking to me, and I told him that we totally understood.   An employee 'buys' ice cream but doesn't set it aside so the delivery driver grabs it innocently.  A manager trainee reacts like he shouldn't, then tried to kind of cover his tracks.  I don't want anyone to lose their job, and I told this manager that it was more insulting than offensive.  We are long time customers, and he could see and appreciate that.  So, all's well that ends well.

I had composed this exact feedback to them here before pasting into their corporate contact page.  I was ready to call them out.  My talk with this manager was good and he had gotten this message about my email first thing today, he said.  He was actually nice, even likable, and kissed my ass well.  What it comes down to is we have an apology and a credit toward the next order or two.  I'm happy enough!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Road Trip, Bicycle Style

My wife had things to do during the day today so it was up to me to keep myself busy.  After staying up late and jamming to concerts on YouTube last night, I had to be up before 9 to receive the grocery delivery.  Ordering groceries online and getting them delivered for free is just sooo easy and convenient, I don't think I'll ever go to a grocery store again other than for a few odds and ends.  We've been doing this for over a year now.  If you spend a hundred dollars it's free delivery, and my wife usually takes her father to the store during the week so if anything is out of stock on the delivery order she usually can pick it up then.  But this is off the topic...

After the groceries were put away and several small chores completed, I set out on my bicycle.  I didn't pay attention to the time, but it was sometime before 11 this a.m.  I had an idea of what and where I wanted to go but no set plans, and when getting on the bike it is nice to have a destination in mind.  Last night I considered heading downtown to the capitol square, probably a 20 minute ride for an experienced bicyclist, but what was I going to do when I got there?  Setting out earlier in the morning I could have hit Madison's large farmer's market on the square around the capitol building, but otherwise I didn't have a real destination there.
I wound up riding on the bike path down behind Olbrich Botanical Gardens, another place to stop and visit - but not this day, then down along lake Monona where there is the Olbrich Park Biergarten, a beer garden that just opened this summer in this city park.  It's bigger than I thought it would be, the fenced in area, and I stopped at the end of the parking lot (before a huge puddle) and had to take two pictures to get the length of it.  This looks like it will be a future destination for us, easily.

20170722_114023From here I worked my way up (hill!) and around the top of the lake over to the Atwood area and stopped for a rest break at the Harmony Bar and Grill, one of our favorite local establishments.  Here, I considered following the bike path down the isthmus to the capitol, but instead I headed back on the bike path northeast towards home.  I was still making it up as I went along, however.

20170722_124547When I got back on the streets I veered west and headed toward Dexter's Pub but first I had to cross East Washington Avenue, a very busy street running into town northeast to southwest, toward the capitol, of course, the center of Madison on the center of the isthmus.  Probably why it keeps getting mentioned now.  My wife fears ever crossing this road on foot or bike as there's usually at least one pedestrian death a year on the street.  When I came upon it I had the green light so was able to ride straight across in my bike lane easily.   From there it's just a few easy blocks to the pub.  They had a great Rodenbach on tap; expensive ($9.50 for 10 ounces), but one of the best beers I've tasted.  From Belgium, it's one of the original Flanders red or red/brown sour ales.  We enjoy a bottle of Duchess De Bourgogne every Friday evening.

20170722_124722While here I considered my next moves.  I wasn't quite ready to go home yet, so I went north just a bit more then headed back east, to go over the pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the aforementioned East Washington Avenue.  I hadn't been across it yet, and it was built just before we moved into the neighborhood.  I figured I would have to stop and walk my bike up, but the grade was slight enough that even out-of-shape-me was able to make it all the way up in first gear.  From here it's just a short jaunt down the path to the street we live on, recognizable by the street painting at the corner.  (I hope the neighborhood group repaints it this year - see prior link - I'll plan to help out this time.  I wrote about it when it happened here.)

20170722_125028Coming down on the east side of the bridge is Starkweather Creek, looking very full after all the recent rain.  Still, very picturesque.  By this time it was well past the lunch hour and I was ready to head towards food.  I didn't feel like ending my ride yet so I rode past the end of our street, to another bridge, and turned northeast toward another of our favorite bar and grills, Brother's Three.  This was pretty much the end of my journey.  I was hot, super sweaty, hungry and needed a rest.

I hung out for some time and chatted with the staff, letting my sweat dry and my body temperature regulate.  They know us well here as we are frequent visitors.  I had a drink and cooled down and after a while my wife showed up to meet me (I had texted her) before she went to check on a cat for friends that are on vacation.   I stayed and had some food before taking the short bike ride home and mowing the lawn, now that it was dried out some from the rain we had the day before.  After that I took a bunch of pictures for the garden blog, go take a look here!

I hadn't planned on a blog post about this bike ride today or I would have taken more and better pictures.  Still, I don't do things just to post about them.  Live life first, then share what you want when you want and if you want.  This is why I don't 'do' farcebook, people seem to need to report on their lives too much.  I prefer to think of this blog as my sort of online journal that others can see, and only if they wish.  If you made it this far, thank you.  I very much appreciate you reading.  I do like to write, but this is a lot of words for this instant-gratification society.

Full size versions of almost all the pictures I took today are after the break!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fire Pit, Headlights

DSCF5714We enjoyed another fire pit with friends last night, some we don't get too see very often anymore.  It was nice and relaxing, and cooled enough by sundown that we could actually start the fire.  The yard spray pretreatment kept the mosquitoes mostly at bay and the rain and thunderstorms held off until later in the night.  My wife made snacks and grilled up some hot dogs that we got with our quarter cow and, boy, were they delicious!

DSCF5697My project yesterday was restoring the clarity to our older car's headlights.  There's lots of YouTube videos on the process, I mostly followed this one.  I've been thinking of doing this for years now, but I would just do the temporary fix with toothpaste.  This time I invested the 20 bucks or so in materials and just did the permanent fix.  And I have plenty left over for several more cars, perhaps I can sell the stuff to some poor, dull-yellow-headlighted person.
Overall, they look much better now than they did before.  In the first picture the yellow doesn't seem to nearly come across as it really was, but they are sure cloudy.  Next is during the process, I have the lenses completely sanded and ready for the clear coat.  Last is after the final coat and not yet dry, yet you can see they are much clearer than they were before.  Later today I will wax them and see if they get clearer yet.

DSCF5706I need to start thinking of new projects to keep me busy.  I have all sorts of tools and lots of wood, I can take the time and enjoy the process.  That's really what it's about many times, the process.  I can work at my own pace, listen to music and hang out in the garage - which is one of my favorite things.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Unfortunate Reminder

I found this video on a music site today as just released, a song called 'F***ed Up,' and now I can't get it out of my head since I first watched it earlier this evening.  It describes my feelings at work recently, yes, this is where I'm going with this.  I can't adequately describe the position I'm in at work without going into too much detail to explain.  And it certainly is not the end of the world, for my position, anyway, but other heads should roll and I expect they will eventually.  This is what happens when, um, never mind.  Anyway, ever forward.  This song itself is therapeutic in it's aggression and expression, but right now I'm in a good position to relate to it, also.

Josh Todd and the Conflict - F***ed Up

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ahh, Summer


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Holiday Weekend, Friends

20170702_153103Happy Fourth of July weekend, everyone - or Brexit 1776, as I've heard it referred.  I hope you had time off and spent it wisely, or not so wisely, however you prefer.  I managed to get a lot done around the house and yard and still see friends and family.  Some of the big things I managed to get done are power wash the whole house and garage and install a pulley system to store our bikes in the garage.  Plus many, many more little projects and I still had plenty of time to relax, stay up late and listen to music - though I have several new things to listen to yet.  That's one thing about music, there's always more that I haven't heard yet.

Another highlight of this holiday weekend is that I got to visit with my old pal, Mike.  He was in Wisconsin for the weekend from Michigan visiting a former, and now current again, girlfriend.  We drove up to Wisconsin Dells, about the halfway point, to meet them for dinner Sunday night and then hung out by the Wisconsin River and talked over drinks.  She seems to be nice and they seem to be happy together so I hope it goes well for them.  It has been over 20 years since they last dated, and I do remember meeting her back then.  We had a very nice time, I only wish we could do it more often.  We also texted Gary, another old friend, to let him know we were thinking of him.  The three of us did a lot together in our youth.

But as all long weekends go, the end comes and it is back to the work week.  We will be seeing other friends tonight but can't stay very late because we have to get up early.