Monday, August 31, 2009

Five Perfect Things - Night Driving Albums

Like night itself, I prefer the music I listen to while driving at night to be dark and moody.

Neko Case
- Blacklisted

Mazzy Star - She Hangs Brightly

Tom Verlaine - Warm and Cool
Beck - Sea Change
Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer Vacation - San Jose

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Don and Stacey in San Jose (California's third-largest city). Surprisingly I didn't take a ton of pix while we were there - and the ones I did take were with my iPhone. L-A-M-E.

Here's their sweet new garage/toy storage/guest quarters and turf block driveway. Ironically their driveway is the only part of their property that they have sprinklers on.
Celeste and I went out one exploring the neighborhood one morning. Like a moth to a flame - or Sarah Palin to a monster truck rally - or she was drawn to the creek for some critter catching.
Nothin' here but a few waterbugs. Better luck next time.

We also wandered around downtown San Jose and, drawn, once again, like a batshit crazy person who likes to yell to a health care townhall meeting, Celeste found a way to get wet.
Celeste ended up thoroughly soaked (obviously), Don and I only slightly less, so we headed across the street to check out the awesomely-cool kinetic sculpture Science on a Roll outside of the San Jose Tech Museum.
Did a little drip-drying as we watched a dozen or so billiard balls roll through this Rube Goldberg-esque display of coolness.

Hit the gift shop briefly and then on to the San Jose Museum of Art.
or "fart star" as I like to call it

Don and Stacey graciously re-upped their membership and were able to get us in for free. Super cool as we had to be extremely frugal on this trip with mortgage and rent payments soaking up most of our free cash. A surprising find - an exhibit by American surrealist Todd Schorr.

Freaky, cool, spooky and highly detailed works here that your parents are bound to hate and are likely to provide ammo for some pretty surreal dreams.
"Clash of Holidays":

"Into the Valley of Finks and Weirdos":My personal favorite - "The Hydra of Madison Avenue":
And who can't resist a little simian art:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vintage Chicago Postcard

Another old postcard that had never been sent. Hmm, just how much has the Chicago skyline changed since this was printed?
Probably more than a little bit. Only one cent postage is required, so it's pre-1952.

"Chicago's skyline viewed from the Lake Michigan Shore over Grant Park. This beautiful front yard of the metropolis was under water until 1871 when debris from Chicago's great fire of that year was dumped into the lake at this point to start one of the greatest projects in beautifucation in history."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Juno Update

Well, the World's Fattest Lab has slimmed down considerably since we picked her up in the Spring. She's still a bit overweight with a belly full o' flab, but you can at least see some "hips" on the old girl.
Back in March she was weighing in at 125 lbs. Last time she was we checked, prior to going on prescription dog food (which makes her burp - a lot), the scales showed 104. We just need to get her down under 95 in order to have her spayed. Two brisk 30 minute walks per day have also helped.

She's been a great addition to the family. Pretty mellow for the most part - but still spunky when you get a tennis ball out or say "walk" (and especially - and obviously "eat"). She also enjoys a little tug of war with her rope toy. We're just working on her behavior with other dogs as she will sometimes growl at other dogs. But maybe that's just because she's an old bitch.

Random Trinket - Hunter Zephair Fan

Here's a random piece of functional home furnishings that Allie and I have owned for the vast majority of our relationship. Why, of course, it's a fine Hunter Zephair oscillating fan.
We picked this up in the early-90s at Chicago Recycle Shop (on N Clark in the Andersonville neigborhood). Allie and her friend Barb discovered the shop shortly after getting their drivers licenses - they'd sort through the piles of used clothing in the basement in search of swingin' 1960s dresses, boots and the like. George, the proprietor of the shop, would always ask the two of them just why they wanted to dress in those old clothes. I also enjoyed the basement, but mainly to search through the tools and cool electric fans - like this example.
Why do I like old electric fans? Two words - Green Lake. My grandparent's cottage had a pair of small old fans - a fixed "ZERO" and an oscillating "ESKIMO". Highlights include the study metal construction, good air output, a gentle hum as well a violent end to your fingertips and/or knuckles if you accidentally put your hand through the very large openings between the grates. My brother and I brought these back home with us to Illinois when my grandparents sold the place on Green Lake, but they only lasted a couple of seasons before they ended up in some Cook County landfill.
From what I can tell, this gem dates from the 1940s. When I picked it up it was in serious need of a cleaning and repaint. Trouble is, shop owner George always wanted good money for these old fans - upwards of $100. However today was my lucky day as George was taking the day off. I brought it up to the counter and asked how much, his niece gave it to me for a song - $20. I polished the aluminum blades, treated it to a coat of gloss black Krylon, recovered the base with black felt and lubed the bearings.

It's come in handy over the years, quietly and reliably chugging away while Allie and I spent nine A/C-free summers in the sixteen summers we've lived together.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green Lake Super 8, 1975-76

More Super 8 summer fun from beautiful Green Lake, Wisconsin.

Not sure why this one looks so much crappier than the previous installment. Gotta keep tweaking...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Vacation - Day Two

Day Two had us waking up in San Luis Obispo with San Jose being our destination and a whole lot of US Hwy 1 to get us there. We packed up camp under clear skies that morning and headed west to Morrow Bay. Unfortunately the coast was socked in fog, so the cameras sat idle for a couple of hours.
just rolling in to the coastal fog

Allie grabbed a mocha at a local coffee shop in the sleepy town and we hit another great stretch of 1. North of Morro Bay lies San Simeon and Hearst Castle. Just as the clouds started to break, we noticed a number of minivans and RVs pulled along side the road with families gawking at.......holy crap - zebras(?!?!).

I threw the telephoto lens on and snagged a few shots. Apparently they're just some of the many exotic animals from the legacy of William Randolph Hearst. We didn't have time or budget to tour the castle this time, maybe the next time we head north.

putting the binoculars to good use

Miles and miles later we all needed a bathroom break and came across Ragged Point Inn at the perfect time. Situated on a, yes, ragged point jutting out high above the Pacific, this also proved to be the most-photogenic stop on the entire trip. The magnificent twisted trees also satiated Celeste during her summer of climbing.

Rocky Point even has a nature trail that takes you down to the water's edge. See it below? No?It's a long way down and an even-longer way back up. Legs already comfortably stretched from wandering the grounds for about an hour, we wisely stayed up top as I was itching to get back on the road.
At this point Hwy 1 becomes extremely winding. Fun in the van, likely not-too fun for those piloting lumbering RVs along the coast.
mandatory thru-the-windshield shots

For the second day in a row we managed to find another nice, wide spot in the road and pulled over for lunch.
rest for Klaus
sadly I can't find the third shot of this series - the one from Celeste's card
Of course a few turns up the road we found an even-better turnout with a fantastic view, barking sea lions and beggar squirrels.
"nom nom nom" -squirrel

The journey continued...
...we did quick detours through downtown Monterey and Santa Cruz and then met with friend Don at his office in Scotts Valley. Got stuck behind a car crash on CA State Route 17 (one of the most dangerous highways in the state), then soldiered on to Don and Stacey's place in San Jose.

And to satisfy someone who says I never post any pix of me, here goes:
dork with camera

Heat Wave, Meet Wave Wave

Allie and I were taking this morning how neither of us *ever* check the weather anymore. It's been on PerfectWeather™ autopilot since the June Gloom belatedly moved out in early July. So after we talked about the weather - or lack of checking it - I checked the phone to see what's in store for Carlsbad the next few days.

Lookin' good - if a little on the toasty side. Might have to (gasp!) get the fans out.

One site I do check with relative frequency is the Surfline Surf Report...

At least this forecast changes from time to time over here. Combine this "heat wave" and bigger swells and I may just have to head on down to the beach after work one (or more) of these evenings.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And Now a Page From the Funnies

Actually I've never called comics "the funnies" - but you bet your britches my Grandma Esch did. She also called the couch/sofa a "davenport". But she's not the topic of this vapid blog post. This time anyway.

Since I'll be traveling internationally starting this weekend, I need reading material to help kill time while in the air. So me and the grrrls headed on down to ye olde Borders Book Shoppe on Sunday to grab a few things (Lonely Planet's Germany and P.J. O'Rourke's Driving Like Crazy for those that care).

One thing that I have been quite successful at is getting Celeste in to comics. I'm not a comic book kind-of-guy, but I do read many of the strips that run in the daily paper - the North County Times in this case. And since Celeste has been old enough to understand these brightly-colored pages (which make for frugal kid's wrapping paper in this household), I deliver them to her loft bed every Sunday morning.

Sadly though she doesn't get to enjoy Calvin and Hobbes the way I did during it's influential ten-year run. So while at the book store, I tore her away from her perch at the Warriors Cats book section and planted her down in the humor section. Before she could get her paws on some lame Garfield book, I presented her with a one of Bill Watterson's collections. She was instantly smitten.

So the next stop was the Carlsbad library where we found only one C&H book on the shelves. At this point over 150 of the 253 pages in the book have been devoured in less than 24 hours.

Celeste and Calvin share many traits. Here's a scenario that's all-to-familiar in our household (click to enlarge)...
Celeste will even admit that. In fact she's the one that brought this strip to my attention. She absolutely dreads the idea of going to the beach, but loves the community swimming pool. But every time we bring her to the beach her mood changes and she has a blast and we have to end up dragging her home.

Hopefully we'll buy some Calvin and Hobbes books soon to add to the collection of Peanuts books from my childhood. We'll read 'em on the davenport.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Lookie up in your address bar. Yep, up there where it used to say I registered and am now using for the blog. Don't worry if you have the old address bookmarked, it'll automatically redirect.

Who knows, maybe I'll build a web page one of these years. As you may know, I don't have much in the way of home projects to tackle...

Wisconsin Wear

When the family moved to Monona, we were mildly amused by the Wisconsin Active Sportswear shop located in Monona.

With "Active Sportswear" being two thirds of the name, we expected to find outdoor wear - like stuff from Patagonia, The North Face and such. Instead we found a sea of Badger red and Packer Gold & Green. You can't even buy a Brewers hat there.

While I never ended up purchasing anything from W.A.S. (Rutabaga, being in the same vicinity, was more our style), I did end up buying some Wisconsin-related garb from Sconnie Nation prior to leaving. Browsing their site this evening, I found these new gems...

an Illinois version would be even better

and finally one I think I'm going to have to order...

Good stuff!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer Vacation - Day One

This past July the three of us decided to conquer a large part of one of the classic American roads - California Hwy 1. Our final destinations was our friends Don and Stacey in San Jose and then Bill and Kiera in Oakland. Plenty of camping was planned for the trip both up to and back from the Bay Area and we brought the Electras along for good measure.

To get to 1, we had to first traverse Orange County and then the LA area to get to Santa Monica - the southern terminus of this great route. No big deal, we left after the morning rush and planned on eating lunch along the coast.

picnic pull-over in Malibu - it's nice when your vehicle has a built-in picnic table

sand, glorious sand!

Hwy 1 just north of Malibu

Pismo Beach or San Louis Obispo was target for the first night of camping. We had a few different campgrounds on the list and were hoping for cancellations so that we could spend the night on the water. However the first couple of state beaches were full. Calling a private campground in the Pismo Beach area that offered hot springs sounded promising, until we actually pulled in lot and found about eight tent sites in an 80x160 gravel/dirt plot with zero privacy. Thankfully a half hour or so up the road we found a great, yet small, county campground outside of San Luis Obispo.
Electras like camping too

We were only offered one night camping at this place since their annual Renaissance Festival was happening that weekend at the park. No problem as we had planned to be on the road anyway. The "magicks" were definitely in the aire that nighte with plenty of Renaissane enthusiasts setting up camp for the weekend. For some reason I craved a turkey leg.
as previously mentioned on this lame blog, this is the summer of tree climbing for the grrrl

that night we went for a short ride on this narrow bike path. oops, I mean golf cart path

rock climbing is almost as fun as tree climbing

using the phone as a flashlight to view the small frog that lived in a crevice

We had a good night's rest with the three of us spread out in our four man tent - even though the camper in the neighboring site had her classic rock on a bit later than we would have desired. But what's camping without getting the Led out?