Monday, September 28, 2009

Artificial Owl - Another Timesuck Website

I love seeing, exploring and learning about decrepit and abandoned things and places. During the 2001 bankruptcy at Schwinn when I literally had nothing to do, I spent copious amounts of Schwinn's bandwidth investigating virtually every urban exploration site.

I recently came across and have now checked out most every posting.

Abandoned aircraft...
...and amusement parks...
...are two of my favorite topics. Check it out, waste some of your free time!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Down on the Street

While farting around on the computer this morning, my ears perked up at a vehicle with a unique exhaust sound coming down the street. Hmm, too deep to be a crotch-rocket super bike, better take my eyes off the monitor to see exactly what it's coming from. Sounds like it has a flat-plane crank - why it's a Ferrari - and it's making a three-point turn right in front of the house. Better take a look outside to see if it's going to be still for a moment.
Yup! And just beyond it, at the top of the hill on the right side, you can see one of my favorite neighborhood cars, a 1991 Vanagon Carat.
Not being a Ferrari aficionado, I was unsure whether this was an F360 or F430. I did find an F360 in the 'hood back in August.
Checking out the mirror, it's quite obvious that this is not an F360:
I like the dark grey metallic. Most Ferraris seem to be the classic look-at-me/arrest-me-red. And don't those brakes look a bit unusual?

Carbon ceramic brakes - frightfully expensive when it's time to replace. How does $7,000 PER ROTOR sound to you? I could come up with a lot of better things to spend $28,000 on than brake rotors for one car. That's more than 10% of the cost of the $218,000 car.

And like the F360, Ferrari places their 483 HP V8 art under glass.
Now I'd just like to hear this screaming towards it's 8,500 RPM redline.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Las Vegas

"A bloody nose, empty pockets, a rented car with a trunk full of guns
It ain't true that the sun don't rise in Vegas,
I've seen it once"

Checkout Time In Vegas by Drive-By Truckers

Okay, so there was no bloody nose involved or guns. Almost on the bloody nose, but that was purely dryness-induced from spending three full days at Interbike's Outdoor Demo in hot and windy Boulder City from Sunday through Tuesday.

But overall the show and experience were very good - not great like Eurobike, but much better than any previous Interbike with my last employer. And with this being my thirteenth trip to Interbike, there are very few surprises anymore. Because of that, I didn't really go out of my way to do much in the way of exploring or shooting photos of anything other than bicycles and bicycle accessories.

"Ooh, Las Vegas, ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Ooh, Las Vegas, ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Every time I hit your crystal city
You know you're gonna make a wreck out of me"

-Ooh, Las Vegas by Graham Parsons

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hamburg - Superbude!

While staying in Hamburg, I was put up at Superbude, a super-funky, super-cool hotel/hostel. Now the "hostel" word can scare some - thoughts of sharing bathrooms with dirtbag hippie backpackers and all - but there was nothing "hostel" about the Superbude.
Apparently "bude" is German slang along the lines of "pad" - where you live. My German friends liked the name of the place.
entrance @ night
Decorated by young artists and it shows...
reception (above and below)
check out the desk lamp-turned chandelier and the chairs with pallet bases
glued paper cup chandelier

The kitchen is done in a hipster-loft style...
comfy Astra beer-crate stools

Okay, so the lobby's cool, let's head up to the room. First we'll look up at the outside of the stairwell...
Typical Euro-style (small by our standards), and oh-so-green. Green Laker green.
really green - other rooms are red, pink, etc.
Mouse and rat traps to hold menus and the like. Some rooms have toilet plungers mounted to the walls as coat racks.

The wall-mounted flat-screen went unused while the free WiFi was used. The bed, while firm and virtually on the floor provided a good night's sleep. Pretty cool for €80 per night. The good breakfast added only €7 and parking a reasonable €4.

A couple more shots. First the outdoor lounge, as viewed from the fifth floor.
And remember - bird is love.
whatever that means

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cycling the Streets of Hamburg

My trip to Germany ended in Hamburg, Germany's second most-populous city (1.8 million residents) and also home to the second-largest port in Europe. On the four and-a-half hour drive up on the Autobahns from Cologne I managed to push the little SEAT up to 209 kp/h while following an elderly man driving a VW Touran mini van. That old guy schooled me. Electra's European HQ is in Hamburg, and I wanted to visit the office, learn about their market along with their wants and needs and visit some cool German bike shops.

I arrived at my groovy hotel (more on that in a future post) late on Monday afternoon and set out on foot to find some dinner. Here are some photos from the journey.

main train station
I found myself in a shopping district, I believe it was along Mönckebergstr. Plenty of outdoor cafés and the like to choose from...

...Danish hot dogs? Nah.
Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes)? They sure smelled good...
...but I wanted something a bit more than fried potatoes. Ooh, a bäckeri......but they mainly had sweets and some bland-looking sandwiches. So I found (yet another) small pizza joint and enjoyed another great Germany pizza. After dinner I walked further east to check out Hamburg's Rathaus, or city hall.Built in neo-renaissance style between 1886-1897, it's Hamburg's city hall and occupies an entire city block. Quite stunning at night too. After spending some time at the Rathaus, I wandered past some of the high-end boutiques just to the north before taking a taxi back to my hotel.

The next morning I awoke to perfect late-summer weather and headed off to Electra GmbH for my morning meeting. After that was done I grabbed an Electra Amsterdam Balloon from their fleet (I have the same bike here at home) for my day's ride. Along the way I was able to take in many very cool parts of this historic city.
yet another groovy German communications tower

As part of my journey I passed the Reeperbahn district and St. Pauli.
This is Hamburg's seedier part as well as home to it's red light district...
...which isn't all that hoppin' at 10:30 AM. Note that the sign above states that those entering have to be at least 18 - and that no women are allowed. I doubt I could find any of the kinds of tools that I am interested in at the shop below.

This is also the area of Hamburg where The Beatles regularly performed from 1960-1962.
random doorway graffiti

More pedaling on the Amsterdam and I found myself approaching the harbor.
I should add that the Schwalbe Fat Franks 2.35" wide tires were fantastic on the pavers.
I found the warehouse district the most interesting part of the city. Built in the 1880s to, uh, warehouse the goods offloaded in the ports, the large brick buildings have very interesting canals running between them.

Looking up you can see the apparatus for hoisting crates of cargo long ago:
After sitting virtually-abandoned for decades, these buildings have been rehabbed and now house offices, restaurants and other small businesses.
With my shop visits complete and GPS battery running low, I chose my route carefully so that I'd be less-prone to becoming lost - so I decided to ride around Hamburg's inner-city lakes, Binnenalster and Aussenalster.
Some of Hamburg's grand old office buildings face Binnenalster, the smaller of the two lakes that is also closer to Hamburg's downtown.
Aussenalster has very Madison-esque bike and walking paths surrounding it. Being a beautiful day, the round-the-lake ride or run was a popular late-afternoon diversion for Hamburgers (yes, that's what the residents are called).
Overall I was able to get in a leisurely 25-mile ride over the course of the day. Here's where I went - well, most of where I went, I accidentally forgot to resume the GPS's tracking function a couple of times.
And thanks to Akki and the Electra Hamburg staff for the hospitality and letting me borrow the Amsterdam Balloon.
And finally, I saw this sweet late-model Mini Cooper parked outside the great restaurant we hit for dinner:
If only I could have crammed it in my carry-on luggage.

Down on the Street - Hamburg Edition

Germany doesn't have all that many classic Beetles ("Kafers") running around, I see far more here in Southern California. My guess is that a wet northern climate has taken its toll on classic Wolfsburg schteel.

And while this one is certainly rusting, it's an intentional rust job. Step one - grind all the paint off body. Step two - leave to the elements. Step three - let nature take its course.

I've seen a few other rat rods with this look. In an effort to make this one look even older, the owner also put the pre-1968 style flared front fenders on. A good look.
By the looks of this one - large wheels, lowered and a stand-off engine lid, I bet it's being pushed by more than the factory original 1600ccs. But then again, it just has "pea-shooter" exhaust pipes. Hmm...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Album of the Week - DBT ACL

Once we sold our WI home, I made up for lost time and bought about a dozen CDs (remember those silver 5" discs?) that had come out over the summer. Paying both rent on a CA home and mortgage on the WI home left little disposable income for luxuries like entertainment.

And while I am settling in and trying to absorb all of the discs, the one that has really stood out this week is Drive-By Truckers Live from Austin, TX/Austin City Limits. DBT's southern rock sound is a perfect mix of country, hard rock, R&B with punk attitude. Three songwriters belt out the vocals on their given songs and the three-guitar interplay shows off their true musicianship.

Recorded last September for the namesake PBS concert series, this disc shows DBT in prime made-for-TV form. Why made-for-TV? It's a bit mellower than than how I remember them when seeing the band live in Madison on The Dirty South tour a few years back, but watching the bonus DVD of this Austin City Limits show I didn't notice a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels being passed around either. It's still a great set that really shows off their fantastic songwriting and sounds particularly good cranked up even if it is abbreviated - DBT shows are usually much longer than 13 songs. This set comprises some of their best work from four of their five last (fantastic) albums. Now I'm just hoping they'll head out west and play a show in the San Diego area.

Check out their website -

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Trinket - A&W Rootbeer Mug

I've owned this old A&W mug since I was about eight. It's been in kitchen cabinets in Danville, Homewood, Chicago, Naperville, Palatine and Libertyville Illinois, Boulder and Arvada Colorado, Monona Wisconsin and now Carlsbad California. That's a lot of moves for something I rarely use.
But still I can't seem to be able to part with it. Originally found against a concrete parking block in the parking lot of the Danville Jaycees park (before it was a county park)...
...I still recall bringing this "treasure" home to my mom to wash so that I could drink from it at lunch that day.
It's nowhere near mint, likely "borrowed" from Danville's A&W drive-in (owned by a neighbor of ours) before it was pitched from someone's car. But it has character. And at this point, if I've kept it this long, it's here to stay.