Monday, November 30, 2009

My Fishergrrrl

Celeste and I had to hit Sport Chalet over the weekend. Hey, it was raining (for the first time in, uh, 163 days I believe) and I wanted to look for a gift for Allie.

Celeste really enjoys sporting goods stores - mainly the outdoors sections (thankfully) and always makes a beeline to the fishing supplies at the Sport Chalet.
I swear that the grrrl could spend hours there, checking out each and every piece of bait and tackle. Since making the big move to CA, she's become aware of saltwater tackle and is amazed at it's size relative to the stuff we used in Wisconsin.
yeah, these aren't large, but she liked the purdy sparkles

We used to fish a few times per month while living in the Midwest. One of the benefits to living ~3 blocks from Lake Monona's Frost Woods Beach was that it took us all of about 10 minutes to walk down to it...
...making it perfect for after-dinner outings. Just don't forget to slather on the DEET first.
She became quite adept at casting with the Zebco starter rod/reel combo that sadly broke in the move. Almost every outing resulted in at least one catch, even if it was a tiny bluegill.
But reeling in the big one was never the goal. Just the chance to see/feel/smell one of these aquatic creatures was more than satisfying. I guess I better return to Sport Chalet in the coming weeks and get her a replacement rod and reel to hit some of the fishing spots of San Diego County with her.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things I Don't Miss About Monona - Stairway to Hell

I loved our Monona home. A nice, central location not far from downtown Madison. A proper 105' x 95' lot. Fantastic neighbors. Cool mid-century modern style. I could go on and on. But for all of the house's strengths, one thing that perpetually bothered me was the basement stairway.
Not the fact that the stairs themselves were overdue for a refinishing (one of the few remaining things on my to do list prior to us moving), but the fact that the house's architect seemed to fail in considering that someone over about 5'5" would ever reside here. There simply wasn't enough headroom clearance for anyone of even average height - and I'm 6'1". Not sure how this slipped by the inspectors back in 1963 - maybe the builder slipped a little something in an inspector-bound envelope to overlook this.

The first month or two was brutal on my cranium, but soon I found myself automatically listing my head to a 45 degree angle in order to clear the textured ceiling. Every guest who ventured down the stairs had to be told to watch the clearance. But still, every few months I'd end up crashing skull to plaster if I was doing something slightly out of the ordinary on the stairway - such as vaccuming the stairs, painting trim, or, inevitably, portaging something both bulky and heavy.

And while I'm still sad that I no longer call that house my home, I do have one happy head that's no longer inadvertently raining bits of plaster to the stairs below.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Down on the Street - Nautical Edition

cool boats at night - sailor's delight

And now for something slightly different - but still parked down on the street. Walking the dog the other night I found this striking Davis Boats Rock Harbor 25 short cabin sitting on a three-axle trailer in front of a neighbor's house. Mmm... 6000 lbs of tasty fiberglass, stainless steel and Volvo/Penta Duo Prop I/O propulsion.

While boats are seen on the street in Carlsbad from time-to-time, they're far more of an infrequent site compared to Madison/Monona. Then again, Carlsbad has neither a port nor harbor. You have to drive up to the Oceanside harbor or down to San Diego to get your trailered boat in and out of the water.

Tuesday morning the boat was back, I was able to snag a few shots in the daylight.
the business end

Here's a pic from the Davis Boats website of another Rock Harbor 25 down on the water.
Do you think Santa will put one under the tree for me next month? I've been a (relatively) good boy this year...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dog Park!

There's a business park here in Carlsbad with a nice clear pond that becomes an unofficial dog park on the weekends. Even though there are plenty of NO DOGS and NO TRESPASSING signs,
allegedly the owner is cool with dogs enjoying it on the weekends.
We've had Juno since March and haven't seen her swim yet. With the Del Mar dog beach being a ~20 minute drive south and not knowing how she'd react off-leash with other dogs, we felt a smaller venue would be better for our larger goggie.

The good news is that she took to it swimmingly. Literally. We joined a neighbor and her dogs Ziggy and Salty for a little romp.
Salty (left) and Juno

Juno, like most labs, is a water freak and had absolutely no hesitation in leaping in to chase her well-worn tennis ball. She also behaved quite well around the other dogs, even if she could have done a better job listening. Practice needed...
I'm certain we'll be returning.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vintage Green Lake Postcard

I'm really surprised, but it's been over five months since I last posted a vintage Green Lake postcard up here. Odd, as I have more vintage Green Lake postcards than postcards from all other locales combined.
This one has always stumped me. It's a real photo postcard - the photographer had the image developed onto paper backed with a postcard template. What's stumped me is where exactly this lake house is/was situated on Green Lake. It's listed as "Fern Bank, Green Lake, Wisconsin". Googling shows no indication of "Fern Bank", nor does my A Heritage History of Beautiful Green Lake Wisconsin. Oh well, I still think it's cool. And I bet the home, if still standing, is even cooler.

On the back:
Postmarked Dec 23, 7:30 PM, 1938, Milwaukee, Wis.

"A Merry Xmas & A happy New Year to All

Your note bore a St. Louis post mark. Are you near there. I spent the (??) vacation attending the Nat'l Euq. Council at your HOtel Jefferson in St. L. You and family sound interesting. We are happier than ever all the time!! Yes, I mean it. May (?) & H."

Addressed to:
Mrs William Cotters
120 W. Jackson
Webster Groves

Looks like a home stills stands on the property. However, I wasn't able to get a better pic of it.
Unfortunately the limited search I did found no records online for the recipient.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Field Trip - Cycling Silver Strand

Celeste is a Girl Scout now - and part of being a Girl Scout is accumulating various patches for participating in different activities. And selling cookies, duh. It's no secret that Allie and I love cycling. Well, Allie enjoys it, I love it and go stir-crazy if I'm off the bike more than about two days. So one way we've been able to get our less-than-enthusiastic-about-cycling daughter out on two wheels has been telling her that we'd get her a cycling patch if she completes six different family cycling adventures with us. I should clarify - while she insists that she'd rather stay home on a weekend instead of go out exploring, she almost always has a great time taking in the sights.

Saturday afternoon we headed on down to San Diego and Coronado to ride the Silver Strand bikeway. This rail-trail path is dead-flat and dead-straight - but still good as it slices through a thin peninsula with San Diego bay to the east and the Pacific on the west.
The bikeway is about nine miles long in total, but due to some time constraints we headed back once we reached the halfway point. Our total mileage was 9.25.
Celeste and the Coronado Bay Bridge

One of the more-enjoyable aspects of the trail for Celeste and I was the crushed gravel/sand multi-use path that parallels the bikeway for miles. The grrrl really enjoys riding on dirt (as long as it isn't "too bumpy" and takes every opportunity to hit the path.
Along the way we encountered a few little educational "monuments"/art installations that Celeste naturally had to explore...
We even saw a cool tall ship, possibly the Californian (?)
Another great afternoon in the San Diego sun.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crisis Averted!

I'll say it again - The Sauce is Boss

The FedEx man delivered the much-needed supply of life-giving BBQ sauce; and just in time for Turkey Day. Thanks Mom!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Object of Desire - Moots Vamoots CR

When I accepted the gig with Electra, I was eager to ditch the past and to be able to ride whatever mountain, road and cyclocross bikes my little heart desired. In the past year I have sold off a couple of Mongoose mountain bikes and bought a stunning Pivot Mach 5 mountain bike and a Gunnar Crosshairs cyclocross rig.

I had prepped Allie for that I'd be buying a new road bike when we first placed our Monona home on the market. Well, fast forward 13 long months of it being on the market and watching the economy collapse, along with our home's asking price, thus delaying the inevitable purchase by a few more months.

I walked the floor at this year's Eurobike and Interbike trade shows with one eye looking out for different options for the new ride and have pretty much settled on a titanium or steel frame. I really like the "plastic bike" I'm currently riding but am looking for a frame with a bit more permanence. And with that permanence in mind, titanium is currently topping the wish list. Specifically:
A Moots Vamoots CR. I've lusted after a Moots since I first saw one in person about 14 years ago. Perfect welds, clean, simple and minimal graphics presentation and an enviable ride quality - all lovingly welded up by good people in Steamboat Springs, CO.

I haven't fully made up my mind on the drivetrain, but it's looking to be a Shimano Dura-Ace 7900.
And while it's going to be a pricey ride, it's one that I hope to have for a very long time. I've put over 10,000 miles on the plastic bike over the past three years - it's still a great ride overall, but the shifting is getting sloppy, the drivetrain is making some funny noises and I've kind of grown bored of it. But I'll continue to pedal it to work most every day and will likely rack up another 1,000 miles on it before I get a chance to throw my leg over some titanium.

Until then at least have a sweet new Moots Merino wool jersey to wear out on the road...

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Didn't Know I Needed This

Straight outta Verona, Wisconsin (via eBay) is this sweet 1915 American-LaFrance Speedster Racer.
It supposedly started out it's life 94 years ago as a small short-chassis chemical fire truck before it's conversion to a racer sometime along the line - complete with a massive 14.5 liter straight six motor.
That's 2.41 liters of displacment per cylinder. Power is then sent from the transmission to two-wheel chain drive. Oh, and it has brakes - only on the rear axle.
By far one of the most epically bad-ass race cars ever made. Let's go along for a ride...

If only I had a spare $50k - this beast would make one fine daily driver. Road trip anyone?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Un-Dorkifying the Ride (Part 1)

I have a love-hate relationship with under-the-saddle bags. I love having the needed tools in order to fix the 90% of common breakdowns that can occur during a road ride - primarily punctured tubes and bolts that manage to wiggle their way loose at inappropriate times. However, I hate how most of these bags look. Boring Cordura nylon shaped into shapes that are far from attractive and do a poor job of holding their shape. Many roadies will just stuff their needed tools into their jersey pocket, but that's not a good option when wearing a backpack while commuting to work. And I don't keep the tools in the backpack as I need them for when I go on weekend rides.

For the past eight years a frumpy Axiom bag has resided under the saddles of many different road bikes that have come and gone from my bicycle fleet. While it was durable and competently held the contents, it's unabashedly ugly and the strap that wraps around the seatpost has lightly chafed the clearcoat on my carbon post over the years.
the fugly beast

There are now many nice, low-profile bags on the market. But as an owner of several fantastic fi'zi:k saddles, I finally took advantage of the ability to switch over to one of their small saddle bags that cleanly mounts using their Integrated Clip System into a port on the underside of the saddle.
True, it's still a primarily-black nylon bag. But smaller and imbued with a nice dose of Italian style and good design, some reflective logos and not requiring a seatpost-chafing strap.

I've also re-evaluated my tool selection. I had been carrying a much-heavier and bulkier Crankbrothers mini tool along with a compact pump. But after experiencing exactly one puncture over the last 14 months of road riding out here, I decided to go with a CO2 system and not worry about carrying the pump for back-up.
Side benefit - 178g in weight savings...
Ahh, that's better.
My cyclocross rig is using an identical kit. Next step in un-dorkification - a new frame/fork and fresh drivetrain. Send $$$$$...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Loss of Boss Sauce

As the cliché states, "all good things must come to an end" - and tonight saw the end of the bottle of unholy deliciousness as the last few succulent sweet drops of Captain Curt's Boss Sauce trickled out of the vessel that my brother sent me back over the summer and onto a couple of plump Foster Farms chicken breasts, sizzling on the Weber.
my grrrls rightfully laughed at me for taking a photo of an empty BBQ sauce bottle

The bombastic blend of (among others) water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, cider vinegar, hickory smoke, MSG, sodium benzoate (preservative), proprietary herbs and spices is all but a memory, having been a central part of many summer BBQs. And since it's not widely-distributed outside of the Chicago area, I guess it's time to have my mom mail out a bottle. Because what is Thanksgiving dinner without healthy side of heaven?

The sauce was indeed boss.

EDIT - Crisis averted, mom emailed this morning, letting me know that two precious bottles are in the mail. Thanks ma!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Down on the Street

Riding over to my friend Graham's house on Sunday, i spied this rugged chunk o' American iron in his neighborhood.
It's a Willys Jeep Wagon, arguably the first sport utility model produced. Designed by industrial design master Brooks Stevens and in production from 1946 - 1965, the Jeep Wagon (like the IH Scout posted a couple of weeks back) is a great example of a truck that is simply a truck. No soccer-mom "crossover" baubles like carpeting and, uh, windshield wipers. This is a man's truck.
Simple and sturdy. Bend a tie rod? Just bend it back, alignment-be-damned.

The fabric rear window is great for hauling longboards around. Just pop six snaps and throw your board in.
And just check out these minimal taillights:
Getting the job done for 45+ years. What more do you need?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vintage Madison Postcard

Another nice nighttime lake scene depicted on a dusty old postcard from my archives. This one depicts "Moonlight on Lake Medota, Foot of Park Street, Madison, Wis."
Looks like the author was all about keeping the message short-and-sweet. Simply (and somewhat artistically) signed and addressed to Miss Minnie Bradseth of Rice Lake, Wis. Mailed on October 10, 1918.
A little Googling found Miss Bradseth on the registry of the Nora Cemetery of Rice Lake. Born 1890 and died in 1965.

And seeing where Madison's north Park Street meets Lake Mendota, it's evident that the cottage depicted is also no longer with us either.
Now home to the UW Madison Memorial Union. One of my favorite places in all of the Midwest. No better place to enjoy some beer (and/or Babcock Hall Ice Cream) than during sunset on a warm summer evening.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thanks Apple!

Last Wednesday, our 24" iMac crapped out. Purchased waaaay back in mid-August of 2009, the thing wouldn't stay on for more than about ten seconds of "grey screen". A little spinning wheel, a whole lot of nothin' else.

Frustrated with the unexpected glitch, I brought it down to the Carlsbad Apple Store where I was told I'd have to leave it until the next day. They cracked it open on Thursday and ordered up a new power supply and logic board (from what I've read online, a $900 part). Friday came and went with no word on the machine.

Apple finally called last night with the cliched "I have bad news and I have good news" spiel. Bad news? Permanent hardware failure. They installed the power supply and two different logic boards and still no go. Good news? They'd be replacing our ~75 day-old computer - and not with a "refurbished" 24" iMac, but with one of the new 27" iMacs at no additional charge to us.
Larger, brighter and with a higher-resolution LCD screen, faster processor, larger hard drive and new wireless Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard. SD slot, full aluminum construction, lower energy use. $200 more at retail. How could I say no? Especially since they were also able to transfer all of my data from the original iMac. No set-up required, no formatting, etc. Plug 'er in and everything is familiar.
This thing is a monster, and I say that in a good way. The old machine was way more computer than I needed but I loved working on it. Now I'm looking forward to playing around with this to see what she can do. I am already loving the Magic Mouse and the lack of clutter from the lack of wires.

Thank you Apple for the great customer service and quick turnaround. Now back to trying to peck out a few more future boring blog posts...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ears Shredded, Yet Content

Indie rock superstars Dinosaur Jr. played the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on wednesday night. Coming in on the strength of two fantastic albums over the past three years with the original lineup, I was eager to see J, Lou and Murph tear it up. Especially since this would be the first time I would be seeing the band as the original threesome - the last time I saw them was nearly 18 years ago (with an incredible My Bloody Valentine sharing the bill no less). Incidentally Allie also attended that show - we made small talk since we had met each other earlier at Illinois State and had a mutual friend, but it'd be another two years before we'd start dating.
J. Mascis
Murph and Lou Barlow

As expected with these veteran musicians, their performance was spot-on, playing some of their best material from their 24 (!!)-year career over a two hour set. I brought my point-and-shoot digicam to see if the tiny mic could handle the enormous amounts of distortion and feedback delivered by J's fender and Marshall stacks. Here's one of the results, "The Wagon" from Green Mind.

I'll upload a couple more to YouTube over the weekend. Unfortunately I ran out of room on the card to get "Freak Scene" or "The Lung". Once the show was over, I wandered up to the stage to check out some of the equipment.
And I even left with a nice souvenir - one of J's guitar picks, given to me by a roadie.