Friday, August 28, 2009

Caravan to the West

Each year a caravan of horses, riders, wagons, and miscellaneous contraptions come by the house on their way to Prairie Village Days. I enjoy seeing them come on by. video

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Cars (and Trucks) Go Bad

Looking into some of the offerings by Zoho.com and the kinds of software (all of it free) that they offer, I ran into this photo stream of some extravagant wrecks, from cars in holes to holes in cars and everything in between. Take a look at the photos, but then stop to take a look at what Zoho offers. They're not Microsoft, and they're not Google.

Hello Duluth, and Goodbye


The wife and I took a brief mini-vacation last week, squeezing it in between the end of the roofing project and the beginning of the school year, leaving Wednesday and returning Saturday. The two full days in Duluth were just what the doctor ordered, although the dosage was not what we'd hoped.

Despite the short time spent there, we managed to check out the following:
  • Split Rock Lighthouse, out north of Duluth on Lake Superior--see the wife pictured here, enjoying the lake breezes and the view of the lighthouse
  • Gooseberry Falls Park, where we picked (yes, I know it's probably not legal) a few gooseberries as we hiked along the trails. It's a beautiful park.
  • Skyline Drive, a ridge-running street above and through Duluth that gives a great look at the city and Hawk Ridge. I still wish we'd picked that chokecherry bush clean!
  • Aerial Lift Bridge, where we got to see it lift a couple of times for small private and tourist boats.
  • Sweeney Todd, a great creepy play put on at the Play House, a small, 80-seat venue that puts you up close and personal to the cast, who also play all the instruments. The whole operation takes place right on stage, no exits or entries. This was probably the highlight of the trip.
  • Fitger's Brewhouse, an old-timey brewery that sits right on the lake. Good brew!
  • Hell's Kitchen, an off-beat eatery that serves up gigantic ribs and other heavenly fare.
  • Rustic Inn, up near Two Harbors, where we had some great food and fantastic pie. Our source told us to forget Betty's Pies and go to this place. We've got no problem with that!
  • Grandma's, a must-stop, not only for the great brew, but also for the fact that they're the sponsors of Duluth's great marathon.
We had been planning to go to Winnipeg, but at the last minute we headed the car northeast instead of straight north. We got to travel through some country we hadn't seen. Excellent!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sweet Wyoming Home, by Bill Staines

I heard this song every once in a while on an NPR program called Iron Rails, I think it was. I was looking around for stuff on Dan O'Brien and his book on the buffalo, and for some reason this song crossed my mind. Thanks to Youtube, I now have a source where I can play it whenever I get the urge.

Kawasaki Back on the Asphalti

Last summer brother Jess and I rode our bikes out to Idaho and back again, quite a journey for a guy who used to rarely put 1000 miles total on a bike before I sent it down the road (some of them rarely ran). But that trip saw a little spill up in the mountains in northern Wyoming, and my Concours took a beating from that, just not enough to stop the trip. So I gathered parts and planned over the winter to get it all back together, but that didn't happen. Spring came, and the bike still was not fully assembled. Then roofing came. Then a bad foot. But over the past few days I took some time and finished the painting and got the bike all back together. Here's a pic just after I've cleaned off the accumulated dust and readied the bike for its first ride in almost a year. It's working good!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beemer Takes its Beating




JB and family ran into a wicked hailstorm outside of Sturgis on their way home from out west, and the result was a stop alongside the interstate while hail battered their classy Beemer into a big, black dimpled German vehicle. With the kids in their car seats in the back, the hail hammered the rear window completely out of the car, but all was well with the family once the hail stopped and they found the kindness of strangers alive and well. Although it may look as though JB riled up some bikers enough to attack his car with tiny ballpeen hammers, I'll buy his story about the hail. It meshes with the weather reports out there. I'm sure he's glad he and the little ladies weren't cruising through on a Harley chopper.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's that Bare Spot Behind the Garage?


It's the spot vacated by Casey's short-lived first car, one that took him down the road for about 60 miles and crapped out after giving full warning by clattering and clunking until the clunks turned into chunks.

It's like I just bought another 90 sqare feet of lot, but got paid for it!

Clunks became ice chunks for friend JB and the other B's as they took the South Dakota Adventure Slide (otherwise known as Interstate 90) from Sturgis to Rapid City in August. All are well. If I get a picture from them, I'll post it here. Their Black Beauty looks like Tiger's been using her for a driving range target. Bummer. I hope the State Farm people treat them well.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Watch the Bikers Go By


The Sturgis rally is winding down, just this weekend left, and a wicked hail storm ran many of them out of town the other day, so there will be a stream of bikes rumbling through towns across the area. Meanwhile, if you like looking at the bikes and not hearing all the racket, and maybe prefer thinking of simpler times, check out this flickr photostream of a motorcycle lover, who has photos from the early 70's through the years, including many he took while riding down the highway. Thanks, rr250roadracer!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Madison Area Arts Council Goes Online

Chris Francis and others have been working hard to bring the Madison Area Arts Council back from the doldrums. They met last night, and things seem to be rolling along. One of the things they've done is get a new website that looks very good and has a lot of information about arts activities in the area. Check it out here, and join in on the fun there and at the events listed. If you're an artist in the area, get signed up!

Ready to Text and Drive?


Check out this test of your ability to text and drive at the same time, courtesy of The New York Times.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

O'Brien's Wild Idea

I just finished Dan O'Brien's book Buffalo for the Broken Heart, which has been selected for the One Book South Dakota discussion series. I'm leading the discussion here in Madison on the 18th. The book is a good read, a compelling story filled with the ideal of returning the high plains to a more natural state, bringing back buffalo to play their prominent role in the ecology here. To make that plan work, O'Brien has established an internet presence to distribute the grass-fed, organic buffalo meat that funds his efforts.

It looks tasty. Expensive, but tasty. I'm trying to figure out what to buy. Check out the offerings at Wild Idea Buffalo Company.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rudimentary Transportation

You don't think about your feet as much as you should most of the time. Take one out of commission, and you have an entirely new perspective on the importance of having both feet available for transporting yourself across a room or up and down a flight of stairs. Another note you too might recognize is that armpits are not meant to play a major role in getting from here to there. They don't like it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Just Short of Getting There

Throughout our roofing project, we kept saying how good it was that nobody had gotten hurt. We could have had a sign up that said "Days Without Injuries--All of Them!" But that's not the case now.

See that peak on the front porch? Where the stairs come up? Okay, to the right of that is where I had the ladder leaned up so any marks on the drip edge would not show.

Yesterday morning, just getting started, I climbed the ladder with a half dozen shingles over my shoulder, stepped onto the roof, and promptly slid off and down to the ground. I landed mostly on my right foot, which now counts as the first injury. No broken bones, according to x-rays. But sore? Yes. I'll cool it for a few days and hope to be back to finish the couple of hours of roofing that remain.