Monday, October 31, 2011

"folk art" battleship

I was recently in Milwaukee at a very interesting antique store in the 5th ward called the "Riverview Antique Market". A model caught my eye...

Of course it was a very well made "4 stacker" US destroyer of WW1 vintage. These destroyers were built in large numbers towards the end of WW1 to defeat German U-boats and were subsequently transferred to England in 1940 as part of "lend lease" as the US tried to help the Allies while remaining neutral prior to our entry in WW1.

When I looked at the price tag I was appropriately saddened as they described it as a "folk art battleship". The antique owner didn't even think to spend a couple of minutes online trying to figure out if it was a model of a real ship or just an "art object" that someone built from scratch.

Sad but likely only 1 in 10,000 individuals who passed by that model would have seen that it was a "real" model; the odds are probably even less in a hipster neighborhood of people looking for "vintage" objects. After all, it is all just art, anyways.

I, for one, was impressed.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Monday Morning Blues

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Night Sixties

It’s Saturday night. Time to relax. Let’s set the wayback machine for the 60’s, my favorite decade.

Pour yourself a big, stiff cocktail. Put a thick wax platter on the turntable of the hi-fi and gently drop that needle. Tonight we have 3 in a row.

Swing, baby. And don't go blowin' on some other guy's dice.


I was saddened when the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last night. I was sadder when they knocked my beloved Milwaukee Brewers out of the playoffs.

As was proven in Moneyball, the playoffs are quite the crap shoot. Much different than a 162 game season.

And that brings me to the point of this post. Do championships really tell what team is the "best" for any particular year? And does it really matter?

I used to get a lot more broken up about my teams losses in the past, but now take them as they come. I look at things from a much more, how should I say - pragmatic - point of view now.

Even though Ohio State only (only!) won one National Championship under Jim Tressel, they were called chokers and all sorts of other crap by media and fans of other teams. The Buckeyes were a force almost every single year. BUT they lost a couple of title games and all of a sudden they are chumps? I think not. Of course that all unwound with the corruption and other scandals, but you get my drift.

It seems that all anyone cares about is the title, and putting together a string of victories in football, or a killer season in baseball (such as Texas did this year) is, to me, a much greater accomplishment than winning one series or game. The Patriots a couple of years ago ran the table until the Super Bowl, when they lost. I still say they were the best team that year - but they failed to win the big one so they are marked as losers? Huh.

The Packers to me were the best team at the time of last years playoffs. They were only 10-6 during the regular season, but won their last five games, and are now elevated into football valhalla. If they run the table this year, and then, say, Rogers gets hurt and they stumble during the playoffs, will they be labeled chumps? Yes! It ain't fair, I tells ya.

But like the song says, that's just the way it is.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something To Consider

Doesn't matter which side you are on.

I consider myself a rabid conservative but George has a point. Maybe I am a libertarian after all. Tell you what, I ain't no fuck!ng hippie protester. But I sure have been p!ssed off lately.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Madison Police Set Bar Low For Commendations

So I saw this in the online gazette today. I will give you the short version.

A woman lost her child five years or so ago. She has ridden her bicycle for that child since then. A criminal stole her bike out of her garage. Someone found the bike on the side of the road, and put up an ad on Craigslist to sell it. The cops were alerted and got the bike from the person selling it.

Here is the money line in the above referenced article:

The officers involved are now up for commendations- for their role in finding her bike.

This is typically a family blog, but what the fuck?!

I know cops have a dangerous job. I really do. But in general, they aren't going out every day and dodging bullets or breaking down crack house doors. Especially in Madison.

In this case, all some cops did was RECEIVE a phone call from some concerned citizens about the selling of the bike (it appears that the cops didn't even browse Craiglist!) and go drive over there and get it; that is an impossibly low bar that is set for commendations. I wonder what they get if you really do something insanely brave, such as save a life. Sheesh.

Meanwhile, the asshole that did this to me twice in one week is still at large.

All told, the damage and thefts cost me about $5,000 plus several nights of lost sleep. This smash and grab is a huge problem in Madison as there have been a ton of these types of crimes as of late. I am told that they now have video of the perp. Hope they get him. Commendation time if so! Hell, they will probably give those officers a year off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cracked Me Up

These came to me in an email from an old boss of mine from the 80's, he's another Apple Disciple. Funny enough to share, I thought. Click to enlarge.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Whose That Girl?

Trooper York is fond of playing the Whose That Girl game so in true internet fashion I am stealing the idea from him. I don't plan on doing it often. If you think about this one, you can guess it correctly. So, Whose That Girl?

Monday Morning Blues

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hail Mary History

I watched most of the amazing Michigan State vs. Wisconsin game last Saturday. The Badgers lost via a last second hail mary. I got to wondering, what was the original "Hail Mary"? As always, wiki provided the answer in seconds, and it was in a 1975 playoff game featuring Dallas vs. Minnesota. Staubach threw it, and while being asked about it in the locker room mentioned the term "Hail Mary" due to his Catholic faith.

I youtubed and quickly found the play. I also found the WHOLE GAME, that you can watch below if you have some spare time. It was so cool to watch this piece of historical football footage. Immediate things you will notice.

The turf was a mess at the old Met in Minneapolis.

Not a single one of these men could compete in today's NFL.

They had different equipment - from the facemasks to the pads.

The formations were a lot more like the college game. The shotgun and empty backfield was rarely used, and a lot of the time a two running back set was also used. The west coast offense was not discovered yet - it is clear that both teams based their offenses around the run.

It was great to see Landry and Bud Grant, along with a lot of other names from the past.

Clipping was called. That penalty I think is gone now, called an illegal block from behind or some nonsense.

The refs showed the penalty to both sides of the stadium.

There are a lot of other little things that you will look at and say - hey, I remember that. Just a cool little trip to the past.

As a side note, the Hail Mary was disputed, as the Vikings said that Pearson pushed off and they wanted offensive pass interference. At the end of the game the field was littered with trash and the head ref got nailed with a whiskey bottle and was knocked unconsious. Ah, the good 'ol days.

Box Heads at Millennium Park

Not sure what motivated them to dress up in box heads (I like the "pet" box that one brings on a leash) but they were happy to get their pictures taken at Millennium Park.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Beer Flight

Dan runs his famous "crappy beer challenge" where he downs unmarked drinks of terrible corn-water to determine which are least-worst. The "winner" is Miller Lite, which makes me happy, because I can drink that on purpose (not just when it is the only beer around) even though I must admit it is pretty terrible, especially when it comes out on draft with no head whatsoever and you are just looking at a glass of piss-water with a few bubbles in it, totally flat.

D4 is a great Irish restaurant not too far from Navy Pier in Streeterville which has great food and is highly recommended. In the old days prior to the smoking ban I wouldn't step foot into an Irish bar because of the walls of smoke but nowadays it is quite pleasant to be in any bar. They have a "beer flight" and you can see the choices I selected - I like the pilsners and lagers and Belgian beers more than the darker and "hoppier" beers that most beer connoisseurs prefer.

You can see my choices - Trumer Pils is great, I like Carlsberg as a cheaper alternative (it is getting into more bars here in Chicago, particularly on tap), then you have the classic Delerium Tremens (don't drink too much of this, it will knock you out) and then Harp. An excellent way to sample a variety of beers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Night Sixties

It’s Saturday night. Time to relax. Let’s set the wayback machine for the 60’s, my favorite decade.

Pour yourself a big, stiff cocktail. Put a thick wax platter on the turntable of the hi-fi and drop the needle slowly.

You’re platinum, baby.

Midwestern Autumns

At dusk on Friday I had the unexpected pleasure of smelling the faint aroma of burning leaves in the air as I slowly approached the bunker with the windows and top down while driving my little Mazda roadster on a crisp autumn evening. How sweet it was. It caused me to smile and reflect on my many past autumn evenings.

It happens on occasion this time of year. Someone sneaks in burning a pile of leaves and they’re smart by doing it in the dark. Sad to think they are now considered lawbreakers.

In my youth we burned each and every fallen leaf and celebrated the change of seasons with popcorn balls, apples, pumpkins and footballs. We would wait until we had a huge pile of dry leaves well above my eyeballs before tossing in one little match. Then the tribal instincts took over. We hovered near the fire tossing in rake full after rake full of leaves on top to keep it going.

Well, I do admit there were some evenings when still, heavy air caused a gagging moment of thick smoke when each and every neighbor decided to burn a huge pile at the same time. It usually occurred on a late weekend afternoon.

Back then, leaf burning was a pleasant respite from the noxious acrid odors blowing south from the Northwest Indiana steel mills before the BOP Shops and particle scrubbers came to be back in the early 70’s.

Each year, I still manage to burn a small pile of leaves out back near the shed, just for old times. It has to be a quick fire after dusk so the local busybody old ladies don’t have a chance to stop by and gripe or, as they sometime do - call the police.

In some communities far west of here near Chicago, residents must now bag their leaves. We were required to purchase these eco-friendly bags while living in Homewood IL twenty years ago. Each bag cost 50¢ and a special tax sticker to place on each bag cost 50¢. That’s $1 per bag. Each year we were good for over three-dozen bags. Wonder how much that costs them now?

Here in the Lesser Valparaiso Metro Area they send out large, covered dump trucks that pull trailers equipped with motorized leaf vacuum and mulch devices.

In Valpo there is no extra charge for the leaf sucker crews. Considering our local taxes are much less than what we paid while living in Illinois, it’s just an example between living in a free state and one run by elected cleptocrats to the west.

All we need to do here is blow them into piles along the street and the municipal leaf vacuum truck comes by each Tuesday to suck them up. No complaints. Some claim this saves the environment. My, how far we have come.

There are at least a dozen leaf suckers in town. Each truck is equipped with two large carbon-spewing gasoline engines, one for the truck and one for the sucker trailer. They are in operation six days per week for at least six weeks. They crawl along at a slow walking speed to perform their environmentally friendly suck.

For the sake of argument, let’s say the fuel economy must be one mile per gallon for each of twenty-four engines. Is this really a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of leaves compared to simply burning them? It’s not. All this is a way to conceal polluting the air since the engines produce an invisible amount of toxic airborne pollutants from that evil fossil fuel. It’s simply a trade-off to muzzle the whining ninnies who despise the aroma of burning leaves.

Most of my autumns are in my past and that’s just life. Looking back fondly, when freedom and liberty were still a way of life in America, there is something about the traditional change of seasons that will just not leave my system.

I will continue to, on occasion, experience and honor the leaf burning tradition until my final autumn, no matter how brief they may be in number. That one little law-breaking act is my simple reward for living free.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Facts

While amusing myself with Business Insider’s “Fun Facts About The XYZ Corp. That Will Blow Your Mind” this one image caught my eye.

Click image to enlarge.

The factoid: “If Walmart's more than 8,500 stores were put in one place, they would take up more than 32 square miles -- as much as 15,300 football fields.”

Screw the fact, the image is what grabbed me.

Here’s my factoid question: “Of the hundreds of millions of NFL images available why would the editors pick one of a fumbling Bears QB?”

Could the photo editor be a Green Bay fan? Hmmmm?

Can you name the Bears QB in the image? Only a guess, but without Gurggling the internets my guess is Steve Stenstrom.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shifting Goalposts

Today I finished the last of a "six pack" of private lessons with my Muay Thai instructor. I felt that my basics were starting to lack. Sure I can do a spinning backfist and all that stuff, but I was having trouble with a standard cross (ours is actually an overhand hybrid) and basic rear thai kick. We started at the beginning and broke everything down.

I look friecking great now, if I don't say so myself. We have a test just a little under a month away and I will ace it. Of that I am sure. All the techniques are learned already, as are the drills and our flow for the block. This six pack of lessons really put a ribbon on everything. After this test, I will have received my third level brown sash. Next step, black.

So I asked the instructor - what next? I will be on a probationary period for up to one year, at which time I will have a black sash test. With the whole academy present. And I have to write an essay. And probably read it to the academy. And a bunch of other stuff. Really?

A lot of this wreaks of TKD - as a reminder, traditional (i.e. real) MT does not have a ranking system. I have talked about that at length in many other posts.

The academy has only one other black sash, and he was simply granted his at a seminar one day. I guess the goalposts have moved. You know what though? Fuck it. Bring it on. Make it as tough as possible. I don't care. I will do it.

There is a chance that I will be going through this ordeal with one or perhaps two others. It looks as though it is going to be a BIG deal.

I am pretty sure that my instructor does not know that I have written hundreds of thousands of words about my experiences in MT here on this blog. That will make the essay portion of the test pretty easy for me anyway.

For the essay, I am pretty sure I have that knocked down. All I need to do is re-read a few of my posts here and I will have it.

I have no clue what the test itself will look like or feel like. I guess I will find out when I get there sometime later next year. Maybe all of these plans I heard about today will be scuttled. Ah well. I don't plan on asking about it anymore. Sort of like asking your coach to put you into the game. You just don't do it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Shameless Plug For Some Good Friends

One rule we follow here at LITGM is that we do not shill for anyone. We have no blog ads nor do we have a PayPal tip jar. We blog for enjoyment only. Today I am breaking the rule.

Some friends of mine have started a website selling merchandise to like-minded individuals. Please give it a visit and if you are so inclined, buy something.

They are salt-of-the-earth types here in northwest Indiana. I wish them only the very best in their enterprise.

The Next Bubble

I know a lot of people who rent and recently overheard how difficult it is to find an apartment. This is anecdotal but they said that you needed to sign a multi-year lease and / or offer MORE than the requested rent to guarantee that you get one as soon as it is open.

The New York Times today had an article titled "The Lease is up, and now so is the Rent" describing the situation in New York City:
Across New York, rents have not only rebounded from the depths of two years ago, but are also surpassing the record high of 2007 during the real estate boom, according to figures from Citi Habitats, a large rental brokerage, and other surveys. That means a perennially frustrating process has become almost frenzied. Brokers say prospective renters need to come prepared to close a deal on the same day — ready to write a check for thousands of dollars to cover the first and last month’s rent, and the broker’s fee. For desirable apartments, forget about open houses — the best places are snapped up within a few days, or less, through private showings by brokers.
In the comments section on that post they mention what the article (typically) fails to do; New York's problems are exacerbated by their ludicrous rent-control laws, which distorts developers' behavior and forces some renters to subsidize their neighbors and creates a "shadow economy" of sublets.

In Chicago it is (comparatively) easy to build new rental stock to take advantage of the situation; in my River North area there are giant new rental only buildings going up everywhere. At this site where a bank used to be there is another hole for a 20+ story apartment building at 501 N Clark.

I remember back in an economics class in college a professor discussed the real estate boom in Arizona in the 80's... he said that since the builders were all small, they didn't know when to exit the market. Individually they weren't large enough to have market intelligence (such as in an industry with a few large players, like chemicals) so they just kept overbuilding and doubling-down their chips until they were wiped out. Only a few were smart enough to take their cards off the table rather than try to chase the last win, only to fall short and get caught when the market tanked.

It will be interesting to see who will take the brunt of the collapse in the higher-end rental market that is likely to occur in a few years. Someone is financing these rental projects; while they are not as subject to failing as a similar condo project (since sales are binary while you can adjust rents in a falling economy) they are still risky and require lots of up front debt financing as well as being hostage to rising real estate taxes (especially in Chicago, where we are in dire financial straits). A lot of the banks that funded the condo buildings went under and were taken down by the FDIC; perhaps the banks that are financing these new buildings will take the brunt, too.

As these buildings get constructed downtown, expect the more marginal rental units in the outskirts to take a big hit later when the number of renters falters. I anticipate that the big buildings would cut rents rather than remain empty (since it is essentially a fixed-cost operation, like an airplane, so getting any tenant is better than letting it sit vacant), and then they would prove to be tough competition for the less-modern rental buildings. Watch and see it all unfold.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

My Favorite Cubs Moment of Doom

Since the Cubs hired Epstein from the East Coast the Tribune put together a list of "Cub moments" (all bad) to orient the new boss. But for some reason they missed the single, best incident that captures the doom of the Cubs. Here is the Lee Elia rant, "un-bleeped", in a robot voice.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Don't Nobody Talk

And nobody gets hurt.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Terrestrial Radio and the Death of Innovation

I have been interested in radio and music in general for many years. I wrote about the "squeezebox" internet radio here which I highly recommend.

In the September 18, 2011 Chicago Tribune they had an article titled "No way to tune out internet" with the tagline "digital competition causing static even as broadcasters try to dismiss its impact".

The article covers a radio broadcaster convention that met in Chicago and the comments of the radio executives on the state of their industry.
Radio Advertising Bureau President and CEO Jeff Haley told broadcasters that the fight against Internet and satellite radio must be joined, particularly in the car, where most listening takes place... lagging in online and digital efforts, the radio industry finds itself swimming upstream, chasing competitors all but dismissed a decade ago. Pandora has more than 100 million registered users, while once-teetering Sirius XM is in the black, with more than 21 million satellite subscribers.
In addition to being challenged in aggregate by online radio and satellite radio, over-the-air radio is also losing amongst the young.
A recent analysis... showed Pandora's listenership topping all terrestrial radio stations among 18-34 year-olds in the top 5 markets.
The article discussed generally how HD radio had failed to catch on and was mostly a novelty. I wrote about HD radio here when I purchased one back in 2009 and I thought it might be a chance for radio to step up and compete with commercial-free channels full of interesting music and a much better sound. Unfortunately the second free HD stations weren't that compelling and after a while I just gave up on HD radio altogether and gave away my radio for a friend to use as an iPod charger and / or player (the speaker sounded good, so it was a shame to throw it out).

Amongst all the competition radio touted their "scale".
In his opening address Haley seemed to dismiss digital competition, citing the scale provided by nearly 11,000 commercial radio stations reaching more than 242 million weekly listeners.
And some of the smaller radio owners touted their ties to their local cities.
We're connected to our local community, and a box just isn't, regardless of what you can Pandora or a satellite. Radio is a lot more than music.
Absolutely true. Radio is a lot about sports, especially football and baseball. Which is why you can listen to those games on XM / Sirius (and the score shows up, which is pretty cool) as well as through the online stations, too. Dan and I caught the Illini game up in Madison on satellite radio, when you probably couldn't have gotten it from a terrestrial station up there.

In Chicago, the terrestrial situation for radio is pretty dire. Until I got a car with satellite radio built in (and an iPod jack), I had to listen to "regular" radio when I was in the car and all Chicago has to offer is WXRT, a progressive rock station which is pretty ancient nowadays, the Loop which is more classic rock, and Q101 the Alternative rock station which has been sliding downhill and recently went off the air entirely, replaced by a talk radio format. There is literally no good music radio station in Chicago which is astonishing, but drive on through and you will come to the same conclusion. If you like talk radio I used to listen to Howard St*rn (don't want the traffic) before he went to satellite, and then there was Steve Dahl, who is now an innovator and has a "paid podcast" with no commercials. Everyone is gone from Chicago radio now.

Not mentioned in the article is what really put a spike in over-the-air radio... the fact that all the content became sanitized and the same from city to city. Little new music is breaking over the radio, and you get the same formats where ever you go. While this brought economies of scale to the companies that "rolled up" the stations in each town, it also killed any innovation or risk-taking. Their focus on their own profits didn't allow them to sign people like St*rn, and young people are voting with their ears and just tuning out entirely. Do you ever hear about anyone talking about something on the radio, or what some DJ or commenter said? Now that action is on the internet or on TV.

Satellite radio and Pandora also offer far more choices than any over-the-air station; there are dozens of niche channels on XM - for rock there are even lots of gradations of "metal" from new metal (liquid metal) to hair bands to "the boneyard" which I get a laugh out of, especially their tagline "for road-trippin' and binge drinkin'". Interestingly enough, while Lithium is a "static" view of 90's grunge "the boneyard" brings in "new" bands like Chickenfoot or anything a classic metal band does today.

As far as commercials, they drive everyone I know crazy. You can't escape them in baseball or football, when there is no action, but other than that, once you have commercial free radio or an iPod you just can't go back for an extended period. That's just my experience, but I'd guess it is relatively universal, despite what any surveys say.

The funny thing is that nothing is stopping radio from risk-taking and putting on new music and artists except that they are all already in cookie-cutter formats that are locked-in. This is the least risky path in the short term, but in the end it is a road to nowhere. Try Pandora and start letting it "follow" your choices by putting in your favorite songs and artists and then by giving songs a "thumbs up" or down which allows them to narrow the casting even further. It is very difficult to go back to the same old crap on terrestrial radio after hearing the variety available on the satellite or pandora alternatives.

Maybe in other cities there is more competition but if you are trapped listening to terrestrial radio in Chicago it is a miserable experience. Nothing but sports for me if I am on the way or coming back from a game. Else it is brutal.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Gunstock Stowaway

When Doug was launching clays last Sunday he noticed a mouse in one of the boxes.

The bro took a shot (no not that kind).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Do Not Mow

A family member sent me this great photo that I thought I'd share. The sad part was that I stared at it a bit before I got the joke. Maybe I am getting slow...

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Gunstock Practical Joke

When I got home I noted the bullet holes on my new Jetta. Actually I noted them while driving since one was on the drivers' side window. Very funny!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gunstock IV Reflections

The annual LITGM event celebrating Peace, Love and The Second Amendment on Sunday was as close to perfect as it gets.

After four years we have the routine down so the setup goes like clockwork. Even better, most of the shooters know each other by now and introductions are not necessary in most cases. Those who were once strangers are now friendly annual acquaintances.

No mishaps whatsonever, not even a blister. Some personal observations:

We did have a few no shows but we knew ahead of time. The SWAT Team was busy at work busting up crack houses and rounding up the bad guys. Dan was occupied with some unfortunate personal issues. We missed them all but they should be back next year.

Chris showed up, making the trip from Colorado where he works defending our nation employed by a defense contractor at an AFB. Hard to believe my old high school buddy is into such serious shit. He spent a few days here at the country bunker and we had a ton of laffs as always.

The Bro gets a big thanks for playing Emeril at the food tent (HEY NOW. GARLIC!) and helped with the setup and teardown.

IF you click to enlarge the above photo and look to the left you will see that Mitt Romney showed up to Gunstock this year.

Andy came home with a new S&W 9mm. My kid is allright. He’s come a long way with his handgun shooting.

Doug showed up with his just married son and brought his famous .44 magnum Harry Callahan cannon with a 7.5” barrel among other fun toys they had. Everyone had a chance to bruise their middle knuckle on that trigger guard (mine still hurts). I watched the others and how high their forearms would fly into in the air from that ass-kicking recoil.

Empty Red Bull can meets Mr. .44 mag.

There were a lot of father and son groups in addition to Andy and me. Carl and his dad John unloaded quite a few boxes.

The bro’s old neighbor Scott came by with his FOUR very young boys, the youngest being about eight. He got in some serious time with his pellet rifle. So fun to watch the kids shoot. I get great pleasure seeing these young men getting an education and instruction on the proper use of firearms at such a young age. Just as I did.

This is how individual freedom and liberty is intended to work. We hand down our family traditions by being responsible firearm owners clinging to our guns and religion, you know, “out here”. It's in The Constitution. Look it up.

Ed and his son just could not get in enough trigger time. They arrived late but managed to get in as much time in as possible helping to splinter those target boards. Some guys need to be pried away from the firing line, Ed and his son are a good example. They reminded me a lot of Dan, who only leaves the firing line to reload.

Doug makes some tasty 50 cal muzzleloader smoothies.

Would you please toss in a shot or two of some Bacardi 151 please?

The bro’s buddy Peter and his son are now regulars and travel from the Illinois side of the Wisco line just to be at Gunstock IV. Pete tried to shoot Doug’s .44 standing sideways with one hand and the other hand on his back hip, old school marksman style (he’s even older than me). Nobody told him. We just watched. He learned. Always use both hands.

My upland bird hunting partner Scott came to Gunstock for the second time. It seemed that we did much more clay shooting this year. Damn, did I need some pre season wing shooting practice. A big thanks to Scott for bringing along the venison chops, the Bambi summer sausage and the lead-free marinated pheasant breasts for grilling. Yumm-o.

The farm was such a great place to be on a fine autumn Sunday.

Where we shoot is so far off the road we don’t even hear cars passing by, just an occasional combine harvesting crops in the distance. Just gotta’ figger out how to build me a final home and live out there in a few years. The home would be dwarfed by the garage.

Next year we look forward to hosting Gunstock V. Hard to believe how time flies by.

Monday Morning Blues

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

If You Need To Ask Me Why You Wouldn’t Understand

It was a warm evening in San Francisco. I, along with two co-workers and a consultant, stood in line on a stairway leading to the rooftop of the Moscone Center in January of 1998. The event was Macworld and Steve Jobs, on that Monday morning, introduced the first iMac. We were in attendance for the keynote.

Before that trip I had had a call from an Apple representative in charge of ad agency relations. He got word from the Adobe folks how advanced my department was in adapting to a seamless digital production workflow.

I met with him in Chicago a few weeks earlier in our office where I gave him a tour and a demo. We made an appointment to meet in San Francisco a few weeks later at Macworld in the main hall at the Apple exhibit after the keynote.

Soon we hopped into his car outside Macworld and drove south to Apple’s Cupertino HQ. It was his turn to give us a tour. For us it was as if we were in the Promised Land once we arrived. Being long time (relatively speaking) professional Mac business users and devotees, not fanboys, we all soon felt a vibe that was indescribable. Not many get a personal guided tour of the Apple HQ.

Of course there were developmental areas we were denied access to but the archive museum and contemporary office space was wide open. He introduced me to the lead engineer of QTVR (Quicktime Virtual Reality), an Apple application that created a circular virtual reality experience from photographs. I already was using QTVR in a way nobody before had thought of and gave him a CD of my work. It’s not easy for a guy like me to impress a software engineer but I did so without even knowing it as I found out later. But that’s another long story. You can find out more about the current use of QTVR here.

The Apple rep spiffed us with cool glass Apple logo coffee mugs, leather briefcases, datebooks, tshirts and an array of Apple schmeiss packed in a black Apple logo duffel bag before taking us out to lunch at a place frequented by corporate Apple regulars near Stanford U. Best of all, in our duffel bags were tickets to the exclusive Apple party on top of the Moscone Center that evening.

At the top of those stairs I spoke of earlier was Steve Jobs himself. He took the time to introduce himself, to welcome each and every attendee in person and shake hands. It was a receiving line. I was so unprepared.

In front of us in line were three stereotypical Japanese businessmen in suits. When it came their turn to meet him they bowed profusely while Steve grinned and told them how pleased he was that they came. We got a kick out of that scene. Then came our turn.

I looked Mr. Jobs in the eye and thanked him. I thanked him for providing me with a tool that not only made my career but brought me great pleasure the same time. He asked my name, where I was from and what I thought of the new multicolored iMac. My response was that I was speechless. I was. I stammered. He grinned. I moved along.

The party was actually four parties in one. Each one was a theme with live music. There was a British theme where a Beatle impersonation band was playing. They served fish & chips and Guinness. Not far away was a Jamaican theme party with a reggae band with Caribbean food, drink and Red Stripe beer. The American party had 50’s bands and served burgers, pizza, beer along with American beer and cocktails. The Asian party was one that I passed on because the music was awful. But what a day it was.

I attended the next three Macworld conventions but this one was most special. We met with third party developers in search of software that would benefit our business. For the first time in my life I felt as if I was in the presence of true genius wherever I went.

We even met in person with Kai Krause and had a discussion in a private area. He gave us free copies of Metacreations software like Canoma 3-D, Painter, PowerGoo and others. All Kai asked was that we enjoy and play with the free copies, but if we began making money with them to please buy them at retail. Deal. We eventually did.

Tonight when I arrived home it was the usual routine. Talk with my co-habitants, play with Dottie pup, go upstairs, undress and put on a robe, go into the office, turn on the TV and fire up my Mac.

Then came the news bulletin. Steve Jobs passed away tonight.

I must admit, I became choked up.

If you need to ask me why, you wouldn’t understand.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

I'm Home

In the TV show "Modern Family" the teenage son Manny goes to the Four Seasons in Hawaii and when he walks in the front door he says
"I'm Home"
At the spectacular and luxurious Hawaiian setting.

When I checked into my hotel in Madison recently I saw this sign on the front door of the hotel and snapped a photo on my iPhone and sent it back home immediately. Her response was
You're home

Le Tigre Lounge In Madison

When in Madison recently Dan took me to "Le Tigre Lounge" which is a very cool retro bar with a tiger theme (obviously) and an old-time jukebox. We talked with the son of the owner who bartends there and he talked a lot about the history of the bar. They don't have a web site but they do have a good Yelp! review where they specifically mention their "no swearing" policy which is a decent policy at a bar where people are trying to relax.

The son said they didn't have a web site but we told him that he could use a blog like blogger (or word press) and have one up in a few minutes. Heck, he can even borrow my picture up above.

Gunstock IV- One Week From Today

Gunstock, the annual celebration of Peace, Love and the Second Amendment is one week from today (October 9th) amongst the corn stalks, bean fields and changing leaves of the Northwest Indiana prairie.

The invites have been sent. The responses are in.

New target boards were planted early Saturday morning.

Bring plenty of ammo and pray for a dry day.

The new start time is 9am.

See you there.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

France Cycling Trip, Part Eighteen

No fancy photos in this post, just sort of a wrapup.

The flight back was pretty smooth. I treated it as a sort of celebration for all that I did. So what did I do?

Distance - 400 miles
Saddle time - approx. 33 hours
Total feet of rise - approx. forty seven thousand

That last statistic is the real killer. A lot of people when I returned were stunned at the lack of mileage, but the insane amount of rise. Yes, I rode my bike through mountains. Some of the most famous and hardest to climb mountains in the world.

As I got on the plane in Toulouse, it hadn't really set in yet. But when I sat down on the plane for the long ride from London to Chicago, I started to feel that sense of accomplishment that I sometimes get. The guy next to me was from Australia and he was also celebrating something, heading to America to see his girlfriend.

This guy was pretty funny and he had - no joke - a tattoo of a tribal art variation of his c*ck on his arm for the world to see. That aside, he was a pretty nice "bloke".

On international flights they have free wine or beer before dinner, then free drinks with dinner. I had a few glasses of wine and it was nice. Eventually my legs started screaming bloody murder. It was most likely a combination of all of the riding plus something to do with the altitude. So I stood up and went to the stewardess station, which was pretty large since this was a 747. The stewardesses were all from Scotland and I loved their accent and they were all basically goddesses with curly hair - it looked like they were right out of Riverdance (I understand that that is Irish, but work with me). I asked them if I could stand with them as my legs hurt and they said sure. More wine was provided. The Aussie guy stood there with me and we proceeded to get mildly intoxicated. It was a pretty fun time, all things considered. Eventually me and Crocodile Dundee wore out our welcome and had to sit back down.

As I sat there, I was listening to some LCD Soundsystem and finishing off my journal. North American Scum came on. I guess that is what I am.

I had written some things in my journal that people had done that annoyed me. I tore out those pages and threw them away. That sort of stuff doesn't do anyone any good. I don't need it.

As I sat there in my half intoxicated state, I was pretty proud of myself for what I had done. Just six years ago I could hardly walk across a parking lot and now I had done something that very few people can think of doing. I had ridden my bike in the Pyranees.

Will I do it again? Yep, next year, most likely. I have already put down my deposit. There may be a trip planned to Italy in the Dolemites so I will have to see how that goes down. But I now know how to train for this type of thing, and what tweaks I have to do to my training to do better next year. I will send my weight careening down a bit more, by backing down the strength training a bit and that will help for sure.

All in all, what a trip. Thanks to the people in France who were nothing but cordial and polite. I think it is a rural thing vs. a city thing. I am sure I wouldn't have been treated as well in an urban setting. But isn't that the way in the US too?

And thanks to Cyclesport Travel, who made it all happen.

A very special thanks to my wife, who helps me get the spare time to train and do what I love to do.