Friday, February 26, 2010

Not-Winter Fest

Winter Fest was cool and all, but it's late February, and I am thinking Spring, not Winter. That is why today's post is nearer and dearer to my heart.


This is in my yard, today. Lilies, Bearded Iris, and Daffodils are poking up.



I cannot smell dirt just yet because the ground is still mostly frozen, but no doubt that will register too. I am hoping to spot a robin today, as others have mentioned that they have migrated back. Ahhh!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Fest

Last weekend Madison held its annual (since 2004) Winter Festival. One of the things that I really like is that Madison fosters a rich melange of local, free to the public festivals. Interestingly, most of them are on the East Side. I wonder why that is? Since they are free, and people have worked hard to organize them, I generally go. I am a huge fan of the main summer festivals (Marquette Waterfront, La Fete de Marquette, Orton, and Willy Street) and hit the smaller neighborhood events (like Atwood) if I can. It was surprising then, that I had never been to the Winter Fest. I was free, so into the car we piled and hit the downtown to see what was going on.

Not much at noon.

It was a balmy day, and the cross country ski races in the morning were finished. The snowboard jumping was in some sort of transition period of inactivity, and the wet snow made for listless open skiing by kids. The fact that it was on the streets that ring the state capitol made it novel, but our unfortunate timing and warm conditions left me feeling a bit bored. then we got to the top of State Street and found Maurie Pearson carving ice with an electric chainsaw.

see DETAIL photo

The process was interesting, and the kid-filled crowd was pretty entertained.


Even Batman made an appearance and made sure the streets of Gotham Madison were safe from evildoers. I relaxed, knowing we were in capable hands.


So while it was true that I was underwhelmed by my first experience at Madison's Winter Fest, I understand that it was more to do with my timing than lack of interesting things. Next year I will choose differently when I attend. What a great city.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Chicago Motorcycle Expo

There are several reasons to go to a motorcycle exposition. Most obviously one gets to see all the new bikes, at least from those manufacturers who show up (absent Triumph, Moto Guzzi, and Enfield). Being able to taste and compare all the bikes in one arena is a great way for me to evaluate what I might be interested in if I were to purchase a new bike this year. My attention was repeatedly drawn to the "Adventure" bike category, of which this BMW F800 GS, decked out with a whole bunch of aftermarket goodies from Twisted Throttle, was the acme:

DS3_5394 copy

That is a bike that just makes me want to go riding, for a long time, in no particular direction!

Another good reason to go is to look at aftermarket goodies and either buy them or at least ponder the concept. Sometimes a part is engineered and manufactured so well that it is worth a photo of its own. To whit, this throttle lock:


It makes me want it, even though I already have a throttle lock on my MZ.

A third good reason to go to a motorcycle expo is the human eye candy. In addition to seeing all the myriad varieties of riders and rider-wannabees, there are those who are hired to stand and attract your attention. Some are really good at what they do/are. Our pal found himself drawn in...


At any rate, total immersion into one's passions is always a delight. In this case it took a 5 hour round-trip drive, $60 in gas, toll, parking, and admission money in exchange for six hours of walking around on concrete floors looking at bikes and goodies. I'll be there again next year!

There are more photos at my Flickr site.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dine and Dash

We had a visitor next door yesterday.

Dining on Take-Out

He was dining on a bit of take-out. Starling, I think...

Dining on Take-Out

Done dining, he flipped us off...

Dining on Take-Out

...and beat it outta there.

Dining on Take-Out

Left a mess, too!

Dining on Take-Out

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Anthropomorphized Amaryllis

The amaryllis bulb that I forced into blooming in January is getting tired. You can see it in the blossom's eyes; she's about done. Adieu.

Amaryllis Eyes

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Players Playing

Here is the accompanying post to the "Singers Singing" from a couple of days ago. I have loads of photos of musicians doing their thing, and it seemed like a fun idea to put a dozen or so together in one themed post. Enjoy!

One of the players of Hanngai

Kepa Junkera

A Little Night Music
Unknown player Chris Powers at an art opening

There are more after the jump, so follow the link to read the rest of the post!

Anna of Reptile Palace Orchestra

Genya and Rhiannon of Limanya

World Music Festival:  Mucca Pazza
Mucca Pazza

Summer Samba Fest 09
Wall of drummers - The Handphibians

Tab Benoit's Bassist
Bassist for Tab Benoit

Kia with Reptile Palace Orchestra

Daithi W. on Violin
Daithi on violin in a garage band jam

Jason and Katy
Jason and Katy of Incus

Tani Diakite Jammin'
Tani Diakite

Pam on riqq

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Spring, and a Young Man's Fancy Turns to Thoughts of ...

Well, I lied about the next post being "Players Playing", but it is under way! This post is totally self-indulgent, and aimed at me and other motorcycle junkies who have a love affair with their motorcycles. Today as I was driving around in my car, I passed a fellow on a motorcycle. Aargh! I immediately began obsessing. One of my stops was the public library where a perusal of Motorcycle Consumer News' "Performance Index" magazine prompted this post.

My 2-wheeled love:

2001 MZ Baghira Super Motard

Right out of the crate it was merely interesting, but hardly rip-snortin'. However, creative application of a wad of dollar bills, transformed it. As a base line, the bike had a rather anemic 41 rear-wheel horsepower and 39 lb. ft, of torque. *yawn* A month at the spa resulted in 12 fewer pounds (stock exhaust replaced), a 34 percent bump in horsepower and a 41 percent increase in torque (engine mods). Now boasting 55 rwhp and 55 lb. ft. of torque, and a wet weight of about 375 lbs, we are talking about an effective back road scrapper!

All that made the bike so much fun to ride, I wanted to be able to do longer rides on it. Now a big single engine (one piston, unlike a Harley's two and most sport bikes three or four) is seldom anyone's idea of a touring bike (as my mechanic routinely tells me), but there are an awful lot of Kawasaki KLR 650's making round trips to Alaska, so I stick by my choice. To add to it's usefulness, I added sturdy racks to mount hard luggage bags (as opposed to leather throw-over saddlebags). That choice added 18 lbs right back on the bike, not counting the weight of the luggage and their contents. With a tank bag up front and the hard bags, I am well equipped for long hauls. An aftermarket custom seat from Rick Mayer Cycle made sure my butt remained content for more miles per day.

Here is the bike all loaded up:

MZ Adventure Touring Bike
MZ Baghira Adventure Tourer

What prompted the post was a comparison of my bike, with mods to the tune of around $1500 (call it $7k total), to the specs of a bunch of other bikes. How did my Baghira stack up? Pretty well, thanks. Referring to my HP and torque figures (55/55), here are some reasonable comparisons (from MCN's index, 1/2009. MSRP came from most recent model):
- BMW G650GS: 42/38 (1-cylinder, $10k)
- BMW F800GS: 74/51 (2-cylinder, $11k)
- Ducati Multistrada 620: 58/40 (2-cylinder, $8k)
- Harley 1200 Sportster: 58/69 (2-cylinder, nearly twice the displacement, $10k)
- Honda XR650: 33/31 (1-cylinder, $6k)
- Kawasaki KLR 650: 34/33 (1-cylinder, $5.5k and 40 lbs heavier!)
- Kawasaki 650 Versys: 59/42 (2-cylinder, $7.1k and 75 lbs heavier!)
- Suzuki DR650: 36/33 (1-cylinder, $5.1k)
- Suzuki DL650 VStrom: 62/42 (2-cylinder, $9.8k and 80 lbs heavier!)

No real threats in that list, so it look like my 9-year old Baggy is still a great value! Only the Kawi Versys could tempt me off, and that falls into a "why bother" category. Lust remains!

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12 Singers Singing

Taking a trip back through existing photos, I thought it would be fun to have a few posts culled from all the performer photographs I have taken. This installment is "Singers Singing". Expect a "Players Playing" post next!

Tab Benoit
Tab Benoit

Boukman Eksperyans (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
Boukman Eksperyans (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

of Kan'Nal
of Kan'Nal

There are more after the jump, so follow the link to read the rest of the post.

Rebecca of Patchwork Monkey

Anapaula of The Samba Novistas

Willy Street Fair
Anna Purnell guest appearance with Yid Viscious

Ilchi of Hanggai (coolest band I've heard in years!)

Chic Gamine
Ariane Jean of Chic Gamine


Emily Mills of The Shabelles

Pagee Go Go
Reena of Pagee Go Go

Barry C. at Cafe ZuZu
Barry Wayne Callen

Carnival - Samba Da
Dandha Da Hora of Samba Da

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Still Winter, Darn It

Alas, it is still winter. The switch in my head has been flipped to "Spring" and that gets me thinking about motorcycles rather than snow shovels. Unfortunately for me, it snowed over night and shoveling is on the agenda for this morning rather than a motorcycle ride.


At least it is pretty out there again with a new dusting of snow.


At least according to our local groundhog, winter will be over soon. I suppose that means spring in only a month-and-a-half rather than the six weeks we would experience if he had seen his shadow. I have already started looking for crocus shoots on the south side of my house. Based on the 7-day forecast it will be at least a week before that area is clear of snow again.

Maybe some philanthropist will send me money for a plane ticket to Miami or, better yet, Grenada. I could use a beach day or six!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In a Nutshell

Today was a fun day, with a little TF project for a friend. "TF" being "Trade For...", and this being Chef Jen of Nutshell Catering, the end result of the trade will undoubtedly be fabulous. Chef Jen is being interviewed for an article in Our Lives magazine, and one of the shots we got will likely accompany the article. Way to go, Chef Jen!


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Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Cold Walk

Last week seemed unusually full. I had some work, true, but mostly it was home-bound projects that kept me away from the camera (and this blog). We had a weekend visit from a delightful friend which prompted us to spend an inordinate (for us) amount of time cleaning, putting away, and discarding. We sort of like the results, so perhaps more of that will occur.

One of our rewards for slaving over the house was to take a walk around the Olin-Turville park. It has been a long time since I spent any time there and I had forgotten how large it was. Still being the dead of winter, there was only so much variety to see.


Our timing was right though, and we got lots of nice low-sun light to work with for pictures. That made the walk a bit more interesting, but not any less cold.


The thermometer said 24 degrees (F) when we left, but it did not say that it was 24 and windy. My brief poke of my nose out the front door did not reveal that either. I was woefully unprepared for the actual conditions (Silly Pagan, never assume Nature cares about you!). At first my hands froze since I only had fleece gloves on that did not block the wind. I managed to deal with them and achieve comfort, but by then my feet were frozen. I had only cotton socks, thin ones at that, under my hiking boots. Oh how I wished for my Smart Wool socks! We continued on so that we could get a few shots of the Capitol across the bay as the light faded.


Then while Reena walked on for a few more minutes (being prepared more wisely) I trotted back to the car to get warm, pausing for one last shot on the way.


No damage to the tootsies, but it was an uncomfortable half-hour as they thawed out. A cup of piping hot ginger tea upon returning home set everything to right.

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