Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Front entrance to the Baskerville building on Hamilton St.

(This is a hand-held shot, although I had to take about a half-dozen snaps to get it, and hold my breath each time. I've learned a new setting on my digital camera that lets me take photos at night. )

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Lamb building on the 100 block of State Street, home to Michelangelo's, the finest coffee shop in downtown Madison.

Wouldn't it be heaven to live in an apartent over a great coffee shop? Especially an apartment with leaded, stained-glass bay windows.

Maybe someday...

(The back entrance to the same building.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Madison O-Folk!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

There is nobody more content than a cat in a lap.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Time to share a few more photos of the interior of Taylor's antique store, on Carroll Street in capital square (next to Shakespeare's book store). I wandered in today to see the newly-arranged selection of trinkets and baubles. The assortment is dizzying.

The shop resembles nothing so much as your very rich aunt's eclectic collection of mementos and knick-knacks, spanning 180 years and overflowing from every showcase, dresser-drawer and shelf in her thirteen-room Victorian mansion. You can visit the shop every day of the week and find something new each day.

Their specialty is maps, which explains the globes and framed prints on the walls.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Taylor's on North Carroll Street in downtown Madison has decorated their front window with a dizzying display of old-time toys. It's more than I can do justice to in a few snapshots, but perhaps I can capture a tiny bit of the fun to be had looking in the window.

A close-up of a few of the items in the window: clowns on top of the merry-go-round, marionettes hanging in the background, the detail from a carnival bench ...

... a shooting gallery, a marble-in-the-cups game, a pinball table, and a wonderful assortment of circus posters.

The seal of the state of Wisconsin, embossed in brass on the doors of the capital building; a special treat for a loyal viewer of our page.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Snow falling on capital square, at about three o'clock this afternoon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I went for a walk through the 'mansion district' once again. Most of the old piles have fallen on hard times, their rooms now parceled out as flats to students. The landlords certainly aren't much interested in preserving the character of the buildings, as evidenced by the cartoonish color of this lost mansion. Pink?

Monday, December 12, 2005

If you're on your way to the periodicals section of Madision Central Public Library and you happen to glance up the stairway ...

More about this display.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The prow of Madison's new art gallery, still under construction, cuts through State Street like a glacial Titanic.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The West Gallery of the State Capitol in the evening.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

If I could live anywhere in Madison, I'd love to move into The Baskerville on Hamilton Street.

Not only would I be able to walk through these doors every day, but I'd be less than one block away from capitol square and right across the street from the Tornado!

The Tornado on Main Street must have been a pretty swank place at one time ... and it still may be — I have yet to visit. The sign out back dates the Tornado to the neon era.

And the neon still burns strong! Here's the sign at the Hamilton Street entrance of the Tornado by night.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Michelangelo's on State Street (although this is the Carroll Street entrance). Our favorite coffee shop in Madison, if not in Wisconsin.

What's up, Doc? He's lost his carrot, and he's putting on a bit of weight. A martini-drinking Bugs Bunny on the side of a building, Carroll Street.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

This is the Steensland mansion on Carroll Street, owned by the Bethel Lutheran Church, which has used it for years as a thrift shop. The shop will close on November 30th, and the fate of the mansion is uncertain.

The mansion was built in 1896 and is quite ornate. The walls inside the first floor of the house are covered with tin plate pressed with a floral design, and all the wood trim is carved with these faces and curlicues.

The ornate turned rail and paneled stairway to the second floor of the house.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I took a walk north along Carroll Street today to look at the old mansions. Most are now subdivided into apartments but this one didn't appear to be, and was beautifully kept up.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The first patch of ice I found this season had an interesting mosaic of leaves caught inside.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Steam curled up from the surface of Lake Monona in the frigid temps yesterday morning, even after the sun had been up for several hours.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Snows first began to fall the night before, but by noon yesterday traces were beginning to collect on the ground, barely noticeable around the base of the lonely tree at the entrance to the Central Public Library.
Snow flurries in capital square in Madison at about one o'clock yesterday. Temps dropped through the day until they reached the teens last night.
Main Street in downtown Madison at about four-thirty last night as flurries brought the first snow to the city.
Snow swirls through the floodlights around the capital dome at about four-thirty yesterday evening.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What happened to the wireless access in the Starbuck's on cap square, dammit? It's supposed to be there! I wouldn't have even thought of going in there except they were supposed to have wireless access, and I had about a half-hour to check the morning news, so I settled in with a cup of coffee but when I fired up the laptop — no access! Just a signal from another nearby laptop, probably searching for a signal from Starbuck's, too. And the coffee wasn't that good. I'd much rather drink the good stuff at Michelangelo's.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Amtrak Director David Gunn Fired

And why should you care? Is there a reason any longer for America to have a cross-country passenger railroad service running on a regular schedule? The thickly-populated east and west coast have almost always needed a fast, reliable mass transit system, but few people seem to want to ride the train from coast to coast, chosing instead the speed of airline travel.

Congress has kept Amtrak afloat, but only with a metaphoric nose above the water by providing it a little over a billion dollars each year, the barest minimum subsidy. (Commerical airlines and road maintenance, it is worth noting, received subsidies worth hundreds of billions each year.) The Bush administration this year proposed a subsidy for Amtrak of $630 million and demanded that it find a way to make the railroad pay for itself, something no major passenger railroad has ever done.

Gunn was reported to "clash" with the Amtrak Board of Directors, all of whom were appointed by President Bush, most of them to interim appointments that will expire when Congress retires from the current session. Is it possible they'll appoint a new director with no ties to the Bush administration, a director who will miraculously find a way to run the railroad at a profit on a budget of a billion dollars a year?

I figure it this way: Cross-country passenger trains will be cut back to next to nothing, if not eliminated entirely, when states refust to fund passenger rail within their borders. The bulk of Amtrak's subsidies will end up in the northeast corridor. California will fund their passenger rail largely on their own, maybe with a small subsidy.
Faith Healer Loses Patient During Routine Miracle

The American Faith-Healing Association issued a statement saying that trinity-invocation and snake-handling guidelines were followed during the procedure. [link to The Onion]

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Too Much Sex On TV? What Channel Are YOU Watching?

I read in the paper today that seventy percent of all television shows include an average of five sex scenes each and every hour. Five sex scenes every hour? I don't watch a lot of television, but I've never seen any show with five sex scenes in it. What are they counting? Kissing? I see more sex flipping through the pages of one issue of The Onion than I do in an evening of watching television. They've got to be watching channels that I don't get.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

God Wins!

The Kansas State Board of Education approved a new education standard to include the teaching of intelligent design, the belief that life is so mind-bogglingly complex it must have been designed by someone or something intelligent; Steven Hawking, for example. I’m not sure Hawking designed the known universe, but he does seem to know a suspiciously great deal about it.

If Hawking didn’t design everything in sight (and a whole lot more), I guess it could have been done by anybody else with a mind the size of a planet. There’s also the remote possibility it could have been something supernatural; I mean to say that if something or somebody designed the natural world, then by definition he, she or it could be supernatural, right?

But it’s definitely not a god. That’s completely out of the question, because a big, hairy court case trying that very question has just wrapped up and all the experts agree, almost, that there’s no way this is a religious idea. It’s a good, legally valid, scientific theory and god’s got nothing to do with it, much.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I read several opinions regarding “gender-neutral” (mixed-sex) bathrooms on Ann Althouse’s blog, and don’t know what to think because I’ve just come back to the States after living in Japan for four years, where bath houses, called onsen, are separated into men’s and women’s halves, but it wasn’t at all unusual for me to climb into the same steaming tub with several boys and girls so young they weren’t at all shy about staring at me. I’m tall, very skinny, and very light-skinned — I was used to drawing stares in Japan, but I found myself strangely intimidated by the presence of other people’s children in the bath, precisely because fears of pedophiles and other perverts would prevent such mixed-sex bathing from ever happening in almost any setting outside a private residence in the States. Having no idea at all how to act, I jumped into the tub and slouched into the water until it was up to my chin. They didn’t stop staring, but at least I didn’t feel as though I was on parade.

I eventually got used to bathing in the presence of other people’s children (unless they were American children; I never felt comfortable bathing with them; I guess the cultural norm was too deeply ingrained). However, there were not only mixed-sex children in the men’s onsen, but women as well! They weren’t bathing, they were the cleaning ladies, and for the most part they acted as though the men around them were invisible, discreetly planning every movement so that they never had to so much as excuse themselves to get out of the way. The men did much the same. There was one occasion, though, when curiosity apparently became too much of a temptation for a cleaning lady at an onsen in Misawa, and she stared like a little girl. I’ve never felt so naked in my life.

A bath house is not a toilet, but I’ve been in many public toilets in Europe attended by cleaning ladies, and they weren’t at all shy about noting my presence. In a public toilet in Paris, a cleaning lady was apparently so determined to keep to her schedule that she hardly waited for me to step away from the urinal I was using.

I don’t mean to say that my experiences were at all comparable to the kind of intrusion that seems to offend Althouse; I think I agree with her objections to having to share a public toilet with men. I know my mother would have the same objections. But isn’t that a cultural norm that could, and probably will eventually change? The Europeans didn’t seem at all tripped up by mixing sexes in one toilet (granting that the women weren’t actually using the toilets I visited), and the Japanese weren’t bothered by letting their daughters bathe with grown men (or I don’t think they were, anyway).

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Carrying Concealed Weapons in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin legislature has begun to hear arguments for and against a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons, such as handguns, knives and billy clubs, so long as they are at least 21 years old, pass a background check by the state Department of Justice and complete weapons training.

Not to put this too indelicately, but the arguments for carrying concealed weapons always sound more than a little stupid. State Senator David Zein views a willingness to carry weapons as a simple test to find out whether or not I deserve to live. Zein said, “If people don’t want to defend themselves, they deserve to die.” It’s a fact, senator, that not everybody wants to carry a weapon, but it doesn’t make them any less virtuous than anybody who would, and especially not people who would repeat the kind of sanctimonious crap you do. It’s a fact that some people would like to spend an evening in a restaurant or a tavern without having to wonder who’s carrying a weapon, and whether or not the evening might end in gunfire. Don’t give me the argument that law-abiding citizens won’t misuse their handguns; those who argue in favor of this bill say they want to defend themselves in public places. I’m not too happy about my chances for survival if I find myself caught in the crossfire between the law-abiding likes of you, Sen. Zein, and a common criminal with a handgun.

Representative Scott Gunderson, a cosponsor of the bill, broke down in the legislature as he recalled how someone attacked him with a crowbar. Gunderson supposed he wouldn't have been attacked if the criminal thought Gunderson was carrying a weapon. And maybe Gunderson wouldn’t have been attacked if the criminal thought Gunderson was carrying a weapon illegally, or if the criminal thought Gunderson had a black belt in Judo, or any one of a number of other specious suppositions, but the criminal wasn’t thinking that. He wasn’t thinking much at all; if he had been thinking, he wouldn’t have been threatening somebody with a crowbar.

I'm not crazy about letting members of the public carry handguns, for much the same reason that I'm not crazy about sharing the beltway with anybody who can apply for a driver's license: An awful lot of so-called law-abiding citizens can't abide even the simplest laws. It's bad enough they can't remember to signal when they change lanes. To think about what they're going to do if they can carry handguns in public ... why isn't the reason this scares people self-apparent?
Farts Galore!

An island in the middle of Island Lake Massachusetts, floats on a layer of decomposing gas and moves from one side of the lake to the other as the (breaking?) wind carries it. (The NY Times also reported that there's a sizable patch of marijuana growing on it, so I suppose it'll be trampled before the weekend's out.)

A landfill in Kansas smells like farts and disgusts the neighbors.
Think of endings for this sentence: "Dude, I pinched such a big log yesterday ... "

Obligatory related link about Bob Dougherty, Home Depot, and a prankster with some heavy-duty glue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Dick Source Of Leak
White House spokesman Scott McClellan would neither confirm nor deny a New York Times report that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, learned about Plame in a conversation with Cheney
(Sorry about the headline. Couldn't help myself.)
(A tip o' the hat to Swambo for the headline.)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The complete collection of Calvin & Hobbes has been printed as a three-volume, bound hardcover set of books. God dammit! How am I going to pay for that?
Added: A recent story about the reclusive Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

What I'm going to do with my $170 million
We're hatching ideas for what to do with the money when we win the Powerball this week. I'm going to hire the Swedish Bikini Team to hang out at the corner gas station, where they'll hug and kiss every motorcyclist who pulls in wearing a helmet, and ignore the ones who don't.
I think Barb will be able to afford another trip to the quilt store.
A Fark story that begins with a literary reference.
Dunno why that strikes me as funny. I guess it's all the boobies and scat jokes.
Oh, great; something else I've got to start saving for.
My favorite comics-page character, Little Nemo, has been published in the comic strip's original format, a huge book.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Is that something I'm supposed to look forward to?
His bumper sticker didn't make it entirely clear, but I think I can safely assume that he doesn't like it when the liberals treat him like shit, and that he doesn't mind when the conservatives do.
Autumn in Wisconsin
This tree (and many more just like it, come to that) is right across the road from my house, and the sun caught it in such a way that I was compelled to fetch my camera and snap a picture of it, proving to myself once again that I can't capture the most stunning moments of my favorite season with a camera. It was a stunningly fiery vista, but it made for a pretty lame photo.
Metablogging ... blog the blog

0620: Hit the "creat a blog" tab
0622: Fill in all the blanks, hit the "next" tab
0623: Username "DaveO" is not available. Okay, I choose "Winkus McMuffin"
0624: "Winkus McMuffin" isn't available? You've got to be kidding me. Okay, I choose "Tim The Sponge"
0625: It can't be possible that somebody else has chosen "Tim The Sponge" for their username. Fine. I choose !Q@W#E3e2w1q
0626: Oh, for shit's sake. "Monkeytrousers" then.
0627: I'm stuck with "Monkeytrousers"? This is not a feel-good introduction to the blog world.