Saturday, December 30, 2006

By the Shores of Beautiful Lake Monona

A flock of ducks on the lake ice caught my eye, so I risked crossing Monona Drive on foot (note: Don't do it!) to snap a photo of them but they all flew away as I approached. Not stealthy enough, I guess.

This stump looked rather photogenic, though, so I thought I'd try it out.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Fairchild St in the Evening

Looking southeast up the hill past the Overture Center.

The relatively modest Hovde Building seems to tower over all else.

If I were a betting man I'd put all my money in developing the 100 block of State St, those older buildings to the immediate left, across the street from the Overture Center. The only thing my money has the muscle to develop, though, is film.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tinkering together a track plan ... in 3-D!

The bench has been ready for months but I've been putting off laying down the track because, well ... because I'm a scaredy-cat, that's why.

I suck at track planning. I'd much rather just piece a loop together and watch the trains go round. And that's all I've done to date.

But I found that John Armstrong track plan -- see it? Way back there in the upper left? -- in a July 1954 issue of Model Railroader last night and a light went on over my head. I could almost see the room get brighter.

So tonight I found as many of the storage boxes as I could that were stuffed with the collected model railroading track and rolling stock of many years. Many, many years. Some of this stuff hasn't been trotted out since 1989.

Striking a pose

A PA in Milwaukee livery waits to stretch its legs.

If only I could find an affordable (okay, so I'm cheap) B-unit on e-bay.

Smooth-side passenger cars lie like beached whales in the background, waiting for me to find their wheelsets. They might wait quite a while.

A once-proud livery, reduced to this ...

The rolling stock of my tiny railroad empire finally sees the light of day.

Well, not daylight, precisely; the light over my workbench will have to do for now.

Some of the hardier models seem to be intact, but a few have seen better times. To the right, the smooth-side sleeper in Milwaukee colors and the overturned Pennsy coach have both lost their wheelsets at a bad turn somewhere.

This will take a bit of work ...

The freight manifest hasn't fared any better ...

Even though the box was stuffed with packing, the cars seem to have tumbled a bit.

On the plus side, I've been looking for the screwdrivers in the upper left compartment for more than a year now.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Death Ray by night

I'm sure that the "artwork" installed in the entry of the federal court house is loaded with meaning, and I would love to hear what it is so I could laugh and laugh and laugh.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

The prow of Madison's newest flatiron glows incandescantly on a recent overcast night.

Friday, December 22, 2006


In the store window on State Street.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Evening foot traffic on Mifflin St

Front window of The Exclusive Company by night

Monday, December 18, 2006

Where Once There Was Snow

Two weeks ago we had lots of snow and temps in the twenties. I snapped a picture so I could remember what it was like, knowing it was a sure bet that it'd all be gone soon and we'd have anything but a white Christmas. I don't miss the sub-freezing temps, but these snowless weeks leading up to Christmas exacerbate my chronic grumpiness. Ho-ho-ho.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What's the Scoop?

Every time I've walked past a vantage point that gave me a full-on view of this side of the new Dane County Court House, I've looked at the big scoop in the side of the building and wondered: What was the architect thinking about when he did that?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sunset's Reflection

Looking across Fairchild St and the buildings along West Main. The Inn On The Park is to the left, the Jackman Building on Hamilton just beneath the reflected sunlight in the windows of the Anchor Bank building.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lost in the Fog

Capital hill veiled in fog earlier this week.

Kill 'Em All & Let God Sort 'Em Out?

A not-so-thinly-veiled threat stenciled on the sidewalk near the intersection of Carroll Street with Langdon. There must be a better way to use the guarantee of free speech to address this problem.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I hadn't been in the Dane County Veteran's Museum before last week. No interest. Then last Friday I saw at least four busloads of school kids go in there, bringing back memories of field trips from way back, and I had to take a look.

They represent American veterans' involvement in wars through history by standing costumed dummies in dioramas all around the walls. I've always liked dioramas. My Mom thinks they're pretty cheesy, but I like cheese, the more sentimental and cornball, the better.

And I liked that I could look at a diorama and know in an instant what it was supposed to be. I glanced at the scene in this photo, for instance, and recognized the Battle of the Bulge from across the room.

I didn't have much time, so I couldn't linger at the display cases, but I did take the time to gaze long and hard at the model ships.

At the peak of my model-building career I probably owned at least one-hundred fighter planes. I would've given them all up to build something like this. And I would've had to live in a house the size of a dairy barn to display something like this.

It's the USS Wisconsin, naturally. The full-size one was built back just before aircraft carriers took over as the ultimate warships of the high seas. She was mothballed after the world war, briefly came out of retirement to fight in the Persian Gulf war, and I believe she rests in a comfy berth once again.

They made a pretty nifty display out of the model, with the ship's bell and the brass name plate mounted on the other side of the display case. And what display would have been complete without an example of the 16-inch shells fired by those big guns?

Best thing in the museum, though, was the periscope, no contest. Who doesn't go gah-gah over a periscope? Okay, my wife wouldn't, but what guy wouldn't shove his way through a rugby scrum for the chance to look through a real periscope? You can pan it around for a good look at most of the buildings in cap square, but you can't increase the magnification to see if anybody's sleeping at their desks or photocopying their butts. Still, a periscope! Freaking awesome!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ceci n'est pas une pickup truck

There aren't a lot of teeny-tiny pickup trucks around any more, so when one of them shows up at a local parking lot, it's eye-catching, particularly when it's painted pink and is parked alongside a bulked-out SUV.

To make it appear even smaller than it already is, the owner had taken the trouble of dropping the suspension as low as it could go. The truck's frame was about three inches off the ground.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"I expect you to die, Mister Bond!"

The entry to the federal court house, on Henry Street

The more I look around, the more I'm astonished at how many really ugly buildings there are in downtown Madison.

Surely this has got to be in the running for the ugliest. There aren't any others that combine indigo-colored steel cladding with red highlights, and no other building in town has a death ray hanging over the entrance.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Gator on the loose at Emian's Bakery

Tim told us about Emian's on Monona Drive near his high school. He said he has lunch there every so often, and if they can appeal to his picky tastes, we figured they had to have a pretty good selection.

Barb and I have only ever stopped for coffee and some baking, but we haven't been disappointed yet. They have lots of scrummy rolls, muffins and cookies, and the dining area is very cozy.

On our first trip we slid into a booth and lingered over the Sunday paper for an hour while we noshed on scones. Today we stopped by for a coffee but couldn't resist grabbing some goodies, too.

The eyes of this pastry gator caught my attention on the way out the door.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Barrymore

My Darling B has had a hankering for eggs benedict all week long, so we stopped at The Blue Plate, just across the street from the Barrymore theater in the Atwood-Schenck neighborhood. I had the country breakfast. Both meals were delivered to our table in what seemed like no more than a heartbeat. It was almost as if they'd been waiting for us. We both went home with our sufficiencies surensified.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happiness ...

This is all he needs to be soooo happy. Nothing more than a warm lap. He wouldn't mind it if you rubbed his ears, too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ashtray of the Beast

Monday, November 13, 2006

Too tired to blog ...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lighting Up the Dome

One of my co-workers was driving across town as the winter storm closed in over the city this afternoon. She was waiting at a red light on Washington Avenue when a pink bolt of lightening shot straight down out of the sky and struck the statue of Wisconsin at the top of the dome, sending a shower of sparks in all directions.

So I was a little surprised to see the floodlights come on after dark ...

Morning in Capitol Square

Not as warm as yesterday, when temps in the sixties brought out walkers in their shirt sleeves. Today never got warmer than the mid-forties, and then ...

Capital Square, Mid-Afternoon

... the snow began.

The Snows Kept Coming

Once it got started it built up quickly.

Nuts To You

Oddly old-style detail erupts from the facade of a thoroughly modern office block on capital square

Thursday, November 09, 2006


When you come on a building that's lost all its windows it's as startling as meeting somebody you know who smiles and suddenly reveals she's lost all her teeth.

I'm not sure yet what's going on with this building - whether they're in the process of demolishing it, or just replacing all the windows as part of remodeling. I'll come back in a week to see.

A Church In The Brutalist Style

That seemed more than a little contradictory to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Looking Up I

The bank building at 2 E Mifflin on capital square.

Looking Up II

Police Line, Do Not Cross, caught in a tree on Mifflin Street, capital square.

Looking Up III

The condos at 100 W Wisconsin on capital square.

Monday, November 06, 2006

... still hanging on ...


A hedgehog? A squid? A map of the Pacific Rim islands? One of Jimi Hendrix's guitars with the neck broken off? A Lion?

It's a lion. It is.

Punch Buggy

Spotted this one on East Wilson Street yesterday. A well-used bug; note the t-shirt seat covers and the shredded rear seat. The lenses on the rear lights were dated 1970, but even with all those years (and no doubt plenty of mileage), this bug's in pretty good condition. Wonder just how many winters it's tramped through the salt-soaked slush of Madison streets?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Where Should We Go For Breakfast?

My Darling B wanted to go out for breakfast this morning and we'd noticed how popular Cleveland's Diner is in the mornings when we drive by on the way to work, so we swung by to give it a try.

"Popular" is such an inadequate word. There were people lined up on the sidewalk waiting for one of the seven tables or a stool at the counter. That's hardly ever a bad sign. Even better: We didn't have to wait more than ten minutes.

Barb had a Denver omlette, minus mushrooms. I had eggs, bacon and two pancakes. The two waitresses were running their legs off and the short-order cook never stepped away from his griddle. When our food came, Barb was tickled to find no mushrooms in her omlette; usually the ball drops somewhere along the way. She gobbled it down making lots of yummy sounds. My eggs were deliciously buttery, the bacon was crisp but not overdone, and the pancakes were fluffy and sweet. The food was simple, hot, and very, very good.

Cleveland's on East Wilson Street. Worth the drive into town, worth the wait.

Give Peace A Chance

Spotted outside the capital on Main Street during lunch hour. It was a breath of fresh air from all the electioneering going on. No slogans. No names. Just a guy with a wish for peace.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

They don't make them like this anymore

Tucked away between a four-story apartment building and a block of flats, this tiny bungalow is hanging on behind a nicely done front gate. It can't be more than a couple of rooms and a cozy front yard. I wouldn't have believed you could still find a house this cute in the middle of Madison unless I'd seen it with my own eyes.

... and the house looks like this.

The deep, narrow lot sort of necessitates a bungalow about this size. Still looks mighty cozy.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Yet another view of autum

Our false summer started today, temps in the sixties and everybody walking around in shirt sleeves, trying to make the most of it. I took several laps around the square when I could take a break from work, and let my eyes wander to the window when I couldn't.

Friday, October 27, 2006

... as the colors set in ...

These old oaks can hold onto their leaves forever! There was a hard frost overnight that made a lot of the maples in our neighborhood give up on warm weather altogether. They dumped almost all their leaves in a big heap and went dormant while these oaks tough out the cold snap and slowly become more golden. Even that little ash wants to hold on a bit longer.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The View from the Office Window

Last Friday the old oaks in capital square still had most of their leaves, although they were beginning to turn.

Over the weekend the weather turned wintry, with freezing temps and a respectably heavy snowfall for October. How will the square look this morning?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just In Time For A Trip To Grandma's!

We're due for lunch at the ancestral O-Home today. It's only natural that we should have a fresh blanket of snow on view for our three-hour cross-country drive.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The View from the Office Window

The sun broke through an oppressively gray overcast yesterday morning as it rose but soon lost the fight and we didn't see it much for the rest of the day.

I got to look after Penny's fish while she was gone this week ...

It added a little splash of color to my cubicle.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Autumn in the Capital I

Madison has been awash in the familiar colors of autumn since the beginning of October, and now the leaves have begun to collect on the ground in windswept waves.

In the mornings, frost. At noon, temps in the fifties, and even that's fast becoming a fond memory.

To hasten the transition, all this week cold rain came spitting down from a cast-iron sky, forcing everyone to dig out their heavy coats. Noone's dallying on the streets.

Here's perhaps one last look at the capital while the leaves of autumn still frame it.