4.27.2017

Quote of the Day

An Italian professional cyclist, Michele Scarponi, was recently killed while out on a training ride near his home town by a driver in his work truck. There's been a lot of stories on this cyclist, but I liked his quote below the best:

“Certe mattine m’ impigrisco, faccio fatica ad alzarmi e vestirmi. Ma saltato sulla bici, ritrovo la leggerezza del vivere”


“Some mornings I feel lazy, I struggle to get out of bed and get dressed. But I jump on my bike and life feels light again”


– Michele Scarponi to La Gazzetta Dello Sport, 2012


4.25.2017

Kuma's Corner, Indianapolis, IN


You could go to the Chicago original, but if you happen to be in Indy, this location will be much closer. I was very happy to get to check any location out, sink my teeth into fried pickles and a "Pantera" burger. Nothing disappointed and I would go back in a New York minute.

Check it out...



 Start slow with a no-caffeine cola.

Then open the menu...



All hail the Pantera. Can you identify all the ingredients? (Don't look above...)



4.22.2017

The Statehouse, Madison, WI

On a recent Friday night, I didn't want to just drive home, so I ventured further into downtown Madison and wound up at a spot I had been close to previously, but had not yet ventured in. I wanted to check out the Statehouse Restaurant and Bar on the first floor of the Edgewater Hotel. 

As the name implies, it all happens to be right on Lake Mendota, near-ish the university campus, and with great views, places to wander, and beer/drinks available. It's a great place to hang out and take a load off, especially after a particularly trying and long Friday.

I walked right into the bar of the restaurant and sat down for my first cocktail, a Wisconsin staple, an Old Fashioned (whiskey, not Brandy for me). It hit the spot.

You can just make out that fancy Maraschino cherry, Luxardo, on the lower right of the glass. Tasty.

I then went to a New Glarus selection that I'd not heard of or had before, Totally Naked. It's their light lager and it was exactly what I wanted.

Finally, with all the booze, I decided I need to eat a real meal. When in Rome, eat Roman food. But when in a steakhouse, eat steak. I ordered up their flank steak sandwich.

It's off their non-published bar menu, and while everything in the sandwich was delicious, the bread they chose to build this taste vehicle on was not so bueno for me. They place all this slippery steak and sauce on a 4" wide plank of hard ciabatta bread. It's not a roll or bun, it's just cut from a larger loaf. Not only was it too tall, crusty, and girthy to easily get a mouth on it, items started slipping out from to word "Moe". I mean, I got it all down, but it was kind of weird to be in this "fancy" steakhouse and be struggling with a sandwich falling apart. Surely I can't be the first and likely won't be the last.


In spite of the "PANdemonium", this was a perfect Friday evening, at a really nice, welcoming, warm place. It's now on my list to head back to when needed. I should also mention their sister restaurants across the courtyard, The Icehouse and The Boathouse (at least I think they own them all). They're even more casual places on the lake to grab a beer or bite and don't disappoint in the views department either.

I capped the night off at a local ice cream purveyor, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.... awesome. They make the full-fat, super premium kind, not for the faint of heart.

Chocolate & Peanut Butter, plus Ultimate Oreo.

4.04.2017

Chicago's River Skyline, Chicago, IL

Some more shots from the Riverwalk I took last week, this focuses more on the architecture and skyline, even in a gloomy, raining morning.









How many of the buildings can you name?

4.02.2017

Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL


I was recently in the City of Broad Shoulders and what greeted me that morning as I arose from Union Station was rain. It made me keep my head tilted down, and with the bent, I saw something below street level, probably for the first time (and I think it's relatively new, so it wasn't there when I lived in the city) - Chicago's Riverwalk.

It's a man-made structure that skirts the north side of Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. I have to say, it's a great way to the the river skyline, and I can see how in the summer it would be a great place to gather, have lunch, and soak up some rays before heading back into your cubicle.

Check it out...











I took it about half the length and popped back up onto surface streets at LaSalle. I would have gone further, but I didn't have unlimited time, there was almost no people-watching, and it was pouring rain the whole time. I'll be back though, mark my words.

4.01.2017

Bakersfield (Mass Ave.), Indianapolis, IN

Finally, after years of hearing about this on social media, I was personally escorted to this cool little taco hangout in Indy. It was pretty dang good people watching outside, and some serious taco-eating inside. Friggin' go!




 So. Good.

This is one of those things you see while you have a drink outside.



3.31.2017

Milktooth, Indianapolis, IN

Uhhh, just go to this trendy hipster hotspot. They have great service, great drinks (Hair of the Bear), and really unique, interesting, and delicious food...


Their take on breakfast grits - so fresh, plus an added poached egg and bacon bits.

This is their rendition of a latke. Very very tasty, not greasy at all either.

3.18.2017

Kohl Center Behind-the-Scenes, Madison, WI

Turns out my first trip to the Kohl Center for a men's hockey game was merely an appetizer for an invitation I received through my alma mater's alumni program. One of our alums now works in the Kohl Center and decided to offer local alums a chance to go behind the scenes - count. me. in.

The invite read, "[an] Illinois alum and videoboard production specialist for UW Athletics will be giving the Madison Illini a very special behind the scenes tour of the Kohl Center. Get in the spirit for March Madness and see some of the same cutting edge technology that is being used in the new State Farm Arena."


I immediately clicked their sign-up link and added my name. Sweet, I was in. Once the day arrived I donned some orange and blue and left work a little early to get back into town on time. Upon arrival at the Kohl Center it was clear the alumni in the area, or perhaps merely the ones interested in this event, skewed toward retirement age. However, this mix provided us young whipper-snappers a chance to ask them about their history on campus in Champaign and hear their stories about being in Wisconsin.

The tour began in the Nichols Club-level seating area, which was as swanky as swanky gets, imo.





Then we headed over to the Women's Hockey stadium, via an underground tunnel/path/hallway.



The official name of this arena is the La Bahn Arena and is where the Men's and Women's teams can practice and all Women's Hockey games are played. This stadium holds about 2,200 fans, where the Kohl Center holds 17,000 for basketball and about 15,000 for hockey. The increased seating occurs when the basketball court is laid out over the normal ice hockey playing surface.


 


The Women's team has all of their coaches and other staff offices in the same building, with a nice reception area. We also got a glimpse in some of the other sports lounges, cafeteria, weight room, etc. It was pretty interesting to realize that all this is housed in a relatively compact place. Student-Athletes can spend much of their day doing what they do best, train and study. There's even a studying center in the Kohl Center for the student-athletes.






Now the main gist of being on this tour was their in-house video production services. The main outlet for this product is the big video board in the center of the Kohl Center that plays all the video segments during an event (Men's Hockey or Men's/Women's Basketball in this case). One small room/area in the Kohl Center handles the video feeds for the Kohl Center, Memorial Stadium, and other venues. The feeds now go through miles and miles of cables spread in and out of the facilities. They even send their feeds into special trucks that back up to a dock during basketball games. Networks then choose which camera/angle to show during games, picking from the UW staff's feed, or using their own.




Below is the heart of their production area, with up to 10-12 people taking part in the production of a single game. They use sheets that guide everyone through the games, much like a musician in an orchestra and their sheet music.




  

Finally, after about an hour of walking around, we got the chance to head out on the basketball court, ready for the high school state championships that were about to start that week. I think the most surprising thing that struck me was how bright it truly was under the many many light on the floor.



You can see a whirlybird camera right in the middle of the American Family Insurance sign, used or all kinds of special views and angles, like a perfect tip-off of face-off shot for the start of all games.


We also learned that the company that makes virtually all stadium scoreboards, Daktronics, is already working with the University on a major scoreboard and "LED Ring" update for the Kohl Center. LED Rings are the ring or rings that go around the stadium's seating areas, which provide further cheering prompts (Charge!!!) and sponsorship real estate. You can bet that the new version will be even more impressive and make games even more fun.

I had a great evening walking around these incredible spaces and getting a different view into the lives of UW Student-Athletes. Thanks again to the Madison UIAA president for making it happen, and our host and tour guide for the event.







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