Monthly Archives: August 2013

Space – or “Nature abhors a vacuum”

Tile floor at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, SD

Tile floor at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre, SD

Today I am going to write about space, or, more specifically, living space. My recent move has been an upgrade from the 300 square feet of living space that I had previously enjoyed. (Have you ever seen that billboard advertisement that says “Bigger than your first apartment”?). Now I have all this empty space and I am afraid of nature filling it up.

I did like my old place, but the location left something to be desired for my current situation. A small space meant it was much more economical to heat and cool. And when I was looking for something I only had one closet to rummage through. Now I have 4 closets!

My new place feels much bigger. It is no longer just one room. One of my favorite things is the large, south facing window in the living room giving lots of light. The winter won’t concern me as much because I don’t pay for heat. My living space is very open right now and I will try to keep it that way. My bedroom has my mattress, a lamp and a small nightstand. There is nothing on the walls and it is very peaceful. The living room is also sparse. I have my computer, chair, stereo, lamp and plants. I have an antenna TV but it is not plugged in. (I have developed a serious dislike for commercials.)

The only major thing I am considering buying is a couch. It would be nice to offer people a place to sit when they visit which is rarely. I would also like to be able to host Couchsurfers. I am not sure Middleton is a big destination but I guess you never know.

I am worried about my space filling up with stuff. I like open space. Plus it is cheaper to not buy things in the first place. One way I am combating this is by not having a car. Everything I bring into my apartment is carried or biked. That should keep my apartment empty for the time being.

Have you noticed your space filling up? Have you ever couchsurfed or hosted someone? Let me know!

Movie and a Dinner

Last night I went out. The UW Cinematheque was screening “The Producers”. I had never seen it before but have only heard good things about it.

The movie exceeded expectations. Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel were hilarious. I cannot imagine how it would have been received in 1968. It crossed so many lines but still managed to be funny. Almost every line was memorable. Laughing at the jokes with the rest of the audience is more satisfying then laughing alone on my couch.

Before the film started they showed a trailer for a movie called “Skatetown USA“. It is hard for me to believe that at some point in time someone thought this was a good movie to make. It apparently was the film debut of Patrick Swayze.

After dinner it was time to eat. I cycled from Union South (where the movie was) to downtown to find some food. I ended up going to Paul’s Pel’meni. It is the little place on Gorham with the “Gorham Dumplings” sign in the window. It was my second time there and I like the place a lot. It is simple, the food is good and the service is good. For a half order of dumplings is $4.5 and only a buck more for a soda. And they have Sun Drop. I will be returning again.

If you really like pel’meni but can’t always get downtown you can buy frozen pel’meni at Intermarket which is a Russian grocery store on Old Middleton near Knoche’s Food Store. Lots of interesting things there.

The best part about my evening was the biking. I haven’t biked at night in a long time. It is much different than biking during the day. Looking at Google maps it looks like I biked 13 miles for my dinner and a movie. I was tired but it was great exercise. And for The Producers and pel’meni I would do it again.

Back to School

It is that season again! This will be my second fall not returning to school. But I still feel a little nostalgia when I go to the store and see the supply lists and hear people talking about scheduling classes.

I miss school, especially my university years. I had lots of time each day to do what I want. I also had new ideas presented to me all the time. I have to make an effort to have that happen now. I try to constantly look for new things and ideas by using Google News, Reddit, and tumblr. With Reddit and Tumblr there is a lot of fluff but there is also a lot of good, thoughtful content to subscribe to and follow. I see new things, learn about new people, and am inspired by some of the amazing pictures that I find on these sites.

Another thing I miss about school is the student life. I was by no means a party animal. But it was easier to have a good time. Due to some thoughtful scheduling and a little luck I had many semesters with no classes on Fridays. (Economics professors apparently don’t like to teach on Friday’s; you didn’t hear me complaining!) I had some 8 o’clock classes, but it wasn’t every day. Another bonus was that I always lived 15 minutes or less by bike from campus so the commute was fantastic. I went to school in Stevens Point, WI and there are not a whole lot of hills. It was very easy biking.

One of the biggest adjustments from school to “real life” is the concept of summer vacation, or lack thereof. It used to be a goal: just get through finals and you get a break. At work that break never seems to come. There are shorter vacations but the longest I will probably be able to take for a while would be 2 weeks and that would be a large portion of my vacation days.

Do you miss school? What part do you miss the most?

I relocated to Middleton

If you have been reading the blog you know that I mentioned moving. Well last weekend was the big move to Middleton. My mom, my brother and a friend of his came down and helped. It only took a few hours, and we rewarded ourselves with lunch from Sonic. (For the longest time I saw Sonic commercials here in Wisconsin but I never saw a Sonic)

I now have a new commute. Driving distance has been cut from 6.8 miles to 2.7 miles. But that would be if I drove. The best part about my new location is the bike commute. It is a short 2.3 mile ride door to door. I take about 15 minutes. There is minimal traffic unless I leave work at 4:30 or 5:00 on the nose. Compared to my old commute by bus I am saving just about an hour a day – which is 5 hours a week, 20 hours a month, or 240 hours a year (10 days!).

The extra $100 a month this rent is over my last place is well worth it. I am looking forward to discovering more of Middleton. I have already found my way to the Willy Street Coop, the Village Green, and Tiedeman Pond.

Are there any can’t miss things I should add to my “to-do” list?

South Dakota Fatality Markers

South Dakota Fatality Marker

South Dakota Fatality Marker

I recently had the opportunity to take a road trip to South Dakota. It was different from Wisconsin, and I am glad I went. One of the things that has stuck with me was the roadside fatality markers. These are locations where people died. The state has been marking them since 1979. More info from the state can be found here: Why Die Sign Info

It is kind of eerie. Someone died here while driving. A life (or sometimes multiple lives) ended here. This could happen to you. It is an interesting idea; I like it. It helped me keep perspective. It could all end in an instant.

Some other observations from a transportation perspective were the higher speed limits and the use of double trailers on semi trucks. The interstate speed limit in South Dakota was 75, in Wisconsin it is 65. The state highways were generally 65 in South Dakota; here they are 55. When I drove across the border from South Dakota into Minnesota all I could think about was how slow 55 felt. The semi trucks almost all had 2 trailers, with the second one many times being smaller than the first. I think this is a good use of resources. They have a lot of product to move (hay bales EVERYWHERE) and a small labor force. The roads are also not very crowded.

I like traveling because it never fails to give me something new to think about.