Monthly Archives: September 2013

The best $3 purchase I made this week

On Saturday I made a 3 dollar purchase that has already paid itself back and will continue to do so every few weeks. That purchase? A drain plug for my bathtub.

A hot bath cures what ails me. The warmth melted any stress away. Sitting in a tub in my bathroom lets my mind wander as there isn’t much to focus on. I mentally reviewed the weekend and week that was and prepared myself for the week to come.

When time isn’t an issue it is much more satisfying than a shower. It is the perfect way to spend some time while waiting for my bread dough to rise on a Sunday afternoon, especially when the Packer’s are having a bye-week.

If you haven’t taken a bath in awhile I encourage you to set aside some time and give it a try. You may find yourself blocking off some time on your calendar a few times a month! I think we should encourage a little less screen time in exchange for a little more bath time.

A Canadian Quarter – Paying it Forward

The laundry facilities at my apartment are coin operated. I dislike scrounging for quarters and raiding my piggy bank every week so I usually just buy a roll of quarters at the bank. I opened up a new roll today to get the required change so I could wash my clothes when I noticed one that wasn’t like the rest. A female on the front! Scourge of scourges . . . the dreaded Canadian quarter.

As of this writing a Canadian quarter only worth $0.24. I paid $10 for $9.99. But then I had a bright idea. I used it for my coin operated laundry. This is what they mean when they say “pay it forward”, right?

Pheasant Branch Conservancy

Last weekend I was walking in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy with my girlfriend. (You can read another post about the Conservancy here) We decided to climb the hill at the northern end. What a view! It is amazing how much more peaceful it seems out there compared to my apartment. I had a good time and had a few sites I wanted to share.

Moth at Pheasant Branch

Moth at Pheasant Branch

This moth (?) landed right in front of us on the trail. I like the circle on it’s wings. But that wasn’t the only cool thing we saw on the ground.

Turtle at Pheasant Branch

Turtle at Pheasant Branch

Turtle at Pheasant Branch (2)

Turtle at Pheasant Branch (2)

I almost stepped on this little fellow. It looks pretty manageable when it is so small but I wouldn’t want to meet up with it when it is older. I think it may be a snapping turtle, can anyone verify?

We climbed the hill, and although it took a bit of energy the views were worth it.

View from the hill at Pheasant Branch

View from the hill at Pheasant Branch

This was to the north. The clouds were just perfect.

View towards the city at Pheasant Branch

View towards the city at Pheasant Branch

This was towards Madison. The dome of the capitol building is visible in the distance. So are the subdivisions.

We had a nice walk. I think the hill would be a gorgeous place to view a sunrise. It was good exercise on a very nice day. If you get a chance you should take an hour and enjoy.



Movie – All My Good Countrymen (Všichni dobří rodáci)

All My Good Countrymen or All My Compatriots (Všichni dobří rodáci) (Vojtěch Jasný, 1968)

First things first I must confess I am not sure about the exact name. The DVD I checked out from the library says All My Good Countrymen but Wikipedia and IMDb give the title as All My Compatriots. I guess it is always ambiguous when you are translating. (Google Translate says: All Good Citizens but I always take Google Translate with a grain of salt) Are there any readers who speak Czech who would like to elaborate?

This movie covers a few years from the late 40’s to the early 60’s. It is how the collectivization of farming changes a small Moravian village. It focuses on the people and their stories. I rather liked the film. The scenery is really pretty. (It isn’t helping my wanderlust.) This movie was made after the Prague Spring but was then censored after the communists cracked down on such things shortly after.

I definitely see why it was censored – it does not paint a flattering picture of agricultural collectivization.

Someone guesses the collectivization of his farm is not going to work out

Someone guesses the collectivization of his farm is not going to work out

The characters are memorable and none of them are perfect. One that stood out to me was the “Merry Widow” character. Everyone she dates seems to die. You would think some people would learn! The movie does a really good job of using the seasons and the scenery to help the story. It makes me wish I had a time machine and a passport. From the booklet that was in the DVD case I found out that the town the movie was filmed in is called Bystré. It is still a small town according to Wikipedia. The portrayal of a small town made it a better movie for me.

An evening at the pub

An evening at the pub

Overall I liked the movie. It is quite remarkable that the movie was made and I think we have the Prague Spring to thank for that. I would recommend it to anyone who likes movies about rural life.

All My Good Countrymen 1

Movie – Fear and Trembling (Stupeur et tremblements)

Fear and Trembling 1Fear and Trembling (Stupeur et tremblements) (2003, Alain Corneau)

I rented this movie from the library. It is about a a Belgian women who was born and partly raised in Japan returning to work for a year at a large corporation. Amelie has a hard time fitting into Japanese corporate culture, and most of her co-workers are not helping her. It was an interesting movie. I do no know much about Japanese culture. This movie almost exclusively takes place in the office. From the movie I gather that honor and duty are very important.

It was a fun movie but was also depressing. From the limited information I could find out about the movie it seems this was adapted from a book and it was semi-autobiographical (but don’t quote me on that). This would be a very long way to spend a year of one’s life.

The movie had it’s fun parts with some humor to lighten the mood. This sequence brought a smile to my face:

Fear and Trembling 2

Overall I would recommend the movie. It was an interesting look at the way Japanese workplaces might have looked like in the early 90’s. It is much different from my office – that is for sure!

Have you ever seen this movie? What did you think about it?

Farmer’s Market – 14 September 2013

I went to the farmer’s market last Saturday and I wanted to share two observations I made. The first was about windows and shades.


I am fairly certain that this is an office building (at least the upper parts; the lower is the Veteran’s Museum). I was looking up and noticed that some shades were down and some were up. I think this is an opportunity to make a cool design. Maybe every other window or a zig-zag could be made. I don’t think there is enough to make a lot of letters and words.

Matching the shades would be a solid idea in my opinion. Maybe every Friday the company could send out an email that the shades should either be up or down. Down is especially good during the summer to keep the AC costs low. For some reason the shades being so randomly different stood out to me. I am sure most people didn’t notice. It was interesting to think about though.


The shades also don’t match here but I can give this a pass because it is residential. For me random shades is fine on houses and apartments but doesn’t look as good on commercial buildings.

The second thing I wanted to share was this cool backpack:


His lady companion was putting something in and asking if it was evenly loaded so I wonder how the weight transfers onto the shoulders. It seemed to be getting quite a few comments for the short time I was near this guy.

If you haven’t ever been to the farmer’s market I encourage you to go to it at least once.

Kitchen Stories

I recently rented and watched Kitchen Stories (Bent Hamer, 2003) or Salmer fra Kjøkkenet from the library. It is a fictional story about a Swedish observer sent to Norway to observe the kitchen habits of a Norwegian bachelor farmer.

The movie was very good and funny but I am sure I missed out on some of the humor and other plot lines. This movie takes place in the late 40s or 50s. It seems there was some resentment that Norway fought in WWII but Sweden did not. It is hard for me to understand because I do not know much about the history and culture of these two countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of friendly Norwegian & Swedish jokes and stereotypes flew over my head. I did like the movie though. Some of the highlights for me personally was seeing the Volvo that the main character drove and also seeing the sled/toboggan that the farmer used to get around. (I am not sure what it is called so if you know please leave a comment to enlighten me!) I also liked to see the snow.

Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories

I would recommend it! It made me smile and did a good job of showing the simple life and how fulfilling it can be.


Last weekend I saw Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch) at the UW Cinematheque. It was a full house. Several things about the movie struck me. The first thing I noticed was the doors. It seemed to me that there were a lot of doors closing, or that the focus was often on that. Strange thing to notice. The second thing was the noise. It was constant noise which was a big part of the movie.

I must be honest. I did not like it right after it finished. In fact when the screen cut to black and the silence washed over me I felt relieved. But in the few days since it has grown on me. I won’t be re-watching the movie soon but I will probably view it again in the future. The main character – Henry – has such a distinctive hair style. I wonder how much of the low budget went to that!

Afterwards I ate at Paul’s Pelmeni. It was delicious as usual. Give it a chance if you are downtown. And it seems other people are getting hip to the jive – see this article in the Isthmus.


Middleton Library Book Drop

The last time I was at the Middleton Library I saw something I had never seen before and it was something I didn’t think even existed.


Library Book Drop Conveyor Belt

It was a conveyor belt and automatic sorter for the library materials return. You can see it goes around a corner and gets sorted into bins in the top left corner of the picture.This seems like some big time stuff! I don’t know what volume they have but I imagine this would make sense for a large library. The sign below says it can often provide immediate check-in.


Book Drop Instructions

Here is the book drop instructions. It even has a light so you know you are good to drop. I was fascinated by it – maybe a little too fascinated.

Have you ever seen something like this in a library before?