Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just What You Need

Over the past few years, I have been working on the development of a commercial rental rehab which creates new commercial spaces in the form of an indoor mini-mall. The building is wedged in between two non-perpendicular streets, and has a very odd shape. It makes for interesting shaped units, but now the project is to map them out for prospective tenants. They all ask for detailed dimensions of the units.

I have made many attempts at the floorplan project, trying everything from drawing programs to spreadsheets. The space defies drawing with its non-perpendicular angles and non-rectangular shapes. And to draw it to scale is a project that even had the architect scratching his head and coming back to re-measure. So, when I found a program that will solve my problems effortlessly, I've become a walking info-mercial. A program called Easy Blue Print is specifically designed to make floor plans.

With Easy Blue Print, the project was actually fun! I did my main project over the course of three weeks, a half-hour here and fifteen minutes there before I left for work in the morning. Menus and functions are intuitive - this program was designed by people who make floor plans, and know how important it is to get the job done fast and accurately.

Trial version - http://www.ezblueprint.com

Here is a program that not only draws to scale - it is particularly designed to draw real walls with real doors. The walls have thickness, and the inside/outside corner thing that just drives me crazy is taken care of automatically. The true door radius (opened and closed) is taken into account whenever a door is drawn. You tell the program that you're working with inside dimensions of the room, and that's what the program will base its calculations on. And you can "tweak" the drawings if your measurements were not quite on the right scale of precision. If you "move" a wall, everything attached to it will miraculously re-size to accommodate.

There is an on-screen help feature that KNOWS what you're trying to do, and can show you a small animated video of how to do the most complex operations. And if that isn't enough, the professional version comes with the full attention of the development and support team. I ran into a few difficulties, and within half a day of submitting a question, I received a personal email response from a tech services professional.

One note about the demo version - it is lacking some of the capabilities of the full version, but TRUST ME - the Professional version gives you EVERYTHING you're wishing for while working with the demo version - and much more.

Thanks to the folks at Easy Blue Print I have created a set of detailed drawings in an image-map presentation for our web site. http://www.joyceskylightcourt.com BEHOLD!
Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chef Food Waster

Another summer, another season of Foul-Mouth Food Waster, Gordon Ramsey. For those of you not familiar with his program, Hell's Kitchen is a competitive cooking show that seems to come around every summer, just as we thought it was gone for good. My wife makes me watch it - she claims it is her interest in cooking that attracts her. But Hell's Kitchen has little to do with fine cooking technique, and less to do with entertainment.

Hell's Kitchen follows the familiar tiresome format of turning something enjoyable into a competitive cutthroat alpha-male sport. Chef Ramsey pits the competitors against one another in various fine-dining restaurant situations. The contestants are filmed night and day as they compete, backstab, and whine their way screaming through dinner service to elimination. Contestants are chosen for maximum confrontational value, and they are eliminated or spared from elimination based on their ability to sell Toyotas and I-phones for the sponsors.

It is sickening to watch Chef Ramsey on the rampage picking food off of a plate and smashing it down on the counter, scattering it everywhere just to emphasize a foul-mouth screaming point for the audience at home. More food goes into the wastebasket every show than an average family eats in a month. How many times does the "F#$%ing Risotto" have to go into the garbage?

The well-heeled cosmopolites in the trendy urban neighborhoods in which the "competition" is staged wouldn't care if the food at which they turned up their noses is thrown away and wasted. The best for them, and to hell with the rest! If the meat is slightly over-done, or not tender enough, THROW IT AWAY!

I was brought up never to waste food. If all the food is not used, we save it for tomorrow. Meat juices become gravy, leftovers become casseroles - because food is a blessing that is not bestowed on everyone equally.

Half of the food produced in the USA is thrown away - not eaten. And yet, there are those who go hungry.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Ancient Mariners

Having conquered and established dominion over the Watertown Municipal Swimming Pool, by daily attendance, and successfully doing cannonballs off the High Dive, Young Gary and his life-long friend Young Norman looked for other seas to conquer. One of them said to the other - "Let us build a sailing ship that shall navigate Silver Creek, and the mighty Rock River!" So, off to father's workshop, they crafted a worthy vessel out of a piece of board, sawed to a point at the front, and a mast made from a clothes rack dowel, with a Viking sail cut from a red t-shirt and some lath-boards. Without a rudder at first, and in later designs improved with a rudder, they nailed a ball of kite-twine to the front end and the magnificent craft set sail! A good portion of the rest of summer was spent exploring. Exploring the various mysterious and dangerous riverbanks of Watertown, Silver Creek, the 4th Street Bridge, Riverside Park, and even Rock River Above the Power Dam (which ran past Norman's back yard).

To have it all and realize it at the time - that's true happiness.


From the film: "Tom Sawyer" aka "A Musical Adaptation of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer" - 1973
(Robert B. Sherman / Richard M. Sherman)
Charley Pride & Chorus

Chorus Singing:

Oh, a river's gonna flow
'Cross the land
'Cross the land
Oh, a river's gonna flow
To the sea
And a boy is gonna grow
To a man
To a man
Only once in his life
Is he free
Only one golden time
In his life
Is he free

Charley Pride:
River runs warm in the summer sun
River runs cold when the summer's done
But a boy's just a dreamer
By the riverside
'Cause the water's too fast
And the water's too wide

Then the world turns around,
And the boy grows tall
He hears the song
Of the river call
The river song sings,
"Travel on, Travel on"
You blink away a tear,
And the boy is gone

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Friday, July 9, 2010

Illegal Memories

I have never been a cigarette smoker. I was a pipe and cigar smoker at various times of my life. Once I was curious about cigarettes, so I bought a pack. They tasted nothing like they smelled - they tasted kind of dirty, compared to pipe smoke. So I decided to leave the cigarette smoking to the cigarette smokers. I did not decide to ostracize and persecute those around me who enjoyed smoking. I tolerated them, and that's how liberty works.

I've always liked the smell of a burning cigarette, though. It's the smell of someone enjoying a singular bit of pleasure and relaxation. My mother used to smoke when we were children, and someone burning a cigarette early in the morning can still bring back memories of being the first one up, and having Mom all to myself.

Whenever I want to evoke the memory and spirit of my grandfather, I have only to find and ignite a White Owl Ranger. (for those who dwell in caves, the White Owl Ranger is a Cheap Cigar). For days afterward, I can live in the blue haze in which my grandfather dwelt.

And the mysterious smell of a tavern in the morning with its mixture of cold musty basement air with hints of stale beer and thousands of cigarettes burned away -- maybe it's not a part of everyone's life, but it's a part of mine.

My first trip to Las Vegas was such an eye-opening experience. Just walking into an old casino and taking in the hazy blue air, the years fell away. I realized at that moment that something precious had been taken away from me, and it had been taken so gradually that I hadn't even noticed its departure. There's still a little liberty left out there in Vegas. Places where people can indulge themselves, without fear that the Nanny Police will indulge their little quirks by stomping out the pleasures of others.

Society is dominated by cowardly bullies - "I don't like it, so you can't have it!" seems to be the rule of the day, and - one by one - these cranky paltry prissy pet peeves are coming to the forefront. Each time they make an advance, another precious liberty is eroded away, a freedom gone forever.

So this week, it's the Wisconsin smoking ban going into effect in all "workplaces" of the state. You want details? Google it! Tonight I think I'm going to enjoy a hot summer night of watching the traffic go by in front of my building with an old cigar I've been saving for just such an occasion. While I still can.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pork Roast

Hot days such as today remind me of various schemes we used to “beat the heat” and still end the day with a hot meal. One of the favorites of our extended family was to eat at someone else's house. Grandma's place was the favorite spot.

Grandma would cook a pork roast in a small Nesco on her back porch. The back porch was a home-made closed-in area built on a concrete slab behind the entire house. You could open the windows and it would be cool and breezy, at least until Grandma started up the Nesco. Grandma was one of the envied few who had TWO Nescos – a small white one for everyday use and the ancient, large one for special occasions such as Thanksgiving Turkey or heating Chili for the St. John's Ladies' Aid Chili Supper. Long before the age of slow cooking, Grandma had it down. She'd call up Al Aagard at the Riverview Grocery and order a roast. She'd send one of us kids over to pick it up. By mid-morning, the pork roast was steaming away, and by lunchtime it would smell so good! Quite a disappointment if you came for lunch, because there would be nothing but bread and butter, because the Pork Roast was for supper.

On days such as these, word would usually leak out by noon that we were having supper at Grandma's tonight. My Aunt Bumpy had a sixth sense which tingled whenever there was a pork roast cooking at Grandma's. So the kids were kept busy washing potatoes, putting in table leaves, and thousands of other little jobs Grandma had been saving just for such an oversupply of free slave labor.

My Dad got home from work at 4, and he'd bring what remaining kids weren't there already, and Mom. Aunt Bumpy's husband worked at the Post Office and he'd be home by 5, so we were all ready when Grandpa got home. He was a contract painter. He'd always pretend to be crabby, but we all knew he was secretly delighted to have us over, and, after a 10-hour day of commercial painting he must have been secretly very weary as well.

We'd sit down in a kitchen that barely had room for the extended kitchen table and a card-table on the end. We'd say grace. And then Grandpa would roar, “Now, FRESS!” Which, in German means, “FEED”. “Fress-ing” is different from dining, which would be “Ess-ing”. I think Grandpa knew the difference, and stood by his choice of words.

The ravening horde would devour the pork roast. If anybody would ask for something that wasn't on the table, Grandpa would bellow: “EAT YOUR SUPPER AND NEVER MIND THE KETCHUP!”.

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stormin' Norman

Over the years, my lifelong friend Norman have been involved in many musical adventures and collaborations. Some of Norman's past bands re-unite in Madison, WI once a year, to enjoy and re-create all the music they have shared in their lives.

Here's a clip from 6/26/10. Norman is the guy in the orange apron. The guest singer is the composer of the song (I Love Children), which he wrote for his original band Swamp Thing, back in the '80's.

Among other bands Norman (and sometimes I) have been involved in over the years:

The University of Wisconsin Marching Band
The Stormin' Norman Band This Week
The Jolly Cholly's Orchestra
The Original Tegg's Tap band
The Stormin' Norman Cabaret Jug Band
Pay As You Go
Stormin' Norman and Gary with Jeff The Washboard Dude
The Gary Alan Show
Mid-Life Crisis

there are more, and if Norman sends me a complete list, I'll post it.

If it were not for music, Norman and I would both be in the loony bin.

Enjoy the video. That's Norman in the orange apron. If no video below, use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS0HPSjbMng

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Swimmin With the Wimmen

This has always been one of my favorite Summer songs. Here's a performance from June 2010. Please forgive the blurry video quality - the cameraman was busy that day, so it was post-produced from a fixed-camera. I look like somebody from Witness Protection.

link if you don't get a video above:

Dedicated to the ladies of the Twitter Mimosa Club. Have a great summer!

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52

Thursday, July 1, 2010



lots of things going on 24/7. Home life is dominated by a floor plan i'm drafting for promotion of our latest commercial rental unit (joyceskylightcourt.com), which involves mastering a new drafting program. It's a miraculous program, to work with, but especially on our odd-shaped building, it's very time-consuming to learn it properly. (upcoming rave review post)

And at my workplace? What can I tell you? Business came up to full capacity, but my hours did not. So, happy summer! No vacation for you, fool! Well, at least there's the free things going on, the 4th of July Parade, for instance (held on Monday July 5 because they don't have parades on Sundays). Sorry, I have to work on the 5th! No parade for you, fool! And it's not overtime, either.

times have been better: http://xlsior.blogspot.com/2009/07/independence-day.html

times could get better: http://www.monster.com/

Lots of good stuff coming our way - stay tuned! Two upcoming original not-to-be-missed music videos!

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to twitter.com I'm @dimbulb52