Ridelog - May 21st, 2016: Appleton Wisconsin

Last weekend Megan and I had the pleasure of riding up to Appleton Wisconsin with a group of friends. Their son goes to the Lawrence University music conservatory and they were on their way up to to see his final performance of the year. There was a total of nine of us in the group heading on up for the weekend. Leaving Park Ridge we went on up through Wisconsin though its always enjoyable country roads. We eventually found our way onto the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. It is a nice collection of scenic country roads.

We stopped for lunch on the first day for a burger before continuing on north. When we finally got to Appleton I was impressed at how cool the town actually was. A nice looking college campus overlooked the river, which appeared to be dominated by an abandoned mill. As as result of the mill there looked like there were at least two locks or damns on the river. The mill has since been converted into apartments or condos, but much of the aging infrastructure around the mill, including old bridge pylons in the river remain. 

Our hotel was the fantastic looking Franklin Street Inn Bed and Breakfast. It was an adorable converted victorian house with very vintage looking furniture. Megan and I waffled on our room choice and ended up with the very cool looking, but also very hot third floor attic room, with a seashell theme.  The proprietor had the most northern accent I had ever heard in my life. What's more is that our group had the entire house to ourselves, which made for a great evening. 

Dinner that evening was at the Stone Cellar Brewpub, just across the river. Again, I was completely surprised at how great the place was. Great food with all of the Wisconsin standards like beer, cheese and sausage. It really was fantastic. Later that evening we went to the recital which was performed in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. After the concert we went to the Viking Room, which is a bar located inside the university's union. Take that in for a moment. A bar, located inside the university. It was a strange sight, but it was a cool little basement hangout. Surprisingly it wasn't too crowded and drinks were apparently cheap.

The next day we began out trip back down to Illinois. We probably got started a bit later than most anticipated, but we went to go see the Horicon Marsh, which is a wildlife sanctuary. Part federal and part state land, it is home to migrating birds. It was well worth the side trip as it was a very pretty location. We only stayed for an hour or so. 

Finally, before heading home we made one last stop at a taco stand near Delvin Wisconsin called Lopez's Anchor In. At first glance it appears to be your standard hamburger and hotdog drive up stop, and it does have that food, but what it also has is some delicious  tacos and horchata. Megan got a horchata "smoothie", which was amazing. 

Finally push put us back down to Illinois and home around 5:30 or so. It was a long weekend, but some great riding and some great sights. 

National Ride Your Bike to Work Day - They Forgot to Tell the Motorists

This past Friday, May 20th was national ride your bike to work day. I have been wanting to do this for the past several years, but rain and other factors at work have prevented that. This year however the weather promised to be nearly perfect and I had nothing conflicting with work that would prevent me from participating. So I went off this past Friday with my bike and some research from Google Maps to find the best bike route to get to work. The ride in for me is 17 miles each way, which makes for a pretty robust bike ride. It is doable, but not exactly something that is easy or one would do on a daily basis. 

My ride was going great until I was about 2/3's of the way done, whereI ended up in the bicyclists worst nightmare. A car driver turned the corner off of the road heading into the entrance of a Mcdonald's and cut me off. I was just feet from the car. Thankfully, I didn't hit the car, but I did end up locking up my breaks and "high siding" the bike. I basically did a front flip on the bike, over the handlebars and onto the pavement. I hit the pavement pretty hard and my Strava map actually seemed to capture my crash, which you can see below. 

It took me a few seconds to realize what just happened. The woman who pulled in front of me did ask if I was "OK", but she did not get out of the car nor did she actually apologize. Several other motorists asked if I was "OK" as well. Thankfully, I wasn't badly hurt. I had a nasty raspberry on my knee which was bloody, but really not that bad. I also landed hard on my shoulder and my back, which later in that day ended up hurting a lot. As of a couple of days later, they still hurt, but they are feeling much better, so I think I just bruised some ribs and my shoulder. The only other major casualty was the strap on my bag which tore off from the impact. 

So of course I had to ride home from work at the end of the day. Thankfully, the ride home was without incident. It was however pretty tiring though. Overall and interesting experience to say the least. Perhaps I'll do it next year, or perhaps not. Can't quite say at this point. 

New Track - Pileus Approach


I finally found some time this past weekend to finish a new track that I have been working on. If you have followed me on Soundcloud you would have seen the preview of this when it was a work in progress about a month ago. The changes between then and now I think are notable. This is a really "chill" downtempo techno track. Lots of texture type synth sounds and some experimentation in the middle section with some glitch type styling by utilizing my EMU Command Station's grid recording feature along with some manipulation of the flanger on the EA-1 that it is sequencing. 

May 2016 - Videogaming

I have been in-between a solid video game for the past few weeks. The Division has lost my interest and I am hoping that a future update may bring me back to it. I have been dabbling here and there with a few different games. 

I played quite a bit of the Overwatch Beta that occurred a couple of weeks ago.That game is a ton of fun and has a lot of the same sort of hooks that TF2 had when it came out. While gorgeous and a ton of fund to play, I don't see myself necessarily picking it up right away. For some reason I never came away from the game "craving" for the next time to play. 

This past weekend had another Splatfest for Splatoon and I I ended up playing a lot of that this weekend. I had forgotten how good that game really was, and they have continued to add more maps and more weapons to the game. There has to be over thirty different load outs now for the maps. Tons of fun and it actually scratched my area shooter itch that Overwatch was going for. 

My biggest thing though was that I have been playing some indie games as of late. I finally finished The Fall, which was from the last Humble Nindie Bundle from last fall. The Fall is a cool adventure game where you are an AI in an environment suit trying to save the life of the body inside. You are stuck in a recycling facility that is trying to tear you apart. The game has some great atmospherics and the puzzles are decent, but there were several occasions where I had to basically "try everything" in my inventory to see what would solve a puzzle. Solutions were not always intuitive, but the game was probably 6-8 hours in length total, so it was a good time while it lasted. 

I briefly also played "Affordable Space Adventure" this weekend two for an hour or so. This was in the most recent Humble Nintendo Bundle and a game that has received a lot of praise when it came out. It is a Wii U exclusive and makes fantastic use of the touchpad for having controls and even sounds just on the pad to supplement the game. I am just pas the tutorial section, so I'll have to see how that one plays out over the next few days.



Music Listening: CD - From Sleep - Max Richter

I picked this album up from the library a couple of months ago. Most people know Max Richter's name probably from his song "On the Nature of Daylight". Richter is in all respects a contemporary composer of "classical" music. I put the word classical in quotes because while the music does use orchestral instruments the compositions are really anything but classical. Almost all of Richter's albums could be called concept albums and the music in some instances features elementals of ambient or electronic/synthesizer components. It is all very subtly done though and at first glance most of the music could be thought of as a traditional orchestral arrangement. 

The latest album from Richter follows in much of his previous work, in being a conceptual album. From Sleep is the shortened version of a larger composition which is approximately eight hours long. The music was/is designed to be listened to while one is sleeping and is said to guide you through the sleep process. This album itself is only about an hour long, but it features thematic elements of that larger eight hour composition. 

From a listening perspective, it is a nearly perfect ambient or background music piece. One could easily listen to this before going to bed, while reading or while just trying to wind down after a long day. You aren't going to hear anything here that is on the radio, but this is quite a good album overall for listening.