Jul 242012

We bought a new canopy for our gazebo, and take a look at the effect it has on the color of everything on our patio.

These photos were taken within 30 minutes of each other, and I didn’t do any Photoshop wizardry on them. Nice effect, I think.

(For those of you who came here via Google-Fu, this is a Target Madaga Gazebo, Style #L-GZ136PST-7. This canopy came from Garden Winds, and is in the “terra cotta” color. The replacement canopy fits perfectly {both top and bottom sections} and it seems very well-made.)

Jul 102012

I wrote this piece as my submission to the the3sixfive project. It was published today on their site, and I’m presenting it here to you.

“Active Recovery” is what personal trainers call it: that’s when you follow a particularly intense training period with one that’s a little easier on your muscles, giving you the chance to recover without losing momentum.

I was halfway through my early-morning bike ride in Busse Woods when I dialed down the intensity to catch my breath. In a moment of clarity (this was at 5:45 AM and I was still an hour away from my first cup of coffee, so this is significant) I realized that the idea of the “active recovery” is as much a part of my everyday life as it is to my workouts.

Last week, I left my position at a company where I worked for six years. For most of that time I was in a role that had me on the phone with London at 2:00 AM, in the office in Chicago at 6:30 AM, and on the phone again with Asia at 7:00 PM. I was the guy you’d see on the train with a Bluetooth in his ear and occasionally saying “Can we get back to the issue?” If there were a corporate-equivalent “26.2” sticker I certainly deserved to have dozens of them splattered on the side of my briefcase.

When I resigned to accept a role at a new company I decided to take a week off in between. And true to form I’ve been getting up with my alarm at 4:30, only now my race is to the forest preserve instead of Metra. While my wife is at work, I’m managing the details of the family reunion we’re hosting this weekend, catching up on my not-for-profit work, and fixing things around the house. So while I’m not spending this week fire-walking through the corporate world, I’ve turned to family, home, community, and the pedals of my Specialized Allez to recharge.

On Monday morning I’ll be at a new desk with a new phone number and a new company name on my business cards, and I’ll be ready for whatever challenges come my way, thanks to my Active Recovery.

The rest of my morning ride went beautifully, and I even set a new personal record.

We recently found this hifi in a local thrift shop, and after a little cleanup it now sits in our living room.

It definitely has the Mad Men-era design, which we think is a pretty cool look.

Click here to read more about it at joesradiopage.com.

Jun 262012

Since it’s been so dry here in the Chicago area, I’ve been up every morning around 5:00 am watering all the plants around the house. We put in a bunch of new stuff out front and it would be a shame if it all dried up.

This is what the ornamental grass along our driveway looked like early one morning. It was so peaceful to be out there at that hour, and when I saw the way the water was clinging to the blades of grass I had to get the camera.

This is the Revere Eight 8mm movie camera my dad used since the 1950s to capture our family events. It’s because of this that all my childhood memories look like The Wonder Years.

He gave me this camera a few years ago, and I hope to one day get it working again.

There are only a couple of weeks during the year when the sun shines on the façade of the Chicago Board of Trade Building at the angle you see here. I happened to have my camera with me the other morning, so I captured it.

With the morning sun shining at this angle, you can really see the detail on the statues and carvings on the front of the building. Here’s a close-up:

I have a long history with this building: my first job in downtown Chicago was here (in 1986) and for a while I had an office on the 11th floor (next to the clock, to the right as you see it here) that looked up LaSalle Street. I spent many long hours, late nights, weekends, and holidays here. I was even involved in evacuating the building during the Chicago Flood of 1992.

Currently, I work across the street from the CBOT, so I get this view every day.

Here’s another shot of the building that I took on the morning of Bike the Drive, complete with eerily empty streets:

We had a storm blow through earlier tonight, and at the very end we saw this in the Eastern sky. Becca grabbed my camera and captured the rainbow.

We usually wait until mid-May to set up the patio furniture and put the canvas on the gazebo, but we had a small window on Sunday morning where we were able to get it done. So why not set the video camera up and do a little time-lapse?

This entire operation took about an hour, and you’re seeing it in under a minute.

Right after we got everything in place, it started pouring and didn’t stop for several hours. At least we’re ready for when the nice weather starts.

Today’s clip is “Farewell to Paradise” by Emitt Rhodes.

Rhodes is most often referred to as “the one-man Paul McCartney,” because he wrote, performed, and recorded his music entirely on his own in his garage studio. And yes, his music absolutely has a mid-60s-to-mid-70s McCartney sound. He’s been a cult favorite since his debut album came out in 1970, and legions of ProTools- and GarageBand-equipped home musicians have recently embraced him as one of their own.

A blogger at mog.com named Spike_1 wrote a great review of Rhodes’ last album, 1973′s Farewell to Paradise, which also serves as a nice introduction to the artist and his music. I suggest starting there if you’re interested in learning more.

I came into “Farewell to Paradise” via, of all people, Vic Damone, who did an easy-listening version of the song in the early 1980s. Despite the sugary arrangement I found something truly haunting about the tune and the lyrics, and I had to learn who was originally responsible for the song. Once I did, I was down the Emitt Rhodes rabbit hole.

The song is a lament and a lullaby, with feelings of both sadness and hope. You may find that once it gets in your head you won’t be able to let go of it, and knowing that every sound in this recording is the product of one guy will impress you.

Here are links to the Emitt Rhodes best-of collection at iTunes and Amazon.

Continue reading »

Apr 102012

I reconnected with some dear, old friends of mine a couple weeks ago. These people own an electronics repair shop and I’ve made many referrals to them over the past 15 years, primarily through my Joe’s Radio Page website.

Apparently, they appreciated my referrals because when I called them to ask a question I mentioned who I was and the manager of the shop immediately brightened and told me to get in there because they had something set aside for me since the last time I visited, about 10 years ago.

The gift was a bottle of Calvados, an apple brandy from France. My only previous experience with Calvados was as a component of a French dessert, where it was poured over something good.

Our first experiment with this stuff was a cocktail made with ginger ale. The drink was both sweet and powerful, so it’s not something we’ll want to jump into every day. We’ll try some more recipes, and I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to fit this into this fall’s Apple Butter festivities.

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