Roads, work, road trips, friends and food.

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Alright, I've calmed down a bit, and am going to give this entry one more try. If it fails anywhere along the way, you won't be reading this, and I'm shutting down my blog for good. I can't tell you how maddening it is to spend nearly two hours on an entry only to have this horrible software wreck the post and mess-up the pictures. So without any further ado, here we go...

Q: What's the only thing worse than a Texas driver?

A: A Wisconsin Road.

Q: What's the only thing worse than a Wisconsin Road?

A: A Wisconsin Sidewalk.

I'm dead serious when I say that Wisconsin roads are the worst roads I've ever driven on. And it doesn't make any sense to me - Wisconsin property taxes are through the roof, and yet the roads make even the worst dirt roads from Arkansas seem as smooth as glass.

And it's not just side roads or back roads; nope - it's I-90, I-94, The Beltline, East Washington Avenue, University Avenue - all of the "regular" roads. They're awful! I challenge anyone to try to drive on those roads with a cup of coffee (without a lid). You'll burn and/or stain yourself within the first 100 yards of driving, I guarantee it. Potholes, heaves, ruts, missing sections that are more than 10" in diameter - it's unreal. And people just fly over these crappy roads like they're driving down a Californian boulevard...

And the sidewalks? Forget about it. I really am surprised that the cities around here haven't had their pants sued off over the poor quality of the sidewalks. It's not uncommon to find sections of a sidewalk that stick up 4-6 inches higher than the previous and/or following sections. Chunks of cement are missing from the sidewalks; rebar is exposed - it's ridiculous. I smell a letter or six in my future - I just have to figure out who to write to with my observations and complaints about the road and sidewalk quality (and lack thereof).

To give you an idea of just how bad the roads are, I had to spend nearly $300 fixing my bike last week as a result of the bad roads. The potholes are so many and so big that I wrecked my headset. I put on more than 3500 miles on my bike in Arkansas and Texas without incident; my first 100 miles in Wisconsin cost me $300. Unreal.

Ok, rant over. Now let's talk about work. It's going well - still busy, and my projects are cranking along. I've been becoming more familiar with the layout of the building - it's 13 stories in total and has some cool features, but it is a bit tricky to navigate at times. My office is on the third floor, where there are 17 conference rooms alone - the main conference room that we use overlooks the entryway/atrium:


As I mentioned, my "office" is on the 3rd floor, but it's not really an office. Most of the building is set-up as a big cube farm, and there aren't many real offices to speak of. Executive-level management has offices along the window sides of the building, but most everyone else is in a cube. Here's part of our cube farm:


I'm in the second cube on the left, and my workspace looks like this:


Nothing too exciting. But, I did manage to score a nice new HP laptop and a new HP 19" LCD, so that's nice. Our cubes are also near one of the half-dozen or so break areas that are on each floor. These break areas are pretty great - each has several refrigerators, vending machines, filtered water, "Filter-Fresh" coffee machines (the machines custom make you a cup of coffee on demand), pizza makers, iced tea, and so on. Everything is free except for the candy machines. Here's what a typical break area looks like:


Oh, there are also free newspapers and magazines in the break areas as well - it's nice to be able to grab a quick peek at the headlines or to look at the "weekend" section of the paper to find something to do.

We also have our own full service cafeteria, complete with a full kitchen that offers a full menu, along with daily lunch specials. Rumor has it that Monday's Sloppy Joes and Friday's burgers are fantastic; I haven't had lunch there yet, but I do stop down fairly regularly for a snack. Here I enjoyed a Diet Coke, a Vitamin Water, and a yogurt:


I usually grab a snack like that (they also have things like fruit salad, fresh fruit, cookies, and so on) about once or twice a week - it's a nice change of pace and only costs $2.05. Here's what the main entrance to the cafeteria looks like:


The building also has a free, full-service health club, but I didn't take any pictures as there were people working out in there, and I would've felt weird snapping a picture of them. So, as you can see, the office is a pretty decent place.

I've also managed to make friends with a few folks at work, and one of the coolest people that I've met there so far is a guy by the name of Mark. Mark is a few years older than me; he grew up in the metropolis of Palmyra, and we've managed to hit it off. We go to lunch and/or dinner fairly regularly, and it's always a good time. He's got a bunch of senior level project management experience, so with any luck I'll pick up some tips and tricks from him as well.

Last week, we decided to grab a late lunch at Roman Candle Pizza on Williamson Street. It was the day before our Fourth of July break started, so we left work a little early and grabbed some 'za. It was fantastic - they have a "firecracker sauce" which has a little bit of a kick to it, the crust is reminiscent of a New York pizza, and the toppings were fresh and tasty.

While enjoying our pizza and Spotted Cow, we kicked around the crazy idea of running over to Summerfest to catch Judas Priest. So, on a whim, we hopped in his 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee (lovingly nicknamed "Nitschke") and drove over to Milwaukee. We managed to find a parking spot (for only $20) near the festival grounds, and within a matter of minutes were walking the Summerfest grounds.

We stopped by the US Cellular stage, where I believe Le Disko was playing:


And then we headed over to the Harley Davidson stage to see an aging Rob Halford and Judas Priest perform. The show as loud, bright, and entertaining, even if we couldn't really see the stage from where we were standing... there were thousands of people crammed into the stage area, and mullets were everywhere. This photo is the best I could do:


It was pretty fun to watch a classic band like Judas Priest crank out some familiar hits, and they didn't sound bad at all. With a better sound system, they probably would've been really fantastic to watch, which is surprising when you consider they're all probably in their sixties.

On Monday night, with the apartment still in complete disarray, I learned that my friend John was in town and that he wanted to get together. John brought his new dog, Teddy, down with him to visit, so it was over to Lake Mills to check-in with John and to meet Teddy. Teddy is a wonderful dog - a German Sheppard mix of some type, and he's super sweet and docile. Here he is sitting and waiting patiently for a treat:


And here's John holding Teddy like a baby - told you he was docile!


Had a nice dinner with John; we went to Ken's Towne Inn Pizza in Jefferson, where we enjoyed half-priced pizza night. John is such a great guy - it's always fun to chat with him, and I'm looking forward to hopefully spending more time with him as we now share a closer proximity to one another.

This past weekend, it was down to the Capitol Square to check out Art Fair on the Square. Ended up meeting with Jed, one of my old friends from a previous job, his wife Jamie, and Mark and his girlfriend Karen.

We had a really good time, despite the fact that there were probably 30,000 people jammed around the Capitol all looking at overpriced art. I say overpriced, but it's really just because I can no longer afford to buy anything cool... For example, there was an artist who had some awesome paintings of various animals, but at $150 for a small print, I just couldn't justify buying anything.

Here's what part of the square looked like, as shot from the steps of the Capitol:


The weather last weekend was awesome - low 80s, low humidity, and lots of sun. And after spending far too many hours in the sun, it was over to my favorite place for some refreshments and lunch:


Yep, that's The Great Dane Brewery. Enjoyed a sampler platter of seasonal and newer beers and then wolfed down a seared tuna salad. All in all, a perfect day. Sorry, no food pictures from The Great Dane - I forgot to take photos as the conversation at the table was too much fun.

You will be pleased to know that I did score some pictures of the fish fry from Flannery's on Friday night. Flannery's is a german-style pub that's located in New Glarus, and came highly recommended by a coworker who knew of my passion for a good fish fry.

Here's Flannerys from the outside:


Started off with some cheese curds, which were ok - not nearly as good as the curds from Ken's Towne Inn.


After the curds came the soup - a delicious french onion soup, complete with nice big hunks of whole wheat croutons:


And then there was the fish: fried haddock, which was very lightly breaded, fried to perfection (no excess grease), and perfectly flaky and light. Quite easily the best fish I've ever had. Believe me that this picture doesn't do the fish any justice; it was really dark inside Flannery's, and my iPhone doesn't talke the greatest pictures:


That big hashbrown-like thing on the left is called a "Rosti" (pronounced "Roosty"). It sounded interesting, but in reality, it wasn't very good. It was very bland and flavorless, despite featuring shredded potatoes, egg, onion, peppers, and cheese. It literally had no flavor at all... but the fish was excellent, so it didn't really matter.

With my belly full of fish, I had a wonderful bike ride on Saturday morning - I rode nearly 50 miles (two laps around the lake, a lap around the capitol, followed by a spin out to the airport and then back down to the campus area) and ran 8 miles. I figured that with all of that exercise I could treat myself to some Greenbush Bakery donuts:


Two cake donuts (blueberry) and an "Oreo donut" - it had crumbled Oreos on top and a buttercream filling, and was heavenly.

I felt guilty after eating 25,000 calories worth of donuts, so on Sunday I rode the bike up to Mazomainee (about 38 miles) and followed it up with a 6-mile run. My gut still feels overly stuffed - I need to stop eating so irresponsibly, but there are so many good things to try that I can't resist it. I really need to get things back under control, though...

So, that's about it. I hope this post "works" - if not, I'm going to be really upset! Stay tuned for more food photos and stories...

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