Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The closest I'll ever get to biking in Madison.

As I have mentioned previously, Madison is extremely biker-friendly. This can be quite terrifying when I'm driving at night and a darkly clothed biker with no lights or reflectors skims by the side of my car. I suppose I will get used to this some day.

After work today, I went to Capital Fitness to do some cardio. While reading Tina Fey's Bossypants and pedaling on a standard recumbent bike, I was distracted by the bike next to me. It was an Expresso interactive bike, which combines exercise, video games, and, oh yeah, dragon slaying.

After doing 20 minutes of cardio, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the mysterious Expresso, so I asked an employee at the front desk to give me a brief tutorial. She explained that while riding the bike, I could participate in a video game by shifting gears and steering with the hand controls. I figured I should try it out, so I hopped onto the bike.

This is the bike I rode. Expresso also makes upright bikes with similar functions.
Then, I learned that not only does the Expresso bike simulate outdoor biking scenarios and races, it also has a video game where I could collect coins and chase dragons in a sandy mythical pagoda land while biking. Burning calories while chasing dragons in an air conditioned environment on a Tuesday evening? Yes please.

All the dragons are creepy and eel-like, so catching them is quite fulfilling.
An interesting feature on this exercise bike is that it provides random background music. I was so glad I plugged by headphones in, because "Angel of the Morning" was the perfect soundtrack for dragon chasing. Really.

After chasing some dragons, I opted to try out one of the bike's more traditional features and try pedaling around a track. I played around with the steering and gear shifting functions and I found myself pedaling much faster than usual so that I could get a good time. I discovered that gears 9, 10, and 11 were the most useful for my trek.

Here is a sample of what the user sees while biking on the Expresso.
I slayed a few dragons and then biked a mile with back support in a faux outdoor setting while surrounded by air conditioning. And I didn't even get helmet hair. That's my kind of biking!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maxwell Street Days: sidewalk sale extravaganza.

After a hot tip from Tonya at work, I opted to spend the afternoon on State Street at the annual Maxwell Street Days sidewalk sale. All weekend, the State Street stores have major sales: it's total fun, but total chaos.

I was joined by my friend/coworker, Rebecca, who had already visited part of the sale yesterday. While we enjoyed browsing the sales, we both found ourselves particularly overwhelmed by the large crowd and noisy DJ at Urban Outfitters, so we sought refuge in a quiet used bookstore and then people-watched on the curb while enjoying some refreshing treats at Red Mango.

In the words of my design professor from freshman year, I "showed good use of restraint" and actually didn't buy anything at this enormous sale. I truthfully don't need any clothes right now, and I'd rather save up for home decor.

This was yet another day when I was grateful to live downtown and be walking distance from all the excitement.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art fairs on (and off) the square.

At knitting group, I found out that the annual Art Fair On The Square was happening downtown. While I'm not much of an art buff, it sounded like a fun (and free) opportunity to check out a wide variety of art.

I ventured out to the square and enjoyed browsing the entire fair.

John Petrey is an artist who focuses on themed dress sculptures made from a variety of materials. Here are two of my favorite pieces from his display:

Playing card-themed dress sculpture.
Dress sculpture made from 1960's shoe tags.
An artist with a lot of visitors at the fair was Michael Gard. Michael makes wire sculptures, focusing on human forms. Here are some of my favorite pieces from his display:

When I told my coworker Erika that I was going to the fair, she recommended that I also visit Art Fair Off The Square, located right off Capitol Square. Art Fair Off The Square focuses specifically on local artists. I explored this fair as well, which featured a stilt walker, food vendors, and many artists.

My favorite display at this part of the fair was Jim Sauer's sculpture exhibit, which featured funky anthropomorphic animals:

A frog on a laptop, of course!
Mama and baby kangaroos playing a tuba!
Days like this reassure me that I was right to live downtown. I wanted to be near the action and excitement. Today, the fun was 2 blocks from home. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Results from the June poll!

After 35 votes, the June poll results are in...

Question: What is your favorite type of cheese?
1st place: I love cheese so much that I can't choose just one!
2nd place: Other
3rd place: Cheddar
4th place: Swiss
5th place: Brie

I believe that "other" came in 2nd because I neglected to put feta cheese in the poll. I voted for provolone, which my blog readers don't seem to like as much as me!