Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hypertextually speaking, yes they said yes

To celebrate Bloomsday, 2007, here's a brief selection of affirmations from Ulysses by James Joyce, an online concordance that describes itself as "a hypertextual, self-referential edition of Ulysses by James Joyce." There are 360 occurrences of the word "yes" in Ulysses, and here are a few of them, concluding with the most famous. (The numbers in brackets are the line numbers in the Project Gutenberg online edition.)

[Telemachus] [72] --Yes, my love?
[Telemachus] [284] --Yes? Buck Mulligan said. What did I say? I forget.
[Telemachus] [1049] --Yes.
[Telemachus] [1075] --Yes. Make room in the bed.
[Nestor] [1276] --Yes, sir. Hockey at ten, sir.
[Proteus] [2412] Yes, evening will find itself in me, without me.
[Calypso] [2900] --Yes. Who's he when he's at home?
[Calypso] [2920] --Yes, she said. There's nothing smutty in it.
[Lotus-Eaters] [3360] --Yes, yes, Mr Bloom said after a dull sigh. Another gone
[Lotus-Eaters] [3370] --O, yes, Mr Bloom said. Tiptop, thanks.
[Lotus-Eaters] [3415] --Yes, Mr Bloom said.
[Sirens] [12660] None nought said nothing. Yes.
[Cyclops] [15374] --Yes, says Bloom. That's well known. Did you not know that?
[Cyclops] [15500] --Who? says Bloom. Ah, yes. That's quite true.
[Cyclops] [15505] --My wife? says Bloom. She's singing, yes.
[Hades] [4346] --Yes, Mr Bloom said. But the funny part is ...
[Hades] [4479] --Yes, by Jove, Mr Dedalus said.
[Aeolus] [6585] --Bushe? the editor said. Well, yes: Bushe, yes.
[Lestrygonians] [7896] Touch. Fingers. Asking. Answer. Yes.
[Scylla and Charybdis] [9209] --O, yes. If he considers it important it will go in.
[Wandering Rocks] [11293] Know the kind that is. Had it? Yes.
[Wandering Rocks] [11308] Yes. This. Here. Try.
[Wandering Rocks] [11313] Yes. Take this. The end.
[Nausicaa] [17908] Wait. Hm. Hm. Yes. That's her perfume.
[Oxen of the Sun] [19917] TIENS, TIENS, but it is well sad, that, my faith, yes.
[Circe] [20587] MRS BREEN: (EAGERLY) Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
[Circe] [20748] BLOOM: I have forgotten for the moment. Ah, yes!
[Eumeus] [25820] --Yes, to be sure, Mr Bloom unaffectedly concurred.
[Ithaca] [27802] Yes, entering softly, he helped to close and chain the door and followed
[Penelope] [32361] I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I
[Penelope] [32362] yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes
[Penelope] [32363] and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and
[Penelope] [32364] his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

School's out: Goodman Pool opens for the season and regular hours today

Finally, the Madison school year is over (why so late?) Assured at last of a full supply of lifeguards, Goodman Pool opens today for its regular season. Click here for information on fees and schedules. Yesterday as we rode by on our bikes, the staff was taking advantage of the last quiet day to conduct some outdoor training, a sort of pre-season tuneup. "What do you do when there's a tornado warning?" the instructor asked, but I didn't catch the answer. Anybody know what it is?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Beating back aquatic entropy on Dane County lakes with an aggressive new weedwhacking fleet

What with all the nutrients pouring into Dane County lakes from farms, yards and street runoff, beating back the tide of aquatic entropy is a big job. If Mother Nature had her way, the entire Madison area would soon revert to some modern version of the marshy wetlands that prevailed here when white settlers first came to the area. The Capitol Square would be an island in a marsh.

It won't happen, of course, but for a while there, it did look as if Mother Nature was winning. Big old leaky weed-cutting barges were slow, inefficient and sometimes sank. But the 2005 Dane County Budget appropriated funds for modernizing the fleet.
A three-year program is started in the budget to replace aging weed cutter barges. It also continues upgrading the Sheriff’s Lake Patrol with the purchase of a new boat ($65,000). In both instances, the state will partner with the county by offering 60% funding reimbursement of the barge and of almost 70% over five years for the patrol boat.

Supervisor Bill Graf said, "Even in a tight budget, neglecting our lakes should not be an option. Replacing the aging, leaky weed barges that keep breaking down and even sinking will increase the amount of weed harvesting we can do by reducing down time for maintenance and repairs."
We're starting to see the results, and they're impressive, as seen off Olin Park this morning. The new weedwackers are like 21st-century paddlewheelers making a relentless assault on the invasive species that threaten to clog our lakes, snag propellers and wreck the view. Did you know you could get updates on the fleet's progress on the internet? Here's today's report:
Harvester (Cutter) location(s) - June 15th

Current Harvesting Shift is 6:30 AM to 3:00 PM

Harvesters are working on the following lakes:

Lottes Park Landing- 2 Harvesters
Lake Monona:
Monona Bay - 2 Harvesters
Olin / John Nolan - 4 Harvesters moving towards Law Park
Lake Mendota:
Warner Bay - 1 Harvester

Shoreline Residents: Once a year pickup of shoreline trash and aquatic debris
Lakes Mendota and Kegonsa - Monday June 11, 2007 Beginning at 6:00 AM
Lakes Monona and Waubesa - Monday June 18, 2007 Beginning at 6:00 AM
Barges will reach your pier that week.

Yes: Aquatic Vegetation (lake weeds, algae) debris washed up on shore
No: Yard Waste or brush (grass clippings, leaves, tree limbs), household waste (garbage, pet waste, etc)
Want to find out more about local lake management? There's more.

Condos after Dark: Kennedy Point

What's not to like? Even in the dark, Kennedy Point is a good looking building. A variety of color schemes, ornamentation patterns and footprints attractively break up the mass of this 42-unit condominium development and help it harmonize with the scale of the neighborhood. Developer Joe Kruppp has extensive ties to the Atwood neighborhood, and Kennedy Point is promoted as offering neighborhood living, not luxury living (the word "luxury" never once appears on their website).
Located at the crossroads where Williamson Street melts into Madison's wonderfully unique Schenk/ Atwood Neighborhood, Kennedy Point offers 42 condominium homes with a distinctive point of view. At Kennedy Point, you'll live within walking distance to shops, charming restaurants & cafes, the Barrymore Theater, banks, bike paths, parks and Lake Monona. You'll also be close to Olbrich Park and Botanical Gardens and you're only minutes from the State Capitol.
Also, Krupp has paid for half of a new Community Car vehicle to be parked near the building, and his office is nearby.
Earlier this year, local developer Joe Krupp paid half the cost to bring a Toyota Yaris hatchback to the Atwood neighborhood, and Community Car pre-sold memberships to the service to cover the other half. Trinity Lutheran Church on Winnebago Street provides a parking spot for the car.

Krupp, whose office is about a block from the Community Car site, said he liked the concept of shared vehicles, and sees it as "part of embracing the new environmental consciousness."

It also provides another transportation option for buyers of the Kennedy Point condos (which Krupp developed) at the corner of Winnebago and First streets, he said.
You'd think it would seem like an attractive package, and most units are at the lower to moderate-priced end of the spectrum. But buyers are not flocking to it. Since January, only about one-third of the units have sold.

Maybe it's that downturn in the real estate market everyone talks about. Maybe it's overbuilding. Maybe Madison area home buyers cling more persistently to the idea of a single-family home in the suburbs than condo developers thought they would. And maybe those Madisonians who are interested in urban living would rather rent than buy, invest their money and keep their options open.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

One of the best shows in town is free -- every Wednesday night that's clear, all summer long.

One of the best shows in town is free -- every Wednesday night that's clear, all summer long. Observatory Hill overlooks Lake Mendota on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. People have been watching the sun set and the stars come out from this vantage point since long before the Europeans arrived. There's a bird mound just west of the observatory, and others were constructed nearby.

The graceful sandstone Washburn Observatory was a gift to the University of Wisconsin from former governor and wealthy businessman Cadwallader Washburn. The exact specifications of the telescope appear to have been determined by competitive gamesmanship between the upstart land grant university and the much older, far more august Harvard University. Apparently the president of the UW wanted to be able to look the president of Harvard in the eye and say, "Mine is bigger than yours."

The short summary of Washburn's history on the observatory's website puts it a bit more discreetly. (There's also a long summary, written for the Washburn's 100th birthday.)
On Sept 19, 1877, John Bascom, the president of UW at the time, announced that the observatory would be built and that it should be larger than the 15-inch refractor at Harvard. The observatory was started in May of 1878 with a contract with the famous Alvan Clark family to build the telescope. It was decided that the telescope would have a diameter of 15.6 inches, which would make it the third largest in the United States. James C. Watson was appointed to be the first director of the Observatory, but he died before its completion in 1881.
The telescope was used heavily from the 1880's until 1958 when the new Pine Bluff Observatory, about 15 miles from Madison, was dedicated. Today, the Washburn is primarily used for public viewing and some of the Introductory Astronomy classes.
Volunteers open Washburn Observatory for informal public viewing every summer Wednesday that the sky is 75% free of clouds, from June through August. The rest of the year, it's open the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Why not check it out tonight? The price is right, and the skies are supposed to be clear.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Condos after Dark: The Colony will be built here. Unless they really are serious about the lake.

One way to illustrate the as yet to be built and constantly changing condo project they call The Colony would have been to go to the Edgewater Pier and shoot a picture of the waves offshore by moonlight. After all, that's where the website says this development will be.
The location of The Colony, at 625 E. Mifflin Street, six blocks north of Capitol Square, was selected to provide residents with a nice vintage neighborhood, blending antique homes, landmark historic structures and infill development, all within walking distance to all the major downtown attractions.
If you follow the street grid north from the Square, heading up Wisconsin Avenue, six blocks will put you in Lake Mendota off the Edgewater. If, instead, you go true north six blocks, you'll end up in Lake Mendota a few hundred yards off James Madison Park. Either way, you'll get wet.

This might be a case of the developers getting a bit too cute in trying to spin perceptions of the site, which technically is northeast of the Square, but which most Madisonians would think of as "east" -- as in 625 East Mifflin (where this building was long ago the headquarters of the Yellow Cab Company, and there used to be a light in the window all night long, with the dispatcher working his board like a Hopperesque nighthawk surrounded by the enfolding night). Were the developers afraid buyers would think six blocks east of the square was a seedy neighborhood and would get cold feet? North probably sounded better when they put together the website.

Or maybe it's just a typo. In any event, it reminds us, that this project may be underwater in a different sense, sinking below the falling water table of a down market. The Colony has been been steadily shrinking since it was proposed last year, the floors just melting away in the soggy market, as Ald. Brenda Konkel points out in her blog, This Side of Town.
When the developers of The Colony first presented their project to the neighborhood association, they presented a 7 story building. After the first meeting, and of their own volition, the changed the building to a 5 story building. I asked why at the time, and the response was that the taller building construction was cost prohibitive. The 5 story project was approved in June 2006 and then . . . nothing happened.

The neighborhood association and I were recently contacted and the new proposal is to build a 3 story building. This time it was explained that the reason for the reduction was because the market has changed and it is hard to get pre-sales for financing.
Kind of makes you wonder about all these exclamation marks and the enthusiastic blurb on their website:
Sales Update!- 3.8.2007

We now have five units which are either RESERVED or SOLD, and activity has increased as we head toward the spring market. Make your appointment today to choose from a wide variety of floor plans and reserve early at our lowest pre-construction prices!
Hmm... Did these five individuals commit to units in the 7-story version, the 5-story versions, or the new, more compact 3-story version? What if the building experiences further shrinkage? Would that affect the units already sold, or do they exist in some sort of condosphere of dreams independent of any actual building that may or may not eventually be constructed?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunset visit to Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is one of Madison's great treasures -- and a photographer's paradise, especially in the soft light just before sunset. This anonymous photographer's gear weighs more than a half dozen of my point and shoots, but we're all looking for something. It's different for each of us, but each of us knows it when we find it.

For some it's the Thai Pavilion. Click here to find out more about how and why it came to Madison, and the Thai Garden that Olbrich built to house it. (More photos at my Olbrich Botanical Gardens Set on Flickr.)