Sunday, December 6, 2009


Takoyaki, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

mmmm takoyaki!! This Japanese street food snack is very tasty and cheap! For $2.25 I got these 4 battered balls of octopus goodness that made a great breakfast snack. They consist of diced baby octopus and basically a savory doughnut batter that is fried on a special griddle purpose made for takoyaki. There were a few of these places on Pitt Street so I had this snack more than a couple times while I was in Sydney.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pacific Oysters at Quayside Brasserie

Pacific Oysters, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

My first "real" dinner in Sydney on Friday night at the Quayside Brasserie... I ordered a half dozen oysters. These are pacific oysters served on a bed of rock salt. Three are "natural" and three are served with a mignonette. For my main course ordered another appetizer: Slow poached & roasted chicken thigh stuffed with mixed herbs & pine nuts, celeriac puree, lentil cassoulet... it was fantastic!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

While at Nepean Dam (see previous post) we asked someone how to get to Fitzroy Falls and were given directions. We drove for another 20 minutes or so and the clouds cleared up to reveal a fairly clear sky with some nice wispy clouds for decoration. We found our way to Fitzroy Falls and parked the car. After a quick cup of coffee (Australians do coffee better than anyplace else I've been) we walked a short trail to the waterfall. What a view!! This beautiful corner of the world rivals any I've seen.

Cheryl and I walked around to a few of the other lookouts and saw the inappropriately named "twin falls" where hardly a trickle of water "cascaded" over the rocks. On our way I heard a strange sound coming from the bushes. It sounded like a synthesizer or maybe a very strange cicada. Cheryl said, "I bet that's a lyrebird!" and then I could see the tail feathers sticking out of the bush. The lyrebird is featured on the back of Australia's 10 cent piece. Its claim to fame is its ability to immitate nearly anything. As we walked around the other side of the waterfall, we heard two more lyrebirds immitating whip birds and other calls. I'll let David Attenborough explain:

I took pictures of lots of flowers, showing off the super-macro lens on this FujiFilm s8000fd digital camera. I like the banksias and the mountain devil flowers. So many of them look so foreign to what I'm used to in North America.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nepean Dam

Big Dam Reservoir, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

On my first weekend back in Sydney for 2009, Cheryl took me down to a region called the Southern Highlands. This is about a 90 minute drive south of Sydney where the terrain gets pretty rugged as the mountain ridge that rises up along the east coast of Australia gets closer to the coast. On our way to visit a waterfall that Cheryl remembered from a previous trip, we found this dam called the Nepean Dam. It was very peaceful, although a bit overcast early in the day.

The dam was completed in April of 1935 and supplies water to the Sydney metro. It can hold back 18 million gallons of water at a maximum depth of 225 feet. The dam itself is 247.5 feet tall and 710 feet long. When fully supplied, the water is 1,051 feet above sea level. The lake has an area of 882 acres.

We even saw a wild kangaroo on our way leaving the dam!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CN Tower View

CN Tower View, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

I took this photo in February from the top of the CN Tower. I was there with Isabelle on vacation. I know it sounds like a crazy idea for a holiday, Canada in the winter... but we LOVED it!! We'd have been in Chicago anyway, the climate is the same. The weather was... COLD. The view from the tower was excellent. We showed up about an hour before sunset and watched it go down. Isabelle was afraid to go anywhere near the floor windows.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Return to Sydney

After months on this rock (North America) I am finally taking flight abroad, going west... so far west I'll be east. So far south that the sun will be in the north. To the sunburnt country, the land down under... Australia! I am flying to Sydney from Chicago on November 3rd. I arrive on the 5th (that's a flight, huh?) and will be there until November 30th, if all goes according to plan.

Expect loads of photos, some blog posts, and a very happy Andy. I first traveled to Sydney in 2007 for work and stayed for 3 weeks. I fell in love with the city hard and fast. To me, Sydney is the perfect mix of Chicago and San Francisco. A mild weathered capital of a culture, what Chicago is to the midwest, Sydney is to a dusty dry continent obscure to Europeans until the late 1700s.

Well that's all for now, wish me luck on my voyage. Between now and then I have plenty of work to do and things to keep me occupied, but sunny Sydney will be this year's big news!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jazz Age Chicago--Home Page

I just discovered this blog!! It's great, Scott Newman, the author, writes about a lot of the stuff I am interested in.

Jazz Age Chicago--Home Page

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cloud Gate at Night

Chicago September 4th-5th 102, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

A night photo from Millennium Park, this time of Cloud Gate by artist Anish Kapoor. I like the way the Aon Center and surrounding skyscrapers reflect in the sculpture. For this photo I used my tripod and set the ISO to 64 and the aperture to the max (3.2 in this instance)

The people in the middle of the frame were playing music and having a good time until a well dressed but obnoxious college-age preacher came over and started talking to everybody about God. At first I thought he was a part of the group, but soon everyone was wandering away and the fun times were at an end. I wish someone had stood up and told God boy to save it for people who need saving.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chicago Loop at Night

Chicago Loop at Night, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

Took this shot using my mini-tripod at night after the Jazz Festival.

I set the ISO-setting on the digital camera to 64 and have the largest aperture possible (2.8) to get this crisp photo of the elevated train tracks in the Loop. I was waiting for a Brown Line train to take me up to Fullerton where I'd switch to a Red Line train to get me uptown.

Lots of people think that Chicago's "loop" neighborhood is named for this "loop" of elevated track that circles the central business district. In fact, it is named for all the streetcars, horse drawn cars, and cable (grip) cars that had to "loop back" to their origin once they reached the city's center.

The Chicago Loop has a population density of just over 10,000 people per square mile, making it one of the most densely populated zip codes in America. The high density in the loop gives Chicago part of its signature skyline.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Siesta Beach

Siesta Beach, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

The day after Kevin's wedding in Sarasota, I went to visit Joel and Cesily for lunch and then stopped at the Historic Spanish Point on my way back to Sarasota. Also on my way back, I stopped at Siesta Key to see the world famous Siesta Beach.

This beach is known for its 99% pure quartz sand that is so fine and white that it is cool to the touch, even in the blazing heat of the summer. The beach has earned “the whitest and finest sand in the world” (The Great International Beach Challenge, 1987) and “The Best Sand Beach in America” (The Travel Channel, 2004) awards. I can personally attest to the incredible feeling of this sand beneath my feet... it's like walking on baby powder!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"boy I got to show you somethin' 'fore it's gone"

Steve Earle - Texas Eagle

My Grandaddy was a railroad man
When I was young he took me by the hand
Dragged me to the station at the break of dawn
Said "boy I got to show you somethin' 'fore it's gone"
She was blue and silver - she was right on time
We rode that Texas Eagle on the Mopac line
We had some sandwiches that Granma packed
We rode to Palestine and hitchhiked back
Home in time for supper with a tale to tell
That night I dreamed I heard that lonesome whistle wail

When I got old enough to take the train alone
I rode that Texas Eagle down to San Antone

Nowadays they don't make no trains
Just the piggyback freighters and them Amtrak things
They shut the Eagle down awhile ago
Sold it to the railroad down in Mexico
But every now and then that whistle's on my mind
I ride that Texas Eagle ‘cross the borderline

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Melissa and Chris

This blog post is LONG overdue, as it's now been two months since the wedding... I mean seriously, only ONE post for the month of August? Well the good news is I've been out gathering material so I can publish many many posts in the coming months.

Thousands of years from now society may revolve around the scriptures known as "Small Planet Big World" so it must be recorded here that this event took place and we saw that it was good.

Chris "The Gack" Gackenheimer has been a part of the Barton clan for many years now. I can't even remember when I was first introduced to him, but he's been along to a few family reunions and he's been through all the requisite hazing rituals. It was not any big surprise when the wedding was announced, and some might suggest that such an event is almost anti-climactic. I want to put any such rumors to rest right now, this was an event to remember.

On June 27th, 2009, my ONLY female Barton cousin got married in St. Louis. The wedding was at Mad Art Gallery, which used to serve as a police station and jail. The weather was sunny, clear, and HOT. We stood outside for a few minutes and took pre-wedding photos while waiting for the ceremony to begin.

The temperature was near 100 degrees F, but small hand-held fans were given out to each guest. The ceremony was very nice but quick. After the vows we took a couple pictures and then went inside to enjoy the reception and air conditioning.

The reception was really fantastic. The hors d'oeuvres were so good I couldn't stop eating the bacon-wrapped dates! We had some drinks and mingled with the family for a while before dinner was served. After dinner, there were a few speeches. Melissa's father gave a speech that was moving and funny. Chris' friend read an IM transcript from the days when Chris first met Melissa! Then we danced until they kicked us out. They might have kicked us out because they needed to close... or it might have been my dancing... we'll never know.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saint Louis Science Center

St. Louis has this awesome park that runs through the middle called Forest Park. Straddling the southeastern edge of the park is one of America's top five science museums, the St. Louis Science Center. The Science Center campus is made up of four buildings. The James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park, a newer building (the main building) across Interstate 64, the Exploradome next to the main building, and the Taylor Community Science Resource Center. The Exploradome is actually supported by air, so it's like being inside a giant balloon. I wasn't able to get a really good picture of the outside of the planetarium, so I'm borrowing this one from the Wikimedia Commons, a repository of public domain media.

That is the exterior of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, a hyperboloid structure by American architect Gyo Obata. Its fantastic eye-catching form hints at what can be found inside. My brother Robbie and I went inside the museum and were immediately wowed by a giant working contraption that whisked colored balls around on rails. This was fun to watch for a while before we bought our tickets and went into the museum.


The museum has lots of hands-on demonstrations of scientific principals along with traditional exhibits. We wandered through the main building before grabbing some food for lunch. After lunch we walked into the inflated "exploradome" and then across the skybridge to the planetarium. In the skybridge, we put together an arch... harder than it looks!! After taking our time looking at some space-race era artifacts, we went back to the hotel in Kirkwood.