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    Daylight Fading
    08.31.2009 10:30PM

    We're not yet to the official end of summer. Heck we're not even to the unofficial end of summer with Labor Day, but despite what the calendar says, fall is here (queue Lewis Black). I'm not quite sure we ever really transitioned from spring to summer but rather had one long spring. There were only a handful of days that were hot and none were unbearable. And now as the sun sets over the horizon before 8, there is a certain crispness in the air as temperatures struggle to reach the mid-70s.

    But with the change of seasons comes the start of the football season. That's right, my favorite time of the year is here. The college season kicks off on Thursday and then the NFL season just one week later. Then there will be 21 consecutive weeks of football. Oh boy! You know where you can find me - parked in front of the TV. It looks like it'll be another spectacularly bad season for the Raiders while there is potential for great things at Illinois. But I'd venture to say it'll be somewhere in between and including 7-5 to 9-3. And I'll take that.

    So thanks for filling my time golf but its time for long tees and the hoodie. It won't be long before the leaves change color for two days and then you've got nothing but sticks. But if summer is any indication, then I have no idea what to expect for this season, besides weekends full of football.

    DC Done Differently
    08.23.2009 10:30PM

    Having spent a significant time in the nation's capitol I've pretty much done D.C. So it was nice to do D.C. a little differently than times before. The crazy east coast weather delayed my flight for a couple hours. As we waited for a clearing to land we detoured over Pennsylvania and West Virginia. My great luck with air travels continues. But things turned for the better with a delicious Thai dinner.

    After dinner Keith and I headed for an Irish pub. You can't go wrong with Smithwicks and Guinness, trust me. The solo cover act made things interesting as he combined parts of various songs into 8+ minute songs. Most of the transitions were weird, but guessing what the transition was going to be was entertaining. In the end only one mash up seemed to work and it was Sweet Caroline to Laid.

    The less than stellar weather on Saturday didn't deter us. After a delayed start to the day because the Big 10 Network sucked us in with one of their "Greatest Games" which turned out to be not so stellar. We headed downtown to the American History museum. And we all know the message this museum spreads is, "America, FUCK YEAH!" Then we took the Metro to Georgetown, and for as much as I've been in D.C. I haven't spent much time in Georgetown. The historic buildings are splendid as were the double chocolate cupcake I got at Georgetown Cupcake. Make sure to stop there if you're ever in the area.

    On Sunday we found ourselves at the Newseum (which we had planned to do on Saturday, damn Wisconsin/Purdue not so "Greatest Game"). The Newseum was delightful when I visited around its grand opening. It's space was small and poorly located. Now with a prominent location between the Capitol and the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Newseum was as interesting as I remembered. Now with an exhibition on September 11th, as well as temporary exhibits on Woodstock and 100 Years of the FBI, there plenty of interesting news stories and accompanying photos. From there we went to D.C.'s famous Ben's Chili Bowl, where I indulged myself on a chili hamburger

    Then we headed to National's Park for a game against the Brewers. And surprisingly it ended with a Nat's victory. There's nothing especially special about the Nat's stadium but it does what a stadium is supposed to do, provide a great viewing experience. And that completed another weekend in D.C. But it included new food and new destinations, so it goes to prove that with just a little extra effort, new things can be found even with a most traveled destination. Check out this gallery for a few photos from the weekend.

    Chicago Air & Water Show
    08.15.2009 4:30PM

    For the second time in three weeks I found myself at an airshow. Three weeks ago in Milwaukee it was simply by happenstance but it reminded me how "cool" airplanes and jets are. I'm the type that is amazed every time my airplane takes off and stays aloft. I get it, its lift, but still its awesome. So its even better when planes are flying by practically at eye level and flipping and twisting across the sky. But in the end, its the jets, breaking the sound barrier that get the crowd going, as illustrated by this short video I took.

    The Lake Michigan shoreline was packed with people of all ages enjoying the show. The older gentleman sitting next to me sounded like a small child as he complained the biplane spiraling and free falling over Lake Michigan wasn't doing it for him, and he wanted the loud jets. I also found out for the second time in three weeks that photographing an airshow is not easy. Rarely is there a decent backdrop and without a telephoto lens its really hard to get a detailed shot. But I did get a few good ones, so check them out here in the gallery.

    Five for Friday
    08.14.2009 12:00AM

    Here's five songs to get your weekend off to a good start. This week I'm featuring five songs of my youth. That's right, five songs from my Dad's vinyl collection which I would sit around and listen to for hours on end. These five were always spinning on the turntable.

    Mrs. Robinson- Simon and Garfunkel

    Fun, Fun, Fun- The Beach Boys

    Who'll Stop the Rain- Creedence Clearwater Revival

    Break on Through (To the Other Side)- The Doors

    White Room- Cream

    08.10.2009 6:30PM

    Not that I've questioned, for one second, my decision to attend undergrad at UIUC, but the following statistics from PayScale seem to validate my choice. I'm not here to debate the methodology or validity of these numbers, but rather just to present them, and of course, gloat. So click right here to check out the charts and a little "analysis" from me.

    Sweet and Tangy Ramblings
    08.09.2009 6:00PM

    - Today for dinner I put a twist on my mom's delicious BBQ ribs. Prior to cooking I put a rub of seasoning salt, onion flakes, and cayenne pepper on the ribs. After cooking for 25 minutes I added some honey BBQ sauce along with minced garlic, diced jalapeno, and chopped onions and cooked for another 25 minutes. Then finally I added some more BBQ sauce and placed the ribs under the broiler for 5 minutes. The result - some sweet and tangy BBQ ribs with the slightest heat. Mmm mmm good. Check out the results here.

    - On the hottest weekend yet in Chicago (It finally reached at least 90 degrees this summer) I decided to take it easy and stay in the air condition. The design bug got me and I begin selecting photos and designing the layout for my coffee table photo book. The book is going to include photos from my time in Peru, Italy, Germany, Budapest, and Hungary - or since I've had my Nikon D90. With thousands of photos to select from its been hard narrowing it down to the best of the best.

    - Just because I stayed in this weekend, didn't mean I missed out on exercise. Nope, I picked up the new Wii Sports Resort, the follow up to the smashing Wii Sports (which comes with new Wiis). It includes 10 news sports and various mini-games within each. With the new Wii Motion Plus, the Wiimote now mimics your movements exactly. My early favorites are archery, cycling, and table tennis. Even with the Wii Motion Plus its hard to nail the rhythm of a few games, including basketball. This will keep my entertained for hours on end.

    thebldgbloc(k) Update
    08.05.2009 7:00PM

    Head over to the the building bloc(k) to check out my first experience on a swing stage in Chicago as well as my review of Zaha Hadid's Millennium Park Pavilion. I promise you'll like it.

    Where are the Dog Days?
    08.02.2009 4:00PM

    According to Wikipedia, the Dog Days are "the hottest, most sultry days of summer, which usually fall between early July and early September." Well here it is August 2nd and its a lovely, spring like 77 degrees in Chicago. Don't get me wrong, its a perfect day to be outside, but honestly I like my summers to have at least a stretch of completely unbearable hot days. Sure there's still a month for the mercury to rise but extended outlooks have the high temperatures hovering around 80 degrees.

    Summer in Chicago is supposed to be hot. Yesterday may have been the coldest August 1st of my life. It was cool, brisk, and a tad bit rainy. It felt more like an early April day then the first day of August. I'm not the only one wondering where the dog days went. I hear other people wanting hotter temperatures and then immediately saying if it was actually hot they'd be complaining it was too hot.

    But I want the option to complain its too hot. Who knows what the coldest summer in decades means for winter. My guess is it will be really cold and really wet. And that's just not fair. How am I supposed to get through winter when I can't warm myself with thoughts of the unbearably hot summer? If I wanted a summer like I've had so far I'd more to Seattle. Oh wait, that's where the Dog Days are. Crazy. I want my Dog Days!

    thebldgbloc(k) Update
    07.31.2009 8:00PM

    Head over to the the building bloc(k) to check out a short review of UNStudio's Millennium Park Pavilion. I promise you'll like it.

    Welcome to the Revamped
    08.01.2009 8:00PM

    If you came through the entry portal at then you already noticed some changes around here. I have made a lot of little changes to make the experience even more exciting. Let me tell you about the changes so you can begin enjoying the revamped right now!

    The entry portal will feature a regularly updated photo from my growing collection of snapshots. With over 3500+ photos from Europe alone it seems like a great way to showcase my work. So don't skip the entry portal anymore or you just may miss an awesome photograph.

    Here at Beavers and Ducks you'll notice that I have moved my always changing Tweets. My latest Tweet will be the first thing you see when you enter and it'll only show the latest and greatest. Below the Twitter update you'll find the heart and soul of Beavers and Ducks - the blog. In this space I'll also link you to the latest updates at the building bloc(k), as well as, CadaverBlender.

    On the sidebar you'll continue to find an at the moment autobiography, my calendar, a link to the last month's content, and links to my favorite sites. There will also be a rotating cast of other goodies in the sidebar, so always check it out. Podcasts are going to make a comeback on a semi-regular basis, hopefully at least bi-weekly and I'm also going to experiment with short videos or webisodes.

    The greatest change may be with the Photoblog. The main page will now feature a thumbnail gallery of albums. Just click the thumbnail and you'll be taken to a dedicated album that will display the photos at a much greater resolution than previously provided. Go ahead and check out the sample gallery I have set up until I have new pictures to display.

    The main goal was to create a showcase of my many photographs as well as make as interactive as possible. As always leave your comments to blogs, photos, podcasts and the new webisodes. Please do enjoy.

    Gregory 'Jesus' Dowell
    Chicago, IL

    - Taking advantage of the unseasonably cool Chicago summer, while I have the chance. Work has provided a nice split of field work and time in the office. Stay right here at Beavers and Ducks for all the latest updates.

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