Diary of a mad[ison] man. My week of brain therapy in Wisconsin, part one of, well, I'm not sure how many parts.

All week I've been in the able hands of some heavy-hitter brain scientists at the University of Madison, Wisconsin. This is the third time in three years I've visited Madison to get my noggin nurtured and just like the other times, I feel the effects of the treatment, all of which are positive. I'll post more about the specifics of my treatment next week, but briefly, this trip has focused more on meditation and relaxation, since stress really does a number on me and causes my symptoms to flare up like Ahmadinejad does at the mere mention of the word Israel. (Quick aside: that guy is an ASSHOLE.)


As for Madison, what a town. My wife, Catherine, accompanied me for the first five days of my visit, and we had a grand time exploring restaurants, bars and other establishments, not to mention the shores of lake Mendota, which is graced with some fine old houses, albeit frat/sorority houses.

The best restaurant we found? The Tornado Steak House, hands down. Which is surprising, because from the outside the Tornado looks like a club that if you are unfortunate enough to enter will accost your senses with the smells of stale beer, stale cigarette smoke and stale people. It does not, mostly. Granted, you do indeed enter through a proper bar, where people are drinking and the lights are low, but then you pass through a tight, little maze and, voila, you are in the dining room, which, um, doesn't look much different from the bar. No, your first hint that you are about to have the meal of a lifetime is not given away by the place whatsoever. Only when the menu and wine list arrive do you start to get your hopes up. For on the menu is a bone-in tenderloin, a most-hard-to-find cut that combines the stuff-your-face eatability of a tenderloin with the flavor only a properly scorched, marrow filled animal bone can supply. Once you've recovered your senses after imagining your first bit of beef, you can look at the wine list, which presents you with fine Bordeaux, some of California's best, and a neat selection from some pretty decent also-ran regions (Oregon, Australia, South America). I ordered the bone-in tenderloin, while Catherine didn't and, well, therefore I only remember my meal. Oh, and the salads we started with were the best iceberg lettuce salads I'e ever had. The oysters were good, too. In Wisconsin, no less! For drink, I opted for a glass or two of pinot, while Catherine had cocktails, over which she raved.

And to think, we almost didn't go to the Tornado. Nope, that night Catherine was supposed to be winging her way back to SF, but United, perhaps the most reliable group of screw-ups on the planet, was delayed to the point where she would miss her connection in Denver, so she headed back to the hotel. Credit to Yelp for giving us the confidence to enter the Tornado! Okay, I know I've hardly written about my therapy at all -- the REAL purpose of my visit -- but I think it deserves a post all on its own, which I will do next week.

Stay tuned.