Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  Awesome Cloud  

On the way back to Floriduh this big guy was over to the right and I saw several lightening bolts as we passed by.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a shot of one.

Last week a guy walking on the sidewalk was killed by lightening.  Floriduh is the lightening capitol of he US.  Since 1959 477 have been killed. 

2.  While at North Henderson Civic Center I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of an old electric train that took me back to one we had when we were kids.  Big, heavy and the real deal, this set, I'll bet, could run today with just a little cleaning and electrical tape. 

This isn't the cheaper quality plastic stuff they have today.  This is an iconic Americana toy.  What a find!  And yes, it takes the drop in the smokestack that makes smoke come out.  

3.  "We mature with the damage, not the years."  Unknown

4.  While at McD's on 66th Avenue in St. Pete.  Pretty ballsy bird.  At one time it was shooed away and still returned looking for a handout. 

5.  Tough week for conservative-minded folks.  Great week for progressives.   Obamacare, a half-measure at best is now the law of the land.  Hopefully both parties will now tackle the deficient provisions and make much needed improvements.  As for me, I think they should institute "Medicare For All."

And now LGBT individuals have the right to marry.  Except for a bump in the road now and again, the endless arc of history for individual rights marches forward.  

6.  Around 70 days remain till the Great 2015 Cycle Adventure.  

7.  Effective August 15th,  Iowa Wesleyan College will be renamed Iowa Wesleyan University.  I lost my Aledo Green Dragons high school 10 years ago when it merged with Westmer and became Mercer County Golden Eagles.  And now, in a sense, I have lost my college as well.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Road Trip

Mark, aka Wombie, and Holly, aka Ms Wombie, are always up for a road trip.  We jump, not so nimbly into the Jeep and head out for parts unknown.  Today we went east of town and some country road.  The mystery and excitement of an unknown road evokes some kind of need to explore.  Little boys explore by bicycle, but big boys scout in 4 wheels.  

We started out by finding this old school.  At first I couldn't figure out why there would be a chimney on a farm storage shed, but then it became obvious that this was, long ago, a country school.  Some owner along the way built a doorless shed on the the school.

 Perfect vistas.  

This is known locally as Horseshoe Bend.  The erosion caused by the creek reminded me of other places I've been but not Illinois.  Look at the trees and their exposed root systems.  It won't be long till another foot or so falls from the top and the natural re-definition of the creek and its bank changes once again.  I do love road trips.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flashback Friday - Grad School Posse Part 2

We revisit once again the grad school days in Denver and my buddy Eddie Valverde.  Like I said in the previous post regarding these times,  I had some really nice friends to spend time with when I wasn't studying.  No snickers, because grad school did entail some intense study to ensure successful graduation.  

As a side note, as I type this message on Thursday,  June 25th, at 6:52 am, I just awoke from a sleep that included a dream/nightmare of a Logic paper due and unfinished.  Funny, isn't it, that school tests and homework still invade my head decades after it all became irrelevant.    

These Denver days were likely the least photographed of all.  I'm not really sure why, except that study here was pretty important and took up a lot of time.  Dr. Schmidt hardly ever thought my thesis was good enough so I'd go back and tinker, expand, and take it back a month later to seek approval.  Dr. Wilbanks would have a "Whiplash" like, in-class meltdown telling all of us to step up our work and performance.  But we tried to meet on weekends for fun or Jan and I would hop in the car and head out to Pike's Peak,  Red Rocks,  Golden, or cruise around town.  We all went to Wyoming once and I thought it a desolate other-world vista that was unlike anything I'd ever seen.      

Eddie and his little camera about to zero in on something. 

Me and my little trusty electric typewriter that served me well for several years of reports and term papers. It's last assignment was to type my Master's Thesis, "Civil Theology in the American".   Dr. Schmidt finally signed off on it and it is now bound and amongst all the other thesis' written at the school in the Ira J. Taylor Library.  One of these days I'll travel back to campus and the library and ask for it at the reference desk.   

See that ring on my hand?  That's my high school class ring that I lost in a vat of meatloaf at the Mary Davis Home when I would start there a few months after this picture was taken.  

Looks like Eddie is reading my report and finding it lacking in serious content.  Hmph.  Everyone's a critic.  

Is this Eddie signaling my impending hanging by the school's academic standards?  Fleas?  An Hispanic sign about Midwestern hick gringo's?  Nope, this was a hoi-paloi sign we used regarding other's pretentiousness.

Apparently someone wanted to take our pictures so we posed, it looks like, somewhat reluctantly.  This was my phase of wearing bib overalls, and, oddly, as I remember, was somewhat popular.  Eddie was a gentle kid who laughed as easily as anyone I ever knew.  Not at all like the menacing figure he appears above.    

Happily, once graduated, I headed back home.  Sadly, however, I didn't keep up any correspondence with my compadres and they drifted into my history as "past tense".  Eddie, the Calhoun boys, Jan and the others remain young in my mind's eye and photos, whilst my mirror reveals the real truth: time marches on, rapidly.  Denver must have been like military service - tough character builder and not sure I'd do it over, but eternally grateful for the friends around me that made it all worthwhile.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bald Bluff

This is the Bluff road between Keithsburg and Seaton.  This valley was formed by the most recent Ice Age that started about 2 million years ago and ended approximately 8000 B.C. When we were in high school and college it was not uncommon during exceedingly wet and rainy nights to have this whole road filled with live small frogs.  It made driving an exercise in animal genocide, but it couldn't be helped. 

Take the first right on the bluff and go down a ways to find an open area that overlooks the valley.  

As stunning a view as you can find in these parts.  Mrs. Olson, Seaton's 6th grade teacher always took her students to Bald Bluff Overlook.  Not sure if this is it, but it would have been a similar view.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

High Water In Northlandia

Sunday and it's finally a dry day.  Nothing going on so I decide a nice bike ride is at the top of the list today. My itinerary is New Boston, Keithsburg, Seaton and back to Aledo.  


The river is high and destined to go higher.  I had never been, or it's been a very long time, down to the river's edge and seen what they have done for viewing.  Not too bad.  Plenty of parking and nice views from this area.  The oversize Adirondack chair is a little cheesy but this is New Boston, not Boston, after all.   

Always been fascinated by the river.  I wonder why.  Is it the mystery?  Or the avenue to watery destinations, adventure, new beginnings, or tragic end?  

Don't try using the walkway to the floating pier.  You'll get your sneakers wet. 

Quite a few boaters lining up to get out on the river for some Sunday fun.  

Those crazy river fanatics really know how to have some fun. 

Moving on from New Boston to Keithsburg,  we see the height of the Pope Creek.  

I tried to find a convenient place to stop by the creek running east of New Boston on the hard road, but had to settle for Keithsburg, instead.  The banks were full and in some places spilling out.  I can't imagine how it is looking today (Thursday, 18th) but it has to be higher than it was on Sunday.  

The river, creeks and high water behind us, we travel out of Keithsburg toward the Bluff.  And to our next destination.  

To Be Continued

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  The Earth Spinning on its Axis  


...Sunset In Emerald City

2.  A couple local stories I heard while in Northlandia.

  • Dick Hunter, who passed away about 6 months ago, was a long-time heating and plumbing guy in Emerald City.  A few years ago he some advertising on some pens printed with his company name on it.  Underneath he also added, "Bring your wife in and we'll dicker." 
  • One winter day, when we boys were kids, down at the grain elevator my Dad owned, Walter Hood came in and tossed a stick of dynamite in coal heater that stood toward the back of the weigh house.  Dorothy Bell, the secretary took off running.  V.G., my grandfather who was sitting in a chair remained sitting.  Walter asked him why he didn't leave.  V.G. responded that he figured if Walter wasn't running then he didn't have anything to worry about.  Apparently dynamite needs a cap to explode.  
3.  In The News...
"I'm up from Floriduh, but I identify as Illinoisian."

4.  Norah doesn't understand days or hours, but she does understand "sleeps".  She has been saying "4 sleeps until Papa comes home."  She tried to make a nap a sleep so I would come home faster.  

5.  By the time you read this I will be back down South for awhile.  Today I have an EKG and blood work, so it probably won't be such a fun first day back.  I still reserve the right to bail on this surgery if I get the heebie-jeebies.  

6.  I had breakfast on Friday with 'the girls', Pat and Becky, who I worked with at The Mary.  On Saturday and Sunday went bike riding with neighbor Tim and some others.  More on that in future posts.  


   This was taken outside Emerald City on some road near the North lagoon.  Generally my pictures weren't very good, but this one was moderately interesting.


Now thru the end of the month you can see Saturn and Jupiter sliding toward one another. I took this with my measly iPhone last week in Northlandia.  The sliver of moon made it a nice shot,  but I had already sent my nice camera to Floriduh.  Look to the Western sky after sunset to see to the spatial rendezvous.  

Monday, June 22, 2015


Zasummenfall is German for "wondrous coincidence".  A few days ago the skies finally cleared for the first time since my arrival. I decided to try some night shots, so I set my alarm for 2:30 am.  The Wombie had shown me the North Lagoon area so that was where I was going. No traffic, houses or ambient light pollution.  It was like the South Lagoon where I took meteor pictures last summer, only better.     

The most interesting shot of the few I took out there was this starry picture with some cloud action.  You eagle eye viewers will, no doubt, readily see the Big Dipper.  If you can't, squint your eyes and it should be easy to see.   

While I was up I decided to go to Keithsburg to see if I could photograph a barge going by.  Sorry to say, no barges, but what turned out to be a wondrous coincidence, was a lightening filled cloud drifted by while I was there and I was able to get some really nice shots.  This post is really a teaser for some future blogs that i will be getting ready when I get back to Floriduh. I liked this shot of the grain elevator because of the open area that has some stars.  

And this was the cloud that entertained me and my camera for 40 minutes or so.  In the upcoming few days I will post some really great, if I do say so, shots my camera took.  I take no credit.  This was my Zasummenfall moment while back - a single cloud, an early morning, and me.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Flashback Friday

A friend asked me a couple days ago about whether or not I, as a twin, had that "special" thing with my brother.  I immediately said yes.  But I don't know whether it is that mystery tie that you read about with twins or if its just the old fashioned kind, a good brother.  My guess is its the latter.  And that's even better in my book.

The advantages to twinship are so obvious I'm sure I don't have to dwell on them.  Imagine instead of an imaginary friend most kids concoct, you actually have a real one.  An Army of Two.  Every second of every day.

The Wombie and I were talking about such things the other day.  When we were wee and in our bedroom at night, we kept making conversation instead of sleeping in order to keep the other one awake. How wild is that?  Neither wanted to be alone if the other dozed off so we would keep talking to each other, making the other stay up by having to converse.

In the past month we've had lots of chats about events.  Another oddity is that we remember separate things.  Things I'd long forgotten, Mark can flesh out, while things I recall vividly, he may not remember at all.  It's like together we form a more complete history.

When we were born the incidence of dizygotic twins was around 9 per thousand births.  Twins are becoming less rare (22.8 per thousand) these days for a variety of reasons.  But when the Wombie and I arrived sonograms hadn't yet been invented and it was a pretty big deal, and a complete surprise to the folks.  That's why we don't have middle names - the best they could muster were initials.

We were low-weight preemies and spent a couple months at the hospital until big enough to go home.  Time to bond, and plot.  Being the eldest, I always got top billing. If neither one of us thought of it, it wasn't worth doing.      

Again, the many good reasons why twinship is fun are too numerous, but perhaps the best one was when trouble arose I could always tell the parents, "He did it."      



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cutting The Cord

With my two-state experiment going on,  certain sacrifices had to be made regarding personal pleasure.  One of those sacrifices for Northlandia was cable TV.  I, like many of you, have a love/hate relationship with my TV. Much of what is on at any given moment is junk, far worse than Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech when he was chairman of the FCC. 

"When television is good, nothing - not the theater, not the magazines, not the newspapers - nothing is better.  But when television is bad, nothing is worse.  I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet, or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that TV set until that station signs off.  I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland."

I have become so averse to commercials that I seek TV entertainment that eschew have them.  There aren't many.  Turner Classic Movies do not have commercials.  After that it's either PBS stations or Netflix DVD's or streaming.

When the finances wouldn't allow for cable up here, I  decided to get an indoor antenna instead and rough it.  Gone is my morning ritual of Morning Joe,  MLB-TV which keeps me up to date on my fantasy teams, and TCM.  I still have the Netflix DVD's so it's not all doom and gloom.  As I mentioned last week, my free channels provide some background noise and once in a while surprises me with genuinely good entertainment.  Here is a window into my free vast wasteland. 

  • WQAD, KLJB and KWQC - These network channels provide local and international news.  There still isn't much on these in the way of good entertainment, however.  Lots of Dateline-type sensationalist crap as well as reality stuff, neither anything I care about.  
  • KWQC-WE - a 24 hour weather show.
  • COZI-TV - an oldies and channel.  (Lone Ranger, Zorro, Dragnet, Starsky and Hutch and Charlie's Angels)  Didn't watch this formulaic swill back in the day and don't intend to now.
  • WQAD-ATV- Another oldies channel. (Mr. Ed, Green Acres, Bewitched, Leave It To Beaver, and All in the Family among many others)
  • MyTV8.3 - Nasty nasty stuff like Bridezillas, Dr. Phil,  Cops reloaded, Justice with Judge Mablean, Cougar Town and Law And Order.
  • KLJB 2 - TMZ, Justice For All with Judge Cristina Perez, America's Court with Judge Ross, Mike and Molly and Big Bang Theory. 
  •  KWKB - Cedar Rapids CW network, which looks like it only has 2 or three nighttime shows, such as iZombie, Jane the Virgin and something called Flash.
  • WQPT - Quad Cities PBS station.
  •  WQPT WORLDWIDE - International PBS
  • KGCW - People's Court, Judge Mathis, Divorce Court, Hot Bench, Paternity Court (what's with all thee court shows??), Hot In Cleveland, Family Feud, Two and a Half Men.
  • THIS TV - Sea Hunt, Old (and Bad) Movies like Flowers In The Attic, The Playboys, Margot at the Wedding and Love ong for Bobby Long.
  • KQIN - Children's programming
  • KQIN2 - International News
  • IPTV - Iowa PBS
I should add at this point that while the above is all free with an indoor antenna, you pay the price with an overabundance of commercials. And its not current primetime-type commercials, either.  They are geared toward the elderly and the poor with a great deal of infomercials.  Lots of lawyer advertisements and lawyer disability claim commercials.  

I am surprised by how well I have fared.  I miss MLB-TV and the myriad chances to get ball games, but I do get an occasional Chicago team and on Saturdays I get a National game through Fox. I miss my TMC channel, period.  There isn't anything else on my list that can supplant that, but, I do get a movie station with THIS-TV. Are they good ones, no, but every once in a while they throw in one that is watchable.  And on Saturday at 9 I get Svengoolie and a horror flick.  Last Saturday was Bride of Frankenstein It is an undeniable classic but I can do without the schtick of Svengoolie. Two weeks ago was the Invisible Ray with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.

Otherwise you are left with retreads, some as old as 60 years ago like Hoppalong Cassidy, Abbott and Costello, and George and Gracie Burns TV shows.  But mostly they are 60's type shows like Bewitched, Mr. Ed, McHales Navy, The Lucy Show and Gilligan's Island.  I didn't watch them then so I'm still not very interested.  There are two, however, that I try not to miss.  And they are newer ones, relatively speaking.  All in the Family and Barney Miller are very much worth watching all over again. The really good stuff remains good forever.   

For the most part, my TV in Emerald City is just for some background noise while I do other things.  I'm not much of a TV watcher anyweay, so a transition from cable to antenna for me isn't the worst thing that could happen.  I still can get the latest movies and binge TV shows from Netflix DVD's and let's not forget Amazon Prime. For being a Prime member one gets 2 day, free shipping on orders as well as free movies and TV shows.  I am actually binging on Amazon's Transparent show right now.  

So do I recommend cutting the cord?  Sure, as long as you have a couple backup programming options like I have.  If you, however, like the many options cable/DISH provide (even the 85% on your list you never watch) and don't mind the $150 monthly bill, then stay with them.  

But if you ever decide to cut the cord, be prepared for more time reading, walking, and all the other things you like doing that do not require staring at a TV set.  Yes, do cut.

By the way, the best possible cable situation would be to have an "ala carte" system whereby you can pick and choose what stations you want.  However, that will never come to pass because not enough customers would choose those sports channels that have to pay for the exorbitant player salaries.   

And one more thing before I let you go this Tidbit morning:  the producers of Gilligan's Island named their boat, the S.S. Minnow, after, you guessed it, Newton Minow, the guy who referred to TV as the vast wasteland.      


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits

1.  Just ran across this YouTube vid I found on some site.

It's fake, of course, but dang, that is well done.  I had palpable goosebumps.   

2.  Rhubarb Pie and a Time Machine 

One of my highlights so far is to have this rhubarb pie gracing my fridge.  Rhubarb days was a couple weekends ago and S-I-L Holly went down and bought this for me.  A first she was going to get one of those blended rhubarb-strawberry ones because they taste better, but I stepped in and said a rhubarb-only was my heart's desire.  Why?  We had a rhubarb patch in Seaton and Marj made the rhubarb only variety.  This was strictly a nostalgia treat for me.

3.  Brendan, concerned with my internet hookup problems, called and told me about a devise sold at Wal-MArt that could get my desktop running.  It is a USB Wi-Fi adapter.  So I picked one up and it worked!  Thanks, Brenny.
4.  In Floriduh I yelled at cars to slow up.  In Northlandia I yell for them to speed up.

5.  You didn't think that since I was spending a few weeks up North that you would'nt be getting Norah reports did you?  


No need to see a doctor.  This is one of the joys of childhood - a sucker and a mirror. 

Norah has graduated from a car seat to a booster.  Woo hoo!

But the princess still falls asleep in her royal carriage. 

6.  The Frump

A selfie of me driving Miss Frump.  She has been in storage and is now in Emerald City.  There was a car show in G-Burg last weekend, but alas, this is the monsoon season.  Nothing but rain.  No car shows this trip up but there should be several in August.

7.  "Wisdom develops from many truths and many lies."

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Walk In Northlandia

You've seen some of my walk route at Bedlam.  I take the Route 19 frontage road up to East Bay, then turn left all the way to Belcher, then down to Ulmerton and back up to Bedlam for my just short of 10,000 steps.  There is never-ending traffic, ceaseless noise, things to look at, sirens blaring and often lost coins along the way.  

Now see where I walk in Northlandia.

 This stretch of the walk is disarming.  Absolute quiet -save for the occasional breeze rustling whatever is there to rustle.  I'd forgotten how deadly silent it is in the country, or just never realized it.  The birds chirping is about all that makes any discernible noise. 

Also along this country road is a house in somewhat poor condition.  Every time I go by there is no sign of life.  No observable yard work besides the mowing.  To the left of the house is a very deep ravine full of undergrowth and what looks like a small pond some ways away.  While walking once I glanced through the leaves and was startled by what looked like someone standing.  Then it looked like they were tied to a post.  Then my Blair Witch irrational gene kicked in and I started to get "weirded out".  OK, so it must be a scarecrow.  Having never seen one I'm sure I can get excused for being confused at first.  No pass, however, for the over zealous imagination.  It was 10 in the morning.     

But then I saw this as I was walking away.

A voice in my head said, keep walking old man.  Don't look back.   

I have no idea what this used to be when it was alive.  A small deer perhaps?  A large bird.  It's hard to see but that is a ribcage.  Nature is tough; in the next few days, this morphed into something else. As long as we are discussing this, I am also amazed at the amount of road kill I have to step around out here.  Granted, this is a major country road north of Emerald City, but still, I have seen very little for a while and even when I lived up here I didn't walk the paved country roads much.  Hope you aren't reading this over breakfast.

All in all quite a different view on things in Northlandia.  Floriduh is not without its pleasures, but besides the occasional penny the North is more in tune with nature, with all its brutality and beauty.