Sunday, July 31, 2011

Music from Brother Wolfgang

Where is Bill when we need him?

Dr. Huxtable needs to come in and give an economic lesson to the Congress and the President.

Blessed corn? Photos by Bob Kelly

The beautiful St. John's Lutheran Church located about ten miles south west of Story City, and it is a lovely sight anytime one drives by on highway 17.  On this morning, the sunlight was accenting the tassels on the corn as well as the church, and the field looked great with a promise of a bumper crop.  Could it be this field of corn is blessed?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

I went to the movie this afternoon.  As usual the experience was marred by the poor service and crummy theater here in Ames.  Cinemark 12 had one person selling tickets for the 1:20 film and as a result there was a long line.  Someone came out and then opened up the other half of the ticket booth.  They have a Kiosk in the theater where you can go to purchase a ticket with a credit card but it was not turned on.

Eventually they turned it on and then announced that you could purchase tickets there.  The line shortened considerably so I remained outside and got my ticket.  Inside they had two people popping corn and serving corn and there was one long line and people were worrying about whether or not they would make it inside before their movie started.  Eventually the person who had been out helping with the extra tickets came and helped the two (slower than molasses) kids who were popping the corn.  She suggested we form two lines..There had been two lines and people would split as they got to the head of the line.  The two ladies who were in front of me split and the asshole behind me tried to cut in front of me...He didn't get the job done.  Both of the ladies bought candy and made the clerk describe the candy to them,  Sweet.

Anyway I got into the theater and my "spot" on the left side was taken but there was another one and so I settled in.  The previews had already started but I had not missed the beginning of the film.

If you like westerns (and I do) and space monsters (again I'm there) you will enjoy this flick.  The premise is that aliens have come to earth to mine for gold.  While here they capture some of the natives for study to see how they can defeat them and take over the world so that they can get the gold.  It has the usual..Bad guy with a heart of gold, old preacher, Cattle rancher tough guy, his son the out of control do what you want entitled twerp, Indians (must have Indians (or to be politically correct Native Americans) a couple of beautiful women (why is it that the women in these Westerns are always pretty....I mean have you ever seen a picture of the real dance hall girls?) and a dog...this film has it all. And then some.

Daniel Craig is one of my favorite actors.  I enjoy him and while he may be playing the same person over and over at least it is well played and is in different venues.  Harrison Ford may not have won an Oscar but if he is in a film it is worth your time to go and see it.  Besides which he has good taste and has been rumored from time to time to fly his plane into Ames to eat at our Hickory Park.  The second best Barbecue in Ames.  Olivia Wilde as the beautiful woman has an integral part in this fanciful battle with the aliens.  I won't tell you more because I don't want to spoil the film for you.

Here is the trailer.  Let me know if you saw it and what you thought of it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it . I helped get the bad taste out of my mouth left by the truly awful Bad Teacher.

Oh and just one more thing. When i got home tonight I found out that the History Channel is running one of its usual fanciful programs full of wild eyed (and haired) "experts" who tell us that aliens may have landed on earth and interacted with people in pioneer times,,,especially interesting is that Moroni  who spoke with Joseph Smith and started the Mormon religion was an ancient alien.  Who knows?  One thing about the History Channel is that it asks more questions than it gives answers.  They wonder if the film Cowboys and Aliens could have had basis in fact.  Geeesh!  Think I'll watch Sex and the Civil War. That is the next offering tonight or better yet I shall read my book.

Beaver, Iowa...a Tiny Iowa Town in Transition. Photos by Bob Kelly

Beaver, Iowa, is located along highway 30, 8.4 miles west of Ogden. As of the 2000 census, it had a population of 53 persons, living in the .3 square mile city limits. It is a tiny Iowa town sinking into transition at a now faster rate. Many of its buildings are unoccupied, not maintained, and are gradually falling apart and rotting away. It was refreshing to see lilies continuing to grow in front of houses where they have been growing for decades, seeming normal by themselves, while all around them the town is dying.
This one story house, overgrown with trees had a once lovely front porch, which was likely used as a place to sit and feel the cool morning and evening breezes.

This was a large two story house, that is still holding its walls together, despite the fact that its roof and second floor has caved in.  The front of the house shows a distinctive arch doorway, a bit unique for the time period in which it was built.

This quaint one story house also had colorful lilies and showed decorative features such as the curved shingles on the window overhang, and colorful red trimming on the windows themselves.  Notice the upper window sections are comprised of 20 small panes of glass and one larger one in the middle.  I wondered what the story may have been behind the woven basket that sits looking out from the inside of this house that once was a home.

The original K-12 school for Beaver is still standing, or rather its walls are.  Through the arched front doorway you can see a staircase leading to the second floor.  I am sure there would be lots of interesting things to see in here, but it would be very unsafe to be inside.

 Part of this large brick building was used for a steak house that was there for many years.  They had a big neon sign that spelled out STEAK HOUSE, which hung up near the roof, so it could be seen by cars driving along highway 30.  Its roof and second floor have caved in, and there is a giant mangled mess beyond its walls.
The play equipment in this tiny park, located in the middle of the town, is not being used.  The slide is rusty, and the swings hang in anticipation of the next time they may be enjoyed.
Beaver does have its own zip code, and for the time being this tiny post office, that is open on a scheduled basis shown on the note taped to the door.  This post office is one of many in Iowa that may be closing soon.  Note the new looking and modern water tower!

This grain elevator is the only business enterprise in Beaver, and is relatively new and since it sits right on a major rail line, it is strategically placed for farmers in the area to sell their grain.

This house is located in the south east corner of Beaver, and its occupants have erected this patriotic display that will likely stay up all year long.  What will happen to Beaver is rather easy to predict, as painful as it may be to others to do so.  Unfortunately there are many towns of this size and larger in Iowa and other states with rural areas, and they all are finding themselves caught in the same downward spiral, as we see in Beaver.  Despite the gloom and doom it was refreshing to see the flags, the lilies, the new water tower, and the grain elevator, and for a few moments to reflect upon what Beaver was like fifty years ago.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Found For Friday

A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying, 'Everyone who thinks they're stupid, stand up!' After a few seconds, Little Larry stood up. The teacher said, 'Do you think you're stupid, Larry?' 'No, ma'am, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself!'

Larry watched, fascinated, as his mother smoothed cold cream on her face. 'Why do you do that, mommy?' he asked. 'To make myself beautiful,' said his mother, who then began removing the cream with a tissue. 'What's the matter, asked Larry 'Giving up?
The math teacher saw that Larry wasn't paying attention in class. She called on him and said, 'Larry! What are 2 and 4 and 28 and 44?' Larry quickly replied, 'NBC, FOX, ESPN and the Cartoon Network!

Larry's kindergarten class was on a field trip to their local police station where they saw pictures tacked to a bulletin board of the 10 most wanted criminals. One of the youngsters pointed to a picture and asked if it really was the photo of a wanted person. 'Yes,' said the policeman. 'The detectives want very badly to capture him.'  Larry asked, "Why didn't you keep him when you took his picture?"

Little Larry attended a horse auction with his father. He watched as his father moved from horse to horse, running his hands up and down the horse's legs and rump, and chest. After a few minutes, Larry asked, 'Dad, why are you doing that?' His father replied, 'Because when I'm buying horses, I have to make sure that they are healthy and in good shape before I buy. Larry, looking worried, said, 'Dad, I think the UPS guy wants to buy Mom ....'

My Wife always wanted a riding lawn mower.

She works all day and was always tired when she came home from work and thought that a riding lawn mower would help her get the yard work done quicker so she would have more time for the chores inside the house.

SO, being the handy sort of guy that I am, I made her a riding lawn mower. I guess I thought she would squeal with delight or something and give me a big hug.To this day I have never been able to understand 
why some women are so hard to please

P.S. I can see out of my left eye pretty good now and should be able to leave the hospital some time next week!

It's Soooo Hot!

The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.

The trees are whistling for the dogs.

The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance

Hot water now comes out of both taps.

You can make sun tea instantly.

You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.

The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilly.

You discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.

You discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.

You actually burn your hand opening the car door.

You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 
7:30 am.

Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"

You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.

The potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper. and of course sour cream, diced onions and a few serving spoons of chile.

Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from
laying boiled eggs.

The cows are giving evaporated milk.

JAZZ:  Five men on the same stage all playing different tunes.
BLUES:  Played exclusively by people who woke up this morning.
WORLD MUSIC:  A dozen different types of percussion all going at once.

OPERA:  People singing when they should be talking.
RAP:  People talking when they should be singing.
CLASSICAL:  Discover the other 45 minutes they left out of the TV ad

FOLK:  Endless songs about shipwrecks in the 19th century.
BIG BAND:  20 men who take it in turns to stand up plus a drummer.
HEAVY METAL:  Codpiece and chaps.
HOUSE MUSIC:  OK as long as it's not the house next door. 

Have a wonderful week-end,  Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

John The Revelator by Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy's first novel is a delightfully written book which I savored reading. I related to the main character in some ways because I, too, was the child of a single mother and we did have some rough times.

John and his mother live is a small village and they scrape by.  The relationship changes over the course of the book and John becomes the caregiver as time takes it toll on his mother.

The writing in the book is wonderful. I mentioned that I savored it -  I always enjoy it when an author can make the characters come alive and draw such a wonderful picture as the following:

" What's for dinner?"
"Pigs feet and hairy buttermilk."
She spread the table cloth and set the Delph.  There were Polish cartoons on television, followed  by the Angelus' boring bongs.  My mother looked out the window and smoked while I ate.  Her green eyes went grey whenever it rained and her hair was braided halfway down its back.  After the washing us, she sat by the fire and read her Westerns.  Gusts sobbed in the chimney and the fire spat and crackled.
"Book any good?"
She slapped it shut, shook a Majors from the box and broke the fileter off.
"Too many descriptions. I know what a tree looks like.'
I am anxious to see if the author will produce future books.  If so I shall enjoy reading them.

Swing it Beulah Mae

My sister had this on her facebook. If you watch it full screen it is more fun. Enjoy!

Scottish Rite Event

Last night Brothers John Core and Bill Yungclas and I went to Des Moines for the Scottish Rite Member Awards and Kick-off dinner. Here are some pictures from the event.

This is the entry way to the building. It is a beautiful place and a nice welcome to the premier Masonic building in the state.  John is Secretary for Arcadia Lodge and Bill and I are both Past Masters.  It was nice to ride with them for a change as I usually drive down alone. The Scottish Rite had about 150 members and prospects there for a social hour and free steak dinner. and the steak was perfection.  The company was excellent and I think John was impressed with the experience.  I had a great time and I hope he did also.

Blueberries, Nature's Blue Jewels - Photos by Bob Kelly

A different and delicious type of Iowa farm is illustrated by the Berry Patch, located about six miles south of Nevada. This farm grows red and black raspberries, blueberries, black and red currants, strawberries, cherries, and apples, all coming into harvest at different times of the year. One can go there and "pick your own" and purchase them by the pound. It is not only fun, but you can be guaranteed they are the very freshest they could be!
These blueberries were coated with morning dew, transforming them into tiny brilliant blue jewel
The berries that are purple or red in color are not ripe yet!

The bushes are about three fee tall and are planted in long rows, and there are lots of them!
Pickers develop their own style of picking the berries.  What worked best for me was to put my hand around a cluster of blue ones and slightly rub my fingers against them, causing several of them to fall into the pail, which I held beneath them.
This my pail full of blueberries that weighed six pounds
This handful looked good enough to eat, and when I got home with them, and some were washed, that is exactly what I did!  YUMMMMM!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roosevelt Elementary School

From 1977 - 1982 I taught in this school  If you look just above and to the right of the front door you will see where the room was.  It was part of my "salad days" of teaching and I made some great friends. Several of the members of my first class there have reconnected with me on Facebook. 
From an article in the Ames Tribune:

One of the reasons it was such a great place to teach was Tom Berhow who was the principal. He would be my definition of a perfect principal.  He supported and lead us as teachers and while he was somewhat paternalistic it was not in an adverse way. 

As an aside my great aunt Avis Cole taught in this school for over 40 years.  So I feel connected to Roosevelt school and nothing can take the memories of this school and the people who made it great away from me.  

It has been closed for six years.  The school system is at a crossroads.  The current school board is in favor of placing a measure on the ballot which would reopen Roosevelt. Several Roosevelt patrons ran for and were elected to the Ames School board.  I feel that this is one reason that this is being placed on the ballot.  They tout the need for smaller schools.  I taught there and I taught at Edwards School which is also a two unit school which is slated to be closed.  Both schools were good to teach in although the Edwards experience was sometimes marred by less than satisfactory principals. 

Not all of the Board Members are in agreement with reopening Roosevelt. Two of them are opposed and the article reports that"

Board member Bill Talbot said, “The preferred method of education is for teachers to have professional learning communities with their peers, having three or four sections per grade level appears to be the optimal elementary school size to meet this objective. I also believe we can deliver special education and special classes, such as English as a second language, orchestra, band, choir and physical education, more efficiently in three and four section schools, compared to two section schools. The cost premium of operating a two section school could put some special programs at risk for elimination.” 

As fond as I am of Roosevelt School and the experience I had there, I am a progressive and it is not progress to reopen and bring up to standard a building built 90 years ago, just for the sake of the convenience of a few patrons or for nostalgia.  It is time to let this and other smaller schools go.  It is time to use the research about education guide our decisions and to use our money wisely.  It is not wise to re-open a school which has been closed and allowed to deteriorate and which would serve so few students when we are in a time when our nation and our school system are strapped for cash.  Why anyone would sign a petition to put this on the ballot let alone vote for it is beyond my understanding... But then what do I know?

RAGBRAI invades Boone County. - Photos by Bob Kelly

RAGBRAI (for non Iowans, stands for Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.) It had its beginnings in 1973 when John Karras an avid bicyclist, and Donald Kaul, a columnist for the Des Moines Register decided to organize an Iowa bike ride, starting at the West end of the state at the Missouri River, and ending at the East side of the state at the Mississippi River. The rest as they say is history, as now there is a limit of the officially registered RAGBRAI participants set at 8,500 riders.

 However the number swells to as much as five times that when local bike enthusiasts joint for part of the daily ride, or local community citizens come out to see the gathering in Iowa's small towns. The day I photographed the ride was Tuesday, and the bikers had travelled from Carroll to Boone, where the entourage will spend the night.

 Wednesday morning they take off and ride to Altoona, continuing each day until near the end of the week they ceremoniously dip their wheels in the Mississippi River, just as they had done in the Missouri River when they started. There are many web pages with info, routes, photos, and statistics, just Google the word "RAGBRAI" and research to your hearts content!

On this day the bikers traveled on rather level ground from Carroll to Pilot Mound, and about five miles east of Pilot Mound, things changed as they went down a big hill to cross the Des Moines River valley and back up again.  Most of these images are of groups coming up the hill or as in the case of this group, having made it.
The hill is called, "Twister Hill," because footage of the hill was used in the movie "Twister", shot in 1966.  It is a good movie, and I would recommend you see it, if you have not done so.

This guy was traveling light, using only a skateboard and also lots more effort I would think, but he is still smiling!

Although the hill is called "Twister Hill," as I mentioned, a few of the riders shared other names for it as they approached me!
People of all ages ride on RAGBRAI, and some of them use recumbent style bikes.
This group was walking their bikes up the hill, which several did.  
Most of them slowly chugged up the hill using the lowest gears on their bikes.  There were two rest points that I could see that sold bottles of ice water and also bananas for energy!
At this point they were turning south from their route and headed to Boone, a long flat ride for ten more miles.  There were state troopers and sheriff's cars at corners to assist with traffic flow.

These guys were eager to be at the point where they turned towards Boone, where they could get a shower, get settled in their tents, and enjoy the hospitality that was waiting for them.

Many bikers travel in groups or clubs, and are preceded to the overnight stop by support crews who set up tents for them, bring extra bike repairs, and just provide encouragement and moral support.
It was a warm day, but there were breezes and at this point the bikers were moving rather fast.  The Iowa countryside was all decked out in our favorite color for this time of year....GREEN!  The corn and soybeans have never looked better!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recommended Reading

Once again I recommend that you go to Forks Off The Moment to read an outstanding post.  I saw this man and his dog on David Letterman.  I was impressed with the story.  Dianne was inspired to go further and write about it so I recommend that you go read about Tuesday and his human.