National Balloon Museum - Part 1

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On our Winterset trip last May, we stopped at the the National Balloon Museum in Indianola, Iowa.
Admission was only $3 per person.  There are maps near the entrance with pins for visitors to mark where they are from.  If the maps are accurate, the museum has been visited by people from every state in the Union, and guests from every continent.  I'm not sure the three pins placed on Antarctica are legitimate, but who knows?

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2015 - Part 2

Friday, May 27, 2016

Best Western Cantebury Inn and Suites turned out to be an older hotel, so accommodations were not comparable with those we enjoyed at the Cedar Rapids Best Western.  But, regardless, I was pleasantly impressed.  I booked the room weeks in advance...and they gave us the most spacious room on the first floor!
Clockwise from top left: Sign in Best Western room, BW room, stairway at the Marriot, BW continental breakfast.
It's not often I book a 2 queen-bed room and get a couch as well (not pictured).  It was also very nice to start the day with a complimentary continental breakfast (a standard at Best Western).  Last year we stayed at the Marriott, but ended up driving around town to a McDonalds for breakfast. 

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2015 - Part 1

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I'm stepping back into my drafts folder to post about the state's strongest tournament, the Iowa Open, which we participated in on August 29th and 30th, 2015.  I'm not sure why this never got posted, but better late than never.  Like in 2014, the Iowa Open was held at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa.
I woke up at 6:00 A.M., packed and caught up on emails (and made sure I made a move in my correspondence chess games so I wouldn't forfeit on time while gone).  Charity, Papa, and I left shortly after 7:00 A.M.  On our way we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast.  We arrived at the Marriott with plenty of time, and checked in with Mark Capron, the tournament organizer.

The Wellsburg Open 2016 - Part 2

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

After the first round there was plenty of time to relax and eat lunch.  I grabbed a bowl of potato soup, a turkey sandwich, and cake, and headed down to the skittles room.
Clockwise from top left: The venue, the skittles room, Mark Kende, and Angelo Young.
The Wellsburg area has a definite lack of serious chess players.  Last year I put up flyers in all the surrounding towns, and ran an ad in the local newspaper.  The only local players who came were my family and our friend Pastor Jim Hartman from Whitten Community Church.  Everyone else had a long drive.

The Wellsburg Open 2016 - Part 1

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"What is your greatest fear?" is a question psychoanalyzing interrogators in espionage series have tried to answer in an effort to force secret agents to reveal their nation's secrets.  The past year has made me wonder if mine is an aversion for lateness.   For months I've had dreams (or shall we say, nightmares) about starting the first round of the Wellsburg Open 15 minutes late.  No one told me that would be a side-effect of tournament organizing.
Late 2015 I decided to host the Wellsburg Open again.  In January I booked the Wellsburg Reformed Church as the venue, posted announcements, and sent invitations to the masters in the surrounding states.

Book Review: Hearts of Fire

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Over seventy percent of Americans claim to be Christians, but what does being a Christian mean to us?  Would we still so eagerly claim our Christian faith if identifying as such meant being disowned by family, watching our towns burned, spending years in prison, facing torture, or seeing our family killed?
For the eight women whose stories this book tells, the answer was yes.  Originally published by the Voice of the Martyrs in 2003, the oldest story in Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costly Faith is the story of Sabina Wurmbrand (1945).  Other stories take us into the early twenty-first century.