Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Week at the Newspaper - Part 1

What is life like as a small-town newspaper editor? In this post and the next, I'd like to invite you to join me for a week!  While, for most people, the week starts on Sunday, for me the week really start on Wednesday, the day my papers are printed, and I start work on the next edition of the paper.
At the Clarksville Star office: this is where the receptionist, Mary, now desk is one table back.
(This was a convenient place to pose when I showed my family the office shortly after I started working here.)
I'm always learning something new! 
  • Holes/eyes in Swiss cheese are formed by carbon dioxide gas created by the bacteria that flavors the cheese. Micro particles of plant origin serve as nuclei for the bubbles of carbon dioxide. In Switzerland, the cheese suffered from blindness as sealed milking machines largely precluded the presence of microscopic hay particles in milk until scientists figured this out. 
  • Chickens used to wear glasses (see here for an explanation).
  • Cows at a local dairy wear pedometers much like runners wear FitBits or Garmins to count their steps.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Marshall County Courthouse and Clocktower

Some time ago, I posted about the Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown, Iowa.  We visited during the winter, and the clock tower was closed for the season.  So, during the summer of 2015, we called the county Board of Supervisors, and Lisa Gassman kindly agreed to give us a tour.
Courthouses that allow visitors to climb the stairs up to the clock tower are few and far between, so we were especially grateful for this opportunity.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mai Pho & Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets Part 2

After completing the first day of the Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets tournament, we spent the night at the DoubleTree. In the morning, we did some running on the sidewalks in town. We returned to the hotel and took the stairs up to our room on the 9th floor. But...we didn't stop there. The hotel has 16 floors, so we headed up to the top! Before long, I was thinking of A Stairway Chase on Studio C! I started out running, but by the last floor I was slowly walking. The view from the 16th floor was beautiful.
For lunch, we stopped at Mai Pho in Cedar Rapids, which is a favorite with my family because of their bubble teas and other sweet beverages. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets 2017 - Part 1

With my new job keeping me hopping, I seriously considered not attending the Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets March 4th-5th.  However, it's one of my favorite chess tournaments.  The accommodations are always top-notch, and I have an attendance record to keep.  This year was my 7th in a row participating. The FIDE-rated tournament was held at the Physician's Clinic of Iowa, directed by Jim Hodina, and hosted by Robert Keating.
My parents and youngest sister had a 10K to run in Garrison, so they dropped me off at the clinic early.  I helped set up boards, and then played some blitz games against Richard Rector to warm up, as my chess skills have gotten a little rusty.  My sister took a half-point bye in round 1 in the Reserve section, and joined me after she finished running the 10K.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Such is Life

I suppose it only fair to mention (as otherwise I may confuse you, my dear readers, in future posts): a little over two weeks ago, I started working as news editor for two local newspapers, the Clarksville Star and Butler County Tribune-Journal.  It's a dream come true.  Everything I've always loved doing--interviewing people, visiting neat places, and exploring small-town Iowa--I now do every working day.
Not only am I doing something I love, it seems I'm working for a great company.  My co-workers have all been pleasant and very helpful as I've worked on learning my new duties.  I remember at an interview for another company I applied with, I was asked what kind of people I liked to work with.  "Nice people?!" I replied.  They told me my coworkers would be grumpy.  In retrospect, I am so glad I did not get that job.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mines of Spain

Last October while we were in the Dubuque area, we stopped at the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area and E.B. Lyons Nature Center.  The nature center was a sort of small museum with a gift shop and a conference room.   A field trip for an elementary school class seemed to be in progress; there were a lot of children.
We started our hike on the very short Pine Chapel Trail.  The roof of the chapel was being fixed, and a local historian happened to be there.  She told us about the chapel, built in the 1860s by Otto Junkermann to resemble a church he remembered in Germany.  It seems this chapel, though, was never really used as a church.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Goodness and Mercy

Recently, I was reflecting on the challenge of maintaining a positive attitude in light of difficulties.   Sometimes all the struggles--and evil--of the world can wear on even the most devoted optimists. And sometimes, simple determination to be happy in itself cannot dispel the tenebrous foes of peace in one's soul.
Romans 12:21 came to mind, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Generally, I have categorized this verse with verses about loving enemies and doing good to those who hate you--rather reactionary, defensive advice to avoid being overtaken by the attrition of evil.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dubuque County Courthouse

After visiting the Delaware County Courthouse this fall, I headed over to the Dubuque County Courthouse.  Its exterior one of the most impressive in the state, this building (built 1891-93) features Beaux Arts architecture, and was designed by Fridolin Heer and Son.  A 14-foot bronze statue of Justice adorns the pinnacle of the courthouse tower.  Originally, 12 statues were on the roof.  Today, there are six pewter statues.  Four of the statues--large winged angels with trumpets--are said to have been taken down during World War I, and melted for the war effort.
The courthouse is constructed of Indiana limestone, brick, and molded terracotta.  One man, a bricklayer named John Kuntz, died during the construction when a wall gave way and he fell.  Many renovations have been done over the years.  Notably, the dome was plated with gold leaf.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Interview with Micah Versemann

A couple years ago, my friend Kathleen Franck told me about a local filmmaker, Micah Versemann, of Brothers in Christ Productions, who would make a great topic for an interview. I had the privilege of meeting Micah recently, and he agreed to share about his work in a phone interview.
Bethany Carson: Can you tell about yourself and how you became interested in film-making?
Micah Versemann: My name is Micah Versemann, and I currently live in Waverly, Iowa.  Everyone always asks me how I got into film-making, but I still don't have an exact answer.  The first time I got to use a video camera was back when I was about eight years old.  That was one of the most cool things ever, because I'd always seen my dad or my mom running around with it--and they finally let me do it.  From there, it kept growing.  Soon I was making fun videos in my backyard with friends.  And next thing I knew, I was writing a script for a film and producing it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Benton County Courthouse

December 4th, I found myself in Vinton, Iowa with my family for the annual Tour de Lights 5K.  The course started at the fire station, and continued right past the Benton County Courthouse!  Before the run, I walked over to get a few photos.  It was a Sunday, so I wasn't able to venture inside.
I do, however, love the Beaux Arts style architecture of the exterior.  This Courthouse was built 1905-1906 of Buckeye gray sandstone, and cost $150,000.  Inside, reportedly there are three murals painted by an unknown artist.  The 1,500-lb. bell (donated by Paul Correll) and the clock were recently completely restored and re-installed.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pho All Seasons

We stopped at Pho All Seasons in Des Moines in November after I ran the Hungry Turkey 5K, and my parents and sister had run the Hungry Turkey half marathon.  The place had a pleasant family atmosphere.  
I ordered a medium bowl of chicken pho for $6.95.  It was ok, but I missed the lime slices I could squeeze into the soup at Pho 515.  Without a little citrus, it seemed rather bland, but then that's just my tastes.  My mother ordered beef pho and thought it was delicious.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: The Art of the Deal

Around the time I read Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village, I also purchased a copy of Trump: The Art of the Deal, by Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz.  This year, I finally got around to reading it--and was surprised how quickly I finished.  This book has a very easy-to-read style.
Published in 1987,  the first chapter details a week in Trump's life.  The book then goes on to tell Trump's story, with a special focus on each of his big deals.  The stories are revealing.  Love or hate him, Trump is Trump.  He's well educated, but a bit rough around the edges.  And that's exactly what his book is like.  The type of language he uses in his speeches is what you'll read in his book.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

7 Stars Family Restaurant in Hampton

In late October, we stopped at the 7 Stars Family Restaurant in Hampton, Iowa for a family dinner after setting up for the train show.  The restaurant had a pleasant environment, and the waitresses were very nice and provided excellent service.
I ordered grilled chicken, which came with a potato and a choice of soup or salad with a roll.  If I recall correctly, you could also choose from a variety of ways to have your potato fixed.  I chose mashed potatoes with gravy, and salad.  I would have preferred a slightly larger portion size, but the whole meal only cost $6.95.  Everything was very good.  Afterward, I tried their pecan pie with ice cream ($3.25).