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.