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Live From Iowa!

A brief sampling of vignettes from this week’s trip to Iowa City:

  • I got my picture taken with a bunch of people who’d driven from Wisconsin to be at the Web Camp.  As the picture was being taken, I felt like we were all bunched together to a degree that would have made a modest person blush.  The photo makes it look like the people on my side of the group were fearful of catching contagious diseases from each other.  Weird.
  • While walking around downtown Iowa City with some folks from the conference, we passed a Mexican restaurant called “Gringo’s”.  A block away, we passed an ice cream parlor called “Whitey’s”.

    Do I even have to tell you that I’m not making this up?

  • Tuesday night we had dinner at an Italian place, and when the hostess asked me if I’d like some freshly grated cheese on my entreé, I said I would.  “Just tell me when,” she said as she started.

    There was a short pause as she grated away.  “More?” she inquired.

    “You bet,” I replied.  “Did you ever see the TV commercial with the huge pile of—”

    “Oh, yes,” she said with authority, still grating.  “At my last job, that’s all anybody ever said to me.”

    “I think that’s enough,” I told her.  “And thanks for so thoroughly shooting down my lame, unoriginal attempt at a stupid joke.”

  • Iowa City, and for that matter the Cedar Rapids airport, are dotted with “Herkeys”, which are four-foot statues of the local sports mascot that have been ‘enhanced’ by various artists.  The statue outside the Museum of Natural History, for example, was covered in fur and titled “Bigfoot Herkey”, while the one in the airport sports a business suit, travel bag, and cell phone.  What I found interesting is that none of the Herkeys I saw had been structurally modified, either by addition or subtraction, but were simply decorated in some fashion.  I wonder if that was a participation constraint, or if perhaps the mascot is so revered that nobody even considered performing artistic surgery.

  • Just past the Museum of Natural History I glanced up at the roof of a building to see the American flag at half-mast.  I actually had to think about it for a second before I made the connection, but I thought I’d check.  “That’s to honor Reagan, I assume,” I said to Mark Hale, the conference organizer.  “How long are flags going to be lowered for him?”

    “I heard thirty days,” he said.  “Although I think ten of those might be in memory of the Democratic Party.”

Six Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Wed 9 Jun 2004
    • 1432
    mike davis wrote in to say...

    Eric thanks for coming to Iowa. =) too bad you didn’t go into Whitey’s — best ice cream in the world. And yes, we do love our Herky. =)

    and thanks again. our group learned a tremendous amount about css that we would have never known.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Thu 10 Jun 2004
    • 1140
    Matt Heerema wrote in to say...

    Definitely thanks for coming over to Iowa. Us invaders from ISU don’t have quite the reverence for Herkey that UofI people do. We just laugh at the “decorated” Herkey’s. It’s like something we’d do to their mascot at our annual football game if we had the chance…

    Thanks for joining us for lunch too. I’m still trying to figure out what the heck that crazy siren was at about 1p…

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Thu 10 Jun 2004
    • 1711
    Clay McKinney wrote in to say...


    Herkey.Bigfoot { border : 1in brown upholstry;}

    Ah, the glories of separating “structure” from “decoration.”

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Fri 11 Jun 2004
    • 1128
    Mike King wrote in to say...

    I also wish to extend a thanks for coming to Iowa! Great place. Oh, and you’ve also managed to discover the reason Whitey’s hasn’t gone nationwide… Though two interesting facts about the best ice cream place in the world: Hillary Clinton (while her husband was in office) once ordered numerous gallons of peppermint ice cream for a desert at a presidential dinner, and the good people at Edy’s (I think) once said they were very glad Whitey’s wasn’t planning any expansions out of Iowa. Here’s to the “best ice cream in the world”!

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Fri 11 Jun 2004
    • 2135
    Michael Herring wrote in to say...

    It was great to see you speak in person, so thanks for coming! You’ve taught me most of what I know about CSS during the past 4 years. Having moved back to Iowa from Brooklyn a few years ago, the “Whitey’s” name is quite appropriate for the area, no matter how much we’d like to change it.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Tue 22 Jun 2004
    • 1422
    Charlie wrote in to say...

    I miss everything in this town! Are you coming back anytime soon? Like most things in the world these days there’s a web page that tells you all you want to know about the turkeys, err herkys. http://www.herkyonparade.com/ Too bad, like most things on the web, it uses tables for layout and way too much javaschitt. You missed all the good mexican food this state has to offer!

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