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.”