September 4th, 2008

Iowa City, Iowa

I haven't been back here for fifteen years, since earning my master's degree at University of Iowa. This was close enough to South Dakota to where driving here just to see what had changed was an easy choice.
Iowa City, Iowa

My old apartment

I couldn't remember the address, but annualcreditreport.com did. Pretty clever of me to have tried that.
My old apartment

Hmmm...

There seems to have been pretty close to complete retail turnover in the last fifteen years. The Mexican restaurant I liked so much is gone, for example.
Hmmm...

A HA!

This actually IS the Mexican restaurant I was thinking of - I just didn't recognize it since they went with a spiffy new logo and color scheme. Just like a chain, which it since became.

Between my old apartment now being a condo, the engineering building having been rebuilt, and most of the old shops having been replaced, this is the first tangible tie I've found to this earlier time in my life.
A HA!

Something else that's still here...

The "Hall Mall" upstairs at 114 E College St. It was/is a collection of funky shops, though now there are only two: a tattoo shop and the obligatory university district "glass art" shop.
Something else that's still here...

Sturgis revisited

It occurs to me that if I was mistaken for "Mikey" from Orange County Chopper before, now that I'm wearing this 2008 Sturgis Rally t-shirt that's probably going to happen pretty much constantly.

Living vicariously

Earlier this year, Barack Obama got into trouble for a speech in which he said that a fixation on "religion" and "guns" in rural America was a natural result of the economic problems rural America is currently suffering. Now, earlier this year I spent 100 days riding a bicycle across the country, almost entirely through rural America, which probably means I've spent more time in contemporary rural America than either presidential candidate. And, I can personally attest that the passion rural America lavishes on either religion or guns completely pales against the passion rural America lavishes on high school sports.

Seriously, for many communities it's the town's only live entertainment, and the local newspapers talk about little else.

But in the 21st century, "wholesome fixation" is just another way to say "unrealized profit," so I predict the following: that we'll soon see the day when a class of high school athletes decides to privatize. In other words, the star athletes at the local high school all quit the high school team and instead play only in for-profit games against their rival school, whose star athletes would make the same agreement. Then, the admission fees for the games, which would be held on private property, go to the players and help them pay their way through college.

If you think this sounds crazy, then keep in mind that it wasn't so many years ago when competing in video game tournaments couldn't pay a living wage, when behaving badly on reality TV wasn't instantly monetizeable, and when you couldn't get rich selling virtual real estate in the online environment Second Life.

You heard it here first.

The Slow Food movement...

These folks make everything so darned complicated.

Here are two ways to achieve the Slow Food goals without merely shunting the increased workload to whomever in your family was already doing the cooking:
  1. Order the ingredients online. They take forever to get to you, so the core Slow Food goal of wasting time is still realized, but between clicking on "OK" and actually receiving your purchases the enforced gap in prep work provides sufficient time to make it to Pita Pit.
  2. Rather than cooking in real life, instead cook in the video game "The Sims." Everything in this video game takes forever, including cooking, so you get the core Slow Food experience without inevitably ending up with a bag of real-life organic heirloom tomatoes rotting in the crisper.

Slow Food

"A Study of Guided Applications to Explore Spatial Ability"

It turned out that a Ph.D. candidate in my own field was giving a talk this same evening. I thought I might as well attend.

I haven't been at this school for fifteen years, and this physical building didn't even exist when I was here, but hey: nothing ventured, nothing gained.
A Study of Guided Applications to Explore...

Heading back

It occurs to me that the last time I left this same address in Iowa City fifteen years ago, I was also headed back to University of Washington: that time to start a Ph.D. program, this time to start their law program.

Nice.
Heading back