Archive for June, 2006

Strange sights on the bike

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

There’s a piece of property on Highway J, just west of MO 51, in western Perry county, MO.  First you notice this sign:

Which, if you can’t make it out, used to say “Conway Twitty.”   Apparently someone was a fan, as this sign was painstakingly made by jigsawing the individual letters and screwing them into the board.  Why?  Who knows?  Do I make a sign saying “Frank Zappa” for my lawn?

I’m assuming here that we can rule out the possibility that Conway Twitty had a little vacation hideaway in a trailer on the far northeast edge of the Ozarks — convenient to Amidon Conservation Area, aka Pink Rocks.  Nah.

Okay, so a little further along, after passing half a dozen hand-made No Trespassing signs, we see this little assemblage on the barbed-wire fence:

What are those, you ask?  Try a closer look…

Yes, they’re Chick Tracts. This isn’t the recommended way to store them, I’m pretty sure.  My guess is that the resident is the black sheep of the neighborhood, and somebody keeps giving him these.  And he hangs them on the fence.   But I could be way off base.  Any thoughts?

Niswonger (Thanks!)

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

On highway 72, there’s a little church with a big historical marker out front. It’s the Niswonger Church — Niswongers make up a whole page in the phone book here, and this is where the original settlers … um… settled.

Here’s the marker:

Pretty nice, huh? Lots of genealogical data there. I stopped at the Niswonger church while on a bike ride the other day, and took this photo. Then I walked around, looked at the old cemetery, etc. When I walked back, I saw that there was something carved on the back of the marker:

This is why they’re always advising you against having stuff carved in stone, I guess.

In which I learn a new hip expression

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

So, I just wrote a letter of recommendation for a former student, who, following appropriate sucking-up protocol, mentioned in her email asking for this that my blog was hysterical. I figure that if she actually meant that at all, she must have been confusing mine with Cabell’s. Naturally, this led me to look at Cabell’s LJ, where I found myself reading the 9:52 PM June 19th entry, the one that starts out ” ZZOMG. Is there anything better than going to Best Buy drunk?”

The expression “ZOMG” or “ZZOMG” appears twice in this entry, and fortunately, I was able to google it and get to this rather disapproving Wikipedia entry on the topic.

So now I know, even though I am not actually a member of “many internet communities, particularly those connected with online games.” ZOMG hax!

A modest proposal

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Betsy, my mother-in-law, has been in the “Health Center” at Chateau Girardeau for several weeks now, since she got out of the hospital after her heart attack. It’s basically like a small hospital for Chateau residents. (Why is it that “Chateau Whatever” is always code for “Old Folks’ Home?” Is there some intrinsic connection between “chateau” and “mystery meat with overcooked vegetables” or something?)

Anyway, I watched the other day with some amusement as two nursing aides together proved unable to figure out how to shut off an oxygen tank before removing the regulator from it. (It’s “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, in case you’re wondering.) They fumbled around, turning the valve the wrong way, tried to take off the regulator and got a big WHOOSH of oxygen, tried to turn the valve even FURTHER open, and finally broke the little plastic wrench they were using. At this point I figured it was time to put in my two cents, and I pointed out that most valves would tighten the other direction.

But what the hell, those are just aides, right? Probably requires a high school diploma and pays minimum wage. Then yesterday I watched one of the LPNs in charge of the floor do essentially the same thing.

I think I could put together a little class for nursing students at the university — “How to open and close valves”, or “Clockwise 101″. It’s apparently a neglected part of the education of people in the health professions.


Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Our kittens. Darwin is the black and white one, Finch is the orange and white one. Yes, they’re this cute all the damn time. Frequently cuter.

The Taum Sauk ride

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

Yesterday I rode my bike to the top of Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri. Here’s a GoogleEarth file of the ride, complete with elevation lines.
Since RAGBRAI is particularly hilly this year, I’ve been trying to get in plenty of hill climbing lately. It seemed to me that the highest point in the state would be a good place to get some. I did set myself some rules at the beginning, though. I resolved that I’d keep the pedal cadence above 70 RPM, and my heart rate below 170.

The pedal cadence thing didn’t last very long — not far from Lesterville I wound up dropping below 70 going up a steep hill. The heart rate rule looked like a better bet until I got to the side road that goes up Taum Sauk Mountain itself. I hit 174 on a hill while doing about 6 mph in the lowest gear I’ve got, at a cadence of about 50. Well, so they were more like guidelines than rules.

Anyway, I did get through the ride feeling pretty good all in all. Check out the view from the lookout tower on top of Taum Sauk.

Sophie goes home

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

Last night we drove up to St. Louis, where we spent the night with our friends the Crites. We went to Forest Park, had a picnic dinner, and saw a performance of Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Park). It was good, although we were all fading pretty badly in the second half. I was having serious trouble getting the battle scenes to come into focus. This morning we took Sophie to the airport to go back to Minnesota.

I suppose she got back, although she hasn’t called. It’s tough to know, since her phone doesn’t actually work. When you call her, she can hear you, but you can’t hear her. She’s doing a lot of text messaging.

Robin and Sophie come home tonight

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

So, after their trip to Spain, Robin and Sophie are supposed to get in tonight around 11 PM. I’m not looking forward to the trip up to St. Louis to get them (or worse yet, the trip back, as we’ll likely get home around 2 AM). I’m a morning person. Oh, well.

Blogging for Education

Monday, June 5th, 2006

So this morning I’m going to be taking part in a workshop on “hot topics in educational technology,” and my part is to talk about blogging. So, I thought it would be nice if I had a recent post in my blog. Anybody else out there ever use blogs in a course?