Thursday Doors – ISU Part-I

Chemistry Building

Chemistry Building

I spent a really long weekend in Ames, Iowa, visiting family. We aren’t from Iowa, but my brother and mother now live there. My brother graduated from Iowa State University (ISU) and never left. A few years ago, when my mother needed to be closer to family, we moved her from Pittsburgh to Iowa. So, it’s pretty easy to visit both of them, as well as my niece and her husband, with one flight.

My brother is a good sport, doesn’t mind driving, and is familiar with the phenomenon that is Thursday Doors.

Thursday Doors, if you’re not familiar, is a weekly tribute to doors around the world, organized and supported by Norm Frampton. How does it work? I’m glad you asked. Take your one flight over to Norm’s place. Oooh and Aaaaah over his doors – they’re always awesome. Then, look for the blue button with the frog on it. That’s right, blue button, frog. Press that button and you will be invited to add your door to the collection. If you don’t have a door photo, you can substitute a painting, a poem, a description or just about anything that seems like a door. If you don’t have any of those things, you can still see all the other doors.

I couldn't resisit

I couldn’t resist

As for me, I have photos of doors. I have photos of a lot of doors. What I don’t have is a lot of time to prepare this post. So, I’m going to share some doors today, including the ones behind that photoshopped sign – that’s right, the sign is a hoax – sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

Those doors are on the home of the President of ISU. Pretty nice digs, nice doors and, at least he didn’t release the hounds while I was taking pictures. Actually, my brother told me that, back in the 70s, he was part of a crowd outside this residence, protesting a tuition increase. For you younger folks, I shouldn’t tell you that the tuition increase was probably something like increasing from $600 to $650 a semester.

Another group of doors in the gallery are from State Gym. This building opened in 1913 and was built at the staggering cost of $150,000. It was supposed to be an armory and field house. 1913, is too early for what strikes me as an Art Deco feel. Let me know if you see that, maybe there was a precursor movement we don’t know about.

Across the street from State Gym is the new gym. It was built in the 60s and it looks like it. I’m including it to illustrate why I love buildings that were build when form and function were important.

I also included doors from the Chemistry Building. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry, so I liked seeing this building.

I’ve tried to describe the doors as best I can in the captions. I hope you enjoy today’s doors.

Posted in Family, Photography, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , | 59 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday – Oh, That’s It

I was visiting my brother, his family and our mother this past weekend and earlier this week. They live in Ames, Iowa, the college town around Iowa State University. When planning these visits, I try to avoid weekends with football home games or other large-draw events. These events tie up traffic, overflow restaurants and jack up hotel rates.

When I made my reservations, the hotel rates were higher than I expected they would be. We couldn’t find any events, other than a Gordon Lightfoot concert and a women’s volleyball game. On the way to pick up mom for dinner, we stopped so I could check into my hotel. There, the mystery was solved:

I’m not sure if this changes our dinner plans, but the hotel clerk asked me if I am here for parents’ weekend.”

We drove by a few of the restaurants on our list and they were packed to the curbs.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday meals consisted of takeout from some of those restaurants. Even takeout required a wait, but the result was good food, great conversation and time spent with loved ones.

One-liner Wednesday is a weekly challenge brought to us by Linda G. Hill. They gallery below includes some photos from a drive through Ames while in search of doors.

Posted in Family, One Line Wed, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

Spelling vs. Math

In a comment exchange on my I’m Worried About Google post, Robin and I talked about spelling bees and math bees. I was horrible at spelling when I was a child. In fairness to the truth, I’m still pretty bad. I did do pretty well in a couple of math bees, but as I explained to Robin:

“… my success may have been due to what the teachers thought was an inappropriate approach to math. But, in a Math Bee, you don’t have to ‘show your work’ so I had an advantage. Because you did have to show your work on tests, my grades were lower than you might expect. But, I’m still pretty good at math, so I’m not complaining.”

For example, while a friend was recently reaching for a calculator, I provided the answer (accurate to the required 2 decimal places) to: 50 divided by 17. I said 2.94, because:

Show your work

Show your work

3 x 17 would be 51. So we need to subtract 1/17th from 3. I don’t know what 1/17th is, but I do know that 1/16th = 0.0625 – ‘cuz rote memorization of halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths was a thing when I was a kid – so 1/17th would be a little less than 0.06, so, yeah, 2.94.

Similarly 3 x 97 = 300 – 9 = 291

So, in a math bee, I’m golden. On paper, those are supposed to look like the stuff in the drawings, but I did the math the same way in my head, so showing my work wasn’t ever going to end well.

This is classic Apple-stupid.

This is classic Apple-stupid.

Regarding the other side of my title, I was pretty sure that my inability to spell had been fully offset by spell-check technology.

Then – I – bought – an – iPhone.

There’s just no explaining the iPhone’s spell check mechanism. I mean some cone-head at Apple can explain it, but it doesn’t make any sense. I have never written a spell-checker, but I am familiar with one method that uses a large list of known words and calculates a value called “edit distance”

I get beat up a lot for technical posts. It’s Monday, not Saturday, but I’m still a little nervous about going into the weeds on this. Maybe I’ll include it at the bottom, if I can finish without a lot more words.

In addition to the fact that the iPhone is just scary with the words it thinks are words, the kind of typing mistakes I make don’t lend themselves to being auto-corrected. Here’s a short list of my favorite typing-induced spelling errors:

The B-space error – I hit the letter ‘b’ instead of the space bar, generating errors like ‘mybhouse’ ‘mybcar’ and ‘firstbchoice’ – spell-check never helps.

The pay-it-forward error – This is when I hit the space bar, but I hit it before the first word is complete. I end up giving the last letter of word one to word two. This results in short phrases like: ‘it’s col doutside’ and ‘I coul duse more time’ – the list goes on.

Impolite error – My iPhone doesn’t seem to understand the concept of saying thank you. This results in two different errors, neither of which can be reliably corrected. Error one is the result of my pressing any key near the ‘a’ instead of the ‘a’ – ‘thsnks’ ‘thwnk you’ ‘thznks’, etc. Error two is caused when my right hand gets ahead of my left hand while typing. This yields: ‘thnaks’ or ‘thakns’ which you would think my phone could fix, if it had manners. “What do you say, iPhone?”

Surprise surprise, I used too many words so I don’t have room for the mini-lecture on ‘edit-distance’ – don’t all go “awwwwww” at once.

Please enjoy a few more of my favorite iPhone-in-action screen shots, and have a great week.

Posted in Humor, Rant, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 68 Comments

I Don’t Have OCD

For the love of beer

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you’d start picking on me about some habits

“It occurs to me that I bought your beer last week, and the week before.”

“Thanks. You’re a nice guy.”

“That’s not my point. I think it’s your turn to buy.”

“Fair enough. Cheryl, I’ll have a Yuengling please.”

“What about him?”

“Yeah, what about me?”

“Probably a glass of Meiomi.”

“Not today. Today, I’ll have Woodford Reserve on the rocks.”

“Because you’re on my tab.”

“That’s true, but I did buy your beers two weeks in a row.”

“Yes, but as you once pointed out, two beers cost less than your wine, far less than that bourbon”

“Which you said didn’t matter…”

“Enough already. You two sound like an old married couple. Here’s your beer and here’s your bourbon.”

“Here’s to change.”

“Said the man drinking yet another Yuengling.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just that I’ve never seen you order anything else.”

“I’ve ordered lots of other beers.”

“That’s true, when the Yuengling tap kicked, he had Sam Adams, Boston Lager.”

“When the tap kicks.”

“I’ve also seen him order Corona.”

“I don’t recall him ever ordering Corona”

“He orders it when he’s not feeling well. He calls it his ‘light beer’ “

He, and him are sitting right here…just sayin.”

“Does he see a pattern forming? Yuengling most days. Sam Adams if there’s no Yuengling. Corona if you’re not feeling well.”

“So, I’m predictable. What’s wrong with that?”

“It’s called OCD.”

“I don’t think preferring one beer over another, raises to the level of a mental disorder.”

“It’s not just the beers, you’re predictable in most things.”

A, I’m not sure that’s true, and B, how would you know? I don’t do most things at this bar.”

“That’s a good thing; we run a class act here. You boys want any food today?”

“I’m going to take…”

“…some wings home. And, I believe he prefers barbecue sauce .”

“Big deal, I like their wings. They happen to be very good.”

“He does sometimes get the specials.”

“OK, maybe I’m being too hard on him.”

“Here! Him is here! You don’t have to continue talking about me in the third person.”

“OK, let me ask you a simple question: when was the last time you tried a new beer?”

“Last Thursday.”

“It must have been good, for you to remember so clearly.”

“It was very good.”

“What beer?”

“Naughty Nurse.”

“We have that here. I’ve never seen you order it.”

“You have the IPA, Cheryl. I was drinking the Amber.”

“Have you been cheating on me? Where were you doing this drinking?”

“Easy Cheryl, remember he travels a lot.”

He does, but Naughty Nurse is a local brew.”

He, rather, I was at ADNET Technologies 25th anniversary cocktail party. They had a ‘tasting’ event. Wine, cider and beer. City Steam was there.”

“Eric? Was Eric there? He’s our sales rep. He does those tastings all the time.”

“He was, and he said he loves coming to this bar.”

“What’s not to love?”

“Hang on a minute. At this ‘tasting’ event, what all did you taste?”

“Naughty Nurse, Amber.”

“That’s it? No cider? No wine?”

“Eric was kind enough to keep pouring the Amber. I liked it.”

“Uh huh, Naughty Nurse Amber, a.k.a. Thursday night Yuengling. Seriously, it’s called OCD.”

“Speaking of Yuengling, could we get another round, Cheryl.”

“You can have as many rounds as you like, unless you’re driving. I want to make sure you can get back here next weekend.”

“He’ll be back. One beer while we talk. Then the second beer. When he’s halfway through that, he’ll order those wings. He’ll finish the beer as the wings arrive and he’s gone.”

“OK, enough is enough. I’m right here, I periodically have three beers, some times I eat here. You cannot predict my every move.”

“Really? I’ll bet you the next round, or the imaginary third round that I can name three things you did last week.”

“I’m already buying the next round.”

“So, you have nothing to lose.”

“OK, three things, but not things like ‘ate dinner’ or ‘walked the dog’, right?”

“Right, even though I’m pretty sure I could chart the course of that walk with Maddie better than your GPS.”

“Maddie is a creature of habit.”

“Said Yuengling boy.”

“Let’s go, while we’re young.”

“Before your recent flight, you purchased a copy of Discover Magazine, Fine Wood Working and a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s.”

“That’s true, but that’s not three things. It’s ‘reading material’ and ‘food’ “

“It’s not ‘food’ It’s an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. You never Tweet about eating anything else.

“I had breakfast at Wendy’s”

“Wendy’s isn’t open for breakfast.”

“They are in the west.”

“OK, so Wendy’s is your west coast Auntie Anne’s. You establish territorial ruts, but you’re the only person I know who regularly reads Discover but doesn’t have a subscription.”

“I like buying it before I travel. If I had a subscription, I’d read it at home.”

“You could set it aside for when you travel.”

“I don’t have that much self-discipline. I’d read it.”

“Willpower, my young friend. It’s what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.”

“I don’t think reading a magazine or buying a pretzel is on par with standing in a stream, eating salmon ‘til I’m ready to sleep for three months.”

“You never can tell.”

“Speaking of Salmon, it’s one of our specials today. Still want those wings?”

“Yes! BBQ sauce, please.”

Posted in Friends, Humor, If having a beer, Perspective | Tagged , , , , | 55 Comments

A Little Personal – James Sharp -A tribute

I don’t often reblog posts, but there aren’t many of this generation left, and I really liked reading about this man. If you have a few minutes, give a look, you won’t be disappointed.

Fiction Favorites

I recently went to Detroit to participate in the memorial service for my Uncle, Jim. He was the last of three siblings and died suddenly at the age of ninety-four after a life that included lots of love, some heartbreak, and mostly good health. This post is not about his passing but rather a reminder of the kind of people that his generation represented.

Uncle Jim was a pilot in World War II. He joined the army after Pearl Harbor even though he had a wife and little boy at home. When asked why he joined his response was simple, “I have some talent that should be useful.” He was also only twenty years old. This first photo is Uncle Jim in high school. The dedication on the photo is to his sister, my mother.

Uncle Jim

He was a swimmer, football player, and played a pretty mean game of golf. He married his high school…

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Thursday Doors – The End of Shade

Barn 22

Open for business

Way back in June 2015, I featured a few barns and some other photos from nearby Shade Tobacco farms. I’ll try not to repeat too much, but tobacco, grown under shade cloth, has been a staple of Connecticut’s agriculture industry for well over 100 years. Tobacco in general, was already being grown by Native Americans in CT when the first town, Windsor, was founded in 1633. Within 10 years, commercial production was underway. Over time, CT growers perfected a method of mimicking the growing conditions of the islands near the equator, by covering the tobacco fields in shade cloth.

We may have seen the last of those beautiful fields.

According to an article published in Crain’s Connecticut in September, Shade Tobacco’s dominance of the premium cigar wrapper market is being threatened by the more common broadleaf tobacco variety.

Shade tobacco has historically been viewed as prestigious, and as a premium wrapper commanding higher market prices. After being viewed for decades as fit mostly for cigar binding, the bolder-tasting broadleaf is becoming increasingly popular as wrapper among premium cigar smokers and producers, according to Cigar Aficionado reporting.”

The tobacco farms will continue growing tobacco, but not necessarily under shade. Some cigar manufactures still prefer shade-grown wrapper leaves, but their demand is shrinking, as is the overall demand for tobacco products.

The tobacco farmers within a few miles of our house, are still growing tobacco, but they also have for sale signs on some of their fields. The field that is actually in our town, has been stripped of its shade cloth, poles, wires and all. It’s now an open field of cover crop grasses.

Before tobacco is no longer an industry in this area, I decided to get a few photos of the barns in use. This is not an easy task. Tobacco farm security is as effective, if not more effective as the Secret Service. I mean someone did walk into the White House about two years ago. I don’t think anyone is getting inside these tobacco barns when they have tobacco in them. I’ve seen the approaching black SUV while taking photos from the street between 6:00 and 6:30 am!

The tobacco leaves are picked, stitched together and bound to long wooden carriers. These are transported by wagon and then suspended in the tobacco barns to let the tobacco dry under controlled conditions.

The barns are built with long vertical slat walls. Every 3rd or 4th slat is hinged, and can be propped open to allow airflow. At other times, the slats are closed. At some point, the entire barn is wrapped in plastic and propane heaters are used to help dry the tobacco. I don’t pretend to understand the complicated process, but I do know that driving by the barns when the heaters are in use could convince you to start smoking. The aroma is heavenly.

Enjoy the photos in the gallery. Most of them were taken in nearby Windsor, CT, at the O.J. Thrall Tobacco farm. Some were taken in Enfield, CT, about 10 miles away.

This post is part of Thursday Doors, an interesting and fun series supported by Norm Frampton and several dozen door freaks aficionados each week. If you want to participate, drive your tractor over to Norm’s page. Check out his doors, because he always has some very cool doors, and then look for the blue button. I think it has a frog on it. Click the button and you will land on the list of Thursday Doors participants. You can add your door(s) or you can poke around and see interesting doors from all over the world. I kid you not, all – over – the – world! Thursday Doors is an international thing!

Posted in Connecticut, Photography, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , | 75 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday – Breakfast

One Liner WednesdayI was returning from an appointment in Hartford last weekend and it was very foggy. I thought I noticed the sun burning through the fog, so I figured I’d visit Riverside Park and catch the sunrise over the Connecticut River.

The fog was much thicker near the river.

The sun just wasn’t up to the task.

But, I did see this little guy in the parking lot, and he had just found what appears to be half a hard roll.


Got butter? This would be better with a nice schmear

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun series called One Liner Wednesday.

Posted in Animals, Humor, One Line Wed | Tagged , , , , , , | 58 Comments