photo


11
Aug 17

I could have used some water out by the river

I did that thing today where you look out of the window of your ninth-floor hotel room and see a nice little park below and think That’s where I’ll jog today. So it was a good thing when I packed my running shoes the night before last, really.

So I put on said shoes and the appropriate clothing and went out to the park. I figured I would do a few laps until I got in my three miles. It’d be a bit repetitious, but I’m in a park in a city I’ve only just arrived in and how badly can you get lost or otherwise out of sorts?

First I ran to the right. I quickly found I ran out of sidewalk space. OK, that’s one boundary. So I turned around, retraced a few steps and set off across the length of the park. The sidewalk in this park didn’t cover one route. There were turns and forks and the like. I managed to take all of the correct turns and, soon, I was down by the river, whereby I remembered my geography. I’m in Omaha, which is in eastern Nebraska. Which means this must be the Missouri River and that, over there, is Iowa.

Down on the river’s edge I met another jogger who told me how to get to the pedestrian bridge and then I ran to Iowa. This is the view on the bridge, over the Missouri. Nebraska is on your right, Iowa on the left:

By now I figure that I have to run at least a little ways into Iowa to make this count, so I did a mile. Here’s some evidence of that:

And at this point I figure, things feel pretty good, I’ll just keep running in the midday sun and make this a 10K. That’s 6.2 miles to you and me. I did that right about here, where the thought occurred to me that, this part of Iowa and Nebraska, looks like a lot of places I’ve seen:

So I’m on this really nice, but ultimately very quite trail, when I see, in the distance and around the bend, the top of a bridge that might be worth checking out. So I figured me and my sweaty shadow would just keep jogging:

I am in Council Bluffs, Iowa at this point. And the rules are, there are no rules:

Finally I round the bend and see the bridge. This is the Illinois Central Missouri railroad bridge. The original Omaha bridge was built in 1893, but what we see today dates to 1908:

And this is a double swing bridge. Each of the rotating spans are 521 feet long. I’m standing on the railroad tracks in Iowa looking back into Nebraska here. The Iowa side of the bridge remains open these days for river navigation. That’s why it is sideways:

The river through here was dredged in the 1940s, and a fire in the 1970s meant the eastern side, the Iowa side, couldn’t operate under its own power. They opened and closed the bridge with a bulldozer and cable after that. Here are some of the gears that would move the Iowa portion:

The bridge was shut down in 1980, but the tracks could be pressed back into service if necessary. Here is a panorama of the Iowa side of the bridge. Click to open the full-sized version in another window.

And this, standing in Iowa and looking west, is the Nebraska side of the bridge and shoreline:

And then, of course, I had to run back to Nebraska. Here’s my view from near the center of that pedestrian bridge I crossed over, this time looking upstream. Nebraska is on your left and Iowa is on your right:

And, finally, the last piece of evidence of my two-state run, the actual map:

I’ve run across a state line before, but that was in a triathlon and by design, not on a 10K impulse. I do not know what is happening.


10
Aug 17

You just think you know square jaws

I’m not seeing things, right? You’re seeing this too, aren’t you? There’s a face in that shadow, yeah?

Which led me onto a long series of thoughts about the impermanence of shapes in clouds and the more permanent but still shifting nature of the shadows of buildings and maybe how the buildings are wiser, but the clouds have it better. So that was lunch.

Also, I meant to order the bourbon chicken, which is a sweeter dish. But I instead ordered the first chicken item I saw on the menu, which was the voodoo chicken. That was red and spicy and the word “voodoo” should have been the clue, dude. I wondered if the shadow man somehow knew. His jaw was jutted out just so, in that brutalist blockish manner. I strolled back by later but the sun had moved over by about half an hour and the shadow man had moved on for the day.

We’re moving today, too:

We are in Omaha this weekend for a race and fun. Lately I’ve come to realize it is difficult to travel and eat. Something about the schedules and the options and habits. It is a challenge. This was dinner:

We had a burger at a pizza joint when we got to The Big O.

At the pizza joint, which was using a Chicago theme, because it is pizza in Omaha, one surmises, there was a claw machine. You remember claw machines. Those were the games you couldn’t win no matter how good your manual dexterity was on its own. You couldn’t win at it such that you began to think, and then watch, and then know, that no one could win at the claw game. And then you saw the little feature on that one guy cleaning up at the claw game and you thought “Huh, why does one guy need that many stuffed toys and obviously cheap watches anyway? The claw game. It was waiting for you, at the Chicago-themed pizza joint in Omaha, Nebraska.

I’m not sure if it was a sad game because someone had been so successful or if someone was so successful because it was a sad game. When you see them near empty like that, it effects you. Probably it was sad no one was pumping quarters into it at the moment.

That was at about 11 p.m. and thus it was the best burger possible. Probably because I didn’t ask for the voodoo anything.


9
Aug 17

Hurry up, cookie

With this evening’s dinner came this good news:

fortune

The obvious reply is … Well?

And the obvious retort is “You got lucky numbers on the next line, pal. This is an American thing, not some ancient mystic wisdom. This is from a factory in Manitowoc, Wisconsin or some place and not from a specifically catered-to-you diving insight. We use a javascript the boss’s nephew wrote to randomize these notes, after all.”

Which is funny in its own way. The last time we ordered Chinese we got four cookies. Two cookies each! My fortunes were identical. So someone in Manitowoc needs to step it up.

In our undying effort to set the record straight, Wikipedia will now tell us where fortune cookies are made:

The largest manufacturer of the cookies is Wonton Food Inc., headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. They make over 4.5 million fortune cookies per day. Another large manufacturer are Baily International in the Midwest and Peking Noodle in the Los Angeles area. There are other smaller, local manufacturers including Tsue Chong Co. in Seattle, Keefer Court Food in Minneapolis and Sunrise Fortune Cookie in Philadelphia. Many smaller companies will also sell custom fortunes.

So be on the lookout the next time you get a fortune cookie. Then maybe you start a spreadsheet and see whose cookies have the highest rate of prophetic accuracy.

Here’s a fine looking building:

Monroe County Courthouse

Find out more about it on the historic markers site. There are more interesting and important local places you can see right here.

And I think you should read this on Twitter:

It’s nice to see the public-facing Bill Murray have such a nice year. Seems the least the universe can do.

I hope he didn’t steal my luck, though. The fortune cookie came to me, after all.


4
Aug 17

Meditations on time

I saw this sign while walking about downtown today:

I wonder how long you have to stare at that until you came up with that idea. And when exactly is Kanye time, anyway? It is always time for some things, and common sense tells us that it is never time for other things. But does this artisanally-crafted sign imply that you can park at all of the times that aren’t Kanye time? And when is Kanye time?

Also, this sign, because nothing brings people back into your store after a series of health and sanitation woes like a celebrity ingredientologist!

They’re driving their audience to a website where your ingredients are musical. You can create some interesting stuff from the samples. I plugged in my usual order. It makes better sense as a food than it does as a song, which you can listen to here, but the site itself is really quite impressive.

And, finally, I was in the car, the stereo was blaring, the sun was finally suggesting it would, once again, sink softly below the western horizon, when I figured out something I’ve been pondering for a lifetime. It was the sort of thing that you don’t even know you’re considering it, until the consideration is resolved with the peskiness of a realization. I now know what the best part of the week — in your standard westernized context, anyway — is. The best moment of the week is 7:45 p.m., on a Friday.

What’s better than that? You’ve left the week behind, you have the weekend ahead, there’s a reason the sun is right there and the stereo is blaring. It is 7:45, and that’s … well maybe not legendary, but certainly memorable.


3
Aug 17

There’s a lot of odd stuff in this post, so, the usual

Do you know the significance of this building? It has some important history.

You’ll learn about this building on the most recent addition to the historic markers site. If you just can’t get enough of the historical markers you can see them all right here.

Today I helped put stickers on cameras for a few minutes. All of that Sunday school training paid off. Except for on the few stickers that were a millimeter or two off-center here or there. (But don’t tell.) Four stickers per camera. One on the body, one on the lens, another on the power adaptor — it does a slow focus pull in video mode — and another on the external microphone.

This is the funniest cruel thing — is it the funniest, cruel thing or the cruelest, funny thing? — that I’ll watch. The premise is the expert explains the topic over hot peppers. Some people get through it just fine, this lady tells an interesting story and she’s really hurting. And I’m sympathetic to her plight. But I learned some neat things:

We watched this last night. Just an incredible hour of television, which took place in 2005 and I just discovered. It is amazing, in a way, that this made it to network television. And it was the fourth highest rated episode of the last season of West Wing. And of course, this would never happen in real life, ever. But it is a fun watch:


The West Wing S 7 Ep 07 – The Debate

Or maybe you just have to be a certain kind of viewer to appreciate that. But I enjoyed that, didn’t want it to end. I dreaded it ending, and how often do you say that about a single episode of television? I realized why Alan Alda is there and put away, for an hour, my Unifying Theory of Alda, because this was more important, than that. Which is saying something for a fictitious debate in a non-existent presidential campaign in a world that we don’t live in — with issues similar to ours.

But, then, I spent a lot of my master’s degree working on debates and writing and researching campaign material, so maybe you have to be an especially specific kind of viewer. I’m going to have to stop it during the opening credits right now, or I’ll end up watching the thing again …