Friday, December 31, 2010

Old and New

Elberon, Iowa's Main Street features this building - housing a once typical old time general store that is no longer in use. Today the building is enhanced with a cell tower in its backyard. This wood framed building was probably built before telephones came through Elberon. Now modern day cell reception is the talk of the town. Know that.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunset Near Keystone, Iowa

Two days ago the three day old snow cover made for interesting photography near 42N's Keystone, Iowa. On December 28th within 30 minutes of local sunset the sky conditions changed so much between sun angle and cloud cover as evident in these 42N team photos of farmland. This particular area of the country is largely used for grain production and livestock feedlots. Many farmhouses and barns can be dated to the beginning of the last century. Silos at these farms often date to the mid-1900s. Windmills like those seen in the last photo are quickly fading from the landscape after years of neglect following rural electrification in the late 1940s which made water pumping easier than wind powered pumping. Know that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cardinal Alignment on Main Street Elberon, Iowa

42N's Elberon, Iowa is laid out on a cardinal point grid. Elberon's main roads align north-south and east-west like so many Midwestern towns. This photo looks south along Main Street and includes the United Methodist Church. At this time of year the sun sets around 4:30 PM and creates long shadows across the landscape and compass point orientated roads. Following any of these town roads or country dirt roads will eventually get you to paved highways which in turn lead to more signs indicating your position on the map - a paved GPS system built years ago before geo-positioning, satellite-based technology was even a concept. Know that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Lights in Motion

Got a Christmas tree with lights? Got a shutter controllable camera? Got 15 seconds? Set up and zoom in while the 15-second exposure is underway. Here's what you can get - a highly overexposed image of white lights reflecting off red garland and red ornaments, against the green tree. Pure seasonal motion while travelling at warp 6. Know that.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paul McCartney's British Invasion Concludes On Sirius XM Radio...For the Moment

For past month Sirius XM Radio has broadcast McCartney Radio to celebrate the 20 millionth satellite radio subscriber. The Paul McCartney Band performed at the historic Apollo Theater in NYC on December 13th with a live broadcast to celebrate the re-issue of his Band on the Run album, the 75th anniversary of the Apollo Theater and the 20 millionth subscriber. The month long commercial free channel featured a vast array of McCartney catalog material and interviews. McCartney's appearance on Sirius XM is a part of the station's limited run, artist branded broadcasting.

For those who follow the ex-Beatle its another way to connect with the groundbreaking musical force from all those years ago. And as for the concert - read the review here and watch a few videos. The complete 2 hour long concert (in mp3 format) is available from various sites on the Internet. McCartney's performance included a wide selection of old and new songs and was both gear and fab - complete with microphone failure and restarts.

Magical Mystery Tour, Jet, Drive My Car, All My Loving, One After 909, Let Me Roll It, Long and Winding Road, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, Maybe I’m Amazed (restart), Blackbird, I’m Looking Through You, And I Love Her, Petrushka, Dance Tonight, Eleanor Rigby, Hitch Hike (multiple restarts), Band On The Run, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Back In The USSR, A Day In The Life; Give Peace A Chance, Let it Be, Hey Jude

Encore: Wonderful Christmastime, I Saw Her Standing There, Get Back,

Encore 2: Yesterday, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise), Carry That Weight, The End

Live radio - you can't beat it. Know that.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

No Picnic Today At Wapsipinicon State Park

Blue skies finally returned to Iowa after two days of gray and snow. In 42N's eastern Iowa the storm dumped up to 8 inches of snow. Here at the Wapsipinicon State Park near Anamosa, Iowa the Christmas Eve snow covered the picnic area making outdoor eating cumbersome - in fact no one was using the tables or grills. Today snowboarders and sledders made use of the park's hilly golf course.

This park is one of Iowa's oldest state parks (dedicated in 1923) and features caves and cliffs made of sandstone and limestone. Dutch Creek (above) flows through the park and into the Wapsi River. Fishing is good where the two meet - so I am told - since I haven't caught any fish there to date but have lost tackle. Know that.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Snowy Christmas Eve in 42N Country

Seven inches of snow fell today ensuring a white and merry Christmas...and more shoveling close to guest time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cobra Gunship Hovers in Honor Over Ryan, Iowa

In 2004 the 42N town of Ryan, Iowa received a Cobra Gunship via local VFW 6637 - Manchester and the US Department of Defense. Today the impressive static display can be seen as part of an all military branches memorial near the center of town. Some of these US Army airships served in Vietnam and in the more recent conflicts before being replaced by the Apache helicopter. US Marines however still utilize a variation of the two engine Cobra gunship fitted with modern avionics and weapon systems. An inscription located at the apex of the memorial park in Ryan reads, 'Freedom is not free.' Know that.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Truth or Consequences' Hubert C Smith - An Unexpected Christmas Radio Classic

Today Sirius/XM's Radio Classics channel ran the December 20, 1947 broadcast of Truth or Consequences radio program featuring Hubert C. Smith, a paralyzed U.S. Navy veteran who was recovering at the Long Beach Naval Hospital in California at the time of the live broadcast near Christmas.

Radio's Truth or Consequences set up a minor technical extravaganza complete with links between the radio studio and live audience, the Long Beach Hospital where Hubert was a patient, and many of his hometown friends in Greeneville, Tennessee. This was a multi-location, live broadcast which ran flawlessly during the show's time constraints and advertising breaks - with Hubert's comments being unscripted.

Show host, Ralph Edwards picked out Hubert to answer a question in the format of Truth or Consequences. This was the means to secretly involve Hubert in a radio reunion with friends and family in Tennessee including teachers, store owners and clergy. As a surprise to Hubert (who preferred to be called H.C.) and the audience, he was reunited with his parents and girlfriend, Lyla as they appeared at the hospital on-air. Edwards guided the show to a close and thanked H.C., the various on-air participants and the radio engineers and production staff who must have spent an incredible amount of time to pull off this broadcast.

Radio Classics host, Greg Bell commented after the airing today that so many people have asked about the outcome of Hubert and Lyla. Greg reported that Hubert left the hospital paralyzed, he went to college, bought a farm and eventually married Lyla. H.C. died in 2006. He left an endowment to Greeneville's Tusculum College for scholarships:

"THE HUBERT C. SMITH, JR. '53 ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP FUND was established in 2008 through the estate of Hubert C. Smith, Jr. '53. Mr. Smith was a lifelong supporter of his Alma Mater, which he attended after serving in the U.S. Navy and suffering a serious injury that limited his mobility for the remainder of his life. However, that injury did not hinder him from having an active life and operating a successful farm. Scholarship preference will be given to able and deserving students."

Today was the first time that I ever heard this particular broadcast, let alone even knew of the storyline. While the show's dialogue and music seem a bit sugary by current standards, this broadcast is worthy of any Christmas classic collection. The Hubert C. Smith episode can be purchased on CD as part of various old time radio broadcasts or heard seasonally on Sirius/XM and other radio stations. Search for it - you will not be disappointed. Know that.

12/10/2011 UPDATE: Here is a link to the Truth or Consequences Hubert C. Smith radio broadcast and a 1988 interview with him. Have fun.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lovely Time of Year on Earth and ...Mars

Following any snowfall in 42N country is the aftermath of frozen water cleanup. Included in the plowing is a brown colored snow formed from a combination of snow removal chemicals and who knows what from auto traffic. Here on Blairs Ferry Road in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is a glimpse of the recent five inch snow fall and lunch time traffic. Pretty appealing right? Well its not our best look for the year.

At the lower right in the photo is a sign for the El Kahir Shriner's building. That organization helps sick kids at hospitals through their money raising fez events within our community. I am told that El-Kahir is Arabic for... Mars. Hmm. Know that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Government of Canada at Quaker Oats

The Quaker Oats plant in 42N's Cedar Rapids, Iowa is one of the world's largest cereal production facilities. On some days throughout the city of five seasons you can smell which cereal is being made - some say Cedar Rapids is the city of five smells. Anyways, behind the plant are railroad tracks which deliver raw material to Quaker for processing. On this day the Government of Canada's railroad freight car was in position for unloading. Many rail cars left in accessible areas display artwork of graffiti painters - some good and others pure crap. Too bad these artists can't direct their talent towards something positive like updating the 1970s-ish logo of grain haulers for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Know that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Orange Crush at the Blue Room Lounge

42N country has it all. Here in Cedar Falls, Iowa - on Main Street no less, you can relax from holiday shopping and driveway shoveling at the Blue Room Lounge. What to have? Hmm how about mixing something orange and blue together?  That will make a brownish color liquid. Lovely. Know that.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Calm Late Fall in Manchester, Iowa

Snow is already on the ground in 42N country and more is on the way tomorrow (a blizzard watch is in effect.) However during a time when no snow was around last month near Manchester, Iowa was this scene of leafless trees and calm waters. Looks cold - it was. Know that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Pearl Harbor and the Iowa Class Battleships

Photograph at left is from the DoD photo by: PH1HILTON Date Shot: 15 Aug 1984

Today is the 69th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Hawaii. The USS Arizona was sunk at the harbor and lies there today as a monument to the attack, and to the those who fought Japanese imperialism. A few yards from the ship's wreckage is the floating museum of the USS Missouri, the battleship where the Japanese later signed cease fire documents in 1945 at Toyko Bay. In essence the beginning and the end of the World War II in the Pacific theater is enshrined at Pearl Harbor.

The USS Missouri is an Iowa-class battleship, and part of a group of six fast attack battleships - Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Kentucky. The first ship built of that class was the USS Iowa which served both theaters of war, the Korean War, and later conflicts through the 1980s. It currently lies in Suisun Bay in California as part of the decommissioned ghost fleet, awaiting being made into a museum or another fate. Find the USS Iowa and other decommisioned ships at this map link. Know that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gettysburg Battlefield Boulder in Lisbon, Iowa

Its hard to believe that not everything in the world lies on the 42 North parallel. However within just a few degrees either way of the famous latitude there are actually more interesting people, things and places.

Located in nearby Lisbon, Iowa (41.92 N, 91.39 W) is something from half a country away. In 1916 the Womans Relief Corps obtained a large boulder from the Gettysburg, PA (39.83N, 77.23 W) battlefield and had it moved to eastern Iowa's Lisbon Cemetery. The apx. five foot tall boulder is sheltered from the elements and contains a bronze plaque. The battlefield remnant is made of the same rocky material as the current day stone walls found around the historic battlefield. At the base of this stone are bronze markers with the names of America's wars.

Just a few feet away is this concrete triangular base. I suspect it held 10 canon balls like those found at many military displays. Either that or its a buried golf ball from Dwight Eisenhower who maintained a house adjacent to the battlefield and was known to play much golf after serving as President. Know that.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Iowa's Temporary Mountains of Corn

What happens to the corn harvest when it is too plentiful for local storage capacity? Grain goes old school - on the ground.

In 42N country there are a variety of open air, temporary storage areas for corn and soybeans used during the harvest season. In this case the temporary storage area is a concrete floor and wall structure located in Manchester, Iowa. Skid loaders or tractor powered augers later move the harvest to grain transportation semi-trucks for further distribution.

One important development lately is a expandable, tent-like structure used by grain elevators to cover large grain heaps during harvest. The cover keeps the grain dust down, the elements and critters out, thus preserving the product for later sale. Know that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No iTunes Here - Beatle Related 45s Found Today

Recently Apple Records announced that the Beatle catalog finally is available on Apple's (the other company) iTunes - making the leap into the 21st century for the Fab Four. Today a bit of retro smacked the 42N team with the purchase of now classic '50s, '60s and '70s pop by one Beatle, one mentor, and two students. Any artist on the Apple record label (cassette and 8-track tapes, 45s, LPs) is generally hard to find let alone in good to great condition. All of these 45 rpm records are in average condition given their age and play use.

Top row (left to right): "Without You" recorded by Harry Nilsson went to number 1 on the billboard chart. "Without You" was written and recorded earlier by the Beatle's protege band Badfinger. The next two Apple label singles here are by Mary Hopkins, one of the first artists the Beatles signed to the Apple label. She recorded "Those Were the Days", written by Gene Raskin and the Paul McCartney penned tune "Goodbye." She is best known for these two recordings. Her recording of "Those Were the Days" reached number 2 while "Goodbye" hit number 13 in the US. 

Bottom row (left to right): "Think it Over" was composed and recorded by the Crickets (Buddy Holly). McCartney highly regards Holly and purchased the entire Holly song catalog years later. "My Love" by McCartney, from the Red Rose Speedway album was issued on the Apple label in name only. The record reached number 1. The flip side contains "The Mess" which is a good rocker. And finally another copy of McCartney's "Listen to What the Man Said" was collected today - yet another number 1 song.

Granted these recordings are filled with snap, crackle and pop when played on the turntable. They also show wear on their labels from record stacking. Yet to physically hold a recording of a classic pop song is something the digital age has yet to offer outside of a CD and jacket. With iTunes a song file is purchased and downloaded for play - no physical media to scratch or label to write your name on. Know that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

DX Sign Outlives Company and Calamities

Another day and another DX sighting in the Midwest. This vintage sign is located in the northeastern Missouri town of Novinger, a very small, former coal mining community.  DX was a petroleum company whose gas stations dotted the American midwest. Last year a F2 tornado hit this area, the local river flooded and in September a fire on main street fire destroyed five businesses but none of these calamities damaged the DX sign. Is that an indicator that DX is here to stay? Know that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Westward Thinking at St. Joseph, Missouri

Its a bit hard to find. Look for the Lewis and Clark Historical roadside historical signs pointing the way to this spot in St. Joseph, Missouri. As you travel through the hilly downtown, dominated by warehouses and government buildings you will glimpse the elevated I-29 interstate overhead. The downtown sign points you to the Missouri River. Take the brick paved street over the railroad tracks just a few yards from the river and you have arrived. 

Geographically, where you have arrived is a pivotal spot in American Western history. Here at the Missouri River's edge in St. Joseph is a triad of western journey. The first acknowledgement is the encampment sites of the 1803 Lewis and Clark expedition. The upriver and later downriver camp sites in the area are marked on an outdoor display.
The second acknowledgement is the start of the Oregon-California Trails from this spot. A plaque nearby says that each spring in the 1840s to 1850s the hills of St. Joseph were filled with hundreds of wagons waiting for ferries to take them across the river to trails leading west. On the day before Thanksgiving 2010 the only water craft visible from this marker was a tow, barge and dredger keeping the Missouri at nine foot depths for barge navigation (see the sand being piled on the barge between the tow and dredge.)

The last component of this special area is the embarking point for the short lived Pony Express. The St. Joseph to San Francisco mail route demonstrated quick information flow but when the organization did not receive a government contract the express folded as railroad and telegraphs made communication speedier.

These triad of markers at this place show wear, gang symbol spray paint and overgrown grass and bushes. Overhead the interstate traffic speeds along while the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad rolls on. This area of St. Joseph is a conjunction of travel - then and today. Seek it out. Know that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Union Veterans Remembered in Granite

A common feature in the Midwest's older cemeteries are veteran monuments. Civil War era monuments in this area of 42N country celebrate veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR.) This particular monument at Quasqueton, Iowa's Greenwood Cemetery is made of gray granite sections. Detailed carvings on the monument's sides depict four areas of warfare known at the time: infantry, cavalry, artillery, and naval. Close inspection of the nearly 100 year old monument reveals very little wear from freeze/thaw, rain, sun and organic lichens. This particular monument design is duplicated in nearby Manchester which also features two actual mortars from the era placed on the ground. Know that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Almost Aced By the Spear of Destiny

A few weeks ago while attempting to compose better photos I backed into what I thought was a solid wall. Turns out the wall was made up of these spear-like spikes of various heights. As I regained my balance I pressed against the spikes and turned around to see what had happened. There staring at me were these spear points (see top photo.) I, of course, instantly thought of the story of the Roman Centurion whose lance was known as the Spear of Destiny. In this case no damage was done and I was able to get the shots before rain fell. But for an instant the spear fence almost became my destiny. Know that.

French King - A Drink of the River

Running eastward through 42N country is the Iowa River. In Coralville the impounded river forms the Coralville Reservoir. Upstream from the pool of the lake is the natural course of the Iowa as seen here. The river traverses farmland and urban centers alike. Today cities draw and purify water from the river for drinking and discharge.

A world away and 900 years ago during the Battle of Gisors French King Philip Augustus lost his footing on a bridge and drank of the river. While French rivers have appealing names, our local Iowa River may be comparable. Then again, at one time, the Iowa River was a French possession. President Thomas Jefferson authorized the acquisition of these lands from the French for $15 million. The transaction is known today as the Louisiana Purchase. Know that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delta Formation in Oskaloosa

Back on November 7th these Canada geese swimming at an Oskaloosa, Iowa city park were intent on determining why they were being photographed by the 42N team. At first the much larger flock sailed away from us beyond reasonable photo range. However this brave bunch came back for a closer look. Perhaps they thought we had food for them. Not today. Know that.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Veterans Day 2010 Plus Three

Along the Mississippi River at 42N country's Clinton, Iowa is this WWI-related statue dedicated to the area's veterans. While Veterans Day was observed just three days ago, a few signs of the ceremony held on this site remained, like a few small flags. Located atop the river's flood dike, this veterans display recognized area individuals including a Medal of Honor hero, William B. Mayes, (11th Iowa Infantry, Civil War) and those who serve the country today. Know that.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Extra Texture

A bit of texture can be found in 42N country along the Iowa River in northern Johnson County, Iowa. Here where the Coralville Reservoir pool becomes the Iowa River (up stream from the dam) you can find many examples of seasonal or transitional textures.

This area often floods and is covered by a thick deposit of mud. For the past two months we have received little rain leaving these flats dry and cracked. However don't be fooled, and step lively. These seemingly dried mud regions still hold more than adequate moisture below, in fact there is enough sogginess to send a weighted shoe into condition unacceptable. Now You know that is the answer at the end. Know that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Thank you to all those who currently serve in the armed forces of the United States. And on this Veterans Day thank you to all who served this country from Revolutionary times to present. Our freedom and liberty that we prize today is made possible from your service. Know that.