Category Archives: Food

England Day 2: Art and Dead People


Daughter and grandson on our cemetery walk.

After leaving the grandchildren off at school, my daughter suggested a walk through a cemetery.

We’ve been there before, but not this year. It’s a pleasant place to walk, an old cemetery with fading gravestones, at least the part we walked in. I understand it has modern areas, too, but this old part is part burial ground, part urban nature preserve, and it’s a peaceful, interesting place for a stroll.

At one point, my toddler grandson wanted me to pick him up so he could bat his hands at low-hanging leaves on trees. He has an infectious chortle, and we heard it sounding out a bit in the quiet among the dead. It was a good place to be alive.


Another view of the cemetery.

Following the cemetery stroll, we decided to walk across town. Rain was in the forecast today, but not until later in the afternoon, and we gambled we could cross the distance to the rail station and return before the rain set it. It felt very muggy today, but was a bit cooler than yesterday, so it was a nice day for a walk.


Art in the church.

Along the way, when we got downtown, an old church used as a civic center was advertising an art exhibit/sale, so we went in. It was nice to see the church, even if it being filled with contemporary art felt a little dissonant. Much of the art was several hundred pounds in price, which was one discouragement—and also was bulky enough that fitting it into a carry-on could be an issue, so we merely viewed the art and church and then moved on.

The walk across town felt like several miles, to me. I’m hoping it was good cross training for RAGBRAI—and being comfortable walking some distance isn’t just cross training, it’s also training, since RAGBRAI can involve a fair amount of walking, too.

We have a bold plan—we are to care for the grandchildren this weekend while our daughter and son-in-law enjoy a weekend alone in London. The walk today was so that our daughter could get her train ticket.

We also stopped at a bike shop downtown where I arranged to rent a bicycle for next week and also purchased a biking map of Norwich.


One display in the church was a table set as “The Last Brexit Supper,” which was not exactly pro-Brexit.

Lunch was at a falafel eatery downtown—my daughter got us a group platter that could have fed four or five. The three of us, plus the toddler, gave it the old college try, but we ended up with a significant take-home box of leftovers, too. The platter was falafel and pita sandwich veggie fixings, including nice humus. It was filling and delicious.

We arrived still dry back at my daughter’s house about 2 in the afternoon, and I skipped the walk to school to pick up granddaughters so I could nap. I’m struggling a little to say awake right now, but the sunny walk today hopefully helped reset my bio clock, so I may not be blogging at 3:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. Knock on wood.

So today featured a long walk in a pleasant English city, including art and a cemetery stroll, a great lunch and the promise of future adventures—biking in the UK!


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Filed under Food, Grandchildren, holidays, Travel, Weather

How to Turn 60

Audrey and I pause for a selfie before riding the Sac and Fox Trail.

My 60th birthday won’t come again, but tomorrow will the only day after my 60th birthday, and that day won’t return, either.

But if I were to be stuck, “Groundhog Day” style, in a 24-hour period that would repeat—well, today might not be my best choice, but it would be a decent choice. Today was a pretty good day.

It began with me fixing a special breakfast for myself—I made plain oatmeal, added some butter, salt, pepper, two over-easy eggs and cheddar cheese. It was a tasty way to begin my birthday.

We’ve had rain recently in Iowa, a pattern expected to return tomorrow, but today was cool in the morning and very pretty in the afternoon. I have been driving to work most of the week, but today I put on the special bicycle shoes and rode my road bike. A day at work is always a better day if I get there and return on two wheels.

And for lunch, my wife took me to Taste of India—probably the best restaurant in Cedar Rapids for a birthday lunch, if you like Indian food. I do.

After afternoon work, I got home about 4:30, and noticed a flat of mums on the front stoop. My wife had already gotten me two Rose of Sharon bushes for my birthday earlier this week, and I will plant those this weekend. Mums are one of her favorite flowers, but I enjoy that splash of fall color, too—and I love to plant pretty things. I think of it as an investment in hope, the future and the wonderfulness of this planet we find ourselves inhabiting. Planting always boosts my mood, so seeing the flower flat was another reason to smile today.

And the house smelled divine when I got home. Someone had baked an apple crisp for me.

Before we watched “Thor: Ragnarok,” a DVD someone got for me on this special day, I attached the bike rack to the van and loaded our mountain bikes on it. My wife had suggested that, if the weather was right, we might enjoy a bicycle ride on my birthday—if I agreed. I did, and I suggested we got to the Sac and Fox, a trail I have been on several times this year, but have not shared with her before today.

And the bike ride on the trail was delightful, featuring perfect late afternoon golden light, and clouds enough to keep us from warming up. We had ridden maybe 5 of the 7 miles on our way to the south end of the trail, and I had noted to Audrey that, although it had been a very pretty ride (the Sac and Fox is the prettiest bike trail in Cedar Rapids), I was surprised there had been no deer. I had encountered deer on my summer pre-RAGBRAI rides on this trail.

And almost immediately, on cue, there, up ahead—a group of maybe seven deer, adults and fawns, loitering on the trail. They moved north off the trail as we approached, but stayed nearby in the woods, so I paused and photographed them.

Two of the deer.

Yes, the ride went well. And we felt we had earned our post-ride supper of apple crisp with ice cream (that’s all we had—but honestly, after a Taste of India buffet, how much could we have possibly eaten?).

My birthday season hasn’t really ended yet. The weekend after Labor Day, we’ll probably host a family brunch with kids and grandkids, and that will be fun. And probably there will be cake.

I don’t know that I would recommend 60 all that much. My body is aging, and showing its wear and tear in various ways. I’m still battling a stubborn ear infection, and getting to learn what my father’s life was like as his hearing faded away. My arthritic knees and hips dictate a certain slowness to my gait, when they don’t inflict pain. My family has a weight-loss challenging going, and I truly am trying, but at the start of your seventh decade on this planet, trust me, weight does not melt away. Well, I suppose apple crisp suppers (or savory egg and oatmeal breakfasts followed by spicy buffet food) don’t help, either.

But, whatever. I’ll do what I can and also try to enjoy myself. I’m 60. The little things don’t matter any more. And today I had a very good day—thanks, mostly, to my wife. Shout out to my delayed twin, my four years to the day younger sister, who still lingers in the midst of her sixth decade.

Sis, 60 is coming, knock on wood. And when it gets here for you, I hope its arrival is at least as nice as it was for me.

We ride off into the sunset.

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A Better Version of the Ketchup Pizza


Dinner Tuesday night–quick, easy and tasted good.

It’s amazing to look back at things that I called “food” when I was growing up.

White bread sans crust crushed into a tiny cube (and, of course, I’m sure I was consuming plenty of the bacteria from my fingers). Instant mashed potatoes with cottages cheese mixed in. Dill pickles wrapped in thinly sliced sandwich pieces of corned beef, with horseradish. And the infamous ketchup pizza.

It was an English muffin, topped with ketchup and Velveeta “cheese,” warmed in the oven or toaster oven. It was amazing where that yellow glop would end up in our diets—in an omelet, a grilled cheese sandwich or even as the only cheese in lasagna.

Clearly, my younger years were filled with food sins. Some, I would never repeat. I vow never to again touch a Velveeta lasagna, so help me spoons. On the other hand, some of the treats, don’t seem quite so bad—that combination of horseradish, dill and salty meat still is not a terrible idea.

But, never again for the English muffin pizza.

I’m not too much of a snob to eat Velveeta. It would not be my first choice for a sandwich, but if someone made one for me, I’d eat it. And processed cheese-like substances are still OK on pasta, just not OK in lasagna.

These days, when I want a quick pizza, I’ve discovered a more awesome trick. I use a flour tortilla wrap, put actual pizza sauce on it, and cover it with a little cheddar and a lot of mozzarella. In the one pictured, peperoni, too. I don’t know what that does for the family weight loss challenge, but it’s a good, quick meal when we’re hungry and want to eat in 15 minutes (5 minutes prep, 10 to bake—one reason this is a good pizza option it that it’s also quick).

I like the results. I don’t know if young Joe would have liked them, but young Joe ate bread cubes and instant mashed potatoes. Voluntarily. And I’m pretty sure young Joe would be OK with it—one area of food agreement that both old Joe and young Joe agree on is that pizza in any form is usually a good idea. I just draw the line on this side of Velveeta, now.

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And as a Bonus, Snow Started Falling


Christmas cookies, baked by Katy, decorated by adults in a contest judged by daughter and son-in-laws who could not be there. I am sad to say that “Red Dwarf,” my thick, red star, did not win.

Merry Christmas, 2017—there are still some presents wrapped in the living room, so after Mass this morning, I’ll get to find out what my wife bought for me. For her, there will be less mystery because she was with me when I selected most of her gifts, and by “I” I mean “she.”

Still, we are going inexpensive this year with only a few low-key gifts, deliberately. We purchased a second vehicle this fall, and are counting the Dodge Dart as our main mutual Christmas gift. And there is one box that she doesn’t know the contents of—containing nothing of expense or of consequence, other than I wanted her to have at least some small surprises.

I hope you and yours are enjoying family and friends this holy holiday season, and whether you celebrate the birth of the Christ child, the secular gift-giving winter (or summer) school break or neither, I wish for you the joy of loving human connection this season of kin.

Although there are some presents still present in my house, our main Christmas celebration fell on Christmas Eve. Our oldest son and his wife were able to fly out from San Francisco for a week, and most of our local clan gathered—daughters from Dubuque, Marion, Monticello; and a son from Ames.

The house was full of noise and chaos on Christmas Eve, with the sounds of a few Christmas songs played on the piano by my oldest son mixed with jazz improvisations, especially when grandchildren decided to join in. Play was constant and boisterous. One son-in-law and grandson had to skip the party due to illness, which somehow seems true to family tradition, but it was good to have a full, loud house at this time of year.


At the piano.

The youngest grandson didn’t get his nap in, and it did show by the end of the day, but that’s just life.

We had a full Thanksgiving-style Christmas dinner, with turkey and most of the trimmings (we skip the cranberries and other fancy salads, and had been snacking all day on Christmas cookies, so pie wasn’t in the picture, but otherwise it’s the full TG deal, cooked almost exclusively by my wife). After stuffing ourselves with stuffed turkey, it was time for the big gift opening, which involved a few presents for adults, but mostly the grandchildren’s gifts.


Chaos of gift opening. Scooter, used as chair, is headed my way so grandson can sit on it and chat.

Several gifts were immediate hits. Two grandsons loved the remote-control spider that their grandmother found for them. A scooter for a 2-year-old from an aunt and uncle was mostly a pushed platform that performed as an impromptu moveable chair, but it was very much in use. A doctor kit led the daughters of a mother who is in the final stages of studying to be a nurse to become a medical team treating an ailing patient (said mom). Treating her included laying on her stomach and poking her face with various toy plastic medical instruments, and I’m happy to report she survived treatment, although it looked a bit dicey for a while.

The gathering was slightly delayed. For one thing, again true to Christmas tradition, we were missing a few items and there was a last-minute shopping trip. For another, Mother Nature made morning travel a bit hazardous with her own gift to us.

A White Christmas! We are in a mild drought in this part of Iowa, and true to form winter so far has been mostly dry, with just a few flurries here and there. The best chance of snow in the forecast was Friday, and while there were flakes in the air that day, it amounted to no accumulation on the ground.

But Christmas Eve started with genuine white stuff. Not a lot, maybe three-fourths of an inch, but enough to make it officially white out. As the snow ended mid day, it turned cold and will be bitterly cold today, Christmas Day, but only in a weather sense. Inside, we’ll look out on a pretty white world and think of a coming new year, of an ancient birth and its meaning, and of family—it will be pretty warm.

All in all, thanks Mother Nature. And Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to us all and to you all. God bless us every one.

Eve Snow

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Filed under Food, Grandchildren, holidays

Eating As a Silicon Valley Techie Eats


My wife and I walking on the Golden Gate Bridge this spring break.

During spring break this year, my wife and I flew out to San Francisco to visit with our son and his wife.

They both work in technology out there—she designs human-machine interfaces for Samsung, he is a software engineer for WhatsAp, a division of Facebook.

nalena and jon

Daughter-in-law and son do an “ussie” during a visit to a San Francisco park with us.

One highlight of our visit was the half day we spent at the Facebook campus. With tens of thousands of high tech employees, the company’s site is a mini city. It has a main plaza with shops and restaurants, for example. You can get your hair cut, visit the dentist, drop off some dry cleaning and get your bicycle fixed (or buy a bicycle) without leaving the company grounds.

Jon explained that he thought it was just smart for the company to provide those kinds of services because tech employees are highly skilled, and the corporation benefits by providing services that keeps those people together and talking with each other.

The day we visited Facebook, we ate both breakfast and lunch there—and both meals were a surreal experience. You walk into a company cafeteria, grab a tray, and go through a food line—and then there is no cashier. You just proceed to a table to eat. Have as much as you want of whatever you want.


It does rain in California, despite the song. Drizzly day when we visited Facebook.

Again, Jon noted that the food perk, while costly, enhances collaboration and boosts  morale.

Gosh, my wife and I said to each other during the visit. That seems like a neat idea. Maybe they could do that at Mount Mercy University. Then, we shared a laugh. We don’t work for a rich, high-tech company.


At Facebook, they have a wall where you can post any comment you want for random passing people to see. Someone should invent an online equivalent …

Well, surprise, surprise—fast forward to this week, when we had the “opening day” all-employee assembly in the chapel. The President was speaking, and announced a new program at MMU.

On one designated day each week, employees can have lunch in the cafeteria. For free.

The day is Friday in September, and will change each month.

The idea is pretty simple. Students eat there all the time, and having faculty and staff share a meal encourages informal conversations, both among employees and between employees and students. We can break bread together and hash things out over hash.

They don’t offer free food daily, and don’t have the kind of variety and fancy eateries Facebook offers. What’s available is college cafeteria fare. Some may balk at that—it is institution food.

Me? Most days I brown bag it, but in the past on very busy days, such as when I’m staying late on campus for a newspaper production cycle, I have eaten in the cafeteria. And I love my cafeteria days, for several reasons:

  • I like the collaboration it fosters. I have ended up, unplanned, chatting with others about all kinds of topics related to MMU. A lot of plans for the Fall Faculty Series have been hatched over lunch in such informal encounters.
  • I think there is value in seeing my students and them seeing me in this context. If you encounter a person as a student in a class (or as a professor in the class) you have a particular kind of relationship. Seeing them in another place doing something entirely else sort of humanizes them. It makes them more of a familiar “person” rather than “student” or “professor.” In particular, there is something a bit interpersonal in being in proximity to another as they eat. You don’t eat with enemies, and the people that you regularly eat with become, in some minor way, a bit more family like.
  • I love cafeteria food. I know many students complain about the cafe food, and maybe with some reason, but in my experience the cafeteria offers a buffet of wondrous delights. Their cooks have a slightly heavy hand with spices—sometimes you scoop up some veggies and are thinking “bland” and you take a bite and suddenly you’re thinking “chilies.” But I am a spice boy. I’ll tell you want, what I really, really want—some pork or chicken or fish coated in whatever breading, served in a giant pan under a warming lamp prepared by the fine cooks at MMU. Maybe some of my MMU friends don’t agree—food opinions are like music opinions, they are personal and nobody need apologize for their preferences—but I am a fan of MMU cafeteria food. Go Mustangs! To the feed!

Anyway, I understand that the free food program is an experiment, and that it is offered only one day a week. I am also familiar with the old, reliable, wise saying TANSTAAFL (there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch). MMU will continue the program only as long as MMU sees some payoff, and if budgets get tight, so might our waistbands.

But for now, I can eat like a techie, at least once a week. I think it was a smart idea for MMU to introduce, and I hope it does what the powers-that-be hope it does so it can continue.

More networking and contacts between employees and students? A plus. Soft serve and salad bar? Count me in.

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Unexpectedly Finding Tremendous Tenderloin


Interior of Town House Tenderloins, Cedar Falls.

Sunday afternoon. We had left Cedar Rapids just before noon to drive our son Jon to the airport. He’s flying back to San Jose, California—he lives in San Francisco and works at What’s Ap in San Jose. He started the job recently, and has to work Monday, but was able to stay with us for a while around Christmas, which was nice.

In fact, the Christmas season was a bit of a guy fest. The younger of my two sons was able to drive over from Ames for a few days, and between Jon, Ben and I, we did some amazing guy things—playing Risk, going to The Martian at Collins Road Theater, upgrading computers to Windows 10—all fun guy things. And both Ben and Jon got to play with the youngest guy in the house, young Nathan, born Dec. 10. He didn’t drink any of the beer, but was fun to hang around with, so I think Nathan is definitely welcome in our guy club.

Anyway, today it was time to say farewell. Ben wanted to drive back to Ames before winter rears its ugly head, and Jon had to wing it to the West Coast.

Anyway, we didn’t eat before dropping Jon off at the Waterloo Airport, so were a bit hungry. We’ve eaten in the past at a combo A&W/Long Johns, and decided that might be an OK lunch spot, even if Long John’s is long gone.

But we weren’t clear on how to get there. So we drove over to a business strip in Cedar Falls and searched for a while. We didn’t see A&W, and decided that our only rule was we would eat somewhere that we don’t normally eat in Cedar Rapids. An IHOP caught our eye, so we headed over there—but it appears to be a new place under construction, and was not open.

It was sad to have our taste buds first calibrated for root beer, then pancakes, and have neither desire fulfilled. Then, in a slightly seedy looking strip mall, next to a dance studio, we saw a sign that said “Town House Tenderloins.” Critically, there was also a key glowing neon sign: “Open.”

We parked. Audrey looked around at the older, dented cars occupying the parking lot, and wondered what we were getting into. But we were brave or foolish and pushed on.

Well. As it turned out, the joint serves really awesome tenderloin sandwiches—very generous tenderloins, breaded well with what seems to be breadcrumbs and cooked to a hot perfection, served on a large toasted bun. Audrey ordered the “queen” basket, while I got a “king.” Note to the wise: for most appetites a “queen” would be more than adequate.


Lots of cars on the walls.

The baskets came with fries and a drink. The fries, to be honest, weren’t that great. They weren’t terrible, but were pretty everyday fast-food fries.

But the point of a tenderloin sandwich is the sandwich. Besides the aforementioned well-cooked slabs of pork, the diner featured a condiment area with several pickle choices, two kinds of hot peppers, onions, lettuce and tomato slices. I opted for a bit of mayo on my bun with lettuce, dill pickle, jalapeno and tomato on my tenderloin. It was spicy and delicious.

The restaurant is far from fancy. The employees were dressed rather shabbily, for example. The interior featured a car decor, which is fine with me, if a bit eccentric and irrelevant to the food.

After our trip, I looked up the restaurant on Yelp. The reviews were very mixed, with some diners complaining that the restaurant seemed dirty (it wasn’t, as far as I could tell—blue collar, but not dirty), while others praised the tenderloins.

Well, Audrey and I both fell into the “praise” category. If you want a generous tenderloin, don’t mind a bit of a minor wait and can handle the sketchy atmosphere, I would say Town House Tenderloins is a great place to visit. Honestly, if we go to the state park in Waterloo to ride our bikes in summer 2016—a definite maybe for a road trip—it’s likely that we’ll look up the address of this place (618 Brandilynn Blvd # 4, Cedar Falls, IA 50613) and type it into our GPS so we can find it again.

I’m a fan.

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#WaitWait… PTSD: Two Contrasting Weeknight Evenings

Wednesday night moon after PTSD talk.

Wednesday night moon after PTSD talk.

Wednesday and Thursday nights were both interesting for me, and featured very contrasting, interesting experiences.

On Thursday, my daughter, wife and I drove in the afternoon to Des Moines to watch a recording of the NPR radio program “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.” Usually recorded in Chicago, the show made its first stop in Iowa and was taped at the Des Moines Civic Center.

Civic Center is packed for

Civic Center is packed for “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.”

We were lucky to get tickets. When they announced the show was coming, my wife was quickly on the internet. First she ordered two, and later that day when she wanted a third, there was already no way to get adjacent ones. The event was quickly selling out. But we did get three seats, in the same row (near the back). Two were adjacent and one was rather far away. I sat alone so my daughter and wife could enjoy some time together, but I don’t mind. It was still fun for all.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from the program. I’m a fan of the radio show and listen to it regularly, but I wasn’t sure what it would be like to “watch” a radio show being recorded.

Well, it was just lovely. I was way, way back in a very large auditorium, so I could only see the people rather vaguely at a distance, but the sound system in the civic center is great, and it was both entertaining and fascinating to observe as radio magic was made.

Host Peter Sagal was clever and amusing. I don’t know if you’re a fan of his, but I liked his banter. He did ask at the beginning if any presidential candidates were present, and when none were, noted that in Iowa these days, that made the Thursday night gathering unusual.

The GOP also should get a “thank you” card from Wait Wait, as the Republicans as a horde of clowns and their freak show of a debate this week provided much of the topical humor.

Capitol reflected in state office building--went to Capitol before the show.

Capitol reflected in state office building–went to Capitol before the show.

It’s now 24 hours later, and I’m drawing a blank on what most of the memorable lines were. However, a remark Sagal made about Jeb Bush comes to mind—about how, after the CNBC debate, reporters didn’t question Jeb, they just stuck toothpicks in him. And all of them came out clean.

In particular, I don’t recall details of what Roxanne Roberts said, but I have the distinct impression that of all the panelists, I would rather feed and house her during a blizzard than any others. And no, I don’t intend any double entendre or even single entendre—she just seemed like a person you wouldn’t mind playing endless rounds of Bananagrams with, chatting with until the snow plows come.

Peter was in good form. Tom Bodett was also good, although he could not tell the difference between “Ottumwa” and “Altoona.” Then again, he was relating a 40-year-old story and a fake news item featuring Ottumwa had been read, so I guess we’ll just gloss over the Iowa geography lesson. Luke Burbank was funny, too, even if, like Tom, he wasn’t quite Roxanne. Something was going on with Luke that I don’t understand, and even 10 seconds of intense Google research (as in, typing “why did Iowans boo Luke Burbank?”) didn’t yield an answer. He got hearty boos at several points—what did I miss? I was way up in the cheap seats, sure, but I didn’t hear him say anything that an Iowan would boo. Did something notorious happen in Des Moines yesterday that I don’t know about? Did he do something unspeakable and outrageous like try to put a bra on our Civil War memorial or diss a corn dog? I don’t know, it’s just a mystery.

During the show.

During the show.

Anyway, the show began with a cute use of disco style lights and a warm up by Sagal, and then we were off. You’ll have to listen Saturday (or to the rebroadcast Sunday), but I for sure will tune in. It’s at 10 a.m., and the station here in Cedar Rapids is 90.9 FM.

After all, the audience can be heard clapping and cheering at several points, so listen to hear the sound of my hands. I don’t know if they will edit out the booing, but no matter, don’t bother to listen to it, I didn’t have any reason to, so I didn’t boo.

Sagal said that it was the first time in 18 years that the show had been in Iowa. I didn’t realize that, and am really glad that Audrey jumped on it and got tickets.

Other impressions from the trip:

  • At Capitol, getting first-lady fashion advice.

    At Capitol, getting first-lady fashion advice.

    I know it’s a nerdy thing, I but I do like dropping by the Capitol. We got in town a bit early, so spent an hour there. So much that is in the Capitol is both cool and strange at the same time. Like the doll display of gowns worn by first ladies of Iowa. Huh? And why is Lincoln reading to Tad such an important historic moment that it’s preserved by the entrance? I mean, cute, but what?

  • We could not help ourselves so we did it. We thought briefly about branching out—there are other places to eat in Des Moines after all—but really, we were at the Capitol and between us and the Civic Center temptation loomed too large to ignore. Those of you that know Iowa eateries, be jealous. Zombie Burgers.
  • Every time I’m in an auditorium, I find myself picking out attributes I would like to include in the new MMU Fine Arts Center. Not an auditorium the size of the Civic Center—something maybe about a third of that size—but still, we sure could use a nice auditorium with some Fine Arts facilities attached to it. If you want to know where to blow millions of dollars, I’ve given you a hint!
  • We saw some random Cedar Rapids people there—a neighbor from our neck of the woods for one, a ringer from the MMU hand bells for another. Iowa’s second city had several reps besides the Shellers.
  • One aspect of watching a radio show that I found fun was watching the quick second takes, and the “corrections” at the end. It took a bit more than two hours to record the audio for less than an hour of radio time, and it will be funny Saturday to listen for what was left out.
Zombies run from me.

Zombies run from me.

You all tune in Saturday.

That was Thursday night. Wednesday was also a good night, in a completely different sense. A professor emeritus of psychology and a graduate student working in counseling at Mount Mercy spoke as part of our ongoing Vietnam series.

Dr. Don Damsteegt did most of the speaking, but Travis Guy has some interesting additions. They told the stories of five different Vietnam veterans who suffer from PTSD, and then Don took us through some of the history and treatments for the disorder, which was first diagnosed in the wake of the Vietnam War.


I felt that I learned a lot. I am close to some people who have suffered traumatic stress, and I think the evening was a good eye opener. In particular, Dr. Damsteegt talked about the neurological changes brought on by this kind of stress—a good reminder to those of us lucky enough to not have suffered traumatic stress that those who have PTSD are not malingering or failing to “get over it.” Their brains have been rewired and their way of thinking and perception of the world has been altered in fundamental ways.

Not that there is “no hope.” In fact, there appears to be effective treatments for many who suffer PTSD—but it’s important to remember that it’s a condition that requires both time and professional help to cope with. And as both Dr. Damsteegt and Guy noted, you don’t “get over” PTSD. You learn to cope with the new way your brain is wired.

Anyway, Vietnam vets, especially combat veterans, certainly have a high incidence of PTSD. And during a question-and-answer sessions at the end of the presentation, an audience member asked what those of us who know a person suffering from PTSD can do to help.

Common style of cap worn at these events--this is the man who made the poignant comment.

Common style of cap worn at these events–this is the man who made the poignant comment.

An old gentlemen, wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” cap, raised his hand. “Just listen to his story,” he said, his voice catching as he spoke.

“That is an excellent answer,” Dr. Damgseegt said.

As I said, Wednesday and Thursday certainly contrasted, but it has been a fascinating week! More image: photo tweetted by WaitWait, images from Des Moines Register and my PTSD and Des Moines pictures.

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