Thursday, July 27, 2006

Taking a shot at 2007

With more than five months remaining in 2006, one of the last things I expected to see in my mailbox was a 2007 calendar. But that is what I received this week from Central Alternative High School -- the 2007 calendar commenorating the 150th birthday of Dubuque's Shot Tower.

I have to put in a plug for this calendar. It is well done. It traces the history of the shot tower, which opened just before Christmas 1856. The documentation comes from research projects performed by students in American history and English classes since spring 2005.

And, it gives us the final two months of 2006!

Nice job, Central students!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Three-sport weekend

It was a three-sport weekend for yours truly -- and the ol' body feels it. Saturday morning, in ideal weather conditions, I ran eight-plus miles on Heritage Trail. Sunday afternoon, I officiated a men's adult soccer match. I wore a heart-rate monitor in both activities, mostly to see the comparison, and found that my rate was roughly the same on the trail and on the pitch. Officiating offers some occasions to walk and stand, so the harder (and more productive in terms of heart rate) workout was the trail run.

Sunday evening, a couple of the guys at work organized an informal softball game. After catching my breath from the soccer match, I located my glove and joined them. It was my first softball experience since I had "retired" 22-23 years earlier. To say that I had lost a step would be an understatement -- but it was a fun evening. At least I didn't whiff while at the plate.

Monday morning, I took it easy -- and cut a mile or two from my distance -- and tried to just work out the stiffness. Still, it was one of those weekends that, six months from now, when it is whatever below zero, I'll appreciate even more.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Anyone like this logo?

The bruise is still visible on Marco Materazzi's sternum, and already FIFA has unveiled the logo for the next World Cup. And already bloggers are dissing the design. Poke around the Internet, and you'll find all sorts of negative comments about it.

It raises in my mind two questions:
  • When was the last time a logo design received overall praise?
  • Who really cares?

It seems that any time any organization or industry unveils a logo, nobody likes it at first.
And besides, what difference does it make for a one-time event? Unlike a corporate logo, which is expected to have staying power, this South Africa 2010 design will be gone and forgotten soon after the tourney concludes.

But dare I say it: I sort of like the design. What do you think?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hurstville history

How many times, while driving between Dubuque and the Quad Cities, have we driven past the new (2004) Hurstville Interpretive Center, along U.S. 61 just north of Maquoketa?

Every time -- until Saturday.

On our return drive to Dubuque from Fort Madison (see previous entry), with no set schedule, Madame X and I took the time to check out the center. The exhibit included some history of Hurstville, the "company town" built around the lime kiln operation.

Built in 1871, the kilns provided mortar for the construction industry -- until the advent of Portland Cement. Long after the kilns shut down, the entire town of Hurtsville was sold in the late 1970s; the transaction made national news.

Next time you are traveling U.S. 61, allow yourself an extra 45 minutes (or more) to check out the interpretive center and kilns.

Doing time at The Fort

On Friday I drove to Fort Madison, Iowa, for a meeting of the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, of which I am a board member. The site of the summer meeting is selected by the incumbent president of the Iowa Newspaper Association -- and usually is the president's own community. It's a good way to visit various parts of the state. (The 2005 meeting resulted in my first visit to the Okoboji area in extreme Northwest Iowa.)

Fort Madison -- locals refer to it as The Fort -- is a Mississippi River community with some history and character. It also has trains -- lots of trains.

After the business portion of the day, many board members and guests stuck around for a tour of Old Fort Madison, dinner at Alpha's and a short trip to Rodeo Park, where the community hosted Balloons Over the Mississippi. Instead of flights or competition, Friday night's balloon activity was a "night glow."

After a four-mile run -- too hot and too humid! -- my wife and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at
Ivy Bake Shoppe & Cafe, where Ann enjoyed a leisurely lunch the previous day. We recommend it!

I doubt that we would have selected Fort Madison for a weekend getaway. However, after making the visit, and learning what it has to offer, we were glad we made the trip.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Double Eagle

The Telegraph Herald today reported on my friend Ken Furst's rare feat on the golf course: A double-eagle -- or three under par on a hole.

On July 4, he scored a 2 on the Par 5 533-yard 13th hole at Dubuque Golf & Country Club. He used a driver and then holed a 3-wood. A double-eagle is a tougher feat than a hole-in-one (assuming it comes on a Par 3, of course).

I mention all this, so I can run this photo. That's Ken being dwarfed by friend Terry Friedman at our son's recent wedding. Actually, though Terry is tall and Ken is, well, not as tall, the disparity was magnified when I had Terry stand atop a curb.

Congratulations, Ken!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Historic day in Cascade

Saturday was a special day for Cascade, Iowa. That evening, the son of the late Red Faber, a National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Cascade native, came to town to present some of his father's memorabilia to the Tri-County Historical Society.

In a ceremony after the Telegraph Herald Semi-Pro All-Star Game, Urban C. Faber II presented four items to the society, which operates a museum in Cascade. As Red Faber's biographer, I had gotten to know Urban II, and was pleased to help facilitate the donation.

The items are:
  • A baseball autographed by Red Faber in 1960 at a ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of his minor-league perfect game. (The baseball is also signed by Dennis Ribant, a minor leaguer who threw a perfect game in 1960.)
  • A wristwatch presented to Faber by Loras College in 1964. Faber once attended the college's prep academy and later pitched for the college varsity in 1909, shortly before turning pro.
  • A paperweight-plaque from Campion Academy, the Prairie du Chien, Wis., prep school that Faber attended for two years. At the time, it was known as Sacred Heart.
  • A gold pocketwatch that was a gift to Faber from the fans of Cascade in 1916. It is engraved to mark the occasion.
Of the four items, the treasure is the pocketwatch. Here is the background:

Early in his career, for three straight seasons, Red Faber and the Chicago White Sox traveled to Dubuque for exhibition games.

On May 3, 1916, the White Sox played against the institution today known as Loras College. In the third inning, when Faber came to bat, the game paused for a special ceremony. A delegation of Cascade residents, headed by Mayor F. J. Keefe, walked to home plate and presented Red Faber an engraved pocket watch as a gift from the people of Cascade.

That gold watch has remained in the Faber family the past 90 years. On Saturday, Urban Faber II returned that watch to Cascade by donating it to the Tri-County Historical Society.

The watch will be proudly displayed in the museum once updating and relocating the Faber exhibit is completed.

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Good night and may God bless"

I started too late in the year to call it spring cleaning, so let's just say that I was cleaning and organizing my stuff the other day when I found, in the bottom of a dresser draw, a single sheet of paper ripped from a standard-issue Reporter's Notebook.

People younger than me (51 going on 52) probably don't remember the comedian Red Skelton. But in his day, he was among the country's leading comedians. Unlike today's stand-up acts, which jam their routines with scatalogical and sexual references -- and lace them with four-letter words -- Skelton ran a clean show. His trademark sign-off was "Good night and may God bless."

About the autograph: Skelton came to Western Illinois University do a show, and there was a press conference beforehand. It must have been during the 1973-4 school year. I don't remember for sure, but I believe I was there as a member of the Public Information Office staff (as opposed to journalist on a campus newspaper).

It is considered "bad form" for a journalist to ask a source for an autograph, but I couldn't resist that day 30-plus years ago at WIU. The autograph probably is not worth much (anything?) today, but now it did give me a fleeting recollection of meeting one of comedy's greats.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vows in the park

It's official.

Older son Andrew exchanged vows with Josie today in Madison, Wis. The setting was Olin-Turville Park, on the Lake Monona shoreline. They met four years ago, when they were students at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Legend has it the occasion was an Ultimate Frisbee event of some sort -- but parents are rarely filled in on those details.

We are thrilled to have Josie as an official member of our family -- we have considered her such for some time -- and, as best we can tell, Josie's relatives feel the same about Andy.

Several folks said to me at the reception, "Two down, two to go." Yes, the oldest two of our four children are now married. And we're pleased with -- and proud of -- their choices for their life partners.

Can a parent ask for anything more?