Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Posted March 16, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

A short, helpful guide to air travel

Flying in an airplane without crying is just one of those skills we are all supposed to have learned after a certain age. Sure, I get it. The jets fire up, the plane lumbers down the runway, and everyone is anticipating the sun reflecting off the sand as they saunter

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Posted March 09, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The ebb and flow of the family restaurant

Pushing and shoving each other, we make our way over from St. Mary’s School in Iowa City, through the back screen door off an alley from Linn Street, and into the kitchen at Hamburg Inn No. 2. Boxes are stacked along the far wall, full of large tin cans of

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Posted March 02, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The wine lady

“I don’t think I’m all that interesting,” she tells me at the start. A little embarrassed, it seems. Put on the spot. A bit uncomfortable. Really? Can you take your own measure if someone else doesn’t hold the mirror? And isn’t our personal yardstick always a foot or so short?

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Posted February 24, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Defining ‘rad’

“You’re certainly not cool enough to go in there.” I knew that, even without the helpful observation of my wife. I wasn’t at 16, and I’m certainly not at 61. If coolness is the test, I am always good for the overall curve. But here I am, walking past Mars

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Posted February 17, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Mary’s picture on a semi

Crowds storm the Hy-Vee on Valley West Drive. No, it’s not a riot, but carts are nearly full even though customers are only halfway through the many aisles with the many smiles. The weekend of the big game is coming, causing momentary logjams as people debate what sauce to use

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Posted February 10, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The monastic life

Neon doesn’t seem the best light for contemplating the contemplative life. Not to mention those bright red shopping carts lined up in front with the red bulls eye prominent on the facade. And the smell of popcorn and Starbuck’s coffee wafting out the front doors? I don’t know. This doesn’t

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Posted February 03, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The post office

The post office was established at Fort Des Moines in 1845, and was known as Raccoon River until June 1, 1846, when the name Fort Des Moines was given it. Josiah Smart, who was the Indian interpreter for the military authorities at the Fort, was appointed as the first postmaster

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Posted January 27, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The caucuses: a soldier’s view

The retired Navy captain sat across the table at Smokey Row Coffee. Totally composed. Taking my measure is my guess. I start to feel a little warm under her scrutiny. Let’s see — unwavering eye contact, upright posture, an open smile. Check, check and check. Naval Captain Megan Klee, retired,

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Posted January 20, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Uncovering the dark underbelly of IT

Iowans pride themselves on not being rude. “Please. Sit down. Can I get you a cup of coffee? Do you want a slice of pie with that?” It may explain how in a state that has conservative leanings, we early on embraced racial equality, women’s rights and gay marriage. It’s

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Posted January 13, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The sledding hill

“Dad says it is your turn to go down the hill with me.” The young girl, her right side dipped in snow, her stocking cap covering only one ear, and a plastic blue sled trailing in her wake, looks up expectantly at the group of three moms standing at the

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