I was 12 years old, laying on the floor as the afternoon sun faded away and doing my homework for my 6th-grade reading class for the next day.
The workbook was this stapled-together, quarter ream of light green pages that consisted of various English comprehension skills. I don’t recall it being difficult but do remember having that “big kid” feeling of being proud to have homework for school the next day.
Mike was 26 and talking through a tape recorder that we had started to use to send letters back and forth with. People had been doing that for years, but this cassette was almost two weeks old and from a land that I had a tough time understanding.
My oldest brother was talking about how things were going for him in the UAE.
Some months before that, my dad and I dug into the, dated but still relevant, collection of encyclopedia books in our house that they bought some time before my memories begin. At that point, these books might have been considered to be on the edge of being outdated, but I trusted those books with my fair share of reports that spared me having to go to the library up until that point. And sure enough, those musty books had information about the United Arab Emirates, and Mike was about to be stationed there with his Air Force squadron.
He went to college with the intent of enlisting to become a pilot, and I was always in such awe with all things military.
We have a deep history of people in my family who served in almost all branches of the armed forces, but Mike was the first one in ours.
Growing up as a kid in the wanning days of the Cold War and having other kids in the neighborhood with similar history in their extended families, the threat of conflict was always there. It became a fascination.
In the backseat of the car, Dad was driving, Mom in the passenger seat, 600 WMT on the radio, and the sun well below the horizon on a cold, fall night.
We had made the odd, Tuesday night run into Cedar Rapids to hit Sam’s Club, loading up the trunk with all sorts of bulk goods. Looking back on it now, maybe it was to get their minds off of what was going on that day. Usually these trips were a weekend event.
I can still remember not being very far from leaving the outskirts of the “big city” and going through the darkness of the country. We had been listening to the results come in on the radio the whole way there, but on the way home, the special bulletin hit.
Bill Clinton had been declared the winner and would become the next president.
In that backseat, I felt fear. Staring out into the darkness, I felt dread. My mind spiraled to the point where I felt like the world was going to end. The announcement scared me to my core.
I can’t remember what my parents said to each other about it, but they weren’t happy.
And then I just remember being cold.
I think about that night quite often. I think about those times quite often.
While we were in Manning Park for their Dark Sky Festival last weekend, we decided to talk a walk around Lightning Lake to explore the area a little bit. I had never been, so when we pulled into the day-use parking lot, I knew I had to grab my camera for the adventure.
It actually ended up to be a great opportunity to not only take some breathtaking landscape photos, but some animals actually stopped to pose for me along the way.
The shade was very cool, and the sunlight was gloriously warm that day.
I have been trying to get back to listening to whole albums, start to finish, and picked this one as a bit of throw back while I did some work on my laptop a few weeks back.
While this was a band that I immersed myself into during my teenage fandom years, it really struck me how this song is so fitting for the divisive, political climate we exist in today.
I talk of freedom You talk of the flag I talk of revolution You’d much rather brag And as the decibels of this disenchanting discourse Continue to dampen the day The coin flips again and again, and again, and again As our sanity walks away All this discussion though politically correct Is dead beyond destruction Though it leaves me quite erect And as the final sunset rolls behind the earth And the clock is finally dead I’ll look at you, you’ll look at me And we’ll cry a lot But this will be what we said This will be what we said Look where all this talking got us, baby
Songwriters: Chad Alan Gracey / Chad David Taylor / Edward Joel Kowalczyk / Patrick Dahlheimer White, Discussion
I used to spend a lot of time around these parts. 8 years in Iowa City, and this is the place that everyone always wanted to hang out. I took this picture yesterday, looking down there at a lot of fond memories.
One 4th of July during Jazz Fest, I was here helping with a full KSUI broadcast from the center of the Ped Mall when the clouds rolled in. I tend to remember saying to someone that “this doesn’t look good,” and suddenly the skies started pouring down. As the winds roared in, someone jumped on the microphone to say a hasty signoff and that we were ending the multi-hour broadcast rather early and quite abruptly.
We moved fast. Everything was piled into a four-door sedan, we crammed in, and were gone within 15 minutes. Not a piece of equipment was left behind or damaged.
Without a doubt, this has been the coldest morning of the New Year that I can remember. I do recall days of going to elementary school and being held inside for recess because the weather was unsafe due to the subzero windchills outside, mainly because there was always some kid who would lose his stocking hat on the bus ride in from the country or not bring gloves that day, but you never really grasp how frigid, cold weather can cause damaging effects that can last a lifetime.
Last night, as 2018 struck in the central time zone, windchills dipped to -34F, which is nearly at the point where subzero temperatures between Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same. Once -40 is reached, reference or calculation is no longer needed.