Comforts of the Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Vancouver

My Hamburg Inn No. 2 coffee mug

This has to be one of my favorite coffee mugs that we added to our collection when we were back in my old stomping grounds this past January. Just a quick shot while doing some client work for sixty4media on a Saturday.

Sadly, I never went to the Hamburg Inn No. 2 as often as I probably should have when I lived in Iowa City. Breakfast was never something I really regarded as important to me until I moved out of the downtown area of IC, and then it got to the point where I never wanted to bother with the pains of parking in the area or waiting in line for a table or booth to open up. That all seems completely insignificant now, but it’s nice to have this memento at least.

What tornado damage looks like from the inside, as it happens

The Des Moines Register posted this video on their site of the security cameras from inside of a bank that was destroyed during the tornado in Parkersburg, Iowa over the recent Memorial Day weekend. The video is astounding. You can see what the wind can do as the windows are blown out, and then the tornado hits the building dead on, eventually taking out the cameras.

Update: The Des Moines Register also posted this video footage from the same storm that destroyed much of Parkersburg, Iowa. It’s truly shocking.

Tornado that hit Parkersburg, Iowa destroyed all city hall records

It’s been a tough few weeks in the Midwest of the U.S., and some might say a year if you consider the tornado that nearly wiped Greensburg, Kansas[wiki] off the face of the earth almost a year ago.

Over the past weekend, storms have been hitting close to home back in Iowa, and the reports keep painting the picture clearer as to what happened in the small town of Parkersburg, Iowa. Growing up, you know about these things and understand what they are capable of. This is a bit different.

Rescuers continued picking through the wreckage in search of possible victims, but officials said they were hopeful no one else would be found. In addition to those killed, about 70 people were injured, including two in critical condition.

The damage in this town of about 1,000 was staggering: 222 homes destroyed, 21 businesses destroyed and more than 400 homes damaged. Among the buildings destroyed were the city hall, the high school and the town’s sole grocery store and gas station.

“There’s so much hurt here, I don’t know where to start,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who owns a farm near New Hartford. [myway]

What is even more astounding is that not only was the city hall destroyed, but so was all the data records.

All records stored at Parkersburg’s City Hall were lost in Sunday’s tornado, officials confirmed this morning.

Backup computer information might be available, they said, but the first order of business will be the massive cleanup effort that awaits.

At a community meeting this morning, officials announced that a system has been established to let property owners inform crews when they have finished trying to salvage belongings. Resident were instructed to register at the Veterans Building community center for special green and tan lawn stakes that signify when property is ready for demolition. [desmoinesregister]

I’ve been through my share of storms and seen the damage these things can do, but I cannot fathom what it would take to have damage on this wide of a scale. Houses and barns are what you expect, and it never feels typical when it happens. No matter how small the town is, it’s still a town, and it’s hardly a town now.

If you would like to help out with the cause, please consider pledging to the Red Cross who is helping out with the disaster recovery.

The legend of Roger Luttski

The following video was somewhat surprising to find on YouTube, but it doesn’t do the legend of Roger Luttski justice. And thankfully, the person who posted it finally made it embeddable.

Colonial Lanes in Iowa City has made a series of commercials for their bowling ally that have been absolutely hilarious, all while keeping things on a low budget. More so, the creativity compared to production quality doesn’t even compare, but there is only so much you can expect from local commercials, no matter where you are in the world. This, on the other hand, has always been a campaign that is witty, if not completely hilarious.

The tag line of “oh yeah, bowling” is a play on all the things you can do at what is more than just a bowling ally. In fact, it’s something that I still throw out once and a while, but no one has a clue what I’m talking about. I’m not so sure that just this clip even begins to explain it, but it’s still pretty good. And the quality is far superior to the soft, grainy, yet comforting VHS look and sound of their old TV spots.

And who can forget the Tiger Woods spoof of, “I am Roger Luttski”? That one almost made me cry.

This is, or was, a long running theme in their commercials, and I hope it still is. Roger Luttski is a completely fictional character, but he has been portrayed as the same guy for a number of years now. I’m sure it’s not an easy job, but bowling for fun and then stumbling into the realm of a spokes person would be pretty cool.

Back home, far from home

What a whirlwind tour is has been. Six days is not enough time to spend with family and friends, but I think we crammed as much as we could in the time that we had to do it. We almost threw a train into the equation, but my brain scheming plan of convincing Rebecca to spend the weekend in Seattle and grabbing a train back to Vancouver just sounded like too much. Still, for the time we had, I can’t think of changing a thing. Well, we could have stayed longer, but that’s the way it goes some times.

Leaving KC

We did a lot of driving. There’s no better way to put it than maybe add another “a lot” to that statement. Plenty of miles, not kilometers, were covered in a short period of time. To and from grandma’s house, then to and from my parent’s house, and we tossed in another trip to Iowa City to see some old co-workers and then some friends.

Rocking out to Shrek's Super Party

I got to see five of the original six roommates that I had in my first semester in college. Kris (aka Muffin), Adam (soon to be a father in May), Ryan, and Heath all were able to stop by for dinner and then hanging out to catch up. Even Bill and Dave, who came to our wedding along with Muffin, drove over from Des Moines, so it was a true college reunion. Can’t forget to mention Qi Qi and Kim, but they rank just as highly even if they weren’t there in the college days.

24 pounds of bird

Thanksgiving was just as you can imagine. Too much food, and way too many pies. I think I did alright in terms of the amount of food I took in, but running tomorrow morning is pretty high on my list. Gotta get my internal clock kinda reset as well.

Getting my butt kicked at Madden '06

Used to be a time where I liked video games, but I was never the best at being competitive. My nephews, on the other hand, are far more advanced in terms of how to play these games. There is nothing better in their minds than beating their uncle.

Walking to our gate in DSM
Hustle and bustle of ORD
Beer and MacBook in SEA

The time was too short, and the amount of traveling we did seemed to be far too much. It’s nice to be back home in Vancouver, but I completely have a travel hangover. Maybe it’s the lack of a good sleep schedule or the multitudes of recycled air in the planes, but it’s been a tough day of being home. Monday will come far too quick, but at least we’re stationary until then. Plus our luggage made it all the way with us, so that’s a bonus.

Back in Iowa for the first time in two years

Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

The jaunt that it took to get us to the Midwest has been a tad torturous. Bellingham to Seattle to Chicago to Des Moines, and from there we snagged a car to take us to Kansas City. This is the first leg of the tour that will take me to see my grandma for the first time in a while, a few months more than the amount of time I’ve last been to my home state.

Getting off the plane and walking to the car, there is a sense if your nose that you are no longer in Vancouver, or the Pacific Northwest for that matter. Maybe it’s the dryness of the air, or the fact that you can’t smell the sea air. We certainly don’t have the amount of pine or fir trees that scrub the air and stock the air with oxygen.

iowa rest stop
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Contrary to belief, we have trees among our rolling prairie hills that tend to gather in decent bunches, but folks around here often refer to those areas as “the timber”. It’s a far cry from “the bush” in B.C. that can seemingly swallow a person away from civilization.

It’s very much dryer here, and the skin on my hands and arms are noticing it right away. This was an issue when I lived here, but this is a drastic shift from the wet climate of Vancouver. My arms were so itchy by the time we went to bed on our second night that I had to fight the urge to itch my skin raw before I fell asleep.

cheese We’re actually in route to my hometown right now, heading north on I-35, back in Iowa for the second time on this trip. Our first round was only for a handful of hours, so this will be the longer stay in the “field of opportunities”. I’ve heard rumblings of a basketball game by some of my nephews, and some old friends have made requests for gathering together.

We’re about to round Des Moines for the second time this trip, maybe the third. We got turned around coming out of Des Moines International, and I’m not the most knowledgeable about getting around this city as I am driving around it. Eastern Iowa rules, Central Iowa drools. Never found myself coming here very often.

Free WiFi at Iowa interstate rest areas

I have known about free wireless internet at rest areas in Iowa for a few years now, and every time I hear about or use it, the service impresses me. More so, it’s the fact that it shows how forward thinking the state is with providing access to travelers who pass through the state.

iowa rest stop
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

For instance, we just stopped at the rest area on I-35 near the Missouri border, in between Lamoni and Decateur. Open up the laptop, find the network, launch a browser, and a couple of clicks through the DOT’s web pages gets you in. We checked our email, uploaded some pictures, Beck made a blog post, and off we went. That made for a twenty minute stop, but the scenery at that particular stop, not to mention near 80F, clear sky weather, made it fairly smooth.

In the time before I moved out of Iowa, I had used this service just a couple of times, and it used to be that you had to setup an account with this service. It was still free, but I’m beginning to think that the number of people who would forget their account information between uses and just sign up for another one because they forgot the previous one probably got out of hand. Kudos to the service for changing that.

During this trip, we’ve been through two major airports, Seattle and Chicago, that had WiFi that you had to pay for. $6.95 for a whole day of access in Seattle isn’t much, but what a pain. Why not give me 90 minutes of unlimited access for 24 hours, and then charge me if I want more? Sure, there are people who might try to abuse the system, but monitor the bandwidth for that, right?

If I have a hour to kill during a layover, I’d love to just pop on and check my email. We just made a 20 minute rest stop in southern Iowa with free wireless, and now we’re back on the road. You’re telling me that airports can’t do that?

That also reminds me, check out what a group of local geeks are doing in Vancouver. is a movement to provide a city wide WiFi network to the metro area. Let’s broaden that to the airports across North America, eh?

Filmspotting interview on Podcast411

An episode of Podcast411 came through recently that really caught my attention. Filmspotting is a podcast that I stumbled onto about a year ago, and the host’s name of Adam Kempenaar stuck out to me.

He was the host of the show Burn Hollywood Burn during my days at KRUI, a brilliant, popular program about movies. Two hours a week with more phone calls in one night than most other shows would pray for in just one semester. The guys were good at what they did, and Adam has taken the formula to the podcasting realm as well as a once a month spot on WBEZ in Chicago.

You can listen to the MP3 directly or check out the show notes for the episode. And if you dig movies, check out Filmspotting for yourself.

They Might Be Giants – the sun

A little something for your Friday, especially if you are enjoying the summer sun like we are (trying to) in Vancouver. I know they say this song is called, “The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas”, but I’ve always called it “The Sun”.

I used to co-host a weekly morning show at KRUI on Wednesdays called “In The Middle”. Clever, eh? Well, every week at 9:30AM, we poked fun at the surrounding FM, rock stations and their “mandatory Metallica” with our own, “Mandatory They Might Be Giants“. Yes, they are near and dear to my heart.

Forever will be the experience of John and John doing a live, acoustic performance in our little studio be remembered, then throwing on our station t-shirt at their encore that night. If Muffin is watching this post, which you see him perk up here from time to time and was my co-host of said show, he’ll agree about that. Knowing that he was a huge fan, and still is, I got him to do that interview in the studio, if not fulfill a lifetime dream. Rock.