Iowa: Shortcomings & Surprises

Sunday was wonderful. I slept in, worked on our REU t-shirt design, and then biked to Chocolaterie Stam. The chocolate shop has a beautiful Wurlitzer grand which I played for just over an hour before settling down to read this week’s Journal Club homework, joined by Kate. Thoroughly therapeutic.

Now it’s Monday, and I’m back in rhythm. And trying not to single-handedly eat the entire pan of brownies that Emma made Saturday… Off and on, I’ve been taking note of what I like/like less about Iowa (aside from REU). This probably isn’t fair since I haven’t explored beyond Ames, but here’s my assessment so far:

Serious Shortcomings:
No mountains — and without them you can’t even see that far. Too many little groups of trees between fields get in the way.
Sunset/sunrise — From what I’ve seen, these just don’t begin to compare with Idaho.
Wind — It’s only been getting windier since I arrived. Not a fan.
Humidity — I got up at 5:30 to run this morning and the weather (heat and humidity combined) was already stifling. At least if I was training at high altitudes the pain would pay off later. This won’t.
Lawns — There are some nice lawns, particularly on campus, but the nearby park has awful grass. Hard dirt, sticks and weeds. The same goes for the lawn at the apartments.

(Early morning sightings: corn, albino bunny, purple chicken)




Pleasant Surprises:
City water — I’ve been spoiled with well water my entire life. The water in Ames—while not as good as straight well water—is significantly better than the city water in Idaho.
Fresh produce — I was mentally prepared to forgo fresh garden produce and eggs this summer after leaving home (we have a large garden and lots of chickens). But the produce in the grocery stores is better than I expected. My expectations for the farmers market have increased.
No goat heads — If you’ve never experienced goat heads, I don’t expect you to understand.
50m outdoor pool — The only other time I’ve had access to one of these was in Taiwan. It’s amazing.
Chocolaterie Stam — This, I could live without… but it could also become a serious habit. The grand piano is key.
Bubble tea — Another habit contender, TJ Cups is a really fun stop. I have to try more flavors.. Although I’ve since heard that a lot of places put questionable chemicals in their drinks…?

Goals for the week:

  • Practice the flute twice
  • Boulder twice
  • Anybody want to try out the High Trestle Trail on Sunday? =D We can make it an evening thing so that on our way back we see it lit up! We’d need car transportation.


Otherwise, I’m looking forward to Mary Still’s HCI related psychology colloquium June 20th regarding intuitiveness of design and Alberto Cairo’s lecture on data visualization June 28th.

Also, I’m not invited, but I’m looking forward to blueberry pancakes and apple crumble something or other by Emma and Alfredo this weekend!


Iowa: Shortcomings & Surprises — 3 Comments

  1. I got really confused when you mentioned a purple chicken until I saw the picture.
    The High Trestle Trail looks really pretty, however, I might be out of town this weekend.
    Also, I request to see why you’re disappointed by Iowa sunsets!

  2. Whoa that’s so cool! I’m totally down for going on the trail. Also I think I’m gonna go to those lectures as well. And sorry Jameel but I have to agree. The sunsets here are slightly disappointing

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