Jun 27

Worst. Temp. Job. Ever.

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June 20, 2016: Hello, I must be going.

The Carroll Kmart was not in the large list of nationwide Kmart closures announced at the beginning of the year, but was included in a less-publicized round in spring. Two months after that, the Kmarts in Iowa City and Marshalltown were added to the list.

Unless more closures are announced, Iowa will have nine Kmarts at the end of 2017, half of what there were in 2015. Charles City and Oelwein will be the last ones left in the 319 area code. The store in Carroll has about three weeks left; Marshalltown’s will be open until September.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen they say “Everything Must Go,” they aren’t kidding.

Posted in Iowa Miscellaneous | Leave a comment
Jun 26

Blog solution. Maybe.

As you can see from editing of the last post, something Very Very Bad happened last week, causing quite a consternation. Through some digging, it appears my blog contracted the equivalent of a disease so bad and rare the doctor who discovers it gets to name it. (The ST:TNG episode “Genesis” got this exactly backwards.)

Yes, that is a Google page with FIVE search results, three of which are mine. After posting for help on the wordpress.org site (since this is not on WordPress itself), I was told it was a hosting thing. I did some more digging, specifically for “endurance-page-cache,” and found a couple of GitHub topics that pointed at the hosting service. Looking at the blog’s guts through an FTP site, I found a folder called “mu-plugins” that was not there when I backed up the blog in 2011. (YES I KNOW.) That folder had a creation date of June 21, 2017 — in the 72-hour period I had not touched the blog.

I deleted the mu-plugins folder. I clicked “Add Post.” IT WORKED.

This was the third thing in 10 days that blew up through no action on my part. Apple cut off iCloud in Mail for users of Mac OS 10.6.8 without warning (that’s not solved yet) and the SB Nation network blocked that OS’s version of Safari by switching to HTTPS (I had to switch to Chrome, and boy I miss Safari’s RSS functions).

I am going to hope that things are back to normal, even though hope is a dangerous thing. If this happens again and a solution is not so evident, I will create a static blog page and maybe do an every-week thing. That assumes everything else stays intact and (because tech stories require car analogies) I don’t find myself with a car suddenly unable to go into reverse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Jun 24

Lincoln Highway: Sutherland, Nebraska

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAugust 6, 2016: Mural on side of building on side of Lincoln Highway/US 30 in Sutherland, Nebraska, about 6 miles east of the Mountain/Central time zone boundary.

NOTE: I am getting a WordPress fatal error “undefined function current_action()” and until that gets fixed I cannot make more posts! The entire error line is “Fatal error: Call to undefined function current_action() in /home/iowahigh/public_html/blog/wp-content/mu-plugins/endurance-page-cache.php on line 280″

Posted in Highway Miscellaneous | Leave a comment
Jun 22

Lincoln Highway: Marshalltown, Iowa


March 26, 2010: Closeup of the clock tower at the Marshall County Courthouse.

The Lincoln Highway’s original route through Marshall County went right through Marshalltown. It wasn’t relocated onto a straightaway until the end of 1947. The route through the city passed the Marshall County Courthouse on the north side. The courthouse, built with local limestone, was dedicated Nov. 18, 1886, and then extensively restored 90 years later.

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March 26, 2010: Facing north on S75.

When the cutoff opened, travelers on new 30 accidentally bypassed the city altogether, according to articles from the Times-Republican. The state responded by retaining most of the western portion of the bypassed route and, to show it was related to 30, designated it IA 330. It stayed in the state system until the day after Christmas 1989, when 330 was rerouted north from the intersection above to Albion, leaving only a fraction of a mile running west from the intersection to E41.

Posted in Highway Miscellaneous, Iowa Miscellaneous | Leave a comment
Jun 21

Lincoln Highway: Jefferson, Iowa

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May 15, 2011: The Greene County Courthouse, as seen from the Lincoln Highway (above) and looking east on the Lincoln Highway from the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower (below).

Half a century plus one year after the Mahanay Memorial bell tower was erected in downtown Jefferson, the tower’s bells have been restored to full working order.

Greene County was the first county to pave the Lincoln Highway in Iowa (PDF). When the US highway system was designated, Greene County had the southernmost paved road in the western third of the state.

The Lincoln Highway convention tour stops in Jefferson today.

Posted in Highway Miscellaneous | Leave a comment
Jun 20

Lincoln Highway: Williamstown, Ohio

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October 3, 2013: Intersection of the Lincoln Highway and US 68, Williamstown, Ohio.

A significant stretch of the Lincoln Highway in Ohio was signed as US 30 as recently as the beginning of the 21st Century. The highway was upgraded to four lanes between Ontario and a point east of I-75 in two stages. For much more see Sandor Gulyas’ page.

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Jun 19

The Lincoln Highway, as previously seen here


July 6, 2013: Youngville Station at the intersection of US 30/218 in Benton County. Over multiple days, I traveled the then-newly-signed Lincoln Highway Historic Byway across Iowa for its 100th birthday.

Since this week is the Lincoln Highway Association’s annual convention, this year in Denison, I thought I’d pull out previous blog posts related to the historic transcontinental route. Mostly, it’s for the photos.

Posted in Highway Miscellaneous, Iowa Miscellaneous | Comments Off
Jun 16

Bonus: E is for Elma


August 4, 2015: Some of the windows at Elma Elementary aren’t “windows” at all; they have classical artwork and inspirational quotes on them (detailed below).

A decade ago, the Howard-Winneshiek school district was the second-largest in the state by area with one high school (in Cresco, although the sports teams are called Crestwood), but there were three other sites students attended: Elma, Lime Springs, and Ridgeway. But an enrollment drop of 300 students over that time (and, as always, tight state funding) led the district to close all three locations.

Ridgeway was the first to go, in 2009. It is now home to the weirdest post-school use of a building in Iowa: a shrimp farm.

Then closures of Elma and Lime Springs happened a year apart, in 2014 and 2015. About the same time, Howard-Winneshiek ended an agreement with Riceville to let Riceville’s buses into the edges of the district. Looking at a map, you can infer why: Elma is much closer to Riceville than Cresco.


“Only the flint of a man’s mind can strike fire in music.” — Beethoven

Posted in Schools, Sequences | Comments Off
Jun 15

Dysart legalizes chickens

By votes of 4-0, 3-2, and 3-2, the Dysart City Council passed three readings of an ordinance allowing residents to keep chickens inside city limits. Because when chickens are outlawed, only outlaws will have chickens.

Now, will this get hipsters to flock to Dysart, or will residents fly the coop? Such ordinances aren’t quite as rare as hen’s teeth anymore. Davenport legalized chickens earlier this year; Marion did it a year ago. An ordinance has been on the books in Cedar Rapids since 2010. But many cities, including Waverly but NOT Des Moines, ban roosters, so if there are any cocks of the walk in those city limits someone better cry fowl.

(Why yes, this was totally a cheep excuse for a pun post.)

I found out about this on May 10, the day of the third reading, but the city was late in posting the minutes and the Dysart Reporter‘s website didn’t have anything.
Posted in Tama County | Comments Off
Jun 14

I-380 construction will split travel lanes

While traveling in Kentucky last year, I encountered a road construction phenomenon I haven’t seen often, if at all. While a rural interstate was being expanded to three lanes in each direction, an on-site detour had one lane of traffic move across the median while the other remained on the correct side. This split the lanes of travel (and in one case, meant no exit) but maintained two lanes in each direction. This is different than how it usually goes in Iowa; we get one-lane head-to-head traffic on one side while the other roadbed is torn up.

The split-lane method is going to be used in Cedar Rapids this summer. Bridges for I-380 are going to get an overlay, the Gazette reports, and that means some shuffling is needed to maintain three lanes in each direction. The southbound bridge will have four lanes squeezed on it, three southbound and one northbound. The reverse will happen next year.

Posted in Construction | Comments Off