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Iowa Discoveries

I run into some pretty interesting things while putting together The Iowan that don’t make it into print. I thought I’d share some of them with you here each Friday morning.
 
If you don’t mind, I’ll also ask your opinions, advice, and suggestions from time to time about subjects and story ideas we’re considering. I’d love to get your feedback — leave a comment below, or email me at editor@iowan.com. Either way, I look forward to hearing from you.
 
Happy Friday!
 
Dan Weeks
Editor

February 5, 2016

 1. When your officemates suggest going out to lunch in an Iowa blizzard, do you a)    tell them they’re crazy and that you should all stay inside until rescued by the National Guard, or b)   say, “Sure, why not? I’ll drive!”? 2. When asked by a nervous colleague in the...

January 29, 2016

“Everyone knows it’s Windy.” Or so say the lyrics of The Association’s 1967 sunshine pop song Windy.     But exactly how windy is it?   Ah, wouldn’t you like to know! Me, too. So the other day as I battled a howling westerly while driving to Council Bluffs, I...

January 22, 2016

 Which technique do you use? 1. Shock and awe. You attack snow early and often with an overwhelming show of technology and force. This guy, pictured, clears the sidewalk across the street from The Iowan’s Des Moines, Iowa offices. Some of us might use a shovel and be done in a...

January 15, 2016

It has been a pretty balmy week for mid-January in most of Iowa. The only thing sparkling out my office window are salt crystals on bare sidewalks. But just so you don’t get too complacent, remember that this, pictured, is what Iowa is supposed to look like in the grip...

January 8, 2016

Thanks in part to our story “The Wisdom of Bison” in our current January/February 2016 issue, bison have a pretty high profile in Iowa these days. At least one wishes he’d stayed off the hilltop. A few years ago at the Neil Smith National Wildlife refuge near Prairie City, Karen...

January 1, 2016

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December 25, 2015

 We at The Iowan hope you have much to celebrate today.

December 18, 2015

“You must have beautiful sunsets,” I said to the woman sitting next to me. We were  riding a Greyhound bus rolling down Highway 6 in mid-afternoon. It was my first day in Iowa. “Oh!” she said. “You have no idea!” In the 40 years that have followed, I’ve never tired...

December 11, 2015

You have no idea what a really big deal ice cream is in Le Mars until you go there. Giant ice cream cone sculptures stud the sidewalks. A block-long mural fancifully depicts an Iowa field sewn in row-crops of frozen novelties. Another congratulates hometown Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream on...

November 20, 2015

Bus ditchings, motorcycle accidents, bicycle roulette: Getting to work in Des Moines is half the fun. At least it used to be. Now, I understand, Des Moines has 61 miles of bike paths, 31 miles of bike lanes, and bus ridership increased 9% this year. Busses even have bike racks...

August 28, 2015

Last fall, I wrote what turned out to be one of our most-read blog posts. It talks about just one of dozens of stops we made touring Iowa’s Great River road for our cover feature in the new September/October issue of The Iowan magazine, on sale September 1. In case...

August 21, 2015

Hold on, people. Not since Riverside was pronounced the future birthplace of Star Trek’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk in 1985 has an Iowa metropolis received such a global honor as did Ottumwa last Sunday. At 11:00 a.m. on August 16, a 220-lb. bronze plaque was unveiled there that “in time...

August 14, 2015

As any Iowan knows, there’s lots of great stuff to see and do at that beacon of prairie culture — that Midwestern Mecca — known as the Iowa State Fair. There’s also lots written and said every year about the event’s can’t-miss attractions. But — unpopular as it may be...

August 7, 2015

Think you know Iowa? Ok, then, here’s an easy question: What do we have more of than any other state? Hogs? Nope. Corn? Apparently not. Hawkeye and Cyclone fans? I don’t think they were counting those. Here, are some warm-up questions to get you going and rule out a few...

July 31, 2015

Can you define what’s unique about Iowa in a sentence? Can anyone?  Some have tried. Those below were posted on various Web sites, discussion groups, and forums. According to a random sample of Iowans, ex-Iowans, returning Iowans, and visitors, Iowa is:    “Home to three million people, some really sweet...

July 24, 2015

A friend of mine drove out from New Hampshire for a visit a little while ago. He found Iowa astounding. Here are five things he still finds hard to believe about Iowa. 1. “It’s so big.” It takes about 7 hours and 447 miles to drive from Keokuk to Larchwood,...

July 17, 2015

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July 10, 2015

Here we go again. What do you call this critter, pictured?   I thought so! So do I.   They say we Iowans talk funny. I say they don’t understand plain English. So who’s right?   Back in January, we got quite a discussion going when we asked “Hey Buddy...

July 3, 2015

I’m a little late to the party here, but I’ve just got to say it: Bob Dorr, Iowa Public Radio’s voice of blues and rock for the past 4+ decades — and the leader of Iowa’s beloved The Blue Band — is a state treasure. You’d expect someone with a...

June 19, 2015

Hey, fellow Iowans. This place is for the birds. Or at least, so said the General Land Office surveyors who first came to Iowa in the 1800s. They declared the territory “fit only for waterfowl.” That’s because eighty-five percent or more of Iowa used to be soggy tallgrass prairie. That...

June 12, 2015

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June 5, 2015

Iowans have been called a lot of things, but as far as we know, this is the first time we’ve been called Scots. Estately.com blogger Ryan Nickum did just that when he put together a map of the United States, pictured, that he says pairs states with the country in the...

May 29, 2015

 After we posted “15 Unique Town Names in Iowa” on our The Iowan Facebook page last month, a reader alerted us to an even better story. He pointed us to this article, which we missed when it was published back in 2007. It says that “ ‘Moines’ is a French...

May 22, 2015

The tornado that ravaged Lake City earlier this month reminded us that tornado season is upon us. But at least one physicist thinks he’s come up with a way to eliminate tornados — not only in Iowa, in the entire Midwest.  According to an article last year in Motherboard, Temple...

May 15, 2015

 A couple years ago a Buzzfeed writer asked people to draw a map of the United States from memory. The map pictured was drawn by a woman with a Ph.D. Clearly, that degree wasn’t in geography. According to her, we live in Oklahoma, which is just south of — Michigan,...

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