Saturday, July 30, 2011

Days Five and Six: France, Spain and Ireland

Dubuque, Iowa

Founded by the French-Canadian miner Julian
Dubuque, this Iowa border town on the Mississippi
River celebrates its Midwestern ethos with a giant
statues taken from Grant Woods's American Gothic:

There are plenty of grand houses as well, all of which seemed to be
in a state of perpetual repair:

Our B&B was no exception, although I will cut a 150-year old house
a little slack. The private breakfast room was a delight:

And the massive Jacuzzi had intimations of grandeur:

And although the heat indexes were well above 100, I had to explore the Mines of Spain, where Dubuque discovered lead deposits in the 1790's. It is now a wildlife refuge:

Finally, we took a quick little afternoon day-trip to nearby Galena, Illinois including a tour of The Dowling House, built in the 1840's by an Irish immigrant. Originally a store, it supplied the miners with their various sundries (and no pictures were allowed inside. A pretty paltry tour for $10):

The rest of the town was full of other vintage buildings housing the usual tourist traps; pretty, but not a must-see destination.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day Four: Norway

Decorah, Iowa

As we progressed further south and east, we entered northeastern Iowa, an area that was settled by Norwegian immigrants.

As you can see from the flags hanging over main street, the Scandinavian influence is still very much present. Decorah is the home of the Vesterheim, sort of a Mecca for Norskes throughout the US. It may be the most comprehensive museum of its type in the world.

Full of excellent exhibits of artifacts covering all aspects of the immigrant life in the New World, the museum also has several buildings which have been moved to the site from various locations in the Midwest, including a pioneer schoolroom, complete with textbooks in Norwegian:

An unstated theme emerges as one goes through the exhibits, one of longing, for Norway, certainly, but also for the people who came before, those who came with only what would fit in a trunk, to make a new life.

Leaving Norway for America, circa 1870.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day Three: Sleepy Eye

W. W. Smith Inn

What better place for a B&B than a city named Sleepy Eye? About 15 miles from New Ulm, it is a much smaller town, but it does possess one of the most elegant homes in this part of the country. The house is pretty much intact, it has never been chopped up in the way so many mansions here suffered.

While the decor might be a little too frou-frou for my taste, the woodwork, fixtures and windows are all original, many of them by L. C. Tiffany:

The stairway windows are especially fine. Even our bath had this little fairy-glass tableaux perched above the tub:

The town itself has suffered over the years, many of the store fronts on main street are empty. One might judge the health of a community by the existence of an operating cinema. It's been many years since there were movies in the “Pix”:

While walking “downtown” we were startled by a high pitched “beep-beep!” Two 15 year old girls, in matching outfits (twins?) on a small Honda-50 style motor bike had pulled up to the stop sign on the corner. Whether they hit the horn by mistake or they just wanted attention, it didn’t matter. They were young and happy, overflowing with the joy of existence. They laughed and smiled and, with a toss of their hair, were on their way.

“It doesn't get much better than that...” I said.

The Weaver gave me A Look.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Two: Bands, Beer, and Birds

Still in New Ulm, the day's first stop was the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

Pipe Organ under restoration:

Hundreds of ballroom posters from throughout Minnesota, including
many big names from the past, some of whom I had the pleasure to work with:

Just outside of New Ulm is the nation's second oldest brewery,
run by the same family since 1860. The Schell’s beer bus sits at the entrance to the brewery grounds:

A dedicated (and hot) tour guide rests against a 100 year old vat (still used for brewing!) The beer tasting was later (The Porter won my vote, but I really prefer the Stout, only available in the winter):

This fine Peacock graced the brewery’s pleasant grounds:

And the musical heritage of New Ulm is honored
in the brewery's museum as well:

A different sort of band used this kind of drum:

Its legacy, a defining moment in the area's history, has not been forgotten.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Batty's World Tour– Day One: Germany

New Ulm, Minnesota

Home of the statue of “Herman the German”, the aptly named city of New Ulm celebrates its German heritage. German speaking settlers settled here in the 1800s, giving this city a distinctly European flair.

Several artists of German/Bohemian descent lived here, the most famous being Wanda Gág, writer and illustrator of children’s books and noted print maker. Her childhood home, which was featured in her childhood diaries, has been restored. It was built by her father, Anton, and is full of unusual angles and whimsical decor:

Having read the diaries, my sense of the place was immensely enhanced. On our trip we toured (and stayed in) many grand houses, but none of them had the personal impact of this small house. Our visit here was also tinged with sorrow; our guide was trying hard to keep her composure. A great tragedy had preceded our visit:

Bobbi ran a B&B in town. In addition to Bobbi and her daughters, three guests also perished in the fire:

We had reservations to stay there.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Monday, July 25, 2011


More to follow...

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sharon Hung Out to Dry

Sharon loves an outdoor drip dry.
Plus, her bird friends always pop by for a chat.

Hang with Sharon, Fridays at FITK

Used by Permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sharon's Playmates

When Sharon's forest friends want to play dress up she always obliges.

Vacation bonus Sharon

Used by permisson

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Enchanted Sharon

Oh the languid vapors of beauty and abundance in summer.

Relax with Sharon all summer long at FITK

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Attention Class!

The professor will be out.

He is embarking upon a 10 day "world tour".

Review your assignments or talk quietly among yourselves.

There will be an exam on all of the material covered this semester.

Sharon Spotbottom will check in from time to time during his absence.

She is generally harmless except when provoked.

Refrain from giving Sharon any mood altering substances.

Especially if she asks for them.

Forewarned is forearmed.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To an Ana

Hi! I ran across your blog in the "Recently Updated Blogs" site. Don't worry, I don't know anything about you personally and I am not interested in getting to know you. When I was younger, I did get into extreme weight loss-I managed to get down to 118 lbs- for a six foot tall man! I'm much older now, and weigh a lot more but I have recently lost 20 pounds and have kept it off for a year, mostly by watching what and how much I ate. While reading your blog I was struck by a few things:

You're eating the wrong kinds of food. Processed anything, especially carbs, are bad in three ways- they don't give you any nourishment because of the way your body reacts to them. They are worse than saturated fats for weight gain. They don't have any vitamins or trace minerals which cause you to eat more because your body needs those things and craves them. Make sure you eat nuts- they have trace minerals, especially copper and zinc which you must have to live. Don't worry about the fat in them, your body can handle it. What it can't handle is corn oil, soybean oil, margarine and other processed seed oils. Olive oil is good. Butter is good. Obviously don't eat a stick of butter at a time, but use olive oil and butter to make your veggies taste good, stir-fry is your friend!

You're stuck at home. A lot of Ana has to do with control, and it is hard to have any control of your life when you are a teen. Think about how you fit into your family. A few years ago you were a non-threatening child, now you are a young woman, with all the problems and promise that can bring. If your parents are unreasonable with you, they might be afraid of or don't understand the changes in you in the last few years. That should work itself out. Who does the cooking? If the answer is "it comes out of a box" then you need to figure out how to eat better. If there is a co-op nearby you can check that out for ideas on what to eat. If your parents are obese, they aren't eating right and you have a much bigger challenge.

Feel good about your body. Work with it, by eating right (and not too much) and getting exercise and sleep. Talk to yourself, when you have a bad day figure out what went wrong and don't repeat it. If you have a good day, congratulate yourself. Take a multi-vitamin every day. It will help with cravings.
When you get your weight down, live with it for a while. Do it in 5 lb steps holding each step for a month or more. Don't get discouraged - if you hit 130, that's OK, it's not like you are 220! Don't get hung up on boys and what they think. They don't understand the ANA thing at all, they like curves. Laugh and smile. Love yourself (make sure to pleasure your body, too!)

What to watch out for:

You have trouble sleeping.

You have skin or hair problems (not acne but rashes, flaking, peeling, weird stuff).

Your start dragging one foot- VERY DANGEROUS- you are close to death! (When you've gone too far.) I learned about this the hard way from an Ana I used to work with. She is now dead.

Anas can get into trouble when they try to do too much of only one thing. Remember, Ana isn't about how you look, or how much you weigh. It is about control. Proper control is a balance between you, your body, and your world. Neglecting any one of those three things causes an imbalance, one that is hard to correct.

For more about food check this guy out:
He's a little technical, but worth reading to find out about the different types of fat and carbs.

I don't know the answer. You asked for some help, I told you what I think about Ana. You can live without Ana. You can't live with Ana out of control. Here's to you, I hope your quest is a good one with a happy ending.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, July 11, 2011



My teen-age late morning slumber was abruptly ended by a deluge from a water balloon.

"You can't sleep forever, silly. It's your birthday. C'mon. Get dressed. We're going on a picnic."

How my girlfriend managed to talk her way past my mother's objections ("You'd better not go up there- he sleeps in the raw you know.") I groggily opened my eyes. She held another water balloon six inches above my face.

"Ready? Not yet? Too late!"


"Haw haw haw."

"OK! OK! I'm getting up. Turn around while I get some pants on."

When we finally got under way, with my perplexed (but not really angry) mother waving goodbye, I really realized that I was no longer a teenager. How did I feel? About the same, a little wetter perhaps, but when Robin was happy the world was a good place. While driving to the park I was caught in a speed trap. The joy of the moment turned to panic. Robin was quiet, but the glint in her eyes told me that she thought the whole thing to be hilarious.

"Happy birthday!" said the cop as he handed me the ticket.

"Haw haw haw" laughed Robin.

Later that night Robin was still laughing. I wasn't laughing, but I was smiling.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 8 

Friday, July 08, 2011

Sharon's Truth or Dare

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily.
To not dare is to lose oneself. ~Soren Kierkegaard

Take the plunge with Sharon, Fridays at FITK

Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Patent Medicine

Good for whatever ails you, salvation in a

bottle, but sooner or later the bottle runs dry

and the devil returns, recharged from his

absence and stronger than ever. Another

bottle– aye, that's the ticket! We'll party like

its 1899! And none will know of your little

secret. "Why, he's a jolly old chap" they'll

all say, but! You must take care never to let

the beast within escape. So drink up!

You can quit any time you want.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fireworks Safety for Children


Hope you had a "bang-up" fourth!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Beauty Privilege

The transition from eighth grade to ninth held the biggest change of adolescence. Over the summer most of the "boys" now had the bodies of men (not the brains, however.) The girls, who had been a year or two ahead of the boys, were now absolutely women.


The young men were learning new ways of interaction, ways which included intimidation and violence. The young women, who had always used charm and tact, now had a new weapon. "Beauty privilege" is an advantage attractive women receive in life, whether natural or "made-up" it is not a right, but the tacit assumption that one blessed with good looks will never find them to be a liability in whatever they try to accomplish. It works for men too, although usually somewhat later with a different dynamic- good grooming is not exactly the same as a cosmetic "make-over."

All of the "normals" knew what it was about. It wasn't too big a deal, except for those girls who were conflicted about their own status and appearance. The desire to be seen as one of the "beautiful" created strange cliques, shunning and other class-perversions. Those girls who tried to steer clear of these social dysfunctions still suffered, it was a rare girl who was totally immune.

For a more timely take on this phenomenon, written by someone who is currently on the "front lines" of this battle, check out Tavi Gevinson's recent post.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, July 01, 2011

Sharon's Summer

Do what we can, summer will have its flies ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Season your Fridays with Sharon at FITK.
Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

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