July 30, 2008


I saw this video a couple weeks ago, and the little song still pops into my head...Snape, Snape, Severus Snape--DUMBLEDORE!--Snape, Snape, Severus Snape...I don't know why.

Take it.

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*Ask Jen: Mason Dixon Edition

Jim writes, "Who were Mason and Dixon and why did they get a line named after them?"

Mason and Dixon were just the surveyors who figured out exactly where the boundaries were between some of the British Colonies: specifically, Maryland and Pennsylvania, who were all argumentative about who belonged where. (Delaware was also involved, but didn't feel as much need to break out the militia and shoot people about it.) The King stepped in and made Pennsylvania and Maryland behave themselves. He also ordered a survey to establish the physical boundaries. Some of the surveyors' original boundary markers can still be seen today.

The colonies were always disputing each other's borders, with some of the original colonies claiming rights to all the land west of their chartered territory. Violence was not uncommon amongst the colonies as they fought over land, and it must be said that the same problems cropped up amongst later U.S. territories/states as well. (See this description of the Iowa-Missouri Honey War for one nearly-violent example.)

Over 50 years after Mason and Dixon surveyed their line, it became involved in the Missouri Compromise and therefore tied to the issue of slavery. The term "Dixie" likely derives from the line's name, making a British colonial surveyor the nicknamesake for the entire American South.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't know the answer, I might make something up.

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July 28, 2008


I am moving this week. My stuff is mostly moving before I am, and my internet availability will be spotty. I hope to do Lyrical Pursuit as scheduled Tuesday and Thursday, but updating those may take longer than normal. Friday, I will be leaving internet connections altogether and hiding in the woods for two weeks.

Just FYI, part of last month's prize package included being able to conduct Lyrical Pursuit while I am communing with nature. Therefore, Blogless Pete will be taking over the game from August 1-15. He might do something unique with it (with my blessing), or he may stick to the formula. You can't wait to find out!

Most of my belongings are leaving me this evening, and then I will be alternately cleaning my apartment for checkout, studying for my final Final, and saying goodbye to my peeps until Thursday. So you'll understand if I'm not around much. I have pre-posted a few things for you, though, so you pretty much won't even notice I'm gone.


UPDATE: I may be permanently shorter than when I woke up this morning. My bed is fricking heavy...I wanted to take it all apart and move it into the living room to ease the move for my helpers. It's moved. And I feel squished.

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*For Some Reason I Expected Tennessee to Rank Higher...

But no surprise that the midwest does well when rating volunteerism.

After a big HUH? for the descriptive title (major states??), the state (+D of C) rankings are listed thusly:

Rankings of 50 major U.S. states by the percentage of residents 16 and older who perform volunteer service.

1. Utah, 43.9 percent
2. Nebraska, 39.8 percent
3. Minnesota, 39.7 percent
4. Alaska, 38.6 percent
5. Montana, 38.0 percent
6. Iowa, 37.3 percent
7. South Dakota,37.1 percent
8. Vermont 37.0
9. Kansas 36.8
10. North Dakota 35.6
10. Wisconsin 35.6
12. Wyoming 35.1
13. Washington 34.7
14. Idaho 34.0
15. Maine 33.3
16. Oregon 33.2
17. Colorado 31.9
18. New Hampshire 31.5
19. Michigan 31.4
20. District of Columbia 31.3
21. Oklahoma 30.5
22. Indiana 30.4
23. Connecticut 30.3
23. Ohio 30.3
25. Missouri 30.2
26. Kentucky 29.4
27. South Carolina 28.6
28. Maryland 28.5
29. Pennsylvania 28.3
30. Virginia 28.3
31. Illinois 28.0
32. North Carolina 27.3
33. Texas 27.1
34. Massachusetts 27.0
35. Alabama 26.6
36. New Mexico 26.6
37. West Virginia 25.7
38. Delaware 25.6
39. Tennessee 25.5
40. Arkansas 25.0
41. Rhode Island 24.9
42. California 24.3
43. Georgia 24.2
44. Hawaii 24.0
45. Arizona 23.9
46. New Jersey 22.7
47. Mississippi 21.8
48. Louisiana 20.9
49. Florida 20.0
50. New York 19.2
51. Nevada 17.7

I'll go ahead and throw out Utah in this convo, since those wacky Mormons skew the numbers. So we have Nebraska with a 39.8 and Minnesota with a 39.7 at the top of the list. Then Nevada way down at 17.7?! Are they too busy sinning to volunteer? Or are they all transplants who have no emotional ties to their communities and left their can-do 'tudes at home? What is going on there?

I'm disappointed in you, Illinois. But look at Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. All in the top ten. S'right. Something to be said for the heartland.

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July 25, 2008

I'll Give You a Topic: November 4

There is nothing particularly inspiring to me about either presidential candidate this year, and I am probably going to vote for the one I distrust the least.

As far as I can tell, they both have character flaws that would normally scare me away. But McCain seems to at least be candid about his: he admits his adultery broke up his first marriage. Obama, on the other hand, does not seem to be overly acquainted with the truth.

I have emailed both campaigns with questions about specific concerns, and never received a reply from the Obama campaign. I did, however, get spammed with fundraising requests. I can be reasonable: I'll send you a fiver for each question you answer, how about that? But the condition, which will be a dealbreaker, I'm sure, is that the answer has to answer the question. It can't be a bunch of political gobbledygook that never directly addresses the issue.

Anyway, my choice in November will be based on who I think will do the least amount of damage, and as things stand right now that choice is McCain. What will be the deciding factor for you?

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

*Ask Jen: Collapse of Civilization Edition

Shank writes: "My Uncle, who I consider fairly intelligent and well-read, has recently been very vocal about what our future holds. Specifically, he sees several economic conditions or events in motion that will eventually lead to total global economic collapse; and, in his words, 'I see people forming communes where groups of like people, and families, learn to adapt and become self-sufficient.'

I guess my question is two fold: Firstly, has my uncle simply lost his shit, or should I really pay attention to this? Secondly, if this is a reasonable and probable outcome, should I neccesarily be worried?"

Thanks for your question, Shank. Next time, try to keep it a little shorter. I have ADD and started to glaze over around "economic" something something.

Anywho, in the past, civilizations would come and go. One day you're on top of the world, sacrificing humans to your various gods, and the next day you're archaeological material.

Never before has the human race been so completely intertwined with one another as they are today. Back in The Day, no one in the Eastern Hemisphere was much affected by the goings-on of the Western Hemisphere. The only things that could affect the planet on a large scale were environmental in nature.

Now, however, most of the global "us" are linked through economic and social ties. (Are you glazing over yet? At this point, a review of the Great Depression might be useful. I can't be bothered with that, so go here. I'll wait.)

I think the current levels of debt in America should be cause for great alarm. Personal debt or corporate debt can be bailed out by the government, sure, but where do we think the government gets its money from? We're all going to pay for it some day...and that day is getting closer.

A global economic depression is entirely possible, but social collapse on the scale your uncle describes seems unlikely. In earlier centuries and millenia, urbanization was cyclical. Groups would form large cities, the cities could not sustain themselves for whatever reason, and the groups would disperse into smaller rural groups.

I don't think this kind of dispersal is really possible in the modern era. It is possible people will become more self-sufficient, but to have the whole world turn into communal village-dwellers seems far-fetched. Maybe it could happen if there is a total breakdown in communication infrastructure, casting people off from one another in the global sense and completely refocusing their concerns to the local level.

So to sum up, put your uncle in a home.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't know the answer, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

*Thank You

Blogless Pete writes:

FYI I did the Tri-State Trek over the weekend. The weather was miserable - over 90 every day with high humidy - but I completed all 270 miles. Thanks to all your readers who contributed.

So thanks, everyone who helped, and way to go, Pete!

Posted by Jennifer at 12:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 14, 2008

Trust Your Government

To always do what is correct. To protect your rights. Because that is what the United States government has always done...by the people, for the people, and so on.

Oh, wait.

Well, at least when it gets messed up, there are usually chances to fix it again later.

Happy 210th anniversary, Alien and Sedition Acts.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2008

*Because I'm at Work

And therefore have nothing better to do...


I'm probably the last to know this, but you can go here, upload a picture of yourself, and be Simpsonized.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

*Holy Cow

Jim has blogged something!!!

Now, I don't know if this is going to be some Bill-Cimino-level comeback, where he blogs once just to get our hopes up before disappearing again. Maybe it marks some Jen-Lars-level comeback, where he'll return and then never really fulfill his potential and kind of suck. On the off-chance it is a Rachel-Lucas-level comeback where he returns and is consistently glorious, I think you should go over there right now to encourage him.

Do it.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 09, 2008

*Pictures. Of *Iowa* Flooding

Click any to enlarge.

First, my favorite flood pic, which ran with a caption something like "A dam expert supervises the construction of a National Guard sandbag levee." It made me laugh even when I thought my apartment was probably hosting 5 feet of water.

And now some pics with truly Iowa flava:
Several pigs swam to a levee, and they were shot due to fears they'd weaken it. Some people (check out the comments section of that link) got their panties in a bunch about it, but then a few days later, muskrats weakened a different levee and it gave way.

Still kinda hard not to feel a little sorry for them, looking at that cute fat piggy on the tippy-top of his barn roof.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 08, 2008

*Unless Relocation is Paid for...

Someone seems to have put me on a mailing list for jobs in the New York state/Connecticut region.

I appreciate the hint and all, but please put me on the list for jobs in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and possibly Seattle.


Posted by Jennifer at 11:57 PM | TrackBack

*The Price of a Scenic Campus

$231 million.

Posted by Jennifer at 08:26 PM | TrackBack

July 02, 2008

*Flood Update

I've had a few people email me about this, and since I'm lazy, I'm basically reposting what I sent them.

It's an update on the flood situation up in here:

There are still roads here that are closed because of water over them. The river and creek (normally 100 yards from my building) are going down very slowly. There is still quite a bit of standing water in places like the softball complex and on the arts campus. The city of Cedar Rapids is going to demolish about 300 homes...the city of Iowa City may buy out the riverside neighborhood that flooded both this year and in 1993 and demolish those homes, enlarging City Park.

Every business in my neighborhood was flooded, so I have to go further away for Walgreen's, the bank, gas, laundry, etc. I was off work for three weekends (I work Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) in a row--the first was because they had refinished the floors and it took longer than expected, so the building was closed. The second and third were because of everything being closed. So even though I totally and completely lucked out with my apartment, I still took a financial hit.

My apartment complex is getting to be a ghost town. Some people who got water had to leave, some chose to leave, and the non-students who live here have had their leases terminated to make up for the buildings lost in the complex...in order to make sure there is housing for students in the fall. It is unclear right now whether or not one of the larger dorms will be cleaned up in time for the start of school.

Overall, it's pretty much a mess. It literally stinks. And my car is basically covered in poo, since I drive through areas that have dried flood muck on the roads. Nasty, eh?

Posted by Jennifer at 12:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 01, 2008

*July 1st

There are some books you just immediately know you have to get your hands on. Re-released today.

Happy July, everyone. I think it's my blogiversary, but I could be wrong. Somewhere in the ballpark, anywho. Five years, can you believe it? It all started because Frank J decided everyone in the world had to link to him for his one-year blogiversary...and I started my blog so I could play, too. Blog City was the original location, but Munuvia is where I've found a home. Thanks, Pixy!

Thanks, too, to all of you who come here and make me laugh and think and feel compelled to occasionally post something.

Posted by Jennifer at 02:20 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack