Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Seasons is Coming

Now you might be thinking that I should be saying, "Seasons are coming."

Nope. It's singular, a new restaurant in Lindsborg. On my way to the grocery the current state of the former Aaron's building caught my eye.

I know I've been gone for a month this summer, but I've been back for three weeks now. How could I have missed the amazing transformation of that metal building?

I went in and met Don, fiance of one of the new owners.

Don, a Californian, is here helping the California branch of the Landgren family establish their new restaurant and lounge, Seasons.

Exterior and interior are both getting a going over in the remake of the building. Opening by Hyllningsfest, Seasons will feature a lounge and family restaurant. The lounge, on the east side of the building, will have a sports bar along with booths for dining.

The dining room, on the west side of the building, will feature both booth and table dining.

Menus, according to Don, will vary with the theme of the day. Plans now call for an Italian night, a Hispanic night, and so forth. Steak will be a part of everyday on the menu.

More about Lindsborg's Elevation

I'm still on the trail of the elusive definitive answer to the question, "Who determined the elevation of Lindsborg, and how."

I got a step closer today when I visited with Mr. Dunn in the city's Public Works office.

He assured me that there is no "city datum" for Lindsborg, which confirms what I suspected to be the case. He then showed me a list of "benchmarks" throughout the city, spots whose elevation has been precisely determined and which can therefore be referred to in other drawings and building plans where elevation would matter (laying sewer pipe, for example).

Below is the "highest point" in the city, actually the highest benchmark, at 1336 ft and change.

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Notice how elevated Kris looks standing at that point.

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The spot is located on the N.E. corner of Lindsborg and Chestnut Streets.
According to Mr. Dunn, it's all downhill from there.

The lowest benchmark is at 100 Normal, at 1322 ft. In general the land slopes from south to north, which makes the flow of the creek kind of interesting, since it generally flowed in the direction of the Smoky Hill River, back in the day when the creek that ran through town was an actual creek.

I have half my answer. Now the question is, who and how was 1331 ft. determined to be the elevation for the train depots?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Biking Across America

Two cross country cyclists visited Lindsborg today.

Greg Pierce, former Criminal Justice instructor, rode into town with Beth, his wife, in control of the sag wagon.

Greg's goal is to travel from Oregon, his home to Alabama. He's been on the road for two months now, having crossed the mountains and come down from the High Plains and into Lindsborg. Lindsborg is slightly off his route, as he showed the assembled friends and relatives in the Kozubowski back yard.

Greg is riding for Sadie. Sadie is a young relative suffering from cancer. It isn't quite clear how this ride is going to benefit Sadie, but Greg refuses to take donations or support for his ride.

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Also riding across Kansas is Eugene.

Unlike Greg, Eugene is unaccompanied by a sag wagon. All his belongings and support gear are in the trailer behind his bike.

I met Eugene at the Cycle Tek store in Salina today. I'd passed him heading up Crawford and was surprised by how quickly he arrived at the bicycle shop. Even though it wasn't my party, I invited him to come to Lindsborg and meet Greg. Son of a gun, he did!

Eugene is riding to raise awareness of the need for better care for Disabled Vets. He is accepting donations. He hopes to ride through all 50 states before he's done, though he didn't say how he'd reach Alaska and Hawaii.

As of tonight he'd managed to make it to a dozen states since starting out from Arizona in March. His roughest night of the past several months was last night, when he attempted to sleep in Lions' Park in Wilson, struggling to stay dry despite the driving rain.

When I left the Kozubowskis to come home and write this, both bikers were headed off to bed, to get a good night's sleep before an early morning start tomorrow.

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"I try to get all my miles before noon," Greg reported. "Cooler and less traffic then."

Bergman has gone

Updated below

Swedish director and author Ingmar Bergman has joined those of my Swedish heroes who have passed in these recent years. He joins Olle Adolphson, Povel Ramel in the list of my dead heroes.
Bergman was one of the figures from whom I learned about the "new Sweden." He was the cultural departure from my father's generation of working class lodge members who first showed me that Swedishness was culturally informed, deep and melancholy.
I first encountered Bergman's work as an undergraduate. Dr. Anderson, half of Augustana's Swedish department, taught a seminar in Bergman films. We watched "The Seventh Seal," "Persona," and "Hour of the Wolf." There may have been others, but these are the films I remember best.
Eighteen years ago, on my first trip to Sweden, I wanted to attend something, anything at Dramaten. I was fortunate enough to get to see Bergman's production of Ibsen's "A Doll's House." I even got free tickets. Unfortunately, I fell asleep in act II.
Ten years ago, while working for the Swedish American paper Nordstjernan, as their Chicago correspondent, I had opportunity to interview one of Bergman's wives, Liv Ullman. She was gracious and beautiful and extremely shy. Her comments on Bergman were like her personality, gracious and beautiful.
This summer, during the Anderson Sweden Highlights tour, Lasse Henningson, our bus driver, related an interesting story about Bergman and the residents of Fårö. The island dwellers, on the island where he lived and where he'd shot several films, were very protective of their most famous resident.
If they didn't like you, and you asked about Bergman, they'd show you the house where he lived. Only it wasn't the house where he lived.
Bergman was a very private man. The islanders did their best to protect his privacy from outsiders, especially those outsiders of the press who wished to pry.
And now he is gone. Those who love film and the theatre will miss the appearance of a new film or stage play directed by Ingmar Bergman.


Andrew O'Hehir writes a very personal tribute to Bergman at Salon.com. Perhaps this is the only kind of tribute that can be written.

Interesting to note that, in this morning's Aftonbladet the tributes did not include one from Liv Ullman.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wilson Czech Fest

We were so busy today that I have missed out on posting Lindsborg News. Instead, we were off in Wilson, at Czech Fest. It's a nice festival. We hadn't been before, and I'm glad we went. We'll go back.

As I said, it's a nice festival, but it doesn't hold a candle to Midsommar or Hyllningsfest.

Friday, July 27, 2007

How Elevation is Determined

The local librarian did not fail me!

The college librarian did not immediately know how elevation is determined, nor did she know exactly where to look to find out. The encyclopedias had nothing, which is particularly distressing when you consider how much information is in the Britannica Macropedia!

However, librarians are diligent researchers, and she did find Cecil Adam's Straight Dope.

There we learned:

"This is not the scientific process you might think. As far as I can tell nobody publishes an official list of elevations for cities in North America. Highway departments, mapmakers, almanac compilers, and what all come up with numbers for their own purposes, but they use different sources, and their figures don't always agree. . .

"Town elevations may be the altitude at some prominent public place (Caltrans uses city hall) or they may be an average for the downtown area. Either way they're often just estimates. Caltrans got its numbers from the U.S. Geological Survey, but the USGS got them by eyeballing the contour lines on maps. . .

"It's only when we get into the no-nonsense world of engineering that we start to get some precision. Many big towns have established a "city datum," a standard elevation pegged to some known point, which is used in blueprints for major construction projects. For instance, on a drawing for an office building, the elevation of the sidewalk in front of the entrance may be marked as "+15' Podunk city datum."

There you have it.

Is Cecil Adams credible, you ask. He/she certainly is. They have never been known to be wrong, except when they are. Moreover, the column is named "The Straight Dope," and who would risk that on a fraudulent answer to my simple question.

The next question is, is there are city datum for Lindsborg, and if so, where is it. I will ask on Monday!

The image in the upper left corner, by the way, is from the Library's extensive collection of G. N. Malm artifacts.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

V trail riding and Town Elevation

It was a beautiful evening for a ride along the Välkommen trail.

The temperature was in the low 80's. The sun was dipping behind the trees on the west side of town. The tunnel, the alley of trees leading to the east leg bridge, was cool and shady and invited riders to slow down and enjoy the sounds and the breeze.

I was a little surprised to meet only three other riders and no walkers. Maybe it was the hour, too close to dinner time. Maybe people were just too worn out from the heat of the day and didn't trust the cool of the evening.

Road past two additional signs I hadn't seen on the trail - one commemorating Anton Person and a second noting the Pavilion. Both add to the educational aspect of the trail.

I passed the Missouri Pacific station sign. At the bottom of it, in a nice rectangle, was the elevation of Lindsborg: 1331 ft. It made me ponder, how is a town's elevation determined? Is it an average, or is it the elevation of a specific location set by the US Geological Survey?

If anybody knows and wants to write an article about how towns set their elevation, I'd be glad to publish it. In the meantime, I'm going to ask one of the people who knows everything - or at least knows how to find out everything. I'm going to ask a librarian.

By the way, I've added a new link in the blog roll to your right. Rocketboom is one of my favorite vblogs. Joanne Colan brings a quirky charm to all things technological.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Krissie's Greetings

This is what you get when you have a relative who has a video camera and is always willing to turn the camera on you. I'm sorry, Krissie. I just had to do this for laughs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Joys of Small Town Life

What are the joys of small town life?

I had time on my hands this afternoon and I dropped into Anderson's just to chew the fat. Dean Anderson was busy, or looking like he was busy, so I chatted with his employees and with his mamma.

Then I dropped next door at Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker and chatted with Sue and a couple getting ready to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. They'd come to BBC to get their cake - or maybe they came because they were ordering the cake - or because they had ordered the cake and found BBC a nice home away from home. I'm not sure, because I'm fundamentally not a good reporter.

Then it was out to Scott's.

I think Scott's is just the greatest. I get into the store three or four times a week. I've gotten to where I know most of the employees, by sight if not by name. I get to cheer for the young cashiers and bag boys when they announce their graduations, their promotions, their trips to colleges.

These are the joys of small town life. I know people here in a way I didn't in Chicago - even though I was a fairly open and glad handing guy there. I knew people there, but it wasn't quite the same. Here I know just ordinary people, there I knew people who were something or who thought they were something.

Like Emily Dickinson I know that I am nobody special, and it feels good to be friends with all the ordinary people, the folks who won't make a great splash in the world, in other words, the people just like me.

New Signage

Friday, coming home from Bethany, I met Bill Carlson on the bike path.

Bill wasn't biking, he was digging holes - assisting in the digging of holes - along the path. Bill, along with Swisher and several other senior members of the Lindsborg community, is involved in a new signage program.

The Välkommen Trail through Lindsborg is slated to become an easy history lesson for those who walk, bike, jog or skate the trail. The first signs, placed at the beginning of the summer, locate the two major railroad stations and give Lindsborg's elevation. The new signs, placed this past Friday, give some insight into Lindsborg's early attempts at bring electric power to the town, the development of the CO-OP and the history of early Lindsborg. These new signs are located at the trail and Union, just south of Lincoln and just north of Lincoln.

Plans call for additional signage explaining important points in Lindsborg's history. Signage is planned to be near the Bethany College campus on the north and at the Heritage Park and near the Old Mill in the south.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gotta Have Heart

Just back from the Friday night, second week performance of Damn Yankees.

Well done, full of surprises, glad I was there. What a night in the theatre!!!

I mean, overall, the performances were energetic, engaging and fun. I was particularly impressed with Lisa Christopher, Beth Olson and Mary Willard. I knew Lisa had talent, but she really sold me on this nice middle aged Washingtonian transplant. Her first solo, "Six months out of every year," was a great piece of work. Thanks, Lisa, for the song.

Beth and Mary, as the two older biddies who provide a kind of chorus to the Faustian epic, were just wonderfully comic. The obligato on the Gotta Have Heart reprise was just fun as well a funny. It's not that I didn't think these two women could pull off these parts - just that I was delighted by what they did with their small roles.

The major players in the show, well, what can you say but marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.

I have to single out Tyler Johnson's performance, however. Tyler is an old hand at Broadway RFD and at musicals in general. In his senior year at Bethany he played the role of El Gaio in The Fantastics, a role with many similarities to Mr. Applegate (dark, mysterious, controlling). They're not the same role, but these seem to be roles that come easy to Tyler - the dark, mysterious man. He played Applegate like it was the role he was born to play. "Those were the good old days" was worth the price of admission.

Of course, you can't have everything you want in the theatre. It just doesn't happen. Even the highest budget productions have a few things lacking.

This production is no exception. The cast members, particularly the younger ones, sometimes had pitch difficulties. The lack of a follow spot was a problem, since the lighting plot at Swensson bandshell depends on the follow-spot for full illumination. There were two or three par cans that needed new bulbs.

What happened?

I suspect that there was some difficulty getting all of the volunteers Cody needed, and thus we were short on follow spot operators. I know that we don't provide feedback monitors for the stage, and I suspect that it is difficult to hear the orchestra on stage. We need to get in the habit of doing light checks early enough to replace bulbs. In other words, all stuff that can be corrected, and nothing that seriously detracted from an enjoyable evening of theatre.

In the beginning of the process I posted a video interview of Cody. He said then that he hoped he would have a theatre piece the community could enjoy. He accomplished his goal.

Friday, July 20, 2007

So Long, Doctor Vogel

It was a tearful goodbye this Friday morning, July 20th, as Bob and Sally Vogel bid farewell to the faculty and staff at Bethany College.
Though he'd only been with the college for a few months, Dr. Vogel had been fully integrated into both the college and the community's life, an integration reflected in his talk and in the number of faculty and staff who came to say goodbye.
"This is like you're in the neck of a bottle," Doctor Vogel said, by way of encouragement to the faculty and staff. "You have to pull together to make sure you all get out past this bottleneck. But you will do it. You are precious."
The ten am gathering was replete with cake, coffee and well wishers, as almost all of the staff came to bid the interim president and his wife adieu.
Bethany's new President, Dr. Ed Leonard, will be at work in just a few weeks.

Borta Bra men Hemma Bäst

There is an old Swedish proverb "borta bra men hemma bäst." Away is great, but home is the best.
Having been away for a month and a few days I can heartily affirm the proverb. It was wonderful to be in Sweden, to be among folks I came to enjoy and like, and to see parts of the country I'd never seen before in their company. Afterwards, it was great to meet my cousin for dinner, to travel to Västerås to be with another favorite cousin and then to wander the back streets of Stockholm, far off the tourist path.
It was an amazing four days in Chicago with my sister and with friends I hadn't seen for many years. Our trip to Minnesota was fantastic.
The trip home, from Aitkin and then from the Twin Cities was filled with surprises. We got off the beaten path here too and took U.S. 69 from the Iowa border to Des Moines. Along the way we stopped at the Norwegian Immigrant monument in Northwest Iowa, and then in Forest City, at our sister school, Waldorf College.
What a trip!
But how great it is to be home!
We got home and the house was a bit musty, but that didn't matter, we were home.
We got home and there was a pile of bills waiting to be paid and an even larger pile of credit card come ons waiting to be thrown away. That didn't matter either.
We got home and I've been away so long that I feel as if I need retraining on names and places and code numbers and the like.
It's home. That's what really matters. It's home and comfortable and the place we want to be because it is ours. This is where we live and where we're known and where we belong.
Not only that, all our stuff is here, so we don't have to worry about what to do with our stuff.
Home, ahh. "Borta bra men hemma bäst."

Friday, July 13, 2007

A month away

We've been away from Lindsborg for the past month.

Mostly we've been on a tour with Dean Anderson's travelers. What a time that was, let me tell you.

Like Coffeyville, much of Southern Sweden has suffered from flooding. This follows upon the severe windstorm of last winter that blew down large tracts of timber in Småland and Skåne. The country has done some suffering this past year.

But you wouldn't know it to look at Stockholm. There were more tourists, more workers, more people in Stockholm than ever before. And it seems like a young, vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Kris' comment is pertinent: I thought I was in Chicago.

Every nation, it seems, has come to Sweden. Kids from Turkey, Greece, Ethiopia, Iraq, mingle in Stockholm. The brightest kids are the ones who've mastered at least Swedish and English. The really bright ones add either German or Russian. The really, really bright ones are adding Japanese.

Stockholm is Japan crazy. I hear there are more sushi bars in Stockholm than in Tokyo. Maybe, maybe not. Certainly there were a good number of sushi bars, as well as self defense centers, and even a planned day when families could experience life in Stockholm as if they were Japanese.

I've always thought that the traditional Swede and the traditional Japanese would mix well. Both are quiet and deferential, both quick to give thanks to hosts, both accustomed to self-effacing behaviors. In the case of my family - short. We're very like the Japanese in my family. I tower over my relatives.

So, that's the first impressions from a long trip through Southern and Central Sweden. As soon as I can find a tool to work on my photo, I'll add a photo of Västralånggatan in Stockholm, which, I think, makes my point about the numbers of tourists.

They included the Emporer of Japan. We did not get to meet him.