His motives remain unknown  1

Posted on Monday, 24 April 2006 at 04:57 AM. About Ames.

The police blotter is the best thing about the local paper:

First United Methodist Church, 576 Kellogg Ave., reported a man taking off his clothes, swearing and throwing rocks at the church April 17.
David Ficken, 516 N. Dakota Ave. No. 47, reported seeing an eight-foot hairy person ripping down trees near a trailer court April 18.

UPDATE: The police blotter from VEISHEA Friday evening is available now too. Looks pretty tame, though there is at least one good story in there:

An unidentified male reported he had to dive out of a second story window at 824 Clark Ave. to escape people who he said were trying to beat him up April 21. An officer investigated.

Moved!  0

Posted on Monday, 24 April 2006 at 01:06 AM. About Technical.

Okay! I figured out all that business with the redirects so the new design is up and the URL for the website has changed slightly. Please update your bookmarks, especially if you are subscribed to the RSS feed. I think I fixed everything I broke in the process, but please let me know if something isn't working.

Real Ultimate VEISHEA  0

Posted on Sunday, 23 April 2006 at 08:47 PM. About Ames.

This weekend marked the passing of Iowa State University's annual festival, VEISHEA, and was it ever a blast.

A quick overview: VEISHEA started in 1922 as a sort of public fair, where area residents came by train to see the University's facilities and accomplishments. The students chipped in and provided entertainment in the form of food stands, a parade, public competitions, a theatrical performance, and so on.

When I arrived in Ames some eighty years later, not much had changed about VEISHEA, except that after eighty booze-filled nights it had also gained the dubious reputation of being one of Iowa's biggest and craziest parties, second only to RAGBRAI or perhaps the Drake Relays. Students would organize the parades and open-air concerts during the day, then retire at night to enormous house parties, packed to the brim with college students, teenagers, and total strangers who had come to Ames with the sole purpose of getting lit and seeing what kind of crazy stuff would happen. In the wee hours of April 18, 2004, the police in what they described as "routine fashion" shut down a party of some 400 people on Hunt Street near campus. The partygoers who were not arrested regrouped and mobbed Campustown, and the ensuing riot caused tens of thousands of dollars in property damage and the complete cancellation of VEISHEA 2005.

So expectations for VEISHEA 2006 were very high. This year's organizers of "the largest student-run celebration in the country" found themselves under extraordinary pressure from the city, the University, business owners, police and the student body to pull off an event that would attract tens of thousands of people yet not trash the campus in the process. The solution? Wear the bastards out.

This year's VEISHEA was a gargantuan affair, attracting as many as 75,000 people on Saturday with a list of events that was simply intimidating in scale for a town that boasts a summertime population a third that size. In the week running up to VEISHEA weekend, there was something going on every night--a stand-up comedy competition, a talent show hosted by the infamous William Hung, thirty hours of "playoffs" for the Battle of the Bands, and daily sporting competitions. Friday night, though, is when it really kicked off. Here, check out this schedule:

    • Noon - Opening ceremonies with President Geoffroy. Classes are still in session, so all that's happening is a performance by the competitive drum line and two hours of speeches by noted alumni. Beardshear Hall is opened up later in the afternoon with a series of exhibits highlighting the history of VEISHEA.
    • Five p.m. - Classes wrap up for the day and the ten-hour-long Battle of the Bands begins on the field south of the Campanille. Nearby Union Drive is flooded with people, drawn like moths to food stands and, of course, the ninety kilowatt Musco light array that can be seen for five miles in any direction.
    • Seven-thirty p.m. - The Battle of the Bands continues. A student production of "My Fair Lady" kicks off at Stephens Auditorium. People begin gathering at Hilton Coliseum next door for...
    • Nine p.m. - ...a stand-up show with Dave Attell, who by all accounts is already pretty hammered himself. He will go on to give a long and rambling routine, and even sober up halfway through to still be pretty funny. Across town on Colorado Avenue, Christian student group The Rock has set up another outdoor stage and is playing music for a couple hundred people.
    • Midnight - Hoover Hall fills up for a free showing of Boondock Saints. Meanwhile, thousands of people spill onto Central Campus to catch grunge band Local H, you know, "the ones who did that cover of 'Toxic' last year." They play the song, and about half the crowd soon boils off to go get some sleep or attend the nearby pancake feed, which will serve some 4,000 people before 4 a.m. and turn away several thousand more for lack of seating. But plenty of people stay for the massive mosh pit and the crowd finally starts dispersing around 3:00.
    • 7 in the bloody morning - Go to bed with pancakes, wake up with pancakes. Or stay up with pancakes. At this point hundreds of sorority and fraternity members have been up for hours moving their floats and vehicles into position for today's parade.
    • Nine a.m. - Campus opens up. Over a hundred student and community groups are set up across campus in various booths and tents. Two big tents on Central Campus are holding games for the kids, and the Memorial Union is bustling as the day's visitors to campus peruse a cultural festival and art show. Across campus in Gilman Hall, the chemistry and physics clubs are making things explode to a packed lecture hall, which gets out just in time for...
    • Eleven a.m. - The parade! Nearly one hundred floats, balloons, cars, and marching groups march through campus for a crowd of tens of thousands in the biggest parade what must be the biggest parade in Iowa in recent years. Some good photos will make their way onto the internets through blogs and the University photo service.
    • Noon - As the parade wraps up, the afternoon's activities kick off with the annual International Food Fair in the MU's Great Hall, a charity Twister tournament on Central Campus, two stages of dancers and demonstrations on Central Campus and outside Friley Hall, a canoe race, basketball, softball and volleyball tournaments, and another demonstration by the chemistry club.
    • Six p.m. - Ah, the big night. The Musco lights set up again and students flood back onto campus. Another nine hours of live music kick off, this time on not one but three stages, with side shows set up at Friley and Forker Halls. The main draw is easily the Nappy Roots at midnight, but some fifteen other bands will play over the course of the evening. Meanwhile, another performance of "My Fair Lady" kicks off at Stephens Auditorium.
    • Midnight - A firework display caps off the evening, though the on-campus concerts will continue until around 2:00. Partygoers and barhoppers pour out into the streets for a few minutes to watch the fireworks, then pour back off the streets to resume drinking.

In the end, everything went off very smoothly and according to schedule. I worked both nights delivering pizzas, and the crowds in Campustown proper weren't that much bigger than on any other nice night in April. Granted, the house parties were more brazen than usual, and there were more people doing stupid things--the police could have kept busy all night just trying to keep up with all the people wandering around with open containers. Not that they weren't doing that all night anyway. Besides fielding their "party response teams" again, agents of The Man were ticketing and arresting people for alcohol law violations left and right. My favorite story from the evening came from one of my co-workers at the pizza place, who was coming back from a delivery when he saw a young man walking by himself down Welch Avenue and drinking a forty-ounce bottle of Bud Light. A police officer happened to be driving by going the other way, and upon seeing this, the officer immediately stopped his car, jumped out, slapped the forty-oh out of the young man's hand, threw the kid in the back of his car and drove off. Thirty seconds, in and out. Bam.

But liquor law violations notwithstanding, everyone was remarkably well-behaved. There were fewer fights than you would expect, and not much vandalism besides the usual idiots throwing things off of the balconies at Chamberlain Lofts. I think a good part of this is because with the sheer number of events and things to do, the VEISHEA organizers generated a lot of good will. You could really see it in the way people were acting Friday and Saturday nights: the prevailing attitude wasn't exactly friendly and welcoming, but everyone was civil, which is more than you can say for the drunken masses in Ames on any given weekend. Even my friends who actively refuse to attend University events because they view it as "selling out" went to a few things on Friday and had good things to say about it afterwards.

So that was VEISHEA this year--sort of a youth fair on steroids. I'm not sure that everyone who attended was as enthusiastic about it as I was, but turnout was still excellent and most people seemed to have a good time, which is the best anyone could have hoped for.

For my part, I had a great time and got a little sunburned for the second time in as many weeks. I didn't get to catch any of the concerts because of work, but I saw RJD2 and Blueprint at the Mews on Thursday so I didn't feel too bad about missing the Nappy Roots. More about that other show soon, though...

Dakota Humour  2

Posted on Sunday, 9 April 2006 at 11:00 PM. About Technical.

OK! I finally finished hacking the new design into Movable Type. I'm still tweaking it and making changes, but I think I'll have it up as soon as I figure out the best way to move all the pages into the proper directory. The next project is to redesign that aging old front page, but that will come in due time. (Which of course means, "maybe by the end of the year? Mmh?")

From the file of things I've been meaning to share: I'm not usually about the puns, but not too long ago Sporky posted a little Food Network bit that made me chuckle. I give you Sioux Chef.

All-night design cafe  0

Posted on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 04:42 AM. About Technical.

It's been a while again, but I have been thinking of you, dear friends!

Last night I got some inspiration on how to redesign things (finally) thanks to some anime blog I found while looking up some comedy about Japanese schoolgirls that my roommate has been obsessing over. The show leave quite as much of an impression as that site's design did, and when I found the layout was open-source I quickly appropriated it for my own purposes.

The redesign will be up here as soon as I finish hacking in the Movable Type codes, but you can see the mock-up I've been working on over at the temporary test site. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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