To sleep…

…Perchance to Dream

When I was a kid, I could sleep anywhere, anytime. It was great. The past ten years, though, have been rather trying. My general pattern has been to fall asleep at about eight at night, then wake up at 11 or 12, putter quietly around the house until 5 or 6 in the morning, then grab another hour or two of sleep before heading to work. It sucks, but you get used to it.

The past six months or so I’ve been taking Tylenol PM. The “PM” part implies that this will, yes indeedy, help you snooze. And it does! Or rather, it did…

For a while, I’d take a couple sleepy-pills and happily snooze for hours and hours on end. For the first time in ten years I needed an alarm clock. It was bliss! The past few weeks, though, have been different – I’ll take my sleepy pills, I’ll get sleepy, I’ll fall asleep, and three hours later BAM – I’m up again. Just like in the old days… But now, in addition to waking up at midnight or so, I’m so groggy from the sleepy-pills that I can’t do anything productive. All I can do is lay on the couch, whimpering softly, watching the Home Shopping Network, wondering where the remote went to…

Not sleeping much makes me grouchy and rather stupid indeed.

At the Car Wash

For me, one of the first signs of spring is the urge to get my car washed. There’s something about driving around a clean car that makes me feel wealthy, even if I am driving a 1992 Geo Metro (I think). Of course, this time of year, cars stay clean for about twelve minutes before you gotta go through a pothole full of runoff salt and mud (and possibly cow flop if you’re on one of the more rural avenues in town). We don’t have much of a garage, unfortunately, so our cars are always dusty anyway.

But for a minute there, I felt wealthy!

Olden Stuff

Dagmar and I trekked to the Sioux City Public Museum yesterday. ‘Twas an adventure indeed! I even took a shower.

I’ve only been to the Sioux City museum twice – the most memorable with Grandpa back in the 1970s. As a history major, that seems kinda odd to me. You’d think I’d hang out there more often…

Anyway, the most impressive thing to me was the museum building itself – a grand old house built in the late 1800s by a rich guy. Not only did the rich guy build this particular house, he also built half of the buildings in downtown Sioux City and the cable-cars that connected the whole mess before he moved to Seattle.

The stone for the exterior of the building was shipped in from somewhere in Nebraska, and all the woodwork on the inside is hand-carved from old-growth wood. The guy who was manning the front desk told us that some architects were in for a visit a few weeks ago and said that it would take over six million dollars to replicate the building.

The Sioux City Museum has purchased the old J.C. Penney building downtown and will be moving the museum into the new facility in a year and a half (or longer). They’ll then restore the old museum into a period home and give tours.

The beautiful thing about places like this in the Midwest is that the people who work there are there because they want to be. The guy at the front desk stopped what he was doing and gave Dagmar and I forty-five minute personal guided tour of the place, simply because we looked like we really were interested (which we were). That made the trip special.

My only critique of the museum is that they didn’t show any of the area’s rich musical history. Hopefully that’ll be remedied when they move into the more spacious J.C. Penney building.

Politics in Iowa

We get to elect a new governor this year. Fun fun. When I was a wee lad growing up in the Greater Brunsville Metropolitan Area, I quite honestly thought that being the governor of Iowa was like being on the Supreme Court. I thought you got elected for life.

In the past 38 years, Iowa has had three governors. Three. Count ’em. Republican Robert Ray was governor from 1969 to 1983 (to listen to my grandfather, you’d think Grandpa elected Mr. Ray all by himself). Mr. Ray was replaced by Republican Terry Brandstad, who served from 1983 to 1999. I met Mr. Branstad once. He’s shorter in person than he looks on TV. Our current governor, Democrat Tom Vilsack, has been in office since 1999 and is not running for that particular office again, though you may see his name come up nationally in a year or two. So, for thirty years, from 1969 to 1999, Iowa was led by two Republican governors.

Actually, looking at Iowa’s political history (which I found here), that’s not all that unusual. From 1846 to 1854 Iowa was Democrat. Then we had four years of Whig leadership, followed by the Republicans from 1858 to 1890 – that’s 32 years. Then four years of Democrat, followed by Republicans again from 1894 to 1933 – another 39 years. Democrats held office for the next six years, the another Republican dynasty lasting until 1957. In the late 50s and early 60s the two parties traded off until 1969, when Mr. Ray took office, starting a Republican run that would last until 1999.

That means that Democrats have held office in Iowa’s governorship for 36 years. Republicans were in office 120 years, and Whigs four years. (Mr. Bourke Hickenlooper, Republican, was governor from 1943 to 1945. That name brings forth a plethora of opportunities for campaign songs. “Vote for Hickenlooper – He’s Super-Duper.” The possibilities are endless.)

In spite of the Republican stranglehold on our governorship, I honestly thought Iowa was a Democratic state. I thought we kept electing Mr. Branstad out of pity – there’s no way he was gonna make it in farming, that’s for sure. My happy little dreamworld was rudely shattered when George W. Bush came within a hair of getting Iowa’s electoral college votes in the 2000 election. When Iowa went red in 2004 it scared the bejeezuz outta me. My wife and I thought seriously about moving to Canada, but in the end we opted to stay near our families here in Iowa. (We don’t really have the financial resources to pull off such a move anyway, to be honest.)

We’ve finally had a Democratic governor for the past seven years. Now we have to elect someone new. But who?

The Democratic candidates are:
Mike Blouin
Chet Culver
Ed Fallon
Sal Mohamed
Mark Yackle

The Republican candidates are:
Jim Nussle

The Libertarians are:

What do I know about these people? Not a whole lot, actually.

I’ve heard good things about Mr. Blouin. He’s already selected a running mate (an unusual move so early in a campaign) – Ms. Andy McGuire. Blouin has been State Economic Development Director, a Congressman, and has served as State Senator and State Representative.

Mr. Culver is widely regarded as being, well, not so bright. He was a teacher for a while, and is Secretary of State at the moment. His big claim to fame, though, is that he’s the son of ex-Senator John Culver.

I don’t know much about Mr. Fallon, but I have heard that he’s popular in Iowa’s three most populous counties. He has a very nifty web site, and has been a State Representative. (Mr. Blouin and Mr. Culver are currently getting most of the press around here. Therefore it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Mr. Fallon comes on strong at the end of the campaign, after the other two have weakened each other with their political jabs.)

Of all the candidates, the only one I’ve seen in person is Mr. Mohamed. He ran for congress in 2004, and was often seen on street corners all around Iowa, waving a flag, holding a sign saying “Vote for Mohamed.” The man gives the impression that he does all his own footwork. A native of Egypt, Mr. Mohamed moved to the United States in the 1970s and became a citizen in 1983. He has lived in Sioux City since 1991, working as a chemical engineer at a pharmaceutical company. (If you can’t tell, I actually read his web site – he’s the only candidate that has interested me enough to do that.) A widower, Mr. Mohamed’s son helps him campaign.

I’d never heard of Mr. Yackle until today, sadly enough. I found a web site that says he’s the mayor of Wallingford, Iowa (population 300). That’s about it, really… His web site isn’t finished yet. I did learn that he’s raised $300 in campaign contributions.

Mr. Nussle, and his running mate, Bob Vander Plaats, are Republicans.

The Libertarian Party has Ms. Welty on their slate – she’s served as Fairfield City Councilwoman and as the State Party Chair. I can’t really find any information on her on this nifty Interweb at all. I would, however, like to say that I’d vote Libertarian in every election if the Republicans didn’t scare me so much.

Who am I gonna vote for? Don’t you wish you knew. I shall never tell. I will say, however, that at this point Mr. Culver, Mr. Yackle and Mr. Nussle don’t look like particularly good bets. It’s so early in the campaign it’s pointless to speculate. So far I’ve heard good things about Mr. Blouin…

Well, it’s six-thirty at night. I’m going to go get something to eat, take some nice Tylenol PM, and hope for sleep. Wish me luck!

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7 thoughts on “To sleep…

  1. Chris

    Caffeine? No, not particularly… I’ll have one cup of coffee in the morning, and one can of soda that I sip on throughout the day. About once a week I’ll have another cup of coffee at lunch if it’s cold outside. I even drink decaf tea. No nicotine anymore, either.

    I’ve often wondered if I don’t sleep simply because, since moving to the “city”, I don’t do a whole lot of physical activity – I’m just plain not tired enough to sleep. When I lived out in the boonies as a kid I was always mowing the yard, cutting down trees, taking care of livestock, things like that. Now I sit and stare at a computer, wishing I had a bigger yard and better neighbors so I could go outside. (Whine whine whine.)

  2. Drew Miller

    Remember, before McKinley Republicans weren’t completely in the pocket of big business, and before Taft they weren’t bereft of progressives. The fact that Iowa had a lot of Republicans early on should be something to be proud of. 🙂 The last century though, not so much.

    Also Story is not the third most populous county. I don’t think Johnson is in the top 3 either, although I guess it could be. It’s the second highest as far as primary vote goes, though.

  3. Chris

    Yep – it’s hard to explain to people that the political parties have changed over the last, oh, hundred and fifty years. There used to be more than two, too. Imagine that!

    I must’ve misinterpreted my source about the three most populous counties – I’m sure I got it from somewhere reputable. Maybe. I hope. In any case, if you ever spot any errors in anything I say, feel free to point ’em out! I’d hate to innocently go around fibbing to people…

  4. steakbellie

    I totally understand about the ‘not sleeping’ issues, and I think you’re right about not getting enough excercise.

    Over the past year I’ve come to the conclusion that we men are like dogs and horses. If we dont exert ourselves enough we will go crazy…..


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