Monday, May 4, 2009

Fartleks: April 2009

The Director's Cut commentary track on the most memorable Tweets of the month:

warrenellis: Okay, now I need to find some clothes. Wait, no I don't -- I'm a writer!
(It's funny cuz it's true; oh to have the life of a [famous and well-paid] writer)

warrenellis: Menacing foreigners is tiring, thirsty work. Time for a pint of espresso, and to sit and think about the world. (And take off my pants.)
(Even though it was three days later, Mr. Ellis was still part of the No Pants lobby. My love for this one can be found in the first sentence; the idea of going out and 'menacing foreigners' is funny to me. I suppose that is because I'm not the one being harassed.)

(Mr. Ellis was expressing his anger re: Twitter's recent inability to handle their new popularity. A 'hategasm' is a good word; I think I shall use it.)

aplusk: I just tried to update my twitter status by programming my microwave. and I'm pretty sure it @ replied me
(I actually laughed out loud when I read this tweet. At times, Mr. Kutcher throws out a gem that makes following him, and his frequent tweets, worthwhile.)

warrenellis: No-one ever gets me a death ray as a holiday gift.
(Given Mr. Ellis' admitted fetish for menacing foreigners, it is probably for the best that he isn't armed with villainous weapons.)

oopspow: How come Cyclops never uses his laser eyes to just saw peoples' heads off from like 200 yards away? That's what I'd do.
(This tweet not only asks a good question, but lead to a brief back-and-forth re: the Summers brothers and Phoenix. Geek much? 'Nuff said.)

oopspow: @schuettn Shueyville got a new Pope?
(I must give Adam praise for his witty response to my tweet that proclaimed white smoke was rising from Shueyville. A religion joke gets two thumbs up.)

schuettn: White House on high alert after protester tea bags the White House.
(The 'scrotal humor' as Jon Stewart referred to it was too much to pass up. The entire tea bag protest was ridiculous; the Republicans continue to act like children after losing the White House.)

ThatKevinSmith: And I don't mean queer in that awesome, mano y mano cock-sucking way. I mean queer as is "He's super-queer for Gretzky." Old school queer.
(Offensive and funny; sure to be a party favorite!)

Inksmith: Angelina, seriously, mix in a condom, maybe a pill, and stop trying to bring half of Africa over here one child at a time.
(The celebrity adoption fetish is disturbing. What is wrong with adopting American children?)

warrenellis: It's one of those "lift skull-lid and pour Red Bull on my naked brain" days.
(It just so happened that I could really empathize with Mr. Ellis on that day. Hopefully the Red Bull-straight-to-brain method avoids the upset stomach and bad after taste I get from Red Bull.)

StephenAtHome: fun-sized candy bars? they're slaughtered before they can grow to full size--what's 'fun' about that?
(A fun play on words that led to a chuckle from me.)

StephenAtHome: this is not supposed to be its own tweet. it's a support-tweet for the previous tweet. good job, previous tweet.
(Again, just another chuckle inspiring tweet from Mr. Colbert.)

schuettn: Sent in my time sheet and my resignation from the Daily Iowan. $20/mo ain't worth it.
(It was a long time, or so it felt, coming. I was never an editoral writer for the money, but the time it took versus the low wages and budget problems they have made the entire thing too onerous to keep with it.)

schuettn: My dog likes pretzels; in other shocking news, the Cubs are losing, Pujols hit a HR, ppl die needlessly in Iraq, and our President is black.
(Oscar will eat almost anything that isn't a raw vegetable, that's why this is funny.)

neilhimself: Is there anywhere I could order a clutching dead zombie hand that would stand up to midwestern outdoors weather? It's to perk up a headstone
(From anyone else this might be a very odd and concerning request. From Neil Gaiman, it's par for the course.)

Inksmith: Lapsus Calami, now with commenting abilites! Same great suckage, without the discouraging indifference!
(A funny and self-deprecating plug for Nate's new blog. )

warrenellis: You know what I need? Another cigarette, and to punch myself in the junk eight or nine times. Be right back
warrenellis: Not at the same time. I might drop my cigarette.
(Funny cuz it's true)

oopspow: Took some vitamins yesterday, which perfectly achieved their one desired effect: neon green urine.
(Personally peeing a color reserved for Gatorade is always a bit alarming, but the tweet is on-point.)

escapepirate: Storm's comin'. I can hear (and feel) the thunder in the distance. The last ribbon of sunlight is swallowed by the gathering darkness. Rain.
(So ominous and brooding... must be all the hate pirates are getting lately.)

warrenellis: Swine flu reaches Australia: Australians unsure how to deal with something they can't fuck, drink, deport or barbecue
(Another offensive and hilarious tweet. More on topic is the utter hatred I have for the alarmist media coverage of the swine (yet-can't-get-it-from-eating-pork) flu.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

UIMT does it again...UI doesn't care

The 2008-2009 mock trial season has finally come to a close. All of the evidence has been submitted and the jury has returned a verdict. Northwood University from Midland, Michigan is the new national champion. Congratulations to Northwood!

UIMT finished a strong season with another top 5 finish. The 1271 team ended the tournament tied for second place after facing Claremont McKenna College, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of Pittsburgh, and University of California-Berkeley. 1271's only loss was by one point; they also had two ties. Four points stood between 1271 and finishing 8-0. Ravi Narayan earned an All-American Attorney award on the defense, while his teammate Kaitlyn Evans just missed the honor by one point on the plaintiff.

A young 1272 team finished with 2.5 victories; Kathryn Beary finished her first season of UIMT with All-American Witness honors on the plaintiff.

Once again UIMT finishes in the top 5 (this stretches the streak of Des Moines top 5 finishes to seven). In fact, since the 1999-2000 season the Hawkeyes have finished in the top 15. Of course, no one in Iowa City seems to care. The press release went out and even the Daily Iowan ignored it. Surprising? No. The back-to-back championships in 2002 & 2003 were greeted by a blurb that was barely too long for Twitter.

Every year we succeed despite a lack of funding or campus support outside of the Honors Department. The tournaments get more expensive, farther away, and yet the students continue to pay out-of-pocket. The dedication and determination of the students is admirable and inspiring. However, the burden is categorically unfair to the students.

Debate has a room at the Communication Center for all of their materials, trophies, and practice needs. UIMT practices in hallways, our trophies gather dust in basements, and our case materials clutter trunks.

I have no grand notion that my diatribe will amount to anything. It is a shame, however, that the University is likely to lose a great program in the near future and no one will care or fight to keep it alive. With my pending departure to Ohio it's likely UIMT will become a student run program with no connections in AMTA and no guidance on how to argue the law or succeed in the mock trial archetype. A program I helped build will crumble without so much as a whimper from the University.

I understand budgets are tight, but a university is supposed to be about building strong skills for a bright future. Mock trial promotes teamwork, public speaking skills, analytical thinking,and complex problem solving skills. At least it does right now; in a few years students around the country will continue to hone crucial skills that will help them in their careers. In Iowa City, the University will continue to care more about the drinking students do privately than aiding a program that creates stronger students and successful alums.

I'm Back

Well... the resignation is in and I'm no longer working for the Daily Iowan Editorial Board.

I had some fun, met some really interesting people, and now it's time to move on. One can only write about chicken ordinances and blindly ignore the death of the newspaper industry for so long before you can't take it anymore.

I will try to think of some weekly columns to post in the coming days.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

It's nice to be back.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fartleks: March 2009

The Director's Cut commentary track on the most memorable Tweets of the month:

schuettn: Living in the Midwest is like being in an abusive relationship with Mother Nature. Today she's saying she's "sorry & has changed."
(Being a Midwestern means waking up to 60 degree weather and going to bed with 30 degree ice storms. Mother Nature is a real bitch, and she knows it.)

schuettn: With such a deep fantasy baseball league, my draft strategy is going to like Hamas: pull the trigger and hope I hit something of substance.
(Appropriate? No. But it did aptly describe my fantasy draft strategy. The season starts this weekend!)

schuettn: I love Monday crosswords; it always makes me feel smart.
(Unfortunately, yesterday, my intellect was weighed, measured, and found wanting by the crossword.)

schuettn: Smoke rings are a simple pleasure in life.
(It's small victories for me. Hookah smoking is a guilty pleasure.)

escapepirate: Bizarro SAMSON. (So I'm not all that versed in biblical spelling...)
(Instant Classic)

escapepirate: Not good with small talk, or chit-chatting. My responses: "uh huh" and "yep."
(It's funny because it's true.)

Inksmith: Evidently Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York on 9/11! Who knew? He should have mentioned that in his campaign.
(It's funny because it's not true.)

Inksmith: See ya, Coach K. Don't let the door hit you in the nose, you arrogant tool. You and your spoon-chested cracker-assed team.
(I also twatted/tweexed on this subject, but this was more apropos. Coach K felt the need to criticize Obama for filling out a bracket; perhaps he was just sore the President picked UNC? It seems with good cause.)

Inksmith: Snow, why are you here? Go somewhere else. Mother nature, youre a worthless cunt.
(Great minds think a like; idiots never disagree. The moral? Mother nature is bi-polar)

schuettn: Feeling refreshed like an Irish Spring; oh wait I use Dove...Feeling freshed like I was just released from an animal-filled ark
(I thought it was witty. Besides, mixing modern commercials with the Bible is fun for all ages!)

warrenellis: good morning sinners
(Funny because it's true, part II)

schuettn: Doing my best to save the economy one take-out meal at a time.
(Exotic India is very tasty. Unfortunately, my economic bailout plan will also lead to me needing an aortic bailout eventually.)

escapepirate: In the mood to fight futuristic robots with a hammer while the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.
(I don't ask... I just chuckle.)

**Yes, I know I am copying Escape Pirate's "Escaping Thoughts" with this segment but at least it will keep me posting here**

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quick Peek

Things have been rather hectic lately. Preparations for the pre-national tournament for collegiate mock trial sucked up most of my time that I wasn't working multiple jobs or sleeping.

This week is a bit better because the University of Iowa is on Spring Break, meaning no practice to be had. I can finally get back to the gym without feeling like I'm letting down my students (okay, so it's an excuse to not go to the gym; sue me).

However, tomorrow the wifey and I leave for Ohio. It's part business-part pleasure. I will be the AMTA rep at the Hamilton ORCS and we will be checking out Oxford as a potential future home. Big weekend!!

I intend to keep better accounts of my thoughts and goings-on (again); perhaps I will have more time when the mock trial season is over in mid-April. I suppose my busy life is partly my fault, if the team wasn't successful our season would have ended in February.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

DI Reprint: 02-04-09 (Part 3 of 3)

Shadowboxing the Bush Doctrine
Part three of a three-part series

"We seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," proclaimed newly inaugurated President Obama to the world. Specifically, Obama prefaced this statement by addressing "the Muslim world." If Obama can turn his words into policy, then the next four years will be a stark contrast to the last eight. The neocons at the helm of the Bush administration were too focused on their Middle East domino-democracy theory to consider whether their grand plan was respected or in the interest of the people whose countries they occupied. If Obama wants to win the war against the "far-reaching network of violence and hatred" referenced in his speech, then he will have to reclaim the respect our country has lost in the global community, especially in the Muslim world, since our invasion of Iraq.

The cycle of violence and charged rhetoric promulgated by the Bush Doctrine cannot be easily undone. For seven years we have forced our agenda on the world without asking. Our war on terror has pushed the attacks from our shores to the streets of Kabul and Baghdad. The Bush Doctrine has set in motion a cycle of violence that needs to be completely thrown off course, not just held in abeyance, if we are to be safe from the Sword of Damocles that demented men such as Osama bin Laden hold over the free world. If we continue down our current path, there may never be an end to the acts of reprisal, and we may never regain our moral standing in the global theater.

The perfect example of the cyclical war that could continue between the United States and the militant jihadi organizations can be found in the Holy Land. Hamas terrorizes Israel through rockets; Israel bombs Gaza, so Hamas lobs more rockets - rinse and repeat while civilian deaths mount. Israelis insist they are just defending themselves, but killing Gazan civilians only leads to more street-level support for Hamas' defiance of Israel and galvanizes Hamas' recruitment efforts. Israel's pre-emptive and disproportionate responses aren't going to end the cycle of violence; it only adds fuel to the fire.

The United States' foreign policy toward the Middle East must rebrand itself. If Obama's administration aims to truly "reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals," then it's time we stop paying mere lip-service to the ideals of freedom, equality, and tolerance in our foreign policy. The Bush administration promised democracy and freedom in Afghanistan; now, we are considering giving the Taliban back at least a portion of control in the government. As soon as the neocons could fabricate WMD in Iraq, we abandoned a poor and war-torn Afghan populace to their own fate.

We heralded our policy as progress and a battle against evil; meanwhile, we continue to pay the oppressive Saudi government billions. We consider an Egyptian government that has been in "a state of emergency" for decades, led by an "elected president" who aims to pass on the office of president through nepotism, a democratic ally in the region. We snuffed out the democratically elected government in Iran, ushering in the Islamic Revolution.

If we want the people of the Middle East to believe that the United States is more than the "Great Satan," then Obama must follow through on his promise to promote mutual respect and mutual interests. We must supplant hypocrisy with accountability. The Bush administration chastised - even threatened military force - against Iran and Syria for supporting terrorism, yet we continually fail to hold Saudi Arabia and Pakistan accountable for the Salafi and Wahhabist factions within their borders that provide aid to such terrorist groups as Al Qaeda. Why should the Muslim world trust us when we left the Afghans to the warlords, arm Israel's use of disproportionate force, and turn a blind eye to some corrupt governments while admonishing and sanctioning others?

In the end, however, change in the Middle East must be a homegrown movement; it cannot be forced upon the region. Appealing to the virtues and elements that are established in Islamic jurisprudence or a Qur'anic Sura will foment support faster than forcing Western enlightenment philosophy onto the region. Islamic scholars have written volumes on the importance of acting just and fighting corruption. The Prophet Muhammad wrote one of the world's first constitutions in Medina. Democratic principles should be repackaged as the Islamic concepts of ijma (consensus) and shurah (consultation). The rhetoric must be refocused on local terminology and should embrace Islamic values and culture instead of promoting a clash of civilizations.

Hopefully, Obama will heed his own words, "our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead … our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause."

Originally published in The Daily Iowan

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

DI Reprint: 02-03-2009 (Part 2 of 3)

Shadowboxing the Bush Doctrine
Part two of a three-part series

The parallels between the Bush Doctrine and Al Qaeda's Islamist jihadi doctrine extend beyond military tactics and strategies. The "war on terror" is more than a physical battlefield; it is an ideological war as well. The no-compromise military strategy used by the Bush administration and Al Qaeda also extends to their rhetoric, once again creating a never-ending cycle of conflict.

The national-security strategies of 2002 and 2006 detailed then-President Bush's long-term and short-term goals regarding the "war on terror"; conversely, Al Qaeda detailed its goals through a series of letters and speeches to the American public. Both sides made it clear through their rhetoric that the final battles in the "war on terror" will be for the minds of the people. Bush commonly referred to this ideological struggle as the "battle of ideas."

The rhetorical tactics, weapons if you will, used in the "battle of ideas" are strikingly similar. The core elements of both parties are dualism, a duty to defend, protection of core values, and triumph through cultural expansion. It is at the point of intersection between these four themes that the rhetoric and propaganda are at their most powerful; it is within this nexus that the "battle of ideas" is being waged.

In a game of persuasion, the advocate must portray her or his side as the morally just or empirically valid position in order to present the most persuasive argument. Without the vilification or invalidation of the adversary, the audience may weigh both sides of the debate equally, a fatal proposition for winning a rhetorical exercise. The "battle of ideas" follows the same road map. The Bush administration and Al Qaeda are quick to condemn the beliefs and actions of their adversaries. Each presents an argument designed to efficiently demonize its "evil" enemy. Thus, the rivals are quick to classify the "battle of ideas," usually by way of historical analogies, as a part in the eternal struggle between good and bad, light and dark, and heaven and hell. Thus, any action taken on behalf of the "good fight" is just; conversely, any action taken against the "good" is malicious and wicked. The brilliance of the duality scheme is that there is no in grey area; neutrality is just as sinful as opposition.

The process of vilification is a prerequisite for the subsequent self-appointed label of "Great Defender" employed both the Bush administration and Al Qaeda. Without a malevolent adversary threatening the core values and people of their respective society, the need for a "Defender" is nonexistent, and the use of a first-strike defense policy is unjust. Both organizations present their cases to the world that they were attacked first; war was brought to their soil, and thus, they must respond to save their respective societies. However, each side is careful to represent itself as more than a legally - be it based on Shariah or the U.N. charter - justified defender. A legal right has a logical and legally defined course of action and conclusion, whereas moral obligations are nebulous appeals to subjective reasoning leaving more room for broad interpretations of what is "necessary" and "warranted" in the face of evil. Water-boarding, extraordinary rendition, and attacking noncombatants are presented as defensible means to a just end, ignoring the fact that they are illegal and no less "evil" than the initial terrorist attacks or economic sanctions that lead to the deaths of Muslim children.

While the Bush administration and Al Qaeda substantially differ on political, sociological, and economic policy, they agree on the fundamental pillars of society. For both organizations, the principles of freedom, justice and human dignity are worth defending even if it means the use of force and a great loss of life. In the end, both adversaries are fighting to "defend" the same core principles of society. Unfortunately, they wage war to defend the principles as interpreted by their respective societies, rather than a global community. Thus, the freedom Al Qaeda fights for means the subjugation of American values. It's not human dignity we "champion" as argued in the 2002 national-security strategy by President Bush, but American dignity. Torture and killing civilians does nothing to further dignity, freedom, or justice within America, the umma, or globally.

Whether it is categorized as "expanding liberty," "advancing freedom," "bringing democracy," "establishing justice," "defending the oppressed," or "enjoining the good," both doctrines present victory to be reliant upon the abrogation of their adversaries core values with their own. If cultural domination is the death blow, then the self-imposed "moral defender" label turns out to be nothing more than a pretext for cultural expansion and homeland propaganda aimed at ensuring popular support for aggressive military policies. In the end, the Bush administration's rhetoric justifies the ridiculous accusation that we are waging a "war on Islam" rather than defending our right to live free from terror.

Originally published in The Daily Iowan

Monday, February 2, 2009

DI Reprint: 02-02-2009 (Part 1 of 3)

Shadowboxing the Bush Doctrine
Part one in a three-part series

In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, then-President George W. Bush and his neoconservative administration developed a modified version of the international anticipatory self-defense doctrine under the precept of self-preservation. The so-called "Bush Doctrine" was designed to eliminate all current and future threats to American military personnel and civilians. However, the "war on terror" as implemented by the Bush administration was not a viable option to accomplish the very goal it continually espoused, protecting the American public from future terrorism. Seven years later, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri remain at-large; Al Qaeda continues to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the threat of harm to American civilians abroad still exists, as demonstrated by the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks.

For the last seven years, the Bush administration has waged a war on its own reflection. While the media and the White House went to great lengths to portray our "war on terror" as an unambiguous battle of good versus evil and a straightforward example of self-defense against provocation, a more in-depth examination of the strategies and tactics employed by both the United States and the jihadi Islamist factions reveals significant similarities between the quintessential adversaries. Militarily and rhetorically, the two foes employed strategies that were mirror images of each other creating a never-ending cycle of violent acts of reprisal.

At their cores, both the Bush Doctrine and the jihadi military doctrine are self-defense strategies; both doctrines are modified versions of an anticipatory self-defense doctrine. The Bush Doctrine is a modern adaptation of the Caroline doctrine; Al Qaeda reinterprets classical jihad jurisprudence to justify its military operations. The common revision in both doctrines is the reshaping of the "threat" element of anticipatory self-defense. A state must face an imminent threat that leaves the state with no time for deliberate or alternative means of defense to justify the use of preemptive military action. Without a threat, an "act of self-defense" is unwarranted. The jihadi defense doctrine requires Muslims must be attacked because of their faith for aggression to be justified.

In order to justify the use of force, both the Bush Doctrine and Al Qaeda's doctrine argue that the threshold is not an "imminent threat" but an "emerging threat." No longer must the United States or the umma, the worldwide community of Muslims, be a victim of an attack to justify the use of defensive measures, a threat of violence is sufficient to justify force; a first-strike policy is portrayed as a defensive response. Thus begins the bloody tit-for-tat cycle of violence in the "war on terror"; reports of a pre-emptive strike by one adversary are viewed as an emerging threat by the other. Unlike the Cold War, in which the threat of an armed response created a stalemate, the "war on terror" uses the threat of an armed response as justification for using "defensive military force."

Perhaps the acts of pre-emptive force could be better contained and force a tenuous Cold-War-like impasse if both doctrines didn't also espouse "guilt by association." Al Qaeda, and other jihadi Islamist factions, continually equates the actions of Israel against the Arab world with those of the United States. This amalgamation is evinced by the recurrent label of "Zionist-Crusader coalition" by bin Laden when he references the United States. The "guilt" is also extended to any of America's allies, as evinced by the bombings in Madrid, London, and Baghdad. No country that aids the United States in their "war" will be safe. According to the speeches of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, you are either with them, or against them. Sound familiar? Bush said, "We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them." Rightly, the Bush administration made clear that the United States was willing to defend itself and its allies from terrorist activity. In other words, the United States is willing to defend its "umma" from outside threats.

It is not my intent to argue that the rationale or morality at the foundation of these doctrines is the same. Clearly they are not equivalent. Rather, my comparison rests in the means by which each doctrine intends to achieve victory. Both doctrines are designed to reject compromise and reconciliation; victory is attained only through vanquishing the Great Adversary. If both doctrines espouse a determination to continue their struggle, their jihad, as long as the enemy or threat of harm exists, we must examine whether the means will ever achieve the desired end. Punching your reflection in the mirror isn't going to destroy your mirror image; it will only shatter and fragment the glass. The Bush Doctrine may have kept America's shores safe over the last seven years; however, it failed to secure long-term stability and protection from terrorist threats.

Originally published in The Daily Iowan

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revisiting the Past

It's not uncommon for my current playlist to go through substantial shifts in genres and/or eras. My playlist isn't always a direct reflection of my mood. I rarely use music to deal with emotional swings. My selection of songs is more accurately a reflection of the activity I am participating in while listening to my Zune or laptop.

Recently, I have been revisiting bands who were at their peak in the 1990s; the mid to late 1990s is a more accurate as most of these bands were at their height of stardom while I was in high school or early college. Most of the bands of that era have a "Best of" album on shelves. Instant top 40 gratification.

Currently on rotation on my laptop are The Cranberries, No Doubt, Stone Temple Pilots, and Eve 6's first two albums. The latter band pushes the playlist into the new millennium but the style of music is still very late 1990s. So far the mix has been quite enjoyable; non-radio favs are always fun to rediscover, even 10-15 years later.

I'm still waiting for the Bush "Best of" album to drop. Perhaps Gavin is too busy with his new pop album or just wants to forget about the glory years; however, I wish there was a concentrated playlist of Bush singles and best songs. Most of the time I find a song on a compilation album I didn't even know/had forgotten was sung by that artist. (E.G. "Days of the Week" by STP)

As more and more nineties bands seek to recapture their former glory (Candlebox, Alice in Chains, STP, Gin Blossoms, Smashing Pumpkins) it's nice to revisit the reason for their successes. From time to time I try to forecast which songs and bands will make up the future "oldies" stations. Green day seems an obvious choice given their popularity 15 years later. The remaining potpourri is a bit more ambiguous. Regardless, my sojourn back in time has been a nice break from the modern day top 40 cycle that gets overplayed on free-radio these days.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 B.C.E.

Well Sprinters, it's another year gone by and I'm still unsure what to do with this blog. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I intend to cross-post more from The Podium so that this place doesn't look so bleak and boring. My current project is a series I intend to write for the Daily Iowan about the Bush Doctrine and the war on the terror. It's based off of a seminar paper I wrote in law school. I will make sure I cross-post it here.


  • I will be participating in a friendly "get healthy" challenge with my friend. You can check out the progress based on the chatter at his blog "Loss and Health, Pirate"

  • Hopefully I get more original pieces done this year (either here or at The Podium). The life with the wifey is dire need of direction for both of us and we are hoping to figure it all out in the coming months. Do we stay in Iowa? If so, Iowa City? Buy a house? Start a family (biped not quadped like our current "children")?

  • Hopefully, before I hit the three-decade mark a bit more is settled.