Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our State Fair

There are some Iowans who can instantly tell you how many days are left until the start of the state fair. They are the type of people who can already smell the corndogs as soon as the snow begins to melt. I am not one of those people.

Despite the fact that Iowa may have the greatest state fair in the world (just ask Rogers and Hammerstein) I think I've only been there once in my life. I have vague memories of it from my childhood. I don't remember the animals, the exhibits, the food, or the three-hour drive to Des Moines. All I can remember is sitting on a burlap sack and flying down a giant, brightly colored slide. That might have even been some other fair.

Anyhow, my husband and I have been proud residents of Des Moines for three and a half years now. Every summer we have said that we need to make a point to attend the fair, but every summer we've found some excuse not to go. You see, as much as I might enjoy the fair, I really hate mid-August heat and massive crowds. And every time I picture us going to the fair, I see nothing but mid-August heat and massive crowds. Yuck.

But this year I've decided to get past it. I want to go to the fair. I want to see why people make such a big deal about the corn dogs. I want to "people watch" on the Midway. I want to see if that giant burlap sack slide is still there (if it ever was). I want to see the knitted and crocheted items that Iowans put on display. And I want to enter some of my handcrafted items to be judged in the fair. (I'll let you know what I've decided to enter in a later post.)

I probaby won't ever love the fair as much as some people, and I may even hate it so much that I never want to go again, but I won't really know until I just go.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Two Jobs

Ok, so I don't actually have two jobs. But it sure feels like it sometimes. Sometimes I go to work here. I spend time doing things like writing proposals and reports, calculating laboratory test results, making phone calls, etc. Yes, that is a cooler in front of my desk, and no, it's not full of cold beverages. A couple of times a month I have to pack water samples into a cooler and ship them off to a chemistry lab. It's much easier to just leave a cooler sitting in my office than to figure out where I should store it.

Other days, I work at places like this one. Another aspect of my job involves visiting construction sites to confirm that projects are being built the way they should be. I spend my time doing some field observations, performing tests, and getting into (fortunately rare) heated discussions with contractors.

It's fun to work in a variety of different environments, and I don't always know what I'll be doing on any given day. It's also gives me an opportunity to physically see a project take shape. I can take the information that we gather in the field, design a foundation, watch the foundation be built, then see the rest of the building stack up on top of it. It's pretty cool stuff.