Purple martins

Small purple birds perch on their birdhouses and telephone wires.
Small purple birds perch on their birdhouses and telephone wires.
I put in about 50 miles on the bicycle this morning, riding down to Hills, Sharon Center, Joetown, Frytown, Stringtown, and the other little dots on the map. Casey’s in Hills has purple martin houses. The birds were out and about this morning.

Western Johnson County is pretty farm country and a fun place to ride. The Amish farms in the area often have purple martin houses as well. I presume they use them for insect control. Today was a good day for birds, even if I was whizzing by on my bike. In addition to the martins, I saw indigo buntings, a red-headed woodpecker, house wrens, a dickcissel, goldfinches, and others I couldn’t identify in my haste.

V

Some movies and TV shows have maintained their charm since my childhood, and some have not. “V: The Original Miniseries” is one of the latter. We were really excited to find it at the library, and it does have a decent story, but it suffers from unusually bad acting for a TV miniseries. The make-up for the aliens is good, but when the story veers into “Star War” territory, the visual effects get really lame. Didn’t the creators understand that advance spacecraft shouldn’t just look futuristic, but that they should be faster and shoot more stuff than, say, a Cessna?

“V” was cool when I was a kid, but it’s a little insufferable for me now. Also, as I have rediscovered, the miniseries introduces the story rather than resolves anything so we’d have to sit through the other miniseries “V: The Final Battle” to see the conclusion. I’d be up for that, but not the 19-episode TV series. If I waste any more time watching old sci-fi TV shows, it will be watching “Star Trek”.

Hamburgers, fireworks, and baseball

Two pink burst of fireworks behind an illuminated domed neo-classical building.
Two pink burst of fireworks behind an illuminated domed neo-classical building.
Most of Independence Day was rained on, but Independence Evening was very nice. After making hamburgers for dinner, we went to see the fireworks. When I saw Iowa City’s fireworks show two years ago I was really disappointed (they had technical difficulties. This year’s were much better.

So that took care of the hamburgers and fireworks but Independence Day weekend wouldn’t be complete without baseball, right? So we went up to Cedar Rapids to see the Kernels play the visiting Quad Cities River Bandits. Eastern Iowa has four teams in the A-level Midwest League and I haven’t seen a one of them play until today.

A baseball player runs around third base.
A baseball player runs around third base.
The Kernels were a little deficient in the between-innings entertainment that minor league ball is renowned for. Once an inning somebody would kick footballs into the stands. So a bunch of people went home from a baseball game with a souvenir football. More exciting was the short race between three giant eyeballs (sorry, no picture). More exciting still was the Kernel’s eighth inning come-from-behind rally. I like the quick pace of minor league ball and the fact that these professional players still make Adam-like mistakes: dropping routine fly balls and letting grounders go between their legs.

Jazz

The Iowa City Jazz Festival is this weekend. Sometimes I wish I knew more about jazz so I could comment on it. I will say this: it’s hard to tell when they’re done playing a piece. And don’t even try singing to an instrumental rendition of the national anthem. There’s no way to guess when the guy is going to finish playing the note or where he’s going to go with the next one.