Town Sign Project: Dallas County

The April image for the 2021 Photography 139 Calendar is a butterfly perched on a zinnia in my Mom’s yard. It was taken on August 16, 2020.

2021 Calendar - April

Here are some details of the photo:


LENS: FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
ISO: 100
LATITUDE: 42.05623
LONGITUDE: -93.87505


I recently added a photo map to my THE TOWN SIGNS PROJECT album. It looks like this:

This map shows the physical locations of where the town signs I have photographed. In the album, you can scroll in and out and click on the markers to see the pictures.

If you want to see it in the flesh, so to speak, click on the link below:


I also recently made a trip around Dallas County to get pictures of the few towns out there that I didn’t have a sign to represent. Unfortunately, most of my time was spent looking around suburbs looking for a sign of some kind. I tried to put as little effort into the suburbs as possible, because I view this as a small town project. That being said, it took a little time to even find anything. I know the signs I have here that represent Urbandale and Waukee are not the best they have to offer, but at the same time, do I lose any sleep about it? Nope, half a bottle of Nyquil takes care of that.

Here is the updated Iowa Conquest Map:

6 Counties - Town Sign Project

Here are the town signs of Dallas County (population data from 2010, so probably extremely inaccurate for this county):

West Des Moines, Iowa
West Des Moines, Iowa
The City of West Des Moines
Population: 56,609

Urbandale, Iowa
Urbandale, Iowa
Welcome to… Uniquely Urbandale… Urbandale
Population: 39,463

Clive, Iowa
Clive, Iowa
District by Nature
Population: 15,447

Waukee, Iowa
Waukee, Iowa
The Key to Good Living

Grimes, Iowa
Grimes, Iowa
Population: 8,246

Perry, Iowa
Perry, Iowa
Make Yourself at Home!
Population 7,702

Adel, Iowa
Adel, Iowa
Growing with Pride – Home of United Brick & Tile
Population 3,682

Dallas Center, Iowa
Dallas Center, Iowa
Est. 1869
Population: 3,682

Granger, Iowa
Granger, Iowa
Welcome to Granger
Population: 1,244

De Soto, Iowa
De Soto, Iowa
Welcome to De Soto, Iowa
Population: 1,050

Woodward, Iowa
Woodward, Iowa
Welcome to Woodward
Population: 1,024

Van Meter, Iowa
Van Meter, Iowa
tradition with a vision
Population: 1,016

Redfield, Iowa
Redfield, Iowa
Population: 835

Dexter, Iowa
Dexter, Iowa
The Original One Horse Town
Population: 611

Minburn, Iowa
Minburn, Iowa
A Small Town with a Big Heart
Population: 365

Linden, Iowa
Linden, Iowa
Pride of (Some Cat) Country
Population: 199

Dawson, Iowa
Dawson, Iowa
Welcome to Dawson
Population: 131

Bouton, Iowa
Bouton, Iowa
Est. 1881
Population: 129

So which town sign wins Best in Show, for Dallas County? I think this one is a no-brainer. It is Dexter:

Dexter, Iowa

Dexter, even has a couple of other great town signs as well:

Town Sign Project Alternate

Town Sign Project Alternate

Either one by themselves would be a strong contender for Best in Show for Dallas County. I’d also give surprisingly good marks to Redfield and Linden and Minburn. Minburn, mostly because of the weird bench that is behind their sign, but isn’t pictured. But runner-up in Dallas County is very clearly Granger for the use of the “hot” and “cold” water towers in their sign.

Which one is the worst? I’m going to put aside the suburbs for a moment, because I believe they probably have a better sign out there that I just didn’t care to spend hours in suburban hell looking for them. Maybe some day in the future. But the second worst is the blandness of Dallas Center, but the worst is Adel for putting an advertisement for a business on their town sign. I’m guessing that business probably built that sign, but still… gross.

So 6 counties in, I’m going to up the Bennett Power Rankings to a Top Ten.

Bennett Town Sign Power Rankings

Collins, Iowa
#10. Collins

Sheldahl, Iowa
#9. Sheldahl

Badger, Iowa
#8. Badger

Granger, Iowa
#7. Granger

Scranton, Iowa
#6. Scranton

Boone, Iowa
#5. Boone

Dexter, Iowa
#4. Dexter

Farnhamville, Iowa #3 - East Side
#3. Farnhamville

Pilot Mound, Iowa
#2. Pilot Mound

Moingona, Iowa
#1. Moingona

These are how I feel at this time, but it is possible that 5 minutes from now, I would rank these completely differently.

The good news is that I have a couple of volunteers for certain counties. So in the future, these road trips won’t be solo. I mean many of them will, but not all of them. Polk County should be next, but I really need a pep talk to head back in to suburbia.

21 thoughts on “Town Sign Project: Dallas County”

  1. One of my favorite parts of the Dexter sign (which is solid all-around) is the blue marker through the National Plowing Match. This may just be graffiti, but I prefer to think that this activity is now defunct and/or disgraced, and someone looked at the sign and thought, “Should we grab a little piece of white board and cover that up? No, I prefer some blue Sharpie that everyone can clearly see through to the words behind. So it’s still a part of our history, but disavowed.”

    Granger’s sign is amazing. I don’t necessarily have a DeWaard power ranking, but I think that may even beat Dexter for me. Its simplicity and just resignment to their identity is amazing.

    Bouton’s font seems a poor choice – it looks like Bonton.

  2. I was going to look into watch the National Plowing Match Site was. I’d like to think it was a one time event and the loser was so bitter about it, they spray painted the sign on their way out of town.

    Although when I think about it, I probably drove past it on my way to the Bonnie & Clyde Shootout site. There was a historical site on the side of the road with a plow sitting there. I didn’t stop to check it out because this was the day after a good snowstorm and the county roads were clear, but the shoulders and the small parking lot that would’ve held two cars was not. I’ve never got the Camry stuck, but I don’t have any fantasies that it would power through a decent snow drift.

    Apparently the parking lot is bigger than I guessed, but it was all buried under snow. Apparently the plowing match was part of a campaign stop by Harry Truman in 1948. Maybe it was done by somebody that hates Harry Truman.

    I never noticed the poor font choice by Bouton, but you are right. I just always saw it because I know it as Bouton, but somebody that didn’t know it was Bouton would be confused. What isn’t confusing is the Bouton Breakfast. That is the truth. I hope they still do that after the pandemic. It just went on my list of things to do post pandemic.

    After I get the vaccine and things seem to be normalizing, I’m seriously considering taking like 3 straight weeks off work.

    I do love the Granger sign. When I was a kid I legitimately believed one of their water towers held hot water and the other cold water. It made perfect sense. I hope they never upgrade their sign!

  3. I have no idea what I was expecting the Plowing Match to be, but for some insane reason I wasn’t expecting an old-school field plow. Which is, in retrospect, by far the most obvious answer in rural Iowa. I think the fact that it’s still there and so considerably sized boosts your theory about the strikethrough being by someone who lost their match and harbors ill will. I assume they are a national plow champion, brought in as a ringer by a wealthy member of the community (sort of like in “Over the Top”). But they lost to the plucky youngster from town, and sulked out of town with a blue Sharpie in hand.

    I’ve never heard of the Bouton-not-Bonton Breakfast. Oh my gosh, is it this? That’s a crap-ton of different types of breakfast food. I have to introduce you and Charlie – he is also a breakfast man. The only pizza he ever wants is Casey’s “egg pizza,” and all he wants for dinner is eggs and bacon (or sausage). He’ll include other breakfast foods, but that’s by far his favorite meal of the day – he wants brinner every day.

    I think that three weeks off of work to just do all of the things you missed is a brilliant idea. We had to do two weeks of furlough in the spring, during which I just did yard work and played with the kids and such. I also had to do two weeks this winter/fall – the kids had school, so I did a lot of wrapping presents and lazing around. It’s not at all the same as going to fun places.

    I really hope that the Granger sign was made by a child with a similar theory!

  4. I think your first paragraph was probably a Mark Twain short story.

    Maybe Charlie will join me on a return trip to the Bouton Breakfast when it returns? I’m honestly not that big of a breakfast fan. Okay, I am. But not at the expense of other meals. Really, eating a big breakfast with pancakes, eggs, and sausage (sausage owns bacon) is a one time a week thing for me. But when I go breakfast, I go hard. I do love a good breakfast pizza and now that they make all day, it probably is a matter of time before I order it some Friday night.

    Since the pandemic started, I’ve taken the week of Labor Day off and 4 days off during the week of Thanksgiving. I think I took my birthday off too. Sitting at about 270 hours of PTO right now. I usually don’t take much during January-March, so I should be over 300 by the time April rolls around. Have to figure out a way to move to the top of that vaccine line. I hear claiming it was a hoax for 11 months seems to help you move up the line somehow.

    The Granger sign looks like it was painted by a child, so it is possible that this child also believed that paintings on the water towers.

    I discovered this week that the Sheldahl sign is gone. Sheldahl doesn’t have a town sign now! Weak! Also, Colo “upgraded” their sign to one of those lame brick signs. Their sign wasn’t all that great anyways.

  5. I can guarantee Charlie would be in for that breakfast. The problem would be getting him to ever leave – he can eat about 7 eggs in one sitting if you let him. (We don’t let him.) We regularly have to order Casey’s breakfast pizza in the evenings, since a friend tipped us off to that option in Ames about four or five years ago. Doing it on Friday night will leave you with great leftovers for Saturday. I am undecided on sausage vs bacon – I waver on what I want when, but sausage is definitely more versatile. I can understand reaching a natural cap with breakfast 1x a week. Jon will generally make us a good eggs-and-breakfast-meat breakfast once a weekend, and that’s about all I need.

    I don’t remember – does the Computer Mine have a PTO cap? Are you getting dangerously close? It was really weird to pivot to numbers of days per year and having to use them all or lose them when I moved to McF (I guess we could be called the Vaccine Mine?). I’m salary, which is pretty great most of the time, but just a totally different mindset – my boss pretty regularly tells me she doesn’t care if I have to leave an hour early, it’s fine, don’t worry about it. I can remember some people at the Computer Mine who I’m pretty sure would have denied the virus who also likely are pretty high up the list of comorbidities – you’ll have to let me know how all of that goes. Are they requiring people get the vaccine to come back in-office or anything?

    What happened to Sheldahl’s town pride? Maybe they have a spunky 8-year-old painting them a new one or something to go in its place? I don’t understand why Colo would do that -the old one already had some brick on it already, why not leave it as it was? The town has a population just over 800, do they really need to look THAT corporate?

  6. It is not contest. Sausage rules. Bacon drools.

    I do like a good bacon, but if my option is sausage or bacon. I’m putting sausage in that gravy and then all over them biscuits.

    The Computer Mine PTO is capped at two years worth of accumulation. So for me that is like 352 hours. Or will be in January when I get a bump. Right now, I’m sitting on about 270 hours. I would need to not take any until the end of May to max out. Which isn’t happening.

    There has been no information on when we will go back to the office and under what circumstances. I have heard from at least one employee that they “don’t trust the vaccine” and it might be “worse than the disease”. But I’ve also had the vaccine conversation with exactly one co-worker.

    Are you on a list to get the vaccine early? Cause if you are, I’m super jealous.

    I notice that lots of towns that are on major highways think they need to have a corporate sign. The real gems seem to be found on county roads.

  7. I enjoy chicken gravy and biscuits a lot – not for breakfast, but that’s my preferred gravy/biscuits combo. Sausage is good – biscuits/gravy is a little heavy for breakfast for me. I’m a fairly light eater in the morning – a fried egg is just about right for me.

    Hopefully you get the vaccine by February or March, and you can take a nice sojourn around (just wait about ten to fourteen days after dose #2!). Almost seven weeks of vacation is a lot of time to enjoy (and use). Hopefully the next round of “Road Trip” photos will come due around the time you get to go! When Jon worked at the hospital, they had a cap – but when they reached it, they could sell back their PTO, which I always thought was nice if you’d prefer just to get some extra cash and didn’t really need/want the time away. He started a new job in June, so he had a ton of time to sell back.

    I don’t understand how people can be so belligerent and willfully ignorant on things. Just read an article or a medical journal, it’s really not that hard. If you don’t like to read, there are all kinds of immunologists and epidemiologists who have made great videos on YouTube for free. The entry fee is literally nothing to find out how the science works, explained in nice little words and metaphors. You don’t even need to understand what mRNA is. (Sorry, that was elitist and snide, but it’s so insultingly dumb.)

    I am fast-tracked! We should get ours here in the next few weeks, it sounds like. I purposely marked myself as low risk so I could let others who needed it more in line ahead of me, but my boss (for example) is going to get hers tomorrow. I do wish Jon still had hospital ties at all if it meant he’d get his sooner, too. Children haven’t been approved for Pfizer or Moderna yet, so we’re still in a holding pattern on them, unfortunately.

    God bless country roads for that. If you don’t have enough traffic to sustain a hospital or two restaurants in your town, maybe the town sign being made of brick and mortar doesn’t matter. Nobody’s going to say, “They don’t have anything at all to do in this town, but many their sign looks like it was expensive – I should stop there even though I can’t find a place even to pee.” I’d much rather stop at a small town with some personality.

  8. You suck. For being fast tracked. Why watch YouTube science videos, when you can watch YouTube videos on how the pandemic is a hoax?

    What is Jon’s new job?

    I don’t think I would want to sell back PTO, cause I like money as much as the next guy who isn’t a capitalist, but if I don’t have my time off, I’d probably go crazy.

    As far as breakfast goes. I do love a good biscuits and gravy, but as long as I have some sausage patties and some fried eggs. I’m a happy man. Also a big fan of omelets. And I do love pancakes and waffles, enough to make a big deal about waffles on social media #wafflelife, as long as I can dip a sausage patty into the yoke of a fried egg, I’m a happy guy. Damn, I miss eating breakfast at Whistle Stop so bad right now. Also, the breakfast burrito can be pretty dang solid. Rooster’s has a pretty tight breakfast burrito.

    I think one of the reasons that these brick stone signs are so popular is because you don’t have to maintain them. Maybe send somebody out there once a year to plant the flowers. But it is going to look the same 100 years from now than it does now.

    Next week, I will reveal the signs from Marshall County. There is two really good ones. One for the town of Haverhill, which only has a county road that goes by it. There is one other truly great sign too. It is on a highway, but not a major highway. A state highway. I also saw the worst “American” flag I’ve ever seen in the wild. I’ll have to send you a picture of that. Don’t know it will ever meet the high editorial standards of “An Artist’s Notebook”.

  9. You’re going to really think I suck now – I’m getting it tomorrow now (the first one). We just got updated. I’ll update you how it goes. It’s true, why bother listening to things that don’t support your dumb ideas?!

    Jon is a senior system engineer for a life insurance company in Des Moines – he manages their Office 360 stuff. Just got their mail on the cloud, and is next working on the rest of it. I believe they’re up with Teams? They threw more money at him, and he hasn’t even been in the office yet – he’s been virtual since starting in June. So it’s saved us on daycare, etc. It’s been pretty great, as the hospy was not the best environment. It was time, and he’s already fully vested in IPERS, so it is win-win.

    No, I agree. I don’t think I’d ever want to sell back, either. I need that time off. I just bump up my last amount this March, so I can’t wait to have five weeks each year (plus sick time). I bet you’re at your last level? Or is that at, like, 20 years?

    Man, fried eggs are the best. I totally dig your breakfast. Omelets are also fantastic – I love veggie ones with goat cheese, so my omelet jam is a little hard to find. I have to be in the mood for pancakes or waffles – I really like French toast, though. It’s more savory? Yeah, I love breakfast food – just more for dinner. I just need to be hungry enough for it. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at the Whistle Stop!

    That’s a good point, I didn’t consider the long-term nature and the maintenance. You have something there.

    I can’t wait! I’m really enjoying these a lot. I think it’s really interesting, and is a great commentary on the midwest. I went to go visit my grandpa in Bettendorf a few weeks ago when I was on furlough, and I saw a flag that made me gag – it was an American flag in the shape of Herky’s head (strike 2), with the Blue Lives Matter coloring (strike 3). I was driving or else I would have gotten a photo if it. I can’t wait to see yours!

  10. I think there is one more amount you can bump up to at 20 years. I’ll be at 15 years on January 16.

    I can’t even imagine what it would be like having sick time and vacation time? But at the same time, I don’t want people at the Computer Mine to have sick time, cause you know those people would abuse. My God, I’m a Republican not wanting people to have welfare. Cause you just know they are going to blow it on drugs.

    I don’t care. Standing by it. My fellow miners would blow their sick time on drugs. We do get 8 hours of VTO and Bereavement Days now. So that is nice.

    Whistle Stop does have a very solid, but perhaps not spectacular breakfast. We used to breakfast at Legal Limit every Saturday and they had a great breakfast burrito. Roosters (that replaced Legal Limit) still has great food, but the service is so bad, we started making Whistle Stop the regular place, before the pandemic.

    I’ve never had lunch at Whistle Stop, but it is on my post-pandemic list!

    Your flag is probably worse. But I’ll text you my flag worse.

    French Toast isn’t bad. Has a little bit of texture to it. But I’d put it a solid third behind waffles and pancakes. Maybe if French toast had little compartment to hold the syrup.

    I can’t explain the joy I get when I see a hotel I’m staying at has its own waffle maker for continental breakfast. Seriously. Pure joy!

    When we went to the Alamo Bowl, Jesse and I stayed at a hotel that had a free continental breakfast that included, not one, but 3 omelet chefs! Jackpot!

  11. That assumption about people abusing vacation + sick time is correct. We have two people in particular who use ALL of it each year – and it’s robust. Like, we have two months of sick time AND five weeks of vacation when fully vested. The reasoning for that was to allow people to not need maternity leave/short-term disability, or to be able to do chemo or radiation without hardship. But we 100% have people who claim FMLA for “headaches” or “family issues” or whatever, and it’s clearly BS, because you see them out around town. So you’re right, although the vast bulk use it correctly, but I hate ever admitting there might be ANY instances where the “misuse welfare” thing might be applicable. What is VTO? We do also get bereavement leave – I think three days for every passing?

    I think I’ve seen that sign for Roosters – good to know I should avoid it. My parents sometimes eat at whatever went in where Golden Corral used to be, and I’m also not eating there. I’ve heard that’s pretty terrible. There was a joint over in Nevada that was supposed to be this famous greasy spoon – Jon and I went there once, and it was not good.

    Wait – isn’t the whole middle of the French toast the compartment? The crusts get all raised and the middle dips down in to hold allll that syrup! I think the texture is why I like it – my breakfast power ranking for the three is probably (and it’s almost entirely based on texture – and the lack of ready availability also makes it more sought after to me):

    1. French toast
    2. Waffles
    3. Pancakes

    Do you bring waffle mix for these situations? I’ve never honestly used the waffle maker, so I don’t know how that works. Especially if they’re in the hotel room, if it’s one of those suites-style places or whatever. I usually just make some toast and am in heaven!

    OK, the omelet chefs are my jam, I will admit. If we go to an Embassy Suites, I’m at the omelet station. They usually have some crazy cheeses, which is great. And having multiple chefs is a total jackpot – my family used to do the buffets at the Gateway and they were always backed up for miles because they only had one omelet chef for hundreds of people. But the Gateway has a lot of hospitality issues these days.

  12. VTO is Volunteer Time Off. We get 8 hours a year, but I’m pretty sure I’m about the only one that has used it. If not, I bet the number is in single digits. The amount of bereavement time we get is on a sliding scale based on how close our DNA is to the deceased. 1 day for a relative. 3 days for immediate family.

    Which does remind me, don’t now how well you knew Ron or remember Ron, but his wife Abby passed away a few weeks ago.

    I have never got to use it, because when my Grandma passed away, I wasn’t able to attend her burial service because of Covid. Plus, I couldn’t have taken the day, because it was on a Saturday.

    Golden Corral became Avenue of the Saints, different name. The same awful.

    On my most recent sign harvesting trip I drove by a bar/restaurant called The Loaded Goat in Aspinwall. I was definitely intrigued. They sell something called Pocket Chubb Pizza. Which must be a west Iowa thing because I’ve only ever seen it advertised there and in only one other location.

    The one thing I’ll give French toast, is that absolutely anybody can make it. Takes zero skill.

    The waffle maker isn’t in your room. It is down with all the Continental Breakfast stuff. There will be a dispenser there with the batter already made. Every hotel I’ve ever stayed at in Texas always had a waffle maker that made waffles in the shape of Texas. Jesse and I wanted to start a business where we made waffle irons that made waffles in the shape of all 50 states.

    But as much as I love omelets, I should really be better at making them. My egg cooking skills, I would describe as “so-so”, if I’m being generous.

    Most of my omelet chef memories are tied to the Sunday Brunch at Olde Main, but they also have one at the Sunday Brunch at Jethro’s. If you haven’t had the Brunch at Jethro’s, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  13. That’s too bad that nobody takes them up on it. Even if it were just for the United Way Day of Giving (which is not hard to find information on), or something that you don’t have to do much research or investment to find. Oh, poor Ron – I feel so bad. I remember Abby – she was a really nice lady. Always talked to her at the holiday parties. I’m sorry that you missed your grandma’s funeral. That’s terrible.

    I’ve never made French toast, but the gist (as I understand it) is that you just put scrambled eggs on bread and cook it in a pan until it’s brown, right? I’ve never actually looked up how to make it, or asked anyone. I really don’t try much harder than toast. I hate cooking so much, and Jon is a fantastic cook who actually enjoys it. I can make some really light things, and just made lemon cream cheese cookies from scratch over Christmas (with Jon’s help), but that’s it.

    I can make good scrambled eggs. But I’ve tried to fry an egg and it always ends up terrible. Jon makes good omelets until it gets to the point of the flip/fold. That’s when it gets tough – I assume an omelet maker helps? But is probably cheating. Olde Main is where I first had goat cheese in an omelet, and it was life changing – I think I also had banana peppers (or pepperoncinis, depending on your level of fanciness) in there, and it’s my favorite. I do NOT care for Jethro’s Brunch – we’ve gone a couple of times, and the options are sorta really crappy, and mostly cold. And nobody comes to check on your drink or anything. It was not great.

    That is a fantastic idea on the waffle irons. I can see Texas really being the big seller, though – I don’t think any other state has an insane amount of state pride as Texas. Like, who’s going to buy a New Jersey waffle iron? I think even the people from there largely don’t like it.

  14. Abby was awesome. They hadn’t come to any Computer Mine parties in years, so I hadn’t seen her in awhile. The Computer Mine parties really seem to be on the ropes. Especially the summer party, which I think maybe 10-15 people show up for nowadays.

    Texas people are overly proud of their state for sure. But from my experience, it is just people that are easily convinced that not having a state income tax means that they pay lower taxes, when in fact it means that rich people pay lower taxes and poor people pay higher taxes. But a state that elects Ted Cruz, shouldn’t be proud of anything. Ernst and Grassley suck, but they don’t Ted Cruz suck.

    I’d recommend throwing a little vanilla in with your egg mix. Probably some milk too. For the French toast.

    The Ames Jethro’s is kinda garbage in general. I remember when Jethro’s was just in the Drake neighborhood. So GOOD! In general. But it seems like every time they add a new location, the new location is worse and worse. Plus, their owner is a complete scumbag. Had a friend work there and got fired for standing up to him when the owner was sexually harassing an employee. You could dismiss that as just a story, but he won his lawsuit against the Jethro’s owner, so that pretty much legitimizes it.

    If my conscience can deal with it, I still can crush a full side of their onion rings. Not quite as good as Dublin Bay’s onion rings, but second place. Worldwide.

    The Olde Main owner, also a scumbag. As you can see what he did with his employees “health insurance”. Exhibit 300 million on why tying people’s health insurance to their employer is an extremely stupid idea.

    That being said, in the early days, Olde Main has a solid brunch. It annoyed me that the drink wasn’t included in the price, but it also isn’t at Avenue of the Saints. I mean, I haven’t been there in a couple years now (my niece Elainie likes to go there when she is back from California for some reason, otherwise I forget it even exists) but the drink is included with the breakfast buffet, but not with the lunch buffet. Which is why we used to like to get there right before the turnover. Got the drink for free and got both lunch and breakfast buffet.

    Buffets, though. Even when I’m comfortable eating in restaurants again, it might take me a bit to be comfortable to eating at a buffet. Even though, I badly miss the Chinese buffet in Boone. Their walnut chicken! Magnifique!

    As for the omelet maker is really just a small pan. So I don’t think it is cheating. Now I’m hungry for omelets. The omelet addition that surprised me how much I liked was spinach. I don’t think I’ve had goat cheese. I’ll have to give that a try some day. But goat milk is so terrible, I have my doubts.

    I like my fried eggs over easy, but I definitely struggle with it. I should just spend a morning practicing some weekend.

  15. I remember we hadn’t gone to the past couple after Jon and the Mine parted ways. I think maybe we’d missed one or two before that, even – it was just a lot of work to go and socialize, sometimes. People in groups are exhausting – I also don’t go to ones at the Vaccine Mine. I was closer with more people at the Computer Mine, for sure – that’s likely part of it with my new job. (BTW – only COVID vax side effects have been a headache and a sore arm).

    Oh my gosh, I’ve heard the same thing about the Jethro’s owner. I guess he was a total jackass when restaurants closed for COVID, just fired people with no info? And I also heard that insurance BS. My dad works down by the one in Altoona, and I guess there’s quite the old boys’ sexism club there. The allegations/lawsuit of sexual harassment do not surprise me at all.

    Oh my gosh, did you read that whole thing about the Olde Main guy? He’s awful, AWFUL. And the fact that he kept doing it over and over in different places. You would think that legislators would be able to look at this and realize why nationalized health care is so important. I didn’t like that the drink wasn’t included in the buffet, AND that they weren’t (if I remember correctly) always free refills.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had the Chinese buffet in Boone! Is New China still there and the same owners? Kristal and I used to live off their moo goo gai pan.

    Goat milk IS terrible – but goat cheese is delicious and slightly tangy. It’s like blue cheese but without smelling and tasting a bit like feet. When all of this is over, you should come over and Jon can serve us a goat cheese appetizer. And goat cheese pasta. Really just a goat cheese smorgasboard.

  16. I had lots of friends work at Olde Main over the years, so I already knew he was kinda trash, but didn’t know he was THAT bad, until that story broke. Republicans run our state. They probably gave the guy a tax break for doing what he did. I think the refill thing was based on what you got to drink. There were not free refills on their Red Monkey root beer, I recall.

    Chinese Buffet in Boone is still open. I’m not 100% sure on the ownership. I know somebody from the restaurant died a few years ago, but I’m not sure if it was the owner or the chef or the husband of the owner team. My nephew’s fiance used to work there, I’m sure she would know.

    I really like the Chinese Buffet in Boone. It is like all buffets, where you have to go the right time of day. They don’t have a ton of stuff. There is like 8 dishes to choose from. Then another island of like eggrolls and crab rangoons and what not. Plus this is where the walnut chicken is. Then there is a limited salad bar. Plus they have hard pack ice cream.

    This is more than enough. You don’t need a ton of options on a buffet, as long as the ones you have are good and kept fresh. Drink is included with the buffet.

    There is a Chinese buffet down in Des Moines, near the old Toys’r’Us that has like 12 islands of food. It is incredible, but it is a bit much.

    Mongolian Buffet in Ames is disgusting. I loathe it so much. I’m always saddened when I end up there with a group of friends or family. I guess after this, I’ll be glad to see it, once. Then saddened again.

    I sometimes wonder if I switched jobs if I would make new friends or if that is a young man’s game.

    Glad to hear you didn’t have much of a side effect. Do you have them with the flu vaccine. I’m going to tell people online that it turned me autistic when I get it. You know, just for fun.

    Will there people there to feed us by hand this goat cheese? Will there be somebody there to fan us with giant palm leaves?

  17. I remember when a couple of the programmers (who are now managers) used to go hang out at Olde Main for hours at lunch time, but I don’t think I’ve ever many friends who worked there – did Tony’s wife Shannon maybe for a bit? Now I’m thinking she did. I had only met her a couple of times at the time. You’re right – he probably got some secret backroom monetary award in the state capitol.

    I’ll have to try out the Boone Chinese Buffet when all of this is over. I always hated the one by the Cinemark complex personally – they did too many things, none of them were great, and I’m not a “quantity over quality” person. Also, it felt vaguely grimy (much like HuHot in Ames). In short, an improvement in all of those areas would be ideal. I do dig walnut chicken. I miss House of Chen. I may order that for takeout today; I haven’t had Chef’s Special Chicken in months and months. My dad LOVES the one down by the now-defunct Toys R Us, but I’ve never been there. I think Jon and I went to a Thai place that was also in that little area, though, and it was fantastic? I was pregnant at the time and vomiting profusely, so I couldn’t stand hot stuff. I ordered my pad thai at a 1 out of 6. Jon got a 3, and it almost blew his doors off (and he likes hot food) – his jaw dropped when he saw a couple of guys at the table next to us order 6s and then put those little red peppers on it. I don’t like food that is hot for no other sake than being hot, without adding anything. My favorite spicy food in history was a place called Pok Pok in Portland that just closed due to COVID – I cannot speak for anyone, but I feel like these Vietnamese wings would have distinctly been your jam. They were spicy without being oppressive (I got the mild, Jon got hot) – . It is the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life, and that isn’t just a superlative. It was amazing. Anyway.

    I felt like I was too old to care about whether I went to lunch with new people, you know? I’ve made some friends, but not many, and I don’t care. It’s crazy to think how people-pleasing I was at age 20, as I largely don’t care now. I appreciate your consistency in being your own person.

    I get the sore arm with the flu vaccine, but the headache was new. I may also have a bit of a sinus infection, so that may have contributed – I have confirmed with two other people spontaneously that they also had headaches after, though, so I feel like it’s definitely possible it was from the shot. Man, it’s weird, I keep spelling my name backwards since getting it – isn’t that strange?

    I assume palm leaves will be on-hand – but we’ll probably have to get them off of a house plant somewhere, so I’m not sure how big they are. And I don’t love figs, so provide those yourself.

  18. Shannon did work at Olde Main. And what you are referring to is called PDEV Lunch which is quite a big longer than a Sales Lunch and a Sales Lunch is twice as long as a Support Lunch. You know, the only person still in Sales Department from when I started there is Kim. Everybody else is gone.

    I think King Buffet started out okay, but rapidly degraded in quality. However, I would eat there everyday and twice on Monday (cause I don’t want to pay the weekend premium) over Mongolian Buffet or whatever it is called.

    The thing about the Ames HuHot is that it is just setup so extremely stupid. It is like the layout was created by somebody that not only has never run a restaurant. They haven’t worked at a restaurant. I don’t even think they ever been to a restaurant. I have a similar criticism of the Ankeny Zombie Burger and for that reason, I’m not surprised it didn’t last very long.

    The walnut chicken is not as good as the House Chicken at House of Chen. In fact, it isn’t even the best thing there. It is just the most unique. Is is very sweet.

    I’d definitely give that a shot if I ever make it to Portland, but I don’t know that will ever happen.

    By far the best chicken wings I’ve ever had is at a little place in the Twin Cities call the D-Spot.

    There is over 60 different sauce options. The peanut butter and jelly doesn’t sound like it should work, but it is amazing! Used to be that every time I went up there, we ate there, but now it has been several years, because it is quite a ways from Burnsville. But I definitely want to hit that place again. So good!

    You don’t love figs? How about fig newtons?

    Since I work the 7-4, I have the 11 AM lunch, so about the only people I ever get to have lunch with is Vest or Kim. Sometimes Michelle. It kinda sucks. But getting off at 4 is pretty sweet. I’d consider myself friends with everybody in my department (on some level) and a few other people, but don’t hang out with co-workers like I used to. But maybe once we are back in the office, that will be rekindled. Other than a yearly Taco Tailgate and a yearly trip to Zeno’s, I probably only hang out with a co-worker outside of work very rarely.

  19. I remember that PDEV members used to just be gone for the rest of the day as their “lunch” several times a week. I would have thought that would have been reined in – I’m surprised it hasn’t. But, I also sort of think that precedent was set a long time ago, so it’s just what it is now.

    Yeah, the line up through the middle in both places is (was, for Zombie Burger) stupid. Need to go to the bathroom? Cut through line. Get a napkin? Cut through line. Go back up to the food? Cut through line. It’s like the entire layout is designed to piss off all of the people in line.

    Mongolian Buffet is horrifying. I don’t honestly remember the last time we went there. I believe Steve was with us, so it’s a little like having a sales team member! Man, that’s a sobering thought to realize they’re all gone now. Even several replacements are gone. That’s bananas.

    Those wings look amazing! Jon’s brother lives up in the Twin Cities, so we could for sure make that a stop! He just bought a really, really big farm (but without farmland? I don’t remember what you call it – several acres of forest and land), and so we want to go see it whenever we can.

    Not big on fig newtons, but like strawberry ones better? But I honestly don’t know the last time I bought either – high school?

    I’d say I’m “friendly” with most of my coworkers, and real friends with just one and my boss. We’ll go to ISU games with my boss every so often, and my teammate and I get each other Christmas gifts, etc. Do you find that you incorporate as many new friends as you get older? I sort of am in the place where, if it happens, awesome! If not, I’m not going to push it. I don’t need to be besties with every parent of A and C’s friends, I’ve got enough friendships that I am sort of terrible at maintaining already. I’m curious if the same is true for guys.

  20. My nephews like Mongolian Buffet, so I probably get drug there about twice a year. I just tend to load up on the sushi when I go there.

    I guess I don’t really know the last time I had a fig newton, but I have gotten really into eating dates lately. Something Steve Volcko (don’t know if he is after your time) got me into with his Overnight Oats. Which I need to get back into making. Dates are damn tasty. I think figs and dates are closely related, but I can’t back that up, even with the laziest Google search that I’m not going to make. So just take my word for it.

    I think what you are describing with Jon’s brother is a Masonic Compound.

    I would say that I “lose” more friends than I gain at this point though. Maybe add 1 friend a year. Maybe 2 just kind of fall out of my life. Although, I do find that a lot of old friends tend to come back into my life that I’m not necessarily expecting

    Although I do worry that the pandemic has made me completely anti-social. I’m bad a responding to text messages. I answer my phone about 50% of the time. When I got a new phone, I didn’t even put Facebook back on it. I never check Snapchat any more. I don’t post on Twitter that much. Not that Twitter has ever been particularly social for me. I am trying to post on Instagram once a day though. That is my social outlet. And I guess this blog and its 5 subscribers.

  21. I think maybe Steve started right toward the end of my tenure? I’ve heard that overnight oats are fantastic. I don’t even eat enough regular oatmeal anymore, I need to. I think dates and figs are related, too? That also sounds right to me. (But I just googled – apparently not, they just dry similarly? ) I think figs are grittier texture and that is why I don’t love them?

    I will have to ask Jon’s brother to see the secret basement if/when we make it up!

    I think that’s probably fair with me – I sort of just let the ones that don’t really matter do whatever comes naturally, if that makes sense. Some of my most important friendships (Kristal, Shannon) are more distant just due to geography and time – but I am also terrible about texting. I’m good at responding, but terrible at initiating. Same with various messenger services. I don’t Facebook much (although I do post stuff for family), I didn’t reinstall Snapchat. Only check Twitter every few days, and usually just for news. I like Instagram a lot, but am not great about updating it or checking it. I like this blog!

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