What Kind of Pies?

In the event, it turns out they axed The Ballad for the Sweeney Todd movie, so the six words I mentioned earlier are not really bubbling around inside my head. Instead, I almost get some of the pie song (A Little Priest) in my head, but somehow these lines don't have the same pull:

Eminently practical
And yet appropriate as always!

I was surprised to find that both Depp and Bonham Carter are older than I am.

Oddly, this is the second movie this month where my favorite scene is at the beach. Perhaps I need a bit of a break down by the sea. Wouldn't that be smashing?

About Atonement

Walked down to see Atonement at the local on Friday. I think the movie was excellent, in spite of the few times that I expected the characters to burst into song. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy musicals as much as the next guy...

Probably more than the next guy, actually. I mean, more than the next guy will admit. I suppose it also depends on who that next guy is. I've been looking forward to Sweeney Todd for months. The Brunette is not so excited, and I think that's only partly because of the gore. I imagine she's a little worried about my tendency to burst into song at all hours of the day. And even that wouldn't be so bad, I think, if I could remember more than six words to any given song. I've been walking around bleating "The demon barber of Fleet.......Street!" over and over and over. It's gotta be worse than the Christmas music.

At any rate, Atonement was a fascinating look into the way writing fiction warps your head. And the scenes on the beach for the English retreat from France were surreal. And a little musical, I guess. There was something for everyone: Edwardian romance (technically Georgian, I guess, but it felt Edwardian), hospital drama, and gritty WWI strife. And that incessant typewriter clacking, clacking, clacking incessantly.

Or maybe I was the only one who heard the typewriter?

Negotiations

I've been formulating business rules for activities that involve walking. These business rules can be very useful in understanding how to react to a given situation. For example, imagine two people meet in a doorway. There's always this awkward moment: who's going to force through? Who's going to relinquish the space? In general, I think I'd push for a rule that says if two people meet in a doorway, the person coming out of a room should have the right of way. I think it's a good rule, because generally a room will have fewer access points than not a room and so it seems to make sense that you can assume there's more, um, room outside the room. So, everybody let's go ahead and apply this rule!

Except, maybe for bathrooms?

I don't mean that bathrooms will have more space in them, but perhaps in the case of a restroom, the person entering should have the right-of-way because the need is more urgent?

(This is a picture of the downstairs bath in our Glasgow home back in the day.)

Plumbing the Depths

Live blogging from the bus! (I'm sitting on the C2 idling at Roosevelt Center.)

Well, w00t, as the youngsters say. Our contractor called to ask if he could bring his plumber by to look at what the job in our kitchen will entail. He's not actually going to do any work, but gosh it's nice to see something happen.

That Was A Great Pyramid

So, there's a new theory about how the Great Pyramid was constructed. As an engineer, I'm interested in the feat of creating this thing 4000 years ago, but I think these folks are just trying too hard. Everybody knows that the pyramids weren't built using cranes or ramps. Egypt didn't have enough wood to waste on that! I have a better theory:

The pyramids were carved right where they stand.

Think about it: the stones are too large to move easily. The easiest thing would be to just carve them. Perhaps there used to be large mountains where now we see only desert. And the desert sand? The resultant leavings, of course.

(Actually, of course, this is not really a theory. It's an hypothesis.)

Fantasy v. Science Fiction

They're at it again, arguing discussing the definition of the fantasy and science fiction genres. I think the key thing that delineates science fiction and fantasy writers from all other writers is the continuing over-examination of labels. Perhaps this is why I like speculative fiction so much: it's all about questioning everything, after all. Do mystery writers argue about the line between noir and hard-boiled detective novels? Oh, actually, I think they do.

Anywho, here is my take: Imagine you truly believed the contents of the story's universe. If this takes you into the realm of religion, then the story was fantasy.

Also: Re: I Am Legend? Poor dog.

The Emperor's Children (Claire Messud)

"You're wondering," says the lanky man sprawled in the handicapped seat in front of me, "whether I'd make a good business contact."

"No, actually," I reply. "I am not."

"Sure," says the woman on the other side of the Metro car. "You deduce from his clean but relaxed appearance -- jeans at rush hour, but not surrounded by a gaggle of kids --"

"So I'm probably not a tourist," he puts in.

"It seems likely that he's in the IT field just like you," she concludes. "And since you are wondering about your future and the uncertainty of it all..."

"Well, no, I'm not really all that introspective," I say.

"Sure you are," she says. "You're reading that book." She points to The Emperor's Children, which I have just finished reading on the bus.

"Actually, I was running through a beanshell script in my head. I wasn't thinking about either of you."

"Sure you were," she says. "Or we wouldn't be here, right? As for me, I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I am not indeed interested in him." She flicks her eyes to the lanky geek. "I mean, there's nothing wrong with him or anything and I generally have a weakness for the nerdy type, but I'm at a point in my life where all that logic baggage will just wear me down."

"I could object," he interrupts, "and claim that I can be as illogical as the next guy, but I'm not really sure that's true, or that I even want it to be true."

"I don't know if being a geek is all that related to being logical all the time," I say.

"Still," she sighs, "I can see he is interested. Not because I'm anything special, mind you -- I've lived too many years inside this head to fool myself on that score -- but he's thinking about chemistry."

"There is definitely chemistry," he replies. "And I've never been one to worry about timing."

"Well, aren't you two the terribly observant ones?" I exclaim.

"Oh, you poor thing," she says. "I see now what the trouble is. The book has reinforced your belief that everyone else is better at reading those secret signals than you are. At the same time that you are amazed at how easy it is for these characters to analyze and understand themselves and others, you are in constant fear that you are somehow missing out."

"And maybe someone understands you better than you do yourself," he says.

"It is not true," I proclaim. "Although I loved this book, I was always aware that these overexamined lives were not realistic. Nobody can get inside the head of another so easily, and I can prove it."

"Oh?" they cry in unison as the train drifts to Fort Totten station. "How?"

"If you could read me so well," I claim as I stand and then exit the car, "you'd have known I didn't want to be bothered by you people!"

As the door closes behind me, I hear the woman say confidently, "He's just covering up his fear."

I stand for a moment on the platform and catch my breath. Then I look up and notice that about a hundred of my fellow commuters are sharing the platform with me. Each and every one of them is staring at me. Judging me. And I am crushed by the awareness that I do know what it is they are thinking about me!

Family Snarkus

Did anybody else read this Sunday's Family Circus and find it disturbing racially?

I'm finding it difficult to deal with because I have the tendency to sing White Christmas for other holidays, too, but the vision of that little brat singing it ("White Presidents Day?" Come on!) made me squeamish. At least he didn't sing "White MLK Day."

Even worse, I just admitted to my hordes of readers that I read Family Circus on the weekends. Oh, the shame!

Valthera

Well, looks like my daemon is still a rabbit. I liked the snow leopard better, though perhaps this description does fit me:

  • Modest
  • Solitary
  • Softly Spoken
  • Humble
  • Fickle

Yup, that's me modest and humble all over. Why, I must be the most modest and humble person I know.

But fickle? Please.

Recommendation

So, I'm enjoying this comic called xkcd. You might enjoy it, too. Here are two I pulled out of his archives:

I want to live in a lighthouse, too.

Speaker for the Dead! Speaker for the Dead!

Quotable

Not sure what I want to say about this quote except that I really like it and I'm sure it has a lot of applications. It's too long to just whip out in regular conversations, though:

I perplex my students repeatedly because they have all been indoctrinated into believing that sentences cannot begin with such words as "and" or "but", that paragraphs cannot have more than five sentences in them, that sentences with more than a certain number of words in them are run-ons, etc. I tell them this is not true. I tell them what matters is purpose and audience. I tell them there is no such thing as "right" or "wrong" style and usage, just style and usage that work and are appropriate to particular audiences and purposes. They ask me why their other teachers told them differently. I want to say, "Because they were lying. All of us lie to children. You will, too, someday." Instead, I say, "They were trying to teach you some basic principles. They were good at heart. Don't be bitter. There are plenty of other things to be bitter about."
(From The Mumpsimus, emphasis added.)

Certified

Well, it's been two months since the last report (eleven since project inception), and very little has changed. I slapped a second layer of plaster to smooth out a bit, but I've been hesitant to get to too finished a look since the movement of the washer/dryer and installation of a 220V outlet for the range will have an impact on the wall.

However, today we received good news. The contractor submitted his paperwork and we received the OK from the co-op to proceed. We are back to momentum!

Now, we just have to get on the contractor's schedule. I suspect this will be difficult, but I hope we can have some room in the kitchen in time for our Poe's Supper celebration.

I Like Yam Pie, Myself

 
Watch for Vultures on Bridge

This is a sign on US-98 outside Okeechobee, Florida. The picture was taken while facing east.

Cross the bridge and turn to face west. The sign you'll see says:

Watch for Buzzards on Bridge

Best I can figure is that it's like sweet potatoes: they're buzzards on the North side of the road and vultures on the South.

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Maybe I'm in the 45%

I've been looking forward to the release of Subversion 1.5 for some time now because it feels like the ability to track merges is the final major roadblock keeping Subversion from being an enterprise-ready alternative to ClearCase. That darn red arrow has represented my last bit of loyalty to the ClearCase solution.

I'm a big pusher in my company of focusing our tool selection recommendations on the actual needs of clients. At times, ClearCase is the right version control solution. In other situations, ClearCase just isn't practical. I like Subversion's ability to mimic UCM's component-based structure in repositories without having to take on UCM's process control and anti-agile methodology. So, I've been a big fan of the Subversion thing and have thought of myself on the leading edge of version control.

Then I read this interesting blog entry by Ben Collins-Sussman and I see how wrong I was. He has some valuable things to say about the 20% of the industry that are uber-geeks fascinated by the most recent shiny thing and the 80% who are just trying to work through their hours. And you know what the 20% are interested in in VC terms these days? It's not Subversion, it's "distributed version control systems." Dang. Guess I'm not in the 20%.

On the other hand, the 80% is still stuck in the old lock and load world of PVCS and ClearCase. So, I'm not over there either.

Actually, Mr. Collins-Sussman is making an excellent point here and it applies to everything I do, not just the version control stuff. We are currently running around playing with the shiny agile playthings (I'm now a certified ScrumMaster!) and yet most of our customers haven't completely bought into the iterative notions of RUP! We're all excited about transparency and progress, but Second Life gets slammed because it adds too many new features.

We can disparage them all we like, but not everybody is all excited about the new shiny stuff.

Life is a Bowl

This is my bowl. I eat cereal in it. It is a wonderful bowl with many uses, but I eat cereal in it. I have eaten cereal in it on two separate mornings, and the bowl performed its role of cereal container very well. It is an admirable bowl and I am proud to own it. I was thinking of naming it, perhaps "Bowlie" or "Clay." What do you think?

Christmas List 2007

I like to say I'm always happy just to spend time with family and friends during the holidays and that presents aren't all that important, but then everyone tells me to cut the smug act and just say what I want.

In reality, the things I would like to have but can't get for myself are not really things that I can ask for from other people. On the one hand there are things out of everybody's control, like a book contract or getting the contractor to actually work on our kitchen. Other things are hard to list because they're best as surprises, like a random back rub or this cool shirt. . (See, if you got me that shirt, it wouldn't be as cool as if I hadn't mentioned it.)

But that doesn't help the family, does it? My nephew gave me a great idea. Over Thanksgiving, he pulled out the junk mail and started pointing to stuff on the pages that he wanted. I remember being a kid and cutting up the JC Penny or Toys R Us catalogs and pasting pictures together. With the magic of HTML, I can do the same thing again! This will be fun.

So here I present:

My Internet Picture Christmas List:

And, of course, I'm happy just to see all my friends and family safe and well during the holidays.

Agile Project Management with Scrum (Ken Schwaber)

I swung by the Republican Retirement Ranch the other evening at the request of my imaginary Great Aunt Iva, who was a little worried about my equally imaginary Great Uncle Leadbelly. My Great Uncle, it seems, had joined a book club in his senior living community. She told me she was worried about his heart. "At his age!" she said. It's never been clear what age Leadbelly has.

Great Uncle Leadbelly is a bit hot-headed.

He wasn't in his condo when I arrived, but I tracked him down in one of the meeting rooms they locate in central places where the various wings of residences intersect. The cafeterias have the same kind of placement. You're never more than a hundred yards from chocolate cake in this place. The room had been cleared of chairs, and cushions were arranged in a semi-circle on the carpeted floor.

This did not seem like Great Uncle Leadbelly at all.

Great Uncle Leadbelly was alone in the room, already sitting on a pillow closest to the front of the semi-circle. I pulled a chair out of the closet and set it up near the door. No way was I getting trapped in this place.

"Great Uncle," I said. "Are you going to be able to get off that floor?"

"Harrumph," he grumped. "I'll have you know I was on plenty of floors during the war. I got up off of every one of them."

"OK, OK," I said. "So, what's your group reading?"

"This," he said, and held up a copy of Agile Project Management with Scrum. I nodded. This explained Aunt Iva's fears completely.

"Great Uncle," I said respectfully, "isn't that a rather, um, postmodern book for your taste?" The agile practices, if you ask me, represent a completely postmodern approach to software development; postmodern in the sense of history and culture. In encouraging people and conversation over process, agile mimics the postmodern youth's dismissal of received wisdom and rules in favor of local community and story. Heck, requirements are called "stories."

"No, no," Great Uncle said calmly, "it's not all that bad, you know. It has some nice features."

I sat back in my chair and tilted my head. Great Uncle Leadbelly is as modern as they come. Heck, he still believes in Manifest Destiny.

"Perhaps you don't want to stick around to meet the Scrum Master, then?" Great Uncle said oddly.

"Does he make you walk on rice paper?" I asked.

"Oh, excuse me," said a young woman as she entered the room. "Am I interrupting?"

"Oh, no, Heidi," Leadbelly said smoothly. "I just got the room ready for the session." Heidi walked over to the front of the circle and sat upon the head pillow. Her plaid skirt was long enough to allow her to sit cross-legged, though her elf boots were visible just under the hem. She pushed back her hair band, and her long, dark hair brushed back and forth on her turtleneck sweater as she removed her jacket. She picked up her copy of the book, placed it in her lap and folded her hands. She smiled beatifically. She closed her rather blue eyes.

I remembered to close my mouth. My interpretation of Great Aunt Iva's worries about Leadbelly's heart had just paradigm-shifted.

"Are you going to discuss the book with us?" she asked without opening her eyes.

"I, uh, no, thanks, I'm just visiting my Great Uncle." I tried to stress the great.

"He's an adherent to the RUP," Great Uncle helpfully. "He's just a chicken."

I tried to keep my sputtering to myself. Imagine the cheek of the man: a chicken! Sheesh. He's practically a poster child for waterfall! He was probably there at the invention of the first milestone meeting. I knew that was an irrational train of thought: Great Uncle Leadbelly didn't understand the first thing about software development.

"I'm concerned about architectural risk," I admitted. "And evolutionary dead ends."

I expected her to defend the process, but she just nodded. "'Tsall good," she murmered. "Yeah."

"It's all about ROI," Great Uncle said. He paused for a bit trying to remember the mantra: "It doesn't matter how elegant the solution if it doesn't produce value."

Heidi nodded and he grinned the biggest grin I've ever seen him grin. I waited for his face to crack, but it didn't. I shook my head and tried to think.

"Great Uncle," I whispered. "She's younger than I am."

"And she hears fine," Heidi said. "Perhaps you should remember that chickens aren't allowed to talk during the meeting."

I stood up. I had to protect my Great Uncle from himself.

"Look, Great Uncle Leadbelly, are you aware of how this thing works? You know that the teams are self-organizing, right?"

"Sure, kid. I know."

"And that doesn't sound like Communism to you?" It was my last hope. Great Uncle Leadbelly is always ready to fight the Commies. "No hiearchy, no order, chaos!"

Suddenly, the Scrum Master was standing beside me. "My primary responsibility," she hissed, "is to protect the team." She moved one foot slightly, flexed her left hand, and I found myself flying through the air, tumbling to the door. "You can put your concerns on the backlog," she shouted. "Please don't interrupt this sprint again."

So, I left Great Uncle Leadbelly to his book group and walked home to review my iteration plans and elaborate my use cases.

German Joke

Ok, I made up this little joke for Squuby, who is complaining that we are not entertaining enough:

There was this little family of German numbers living in a little village. The 2 was the Mom, who was having some difficulty with her son, 3, because he had a tendency to tell little white lies. Unfortunately, she was having major trouble catching him at it. One day, she got her chance. Little 3 came home late from school and when his mother asked him where he had been, 3 told her that he had been swimming with his friends. This was 2's chance!

"You are lying," she said.

"How do you know?" 3 answered.

"I know you haven't been swimming because you are drei!"

Well, I crack myself up, anyway.

Labels

The Sixties ended in 1972.

I got up at 2 am to write that down. I've got this idea for work about postmodernism and agile development practices, and I thought this would be a cool way to start the article. I woke up thinking that the 60s ended in 1972 because that was the year that the Beatles broke up. My theory was that the "Era of the 60s" ended then -- the hippy thing, the drug thing, all that was over.

Unfortunately, I have since learned that the Beatles broke up in 1970. :( It's not quite as provocative to say "The 60s ended in 1970" is it?

I'm going to stick with 1972, though, because these things happened in 1972:

  • The Watergate break-in
  • The last moon landing (and the space shuttle was authorized)
  • Last US ground troups left Vietnam
  • Pong was released

Definitely, the era was done. I think you could also argue that the 60s ended in 1968 with the assassinations, but that didn't quite fit into my argument about birth dates!

Mother and Child

I don't want this to turn into a photo-blog, but the colors in Greenbelt were brilliant this weekend.

Book World Notes

OK, I'm as egotistical as the next guy. I'm not opposed to being told how wonderful I am (and that's a hint for all you commenters out there!), but something about this weekend's Washington Post Book World made me shiver a bit. This is author Carolyn Hart's description of her love for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys:

Nancy's snazzy roadster, her amazing independence and handsome sidekick Ned were also a plus. As for serious Frank and fun-loving Joe Hardy, who wouldn't want to spend time with them? I always think of Max Darling, my [daughter's] handsome blond husband, as Joe Hardy all grown up and sexy as hell.

Yeah. So, let me just clarify my first statement: Anybody is welcome to tell me how sexy I am, except my Mother-in-Law. Just sayin'.

And since I'm on the topic of Book World, I'm disturbed by Michael Dirda's lack of self-confidence. In his review of a collection of notes and fragments from Malcolm Lowry, Mr. Dirda several times mentions his feeling that it's his own fault that he couldn't be excited about Lowry's writing (Lowry wrote Under the Volcano):

As a reviewer, I have to admit that Malcolm Lowry appears destined to remain one of my blind spots. Yet I confess this with unfeigned sorrow. Under the Volcano is unarguably a modern classic, and anyone seriously interested in 20th-century fiction needs to read it. Someday, perhaps, I will try the novel again and -- who knows? -- the scales may finally drop from my eyes. That's the way of reading, after all: The great books measure us, not we them. For now, though -- to cite another Biblical phrase -- I have again been tried in the balance and found wanting.

Why, oh, why, do you feel that you are at fault for this? If a book does not speak to you, it is not your fault. There is no harm or foul in finding a selection of writing tedious or even just boring, no matter what any other reader might say about the same piece. I don't mean to say that it is the author's fault, either, necessarily. What is the source of this moral baggage that you are investing in the response to a respected novel?

This disturbs me because I see it as either revealing your own lack of self-esteem (which is sad because you have shown yourself as an observant and useful reviewer) or some sort of allegiance to the concept of a universal canon of writing that can infect and affect every reader equally (which is morally repugnant).

So stop it. Just stop it.

Nicer Pictures

Just so you don't think I'm all sarcasm, here are a couple of nicer pictures from the Grants neighborhood.

To the left is a giant dream catcher, made from rope and metal. It swings with the wind. It didn't do much to save the craft business outside of which it's installed.

And below is my favorite picture of me. I've already got a few brambles on my coat. It's about to get worse as I grab a bunch of cactus needles climbing under a fence to get a closer picture of that well-house (or maybe it's a windmill?) Three days later, I'm still catching needles moving from my coat to my thigh. Ouch!

Fiesta Forever


The motel we stayed in for our visit to Grants was the Days Inn. It advertised free wireless internet, but it had no internet, free or otherwise. "The internet's down." I always want to respond, "The whole thing?" But I know it's just shorthand for "I don't know what's wrong with it and I don't have anyone to call."

The picture is of a sign at the motel across the street from the one we tried. Although it seems a little scary with its karaoke, I was intrigued by the support of odd rituals like pet smoking.

And I know a few people who would appreciate the 24 hour cameras, though it doesn't mention whether they're outside or in the rooms.

Welcome to, um, Grants, NM?

Hell in Grants I have no further comment.

Unsolicited Advice

Atlanta's wireless just kicked me off with this message:

Anomalous Behavior Detected -- Request Blocked
Your computer was automatically blacklisted (blocked) by the network due to an abnormal amount of activity originating from your connection

I think it happened because I opened my Firefox with its ten tabs for the blogs I read loading all at once. Buh. So much for live-blogging the trip to New Mexico!

On the bus from Greenbelt Metro Station to BWI, there was a sign for an AMA campaign to work on getting those (one out of seven American) uninsured people insured. I thought one sign was good, but could have been better:

1 in 7 means he puts food on the table instead of going to the doctor because of chest pains.

It's a good try, but really ought to do a little more to work on the fear factor. Maybe:

1 in 7 means he puts food on the table instead of going to the doctor because of BIRD FLU!!!!!!!

The exclamation points are key. Another suggestion:

1 in 7 means he puts food on the table instead of going to the doctor because of BUBONIC PLAGUE!!!!!!!

Or, even better:

1 in 7 means he puts food on the table instead of going to the doctor because of DANGEROUS CHINESE TOYS!!!!!!!

Traveling Taleswapper

So, the Brunette and I are off to visit Mamacita to help her celebrate her birthday this week. I hope the fuel frenzy doesn't ground our flights.

This picture is of a set of lovely cactus plants that seem to be sprouting purple tubes. These cacti are here for your enjoyment so you can think of us winging off to New Mexico. However, these lovely cacti are are actually living right here in Greenbelt, MD.

They probably couldn't survive the temperatures where we're going: Lows in the teens!

Ha Jin Wins!

So, logistics chose Ha Jin: the Olsson's is easier to get to, there are more dinner choices around, and my memory of Anne Lamott at Politics & Prose was that they didn't handle crowds so well. Plus, I've heard Oliver Sacks speak before.

Ha Jin is a Chinese-born fiction writer. He writes in English. Generally, his characters are Chinese and in China. He said something interesting about this particular book: It's his first to feature characters in America speaking to native English speakers, so it was more difficult for him. When he wrote the other books, he "heard" the characters speak in Chinese and translated the words to English for the book. It was much easier to hear them this way than to hear the people speaking English.

Overall, though, Ha Jin spent a lot more time talking about Nabokov and other writers than about himself.

The crowd for Ha Jin was distinctly different in age and gender from Nick Hornby's. Nick's was a younger and more female group.

Choices

Dang, we don't get any interesting authors here for months and months and months (aside from Nick Hornby just the other day) and both Ha Jin and Oliver Sacks decide to show up on the same day at the same time.

So, is it Ha Jin at Olsson's Lansburgh or Oliver Sacks at Politics and Prose?

Decisions, Decisions.

Mortal Jack-o'-Lanterns

What's the scariest/creepiest song on my iPod? Mortal City, by Dar Williams.

It's picture day!

Never ones to be normal, the Brunette and I went down to the Co-op and bought ourselves squash to carve instead of pumpkins. This is my butternut squash:

Butternut squash is pretty much solid except for the bulbous bit at the bottom.

All-in-all, though, I like the effect. Here's my butternut squash with the Brunette's buttercup squash.

Agricultural Hall of Fame

I stopped by the Agricultural Hall of Fame on the way to the airport yesterday. It sits just north of Interstate 70 close to the Kansas side of Kansas City. I only had an hour to spend, but I wasn't expecting much. Boy, was I wrong. There's was lots of cool stuff, like this modern telephone:

You might not be able to read the label. It says,

Call Director

This is today's most advanced telephone for business use, designed for maximum flexibility and convenience.

There was also this really scary metal clown head. There were several, in fact. This is one of a large collection of metal mechanical banks.

In addition to the clowns, there were hunters shooting bears, sailors throwing Jonah into a whale, and rockets and stuff. In addition to the mechanical banks, there was a grand collection of old toy tractors, along with a few full sized ones and old wagons and art and stuff. One small closet was devoted to displaying 200 different types of barbed wire.

So, the Hall of Fame wasn't just a lot of plaques like this one:

Most of the inductees seem to be lawmakers, industrialists, and scientists with the USDA. Roswell Garst was the only one who looks like a stereotypical farmer. Interestingly, his claim to fame was working on US-USSR relations during the '50s. He taught Soviet farmers how to grow corn, and Khrushchev visited his farm in Iowa in 1959.

I was greeted when I entered by a very cheerful docent who gave me a map of the place and let me know I could use a golf cart to drive around. In addition to the Hall of Fame, there is a separate museum, farm town, memorial, and train. It's a large complex, and I didn't have any time to visit any of the exciting features outside the Hall of Fame.

I did, though, make sure to take a picture of the giant chicken.