University of Iowa Surpasses Harvard, Princeton as No. 2 for Writing

The University of Iowa, according to U.S. News & World Report is No. 2 for writing in the latest rankings. It’s the only public university in the top 10, behind No. 1 Brown University. It’s out in front of Harvard, Cornell, Duke, and Princeton.

Sena’s Epic Bigfoot Expedition!

We know you’ve been waiting for Sena’s next Bigfoot safari and it turns out aliens from the third galaxy on the left have been dropping them into Sand Lake at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area.

The aliens shoot through a gravel road type of portal and beam their Bigfoot pets who’ve outgrown their homes into Sand Lake. They eat like growing teenagers and the interdimensional highway is a convenient way to get rid of them. It’s a good thing they can dog-paddle to shore.

The uptick in Bigfoot sightings probably has a lot to do with the incoming hordes of invasive insects, including the most recent pest, the Spotted Lanternfly. It’s not hard to figure out why. Bigfoot creatures eat the bugs by the handful.

What’s not so clear is where the Spotted Lanternfly actually comes from. Oh, I know the official report is that they’re from China, but that dodges the conspiracy theory by many people (I don’t know them personally) that the Iowa State University (ISU) Extension agents are cultivating them on the sly. Their website downplays the whole affair and says you can send them specimens preserved in hand sanitizer if you’re interested, but nope, there’s no infestation.

Sure; tell that to Thompson Aero, Inc, which has been dusting crops and park woods areas around the city lately, using what they want people to think is Neem Oil Spray. You can buy a product called Neem Oil spray at Walmart. They sell it claiming it kills the Spotted Lanternfly.

In fact, our sources reveal that the opposite is true. Neem Oil actually nourishes the bug and increases their reproductive capacity. The ISU Extension office is in on it because the real goal is to increase the population of Bigfoot creatures (who like Spotted Lanternfly more than beef jerky) in Iowa because the states in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Wisconsin are snatching up all the tourism trade. You didn’t know it was all about money?

This whole business is run by the ISU Extension, which is why it’s called Area 41. Don’t buy into the hogwash about the name pointing to this being an ongoing April Fool’s Day joke.

There’s such a thing as the Freedom of Information Act and those in the know (who I don’t know at all) found out about this scheme. They planned a Storm Area 41 similar to the Storm Area 51 Raid in Nevada in 2019. That was said to have started out as a joke—and then really crapped out.

Anyway, Sena is keeping an eye out for Bigfoot. I can’t promise that she won’t launch another expedition in the future. Even the men in black with their big-ass neualyzers can’t stop us.

ZAP!

You know, I don’t think there’s any such thing as Area 41 or Bigfoot either. Hey, I just saw a tall guy and a pug both wearing black suits walk by my window. The pug was singing “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

That’s weird. It’s way too hot outside to be wearing black suits.

Thoughts on the GuideLink Center Incident

The attack a few days ago by what was most likely a mentally ill person on staff at the recently opened GuideLink Center in Iowa City reminded me of what may appear to be disparate views by mental health professionals on the link between mental illness and mass violence perpetrators.

The GuideLink incident involved a person who assaulted GuideLink staff and who also left bags containing incendiary devices at the center and another building in Iowa City. The person is being charged with terrorism and is currently in custody in the Johnson County Jail.

I have not seen information about any injuries sustained by the mental health center staff. There were no explosions or fires at either location where incendiary devices were left. Bomb squad experts removed the devices. It’s not clear whether the perpetrator had been a GuideLink Center client.

The GuideLink Center opened in February 2021 and by all reports is a welcome and very much needed crisis stabilization mental health resource in the community. The staff members are dedicated to their calling.

Dr. H. Steven Moffic, MD, a retired psychiatrist who writes for Psychiatric Times, readily says that the perpetrators sometimes do have mental illness that at least contributes to committing acts of mass violence. Dr. George Dawson, MD, another retired psychiatrist, seems to say that the major reason for mass shootings is the ready availability of guns, a culture of gun extremism, and mental illness accounts for a small proportion of acts of mass violence.

But neither Dr. Moffic nor Dr. Dawson say that it’s only either mental illness or guns (or other instrument of mass violence) that lead to acts of mass violence. Both are important.

I’m a third retired psychiatrist and by now some readers might be asking themselves whether they should listen to any retired psychiatrist. Experience counts.

Speaking for myself, as a general hospital psychiatric consultant I was frequently faced with violent patients in the general hospital. Often, I found it necessary to ask a judge for a court order to involuntarily hospitalize a violent and/or suicidal patient on a locked psychiatric unit by transfer from an open medical or postsurgical unit.

In order to obtain an order in the state of Iowa, I had to be able to state to the judge that the patient in question had a treatable mental disorder and was an acute threat to himself and/others. In most situations, I had an open bed on a locked psychiatric unit available ahead of time.

Even if a Code Green was necessary, I usually had an inpatient resource to which I could move the patient. A Code Green is a show of force or takedown maneuver by a specially trained team to control a violent patient while minimizing injury to everyone involved.

I don’t know if that kind of approach is even possible in a community crisis stabilization setting like the GuideLink Center. I think it’s fortunate that it partners with many other community resources including the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The outcome of the incident at the GuideLink Center was that the overall safety of the staff, the patient, and the community was preserved. More resources like this are needed everywhere. They deserve all the support we can give them.

Update on James Alan McPherson Park Memorial Plaque

Sena suggested we send a message to Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague inquiring about the proposed memorial plaque to James Alan McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning author and longtime Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty member.

I can remember only one other time in my life that I wrote a letter to an elected official. I wrote President Barack Obama in 2013, basically complaining about the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program for physicians. I’m not sure what I expected him to do about it. Like many doctors, I was frustrated about the regulatory requirements from certification boards. I thought they were unnecessary and burdensome.

I received a reply which was completely off topic and probably not written by the President. The letter from “President Obama” didn’t answer or even come close to addressing the concerns about what I thought was regulatory harassment. In fact, I never kept the reply and forgot about it.

But the email to Mayor Bruce Teague was different. We just asked about the timeline on the memorial plaque for the James Alan McPherson Park, which was renamed last year. The celebration and ribbon cutting reveal of the new sign was in early August 2021. The memorial plaque was still in the planning stage. We’ve driven by the park several times in the last year looking for it.

Mayor Teague’s reply came the day after we sent our message. It was definitely pertinent and to the point. McPherson’s daughter Rachel is still looking over the wording on the mock-up of the plaque, considering what to include. After her approval, it would take about 10-12 weeks to complete.

Now that’s a quick and specific answer from a political leader. Mayor Teague also sings.

Hickory Hill Park with Sena the Bigfoot Hunter

Because we found that tree structure in Hickory Hill Park recently, Sena led us on a Bigfoot hunt yesterday.

At first all we saw were more dragonflies. One was a male Widow Skimmer. We knew it was a male because it had white patches on its wings. So the first one we saw the other day was probably a female. Then we saw a bright blue dragonfly. We found out later it’s called (what else?) a Blue Dragonfly in the skimmer family.

At first, the expedition went like a lot of those Bigfoot expeditions on TV. The birds got nervous. We heard some tree knocking noises.

Then we saw tracks. Finally, Sena caught sight of a Bigfoot. We caught it on video—sort of.

The Kids to Decide on the Next Hawkeye Wave Song!

The new Hawkeye Wave song will be decided by the kids, and it won’t be just a single song. According to a story in Iowa Now:

For every home game the Iowa football team plays inside Kinnick Stadium, the UI Department of Athletics, in coordination with the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Kid Captain program, will ask that week’s Kid Captain to help select a new song to accompany the Hawkeye Wave.

It’s a great idea! Back in April, fans were asked to nominate a song to be played between the first and second quarters of the Iowa Hawkeye football games while the team members and fans wave to the kids watching from UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

It’s up to the Kid Captains!

Scott Boulevard Trek

We took a walk on Scott Boulevard on a gorgeous day. We said hello to the Sitting Man. And we found a new sculpture of a praying dog just inside the entrance to Harvest Preserve. It looks like a very pious Bassett Hound. We don’t know the significance of the piece. I did a quick google search and couldn’t find anything comparable although there were hits on praying dog sculptures.

The Sitting Man reminded me of a quote I thought was by Winston Churchill and it turns out it’s by Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” Sena did a pretty good job of calling a Mourning Dove. However, we never got a reply.

Also, inside Harvest Preserve yet visible from Scott Boulevard, is a sculpture of a boy climbing out on a tree limb to catch a cat. I wondered whether there was ever a quote about going out on a limb. It turns out there is: “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where all the fruit is.” There are variations of it and it’s often attributed to either Will Rogers or Mark Twain. Quote Investigator says it’s from a journalist named Frank Scully, who coined it in 1950.

I don’t know if we’ll ever find out what that praying Bassett Hound is all about.

Be Kind

We went for a walk on the Terry Trueblood Trail yesterday. It was a nice break from reading the news.

Sena wore her shirt which has printed on it, “be kind, be nice, be love.” She got a compliment about it.

We saw a lot of birds, including Tree Swallow nestlings in the nest boxes along the trail.

There were three in one of the boxes. They seemed to be doing well. I thought we saw a Gray Catbird, although it was singing a complex song at the top of its lungs—from a treetop. I guess I’m not sure what it was because Catbirds are usually secretive and makes sounds like a house cat’s mewing.

I guess all I know is that the bird looked gray.

Anyway, friendly people were out and we said hello to each other. Kindness was in the air.

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