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Old 03-21-2009, 09:52 AM
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 13,804,298 times
Reputation: 10152


That's true about Kansas Krauts. I can call us that because I am precisely 1/4 proud Kansas Kraut, my grandmother having spoken German until she was seven. Overall I'm about half, but that quarter is pure-strain Saxon. I was raised rock-ribbed, humor-challenged Missouri Synod Lutheran. One of the major German components in Kansas, though, is Anabaptists (most often Mennonite; Amish is also common). Now that's you some Germans. You'll like them. The Mennonites' disaster relief program earns a lot of respect in Kansas.

Thanks for the kind words on my writing, LOR. I used to throw a pretty fair slider, though like my hero Jim Bouton my mainstay was the knuck. I think you're correct about locals adopting a sort of defiant flaunting of differences, which I usually take as a sort of truculent cultural insecurity. But it mainly comes from people giving you crap, so I can't blame them. The area I live in is a good example.

We are famous for producing the Pu-239 that took Nagasaki; our primary industry is cleaning up nuclear waste. That was not a joke. The best local microbrew is called Atomic Ale. Our SF con is called RadCon; one year their slogan was 'got waste?' And Richland High School is a bit infamous for its Bomber mascot represented by the mushroom cloud emblem. Which they are always pressured to change because it's so politically incorrect, and which they will never change as long as the Bomber Alumni have one word to say about it. But the reason it happens is because of our own divide: conservative eastern Washington people here, feeling like the message from Seattle and Olympia's (in local stereotype) 'super-skinny amaretto mocha latte-sucking SUV anti-nuke junk science tree-hugging liberals' is that we are ignorant savages who don't matter. I lived in Seattle 16 years and have lived here eleven, and both sides are kind of right. There is a lot of buck-ignorance and even stupidity here, but Seattle does have its share of the most obnoxious, self-righteous neo-hippies anywhere. (As is my tradition, I believe both sides need a fierce penis punching.) So I guess one reason I feel for Kansas is I too see this played out in other areas.

In all cases, the best way to defuse the tension is to show you get the joke. In my view. Nothing disarms people like a mild humor, and Kansans tend to a dry wit and react well to it.

If you want immersion in the Kansas version of cowboying, attend a ranch rodeo sometime. You might like ranch rodeo. It consists of actual cowboy crews doing actual ranching tasks in a rodeo ring, which means that they are quite unwilling to hurt the animals (they can get a 'no time' if a heifer bangs her head, even if she was trying to kill them). No bulls have their scrota strapped up, etc. It's an impressive display of authentic professional skill and horsemanship, far more authentic than all that Boot Hill baloney (well, most of it's baloney).

I didn't see the cattle drive post and didn't find it in a quick scan, but I doubt it would offend anyone. I think you're already past the eggshell-walk phase, if ever you needed to be (probably not). You're obviously interested in understanding your new home, and are doing your homework. You made a bit of a dippy start at this, but when you realized your pants were unzipped you just laughed along. You are coming to the West, and that ability will serve you very well here. To see how it works, wear colors from either major state school. Anywhere but their major strongholds, there will be someone from the other side to kid around with you. When I showed up at the ranch in a KU t-shirt, my K-State-attending cousin wailed in despair: "My own flesh and BLOOD!" It'll happen anywhere. It's part of the fun.

The fun parts are the ones you don't know yet, like changing a tire takes forever in Kansas because of all the people who want to stop and help, and you cannot brusquely dismiss them, so you visit with them a bit to be polite, all the while you are not getting your spare unhorsed. Or the wonderful reactions you will earn if you are courteous to the elderly (we got a lot of those, if your friends want some of our extras, have them write to you). In my experience Sir and Ma'am and Mr. and Mrs. are real door-openers in Kansas, as formal and distant as they seem. Brazen them out. People who show respect for elders are not taken for city slickers, and word does travel fast. Mrs. Unruh will tell Mrs. Schrock, etc., and because the youngers heard you were respectful to their grandma, their first inclination is to think you're okay.

If you're really smart, you have here the makings of a good book. Your perception augurs well for it.

Too bad you cannot find an excuse to detour southward to the Carriage Crossing in Yoder for the breakfast, but it really would be far out of your way. Some other time, maybe. Which same, since you're hitting the trail, drive safe. And welcome to Kansas. Some of what you heard is based in fact. A lot of it is ridiculous. I'll be very interested in your own impressions.
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Old 03-21-2009, 10:14 AM
4 posts, read 13,071 times
Reputation: 14
With out the meat packing plants, the mexicans would have no place to work. they make up 50 percent of the poulation in Dodge city. There is not much in the way of law and order in Dodge , or the illegals would have been prevented from staying here. You could move to a town nearby, like cimmarron, but why bother, all the kids have to do there is have sex at a very early age, or drink. If they are not married by 17, they think they have missed out on the whole world. What a pathetic place to live---
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Old 03-22-2009, 12:49 PM
21 posts, read 96,244 times
Reputation: 44
OK, through a series of farcial mishaps that would have been funny if they'd happened to someone else, I am only in Muscatine, Iowa. Don't ask.
Quick question if anyone has any time I can check back here tonight. Definite and serious tornados are on their way to Kansas and Nebraska tomorrow, according to the weather channel. I'm definitely avoiding Nebraska, and entering Kansas via its northwestern corner. Here's my question: Do they post electric light road signs when a tornado is actually coming? Then, I assume you exit ASAP and look for the nearest building with a basement. Or does the Dept. of Transportation have tornado shelters intermittently spread out along the major highways? Or should you just stay in your car?
I know I should have googled this, but I was feeling too scatter-brained. If anyone laughs at me for this one, I'm gonna slug you.
j-k-k, looks like another interesting post from you. I look forward to reading it tonight. I'm rushing out the door. Has anyone noticed that Motel 8's have started to suck? I remember them as a lot better... never luxorious, of course, but the infrastructure was always intact.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:16 PM
12,479 posts, read 12,662,243 times
Reputation: 9129
I know what you are going through, when the greenburg tornado hit I was on the highway and miss it by 30 minutes, To say I "missed it" is a misnomer because I was aware of the direction and speed of the storm and stayed ahead of it. In western Kansas you are going to be able to see the storms coming and make decisions whether to speed up or slow down based on your direction of travel.This may at first sound fool hardy but I have traveled in and around tornados and big storms countless times. When the Greenburg Storm hit I was in Dodge, but I saw people in Greenburg beside the road looking at this ominous clouds, 30 minutes earlier, Tornadoes average about 30 miles per hour
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Old 03-23-2009, 06:27 PM
Location: Grand Forks, ND
23 posts, read 76,942 times
Reputation: 34
Default Tornado safety

You're probably already driving through it but for future reference: No, there are no signs along the road warning of tornadoes. The supercell thunderstorms that produce them fire off in a rather scattered fashion, and warnings are generally 20-30 minutes to an hour at most, and there's no time to put up signs.

Your best bet when driving through the Plains on a stormy day is to pay attention to your surroundings. If there are a lot of dark clouds ahead, turn off the CD/Ipod and try and get some local weather information on the radio. Out here, High Plains Public radio is pretty good with weather updates. You can then avoid the storms when driving like thriftylefty suggests. There aren't any public shelters on the roads, but just about any place of business and even quite a few people in houses would let you take shelter. Do not take shelter underneath highway overpasses, several people were killed that way in Oklahoma in 1999. Worst case scenerio when the tornado is right on top of you and there's no building to go to, abandon your car for the ditch and cover your head.
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:43 PM
21 posts, read 96,244 times
Reputation: 44
Well, I got here just in time for the worst blizzard Kansas has seen in - what, decades? I hope you are all safe and indoors. Snow - now, that's something I know a thing or two about. I can see that a lot of folks here are not that familiar with driving on slick ice, so it looks like I showed up just in time to share some weather tips with my new Dodge City neighbors. It's really kind of cool, because the motel I'm in is completely filled with Cuban refugees, here from Miami to work for a few months at the - yes, the meat packing plants. Who said life lacks irony? Anyway, they have never seen snow, and grown men have been out playing in this whirling swarm, taking photos. I speak just enough Spanish ("First time snow? You like?") to make a fool of myself, but they are all very gracious.
Thanks so much for the tornado tips. I should have used common sense - you are right, weathergal, I needed to unplug my ipod. I was impressed by the casual attitude of the Kansas people I met when I finally exited to look for a motel. They were strolling around in shorts, just going about their day, while I bent over, head into the wind, keeping an eye out for the nearest basement. I went into a gas station, and they told me a tornado had touched down about 12 miles to the south.
"Oh it happens all the time," someone said.
"Have you ever been in, or, like, really close to an actual tornado?" I asked with interest.
General merriment ensued, as everyone in line cracked up.
I told them I was just trying to bring a bit of laughter wherever I travelled, figuring it was the least I could do for humanity.
"Well, you're doing a good job," an old man said.
I approached Dodge City at night, and after those hours of darkness on the Great Plains, those huge industrial compounds lighting up the sky were impressive, and strangely thrilling.
There is certainly an interesting mixture of people here! I have seen a good chunk of the town, and the old Carnegie library is one of the most beautiful I have seen - it's a perfect little jewel, and very unusual as Carnegie libraries go. Does anyone know it? And I love that giant statue of a steer - unmistakably not a cow, j-k-k, as evidenced by its gigantic horns - that sits smack in the middle of the old part of town.
There's a lot of poverty, but there also seems to be a solid middle-class and evidence of a pretty good tax base (all that industry!). I like the cheerful hustle and bustle, which makes me think of Dodge City's frontier heritage as a web of commerce. I'm having a tough time finding affordable housing, and was a little shocked at the condition of the houses I've looked at. I guess a lot of the better places don't advertise. Anyway, if anyone has any leads, I can pay up to $650 a month (that could be the problem, I realize).
I just want to let those who posted such thoughtful responses to my questions about the culture of western Kansas know that I really appreciate them. I plan to respond as soon as I can think again - my new boss told me not to start work until Monday, so I've been running around like a maniac trying to get everything settled. But it looks like no one's going anywhere this weekend.
Thanks again to all of you, from a fellow Kansan.
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Old 03-27-2009, 11:20 PM
Location: Manhattan, Ks
1,280 posts, read 6,824,017 times
Reputation: 1813
Good luck with the blizzard! We are getting a lighter version of it up here in Manhattan, Ks.
Do you have a blog? I went to community college in the northwest corner of the state and spent the summer interning in Garden City. After that, there is no love lost between me and that part of my home state. I like seeing it through your eyes though.

By the way, if you're into that sort of thing the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City is well worth seeing. I didn't really like the city when I was there, but the zoo was (and still is, I hope) quite progressive for it's size.
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Old 03-28-2009, 12:17 AM
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 13,804,298 times
Reputation: 10152
Glad you had a successful trip. I see the West served up some surprises to liven it up, which is fairly traditional, though more common in Wyoming or Montana. Blizzard in late March, twister warning--I see Kansas did not delay in giving you your first doses of itself.

You noticed already how well people react to a self-effacing ability to chuckle at yourself. That was representative. You'll hear a lot of dry wit along those lines, especially when you ask a question so dumb you have no idea how dumb it is (like that one about twisters). Did you ever watch Dances With Wolves? The cavalry guy may start to seem familiar next time you watch it. But you notice that in the end, they embrace him. You'll probably find the same thing. You seem like a likeable sort, not full of yourself, and that'll wash in Kansas. You'll learn the things you don't know, and before long you won't get disturbed over any twister warning that isn't pretty close. You are also learning why Kansans actually watch the weather channel and have a radio with which to tune in for twister warnings if necessary. Get ready for the words: "If you live in [insert five counties], take cover NOW!" They'll interrupt your network programming and have sidescroll stuff the whole time. You will also learn that it is good manners to visit with people briefly about the weather if there is a void to fill.

I'm not sure who wants $650 a month, or for what kind of housing, in Dodge. All I can tell you is that for that kind of money it better be a three-bedroom house. That just sounds like an awful lot for western Kansas, not that I'm educated on real estate values there, just that reasonable housing costs should be one of the semi-rural Kansas advantages.

Congratulations; you're now a Ford Countian. Eventually you'll memorize most of the two-letter licence tag abbreviations, and develop stereotypes where appropriate. After all, why make people put their county on the outside of their car, if not to enable others to immediately identify outsiders and jump to conclusions about them? Just never mess with the ones that say CS. That's Chase; cowboy country. Tough like barbed wire. My cousins are pretty easygoing but I can't speak for the rest. Of course, the whole county of Chase has not much more than 2000 people, so you won't see a ton of those. The ones that say JO are the Johnson County city slickers, SG is the Wichita city slickers, and so forth. It's generalization fun for the whole family!
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Old 03-28-2009, 12:46 PM
41 posts, read 103,378 times
Reputation: 35
Regarding the Carnigie Library, I was told he was a wealthy steel man or railroad industrialist who built them all over kansas (or perhaps the US ?) to appease his guilt for the way he treated people who built his wealth for him. Pittsburg Kansas to my knowlege has the only one that is still functioning as a library,
p.s. Welcome!
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Old 03-28-2009, 10:56 PM
21 posts, read 96,244 times
Reputation: 44
Well, I just wrote a long post, which disappeared. Then, I wrote another long post, which also disappeared. Great to hear from you guys. I have to go rest my fingers before I write again.
I'm looking forward to my new license plates, so I can curl my lips at those who have JO or WS on theirs - but I'll be sure to defer to those with CS
LOR, from FC
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