Thursday, December 23, 2010

Feed the Students - December

December was a busy month for everyone, as it is the time of shopping and holiday cooking. We took advantage of that last part by hosting our 2nd Feed the Students event for the end of the semester exams.

This was on the Thursday just before the break, and the 1st years were about to take their final anatomy exam and others. It was a pretty hectic schedule for everyone, but many of our SOS members found time to make a quick dish and help serve any students at DMU that evening. We only advertised by word of mouth, but we fed over 100 students that night.

It’s a great feeling to give a meal to a hungry student who doesn’t have time to feed himself. We had a lot of very grateful students that night, and I heard a lot of Thank You’s. I also want to extend a thank you to everyone who helped that night. People made food, helped setup and serve, and ultimately cleanup after the event was over.

These Feed the Student events have been wildly successful and satisfying, so we plan on continuing them. Next time, we’ve already decided we’ll do a huge spaghetti dinner! There’s nothing like a carb feast right before an exam! Tell your student!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is it time for coffee yet?

Are you the kind of person who starts each day with a cup of joe? Do you feel incomplete without it, like half a person, half asleep with half a functioning brain? Do you long to feel the coursing of caffeinated beverage pulsing through your veins?

I like a good cup of coffee, even more so in the winter, but I also like a little ambiance. Des Moines has many flavors of coffee and coffee house, with a taste that will fit any palate.
Of course we have many of the standard chains with which you might be familiar like Starbucks and Caribou. You can always count on the quality and familiar taste of the coffee in those places. But then you have some more local flavors. Downtown offers Amici’s (with 2 other Des Moines locations as well), the Village Bean (in the East Village) and Java Joe’s. Java Joe’s in particular has that very Northwest US beatnik feel.

Near Drake, you have Mars Cafe, which has tons more than just coffee, including music and events and a good college crowd. On Ingersoll near DMU campus, you have Zanzibar - who roasts all their own beans - and Java B Good - which has odd hours and is in a flower shop, making it very interesting.

Venturing out a little you can find Grounds for Celebration, another small Des Moines chain, and Smokey Row, my personal favorite. Smokey Row is excellent because of their food, soda bar, large floorspace, good staff, and overall atmosphere. No doubt there are a lot of good options in town, and I’ve only scratched the surface. Let us know if you find any great coffee shops you would like to share with others.

One last footnote: If you are a tea drinker, look no further than Gong Fu Tea in the East Village!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

American Eagle

My wife was rotating with a Doctor here in Des Moines one month, and during some long day of seeing patients, he started telling her about some pictures he took of local wildlife. When he showed her those pictures, she was amazed to find these stunning snapshots of bald eagles. Having seen our country’s famous bird in Yellowstone a few years ago, we were surprised to learn that they can also be found in Iowa. How wickedly awesome is that?

Apparently they come here during the cold winter months to nest. They tend to nest along the rivers, especially near dams as this is a natural congregation place for their food source - fish. Pella is a great location for this, just off the dam on the Red Rock Lake.
After we learned about this, we took a trip there ourselves. The dam is operated by the Army Corp of Engineers, and they have a station on one side the dam. They gave us all kinds of information on where to go to see the birds. We were a little early to see many eagles yet, but we might see some, and we’d also see pelicans. Seriously, pelicans in Iowa? We were again floored.

Grab some binoculars and head over to the broken bridge. This is the best spot. We were lucky and saw one bird, but January is the best month, and you can spot over 40 if you come in the early morning. The best part of eagle watching in Pella is stopping in town afterwards for a nice cup of coffee, and a Dutch letter at one of the amazing Dutch bakeries! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SOS Volunteers

We ended up not having a volunteer activity for November, so we are trying to make up for that by having a couple in December.

First up though is a little get together! We don't have meetings every month anymore, so we thought it would be nice to have a Potluck on 12/8 in the Munroe building. Bring any dish you like and share with others. Bring the family, because we‟ll have babysitting supported by the DMU Peds club.

We‟re working with the Homeless Camp Outreach to help bring stockings full of much needed supplies to homeless people downtown. We need people to stuff the stockings on 12/9, and to bring them downtown on 12/12. The Outreach program is a great club with both DMU students and faculty involved.

Then on 12/16, we'll be doing a Feed the Students event at DMU in the atrium. Just like last time, we ask people to signup to bring a dish they are willing to give to hungry students. We timed this specifically to coincide with busy exam schedules. For those who participated in the last one, we'll remember that students are just as voracious with their thanks as they are with their appetites. They absolutely love us for this, and really aren‟t we all here to support our students anyway?

We‟ve sent out email about all of these events, so you should find them in your inbox. Please reply to that email or send one to and let us know what you would like to participate in. We really need you to help out, and if you have suggestions for more volunteer activities or for how to make these events more relevant to you, then let us know!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mr Turkey, meet Mr Exercise

I don't know about you, but I think I ate my weight in turkey dinner, and dessert. Honestly, what is better than the holidays for good food and drink? We all know we'll probably put on a few pounds in the next month, but what can you do about it now that winter has started? It's not easy to brave the cold and step outside.

I just started running a few months ago, just as the heat of summer ended, and now I'm hooked. I want to keep running into spring so I can keep in shape and be ready to run some 5k's, but some days it's just too cold. Luckily, the DMU Wellness center has great hours, and is open most days except certain holidays. They have amazing facilities, many weight and aerobic machines, and it is free to students and their significant others! Check the DMU Portal for the Plus One membership and Wellness center hours.

Are you into racquet sports? You might checkout Oakmoor Fitness for racquetball or Seven Flags for tennis. Both offer membership plans for those activities. I've played tennis at Seven Flags and their courts are excellent.

Do you feel the need to compete in the winter, but can‟t find an event? Try the 801 Grand Power Climb. Racers will climb all 41 flights of stairs to raise money and awareness for the American Lung Association. DMU students often provide OMM services.

If you‟re not much of a gym person, there are other options. Downtown Des Moines has a great Skywalk system that connects most major buildings. You can walk from Court Ave Brewing company (great food) to Hyvee Hall without going outside! How about just pure fun that will raise your heart rate? Try Incredible Pizza in Urbandale or All Play in Des Moines. Both offer different options like bumper cars, go carts, laser tag, video games, and mini golf.

Don‟t even bother trying to avoid the temptation of one more holiday cookie. Go ahead and eat it, and plan your January exercise routine. There are many options

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gateway to the West

Ok, perhaps my themes are quite one sided lately. Yes, it is cold outside now, so all we can think about is the warmth. I know many of you are from warmer climates, so I‟m trying to help you make it through the long Des Moines winter. Just 5 hours to the southeast of us is St Louis, MO. I never would have thought 5 hours would make such a climactic difference, but it sure does. They don't seem to get nearly as much snow or cold weather as Des Moines. So if you are looking for a good escape some weekend, this is a good option. Being a much larger town, it has much more to offer than Des Moines, and also has a few more dangers (so please be careful there!). They have world class museums: Contemporary Art Museum, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. They have amazing architecture like the Cathedral Basilica and the Gateway Arch. They have interestingly unique items like the City Museum, which is a museum made from recycle garbage that allows adults to crawl through life sized art like your 5 year old would. It has more concert, play, and opera offerings than we typically enjoy here. Anheuser-Busch is based there, and you can tour the factory or visit the world-famous Clydesdales. There's much to do, too much too list, so just google it and go have fun. Just keep this in mind: Average high in Des Moines for January is 29 degrees, while in St Louis that average is 38 degrees!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fong's Pizza

Fong’s Pizza is a great little pizza joint in downtown Des Moines, across from other gems like Java Joe‟s and Vaudeville Mews. Built on the previous location of Des Moines‟ oldest Chinese restaurant, this Tiki bar offers unique pizza by the slice. Don‟t forget to ask how you can get to wear the Soviet era helmets!