It’s flat!

Well, as the song says, this is where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.  This is the view from my hotel in Norman, Oklahoma, where the Evolution 2011 meetings start tomorrow.  The hotel/conference center is a huge massif rising above the prairie, and there’s nothing around for miles.  It’s gonna be tough to get something decent to eat.

I hear there’s a good BBQ joint in town, but, sans voiture, there’s no way to get there. Unlucky me.

55 Comments

  1. Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I can not help but think of the obvious question – Why organise a meeting in the middle of nowhere?

    • Kevin
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Norman is not the middle of nowhere.

      It’s on the outskirts of nowhere.

      Until I traveled through there, I had not pictured it as being that unrelentingly flat. Kansas-lite, as it were.

      Although there are a few hills around Tulsa (and a great steak place called Mahogany).

      • Hempenstein
        Posted June 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Ahem, since Kansas was once very kind to me, I must rise to its defense. It ain’t flat. As you go from east to west on I-70, the wavelength of Kansas progressively increases as the amplitude decreases. The eastern 1/3 of Colorado is flat, or rather it’s a very slightly inclined plane.

        • JBlilie
          Posted June 17, 2011 at 4:23 am | Permalink

          All true. But you can still pretty much prop your steering wheel at the eastern edge of any of these and go to sleep …

          OK City does have the Wichita Mountains (granite hills) nearby.

          • Sven DiMilo
            Posted June 17, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            OK City does have the Wichita Mountains (granite hills) nearby.

            And they are spectacularly beautiful, for Oklahoma.

            Didn’t somebody show recently that, considered at equivalent scales, Kansas is in fact flatter than a pancake?

            • Sven DiMilo
              Posted June 17, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

              oops–see comment #14 below!

    • Posted June 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      The story that I heard was that the administration at the University of Oklahoma was less than enthusiastic about supporting the evolution meeting, afraid of scaring away donors or something, and somehow or other this led to the meeting being held off campus at Conference Center, which also doubles as a regional hub for the U.S. Postal Service or FedEx or something.

      • Ian Ramjohn
        Posted June 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Actually the Postal training centre is to the south of town. Embassy Suites is very new, and it’s large enough to hold the conference. I can’t think of any single site on campus that could house the entire conference. And dashing around campus, in 100 F weather, probably wouldn’t work very well.

        Although it looks remote, it really isn’t that far. They have promised a shuttle service that will probably do a great job of getting people back and forth.

  2. Jeffrey Shallit
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Some cities have this amazing invention called a “taxi”.

    • rcs
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      My bad, but the first vehicle I thought of was a surrey. And now I can’t stop humming.

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Looks like it was a beautiful morning there…

        • rcs
          Posted June 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think he’ll be making it to the church on time. Or anytime even. Unless they have cats, of course.

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

            Not even if our Jer is paid.

            (PS: you switched musicals there…)

            • rcs
              Posted June 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

              Sorry my Memory is bad.

      • Dominic
        Posted June 17, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink

        A Surrey!?
        For a wedding maybe! :)

  3. Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    It’s too bad you aren’t President of The Society for the Study of Evolution or you could have chosen a better location! :-)

    I’ll have my car in Ottawa next year so we can hit all the best restaurants and dives. Hope you like poutine and beaver tails!

    • JBlilie
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Poutine! Oh yeah!

      My local place puts a nice tronche of seared foie gras on top as well, which is quite … what’s that technical term? … YUMMY.

      • JBlilie
        Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        tranche … finger fart

  4. JBlilie
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I used to have to spend a lot of time in Oklahoma City for a previous job. I feel your pain! (At least they did provide une voiture, luckily.)

    • JBlilie
      Posted June 17, 2011 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      Dr. C.: There was one place in the south end of OK City, a hideously designed (think the Walmart of restaurants) “Italian” place. I can’t remember the name. It was in a strip (on a N-S main drag) of similar-looking places and not very inviting. However, colleagues kept telling me to try it — so I did.

      They have both a 4-cheese pasta and a hot shrimp salad that were very good. I would lsip in, sit alone at the bar with a book (the place was always packed) and have either pasta or salad and some decent wine by the glass. About as haute as the cuisine gets in OKC, as far as I could tell. Too bad the atmosphere was so deadly.

    • JBlilie
      Posted June 17, 2011 at 4:57 am | Permalink

      I found that in OK City there was a nice place to walk: on the eastern side of the Lake Overholser reservoire (western edge of town). I usually saw scissortail flycatchers (state bird of OK) there.

      Hey, Google to the rescue! Zio’s Italian Kitchen, on S Meridian Ave at about SW 20th St.

      As noted: Walmart atmosphere; but some good food.

      I had a hard time finding really good food in OKC. The usual wisdom: Go with steaks or BBQ didn’t go too far with me. I’m not a steak guy (I prefer the ones I make at home, very occasionally) and I found the BBQ uninspiring. You mileage may vary and I hope it’s better than mine!

  5. SteveF
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    You should meet up and chat with YEC Baraminologist Todd Wood!

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/2011/06/sediba-paper-and-evolution2011.html

    • steve oberski
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      My but the cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

  6. Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Just an idea: some BBQ places deliver. Check out the yellow pages.

    Or rent a car? You’re crippled out there with no car.

    • Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Ugh. I had a look at Google for Norman, and it looks like only Jason’s Deli and a few pizza places advertise delivery. I’d go for the taxi to the decent BBQ place.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Flat ? Then try finding time to take a look around the famously organic & delightfully ‘Hippy’ Bavinger House, 730 60th Ave., NE, Norman

    It was built in 1950 by the architect Bruce Goff from stone, steel & parts from WWII bombers. To quote from the above link:

    Although he respected the work of Von der Rohe, he held no such esteem for the imitators who followed, once referring to the glass boxes of modern architecture as “Mies burgers.” Goff’s main objection to the European influence, Henderson explains, was that it is focused on Euclidian geometry with little regard for the client or the site. “It didn’t matter where the lot was, the building would be the same,” he says. This was anathema to Goff, who in his projects created a harmonious relationship of materials, design and location. Both the Bavinger and Ledbetter houses are perfect examples of Goff’s skill as a successful alchemist of material, site and structure

    For me Goff is ‘up there’ (well he is dead) with Frank Lloyd Wright [ Fallingwater ] & Frank Gehry [everything] who isn’t (dead that is).

    I do believe that Bavinger House is open for viewing, but maybe only weekends. Check it out & enjoy !!

    You will require a taxi

    • Sven DiMilo
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Are you familiar with the work of Goff’s student Bart Prince?
      pretty cool stuff

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted June 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Sven my man – yes !

        Do you know of The House Beneath The Mountain ? Now that’s ‘spiritual’ don’t you agree ?

        • Sven DiMilo
          Posted June 17, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

          cool link–thanks.

          As an aimless young man between undergrad and grad school I was lucky to get a job helping to build Prince’s Seymour house in Los Altos CA.
          pic 1
          pic 2
          pic 3 (plan section)
          In fact, see the curving/sloping wall at center-left in the following pic? (There is a sundeck behind it)
          pic 4
          I built that.

  8. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Is Norman near ERV‘s location? Perhaps she could drive you to a nice BBQ restaurant, where you could pick up the tab. Much blogging might ensue.

    • Tezcatlipoca
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      but where will Arnie sit?

  9. Kevin
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    [clearing throat]

    There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow.
    There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow…

    Holy crap, the meadow’s on fire!

    Sorry, one of my favorite musical jokes.

  10. Ian Ramjohn
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I think my email should be visible to you, but if not, it’s my first initial and my last name @gmail.

    If you’re willing to forgo barbecue (not a meat eater) we’d be happy to take you out to dinner (though I am one of those terrible accomodationists)

    • Tezcatlipoca
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      In Admiral Ackbar voice, “It’s a TRAP!” ;p

  11. Blondin
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I’ll refrain from telling the story of the furry with a syringe on top.

    • Sven DiMilo
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      much appreciated

  12. Posted June 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m renting a car as I’m also visiting grandparents. Happy to give people rides to the bars, but you’ll have to accept a ride from an accommodationist :-).

    • Tezcatlipoca
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      See my reply to #10… ;p

  13. savagemutt
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    You must find transportation and visit Johnnie’s in OKC for a Caesar Burger with onion rings.

  14. Posted June 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I remembered reading this a long time ago and thought it was Oklahoma, but it is actually Kansas. Still, some good science-of-the-flat for you to enjoy.

    http://improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume9/v9i3/kansas.html

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      That’s hilarious! Thanks.

  15. CJ
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    If you make it into okc any time this weekend, I will buy you beer and food. Just email me and I’ll give you a phone number.

  16. Posted June 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    My lab is on the top floor of the tallest building on campus. On a clear day, you can see Dallas.
    :P

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted June 17, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      … you can see Dallas.

      Is that a good thing?

  17. normw
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Banff it aint.

  18. Joe Dickinson
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    My parents met at OU, so I have at least one pretty good reason for being glad that it exists. Still, they couldn’t wait to get out of there and seldom looked back. We visited Oklahoma (grandparents)when I was young, but I can’t say we ever went to Norman.

  19. Dan
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    There are a few decent places to eat in Norman, but few if any are near the convention center. There’s some decent stuff just north of campus, including Victoria’s (Italian), The Library, Hideaway Pizza, and a couple of Mexican places that are likewise decent. If the Indian place is still there (the name escapes me), skip it – it’s literally the worst Indian food I’ve ever eaten. Norman used to have my absolute favorite greasy burger joint, J. Pat’s. It was bought and absolutely ruined a few years ago – it still has the same name but the entire menu has been replaced with completely bland and uninspired faux-diner food.

    • Dan
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Oh, the local pizza chain Pizza Shuttle is decent and cheap. It’s not knock-your-socks-off great pizza, but it’s better than most of the big chains and considerably cheaper.

      If you like beer there’s a brewpub in town called Coach’s, it’s on Main Street in the middle of downtown. The beer is decent but not spectacular, and I’m pretty sure they’re restricted to the same 3.2% alcohol laws that the convenience stores and whatnot are.

    • Dan
      Posted June 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      Oops, forgot to mention The Greek House. Tasty gyros and fries, just off the northeast corner of campus.

    • Dan
      Posted June 17, 2011 at 5:41 am | Permalink

      I put a question about local places to eat on my Facbook (I’m a Normanian expat), and here’s what my Norman friends suggested:

      Coriander Cafe (Vietnamese). Himalayas Restaurant (Indian-not that this is NOT the one I said was awful, that was Misal Bistro). Thai Raja (Thai). Mamaveca (Mexican-Peruvian). Del Rancho (chicken fried steak sandwiches, delicious and sooooo bad for you), Thai Kam Koon, the Diner, Ozzies diner (at Westhiemer) Pepe Delgado’s, Tarahumara, Full Moon Sushi. For drinking, the Deli is a good bar with live music and is just a few doors down from the Coriander Cafe (and Victoria’s). The Garage recently opened on Main (down by Bill and Dee’s) and has great burgers too. Your choice of veggie, turkey, beef, or buffalo ground fresh daily.

      Thanks to my buddies Terry, Noel, and Paige!

  20. KP
    Posted June 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s rolling hills just east of town. But, yeah, that’s a crap location for the meeting and I was astonished when I read that. Nowhere near campus or Campus Corner where all the good stuff is. A car is definitely a necessity, unless there’s a shuttle. If you take the shuttle to the dorms on campus it’s not too long of a walk to stuff.

  21. KP
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    And as for flat, Oklahoma is no flatter than Illinois.

    • Dominic
      Posted June 17, 2011 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      Er, how high is the corn exactly?

      Higher than Oklahoma anyway!

  22. Tualha
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    Jerry shouldn’t be in Oklahoma without a car. How will he escape the inevitable creationist lynch mobs?

  23. JBlilie
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    Dr. C., the best place I found to escape the flatness of OK is in the Wichita Mountains, about 1.5 hrs SW of you: Very nice! And Bison to boot! You can get a hike in there with 800 vertical feet! Pretty little pink granite hills. Recommended.


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