Thursday Things

1. As you may have noticed in my marathon training recap post earlier this week, I was in Iowa last weekend. Why was I in Iowa last weekend? For the Tri-State Rodeo, naturally.


A few of my friends went to the Tri-State Rodeo, located in Fort Madison, Iowa, last year, and somehow, I got roped (pun only slightly intended) into attending this year as well. It was…an experience, to say the least.

The rodeo itself features a variety of cowboy/girl-related events, like bronco riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding, but it’s a much bigger to-do than just the animal-related competitions. There were several booths selling a variety of rodeo-related items–leather belts, saddles, blankets, bedazzled baseball hats, rodeo-themed clothes, etc.–along with your standard fair-type food and abundant alcohol. The rodeo events lasted two hours or so and were followed by concerts: Smash Mouth, bizarrely, on Friday, and Jon Pardi, more logically, on Saturday. The concerts were then followed by an on-site after party that raged on until 2 a.m. I plead my long run on Friday and left well before Smash Mouth ended, but didn’t have any excuse to leave early on Saturday, so I stuck around until my friends were ready to leave at 1 a.m. or so. Considering that I really struggle to stay awake past 10 p.m. these days, that was a bit of a challenge for me.

It was an interesting experience in general, I guess. I don’t know if it’s necessarily something I need to do again, or if it’s something I’d say everyone should do once in their life, but I wouldn’t say that I regret going. Well, maybe I regret going from a running perspective, since I’m sure going to the rodeo on Friday night didn’t do me any favors in the Saturday morning long run department, nor did being in Iowa and having to navigate non-pancake flat terrain, but if I hadn’t been in the middle of marathon training AND in the middle of trying to get back into running after my bout with food poisoning, I probably wouldn’t have regretted it quite so much.

2. Fort Madison, as the name implies, was once the site of a fort, so we spent some time on Saturday touring the recreated fort.

Fort Madison (the fort itself) was originally built as a trading post to establish friendly relations with the Native Americans, particularly those who may have had pro-British leanings. Things went well for awhile, and then started to go not so well. Eventually, the U.S. decided to abandon the fort,  but they burned it down on their way out so no one else could take over. The fort that exists today, therefore, is obviously not the original, but rather a replica built in the 1980s. Regardless, I was impressed by the level of detail, and enjoyed interacting with the reenactors who told us a lot about the fort’s function and history.


They did an artillery demonstration while we were there, firing off the cannon (with a blank, obviously). They only used a few ounces of gunpowder in the demonstration on Saturday, but told us last year they used one pound (half the amount of gunpowder it took to actually launch a cannonball – that required two pounds of powder). When they did that, the blast was so strong it rattled windows all the way on the other side of the street, which had to be close to a quarter mile from the fort itself. Pretty powerful stuff!


My favorite part of the fort, though, was visiting the infirmary. I suppose I’m more interested in that sort of thing at this exact moment than I would be at other times, having just recovered from being sick myself, but it was fascinating read about the various herbs and plants they’d use to try to help people feel better. I was especially interested in how they handled smallpox vaccinations. The early 1800s predate the hypodermic needle, but Edward Jenner introduced the concept of smallpox vaccination in 1796. In order to vaccinate people, you would find a cow infected with cowpox (smallpox lite), poke one of the cowpox pustle’s with a quill to get some of the pus in the quill (gross, I know), then scratch the quill against the skin of the person you intended to vaccinate to infect them with cowpox, which was close enough to smallpox to create immunity. I knew this was how vaccination worked, of course, but even though it’s obvious now that I think about it, I never wondered before how they went about “injecting” people prior to having needles to accomplish that purpose. Super interesting!

3. I saw this article on NBC Chicago the other day about the most common birth date and found it FASCINATING, especially since it flies in the face of my own personal experience. Growing up, it seemed like everyone‘s birthday was in April. I have three family members on one side with April birthdays (which, considering that there are only 12 people on that side in the first place, is a pretty good percentage), and I remember feeling like every other person in my class in school had a birthday in April. I also remember feeling like I, with my September birthday, was in the minority. According to the article, however, that’s not so! The most common birth date between 1994 and 2014? September 9!

The article links to a heat map, which I found to be a particularly useful way to digest this birth date data. I was totally shocked to see my birthday clock in at the #10 most common day to be born, however! I didn’t know a single person my age who shared my birthday (September 18) until I was in college (there were I believe two other people at my dad’s church who were also 9/18 babies), and according to the list on my company’s intranet site that displays who’s having birthdays in the next week, I’m the only person at my place of employment with a September 18 birthday. And yet somehow this is the 10th most popular day to be born! Although maybe it’s only the 10th most popular day for people between the ages of almost-3 and almost-23? Though, considering that the estimated conception date for a person with a September 18 birthday is the day after Christmas, I guess it’s not too surprising (though having that knowledge does skeeve me out a little bit. I prefer to not think about the technicalities that went into me having life, haha.)

Another thing that I found to be really interesting about all of this is that Christmas is the least common day to be born – even less common than February 29! I suppose if you’re inducing labor or having a scheduled c-section, I certainly understand why you wouldn’t choose to have your baby born on Christmas. But considering that December 20 is the 11th most popular day to have a baby, the fact that only five days later is the least popular day to give birth was super surprising to me!

Have you ever been a rodeo?
How common is your birthday?

5 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. Also, I wonder if Christmas is the least popular because if a woman’s due date is around 12/25, she would be more likely to have an elective c-section on another day? Just a thought.

    • There’s got to be some sort of elective c-section something going on with all of this, because there’s no way people just coincidentally don’t have babies on Christmas. I was talking about this with my sister yesterday, and she wondered if hospitals might have somewhat lighter staffing on Christmas, so if you are going to schedule a c-section/induction date, they’d recommend you do it on a non-Christmas day when everyone’s working normally? That seemed like a reasonable theory, especially in conjunction with people just not wanting to schedule a delivery for Christmas anyway.

  2. That heat map is fascinating. I too found it intriguing that Christmas is the least popular day. I suppose it’s less surprising when you factor in elective c-sections like Maggie said above.

    My March birthday is 219th, and the entire month is in the lower half of # of births which I find surprising because I feel like March birthdays have been very common among people I know throughout my whole life. I’ve encountered different clusters throughout my life – for example, when I was in AmeriCorps NCCC, there were a shit ton of July birthdays. Like, there was one week in particular that month where I swear we celebrated 2 birthdays each day. On my team of 10 people, 3 of us had July birthdays. It was madness.

    The popularity of mid September birthdays isn’t surprising considering the estimated conception dates fall around Christmas. What *is* interesting about that is I once read that the holidays are also the most popular time of year for break-ups. So couples are both having more sex AND breaking up more during the holiday season. No wonder it’s such a stressful time of year, LOL.

    • That is super interesting about March, because I seriously feel like EVERYONE I knew growing up had a spring birthday – or at least, it certainly seemed like there was certainly a higher percentage of spring birthdays compared to any other season. I’d be curious to see how this breaks down by location – if some parts of the country have more babies in certain months than other parts of the country, like if the spring is a more popular time to be born in the Midwest than, say, California. I never even considered birthdate popularity and now I’m totally fascinated by it haha.

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