Serving up a hotdish blog

No, not that kind of hotdish. Photo: Suvi Korhonen/Wikipedia.

Well, I survived giving birth for the second week to an edition of the West Liberty Index. The stories are maybe best left untold — or saved for my column in next week’s issue if I get desperate.

Speaking of my return to writing a weekly newspaper column, here is what I wrote this week to introduce myself to Index readers:

When life hands you lemons, so the old saying goes, make lemonade.

That explains how I arrived at the West Liberty Index on May 11 as interim editor, taking over for Geoff Rands, who left this week. How long I will be here has yet to be determined.

So far, however, I’ve been enjoying myself. And that’s not something I’ve said lately with much regularity. On Feb. 27, my job of nearly five years as editor of the Muscatine Journal was eliminated in a cost-cutting move by Davenport-based Lee Enterprises, the company for which I had worked since 1991. The Journal’s publisher took on the added title of editor and I found myself out of work for the first time since I was a boy on my parents’ farm in Lucas County.

In the months since then, I’ve filled my time by working out, bicycling, blogging, working on some volunteer projects and applying for jobs.

About a month ago, I started getting emails — from City Councilman Sean Harder, former Index Editor Sara Sedlacek and Index Publisher Jake Krob among others  — telling me that Rands was leaving the newspaper.

I exchanged a few emails with Jake, who had been following me for a while on Twitter, the social-networking website. After meeting one afternoon over iced tea, we agreed I would take over as interim editor for maybe even a couple of months. This should give Jake and his business partner, Stuart Clark, editor and publisher of the Tipton Conservative, time to find the right editor for the Index.

I’ve told a few people around town what this means is that I’ll be here until Jake and Stu find someone better, which shouldn’t be too tough.

So, why would I do this? Well, West Liberty has always been my favorite small town in Muscatine County. Jake has also offered to pay me more than I could collect in unemployment. And, there is no other way to say it, I was bored to death without having an office to go to every morning.

The experience of being out of work has made me think often of the best boss I ever had — another longtime Lee guy who used to joke about the term, strategic business unit, or SBU. In the Lee lexicon, SBU is the term for newspapers that are clustered together to consolidate expenses for things such as human resources and printing and distributing newspapers. The Muscatine Journal and the Quad-City Times in Davenport are part of the same SBU.

My favorite former boss used to say SBU really stood for Sure Beats Unemployment.

After a little more than two months, even ditch digging would beat unemployment, in my book. And this is much better than digging ditches. I’m grateful to Jake and Stu for the opportunity and very happy to be here for however long I may be at the Index.

One more thing: Over time you and I will get to know one another better. I’ve named this column Brome Hill, which is also the name of my blog. If, for some reason, you would like to speed up the process of getting to know more about me, feel free to read my blog at or follow me on Twitter @csteinbach.


If you are an Index reader or a resident of West Liberty, Atalissa or Nichols, please feel free to stop in at the newspaper. Especially if you have a good story idea. I can tell you that the Rev. Dennis Martin — the soon-to-be-retired priest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church AND a bicyclist, so he’s obviously a good guy — stopped in today with a good story tip. He rode his bike and was in a jersey and bike shorts.  (When I first looked up, I thought my Muscatine riding friend, Chuck Vesey, had made the trip to West Liberty.)

Anyway, if you need to reach me at the Index, the phone number is 319-627-2814. The email address is

If you need to reach me for reasons that have nothing to do with the Index, please keep using my personal email address and cell phone number if you know them.

Reaching new Crossfit milestones: Today, I raised my max in the back squat to 200 pounds. Max is short for maximum — the most someone can lift once. While 200 pounds may not sound like a lot for a big lug like me, it represents a 21 percent increase over the back squat max I set a few weeks ago. I was pretty happy.

The rest of the workout consisted of:

1. Super squats done at 70 percent of my max (140 pounds). We did 20 squats, one every 20 seconds.

2. 3 sets (21 repetitions, 15 and nine)  of overhead squats, pull-ups and burpees.

About this, all I can say is:

1. Overhead squats still suck.

2. Doing a total of 45 burpees is, at best, only half as bad as the 90 burpees we did Monday. And burpees still stink no matter how many — or few — of them you do.

And finally: You may have made it this far and wondered: What the heck is hotdish?

Think of it as speaking Minnesotan, because in The Great White North, hotdish is the word for casserole.

If you’re not from the Midwest, you might be unfamiliar with the idea of eating a casserole. And if so, I can’t help you. But I think this blog post qualifies as the equivalent of a word casserole — a little of this and a little of that.

But that’s it for today. I’m supposed to go play volleyball tonight. There ought to be some funny stories to tell later about that experience.