The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 29, 2012

Joe Hadsall: Alive-and-dead cat helps plan road trip

JOPLIN, Mo. — June is usually a good month at Geek Central. My wife, The Lovely Paula Hadsall, and I picked a wedding date that would be easy to remember: June 7, 2008. (We wanted to get married at 5 p.m. so we could say we got married at 5, 6, 7, 8. Three out of four ain’t bad.)

We knew we wanted to take a trip for our fourth anniversary (another happy coincidence: We got married in a presidential election year, so every fourth year, we can make jokes about running for re-marriage). But we didn’t know exactly where we wanted to go. We had a general notion of driving down to Arkansas, but that was it.

Fortunately, the decisions were made for us by a cat that was alive and dead at the same time.

My anniversary present from her was a Schrodinger’s Cat Executive Decision Maker.

Let me stop for a second: All this will make a lot more sense if you know what Schrodinger’s cat is. There are much more wonderfully detailed, and accurate, descriptions at trusted sites on the Internet.

For now, all you need to know about the S.C.E.D.M. is that it’s a little box with a door. When you slide open the door, it shows either a live cat or a dead cat. The instructions say, "Interpret this how you like."

We figured that, roughly, alive equals yes and dead equals no. With that in mind, we started our trip with the question: "Should we see the Crystal Bridges art museum in Bentonville?"

Kitteh was alive. Kitteh said yes. So that was stop No. 1.

Impressive museum

We had no idea that Crystal Bridges would be so fantastic. The museum, founded by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton and sponsored by Wal-Mart, houses a collection of American art five centuries old.

The collection features works by Thomas Hart Benton, Maxwell Parrish, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol and many more. The museum is nestled around Crystal Spring and hovers over a creek, so the scenery is also gorgeous (in fact, the museum also offers a nature center).

Aside from creepy security volunteers who get a little too close, and expensive diet sodas, the museum is an incredible attraction.

When my sister told me that the Walton heiress ticked off the art community to build that museum, I was even more enamored with it. Seems the established art community thought that Walton was buying all these great works of art for her own private Wal-mansion. When the museum’s construction was announced, the art community was still ticked off, because she built a museum worthy of Chicago, New York or Philadelphia in Northwest Arkansas; in the home city of the guy who started Wal-Mart. Let ‘em be ticked. The museum makes for an outstanding road trip.

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