31 October 2005

Teacher Compensation changes?

Denver is voting on whether or not to overhaul the compensation program for its public school teachers. I think it would be a good thing to have pay tied to performance & evaluations. It would be a convincing way to reward strong teachers who are making a difference and a way to weed out poor teachers. One big difference I saw is that where the normal pay scale stops after the 13th year, the new program would continue with increases. That could lead to a big difference is salaries in those very important final years of educators' careers. Clear standards and goals would need to be laid-out in advance so that all parties are fully aware of what they will be evaluated on.
Check out these FAQ for more info.
Or test out the salary calculator.

25 October 2005

McDonald's (lack of) Nutrition Info

While I am happy that they are going to make this information more available and directly visible to the customer and specific to the food item ordered, I do not feel that this will lead to any changes or have any positive impact on America's obesity problem. Since the info is on the wrapper, the customer will be holding it when they read it. Therefore, they have already paid for the food and they are obviosly hungry, so I don't think it's going to deter their consumption. It may, though, impact their next trip to the golden arches.
What a unrealistic request, to put the nutritional info on the menu board. That cracked me up. There's not enough room for all the names of the food items, let alone a dozen lines of nutrional info for each!
What would be great, is when you pull up in the drive-thru and make your order, on that red LED screen that shows you what you've ordered, there could be a running total of fat grams and calories!

Smoking Bans

I wish all this legislation for a smoking ban would hurry up! You have to click on the link under the picture to see the places their visited. I've only been to a couple of the places on the list (Harry Carey's and Fireside Bowl).
It is SO nice to go to a restaurant/bar and have a meal, have a pint and be able to leave and not carry that stink with you on your clothes, your hair and your skin. But I guess that should be the least of our worries. Carrying it in our lungs is the worst part of it. Business owners always fight it and say they will lose all their business, which simply is not true. Not all their customers smoke. And I think their clientelle would increase with some people who now don't mind to stop in if they don't have to deal with second-hand smoke. And those that have to smoke would still be able to step out onto the curb or outback to a patio.
I was sitting at Ginger's and the guy next to me and the barkeep were talking about cigarettes (since they were from Cork and Galway, respectively, they referred to them as fags). They were talking about quitting smoking and the barmaid said she hopes they pass this ban. She thought it would help a lot of people who want to quit or who are 'social smokers' from having that option.

Teacher Awards

This story is great! I love seening people who work hard, love what they do and do it because they are making a difference, get a reward. It goes without saying that there are thousands of teachers and other professionals who deserve this type of reward and recognition, but a few is better than none in my book.
The funniest part what the benefactor said the administrators told him when asked about what a good monetary amount would be for the award. $500 or $1000. LOL!

No smooch for Harry Potter

I haven't even read the books, but I thought I'd share this for those of you who have. The smooch that is in the book was left on the edit room floor.

24 October 2005

Lucky Every Day

Roscommon to Imogene
You all ought to read this quick little book I read tonight in 45 minutes. It is about a women's lacrosse coach at Loyola College of Maryland, Diane Geppi-Aikesn. She was a single mother of 4 kids who died young of brain cancer and how her passion, spirit and enthusiam for living encouraged all those around her. Her former players and coaches all wrote a chapter about knowing her. Quite wonderful. Her are a few of the chapters. Make life a challenge, and Make it fun. Always make the time. Everyone is included, Playing for Respect, No Stone Unturned, Honor Thy Parents, Never Grow up, etc. I found it very refeshing and uplifting.

Smuggling beer to Chicago

Pretty cool story about a family that used to smuggle beer into the Midwest during the Prohibition and is now going to start importing their stuff legally. I'm gonna keep my eyes open for it when I go out in a couple weeks and see if I can pick up a sample! That would be pretty cool to be that guy and get to hear stories from strangers about how they used to run beer for his grandfather to Capone.

Professional Sports

I enjoyed this column about the meaning or importance of professional sports in our society. I liked it because I agree and love to see groups of people gathered together to cheer on a team of players. It can be a group of five buddies to pull for the alma mater or tens of thousands of fans with one common amongst them as they cheer for athletes making more that day then they will all year. You get caught up in the game. You can forget about the laundry, the mortgage, the job, the hurts.
The behavior of some pro athletes often leaves a lot to be desired and when that is coupled with the thought of their astronomical salaries, it can be a bit tough to swallow, but for each time the media trumpets a negative headline, there are a lot of good things being done that go unheralded.

23 October 2005

Goalpost Fatality

This story is so sad and at such a small school too! Only 1000 people at the game. I always wondered about the people who were beneath the goalposts when they come down. I think it is good that most schools have the collapsible goalposts that they quickly lay down as soon as the game it over. Luke has that picture that was in Sports Illustrated after Iowa State beat Nebraska a few years ago and there are dozens of kids on the goalposts and a sea of fans on the field. Crazy. (And scary!)

21 October 2005

Gone All Day Stew

I worked from home yesterday and since I had the time, I thought it would be nice to make a stew or something, so I flipped open the St. Patrick's Parish cookbook and one of the first recipes I came across was Gone All Day Stew, as submitted by my mom! Even though I was not 'gone' at all, it still was great. It made the apartment smell great and worked out perfectly since Luke & Lauren came down and were able to enjoy with Dara & I.
Good recipe, Mom! I even got the french bread to go with it, like the recipe said. :)

20 October 2005

Philanthropy

In my conversation with my friend D last night, he informed me that the powerball was at a record high, something like $350 Million. Since I don't ever play the lotto it doesn't really make a difference to me, but I always like to think about how I would use the money if I were to score a windfall of some kind. And after listening to pledge week on NPR and reading about Hershey's incredible philanthropy, I decided to blog this.
So here is the assingment: In the event you hit it big, and after the government takes its half you have ~$150 million. Plenty to get everything you want and set your family up nicely too. List who the charities, non-profits, alma maters, organizations, etc are that would benefit from your generosity.
So this is pure donations, do not list gifting money to family. That is already anticipated (and expected!). And do not list your purchases.
I will deliberate on mine and then post them in the comments...

18 October 2005

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Today I celebrate the date of my birth, for the 29th time. I have been richly blessed in those years. I love you all.

17 October 2005

Irish Heartbreak

I thought this article was a nice summary of the game. After how well the Irish had played and fought, to have it end like it did was stomach-turning.
I was happy to see that the Irish did not fall at all in the rankings. I think that is justified.
Watch out BYU!

13 October 2005

Jim Bob gets his 16th

Holy cow! The guy is 40, the lady is 39. And they've been married 18 years with 16 kids to show for it. He is a former state representative and they are moving into a 7000 sq ft home that has dorm-style rooms and (my favorite) 4 washers and 4 dryers. I looked over their list of J names and Joy-Anna and Johannah are awfully similar in my opinion. Come on, show some originality!
Since he is planning on running again for U.S. Senate maybe he is having all these kids to produce more voters.

Irish Bike Tour

I would LOVE to do this Irish Bike tour of Chicago's Irish landmarks and neighborhoods! I wish I was there! Fun, Fun, Fun.

iPod evolution

So, my photo iPod, just like the mini was replaced by the nano, is now obsolete and being replaced. For the same price I paid ($299, although I got mine discounted for $279) you can get a 30 Gig (mine's 20) VIDEO iPod. And it is thinner now! Amazon is clearing out the remaining photos for $250. Oh well, I'm very happy with the one I have and I don't think I would do much with the video capabilities. It would be fun if you had kids or home video, but I'm not going to pay to watch TV episodes on my iPod. The partnership between Apple and Disney and the trail-blazing ability to buy TV programs got the headlines and the news of a new iPod was second-page news. Interesting.

12 October 2005

Sunny Canton, OH

Spending the week here in Canton and as of yet, have been unable to get online at night from the hotel so my plans of lots of blogging have been foiled. Bear with me on the delays. I am in the middle of a stretch of 10 days away from home. (Chicago-Canton-Iowa City)

08 October 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

07 October 2005

Scientology...

I'm not condoning these opinions, but I enjoy this girl's blog and this post (after I read it twice) made me laugh. Maybe we laugh at that which is different or what we don't understand, but nevertheless...

"You're Glib"

So ...anyone happen to know the Church of Scientology's published view on unwed pregnancy?
Or perhaps bearded homosexuality?
Just curious.
Anyone else out there have a secret desire that Katie Holmes suffers from post-partum depression? Anyone else out there have a secret wish that Tom Jr. desperately needs Ritalin?
I know, I'm evil, but hey ... he made his bed.

Nobel Peace Winners

Announced today, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear regulators and its head, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei are sharing the Nobel Peace Award. Read the Nobel site's press release here. Or CNN's version here. On NPR this morning they mentioned how the U.S. was upset when ElBaradei would not state that Saddam had nuclear weapons that needed to be dismanteled. After that, the U.S. did its best to get ElBaradei out of office.
I guess it looks like the Dr. came out nicely on both matters.

05 October 2005

Laundrymat Reading

I went to the laundrymat tonight and as I did my three loads I was able to read a good chunk in my book. And it got me thinking, reading at the laundrymat is some of the best reading for me. I tried to determine why exactly and it is not totally relaxing, unlike laying in bed and reading just before turning off the light. And it isn't the quietest of locations, but I think it's because I do not have to feel like I could be doing other things in the back of my head. I can feel completely justified to just read, because, I am getting my laundry done at the same time. There's nothing else I can do for the next 40 minutes til those washers kick off, so I might as well enjoy my book. So, I did.

04 October 2005

Check out the link

I just read about this "Out of 5" site and I think it is pretty cool for lots of reasons. I love getting a mix of music to listen to. I love lists and each week on this website they will compile a "themed" list of 10 songs (2 from each contributor). You can download the songs from the site. You can print the custom-made cover art and put it in a CD case with the CD you burn.
I have put this link in my Links area. I will probably be commenting on it each week. So far, on this list of "covers that outshine the original" I love the Miles Davis one. It is so dusky and relaxing. The rest were only average. I didn't mind the Al Green one.

Let the corporate takeover begin...

I mentioned earlier the possibility of corporate sponsorship of the different "L" lines or of different stops. While not that drastic, this picture shows the growing presence of advertisements on the train stops. (I think they need to use that gecko more. He's cool.) I don't know if anything can compete with apple and thier iPod ads. They were EVERYWHERE on every line and every stop it seemed like. But, hey, I guess they work since I bought one!

03 October 2005

Candy!



Candy Update


Bing is KING. This is my new favorite candy. I had never had it before and now I am a big fan. Crushed nuts in chocolate and a cherry nougat/fonda center. Very Nice.
Not nice is the Cherry Mash. It should be called Cherry Trash, because that is where mine ended up. (and you know me, I do NOT throw food away, especially if I paid for it.) It is a totally sickening fake cherry mixture that is so chemically and smelly that it was unpalettable.
Valomilk. I mainly tried it only for the novelty of it, because I am not a big fan of marshmallow filling. But it wasn't too bad, the chocolate was of good quality and the marshmallow's flavor was smooth and not overpowering. But I do have to say I was disappointed because it didn't live up to the advertising 'flowing center'. And the book talked about how you can't eat one without making a mess, so I was all ready for some fun but my center was not runny. It was soft and would've eventually oozed out, but not the waterfall of insides I was expecting. Maybe too long on the shelf.
Pecan Roll. Hadn't heard of this one and it wasn't in the book, just tried it for fun. It was actually good, but so sweet you couldn't eat more that two bites per hour.
Nut Goodie. Pretty average. A turtle-like candy with peanuts, carmel and marshmallow. Not memorable.
Charleston Chew (strawberry flavor). Definitely a kid's candy. After my first bite, my thought was..."astronaut ice cream crossed with taffy". The book said you had to freeze it and then hit it on the counter to break it up, and I agree, the colder it is, the better. As mine got room temperature, it became disgustingly sweet. Maker is a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll.
Caramellow. Made by Cadbury, so not really an 'independant' candybar, but outside of the 'big two' so I gave it a try. YUM YUM. Very smooth, buttery caramel filling inside of good chocolate, although not quite melty enough for my liking. Good stuff.

02 October 2005

Fire It Up!!!


On Sale at Home Depot. It is SOOOO good to have a grill again! I made steaks on it tonight. I haven't had a steak in a LONG time. It was a wonderful way to end the summer (or start October).