31 January 2006

Super Bowl Media Stupidity

A funny collection of some of the less thought out questions asked at Super Bowl media days over the years. My favorite....."Is Ram a noun or a verb?"

Oscars

Well, here are the nominations. No Walk the Line or Hustle & Flow for Best Picture? Even more incredulous, no Mad Hot Ballroom for Best Documentary? Shame! Only 1 nomination for Stars Wars III? And for makeup, not for sound editing or visual effects where it was a finalist! Sheesh. Well, begin your movie watching and deliberation on your picks for winners.

30 January 2006

Weekend activiies

Friday we went down and checked out Little Mojo at a free show at a coffee house downtown. They are two brothers, from Dowling Catholic and are big with the TEC/CYC/St. Thomas More group. Fun, mellow, guitar & drums music.
Saturday brought the forgotten excitement of a standardized test. I spent three hours taking the C-BASE (College Basic Academic Subjects Examination) down at Simpson. #2 pencils, calculators, "You may now open your test booklet to page 1 and begin." It had been a while for me, but I think I did just fine. After filling in all the correct ovals, I headed to Omaha for babysitting. Mom & I watched the three kids while E & K enjoyed the Carribean breezes. It was a lot of fun, playing Pit, watching Swiss Family Robinson, taking them to church, reading Danny, Champion of the World aloud (one of my favorties) and just sharing in all their excitement. And after putting them all to bed, I had a nice time knitting, watching Sabrina (the real one with Audrey Hepburn, of course) and talking with my Mom.
I was able to listen to Car Talk on NPR on the drive home, and Dara had a hot meal ready when I got here. A good weekend overall.

Brokeback takes backseat at SAG Awards

A surprise win for Crash and another win for Resee. Oscar nominations are out tomorrow!

27 January 2006

Chipotle has big IPO

I love the burritos and the unique, silly promotions. I did not know much about the beginnings of the restaraunt or the dedication to naturally raised meats. They went public yesterday and did quite well.
Man, I haven't had one of their burritos for a while. When are we going to get one in Des Moines!?!? Oh, and their website is great, very fun and dynamic. You can order burritos, learn the history, see who did the art on the walls, find out what music they play or download a burrito alarmclock for your PC.

Oprah unleashed

I caught some of the show that everyone is talking about yesterday while working out. Now, I haven't read the book, Million Little Pieces, nor have I really followed the story until now. Regardless, there were a couple aspects of this 'beat-down' that I enjoyed and admired. First, I like that Oprah publically acknowledged that she was incorrect to support Frey when the discrepancies started coming out. " I made a mistake, and I left the impression that the truth is not important" How refreshing! If only more people in our society (and politics) would be big enough to say, "I was wrong. I shouldn't have done that. We should've handled that differently." Secondly, I was glad that Oprah expected some answers, and she has the clout to get them. Too often in today's society, someone makes a statement...says what they are going to do, or going to work for, or going to represent, any sort of factual statement and then a short time later, we see that what was told to us is not the case. Unfortunately, when it is a national fiugre, most of us just have to shake our heads, cast our votes (spend our money) differently next time, and let it go. Oprah decided to get some reasons for the untruths and serve up some humble pie. Granted, she also knew that to preserve the integrity of her book club, she needed to get send a message on this matter. I liked the statements she made on her show, telling the author and publisher that they have a responsibility to categorize a book accurately and honestly and that the publisher has a responsibility to put in their due diligence in checking the validity of the manuscript.
I am a fan of Oprah's and I love the ending of this article about her performance on the show.

25 January 2006

Skirts for everyone!

Good for this kid, not afraid to question the man and make a difference. He caused some change. Although, the change was just to let him wear skirts, not to allow shorts.
It also sounds like that was a little difference in opinion between the superintendant and the principal.

Airboarding?

Sounds like fun! I agree that it is a niche market thing, but the greater the percent of people they can get on the slope, the more $$$ they make. 80 mph! The two pictures of the Airboard look quite different but maybe it's just the angle of the shot. My favorite line in the article is, "It's like snowboarding. Twenty years ago, everybody thought snowboarders were the devil," he said. "Now everybody's saying hallelujah for snowboarding or we'd be out of business." Almost made me laugh out loud. So true. You gotta be constantly evolving in business or you will be left behind.

24 January 2006

Lemieux Retires

Mario held a press conference today announcing his (second) retirement. Health problems, an inability to play at the highest level and importance of family were the reasons he cited. But as this article points out, the possibility of the team leaving Pittsburgh is not something Mario wants to be a part of or remember for.
I've always felt an affinity for Lemieux, ever since I saved up and bought his jersey when I was in sixth grade, which I still have. In high school I was offered $100 for it by a teacher's husband and I turned him down. I'm glad I did.

23 January 2006

Hingis


On to the Quarterfinals! Four wins now for Martina. It gets much harder now, she has Kim Clijsters in the quarters.

Saturday Night Dinner

Luke and Lauren visited on Saturday and I had some fun cooking some new dishes for us to enjoy. I made a new recipe for meatloaf and it turned out pretty good. It was very juicy (1/2 beef 1/2 pork), lots of onions, and strips of bacon on top. Need to remember to toothpick the bacon down next time so it doesn't curl up and burn. I also made homemade Macaroni and cheese, which I've never done before. The recipe call for a bread crumb topping and that was good, but it called for about two times too much. We also had jalepeño corn muffins, Emeril's recipe. I'd seen him make them earlier in the week and, in my opinion, they were the best thing I made. A little cheese, real corn, jalepeños, they were not as gritty as box cornbread mix. Of course, I had to carry on my mom's tradition of creating at least one open fire/billowing smoke cloud at each family get together. The meatloaf pan was very full and the grease was running over the side and onto the oven element. When that was combined with the bacon curling up and turning black, it made for quite a fog in my kitchen, so we had to open windows and doors and turn the fans on. But everyone had a good time and it was nice to spend some time with those to and hear how their last college semesters are going.
Oh, if anyone wants leftovers, I have enough mac and cheese to feed several families.

20 January 2006

Agca freed then re-arrested

Can they do this? What a change of events. You're free......no wait, you're under arrest. I'm sure we'll be seeing more on this story.

Whale visits London

I saw this on cnn while working out over lunch. The headline they had on the screen was "Whale probably got lost chasing fish". I don't know why but I found that pretty humorous.

Hingis' Return

She's back! And I couldn't be happier. She's done very well in the opening rounds of the Australian Open. Let's hope she keeps on rolling!

And this article was very cool. I LOVE this kind of fun story. The people/behind the scenes part of big time sports. I would've loved a crack at being a ball boy. I love watching how different players interact with the ballpersons during their matches, seeing who is cool and kind and who is not. I think the part about Andy Roddick and his opponent letting them hit for a bit while they took a break was super!

Hybrid cars

A co-worker was showing me the car they had ordered from Toyota and after they left I got sidetracked by the Hybrid section of the website. It was very interactive and fun. I found that if I switched to a Prius Hybrid I would save roughly $700 on gas annually, and that is with my car averaging 24 mpg which isn't bad. I also was able to use a fun interactive map to see that the possible one-tank driving distances. I could drive to Chicago and back on one tank! Looks like I could get into one for ~$21,000. I would also be eligible for a $3000 tax deduction. Chevy is working on coming out with a hybrid full-size truck and a hybrid Malibu.
Hopefully my non-Hybrid current means of travel lasts for a couple more years, but it is fun to see what is out there!

Museum Attendance figures

Attendance numbers for 2005 are in. And they are down. Except for Science and Industry who had a heck of a year, thanks to BodyWorks. And the Shedd is the #1 'fish zoo' in the nation. (There must be some sort of definition issue so it isn't considered an aquarium. Or maybe the journalist just liked the sound of fish zoo.) I have wanted to visited the MCA, DuSable and Mexican Heritage museums for a while now. They all are smaller, lesser known attractions but are still recommended as good.

Another NBA player goes into the crowd

This is a hot story, after all the craziness last year when Ron Artest went after a fan in the stands and a brawl erupted. This is a different scenario, though. The player, Antonio Davis, is the head of the NBA Players Association, and was calm and under-control the whole time and, most importantly, was going into the crowd to ensure the safety of his wife. Admittedly knowing only what has been reported, but that Axelrod kid sound like a complete jackass. Planning to sue Davis, the United Center, the NBA, the security company, the concessionaires, etc. Good thing daddy is a big shot political consultant. There is no need for rude, mean, offensive fans in any sport.

18 January 2006

Frugality

I thought this was a well-done article with some good points on being frugal and living within your means. A few of my favorite items:
1 * I thought it was good that she said that in our society, people associated being frugal with failure. If you have to budget yourself or monitor your spending then you financially are not a success. What a terrible assumption!
2 * I liked that she noted the model set by our government's budget and its effect of how we view our personal finances. Now I do not blame the government for people who rack up credit card debt, but it does make you think. Our government never has a balanced budget. Each year we spend more than we bring in and we are in a incomprehensible and inescapable amount of debt.
3 * "People try to finance a lifestyle they can't afford." Many times, it is as simple as that.

I haven't checked out any of the included links yet, but I plan to. This would be good stuff for my Personal Finance class when I am teaching!

17 January 2006

Golden Globes

Anyone watch them last night? I watched the last hour or so. Brokeback Mountain and Walk the Line took home the most awards. The Golden Globes divide the Best Actor & Actress and Best Movie awards into Drama and Musical/Comedy, which will not be the case at the Oscars. I was very happy to see both Reese and Joaquin take home awards. They were superb. I also enjoyed the tribute to Anthony Hopkins. He's had such a great career and is always such an interesting character. Plus, he's cool AND he got hooked on acting thru the YMCA!
I didn't get to see the red carpet so I didn't really see any gowns, so I'll have to save that for the Oscars. (But you KNOW that Natalie looked great with her growing out hair)

Chicago smoking ban follow-up...

From the Sun-Times. It will be a lifestyle changes for many people. And not one that they are probably excited about, but it is a good thing. Change their environment and you will change their behavior. (How's that for some applied psychology ?!)

Berghoff follow-up...

From the Sun-Times today. I'm not sure if I shared this before or not, NPR interviewed a waiter who had worked the last ~40 years there. He was very funny. Very Chicago. He talked about the changes over the years, remembering when they first let women in, what his favorite dish was, what his plans are now (he may just retire, he said).
But it sounds like the bar and cafe will stay open, so all is not lost yet.

13 January 2006

First beer in 131 years!

This town had been dry for 151 years, and is now starting to issue liquor liceness. A few thoughts came to me as I read this.
1. First beer in 131 years. You pay $150 for it. You get Budweiser?? IN A PLASTIC CUP?? Where is the pomp & circumstance? I'd be drinking it out of a 150 year old mug. Or a chalice. Or something cool.
2. I like that the pizza place was creative and auctioned off that first beer and gave the proceed's to a ministry.
3. If I was that guy drinking the first beer, I would be a bit apprehensive. You know there had to be some hard-core opposition to the liquor licenses. Who's to say they would slip ya a Mickey Finn in that beer as a statement?
4. They blew up the saloon!!! That's is some militant temperance!!
4. There is gonna be some DRINKING goin' on in Westwood on Feb 1.

Houston School District to vote on Performance Pay

Denver is trying it out and it looks like Houston, the nation's seventh largest school district is getting ready to also. Five of the nine board members are already in favor of it. I was looking at the details provided and it definitely seems to have some areas that will need to be figured out. Extras (music, P.E, art, speech therapy, etc) don't seem to have as much opportunity for incentivites as core-area teachers. But, I guess it seems like in today's education system, the standardized test scores is what is important, so it makes sense that the teachers responsible for those should be the ones getting the biggest rewards. Also, changes in district size/location/shape could have an impact in the student demographic and negatively or positively impact the test results.
Will we see this trend in pay take off nationwide? Is it good for the education system? For the kids? I think that there has to be some sort of incentive pay to reward the good teachers and also a way to get rid of the poor teachers.
Teachers, sound off!

Mush

A few misspoken words can be the end of a career. Although, calling your student body 'mush' doesn't seem like a misspoken word, more like a poorly thought out speech. And who would want to be in his class when he returns from sabbatical and starts teaching? Not this bowl of mush.

11 January 2006

Jolie-Pitt Expecting

WOW! This is a surprise! I wonder if it was to them too!

10 January 2006

35th Anniversary of the Adidas Superstar

I've been meaning to post about this for a month or so now. The Adidas Superstar is one of the very few classic, timeless shoes. A style that has changed very little over the 35 year span it has been produced. It has been a cultural symbol, a fashion statement and actually athletic footwear along the way. The website Adidas put together is very sharp and contains quite a bit of info. The only drawback is it may be a bit slow loading if you do not have high-speed internet. I loved checking out the history and how Adolph (Adi) Dassler decided on the three stripes and the importance of it being visually distinguishable. Jesse Owens ran in them! (they only had two stripes at that point). The interviews with the collectors were interesting also. Adidas designed 35 unique style, organized into five groups (Anniversary, Cities, Expression, Music, Consortium). The Consortium are very limited runs, most of them under 1000 pairs worldwide. They were developed in conjunction with specialty footwear stores in Japan, California, and UK that have had long-standing relationships with Adidas.
Adidas issued golden tickets that admitted the holders to exclusive parties in five cities across the globe where they had the chance to win one of 300 pairs of Model 35, which came in a leather bound wood box along with all the necessary leather care products. It is all white with a leather sole! (like a premium dress shoe!) Each model has such a cool story. After reading all about the 'shelltoes' I couldn't help but take my navy w/white stripe Superstars that I got in '98 and clean them up a bit. And I'm also the proud owner of the Boston's.
So cool. So Cool. So Cool!
(interesting historical sidenote, Adi and his brother began the business together. They formed Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik and made "Dassler" shoes in 1924. Jessie Owens ran in them in the 1936 Olympics. After time in a WWII POW camp, Rudolph split in 1948 and formed PUMA. The Dassler sons sold their stake in PUMA in 1989.)

Cooking Weekend

I spent some good time in the kitchen this weekend (all 12 sq ft of it). I had thrown together a soup on Thursday that was very average. Lentils, onions, ground beef, and a bag of mixed frozen vegatables (or should it be frozen mixed vegatables?) along with some beef broth and rosemary. It was OK but nothing I'll try to duplicate. On Friday, I decided to use up some of the Tastefully Simple products we had acquired. I made the pesto sauce, which was good, (and even better when I used some as a spread on a sandwich I took to the laundrymat with me. Turkey, Irish cheddar, pesto. YUM.) And I also made the Savory Beer Bread. The only beer I had was 1 Sam Adams cherry wheat that had been in the bottom of my frig since October. It was so gross neither of us would drink it. So I thought, why not use it for the bread? It was either that or Guinness and I didn't think it would be carbonated enought to rise the bread (Guinness is nitrogenated anyways, not carbonated). The bread turned out nice, other than the odd fake cherry hint imparted by the filthy beer I used.
Saturday I was excited to make my favorite dish in the Asian Cooking book that Eron had given me for Christmas, Hot Pork Curry with Pumpkin. He had made it a couple times when I was there (including once before we left on a Chicago trip and Emily smashed up her teeth that morning.) I LOVE this dish. So I was very happy to see what cookbook it was when I opened it. I made a trip to the asian market downtown and picked up some coconut milk, coconut cream, a big hunk of ginger, red curry paste, and fish sauce. I picked up a couple of nice looking thick boneless pork chops and headed home to begin. I was able to use my new pans I got for Christmas from Mom, the new deep pan for the curry and the saucepan for the rice. They are great. I LOVE having lids! No more using plates for lids for me! I also got to try out the nice Henckl santoku knife that Dara got me for Christmas. The dish is pretty simple and smells SOOOO yummy while it cooks. The dish was scrumpcious. I had seconds. So good I wanted to just jump in the pot and roll around in it. The pork was very soft and tender and the pumpkin (butternut squash) was so soft it could barely hold its shape. I gave it five stars.
Sunday I cooked Chick Pea Curry from the same cookbook. This was an Indian dish and very simple and straightforward and probably pretty healthy for you too. Not much other than onions, chick peas, tomatoes and spices. This one also turned out very nicely. Our eyes were burning from all the onion in the air but it didn't stop me from enjoying the dish. I love chick peas!
Another fun twist to my cooking was my iPod. I put on some music, stuck in my pocket and could then enjoy my music while I did all my prep work and cooking. It was GREAT! I will be using this tactic again.
Thanks to everyone for the fun Christmas gifts, they have all been great!

09 January 2006

The Eyes of Texas will miss him

A sad follow-up to last week's celebration. Vince Young has declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. There will be a LARGE void at QB next year for the Horns. Spring football will be very interesting in Austin.

06 January 2006

NPR Listener's Top 10 albums of '05

I subscribe to the All Songs Considered podcast and it usually is around 40 minutes long. I like it alot, it lets me here some new music and learn about groups I already know. I was shocked when I played the last episode and my iPod said it was 1:57. That's an hour and fify seven minutes, not a minute & 57 seconds. I didn't think there was anyway I'd listen to the whole thing, but it only took a couple minutes and I was hooked. I listened to the entire show and even took some notes. It was great fun listening to this group of 5 or so music critics from across the country. As they counted down the top 10 as voted on by the listeners, they each had a chance to talk about a couple of their favorites that may not have made the list. A little music snobbery aside, it was great to hear their wealth of information on non-mainstream music. Here is their top 10 with a short synopsis of each album. I cracked up on the description of Bright Eyes. I am also going to reprint the top 10 below with my thoughts on each...
10 ~ Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine ~ I haven't heard much off this CD, just a few samples on iTunes, but I am a fan of Fiona and will look forward to getting this CD (maybe from the library) soon. The story behind this CD's production and release is cool.
9 ~ Sigur Ròs - Takk ~ Again, I have not heard this new album, but I like their past work. (I am not a 'rush out and buy' consumer, I guess). They are from Iceland and their trance-like, dreamy ephemeral style is unlike anything else I've heard. Another one I'm looking forward to the library helping me out on.
8 ~ Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah - self titled ~ This one is totally unknown to me. Haven't heard it or of it.
7 ~ Spoon - Gimme Fiction ~ I wasn't too thrilled with what I heard on the podcast. But it definitely has been a buzzed about album this year.
6 ~ My Morning Jacket - Z ~ I have their previous album "It Still Moves" and while I really like a couple tracks on it, overall they are just too jam-band for my liking. I don't like 6, 7, 8 minute songs with long jam solos. I like a tight, clean song that progresses with strong vocals. But everything I've read said that this CD is much better than the one I have, so I'll have to check 'em out (from the library) and see for myself. They have a real southern-fried rock feel to their music. Luke saw them in concert and said they were good but totally hyper spaztic on stage.
5 ~ The Decemberists - Picaresque ~ Another one I haven't heard, but have read a lot about. This album is on emusic.com, where you can download 50 songs for free. You sign up (yes, you have to give them your cc #) but as long as you cancel your membership within a month you do not get charged and you can download up to 50 songs for free. I want to go on there and get this album.
4 ~ The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan ~ This is my #1 of the year. It completely blew me away. I have to thank Luke for suggesting (and providing) it. Incredible. The songs are all so different but they all have this 'something' that really good songs have. They are funky, full of attitude and character, fresh, creative, simple, driving. The songs make me smile.
3 ~ Death Cab for Cutie - Plans ~ This is my #2. I've become a fan of these guys through this album. Two sidenotes - my favorite song of their's is still "Photobooth" and I still prefer Ben Gibbard's (lead singer) other project, Postal Service, to DC4C. Besides that, this is a great album. Lyrically interesting and musically very easy on the ears.
2 ~ Bright Eyes - I'm wide awake, It's morning ~ I've became a fan of Bright Eyes on his previous CD, "Lifted...", and was very excited when this CD came out. He released two albums at the same time, this one and "Digital Ash from a Digital Urn". Since I wanted both but was broke, I bought neither. Now I have them both and both are good. They each have some tracks that are a bit too raw vocally and uneventful musically, but those are in the minority. Conor Oberst (who is Bright Eyes) started the Saddle Creek record label with some friends when he was like 13 or something. Now it is the talk of the independant music biz. I like his lyrics and their political underlyings and I enjoy the folky, mellow sound of this album.
1 ~ Sufjan Stevens - Illinois ~ He has a plan to make a CD influenced by each of the 50 states. He's done Michigan and Illinois. I haven't heard enough of it to judge it, but my first thought on this one is "over-hyped".

Epiphany

Since today is the Feast of Epiphany, here's some trivia to celebrate.
#1 What does Epiphany commemorate?

#2 Can you name any of the three kings/magi?

Letter from Santa

I realize this it is a little late for this, but I just read it today, stumbled upon it really, and since my eyes got watery while I read it, I figured that meant it was good enough to share on the blog. It is from a column in the Chicago Sun-Times by Michael Sneed. Enjoy.

Your request for us to reprint a story about a father whose child had stopped believing in Santa Claus is accepted. How can one refuse a desperate dad who wrote: "I have a 9-year-old daughter that I found out this weekend is having serious doubts about Santa. Any help would be greatly appreciated."

The story, by the way, is a true tale about an old friend of mine and his son, Sam, who learned "the truth" about Santa Claus . . . on Christmas Eve. But like a good father, Steve worried about how his son was handling this turn in his life. So Steve penned a note to Sam from "Santa" and left it under the tree. It read:

Dear Sam,

Your dad stayed up last night to tell me that you now know as much about me as I do about you.

Well, good. I'm glad you asked. And don't worry, no child ever really leaves me. Ask your mom. Ask your dad. They know I don't live in the North Pole (too cold). They know I don't ride in a sleigh (too dangerous). Still, they love me, and so will you, even 50 years from now.

Oh, and what do you think happened last night just as you were asking about me? Why, a baby was born out in Kalispell, Mont. That's right, just as you were putting aside your belief, a brand-new child was born who can put it to good use. So long as that keeps happening, I'll never be out of a job.

Sam, I want to wish you a wonderful life. If you don't mind, I will continue to drop by on future Christmases, just to make sure you're OK.

Love, Santa

P.S. Remember, you don't have to believe in me to know I am there.

Bowling is #1 growing sport

Not that I doubted his obviously endless trivia knowledge, but Uncle JW was right, bowling is the fastest growing varsity sport in the nation. Although, it is important to note that the term fastest growing is based on number of schools offering the sport, not on kids playing it. I just saw that Iowa is making it a sanctioned sport next year. The article lists many reasons why it is "so popular", but in my opinion, there are two main reason for it becoming a more widespread sanctioned sport. 1- Cost. 2- Title IX. The two work together to make bowling very attractive to schools. They need to offer more girls sports, and why not bowling? The equipment cost is minimal. No new facilities are necessary and the sport won't cause any scheduling conflicts for facilities with other sports. And since, as the article states, the kids going out for bowling are kids who are not otherwise athletes, it doesn't cause any 'overlap' problems and can have its season run simulataneous with other sports.
That being said, bowling IS fun and if it helps get kids involved with their school and in extra-curricular activities, I think it is a good thing.

Pat Robertson Speaks

How do people get this pompous and wacked out? Pat Robertson's newest claim is that Ariel Sharon has been struck down by God for allowing the dividing of the Gaza Strip.

05 January 2006

Hook 'em Horns

Last night's Rose Bowl/National Championship game was one of the best college football games I've ever seen. Both teams were so talented, they just kept coming back better and better. It's like they were singing, "Anything you can do, I can do better." Vince Young, though, was in a class of his own. He was so composed and calm. He made it all look so easy. Checking off two or three receivers to find an open man or deciding to run it himself. He had 200 yards rushing! When they had 4th and 5 from the 9 yard line there with 18 seconds left or so and needed a touchdown to win, I was so nervous I couldn't sit still. But Vince glided in for the score, then punched in the 2 point conversion himself. WOW.
I think the UT athletic website has been down all morning. Too many hits, I guess. So you'll have to go out and find your own stories to read. There are some good ones and some good pix on cnnsi.com. I love the one with Vince doing the Heisman pose with the crystal football.

Lindsey Lohan

Lohan shares her problems in an upcoming Vanity Fair interview and cover shoot. After previously denying any eating disorder problems, she admits that she suffered from bulemia and was disgusted by pictures of herself. Lorne Michels of SNL and a couple SNL folks she had worked with on Mean Girls staged an intervention after she hosted the show to help her. It sounds like she is planning to spend more time with family and away from the spotlight. Hopefully she can return to health and get a little meat on them bones!

03 January 2006

Free wedding!

It is fitting that my first post of '06 is about some other 'first of '06' news. I love little kindnesses like this. It truely is the small pleasures & random acts of kindness. And well done to the couple for being flexible and up for a change in plans. Wanna get married today? Sure.
"What'd you do today?"
"Oh, We were going to run some errands and stuff, but we ended up getting married."
"Cool."