31 May 2006

"May I have the language of origin, please?"

Competition has begun at the Scripps National Spelling Bee! There are four rounds today and by the end of it, there will be less than 45 spellers left from the original 275 spellers. The preliminary championship rounds will be on ESPN tomorrow from 11-2 and the Championship rounds will be on live on ABC from 7-9 tomorrow night. The list for Round 1, which is a 25 word written round is here and starts out easy but finishes incredibly hard. Follow the results here. The Des Moines and Omaha kids are both still in it. Of course, my love for statistics led me to this section. I was surprised that 70% of these predominantly seventh and eighth graders (although there is 1 FOURTH grader) attended public school. 13% were home school and another 15% attended private/parochial/charter schools. Also surprising, there are five spellers that have a twin sibling. 27 spellers have had an immediate family member take part in the National Bee. And there are two spellers who are returning for the fifth time! Of last year's top finishers, the only one returning is Samir Sudhir Patel from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. He tied for second last year. Check out this for a list of all the past champions since 1925 and their winning word. I was smitten in 1997, the first time I watched it live and got hooked by Rebecca Sealfon and her uniquely bizarre methodical spelling. That and 'Spellbound' have made me a big fan. Enjoy!

CWS Countdown begins...

Two weeks til the summer celebration that is the College World Series begins at Rosenblatt Stadium. The 64 team field for regionals has been announced and the brackets set. Nebraska and Miami are in the same regional, as are Texas and Stanford. Should be some tough competition! Check out the NCAA Notebook for other news.
Who is in for watching games on June 17-19?

Pick 'em

Come on, everybody's doing it! Check out the World Cup Predictor game. You download it to your computer (it is an Excel spreadsheet) and then you pick who you think the winners will be in all the games of the group stage by filling out the score boxes. The sheet will adjust the group standing automatically and show you the top 2 teams in each group, who will advance through to the knockout stage. Then click over to the Second stage tab at the bottom and fill out the knockout bracket. You don't have to know any soccer players, just pick which countries you feel will be victorious. You could go by jersey color or design, geographic location, team logo, political allies/enemies, rank on vacation hotspots list, etc.
I also have a fantasy group set up for anyone interested, where you can pick the best players from each team and assemble a fantasy team. Let me know if you want the info on that. :)

Marine fights back

This story is amazing! An ex-Marine (which, in an interview on NPR this morning a former Marine said, "there really is no "former", once a marine, always a marine.") gets jumped by four thugs with a shotgun and a pistol. He flees but gets cornered. He then pulls a pocketknife from his backpack, kicks the shotgun out of their hands, stabs two of them, and they take off.
Two thoughts on this one.....who jumps a 6'6" person? and it is interested that the Marine never considered just giving them his tip money. Death before dishonor, I guess.

Bombay Burgers

I made these turkey & tofu burgers last night for the second time and I was pretty happy with how they turned out. I would be interested in any modifications that anyone might offer, though. They turned out fairly moist (turkey burgers seem to get dry usually) and fairly light in the belly. Try them out and see what you think. Toast the bun and I like them topped with ranch dressing, but I think that cucumber & yoghurt sauce we had last weekend would be excellent on them.

1 package of Ground Turkey (1.2 #)
1/2 package of extra firm tofu (diced)
1 T Garam Masala
1/2 t Garlic Powder
1/4 t Turmeric
1/4 t Ground Coriander
1/2 t Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 t Yellow Mustard seed
1/4 t Black Mustard seed
1 egg

I just combined everything and then made some patties, which I rolled in/dusted with a bread crumb & black pepper mixture. Turkey is so sticky, I thought this might help on the grill.

Banned Books!

There is a magnetism and allure of a banned book that it would not hold if it was not such a black sheep, an outsider. By virtue of someone saying we shouldn't read something, we want it that much more, even if before hand we hadn't wanted it at all!
A couple stories about a Chicago suburb that is banning some books.
And here's the list of the vile texts!
"Beloved" by Toni Morrison (they were reading this @ Hoover while I was observing)
"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien (this was the 'One Book, One Chicago' book last fall)
"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin
"Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (what!?!? i just finished it)
"The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World" by Michael Pollan
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky
"Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers
"How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez

25 May 2006

The Good and the Bad

A great article on Dara and her students' fun activity. Some nice quotes. Congrats and Bravo!

This just in....dara's iPod has been lost/stolen.
I send my regards, as I know what depths I was in when I lost all the music on my iPod. At least I still had the opportunity to live again. Deepest condolensces.

School days

Last night was my final class in my "The Learning Process" class. It was such a good class! It was exactly what I needed to boost my morale and get me re-excited for the rest of the program. The instrutor was excellent and I did very well. What more can you ask for? The last class was all presentations by the students, each of which had a 5 minute time limit. (Enforced by a ticking kitchen timer!) It was a fun relaxed group and our "cohort" group is starting to come together.
Only a 20 hour break until the start of my next class, though. Tonigh begins, "Human Relations in Teaching". Woo hoo!

Just a taste of my presentation. I was very proud of my title slide.
(photo courtesy of act.org)

24 May 2006


Very cool technology for runners. Apple and iPod are always on the edge. Check it out.

22 May 2006

Blood Donation

Went and donated today over my lunch hour.

Tiki Party

Tony & Tina's Wedding

My friend aka Aunt Rose Dominico

Pre-show @ Vinnie Black's

At the reception (great sausage and peppers on the buffet!)

One of the groomsmen asked me to help out by restraining the priest so vodka can be poured down his throat. I figured, how often does someone get asked to do that during their lifetime? So I jumped at the opportunity (actually, I full nelson'ed it). Don't worry, he didn't struggle for very long, and the vodka was actually water, but it was fun nonetheless.

19 May 2006

Bike to Work Week (or Day)

It is Bike to Work Week and Friday is the day that if you only do one day, do Friday. So I did. And it was great.
I got an early start on it, leaving my house at 6:00 am. It is amazing the difference in traffic between 6 and 7 (which is when I usually drive it). It was very nice to be able to see all the sky and the sunrise and feel the wind and not have the radio on. Just enjoying the quiet time as everyone is just getting ready for their days. And, physically the ride wasn't too taxing either. There were some good downhill stretchs. It came in at 4.01 miles, biked in 17:50, with an average speed of 12.6 mph. After some pushups and situps at the fitness center, followed by a shower, I was at my desk by 7.
Plus, unlike normal, I am fully aware and energetic. Ready for my day (half-day actually). I may have to start doing this every Friday.

17 May 2006

Hazing reports

Now, I am totally against true 'hazing', let me state that clearly.
But I think there in this a point where we take out hazing investigations too far. I was reading this article in the Sun-Times about the Northwestern women's soccer team. Most of their 'activities' sound pretty harmless. But what made this blog-worthy was the sidebar piece that outlined several other hazing incidents around the nation. Now, let's play, "which one of these things just doesn't belong here. come on can you tell which one." I'm going to say that the UNC-Wilmington 'hazing' incident that involved dressing up in unusual clothes, facepainting and a scavenger hunt sounds more like a carnival than hazing.
This is a touchy topic and I say everything should be investigated but the authorities need to know when to punish and when to let things go.

Guerilla Gardening

I got this on my NPR Story of the Day podcast today. It was about this movement/group in London that goes out at night and beautifies public space but planting flowers in places that need it, like traffic circles or medians. You can check out their website here and download how to build your own seed-bomb! That was my favorite part. You make balls of seeds & some soil, soak it in water, then you can do some drive-by planting! Yee haw! The blueprints are actually taken from a guy in the 70's in NYC that started this same sort of group. It is worldwide, I guess. They are even getting in on the action at Guantanamo. The website is pretty interesting and has lots of photographs of past operations. The tips page is fun too.

Meet me behind the QT at three minutes past midnight. Bring your gloves, boots, rations, canteen, flashlight, watering can and nightvision goggles. Tonight we will impart our ethos of floral domination!

14 May 2006

Thanks Mom

The Happiest of Mother's Days to my mom (homebase).
She rocks in so many ways.
Thanks Madre!

Here's a fun article in today's Sun-Times where people share all the gems of advice they were bequethed with from thier mothers. Due to my own personal situation, I love the one from Constance Sheehan.

07 May 2006

Reception Fun

The Graduate!

NTW stocks up on frosting for the ride home

Two Graduates and Mom!

The scoop shovel was a big hit

Reception Fun


Lauren & Emily

W weighs in on soccer ignorance

The President shares his views on soccer and the World Cup. I wonder if he'll be attending any matches. Could be good for global relations.

05 May 2006

Girls rule the schools

Interesting stuff in this article about Chicago Public Schools' lottery system for kids to get into the top college prep high schools. Girls are gaining admittance more than boys at a rate of 70/30 in some schools. Now some advantage is to be expected, but that seems pretty slanted. Thoughts on boy/girl quotas?

Physicists solve soccer

Leave it to these scientists to discover what soccer strikers have known for decades. The top corners of the goal are the "unsavable zones". Known as the "upper 90" in soccer, that is where the goalkeepers can't get to in time. Whew, just in time for the World Cup.

Kennedy crash-up

What the heck?!? Have you heard about this crazy story? And his side of it? I don't remember getting out of bed, or getting in the car. I think I heard on the radio that they asked him what he was doing and he said he was going to vote. Interesting. Also interesting is that the officers that pulled him over where getting ready to breathalyze him and then some superiors came on the scene and told them not to. One of those perks of being a Congressman I guess. Well whatever the story is, let's hope Mayo straightens him up.

Teacher Pay Increase

Legislation got passed on the last day of the Iowa legislature that will bring teachers in Iowa a pay increase over the next three years. I have not had time to really look at what it is going to mean, but it is a necessary step. Iowa average teacher pay was ranked 41 or 42 in the nation, depending on where you looked. This is good progress but education needs to stay in the forefront and continue to be better funded.

03 May 2006


Listened to a short piece on NPR about Roberto Clemente, the legendary baseball hero of the Pittsburg Pirates (my childhood favorite team). I'd like to read the new book out on him. They mentioned a quote that I had liked quite a bit, so I looked it so to make sure I got it right....

"Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth."

02 May 2006

Simple Pleasures

I had to be thankful for the chance crossing of paths last week. Dara & I went down to the Mars Cafe to listen to Little Mojo, a pair of local musician brothers that I am big fan of, and who are big in the TEC community. After getting our drinks and heading to a table, I heard my name yelled out, I turned to see my best TEC friend. He is super cool guy who is amazingly fun and spiritual and a Hawkeye fan, all good things. The crazy part is that he currently is residing in California. He was only in town for a couple nights on a lay-over on his way to Washington D.C. So we had to step outside to catch up a bit. I love those totally unexpected meetings of friends.
The other noteworthy item for the night was that, beside it being a great show, it was without question the loudest coffee shop show I've ever heard.

01 May 2006


Another year rolls around and this time Bridge is the special girl in our family!!
This morning Brighid made her first communion at Mary Our Queen. She was beautiful-very sweet and such a pretty communicant. She had a very nice white dress with all sorts of sparkly glittery things around the bottom. She had on her pure white robe over it which made her look like an angel. She had chosen a pure white gardenia(I think) for her hair piece which looked just right with her alb. Her hair (done by Mommy) was so cute, lots of curls but very bouncy and fluffy at the same time. When I went in to put on her necklace she was so calm and quiet sitting in her chair waiting patiently for Mass to begin. Her cheeks were flushed pink and she really did look like an angel! I really enjoy the jazzy mass there at MOQ. When the children marched in everyone was recording and snapping a picture. Have you ever noticed how much happiness there is in a church on these special occasions. Rita and Walt were there and we had a wonderful time . Emily, I just love that girl too, leaned over to me and said before it all started,"I don't know if I am more excited about Brighid making her communion or my new nail color and new skirt and shoes!" She looked very beautiful herself and was having a good day. Noah sat so quiet and read his book and Ranger Rick. He had his hands folded and kneeling like a little perfect praying child.,,,,till right before communion he reached down and got one of the umbrellas and started to open it, I reached over and said no and without even thinking it was a big deal tried to take it and put it down. He had a death grip on that thing and when I looked down at him his eyes met mine and he had that NTW look that said,"I am drawing a line in the sand over this umbrella." At that point I wished I hadn't gotten into this and tried talking to him , no go, he slipped his fingers into the loop at the end of the thing and was in to the finish over the tug of war over the umbrella. At this point Grandma Rita said a few words into his ear and I could tell she wasn't happy, at this point both Noah and I let go of the umbrella and it clattered to the floor where I pushed it with my foot back where it belonged. On with the celebration!! Eron and Kate and Brighid went up alone and of course now I am crying a little I am so happy ..and on with the mass. After pictures and over to Hower's for a might fine buffet. Meatball subs, pasta, bananas and strawberries and sugar cookies in the shape of angels, snowballs and Rita's apple pie. Very delicious food. quite a fun touching day. I loved being a part of it. How blessed our we to have such a wonderful caring, loving group of people? Pope Benedict yesterday said children in our society today are more tolerated than cherished, I see this all the time at school. I love going and seeing parents cherishing their children like Eron and Kate do. God bless you all. Mom