28 July 2006

iPod goes green...

After getting my first scratch on my screen I purchased some protection. It is quite a different look, but I like it. And the screen protection is great. Just wish I'd done it a month ago.

Listmaking to fight Boredom

The professor teaching my current class is good, but she has a tendancy to ramble a bit and to get sidetracked. These sidebars can take quite a while until she realizes she's gone astray from the true lesson. Anyways, to fill this mind-numbingly boring time, some of the people sitting by me have begun to compile lists. Which is great, because I love lists. We've already tried to list all 50 states (I got 49...stupid Idaho!), Capitals (I didn't even try), Presidents (I just watched on this one, they got all but two), Counties in Iowa (I think we got ~45 of the 99) and Teams in the Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Big East, and SEC. We are running out of ideas? Anything come to mind for Monday's class?

27 July 2006

Lance in Iowa

I would love to see the orginazation side of Lance's visit for RAGBRAI. I think it would be very interesting to see how they set up the visits, stops, eats, drinks, biking, etc. Here is a gallery from his appearance in Newton. And this is a town by town watch of what he was up to. This gallery has some better pictures of Lance's actually doing some pedalling. (Love that jersey! Very sharp outfit.) And I like Lance's reply when asked about what his thoughts were on Floyd Landis' drug test results. And check this out...Lance says he will ride the whole thing next year! (Also, my favorite part..."I told him my son wants to be a pediatric oncologist and he said, 'Well, tell him to find another area, because we're not going to need him soon.') But if you click on only 1 link, click on this one. It gives a good picture of what he is here for, what he wants to do and is just fun.

26 July 2006

Psalms unearthed in Ireland

Pretty amazing story about how some excavators in a bog spotted this book at the last second and saved it from being destroyed. And some may say a sign about the violence involving Isreal.

Wear Yellow tomorrow!

From a LiveSTRONG newsletter:

As a supporter of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, you can play a special role. Thursday, July 27, 2008 is LIVESTRONG Iowa Day and Lance is asking Iowans to wear yellow to demonstrate how many people are affected cancer, to raise awareness about the fight against cancer and to signal to our political leaders that it's time to make cancer a national priority.

Lance is in Iowa and wants everyone to wear yellow on Thursday. It would be cool to see all the riders on RAGBRAI or the crowd when he speaks.

21 July 2006

Die, Rise and Go

It is with a saddened heart that I share this news. I got the email today and it will be in the Catholic Mirror as well. The TEC program in the Des Moines diocese has been terminated.
For 36 years, the experience of a TEC weekend at the St. Thomas More has been a guiding light, a mirror inward and a path charted forward for seventeen & eighteen-year olds. I know that my spiritual eyes were opened by the days I spent there. As a candidate on TEC #187, I was a high school senior. It was fun and a great experience to get to know other Catholic seniors. I especially enjoyed observing and listening to the Dowling seniors. It was beneficial to see teens that were confident and at ease with their faith. I came away strengthened, fortified and thankful. The wheat letters I received on that weekend and on later TECs, I treasure and re-read (thank you to everyone who wrote them!) That experience far surpassed any youth group or CYO I had been a part of. Not being from the Dowling, the Des Moines area, or even central Iowa had a hand in my not staying involved with the TEC program. I still received and read the newsletters and sent wheat letters to anyone I knew who was going on a weekend, but I never made it back out to St. Thomas More for a hoot or to work a weekend.
Eight years went by and I found myself looking for something more with my faith. I tried out nearly every Catholic church in Des Moines at some point and considered some Bible study groups, considered joining the Knights of Columbus. Finally I thought about how special that TEC weekend had been for me and I made up my mind that I would sign up to work "Wheat Crew" on a TEC weekend. So I did and got assigned to #241, in February 2003, not knowing anyone I would be working with. I had conflicts with two of the prep meetings so when I finally made it to the last meeting I was a little anxious to see how it would go. The Wheat director was a guy a year younger than me named Erik and the way he welcomed me in and shared his excitement quickly relaxed & reassured me. That first weekend I worked with a stellar group of human beings. All but one were younger than me, but I never felt out of place. The other four boys were already great friends, yet they were excellent about bringing me in and letting me mesh as part of their group. I had a complete ball. Monday came ('Go' Day) and with it, so did a snow storm. St. Thomas More is in such hilly, rural country that we were unable to make it out that day, so we all got to spend one more day & night together. It was a great time and I came away with a massive "TEC high". My TEC cross and my TEC Bible are two of my most prized possessions. They embody the strong, personal faith experiences that I have taken from my time at St. Thomas More and from the people that have shared it with me.
I loved every part of that weekend and I returned to work two more weekends (#246 and #254) in the next couple years, reuniting with several of the same crew and the last weekend I was Asst. Wheat Director. Each time I never failed to get that same excitement arriving on Friday night. The excitement of knowing all the special and uniques experiences that we would provide for the candidates and for each other. It was also from knowing the fact that everytime I worked a weekend, I met multiple new amazing people. I actually had just said to Erik that now that he had moved back to Iowa that we would have to work a TEC together this year. I guess we'll have to come up with a new idea.
To all the people I met @ TEC, especially all the Wheaties...Sure Do: Erik, Ricky, Jason, Theresa, Karen, Melissa, Sarah, Yokes, Courtney, Gigi, John, Jim, Luke R, Luke L, Alex L, Cassie, Racheal.

Here is the letter from the TEC Board.

20 July 2006

The final word...

FIFA have issued their punishments around the red card incident of the World Cup final. Zidane, since he is retired, has said that he will do community service events to fulfill his part. Importantly, both players have agreed that the statements were not racist in nature.

Let's Eat!

The Des Moines Register has, with the help of Iowa residents, compiled a list of 100 things to eat in Iowa before you die. Check it out and see if you've had any of them. I was surprised by how many I'd had. (homebase, maybe this can be our roadtrip! Print it out this map and it could be our guide, both geographically and gastronomically!)

Here are the items I've tried...
1. Taco Pizza, Happy Joe's, locations across Iowa (superb, it used to be a favorite lunch buffet when I worked out in WDM)
2. Sweet corn, Sweet Corn Festival, Adel (not yet, but Halo Pottery will be there on Aug. 12, and the corn is free, so I'll be trying it then)
5. Rhubarb wine, Ackerman Winery, Amana
6. Schild Brau Amber, Millstream Brewery, Amana Colonies (not positive, but I've tried most of theirs)
7. Sauerbraten (beef marinated in a sweet and sour sauce, made with spices and Amana wines) with potato dumplings, Ronneburg Restaurant, Amana
8. Saucy Southerner Sandwich, Hickory Park, Ames (caboose's favorite :)
10. Denver-Style Crust Pizza, The Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co., Ames (great dipped in honey)
11. Gyro, The Gyro Guy outdoor cart, Campustown, Ames (a must)
13. Fresh Beer-Battered Onion Rings, The Redwood Steakhouse, Anita
36. Corn dog, Campbell's Concessions, Iowa State Fair, Des Moines (not sure if it was this exact vendor)
39. Steak taco, Tasty Tacos, Des Moines (bleck)
41. Trappistine Creamy Caramels, Trappistine Nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey Monastery, Dubuque
58. Tuscan Tomato Soup, Bread Garden Bakery & Cafe, Iowa City (the best!)
59. Vegetarian Falafel Sandwich, Oasis Falafel, Iowa City (I get mine w/hummus)
74. Blue Cheese, Maytag Dairy Farm, Newton (not at the farm, but I've had it)
95. Cinnamon Roll, Iowa Machine Shed, Urbandale (fat city)

And then, I've been to these restaurants but have not had the specific item...
12. Margarita, O'Malley & McGees, Ames
24. Onion Rings, J Bruners steak restaurant, Clarinda
35. Chicken Spiedini, Tursi's Latin King Restaurant, Des Moines
57. Brie Beast Sandwich (Niman Ranch roast beef, brie cheese, roasted sweet peppers, lettuce and tomato on farm bread), New Pioneer Co-Op, Iowa City and Coralville
70. 16-ounce Ribeye (heart-cut, bacon-wrapped), Rube's Steaks, Montour and Waukee
84. Country Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Vegetables, first Sunday of the month, Elks Club, Shenandoah

There is also this follow-up of readers writing in to say what was missed, but it's mostly forgettable. (I have had a Root Beer Float at the A&W in Indianola (and Clarinda).

18 July 2006

Best Places to Live

Money Magazine has put out its annual 'Best Places to Live' edition and most of it is available online. The main list has Cedar Rapids at #64, ahead of West Des Moines and Iowa City at #71 and 74 and Lincoln, NE was #60. Several Chicago suburbs are represented, including Naperville at #2. On the Best Big Cities list, Omaha does well and charts at #7, ahead of NYC! Take that Big Apple! They also have other specialized lists, like Best Educated (pretty much all major college towns with the Big 10 at spots 4, 5, 14 & 21.) If it is climate you are interested in they have a Hottest list, (the top 20 spots are all in Arizona or Nevada) or a Coldest (Minnesota is king here, with a suprise appearance by Waterloo at #23). Flower Mound shows up at #5 on the Highest Income list.

17 July 2006

Sweat Shop

Since the heat index was around 105 degrees today, it was a likely day for air conditioners to give up the fight. Rarely does that happen at businesses employing thousands of workers. It a noticable change when the pleasing, cool conditioned air stopped around 11:00 this morning. Very shortly it was impossible to notice the muggy warm air that seemed to be replacing it. A few minutes later, the shades (if they weren't already) were lowered in the building the a majority of the lights were turned off (to slow the inevitable rise in temperature). By the time I met caboose to go for lunch it was getting pretty warm, but I was guessing the A/C would be back online by the time we got back. It wasn't. By the time they sent out the email saying it was OK to go home if you were uncomfortable or didn't want to work in the heat, it was uncomfortably warm, especially when people dress for the normal workplace temperature, which is extra cool. When people on my floor acted uncertain about whether or not to leave, I looked at them with my best perplexed look and said, "They said we can go home. I'm leaving." Why complicate matters that are really simply?

14 July 2006


Check out this home video of Zidane showing up at a 5-a-side indoor futsal game. It is hilarious. Very cool. And this one or this one are montages of some of his mastery.

Italian Football Fallout

This decision in the Italian football scandal, although expected, is massive. The breadth and depth of the impact can not be overstated. Juventus and AC Milan have been the top 2 clubs for the last 20 years if not longer, winning 13 of the last 15 titles. Not only will they have to play in Serie B instead of Serie A, they will start the year with negative points, making it more difficult for them to claw their way to promotion (finishing in the top 3 spots in Serie B at the end of the season earns promotion to Serie A, conversely finishing in the bottom three spots in Serie A sends you to Serie B). Juventus will start with negative 30 points! Not only will they have to make up that handicap, but they will have to do it with out some of their best players, since the teams involved will most likely experience a fire sale of players. Many contracts state that if the club gets relegated through no fault of the player, the player is released from the contract. Juventus's coach has already left and the rumors are swarming like gnats regarding the other stars. Considering that these clubs are home to some of the best players in the world, the impact will definitely extend to other leagues (Spain, England, Germany, etc) where clubs there (Manchester, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich) may pick up excellent players at a bargain. I love the quote in the article, "The biggest transfer market in history has just opened its doors". I can't imagine the tornado of phone calls going on between agents and clubs and players trying to make things happen before the club season starts in a few weeks. Just as important, more so maybe financially, is they are barred from Champions League/UEFA Cup tournaments. Those are huge money-makers for the teams involved. What I found incredible is the teams that had finished 5th, 7th and 8th will now be sliding into those prime cup spots! Also hilarious is the three teams who had finished bottom of Serie A and had been planning on playing in Serie B this season will now stay up!

13 July 2006

Fall in to the Gap

So ellen ellen called me up at work yesterday afternoon to inform me of a massive markup happening at the Gap. Being a lover of cheap anything, I was hooked and off we went to the South side. Now I had just bought a pair of dark brown Gap pants a week ago for $14.99 and I thought I got a great deal. I LOVE those Gap pants. I already owned two pairs and they are dressy than khakis but super comfortable and hip as well. So we get there and amazing they still have 34x34's in almost every style! Usually the sale stuff is made up of 29x32's and 38x30's. I took a mountain of merchandise into the dressing room and ended up getting over half of it. Three pairs of pants and three button-up dress shirts, all for $4.97 each. I also got a plain brown t-shirt for $1.97 and a birthday present for the Brig. ellen ellen also stocked up, getting lots of Xmas presents and baby gifts (way to think ahead!). I called my family members and passed on the news of the ridiculous prices so I hope others were able to take advantage of them. It was just the overhaul my work wardrobe was clamoring for. And today, I scored a coupon for my favorite dry cleaners so I get 25% off the pressing off all those new clothes!
Thanks for the tip, dgb!

World Cup Withdrawl

Life without World Cup games, news, standings, goals and gossip is just not exciting. I looked at my little tournament schedule here at my desk and I added up the games I'd watched over the past month. I've taken in 2260 minutes of action, including 16 complete matches, three of which went to penalty shootouts.

All the writers and organizations are publishing the Best XI teams. Soccernet's Richard Jolly.
So I thought I would do the same.

GK - Buffon (Italy)
D - Cannavaro (Italy)
D - Lahm (Germany)
D - Grosso (Italy)
D - Lucas Neill (Australia) or Willy Sagnol (France)
M - Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
M - Zinedine Zidane (France)
M - Patrick Viera (France)
M - Riquelme or Rodriguez (Argentina)
F - Miroslav Klose (Germany)
F - Lukas Podolski (Germany)

12 July 2006

Zidane Speaks

Zidane appeared on French TV last night and apologized for his actions, but also said that he did not regret them. He was not definitive in what insults were directed at him, but stated that they were 'very offensive, very personal' and that they were repeated several times.
And it has been shown that Materazzi twisted Zidane's nipple moments before producing his insults and receiving the knock-down. Bizarre, but it does make the head-butt more understandable. Few things are as painful and infuriating as a nipple twist.
***UPDATE*** Here is another story including info from a second interview ZZ did. VERY interesting that he focused on racism. FIFA is already investigating the incident and they stated before the tournament that any racist remarks would be grounds for sending off.

Emergency Exit on the Blue Line!

This is my old line! Sounds like quite a scary incident; black smoke, derailed cars, underground, luckily no fatalities.

11 July 2006

B.L.T.'s = Happy

Last week I fixed BLT sandwiches one night. It is a sure indication of summer when you bite into one of those lovely creations. I love the simplicity and also the contrasting colors and flavors. It got me thinking a little...BLT's are a food that make me happy. Now, that doesn't mean that they are great food, just like great food does not necessarily make you happy.
Foods that make me happy are red jello (especially the strawberry & raspberry christmas edition!), cucumber and cream cheese on rye or pumpernickel sandwiches, King Vitamin cereal, cheesecake, grilled cheese & tomato soup, and my Bombay (Mumbai) burgers. (oh, and that Pork with Pumpkin dish!)
I guess they could be described as 'comfort' foods, but I think of macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, chicken & noodle soup and mashed potatoes with gravy as the typical comfort foods.
These are just foods that make me smile and put me in a better mood as I eat them.
What are some of yours?

10 July 2006

Aftermath and Awards

The World Cup award winners have been named and they are:

Golden Ball (top player): Zinedine Zidande (France)
The French skipper won by a very slim margin over Fabio Cannavaro. Voting did take place before the red card.
Golden Shoe (top scorer): Miroslav Klose (Germany)
Second consecutive that Klose has bagged 5 goals and taken home the award.
Most Entertaining Team: Portugal
I have to say I didn't find them too entertaining...Unless you are entertained by copious amounts of whining, play_acting and diving.
FIFA Fair Play Award: Spain and Brazil
Best Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Totally agree.
Best Young Player: Lukas Podolski (Germany)
He had a great tournament but I think many were surprised this didn't go to Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal.

My Favorite Goal of the Cup
Go here for video of the goals.
1 - Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina) vs Mexico
2 - Theirry Henry (France) vs Brazil
3 - (tie) Tomas Rosicky (Czech Rep) vs USA - Lahm (Germany) vs Costa Rica

I liked this team-by-team synopsis of their performances.

Finally, about the red card...This article shares what impact it may have. I also read in a different article that asked what will Zidane tell his four sons about the incident? This article gathers some of the French paper headlines. And this one gives a high-level look at the heights and depths of his career. Zidane's agent has said Materazzi had made a racial slur and called Zidane a terrorist. (nice pic of Zizou in that one as well) He's stated that the full story will come out in the next week. France president Jacques Chirac said this at the luncheon with the French squad, "Dear Zinedine, in such a hard and intense moment for you, I would like to express the whole nation's affection and admiration for you. You are a virtuoso, a genius of football and an exceptional human being. That is why France admires you."
Personally, I agree that something pretty hostile must have been said and I think that Materazzi acted up the part to the hilt. But, regardless, Zidane shouldn't have lost his head and his actions required a red card. I'm just sad that a player of such talent and class will leave such a unlikely memory in their last game. I'm a little heart-broke today. But I prefer think about another memory I have of Zizou. It is of the best goal I've ever seen...Real Madrid vs Bayer Leverkusen...Champions League Final 2002. Watch & appreciate the game-winner here.

Well, now four years of waiting (and qualifying) for 2010 in South Africa. And only two years til Euro 2008 in Austria & Switzerland. (Ireland is in a tough group with Germany and Czech Republic, only the top 2 teams make it to the tournament).

07 July 2006

People are Funny

I like people. More specifically, I love the brief and quirkish interactions with complete strangers that make you smile and shake your head. I've had two such encounters in the last two days.
#1 - As I am parking my car at Dahl's to pick up a few groceries, I hear via NPR that Kenneth Lay has died. I then sit in my parked car with radio on for the next few minutes to hear the details. No different than anyone else, my mind immediately starts to wonder about possible conspiracy theories. (My favorite headline, "Kenneth Lay dead from heart attack. Some say "What heart?") My interest satisfied for the time being, I shut my car off and proceed inside. While walking in, I place a call to homebase to pass on the news (she, as usual, has already heard). So I'm standing in the produce aisle and gabbing about Lay and Enron when the lady in front of me, pauses from scrutinizing the lettuce and looks at me and says, "I bet there are more than a few people who aren't too broken up about it!" I nod in agreement while trying to contain my laughter. I finish up the call (actually I lose my signal in the black hole of Dahl's) a couple minutes later. I'm now in the diary section and the same lady has tracked me down and wants to sound off on the recent news some more. So we chit chat a bit and then I excuse myself to proceed with the rest of my grocery shopping. I love how some people just have to share their thoughts and don't think twice about doing so with a complete stranger.
#2 - I biked to work today (LOVED IT!) and on the bike ride home (much more difficult as it is mostly uphill) I was nearing my neighborhood when I stopped at a traffic light intersection. I looked at the car idling next to me and I noticed some orange sticking out by their front tire on the passenger side. I peered closer and realized that this vehicle had a full size orange construction safety cone wedged into its wheelwell. I looked in at the driver, a middle-aged woman and pointed at the problem area. She rolled down her window and I informed her, "You've got an orange cone stuck behind your wheel." To which she replied, "I wondered what that rattling was!" I nearly fell off my bike as I dismounted from the hilarity of the obliviousness in her statement. I squatted and grabbed hold of the base of the horizontally wedged cone. I tugged and pulled but it did not want to come out. The light had by now changed to green so I'm sure the drivers lined up behind us were wondering what in the hell was going on. I go at it again and really worked it back and forth and after five or six repetitions, out pops this cone that comes up to mid-thigh on me. I set it upright on the curb and the woman thanks me kindly and wishes me a very good afternoon. I smile and return the well wishes as I ride off.

Life is good.

05 July 2006

Jose +10

So, I did a bit more poking around on this commercial that I love and I wanted to share the info. "The impossible team" as it is called on the adidas site is a mind-blowing collection of quality. You can go to the adidas site to download the two segments and the behind the scenes. I'm hoping they come out with a third and final installment for the final, but we'll have to wait til Sunday to see. I found this site that had the audition videos of both Pedro and Jose and them together. Hilarious! I loved them! And then this site has a nicely detailed narration of the commercial complete with translations and player notations. Don't skip the comments section, there is even a German quote translated.I'd like to call attention to an article it links to that talks about adidas, the world cup and the +10 ads. It is pretty sweet! Finally, the delicious song "if you don't give my football back, i'm gonna get my dad on you..." is actually called "Eaney Meanie" and is by Jim Noir. Check him out and listen to the song on his website or on his myspace page.

Oh, and here's my impossible team I threw together. Build your own here!

Azzuri Anarchy!