28 December 2006

Amaryllis Emergency

I got home from work last night and when I entered my kitchen my heart skipped a beat when I saw the amaryllis that had been growing in my window laying on the floor with dirt scattered everwhere. The worst part was the main stalk was broken. Not clean in half but there was an inch or so crack. It was a very macabre scene. It took me a few moments to figure out what had happened. It was in a bowl perched on the window ledge. It was a little precarious, but it was balanced OK so I wasn't worried about it. As the flower really took off growing, though, it must gotten just enough off balance to fall. I provided as much flower first aid as I could. I swept up the dirt and got it all back in the pot, and added some water. Then I got out some masking tape (I couldn't find any duct tape) and taped up the stalk in a type of cast, to provide some stability. Then I made a little noose to go around the bulb at the top of the plant and I tied that to the top of the window. This took a lot of the weight and stress off the plant and kept it from falling over. I am keeping my fingers crossed. It was so close to blooming! I just want the buds to pop and I'll be happy.

27 December 2006

2006 Roscommon to Imogene Recap

Another year of blogging has passed. 310 posts, down from 361 in 2005. Here is a sampling of 45 posts from Year II of Roscommon to Imogene. They are not an encapsulation of my year, nor are they the best posts, they are just ones that made me smile as I re-read them. I'd love to hear what your favorite thing you read on this blog was this year.

Oprah Unleashed, Adidas Superstar 35th Anniversary, Dick Button, Like James Frey going thru withdrawal...except real!, Bode DQ'd, 5 Bladed Razors, Coffeeshop studies, Girls State BB, Mascots Mania, St. Patricks Day Home Improvement, March Madness, Home Improvement II, Australia Tourism, High Jump over Lunch?, Illegal Immigration, Beastie's Tax Reform, Blood Donation, Simple Pleasures, Guerilla Gardening, Bike to Work Week, From the Mouths of Babes, College World Series, People are Funny, World Cup Withdrawal, Die Rise and Go, What Fossil Fuel Shortage?, Iowa State Fair, Vacation to Praire du Chien?, Balloonists!, There are Good Days, Tuna Casserole, My Kind of Town, Free Hugs, Legos, Happy Birthday, Teacher Man, Of Mice and Men, Lucky Boys Confusion, Welcome to My Classroom, Make a Pineapple, Taco Dip Demise, It's Beginning to Look alot like Christmas, Reach Out, Wusthof Knife Class, Last Class for now.

2006 Book List

My reading this year was severely limited by class, textbook reading, paper writing, classroom observations and work, especially when compared to my list from 2005 or 2004. I hope to get back into reading for pleasure now that my coursework is behind me. So here is a list of what I did manage to read this year, not all of it was good but I had so little this year, I just included everything. I didn't really think the Cash bio or Obama's first book were great reads. I did include two texts since they were reads that I enjoyed. So compile and share what you read that was good!

1. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
2. Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
by Sarah Macdonald
3. Teacher Man: A memior (audiobook)
by Frank McCourt
4. blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (audiobook)
by Malcolm Gladwell
5. Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
by Barack Obama
6. Cash: The Autobiography
by Johnny Cash
7. Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement
by Robert J. Marzano, Debra Pickering, Jane E. Pollock
8. Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher
by Geoffrey Mills

22 December 2006

Ginger's Ale House wins again!

For the fourth straight year Ginger's Ale House in Chicago has won USsoccer.com's award for Best Soccer Bar. I had many great times at Ginger's, from Saturday mornings watching Premiership games, to afternoons watching Euro2004, to an incredible afternoon in May when I squeezed in to watch Liverpool come back from 0-3 down to beat AC Milan in penalty kicks. A great place to watch some soccer, meet people from around the world, listen to the sweet brogues on the ladies behind the bar and enjoy a great shepherd's pie. Ginger's will always have my vote.

21 December 2006

Vatican Football? Guess Not.

When Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone talked to the press about the Vatican fielding a football team, the news spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, he came out today with a clarifying statement that it would not be feasible at this time and was not really being considered, it was just something he was theorizing about. I thought it sounded like fun! I'm sure those seminarians would love a break and an opportunity to get out on the pitch.

Fog Foils Fliers & FA Football

The London fog has grounded hundreds of flights and all the travellers have eaten up all the food in the airports as they wait for their flights. Not only that but the fog caused the postponement of the quarterfinal Carling Cup match between Arsenal and Liverpool. Check out the photos on the Arsenal site. It doesn't look horribly thick but when you put 22 guys out there running around, it might've gotten a bit dicey and I'm sure the keepers wouldn't have had too much fun. Also, I'm guessing it would've been impossible to televised which may have been their ultimate motivation.

20 December 2006

Santa at the Mall

I was out at the mall last night and as I was walking around, I got to the end of the mall where Santa's photo area is set up. I'd seen him on Sunday when I was there with homebase. Last night, though, the line was probably three times as long as it was on Sunday afternoon, which I thought was pretty odd, since it was a Tuesday night. Then I looked closer and saw that Santa had a black puppy on his lap as the camera was snapping away. I looked at the people waiting next in line and they had a large yellow dog on a leash. The enormity and oddity of the situation began to dawn on me and a scanned the probably 60-80 people waiting in line and saw that they all had canines waiting to be photographed with Santa. Presumably these pictures will be made into Christmas cards to be sent out to friends and family of the owners (I'm assuming that the pet's friends and family don't care about such things). Some of these dogs will not leave much room for Santa in the picture. There was a greyhound that was probably 4 or 5 feet tall and there was a huge dog with massive thick white shag hair. There was also a small pug that the only had dressed up in a fur-lined leopard-print jacket.
It definitely made the trip to the mall worth it.

Volunteer Network emails

I have completed 50 hours of volunteering at a local high school. I do see & understand from the guidelines document that that time is not eligible for volunteer grants. I am wondering if it counts towards the time off award. The guidelines document states that time off awards are not given for time volunteered at your child's school. I do not have children. Does this time count toward a time off award?
Thank you.

You are correct in that schools do not count towards time off rewards. Unfortunately, the XXXXXX Foundation does not provide grants to K-12 public or private schools.

Can you provide any reasons why XXXXXX does not provide grants to K-12 schools? Or why volunteering at a school does not count but playing with dogs and cats does?
I consider myself an advocate for education and am puzzled by this stance by my company.
Any information you can provide would be appreciated.

It is part of the policy set forth by the XXXXXX Foundation. I will pass your comments on to the appropriate people. Thanks.

18 December 2006

17 December 2006

Dakota Fanning....Girl Scout

From Time magazine's interview with the 12 year old actress:
Time: Do you have much time for Girl Scouts these days?
Fanning: Last year my sister and I sold 750 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, so we were pretty excited about that. At $4 a box, baby, it was, like, $3,000. We did it door-to-door in Los Angeles in my aunt's neighborhood. It's getting to be that time of year again, so my sister and I will be out there soon. People didn't really notice it was us last year. When I knocked on one door, one person said, "Who is it?" I said, "Girl Scouts." They said, "We're not home." I didn't push it-I was like, no Thin Mints for you!

15 December 2006

Wii users are breaking loose

Nintendo is having recall 3.2 million wrist straps on the stick-like controller for their new Wii system. Evidently the strap is apt to break when users get "carried away". I thought the spin put on the PR from the recall was interesting. They are publicizing as the users are having some much fun that they are getting crazy. I also didn't know that Nintendo purposely didn't try to market itself as a competitor to the Xbox or Playstation, relying on their unique new controller and games that will have the users swing it like a racket or sword or golf club. So realistic! The next thing will be to have kids actually swing an actual tennis racket or golf club and hit a real ball. That will blow their minds!

Huskers vs Cardinal in Volleyball Championship

Nebraska advanced to Saturday's NCAA volleyball championship match against Stanford in "the most electrifying national semifinal in NCAA history". I'm not sure what the Omaha World-Herald used to measure the electricity, but I'm sure it was validated with the NCAA statisticians. They did set an attendance record with their 17,013 spectators at the Qwest Center, so maybe they based it on that.
The Huskers haven't won a title since 2000, despite being the #1 seed the past three years. They may have a tough turning that around against Stanford, who easily crushed defending national champions Washington in three straight, 30-12, 30-25, 30-15.

12 December 2006


Matt Taylor scores a cracker of a strike over the weekend for Portsmouth as they beat Everton. This will definitely be up for goal of the year. Ridiculous.

NPR Listeners' Top 10 Albums of '06

I listened to the NPR "All Songs Considered" Top CD's of 2006, as voted by the listeners last week. I get it in podcast form and it is easily the most enjoyable hour and a half of that show all year long. Last year was the first time I'd had the opportunity to listen to it. And last year, I faired a bit better in knowing and liking the CD's on the list. This year's list only held two or three that I knew and liked. You can check out the list and NPR's comment as well as listen to sample songs off each album on NPR's page. Here is their list, with my limited comments.

10 ~ Regina Spector - Boys and Girls in America : I liked the samples but haven't heard any more than that.
9 ~ Tom Waits - Orphans : Not a fan.
8 ~ Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat : This is the only CD on the list that I have. I like it quite a bit. Relaxing and a bit Southerny.
7 ~ Cat Power - The Greatest : I've heard some of this record and I like it. Soulful and rich.
6 ~ JoAnna Newsom - Ys : I've heard some clips of this one and it is not something I'd choose to put on.
5 ~ TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain : Quite a bit of buzz on this one, but I haven't heard anything. I'd like to check them out.
4 ~ M. Ward - Post War : Not to excited about what I heard.
3 ~ Bob Dylan - Modern Times : Not a fan of Dylan.
2 ~ Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood : I'd really like to listen to this one. I saw that it was for sale at Starbucks.
1 ~ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife : They had a CD that was #5 on last year's list. Lots of good buzz around these guys and I've been told to check them out more than once. I will try and do so before next year.

08 December 2006

Gun Ownership Mandatory?

Man, there are some idiots in the world. How did this guy ever think he could get this passed?
A councilman on the city council of Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania proposed a city ordinance that would mandate every household have a firearm and ammunition and someone who knows how to use them. He was the only member who was interested in the motion and it did not pass. His quote was that it would send a message that, "if you want to break into a home in Cherry Tree, you might not like the consequences."

Blood Diamond

I've seen some of the previews for "Blood Diamond" recently and so when I saw this article on cnn.com, it caught my eye. The diamond industry is a little wary of the effects of the movie on their highly-important holiday season. The movie deals with the trade of 'conflict diamonds' or 'war diamonds', which supposedly make up a very small percentage of the trade and most of the main reputable dealer (De Beers, Jewelers of America) have sworn to not deal in those diamonds. Here's what the UN had to say about conflict diamonds and the wikipedia article has some more recent info as well as other media references to conflict diamonds (Kanye West & Lupe Fiasco "Diamonds of the Sierra Leone".)
On a lighter note, this movie is one that I would like to see over the holiday break. Other possibilities are We Are Marshall, Bobby, The Holiday, The Nativity Story, Borat, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Good Shepherd, The Good German.

05 December 2006

"You mustn't give your heart to a wild thing"

The dress worn by Holly Golighty (Audrey Hepburn) in Breakfast at Tiffany's for $922,299 at auction at Christie's in London. That's a pretty big stack of pounds sterling for the Givenchy garment, seven times the expected amount, but who can blame the bidders? She did get an Oscar nomination for it, after all.

(sidenote: Tiffany's opened its doors on a Sunday for the first time since the 19th century for the film.)

Last Class....for now

Last night I attended my last session of class. I am now finished with classes for the teacher education program. It feels good. I was whooping and hollering for a few blocks after I got in my car for the drive home. Now, it is by far the end of my work. I still have a take-home final to complete and all my student teaching, and a short weekly seminar during the student teaching, and I still have to pick up another science class to fulfill a state requirement. In fact, I have to drive back down to campus tonight for a panel discussion of students that are finishing their student teaching experience. So there is still a lot ahead of me, but I am finished with all the coursework for the education program... And ready to live (mostly) care free for the next few weeks. Who wants to celebrate?!
It's really been a lot of work. Even though it was only one night a week (except in the summer when it was two) it commanded quite a bit of time in my schedule. Working full-time, taking six credit hours of class at a time, completing observations/practicums, working on papers and projects, documenting it all and compiling my competency portfolio (which now fills a 3" binder) led to a few moments over the course of the year when my stress level reached its high point and I didn't know how I'd get it all done. But, one by one the assignments did get written and turned in and the classes were passed (with a 4.0!)
I can't believe I'm finished with all the courses. I remember sitting on my couch in my apartment in Chicago on a cold November afternoon. Papers and forms strewn beside me and on the floor as I talked to the advisor at Simpson on the phone. Getting an idea towards which endorsements I could get, what classes I still needed, and what the timeframe would be like. My life had changed when I agreed to trade in my role at the front desk of the YMCA for a job as a camp counselor. That started a chain of events that led to before-school programs, after-school programs, teaching art classes, teaching sports classes and loving my job more than I ever knew was possible. I'd scoured and evaluated Chicago's many programs for alternative teacher certification and then found that Simpson had just started their own program. It was fast and did not have any of the limitations and requirements of many of the others. The only drawback was that the program started in January. I just remember looking at my notes after I got off the phone and thinking that I wouldn't be teaching until the fall of 2007, which at that time, seemed like an eternity... It's gone by like the turn of a page and I'm sure that student teaching will as well.

04 December 2006

Iowa vs. Texas in the Alamo Bowl

It's official. Iowa (6-6) will be playing the Texas Longhorns (9-3) in the Alamo Bowl on December 30. Both teams were stumbling at the end of the season, but with the month of rest/preparation, anything can happen. The question is......Who to cheer for?

(side note: I will be preparing the Bowl Picks sheet for sending out this week, so begin your research, prognosticating, voodoo, divining or coin-flipping.)

Hawkeye vs Cyclone Wrestling

What a meet! When Iowa and Iowa State meet up it is always a high-emotion affair. Yesterday's match up was no different. They started with the premier match-up of the day at 165. Mark Perry, ranked #2, defeated Travis Paulson, ranked #4, in sudden death overtime. That really ignited the nearly-14,000 strong and started a big day for the Hawkeyes. The intensity, which I had not seen much of when the Hawks wrestled UNI, was definitely up a notch or two. And not by the athletes alone. The coaches stormed out onto the mat after that first match and were trading some heated words. Three Olympic gold medalists between the two squads, Dan Gable, Tom Brands and Cale Sanderson, and they were all wanting to make sure their point was heard. Other highlight matches were Dan Erekson upsetting Kurt Backes at 197 and the big time win by highly-touted freshman Ryan Morningstar over the #1 wrestler at 157, Trent Paulson. What a way to start out your Iowa career. So the Hawks ended up getting victory by a score of 24-6. It was a lot of fun to watch and I hope they continue to improve as the season progresses.