28 January 2007

Texas HS Football Commentary

I simply had to post this one. I found it as I was browsing around in YouTube. The fooball game itself is incredible, but the commentary is what makes this one a 'must-share'. Make sure you watch all the way to the end. The locals that they have doing the commentary are completely hilarious.

Lunch with Hillary

Well, actually there wasn't any food, and the event started at 1:00 (30 minutes late) but regardless of those facts, I got a chance to go see and listen to Hillary Clinton on Saturday. She was making her first stop in Iowa as an official presidential candidate. There were over 2,000 people packed into the new community center/gymnasium at East High School and well over a hundred press. The people came out in a strong show of support, in spite of subzero windchill. I love Iowa's importance in the national political scene. It is one of the very few times when Iowa is in the spotlight and everyone is talking about us.
I had been ran through the campaign conveyor belt as I walked in. Two volunteers gave me stickers to put on my sweatshirt (HILLARY08, and "I Vote for Kids"), another gave a bumper sticker, two different people were trying to ensure that I had signed in and one very energized worker distributed a campaign sign and encouraged me to wave it around. In the hour that I stood (I was about ten minutes too late to get a seat) waiting for Hillary to descend upon us, we were treated to some fine music by the East High jazz band and a fetching young researcher for the New York Times named Ashley came up to me and asked if she could ask me a few questions. I said yes and we proceeded to have a nice Q & A session. At one point after sharing that I was a Obama supporter, I said that I thought people would be more open to voting for a black candidate than for a woman candidate. (That's right, I call it the way I see it. No kid gloves needed.) I was happy, and relieved, to see today that an Iowa poll backs up my statement. And she took my number "for fact-checking". I told her, any time you want to check facts, gimme a call. ;)
Hillary did finally come out (to "Ain't Seen Nothing Yet") and after a very short speech, she quickly opened it up for questions. She talked at length about universal health care, and touched on education, and repeatedly on issues around being a woman candidate.
Three highlights, besides talking with Ashley from the day:
1. A guy with a sign "Bill Clinton...First Lady's Man"
2. Someone in the crowd yelling out "You Go Girl!" after one of Hillary's statements about being a strong candidate, to which Hillary quickly shot back "Go with me!"
3. Hillary stated that last year there were more bankruptcies than college graduates. That blew me (and everyone else there) away. Can that be correct? If so....wow.
The NY Times article on the event. (from which I am conspicuously absent)
The DSM Register article on it.

Barack's Harvard Days

I saw this NY Times article and found it pretty interesting. I like learning anything about Obama and I didn't know much about his work with Harvard Law Review, other than the much-publicized fact that he was the first African-American president of the publication. The author definitely focuses on Barack's reluctance to boldy & cleary state his position.

25 January 2007

Youth boom in Ireland

I thought this was an interesting article about the influx of young people in Ireland. Lots of good information. There was one comment, though, that made me pause and wonder about how valid it really was. "Demographically, the births creating the Irish age bulge reached a peak 27 years ago, roughly nine months after the September 1979 visit to Ireland of Pope John Paul II."

New Orleans desperate for teachers

Hmm...I don't know if this would be a good fit for me or not. But it would definitely be an exciting and amazing experience. And it does pay more than Iowa.

Ray Guns!

So, check it out, in three years the military is planning to have a non-lethal new weapon, the ray gun. It will fire an intensified beam that, when it contacts the prey, makes them feel like their clothes are about to ignite. (I'm sure the lethal version won't be too far behind in production.)

24 January 2007

Oscar Nominees Announced

Oscar nominations were announed yesterday morning at their standard time of 5:30 am. Here's the full list. I need to get to watching, I've only seen a few of the titles. Pursuit of Happyness, The Good Shepherd, Devil Wears Prada, Pirates II, and Borat. I can't believe Dreamgirls has three of the five nominees for Best Song. That doesn't seem fair. If interested, you can check out Ebert's take on the nominations here.
Mark your calendars for February 25th!

Chicago in 2016?


OK, I just wrote this whole post and then my browser froze on me and I lost it. So here's the condensed version...
As I previously blogged, Chicago is trying for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. They have to beat out Los Angeles (who's already hosted the games twice). They released their detailed plans and funding options on Tuesday. The Sun-Times outlined some of the interesting parts and alterations to the preliminary plan. I like that the main stadium is going to be on the Southside, as is the Olympic Village. The lakefront village will be nice housing with a great view and easy access to the lake once the games are gone. And the stadium will be torn down and replaced with a 5,000 seat ampitheater, like Ravenia. Transportation is always key to how a games' host is judged and remembered. The CTA is in an ever-deepening mess so a major facelift and improvement for the games might be just what it needs. The official site doesn't have all the cool mock-ups that the photo gallery adjacent to the Sun-Times articles does, so be sure to check it out there. The USOC will make its pick on April 27. Stay tuned!

22 January 2007

Brits collusion with Northern Ireland

Not that it's a surprise to anyone, but it is good to hear the British fess up and admit to it. I'm sure it was on a much bigger scale than they admit, but it's a start.
The main conclusion:
"that the worst of the conflict, which formally ended with the 1994 cease-fires in Northern Ireland, was probably lengthened because of this collusion."

Other key quotes:
"Despite the ombudsman's findings of collusion, police officers are unlikely to face charges because of the lack of sufficient documentation to proceed with prosecution"

"A former police chief constable who was in charge of the police at the time told her that, with regard to failing to report plans for killings and other crimes, the "normal rules of intelligence did not apply for Special Branch."

"Conclusion 33.2 Operation Ballast analysed a small part of the informant handling of Special Branch RUC/PSNI. The investigation examined the activities of a number of Special Branch officers of all ranks in relation to Informant 1, and also the other informants who were associated with him. There is no reason to believe that the findings of this investigation are isolated. Indeed given that many of the failings identified in the course of the investigation were systemic, this is highly likely and the implications of this are very serious."

Here's the NY Times article on the matter. "The outlawed group operated freely for more than a decade, until 2003, from a small base in North Belfast despite being riddled with police informants, Ms. O'Loan said." ...Was it riddled with police or was it accurately made up of police?
Tony Blair's comments regarding the report.
The 162 report from the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

After-school Snacks

I am not sure if it is purely coincidental or if there is something associated with coming home from school that stokes the craving for this particular snack, but lately I've been enjoying celery with peanut butter when I get home from school. I happened to have a bunch of celery in the frig and was really jonesing for a snack one day and the memory of those after-school treats on a plate as prepared by homebase led me to make a few of my own. I've been enjoying them every couple days lately!
Any other suggestions to consider for after-school munching?

16 January 2007

TED - Ideas Worth Sharing

My cohort group of student-teachers spent the day touring and checking out the resources available to educators at Iowa Public Television and the AEA. Both were enjoyable and informational. The AEA really has a ton to offer to teachers. The one thing that I made note of though, to check out further and share was not from a presentation or tour but was shown to me by a friend, this website, ted.com. Technology, Entertainment, Design. It is an organization that puts on an annual conference with the most innovative, outside the box thinkers, movers and shakers speaking to the group. I looked at the lineup for this year's TED, coming up in March and there are some amazing people. (Paul Simon, Bill Clinton, I also looked at how I could get to attend. It is invitation-only, but anyone can apply to be invited. It does cost $4,400 to attend if you are selected. But you are enrolled in their book club for free if you are selected and pay your fee. They send you books, CDs and DVDs monthly for free (i.e. out of your $4400). Educators are allowed in for half-price and there are 5 free admissions a year for those that can not afford the fee and have an exceptional story. For those that can not attend, they had made some of the speakers' presentations available for free online. There are some great names to check out. You can watch them online or download the video or just the audio. You can also sign up for their podcast to receive the new talks as they are released each week. There's also a blog to follow. I'm just starting to sifting through this site and haven't had a chance to check out much but it looks very cool. One talk that I have seen is Jeff Han, caboose actually had a friend email it to him to check out. It is awesome. I also checked out the '3 in 3 minutes' talks. All good.

Goal of the Year (nominee #2). Thierry Henry - Arsenal vs Blackburn

Might need to watch it a couple times to get the flow. Amazing run with the ball down the sideline, then a give and go, and finished with a one-timed incredible shot from the corner of the box off the crossbar and the post! Thierry Henry is the best striker in the world.

Beckham L.A.-bound

Even those of you who are not avid football followers have probably heard about the historic signing of David Beckham by the LA Galaxy. The world's most famous and most marketable footballer will be leaving Real Madrid to make his name (and lots of money) in the MLS.
As I've been sifted through the endless stories and editorials on Beckham this week, his lifestyle, his wife, his remaining potential, his media impact, his playing career at Madrid, etc, I remembered what it was like when he announced that he was leaving Manchester to play in Madrid. I was in Ireland with homebase and caboose and it was a media overload. That's all that was on the radio, in the newspapers, and on the teley. It might not be playing as heavily this time, but it is still monumental news.
There are many aspects of this story. The build-up to the decision ensured that it was not going to be a surprise announcement. Beckham has made his affection for America well-known and has stated that he would consider finishing his career out in the States. He also has started several soccer schools in the LA area. (And one of his children's name is Brooklyn). His contact is set to expire at the end of the season with Madrid so there was rampant speculation as to the whereabouts of his next club. Now that the news is out, there has been some ugliness at Madrid. The manager (coach) Fabio Capello has stated that Beckham will not play again for Madrid, and followed that up by stating that they would not be releasing him from his contract early so he could meet up with the Galaxy to start their season in April. (The US season runs April to September while most European leagues run September to April). Now the Spanish club's president has done some ripping of Beckham to the press.
The impact of Beckham on the American league is massive. He is a global icon. Just as I stated in the opening sentence, those that don't follow football/soccer are aware of who he is. Real Madrid became the richest club in the world while Beckham was wearing their shirt. I don't believe that the LA Galaxy need to worry about taking that title, but you can be sure that their attendance is going to jump, even in a entertainment-saturated location like Los Angeles. And that Galaxy jersey with Beckham's name on it will be the top seller without a doubt. And he will be compensated nicely for his efforts and image. $250 million over 5 years is an astronomical figure, that's roughly a million a week. Although, that does include commercial endorsements, which play a majority role of the total sum.
The piece that he brings that I would be most interested in is his work ethic and his level of play. He will show young players what it takes to succeed at the highest level. Few people have said that he is the most talented soccer player in the world. He is a hard worked who is very determined to excel at what he does. And he is not coming to America to ease into retirement. He is only 31, so he should have some very good playing years left, especially when you consider that he will most likely move into a central midfield position. He may not have the pace that is required of wingers in top-level European leagues, but his passing, vision and free kicks still are at the highest level.
This article draws some inevitable comparisons to Pele's arrival to play for the New York Cosmos. I just recently watched a documentary on that subject called "Once in a Lifetime". It was great and I recommend it. I was unaware of the fever that spread across the country for soccer at that time. There were big names coming from Europe to play and major stadiums were being sold out. That is another aspect that will be interesting to follow. Will Beckham be followed by other top quality players to the MLS?
If you only read one link from this post, choose this one. I like this journalist. He follows the Spanish league and did this nice write-up on Beckham. Oh, and be sure to check out this goal from 1996, when Beckham was just making his name with Manchester United. It is incredible. The vision, the audacity, the irreverence, the precision.

13 January 2007

My Night at the Ball

I can now say that I've attended the inaugural ball. Granted, this was the inaugural ball for Iowa's new governor, Chet Culver, not the big one in Washington DC. Nevertheless, it was a ball (both literally and figuratively) and I was there. Attire was black-tie optional. I went with a black suit, white shirt, black tie. While I voted for Gov. Culver, I was not going to run out and rent a tux for the occasion. There were 4,000 tickets for the event and every one of them were snapped up. I was able to obtain a pair of tickets through some people at my school. It was a fun soiree, complete with a band on stage playing a steady stream of big band hits. The guest of honor got up and made a short speech followed by a dance with the First Lady. The food lineup incorporated the location (the Fairgrounds) and the Govenor's pride on the State Fair. Corn dogs, tenderloins, and funnel cakes were the order of the day. (Who orders a funnel cake with powdered sugar at a black-tie event?) Anyways, it was a fun time. I love having a reason to get cleaned up every once in a while!

Ouch! Santoku meets Thumb

My knife skills need some more practice I guess. I was chopping up some onions on Thursday and mistakenly chopped a nice chunk of skin off the tip of thumb. (Not the same thumb that I shaved the tip off of in high school using a meat slicer.) This picture was taken after a day under a band-aid with Neosporin.

12 January 2007

Perfect Circle Champion

Alexander Overwijk puts on an impressive display of drawing 360 degrees.

10 January 2007

"Explain it to me or I'll stab you."

This article is a bit disturbing. I teacher at a math class for GED students at Malcolm X College, a 51 year old teacher was stabbed by a 40 year old student. The student was frustrated after not understanding the lesson and shanked the teacher in the back as he wrote on the board. I think this is the college that Mary Kay worked at for part of her time in Chicago. I bet that teacher will be a little hesistant next time he turns his back on the class to use the blackboard. Maybe he should put in some mirrors above the board or something.

Pretty, Pretty, Please??? With Sugar on Top?

How does one go about asking for $5.6 billion? That is a staggering and astonishing figure. Sadly, I am very skeptical that at the end of that fat check, our world will be any better of a place than it is now. That figure doesn't include the $1+ billion for other expenditures as outlined by the NY Times' article. I am going to try and make it home in time to hear the President try and pull off this delivery. As disheartening as that dollar figure is, the sadder number is 21,500. That the number of additional soldiers who will be deployed. I'll be saying a prayer for those troops as well as those already over there tonight. I wonder if Bush will be? Bright Eyes wonders the same thing.

09 January 2007

Life Change

Bear with me as I adjust to my new blogging/internet/email schedule. I am no longer on the internet all day with lots of free time, so I am going to have to get back in the routine I had while I was in Chicago. Blogging at night or at a break here or there in my work day. Student teaching has started fine. The kids are taking semester tests so I'm using this week to get to know the layout, the teachers and get things organized for next week. I already have a gem to put in my newly-started list of Things Heard in My Classroom. I'll be compiling it throughout the semester and will share it upon completion.
Have patience, dear readers, in the switchover.

07 January 2007

Pablo's





Friday I lunched at Pablo's California Taqueria. Pablo's is more than my favorite lunch spot. It is the only place I go for lunch unless I'm going with someone else. When I got my promotion and moved to the downtown office, my boss and co-workers took me there on my first day. He was (and still is) a big fan. I was hooked from then on. I used to always go there for lunch on my own, accompanied by a book, newspaper, Sudoku or crossword. Every Monday I'd be there for free chips and salsa. It was hard when I moved to Chicago. I missed those burritos quite a bit, but since I lived in a part of the city with lots of taquerias, I made it throught it (thanks Arturo's!). I was able to stop in for a burrito once or twice while driving home from Chicago. Since moving back and with caboose working with me, my Pablo's visits have increased in frequency and I have gotten him hooked and passed on the tradition. So Friday was a little emotional. They people at Pablo's knew that it was my last day working downtown and they gave me some good-natured stick about my student teaching placement. I loved my chicken burrito and as I was finishing it, the owner's son dropped a gift certificate off at our table. It was such a nice gesture! He said the dishwasher told him to do it. So before I left I stuck my head around the corner and offered my thanks and shook his hand. Good people. Good memories. Good place. Good food. I know that it won't be my last meal at Pablo's but it will be last for a while. I know have something fun to look forward to when I have the day off!

03 January 2007

Mini - Falafels!!!

I picked up some falafel mix at Whole Foods while in Omaha over New Year's and was quite excited to give it a try. Falafel is one of my most favorite foods, second only to red jello. Oasis in Iowa City has does a great falafel + hummus pita, as does Sinbad's on Belmont in Chicago. A little Jerusalem salad or spicy chimmichurri in with it and I'm in heaven.
I've never done any frying in my cooking so this would be my first attempt. I used the great new cast iron skillet I received from the Omaha clan for Christmas and it worked great. I love its size!
The falafel was super easy to make and fried up beautifully. I used the mini-pitas that I had and they were so fun! Each one was just big enough to squeeze in one falafel and a little of the raita sauce I put together (yoghurt, cumin, lime juice, cucumbers, and tomatoes). They turned out SO good. I think they would be super fun to serve as an appetizer or party food sometime. Most exciting was winning over caboose. He was adamant that he was not a fan of falafel and did not want any, but I forced him to try one and he loved it. After a couple he was completely converted. I knew I had him hooked when I slightly burned one and was going to discard it and he said, "Don't throw it away! I'll eat it!"

2007 Chicago Museum Outlook

Here's what the calendar looks like for exhibits at the main museums in Chicago for 2007.
Science + Industry
Field
Art Institute
Quick to catch the eye was the 'Star Wars' exhibit coming to the Science and Industry Museum late in the year. Also, 'Body Works' is coming back. I highly recommend it, but as I've already been twice, I probably won't check it out again. At the Field Museum, I thought the Darwin exhibit sounded interesting and the Dinosaurs might be something the Omaha kids and NTW in particular might want to see. I didn't see a whole lot on the Art Insititute's calendar except perhaps the Cezanne to Picasso display. But their permanent collection is always enought to make a visit exceptional.

01 January 2007

Amaryllis Alive!

I noticed that the buds on my amaryllis looked like they were holding on and might bloom despite the accident. I came back from Omaha to find this magnificent scene in my kitchen. That's right, I was able to remove the noose/sling, the plant has completely righted itself and can support its own weight. AND there are two beautiful flowers on it. On my life "To Do" list, I have listed "Save someone's life". I don't think an amaryllis counts, but it doesn't hurt either!
Happy New Year!