29 June 2007

Why We Compete...

I saw this little series on the Washington Post site and found it pretty interesting. Those runners are CRAZY...seriously, there is just something not right with those guys. They are going to do a piece on each of the eight motivators they determinted to drive competion;
Curiosity, Money, Ego, Tradition,
Identity, Community, Adrenaline, Opportunity.
They've only completed two so far, but they are pretty good! I'm looking forward to the reading the rest of them!

Biden AIDS test clarification

I didn't get to see much of this debate last night since I was in class, but I did read most of the responses and I saw this quip from Barack and it sounded so funny I had to check it out on YouTube. Come on, how can you not like the guy?

iPhone arrives today

Apple drops its newest technological trailblazer today. Check out The Onion to see a few of its unique abilities. Or check out the Apple site for more detail. Oh yeah, they start at $499 for 4 GB of memory, and that's not including your monthly cell phone service!

Cubs fan faces felony

The barefoot, 24-year old, idiot fan who ran out onto the field last Monday will face felony charges. After Bobby Howry, the Cubs reliever, gave up a three-run homer to surrender the lead, the fan charged the field and was firmly planted by a tackle from an fleet-footed security guard. (YouTube video here.) Since he did not make contact with anyone, it was originally thought he would face a misdemeanor, but it has now been upgraded to a felony of criminal trespass to a place of amusement. Since he was in custody, he missed seeing the Cubs comeback to win the game.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti

I think stoppable may have blogged something about this awhile ago. If so, I'm just providing an update. Pope B16 has stated he is going ahead with plans to allow more masses to be said in Latin.

26 June 2007

More Beckham Coverage

1. For those who haven't followed it closely, Real Madrid won La Liga (the top Spanish league) on the last day of the season. They tied on points with Barcelona but won the trophy due to their advantage in head-to-head meetings.
2. I thought this article about the possible trouble Beckham may have in marketing here in the States was a bit off. They found that less than half of the people polled knew who Beckham was. I wonder what percent know who any athlete is (other than Jordan). And does that mean they were shown his picture or given his name? I personally think that his marketing campaign here will do well. There may be some merit to the observation that Americans do not know about his reputation as a solid family man and character role model, though.
3. Lastly, I found this little news story on Beckham that shows a little bit of him growing up and how he came to play for Manchester United. Good footage.

25 June 2007

Economic Tidbit #2

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past."
-Karl Marx

Beat Box

I am a sucker for some good beat box. Check out the first video clip for a French guy getting down on "Nouvelle Star". The second clip is a guy with a lot of time on his hands and some great editing skills. You have to click on this link to check it out. Or check out this guy mixing beat boxing with flute playing! (OK, maybe I'm the one with too much time on my hands!)

24 June 2007

Neal Smith Trail


I made the jump for a new bike this week. After riding three different brands, I stuck with Trek and got a Trek 1000SL in the eye catching Flame Duotone color. The difference from my hybrid bike is incredible. The road bike is so much lighter, more responsive and the gearing is much more in line with what I need. I cleaned my old Trek 700 hybrid fairly good since it might not get ridden much now and it was amazing to see the amount of wear it had endured. You can check out the wear on the chain ring in my flickr pictures. I think I bought it in 1996 or 1997. I definitely got my money's worth out of it over the past decade. I took a biking class in college with it and it was vital transportation while I was in Chicago. I was trying to think and all I can remember fixing on it over those 10 years were replacing the chain and have a wheel fixed once or twice. I hope for that same longevity and durability out of this new Trek.
I broke in the new bike (I'm thinking of calling it the Firefly due to its "flame" color and its quick & zippy momentum) by exploring a new trail. The Neal Smith trail runs from downtown all the way out past Saylorville Lake to Big Creek Lake. I wasn't thrilled when I saw the gray, overcast skies when I woke up but I checked the weather and it said no rain, so I decided to go for it. I got started a little after eight o'clock and made my way over to the trail. It misted lightly off and on, so I prayed for it not to open up and start raining on me and the weather complied. It never started raining but the sun never came out either. The trail itself was much more exciting than the Great Western trail, but the nature and wildlife was not as noteworthy. I did see six rabbits, some goldfinches, a bluejay and two indigo buntings, one of which was standing right in the middle of the trail at the very end of my ride as if he wanted to make sure he was recognized and accounted for. I also saw probably around thirty vultures on a rocky bank at Saylorville Lake. They were perched on the driftwood logs and on the large rocks. They creeped me out! I had to recurring nightmares when I was young. One involved me being chased my snakes and the other centered around those vultures from Popeye and one of them swooping down and taking me away. The trail was fun, in that it had a lot of topographical variety. Ups, downs, winding parts, even a hairpin turn on a decent grade. I took a break after 30 minutes just long enough to munch a banana. My next break was after I had reached the turn-around halfway point. It was the Big Creek Lake marina. I ate my Powerbar that tasted like sawdust dipped in chocolate (now I know what the Clif bar guys were talking about!). There was a little shop and, thanks to a reminder from homebase, I had brought some money so I was able to get a Gatorade and a gumball. The gumball flavor gave out after a mile or two but I kept chewing it for another ten. It resembled a piece of plastic when I spit it out. The ride back seemed easier and quicker, not sure if that is mental or physical but it was nice. A good portion of the trail winds through the campgrounds of Saylorville and Big Creek. I was amazed by the number of people who were camping. The spots were all full! Retired couples, young couples, parents with little kids, parents with grown up kids, people with dogs. Their bacon sizzling sure smelled good! I ended up back at my place around four hours after departing with a riding time of 3:44, covering 51 miles. I was wiped out. But I did notice that my recovery time was better this time. After eating lunch and a shower and another Gatorade, I felt pretty good! It was a lot of fun on the new bike and I was happy to do the whole trail. I'll have to consult the trail guide and see what path is next!

21 June 2007

College World Series '07


I made my annual pilgrimmage to Omaha and Rosenblatt Stadium this week for the College World Series games. It proved as fun as ever. The weather couldn't have been better! I was able to catch a double-header session (2 games for the price of 1) with E, K and Matt. And one of those games gave us the opportunity to sit by and join the 'Eater Nation! University of California-Irvine Anteaters were definitely the adopted team of this series and stoppable was lucky enough to score a great UCI hat to show off his 'Eater pride. We saw North Carolina over Louisville in the afternoon and then a great game between Irvine and Arizona State in the night game. In the eighth inning, the Anteaters rallied back from 7-3 deficeit and the game went into an inning and Arizona State had bases loaded in the top of the 10th but hit into a double play, then Irvine loaded the bases and got a hit to bring the game-ending run home.
The next day was spent on a fun DIY project as I assisted stoppable in constructing a Baggo game set. (In case you haven't seen/heard of it), it's a game like horseshoes but with beanbags aimed at a box with a hole in it. It took us three trips to Home Depot, but I think we were both highly satisfied with the finished product. I look forward to seeing what sort of paintjob stoppable decorates them with.
It was a great trip and a lot of fun down time to just hang out with the whole Omaha clan and hearing about the kids' summers. Thanks guys!

17 June 2007

Triathlon!

The Hy-Vee Triathlon was held today in Des Moines and since I had a friend competing, I wanted to be sure to check it out. I got up at 5:30 AM and had my things all laid out already. I packed my little sling backpack and hopped on my bike. I made it downtown in about 20 minutes and had time to lock up my bike and wiggle my way to the front of the crowd. It was amazing to see heat after heat of athletes running into the lake and diving on top of each other like lemmings! It was a good set up for spectators, I saw them go into the water and only had to walk a very short distance and got a great spot to watch them come out after the swim. I had hoped to take a bunch of great photos but it happens so fast, my friend was past before I could take anything worthwhile. Regardless, it was very fun. To see how they transition from swim to bike and from bike to run is really cool. I then biked over to the capital to check out the finish line area. I missed seeing my friend finish, which is too bad because she did really great, ranking 14th in her age group. But I did happen to see two or three other people I knew finish. It was a good time and a great world-class event for Des Moines. Seeing all the amateur athletes completing and pushing themselves to new heights, and the great support of families and friends there, I've started thinking that I might like to do something like that sometime soon. Plus, I like the idea of raising money for a worthy charity. I'm going to have to keep my eye on the event calendar! And I cooked turkey tofu burgers with asparagus when I got home. Check out the photos of it all at my Flickr page.

16 June 2007

Afternoon Mass

I went to 4:00 mass this afternoon and I'd forgotten how much I liked Saturday afternoon mass during the summer. It totally reminds me of summers growing up. I always thought it was fun to go to mass at 4:00 where you'd see your friends from neighboring towns and then going out that night and seeing everyone again. Plus, then you've got all of Sunday free to do whatever or, as was the case in high school, spend eight hours at Hy-Vee either frying and selling chicken or standing over a massive grill outside in 100 degree heat. Good times.
Another highlight of the mass today was that the two brothers that are Little Mojo were there and played "We are One Body". I love that song and I love Little Mojo so that was a nice treat.

Busking + The Shins

Busking is the term for street performers. I did not know that until a day or two ago. Des Moines has recently legalized busking and a permit is only $5, so my new idea is to motivate caboose to get one and start playing a little on some corners in the evenings. I think it would be super fun to hear him outdoors and a good low-pressure performance/practice opportunity for him. In doing a little browsing of the web I stumbled across this incredible piece of video. It is a French blog called Blogotheque and the guy get musicians to busk in his neighborhood. He somehow got The Shins (a favorite band of mine) to play and the video he captured of them playing five songs as they strolled around this neighborhood in Paris, complete with wine bottle and plastic cups, is great. How fun to be sitting on a sidewalk cafe in Paris, enjoying a little coffee or wine and then have The Shins walked up and give you an impromptu acoustic performance?! The guys has video of some other performers I've heard of too, Andrew Bird, Cold War Kids (a very fun one to check out), Of Montreal, Arcade Fire, My Brightest Diamond.

Fore!!!

To celebrate a high-school friend coming into town, another buddy suggested that we go golfing. I was a little hesitant since I haven't swung a club in probably 4-5 years, but when I heard that it would be free, I thought, "Why not." It turns out that we were going to play on a guy's private course. He has an incredible estate and decided to build nine holes behind his house. He also has a small clubhouse with a stocked bar, a TV and six golf carts. One of my friend works in golf course equipment sales so he was our hook up for this. So we got to play for free, use the carts and have a great time out in the sun. We also got a chance to meet the owner when he came by to say hi and told us to play as long as we wanted to. It was a ton of fun and we didn't keep score which is good because I was not good...at all. Although I did have the shot of the day. From the tee box looking downhill and then over a small pond, I topped my ball, it bounced once took a huge leap towards the lake where it landed (and stayed) in a small johnboat at the dock. It was pretty awesome and my friends were all impressed.
We followed the golf outing up with an I-Cubs game where we met up with a few more FHS alums. It was great weather for a game and a ton of fun with good friends. SWI is good people.

14 June 2007

Happy Flag Day


230 years since our flag was adopted, and 91 years since Woodrow Wilson declare this day to be Flag Day. Enjoy the day and fly your flag!

13 June 2007

Perfect Attendance

I was just browsing around the Washington Post's site, doing a little political reading and it was fun to see all the info they have. You can see all the senators and representatives voting records (complete or just the main legislation), check out the candidates fund-raising (by state down to the zip codes) and one that I particularly enjoyed is the missed votes. Come on guys and gals, do your job! I'd be interested in hearing why some of these people missed so many votes. I would have to warn them that I've heard a lot of excuses for missing class so don't gimme some lame story. Isn't there something in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,with Jimmy Stewart hearing that some senators don't vote? That said, I would extend congratulations (and maybe a special pencil reward) to those 19 senators (12 Dems, 7 GOPs) that have not missed a vote in the 110th Congress, including Iowa's Chuck Grassley. Nice work! At the other end of the spectrum, the top four absentees are all presidential candidates, the #1 skipper is John McCain who has only missed 48% of the votes! He would be flunking my class. He's followed by Sam Brownback (32% missed), Joe Biden (26%), and Chris Dodd (25%). For full disclosure, I will mention that Barack is sitting sixth, missed 9% of the votes. I would make the junior senator aware, as I do my students, that the habits formed early are critical to later performance so make them good ones.

11 June 2007

Walk for Change

Friday, I attended my first ever Iowa Cubs game on Friday night, where we scored $4 tickets and poached some seats between home and 1rst in the 4th row. Incredible seats. And we got to see the I-Cubs get crushed 18-8. The aftergame fireworks were top-notch, though, so that made up for it.
Saturday, I put on my walking shoes and joined thousands of other volunteers across the nation in the Walk for Change canvassing for Obama. It was a gorgeous day and the people I interacted with were all polite and easy to talk with. Plus they had hot dogs grilled out for us when we got finished! The Senator himself was out knocking on doors as well, in Dubuque. You can see a little video of it here.

09 June 2007

Economic Tidbit #1

"With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches, which in their eye is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves."
- Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations", 1776

08 June 2007

More Beckham

Sorry if you are getting sick of the Beckham coverage, but I love seeing the man do well after fighting his way back onto the squad. He played excellently against Estonia and delivered two wonderful assists (video clip of Goal 1, Goal 2, and Goal 3) for England's last two goals of their 3-0 win. Granted, Estonia has not scored yet in their seven Euro qualifying games and they are the only team to boast that dismal feat, but that Beckham pass on the Crouch goal is brilliant.

06 June 2007

A Greener Vatican

Kudos to Pope Benedict and his staff for taking action, and not just talking about working to preserve our environment. I think their switch to solar panels in the roof is a solid example of what everyone, both individuals and businesses need to do; when something needs replaced or fixed, look at the 'green' alternatives and make an environmentally responsible decision. And since the Holy Father's decision is infallible, we know that He supports our environment as well.

Camps & Retired Folks

Yesterday I met with an individual about the possibility of working with their summer camp. I think everyone who's talked to me in the past couple years is aware how much I loved my YMCA camp experiences, so I supposed I am a little biased to start with. Her desperation to have me work ("You can stay if you want!") was one of many red flags. The lack of organization, scary camper to counselor ratio, and void of leadership left me with too many questions and too skeptical overall to accept any sort of a position. So I'll have to figure something else out for some hours this summer.
After that I spent a couple hours volunteering down at the Obama campaign headquarters, making calls to senior citizens. It was pretty painless, since the list consisted of registered democrats. A large majority of these 70- and 80-year old's have not chosen a favorite or a front-runner. They are still listening and reading to the candidates, but they definitely are not happy with the state of the nation and they are happy to tell you about it!
Lastly, I was leaving my place last night to go pick up a new cell phone (yes, I finally gave up try to find the exactly right arrangement that would allow my old phone to charge) and as I was driving along, I saw a friend of mine out mowing his lawn. The surprising part is I had no idea he lived in my neighborhood. So I stopped and chatted for a few minutes, turns out he'd just moved in a few weeks ago. I love random crossing of paths with good people! And it turns out he's a reader of the blog, so it was good to hear that my writings carry some value outside of my family. :)

04 June 2007

He's Back

Following up the previous post, David Beckham's performance in England's 1-1 draw with Brazil over the weekend was highly praised. I've enjoyed reading the articles about how hard it has been for the England manager, Steve McLaren, to keep the media from spotlighting Beckham too much. A tough task in any circumstance, but especially so after he delivered the perfect cross from a free kick, placing the ball right on captain John Terry's head for England's only goal. Check the video clip of it here. Hopefully there will be more fireworks in Wednesday's game against Estonia.

01 June 2007

Soccer Update...

First off, there are a ton of international games this week, most of them are qualifiers for Euro 2008. England plays Brazil and David Beckham has been called back into the squad. I'm happy about this and I think it is well deserved. The manager's comments are interesting as well. He says this u-turn on his decision will make or break him. He's had a good season in Madrid and England hasn't been impressing anyone lately with their play. So I hope he plays a good game.

Next, the 2007 Champions League has come to an end, with AC Milan trumping Liverpool 2-1 in Athens. It was a good tournament and you can check out the top 10 goals as determined by ESPN Soccernet here. I'm listing them below as well, for fun. My favorites would have to be Nakamura, 3, 4, and 7.
10. Three free kicks
Juninho - Lyon (France) vs Dynamo Kiev (Russia)
Nakamura - Celtic (Scotland) vs Manchester United (England)
David Villa - Valencia (Spain) vs Inter Milan (Italy)
9. Didier Drogba - Chelsea (England) vs Barcelona (Spain)
8. Ronaldinho - Barcelona (Spain) vs Levski Sofia (Bulgaria)
7. Ruud van Nistelrooy - Real Madrid (Spain) vs Steua Bucherest (Romania)
6. Lucho Gonzalez - Porto (Portugal) vs Hamburg (Germany)
5. Frank Lampard - Chelsea (England) vs Barcelona (Spain)
4. David Silva - Valencia (Spain) vs Chelsea (England)
3. Mancini - AS Roma (Italy) vs Lyon (France)
2. Kaka - AC Milan (Italy) vs Celtic (Scotland)
1. Peter Crouch - Liverpool (England) vs Galatasaray (Turkey)

Only a couple months until the next season starts!

I Got Next

The New York Times had this fun article about the role of basketball in Senator Obama's life. It's fun hearing what his playing buddies had to say about him. (I think NYT has blown any hope of him fooling people with his right-handed fake anymore.) Be sure to watch the video clip. I like the idea that you can read a lot about a person's character & personality by playing a few games with him. I would completely agree with that. I also like that part about those guys playing some games with high schoolers who had no idea who they were!