30 August 2007

Champions League Draw

Yet another amazing save helped Celtic to celebrate a heart-stopping extra-time penalty shootout win over Spartak Moscow yesterday and boost them into the big payout of the group stage. The draw for the group pool took place today and Celtic is paired up with Benfica (Portugal), AC Milan (Italy), and Shaktar Donetsk (Ukraine). Celtic met AC Milan in the quarterfinals last year and bowed out after one extra-time away goal by the eventual cup winners. They also met Benfica in last year's group and split their two games with them. These games will take us through mid-December. Can't wait!!

29 August 2007

Chicago for Bachelors

Chicago's most eligible bachelor is 43?!?! Sheesh, maybe I should move back! What's he got that I don't.....besides the megacorporation, worldwide name recognition and millions of dollars?

Water Slide!!

Parents are away? Why not build a sixty foot tall water slide off your roof for you and your buddies? This video is freakin' great! I look the editing and I love the credits at the end. Two favorite things: one, the slide is supported by somebody's old-school van, and two, these guys were at it all day as you can see by the decreasing light in the video clips. Well done, gentlemen. [found via Gapers Block]

Army Office Acquitted

This Washington Post headline caught my eye and I actually read the story and was amazed by what it said. This lt. col. was the only officer to face trial for the incidents at Abu Ghraib. He was "acquitted today of all charges of mistreatment of detainees." He "should not be held responsible for failing to train and supervise interrogators and military police at the facility in 2003." and "bears no responsibility for alleged abuses that occurred on Nov. 24 2003, when a group of Iraqi police officers were strip-searched and dogs were used to search for contraband. The jurors apparently agreed with defense arguments that Jordan was not in charge of the effort or the military police soldiers at the prison." So who was in charge? And why aren't they on trial? But they did find him guilty of "disobeying an order not to discuss a 2004 investigation into the allegations." So he did nothing wrong, other than talk about what he did? "Jordan's exoneration on charges of mistreatment means that no officer will serve prison time in connection with the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib, leaving the harshest punishment for low-ranking soldiers who committed the abuse. Col. Thomas M. Pappas, a military intelligence officer who ran Abu Ghraib, accepted an administrative punishment and a fine for inappropriately authorizing the use of dogs in interrogations, and then-Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded military police, received an administrative punishment and was demoted."

28 August 2007

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot

I thought yesterday was worse, but I'll take it regardless. 90 minute early release due to the heat. 91 degrees, heat index of 98. I'll still spend that time working on school stuff, but at least it is now spent in the A/C at the coffeeshop and not in the triple digit temp of my office/closet.

26 August 2007

Strike a Pose

This photo of Newcastle manager Sam Allerdyce was too odd not to share. And if the crazy gesture wasn't fun enough, the ridiculously short tie is the icing on the cake.


Wow, the weather yesterday and today has been just spectacular. And it is always doubly nice when the best weather comes during the weekend. After all those days of disgustingly hot and swampy weather, the cool sunny breezy stuff of yesterday and this morning have been a refreshing treat. I can only hope that it continues for a while into the week, it would make a world of difference at school. I spent most of yesterday outdoors, watching the alumni soccer game (way to go old guys, 2-1 over the youngsters) and then watching some slow-pitch softball. I even got a little sunburnt!
Also of note in the weather world is all the flooding across the nation and the crazy storms that hit Chicago on Friday. Lightning hitting the Sears Tower and major tree damage on Logan Boulevard.

23 August 2007

30-3 Baseball score?!?

I don't follow much baseball beside the College World Series and an occasional check to see where the Cubs are sitting, but I saw this headline and had to read the full story. The Texas Rangers, currently at the bottom of their division, beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 on Wednesday. First time a MLB team has put up 30 runs since 1897. That's right, 110 years. There were two grand slams and the #8 and #9 hitters for the Rangers both had two home runs each! That had to have been a long day to be an Oriole. I bet those outfielders were cussing out their pitchers under their breath.

22 August 2007

First Day of School

Tomorrow I will greet 150 different teenagers as I mark my first day as an educator. Real students, me on my own in a real classroom (actually five different classrooms). I am nervous, but not as nervous as I was a week or so ago. They'll be sitting there (hopefully) looking expectantly at me, waiting to hear what wisdom I can impart on them. And you know what...I'm going to give it to them. I'm going to be prepared, optimistic, enthusiastic, and genuine. I'm going to be me. I'm not going to be Teacher of the Year. There probably won't be anything like scenes from "Stand and Deliver" or "Dead Poets Society", not yet at least. But I'm going to teach to the best of my ability and hope to continually evaluate my performance, change, learn, grow, and improve. And I'm going to be OK.

A quote from a nice book of quotes that someone very thoughtful got for me to commemorate my first day:
"Nothing happens unless first a dream." - Carl Sandberg
And one from my refrigerator:
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

21 August 2007

A Little Art for Your Creative Side

Two impressive artistic links to check out, courtesy of Gapers Block. This first link is to a guy's blog with a video clip about how he proposed to his girlfriend, pretty cool. And the second one is to a site showing off the amazing works in paper (and other media if you click around) created by Jen Stark. Check out the cool "Papermation" video on her page too.


While it isn't too bad outside, currently 84 degrees with a heat index of 90 degrees, it is like an oven inside school. I was literally dripping sweat this morning. It felt great to go outside after orientation and enjoy the most refreshing bomb-pop I've even consumed. Two of them actually.

19 August 2007

Education quotes

With the arrival of students only days away, school is constantly on my mind. In the gospel reading this weekend there was a line that I thought applied equally well to education.
"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!"
I don't expect my lessons to be fire, at least not this first semester, but I liked thinking about it that way anyways.

And, in going through some of my resources, I came across another quote I like. It speaks about how education, now more than ever, should be developing the thought process and decision making abilities, not focusing so much on rote memorization of facts and regurgitation of principles. This one is from Rousseau's "Emile":
"...a mind that is universal not by its learning, but by its faculty to acquire learning; a mind that is open, intelligent, ready for anything...It is enough for me that he knows how to find the "what's it good for?" in everything he does and the "why?" in everything he believes."

Moscow Mule

I met a group of my best friends out on Saturday night and when we were ordering one of them asked if I'd ever had a Moscow Mule. I didn't even know what he was talking about and I think he could see that from my blank expression. He told the waitress to make it two mules. Although leary, I was very excited when the drinks came. It comes in a copper mug, which keeps it super cold, perfect for summer and sitting outside (which we were). I didn't even know what was in it so I had to research it online today. (vodka, lime, ginger beer and bitters). It was light, clean and gingery. A fun find for summer.

Debate Rally

George Stephanopolous moderated a debate of the democratic Presidential candidates on "This Week" this morning. The debated was hosted by Drake University and I joined the Team Obama supporters at the pre-debate rally...at 6:00 AM. Pretty early for a Sunday, but I definitely wasn't alone. Each candidate had a taped off section of the parking lot facing the campus and Obama's section was by far the most full. A lot of preparation had gone into getting ready for this event. There were large 4'x6' sign everywhere that said simply "HOPE" with the Obama symbol as the 'O'. It was pretty impressive. I do have to credit the Hillary folks, the scored the support of the Varsity Theater, right off campus and, in addition to 6' signs each with 1 letter spelling out H-I-L-L-A-R-Y in front, the marquee had been changed to say "Hillary for Prez". But Obama's group scored something even more impressive....the Isiserettes! I was amazed that they got those young kids to agree to get out of bed that early, but, they did and they were great as always. We also had the Drake Bulldog in full mascot regalia with the addition of an Obama t-shirt. So it was pretty much constant cheering, chanting and sign-waving for an hour and a half.
I didn't stick around for debate-watching at Planet Sub, there was no way we were all gonna fit in there and my sofa was calling my name. I did watch it and thought Obama did well. I thought Bill Richardson also did well. Mike Gravel just doesn't belong on that stage and Chris Dodd wasn't impressive either. I think the best line of the debate would have to go to Kucinich and his quip about prayer. Everyone was sharing their thoughts on the role of prayer, "I think prayer is this" and "I think prayer is that" and Kucinich says to Stephanopolous, "I've been standing here for the last 45 minutes, praying you were going to call on me." Good one.

16 August 2007

Becks makes good

His first goal, assist and yellow card! And of course it came from a dead ball situation. Check out the video.

15 August 2007

British Army Go Home

The British Army, as of August 1, have ended Operation Banner, the longest continuous operation in British history. After 38 years and over 300,000 involved over the course of it (30,000 at the peak in 1972) and incurring 763 casualties, they are going back to Britian, leaving only 5,000 troops. Widely different views regarding their role are available but their collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, and supplying of weapons to them, among other facts have lead to a feeling of unwelcomeness. I like the quote from Irish journalist Fintan O'Toole, "both militarily and ideologically, the army was a player, not a referee." Comments on RTE from Bertie Ahern, Belfast Telegraph, and BBC.

Bosnian Grill

As I'm nearing the end of my current book, "To End a War", I thought I'd put a culinary touch to the end of my summer of Bosnian book reading. After "Zlata's Diary", "Witness to Genocide", and now this book, I've gained a basic knowledge of the war that took place through the Balkan region in the '90's what used to be Yugoslavia turned into a scene of a conflict that would claim 200,000+ lives, (including over 8,000 at the massacre in Srebrenica) and cause over two million homeless and refugees. So I had lunch today at the Bosnian Grill. It was my first time there and I was looking forward to it since it is near my neighborhood and also got a good review in the paper for good amount of food for a low amount of $$$.
The menu was mostly in Bosnian and since I don't speak any, it was a good thing the girl at the counter spoke enough English for me to order. I chose Ćevapi (or ćevapčići) and a Jupi orange soda. The actual name of the flavor was 'happy orange' and I would agree with it. It is a Slovenia product and I enjoyed it; it was similar to the Club Orange that I love in Ireland. The cevapi came out on a large Bosnian bread bun that had been toasted. The meat is a spiced meat, like a gyro but in mini-sausage form and the toppings were sour cream and onion. Probably not a great choice for a health nut, but it was pretty tasty and only $4.99 for a large sandwich.
In addition to a nice meal, I was treated to some colorful conversation between two Bosnian high schooler's and one of their's girlfriend. She came in after the two guys had sat down and ordered and I'm not sure that she was actually 'the girlfriend' or not, but the guy definitely did not appreciate the excessively loud and dramatic way she was airing her grievances regarding his recent behavior. My limited description here can't really do the hilarious situation justice, so I'll just end by saying that it a memorable meal.

13 August 2007

Why We Compete: Part Four

Part Four of the Washington Post's series on Why We Compete is available now. It's much better than part three: Ego. Part Four is Opportunity and takes a look at the role of American football in American Samoa and how it is viewed by teens there. Check it out.

12 August 2007

Population Density (NE vs IL)

I was looking at some economic chart today that showed the populations of the states today. Something that surprised me was that Iowa had a population of 2.9M while Nebraska had only 1.8M. I knew that Omaha was about three times the size of Des Moines so that Iowa had that large of a lead over Nebraska was a bit surprising to me. I was discussing this with stoppable tonight and as we were talking about the differences between western Nebraska and Omaha and how so much of the population resided in Omaha. I commented how it was similar to the stark difference in culture and in population density between Chicago and downstate Illinois. It was at this point that I mentioned that I thought it might actually be greater in the Illinois scenario, to which stoppable didn't hesitate to say he would take that wager. I said I would research and post my findings, so here they are:

Which metropolitan area represents a greater percent of its state's population, Chicago or Omaha? (and for fun I threw in Des Moines)

Figures supplied by 2000 US Census
Nebraska population 1,711,263
Illinois population 12,419,293
Iowa population 2,926,324

The definition and therefore population of each metro area is obviously up to some debate,
  • GOMA (as stoppable likes to term it) can be Douglas county at 463,585 or the 4 county area with 629,294
the tricky part with Omaha metro figures is that most include Council Bluffs, which is in Iowa and therefore can not be used for this comparison. The GOMA website defines it as a 5 county area, including Pottawattamie county. I've taken out the Pottawattamie figures and used a 4 county area.
  • Chicago's can be Cook County with 5,376,741, or the 7 county area is 8,150,000
  • Des Moines' will be called Polk County at 374,601 or Polk & Dallas counties with 415,351
So, using the most generous definitions and dividing those figures out gives us...
GOMA is 36.77% of Nebraska's population
Chicagoland is 65.62% of Illinois' population (43.29% if using just Cook county)
Des Moines metro area is 14.19% of Iowa's population

Also, here are some population density maps that stoppable and I had talked about that the US Census so handily had available. Not very detailed, which is the exact problem stoppable accurately stated these types of maps always have.
Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa

Russian bombers pay visit to Guam

This article from the Washington Post tells of two Russian aircraft coming within 100 miles of the massive war games currently going on at the US military base in Guam. I thought the glib comments from the Russian officials was pretty odd. Is this a continuance of their slide back to Cold War tactics? I also think the tales of inter-aircraft communications and "hand signals" (a la Top Gun?) would be pretty entertaining.

Wayne Rooney Clip

I'm not a big fan of Rooney, but I thought this video clip was well worth watching. On a sadder side note, it looks like Wayne broke a bone in his foot today as Manchester drew with Reading.

10 August 2007

"I Confess, I Want Latin"

Read this article in TIME at the Y earlier...thought I'd share. Some points worth some thought, whether sparking insight or ruffling feathers.

09 August 2007

"Sometimes God's Answer is No"

After those two fun, happy posts about family and friends, why not bring the party to a crashing halt with this tragic assault on your emotions...a story from the Sun-Times about loss, grief, and questioned faith.

Gaelic Storm

Gaelic Storm came through town last night so I was able to get a second viewing of them. I loved their show when I caught it on the night before St. Patrick's in Chicago. I had a much closer seat this time as they put on another high energy performance. I replied to an email posting about a need for merchandise sellers for the show and was able to help them out by selling their wares before, during and after their show. In return, I got into the show free, got a great view from about 5 yards to the side of the stage and also got a free t-shirt and DVD! A great deal, in my opinion. caboose and homebase both came to the show as well and we all agreed it was a great time. They had Irish dancers from Chicago with them, who were great and you just can't take in one of their shows and not clap your hands, sing along, have some laughs, enjoy a pint and leave with a smile on your face. Check out their link and you can download one of their songs, "Kiss Me I'm Irish" for free!

Kansas City

After a wild night out celebrating a friend's 30th birthday on Monday (I don't know that last time I was out that late on a Monday), I headed down to Kansas City on Tuesday for a quick road trip. My friend from high school had just recently bought and moved into a house so I wanted to check it out and you can only tell someone that you are going to come down and visit so many times until they stop believing you. So I had to make good on my words. It was a fun time! His house was large, with lots of potential. It'll definitely keep him busy! We went down to the plaza area and went to a sushi place and then walked around, checking out the trendy shops and bars. We also stopped by his fire station and he showed me all the cool things they have there and get to use. I hadn't been to KC in a long time and overall I was pretty impressed with the city. Nice shopping areas, music venues, art gallery district, and trendy food & drink spots. I also was able to have lunch with a friend from college who I hadn't seen in probably 8 years. She hadn't changed a bit and was as sweet as ever. She's also a fellow teacher, so it was fun to talk about the new school year looming near. Overall, a fun-filled trip! The only negative was I didn't make it to any BBQ spots. That will be at the top of the list for my return visit.

06 August 2007

Premier League

With the season-starting Community Shield match taken care of (Man Utd won on penalties over Chelsea after the matched ended 1-1) the proper league fixtures will commence this weekend. There are many preview articles out there. Check out ESPN Soccernet's or this guy's blog which is more detailed but also more entertaining (first 1/2 today, second 1/2 tomorrow). There's been a lot of players moving around on transfer over the summer so it should be an interesting season. After trading some emails with stoppable towards the end of last season, I have thought that I should really pick a team a follow them. I do have favorite teams, but none really in England. Celtic plays in Scotland, Ajax in Holland, and Roma in Italy. As far as the Premier League goes, I've always enjoyed watching Arsenal and I am going to stick with them as 'my team'. They lost their legendary striker Thierry Henry to Barcelona over the summer so there are some huge shoes ("boots") to fill this year. I like Arsenal's style of play as well as their focus on young players. Other teams I'll be keeping an eye on include Newcastle (lots of new faces there this year) and newly-promoted Sunderland (lots of Irish players under Roy Keane's managerial eye). And, as always, I will cheer for whoever is playing Manchester United.
Champions League is probably my favorite football to watch. I love the match ups between teams from different countries and I enjoy following a tournament-style contest as opposed to a league setup. There's more energy and excitement knowing that one team is going home after that round. So...make your picks!


I know I've blogged about the TED conference and the TEDtalks before, but I wanted to share this one as well. It is from the most recent TED was entitled TEDGlobal: Africa, The Next Chapter. This video is about William Kamkwamba's windmill, he was 14 years old at the time. He is rather shy, but obviously he is not shy in his thinking or experiments!

(also, found this one later on, Natalie MacMaster is great. The song's only fair, so skip to the last minute or so. Fun!)

04 August 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Went and saw the third and final (?) movie in the Bourne trilogy this afternoon. And it was top notch! I love the first one and need to see the second one again (thanks to stoppable for letting me borrow the first two), and was so happy that this third one satisified as much as it did. My only criticism is that I wanted a bit more info on Nicky Parsons character (Julia Stiles). She made a comment that got me hoping she'd dish a bunch of history to Bourne, but then they never followed up with it. Other than that, great stuff.
Also, I saw this commercial for VW tonight and thought it was great. I was already a fan of this line of commercial from them and its great that they combined it with the Bourne movie. I did notice the prevalence of VW vehicles in the film. And the ads worked, I spent some time on the VW site tonight, building my next car, a black VW rabbit (the GTI is too expensive for me) with 17" alloy wheels, bike rack, anthracite (black) interior, manual transmission and built-in iPod adapter all for right around $20,000. It gets 29 mpg, but I wish they had it as a hybrid.

03 August 2007

No Need for Nukes

I haven't written much about politics lately, so to rectify...
There's been the little exchange of barbs between Obama and Clinton last week over foreign policy and Obama's statement that he would unequivocally meet with leaders from countries such as Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, etc. She called that irresponsible and naive, to which his camp replied that to vote for this war was irresponsible. I love that he quoted JFK, saying, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate." I agree; what do we have to gain by not engaging in dialogue with foreign leaders? Even if we do not agree with their government's policies, how are we strengthening our stance or improving relations but refusing to talk?
This week, Obama has spoken about his ideas regarding Pakistan and the terrorists residing within its borders. Pakistan officials replied that those statements were irresponsible (seems to be a popular adjective these days!).
Also in speaking about Pakistan and Afghanistan, Sen. Obama commented that he though use of nuclear weapons would be a mistake. He later conditioned his statement, but, really...what's wrong with saying that we shouldn't use nuclear weapons? I say, "Great!"
Lastly, in contrast to national polls which have Sen. Clinton in the lead, Iowa polls show the three main Democratic candidates running neck and neck. (I feel bad for the guy that didn't get any votes in their poll. But, come on, he's from Alaska, what's he expect?)

02 August 2007

Celtic FC

The Scottish Premier League is ready to kickoff their new season this weekend. I probably won't get to see many/any games, but at least there is YouTube for catching some highlights. Soccernet had a short interview with the gaffer, Gordon Strachan. They've shown some promise and also some areas in need of work in their preseason. Hopefully they will be able to hold on to the league championship trophy for a third straight year. Rangers looked improved toward the end of last season with their new manager so we'll see how those Old Firm games go this year. They are October 20, January 2, and March 29. Also of note, Celtic will find out who they get to tussle with in the Champions League draw tomorrow, as they join the competition in its third qualifying round. (note: They drew Spartak Moscow)

Sandwich Ingredient

I've been using a new topping on my sandwiches the last couple weeks. Although it won't dislodge my top two favorites, sprouts and roasted red peppers, this new topping is especially fun because I haven't seen it many places so I feel rather original. Hard-boiled egg slices. I had some on hand so I sliced it into four pieces the long-way and added it to my turkey, cheese and dijon mustard. Go on, give it a try.