30 September 2008

Scrabulous = Lexulous

So I tried to play a little Scrabulous with homebase tonight but we ran into a snag. The site was routing to GoDaddy.com and it looked like the name was for sale. After a bit of hunting for news online (and finding nothing), I did what I should've done first and searched the last 24 hours of blog posts and found the answer. Sounds like Hasbro, after getting it off of facebook a few months ago, have now succeeded in making the Indian brothers who own it change the name. Wierd that there was no build up to this in the news like there was for the facebook decision. They have got a new site at Lexulous.com. Your login and password are still the same and they still have your ratings...and there is still a Hyde Park room to play in. :)

29 September 2008

Red Letter Day

Biggest point drop ever by the Dow today (777 points). Third largest drop by percentage since the Depression. So much for retiring early. :) I don't think I'll even open my 401k statement when it comes.

28 September 2008

Our Erring Economy

I've held off on posting anything about the proposed bailout plan because I just felt that there wasn't really much I could add to the mountain of coverage it was already getting. And, I probably still can't, but at least I feel a little more educated about the situation. I've been trying to read some varied opinions of the plan and other alternative options.
My thoughts, and feelings, are similar to this NY Times article. It is easy to understand, makes some great points, and asks some sound questions. I might try to bring this one into the classroom for discussion. Actually since I have younger kids this year, there isn't much spirited discussion so I will probably just assign it with 5-10 reflection questions at the end. There was another one I was going to post, titled something like, "It's OK to be angry, but agree that we need to act." I thought that was a good summary as well.
These are definitely monumental and historic times. The magnitude and far-reaching implications are hard for us laypeople to fathom (well, hard for me at least) but hopefully Paulson and Bernacke have got it right.

27 September 2008

Cubbie Samaritan

I loved both parts of this story from the Sun-Times. I love the 65 year-old daughter taking her 90 year-old mom to a game at Wrigley and treasuring the image of her glowing and taking it all in. And of course I love the part about the tall stranger coming to their aid in a time of need. Our media doesn't spotlight the positive stories enough, so I definitely wanted to share this one.

24 September 2008

In the News Today...

Several things caught my eye this morning as I browsed the news headlines and several of them were more interesting than Lindsay Lohan and Clay Aiken both coming out.
  • It sounds like Lance Armstrong has a team to ride with on his return from retirement. Of course, the lead rider on that team is not pleased.
  • Transparency International released their corruption rankings and I'm looking forward to taking some time later and looking at all the data, maps and charts. Nigeria and Great Britian had differing reactions to the news.
  • A nice article in today's Des Moines Register about a water bottle made from corn with part of the production happening in Clarinda. The finished product has been adopted and is being sold at the House of Representatives cafeteria. I'm still against buying water whenever possible, but it seems like a step in the right direction. I also still think that charging a 5 cent deposit on them, like they do for soda, would greatly increase that pathetic 22% recycling rate.

22 September 2008

Palin Email Hacker

This article paints a fairly humorous picture. Underclassmen (and underage) partiers, drowning their woes after receiving a whooping from the Gators, freaking out when Federal authorities show up at the apartment party they are at just after midnight. Talk about a buzz kill. And it is a Tennessee state representative's son to top it off.

21 September 2008

Collider...part 2

It's gotta be frustrating to be these scientists who after waiting to get the thing built and getting a ton of hype, now are going to be down for repairs for a couple months (can't just call a local electrician, I guess). On a positive note, when that "large amount of helium" was leaked, the conversations there had to sound pretty funny.

The Muppets

I'm always amazed by the power and far-reaching influence of the Disney conglomerate. This NY Times article takes a look at what has happened to the Muppets brand and what Disney is planning to do to resurrect it. I think it'd be very fun and interesting to be on the team in charge of figuring out how to make over this band of characters that started in 1976 and make them a part of this new generation of kids who, as the article points out, don't know who Kermit is. And you've got to finish it up by watching the "Stars and Stripes Forever" video.

19 September 2008

Vocab Pick-up Lines

You may have noticed or checked out 'The Fischbowl' blog on my blog roll. I am a reader and a fan. They have lots of interesting, fun education ideas on there and are often technology-based. I've been trying to formulate how a class blog could be most effectively used in my courses, so I clicked through on a link from there today to an english class's blog and this post caught my eye "SAT vocab pick-up lines". There are some pretty fun ones on there. I'll put my favorites in the comments section.

Fun Times at ND

I thought this article gave some good insight into how things are going at South Bend. Last week's romp over Michigan was so fun to watch, it's easy to see that they are having fun too. And I have to say that Golden Tate may be the best name for an Irish player that I've heard in awhile. Hopefully the wins keep coming, starting with Michigan State tomorrow.

16 September 2008

Smile...People Notice

In my last period of the day, a class entirely made of freshmen, I was going around and helping kids with their projects and overhead one of the countless conversations I hear each day. The girl's comments to the boy sitting next to her made me smile and she noticed and said, "You smile a lot." The boy added, "Yeah, and you laugh a lot too...You must like our class." That comment did make me laugh. I told them they were growing on me. The girl didn't know what that meant so I explained it.
I don't know if other teachers are not fans of laughing and smiling, but I enjoy doing both. Maybe I'm not stern enough in my classroom, but I've plenty of time to get more serious. I like enjoying my time with my students and I think it improves the learning environment I offer them.

15 September 2008

Question for the Teacher

Tonight while I was online for a bit, a former student IM'd me. After a couple small talk-type comments, he says, "Can I ask you a question?" This immediately makes me tense up a bit. Rarely is that followed by something good. But, I say "Sure" and was totally relieved when he says, "Do you think I'd make a good teacher?" It made me a little bit proud of what I do. And happy that my opinion was desired. We had a good short discussion about what I thought and what I advised him to do to help his decision. Then he and I went on our way. Fun (and rewarding) to think that my teaching or my words might influence or guide someone's future or have some sort of lasting impact.

ESPY skit

A friend sent this to me and I got some laughs out of it. Justin Timberlake's skit at the ESPY's. Since I don't have ESPN, it is new to me! The Brett Favre part is my fave.

14 September 2008

Til the Walls and Rafters Ring

The big interstate game was yesterday and I thought I was going to have to find a bar to hang out it in all morning to see the game but Sarah said that it was on regular Mediacom and, lo and behold, it was! Even though the signal was a little choppy at times due to it being routed through Houston and their hurricane problems. I was very happy to find out that we'd be able to watch it from the comfort of my living room. So I had to make a run to the grocery store to get some supplies. It was a fun scene there. Everyone was sporting their colors and getting snacks. I loaded up on stuff to make a pretty nice veggie tray, some drinks, nachoes, and also stuff to put in the crockpot for french dip sandwiches for dinner. By the time I finished it probably would've been cheaper to just go to a bar to watch, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun or comfy. A couple friends came over and helped balance out the Iowa/Iowa State ratio. The game itself wasn't that exciting, but the end result was very pleasing. Go Hawks! And building on that, Notre Dame put on a great performance and pounded Michigan in the pouring rain. Klaussen and the O-line look much improved from last year.
Today the weather really feels like fall and football. 60 degrees, slightly overcast, blustery. Pefect for jeans and a hoodie. Very nice!

11 September 2008

Spare Me The Phony Outrage...

I liked the sound of this article. I like the emotion he gives off and the basic battle for civil liberties that he spotlights. After reading "The End of America" earlier this summer, this verbal salvo hits the spot. I watched a clip of part of his speech on YouTube but will have to look for the whole thing. He does a good job with the latest fabrication from the Republicans; a TV spot so made up that it is laughable and it also continues their trend of using media against copyright laws. (CBS even had YouTube remove the commercial from their site.)

10 September 2008

Learn to Draw...

We used to have several of these kind of books when I was growing up. Learn to draw animals, learn to draw cartoons, etc. We also had lots of Ed Emberly books, which I loved. So when I came across this little animal drawing lesson using the Paint program that comes standard with Windows, I was excited to use it in the freshmen technology seminar class I'm teaching. It is a nice site that has short tutorials to teach the kids how to use a few tools and then shows them a project to get them to use it. We did the tiling project yesterday and today the kids tried their hands at drawing mice, cats, horses, chickens and seahorses. It was a lot of fun to watch. While I continue to be amazed (and disgusted) by how little it takes to make some kids get frustrated and give up, it was still a fun lesson. And an overwhelming majority of them enjoyed it. Tomorrow we will start the bilingual picture book project. I've modified it a bit to be more in-depth (or at least last longer). I am also posting this link to the lessons because I thought the stoppable's kids might enjoy checking it out.

Large Hadron Collider

As homebase called attention to this morning, everyone (including Google) is intrigued (some might say scared) by the news around the LHC in Geneva. I have never had much of a head for science so I haven't read too much on what the possibilities are with this machine or what they are hoping to prove/disprove/learn, but the scope of the undertaking and the power of it are interesting nonetheless. But I did check out the website and it has a nice, 60-second summary of the tool and its intent, as well as a fun intereresting facts page. (I love the refrigeration comparison. :) I might read up a bit more as time allows. Until then, I don't plan on worrying about a black hole busting loose and consuming us all because...what's the point? If it happens, there's nothing I can do to stop it, so I might as well go on about my business.

Apple Updates

I'm not sure why I was looking forward to this year's installement of the September update of the iPod line. I'm not in the market for a new iPod and unfortunately can't afford to double my cell phone bill to make the iPhone worthwhile. Thankfully, shamROCK, my sweet little green-wrapped 20 GB, non-video capable iPod is still working well. And that is despite a couple drops along the last 4 years. But, when I do get ready to get a new one, Apple will be sure to have some amazing new stuff. The Touch and the iPhone are pretty amazing. I actually followed the live blogging of the release event yesterday and there is some cool things. New bold colors for nanos and shuffles. New shape and screen functionality for the nano. Elimination of one size of iPod classic (only 120 GB for $249 now). And, most relevent to me, the introduction of iTunes 8. I've already downloaded and installed but haven't had a chance to play with it much. I am very excited to try out the 'Genius' tool, where it will build a playlist of 25-100 suggested similar songs to whatever you choose. Oh, and they had a live performance of Jack Johnson!!!
Well, done Steve Jobs & co.

09 September 2008

Cooking Thai

I thought this headline about the President of Thailand's cooking corruption was too odd to pass up. Sounds like he used to host a cooking show and received payment a few times for doing so while he was president, which is against some of that country's anti-corruption laws. An odd story indeed, but it was a little look into how differently countries can work, especially when they were talking about nominating the same guy to succeed himself, if the courts throw him out of office. Economic and governmental stability are critical to a country thriving, which is something we tried to look at last year in class. A good example here.

05 September 2008

Ask Permission!

Van Halen
Jackson Browne
John Mellancamp
What do they all have in common? They've all asked the GOP to stop using their music in ads and at events. They were never contacted for permission and have said, if asked, they would not have given it. They'd better stick with Daddy Yankee (who was called a sell-out by Fat Joe)!

04 September 2008

Fact Check

I felt I had to share this link. I love fact checks, on anybody, but especially when it is on a Republican's speech....

A Day in the Park

I was so happy to make it back home for a night and then spend a sunny Saturday in the park on Labor Day weekend. Grilling and playing in the Nebraska City park is always a fun time and the weather really worked out for us this year. Good food on a charcoal grill, lots of throwing the football with brothers, neices and nephew, swinging, and hanging on jungle gyms. It was a nice time to catch up with family and relax a bit. Check out some fun pix in my flickr.

School Daze

I haven't been blogging much about how my year's started off. So here's a quick summary.
  • It is nice to have air conditioning. I do not miss teaching and having sweat run down your back. I miss having an excuse to wear shorts, but I'll give that up for the A/C. It wasn't anywhere near as hot this year anyways. Plus we've had a great cool snap this week, so I've had the window open.
  • I've got a classroom. It removes a lot of stress from your day to not have to run from room to room and carry everything with you. I don't have to worry about different technology in different rooms or logging onto different computers. And I've got supplies for projects at the ready when I need them.
  • I miss my seniors. I am working mostly with freshmen and sophomores this year and, man, is there a difference. I have a whole new appreciation for the maturity, respect and intelligence of my students last year. Freshmen are so squirrely and goofy, they are struggling to shake off the middle school and figure out high school.
  • Teaching a technology-based class is difficult when your network goes down three days in a row (it went down today too, but at least not until school was out). Gotta think fast when you have 30 freshmen sitting at computers who can not get online, save anything, print anything, or open their keyboarding program. 'Let's go outside and take pictures with the digital camera!'
  • Teaching all new classes so it's like I am a first-year teacher again. I'll be trying to pull in some lessons from econ last year whenever possible.
  • Block scheduling does make for less stress. So I've been enjoying that. Even though I really miss my AP classes, it is nice to not spend every evening/night at the coffee shop working on lessons.
  • We had our first assembly last Friday. A pep rally! Nothing like the ones from my HS days and actually worse than the ones at my school last year. Poor organization, horrible audio, pathetic spirit, and not enough band or cheerleaders. Oh, and the football coach didn't even want to speak!

02 September 2008

Creative Ad

I was looking for some examples of advertisements to use in marketing class and came across this one. It caught my eye first off because it is for adidas. Then I saw her neck. I spent a couple seconds thinking about how it looked like three stripes (the adidas logo) before I realized they are supposed to be gills. Cool...and a little creepy.


Google is releasing its new web browser, called 'Chrome', today. I'm excited to download it and see what those creative folks have come up with! I'm a pretty big fan of Firefox (who just released a new version recently) but I'm willing to check out Chrome and see what its got. Anything that competes against Microsoft, I'm willing to give a chance.

Education Funding Inequity

This topic is one that I have felt strongly about for years. It's great to see students, parents and politicians addressing or at least acknowledging it. I wish I was still there so I could take part. We've got to find a way to more equally distribute funding so the rich areas with the rich kids are not the only ones that have tons of money in their schools. If people could walk through and compare a few schools (or read a few pages of "Savage Inequalities") I think they would agree.