31 October 2008

Humble Pie

Checking tests in my classroom after school today, a couple students working on their movie projects, laughing and talking. I've got my iPod in one ear. One of the students comes over to my desk to get seconds on the Halloween candy I brought in. "Is that your iPod?" Now, I love talking music and never hesitate to share music tips, but more often than not, the tastes of the urban 14 year old don't match with mine. So I pass it over to him with the caveat, and I tell myself not to presume anything, so instead of saying, "You probably won't like anything on there," I just hand it over. He starts scrolling through my artists, after noting, "You got this thing in Mexican?" I confirmed that it was indeed in Spanish. I hear the artists clicking by for a while and then this guy says, "Man I've never seen so many songs.........that are lame." I busted out laughing. Luckily I made back some credibility when he came across, D4L, UGK, Kanye, Lupe Fiasco, Juelz Santana, T-Pain and DMX. He got to the end and handed it back and said that it wasn't bad. Whew, music taste validation from a freshman. :) Then he asked if he can use my songs in his movie.

29 October 2008

BBQ & Pumpkins

Last night, I came home thinking of having a panini night, but caboose quickly talked me into going out for dinner. We couldn't think of someplace to go so we just headed out in a direction that we hoped would take us to some delectable dinner. We found ourselves just south of Drake when I remembered the little BBQ place I've driven by a bunch but never been to, so we parked and went into this Woody's Smoke Shack, this tiny little place with 4 or 5 small tables and a row of seating along one wall. It was spotless and had a great feeling to it. Wood paneling, wood floors, you order at the counter with Pop, decent prices, quick service from Ma and BBQ awards lining the wall. The food was delic and we both agreed we needed to have a return visit to try a few more things on the menu. We had the brisket and the pulled pork sandwiches with cheesey potatoes, mac & cheez, and cole slaw and there was free cornbread at the door. We are looking forward to the wings, ribs and greens.
After we got home, we had some friends over for a little pumpkin carving get-together. For me it took a while to come up with something to carve. I always struggle with the creatition part of carving. And I think I usually end up with roughly the same face. I wanted to carve a penguin in it but I wasn't confident enough in my freehand skills. So I went with my usuall scary face and then I broke three of four teeth out when I was trying to remove my cutout pieces from the mouth. The other pumpkins turned out very nice though. And just in time for Halloween!

Live Music

After not seeing much live music for quite a while, I've had a great run of shows this last month or so. A mindblowing Flobots show in Omaha. A surprise Public Property show on the ped mall in Iowa City. A subpar Lucky Boys Confusion show (I never thought I'd say that). A superb Tegan & Sara show at Sokol. Another great Flobots show in Des Moines, not as good as Omaha but still fun. A very enjoyable and cozy Cashes Rivers show at Mars Cafe. And 3OH!3 and Girltalk are scheduled to come to Des Moines too! Woo hoo!

Kissing Babies

I saw this site on Gapers Block today. How funny that someone would have the interest or time to put together a whole picture blog dedicated to Obama's photos with kids.

27 October 2008

Windy Weekend

What a windy weekend!!! We, along with 22,000 others, were without power yesterday afternoon due to winds that reached 70 mph. We decided to go grab a late lunch since we didn't have any power, but when we got to Jimmy John's, we were aghast to see that the whole Drake neighborhood was also in the dark (figuratively). So we redirected and went to the JJ's on Merle Hay, crisis averted. Afterward, Sarah and I went out to an orchard/pumpkin patch by Adel and picked some pumpkins to carve later this week. What better place to be in a windstorm than on top of a hill in the country! The customer service left a little to be desired and we later saw that we could've gotten a better price buying them at the grocery store, but it was a great sunny day to be outside and going for a nice fall drive.
We started the weekend off cold & rainy, so we stayed in and made the perfect culinary antidote to the weather, Pork with Pumpkin. That dish just can't be beat. We watch, The Departed and had a nice night. Saturday we got lots of cleaning done around the apartment. It was very sunny and nice out and we ended up going up to Ames to tailgate. Once I got past my inherent aversion to the place, I actually had a fun time. It was perfect late-season tailgating weather. We also baked and decorated some very average sugar cookies. Several items made it a less than ideal situation. 1- I found out that I didn't have any Halloween cookie cutters and couldn't find any good ones at several stops (besides some small ones at Target for $1, which I did get). 2- The cookies were too small and therefore got too dried out while baking. Not terrible but not great. 3- I think I may need to switch from using the Mrs. Hayes recipe to the Amish sugar cookies one. I really like the more-cakey type cookie. 4- Our frosting job is hilariously poor. We did make some nice orange and purple frosting, though! (I'll post pix soon.) 5- And to top it off, my chai from the Starbucks in Target was watered down and crappy. :(

"Is that a real question?"

Election day can not come soon enough. I love this clip of Biden's response to a reporter's question about how Obama is a Marxist. I think he's getting tired of answering the same questions.

26 October 2008

Ohio State QB

Ohio State is one of the teams I always enjoy cheering against but I saw this article in the NY Times about their quarterback, Todd Boeckman. He had a good junior year last season and his senior season is being spent...on the bench. The Buckeyes landed one of the top recruits in the nation and this new freshman QB is getting most of the playing time. I thought the article does a really nice job of highlighting a self-less team player who actually believes in the good of the team. And it is really reassuring to hear that his teammates take note of his character and behavior and respect and appreciate it.

24 October 2008

Republican Fashion in the News Again

I let the whole first story about Palin's wardrobe go by without a comment. Mainly because I felt that, if the Republican party wanted to, or felt they needed to, drop $76,000 in one stop at Neiman Marcus and $150k since she was named VP pick, to get her ready for the constant microscope of the press, that's their decision and I don't really have any problems with it. After all, I'm sure the other candidates are not shopping at Goodwill. I did see this article about the suits that Obama has been sporting (American made, $1500 a pop). I do think that kind of excess, and financial irresponsibility is a bit of a reflection of the Republican party. I also think it takes a lot of the credibility out of her Wal-Mart supporting, hockey mom, gee-shucks image. Anyways, I saw this new piece of election fashion trivia today, that Palin's stylist is earning more than McCain's foreign policy advisor, and I just thought I had to post on it, rolling both stories together into a post about one more topic that shouldn't have any impact on the election process but will take up an inordinate amount of media time and space.

Harkin - Reed Debate

I heard a mention of this story about comments made by Republican challenger Christopher Reed about incumbent Democrat Senator Tom Harkin this morning on my way in to school and wasn't sure what they were talking about. I looked in the Register and the moderator had posted this article. It brought a couple thoughts to mind. First, it is this kind of accusatory, character-trashing, and just ridiculous stretching of the truth that I am very sick of at this point in the election season. The word 'treason' was used by the moderator. I don't care what office is being contested, if treason is mentioned, there had better be some seriously hard evidence. Naomi Wolf had a great passage in her book "End of America" about the use of the term 'treason'. Secondly, I will have to YouTube the clip tonight to watch Harkin's immediate response, but I really liked his verbal reposte after the cameras were off. “you’re a nice young man and I thought you had a political future ahead of you but that just ended your political career right there.”

22 October 2008

Life List

I am a big fan of lists and I think life 'to-do' lists, in particular, are especially cool & interesting. I put together a started mine a few years ago but hadn't looked at it in quite a while. I saw an article that mentioned John Goddard's life list of 127 goals that he composed when he was 15. You can check it here and also take note of the 109 goals that have been checked off. Lou Holtz made a list of 107 goals when he lost his job as assistant coach at South Carolina in 1966. I haven't been able to find the full list yet, though.
My preliminary list is as follows:

attain fluency in another language
learn piano
travel extensively
save someone's life
attend & experience a World Cup tournament
attend & experience an Olympic Games
attend a game at Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland
live abroad for at least a year
plan & organize a large event
write a book
pay for someone to go to college
see & pray with the Pope
give a pile of money to charity (set up a endowment)

21 October 2008

A Different Perspective

I found this piece of descriptive writing through Gapers Block and liked it too much not to pass it on. The description alone is great, even if it didn't involve the Obamas. A different sort of scene then what we've grown used to over the past year.

19 October 2008

This I Believe

I just finished reading 'This I Believe." It is a great compilation of the personal belief statements collected by NPR's series, both recent ones and stories from the first time the series was introduced in the 1950's. The brief (2 or 3 pages) statements were perfect for reading aloud, which provided an extra level of enjoyment. I've talked with a friend of mine about using this in the classroom; she teaches English so it lends itself well to her area, but I was thinking that it would be fun to collaborate my technology classes with hers and have my students work on putting the passages in some sort of power point, picture story or movie. It could be very cool.
One of the appendixes lays out some helpful guidance in how to write your own 'This I Believe.' I think that would be a very fun family get-together event. We could all write them and then have a reading at one of the holidays. I think it sounds like a lot of fun and great self-reflection...but then I read one of these and they are so descriptive and concise and enlightening it is a little imposing. For example, one of passage I liked...
"It is only when they and I are blinded by tribal and denominational narrowness that we insist upon our differences and can recognize goodness only in the robes of our own crowd. Man is a great enough creature and a great enough enigma to deserve both our pride and our compassion, and engage our fullest sense of mystery. I shall certainly never do as much with my life as I want to, and I shall sometimes fail miserably to live up to my conscience, whose word I do not distrust even when I can't obey it. But I am terribly glad to be alive; and when I have wit enough to think about it, terribly proud to be a man and an American, with all the rights and privledges that those words connote; and most of all I am humble before the responisibities that are also mine. For no right comes without a responisiblity, and being born luckier than most of the world's millions, I am also born more obligated." - Wallace Stegner

Stat Attack

I came across this amazing website several weeks ago and enjoyed their presentation of a massive amount of data. FiveThirtyEight.com I particularly like looking at their 'scenario analysis' where you can see the probability of many different events that might happen on election day, like, what's the odds of Barack losing OH and FL but still winning the election? 60.85%

Presidential endorsements...

For the first time in its history, the Chicago Tribune is endorsing the Democratic party's candidate. Their editorial explains why...
And I thought this write-up in the LA Times about Colin Powell's endorsement and statement on Islamophobia was very good.

15 October 2008


A slow night at parent-teacher conferences + an oddly easy Wednesday NY Times crossword =

13 October 2008

Krugman Wins Nobel Prize

Paul Krugman, NY Times columnist and Priceton professor, was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics today. I like how candid he is about whether or not he expected the call notifying him that he had won. Also, how amazing would that be to get into his class at Princeton?! I can't read his column or hear his name without thinking about what an enjoyable and rewarding experience I had last year, going to hear him speak with a group of students.

Saints Announced

The Pope announced four new saints yesterday. One of them was the first ever Indian woman to be canonized. Read more about her story here.

12 October 2008

Nike Commercials

I saw a new (to me) Nike commercial during the Texas - Oklahoma game yesterday. Sidenote: what a game! great performances by two top-notch teams and Texas showed some serious character. I was loving it. Check out the commercial, called "Leave Nothing." It's pretty great. And it reminded me of this other Nike commercial that they showed during Euro 2008 this summer that I really liked. "Take it to the Next Level" It shows, from the first-person camera perspective, a player playing for a smaller club team, then getting picked up by Arsenal and playing against Manchester United, then playing Inter and Barcelona in the Champions League and finally playing for the Netherlands against Portugal. Great Stuff.
And lastly, in response to caboose's piano on fire video...Cesc Fabregas does a little fire trick of his own. I love that his name and number are on the back of the firesuit. :)

10 October 2008

Free-fall, Adjustment, Panic or Correction?

Seven straight days of triple digit declines in the Dow. That has never happened before. The Dow has fallen 25% in October. It is a time when you hope people who need the money from their investments soon have made wise, careful decisions. It'd be horrible to lose 25% of your retirement account if you had to start drawing on it soon.

09 October 2008

Happy Belated B-day, iPod!!

We made it through the terrible two's and shamROCK is now three years old. I'm still so thankful for it. I know we shouldn't fixate on material things but it really makes such a difference in my life! Without my music I am not as normally wonderful and fun to be with as I usually am. :) August was actually the birthday but I forgot to do this annual post then and just remembered it today driving home from school. shamROCK is carrying 3,598 songs now and is holding up well. Here's to three more years! So here is my current Top 25 (I shortened it from 50) list by most plays, with the change noted from last year's list...
1- Bingo - M.I.A. (no change)
2- What About Everything? - Carbon Leaf (+25)
3- Marching Bands of Manhattan - Death Cab for Cutie (no change)
4- Grace of God Go I - Flogging Molly (+6)
5- Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers (+31)
6- Take It Easy (Love Nothing) - Bright Eyes (+32) greatest gainer
7- Hands Down - Dashboard Confessional (-2)
8- Hold On - Lovehammers (+12)
9- WP - Matisyahu (+22)
10- Nothing Better - Postal Service (+13)
11- Ain't No Reason - Brett Dennen hot shot!
12- Gold Mine Gutted - Bright Eyes (-4)
13- Mushaboom - Bright Eyes (+26)
14- Dishy - Candypants (no change)
15- The Professor - Damien Rice (+13)
16- Photobooth - Death Cab for Cutie (+25)
17- Sugar, We're Goin' Down - Fall Out Boy (+13)
18- F-stop Blues - Jack Johnson (-7)
19- Baba O'Riley - Jordis Unga (+13)
20- Jesus Walks - Kanye West (-3)
21- Everything is Alright - Motion City Soundtrack (no change)
22- Be Still My Heart - Postal Service (+22)
23- Walking With a Ghost - Tegan & Sara (-21)
24- I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor - Artic Monkeys (-20)
25- Feeling This - Blink 182

Homecoming Week

It is homecoming week here at school; one of my favorite parts of the high school calendar. It really always has been. I haven't always loved dressing up as much as I do now. When I was in high school, I wasn't gung-ho about coming up with an outfit for some of the theme days we had. I always liked color day, where each grade got a color to wear, seniors always getting black. My favorite without a doubt was Friday, Blue & White day. My friends and I would get decked out head to toes in blue and white, painting faces, wearing bandanas, whatever we could think of. The dressing up this week hasn't been as intense as I was hoping for. I wore my Iowa t-shirt for Rivalry day (what's that even mean?), and loved getting to wear flannel pants, house-shoes and a long-sleeve t-shirt all day for PJ day. Yesterday I matched outfits with a couple other teachers in my hallway for Twin day and today I'm rocking caboose's Ireland jersey for Sport day. I'm hoping to put something fun together for Spirit day tomorrow.
Some of the most fun when I was in high school came from all the other activities going on that week like painting the streets, soaping the main street business' windows, making floats and being in the parade, coming up with a class skit, decorating the class spirit wall, competing as a class in the Anything Goes contest, seeing who won the best dressed awards for each day, voting on the homecoming king & queen, going to the bonfire, finding a date for the dance, having a girl ask to wear your jersey, ending the school day Friday with a great pep rally. And then there is still the game itself (critical to get a win, otherwise the dance afterwards will be a big downer)!
Even though there hasn't been much going on here this week, I've been making sure I get as much enjoyment out of it as I can.

07 October 2008

Penguin Influx

Man, yet another reason to take a trip to Brazil!

06 October 2008


I let a fellow teacher come in and use the computers in my classroom during my planning period today. It was a nutrition or foods class or something. She had them working on a diet planning website where they have to put together daily meal plans that would help them satisfy all the requirements for the daily nutritional intake numbers. They'd been at it for a little while and I was just sitting at my desk, inputting grades (since they are due today). They were adding foods and asking a question here and there when I hear a student ask in a quietly serious voice, "How do you spell forty ounce?" Beside the poor nutritional aspects of malt liquor, the fact that this was a class of freshmen made it even more inappropriate.

02 October 2008

Mascot Unveiling!!

Last Friday, I went to the homecoming game for the school at was at last year. Their football team isn't too great, as illustrated by the 31-7 deficiet they found themselves in at halftime, but it was a great time. I got to catch up with some teachers and also saw a half-dozen or so students I had last year who had graduated and were back for homecoming. It was nice to have them come over and say hi and share a little about how their college experience is starting off. And at halftime, I was able to witness the unveiling of their new mascot. I wish they had a full body picture of this guy cause he is tall! 13 feet, and the head alone is six feet tall. The best part is the people went nuts for him! And one of my former students was inside him too. :)

68 and Sunny

I was sitting in my backyard after school today and reading my book and the weather was so great I just had to blog a little about it. It was that temperate where you can wear a tshirt and jeans and be comfortable but if it were a degree or two cooler or if the wind was any stronger you would need a hoodie. And that autumn sun is so great. There'd be a breeze and you'd get chilly and just when you think, if this keeps up, I'll put on my jacket, the breeze dies and instantly that low sun warms you and that warmth gives you tingles down your spine or raises the hairs on your neck. Looking up the sun looks an orangey-crimson through your closed eyelids and your cheekbones feel like solar panels. And you can just sit there and let yourself be warmed by sun for a while...until a few gusts of cool air catch your exposed skin and chill you back down momentarily, only briefly though and then the warming starts all over again. The contrasting temperatures are keeping your nerve endings working overtime. The joys of fall.


I have been loving the honeycrisp apple this week! I have had them before, but might have forgotten a bit just good they are. A friend mentioned them last week and then the next morning I saw a stand selling them at the Farmer's Market. I spent my entire ten dollars on a bag of them and they are delic! Very crisp and crunchy, but not painfully so. SO sweet and fresh. Just taking one out of the frig in the morning puts me in a good mood, and then when I devour it later I get to appreciate it even more. I hope you all can find some while they are in season!

01 October 2008

Buy Low...

Few people have a track record of buying low and searching out value in investments like Warren Buffet. The idiom, 'Buy Low, Sell High' definitely applies now. He's seen a good buying opportunity and dropped $5 billion for preferred stock in GE and $3 billion for preferred stock in Goldman Sachs. I'll definitely have to bring this up in class when we talk about moving opposite of the market.