31 December 2009

Fave Music of 2009

OK, to help refresh myself and put my arms around what things brought enjoyment to my ears this year, here is my year-end wrap up. Some favorite albums (some new in 2009, some just new to me in 2009), favorite singles, etc:

Albums:

1. Lady GaGa ~ The Fame Monster
  • Just an EP, but if NPR can have a 4-song album in their top 5, why can't I? Everything on it is 3-star or better (other than that remix I deleted). She is crazy...crazy awesome. That opening to Bad Romance is sick.
  • Check out: Speechless, Bad Romance
2. GLEE ~ Vol. 1
  • Yes, I love the show, and the music is the main reason why so it's no surprise that it's on my list. The mix of pop tunes and show tunes is perfect; it keeps you from getting to tired of either. And, although Rachel Berry is amazing, the whole mix of voices is super too. Can't wait for the dvd to come out and next season to start!
  • Check out: Alone, Don't Stop Believin', Defying Gravity
3. Owl City ~ Ocean Eyes
  • I will admit that even though I loved Fireflies when I first heard it, I was pretty surprised at the overall quality of the whole CD. Yes, it is cliche-packed and pretty cheesy in parts, but it's such a fun, happy ride that I don't mind a bit. Still sad that caboose & I missed over half of their concert.
  • Check out: The Saltwater Room, Vanilla Twilight, Fireflies
4. Taylor Swift - Fearless
  • Man, she just keeps getting better. I loved her last album. I love watching live concert videos on YouTube and seeing her cover fun songs and I love how cool she seems.
  • Check out: Love Story, You Belong With Me, The Way I Loved You
5. GLEE ~ Vol. 2
  • Yep, more from the show choir kids of McKinley High.
  • Check out: Endless Love, Crush, True Colors
6. Passion Pit ~ Manners
  • caboose was plugging these guys everytime we were in the car together, usually driving to the Sands for volleyball. And despite not being a huge fan in the beginning, I eventually wised up and got the whole album and enjoyed it. Also, got the chance to see them at Lolla and they blew socks off. Fun sidenote: Leslie clued me in on this awesome blog of a elementary choir in NYC and they are the kids that sing on the Passion Pit album! Check out PS22 Chorus.
  • Check out: Little Secrets, The Reeling, Sleepyhead
7. Black Eyed Peas - The E.N.D.
  • I don't even have the whole album, but I am comfortable putting it on here due to the strength of its singles. will.i.am & crew have putting together a party track down to a science.
  • Check out: Boom Boom Pow, I Gotta Feeling, Meet Me Halfway
8. La Roux ~ In For the Kill
  • I think I saw this girl on an Irish music blog I read. Checked her out on a whim and loved what I heard.
  • Check out: Bulletproof, In For the Kill
9. Michael Buble ~ Crazy in Love
  • I'd appreciated his voice in a few different songs, but this was the first time I'd sat down and listened to a whole CD. I was really happy with the song choices for this. Nicole thoughtfully passed this one on to me, rightly suspecting that I would like it.
  • Check out: Haven't Met You Yet, All of Me, Some Kind of Wonderful
10. The Hood Internet ~ Mixtape Vol. 4
  • Right or wrong, I compare all mash-ups to Girl Talk. I don't expect them to be better than him, but I want them to be in the same league. Hood Internet usually is. Plus, if I play this in my classroom before or after school (selectively), I earn a little credibility with my students.
  • Check out: The whole thing. It's a free download. The Outro is beast though.
11. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
  • Another artists I was forunate enought to see at Lolla. Pakistani-born, Britain-raised, her music is not really like anything else in my library...in a good way.
  • Check out: Daniel, Glass, Pearl's Dream
Late to the game on (loved 'em even though they didn't come out this year):

Wicked ~ Original Broadway Recording
Adele ~ 19
Lady GaGa ~ The Fame
Ra Ra Riot ~ The Rhumb Line
Kings of Leon ~ Only By the Night
The Killers ~ Day & Age
Colbie Caillat - Coco

Top Singles not mentioned above, every one of these is worth $1.29 on iTunes:
  1. Drop It Low - Ester Dean - "Make the booty go, boom ba ba boom ba boom ba boom boom." This song is perfect, so many different great pieces to it. Turn it up, shred your speakers, and drop it low.
  2. Charlie Darwin - The Low Anthem - "The water's all around us." I don't really worry what the listen are on about, I just let the sound wash over me.
  3. One Day - Matisyahu - "Sometimes I lay under the moon and thank God I'm breathing. Then I pray, 'Don't take me soon, cuz I am hear for a reason."" So positive, so uplifting. Makes me feel anything is possible, and I can start by doing more than I'm doing right now. Glad they're using it for marketing the Winter Olympics.
  4. Party in the USA - Miley - "Noddin' my head like yeah"...and believe me, I was.
  5. Chillin' - Wale featuring Lady GaGa - "I got Phil Knight talkin' 'bout "how you got them?"" GaGa's hook is purrfect and Wale's rhymes make me laugh.
Honorable Mention:
I Told You So - Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis
Down - Jay Sean
She Wolf - Shakira
Single Ladies (Put a ring on it) - Beyonce
Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z & Alicia Keyes
Run This Town - Jay-Z & Rihianna & Kanye
Coin Operated Boy - Dresden Dolls
Young Folks - Peter Bjorn & John
In Color - Jamey Johnson
Family Reunion - Kid Sister
Starry Eyed (jakwod remix) - Ellie Goulding
Oh, What a World - Rufus Wainwright


Past lists: 2008, 2007, 2005

Fave Posts of the 2009

As I've done in past years, I like to go back and skim through all the posts of the year. It's a fun thing to reflect and remember all the goings on of the year. Lots can happen in 365 days. Here's my list of 'good' posts.

Penguin goes to school, What's good, Better than 'What's Up', Ash Wednesday, It's a Sub!, 25 Things, Shoe project, Land of the Cul de Sac, Snappy Comeback, Chicago in 26 hours, Txting typos, St. Patrick's Warm-up, Jane Eyre, Best Sports Books, Do you know where your soul is?, Darth Vader, Floor planner, 2 sentence thoughts, David vs Goliath, Fremont County biking, Shawn Reigns, Pie #1, 3 day weekend, Sorta project, Wing adventure, Michael Collins, What's good II, Photo chain, Say real things, HMN '09, Chick pea salad, MN, 6-on-6, Chicago #2, 80/35, 5K, Goodbye Summer, Quotes, Welchans Open '09, Booze Cruise/Lolla, Excuses, Reach Out, Fall Fest, Football Saturday, iPod Turns 4, Book Sale, Man's Search for Meaning, Reggie's Sleepout II, Why so absent, Reggie's sleepout, Eid Mubarak, Turkey break, Glee, The Prophet, Selling lesson plans, Rent weekend, Game weekend, Limoncello, Snow days, Validation, Break-up hallway,

26 December 2009

Healthcare: Obama & T-Pain

Everything is funnier when auto-tuned. First Taylor Swift, now Obama. Check out the video.

25 December 2009

24 December 2009

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Well, we are in the midst of some intense winter weather here in SWI. For the first time that I can ever remember, Christmas mass has been canceled, which is a big bummer for several reasons. One, I had a fun new outfit I was looking forward to busting out. Two, I love the chance to see all the familiar faces of old friends, relatives, and neighbors at Christmas mass. You see people you haven't seen in months (probably since the year before) and everyone is dressed up and in a great mood. Three, I love getting dressed up and going to mass with my whole family. It always leaves me feeling peaceful and grateful. Lastly, I love the opportunity to reflect on the culmination of the advent season and ponder a while on the state of my own faith and what I need to focus on in the coming year.
Instead, stoppable and his family had to peel out of here earlier than planned today due to an impending ice store, so we had an early present opening and Christmas meal. Now, homebase, caboose and I are just hanging out and listening to the wind howl outside. Since there is no mass, we are going to watch the Pope do his thing in Rome later. I think I'm going to put my outfit on to watch him just for fun. It wouldn't feel right to watch him as I sit in sweatpants.
We've had coloring time, crosswords, Scrabble, ping-pong, book time, watched White Christmas and I think we still have a lot of indoor time yet to come. At least it has given me time to work on my blog a bit. I was planning on a full overhaul as I've done in year's past, but after messing around with two new templates, I decided it was too much work. So I'm sticking with what I've got and I just changed up the color scheme and fonts a bit. I'm including a picture of what it used to look like in case you didn't notice a difference.

17 December 2009

Break-up Hallway

My classroom is way down a long hallway, which usually is nice because it keep most of the drama, loudness and hall wanderers far away. Unfortunately, a by-product of this seclusion, lately at least, is that it seems to be a good place for relationship breakups. I've seen a few hallways breakups in my short teaching career (one on the first day of school this year, how's that for a welcome back!) but this week, I had to witness two girls weeping in almost the exact same spot, one on Monday and one today. Sadly, I know and like both of the students. One of which, is one of my faves and a girl I just think is great. I'm terrible at knowing something helpful to say without sounding too cliched and also without getting into the details of their breakup. Luckily, both times the girl was already being consoled, once by a friend, the other by my neighboring teacher. 'Tis the season I guess. Hope they kept their gift receipts.

15 December 2009

Limoncello













I happened to catch Alton Brown's Good Eats last week just before heading to the grocery store and he did a quick piece on making limoncello. It looked so easy and he acted like it was so good. So, while I was at the store, I picked up a bottle of Smirnoff 100 proof (Alton said it needed to be the stronger version) and a pile of lemons. After zesting them while watching TV, I put it together to sit for 10 days. After all that wait, I could barely wait to make the simple syrup and freeze it tonight. So when I poured a couple drinks for caboose and I, the expectations were high. Sadly, they were not met. In fact, it tasted pretty much like it sounds like it would. You are sipping 100 proof vodka that tastes like it was distilled in a the world's biggest lemon grove. It was quickly determined that we would not be able to sip this booze, so we will now be looking for recipes for drinks that would work well with lemon vodka.

14 December 2009

"Paul Samuelson Dies at 94"

I didn't know much about Paul Samuelson other than he was a Nobel-winning economist. This article from the NY Times does a good job of providing some scope as to his impact on the economics field.

Game Weekend!


Our family's annual game weekend was this past weekend and it went off without a hitch, undeterred by a rough week of weather. Without going into too much detail, we had people coming in from Farragut, Omaha and Iowa City to enjoy games, foods of all kinds, ice skating, shopping and just a nice relaxed time of conversation and hanging out before the business of the holidays and winter break commence. It was great to have such a fun event to clean up our apartment for and get it decorated and looking nice. caboose's presence was definitely missed, although it did free up a bed for others to use! :)
And Sunday I was lucky enough to talk Nic & Lez into taking in a showing of "Brothers." I was really excited to see it. That I desire Natalie Portman is no secret, and add to that Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tobey McGuire and it sounds pretty enticing. I don't want to ruin the movie for any readers, so I'll just summarize by saying I really liked it but that it is an emotional marathon and we were all a bit shell-shocked when the lights came on. Lightening the mood afterward, the biggest and most amazing box of holiday baking treats was given to me for caboose and I from these wonderful friends. The box was hand decorated and the contents were so fun, varied and delicious that I had to take a picture to remember it by.
A great weekend of family and friends. Happy holidays, indeed.

10 December 2009

Validation


A lot of teachers, when asked why they went into teaching, say something along the lines of "I want to help people" or "I like working with kids" or "I loved school and wanted to help others feel that too." But sometimes, when you get bogged down in the day-to-day routine and challenges of teaching, you don't always feel like you are filling those goals. You rarely get the chance to hear or see if your actions and efforts make a difference. So, a little validation can go a long ways. Anyone who's talked to me about teaching has probably heard about the challenges of one of my favorite students over the past couple years. Her situation has changed a bunch and she's at a new school and sounds very happy & healthy. I had to share this comment that was made because it made my month.

What to do, what to do, what to do...

Early out on Tuesday due to impending "Storm of the Century" (actual quote from local weatherman)...GREAT! We get to count the day of teaching, we still see all our classes and we get out early. Perfect. The rest of the day is spent checking papers, messing around online, watching "Pretty in Pink" and waiting to see if we would have a snow day on Wednesday.
Which we did! Woo hoo! I'm all for a snow day to break up the routine. And, considering we got ~15" of snow dumped on us, it was definitely necessary. Travel by automobile was not a possibility and when I bundled up and walked up to the coffee shop, I realized they weren't braving the weather either. :( Actually everything was closed, except for the hardware store and Back Country. So caboose & I stopped into the hardware store to wander around, warm up and get a couple pops (I think we have a caffiene addiction). The rest of the day was filled in with giving the kitchen a good cleaning, making a tasty tater tot casserole using up lots of stuff from the freezer and pantry, working on crosswords, watching some movies, baking some very nice chocolate chocolate-chip cookies with pecans, getting upset when I saw that we would have another snow day Thursday, and cheering back up with the season finale of GLEE.
Today, the sun is shining and the temperature finally climbed above zero. I've spent the whole morning at the coffeeshop. I had to get out of the house for a while. Activities today include Scrabble against homebase, lunch with a friend, laundry, working on a semester-end survey, showering, and listening to Vol. 2 of Glee music which I purchased yesterday (good thing the iTunes store never closes).
Bring on school tomorrow! Plus it will be Friday, ha!

07 December 2009

"Hope is Real"

There's a good article in the current issue of Rolling Stone about Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love On Her Arms. You can check it out here. I enjoyed it and thought it did a good job of presenting the movement for what it is. It is incredible the momentum it has achieved. I think it shows that everyone wants to be listened to, everyone wants to know someone is invested in or at least interested in how they are feeling, everyone wants to be loved. And some people have been deprived of that or are starving more for it in than others.
"Industrial-strength empathy..." I like that.

06 December 2009

Broken Back

Not the mountain.
I saw this going across the ticker last night as I was watching Texas do just enough to beat Nebraska and it sounded crazy enough that I had to go see the video. This guy broke two vertabrae when he hit the deck after a missed dunk. And he's only gonna be out 2 weeks!?!? Ouch.

World Cup Draw

The draw for next summer's World Cup took place on Friday, so you can check out who pulled the easy groups and who got stuck in the 'Group of Death'. Soccernet has a nice concise break down of all 32 teams. Only 186 days til the fun begins. I am REALLY looking forward to next summer. Also on Friday, adidas unveiled the new ball that would be used in South Africa, the jabulani. Sort of funny side note, during the rehearsal for the draw, Charlize Theron who is from South Africa and did the pulling of names from the hat, announced, "Ireland" when she drew France's name. :)

04 December 2009

Talk to the Moose

Although their holiday commercial with adults was good, the Gap's new holiday commercial with singing, dancing kids is top notch and I can't get their little song out of my head. The girl at 0:21 is my favorite part of it all.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

A few signs that cold weather is here and winter is just around the corner...
  • I parked my car in the garage last night for the first time since probably last February or March. With no garage door opener (other than my hands) it is a bit of added inconvenience, but it is pretty nice to get in the car in the morning and not have the seat be freezing and not need to scrape the windows.
  • Yesterday I started my winter morning ritual. After I get out of bed, I put my clothes for the day on the radiator before grabbing my towel and heading to shower and get ready. That way, by the time I come back to put them on, they are toasty warm. Sorta like Kramer in that Seinfeld episode where he puts his clothes in the oven, except safer.
  • I had to get out the long underwear. I haven't given in and worn it yet, but the window by my desk in my classroom is so drafty, it may not be long before I do.
  • Christmas music has moved into steady rotation on my iPod and at the apartment. I look forward all year long to the morning of Black Friday so I can put on the Christmas albums for the first time as homebase and I head to the malls. (there's some Christmas sentiment for ya!)

01 December 2009

Fighting Irish Coaching Change

So Charlie Wies is out, and will be taking a hefty buyout payment with him. I'm not sure what I feel about it. Whether or not it was the right move, I think it was the inevitable move. I like the guy, I think he's a good coach, and I love how he connects with the players and epathizes with them. It's not just about X's and O's with him. He had a quote after the Stanford game that I thought was good about how there was a group of 22 and 23 year olds that had lost their last 6 games by less than a touchdown and they were hurting. And, he's a straight talker. He stated when he came in"You are what you are, folks, and right now you're a 6-5 football team. And guess what? That's just not good enough. That's not good enough for you, and it's certainly not going to be good enough for me." They are now a 6-6 football team and he said before the Stanford game that it would be hard for them to keep him. "If they decide to make a change, I'd have to say I'd have a tough time arguing with that. If they decide to make a change, I'd have a tough time arguing that because 6-5 is not good enough."
So now the buzz is all about who will be the next challenger to step in and take over the reins for the Irish. I'll just sit back and wait for the announcement. All those close losses were hard to take this year but their offensive stars were fun to watch and I just hope they all come back next year.
The best thing I've read about all of this is a wonderful quote from star receiver Golden Tate yesterday:
"When I signed up for Notre Dame, I knew what I was signing up for, I was signing up to be a student-athlete, not an athlete. I was coming into this program to earn a degree. As a recruit, you must understand it's not all about football. It's more than that. It's going to class. It's becoming a man or a woman of character. That's what makes it tough for Notre Dame to choose student-athletes. We want people to represent this college the way it's supposed to be represented: High character, great morals. At the end of the day, it's about the education you receive; the tradition we have."

30 November 2009

Red Laces

I love fresh laces to add some contrast and pop to your shoes. And I love product (RED). So, even though I don't wear much Nike, I still love the company and was excited to see that product (RED) announced Nike as their newest corporate partner. Red laces are their first co-branded product.

Turkey Break

I was SO looking forward to a few days off and getting out of town for Thanksgiving and four days completely lived up to expectations. Even though it is wild, hectic and you have to pull teeth to get any learning to happen, I love the day before a break at school. I started my day off buying 4 dozen donuts for my first class and my homeroom. There is this little non-chain donut place located perfectly between my house and school and I love to stop there. With a nice dose of sugar and cheer to start the day off, things went very well. And we finished the day with my Photoshop kids doing some fun text effect tutorials that went really well. Despite the gray drizzly weather, the drive home was good. It is really a great feeling when you are driving to know you have a house full of family as your destination. Thanksgiving morning came a little chilly, but at least it was sunny. The three brothers held our first annual Turkey trot 5k through the streets (and a lap around the track) of Farragut. It was a great run, with fun conversation and a random dog joined as we ran by his house and stayed with us for the last half.
The actual Thanksgiving meal was changed up a little this year. Each party was responsible for choosing & preparing a dish to share and it did a nice job of changing up the menu. Parsnips, sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, apple pie, brussel sprouts and a different stuffing were all new additions to the bounty.
Black Friday was great fun, as always. Up at 4:45 and shopping by 6, homebase and I scored some good deals and didn't really have any problems with long lines or bad traffic. I did a little shopping for myself in addition to the Christmas shopping. I've been considering a new iPod for months and the apple store had markdowns on iPods and accessories, and since the battery on my old iPod won't last longer than 2 hours, I decided to pull the trigger. 30GB iPod Touch, and a case and car transmitter for a total savings of ~$70. I also got a new camera! Sadly, I had to replace my SD600 that I have loved for three years now since I dropped it and it ceased working. I got the SD1200 for $149, marked down $50 for Black Friday. It's great to have a camera again, and it'll be fun to learn some of the new features. I was able to try it out on Saturday when I went down to the House of Bricks to see caboose playing with Cashes Rivers. And Sunday I wound down the weekend by celebrating caboose's birthday.
Lots of fun and lots to be thankful for definitely.

28 November 2009

Hebrews 12 1-2

This is the Bible passage that Tim Tebow had on his eye black for his last game today. I'm not a super fan of the him or the Gators, but I have tons of respect for what he's done off the field, as well as how he's done on it.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

22 November 2009

GLEE


I was just talking to some people at work a few weeks ago about television shows. They were going on about some show, Modern Family or Project Runway or something about how they never miss it and how good it is. And I said that I wasn't really into any shows right now. Of course I still enjoy catching some reruns of Scrubs and The Office, but it has always been tough for me to get to the point of devotion to a show where I make a point of remembering when it is on and make sure I'm in front of the TV at that time each week. When Lost first came out, I really was into it and followed it weekly, but around season 3 or so, my class schedule started causing havoc and I quit following it. (caboose is slowly pulling me back to it but I've missed so much now it is hard to get too into it.) Last year I was completely enamored with Dancing With the Stars. I never watch those vote-people-off shows but there was no denying how much I loved watching Shawn Johnson each week.
But last week I fell hard for a new show. Glee. I had caught part of an episode a month or so ago and liked it, but, like always, couldn't remember to watch it again the next week. So after a horrible night of volleyball last week, I came home, plopped on the sofa and flipped on the teley. And there was Glee again, so I watched it, loved it and proceeded to stay up til midnight watching past episodes on hulu. I love the show. It's like getting to see a 45 minute musical each week. They use a great mix of showtunes and popular music. The cast is great. Lea Michele (Rachel Berry) and Puck are my favorites. She's gorgeous and has an amazing voice. And I found this article which I totally agreed with about why I find her character so appealing. She's played Cosette & Eponine on Broadway. I bought the first cd of music from the show and have been listening to that on repeat for the last few days. The version of "Defying Gravity" (from Wicked) from the diva-off between Rachel & Kurt is beyond great. I also found this video of the cast singing the national anthem at Game 3 of the World Series, pretty impressive rendition. So check it out if you are looking for something to watch!

Oprah & B.E.P.& FlashMob

I may be late in seeing this, but it saw it at school this week and totally loved it. Similar to the T-Mobile train station commercials, it involves some choreographed public dancing. Oprah has the Black Eyed Peas performing outside on Michigan Avenue as part of the celebration of her 24th season. will.i.am had contacted FlashMob to organize it all and the best part is watching Oprah's reaction to the whole thing, which was a complete surprise to her. You can see a great video of it here or a good overhead cam here. And there's plenty of videos online to help you learn the dance too. :)

19 November 2009

Mixtape!!!

I put together a little mixtape of some of what's been kicking around in my headphones lately. This mix is much mellow and warm, just right for autumn and sitting back with a dark beer or a mug of tea/hot chocolate. It's not acoustic or anything that will put you to sleep but it is a lot slowed down and more organic sounding than the mix I put together for the summer. I couldn't keep myself from putting three songs on the end of the mix that probably don't fit the mood, but they were too good not to include. I also used my new (very limited) Photoshop skills to make a cover for it. If you want a copy, lemme know!

18 November 2009

Ireland Denied a Cup Berth

A blatant handball (he actually handles it twice) in the 109th minute let France steal the second to last spot in the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer. To say I'm depressed is an understatement. The Irish played very well, attacking throughout the game but they could get that second goal to close out the game, despite having three really good opportunities. Watch the video to see Thierry Henry touch the ball with his forearm once to stop it from going out of bounds and then a second time with his hand to push it into his path so he can cross it to William Gallas, who heads in the goal. :(
Quote from Henry:
"I will be honest, it was a handball. But I'm not the ref. I played it. The ref allowed it"

17 November 2009

The Prophet

Just finished reading The Prophet. It'd been on my list for quite a while and I've always heard it highly praised. I enjoyed it and there were definitely a few parts that I liked a lot, but overall, not as a transformative as I was expecting. It is pretty zen-ish; the kind of book that you reflect after reading a few pages. Here's what I felt deserved underlining when I read it:
Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

You give little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

Work is love made visible.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil.

Selling Lesson Plans

I loved this article. "Selling Lesson Plans Online, Teachers Raise Cash and Questions" from the NY Times. As technology & the internet change other industries (music, movies, travel, etc.) it should be expected that it would change education as well. It is going to take quite a bit of time, money and cause a lot of frustration in the teaching ranks, but it will eventually happen and we should be happy about it.
The article looks at the newly-popular trend of teachers selling the lessons plans and units they have created. I think this is a wonderful thing. Both parties are winning in this transaction. The teachers that have put in the thought, creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity to create a high-quality lesson get some reward, some feedback and some recognition (all of which are otherwise fairly lacking). The teacher paying for the unit can spend their prep hours customizing and polishing the unit instead of starting from scratch. As stated in the article, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We would be foolish not to harness the power of communicating and borrowing from thousands of other teachers. Why force a new teacher to create a new unit on economies of scale (pun intended) when hundreds of other people have not only created the same unit but spent years developing, adding and tweaking it? Don't we want teachers using the best resources possible? This is something that has frustrated me to no end even in my own district. Why is there not a central sharing repository for teachers to share develop lessons, resources used, etc? I realize I don't teach in a core area, but even those areas have not done much in sharing curriculum.
The Joseph McDonald guy, a professor of course, who says that it cheapens what teachers do when they try and sell it makes me laugh at his hypocrisy. Quality and choice decrease when there is no profit incentive, lesson shown by command economies. And, I'm guessing that professor has a book published that he is expecting to pay for as well. Is it cheapening his ideas since he isn't giving the book away for free?
You can bet I'll be checking out the sites they mention and seeing what they have. One, to see if there's anything great I can use to make my classroom better. Two, to see if there might be an opportunity to make a money off of the hours that I've poured into planning.

15 November 2009

Weekend Recap...

I was blessed this weekend with a super fun and event filled few days. A quick recap:
Friday night I experienced the Greenwood Lounge for the first time for a couple after-school drinks with some teachers. It is a delightful dive bar and I'm sure I'll be back. The mural of dogs dancing & drinking on the wall looked straight out of the 60's and it was superb. caboose & I then got spiffed up and met our fashion-plate accompaniment for the night at Grand Piano Bistro. The food there was great (I had a butternut squash gnocchi with cranberries & walnuts), but the service and overall experience left something to be desired. If caboose, a former server, rips your service, you know you've gone very wrong. Regardless, we had a great time and then it was on to the highlight of the night, RENT. I've seen the play before, the movie many times, and memorized the CD long ago, but none of that diminished how much I enjoyed the performance on Friday. It was so great to see and hear the numbers done live, with some new cast members adding some slight new twists. Plus it is just a fun festive story, great to be shared with friends. After the show, we camped out at the Lift for a few drinks and conversation. Between the getting ready and going out, I always have fun dressing up a little. Maybe I should make a point to try and up my fashion level more often when going out.
Saturday, homebase came up and we checked out the Holiday craft show at Holy Trinity. Although we didn't buy anything (other than some GREAT challah bread), we did get some good ideas for holiday crafting. Then we headed to the mall for what was going to be a few simple items but turned into a very productive Christmas shopping outing! We got some great coupons and saved a bundle at the Gap and had a great time. I used a birthday gift card to get a cookie scoop that I had read about in a holiday baking magazine that I am super pumped to try out on some cookies and see if it really makes as big of a difference as they acted like it does. We relaxed in the afternoon a bit watching the Iowa game. :( Tough loss but I am proud of how they played and impressed by Vandenburg's performance! We rounded out the day with Scrabble and coffee at Mars Cafe and watching the unimpressive Notre Dame game.
Church and a great breakfast at Drake Diner started today off well. Now, grading papers, getting ready for the week and thinking of something to make for dinner. Some great times this weekend. I am thankful for the great people in my life!

13 November 2009

TWLOHA Day


Today is To Write Love On Her Arms Day. It is something that developed over the last couple years without any guidance from the actual organization but they fully support it. You can read Jamie's thoughts on it on their blog. So, if you feel so inclined, write a little message on your arm today and then share the purpose behind it if someone asks. I went small but I'm sure it'll get noticed. There's a facebook group and a flickr group to check out if you want.

12 November 2009

Restaurant Do's & Don'ts

Few things are more frustrating than a bowl of hot soup with no spoon.
I came across this list in the NY Times earlier this week. And since I love lists...and food, I thought I'd share it. stoppable, we can use these as a starting place when we open our restaurant. 1-50 and 51-100. Some of them are very good. Things that I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on, but grate on my nerves when dining out. The author has a series of articles about his travails as he starts up a fish restaurant in the Hamptons. These would be fun to combine into an entrepreneurship class...which I'm not teaching this year, unfortunately.

10 November 2009

Lala.com

So I don't know how long this has been going on but something I've been enjoying lately is Google's new music functionality. If you search for a band, song title, or even some lyrics, at the top of your search results will be a play button and you can listen to the full song (the first time, 30 seconds after that) courtesy of either iLike.com or LaLa.com. Google is trying to work its way into the music distribution chain. Lala is also starting to work with facebook so users can buy songs there. It is pretty handy and being able to hear the full song is much better than the iTunes Store's 30 seconds, but I don't know how much better (if any) it is than just clicking on the video of the song and watching/listening to it there. Either way, check it out and see what you think.

Rooney's Street Skills

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney has a new show coming out that is like an American Idol sort of show for street soccer players. He has taped a couple commercials of him doing some street competitions to promo the show. This one where he has to trap a ball dropped from an apartment complex (the last one is 6 stories up), turn and pass it into a dumpster is the most entertaining. There were two takes on YouTube for it. This one looks like the first one; it takes a few times for him to get used to it, but the last ball is pretty sweet. This looks like the second one, he's definitely got it down this time. Not bad for wearing jeans! There are some other neat ones, like evading a bunch of rolled tires. The full show is here, but I haven't watched it yet so I can't vouch for it.

09 November 2009

Athletes Acting Badly

Two unfortunate examples to share:
  • This one is all over YouTube and ESPN. Elizabeth Lambert, junior defender on the New Mexico Lobos soccer team, puts on a display of multiple ways of how not to act. Only got a yellow in the game, but her coach has suspended her indefinitely. Too bad it distracted from a great match of the #1 and #4 teams in the country.
  • This one was a talking point on College GameDay this past weekend. Florida linebacker and captain, Brandon Spikes, blatantly eye-gouges the Georgia ball carrier after the tackle. He was suspended for half of a game. He later said he would sit the full game...against Vanderbilt.

05 November 2009

Sunny Day, Sweepin' the Clouds Away


40 years of Sesame Street and Google is helping commemorate it with a week of Google doodles. And the first two have been great. Be sure to keep checking to see what they come up with. I YouTube'd to see if I could find the first episode from back in 1969 and this was the part I came across. It's right up my alley with a take on 'Consider Yourself' from Oliver the musical. What an amazing tv program. I still have songs, sayings, voices, words and lessons stuck in my memory that I learned from Ernie, Bert, Snuffleupagus, Oscar, the Count, Big Bird and the gang. I may need to buy this compilation of musical guests over the years. It looks pretty good!

02 November 2009

The Best of Us Challenge

I didn't see these when the Olympics were going on, and randomly came across them tonight. The Best of Us challenges; a series of videos of Olympians doing random physical feats and offering normal people a challenge. Since random physical feats are a family gathering favorite with my family, I thought I'd share these. I'm a big Lolo Jones fan, and she does 33 push-ups w/clap in 30 seconds. She's beast. I'm gonna have to try and match that. I tried just now (just after eating smokey pulled pork dinner) and got 21. And I'm even a bigger fan of Shawn Johnson and she has two videos. This one of 54 ear touches from a handstand is pretty impressive (much more so than the egg toss one). This Australian track guy gives out after 25 taps in 10 seconds, so I give Shawn the edge in that one. Micheal Phelps' speed putting is also pretty good.
So, family, get ready for some fun over Thanksgiving! :)

Smokey Pulled Pork

There are few better feelings then walking in through the door after a Monday of work and having your apartment smell amazing and knowing that your dinner is already done in the crockpot. I had a pork loin that I'd thawed out and need to cook, so this morning I decided to put it in the crockpot and get creative. Creative is not something that I do very often in the kitchen, but it turned out well for me this time. A can of diced tomatoes, an onion, some garlic, a can of chicken broth, beef bouillon, a couple dried gaujillo peppers, and half a can of chipotle peppers & adobo sauce. I wasn't sure how it would look when it was done, but the meat was pretty much falling apart and a lot of the liquid had boiled off, so it was perfect to make it into a pulled pork-type dish. And to go with it, corn muffins. No pix due to some camera problems, but it was delic!

26 October 2009

Founding a New Program

I loved this DM Register article about the brand new football (and volleyball & cross-country) program at Meskwaki Settlement school. The pride, hope and enthusiasm in the article are a refreshing reminder of what high school sports were for me and can be for other kids. At the school I teach, our team has not had any success and the morale is awful. I hate to hear the other kids making fun of their own team and the players seem like they'd rather not have to wear their jerseys on Friday. That sentiment really makes me sad; in high school there was no better feeling than slipping on my jersey on Friday morning. I loved reading the freshman's quote in the story, "It's an honor to wear the uniform." I also thought it was cool that there were a few kids who switched schools to be a part of the inaugural year at Meskwaki.

25 October 2009

Kitchen Creations

Here's what I put together in the kitchen this weekend...


I unwound on Friday night with a Sam Adams, some good music and put together a Thai chicken curry out of my favorite cookbook, "Rick & Lanie". It was super tasty and rich.


Saturday I made a broccoli & cheese soup during the football games. It was super easy. It wasn't super-cheesy like most broccoli & cheese soups, it was more like a puree'd veggie soup which just enough cheese (Laughing Cow! how easy is that!) to make it smooth & creamy.


And Sunday I made a borscht. The inclusion of the beets will probably turn a few people off, but I liked it. The sour cream really finishes it right.

Man's Search For Meaning

I used a little of the time at the sleepout last night to finish Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning". I don't usually write about the books I'm reading, but I thought I'd share a few bits from this one. It isn't a long book and is a pretty quick read, but the last 30 or so pages were so packed with insight and thought, that I found myself re-reading a lot and I couldn't process more than a few pages at a time. The author is a Holocaust (Auschwitz) survivor and psychologist and writes this work by tying together his experiences with psychological insights. I recommend this one. A few of my favorite lines...

"The truth-that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire...The salvation of man is through love and in love."

"No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same."

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

"It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future...and this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence"

"We need to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct."

"The immediate influence of behavior is always more effective than that of words."

"Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn...we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils."

"There are two races of men in this world, but only these two - the "race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people."

"No one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to him."

Reggie's Sleepout 2009

I thought we were going to be blessed with great weather for Reggie's Sleepout yesterday. It was sunny and warm during the day, but when I left my house (a little later than planned, I had to stay and watch Notre Dame pull out a sweet victory) to head over to Drake, it was lightly sprinkling and cloudy. :( But once I got there it was great to see, and remember, that less-than optimal weather does not impact the energy level or enthusiasm of teenagers. Sure they weren't thrilled it was raining, but they were so happy to be sleeping out, in charge of building their shelter and taking in as much of the planned entertainment as possible, they didn't lose a second moping around. Iowa Youth Homeless Center does an amazing job with the event. So much going on, DJ's, live music, acapella groups, poker, movies, places to stay warm & dry, places to run and play catch, cool t-shirts, and tons of super-helpful volunteers. This is only the fourth installment of this annual event and the turnout is huge (over 1,000 people nearly filling the football field). I didn't stay all night but I definitely am planning to next year. I checked out some of the shelter designs and got some ideas and I'll start gathering cardboard and donations earlier too. So family and friends, this is my heads-up to you that I'll be pushing for you all to join me down there next year. The more, the merrier! I put a few pix on my flickr. And the Register gave it some coverage today too. And Rekha Basu addressed the issue as well.

24 October 2009

Under-17? We'll Check Your Wrist

Yes, it is another soccer story. Sorry for three in a row, but this one might appeal to those who don't care about the sport. I knew there was a problem with verifying ages of athletes from countries where birth records are poorly maintained or not kept at all. It has come up in the Little League World Series and even in this past Olympics, with the Chinese women's gymnastics squad. But I didn't realize it was such a big problem. According to the article, they estimate that 35% of the players in the last U-17 World Cup were actually too old to compete! But the age-cheating isn't really what is most interesting to me in this. FIFA is planning to use an MRI scan of players wrists to verify their age. Now, I don't have any medical background but I'd never heard of looking at how much the bones had fused in the wrist to determine age. Amazing stuff!

22 October 2009

Top 50 World Cup Moments

Pretty sure most of my readers won't be interested in this, but I liked it too much not to share. The top 50 moments in World Cup history. Even though I think it is a tad British-heavy (it's from the Telegraph), it is still a lot of fun to peruse and has video clips to go with most of the moments. I appreciate that not all of the moments are of goals. There is so much other spectacle and drama that goes with the Cup. I love fundamentals in any sport, so I completely loved seeing Johan Cruyff unveil his turn and completely break his defenders ankles. You gotta watch that one (#4). It is now one of the critical skills to learn in ball-control. (get Brig started learning & perfecting it, stoppable.)

20 October 2009

South Africa or Bust

Qualification for the World Cup next summer is coming down to the final games. Many teams have already locked up a spot in South Africa while a few other are on the verge. In Europe all the winners of the 8 pools automatically qualified while the second-place finishers now have to play each other and the winners get to go. Ireland was one of those teams in the #2 spot. In the draw yesterday they were paired up with France, the highest ranked team they could possibly face. So they have a mighty task ahead on November 14th and 18th, but they are up for it. They've tied Italy (winners of the last Cup) twice in qualifying and are playing well right now. I'm looking forward to cheering them on!

18 October 2009

Why so absent???

It is a bad sign you are bored when you check your own blog. Like I'm just hoping someone left a comment or there's some new updates when I look at my blogroll, because we all know that I am not putting up anything new or interesting lately. So, in the absence of a post about something insightful, original or thought-kindling, I offer you a short run down of what I've been up to lately. That way it counts both as a new post as well as offers some excuses for my lack of writing.
  • Parent-teacher conferences. Wednesday night and Thursday was filled with meeting parents of students and filling them in on how the first six or seven weeks have gone with their child in my classroom. Here is how it breaks down: let's say I have ~140 students this semester. I made 42 parent contacts over the 12 hours I was available. That's about 30%, which isn't very high, but isn't completely horrible. But of those 42 contacts, I would say 80-90% of them have an A or a B and are not a behavior problem. So those are so short conferences. Chit-chatting is not one of my strong traits, so I pretty much give them the facts, explain what we've been doing & are going to do and ask if they have any questions. I shouldn't complain because there were a few parents this time that I was very happy they came in and we got to talk. Hopefully we lit a few fires under some kids.
  • The traditional post-conferences teacher de-stressing night. I was able to meet up with both groups of teachers, my current school and then later caught up with some good friends from my old school. Good times.
  • Getting some shirts ordered. We were a little late getting serious about making some team t-shirts for indoor volleyball this year. Three weeks in and we're just getting them ordered, but the design that Leslie came up with is great so I'm excited.

  • Some early birthday fun, sushi & drinks (& almost a movie) with good friends. caboose & I decided that Zen sushi sounded great for an early dinner on Friday night and fellow HKP's, Leslie & Nicole, joined us, making everyone at the place more than a little envious. Dinner was fun, the sushi was good (although not sure about the spinach topping on my roll), and the highlight was getting to feed a piece to Leslie with my chopsticks. It would've been a great photo op, but since no one had a camera, I offer you this picture instead. It looked something like this except neither of us are blond, I don't look quite as creepy as that guy, she didn't look nearly as into it as that girl and we were both laughing like crazy. Drinks at the Lift followed so, even thought we didn't make it to "Where the Wild Things Are", it was a fun time.
  • A pretty good overall day of college football. Iowa comes from behind on the road to rack up win #7, Texas persists to also come from behind in a game with 8 turnovers and made ridiculously long by penalties, injuries and reviews, and Notre Dame, although they couldn't pull off another week of 4th quarter heroics, not only did they not get blown out like many thought, they had a couple chances to tie the game in the closing seconds. The luck of the Irish can't work everytime but I'm still proud of them.
  • Checking out the new ownership at the Emerald Isle. Tasty food, improved beer selection, better hours, and plans for lots more improvements it looks like. Hooray for small town businesses!
  • A cheesecake flop. homebase and I decided to bake a cheesecake together for my birthday, so we found an Alton Brown recipe and went to work. Unfortunately, the finished product was not really what we were looking for. In fact, it was a flop. The cake didn't harden up much and it was a disaster. Cheesecake is probably my favorite dessert so I will not be deterred. New recipe, another day.
  • Great weather. A little gift from God and mother nature on my bday. Sun, cloudless skies, and 65 degrees. I was able to go for a run with stoppable and the brig, testing out the turkey trot route, and a nice walk later with stoppable and homebase, tossing the football along the way and walking out to the old farm.
So that's what I've been up to, and I've got tomorrow off to be with homebase as she goes for some medical work, so yet another short week of work for me!

13 October 2009

More Online Games

I thought I'd share a couple more online games. Neither of these are nearly as cool as Auditorium, but these are the two most popular games that my students like to jump on to and play with an free moment in class when I'm not watching (and sometimes when I am.) As with most video games, I suck at both of them. Cubefield. World's Hardest Game.

Reggie's Sleepout


When a student I had last year approached me in the hall and asked me to sponsor a group of kids that wanted to take part in Reggie's Sleepout, there were a few reasons I said yes.
One - Youth homelessness is something that I hadn't really thought about much before this year, but have become aware of the need for these services and how critical they can be to a teen on the run or without a home.
Two - When I made out my list of goals for this year, one of them was to get more involved with the student community & extra-curricular things.
Three - It's hard for me to say no to reasonable questions asked politely by a good student. :)
So, if you are free on the 24th and want to sleep out on Drake's football field, let me know and you are welcome to join in the fun. A big goal of this is to raise awareness, so, if you want, go read Reggie's story and become aware of the organizations working to help this situation. Or if you want to support the cause financially, you can go to my page and donate, even a dollar or two will help!

12 October 2009

Fastest Concert Ever

Based on how much we liked "Fireflies", caboose bought tickets to the Owl City show at People's last week. It was an all ages show and I don't think I've ever seen that place that full. For being that full, though, the crowd was not very energetic. Which is too bad, because they were fun to see and I liked the girl playing the keyboard & adding vocals (Breanne Duren). Unfortunately, we got there a little later than planned. Complimenting that fact, they played a very short set. Let's just say that when we got back to the car, the clock said 8:45. I know it was a school night, but seriously!

07 October 2009

The power of context

I'm always trying to incorporate current event news articles into my class to make (what freshmen/sophomores see as) boring material more relevant and interesting. I also like to try and expand their knowledge of world geography. So when I used this article about finding an alternate way to measure quality of life/happiness other than GDP per capita, I included a question on the handout that read:
"The country of Bhutan is mentioned in the article. Where is it located?"
When I started checking the answers, most answered correctly, saying
"In the Himalayas" or "In Asia."
Then I read one kid's that said,
"In the third paragraph."
I thought he was being funny so I put a smiley face by it and said, "I meant on the globe." As I read the rest of the responses, though, he wasn't alone. I had a handful or so that answered that question the same way, thinking I literally wanted to know where at in the article the word Bhutan was. I'll have to be careful with my wording in the future.

06 October 2009

Iowa vs Penn State (Part II)

As if that awesome upset on the football field in Happy Valley a couple weeks ago wasn't enough, the ladies on the Hawkeye volleyball team took a set off of the Nittany Lions this week. While losing a match, 3-1, may not sound like much of an achievement, but you need to understand that Penn State is #1 in the nation, defending national champs and had a streak of not losing a regular-season set dating back to November 24, 2007. That's 141 sets. Nice job Hawks!

05 October 2009

Pick Up the Phone

I missed posting anything during Suicide Prevention month (September), but wanted to share this awareness video.

04 October 2009

Smashburger

caboose & I checked out the new smashburger this afternoon on our way home from running some errands. I'll keep my review brief. It was a decently tasty burger that was totally overpriced. $5.99 for a 1/3 lb mushroom swiss burger. I would've been happier with a $3 burger from B-Bop's. Plus the fries, which had a nice dusting of thyme but were ridiculously too greasy, were an extra $2!! No more smashburger for me.

01 October 2009

Commercial Shout-Out

Another commercial that I liked too much not to share. I saw it a couple weeks ago while watching the US Open and got to see it a few times. Then I forgot about it until it came across my screen tonight. It's simple, sweet, creative and unique. All things that I like.

Eid Mubarak

Since I have a Chicago area code on my cell phone number, that is where all my wrong number calls come from and a with the diversity of that city, it wasn't completely unheard of when I got a text message a couple weeks ago that said:
"Eid Mubarak! Wishing you and your family much respect and good will. Hope to catch up soon."
The first time I got the message, I disregarded it and forgot about it. But then the same message was resent to me a couple days later. I remembered that Eid had something to do with a Muslim holiday and so then I was thinking about it and how wonderful it can be to get a thoughtful message around a holiday from someone unexpected. I told what had happened to caboose and he agreed that I should text them back. It totally felt like the right thing to do as I replied, "Thank you very much for the kind wishes. Unfortunately you have the wrong number." Within a minute my phone beeped and showed their response, "U r very kind to reply. Thank you so much. I forgot the area code was 708, not 773. Many thanks." It made me feel good the rest of the night knowing that someone was going to be getting their message of good will. Eid Mubarak to all.

29 September 2009

Weight Room Nightmare

Ouch.
I saw this headline this morning and had to read the article. I can't imagine the pain, damage or surprise of dropping what I'm guessing was in the neighborhood of 300 pounds of iron directly onto your throat. And if this was just the bar slipping out of the grasp of the lifter, there is no way a spotter can prevent that from happening. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

28 September 2009

All Is Love

Catching up on some music blog listening while grading papers tonight and I came across the single, "All is Love" by Karen O and the Kids. "The Kids", by the way, include a couple of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and a couple of Raconteurs. off the upcoming soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are. It definitely meets many of the criteria I enjoy in music (oooh, there's a blog idea! I'll have to compile that criteria list.) Give it a listen here. The entire soundtrack can be streamed here. It is nice study music!

G-force

I was watching Armageddon last night (what a heart-wrencher!) and the part where they are going through the astronaut testing got me thinking about g-forces and how much a human can endure before passing out. So I looked it up (in wikipedia) and it turns out it depends and varies greatly on the direction of the g-forces (i.e. accelerating forwards, backwards, up, down, etc). So my trivia questions to you are:
  1. In regard to vertical acceleration, can humans endure more G's of downward force or upward force?
  2. In regard to horizontal acceleration, can humans endure more G's of forward acceleration ("eyeballs in") or backward acceleration ("eyeballs out")?
  3. Can humans endure more vertical or horizontal acceleration?
Answers posted in comments tomorrow. You can check the link if you need to know now.

27 September 2009

Really?

Grading tests...
Q: What country is #1 in the world, based on GDP?
A: "Idaho"

Til the Walls and Rafters Ring...

What a win. Two years in a row now, knocking off a Penn State team ranked in the top 5 in the country and this time it was on the road in front of 100,000-plus hostile fans. Check out the Daily Iowan's photos from the game.

23 September 2009

Google Easter Eggs & Adidas/Puma Peace Game

Just wanted to pass on two things I found on the web this week. Slow times on my blog lately, sorry.
  • This first one is a list of 15 Easter eggs (little-known humorous oddities written into the code by programmers) dealing with the Google search engine and Google Earth. Not hilarious or mind-blowing but worth a look if you are bored...or desperate for something to blog about.
  • The second one is this short video clip about the people of Hertzogenorach, Germany (home to adidas & Puma) finally coming together and playing a game of football together (not against each other) in honor of Peace Day.

20 September 2009

Farragut 5K


So with 5K's on my mind I've been looking at the race calendar and trying to find a couple more to do this fall. I also am thinking that we should expand on last year's Thanksgiving morning run and make it a full 5K Turkey Trot. I got on MayMyRun.com and came up with a great route too. 3.1 miles of fun. Start and finish areas are homebase's driveway. The green arrows are the first mile, the red arrows are the second and the blue ones are the final mile. Spread the word and let's work up an appetite for our turkey feast.

Beaver Fall Fest


A fun weekend indeed. No students on Friday and the professional development wasn't too bad, so it was a good day at work. Stoppable came into town, bringing NTW and the Brig with him. We made Bombay burgers, tator tots and collard greens for a yummy dinner and then walked up the street to check out the festival scene. A main event of the weekend was the Beaverdash 5K Saturday morning. Even though I hadn't done much running leading up to it, it went well. All three brothers stuck together and finished strong. It was a great setting for a run, cool, sunny weather, lots of supporters along the residential route, and a route that came within 30 yards of my apartment! After showering up, we all stepped out my front door and were on the parade route, where the kids got an insane amount of candy and we all had a good time. Then we zipped out to Waukee to see JY's new deck and enjoy a delic meal of grass-fed steaks, incredibly fresh & tasty sweet corn and a tasty pasta salad. After that I made it out to Grimes to watch the first half of the Iowa game with some good friends. But I couldn't stay long cuz I had to make it back home to get some things around for a bunch of teacher friends to come over for grilling and drinks before walking up the street to listen to some live music. And today was a relaxing day of no school work and a trip to the mall. caboose got some great buys and I got a new pair of shoes! :) These are work shoes and they were half off, so I don't really count them as just "another pair of shoes."

18 September 2009

Lost Dog

So we've got cable again and lots of channels to choose from! This morning as I was lounging a little bit (no kids today!) I saw a commercial that actually got my eyes a little watery. Maybe it was because it was still early. It's a sweet little commercial from AT & T and features Tyler Hansbrough...but I didn't hold that against it. :) Enjoy.

15 September 2009

New Header

I haven't kept up with my Photoshop exploring since school started but I got on it last night and put together a new header. It's supposed to look like a spray painted stencil. It turned out OK, but I was frustrated that I couldn't get a selection to rotate. I thought I'd tried everything. Later on I saw L online and asked her how to do it. Ctrl +T. Hmm, that easy. So much to learn. I'll have to change it and update my header later today. Thanks for the help!

13 September 2009

What a Saturday...

Hail to the Admirals, Hail to Victory...
'Til the walls and rafters ring...
Shake down the thunder from the sky...
The eyes of Texas are upon you...

Everything was going great until the last minute of the Notre Dame game yesterday. If they had held on to their lead and won it would've been the second week in a row that all my teams had won. Farragut, Iowa, Notre Dame, Texas. But they didn't and Michigan scored, won, and broke my heart. Sigh.
Otherwise, yesterday was a great day. Woke up and went for a run around Gray's Lake, sporting my Iowa colors. Stopped at Gateway for a few supplies and then went home to cook and get ready for the games. Haley, Matt & Oliver came over & I made guacamole to go with our chips & salsa. The Hawkeyes put some of the worries after last week's debacle to bed with a serious thumping of ISU. I made BBQ chicken legs on the grill which turned out nice (Rick Bayless' BBQ spice rub is great). I also made the Scrumptious Chickpea & Spanish Chorizo soup from Jamie Oliver's book for the game and it turned out VERY tasty. I love getting a soup going before the game and having it smell up the apartment nicely and then having a tasty hot bowl at halftime or between games. I tried to shake off the pain of the Irish defeat by grilling some brats and then cleaned up and went out to meet some friends to watch the US Open semifinals. It was a fun match to watch, with Serena and Kim Clijsters battling it out. I was cheering for Kim; I like her battling back to fitness after having a baby, being unranked and away from the game for two and a half years. Serena was getting frustrated throughout the match, breaking her racket when she hit into the net to lose the first set. But the big fireworks began when she was down 5-6 in the second set and behind 15-30. She was called for a footfault and she lost it. That made it 15-40 (triple match break point) and she unloaded on the line judge, who was a little Asian lady. Serena walked over to her, shaking her racquet at her, and directed some choice language her way, "I swear to God I'm [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God." Yikes. Since this was her second conduct violation (the first was the racquet abuse) she was given a point penalty...and it happened to be match point. Ouch. A very crappy way to finish a very entertaining match. She did walk over and shake hands with Kim before going into the locker room. Kim stayed on the court for a bit, seeming to think that maybe they'd end up playing out the point. Well, I know who I'll be cheering for in the final on Sunday night! Read about it, Watch it. Overall a great day of food, sports and friends!

10 September 2009

iPod Turns Four Years Old!

shamROCK turned four on September 1. He got a sweet make-over courtesy of caboose, but these last few months I've come to accept that his time with me may not be long. Not only did I reach my storage limit, so I can't add any more music to it without deleting some first, but also the battery life is starting to wane. It only lasts about 3 hours when it's using the iTrip and that isn't even enough for a trip home and back. So I was keeping a close eye on the Apple announcement event yesterday. I wasn't happy with the $399 price for the 64GB iTouch, so I may seen how long I can continue to hold out with shamROCK. The new version of iTunes does have a few things I like though, "Home Share" in particular
If interested you can see past birthday posts: birth, 1, 2, and 3.
And, keeping with tradition, here is my list of top 25 most played songs. This is cumulative plays, not just for the past year and there aren't a lot seperating these so there is a lot of ties.

1- Take It Easy (Love Nothing) - Bright Eyes
2- Bingo - M.I.A.
2- Hands Down - Dashboard Confessional

2- The Kids Don't Stand a Chance - Vampire Weekend
5- WP - Matisyahu

5- Summer Skin - Death Cab for Cutie
7- Dishy - Candypants

7- Grace of God Go I - Flogging Molly
7- Nothing Better - Postal Service
7- What About Everything? - Carbon Leaf
7- Marching Bands of Manhattan - Death Cab for Cutie
12- Ain't No Reason - Brett Dennen
12- Gold Mine Gutted - Bright Eyes
12- Mushaboom - Bright Eyes
12- The Professor - Damien Rice
12- Hold On - Lovehammers

12- Stronger - Kanye West
12- Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis
12- Anne Braden - Flobots

12- Kissing the Lipless - The Shins
12- Shorty's Running Numbers - Noise Tank

22- Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
22- The Recluse - Cursive
22- Good Love - John Mayer
22- F-stop Blues - Jack Johnson
22- Baba O'Riley - Jordis Unga

22- Nine in the Afternoon - Panic at the Disco

22- Denial Twist - The White Stripes
22- Chop 'Em Down - Matisyahu