29 January 2009


This year's route has got a little bit of SWI flavor to it; starts in Council Bluffs and then overnights in Red Oak. Will this year finally be the year I stop just talking about doing and ride the thing? Let's hope!

28 January 2009

Panini Photo

I check the statistics on my flickr page every so often and I'd noticed that my panini photo from a year ago was always my most viewed picture. Well, this week it went over 1,000 views, which is 700 more than any of my other pictures. It turns out it is because that picture is being used (without consent, not that I'm worried about it) on Squidoo's page about paninis. Scroll about a third of the way down and under "Inspirational Panini Pictures," there's my sandwiches!


Second goal in two games. And check out the angle he hits this free kick in from. The guy is class. AC Milan is pushing to hold on to him for the rest of the season, but LA and the MLS are gonna want them to pay through the nose for their poster boy.

25 January 2009

T-Mobile Dance Commercial

I learned of this video from my friend Juan Carlos. It is AWESOME. I would've loved to be a part of it! It is something T-Mobile set up for a commercial. Watch the actual commercial here and then watch the making of it here. Both are great.

24 January 2009

New Header

Although it isn't the most striking picture or really that vibrant, I really like the new header I did this morning. I think the placement of the quote on the road is fitting.
To all my readers; have good explorations!

23 January 2009

Penguin Goes To School

I received an email the other day saying, "If anyone has a stuffed penguin..." I didn't think too many people would be able to reply to that one so I'd better do my part. I brought Penguin (I thinking of naming him Mario after my favorite Penguin) to school to be part of a reading display case by the library. He seems to be enjoying it so far. I'm sure he's loving all the attention he's getting in the student center. Quite a bit more than in my bedroom!
A funny sidenote was, on the day I brought him, he was sitting on my desk in my classroom and I asked if someone who was finished with their work wanted to volunteer to run an errand for me. This student, who I don't know well yet, but am looking forward to getting to know better stood up and came over. He's very respectful and polite. He's already enlisted in the National Guard. I tell him, "You are going to have to carry a couple penguins. Are you up for that?" He doesn't hesitate and replies, "I carry penguins all the time." No smile, picks up the penguins and the pass I have written out for him and my government-trained courier was on his way.

21 January 2009

Inaugural Address Visualization

I saw this on Gapers Block. This guy 'visualizes' speeches, conversations, meetings, etc. I thought it was pretty neat!

20 January 2009

Inaugural Address

My favorite lines from today's speech...

"For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies."

"With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

19 January 2009

Inauguration Hype!

I'm very excited to watch the Inauguration tomorrow. I'm going to watch it online and use my projector to put it up on the wall of my classroom while I'm doing work. Too bad there won't be any students around to share it with. (It's their last day of finals, so they get out early.) Keep your eyes peeled for the Isiserettes!
The NY Times had this very cool interactive thing that breaks down all the inaugural speeches since George Washington. I'm not really sure how easy it is to gain insight from, but it is fun to play with. I think the summary paragraph is more useful than the word cloud thingy. And in another cool bit of news, Obama has invited the captain and crew of the US Airways jet to the Inauguration!

16 January 2009

What's Good?

What's been good lately?
  • Fresh Snow. It's getting to be a daily thing! And I don't mind. I just have to be sure I get a sledding session in at some point.
  • Re-dedicated to working out with some regularity. It does make me feel better. I left the school tonight in a hoodie, stocking hat and shorts. And I had a little flashback to high school basketball practice, leaving to go home sweaty and in shorts & sweatshirts when it was like 20 degrees out every night. Good memories.
  • Long underwear. Why am I just now learning about the wonderfulness of these things?! I got my first pair last year and picked up another pair this year. I wore them three days straight last week. They are a dream!
  • Good books. I've been tearing through some books lately and the last two I read were top notch. "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry" and "Then We Came To The End". 2009's book list is starting off nicely.
  • Finals week. Even though it is not ideal that my district has finals after coming back from break, it is still a nice week. Students come and take two finals in the morning and then are done by lunch, so teachers can have the afternoon to grade (and meet people for lunch like the rest of the adult world does).
  • Girl Talk. Yes, I'm still loving how good that show was.
  • This video of a bear being tranquilized. Hilarious & a bit sad.
  • Apple's news that they are removing the DRM from all their songs, which means you can share music without restrictions. And the songs are going to be higher quality. And they are going to use three price points instead of 99 cents for everything.
  • New movies. In addition to good books, I've also been catching some good new movies lately: Valkryie, Gran Torino, Benjamin Button and I'm hoping to see Slumdog Millionaire this weekend.
  • Orange Carrot Cookies. I haven't cooked them yet, but I got the ingredients and I'm stoked to give them a try. It's been a long time!
  • Good friends. Seeing old friends over winter break and also catching up with teacher friends since I got back has reminded me not only of the value of having quality people in your life but also how lucky and blessed I am in that regard
  • Baby oil. My skin is so dry; it's been driving me crazy. I finally got some baby oil and have been putting it on after my showers and it is helping a ton. Relief!
  • Putting my clothes on top the radiator while I'm in the shower so they are toasting hot when I get dressed. Great way to start the day.
  • New episodes of Scrubs and the Office.


Nice article in the NY Times catching up with Kevin Pittsnogle. I agree with the article that the fact that he is not playing pro ball probably makes some students erase "play in the NBA" from their future occupation line. The fact that he is teaching and prioritizing family and stability over chasing his own dreams should also make an impact on his students. That would be pretty cool to have a 6'11", tatooed locally-grown national sports hero for your teacher/assistant coach!

15 January 2009

No School...What's for dinner?

As mentioned previously, we did not have school today due to the dangerously low temps. So I figured I would try out some new recipes. I started the day off making a fruit smoothie using the mason jar trick that I have mentioned before. It worked smoothly (ha!) and the drink was a delic start to my day. After a great lunch at Pablo's, I stopped to get some CD's at the library and then get the things on my grocery list. I made 'Roast Tomato, Mushroom and Rice Soup' from The Amazing World of Rice cookbook. It turned out super good. Along with it I made a whole chicken in my big cast iron skillet in the oven and some chicken gravy to top it. Complementing that I added some jalepeno cornsticks from an Emeril recipe that I love. It was a lot of work but it was a nice meal (but heavy) meal on a cold day.

"Gimme 45 seconds, kid, make it good."

My good friend Petra was talking about a song the other day and yesterday I went a listened to it on YouTube. In under a minute I knew that it was going to be a 5-star song on my iPod. It really is a great song, simple lyrics, but amazingly sung and on the CD version you can really hear the symphony behind him and the melody from 'Bolero'. I am totally and completely in love with this song right now. My favorite lyric from the song is...
"Wouldn't it be a lovely headline, "Life is Beautiful" on a New York Times".
He is also the artist who sings an amazing version of 'Hallelujah' that was used in Shrek and is totally great. (And he's been on Martha Stewart to make gingerbread with his mom).
So I was thinking about this, how sometimes you know instantly when you hear a song that you love it. Some songs and artists you have to listen to three or four times to find the things that will eventually make them your favorites, but others...I don't know what it is but as soon as you hear the vocals, lyrics, storyline, melodies, harmonies, instruments, beats, rythems...something...you know. 'This song is just right for me'. It got me thinking about Malcolm Gladwell's book, "Blink", about the power of the subconscience and how we just know things, often without even knowing that we know them.
Am I making any sense or is this all just rubbish?
(bonus points for you if you known where the quote in the title is from)

Brrr, It's cold in here!

At the time of writing, it is -15 degrees outside. That is WITHOUT the windchill. Factoring that in puts the temp around -33. Last night the temp hit -20 and the windchills were at -50. Which is why no one in the metro area has school today. Just out of curiousity, I checked to see what the record low temperature for Iowa is. In 1996, Elkader posted a temperature of -47. Ouch.
Two crazy side piece of info...
This map showing the difference by state between record low and high is fun to check out.
And this...

In continental areas of the temperate zone, 40–50°F temperature falls in a few hours caused by advection of cold air masses are not uncommon. Sometimes, following these large drops due to advection, radiation may cause a further temperature fall resulting in remarkable changes. Some outstanding extreme temperature falls are:

24 hours: 100°F, Browning, MT, Jan. 23–24, 1916, from 44°F to–56°F.

12 hours: 84°F, Fairfield, MT, Dec. 24, 1924, from 63°F at noon to–21°F at midnight.

2 hours: 62°F, Rapid City, SD, Jan. 12, 1911, from 49°F at 6 A.M. to–13°F at 8 A.M.

27 minutes: 58°F, Spearfish, SD, Jan. 22, 1943, from 54°F at 9 A.M., to–4°F at 9:27 A.M.

15 minutes: 47°F, Rapid City, SD, Jan. 10, 1911, from 55°F at 7 A.M., to 8°F at 7:15 A.M.


With all the snow we've been getting, I miss the 'dibs' system of Chicago. I love to shovel snow and Chicago residents recognize that putting in the considerable amount of work to dig out your car and clear your space entitles you to have it open for you when you return. People get pretty creative with their placeholders. Check out the gallery the Tribune has...

George Washington tops Peace Corps List

I saw this Peace Corps press release on Gapers Block today. They were trumpeting the University of Chicago's achievement of being the #1 small school on the list. George Washington is #1 in middle-sized schools (Way to go Abba!!) and University of Washington is #1 in large schools. See the whole list here.

12 January 2009

College Football Conclusion

Another fun year of football watching came to an end last night. The championship game was a good one! Surprinsingly, the most memorable moments were provided by the Florida defense. That goal-line stand where they stuffed two Oklahoma running plays inside the 3 yard line was incredible. Then they intercept Sam Bradford's pass inside the 5 yard line just before half-time. Yet again we are faced with a 'who should be #1' question. The AP Poll and the Coaches poll both say Florida. But what about Utah? Rick Reilly presents the case for the Utes claim to the title. He mentioned something that got me thinking; Urban Meyer was the head coach for Utah in 2004 when they went undefeated and won their bowl game. At that time, he stated he thought they were the best team in the country. Now, he is the head coach of Florida, who was awarded the national title while Utah is again undefeated. I wonder if any journalists have asked him if he feels Utah deserves the national title that was given to his Florida team?

Also, in the family bowl picking, stoppable came out on top...
1- stoppable
2- middleson
3- NTW & Emily
4- Kate
5- the Brig
6- homebase

Beckham in Italia!

This guy continues to amaze me. Since the US soccer season runs on a different calendar than most major soccer leagues, he has signed a contract to work out with and play for AC Milan for a couple months while the US season is on vacation. He is trying to stay fit and prove his worth so the England coach will continue to select him for the England national squad. Beckham has now played for arguably the largest, richest and most successful teams in the three best leagues in the world; Manchester United in England, Real Madrid in Spain and AC Milan in Italy. And ever since he left Manchester people have been saying he isn't gonna be able to hack it at the top level any more and he just keeps proving people wrong. Everyone said he wouldn't be able to crack the lineup at Milan and no one thought he would start. Looks like he started, played nearly the entire game and did very well!

11 January 2009

Girl Talk

I've been looking forward to seeing Girl Talk live for a good month or so now and last night was the big show. And it did not fail to live up to expectations. Actually, that's not quite correct because I didn't really know what to expect. I've been loving the album "Feed the Animals" since I got it in June and was very interested to see how it would all come together in a live setting. The concert was a great time. Lots of dancing and laughing and just enjoying the high-energy music. I was a sweaty mess by the end of it. Here's a couple good videos about what he does and how he does it. I've got some pix of it on my flickr to check out too. If you haven't already, go here and name your price to download the CD.

09 January 2009

News Anchor Choreography

I saw this on Gapers Block and loved it. A great little view behind the scenes of the news studio. What started as a 10 second thing has developed and evolved into nearly two and a half minutes of fun! Check out the Tribune's article or if the video doesn't work for you on that one you can find it on YouTube.

04 January 2009

Onion Nails Apple

This article from The Onion is hilarious and sadly, mostly accurate.
"Apple Hard At Work Making iPhone Obsolete"

Better than "What's Up?"

"How's your new school? I see you haven't been shot yet at least."

I ran into a former student at the mall yesterday. She's a funny one. After I asked her how her first semester of college was, she sweetly replied with the comment above. Gotta love kids.

03 January 2009

Isiserettes to Inaugurate!

I haven't been posting much lately. I've been enjoying my break with lots of relaxing, reading, trips home to hang out with family, watching the bowl games, catching up with high school friends, checking papers and tests, getting ready for to go back to work on Monday and have a week of classes and a week of finals before starting our second semester.
The Isiserettes caught my eye today though and I wanted to share the news that they are going to be in the Inaugural parade in Washington D.C. What a wonderful and historic memory for those kids! Check out the story and the video.