26 February 2009

Inferior Good

Not that there is a shortage of examples of economic principles at work lately, but I thought this story was a perfect example, plus it is dissected and explained on my favorite economics blog. Starbucks will be offering instant coffee as they make changes to handle consumers holding more tightly to their wallets. As disposable income decreases, consumers shift from normal (or premium) goods to inferior goods. And Starbucks isn't one to miss a trick, so they want to be there if and when you do switch and keep you as a customer albeit in your kitchen instead of one of their stores.

25 February 2009

Ash Wednesday


The Filet-o-Fish sandwich reminds me of Ash Wednesday. It comes from years of going to Ash Wednesday mass and then going through the drive-thru to get a fish sandwich on the way back to school. Since school lunches here don't seem to off a fish sandwich, I decided to zip over to the golden arches and pick up a couple. They were pretty tasty but I won't be making a habit of that since two sandwiches had 54% of my daily recommended fat. Ugh.

24 February 2009

It's a sub!!!

So I was out sick a week ago. I thought about entitling this one "Miss Nelson is Missing" after the children's book. The notes from the substitute were far from flattering when I got back. I won't go into the lecture I had to give the kids or the discussions we had. But what I wanted to share was a couple humorous lines from the half-page descriptive essays that I required everyone to write about "what took place on the day with the sub." The essays were actually very honest, both from good students and bad. Although no one named names, they told the facts from their points of view with enlightening clarity. Here are just a few of the lines that brought a smile to my face...

"Friday was a bad day. We started working until the sub freaked out"

"On Friday your sub was going through a mid-life crisis"

"OK, so we had this crazy sub."

"The sub was being a d-bag"

"I came in the class, sat down, he got loud with me so I got loud back then he sent me to the office. I was not even in here for 10min before I left."

"It didn't seem like the sub had respect for us at the beginning so I don't think people wanted to give him respect."

"The whole problem started with the teacher being so rude and a pain in the *** for a lot of us." (that's her censoring, not mine.)

"Because he was being disrespectful to us so we gave disrespect back to him. I know that's wrong but he shouldn't just show no respect to us."

25 Things

So this '25 random things about me' has been going around Facebook for a while now and I was not planning on giving in and doing it, but I read one that someone had put some time & thought into and I really enjoyed it. So I thought I'd give it a try...

1.I've got two brothers and they are the best people that anyone could dream of. Nothing I could write here could convey how much they mean to me.

2.My mom is the best and I am more and more thankful and impressed by her the more I learn about her.

3.I love my Irish heritage!!

4.I grew up in a town of 500 but also lived in a city of 7 million. And I loved both places.

5.I was born in Iowa City in University Hospitals on Homecoming weekend, so it was inevitable that I'd be a Hawkeye fan.

6.I love crosswords and sudokus but hate brain teasers.

7.Camp counselor during summer camp at the Lakeview YMCA was the most carefree fun I've ever had while calling it a job. And, not only was it great, but doing it led to me becoming a teacher.

8.I am often amazed, thankful, proud, and admiring of my students' abilities, their attitudes, their ideas and work ethic. And I love it when a 16, 17, 18-year old can teach me something new.

9.I am often discouraged, disheartened, and disappointed by my students' attitudes, their work ethic, their apathy and their negativity. I don't like that a 16, 17, 18-year old thinks that there is nothing of value that I can teach them.

10.I love sports. And I love competition. Everything from football, basketball, track in high school to soccer, volleyball, tennis for fun now, to ping-pong in the basement when my family gets together. I love it all.

11.Music is my therapy. It is the quickest way to turn around a bad mood. Even though I don't play an instrument, I love exploring new music and different genres. I love hearing about new music and expanding my library....so lemme know if you're listening to something good I should know about.

12.Lists and statistics and grouping & organizing things make me very happy, always have. I used to alphabetize and organize my mom's pantry and spice cabinet. I love 'to do' lists. All the "Best of..." lists that come out the end of the year make me incredibly happy.

13. I spend a ridiculous amount of time at Grounds for Celebration, even though I don't drink coffee. I do all my work there and LOVE their iced tea (free refills!) and chocolate-chip scones.

14. I often think about what I would do with my millions and how much fun it would be to spend them and give them away if I were to win the lottery...even though I've never bought a ticket.

15. Shoveling snow is one of my most enjoyable winter activities.

16. I love cooking and taking pictures...and taking pictures of my cooking.

17. I have not given up my hope to be capable, if not fluent, in another language.

18. adidas is the only brand of shoe that goes on my feet.

19. Countrytime Lemonade made from powder in summer is one of the best drinks ever.

20. I love jeans, hoodie and a stocking hat. That could be my winter uniform if I didn't have a job.

21. I remember the day my black labrador got hit by a car and died. It was one of the saddest days of my childhood. And even though I am still not a fan of indoor pets, I think one day I might like to have an outdoor dog again.

22. Sad, sorrowful and tragic stories seem to appeal to me. Not in my own life, but in movies, books and music, it seems like the sadder, the more I am into it.

23. Its been 5 years since I traveled outside the country and I'm itching to get some more stamps in my passport this summer. Destination is still up in the air.

24. I love shopping at thrift stores. Partly because I LOVE a good bargain but also I enjoy the hunt for a cool item that someone else got rid of.

25. Attitude and outlook make such a world of difference. We choose how we are going to view the world and all that happens to us. Our choices affect not only ourselves but everyone we come into contact with. A smile or kind word can make all the difference. I am a firm believer in the butterfly effect.

22 February 2009

Oscars '09

Beforehand, I always say 'they last too long' and 'the are too drawn out' but when it comes showtime, I will always watch the entire broadcast, in addition to the red carpet and I will enjoy all of it. I thought tonight's show was really a top-notch production. The win and acceptance speech by Heath Ledger's family, Penelope Cruz's speech to kickoff the evening, Hugh Jackman's funny opening number, Natalie Portman's breath-taking pink dress (WHY HASN'T SHE ASKED ME TO BE HER DATE YET!?!?!), the Seth Rogan/James Franco skit, Tina Fey & Steve Martin's screenwriter dialogue, Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix impersonation, 'Jai Ho' getting the best song award, and of course that Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture. I loved it! I watched the movie for a second time this weekend when I was back home for homebase's birthday and it was SO good! My favorite quote of the night, "All my life I had the choice - Hate or Love. I chose love, now I'm here." - AR Rahman
My only complaint is that I thought the red carpet show sucked this year. It could be because I no longer have the extra cable channels that have all the good interviews, but the 30 minutes I watched were totally stale. The best thing on the red carpet was when the entire cast of Slumdog Millionaire came in together. Other red carpet highlights for me: obviously Natalie Portman, Taraji Henson, Marisa Tomei, Amy Adams, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jennifer Aniston.

20 February 2009

"Hoodie-Hoo!!!"

Today is Hoodie-Hoo Day. I didn't know there was such a thing until a guy in our lunch group was talking about it a while ago. I think it is hilarious. It is always on February 20th and people go outside at noon and waving their hands above their heads and shout "Hoodie-Hoo" to chase winter away. Maybe I'll talk my kids outside to try it out. :)

18 February 2009

Underwater Bird Attack

This is from Today's Big Thing:
Underwater Bird Attack. This video is awesome. I watched it about 5 times. My favorite part is the realization by the fish about a half-second before it happens. Enjoy your wild America.

Professional Development

We had our all day, all district professional development convention on Monday and I would rank it 6 out of 10. I always look forward to that day. It's fun to see teacher friends from other schools and be able to go out to lunch. And it is nice to be down on the skywalk and mingling with other adult professionals. The sessions were pretty good too. Only one that I thought was a waste of time, which was actually too bad because they seemed to have good material but the delivery and their presenation environment were not good. There are LOTS of adults who need some powerpoint help. Too many words, too many bullets per page, not using a big enough font, reading word for word from the slide, etc. Come on folks, step your game up!
The best line of the day came during a break out session from the afternoon keynote address. It was given by Ako Kambon and Jim White of the Visionary Leaders Insitute who both were top-notch. Mr. White was really going and getting excited about the material he was presenting and said, "My girlfriend will get on my case cuz I'm always on my laptop looking up new strategies and information and I tell her 'LEAVE ME ALONE!! I could be on drugs!" It doesn't read as very funny but to hear this middle-aged professional guy give it as his 'there are worse things I could be wasting time on' excuse was pretty funny. But those two gentlemen gave great presentations. Ako focused on understanding, teaching and relating to today's student and Jim's was about focusing on improving the culture within a school's faculty and driving toward excellence. Really good stuff and a great finish to the day.

TIME's Best of...

A couple 'best of' lists that I came across this week.
I haven't had a ton of time to explore them in depth but I've flipped through them and the blog one is interesting and will get tagged for more exploring. The Invention one was only so-so. I'm never very impressed by inventions, I don't know why. Half the time, I read about something and am like, "I thought we could do that already?"
Anyways, TIME's Best Inventions of 2008 and their 25 Best Blogs.
Oh, and the format is very clunky. TIME should be doing better.

14 February 2009

February 14th Mixtape

I've been putting this mix together for awhile now and have just been slow in getting it finalized and burned. It has nothing to do with Valentine's Day or Singles Awareness Day. It just happened that I found time this afternoon to burn this to discs for some friends. I'm not even sure it is that great but it is some music that I've been enjoying a lot. If you are looking for a Valentine's Day mix, check out this one. I don't know all of it, but some of those bands are pretty splendid. I've downloaded and will be checking it out. If you are in the mood to dig in to your anguish, check out this mix. It actually sounds more my style. Similar to my movie tastes, I have an odd fondness for songs that bare some tormented soul or share a crushed dream or broken heart.
My mix is neither of those genres. The first 11 songs get you going and will hopefully raise your BPM a few notches and then the last 8 songs are good for slowing it back down and. So listen to whichever part suits your mood.

1. Galvanize the Empire - Party Ben mashup
2. So Rich, So Pretty - Mickey Avalon
3. Strange Times - Black Keys
4. Brooklyn (Go Hard) - Jay-Z & Santogold
5. Dressed to Digress - Boy Crisis
6. That's Not My Name - The Ting Tings
7. Kids - MGMT
8. Gifted - N.A.S.A. (with Kanye, Santogold, & Lykke Li)
9. Phantom Part II - Justice (Boyz Noize remix)
10.You'll Find a Way - Santogold (switch & sinden remix)
11. Shells - M.I.A.
12. The Fear - Lily Allen
13. Atoms - Cashes Rivers (scented vinyl version)
14. Love for a Child - Jason Mraz
15. Sweet Potato - Sia
16. Only a Song - Ben Sollee
17. Chasing Pavements - Adele
18. If the Brakeman Turns My Way - Bright Eyes
19. Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis

I'm making a few copies so let me know if you want one...

Jai Ho

The Oscars are only a week away and if you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. I think I'll be going to see it for a second time this week at the Varsity. I thought I'd post the video of the closing credits scene with the big dance number, "Jai Ho". It, along with "O...Saya", is nominated for Best Song. And no Bollywood movie is complete without a sweet coreographed dance scene. Enjoy and feel free to dance along with them.

11 February 2009

What Valentine's?

Gapers Block has had a timely and funny-ish topic on their Fuel discussion board this week. What's your best (or worst, or craziest) break-up story?

Indulge Yourself

This NY Times article got me interested in plenary indulgences. I'm gonna have to keep my eyes & ears open when I'm at church to see if my diocese is offering any opportunities. Reducing someone's (or my) time in purgatory sounds like a can't go wrong deal.

10 February 2009

Bosnian phrase of the day #1

U radi zadaću.

Do your work.

That's a rough student-provided translation, if you know differently, let me know. I'd hate to be saying something inappropriate to my students!
I don't know proper phonetic explanation, but it's pronounced uhrahdie zada chu.

08 February 2009

Saturday morning project


I went to bed early on Friday, and consequently got up early on Saturday. caboose and I did a nice cleaning job on our place and as I was cleaning my room, I saw this little nook that previously was good for collecting dust bunnies and anchoring cobwebs and I thought I would do something with it. So I headed out and after getting my car washed and vacuuming it out and putting in fresh floormats, I opened the sunroom (hooray for mid 50's!!) and went to Menard's for a couple things. I wanted to put in some small shelves and I found some pegboard that would work just fine. I got some little slats of cheap wood to rest the shelves on too. Unfortunately, unlike Home Depot, Menard's does not cut wood for you. So, after shelling out my $6 for supplies, I was home in the backyard on the picnic table trying to use a handsaw to cut a 3'x 5' board into small squares. Not easy. But I eventually got it done and the shelves were very easy to put in and ended up not looking too bad. It gets some of my shoes off the floor and looks kinda nice too!

Obama Uncensored

I came across this blog that has taken several snippets from the audiobook "Dreams From My Father", which is read by its author, Barack Obama. In case you need to hear our President using some bleep-worthy phrases, check it out.

07 February 2009

Land of the Cul de Sac

I just got back from an hour long journey into suburbia. Now, I will readily admit that I am a bit of an urban-o-phile and rather anti-suburb. But it is trips like this one I just got back from that reinforce my feelings. I found a bike rack on craigslist that looked good, so I called them up and made my way out to their residence. I am very happy with my new rack that I got for $40. It is going to be super handy this summer! But driving around in that kind of area of a town makes me crazy! Very few streets are straight or continue in the same direction for very long. They can change names without your noticing. What a minute ago was Sunset Place has now become Sunset Court or Circle or Ridge and whatever. And it will inevitably turn into a cul-de-sac so you will have to retrace your mistaken way and start over. You can't just tell someone, keep coming west and you hit my street, because the streets in suburbia do not like to formally commit to any one direction. They prefer to spend some time as east-west and then, not wanting the other directions to feel left out, they switch and give north-south its due. Give me a city like Chicago, laid out on a grid system, with clear names and numbers so that you can get to a destination merely by knowing what direction you need to go. And ban the cul-de-sac.

05 February 2009

Heat Wave

I'm LOVING this heat wave that arrived here today. And by heat wave, I mean 'above freezing.' Actually, it is 46 degrees outside as I am writing this and it's supposed to be even warmer tomorrow. After the endless days of frigid temperates and cutting winds, this feels like heaven. I know it sounds crazy, but I could actually tell the difference this morning as soon as I got out of bed. Our whole apartment was warmer and the air in the bathroom wasn't icy. On top of all that, the sun is shining. It reminds me of afternoons growing up, laying on the carpet by a window and having that sun coat you with its heat. I could go for doing that 'snake on a hot rock' impression right now. Enjoy the weather, friends.

02 February 2009

New Three Stripes


I was on the look out for some new comfy casual shoes on my trip to Iowa City this past weekend. My WONDERFUL ZX700's have reached a point where what used to be cushioning in the sole has been beaten to what now feels like walking on a tile floor in your bare feet. I still love 'em but I need something new. (Actually, 'need' is probably a bit strong there.) I went to Scheel's first at the mall but they focus almost exclusively on performance shoes so I went to Finish Line, my old employer, and found they had two sweet colorways of SL 72's that I loved and both were on sale! $44.98 and I chose these grey and red treats over the black and yellow ones to go home with me. I'll be leaving them in the box until the weather dries up some. Woo hoo!

01 February 2009

Pink Slips

With the seemingly endless headlines of companies announcing layoffs, I thought this NY Times article sharing what it's like to deliver the pink slip news was an interesting change. Delivering that kind of news has got to be awful.