29 April 2009

Best Sports Books

I was at Prairie Lights bookstore the other day and saw a couple interesting sports-themed books. Since I had recently came up with my favorite sports movies for Steve, I thought I'd throw out the invitation to some of the readers in my family to see what the best books involving sport were that they had read. I got some great input back; check their suggestions out below. But first, I'll start with what I came up with as some of my favorites...

1. Friday Night Lights - H.G. Bissinger
2. How Soccer Explains the World - Franklin Foer
3. Letters to a Young Gymnast - Nadia Comenici
It's Not About the Bike - Lance Armstrong
5. The Essential Wooden - John Wooden
6. Beckham - David Beckham
7. The Secret of MOJO - Regina McCally
8. Soul Surfer - Bethany Hamilton
9. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
10. RAGBRAI - John Karra
11. Paddy On the Hardwood - Russ Bradburd
12. Paidi - Paidi O'Se

Want to Read -
A Season on the Mat (about Gable & Iowa wrestling), My Life and the Beautiful Game (Pele), Positively False (Floyd Landis), Keane, Civil War (Army vs Navy football), Brilliant Orange, Football Against the Enemy, Fever Pitch, Outcasts United, Four Days to Glory, Feel No Fear (Bela Karolyi)
, The Only Dance in Iowa (6 on 6)

From homebase:
1. The Carolina Way by Dean Smith--yes this has been my fav for years. This book is fantastic, show real character and dignity. Carolina was the first or one of the first to stop having beer ads at their games. Talk about organized, this man made it a science.
2. Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson, Steve told me about this one years ago. Enjoyed it greatly.
3. Friday Night Lights by Bissinger--Texas Football, only in Texas, quite a book , much better than the movie. (seconded by stoppable and caboose)
4. Seabiscuit by Hillenbrand-- really good stuff, also got to see Seabiscuit's statue in Saratoga Springs in NY with Kay. A fun museum there at the race track
5. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer--mountain climbing, Everest, etc. kinda a downer when you know people are going to not make it.
5. Mountain Madness by Robert Birkby (originally from Sidney!) He is Boy Scout man, wrote the Boy Scout Handbook, or rather-rewrote it for today's scouting. This is a great book about Scott Fisher and his demise on the mountain.
6. It's Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong. Good. Tour de France and all, other than that bike race, I am not fond of bike racing.
Some I want to read are--Resilience by Alonzo Mourning,--The Miracle of St. Anthony, a season with Coach Bob Hurley, --Standing Tall by Vivian Stringer

From stoppable:
Moneyball - from Steve’s most recent list, regarding major league baseball and how best [statistically, not intuitively] to play the game
Balto - story of the dog sled run that delivered the much needed medicine and inspired the Iditarod
Rise and Walk -
about Dennis Byrd – NY Jet paralyzed during a NFL game. – Light on sports, mostly on his recovery after the paralyzation

From Steve:
1. I don't remember the title (Instant Replay: The Diary of Jerry Kramer, I looked it up), but it was by Jerry Kramer, guard for the Green Bay Packers who played for Vince Lombardi. Read it in high school. A lineman gains some fame; dig it.
2. John Wooden books. I saw some of the Wizard of Westwood's teams play, and now he's written about his coaching, as have others. Pretty amazing. In a turbulent time in far-out California, he got college age guys to learn how to put on their socks correctly--and win more basketball games than seems humanly possible.
3. Coach K's book. Abba had coaching challenges, and so what makes for a "good coach" intrigued me. K seems to win, at a good school, intense but caring. I liked it.
4. Phil Jackson's Sacred Hoops and one other. Phil has a lot of insight. Pretty darn good, too.
5. Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike. Abba recommended it. Wow, the guy really stands out with what he accomplished.
6. Rose, don't let Abba know that you don't know that C. Vivian Stringer, now coach at Rutgers, used to coach @ Iowa. We were fans. Great teams. I got her book autographed for Abba. Going into basketball hall of fame this year with Jordan and Stockton, among others.
7. Moneyball. Not your average sports book, but well written & told. And interesting.
8. Stephen Jay Gould on baseball. Not a single book but some writings. Yes, Stephen Jay Gould, the late science writer--paleontologist. "Why We'll Never See .400 Hitting Again" (maybe from his book Full House).

And if you want a more thorough or professionally compiled list, check out the Top 100 as determinted by Sports Illustrated. A couple on it that caught my eye...The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, and Life on the Run.

27 April 2009

AP Macro Sampler

With the economy always in the news now, and the AP Macro exam just around the corner for high school seniors, the NY Times has a sampler of AP Macro questions for people to try out and see how they do. They are multiple-choice, no drawing or reading of graphs involved (that's only on the written portion). Test yourself! I got 15 of 18, not perfect, but cut me a break, I haven't taught it for a year!

Feeding Four for Under $10

No, readers, you have not missed out on my news of a wedding and two kids. The title of this post was inspired when I heard a short pience on npr last Monday. "How Low Can You Go?" is a thing they are doing where people submit their recipes for a meal that will feed four for less than a Andrew Hamilton-embossed note. It probably would have went in one ear and out the other if it hadn't been for two facts: one, I was driving to go eat dinner so I was hungry and my stomach was listening and, two, the recipe they were discussing was Garbanzos con Espinacas. Most of you are aware that the unique garbanzo/chick pea is one of my favorite foods. This piece was very fun to listen to, so if you are interested, I would suggest that route. It's only eight minutes long and the chef is very entertaining to listen to. I'm going to try this one out soon and I am going to think a little bit on what I would submit as my favorite family meal for under a ten-spot. Readers- feel free to leave your favorites in the comments section!

26 April 2009

Torture Methods

I don't purport to know enough to have an educated analysis or opinion on the recent news on 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and their effectiveness. But, I do know that I enjoyed this well-written and concise article from the Op-Ed section of the NY Times, "My Tortured Decision". The author, Ali Soufan, was a FBI supervisory special agent from 1997-2005 who has first-hand knowledge of these methods, yet hasn't spoken out for the last seven years until now.

25 April 2009

Continuous Mode

I've been trying out the 'continuous' mode on my wonderful digi-cam lately. I haven't really used it much at all since I bought it but a couple weeks ago at the GDP music show I was messing around with it and then at the (freezing) MOQ soccer game today I tried it out again. Check it out on my flickr. I got some fun freeze-frame of NTW dominating a hill and stomping on a dirt castle and also some great shots of the Brig on a throw-in.


Man, I have really been lazy on the cooking scene lately. So after a couple big trips to the grocery store to restock the shelves and the frig, caboose and I had a good cooking night last week. He did a great job of cooking my favorite risotto (from the family cookbook) and I made some Cubano sandwiches. It was a great meal and that asparagus & saffron combo just can't be beat. It's good to be back at it! If nothing else, I love the leftovers for lunch the next day! We've kept it going with grilled chicken tacos, pork chops and have Mumbai burgers up for next week!

24 April 2009

Strange Times Indeed

22 April 2009

"It's 2009. Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?"

Bono has a good column in the NY Times that you should check out. His writing style in interesting and his insight is daunting. "Redemption is not just a spiritual term, it’s an economic concept." Don't skip the last paragraph!

21 April 2009

Darth Vader Reprise

For whatever reason I was directed to some Darth Vader funny video clips yesterday and today. I found two, beside's the funny Eddie Izzard clip that I've already shared, that you should take a moment and enjoy.

and this one is funnier when you read that it is all audio clips of James Earl Jones in other performances...

Floor plans

We've been learning about store layout, visual marketing, and retail design. I wanted to find a free online application for drawing floor plans and was able to find exactly what I was looking for. www.floorplanner.com is free and easy and it does a nice job. The students had a great time playing around with all the details and so did I! You can have it render a 3-D design from your 2-D plans and there are lots of floor coverings, appliances, plants, rugs, etc to add. This is the floorplan for a restaurant that I put together. I've loved floor plans and drafting ever since I took drafting and CAD in high school. I still have those plans for my dream house that I made when I was 17. Someday...

19 April 2009

Cael Leaves

Ouch. This is a major blow to the Iowa State image and of course to the wrestling program. Sanderson WAS Iowa State wrestling. It will be interesting to see who Iowa State lands as their next coach and also see if his recruits follow him to Penn State like Brands' did when he left Virginia Tech to come to Iowa.

Sibling Performances

Sibling interaction is something I always find interesting so here are two unrelated sibling tidbits I came across today. The first is a story from the NY Times called "When Sporting Siblings Excel" about tennis stars Dinara Safina and Marat Safin. The second is a video of Rufus Wainwright playing "Hallelujah" at the Glastonbury Festival in 2007. He has his sister Martha come out and sing with him and it is cool to see how much they both enjoy it. I love when he starts her over again and she really gets into it. There's a little lag between the video and the audio but don't let it distract ya.

18 April 2009

2 Sentence Thoughts

  • For the first time this year, I used the "all windows roll down" key for my car on my keychain today. It was a great feeling.
  • I went directly to Gray's Lake after school; stopping only to change clothes. It was SO nice that the sun was actually hot on my face; wonderful.
  • I am not a mentally-strong runner; my brain is my biggest enemy usually. I am happy that I made myself run two laps today and the four miles actually wasn't bad.
  • My lesson plans had been a rollercoaster this week from really good and fun to a sad effort. Is it coincidence that my best lessons always happen in the same class and my worst ones also always occur with the same group?
  • I had an enjoyable time standing in my driveway and chatting for 15 minutes with an elderly neighbor guy who was walking back and was from the same county back home as us. He was from Hamburg and we talked about school consolidation and SWI teams and coaches (Bob Weber, Dale Hackett, Leon Plummer) from the 50's and 60's.
  • The Horrific Killer Pandas wrapped up their indoor volleyball season this week with a win. Watch out for the Penguins of Mass Destruction hitting the sand this summer.

  • Why do my ankles look like this after I finish a run? Is it undisciplined running form or what?

17 April 2009


I realize this is late. I'm a lazy blogger these days. Fun times flying kites and hunting for eggs last weekend. Check it out on flickr. Also got in my fix of ping-pong, shopping and good family times. Plus lots of leftovers to take back with me!

13 April 2009

Cashes Rivers @ GDP

Des Moines Music Coalition put on their fourth annual Gross Domestic Product event on Saturday, and, despite the questionable scheduling (the day before Easter? really??) it was a super fun time. Not only was my brother playing in a sweet time slot, but I was on the 'guest list' so I got in free! The Hotel Fort Des Moines ballrooms provided a nice venue and there was a good sized crowd for Cashes Rivers' set. The sound was really good, which isn't always the case when you have a lot of bands sharing the same stage. Lots of fun people to catch up with before the show and overall, a super good time. Even the two and half hour drive home afterwards wasn't bad! I was able to capture some good pictures of their performance if you want some visuals.

Naked Economics

So I just finished up "Naked Economics" and am reaffirmed in how good that book is. When I start teaching AP Macro again, I will be assigning it as summer reading. The last chapter of the book, on Developmental Economics, in particular stands out. It does such a great job of dissecting the determining factors of a nation's economy and does so without putting you to sleep. Highly recommended. No charts, no graphs, just great explanations, examples and information.

10 April 2009

"Iowa's Family Values"

I thought this op-ed piece from the NY Times gave a fresh and different look at our state's Supreme Court decision this week and perhaps gave it a bit of historical context or perspective.
Sidenote: I did not realize that it was against the law to have an interracial marriage in some states in the 60's.

07 April 2009

A #9 what???

The perks of teaching...
Not sure how I missed out on the wonderfulness of this video, but my student helper showed it to me today. And I've listened to it three times all the way through in the last hour. I love the girl working, "You just said a #9, and we've got grilled or crispy, so a #9 what?"

An End to the Madness

North Carolina's decisive victory over the Spartans last night didn't change the standings in our little family pool, but it did give homebase the right to say she picked the champions! She had already locked up first place in the pool when the Tar Heels beat Oklahoma. Quite a performance by quite a team for sure and kudos to homebase for her faith and prognostication abilities.
1. homebase
2. middleson
3. caboose
4. stoppable
I missed not having the kids in it this year!

Past Years: 2008 (caboose), 2007 (middleson), 2006 (homebase), 2005 (middleson)


Micheal Jordan was voted into the Hall of Fame this week (along with Vivian Stringer!). The Tribune has a nice slideshow outlining a few of his endless achievements. Having worked in a shoe store, I have always respected and been a little in awe of the mystique of Jordans (the shoe). I love looking back on the different edition each year and remember who I knew that had them, etc. There are only a few models that I actually really liked (I, IV, V, XI, XIV) but you can't front on a new pair of J's. Check out the commercial for the first edition here.

06 April 2009

Country Music Awards

Yesterday evening, I had the American Country Music awards on as I was reading my book (which I stayed up late to finish! "Half of a Yellow Sun" It was good!). I don't watch my awards shows, other than the Oscars, but it was nice having it on in the background. It didn't seem nearly as long since I was able to mute it and read through the commercials and the parts I didn't like. The opening was a medley of several different performers and I thought it was a great way to start the show. Reba was good as the host and I thought the little story Matthew McConaughey told when he was presenting was hilarious, as was Carrie Underwood's reference to it later when she accepted her award. Taylor Swift's performance was great. Julianne Hough's acceptance was very sweet. Miley left me a little underwhelmed. Sugarland was great. I love Jennifer Nettles and would really like to see her live sometime. And I think I'm going to have to get that "In Color" song. And Trace Adkin's talking about his song "You're Gonna Miss This" was touching. This "Best & Worst of" article reminded me of a few other things that I agree with it on...Carrie Underwood's dress (way too much of a good thing), Taylor Swift mouthing along as the played Carrie's song, Taylor's dependance on the hair-whip move, and Jennifer Nettles looking smokin' hot.

04 April 2009

Boring or just lazy?

My blogging has not been very regular lately (that sounds like a gross health problem.) So I thought I'd throw a quick post out there. First off, new header image! I love raspberry Tootsie Pops! And I got an Indian (Native American) on my last one so I thought I'd snap a pic of it. Second, two good songs to check out over on Stereogum. Unfortunately you can't download either of them, but you can listen to them all you want. A Justice remix of U2's current single and a cover of a good Bright Eyes song done by the Killers.
I'm treating your eyes and your ears today!