30 June 2009

Sorta Project

I love creative, edgy, gritty art with street-level expression. Unfortunately I am not blessed with the patience to envision, devise and create something really insightful or beautiful. This project is a great example of that. I started with a sheet of shower laminate/white board (pic 1). I had the idea to use a big tree as a background onto which I would write favorite lines and lyrics from songs. So I laid down some sky and a horizon line (pic 2). I was very happy with the sky and very sad about the ground. Then I drew a tree and root system with a pencil and taped off the tree (pic 3). Spray painting the tree and hitting it with a black paint marker outline left me with something that, while it wouldn't stop anyone in their tracks, wasn't too bad (pic 4). At least you could recognize what it was. I started putting on the lyrics and about halfway done it looked pretty decent. But then my Achilles's heel popped up and I fell victim to rushing through it like I always do and eventually mucking it up (no pic). So then I decided to just scrap it and do so random painting and patterns on it and using it as a backdrop while spray painting some other things. I also did some writing/tagging on it and eventually I ended up with something that I actually like (pic 5).


29 June 2009

Ed Thomas Remembered

I didn't blog anything about the tragedy in Parkersburg because I didn't have anything additional to add to the stories, pictures and tributes that have been in the news. It is an awful situation.
But, homebase passed on an article written by Chuck Offenburger back in 1986 that I thought was really great look at the man and what he was about...even 20 years ago.

28 June 2009

Lollapalooza

Every year there are two things that I talk a lot about doing and then end up not doing. RAGBRAI and Lollapalooza. I would really love to cross one of those off my list this year. I really thought it was going to be RAGBRAI but as my summer calendar has filled up I've gone from thinking I'd do the whole thing, to the first half, to a couple days, to now I'll be surprised if I actually do any.
Lollapalooza put single-day tickets on sale last week. $80 to a pile of great days at a great venue (Grant Park) in a great city (Chicago). So this is me soliciting anyone who is up for a road trip. I've checked out the band lineups and I could be talked into going any of the three days. I think the middle day is the weakest but it has the best headliner (Beastie Boys) so I'm up for anything! I'll even drive, order tickets, be tour guide and arrange accomidations. Any takers?

27 June 2009

Dream 8 CWS Teams

Even though my Longhorns couldn't pull out a victory in the championship series, it was still a great College World Series. I saw this article and thought I'd share. They polled people to see what their dream lineup of teams would be for next year. I can't believe it will be the last year at Rosenblatt. Sad.
I like the eight teams chosen, except I would probably drop Florida State and include Stanford or Arizona. What do you think?

26 June 2009

Taylor Swift & T-Pain

Thanks to my friend Robin for calling my attention to this. Since I don't have CMT, but love Taylor, I was very happy to be able to check this out. Taylor Swift gets whatever she dreams of and my favorite part is "You don't wanna fight me....in my extra small white tee." "Thug Story" check it out.

21 June 2009

Social Security Question

This article is on the front page of the Register today and although I don't have enough time to really put together my thoughts on the situation and entitlements, I wanted to throw it out there for everyone else to read, think about and share what they think. In short, the guy had leukemia, got married, banked sperm before starting chemo, did not recover and ended up dieing. The wife is artifically impregnated a year later and has a daughter. She then applies for survivor benifits from Social Security, who denies the request.
I'll try and add my feelings in the comments later.

Chicago for a Seminar

I'm heading to Chicago in a couple hours for a three-day summer teacher institute being put on by the Center for International Studies at the University of Chicago. The topic is "Understanding the Global Market: Bringing the World Market into Your Classroom." You can check out the site to see who will be speaking and about what. I'm very excited about it. And, as always, I'm excited to spend some time in Chicago, shopping, hopefully having dinner with friends, maybe running on the lakefront. I'm also looking forward to exploring the University of Chicago campus and Hyde Park area. I've only been down there a couple times for movies at Doc Films. I hear they have some great used bookstores! Not sure about wi-fi availability, so there may or may not be a blogging hiatus.

Wing Adventure

A couple days ago, when it was like 90 and oppressively humid, I scratched my plans to cook dinner and caboose and I decided we both felt like going somewhere with a great salad bar. I was searching my memory banks and couldn't come up with much other than Spaghetti Works or Gateway Market. So caboose consulted the all-knowing internet and came up with two suggestions, Jason's Deli or the Chicago Speakeasy. While I've driven by the Speakeasy lots of times and wondered what it was like, we decided to stick with a known entity this time. We both got the all-you-can-eat salad bar and it was wonderful, exactly what we were hoping for. A small matter of over-eating aside, it was a great night.
So last night we decided we had a craving for wings, but I was not interested to Buffalo Wild Wings again. Their food is good but not great. Their sauces are tasty but the quality of their meat is not impressive. So again, we sought out the advice of the www. According to a couple sites we found, Gerri's Tavern had some of the best wings in the city and since it is on the east side, I was excited for a little adventure. So we hopped in the car the pointed our compass toward the east side, land of the Scarlets, AE, and the State Fair. We got the added bonus of being a small side diversion on the way there to drive by a building fire that was a raging inferno. Pretty impressive. After driving around the Fairgrounds area a little, we located our destination. It wasn't too seedy, just simple and unassuming. Reminded me a little of the Farragut Tavern actually. Their was quite a few people by the three pool tables, the type of crowd that brings their own cue. So we knew better than to try and play. :) The bartender came over to take our order and when I said we wanted wings and wondered how they came he said, "either 10 wings or 5 pounds." caboose and I looked at each other, sizing up our ability to attack 5 pounds of wings and decided to go for it. After all, that was what we had came for. So the 5 pounds of wing special comes with a pitcher of beer so we got started on that as we waited for our wings. There is only one level of heat to choose from and it is just right. Hot enough to give you a bit of kick, but not hot enough to deter anyone from eating them. When the wings came it was a pretty big mountain of meat, but not anything that looked impossible. Steadily we worked our way into the job at hand. We were slowing down a bit when the guy came by again to tell us a tale of one bar patron who had been challenged by his buddies to polish the whole special (wings, celery, pitcher) off by himself in under an hour. He triumphed in 47 minutes and then instead of going home to vomit or lay on the sofa, proceeded to hang out and party at the bar the rest of the night. We were searching for our second wind, pushing ourselves, but when finally threw in the towel/napkin with only 6 wings left. They were very tasty wings and we decided that the special would be perfect for three people. So I highly recommend the place. We'll see where our next food adventure takes us.

18 June 2009

Michael Collins

Just finished Tim Pat Coogan's biography of 'the man who made Ireland.' It was a dense, fact-packed work and it was slow going for the first half or so, but the last half was much better. It is an entirely Irish story, frustrating and heartbreaking but also inspiring and impressive. I've done too many book reports in my life so instead of analyzing it, I'll just share my favorite quotes from it. I'll start with a great statement on the man himself by Arthur Griffith made as the country was sliding into civil war...
If my name is to go down in history, I want it associated with the name Michael Collins.
The rest of these are quote from Collins and these first two I love for their economic insight and principle (he was the minister of finance after all).
  • Millionaires can spend their surplus wealth bestowing libraries broadcast upon the world. But who will say that the benefits accruing could be compared with those arising from a condition of things in which the people themselves...were prosperous to buy their own books and to put together their own local libraries in which they could take a personal interest and acquire knowledge in proportion to that interest.
  • For very often we are actors in events that have more meaning and consequences than we realize.
  • To my mind it is now a question of our nerves. There is no doubt a great deal of punishment ahead of us. It is a question of the body wearing longer than the lash.
  • Everyone in Ireland has reason to be mistrustful of English politicians of all schools and we have learned to be more distrustful of their promises than their threats.
  • To go for a drink is one thing. To be driven to it is another.
I love the last one too. It was made in the middle of negotiations with the British trying to come away with something presentable while knowing that they wouldn't allow the one thing that de Valera insisted on, a republic.

17 June 2009

Darth Shelltoes


I got a little notice via facebook today accompanying this picture, "New line of adidas Originals coming in 2010." That's all I've heard so far. But a quick Google news search revealed this press release on starwars.com. Can't wait!

More than a game

With Iran commanding a lot of news time lately, I wanted to make sure this story didn't get overlooked. In a World Cup qualifying match played yesterday, Iran tied South Korea 1-1. But the real highlights of the match were the green wristbands beings worn by eight of the players, the signs and flags in the stands, and the protest before the game. The players were ordered to take the wristbands off at halftime but the match was televised in Iran, so their message was widely seen. Check out coverage and photos at Soccer Blog or Time.

16 June 2009

What's Good?

Just a few snippets of what's been good with me lately. There's pictures of some of these in flickr...
  • Carbon Leaf at the Mews. Even thought I haven't heard anything off their new CD, it was a fun show (albeit a bit overpriced at $20).
  • Penguins of Mass Destruction. We've been heating up on the sand volleyball court lately. Our season started with a loss but I think we've been on the positive side of the scoresheet each week since then. Although last week was a victory by forfeit, we still had a good time playing some 3-on-3.
  • Summer school. I think people, when they asked what I had planned for summer, were surprised to hear me say I was excited to be teaching summer school. I'm teaching a very simple and straight-forward required computer/keyboarding class for incoming freshmen at a local private school. Seeing how they do things, meeting some new people, extending my network, and making a little money were all things that I was looking forward to. It has really lived up to my expectations. I've met some nice people and the teaching has been easy and fun.
  • Bowling! I hadn't been since last summer and I've never played four games in one night before. A fun outing away from the sand for the Penguins. The lights, music, strike dances and fun people made it a great time. Plus I broke 100 in three of the four games (which is my mediocre guideline for if I've had a decent game or not).
  • Tennis! Even though I squandered a 4-1 lead, it was very nice to enjoy a gorgeous day, play an actual set, catch up with a friend and engage in a little friendly competition. Looking forward to the rematch.
  • Colbie Caillat @ Simon Estes amphitheater. I was already looking forward to this show because it is such a fun venue in the summer, right down by the river, city skyline as a backdrop, sitting on blankets. Then to put icing on the cake, caboose's contact came through with complimentary tickets! Needless to say that made my day. The show was great. My top three songs were "Lucky", "Where Were You" (cover of the Fray), and a song off her upcoming CD something like "Go On".
  • College World Series. Although the action on the diamond wasn't thrilling (Southern Miss was hammered by N. Carolina), the action in the bleachers was great. stoppable brought all three kids and met homebase and I there. The kids held up great despite wilting heat. Definitely a fun time.
  • Crafting the packaging for my summer mixtape. I was looking for something different and came across this brown lunch bag idea on the internet. I coupled that with a little spray paint stencil for a fun & unique case. Now if only my cd drive would stop causing me headaches!
  • Getting to see my good friends' new baby. Oliver is super cute and, although I passed up on my first chance to hold him (he was only a day old!), I was happy to get some time holding him last week after he had aged a week. And, bonus, he didn't cry on me! Actually he barely even woke up so I was pretty safe. Congrats to Haley & Matt.
  • [edit] How could I forget the classic Game 7 win by the Pittsburgh Penguins to secure the Stanley Cup!?!

14 June 2009

Photo Tag Chain...

A friend of mine tagged me in this photo chain activity and since I haven't had much blogging going on lately, this is just what I needed, a little writing prompt. You're supposed to go to your photo folder, open the 4th folder and then select the 4th picture, share it and explain it. Since I don't use folders to organize my photos, this didn't quite work for me. I just leave all my photos in one folder arranged chronologically. So, instead I went to my flickr page and went to my sets page and just picked the fourth one and used the fourth picture in that.
This picture is from GDP, which for those non-local readers, is a music event celebrating and spotlighting local bands. caboose, although he doesn't appear in this picture, plays guitar with Cashes Rivers and this was their final song at that show. They invited people on stage with them to sing and clap along. Cashes Rivers' sister appears to the left and local music aficionado Dan Bosman (founder & host of Scented Vinyl) is seen left-center. It was a fun night and a good performance.

Update

Man, I have been slacking big time with my posting. I can offer a few reasons/exchanges: I've been busy with summer school in the mornings and various other stuff in the afternoons, my laptop was in the shop to get a new CD drive installed :(, and I haven't really been doing much that was interesting enough to write about.
A quick update on the week experiment:
  • I made it to morning mass everyday and loved it. The masses are only 30 minutes and I honestly believe priests give better homilies in that type of situation. It's been a nice way to start my days.
  • I also did great on my 'no TV' effort. I only cheated once and watched an episode of Colbert Report on my laptop. And to tell the truth, I didn't miss the TV at all. The only time that was a little tricky and took a little getting used to was during meals. I'm so used to making food and then sitting down and eating in front of the TV. But I got a lot of reading done instead of watching TV so that's been great.
  • Regarding, the daily exercise I only give myself a C. I didn't get anything much done on Monday or Friday, so I'll have to keep working on that one.
  • And sadly, the most extrinsic and fun one, the random act of kindness, I failed miserably at. This will have to be an on-going work of improvement.

08 June 2009

What can I get for $94 million?

KAKA.
Real Madrid returns to its galactico ways and buys the arguably best and not-arguably most expensive player in the world.

One Week Experiment

Now that school's out and summer is officially here (contrary to what the almanac says, summer starts on the last day of school), I came up with a little plan to try and make sure I use my free time as best as possible. So, for one week (actually just Monday thru Friday) I am going to attempt to fulfill the following:
  • attend daily mass each day. This is actually very convenient since they have a mass at 7:30 each morning at the parish where I'm teaching summer school, which starts at 8:30. I went this morning and loved it; good priest, great short homily.
  • watch zero meaningless TV. I'm leaving myself a small loophole here in case I want to watch the NBA Finals or a Stanley Cup match. Otherwise, no more time wasted watching all that mindless crap.
  • commit a random act of kindness each day. This can be a compliment to a stranger or any sort of random goodwill. Only fair on this one so far, I replied to a handful of people that I had been procrastinating on, but maybe I can drop someone a good compliment before I leave the coffeeshop.
  • engage in some sort of exercise each day. Besides doing my armstrong workout (which I'm loving!), I haven't filled this one today, but I can still go for a good walk when I get home.
Stay tuned to hear how I fair for the rest of the week!

07 June 2009

Education Articles

Just wanted to share three different articles about education that I've read in the last week or so.

The first one is my favorite, "Korean students go online to cram for critical exams". It is a NY Times article about how a guy quit his job as an extremely well paid private tutor to help set up a website that makes test prep for the critically important entrance exams much more affordable and available. Government spending to set up top-quality online tutor and test-prep programs definitely makes sense and seems to be a good approach to countering the achievement gap.

The second is a Malcolm Gladwell article, "Most Likely to Succeed", that stoppable passed on to me. It raises some intriguing points and possible solutions about how to predict the success and effectiveness of teaching applicants (as well as NFL quarterbacks and financial advisers). For me, the most interesting part was when they were describing the evaluation that the University of Virginia's School of Education does. As a co-workers told me once, "Teaching is not an exact science" and that is true, but I think efforts like this are beneficial in finding out what makes some teachers so productive and effective. That is how we can improve. I also like that they point out research findings that I've heard a few times before about how the quality of the teacher is the biggest variable in a students education. It is carries more weight than quality of school and class size. A good teacher can offset and overcome those drawbacks.

The last article, "U.S. Efforts to Reshape Schools Faces Challenges" is another one from the NY Times. The teacher in the photo looks like she's 16! It focuses on Arne Duncan's plans to close down and reorganize hundreds of failing schools, similar to his actions when he was head of Chicago Public Schools. I wonder a bit where these quality teachers are going to come from that they are going to hire to re-open the schools? And why don't they already have a job? And it is worth noting that when they reopen the schools, they put in place all sorts of strategies that would seem to make sense for any struggling school, like advisory groups, student uniforms, parental involvement, tighter discipline, new labs, regular checking for progress and instuctional coaches to aid teachers in using the gathered data in planning their lessons.

06 June 2009

European Goal of the Year

The Guardian paper has chosen ten goals to be voted on for the best goal scored in the past season. I watched all of them, several times and I think my vote is going to have to be for Dembélé for the Dutch team AZ Alkmaar. Grafite is a very close second. Check out Mareval if you want to see a thunderbolt of a shot. Eduardo and Ibrahimavic both have incredible goals but while their ability to volley a ball at incredible angles is awesome, I tend to favor a longer display of skills, hence my vote for Dembélé and Grafite. That being said, Fernando Torres' trap & shoot on the turn is a beautiful strike. Check it out here since the link on the top 10 page didn't seem to have the video.

Cashes Rivers & Envy Corps

Thursday I went to the early show at the Vaudeville Mews and caught Cashes Rivers opening up for the Envy Corps. Being able to go to a show that starts at 6:30 and is done before closing time is a nice change! Cashes Rivers did a great job and caboose played drums on the opening number and provided added his melodic solos and swells to the closing song "Atoms". I took video of both of those songs but the audio isn't the greatest since I was directly in front of a speaker. Cashes also played with the Envy Corps on their first song. I am a fan of the Envy Corps' music but seeing them live always seems to turn me off a bit. I will say that I enjoyed this show the most of any of the times I've seen them. They pulled to kids (it was an all-ages show) on stage and gave them guitars to play along with them for a song, so that was cool and fun. Overall, a very fun show and once my CD drive gets fixed, I'll be adding their new EP "Kid Gloves" to my library.

03 June 2009

Barca Gladiators

Saw this on Soccer Blog and since I my hair was standing up by the end of watching it, I thought I'd better pass it on. The Barcelona coach (also a former Barca star) put it together with a TV connection friend. It includes highlights from all players taking the field that day and mixes it with Gladiator and images of Rome. Keep in mind the final they were playing against Manchester United was taking place in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico. Watch the video.
'We are the centre of the pitch,
we are precise,
we are our effort,
we are attackers who defend,
we are defenders who attack,
we are respected by our rivals,
we are recognised by our rivals,
we are every goal that we score,
we are those who always look for our opponent's goal,
WE ARE ONE.'

Kit Parade

I know most of my readers don't follow soccer that closely, but if you have an interest in fashion you might enjoy this one anyways. I blogged a couple weeks ago about Celtic's new away kit and those plaid shorts get raked over the coals by these reviewers but they are not even close to comparing to the infinitely gaudy and hilariously ridiculous Manchester United kit. If that is seriously what they are going to wear this fall, I will be laughing my head off.

02 June 2009

A Step Ahead...

I got the 'Hot List' issue of Rolling Stone in the mail yesterday and as I was flipping through it, their article on "Hot Headphones" caught my eye. They didn't fawn over $299 Bose headphones or anything custom-fitted. Nope, they picked Skullcandy ink'd earbuds. Same ones that I was raving about a year ago (thanks to a former student's advice). I love getting info from Rolling Stone but it does feel good to beat them to the punch now and then.

"Never Underestimate the Impassible"

As part of the final in my freshmen computer class, they have to create a powerpoint presenting their "dream school." The quote above was the motto that one of my favorite students came up with for her school. A couple of points to make on this: she meant "impossible" because she spelled it correctly on a different slide. I pondered what she might've meant by 'Never underestimate the impossible' for a few minutes. If something is impossible, then I would say that we definitely haven't underestimated it.
Thinking of the 'impassible' as those students who refuse to put forth any effort and have zero regard for their grade, I actually like 'never underestimate the impassible' better! And it's true, they never cease to amaze me by their apathy.
Thankfully the 'impassibles' are still in the minority.

Maldini, Figo, Nedved

I thought this post from Soccer Blog gave a nice brief tribute to these three legendary stars, all retiring this year. Even though none of the three are among my favorite players (Zidane), I still must 'tip the hat' to these Italian, Portugese and Czech captians. I've only been a fan long enough to appreciate the last half of their careers but I can still remember first learning who all the stars were (by playing FIFA on playstation). One of my soccer-playing friends had a poster of him on the wall and Maldini was always a lock to get a spot in my defense. The guy's played 900 games over 25 years and the best part, it was all for the same club. Figo I've never actually cared for. Mainly because I didn't like his look or his style and I don't like players that switch teams between arch-rivals. You've gotta have some respect for the club! Nedved is probably my favorite of the three. I remember watching him when Juventus was in the Champions League and he was a beast in the midfield.

01 June 2009

"It's OK to Say Real Things"

I came across this blog post and liked a couple of the points that it makes. Plus it's got a quote from John Mayer, so I figured it would guarantee a comment from caboose. I only partially agree with his quote that, "Hope isn't something you create, it's something you let inside." You definitely have to make a conscience decision to let yourself hope, but I think that it is also something that is created. Maybe we don't create it for ourselves, but we can (and should) create it for others. I can think of many people and things that have created hope within me. [finding those students who are hard working, respectful and fun, discovering there are other people over 30 who are single, Obama, hearing about people who've taught for 25+ years].
The focus of the post is where he talks about,"The power of words and importance of moments." A great line and I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate when public figures use the opportunities afforded them to do something good and worthwhile. I really can't stand it when people bash on celebs for constantly soap boxing about their cause, Bono being the most common target. There's so much mindless press out there ("oh look, Matt Damon shops at Whole Foods just like me!") that when a public personality decides that if they are going to have constant media attention, maybe they can share something of value that they are working to help, I find it a breathe of fresh air.
But the best part is realizing, as the last paragraph of the post talks about, that is doesn't have to be just celebrities and well-known people. Every one of us influences people everyday. We have to choose to make that interaction count.