27 July 2009

HMN '09


The sixth annual Happy Meat Night took place last Saturday and was a great time. The best weather imaginable made for a great evening to sit outside and enjoy the finest meat dishes. The lineup was a mix of past HMN classics (crab legs, cocktail shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops, pork chops, steaks) and some fresh dishes (swordfish, tuna steaks, fried stuffed pork loin, habanero jerky, bison sausage, lamb kidneys). In a repeat of last year, Tim had to put down a massive cicada killer hornet. This year he didn't even mess with the spray and just used his sandal. Bags again were played almost non-stop all night. There is also talk of drawing up a formal bracket next year and drawing partners for a little tournament. This year trophies were added. First for the winner of the pre-HMN golf outing and the second for Best of Show for the best dish. Pix, and a video, are over at flickr for those interested. If this year does end up being the final year to hold it at E&K's, it will be a big change, but all good things must evolve. Wherever it is held, the best part (even better than the smoked pork loin that got my vote for best of show) is having all the siblings of two great families getting together to talk, laugh and spend a great time together. Thanks to all involved parties.

Biking Fremont Co.

Just a note (mostly for my benefit), I took the firefly back home and biked the same route that I'd done two months ago. This time I cut 7 minutes off my time, doing the 20 miles in 1:13 and I hit 40 mph coming down Stoney Point at the end. Plus there was no worries of losing my breakfast this time. So overall, a much better ride now that I've got some miles on my legs. It's no RAGBRAI, but it was still very fun.

24 July 2009

Ogilvy's Advice for Business

A college friend posted this article a couple days ago after the death of David Ogilvy. You don't have to be in advertising or even know who he was to appreciate the seven points of advice he laid out for businesses. Great principles to remember.

Lance & the Tour


There's been a lot going on at the Tour de France this year. I just thought I'd lump several of those things together into one post.
  • With only a few stages left before the big finish in Paris on Sunday, Lance is sitting in third about 5 minutes off the lead. His teammate is in first so the odds of him taking the lead are very slim. Regardless, after four of 'retirement' a podium finish would be pretty impressive. And he's had a few stages that really surprised some people.
  • The Chalkbot is the coolest marketing idea I've seen in a while. Firstly because I love that type of guerilla-style street-level advertising. Secondly because of the connection to the fans. You can text in your message and the chalkbot may paint it on some stretch of road and then sends you a picture and the geolocation of it.
  • Lance is going to start his own racing team next season and will be sponsored by Radio Shack.
  • I was just thinking a little about how one man has made global awareness for cancer research a household thing. The success of LIVESTRONG is truly amazing.
  • ESPN will run all the "It's About You" videos back to back tomorrow at 10 CST.

22 July 2009

Force behind WD-40 Dies

Although he didn't discover or create the iconic liquid problem-solver, John Barry masterminded the mass marketing and popularization of it. I thought this obit article has several interesting marketing points. I was surprised to read that he never patented the formula for it because he didn't want to have to disclose the ingredients. And now, even though other companies have created similar products, the branding is so strong that it will hold off competitors. I also did not know about the rust-prevention qualities of it. 80% of households have a can on hand, do you?

21 July 2009

Summer Chick Pea Salad

I had the idea for this snack in my head so I went online to see what I could find in the way of recipes. Unlike stoppable, I am not good at going without a recipe. I like to know exactly what to put in and exactly how much. Once I have that I don't mind deviating, but I don't like winging it when I'm making something new. So here's what I came up with. It still needs some adjusting on the EVOO and the vinegar so let me know if you have suggestions:

1 small can chick peas (drained)
1 can tuna (drained)
1 tomato (diced)
1 shallot (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
some grated Parmesan (1/2 c maybe)
1-2 glugs EVOO
2 glugs red wine vinegar
fresh ground pepper

Toss and let it sit for awhile to distribute flavors. Serve cold.

Our Dinosaur Friends

I happened to come across these two links today that had mp3 versions of the wonderful 1978 children's record Our Dinosaur Friends: the early years that stoppable and I grew up loving. Stoppable had provided a version recording off of a record player that, even though it was pretty rough, still made its way onto my iPod. If you want to replace that with these mp3's, go for it. If you've never heard it, you will love the songs about brontosaurus, tyrannosaurus rex and the rest of their gang.

20 July 2009

Celtic Away Kit Announced

I mentioned the away kit for international games a couple of months ago and thought it (especially the shorts) was fairly daring (or questionable.) Today the away kit for regular games was revealed. They are going back to a 'bumble bee' look that they used in the mid-90's. That eye-popping yellow has been popular lately with Chelsea and Barca both featuring it in their away jerseys. I liked the away look for the last few years, but this new one is a neat looking jersey. I do agree that with 10 of them running around on a field, it may look a lot like a swarm of bees.
The new season begins on the 29th, with a trip to Russia to play Dinamo Moscow in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. Could be tricky since Russia's league is on a different schedule and already halfway into their season while the Scottish league hasn't even started yet.

Bad Beastie News

Adam Yauch (MCA) released today that he had a form of cancer in his parotid and a lymph node in his neck and will be having surgery. They are cancelling shows and pushing back the release date of their upcoming CD. These guys are at the top of my 'shows to see' list, so I better get to it!

Teacher Man

Sad news. Master storyteller Frank McCourt died on Sunday. I listened to the audiobook of Teacher Man in 2006 and really enjoyed it. It was right during the middle of taking all my classes to get my teaching certificate. It helped to keep me positive and optimistic when all the talk of pedagogy and constructivists was boring me to death. If you haven't read it and want to hear some good stories about dealing with kids, check it out.

MN

Here's a quick run-down of my experience with the land of 10,000 lakes:
  • It is not a bad drive at all to the Twin Cities. I made it in just over 3.5 on the way home and that is driving the speed limit!
  • The monstrous mosquitoes that I'd been warned about were not around. Maybe too early in the season. Or maybe they don't come into the city much.
  • It is amazing what a difference a change of scenery, interesting surroundings and a running partner make. I did a 6 mile run around two lakes through some really neat parts of town. My legs were pretty tired the last half-mile or so, but I made it and wasn't too sore the next day. Now, if only I could develop some consistency!
  • Good driving snacks. I took bing cherries with me for the drive up and then we went to a quality grocery store on Saturday where I was able to get some Ranier cherries and a nectarine for my Sunday drive home. The Rainer's were great; not as tart as I'd like but still delic.
  • Early morning drives are so good. I found myself up early on Sunday, so I decided to get on the road and I made it back to Des Moines before 10!
  • We went to the Basilica of St. Mary's for mass on Saturday. What a nice church! And they had a lot of stuff going on for their parishoners. Cool place.
  • Lots of laughs and a year's worth of catching up. Thanks for the great hospitality Shannon!

17 July 2009

Six on Six

Last night I went to see "Six on Six: The Musical." As soon as I heard about this play, I knew I was going to want to see it, adding to that the fact that it is a musical and the big bonus that one of my teacher friends was acting in it and it was a sure thing. I stopped by the Hoyt Sherman box office and was able to get a seat in the front row! (Amazing what flexibility buying a single gives you!) The show was fun and interesting and did a good job of showing both sides to the argument over ending six on six. It also called to memory the magic of Vets and the girls state tournament. They had the tuxedo'ed guys doing the choreographed dustmopping just like in the Barn. The crowd was heavily tilted toward older women, many of whom played the game being sung about. There was a slide show during intermission showing photos of all the state champions since back in the 20's. Being in the front row, I could turn around and see all these women's faces following the pictures, discussing, laughing, and pointing. And, yes, I was pretty proud when Farragut came across for 1971.

Being a big advocate and fan of sports, I've always been proud and envious of the tradition and success that Farragut girls basketball enjoyed under Leon Plummer. I actually wrote a research paper on him in high school (which I wish I still had). I poked around online this morning and came up with a few links to share. He was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003, he won 86% of his games (a 426-68 record) over 19 years and took 10 teams to State. There are a couple mentions of him in the book, The Only Dance in Iowa, which I have if anyone wants to borrow. Chuck Offenburger, who has written a book about E. Wayne Cooley that I want to read, wrote this column about the state tournament and mentions the Farragut coach. Plummer died of a heart attack at only 41. I'm very happy that our wonderful gym was dedicated to him. It is not surprising that when I share the name of my hometown with someone older than me, it is very common for them to say something like, "Yeah, I know it. Good girls basketball teams."

I couldn't remember what grade I was in when FHS switched to five on five, so I dug out the yearbooks and, like many schools, Farragut held out until the last year possible, switching after the 1993 season. "All Things Must Change" is the motto featured prominently on the '94 seasons pages. We also switched from Admiralettes (Adettes for short) to Admirals that same year. Although Lady Admirals was often used too, which I thought was ridiculous. I remember that it was a controversial thing, but that some of our girls were very excited to switch. I also recall a big learning curve for some of the girls (especially the guards). While flipping through the yearbook pages, I had forgotten how poor our girls teams were for some of those years. I remember vividly stating "Boys won, girls lost" for my standard response when I would get home from watching the games when I was in junior high. For the '91, '91 and '93 seasons they racked up two, seven and four wins, respectively. After switching to five on five, they won ten and fifteen games in '94 and '95. Nice job adapting, plus they had new coaches and a talented group of players.

Minnesooota!

Not that I need an excuse for lazy blogging this summer, but my weekends of fun are continuing and I'm off to Minnesota today, to visit a former co-worker friend, to return on Sunday. This'll be my first time visiting our northern neighbor since a family vacay that took us up along the lake coast. Duluth, Split Rock, Two Harbors. I think it is only the second time that I've ever visited the state! Crazy, I know. Well, I'll give my summation upon my return.

15 July 2009

New Racquet


So I've been playing a good amount of tennis lately and loving it. And I'm loving it even more now that I have a good racquet. It hasn't transformed my game. I'm still at a very low level, but the grip size is much more fitting for my hand and it does feel very nice when I make a solid forehand. It was fun to pick out and there were lots to choose from. I decided on a Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet midplus. I got to choose what type and color of strings to put in it and what tension to string them at. So now I've got a solid tool to work with as I continue to search for my first win.

Lyric of the Day

"Sunrise doesn't last all morning. A cloudburst doesn't last all day."

I love the roll with the punches/take the good with the bad feel of this lyric.
I heard it on a great cover I found yesterday on one of my favorite music blogs.
Jim James is the singer for My Morning Jacket and I love the echoey, floating, spacious effect he always has on his vocals. Check it out.

14 July 2009

You're Being Watched

Well, it is pretty much a given that much of we do is being monitored. I had two moments over the weekend that got me thinking about this whole surveillance issue. Firstly, I watched Eagle Eye, a movie about a computer program designed by the government to gather and compile information and make decisions on who to watch and what actions to take with that information. It also gives a glimpse of what is possible (maybe a little exaggerated) in this digitally-driven world. The next morning I read about this CIA story in the news, part of which is about domestic surveillance programs. Then, later that morning, I heard on NPR about this technology company, Palantir, in California who is developing capabilities to assist in data mining and finding trends and patterns in that data. Sound familiar?
This area is a controversial. Some people probably feel that the government has no right in people's personal business. Others strongly feel that if the government can gather certain information and subsequently use it to save lives or make its citizens more safe, then they should do so. Whichever side you are on, or if you are in the middle, there is (a least) one massive question: who is going to be keeping tabs on the people gathering the information to ensure they use it for good? Or as the wife in Enemy of the State says, "Who's going to monitor the monitors of the monitors?"

Chicago Trip #2

A good friend's wedding brought me out to Chicago for the second time this summer last weekend and homebase came along as we turned it into a mini-vacation. That's also my excuse for not blogging for so long. On Thursday Mat Kearney was at Nightfall on the River and his opener, Erin McCarley. Both put on great shows and provided some humorous banter in between songs. I only knew two songs of Mat's before hand, but at $12, I'd be a fool not to go down and enjoy a show with some friends at such a fun venue. Check out what Mat thought of Des Moines here and watch a good video of him here. Friday, homebase came up and we went over to Iowa City. I triumphed over my first shopping temptation of the weekend. I really wanted a lumbar pack there, but, rightly decided that I did not need it....at this time. Saturday morning found us on the road early and getting into the downtown with some time to hit some shops and score some good bargains at the Gap before heading to Quartino's for a delicious lunch. That place has become my favorite downtown lunch eatery. We spent the afternoon shopping the Long Grove area (mostly in Paddy's) before checking in to our hotel. I got cleaned up and headed to the wedding (reception actually since I skipped the actual ceremony, sorry Adriana!) It was a very nice event and a fun time catching up with Chicago friends. Sunday we went to the Botanical Gardens and did some shopping and I was lucky enough to spot a Potbelly's while we were driving around. I had forgotten how good their meatball sub with extra giardiniera is! We finished off the trip with a wonderful performance at Ravinia of the Chicago Symphony playing selections from Tchaikovsky and culminated with cannons during the 1812 Overture. (video is not of the performance we were at...ours was better). It was pretty awesome.
But, it's nice to be back in town and try to be productive...til next weekend!

09 July 2009

Hoodie Love

Is there a better feeling than throwing on a hooded sweatshirt when you are chilly?
That usually doesn't happen on a July afternoon, but I just had to go out to my car and grab my hoodie because I was freezing at the coffeeshop. 65, raining and overcast...what kind of summer weather is this?

School Uniforms

Big talking point in the Des Moines Register today. Two public middle schools are instituting a uniform policy for this fall. Polo shirts and khaki pants, shorts or skirts will be the outfit for their students. I have always liked the idea of uniforms and will be very interested to see how this policy goes over. The school is providing the shirts and the families are responsible for the pants & belts. I'm sure this first year will have a lot of bumps along the way and many complainers, but if they stick with it, I think it will be a good thing for these schols and these students. And, hopefully, it will force those teachers who wear track warm-ups or jeans everyday to step up their professionalism too, even though the school can't mandate that they were uniforms due to union-stipulations in their contracts.

07 July 2009

Lance Back in France

The Tour de France started a few days ago and yesterday the Astana team, who Lance rides for, did well in the time trial stage. Lance shaved 40 seconds off the lead rider, so he is sitting less than one second behind the leader, in second place. I also found this video from before the time trial of Ben Stiller getting into the spirit of the event. It's great. Bon chance, Lance!

3 More Stripes!


These are the new ones I picked while I was in Chicago a few weeks ago. SO comfy. Those SL72's that I bought may look great, but they are not a very comfy shoe. I had a good discussion with the manager guy at the adidas Originals store about it actually. This guy is always working when I go in there. He's got a great attitude, loves his job and is super friendly. He loves talking about product and as they say, "game recognize game" so we both enjoy talking shoes with another adi-phile. The tongue on the SL72 is the main hang-up. It is too short and too tough, cutting into your foot. These Country's have a longer, padded tongue and also have a more cushioned sole. I wore them for the last day of summer school and the kids gave them the thumbs up.

80/35

I was not very excited about this year's lineup for the 80/35 Music Festival, which is too bad because it is the biggest music event in Des Moines. The new location, just a couple blocks east from last year, seemed to work out fine. The main stage was good, but for some reason the festival just felt smaller than last year. Even though the bands I was most excited to see (Matisyahu and Tilly and the Wall) played on Friday night, the fact that they were both on the main (braclet required) stage, coupled with the crappy weather ensured that I stayed home. But Saturday brought new hope of discovering some fun new music. So, ignoring the overcast and intermittenly misting skies, caboose and I headed downtown. We caught the last song of Audrye Sessions and they sounded like I would've enjoyed their set, so that was a bit of a downer. But we followed that up with Girl in a Coma, an all-girl punk band out of San Antonio, who were good and I had a good time listening and watching them. Back to the east stage after that, we caught the Josh Davis Band, who always seem to be playing somewhere around Des Moines, but oddly, I'd never went to listen to them before. They played a pretty fun set of fairly pop-ish tunes and again, I pretty happy with what I heard. Former students were out in force down there which provided some fun conversation in between bands; hearing where they've been and how their first year of college went. We then went back to the west stage to listen to Cymbals Eat Guitars, which had been hyped up by Pitchfork and Juice. They were awful. The only entertaining thing about that show was this group of people that brought in a plastic yard flamingo that had been painted for the Fourth of July and the tip of the beak and tail cut off, making it into a beer bong. They were going around having everyone try it out. Check out the flaBONGgo here. Lastly, we caught Cleo's Apartment on the east stage. They were a fun show. Lots going on on stage, lots of instruments, a great voice on the lead singer, a guest appearance by Aeon Grey. Fun stuff. caboose and I headed out after that and came home to recharge and go our seperate ways. He went to check out a Menace game and I went back down to 80/35, meeting a friend who had an extra braclet for the main stage, so even though we missed Broken Social Scene who I really wanted to hear, we were there for the Ben Harper set. I've never been a huge fan of the guy and now he's got a new band, more rock, less folky, so he didn't play any songs from his old stuff. It was ok, and there was a fun cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Good Times, Bad Times', but nothing else too memorable. Overall, it was a fun day of music, some good, some not good, but definitely better than nothing!

02 July 2009

Chicago & 5k

I haven't blogged much lately about what I've been up to. I was in Chicago for three days for that Global Economy conference which was GREAT. If you are really interested in that, you can check out all of their powerpoints. They had some great speakers and they all looked at different aspects of our global economy and also gave in-depth looks at different geographic areas. I took away a lot of information and some things that I am hoping to incorporate into my curriculum this fall. One fun site I learned about was this database of government subsidy payments. You can search by state, county, type of subsidy (corn/soy/CRP), zip code, last name. Very fun stalking of neighbors! :)
I got to check out a few of the bookstores and restaurants in the Hyde Park area but my time there really flew. I did find time to get downtown and pick a new pair of adidas, which I will share pix of soon. One surprise was that there was no air conditioning in my room. They put me up in a dorm-style room in the same building where the conference was and 95 degrees with high humidity made for tough sleeping. There are few feelings I hate more than waking up sweaty, especially at 6 AM. So I figured since I was up and sweating, I might as well go for a run along the lake which was very nice. I was amazed at how many people were out and active at 6:30!
Even though I'm a little spoiled by usually flying when I go out there, the drive wasn't too bad. I had two audiobooks that made the drive go by quickly, "I Am American, and So Can You" by Stephen Colbert and "Father Joe" by Tony Hendra. I was a little disappointed with the Colbert book. Not sure if it just didn't translate to the audio format very well or what but it wasn't as funny as his show.
And later that week I went out to Omaha for a 5k with stoppable. It was put on by the Siena Francis House and the route was around Lake Zarinsky. Now, the last (and only other) time I ran a 5k was also with stoppable and it was in 1994 or 1995. I was a senior (I think) in high school and stoppable was a student at Creighton. I won't go into details but that 5k was not a pleasant experience. There were a couple walking breaks and it was a lot of work. As stoppable pointed out last weekend though, "I think I trained for it by going to a keggar til 3 the night before" so our approach to this one was a bit more restrained and sensible. And the difference was significant. We clocked our run in right around 27 minutes, so a 9 minute mile pace. Not blistering but there was no walking and we felt great afterwards. So great that, subsequently, there has been some talk of a 10k this fall. We'll have to see. I think I might be up for it!

Summertime...and the living's easy

The weather can not be any more amazing that it has been that last few days. Mid-70's, low-80's, sunny, breezy, low humidity. What a blessing. And since today is my first day that I do not have to think about summer school, it really has felt like a bit of a gift. I slept in an extra hour, made a little breakfast, played an hour and a half of tennis, and walked down to the coffee shop to enjoy a chicken-salad croissant and an iced tea while I get some work done. Even though I think I'm getting worse instead of better on the tennis courts, it was very fun this morning. I also took some swings using my friend's racquet. Wow. I was blown away by how big of a difference there was. I guess you can but tennis rackets into that "you get what you pay for" category. So, now I have a nagging need to go out and treat myself to a new racket. :) Stay tuned.
A few other summery items:
  • I tried out this recipe for rhubarb slush and it is SUPER. I recommend.
  • Came across this video this morning of Local Natives, who I am unfamiliar with, doing an acoustic cover of 'Cecilia'. Not only is that one of my most favorite songs but there is a xylophone solo and I am a huge fan of bells. Great summer tune.
  • If your copy of my summer mix wasn't enough for you, I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, put out her summer mix yesterday and it looks good. Download and check out some new music.