30 November 2009

Red Laces

I love fresh laces to add some contrast and pop to your shoes. And I love product (RED). So, even though I don't wear much Nike, I still love the company and was excited to see that product (RED) announced Nike as their newest corporate partner. Red laces are their first co-branded product.

Turkey Break

I was SO looking forward to a few days off and getting out of town for Thanksgiving and four days completely lived up to expectations. Even though it is wild, hectic and you have to pull teeth to get any learning to happen, I love the day before a break at school. I started my day off buying 4 dozen donuts for my first class and my homeroom. There is this little non-chain donut place located perfectly between my house and school and I love to stop there. With a nice dose of sugar and cheer to start the day off, things went very well. And we finished the day with my Photoshop kids doing some fun text effect tutorials that went really well. Despite the gray drizzly weather, the drive home was good. It is really a great feeling when you are driving to know you have a house full of family as your destination. Thanksgiving morning came a little chilly, but at least it was sunny. The three brothers held our first annual Turkey trot 5k through the streets (and a lap around the track) of Farragut. It was a great run, with fun conversation and a random dog joined as we ran by his house and stayed with us for the last half.
The actual Thanksgiving meal was changed up a little this year. Each party was responsible for choosing & preparing a dish to share and it did a nice job of changing up the menu. Parsnips, sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, apple pie, brussel sprouts and a different stuffing were all new additions to the bounty.
Black Friday was great fun, as always. Up at 4:45 and shopping by 6, homebase and I scored some good deals and didn't really have any problems with long lines or bad traffic. I did a little shopping for myself in addition to the Christmas shopping. I've been considering a new iPod for months and the apple store had markdowns on iPods and accessories, and since the battery on my old iPod won't last longer than 2 hours, I decided to pull the trigger. 30GB iPod Touch, and a case and car transmitter for a total savings of ~$70. I also got a new camera! Sadly, I had to replace my SD600 that I have loved for three years now since I dropped it and it ceased working. I got the SD1200 for $149, marked down $50 for Black Friday. It's great to have a camera again, and it'll be fun to learn some of the new features. I was able to try it out on Saturday when I went down to the House of Bricks to see caboose playing with Cashes Rivers. And Sunday I wound down the weekend by celebrating caboose's birthday.
Lots of fun and lots to be thankful for definitely.

28 November 2009

Hebrews 12 1-2

This is the Bible passage that Tim Tebow had on his eye black for his last game today. I'm not a super fan of the him or the Gators, but I have tons of respect for what he's done off the field, as well as how he's done on it.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

22 November 2009

GLEE


I was just talking to some people at work a few weeks ago about television shows. They were going on about some show, Modern Family or Project Runway or something about how they never miss it and how good it is. And I said that I wasn't really into any shows right now. Of course I still enjoy catching some reruns of Scrubs and The Office, but it has always been tough for me to get to the point of devotion to a show where I make a point of remembering when it is on and make sure I'm in front of the TV at that time each week. When Lost first came out, I really was into it and followed it weekly, but around season 3 or so, my class schedule started causing havoc and I quit following it. (caboose is slowly pulling me back to it but I've missed so much now it is hard to get too into it.) Last year I was completely enamored with Dancing With the Stars. I never watch those vote-people-off shows but there was no denying how much I loved watching Shawn Johnson each week.
But last week I fell hard for a new show. Glee. I had caught part of an episode a month or so ago and liked it, but, like always, couldn't remember to watch it again the next week. So after a horrible night of volleyball last week, I came home, plopped on the sofa and flipped on the teley. And there was Glee again, so I watched it, loved it and proceeded to stay up til midnight watching past episodes on hulu. I love the show. It's like getting to see a 45 minute musical each week. They use a great mix of showtunes and popular music. The cast is great. Lea Michele (Rachel Berry) and Puck are my favorites. She's gorgeous and has an amazing voice. And I found this article which I totally agreed with about why I find her character so appealing. She's played Cosette & Eponine on Broadway. I bought the first cd of music from the show and have been listening to that on repeat for the last few days. The version of "Defying Gravity" (from Wicked) from the diva-off between Rachel & Kurt is beyond great. I also found this video of the cast singing the national anthem at Game 3 of the World Series, pretty impressive rendition. So check it out if you are looking for something to watch!

Oprah & B.E.P.& FlashMob

I may be late in seeing this, but it saw it at school this week and totally loved it. Similar to the T-Mobile train station commercials, it involves some choreographed public dancing. Oprah has the Black Eyed Peas performing outside on Michigan Avenue as part of the celebration of her 24th season. will.i.am had contacted FlashMob to organize it all and the best part is watching Oprah's reaction to the whole thing, which was a complete surprise to her. You can see a great video of it here or a good overhead cam here. And there's plenty of videos online to help you learn the dance too. :)

19 November 2009

Mixtape!!!

I put together a little mixtape of some of what's been kicking around in my headphones lately. This mix is much mellow and warm, just right for autumn and sitting back with a dark beer or a mug of tea/hot chocolate. It's not acoustic or anything that will put you to sleep but it is a lot slowed down and more organic sounding than the mix I put together for the summer. I couldn't keep myself from putting three songs on the end of the mix that probably don't fit the mood, but they were too good not to include. I also used my new (very limited) Photoshop skills to make a cover for it. If you want a copy, lemme know!

18 November 2009

Ireland Denied a Cup Berth

A blatant handball (he actually handles it twice) in the 109th minute let France steal the second to last spot in the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer. To say I'm depressed is an understatement. The Irish played very well, attacking throughout the game but they could get that second goal to close out the game, despite having three really good opportunities. Watch the video to see Thierry Henry touch the ball with his forearm once to stop it from going out of bounds and then a second time with his hand to push it into his path so he can cross it to William Gallas, who heads in the goal. :(
Quote from Henry:
"I will be honest, it was a handball. But I'm not the ref. I played it. The ref allowed it"

17 November 2009

The Prophet

Just finished reading The Prophet. It'd been on my list for quite a while and I've always heard it highly praised. I enjoyed it and there were definitely a few parts that I liked a lot, but overall, not as a transformative as I was expecting. It is pretty zen-ish; the kind of book that you reflect after reading a few pages. Here's what I felt deserved underlining when I read it:
Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

You give little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

Work is love made visible.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil.

Selling Lesson Plans

I loved this article. "Selling Lesson Plans Online, Teachers Raise Cash and Questions" from the NY Times. As technology & the internet change other industries (music, movies, travel, etc.) it should be expected that it would change education as well. It is going to take quite a bit of time, money and cause a lot of frustration in the teaching ranks, but it will eventually happen and we should be happy about it.
The article looks at the newly-popular trend of teachers selling the lessons plans and units they have created. I think this is a wonderful thing. Both parties are winning in this transaction. The teachers that have put in the thought, creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity to create a high-quality lesson get some reward, some feedback and some recognition (all of which are otherwise fairly lacking). The teacher paying for the unit can spend their prep hours customizing and polishing the unit instead of starting from scratch. As stated in the article, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. We would be foolish not to harness the power of communicating and borrowing from thousands of other teachers. Why force a new teacher to create a new unit on economies of scale (pun intended) when hundreds of other people have not only created the same unit but spent years developing, adding and tweaking it? Don't we want teachers using the best resources possible? This is something that has frustrated me to no end even in my own district. Why is there not a central sharing repository for teachers to share develop lessons, resources used, etc? I realize I don't teach in a core area, but even those areas have not done much in sharing curriculum.
The Joseph McDonald guy, a professor of course, who says that it cheapens what teachers do when they try and sell it makes me laugh at his hypocrisy. Quality and choice decrease when there is no profit incentive, lesson shown by command economies. And, I'm guessing that professor has a book published that he is expecting to pay for as well. Is it cheapening his ideas since he isn't giving the book away for free?
You can bet I'll be checking out the sites they mention and seeing what they have. One, to see if there's anything great I can use to make my classroom better. Two, to see if there might be an opportunity to make a money off of the hours that I've poured into planning.

15 November 2009

Weekend Recap...

I was blessed this weekend with a super fun and event filled few days. A quick recap:
Friday night I experienced the Greenwood Lounge for the first time for a couple after-school drinks with some teachers. It is a delightful dive bar and I'm sure I'll be back. The mural of dogs dancing & drinking on the wall looked straight out of the 60's and it was superb. caboose & I then got spiffed up and met our fashion-plate accompaniment for the night at Grand Piano Bistro. The food there was great (I had a butternut squash gnocchi with cranberries & walnuts), but the service and overall experience left something to be desired. If caboose, a former server, rips your service, you know you've gone very wrong. Regardless, we had a great time and then it was on to the highlight of the night, RENT. I've seen the play before, the movie many times, and memorized the CD long ago, but none of that diminished how much I enjoyed the performance on Friday. It was so great to see and hear the numbers done live, with some new cast members adding some slight new twists. Plus it is just a fun festive story, great to be shared with friends. After the show, we camped out at the Lift for a few drinks and conversation. Between the getting ready and going out, I always have fun dressing up a little. Maybe I should make a point to try and up my fashion level more often when going out.
Saturday, homebase came up and we checked out the Holiday craft show at Holy Trinity. Although we didn't buy anything (other than some GREAT challah bread), we did get some good ideas for holiday crafting. Then we headed to the mall for what was going to be a few simple items but turned into a very productive Christmas shopping outing! We got some great coupons and saved a bundle at the Gap and had a great time. I used a birthday gift card to get a cookie scoop that I had read about in a holiday baking magazine that I am super pumped to try out on some cookies and see if it really makes as big of a difference as they acted like it does. We relaxed in the afternoon a bit watching the Iowa game. :( Tough loss but I am proud of how they played and impressed by Vandenburg's performance! We rounded out the day with Scrabble and coffee at Mars Cafe and watching the unimpressive Notre Dame game.
Church and a great breakfast at Drake Diner started today off well. Now, grading papers, getting ready for the week and thinking of something to make for dinner. Some great times this weekend. I am thankful for the great people in my life!

13 November 2009

TWLOHA Day


Today is To Write Love On Her Arms Day. It is something that developed over the last couple years without any guidance from the actual organization but they fully support it. You can read Jamie's thoughts on it on their blog. So, if you feel so inclined, write a little message on your arm today and then share the purpose behind it if someone asks. I went small but I'm sure it'll get noticed. There's a facebook group and a flickr group to check out if you want.

12 November 2009

Restaurant Do's & Don'ts

Few things are more frustrating than a bowl of hot soup with no spoon.
I came across this list in the NY Times earlier this week. And since I love lists...and food, I thought I'd share it. stoppable, we can use these as a starting place when we open our restaurant. 1-50 and 51-100. Some of them are very good. Things that I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on, but grate on my nerves when dining out. The author has a series of articles about his travails as he starts up a fish restaurant in the Hamptons. These would be fun to combine into an entrepreneurship class...which I'm not teaching this year, unfortunately.

10 November 2009

Lala.com

So I don't know how long this has been going on but something I've been enjoying lately is Google's new music functionality. If you search for a band, song title, or even some lyrics, at the top of your search results will be a play button and you can listen to the full song (the first time, 30 seconds after that) courtesy of either iLike.com or LaLa.com. Google is trying to work its way into the music distribution chain. Lala is also starting to work with facebook so users can buy songs there. It is pretty handy and being able to hear the full song is much better than the iTunes Store's 30 seconds, but I don't know how much better (if any) it is than just clicking on the video of the song and watching/listening to it there. Either way, check it out and see what you think.

Rooney's Street Skills

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney has a new show coming out that is like an American Idol sort of show for street soccer players. He has taped a couple commercials of him doing some street competitions to promo the show. This one where he has to trap a ball dropped from an apartment complex (the last one is 6 stories up), turn and pass it into a dumpster is the most entertaining. There were two takes on YouTube for it. This one looks like the first one; it takes a few times for him to get used to it, but the last ball is pretty sweet. This looks like the second one, he's definitely got it down this time. Not bad for wearing jeans! There are some other neat ones, like evading a bunch of rolled tires. The full show is here, but I haven't watched it yet so I can't vouch for it.

09 November 2009

Athletes Acting Badly

Two unfortunate examples to share:
  • This one is all over YouTube and ESPN. Elizabeth Lambert, junior defender on the New Mexico Lobos soccer team, puts on a display of multiple ways of how not to act. Only got a yellow in the game, but her coach has suspended her indefinitely. Too bad it distracted from a great match of the #1 and #4 teams in the country.
  • This one was a talking point on College GameDay this past weekend. Florida linebacker and captain, Brandon Spikes, blatantly eye-gouges the Georgia ball carrier after the tackle. He was suspended for half of a game. He later said he would sit the full game...against Vanderbilt.

05 November 2009

Sunny Day, Sweepin' the Clouds Away


40 years of Sesame Street and Google is helping commemorate it with a week of Google doodles. And the first two have been great. Be sure to keep checking to see what they come up with. I YouTube'd to see if I could find the first episode from back in 1969 and this was the part I came across. It's right up my alley with a take on 'Consider Yourself' from Oliver the musical. What an amazing tv program. I still have songs, sayings, voices, words and lessons stuck in my memory that I learned from Ernie, Bert, Snuffleupagus, Oscar, the Count, Big Bird and the gang. I may need to buy this compilation of musical guests over the years. It looks pretty good!

02 November 2009

The Best of Us Challenge

I didn't see these when the Olympics were going on, and randomly came across them tonight. The Best of Us challenges; a series of videos of Olympians doing random physical feats and offering normal people a challenge. Since random physical feats are a family gathering favorite with my family, I thought I'd share these. I'm a big Lolo Jones fan, and she does 33 push-ups w/clap in 30 seconds. She's beast. I'm gonna have to try and match that. I tried just now (just after eating smokey pulled pork dinner) and got 21. And I'm even a bigger fan of Shawn Johnson and she has two videos. This one of 54 ear touches from a handstand is pretty impressive (much more so than the egg toss one). This Australian track guy gives out after 25 taps in 10 seconds, so I give Shawn the edge in that one. Micheal Phelps' speed putting is also pretty good.
So, family, get ready for some fun over Thanksgiving! :)

Smokey Pulled Pork

There are few better feelings then walking in through the door after a Monday of work and having your apartment smell amazing and knowing that your dinner is already done in the crockpot. I had a pork loin that I'd thawed out and need to cook, so this morning I decided to put it in the crockpot and get creative. Creative is not something that I do very often in the kitchen, but it turned out well for me this time. A can of diced tomatoes, an onion, some garlic, a can of chicken broth, beef bouillon, a couple dried gaujillo peppers, and half a can of chipotle peppers & adobo sauce. I wasn't sure how it would look when it was done, but the meat was pretty much falling apart and a lot of the liquid had boiled off, so it was perfect to make it into a pulled pork-type dish. And to go with it, corn muffins. No pix due to some camera problems, but it was delic!