31 January 2010

Conestoga Buckeroos??

homebase had notified me a month or so ago that my old high school had agreed to sharing its football program with the neighboring district of Hamburg. Like it or not, the number of kids in the grades and, therefore, the number of kids on the team had just steadily dwindled until we were barely able to field a team in the 8-man class. I realize it has been 14 years (wow.) but when I was a senior, we had 10 seniors on the team. That is almost more than they had on the whole team last year. I never had to play 8-man, and for that I am thankful. And, actually, I'm optimistic about the sharing program. I hope it works out well and allows them to be competitive. The school board invited suggestions for school names and mascot suggestions, and has released what they got. (a little background for those not familiar with the Corner Conference, we are the Farragut Admirals and Hamburg is the Wildcats) I think there are more suggestions to come and the students will vote on February 28. Here's my input:
Step 1: Remove any mascots already being used by SWI-area teams or any midwest college teams. So see ya later, Bearcats, Wildcats, Huskers, Hawks, Titans, Tigers, Jayhawks, Nittany Lions, Storm, Panthers and Eagles. Step 2: Remove anything completely ridiculous, geographically inappriate or would make us sound like complete hillbillies. I'm looking at you, Skipper Cats, Dolphins, Mud Cats, Wild Ads, Buckeroos, Admiral Cats, Ad-Cats, Blue Horned Toads, Blue Wonders, Buckaners (is this different than Buccaneers?), Crusaders (not unless it is going to be a Catholic school), Gators, Mud Dogs, Sharks, Thunderhawks, and Wranglers. And just shoot me if our boys & girls teams are going to be the Bucks and Does. Seriously. That brings the list down quite a bit. So here are my three favorites. #1 is the one that I came up with as the best sounding back when I first heard about this - Sea Cats. It sounds good, could have a good logo, and combines elements from both schools. The only thing I don't like about this one is that it might give a bit too much representation to Hamburg. I'm not sure I like "Cats" being in there. #2 is Blue Wave. Both schools have blue and white as their colors so it goes without saying (for budgetary reasons) that they'll stick with that. And even though I'm not big on using pluralized mascots that can't really be personified (Thunder, Storm, Power, Crush, etc.) Tulane has the Green Wave and I think I'd be ok with it. It focuses on water, which works to tie together the Admirals and Hamburg, since it is on (or sometimes under) the river. And it could be a cool logo. #3 is Aces. I like that it is completely unrelated to either school, starting fresh. It's short. It's lucky and those football helmets would look BEAST with an ace of spades on them. So there's my vote for mascot.
As for school name, I've always thought it would make sense to have a Fremont County school and combine Farragut, Hamburg and Sidney. South Fremont or something would be fine. Just no Nishnabottom. Don't do that to these kids.

RAGBRAI Route Announced

The route for RAGBRAI XXXVIII was announced last night. It is pretty short and pretty flat in comparison to past routes. (6th shortest & 5th flatest). Overnight towns are Sioux City, Storm Lake, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Waterloo, Manchester, Dubuque. I still having decided with who or how I'm going to be riding it, but I really want to ride it this year!

27 January 2010

Paul Shirley = Douche

In case you haven't seem this anywhere else online, Paul Shirley (former Iowa State basketball player, mediocre bench NBA player, author of "Can I Keep The Jersey") wrote this screed on some second-rate blog, "If You Rebuild It, They Will Come." He also was a free-lance writer for ESPN. ESPN's statement today was short and sweet.
I deeply disagree with almost every point he makes so I won't sound off on it all. It is probably extra irritating to me since I just finished reading "Mountains Beyond Mountains" about the amazing efforts of Dr. Paul Farmer to help the people living in central Haiti and suffering from TB, and AIDS, as well as poverty, unemployment, political instability, etc.
I'll just let you read it and share a few of my favorite gems from his post (with my comments after them in italics):
I would like to help, but only if I feel that my assistance is deserved and justified. (classy)

What is alarming, I think, is the sometimes illogical frenzy toward casting those affected by the earthquake as helpless, innocent souls who were placed on the island of Hispaniola by an invisible force. (Weren't all these victims helpless souls (hence the term 'victim') who were placed on Hispaniola by rich white slave traders)

I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either. (Really?? Yeah, I don't they will benefit from a meal that keeps them alive or some potable water to stave off dehydration)

My wariness has much to do with the fact that the sympathy deployed to Haiti has been done so unconditionally. (That's a bad thing? I happen to like unconditional sympathy.)

However, it is not outside the realm of imagination to think that the citizens of a country might be able to: A) avoid putting themselves into a situation that might result in such catastrophic loss of life. And B) provide for their own aid, in the event of such a catastrophe. (I'd like to hear his ideas on how to plan and provide catastrophic aid for yourself, when born into poverty worse than anything most American have ever seen. 70% unemployment, dirt-floored shacks with banana-leaf roofs. Not sure how you plan around that.)

25 January 2010

No Kicking Penguins

This story from Gapers Block caught my eye. It sounds like this autistic boy's hand-drawn warning is traveling the internet. And it was only appropriate to post it here. I firmly support this edict. This should go on the back of our Penguin shirts.

23 January 2010

Conan's Sign-Off

I can't say that I ever watched an episode of the Tonight Show with him on it or more than a handful of episodes of his Late Show. Late night tv is not my thing. And I only paid a cursory attention to the saga between him and his network and Jay Leno. Regardless, I did watch this video of his signing-off and I liked the honesty of it. And the message at the very end is superb.
"All I ask of you is one thing: please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere.

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

22 January 2010

T-shirt Fundraiser

I have always been a fan of the t-shirt fundraiser, ever since I designed and sold the football t-shirts in high school. Everybody loves a t-shirt. The $10-$15 price range is just low enough to feel like it is not a big outlay of cash. The production costs (if you make more than a handful) are low enough that you can actually make some money on them. There's so many design options available!
I am currently trying to design two different t-shirts and, boy, is it a lot of work! My standards have gone up a little since high school I guess. Once I get them finalized I'll be sure to share the artwork...and hit you up with a sales pitch.
Here's three t-shirts I've seen being advertised, with all proceeds going to Haitian aid.
sidenote: This article about Royal Caribbean cruise ships making their scheduled stop at the enclosed resort in Haiti makes me wonder a bit. Who could take or at least enjoy a vacation knowing that on the other side of that armed guard patrolled wall, there were thousands dead, dying and desperately in need as you order another piña colada? At least RC is donating all proceeds to relief efforts, I guess.

21 January 2010

Signature Moves

I haven't had any soccer-related posts in a while, so here ya go...
This NY Times article is a fun gathering of players with moves that have become synonamous with them. They may or may not have originated them, but they made them famous. The one glaringly obvious omission is Zidane's spin move. It is mentioned repeatedly in the comments section. Personally, I still think the Cruyff turn is the best. It's the most versatile, can be used at any level of competition and can (and should) be easily incorporated into your bag of moves without looking like a showboat. Simplicity at its best. Other faves are the elastico and the Bergkamp turn. Most entertaining is the tackle on Kerlon.

Another Snow Day...

So far this year, my district has canceled school for snow, cold temps, ice and now power outages. Yesterday we had a brutal ice storm which made getting around pretty dicey. Driving on main roads wasn't too bad, but I chose to walk up to the coffee shop and that was the wrong decision. It was unbelievable slick and there were still areas without power today, hence another day off.
Yesterday I was pretty productive. I made cookies in the morning (Tollhouse recipe, makes a pretty flat cookie, but not bad). Wrote a final in the afternoon and then got a nice workout in the afternoon even though the spin class I wanted to go to was canceled. Today, I decided to change up my routine a bit, I listened to three episodes from my NPR: StoryCorps podcasts while laying in bed since I couldn't go back to sleep after hearing we didn't have school. I really like that podcast. It is very brief but it always conveys an affirming, positive message. Good feelings. Then I got cleaned up and headed to Drake Diner for breakfast (note to their kitchen: if 'over easy' eggs were ordered, do not send out an egg that is broken. and not just like broken when it was plated, which is still not acceptable, but broken while cooking! that is called 'over hard') while I read my book that I'm enjoying a lot. Not some computer time here at Caribou and hope to write another final. And I'm looking forward to noon mass at St. Ambrose. I haven't been to that church for ever and I love it so that'll be fun. Maybe even Pablo's for lunch afterward. Then...who knows?

20 January 2010

We are the Champions

I blogged back on October about the fun I had at Reggie's Sleepout and how I was excited to do it again next year. What I didn't share was how amazing the turnout for it was at my school. The NHS takes part in it each year, but this year a couple kids came to me and wanted me to sponsor a group of non-NHS kids to get involved. I was happy to do so and I was amazed how the number of people in our group kept growing. We ended up having way more students in our group than in the NHS group and we raised more money than them as well! It was a lot of fun, helping them gather boxes, decorate them, and plan for the night. We had almost 90 participants from our school show up on the night of the event! And that was even with some not so great weather. I can't wait to see what we can do next year, now that I have a better idea of what needs to be done.
So, the folks from Reggie's Sleepout came out to school yesterday and presented the kids with a traveling trophy for being the high school with the most participants in the metro area. Pretty impressive I thought. We could only round up ~15 kids because the presentation took place over lunch break (thanks to the administration for that great scheduling), but it was a spirit-filled group despite it was small. Afterwards I had the trophy on my desk for the afternoon and all the students were coming over to see what it was for, so it was a good way to talk up the event and maybe get some more kids thinking about it for this fall!

17 January 2010


I could make a very long list on this topic but instead I'll keep most of it to myself and share just one. About thirty seconds ago, I sneezed really loudly (oops) and caboose is in his room with the door shut, wailing on his guitar. The guitar stops, and "Bless you!" comes through the door. And I yell back "Thanks!"
It's nice to have a roomie...and a really great one at that.

13 January 2010

42 degrees!

It's crazy when topping forty degrees seems like balmy weather, but after all those single digit highs and bitter windchills, I'm loving the weather today. The snow-packed parking lots are all melting off and maybe the huge piles of snow on the street corners will shrink a little, making it easier to see if anyone's coming before you pull into an intersection. I'm actually sweating as I'm typing this. No, I'm not in that bad of shape; it's the intense sunshine coming through the full length windows here at the coffee shop!
I'm having a super busy week, but still am hoping to get outside and enjoy a jog around Gray's before the week is over.
On that happy note, I'll also direct any M.I.A. fans to check out this link to a song & video from her upcoming album due this summer. I like.

11 January 2010

Chocolate Cheerios

caboose and I saw this new flavor of Cheerios at the store last week and thought we'd better give it a try. I've always loved Cheerios. It is probably in the top 3 of my favorite cereals. I should've given some consideration to the other flavors that Cheerios has tried to do, Multi-grain, Banana Nut, Apple. Not great. But they hit such a home run with Honey Nut Cheerios, it's hard to understand why they can't find another appealing variation. My problem with the cereal is this; they don't carry the same great taste and texture of the original Cheerios. That grainy, almost nutty quality that makes them delicious. These O's are slightly smaller, and don't taste of much besides cocoa.

08 January 2010

Bowl Game Challenge Recap

Well, last night was a tough one. With Colt McCoy out, I didn't think the Horns were gonna be able to muster much of a challenge to Alabama. And even though the true freshman back-up who came in was the #2 quarterback recruit in the nation last year, it took him a long time to get up to speed. His receivers didn't do him any favors either (dropped ball in the end zone, bobbled ball intercepted & returned for a TD). Colt's interview on the field after the game was a heart-wrencher. But, Texas did they best to make a run at it late in the game, cutting it to 3, but Alabama was too good to go down like that. Well, as they say, there's always next year.
Our family pool came down to the championship and Kate and stoppable they only two with a chance to win. Kate picked 'Bama and is the champion because of it. stoppable got leapfrogged and has to settle for 4th. It was a tight race the whole way. Final results:

Kate - 25 points
caboose- 22.5 points
NTW- 22 points
stoppable- 21.5 points
homebase - 20.5 points
middleson - 19 points
em - 18.5 points
the brig - 16.5 points

07 January 2010

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

Saw this somewhere as I was looking at some different technology education blogs today. It's an xkcd cartoon, but I'm actually going to put it up for my students to use. The 30 minutes part might be a bit long, but they need some encouragement to 'trial and error' on their own more,

06 January 2010

"Til the walls & rafters ring"

What a performance last night by Iowa in the Orange Bowl!! I was optimistic of their chances going into it, but the extent to which the defense dominated amazed me. Adrian Claybourn reminded everyone of his impressive skill-set and Ricky Stanzi looked great after missed that last couple weeks of the regular season. Of course there is already speculation about next year. But, I would rather revel in this fact that I read today; Iowa has finished in the top 10 nationally in 4 of the last 8 years. Go Hawks.

03 January 2010

Please, No, Why

[sidenote: I am realizing I have an awful writing habit of starting paragraphs with "So" and need to do something about it.]
So, new header (I took the picture back home over break) and a new quote. I've used the same quote since I started this blog. "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." by T.S. Eliot. I love it for the idea of constantly learning, changing, evolving and how you are a different person, even when you go back to something from earlier in your life. You will see it with new eyes conditioned by new experiences and understand it in a new way. It's still one of my favorites but I thought I'd change it up. Five years is long enough. :) So I'm trying out a new one. It is from "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I came across it again as I was filling up a my new journal given to me by caboose. I'm putting favorite quotes, bible verses, literary passages in it, and I love it.
So I was searching for something else about the new quote and saw something about it being used on wristbands so I clicked the link and came across this article. I read it and actually got a little choked up here in the coffee shop. The "please, no, why" part got me.
Anyways, I definitely thought it was worth sharing. So check it out if you are interested, it's short and about a girls soccer coach at a Catholic HS in Wisconsin and his family.

02 January 2010

2009 Book List

I had a really great year of reading...way better than last year, both in quantity and quality. Here's the best and worst of the pages I turned these last 12 months. "Best to worst" is too difficult, so I just split them into three groups:

Past lists: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.