26 May 2010

Iowa Still Likes Refugees!

I realize this news is a bit old, but it's still worth sharing. A couple of weeks ago Catholic Charities announced that after some serious consideration, they are going to continue their work in refugee services. This was critical due to the fact that Lutheran Services and Iowa Board of Refugee Services (the other two service providers in Iowa) had decided to stop their programs earlier this year. If Catholic Charities had done the same, that would've been the end of Iowa's notable role in refugee resettlement.
[sidenote: the first person to comment on that article was Chuck Offenburger.]
[sidenote: there was a good letter written to the editor by another teacher (frustrated by budget cuts) at my school.]
I was lucky enough to hear a great speaker during our district-wide professional development day that really provided a lot of information on this topic and opened my eyes to it. Vihn Nguyen, the ELL program coordinator for our district, shared about the Tai Dam, the Hmong, the boat people and Robert Ray in the 70's, and how the needs addressed by Iowa's Bureau of Refugee Services have changed through the years. It is really amazing and incredible work.

25 May 2010

Running through Bible

Gathering some inspiration and guidance for the upcoming 20K I'm running...

Therefore, 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. Let 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20

Not that I have become perfect yet; I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upward to receive in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

All things are possible for him who believes.
Mark 9:23

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

11 v 200

This headline about 200 kids taking on Athletic Bilbao, a professional side in Spain, caught my eye and I ended up watching the video of it. I wish there was some better camera work because it is pretty crazy to watch. This would've been a funny charity match to watch...or take part in! I like that the kids were disciplined enough to stay in their areas. Check it out.

Also, here's another World Cup song, "Waka Waka, This time for Africa" by Shakira and there is a dance to go with it. Make sure you have it down so you can dance along with me after goals.

24 May 2010

Pilcrows & Hederas

I was browsing some design things today as I cooled off at the coffee shop with a few glasses of iced tea. 90+ degree weather and wimpy air conditioning makes for a sticky day at school...and lots of students complaining about the heat. I was not one of the ones whining about the heat; my previous school had no A/C and I vividly remember teaching in shorts and still feeling rivulets of sweat roll down my back all afternoon. Yuck. So, a damp forehead is not that big of a deal.
So yeah, back to the design stuff...I have been playing around with my much-updated version of Photoshop lately and, although it is a much bigger memory hog than my old version, it will be nice to be a bit more current. And it will be nice to have Illustrator to learn as well. This afternoon I was skimming through some design sites and I found two cool typography things to share.
First, this guy has a cool article about some of the history and usage tips on some of the (much) lesser known symbols (or glyphs). I did not know that the paragraph symbol is called a pilcrow but I can't wait to use that term next time I'm talking about it while teaching Word. And I have decided I need to find some ways to use the dagger and double dagger a lot more.
And secondly, I thought this graduate students project to help people select a font is pretty cool. It may be my new background. I may have to make it into a poster for my classroom.

22 May 2010

19 May 2010

Geography Mistake

"I think a lot of people..don't have maps." to paraphrase Miss South Carolina.
Not sure if that is the problem or not at WGN, but either way, this is ridiculous. I know most Americans aren't into soccer, but come on!!

"Exemplary Gesture"

Just a short soccer news story that I thought was worth sharing. Oguchi Onyewu, who plays for the U.S. national team and also plays his club soccer for AC Milan. He ruptured his patellar tendon and only made one appearance for that team, after they had signed him from Standard Leige (Belguim). He had two years still remaining on his contract but he asked the management for an additional year extenstion, which he said he would play without taking payment. AC Milan accepted and commended him for the gesture.
I thought it was a great example of not just doing the right thing, but of good perspective and understanding. I could go for a lot more of this type of thing and a lot less of players holding out & not showing up for training camp until they get that signing bonus they feel they "deserve."

16 May 2010

Doc Regan

Using funeral leave is not something anyone enjoys doing, and last week, I needed to use a day to go back home for my great-uncle's funeral. I didn't know any of my grandparents and even though my grandfather was one of 12 children, Doc was the only one that I really knew. So while we may not have been super close, he was someone I always looked forward to seeing at St. Pat's and enjoyed talking to.
The cliche about weddings and funerals being the things that bring extended family together is true and, although it was for a somber reason (I don't think somber has even been used to describe Doc), it was very nice to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins from all over and get a chance to catch up with everyone.

Two quick stories to share regarding Doc:
1- A couple years ago, homebase and I went to pay a different relative a visit in the hospital. Doc and his wife were there as well. He and I waited in the sitting area while the others went in. We were having some small talk and he, as was his way, said something that got me laughing and he commented, "Your laugh sounds like your granddad's." I was taken aback a little and surprised, but very happy to hear that there was a connection and something in common with this man I never had a chance to know.
2- One my way back home after the funeral service, I stopped in Emerson (a neighboring town) at a gas station that I may have been in twice before in my life. As I paid for my Diet Dr. Pepper, the lady before the counter commented on my Horrific Killer Pandas shirt, asking where I was from. "I live in Des Moines, but I'm from Farragut, just back home for some things." To which she says, "Did you know Doc Regan?" I couldn't help but smile. I love small towns. So I shared my connection to him and she said that she knew him, what a good man he was and that he would really be missed. We chatted for a few more minutes before I headed on down the road, but that random experience left me smiling on the inside (and outside) for quite a while.

Lost in Translation

These pictures of signs across the world are worth looking at if you need a laugh. It reminds me of that "Backstroke of the West" blog post from years back.

13 May 2010

World Cup Countdown

Just checking in to make sure everyone's level of preparedness is where it needs to be with less than a month until the fun begins. (27 days actually).
  • Don't know any players? Or maybe you have some favorite players but don't know what national team they play for? Preliminary 30-man rosters were released today. (32 page pdf in here) They will be whittled down to 23-man rosters that are due on June 1. There are tons of surprise omissions and inclusions already. Read the comments here.
  • Not motivated yet? Check out this commercial. It is great & reinforces why the rest of the world (most of the U.S. excluded) is SO thrilled right now. Also Commercial #2 is decent.
  • Need some tunes to pump through your headphones? The fantastically great theme song for the World Cup is "Wavin' Flag" by K'naan. The audio on this video isn't great but the dancing is fun. I've already got this on repeat on my iPod. I shared it with caboose last night and our convo went like this. Me: "It just makes you wanna go kick a ball!" caboose: "yeah...through the moon." I described it like Matisyahu (positive vibes) meets Coldplay (anthemic drums & choral sounds) in Africa.
  • Need to watch a little soccer to get in the mood or refresh your appreciation? Champions League Final is May 22. This is the biggest club match of the year. Internazionale (Milan, Italy) is taking on Bayern Munich (Germany) in Madrid. You'll see a lot of faces that will be in South Africa too.
  • Don't know anything about who's going to be there? ESPN has also made one minute commercials for each of the 32 teams, telling a bit of either their history or about their current team. I'm not linking to them all but they're all on YouTube.
  • Want a short story each day on some small facet or trivia of the tournament? ESPN's World Cup 101 is 101 stories over the 101 days leading up to it. This one on the worst hair-do's is pretty good.

12 May 2010


Man, I've been on the go lately! Of the last four school days, I missed three of them. A sick day, funeral leave and a personal day (which had to be used by the end of the week). Last Friday homebase and I made a trip up to Minneapolis to pay a visit to IKEA. Most people would think that a three and a half hour trip in each direction for 4 hours of shopping might sound crazy; for my mom & I it is par for the course. The drives really were not too bad, other than some intense wind on the way home and the shopping totally made it worth it. I did see an REI store on the way out of town that I will have to make sure I stop at next time I am up there. We both got some great purchases and I came home and was able to spruce up my bedroom, our bathroom and new glasses for the kitchen too!
New bathroom Old bathroom

This piece was the buy of the day. It is a 4x2 cubby shelf and was marked down to $59. homebase and I both loved it and both took one home with us. After putting it together, I have realized it is even better than I imagined. It doesn't take up that much space, you gain a ton of divided shelf space AND you still have a great counter top area for something. Still not sure how I want to utilize it all, but it is superb.

After checking out the first time (yeah, you know that means it was a long shopping session) and taking a lunch break to refuel on Swedish meatballs, homebase turned on the persuasive skills to get me to splurge for a new comforter & duvet cover. It was the right call, my old one was ten years old, discolored and the seams were totally ripping out. And this new one is lighter and more breathable so I won't overheat. Plus, $59 for the comforter and $25 for the duvet cover is pretty tolerable. As we were walking around the store, I was telling her about ikeahacker and all the creative, inventive things people do with IKEA's great products. I then told her about an idea I had for pillow shams made out the leftovers from all these plaid shirts I got her from Goodwill for a Christmas project she did. And, using the amazingness that she has, when I got home two days later, there were two fantastically cool pillow shams waiting for me. She really is the best. Many thanks, Mom!

It Takes All Kinds

Sitting at this coffee shop, sipping my chai, and over my headphones I hear the people in the booth next to me say something about "Oxford Comma." Now, my affection for Vampy Weekend is well known and documented, so I had to pull one earbud out and listen in. (No, I wasn't even discreet about it). The girl was a college-aged student with mousey-blond pony, listening adoringly. The guy, which is who I heard, was this TA or prof or grad student with the requisite messy, unkempt frizz of hair and a bad suit jacket. He was talking very loud (obviously) and saying how he just loved that song and that he always has to explain to people what an oxford comma is and that to answer the song's namesake lyric, he, in fact, gives a f*ck about an oxford comma. I almost expected to look and see the girl frantically scribbling down notes as he spoke these pearls. The pretension was running high.

[Full disclosure: I did not know what an oxford comma was when I first heard the song.]

09 May 2010

Summer mixtape now available

I am ready for 80 degree temps to get here to stay. I'm ready for school to be out. I'm ready for sun, disc golf, long runs, long bike rides, outdoor concerts, getting a tan, grilling with the fam in the park, World Cup, College World Series, Costa Rica, tropical sno, sun tea, patio drinks, and sand volleyball. On this mixtape, there's some upbeat for summer craziness and some slowed down for summer chillaxing. Let me know if you want a copy.
As far as the cover, I had about three or four ideas and ended up with this, which is not really any of them, but oh well. I got the background image from this stellar site and then used a couple of my tags, guidelines for the type and a circle gradient. Opacity is such a simple thing and I forget to use it a lot, but it always looks so good. I couldn't get the blending to work quite the way I wanted, man, I had gotten rusty in Photoshop. I will for sure need to have a few sessions this summer with my sensei once I get CS4 installed on my laptop (very excited for that!).


I was gonna just put this in my "Listening" sidebar, but that wouldn't do it justice. I have been giving "Kyrie" by Mister Mr. a lot of plays lately. I loved that song when it was getting tons of airplay as a #1 back in 1985. I can actually remember sitting in church and singing this song in my head as the 'Kyrie eleison' was being said in mass. stoppable put this on a mixtape his gave me for running a while back, and while it took me a while to dive into it, I'm so glad I did. I'm not a huge fan of 80's music, but this song is pretty fab. Check it out here and try not to sing along.

05 May 2010

Glee flashmob @ OSU

It is in these times of horrible chemical spills, car bomb attempts and financial trepidation, that I wish there was more news like this...
I've seen several glee flashmobs (Rome, LA, Dublin, etc) but this is by far my fave, even though I don't care for Ohio State University. I love the President and Brutus coming in at the end. Well done, Buckeyes.

03 May 2010

Wonderful World of Disney

In case you need a cheering up after those oil articles, the LA Times provides a little look behind the gates of Disneyland after it closes, and what it takes to stay looking magical.

Oil Spill

A couple of good article in the NY Times today. Paul Krugman writes about the environmental movement and seeing this spill in a positive light and using it to rekindle passions about protecting our world.
The second article is about BP's progress but the most interesting stuff comes on the second page. I was very happy to read Obama's quote, "BP is responsible for this leak — BP will be paying the bill." Hopefully he can stick to that. They also mention that there is a $75M cap on BP's liability (beyond clean up costs). I would guess that $75M economic impact would come and go in a blink. Good think BP posted earnings of $14B last year, and $28B the year before. Time to dip into the coffers oilmen!