29 June 2010

Red Oak Junction Days 10K

Since I was lucky enough to have last Friday off, I was able to zip home (after watching Spain & Chile play out an incredibly boring game) for a run with stoppable. It was fun to do a run back in SWI and that 10K distance is a good challenge. The course was a bit hilly, especially at the beginning and it was a pretty breezy day too, so some added difficulty. But it was fun and I was very happy with my time of 48:30, which although I didn't take any mile splits, averages out to 7:49 miles. It was good to have stoppable there to push me through that last mile. I took home a medal for second place in the 26-33 age bracket, but I think there may have only been two runners in that category. :) It was also fun because it was KT's first run and all the kids were there to cheer. Gorgeous weather, great family and a solid performance...a top notch day all around.

25 June 2010

World Cup 2010 [part 2]

The group stage is over and half the teams are heading home. I haven't had time for much blogging these days between summer school and soccer watching. I was going to collect some fun comments that I've heard while watching but I kept forgetting to write them down so I've only got one so far. I'll have to do better in the knockout rounds.
"For Julio Cesar, after the game it would have been the same to shower or not shower."
A fun way of saying that the goalkeeper didn't get tested by too many shots on goal.

Other noteworthys:
Favorite Goals (this is a work in progress):
  • Shabalala (RSA)- opening game vs Mexico, extra special as the home team gets the first goal of the tournament. Plus his name is so fun to say! On the break, a powerful rip into far upper-90.
  • Maicon (BRA)- vs N. Korea, from a ridiculous angle and at a sprint, bending it somehow into the sidenetting.
  • Honda (JPN) - vs Denmark, freekick from 25 meters out.
  • Donovan (USA)- vs Slovenia, trying to take off the keeper's face from close range
  • Donovan (USA)- vs Algeria, more for the significance than for the impressiveness, 91st minute lifeline to push the US into the knockout round.
  • David Villa (ESP) - vs Chile, 50 meter left-footed one-time shot to beat the keeper who'd vacated his post.

23 June 2010

Handling Immigration

I feel like the headline of this NY Times article, "Nebraska Town Votes to Banish Illegal Immigrants" is crafted to inflame readers. And it worked in my case, before I had ever finished the first sentence I was already forming my argument about small-minded, xenophobic rural people. These people are worried about "communities that no longer look or feel the way they once did." Tough, it is called evolving, deal with it. I bet the Native Americans didn't like the way the look and feel of their communities were changing when the Europeans showed up. Luckily I continued reading (and thinking) and by the end of the article I remembered that there is more than one side to the story. I am no expert on immigration issues, but I've felt that if corporate leaders and employers had their feet held to the fire and were forced to require proof of citizenship or work visas then the situation would begin to solve itself. The incentive (a reliable job with a respectable wage) would be removed so the stream of illegal immigrants would dwindle. Or the employers, if they need the labor (since most local residents wouldn't work those jobs for those wages) then they would have an incentive to aid these immigrants in their naturalization process.
I don't like that the responsibility is trying to be pushed onto the city government (and it sounds like the city gov't doesn't like it either). It is very difficult to legislate good behavior. And to provide the funds for the mandate, the city will have to cut other areas (police, fire, parks, schools) when really it should be handled by the businesses themselves.
But really the icing on the cake comes in the very last paragraph...this legislation wouldn't affect the two huge meat packing plants that are the real reason everyone is in a tizzy about this because they are located just over the county line. Oh, and domestic help would be exempt too. (Can't have the country club crowd without their gardeners!)

19 June 2010

End of the Year Wrap-up

I never blogged about the end of my school year because I was so busy then, but it finished nicely. I made pancakes & french toast for one of my classes and my homeroom. My homeroom kids were sad that I wasn't going to be around for their senior year next year. They will have their third homeroom teacher in four years. Not great for something that was supposed to be all about developing relationships, but it's ok since they are cutting it down to once a week next year. My last day the other teachers in my dept took me out to lunch, which was nice, and I received a 'Superstar Teacher' award at the faculty meeting. A couple students gave me cards [favorite quotes "you helped me think positive and I appreciate everything" and "I really didn't like your class because of my peers but it took one person to change that; you!"], a couple left notes on my whiteboard, and a few faves gave me hugs when they saw me in the halls. It is nice to have those good students and good feelings be the lasting memories from the year.
I got all my things boxed up, posters taken down and hard drive copied to a flahs drive last week so I am ready to figure out where I'll be at next fall!

Rooney Rips Fans

Comment (among others) made by a frustrated Wayne Rooney after England's tie with Algeria. I don't think anyone, including the England players, would argue that England has not lived up to expectations. [side argument, supported by Soccernomics research, is that England's fan's expectations are always out of sync with the actual quality of their team] The Three Lions have put in less than exciting performances in two ties. Fans aren't happy. The ties were against the U.S. and Algeria. Fans are really not happy. So they booed England as they left the pitch after the Algeria game. Not cool. I have said before (in regarding college football) that I do not support ever booing your own team. I don't care how bad they are playing. Maybe in reaction to some unsportsmanlike behavior, but that is it. So, I say fair play to Wayne Rooney for calling out the fans. He doesn't shy away for anything on the pitch and I'm glad he didn't shy away from this off of it. (although he did have to do the mandatory apology the next day)

17 June 2010

Bio Playlist Project

A friend of mine had this idea to give to her graduating students a mixtape of songs that had been transformative or enlightening or marked a moment in her life and provide some liner notes to explain them a bit. Going off to college and leaving your HS neighborhood, friends, family, old you behind is a pretty big crossroads and I thought it was a neat idea. She is the world's slowest maker of mixtapes but this time the turnaround on it from birth of idea to production and delivery was less than a week. Hers was entitled 'Bildungsroman' which she said meant "a coming of age story" but I thought was a completely made up term. That is, until two days later when I was helping a student look something up about "To Kill A Mockingbird" and it was described as 'bildungsroman'...dang it, wrong again.
After hyping up this idea to my friends, I procrastinated a bunch and now caboose has already got his posted despite starting quite a bit after me. And his is really good. I did a little cover art for it too and I had too much fun doing it even though it is really simple. Photoshop is too fun when it works how you want it to and your creativity comes through somewhat cool and as you envisioned.
So, without further and needless ado, here it is:


1. Oo-De-Lally – Disney’s Robin Hood – Disney’s movies are a part of hildhood for many but, even more so, the music in those movies is ingrained with me. I still have lots of my favorite selections on my iPod and hearing this track or the Whistle Stop song from the same movie will always start me smiling and quoting my favorite lines from the movie. "golly what a day..."2. Iowa Fight Song – University of Iowa Marching Band – Yes, I am a Hawkeye fan, but this song is on here because I can remember the five hour car rides to Iowa City when my mom taught us the words to this, along with other fun sing-alongs like “Plant a Watermelon Vine” and “They Built the Ship Titanic.” I’ve been singing them ever since. "let every loyal Iowan sing..."3. Danny’s Song – Anne Murray – Anne Murray will always be associated with my mom. She didn’t have a lot of records, but this one got a lot of spins. Her voice definitely pulls on the heart strings. “In the morning when I rise, bring a tear of joy to my eye and tell me everything is gonna be alright."4. Stewball – Peter, Paul & Mary – When I was a sophomore in college, a friend put on this cd (“10 Years Together”) and I hadn’t heard these songs since I was super young. I actually stopped playing the video game I was battling and asked for the cd case. As soon as I saw the cover, it came flooding back to me and we had to listen to the whole album. Runner-up: “Lemon Tree” or Buddy Holly “Peggy Sue”5. City of New Orleans – Willie Nelson – Music is not something I associate with my dad, but this song does make me think of riding around in his pickup. My appreciation for Willie’s music has definitely grown since then. “Good morning America, how are ya? Don't ya know me, I’m your native son”6. Anchors Aweigh – Navy Band – This is the Farragut High School fight song and I never get tired of hearing it. In football season it meant we’d scored a touchdown. At pep rallies and basketball games it embodied the excitement and energy that was in the air. “Hail the mighty Admirals of the sea”7. Back in Black – AC/DC – I had a mixtape of AC/DC hits that was the soundtrack to our junior high track meets. It still makes me think boomboxes, sun, outdoors and the freedom of youth. Runner-up: “When the Children Cry” White Lion8. Nuthin’ But a G Thang – Dr. Dre – “The Chronic” hit me like a bomb of urban knowledge. It was a passport to the streets of Compton, which for a farm boy in rural Iowa, was like another planet and unlike anything heard before. Runner-up: “Straight Outta Compton” N.W.A. “It’s that and like this and like that and a…”9. Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin – This is one of the first cd’s that I bought (as part of my BMG membership!) and this song has been one of my all-time favorites ever since. “Windshield wipers slapping time; I was holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine, we sang every song that driver knew.”10. He Went to Paris – Jimmy Buffett - My older brother became a bit of a Parrothead when he went to college and, by the trickle-down effect;he passed on some of Jimmy’s great ones to me. This life story in a song is fantastic and is about as far from “Cheeseburger in Paradise” as you can get. “Some of it’s magic; some of it’s tragic, but I had a good life all the way.”11. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd – I would have to put this in my top 5 favorite songs of all time. I’m hooked as soon as I hear the opening guitar picking and that “Turn it up” (which I do every time). Even though SWI is not even close to Alabama, this song always makes me think of home, and smile.12. Pride (In The Name of Love) – U2 – “Joshua Tree” was another one of my first cd’s and I definitely enjoyed it, but when I got “Rattle & Hum,” I was totally overwhelmed by it. It is one of my favorite albums, front to back, and one of the first times that I can remember feeling the global & political awareness of music. Runner-up: “Bullet the Blue Sky” or “Sunday Bloody Sunday” "What more in the name of love..."13. Down – 311 – Other albums and songs of theirs would become my favorites, but I didn’t really notice 311 until the face-melting guitar intro of “Down” hit the radio when I was in high school. 311 is one of my most favorite bands ever and this song started it off. Runner-up: Omaha Stylee, Purpose, 8:16 AM "if I ever didn't thank you, you, then just let me do it now."14. Life Goes On – 2pac – His “All Eyez On Me” double disc album spent a LOT of time in my stereo. And another of his cd’s resided in our high school weight room for several summers. Similar to Dre, in that it may be a bit ironic for a white farm kid to be loving 2pac, but I was totally into it for quite a while. "screaming thug til I die before I pass out"
DISC TWO: MAKING MY WAY (after h.s.)
15. One Day More – Les Miserables – I’ve got a lot of showtunes on my iPod and this is the original reason why. I went to see it with my family when I was a sophomore in college and my dormant love was awoken. “Tomorrow is the judgment day; tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in heaven has in store!”16. Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks – You can’t grow up where I did and not get a lot of exposure to country and I’m not ashamed to say there are country songs that I love. This cd and song were huge as I was heading off to college to find my own wide open spaces. “If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test.”17. Girls – Beastie Boys – It’s hard to believe, but I really knew nothing about the Beastie Boys before college. Second semester of my freshmen year, I borrowed a tape of “Licensed to Ill” from my roommate and it didn’t leave my car’s stereo for months. “with new wave hair-do’s, I want girls.”18. Cecelia – Simon & Garfunkel – S&G are great and this song was always a given if I was in charge of (and I usually was) plugging the jukebox in college. A great, carefree sing/clap-along song for those feelin’ good hours towards closing time. “Jubilation, she loves me again…”19. The Good Life – Weezer – Weezer was the soundtrack for almost every soccer party in college and for most of our other activities too. Their recent albums haven’t measured up to the standard for an entire disc of greatness like “Pinkerton” and the blue album. “I don’t wannabe an old man anymore. It’s been a year or two since I’ve been out on the floor, shakin’ booty…I wanna go back to the good life.”20. Breakdown – Jack Johnson – TEC retreats have been the most meaningful and moving spiritual experience I’ve been a part of. My first time working a TEC weekend, we were cleaning up after a meal and doing dishes and one of the other guys put on this cd. I didn’t know much Jack other than “Bubbletoes” and “Taylor” at that point but this cd was a big hit and we were all asking to put it on throughout the weekend. And on my way home, I stopped and bought myself a copy. “I got no time to get to where I don’t need to be…”21. King Without A Crown – Matisyahu – While my younger brother was in college in Ames, I would go up and visit him every few weeks. We’d go out for dinner, hang out and always compare music tips. “You have to listen to this song, these guys are great…” Lucas has steered me to some great musical finds over the years since. Matisyahu is one of the best of them. Runner-up: “Atoms” – Cashes Rivers "what's this feeling? my love will rip a hole through the ceiling"22. Bingo – M.I.A. – I LOVED her first album (the one before “Paper Planes”) and I think she is the hottest female in music. Her music sounded completely new and unique and I ate it up. Dancing or at least bouncing around is required by this song.23. She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5 – I loved pretty much every second of this entire album. I had just moved to Chicago, had my own place for the first time ever, was working at an office in a highrise in the Loop (for 3 months) and taking the train to work. I loved life and this cd was in my headphones almost every commute.24. District Sleeps Alone Tonight – Postal Service – I came across this song on a sampler cd I got for free from American Eagle. Thank goodness I did. Postal Service is A-mazing and this song makes me think of driving up Lake Shore Drive at night, windows down, lake on one side, city on the other and great sounds coming out of my speakers. "I'm finally seeing, why I was the one worth leaving"25. Photobooth – Death Cab For Cutie – My friend Guam introduced me to the fun of photobooths and also was a big DC4C fan. My music tastes really took a turn the alt/new age/indiepop through these guys, the Shins, Bright Eyes and Postal Service. And the world would be a better place with more photo booths. I think the lyrics paint such a beautiful picture of the sun-soaked magical awesomeness of summers when you're young. "I remember when the days were long and the nights when the living room was on the lawn"26. Take It Easy (Love Nothing) – Bright Eyes – I love the public library system. I used to check out stacks of cd’s to listen to while I worked at the insurance factoryso I could multi-task; not just working on quality testing and work flow analysis, but also giving a listen to new music and new-to-me music. The “Lifted” cd was one of those provided by the library. I’ve been a massive fan of this Omaha product since then. Runner-up: “The Recluse” Cursive “you stood there so brave, you used to be shy, each feature improved, each movement refined and eyes like a showroom.”27. Only A Song – Ben Solee – The campaign and election of Barack Obama was one of the most revelatory things I’ve been a part of. I’d never been very involved in politics, never gone to a caucus, never volunteered with a campaign. But the time and the man were right and I was on board with this guy since I lived in Illinois. This song embodies some of what I felt then and still feel. “I get a little scared when I’m driving through the ghetto. There’s a part of me wants to hide; there’s a part of me wants to move in. Cause even though I, I grew up in the suburbs, I didn’t really grow until I learned how so many others lived.” Runner-up: “Yes We Can” will.i.am & Obama28. M79 – Vampire Weekend – I saw these guys at Lollapalooza and it made my day, my week and my summer. They are a good pick for where I’m at currently musically. I love their tongue-in-cheek East Coast blue-blood preppiness, global sounds and lyrics and bouncy vibes. 29. The Parting Glass – The Clancy Brothers – This is one of the songs I want played at my wake, and therefore it makes an appropriate bookend for my playlist. It’s Irish, the sentiment seems right on to me. “And all the comrades that ‘ere I’ve had, are sorry for my going away. And all the sweethearts that 'ere I've had, would wish me one more day to stay."

16 June 2010

World Cup 2010 [part 1]

The first round of games wrapped up today with a shocking defeat for Spain. Teaching summer school in the morning has cut back on the number of games I've watched, but I've done OK. I can see the first game up until about the 60th minute before I have to leave to teach, I miss the second game but then can catch the third game of the day after I get done. I love the World Cup for bringing people together, of course at the global level, but also at the local level. I've watched games at home, with family, with three different groups of friends at three different houses, and at a bar. It is such a great event to get together for, pick your teams and cheer them on. Nicole and caboose both shared some humorous World Cup watching info with me from the Onion and stuffwhitepeoplelike.
I've seen some good performances (Germany, Chile) and some not so good ones (Australia) and a few "favorites" that took a while to get going in their first match (Netherlands, Brazil) and some that didn't get much going (Spain, Italy, France). Bring on the next round of games!
Best sign in the crowd though for sure was during the North Korea game "Kim Jong Il thinks I'm at Work."

15 June 2010

Back in Black

Happy days are here again:
caboose was able to procure a relative of Don Paco's at work yesterday, so this guy was waiting for me on my ledge when I came home. And he took his place on the helm this morning. A road trip just isn't the same without a little company!

14 June 2010

Penguin Nabbed

[I'm including a picture of his cousin, Don Pablo Eskimobar on his Florida vacation]
I've had a confidante riding shotgun with me for the last year or so. Penguin, or Don Paco, as caboose called him stood as a reliable lookout on my dash. Then a couple weeks ago, he disappeared. I noticed his perch was vacant and my heart dropped. I had left my windows half down in the school lot that day so it was possible a sticky-fingered student had taking a liking to him. Or I had put my sun shield reflector in the day before at the beach but I am sure we would've noticed if he had fallen. Regardless, he was M.I.A. For a couple days I hoped that it was just a student prank, but no ransom notes have materialized and neither has he. My car is a lonely place these days. :(

09 June 2010

Commencement Naptime

I read an article a few weeks ago about how this high school in Michigan won the battle to get the President to be their graduation speaker. And now this video comes out. I haven't heard the audio that goes with it (had to watch it at school) but the video images alone are enough to crack me up. Dude must've pulled an all-nighter the night before.

07 June 2010

Old photos

homebase had a slide projector and a carousel of slides that, growing up, we'd get out every once in a while and shine it up on the wall and I'd see these images of her and my aunts and uncles in the mid 70's. Through some sort of hand-me down/not wanting to get rid of it, I am now in possession of them. I hadn't seem them in years and years until I got them out last night. They start in 1972 and the last ones are from early 1976, just a few months before I was born. (Don't get me started.) It's great to see how young everyone looks, stoppable plays a starring role and the styles are fantastic. I looked into getting them converted to digital a year or so ago but didn't feel like shelling out for it, so I went with a ghetto alternative and just took pictures of the images. Some have some nasty glare because the surface I was projecting on was glossy, but it's better than nothing. Check out the slideshow here.

Dam to Dam 2010

12.4 miles.
That is about 8-10 miles further than I would ever have considered running until less than a year ago. I've had friends run Dam to Dam in the past but I was never even interested in the slightest in doing it myself. Yet, I've always wanted to be a better runner. My sports background focused on sprint distances in track and team sports that utilize short bursts of speed. So switching into an endurance/distance runner has been a struggle. Late last fall/early winter, I found a running partner and that has made the biggest difference. (Thanks Nic!) And stoppable got into running at about the same time so I had someone to talk about runs with and push each other forward. And I've really been enjoying my running lately. So I found myself standing in the rain before the sun came up on Saturday, waiting for a bus to take me to the start of the Dam to Dam run. Everything is better with good company, though, and Nicole, Leslie and their friend Ashley were there too. We got out to Saylorville Lake and walked the mile to our place at the end of the mass of runners (6,860 finishers) and didn't have to wait too long for the gun...which we couldn't hear and didn't matter because we didn't get up to the start line for another 7 minutes. My only real complaint about the race is that parts of the route are too narrow. The start is one of those places. We ran an 11 minute mile because there was no where to go. It slowly thinned out a bit as we ran through the countryside. The rain continued for the first 6 miles or so and, actually, once you got warmed up (about a mile in) it felt good. I'll take 70 degrees and light rain over 90, muggy and sunny any day. I didn't mind my shirt plastered to me or looking like a wet dog; the only thing I was worried about was if my socks got too wet and started to rub, which luckily didn't happen. After about 6 miles, we left the rural setting behind and started winding our way through north Des Moines. My other least favorite part of the run was the mile or so that was on Birdland bike trail...way too narrow and way too low. Lots of puddles, squishy ground if you got off path and no room to pass anyone. I was very happy with how good the run felt. I never was really hurting. My feet were getting tired and my legs beginning to ache a bit toward the last couple miles but overall I was feeling good. And as we turned and starting that last quarter mile or so down Locust, what should happen to be playing? The Isiserettes. My most favorite thing in Des Moines. I could've ran another few miles with those guys driving me forward. So it was a great finish. I saw a ton of people I knew both running and cheering along the route, which helped pass the miles. [Thanks caboose!] And the post-race party was great! I didn't think I'd feel like doing much after running for two hours, but once you cool down, you've burned a lot of calories so it sounds pretty good. BBQ sandwiches, kettle corn, bomb pops, bananas, beer...all FREE! And I made my goal time of under two hours, so it was a pretty great experience altogether. 1:57.56 (9:29 pace). 369 of 592 in M30-34. 1989 of 3296 overall Men. Pictures to follow hopefully.

04 June 2010

Ajax Training

This NY Times article, "How a Soccer Star is Made" takes a look at the training system of AFC Ajax, the most famous Dutch soccer club and the club that really started making youth development a serious endeavor (and investment). I loved the article for a couple reasons; first, I am a big fan of Ajax and secondly, I find the topic of player development pretty interesting stuff. The author does some comparison between what "youth development" means to European teams (lots of touches, fast paced small-sided games, few full games, less time spent but at a much higher intensity, focus is on creating the best individual players possible) and what it means in US soccer (select teams, less training but tons of games, more time spent but lower intensity, focus is on creating the best teams possible). And, of course, the financial side of it interests me as well. All the training and development is provided at the expense of the club. (Another big difference from US soccer where even regional-level select teams can easily surpass $1,000 for a season not including lodging, food and travel.) The number of, and quality of players that graduate from their system and provide the return on investment for Ajax has got to be a volatile variable and one that is watched closely.
And with the World Cup only a week away, there will be lots of opportunity to watch some of the products of their talent factory.

03 June 2010

Memorial Weekend!

Lots of good stuff last weekend to usher in summer...
  • Went for my longest training run yet with Nic, putting in ~11 miles in 90 degree heat with no water. Not smart. I know better than that but, thankfully, we did make it through it. I'm as ready as I'm gonna get...bring on Dam to Dam.
  • After showering up, Nic and I went out for dinner to Dos Rios. I've wanted to try the place out since it opened, but we actually ended up their by a mistake (mine of course). I meant to txt "Dos Cabos" (which is also wrong because that place is called "Los Cabos") but absentmindedly put "Dos Rios". Oh well. The atmosphere is very cool and fun, definitely a 'see and be seen' kinda place. The food was only average though and doesn't deserve to be priced at a premium. A fun night though for sure.
  • A morning drive home and then over to Nebraska City for our annual day in the park. stoppable did a great job providing some new things on the grill and my chick pea salad and tortilla pinwheels were a hit. The annual monkey-bar hanging contest found me coming in second yet again! For the third year in a row, NTW has outlasted everyone. But I was able to regain some pride by turning in the fastest time in the new event we added, obstacle course!
  • After the park, homebase and I headed up to Omaha for a speed mass at St. Mary Magdalene, dinner at Upstream and then a little time at the bookstore. A great finish to a great day...until I hit a deer driving home...in homebase's car. :( This is my third deer hit and I can say that this one happened faster than all the rest. The damage isn't awful, but will cause some headaches for homebase. Sorry! (And sorry to the deer also. It wasn't around after I stopped so I'm going to say that it scampered back into the field to walk it off and recover.)
  • Assembled a new grill for homebase! And broke it in with some delic hot dogs!
  • Joined up with the Harmangrewes for Sunday Funday, some very tasty food & drinks and even better company.
  • Was able to catch up with some teacher friends and finally see their new house...and even newer foosball table! Fun times.
  • Wrapped up the weekend with some time at Raccoon River beach before coming home and making a very tasty meal for myself. Steak & sauteed spinach. Lots of iron there!
Yes...it is the good life.

01 June 2010

Passport Stamps

It is very exciting to see an email with that in the subject line in my inbox. I finalized my flight details last week (and was able to use my credit card points for it!) so transportation, lodging (family stay) and work project are all booked and verified, no backing out now! I am very excited to take a vacation, get a new stamp in my passport, go to an area and a climate I haven't seen before and hopefully learn and use a tiny bit of Spanish. I will be volunteering helping with childcare, probably at an orphanage in San Jose (the capital). I'll also be taking some Spanish lessons in the afternoons and exploring the city in the evenings. The food, the culture, the price negotiating, all have me looking forward to this very much. I also have four days after I'm done to check out some other areas of the country. There are some amazing national parks, volcanoes, sea turtle places, beaches, and mountains to check out. AND I'll be there while the semi-finals and final of the World Cup are going on! So that is going to be fantastic. Lots to learn and plan over the next month, so I'd better get to researching!