30 October 2010


"It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election.  There may have been complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises.  But right now, we've got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward...We have to get folks off the sidelines.  People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up.  Bringing about change is hard - that's what I said during the campaign.  It has been hard, and we've got some lumps to show for it.  But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.  If you are serious, now's exactly the time that people have to step up.
- President Barack Obama
from his interview with "Rolling Stone"

28 October 2010

Michigan Asst. Attorney General

I came upon this link on Facebook as it was being shared by a few former students.  After I read the synopsis I had to watch the interview with Anderson Cooper.  This is bizarre and disturbing.  And if you watch the follow up (3 minutes) it sheds a bit more light on perhaps why this guy hasn't been fired yet. 
I strongly urge you to watch the video.  There has been a rash of incidents involving harassment of students lately, both gay and straight. Cyberbullying is a very real threat and one that needs to be addressed (and, as a technology educator, I must say prevention needs to be taught, repeatedly and at different age levels).  And while it is completely understandable that we may not all have the same views on sexual orientation, it is not acceptable to harass, bully, threaten, slander or libel others.
A little follow-up, in the month since these video clips, Shirvell has been banned from the UofM (his alma mater) campus (for which he is threatening to sue the university), condemned by the Ann Arbor City Council, the Michigan governor called for his firing, he was put on paid personal leave from his job and threatened with a protection order by Armstrong, whom the athletes of Michigan have publicly came out in support of.

The Streets

I was skimming down a music blog that Les had linked to this week, I came across a post about The Streets and it took me back!  I don't even recall how, but I became a big fan of Mike Skinner, who is actually 'The Streets' back in 2002 (man, that sounds like so long ago!) on his first cd "Original Pirate Material".  If you are unfamiliar I suggest checking out "Let's Push Things Forward" and "Stay Positive". Three years later he put out "A Grand Don't Come For Free" and it really got me.  It is totally a concept album and needs to be listened to front to back straight through.  It tells a story of a guy and his relationship with a girl, from beginning to end and it is pretty fantastic.  No song from it is as good on its own out of context, but "Dry Your Eyes" is pretty good, but sad.  (sidenote: there is a version with Chris Martin singing the chorus that didn't make the album).  I totally skipped his next cd and now it looks like he's getting ready to drop a new album.  The first single is "Trust Me" and is decent.

27 October 2010

Glee in GQ

If you are a Glee fan you surely haven't missed the photo spread in GQ involving Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and Cory Montieth.  (Rachel, Quinn and Finn)  If you haven't, check it out here.  Be warned that it is a bit racy, as is not uncommon for pictures in men's magazines.  Although all of them are in their mid-twenties, since they play high-schoolers and appeared in a loose adaptation of their characters' costume style, it has caused a little controversy.  Dianna posted her response on her blog and I appreciated the candor of it.
Did anyone watch the 'Rocky Horror' episode last night?  I liked it, even though, they sometimes give up some storyline to achieve more entertainment in those themed episodes.  Either way, the costuming and the big "Time Warp" finish were massively fab.

25 October 2010

New Header (penguin!)

This was originally a Photoshop project I wanted to try out to create an anaglyph.  What's that?  Oh, an anaglyph is one of those images with red & blue layers that have a slightly different point of perspective.  I wasn't thrilled with my turnout, so I just kept messing around with it until I had something that I liked...even though it was not really anything like I was hoping for.  I'd like to try the anaglyph tutorial again sometime and see if I can get it to work out better.  Until then, I thought I'd change up my header since I'd had the same one since like February.  Thanks, as always, to Les for the psd help; your final critique can go in the comments. :)  Super bonus points to anyone who can name the building that inspired my text style on this.  (For those that didn't grow up near Shen (hint), there is another building on Beaver with the same signage.)


[thanks to homebase for passing this on]
Yep, that was the score of Nishnabotna's final regular season game.  Our coach was playing his alma mater and it sounds like the Trojans weren't able to stop...pretty much anything.  Fourth highest point total in 8-man history.  Good luck against Glidden-Ralston!

New Naked flavor

A Naked juice has been one of my favorite morning treats ever since I lived in Chicago.  I was at the store over the weekend and saw they had a new flavor on display.  It is another veggie option.  I'd tried their "Orange Carrot" back in the spring and it didn't make my favorite flavor list so I haven't had it since.  But I'm up for giving anything a try once, so I picked up a "Berry Veggie Machine" and brought it to work this morning.  It is a powerful drink.  Intense flavor, vibrantly deep red color and very thick.  It is similar, (but better) than V8's fusions.  Two servings of vegatables in a bottle.  Not sure I'll try it again, not because I don't like it, but just because I like some of the other fruit flavors much more.  Give it a try if you are veggie deficient!

23 October 2010

HS FB Playoffs

The high school regular season came to a close last night and the playoff pairings have been announced.  I used to think it was only in 4A that teams with losing records could make the playoffs but I looked through the list and it is present in all the classes.  Nine teams with a losing record qualified for the playoffs in 4A.  Sometimes though, in smaller classes if you lose one game there's a possibility you won't make the playoffs!  Anyways, the first  round pairings have been announced and, although I'm busy that first night, if anyone is up for checking out a second round game, let me know!  Glad to see Nishnabotna made the playoffs and good luck to them against Glidden-Ralston.  Final rankings are here.  There are some great teams out there.  Dowling Catholic, Iowa City High and three others are still undefeated in 4A.  Harlan and S.C. Heelan sit #1 and #2 in 3A.  Les's alma mater, South Central Calhoun is undeated and #4 in 2A (Iowa City Regina is #1). CB St. Albert & Aplington-Parkersburg in 1A. Madrid looking dominant in A.  Sidenote: a Catholic school is #1 or #2 in every class except 8-man.

22 October 2010

Training Videos

Friday afternoon.  Going through some of the junk left in our office that had been piled into an unused bookcase.  Found this excellent training video cassette.  Even if it is circa 1989, amazed that video instruction is needed on this topic.  Contact me if you'd like to rent it.

20 October 2010

Christ Our Life Conference

If you saw the billboards around town, the Christ Our Life conference was held last weekend and since homebase was going to be in town, we decided to check it out (at least the Sunday part of it).  And I'm glad we did!  I feel like we are the control value on our own spirituality.  If we don't seek out growth & new motivation, it is our own fault.  We can't just sit around and complain about the lack of quality sermons (I'm guilty of this often) if we don't try to find something better...a different church now and then, online resources, renewal groups, books, etc. 
We heard three speakers in the morning and listened to some great music.  The music director for the conference was a co-worker from my last school so that was fun to see too. 
The first speaker was Fr. Rick Wendell, a priest who had quite a backstory but I really didn't get into his talk too much.  The next two speakers were superb though.  Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow is one of the 10 finalist for the CNN: Heroes award and hearing his life story was amazing and inspiring.  If you care at all, click the link and read the story or find a video of him telling his story, as I would not do it full justice.  In one sentence, he has started an organization seeking to fight poverty through nutrition and education by providing a meal at school for 400,000+ kids that wouldn't have it otherwise.  Vote for him if you feel like it.  The last speaker was Matthew Kelly.  He definitely had the shine and charisma of a professional speaker, but not so much so that you were turned off by it.  His message about faith, what we do with it and how we develop it really hit home.  I had ran into a good friend of mine, who I didn't even know was Catholic, before the session and he had read Kelly's book, Rediscovering Catholicism, and really got a lot out of it.  You can get it for free (just pay S&H) on his website, which I did.  His website is still is beta so there is some empty areas, but it looks to be good when it's fully up and running.  The day was wrapped up with mass led by Cardinal Arinze, complete with 50 Knights of Columbus in full regalia. 
A good time and I'm glad I went. 

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Most guys would be thrilled for an afternoon at the ballpark, even more so if it is a championship series game.  If they have a great girl to escort them, that's like a dream come true at this point.  Ben Gibbard throws it in our faces yet again as he and Zooey Deschanel take it up a notch and each perform an on-field acapella number.  Nice.

19 October 2010

Off to the Barber Shop

Friday afternoon and my manager said to take off early. Music to my ears.  So when I headed out to lunch, I didn't look back.  Instead, after enjoying a nice carnitas burrito, I headed to the Roosevelt Barber.  I'd been on the lookout for a good barber shop and the look and location of this place were just right.
As I walked in, it was like a time warp to my childhood.  I haven't been to a true barber shop in a good 20 years but the sounds of clippers and scissors, smells of lotions, shaving cream, and faintly of tobacco took me back in an instant to Broderson's shop in Shenandoah.  I took it as a good sign that the three chairs were all occupied and there were a couple guys waiting even though it was mid-afternoon.  I waited my turn and then got called over when a chair opened up.  There were a couple of older barbers and a young, Asian female barber which is who I got.  When you go to a salon to get a cut, I think they feel like they need to chat you up, make small talk, trade gossip, etc.  At the barber shop I was asked what I wanted to do with my hair and that was the extent of the conversation until she was finished and asked, "Are you trying to grow a beard or just haven't shaved for a while?"  I loved her frankness.  And I loved not having to chat about everything under the sun when really I was wishing they would focus on their clippers hovering by my ear.  I don't think she even needed her scissors once and the fade she gave me was high and tight, just like I wanted it.  A straight razor, hot shaving foam and that scraping feeling on the back of my neck totally were the icing on the cake of the experience.  She blew me off with the high pressure air hose, wiped me down with a hot towel and when I paid it was $15, about half as much as my usual salon place.  I walked out of there feeling like a new man.

18 October 2010


What a great birthday!  A incredible list of blessings came my way today and the whole weekend really.
  • Got to teach in the morning, ran into some good teacher friends and a favorite student from three years ago.
  • Treated myself to a doughnut from the wonderful Donut Hut.  
  • Lunch at Pablo's.
  • Slid into a parking spot for lunch where someone had left me 18 minutes on the meter.
  • A decorated cube and some mini-cheesecakes at work.
  • Bday texts, voicemails, wall messages and emails.
  • Tried out a new restaurant, Red Rossa, for dinner. Tasty pizza & an Italian beer (for which I was carded).
  • Monday is buy two pizzas, get a third free night so I've got lunch for a couple days too!
  • A great deal on a fleece at Scheel's (after a lot of back and forth and back and forth and back regarding a few pairs of shoes. Uggs, Clarks, adidas...sizes that didn't fit, no shoes in my size, not the right shoes for me, do I really need them? Final answer....not at this moment.)  And a patient and helpful shopping partner to keep me sane and focused through it all.
  • Daytrotter's featured artist was Tegan & Sara.
  • A pair of wonderfully thoughtful gifts from my friends that had been to the adidas store in Vegas and kept me in mind.
  • Wins from Iowa, Notre Dame and Texas.
  • I got to cook in my kitchen with my family, one of my favorite things to do.
  • Celebrated my bday with my family, who made the drive over.
  • Was able to watch caboose rock a great show and bid him fair well as he leaves for a tour through Dixie.
  • I made a little DIY project for a lap board to use with my laptop.  I had wanted to make something for it since it gets so hot and isn't fun to have on my lap, but wasn't sure how to do it.  Then I saw some at Barnes and Nobles that made me realize I could make one from scraps we had around the apartment. 
  • Went to the Christ our Life conference with homebase and heard some great speakers and celebrated mass with a cardinal. (more on this tomorrow)
  • I get to sleep in a bit tomorrow (or go for a run before work) due to an all-day training that starts a bit later.

15 October 2010

It's Good to Be Missed

A friend sent me this message this week and it made my week.  I know students say nice things when they see me, but you never known what they say when you aren't around:
And a wonderful sidenote, I attended this friend's wedding, escorted by nic, last weekend and it was a fantastic event.  My first outdoor wedding, picture perfect weather, beautiful roses at Greenwood Park, fun reception setting at West End Architectural Salvage, great friends to catch up with and dance the night away alongside.  And she still had time to send me that message! 

Let's be frank...

This email showed up in my inbox this morning.  I get a lot of emails from Barack and his team (not directly from the man himself, but you never know) urging, motivation, pleading with me to go out and knock on doors, make phone calls, vote for this or that, generally just trying to get me to make a difference politically.  And all of those emails, I'm sure, include an opportunity for me to make a difference financially also.  (Not sure, I rarely open them).  Today's email made me smile by its total directness.  "Let's not kid each other.  You're getting this email for one reason..."

13 October 2010

ESPN: 30 for 30

I am probably way behind the crowd on this since they started a year ago but earlier this week I watched my first ESPN: 30 for 30 movie.  This is a series they are making of 30 documentaries to celebrate 30 years of broadcasts.  When I blogged about a couple other ESPN shows a month ago holt had mentioned how good the 30 for 30 on MJ was so it was in the back of my mind to try and catch a few of these.  "The Two Escobars" was about the Columbian soccer team and its rise in the world rankings and also in notoriety and suspicion.  It also followed Pablo Escobar, his power and influences in the country and with the national team.  For those that aren't familiar with the whole story, I'll stop there, but it was very good.  And then I saw the preview for the upcoming premiere of "Once Brothers" and I knew I had to watch it.  I love learning about the Yugoslavian Wars and the Balkan region so as soon as I heard the storyline I was hooked.  I blocked off Tuesday night on my calendar and also made a delicious fall meal to go with it (Pork with Pumpkin...SOOOO good).  This should tell you how excited I was...I passed up watching GLEE for it!  And I wasn't disappointed.  It follows the lives of the group of stars that were very close and took the Yugoslavian national basketball team to be world champions and then narrated how the pressures and feelings affected their relationships once Yugoslavia began to be torn apart.  Great stuff.
I've looked around a little this morning and they have a full schedule of airings and you can get some of them on Netflix if you don't have cable.  They can also be purchased on iTunes.  I'll definitely be watching more.  Thanks, holt, for a great tip.

12 October 2010

Google Leads The Way

Two big stories in the last week and Google is taking the drivers' seat on both of them, albeit one more literally than the other.
  • "Smarter Than You Think" gives us a peak at self-piloting cars being developed by Google.  This is something that people have talked about for years and, unlike the flying car, seems totally achievable.  And when you take a moment to think of the far-reaching indirect influences this could cause, it is truely amazing.
  • "Wind Power Line Wins Backing" informs of Google and New York financial firm Good Energies ponying up for the majority stake in a $5 billion project to lay the power lines to bring the 6,000+ megawatts that could be generated by off-coast wind farms. 
caboose and I were talking about these & wondering why it seems like Google is the only company willing to take on these types of transformative, audacious projects?  Maybe they are one of the few that care enough?  Have the right mix of people in their steering committees?  Have more revenue than they know what to do with?  Whatever it is, I'm thrilled they are taking it on. 
"There are those that look at things the way they are and ask why...I dream of things that never were and ask, why not?" - RFK

11 October 2010

Yoga Puppies

While wrapping up a very productive trip to the mall with caboose, we walked by the calendar kiosk and this gem of a cover caught my eye.  The hilarity and ridiculousness of the idea is great, but then to think that someone would want to a calendar of these pictures to greet them all year long was just too much.  Needless to say caboose and I had some great laughs over it and I thought I'd share.  Enjoy.  You can also check out the equally wonderful 'Yoga Kittens' at this website!

08 October 2010

Nobel Peace Prize

Lui Xiaobo was given the Nobel Peace prize this week and after reading this NY Times article about him, I definitely took a moment to be thankful for the respect of human rights where I live.  It is hard to imagine living where an event such as the Nobel prizes could be effectively erased from media coverage as if they never happened.  This man is in jail now and will probably not know for quite a while that his efforts have been recognized and garnered him this accolade.
[sidenote: If you have some time to spend, check out the Nobel Prize's site and its educational games.  The Conflict Map is pretty cool also.]

06 October 2010

"Are These Jeans Too Tight?"

I love a good pair of jeans, but since I firmly adhere to a $50 ceiling for my denim purchases, I don't think this event would be for me. But it sure sounds nice!

Recommendations...And Affirmations

I love it when a student asks me if I will write a recommendation for them.
1) It gives me a chance to say positive and flattering things that, even though they are true, don't always get said otherwise.
2) I believe in leading by example and I think it is good for them to see what a well-written letter looks like.
3) Students, -no, scratch that, EVERYONE, loves to hear someone praise and highlight their strengths.
4) As teachers, we hope to not just impart knowledge but light a fire in students to be life-long learners and advocates for themselves. Having them come ask for a recommendation is a glimpse of that starting to happen.
5) Often it is a student that I don't have in class anymore, that is coming back to ask me for this document. So it gives me a chance to see and hear how they are doing, what they are up to, and reconnect. And it's nice to know you weren't forgotten after they left your classroom!

I have a couple of requests for recommendations last week and this morning I got around to filling out one of them online. This student was one of my favorites from my first year; a real gem. She's applying to study abroad and the recommendation process is all online & there is a box that she had to fill out who the person is she asked for a recommendation and why she asked them. I'm pasting her comment below because it completely made my day, week and month.

05 October 2010

Val-Air Ballroom

Went to the Passion Pit show last night, courtesy of my rockstar brother. How great is it to wrap up a very tiring day (1st day back in the classroom, working like crazy in the office, coaching middle school volleyball) and see you have a text saying there's a free ticket to Passion Pit with your name on it? Yes I was pretty tired and ready to relax but how can you pass that up?
The show was great. The lead singer for Passion Pit was totally appreciative of the crowd, which I love seeing/hearing. Local faves Envy Corps and Bad Rabbits from Massachusetts opened. Check out Bad Rabbits; very fun, high energy show. And there's a free EP download on their website.
Now to the main point of the post: Physically, I love the Val-Air. From the outside, from the inside. The signs, the neon, the feel of it all like you are walking into a sock-hop from 50's or 60's. But the management of the place rubs me the wrong way. The whole 'no air conditioning' deal for the Black Keys show was ridic. And then last night I saw that they are charging $5 to park! And I got charged $2 for a paper cup of Coke!