30 January 2011

Nike CTR360 & Iniesta

Even thought I'm not a Barcelona fan, I do like Iniesta.  This commercial for Nike's new soccer cleat neatly transitions back and forth from training to game situations.  The fisheye lens and the rotating camera are about enough to make ya sick though!

27 January 2011

The Y

The YMCA holds a very dear place in my heart.  I've written about it before, but it is worth repeating.  I love what they do, what they stand for.  Family & Community.  Spirit, Mind, Body.  Character-building.  No one is turned away on inability to pay. Free classes that other gyms make you pay for.  Kids everywhere.  Residential Programs.  Day care.  Pickup basketball.  Youth leagues.  Summer Camp...oh, man, summer camp.  Basketball, Volleyball, Swimming lessons, Racquetball, Anthony Hopkins' acting career, the first ESL classes...all got their start at the Y.  Mark Spitz & Greg Louganis got started at YMCA pools.
I joined when I first moved to Des Moines after college and spent a year a half working out at the Southside YMCA.  After moving to a new place & new job I switched Y's and spent the next few years working out at the Downtown Y.  I learned to play volleyball there during pickup games, three times a week.  When I moved to Chicago fate led me to the Lakeview YMCA and I worked at the front desk, the check-in desk, day care (I landed a few good babysitting gigs from this...and had to change my first diaper), summer camp, before/after school care, and I taught tumbling, art, soccer, and basketball.  I discovered and fell in love with spin class.  There were some really quality individuals working there. The pay isn't great for program directors, so it was enlightening and encouraging to talk with people who had chosen to pursue a career they believed in and were ok with sacrificing a bigger salary.  And there were some fantastic kids.   I decided to become a teacher because of my experiences at that Y.  Moving back to Iowa, I continued my relationship with the Y.  This time at the Walnut Creek Y as a fitness coach. While I haven't been an employee for a while, I still am a member and wouldn't consider joining any other facility.  I would never have tried yoga if it weren't for the Y.   
So I definitely took notice when I started seeing the new logo around the place.  I LOVED the old logo.  I'm glad they kept the triangle in it.  That is key.  It represents the principles of the Y, spirit, mind and body.  I like the old colors and it seems like no one can make a new logo using standard colors. Standard colors are strong.  I like the new logo representing an arrow pointing forward, but I don't like that "the" just floating out there unattached.  And they are going to officially be "The Y" instead of "YMCA".  I think I can get behind that.  As they point out, it is how most people refer to them anyways.  Whatever the whole new brand strategy means, I hope it means many more years of providing meaningful opportunities and experiences.

25 January 2011

"We will move forward together, or not at all"

A few favorite clips from the State of the Union tonight...
But if we want to win the future - if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas - then we also have to win the race to educate our kids…And so the question is whether all of us - as citizens, and as parents - are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed. That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the love of learning in a child.

Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child - become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact. [Terry Branstand must have missed this part]

We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing our deficit - none of this is easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The cost. The details. The letter of every law. Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad - no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written. And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

Literal Listeners

SCENE:  Monday afternoon, a local elementary school, middle of delivering a pretty swell training session.

ME:  OK, so now we're ready to find your files!  Go ahead and click on 'Personal Documents', and if you get a dialogue box that asks you if you want to make Office your default, say 'Yes'.
TEACHER 1:  Yes.
TEACHER 2:  Yes.
TEACHER 3:  Yes.
TEACHER 4:  Me too!

Written out like that it doesn't seem so odd (or funny), but it actually took another teacher saying "No, he just means 'click on yes', not 'say yes'" for me to realize what had happened.  I was looking at these few random teachers saying yes with a very puzzled look on my face...and then I pretty much busted up laughing.  These teachers were totally sincere, not being smarties or anything!  I've given this training around a dozen times and that has never happened before.  Not sure if it was the exact wording I used or just an absent-minded moment on their part, but whatever it was, it definitely lightened the mood.

Branstad's Thoughts on Education

Zero allowable budget growth for the next two years.
I guess education does not play a role in his "200,000 new jobs" goal.  I'm sure people will flock to the state, hearing that we don't fund our school system and are slashing AEA funding and are ending universal early-education funding.  But he does want to have the "1st Schools in the Nation".
I wonder if he'll cover any of this in his visit to Colfax-Mingo middle school today.

23 January 2011

What a Wonderful Web...

Some gatherings from across the WWW that have been taking up lodging in my Bookmarks and I needed to share...
  • This article tells some of the background on a cyber operation that could totally make a great movie script.  The U.S. and Isreal working together, with some help Germany-based Seimens, to launch a highly-sophisticated virus on the nuclear program in Iran.  It's a bit-long, but well-worth it.  
  • NPR story on a 1:120 replica of the Ohio State "Horseshoe" stadium built by a OSU cell biology professor in his basement over two years.  Awesome
  • I was late to learn about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, but a teacher-friend told me about them before winter break and then the Hungry Panda included "Home" by them in her 5 songs for 2010.  Today I came across this slice of perfectness while browsing music blogs.  Watch this guy and his daughter cover the song.  Then go download the free mp3 he put up of it.  ...And then watch this :30 second outtake. :)

Confirmation Playlist

Music can be a great tool to keep your attitude positive, spread your good feelings or just offer thanks!  For my niece going through Confirmation I put together a little playlist of some of my favorite songs that accomplish those things...
Brett Dennen
Rufus Wainwright
Shower the People
James Taylor
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
The Hollies
Jesus, Take the Wheel
Carrie Underwood
One Love
Bob Marley
Lean On Me
Bill Withers
Sing Your Praise to the Lord
Amy Grant
Open the Eyes of My Heart
Paul Baloche
Rebecca St. James
Step By Step
Rich Mullins
God Bless the Child
Shania Twain
Brooks & Dunn
Country Road (feat. Paula Fuga)
Jack Johnson
You Raise Me Up
The PS22 Chorus & Celtic Women
Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
Sinead O’Connor
Love Rescue Me
Omagh Community Youth Choir
There were some great ones that didn't make the list but I wanted to keep it varied.  Tell me what your favorite songs in this category are!

The Lucky Penguin

One of the Photoshop projects I've been kicking around is a logo/crest.  One of the possibilities is "The Lucky Penguin."  Much more details & explanation on that later.  So this morning I was messing around and looking to see what was out on Google under those search terms  and I came across this video of an unbelievable wildlife experience.
I would've LOVED to be in that boat!!!

20 January 2011

Sargent Shriver

My knowledge of the man and his achievements are limited but the nature of his work gives it considerable significance and appeal to me.  Pair that interest with the mystical wonderment of Hyannisport and the Kennedy clan and I'm all ears. 
Give this column a read. "What I Learned From Sargent Shriver" by Bono
And as I was visiting my schools yesterday, NPR was playing this interview with him from 2000.  I couldn't find a link for it, but it was great to hear him speak his mind on the war on poverty, etc.
For more information on his life, NPR has a good obit.

Obama & Hu

I heard these clips on NPR and was intrigued by how clearly these two leaders made their points.  It may be a bit more wordy and more gently-phrased, but it did remind me a bit of the press conference scene in "Love Actually". 

"I reaffirmed America’s fundamental commitment to the universal rights of all people. That includes basic human rights like freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association and demonstration, and of religion — rights that are recognized in the Chinese constitution. As I’ve said before, the United States speaks up for these freedoms and the dignity of every human being, not only because it’s part of who we are as Americans, but we do so because we believe that by upholding these universal rights, all nations, including China, will ultimately be more prosperous and successful."
"The two sides should firmly adhere to the right direction of our relationship; respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests..."
 Meanwhile, the First Lady was sending her messages also...by her choice of gown.

17 January 2011

The Scrollwheel

A co-worker of mine sent me this video.  Hilarious job of documenting some of the very little frustrations that come up in technology training.

16 January 2011

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Concerns about driving conditions kept me in DSM for the third straight weekend.  I can't remember the last time I was here all weekend for three straight weekends.  The tend to get a little long for me and I like to have a little something planned.  But, these types of weekends do allow for mornings like this morning:  woke up without an alarm since I went to church yesterday, relocated to the couch with my blanket and my book, took a break to make some oatmeal with brown sugar and dried cranberries, listened to a few great StoryCorps episodes and a This American Life as I did some hand-wash dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and now I've got a mug of hot cocoa steaming beside me as I skim around the internet, listening to new music.  Yoga at noon had been the plan, but that windchill of 3 degrees is making me think about huddling in and staying warm.

14 January 2011

TED: Emily Pilloton

I know I probably shouldn't blog every time I watch a TEDtalk, but they are so good! This short 15 minute one really got my creative juices going. Design, rural communities, education, making a difference, authentic learning...it's like this talk was tailor-made for me. Emily Pilloton is a recent design grad who started her ownn firm (Project H) with her architect friend and after working with this rural North Carolina county, ended up moving cross-country to work there full-time. They got certified as teachers this summer and have developed a curriculum to reach some really cool goals with the community, the students, and the school. And she has written a book and was just on the Colbert Report! check it out.

13 January 2011

2011: A Checklist

I tried but wasn't perfect about keeping these goals SMART. (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, time-based)

Travel abroad for another volunteer vacation
Ride RAGBRAI, (if not travelling abroad)
Do a 2 day ride on the Raccoon River Trail to Jefferson & back (if not doing RAGBRAI)
Complete my Masters project
Have a Chicago weekend by Megabus
Daily Mass twice a month
Ride at least 300 miles on my bike
Run at least 500 miles
Play some basketball, tennis and golf outside this summer
Read more books than last year
Volunteer locally once a month
Wear a tie once a week
Take a free online course
Go to a state I haven't been to before
Buy a suit & get it tailored (along with my current one)
Find a new place to live
Get a dog, if find a new place
Bring my lunch at least 2 times a week
Design & print a t-shirt

12 January 2011

Cee-Lo in ASL

The song is fabulous, catchy, and expresses a sentiment that every single person can relate to.  I came across this version of it today on Stereogum.  I always love watching signing and this girl totally puts all her attitude into it.  Love it!

Conference Logos

I wrote most of this blog post a few weeks ago when I was still thinking about the Big10 logo makeover but I didn't get around to posting it. And then while watching the championship game Monday night, I saw the Pac10 logo and I made a mental note to finish this. Long story short...I love the Pac10 logo. It is cool, has great lettering, incorporates mountains, has a unique shield shape AND they created versions for each university to use that sport their colors.  The Big10 logo would be MUCH improved if they just did that step.  And if you compare the new Pac10 to their old one...wow, what an improvement.  I am also including some of the other conference logos from around the country so you can compare.
[Edit:  holt brought this website to my attention.  It is having a design contest for alternatives to the new Big 10 logo.  Some fun options on there.]

11 January 2011

War Eagle

What a game!  It wasn't the prettiest game I've watched.  There were fumbles, interceptions and key penalties.  In the end, though, it was a tough battle all the way to the end.  And I was totally fine with it not being the shootout that many people forecasted.  The Auburn defense and their running game were what won the game for them.  I enjoyed the game, had fun watching it with caboose, grilled some brats (in subzero windchills), and made some Chex mix (which was awful and got thrown out to the birds).  It wraps up another college football season; how long til the spring game?
In the family bowl challenge we had a first.  A winner from the next generation of prognosticators!  Congrats to Emily!! She was perfect in her picking of BCS games and that made the difference.
Em - 25.0
middleson - 24.5
stoppable - 23.5
NTW - 21.5
kt - 20.0
the brig - 19.5
homebase - 19.0
caboose - 18.0

09 January 2011

Girl Talk & Shoes

Two of my favorite things! :)
NY Times has a good article about Girl Talk and a fun timeline of music 'mash-ups' that reminded me of a song from 1989 that I used to love called "Swing the Mood".  I had to go add that to my iTunes wish list. 
The article closes with this quote from him, which I loved.
“When the Jordan brand is sending you free shoes, it’s pretty much the peak of success in my mind."

08 January 2011

Getting Through 2010

Anamanaguchi || Airbrushed
The Naked and Famous || Young Blood
Cee-lo || Fuck You
City and Colour || What Makes a Man
Local Natives || Sun Hands

Broken Bells || The High Road
DJ Khaled || All I Do Is Win
Hoodie Allen || You Are Not a Robot (Ft. Marina + the Diamonds)
Sleigh Bells || Rill Rill
The Black Keys || Next Girl
Cee-Lo Green || No One's Gonna Love You More Than I Do (Band of Horses Cover)

Alexi Murdoch || All of My Days
Jack Johnson f/ Paula Fuga || Better Together
The Black Keys || Howlin' For You
Ryan Bingham || The Weary Kind
Sleigh Bells || Kids

Kid Cudi ft. Best Coast & Rostam || All Summer
Cults || Go Outside
Shakira || Waka Waka
Band of Horses || No One's Gonna Love You More Than I Do
Hoodie Allen || You Are Not a Robot
Lou Reed || Perfect Day

After les submitted 6 songs, I figured I'd do it to, especially since one of mine was the same as hers.  It took me til the end of February to get last year's list done, so I'm doing good this time to get it done by mid-January.  cd's are available upon request.  And if people would like to give an insight into their 5 songs, I invite them to do so in the comments section.
And I'm not gonna lie, I'm happy with the cover art I made.
Also, this year I expanded this little project.  I sent out a short email to see if anyone wanted to share their 5 songs and I was thrilled with the response.  I compiled everyone's lists into a pdf.  Each song is a link to YouTube or somewhere you can listen to it at.  I was hoping for a diverse list and I got my wish.  English, French, Spanish, and Latin (I think?)  Classical, pop, indie, musicals, rock, hip-hop, acapella, instrumentals  So check it out, listen to someone's else list and hopefully find a few new tracks you can enjoy.  I listened to every song on the list and there are a good handful that I wrote down to go download.  Thanks friends!

End of Year 2010: Music

Late getting this out this year, but here it is.  I listened to a lot of good new stuff this year, but only a few things that I can say were "great" as an album.  My top two album both appeared on my top list for 2008.  They were #1 & #2 then, and although they've switched spots, they hold down the top two spots for 2010.

Vampire Weekend [Contra] - amazingly didn't let me down at all with this sophomore album. I totally loved it.  So many good, different tracks!  Listen to:  "Cousins" or "Horchata"
Girl Talk [All Day] - still getting into this one and i don't think it's quite as incredible as "Feed the Animals" but it's still very great. Listen to:  "Let It Out" 
Hoodie Allen [The Pep Rally]  - so good.  Gotta thank Les for the tip on this goodness.  Listen to:  "You Are Not a Robot" or "Tighten Up"
Matt & Kim [Sidewalks] - only have 3 songs off this one but I love all 3. Listen to:  "Good for Great" or "Cameras"
K.Flay [MASHed Potatoes] - this mixtape of her rhymes over popular samples is pretty fantastic, definitely way better than her EP.  Listen to:  "Love in This CLUB MED" or "miniVANS"
Local Natives [Gorilla Manor] - these guys just sounds like too much fun.  I would love to see them live. Listen to:  "Sun Hands" or "Who Knows Who Cares"
Cashes Rivers [self-titled] - I was able to see these guys several times this year and they are always a fun show.  Listen to:  "Man Made of Mud" or "As I Drift"

Honorable Mentions:
Lissie [Why You Runnin'/Catching a Tiger]
Cults [7"] - not sure how to rate a group that has put out 4 songs.  But 2 of them are mind-blowingly good. M.I.A. [/\/\/\Y/\]
Taylor Swift [Speak Now]
Glee [Volume 3 & 4]
Band of Horses [Infinite Arms]
Florence + the Machine - not everything I liked from her was from the same CD but it was all good
Broken Bells [self-titled]
Black Keys [Brothers]
She & Him [Volume 2]
Jack Johnson [To The Sea]
Gorillaz [Plastic Beach]
John Mayer [Battle Studies]

Past lists:  2009, 2008, 2007, 2005

Computer Problems

After a few days of no computer, I am back and fully functional.  I had thought that my power socket had a short in it, but it turns out all I needed was a new power cord.  This is my third one. :(  I had a tech at work look at it and she was very helpful.  Most places charge you $50 just to take a look at something, so I was happy to get the problem figured out for free.  And now I've got a new cord and a computer that runs fine.  Woo hoo.  My battery is totally shot though and my hard disk has 2GB free so I think if I can get 1 more year out of this laptop, I will be happy. 

05 January 2011

Vending Machine Temptation

As if it wasn't already hard enough to say no to the temptations of getting a nice, cold Diet Dr. Pepper from the vending machine in my office, they have now installed a debit/credit card swiper on the machine!  At least up til now, if I didn't have any cash or no ones, I wouldn't be tempted.  Now there is nothing stopping me!!!

04 January 2011

Template Change

Trying out a new template.  Thought it was time for a little change.  Nothing huge really.  A new font, more monochromatic, a little cleaner in the sidebars.  I lost a little on the width so I'll need to adjust my header images.  One question, what do you think of the box below each post with the post time and comment link.  Should I leave it the way it is or should I change the background color to white so you don't see a box there and it is just text?
Let me know if you see anything else that looks/acts screwy.  Or just let me know what you think.

03 January 2011

End of Year 2010: Running

15 Races, 5 states.
What a fantastic year of running!  Small races (Red Oak, Abbey Trails, CITA Trail run) and big races (Shamrock shuffle, Dam to Dam, Omaha Half).  Long and short.  I ran with family, friends and by myself. And not just the races; I had lots of great training routes where I got to explore great neighborhoods and check out Christmas lights, parks, lakes, country roads, city roads, amazing rich areas and sketchy poor areas.  I even got to run in Costa Rica!  Cold, hot, rain, snow, dry, humid, morning, afternoon, evening and night.  I saw parts of my city that I may have driven past before but you see things in a different level of detail when you are running by them.
Now I am trying to decide what running in 2011 holds for me. I think there will be fewer plain road 5K's. I don't want to spend money for a blah race that doesn't offer anything different than what I would see on a training run. I would like to do more trail runs, both in training and in races. And I love that I got to 5 states last year. I'd like to keep seeking out different cities to run in.  Got any good idea, lemme know!!!

End of Year 2010: Favorite Blog Posts

Here's my annual recap of my favorite posts/memories from the year which I always forget how much I enjoy putting together.  Although it doesn't mean much to others, it gives me a great chance to go back through my whole year and relive a lot of great times.  I'm a lucky guy.
Consetoga Buckeroos, No Kicking Penguins, We are the Champions, Camaraderie, Getting Thru 2009, Love Never Fails, Food and the rest of the weekend, Spring Break '10, Stretching the Weekend, Top Concerts List, The Good and the Bad, Classroom DIY, New Shoes, Matthew 16:5, Doc Regan, Pilcrows & Hederas, Running through the Bible, IKEA, Memorial Weekend, Old Photos, Penguin Nabbed & Back in Black, Bio Playlist, World Cup part 2, End of the Year Wrap-up, Costa Rica! and the Reflection, Smiles Ahead, Smiles Ahead part 2, One Short Day, What do you love about music?, Lomography, Music Tips, Where Ya Been?, Homebase Bio Playlist, Season Opener, What do you want to be?, Recommendations & Affirmations, It's Good to be missed, XXXIV, Barbar Shop, Christ Our Life, Sweeping Techniques, Thanksgiving, It Gets Better, 24 hours in TX, New Car, Feeling Good, A learning Culture, Nic Marks, HS Logos, Turkey slowdown, Christmas.