31 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #20

I was out helping a teacher get her SMARTboard hooked up today (a first time for both of us). Hooking it up was a breeze and we spent maybe 15 minutes trying out the software and functions of it. Then she says "I have to go pick up my kids from art. Would you mind showing them a little of what this can do?" I like to have a solid understanding of something before I train on it, but sometimes you just have to wing it so I said sure, why not. The teacher said "Great, you've got about ten minutes before they get here". But there was no lead for worry and it went fine. It was great to be in front of kids again, although I haven't worked with 4th graders since my days at the Y. A fun morning!

30 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #19

I missed a couple days there...and to make up for it, I was gifted two good things today.  First, I stopped at QT this morning, knowing that I had a long day ahead of me and had had a long one the day before.  So a little treat seemed fitting.  I was looking forward to a Naked juice but QT felt like that wasn't enough.  There was a worker at the door handing out coupons for a free donut!  You can bet that I took one and snarfed that thing down like it was my job.  So that got the day off on a great note.  Later, after one of my school appointments ran long I was certain my meter had expired and I figured the parking police had tagged me with a $15 note. They patrol the downtown streets like alligators!  So I didn't even check and just went to lunch.  When I got out to my Jeep afterwards...NO TICKET!  Unbelievable.  That thing sat there for an hour on an expired meter and didn't get caught!!!
My lucky day!

28 March 2011

Web Round-up

Here's what I've seen on my web travels lately...
  • Johnny Sullivan, 12 year old footballer hailing from Clinton, IA with a pretty swell arm.  Made this video to submit to College GameDay's trick shot contest.  He's a Hawkeye fan and the recruiters maybe should just bring him in next year to fill Stanzi's shoes.  
  • Milan Baros, a star player for the Czech Republic, loses the ball for very funny couple of seconds.
  • TWO brackets out of the 5.9 million submitted to ESPN have the correct Final Four.  Amazing.  A few other good facts from ESPN - Only 7% of brackets had Butler and VCU winning in their opening game.  70% of brackets have 0 teams correct in their Final Four.  So I am not alone. (:
  • My particular interest in Bosnian things aside, I thought this Economist article was very interesting about how the Bosnian war has influenced the decisions being made about Libya.  Just goes to reinforce that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.
  • The decision by the NY Times to institute a pay structure for their website seemed to be everywhere online.  I was initially very sad to read it, but as I've learned a bit more about it, I think I am OK with it.  I have stated before and will say again, the NY Times is my favorite and best source of news.  I think the quality of their journalists is unmatched. (And as Nate Silver illustrates, my feelings are shared by many.) The 'Top News' section will continue to be fully free on my iPod and iPad, the blogs are all free, and if you access a NY Times article from a link on a blog or Facebook or Twitter that doesn't count toward your monthly limit of 20 free articles.  [And their Learning Network, aimed at HS classroom will continue to be free, so I'll have to check that out more] I do think that their base price point of $15 a month is a little too high, but then again, I'm a bit of a cheapskate.  It will be interesting to see how this decision plays out for them. 
  • Some good tips on food photography, sent my way by homebase.  Thanks!  I love taking pictures of food but they start to all look the same so hopefully this will give me some ideas.
  • I read this article on "Stuff" by a writer for Fortune magazine and some of his ideas, or maybe it was the way he presented them, stuck with me.  The things that we treasure, the things we use constantly, and our tools, those things should be spent on and valued.  The other stuff is trappings and trivial at best.  I love his point towards the end, "Every time you move some new object into your time and space – buy it, receive it as a gift, inherit it, whatever – remove some equivalent object."  That is something I've been trying to do with clothes and want to attempt with other stuff.  I also like that he starts out by admitting that these behavior changes will not change the world (until millions get on board) but it will change your world.
  • LightBox is a new photoblog by the photographers of TIME magazine.  I plan to explore it.

March Madness Bracket Breakdown

Well, we don't need to wait for next weekend to crown this year's champion of the family pool.  We had a much diminished group of competitors this year due to various reasons, but we definitely hope that next year everyone can get in again.  homebase and I discussed over the weekend that starting this year the winner will be awarded a tshirt of the champion team, no more pools with no prizes!  Maybe that will help get our participant numbers up.
Our champion, and first back-to-back winner...stoppable! 
stoppable - 700
homebase -540
the brig    - 500
middleson - 490

Also repeating, me in the cellar!!!  Not acceptable.  There will have to be some changes and improvements in my research tactics as well as a review of past failures as I retool for next year.

Past years:  2010 (stoppable), 2009 (homebase), 2008 (caboose), 2007 (middleson), 2006 (homebase), 2005 (middleson)

27 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #17 & 18

Sunday -
What a treat to watch these guy make the Final Four.  Only the third #11 seed to make it ever!  I feel bad for not really catching any of their previous games.  The speed of their press, and their offense was fantastic, especially that first half.

Saturday -
America's Test Kitchen had this "Ultimate Banana Bread" on while I was back home over spring break and couldn't wait to try it. Six bananas went into this loaf and it was pretty fantastic.

26 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #15 & 16

Thursday - Got the chance to start working on some espanol with Nicole. So even though I'm not going abroad this summer hopefully I can make some gains in my language skills.
Friday - Went to Stations of the Cross for the first time since high school and it was really nice. Good music, incense, good quiet time before. And afterwards I walked out behind a lady in her eighties who, after wrapping her scarf around herself she thought she'd whapped me with it and she apologized and we started an odd sequence of chatting.
Her: "Do you go to Drake?"
Me: "No, I'm done with school. I'm a teacher, but I do live in the area."
Her: "Well you're a good looking guy, you should be a model."
Me: laughing, thinking (whoa, what?) "No, I don't think so."
Her: "Have you thought about becoming a priest? You'd really bring some people in!"
Me: more laughter. "No, but you never know."
Then she asked if I had a ride home and wished me a good weekend.

Pretty unusual conversation. Not sure if it was because I was at church by myself or what but it definitely made my night.

23 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #14

I enjoyed this little blog post about a guy getting his bag (with passport & laptop) stolen while he was at SXSW but then, amazingly, finding and recovering it.  When I get a new laptop I will be installing the free Prey Project software that saved him.  It also reminded me to get the free app "Find My iPhone" and install it on my iPad and iPod touch this afternoon, after putting it off for weeks.  This is a great app that I will be recommending to any students that bring their iPod or iPhone to school.  There are just too many stories of them getting stolen.  This app would make recovery much simpler and more likely.
And, in a related story, I found this story of an Air Force guy losing his phone out of his pocket as he was getting ready for a jump and it survived the 1,000 foot drop and he used the Find My iPhone app to recover it.

22 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #13

Came across this story today and it made me smile.  I love anecdotes that can personify a massive organization and show that it too can have a sense of humor..."Apple Said Yes."

21 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #12

We made the news!!!!
This is probably not nearly as funny to outsiders as it is to caboose and I.  We have gone through the ringer with all the myriad of problems with our current apartment and after a recent email exchange with our wonderful landlord, we are actively seeking fresh domicile.  The article couldn't be more apropos and it keeps getting better with each sentence.  Thanks for sharing it, caboose.
Sidenote:  if anyone hears or sees a rental home/duplex/large apartment in the west/NW/central Des Moines area in a respectable price range, lemme know!

Una Cosa Buena #9, 10 & 11

Sorry for the missed days, I was taking some time away from technology over the weekend...
#9 (Friday) - Once a year I get together with a group of college former roommates and friends and spend an afternoon/evening watching the opening round of March Madness.  We've been pretty good about making this happen as the locations have changed over time.  It started when I lived in Chicago with a hilariously epic day at the Cubby Bear then was hosted in Iowa City for a couple years and now has been in Des Moines for the past couple.  It is great feeling to catch up with friends you haven't seen in a year or maybe two and by the end of the day, be back to just shooting the breeze and talking about everything under the sun.  I was very lucky to gain a handful of quality friends in college and it was super fun to see them.
 - And bonus item, tried out the new(ish) sushi place, Sakari!
#10 (Saturday) - I attempted the most difficult recipe in the Rick & Lanie Bayless cook book (best cook book ever), and those are his words, not mine.  Coloradito - an Oaxacan red mole with chicken dish.  I've always wanted to attempt a mole but have been put off by the serious time and work requirements.  Luckily I had good help in the kitchen as caboose and Nicole pitched in and together we made it through it.  The end product was...good but not great.  And for the amount of effort that goes into it, I can't say I'll make it again, especially when there are so many easier recipes in that book that I feel are much tastier.  Regardless, I always enjoy time in the kitchen with music and friends. 
#11 (Sunday) - A great morning run on my favorite route with everything soaked from the thunderstorm the night before.  And we clocked a PR, scooting in just under an hour for the 7 miles. 

20 March 2011

Lightning Strikes

This woke me up at 3:00 AM Sunday morning.  It sounded like a bomb had gone off outside my bedroom window and knocked out power out.  I didn't know it was actually a strike until this morning when I saw this tree outside our building.  There was needles, bark and wood particles blown all over a 20 yard radius.  This stripe was shot off from the dirt to a good 20 or 30 feet up.
Pretty incredible to see.

17 March 2011

K. Flay

I am a big fan of K. Flay, although I'll say her mixtape is better than her original stuff.  This video shows her putting together a nice mix of the Zombie's "Time of the Season." 
She is smart and cute and can rap.  Sign me up.

Una Cosa Buena #8

It's St. Patrick's Day!
I busted out green shorts and argyle socks for a morning run around Gray's Lake (spotting 2 bald eagles along the way). Met a friend for a delicious lunch at Lucca.  Watched a lot of March Madness and am planning to make Orange-Carrot Cookies tonight. 
Erin Go Braugh.

16 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #7

Amazing weather. Marinates flank steak on the grill for tacos. Rick Bayless guacamole. And surprise slushies. Fantastic.

Adidas is all in

This new commercial just came out today. Watch for the couple Notre Dame clips along the way.

15 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #6

This morning I was fortunate to get to see the sun come up. I got on the road early and the daylight savings time change helped and I watched the sky change from pitch black to pink, then orange. I also shared the road with 4 deer, a pheasant, and a coyote along the way. Wonderful start to the day.

Teacher Pay

Two news items on teacher pay I came across this past week:
Nicholas Kristof's thoughts on increasing teacher pay in order to pull higher quality candidates.
And "60 Minutes" highlights a NYC charter school's plan to pay teachers $125k.
And, locally, while the talk of cuts seems to be quiet, there is lots of speculation of requiring teachers to contribute to paying for their health care premiums, increasing their contributions to IPERS and possible wage freezes.  

14 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #5

The first grapefruit I've eaten in a couple years.  And it was delicious.  Most people wouldn't eat one for a late night, mid-movie snack, but it hit the spot. 
I need more fresh fruit in my life!

13 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #4

ESPN 30 for 30: The Fab Five
I loved the Fab Five.  I was a freshman/sophomore in high school and I thought they were fantastic, and Jalen Rose in particular.  Rose served as executive producer on this documentary and it is pretty great.  It was good to hear more detail and in depth about the aftermath after they left Michigan. 
If nothing else, we have them to thank for ushering in longer uniform shorts! 

12 March 2011

Una Cosa Buena #3

This was SO delicious. 
I was soaking up the Irishness today.  Shepherd's Pie for lunch.  St. Patrick's Parade in Imogene.  Corned Beef & Cabbage for dinner. 

What a Finish!!!

It was a tight game the whole way but extra scary in the closing minutes.  I was crushed to hear that our PG wouldn't be able to play due to a suspected concussion in practice the day before.  With the style of offense we play, he is critical to the flow, distribution and control.  Plus you hate to see a player who is that integral having to sit out a key game at State.  But our guys figured things out and everyone stepped up their game a little and a magical moment at the end sealed the win over AnkenyPhotos courtesy of the Register.

11 March 2011

Una cosa buena #2

I'm hitting you with a double today!
Good thing #1, on Ash Wednesday I went to Jimmy John's after mass to get a tuna sandwich and when the speedy guy behind the counter handed it to me he said, "You're lucky. You got the last portion of tuna salad." Yay for me!
Good thing #2, even though I probably didn't have to, I went in to work is morning just for a couple hours to follow up on all visits I made yesterday. And when I booted up my laptop, it gave me a fatal error when it was trying to install updates as it started. I tried some things without any luck so I took it to the tech services dept and had them look at it and it turns out that the hard drive is kaput. So, although that is not good, it is fortunate that I went in and discovered it and got the replacement process started so by the time I get back from break, all will be fixed. Much better than discovering it on the day I come back. And it sounds like I'm going to be getting an upgrade!

10 March 2011

Una cosa buena #1

Hoover led the whole game and held strong in some tight closing minutes. It was great to be T
there with friends to cheer them on to a big first round win. Rematch with Ankeny on Friday. And I got to spend the game before with a good friend and her family. Top notch people and a top notch night.

09 March 2011

Lent 2011

Before anyone thinks I'm getting too sanctimonious with this post, or maybe thinks I've forgotten about the Ash Wednesday gospel from Matthew, "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them...when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret", I want to communicate that the purpose for this post is to share my hopes & ideas for the lenten season.  We are companions on the journey after all!  And if you have thoughts or suggestions to make it a more productive experience, please share!  Plus, if you put something in writing you are much more likely to follow through.
Lent is actually 47 days this year and this is what I'm hoping to accomplish:

Daily mass - continue my once a week plan and if possible, squeeze in another one
Daily rosary - I'm hoping to combine this with a daily run.
Perpetual adoration - Make it to church for a little quiet 1-on-1 time.
Confession - It's been a while but I am going to bite the bullet and get there.
Thanksgiving - Post a positive/thanksgiving post every day
Giving up alcohol - won't be hard day-to-day, but there will be several tough times in there
Giving up wasted TV time - a movie or a game are OK.  No laying watching brain-melting boob tube.
Alms giving
Volunteer at soup kitchen or food pantry
Track spending and give 50% to Catholic Relief Service

    07 March 2011

    Spring Mixtape

    I started to call this a spring break mixtape but it is not really the vibe the you would expect to pump out on your way to Cancun or South Padre.  Unlike my last few mixes, I tried to leave the dubstep, electronica, and hip-hop off this one.  I kept it organic, relaxed and simple.  So it may not get you dancing in your car, but I have found myself listening to it quite a bit.  There's even a couple instrumental songs on there, and four covers. 
    The cover art is dark too, maybe a little too dark for a spring mix but it is the direction I started off and I couldn't do much to change it.  It's a Costa Rica picture that I adjusted a lot, turned down the opacity, put a gradient behind it.  The blocks of highlight for the tracks I like but I am not a fan of the text I used for the songs or how they ended up looking, but I got tired messing with it.  I did like how you could still see the image behind them though.  And I really like the title banner part.  

    03 March 2011

    Smitty's King Tenderloin

    I have been blessed with having the Southside as my territory for my job.  I say that because I think that area has the best options when it comes to restaurants with character.  Mom & Pop's, neighborhood pizza spots, etc.  I have wanted to explore lots of them, but have held back mainly due to my love of eating at Pablo's and trying to bring my lunch a couple times a week.  But I am going to renew my exploration and I started this week with Smitty's. I had seen it listed in Juice's food issue.  Someone had listed having one of their tenderloins as a central Iowa 'must-do'.
    I had the King Tenderloin, which comes in small and large, which the waitress described using her index fingers and thumbs to give rough estimates of the diameter.  I opted for large.  Why not.  I also really wanted to do the chili and cheese but thought in the end decided to stick with the traditional - ketchup, mustard, onions.  As you can see in the picture, the loin is big...and the bun is not.  Now, having worked 7 years for Hy-Vee, I am of course going to compare it to our tenderloins there.  I was not alone in thinking that it was one of the better things we sold.  And I did miss the lettuce, tomato slices and pickles that we would put on one when we 'ran it through the garden.'  Smitty's was not quite as crisp as the Hy-Vee variety, but it was still good though.  Freshly breaded, hot from the fryer.  I did not need the side order of fries; they did not get eaten.  And I couldn't finish the whole loin either.  Next time, I would recommend sharing a large sandwich and getting a malt to go with it.  The place has a great feel.  No plates or even trays, just a wax paper on the counter.  They've been around for 40 years so you know they are doing things right. 

    02 March 2011

    On To State

    After watching our boys fall in substate last year, it was fantastic to see this group of seniors win handily this year.  (I love the picture with that story)  Their free throw shooting was awful so hopefully they get their touch back next week, but their defense is intense and fun to watch.  There is such a variety of talents and skills on the team, plus I've had every single one of them in class, so that makes it more special to watch. 
    Can't wait to see them next Wednesday night vs CR Jefferson.  Anyone who enjoys HS basketball is welcome to join me at the Well!