28 July 2011

Return to the Great Western

Squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk, tons of different butterflies and moths.
Great blue heron, red-tailed hawk, robin, goldfinch, cardinal, bluejay, indigo bunting, wren?, and several others that I couldn't identify.
44.5 miles.  3:10. 14.5 avg speed.

Nike Training Club

I think I've shared before how much I like the "Nike Women" - Make Yourself videos.  They have provided some much-needed freshness into caboose and my routines.  I have been trying to incorporate more core exercises, more full body movements and less traditional isolated heavy weight lifts.  So I'd found a few things that I could add to to what we do, like the "Sumo Squat with Lateral Raise," "Russian Twist," "Crazy Ivans," and "Wood Chops."  It doesn't hurt that the athletes modeling the exercises have bodies that look chiseled from stone. 
I downloaded the Nike Training Club app a month or so ago and have never even looked at it until yesterday.  caboose texted me to say that he wasn't going to be working out that afternoon due to a headache so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.  It is such a slick app!  You can queue up your own music (from a playlist, an album or your full library) - I went with Girl Talk's All Day album, and then, as this video shows,  you choose your goal from Get Toned, Get Lean, Get Strong, etc and your level from Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and then it gives you a handful of 30 minute workouts to choose from.  Your music starts and a coach's voice tells you exactly what to do and for how long to do it.  If you don't know how to do something, the demo video is right there for you to click and watch.  The coolness is tough to transmit in writing, but I was impressed.  And it was HARD!  I was sweating buckets and loving it!  I love a fresh workout.  And it keeps track of your progress and you unlock new workouts, coaches and other stuff as you compile your minutes. 
And it is FREE.  Download it from iTunes for your iPhone, iTouch or iPad.

MLS All-Star Game

It may be a sign of the lack of quality TV to watch but I tuned in to watch the MLS All-Star game last night.  The team of all-stars took on Manchester United.  As I've said before, I never watch MLS so I didn't know most of the players, although Thierry Henry played the first half and David Beckham played the full 90.  I'm no fan of Man U either so I couldn't really cheer for them either.  Allegiances aside, it was fun to watch to some soccer that had some good creative flashes.  The Brits pretty much stomped on the MLS squad, running out 4-0 winners.  Ji-Sung Park had my favorite goal of the quartet. 
And I know I am a little biased, but Beckham played fantastic.  A long-distance shot that tested the keeper, a wicked free kick that was inches wide and went into the outside of the side netting but mostly his passing was just phenomenal. 

26 July 2011

Ed Emberley

My love for Ed Emberley's drawing books started when I was very young and has not waned as I've gotten older.  We had several of his books, Book of Animals, Big Orange, Big Red, Big Purple, Thumbprints, etc.  homebase gave me a duplicate copy of the Drawing Book of Animals that she had found in the packing for her move.  I decided to try and draw some of the animals using Photoshop.  This probably would've taken me 3 minutes in Paint, but I spent easily 30 minutes on this.  Those Paths, man, they are tricky. 
Anyways, I still love it and will be on the lookout to pick up more of his book at Half-Price books.

Debt Ceilings & Budget Deficits

In case you were like me and missed the President's address last night, check it out here.  And you can hear Speaker Boehner's response here.  Obama explains the situation so everyone can understand it, although the full implications of defaulting on our debt are wide-spread and controversial.  The Harry Reid plan makes sense to me and Boehner really seems like a smug ass.  Budget balancing, in my opinion, is similar to people trying to lose weight.  Yes, it may be possible to reach your goal by dieting (spending cuts) but realistically you need to increase the amount of calorie burning you do (revenues).
Also, this article does a nice job reminding us, as we listen to the Republicans in the news, that the Bush-era tax cuts DID in fact reduce our revenues.  That may seem like common sense, but there have been a lot of Republicans trying to convince the public of the opposite lately.

Moving homebase

homebase's long wait to sell her house came to an end and all of us came together to move her into her new digs out in the country last weekend.  In typical homebase fashion, we got an early start on things and our plan changed from "Get the trailer and move everything on Saturday" to "Maybe get the trailer on Friday night" to "Get the trailer and maybe get one load moved on Friday night and the rest on Saturday" to "Move everything on Friday."  It was HOT, but we still were better off doing it Friday afternoon/evening than if we had been forced to do it during all the heat on Saturday.  And with all the help, it really made things go fast.  I've grown accustomed to apartment-sized moves, so it was quite a change to move 6 beds, washer, dryer, refrigerator, etc. 
The new homestead is fantastic.  It actually reminds me of where I grew up; out in the country, a big yard, lots of trees, lots of fields to explore, quiet and a fantastic view in all directions.  The house is big, old and ripe with character.  The basement has a great space for ping-pong that the Brig and I have already broken in.  The upstairs has rooms for all guests.  I'm excited to see the place and the nature around it through the different season.  Plus it cut about 20 minutes off how long a trip home takes me!

25 July 2011

Mario Balotelli = Douche

Check out this video for what NOT to do when you are bearing down on goal during a breakaway.  I realize it is only a preseason game against an MLS team but, as the coach points out, it is about respect.  This guy's attitude it an apt reflection of what is wrong with professional sports.  You can see his teammate Edin Dzeko (who I AM a fan of) beside him saying "What the heck man?" (or something stronger).  The coach's immediate decision substitute him out after only 30 minutes and then give him an earful on the sideline is a picture of what is right. 

21 July 2011

It's Beginning!

The First Tomato! (#1427)
Harvested my first tomato last night. (And ate it with steaks from the grill). It was the only one that was close at all to being ripe, but, still exciting!  There are A LOT of tomatoes on the vines out there.  Looks like I'll be making a lot of sauce to freeze!  This was one of the 'Juliet' tomatoes, bigger than a grape or cherry but smaller than a roma.

20 July 2011

New Header

I was ready for a change and using CS5 on my new Mac is a DREAM.  Looking forward to getting busy with more Photoshop projects!
I used a picture I took in Costa Rica for the background.  It is a bible passage that was painted on the corrugated tin wall of the church we worked in.  The new logo I had an idea of what I wanted and tried to achieve it in Illustrator.  I came close enough to be happy with it for a first draft.  The font & colors may need some work.  And I think it's been a long while since I had a header with a border on it, so decided to add one.  Not sure if I like the opacity on the border and I'm thinking I should've left it at 100%.  Enjoy.

History of Rap

I don't ever watch Jimmy Fallon's show, but I think the guy is totally hilarious and a genius at impersonations.  I heard him on NPR one day talking about how we got selected for SNL and I was laughing out loud in my car.
Justin Timberlake was on his show this week and they did a follow up to their "History of Rap" medley from last year.  I think this year's is even better. Here's "History of Rap, Part 2"

18 July 2011

40 Noises That Built Pop

Came across this article on a music blog and spent the better part of an hour reading and listening to all 40 of these sounds. It is so cool to hear about the history behind some of these sounds which you recognize instantly but (in my case) hadn't really thought much about before. 
My faves:  #9 Reverse Tape, #13 Organ Bubble, #17 "Eugh", #27 Vinyl Scratch, #29 Gated Reverb Drum, #36 Sample stutters, #38 Opening lo-pass filter,
Most interesting: #33 Orchestra Hit and #37 Amen Drum Break
Honorable mention to Hand Claps, Vocoder, Auto-tuned vocals


Three weeks without a vehicle came to an end last Friday.  I thought it was going to be closer to two weeks but the damage to my roof was more severe than estimated so instead of repairing it, they had to replace it and the roof was on back-order.  Anyways, I've got my Jeep back now and they even fixed the big scratch on the back bumper that was there when I bought it.  It was one of the few areas that didn't have hail damage, but he said they could fix and repaint it for $100, but then ended up just doing it for free after making me wait an extra week. 
Here are a few reflections from my time without a car:
  • Living in a location where it is easy to walk to entertainment is such a great thing.  It is one of the main reasons I wouldn't want to live in other parts of the city.  From my place I can walk to two great coffee shops, three sports bar/restaurants, two of my good friends' houses, a grocery store, an ice cream shop, the post office, and tons of other stuff.  My time in Chicago showed me how great it is to have that ability.  It may take a little longer, but it more relaxing and healthier to be able to walk.
  • It reminded me that a bike is a great way to get around town, not just a tool to get a workout.  Again, during college, a little, and especially in Chicago, my bike was a great way to get places that may have been too far to walk or just to get there quicker than on foot.  But since moving back to Iowa I have pretty much just used my bike to get out and log some miles on the trails, which is fantastic, but a totally different purpose.  I had a great morning last week when I got up, aired up the tires on my old hybrid and enjoyed the cool air, riding over to grab breakfast at La Mie and a haircut at the Roosevelt barber.  
  • I've got good family & friends!  caboose and homebase each drove to Avoca to meet and help me get home to help prepare for homebase's upcoming move and then they did it again so I could get back to Des Moines.  caboose, nicole and haley gave me rides whenever and were flexible with plans to accomodate me.  
  • I like my Jeep.  Three weeks is a while and when I got back in the driver's seat, it felt good.  Almost as good as that icy cold air conditioning blowing out of my vents.  I drove around that day after picking it up, just enjoying the liberty of it.

14 July 2011


I just found out there is a new Muppets movie coming out this Thanksgiving.  Check out the full trailer here.  And three other short trailers here and here and here.  Oh yeah and it co-stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams.  Double yes.
Related sidenote that started me on this Muppets kick this morning: there is a tribute album coming out in August with some fun names (Weezer & Haley Williams together!, Amy Lee, MMJ) covering some good Muppets tunes.  You can listen to My Morning Jacket's contribution here.

Netflix Hiking their Fees

After seeing this article yesterday morning, I promptly went out and put my subscription on hold for the next three months.  I also switched my plan to the 1-DVD at a time with no instant streaming option for $7.99 a month.  The three months will give me some time to see if I want to keep it around.  I actually am pleased that they now offer a 'just DVD' option and a 'just streaming' option.  I don't get through many movies during the summer months and I used their "put your account on hold" option last summer and didn't miss it.  I think that I won't notice not having the live streaming option, even though I have been watching a few movies on my iPad in bed.  And 1 DVD at a time is all I need.  So really, I'll be saving money since my fee will go from $11.99 to $7.99.  Ha, your plan backfired Netflix!

Everything Will Be Jake

While watching "The Sting" last night, Robert Redford's character used the phrase, "Everything will be jake."  My ears, naturally, perked up and since I hadn't ever heard it before I had to look it up.  Lo and behold it means 'agreeable, fine, alright.' 
Feel free to drop this gem into your conversation today.

12 July 2011

I'm Not Getting Any Handouts!

"We need less intrusive gov't...and more student loans!"
Like the article says, I kinda figured that this was the case but I had no idea that it was as widespread as shown in this research from Cornell. Truth be told though, there are some on that list that you might not think of right off the bat as being a government program.
I'm not trying to proclaim one way or another, just sharing some info!  :)

11 July 2011

Beckham Bends the Corner

Look who's back making highlight reels!
Beckham scores a goal directly off a corner for the Galaxy.
While maybe not quite as sensational as this goal from midfield back in '96, which schulerin reminded me of this weekend, it is still pretty phenomenal. 

10 July 2011

New Computer!

I have been holding out for several months now, dealing with slow processing speed on a laptop that, works great if I am only running 1 or 2 applications, but if you ask too much of it, it slows to a grind.  And I had filled the 80 GB hard drive almost to the limit, which is a little deceiving after you factor in losing some space in the formatting process and more to the backup drive. 
I was hoping to hold out until Apple releases its new Lion OS later this month, but after spending several LONG days on my old laptop working on my master's paper, I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger. 
Although my last HP laptop lasted me nearly 5 years, I knew I wanted something different since I had replaced the hard drive, the CD drive and 2 power cords over those five years.  And with my tech job I have found that I am very unfamiliar with Macs and we are getting more and more in our district so I decided to pay a little more and go for a premium machine. 
So say hello to my new 13" Macbook Pro...
I went from an 80 GB hard drive to 320 GB, from 1 GB to 4 GB of RAM.  And, along with education discounts on the machine itself, the extended warranty, and the case, they were running a Back to School special giving away a $100 voucher to use on iTunes, iBooks or apps.  So if you know of something great I should get to load on it, let me know!
I've got lots to learn with my first Mac, and I am joining my brother, mother, two aunts and friends as Mac users,  and I am looking forward to it! 

WWC: Quarterfinals

Two nail-biter games yesterday, France vs England went to penalty kicks after being tied at the end of 120 minutes and France had their first penalty kick saved but then England missed penalty kicks #4 and 5, giving France the win.  And then Germany was stunned by a goal in extra time, the 108th minute and lost to Japan.  Germany was defending champs and many people's pick to win again this time.
We set up the projector back home and watched the games through my laptop, which despite a few glitches, worked pretty well. 
Sweden/Australia and USA/Brazil today!
And a little extra treat...a video of Sweden's Josefine Oqvist (and FHM model) swapping jersey's with a fan after a match. 

08 July 2011

80/35 Recap

A quick recap of last weekend's 80/35 festival...
It was a beautiful day for outdoor music, sunny, breezy, even if it was a little hot.  I did a lot of hanging out and catching up in the afternoon with a bunch of teacher friends that were there.
Cashes Rivers played a great set; I hadn't seen them play in quite a while and I thought they sounded better than the last few times I'd caught them.  Maybe it was just the outdoor setting, I always think that adds something to live music.  A definite highlight was seeing Hayden, the grandson of my mentor teacher on-stage for the drum breakdown.  He was THRILLED to be doing it and totally rocked it.
The other big highlight was seeing Girltalk again.  When caboose and I experienced his sold out show at People's in January of '09 it blew our minds.  He was fantastic again this time, lots of dancing and jumping around, a fun light show and a few confetti explosions.  We were a bit more removed from the stage this time so it didn't have the intimacy and craziness from the first show, plus I stand by my original review of "All Day" that, while very good and enjoyable, it lacks the insane energy of "Feed the Animals" so that probably was reflected a bit in the live shows also.  But overall a great day.  Check out the picture set here.

06 July 2011

Garden '11 Update

A quick update of how things are going in the garden.  Basil is looking great and I've used a little of it in the last week for some chick pea salad.  The cilantro is a lost cause.  It's still alive but it "bolted" right after I put it in the ground and is not worth harvesting now.  Tomatoes, shown below, are growing like crazy and starting to put out some fruit.  Same with the peppers...

My biggest tomato plant is closing in on 6' tall.  I'm a little worried it is going to start putting everything else in the shade.

 This tomato is coming along nicely on one of the smaller plants in the back.

 The red bell pepper plant is right beside that huge tomato plant, but seems to still be doing OK. 

 These guys are coming along nicely!  

05 July 2011

Women's World Cup: Handball, please?

I've only caught a couple games so far, but I saw this highlight, or lowlight actually, and had to share.  FIFA has tried to pull all videos on YouTube of the incident to spare themselves some embarrassment, but as of now this clip is still working...For those not familiar with the rules, you can't touch the ball with your arms or hands...so catching and walking with it should result in a penalty kick since it happened inside the other team's goal area.

ISTE '11 Conference: Philadelphia

I'm going to try and get caught up on all that has been going on lately, and in doing so, explain why my blogging has sucked so much lately.
First off, I went to Philadelphia for a conference for work.  I was invited along by the technology leader at one of my elementary schools and I was thrilled to be going.  The International Society for Technology in Education is the top professional society for tech ed professional development.  This was their annual conference and was being held in a city I'd never been to before (other than a horrible lay-over on a trip to Ireland). 
So we flew in on Sunday, connecting threw Newark and made our way to our hotel.  We were staying at the Holiday Day Inn Stadium.  It is right beside all three of Philly's major sports arenas. And not really close to the conference and we had to call everywhere to ever get that accommodation!  But the rooms were nice and the cabs were easy to get.  After settling in we headed down to the conference center to get a lay of the land and get registered.  A quick sidenote: the Philadelphia Convention Center is HUGE.  Like 3 city blocks long, 3 stories high.  And it is connected to Reading Terminal Market, which I was going to find out, is totally fantastic.  It is this huge indoor market with dozens of different little food counters (tiny restaurants) for every type of food. 
The conference was completely great.  There were so many fantastic sessions that I often had 2 or 3 that I was interested in and had to choose.  They would run an hour long and then you'd have 45 minutes off until the next session, but they had things set up so that during those 45 minutes you could be checking out one of three other great attractions.  An area with booths set up by educators, science fair style, that sharing something tech related they had been doing in their classrooms.  An area set up in that same style, except this time showcasing student work, projects, etc. with the students there to talk to.  And finally there was the Expo, which was a gargantuan gathering of vendors that were there to market their services and pass out free stuff. The Expo was fantastic; it was incredible to see how many different companies are out there to provide new solutions.  I got some good information and contacts there.  I skipped a couple sessions to spend more time at the Expo and I still didn't make it all the way through the thing!  It is also where I got worked over by the New York Times sales guy and I am now a subscriber!  :)
Here are the sessions that I made it to:
Teaching a HS Emerging Technologies Course
Google to the Max: The Power User's Guide (this is the only one I was disappointed in)
Infograpics in the Classroom as Creative Assessment
Electronic portfolios
The Tech Commandments: Ten Ways to Revitalize Education with Technology
The Best Educational Ideas in the World: High-Tech Learning Adventures
"We Need More PD!": And Other Myths About Tech Integration
I learned some great stuff in these sessions, took lots of notes, met some cool people and got excited for the coming year.  I am in a perfect role to help people with a lot of what was discussed, but, selfishly, there were a couple sessions that had me longing for my own classroom so I could implement what I was learning. 
I am going to see if there is any way I can get to next year's conference: San Diego!!!
A few general thoughts from the conference:  Twitter is very powerful professional development.  The iPad is here to stay in education.  Free and cloud-based is where it is at now.  There is still a long ways to go to come up with how we should be integrating technology instruction into other courses.
Ask me about any of this stuff and I will chat your ear off!
As a vacation, it wasn't great since I got to see absolutely zero of the city and sites, but I did get to eat some good food while I was there.  After the conference each day we would walk down toward the Old City district and get a good meal and some drinks while sharing all that we had absorbed that day.  Sadly we started the week off at touristy Hard Rock Cafe, but I'm chalking that up to first day in the city panic.  After that we did much better.  Banana Leaf in Chinatown for good, if unremarkable, sushi. Q's for BBQ, where I had lime chili margarita and it was INTENSE!  It was unlike any drink I've had before.  I got a fantastic corned beef reuben at Hershel's in Reading Terminal Market for lunch on Tuesday.  The line was 15 minutes long and it was a treat to watch these 5 guys behind the counter sawing through mountains of corned beef, pastrami and turkey.  We checked out Lulu's for a drink and to watch some Women's World Cup action.  And the last night we spent a good bit of time at Mad River, watching the Philly's game, chatting with the bartenders and then later when up to the second floor where they have a small skate ramp and we watched the skaters for a while.  We got the real Philadelphia scoop on where to go for a good late night cheesesteak from the bartender girl and so we walked to Jim's Steaks, had a fantastic sandwich and then, on her insistence, stopped at a wawa (their local chain of convenience stores) and got some Tastykakes (a local company like Dolly Madison, but much much better). 
I did an awful job of taking pictures.  I had 10 from the whole trip. :( But you can check them out here.
Oh, and fun ending to the trip, on our layover in Chicago (which was already 3.5 hours long) our flight was delayed and overbooked and they asked for volunteers to give up their seats for $400 in vouchers, so I did! I didn't have anything to get back for and thought, why not!  So now I've got a good start toward a free ticket and it has to be used within a year, so my imagination is going!