28 September 2011

Garden Update

Even though we've had quite a few cool days and some nights with frost advisories, my tomatoes just keep rolling on.  I picked this entire bowlful this afternoon and there are still tons left on the vine! 

26 September 2011

Messi es enorme! (and so are Turkish women!)

You don't need to speak Spanish to enjoy this video clip.  The short write-up in English, the boy's face and Messi's actions are enough to communicate what transpired.  Enjoy.
And a bonus soccer story for ya...
I LOVED this story out of Turkey.  One of Turkey's biggest clubs had received a two match penalty, which usually means playing without any fans in the stadium, but as a result of a new rule change, they made the match open to women and children only.  Free tickets, and 41,000 took them up on it.  And it sounds like it was a win-win result because the players loved it too.  The pictures and the video are great. 

All-time Fave Hawkeyes

I swiped this post topic after enjoying SH's post about who her all-time favorite Hawkeyes were.  This is tougher than I thought it would be.  I've been a Hawk fan since I was brought into the world at University Hospital on a home football weekend by a young U of I education major.  The Hawkeyes lost that weekend and went 5-6 that year, which actually was one of the best years of those two decades of bleak times for the Iowa program.  Luckily that all turned around with Hayden Fry and the glory days of the 80's.  Do I choose some of those star players from my first memories of cheering them on (Matt Hughes, Chuck Hartlieb, Nick Bell, and my first Iowa FB memory...Ronnie Harmon)?  Or more recent players who I've watched more closely and remember more clearly?  And weighing favorites from different sports is tough so with no exact science to it, here are a two or three from football, basketball and wrestling...
  • Tim Dwight - ('94-'97) He was a year older than me and I was able to see him put on one of the most stunning performances ever when he took his City High 4x400 team from behind to a wide victory at the State track meet.  After than I followed his Iowa career closely.  He was electric to watch.  Punt returns, receiving, and of course this hit on punt cover against Arizona.  He seemed like Superman at the time...actually, he still does. 
  • Tavian Banks - ('94-'97) I was there for his 314 yard game against Tulsa his senior year.  I had bought tickets off a scalper and they were in the third row one of the end zones.  Closest I've ever been.  Fantastic.  I also had an "Iowa Football #22" white baseball hat that I LOVED in college. 
  • Tyler Sash ('08-'10) I was sad the day he declared he was leaving before his senior year for the NFL.
  • Honorable Mentions:  Matt Hughes (LB '95-'98), Chuck Hartlieb (QB '87-'88), Nick Bell (RB '88-'90)
  • Tom Brands ('89-'92) There was an speaker that came to my school when I was in junior high. I don't even remember who it was, some sort of motivational thing and afterward there were posters and stuff for sale.  I bought a poster that had Tom and Terry running up the stairs in Carver-Hawkeye.  Another poster there has a quote from Alexander Karelin "I train harder every day of my life than they have ever trained a single day in theirs" that I really liked, so I wrote that on the bottom of the Brands poster in Sharpie.  I still have the poster.  And I'm thrilled that this guy is leading the Iowa program.
  • Dan Gable - He started it all for Iowa and his exploits are legendary.  Plus you still get to listen to him whenever you watch Iowa wrestle on IPTV.
  • Joe Williams ('95-'98) I had a friend who was statistician for the wrestling team while Joe was there so we actually crossed paths a couple times.  The guy was a specimen. 
  • Matt Anderson ('00-'03)  A friend from back home, this guy was a beast in HS and although he didn't have the kind of success as the others listed here, he was a three-year letterwinner and placed in the Big 10's, and he made it very fun to follow the squad in those years.
  • Honorable Mention: The 1995 Iowa squad (McIlravy, McGuinness, Ironside) This was the first time I'd seen college wrestling.  The national championships were at Carver-Hawkeye, I was a senior in HS, walked over to the arena, bought a ticket super cheap and went in to witness one of the sessions.  Incredible.  
  • BJ Armstrong ('85-'89)
  • Andre Woolridge ('95-'97)
  • Honorable mention: Chris Kingsbury ('93-'96), Roy Marble ('85-'89) Reggie Evans ('01-'02)

Trying Out the New Binoculars

No birder worth their salt can be without a pair of decent binoculars, so I decided to research the options, come to a decision and take the plunge.  After a lot of internet reading and trying out several pairs, I made my pick, the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42.  And I bought them on the last day of a $50 mail in rebate!  They are super fantastic.  homebase came into town on Friday, and after a fun Friday night of Moneyball and Zombie Burger, we went out Saturday morning to do a little birding around Saylorville Lake.  I had found this great resource and it listed some good areas around the lake and without having to go to far, it sounded like it was just what we were looking for.  The area around the visitor's center is really nice and they have some trails that look promising.  It is a spot that I will definitely be coming back to.  We did see some fun things, an owl, a few kildeer, a Canada goose, Franklin's gull, either Herring gulls or Ring-billed gulls, Eastern kingbird, Great Blue Heron, along with the commoners (cardinal, bluejay, robin).  I can't wait to take the binoculars to a game and try them out there.  And we followed up our (very chilly) outing with breakfast at La Mie so it was definitely a great morning.

21 September 2011

Parking Jackpot

Twice in the same week - parking at a meter downtown, get out with my dollar of quarters ready only to find over an hour of paid time still on there!  Good times.  And it's only Wednesday!

20 September 2011

Speaking in Tongues

This Time article, "Slow Down! Why Some Languages Sound So Fast", about the how the speed of different languages compare blew my mind with the added part of their analysis that weighed how much information was transmitted in each syllable. 
And I give it an extra thumbs up because I love articles about a topic that is pretty unknown to me (but is still interesting), that is presented in a easy to understand manner and is short.

17 September 2011

We Don't Need No Cats.

We need more dogs. 
I saw this video over lunch last week.  It had made ESPN's top 10, but forgot to blog about it until I saw it again last night.  I love his drawl, the not-quite clear meaning of his analogy, and the energy & seriousness with which he tells his story. 

14 September 2011


This saga was too bizarre to go unshared.  I left for lunch today and decided to head to Pablo's downtown.
  • I realized even before I left the building that I forgot my phone on my desk.  Not a big deal since I won't need it.  Didn't even break my stride and headed out into the perfect sunny cool weather.
  • The Jeep had given me a "low tire pressure" warning this morning so I thought I'd stop at QT and air up all 4 tires on the way to eat.  Pull off and pull up to the air pump..."Out of Order. Sorry for the Inconvenience."  hhhhh.  Fine, I'll just hit up a different QT on the way back to work.
  • Park in my regular spot and hop out to plug the meter.  First quarter dropped in....nothing.  Grrrr.  As if the city isn't charging enough already! ($1.25 for an hour!!)  Whatever, finish plugging it and stepped to the skywalk.
  • No cash in the wallet and Pablo's is a cash-only bodega.  So I swing by the ATM that I always hit.  "Out of Order."  Seriously! Ok, well, I know there is another one only a little bit in the other direction.
  • Wait for the lady in front of me to finish taking out her money at the Bank of America ATM.  I step up and it doesn't seem to want to suck up my card.  I jiggle it around, in and out, finally it takes it.  THREE DOLLAR additional charge! Holy moley.  I don't care at this point.  That burrito will be worth it.  $60 in cash please.  Transaction approved, it spits my card back out...or tries to.  The card is stuck.  And its still too far in for me to pull it out.  After about a minute of it just spinning and trying to eject it, it eats the card back up.  "Card retained for security. Contact customer service."  Did that just happen?!
  • Now I'm getting a little steamed.  I'm gonna call this 800 number on the ATM and get this figured out...err, wait.  No phone.  Aaagh.  Take a picture of the phone number with my iPad and walk off.  And sadly have to walk past Pablo's. 
  • And I have to leave almost all of those minutes that I just overpaid for on the meter.  (You're welcome, stranger!)
  • I've still got a credit card and am quickly losing my appetite so I settle for a QT hot dog.  I park beside the air pump (functional this time!) and air up both of my passenger side tires.  Yep, that rear one was ~5 psi under.  I hop in to turn around to air up the driver side tires and I'm in the middle of my three point turn when some other dude who's been waiting (and to be fair, probably doesn't realize I was wanting to be a responsible vehicle owner and air up all 4 tires) zips in behind me to start airing up.  :(
  • Get my food, arrive back at work, call BofA and turns out they destroy all retained cards every night.  Cool.  Call my bank, they are very helpful and are sending me a new card.  So no cash and no debit for the rest of the week.  
I'm chalking this up as an unlucky lunch and hoping that that string of events has run its course.

"Not all those who wander are lost"

I've never been a fan of this semi-popular bumper-sticker slogan.  Not because I disagreed with it but more just because I didn't really see the point of a statement that was so...hippie.
Anyways, I just learned this week that this saying is actually from a very popular book, and that has explained its popularity to me a little better.  I am wondering if it is a generational thing or if most people knew where this is from and I was just very slow.
Put your answers/guesses in the comments and I'll unveil the truth later today (or you can just look it up online after you've commented.)

12 September 2011

From Teachers to Parents, With Love

Ron Clark writes a letter to tell parents, "What teachers really want to tell parents" that is worthwhile reading if you are in education, have children or care about the direction of, and key factors in, the our country's schools.


Forgetting my iPad last week, I was left with only the new issue of Juice to read as I dined at Pablos'.  In the spot where there is usually the latest issue in Tim Paluch's on-going "I'm actually from a much bigger, cooler city, but I sure love Des Moines because it lets me have all these quirky, endearing stories about being a first-time home-owner and dog parent" there was something different.  "The power of an invitation" by Andrea Otteman.  It showed thought, insight, feelings, and overall I thought it was probably the best thing I've read in Juice...maybe ever.  Friend silos are a part of getting older and moving through different phases of your life, but I agree that, when you are able to break them down, it is a good thing.  And, yes, some people will say no when they are asked, but you know what...some people will say yes too.  And they will be thrilled that they were asked.
This summer a friend (from the TEC/church/Dowling silo) contacted me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to fill in on his slow-pitch softball team.  That is something I haven't done since those summers during high school and college when my buddies and I played in the league back at Imogene that had teams called "Pepsi", "Pioneer", "Farragut Ag", "Co-op", and "Earl May's".  One pitcher was a farmer, well past 50, always wearing his Key overalls on the mound.  Great times.  But overall, my baseball/softball experience isn't very extensive.  I can hold my own at the plate, but I dread playing the outfield.  Reluctantly, I gave in to his persuasion ("We won't have enough people for a team without you!") and agreed to dig my glove out.  And you know what?  I had a ball.  The team was a handful of people from his old workplace, a few Dowling friends, and a couple of his softball friends that he'd played with on other teams.  So everyone had a similar level of awkwardness of not knowing people which actually made it fun.  And, actually, we won the league and tournament, no big deal. :)
So, I was the grateful recipient of an invitation and hope to pass that on whenever I can.

11 September 2011

Football & Shadow Puppets

Yesterday was a rough day of football.  The Hawkeyes losing in triple OT to ISU was terrible.  At least I enjoyed some great food, bags, throwing the pigskin around and shared a lot of laughs with friends while watching it.  I also was able to try out Paula Deen's pumpkin bars and Marcelo Valladolid's potato & poblano gratin.  Both turned out well!  The real heartbreaker for me was seeing Notre Dame fall victim to their own mistakes and turnovers again in "an instant classic" and, after three touchdowns & lead changes in the last 1:30, the Irish were left with their second defeat of the year.  Awful. 
On that note, I came across this video today and appreciated its attempt to cheer me up.

09 September 2011


Overheard as I walked by our break room today.  The backstory is that our email server had been up and down all morning and pretty much driving us crazy and Robert is the man in charge of it all:

Co-worker:  "Robert, what's the story with our email?"

Robert:  "I'm cooking my lunch."

07 September 2011

"What Men Think About Fashion"

A poorly guarded secret is that I enjoy a good fashion magazine, InStyle in particular.  homebase has been known to buy one for me on occasion.  It's the simple pleasures in life...and a mom that doesn't fret when her son has as much interest in the new fall fashions as she does. :) 
So there is a feed on my Flipboard app that is called FlipStyle and I skim it now and then.  There are some interesting and funny articles in there and one titled "What Men Think About Fashion" from Marie Claire caught my eye and gave me a few chuckles as a went through it.  A couple comments echoed my own thoughts exactly.  I appreciate the practicality that these male commentators view the runway outfits with.  Like, "I never understood this. Don't women understand we are attracted to women? We don't want them to dress like us."  But my favorite is, "Super-high pants will never be appreciated by a straight man."  Amen, brother.

05 September 2011

Fear the Turtle

I wrapped up the opening college football weekend (which I can summarize here - Hawkeyes rolled, weather was crazy across the Midwest, Wisconsin looks tough, enjoyed watching LSU take it to Oregon, the Auburn finish was unreal, the Notre Dame first half was a brutal example of shooting ones-self in the foot) by watching the Miami vs Maryland game tonight.  Hooray for Monday Night Football that is not the NFL!  I grilled up some nice burgers & topped them with some fresh guacamole and paired them with mashed sweet potatoes.  Sliced peaches and ice cream for dessert.  A great finish to a great weekend.  Anyway, I digress, back to the Miami game.  As I turned it on I was shocked to see the get up that the Maryland players were wearing.  Under Armor has them in some crazy half & half helmets and it turns out it is part of their new uniform line that includes 3 different helmets and dozens of jersey and pants combinations.  The half & half outfit includes arm sleeves, gloves and wildly jazzy shoes.  The team warmed up in their white uni's and helmets and then, unbeknownst to them, when they came back in locker room pre-game, their surprise uniforms were there waiting.  (I wonder if there were any "Do we have to?" comments)  There are a few cool combinations in there but I am too much of a fan of classic uniforms to appreciate these much.  Check out the full line here.  Lastly, there was a commercial for University of Maryland during the game and it featured their slogan (which I was unaware of), "Fear the Turtle".  Love it.
[Edit. stoppable just illuminated me to the fact that Under Armor is owned by a Maryland alum.]

02 September 2011

Checking In with the 2011 Checklist

See live contagiously's recent post on checking their progress on their spring goals reminded me that I should probably do the same since we are 2/3's of the way through with 2011.  After all, if there is no accountability then there is no action...
So my post from January 13 listed the following as my checklist for the year...

Travel abroad for another volunteer vacation - This did not happen.  I instead focused on my masters thesis, but I am planning on something big for next year.
Ride RAGBRAI, (if not travelling abroad) - This also did not happen.  This was the last week of July and I had a wedding in KC, and car repair issues and I had definitely not put in the training miles, but more on that below.
Do a 2 day ride on the Raccoon River Trail to Jefferson & back (if not doing RAGBRAI) - I really wanted to do this but couldn't fit it in my schedule for my short 4 weeks of vacation.  It is still at the top of my biking adventure list.  If I get a crazy hair, maybe I can squeeze it in on a fall weekend.
Complete my Masters project - Done, completed, finished, passed.  I can't even tell you how good it feels.  And it'll feel even better in a couple months when I get the pay increase!
Have a Chicago weekend by Megabus - Kicked around some dates and checked into it a few times but this has fallen through the cracks so far.  May get to cross it off later in the year for a Chicago kristkindlmarkt family get-together.
Daily Mass twice a month - I did really well on this until about May and have slipped a little but now that I'm back working again, I will get back at it.  I love popping in to the little St. Anne's side chapel at St. Ambrose downtown for a quick 25 minute mass and focused homily before walking over to Pablo's for a quick burrito!
Ride at least 300 miles on my bike - Two times in the saddle.  One for 10 miles.  One for 45 miles.  Not good. 
Run at least 500 miles - I stopped keeping a log of my miles after July 1.  At that point I had 259 miles, so I was ahead of pace for my goal.  I have dropped off since then mainly since I don't have a long race to train for, plus that week or two of ridiculous heat in July broke up my routine.  I am looking forward to adding a longer weekend run (or ride) back into my routine.
Play some basketball, tennis and golf outside this summer - Check. Check. And check.  And I've enjoyed all of it. 
Read more books than last year - Hmm.  22 books on last year's list, I'm at 17 currently.  So I'm a book or two ahead of the pace.  I have been on a dry spell the last month or two, and am ready to jump into something good.
Volunteer locally once a month - Hawthorne House counts right?  I'm working on nailing down a recurring time this fall at one of a couple different organizations.
Wear a tie once a week - I did this and enjoyed it all year until it started getting hot and then I ditched.  It adds a fun variation to the work fashion routine so I'll be ready to kickstart this again once the temps drop a little.
Take a free online course - I signed up for a JFK one through iTunes and it turned out to not really be what I was looking for.  Getting a formalized Spanish study plan is my new priority.
Go to a state I haven't been to before - I had been to Pennsylvania before, but never actually set foot outside the airport, so my June trip to Philly counts. I didn't get to do much touristy/historical stuff, but the city looks neat and the trip and conference were fun.
Buy a suit & get it tailored (along with my current one) - I'd love to do this one, but until there is a reason, I'll probably hold off on splashing the cash for it.
Find a new place to live - Success!  Not only a new place, but a better, quieter, bigger, more private, cheaper place with better parking and a better landlord and still in my favorite neighborhood!
Get a dog, if find a new place - Not sure where this goal came from.  I know caboose had mentioned it a lot, but, oddly, neither of us has brought it up since we moved. 
Bring my lunch at least 2 times a week - Gradual improvement through the start of the year until the end of the school year when it completely flopped.  But I am back and better than ever so far this fall.  Three and four times a week eating lunch at home has been the norm and I'm loving it!  And so is my bank account!
Design & print a t-shirt - I suppose the Irish Setters shirt would count.  But really, my design projects have been sparse lately.  With the return of the school year (and cooler temps ahead) I hope there will be more coffee shop evenings so I can get creative and come up with something. 

So, overall, not bad!!  And it helps to see that there are some areas that require a rededicating.