28 November 2011

Goal!

A little goal treat to start off everyone's week. This is fantastic. The player sees the opening as soon as he gets the ball and has to get his footing right before he can unleash a venon-filled 60 yard scorcher that grazes in off the underside of the bar. The goal itself is magnificent but when you factor in that it came in stoppage time and was a game-winner...that goal will be talked about for years in Spain.

26 November 2011

Texas / Texas A&M

Even though I wasn't able to watch it since I was back home, I was happy to see the Longhorns squeak out a victory in a wild finish (a TD, missed 2pt conversion, and a FG in the last 1:48) to what may be the last episode for quite a while in this legendary rivalry.  These two schools have faced off 118 times, third-most in all of Division 1 of college football
Sports Illustrated had an article that I thought was very good about how the rivalry played a significant role in who both of the two schools are. 

22 November 2011

Muppets Meets Conchords

I am anxiously waiting for the new Muppets film to come out tomorrow and hopefully I get a chance to see it this week.  [random sidenote that went through my head when I looked at that website: how fun would it be to be a graphic designer/web developer for Disney]  The NY Times ran an article on Sunday about one of the people who submitted music and was chosen to write songs for the movie.  Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords!  Turns out the producer of the Muppets movie is also a co-creator of Conchords and asked Bret to submit a few things.  There are some interesting insights to the Disney mystique and production machine. 

21 November 2011

Becks: Champion Again

My admiration/man-crush for Beckham has been well documented so it was no surprise that I tuned in last night to watch the championship game for the MLS season.  LA Galaxy vs Houston Dynamo.  Not something I usually care about but with all the talk of Beckham moving on after this game since his five year contract is up, I thought I'd better check it out.  Plus the Galaxy signed Robbie Keane a few months ago so double the reason to watch.  The Galaxy scored midway through the second half and that's how it finished, 1-0.  Beckham on the top pedestal of yet another league.  This article sums up things nicely about where Beckham's been and where he's going.

Dubstep Beatbox Busker

"If you have never heard dubstep...do not leave now."
That intro statement is so great and when the bass wobble kicks in @1:15 it takes it to another level. 
Plus he thanks the two little girls that pitch in some change.

20 November 2011

Wicked

Nicole and I took in Wicked at the Civic Center on Friday and despite it being the second time seeing it, it was still a great time.  She chose the pre-show dinner location of Sbrocco (#27 on the recent central Iowa top 100) and we picked a few things off their 'social plates' menu for sampling. 
  • Pan seared New Bedford scallops/ cauliflower puree/ caramelized Maui onions/ watercress/ apple cider syrup
  • Smoked Chilean seabass/ creamed leeks/ pickled pearl onions/ fig syrup 
  • Cheese plate with Manchego (Spain), Frommage d'Affinoise (French), Carr Valley Benedictine (US), and Mobay (US). 
I though the visual presentation & plating could've been better.  And the scallops were not anything remarkable.  But I did like the sea bass.  The cheese plate was fun, a good mix of soft & firm, strong and mild cheeses.  There were some Marcona almonds on the plate also as well as some peppered Turkish apricots which were the surprise gem of the night for me.
The play was great.  The music is so fabulous you can't help but enjoy it.  We did agree that the girl playing Glinda didn't really have the caliber of pipes that were necessary.  Oh well, just means I'll have to listen to Kristen Chenowith and Idina Mendzel doing it justice on my iPod. :)
Capping the night off with a couple martinis at the Lift and it was a fun Friday evening!

17 November 2011

Sunday NY Times

As I mentioned in my recap when I came back from Philadelphia, while I was there I was talked into signing up for a subscription to the NY Times.  This was right after they had instituted their paywall and I thought I'd try it out and see how many articles I read per month and I could always cancel later.  I haven't cancelled yet and, although I haven't really kept track, my monthly article count is usually somewhere in the 30's but has dipped severely recently.  But what has been interesting is that the home delivery of the Sunday Times, which was a requirement to get the good deal, has been great.  When I'm around all weekend, I love picking up the paper on the way in once I get back from church and flipping through the sections as I make and enjoy my breakfast.  It's no wonder that people have enjoyed doing that for so long.  And it's a shame that the Register is such a pale imitation of what it used to be back in its glory days. 
In last Sunday's paper I found the following three articles very enjoyable and thought I'd share...but my week's been super busy so you're not getting them til now...
  1. "Ideas for cutting military spending" - This is a letter to the editor that was sparked by this article about an interview with Leon Panetta.  I hadn't read the original article but, after digesting the letter to the editor, I went back and checked it out.  The really amazing thing is the credibility and quality of the authors that submitted responses - senior fellows, asst secretary of defense, professors, etc.  This, in addition to the fact that they make the cuts sound so commonsense and doable.  Very different from the dialogue we get when listening to politicians views on them.
  2. "I'll have the red: hot sauce, island by island" - I LOVE a good hot sauce.  My favorite for the last 10 years or so has been El Yucateco's Kutbil-Ik.  Discovered at my lunch spot, Pablo's, it is fiery, earthy and fantastic.  My other favorite taqueria, Tacos Andreas, offers three bowls of sauces with your meal, a red and green and a yellow/brown.  And they are all heavenly.  So this article about trying out all the homemade pepper sauces across the Caribbean sounded that a dream vacation.  Stoppable would be my ideal partner for this, as that guy can handle about any heat level and he gets the credit for initiating my hot sauce education.  He also just made his own pepper sauce which I can't wait to try.
  3. "A town creates its own department store" - Having spent some time teaching business and entrepreneurship classes, this article caught my eye and, by the end, also captured my imagination.  It is such a timely story, with the Occupy Wall Street movement happening and the push-back against behemoth banks this is the perfect fairytale.  Citizens band together and create their own, co-operative department store.  Keep Wal-Mart out of town, protect mom & pop stores, develop the civic & community responsibilities of the townsfolk, shared sacrafice for the collective good, keep shoppers in town instead of traveling to mega-malls, revitalize a vacant storefront.  Oh my gosh, be still my heart!  Don't get me started.  This is exactly the type of project that I could leave my job for. 

14 November 2011

App Developer

Check out this guy from a local TEDx event, talking about app development.
...and in case that wasn't exciting enough to get you to click thru, he is a sixth grader.

12 November 2011

ND fashion makeover

More Irish news, this time out of South Bend instead of Ireland.
Notre Dame has announced that they signed an agreement with adidas to have a one-off game each season at a neutral location and they will unveil some non-traditional uniforms and helmets for that game.  I am an out-spoken fan of tradition.  So I have great respect and apprecation for teams like Penn State, LSU, Iowa, USC, Georgia, etc.  They have a classic look and they stick with it.  I don't mind team's having fun and taking one game to sport a modern, different look.  Nike has done some cool things for teams like Georgia, West Virginia, TCU, etc.  But you need to stick with what works.
So even though I'm not sure I'll be a fan of what Notre Dame is wearing later today (white cleats?, green jerseys, green facemasks?, and that shamrock is TOO big), I am ok with them trying it out...and then retiring it for the year.  I saw a couple interviews with Notre Dame players before the Michigan game where they got to wear the throwback jerseys and helmets and I think doing fun things like this does matter to players.  They see Oregon, Maryland, Oklahoma State, etc doing wild things and wearing sick uniforms and they want to do something different too.

11 November 2011

Ireland Puts in Work

Massive win for the Irish today.
They have a two game playoff with Estonia to see which team gets to take part in the Euro2012 tournament. [Euro is a tournament for the national teams of the European region held every 4 years, opposite the World Cup.]  This afternoon the Irish went to Estonia and came away with a 4-0 victory.  Two goals by the veteran Robbie Keane, most prolific scorer in Ireland's history and the other two goals by a couple of fresh faces.  Since the winner of the playoff is determined on the aggregate score, they would have to screw up epically to not advance.  The return leg is next Tuesday in Dublin. 

10 November 2011

Taking a Personal Day

There are few better ways to spend a restorative personal day than back at home in southwest Iowa. 
My Jeep has needed new tires for a while and the guy running the only garage/gas station in Farragut does a good job with finding tires that are on sale or running a rebate so I had him get me four new shoes for the Jeep.  (Switched from Goodyear Wranglers to Cooper Discoverys and they look great!)
After wrapping up my last training on Wednesday, I stopped at home to change, grabbed a pop and hit the road, making it home just at the sky went black.  Even though I was only home for not quite 24 hours, homebase and I packed a lot of fun in.
  • A delicious meal of chorizo con papas and guac from the Rick & Lanie book, one of my faves.
  • Watched some of the CMA's, which led to me downloading some new songs.  I really feeling Miranda Lambert lately!  It was nice that her and her husband, Blake Shelton, won female and male vocalists of the year.  And that T-Swizzle won entertainer of the year.
  • Spent some time working on helping put some clarity to the financial side of homebase's last few years of teaching.  It may not sound like fun but I love creating spreadsheets, so it was enjoyable for me.
  • Things get started early on the farm (or really anywhere when homebase is involved).  I was up at 6:30 and making homemade doughnuts shortly after.  We had some mixed results.  The last batch were pretty tasty I thought.  This was a practice run for Thanksgiving.  I'm excited to try a yeast dough and see if that makes them better.  
  • Dropped off the Jeep to get new treads, stopped for a pop at Marty's Mart where the window proudly proclaims, "Biscuits & Gravy, all day, everyday" and we went to do some birding at the Riverton Wildlife Refuge.  Lots of hunters out, yet we still encountered some fun species.  I was able to check off the pie-billed grebe and the American coot.  Although it was very brisk out, it was a gorgeous morning.  
  • Made homemade noodles which later went into the chicken and noodle soup and they were fantastic.  I am definitely going to make these noodles a few more times during the winter.  So simple but so great!
  • Enjoyed a game of Scrabble while watching "How to Steal a Million."  It is one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies and I happened to have it from Netflix so I brought it down home with me.  Audrey is at the peak of her hotness.  Her hair and makeup are perfect and would look just as impressive today and the Givenchy outfits are amazing.
  • I headed back after a nice walk, enjoying the sun, and got back in time to watch Spy Game, one of my favorites.  And homebase sent me back with an amaryllis for the holiday season so I can't wait to plant it and track its growth!

07 November 2011

Ginkgo Stink

Some hard-hitting journalism today...
As anyone who has one of these gingko trees on their property, or close to it, or walks by sometimes, knows the gingko tree drops a fruit that as it breaks down smells strongly and very similarly to....well, puke.  Like the world's biggest pile of puke.  I thought I'd research a little to see why it smelled, "it stinks because the pulp contains butyric acid, a chemical found in various amounts within vomit, feces, parmesan cheese, and rancid butter."  That is some pungent company.  Unknown fact: the nut (different from the female fruit?) has long been gathered and eaten in parts of Asia.
This article (from Iowa City) highlights some of the problems these trees have and are causing for city planners.  It also covers a question that came up as I was reading these articles.  I did not know there were female and male trees.  Or that a male could become a female.  Wild stuff.  They really do create a mess, though.  On a big tree the fruit cover a big area and turn into a slippery pulp that covers the sidewalk.  There are quite a few around my neighborhoods and the bottom of my running shoes stinks.  I had to spray them down with 409 before putting them into my closet.  

03 November 2011

In the News...

Three news articles that caught my eye recently...
  • I don't get into the whole intense discussion and nit-picking about coaching decisions and such.  But I did read this article and I loved the Iowa AD's quote at the end, "You can have a whole discussion about what the marketplace is, isn’t, what it should be, or what it shouldn’t be. That’s a separate discussion. Do we have the person that best fits Iowa? We have somebody who has taken us to a very high level competitively, someone who graduates student-athletes at a level that’s among the top in the country, somebody that I trust as he brings in young people and develops them as people. Yes, we’re getting the bang for our buck.”
  • Although I have no interest in NFL games, this article did lure me in.  Tim Tebow always seems to cause strong feelings and conversations, but I think mimicking or making fun of someone's spiritual actions or the strength of their convictions just goes to show the shallowness of that person.
  • And we'll finish with a local story...I'll admit that I clicked on this link mainly to read the details of a child endangerment story and to see if I knew the teen involved.  And as lamentable and depressing as the details of the story are, the teen's actions and decisions impressed me and I tip my hat to him.  Rider Pride!

01 November 2011

And on the 32nd day, he rested...

Just a little recap on my 31 in 31 challenge.  I made it through the month with complete success.  I didn't regret a single run and there were only two or three that weren't totally pleasant.  My splits improved as the month went on.  I shed some unnecessary pounds.  Thanks to a dry month, I never had to run in rain or snow.  A complete, illustrated breakdown of the data will have to wait, but a few raw numbers:  108 total miles (my avg run was 3.5 miles), 15 and a half hours of running time.  Temps ranged from 84 to 35 degrees.  As a prize, I treated myself to this cool bracelet from Starbucks (also a boost to the jobs situation)!
So I took tonight off and relaxed, but I will definitely be running more often than I had been.