28 February 2013

Not Keeping Score

"Disspelling the Myth Around No Scores, No Standings" by Jason deVos.
This article about the recent decision made by Canada's soccer development program to no longer keep scores or league standings for any of its youth teams under 12 years old.
There are some great points in there and, it "isn't about removing competition, nor is it about providing young athletes with a sense of false achievement. It is about creating an environment where every child can learn the skills they need to achieve success in the game, and then allowing them to apply these skills in competitive formats that are age-appropriate."
"Rather than fostering their natural creativity and curiosity about the game, it stunts their development. In such an environment, children are not free to make the mistakes that are necessary for learning to occur. They play the game with a sense of dread, fearful that a mistake will lead to a goal against or a lost game."

Sequestration: a basic economic analysis

"Sequestration: a basic economic analysis" by Jason Welker.
I used to LIVE BY this guy's wonderful website when I was making my way through my first year of teaching and working through the AP Macro curriculum.  I saw this article yesterday and loved how it took something that everyone is talking about (or at least hearing about) and drew direct lines to terms and principles that they are learning in their economics course.  

25 February 2013

Shrinking Number of Crop Varieties

Not a lot of accompanying information with this National Geographic chart, but I thought it was still good enough to share.  I'd like to find some lesser known variety of beets & carrots to try out in my garden this year.  Lemme know if you know of a good seed resource.

21 February 2013

WWII Bunker Photography

This series of photographs from Jonathan Andrew is pretty striking.  He has some good stuff on his site too, but I like these dark ones the best.  Also very cool to read how he composed the photos and got the lighting effects he wanted. 
I love the SK observation tower and the air raid shelter, both in Belgium.  So interesting, such heavy structures, resistant to change.  Haunting. 

18 February 2013

Star Wars Articles

"Inside the Battle of Hoth"
I came across this article via the ilovecharts tumblr, but the article is even better than the charts and diagrams.  A great analysis of the Hoth battle and the decisions that dictated it.

"74 Things Every Star Wars movie needs"
A funny and insightful list of things that make a Star Wars movie what it is.  Alton Brown even chimes in.

17 February 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count

I was able to get back home this past weekend and homebase and I took part in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  It is a worldwide effort to get people to get outside, counting and appreciating bird species.  We started out, leaving the house at just past 8 am, explored some areas around the farm, then stopping at a great wooded area by the creek on 184 where we stopped and watched a gang of 24 wild turkeys make their way across a field, then on to the Riverton Wildlife Refuge where we both got to check off a lifer (Northern Shrike) and saw a very large coyote, and finishing up by Farragut where we watched flocks of geese (snow & Canada) in the thousands taking off and circling, moving like a massive black & white cloud.  It was an awesome sight and sound.  And a memorable finish to a great morning of birding.
Counts for the day:
Farmhouse:  (8:10am)

European Starling
House Sparrow

Farm Road: (8:20 am)

Northern Cardinal
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Creek on 184: (8:40 am)

Wild Turkey
Northern Cardinal
Red-tailed Hawk

Riverton WR: (9:30 am)

Northern Cardinal
Northern Shrike
Black-capped Chickadee
European Starlings
Red-tailed Hawk

Nishnabotna River by Farragut:  (10:40 am)

Red-tailed Hawk
Mallard Duck
Snow Geese
Canada Geese

15 February 2013

Valentine's/Ferris Bueller Day

Althought it wasn't technically a Ferris Bueller Day since I just used a day of vacation, but it was a day off in the middle of the week and since Isa was on intercession, I had a partner for my day of fun.
We started the day off with some book reading.  Her reading skills are growing so fast!  It's great to hear her make her way through the words and pages.  And now, in some easy reading books, she's adding some variation and expression to her reading aloud.
Our big project for the morning was baking some pink cupcakes, then frosting and decoration them with all sorts of sprinkles.  She was a great help in the kitchen and it was fun to be able to take a cupcake break at 10:00 am and enjoy a little of the fruits of our labor.
We then headed out and timed out stop at Saylorville Vistor Center very well.  Full sun and blue skies helped take the edge off of the slightly chilly & windy conditions.  We hiked around a bit, spied some birds (bald eagle, blue jays, cardinals, tufted titmouse, black-chipped chickadee (which Isa ID'd by its call!), downy woodpeckers, crows and juncos) and she also spotted some deer and dog tracks in the mud.  When our fingers got too frosty, we hopped back in the Jeep and headed into the city.
Pablo's, as many know, is my favorite lunch eatery.  So I was very excited to share its yummy goodness with someone new.  Isa thought the rice was pretty great and did a good job on her piece of the quesadilla.  She was more interested in all the hustle & bustle of the skywalk.  "But how did they all get in here?" was asked several times. 
We them executed our surprise attack on minovia, catching her during naptime.  She was thrilled with our cupcake treats and it was fun to see her during the teaching day.
After that it was naptime for us, then running some errands and a little library time.  The three of us capped off the day with pizza at Gusto.  A great day indeed with my two valentines, plus I was able to watch the 2 hour Downton Abbey episode that I had missed this week so I am all caught up for the finale this Sunday! 

07 February 2013

Special Blessings

Signing your name a couple dozen times so someone will loan you a very large amount of money so you can buy the house of your dreams one day, and then turning around and following someone else around that hours for two hours while they show you every single thing that is wrong with it is not really an enjoyable process.

Seriously though, it was SO helpful & educational to be there while the guys (Dave Reynolds, Iowa State Home Inspections, fantastic) inspected my new place.  I learned a lot about houses in general and our house in particular. 

Two special surprise blessings today:
  1. I came out of my place to go to work this morning and in the face of a cold, steady rain my male cardinal friend was singing relentlessly.  He's always out there and I was happy to hear that he wasn't going to let the grey morning get him down.  I took it as a sign to make the most of my day.
  2. For dinner I had some delicious leftover meatballs in the frig so I stopped and picked up a bag of hoagie buns on the way home.  There were supposed to be six in the bag.  I got seven.  Yes!!

06 February 2013

Muppet Voice Connection

While watching old Disney I realized that they did pretty much the same thing.  Lots of characters, only a few different voices.  Fun to place them together.
 From "I Love Charts":

05 February 2013

Basketball Uni's

I knew there were some fresh designs on the hardwood but still thought it had a long way to go to catch up with the constant re-design that football teams seem to be having lately.  This little photo gallery shares some of the best (in their opinion) this year.  I'm not a fan of the adidas "Bleed Out" line of jerseys because I've never been a fan of monochromatic uniforms.  It always comes off looking clownish.  Creighton makes the list for their "pink out" uniforms.  The popularity of a grey jersey seems to have crossed over from football.  I hadn't seen the Xavier & Providence tributes to Sandy Hook before.  Nike's logo jerseys aren't bad but I'm not thrilled by them either.  I'm too much of a traditionalist, I guess.  Not that we should go back to short shorts and tall socks.  The Maryland heather grey ones are perhaps the most odd to me.  Under Armour always seems like it is doing too much.  Click through the images here.  I need to start watching some games and brushing up on things before March Madness gets here!

04 February 2013

Sold (#1243)

Sold (#1243) by regan76
Sold (#1243), a photo by regan76 on Flickr.

It was an eventful weekend! Iowa wrestling upset #1 Penn State in a meet that came down to the last match. The Super Bowl was an action-filled game with a blackout, an amazing comeback and a thriller finish. And we bought a house!
More info to come.

01 February 2013

Chinese Hackers

So interesting.  The NY Times article, "Hackers in China Attacked the Times for the Last Four Months" gives an account of the cyber-warfare activities that China is carrying out on those organizations and individuals that come across their radar, human rights activists, journalists, etc. 
While the actual hands-on work of writing and reading layers and layers of code and programming is not what I would like, the idea of tracking and hunting break-ins across the globe sounds so cool. 
This is the next theater of war.