30 May 2013

Soccer Snippets

Two videos from the world of European football. 
I watched the USA men get dismantled by Belgium but, after seeing this goal from the Germany vs Ecuador game, it definitely could have been worse.  Seriously, your centerback gets mugged on his first touch, the second pass of the game, ten seconds in, and Podolski bags it easily past the keeper.  Ouch.  That is a morale killer.

And this one is just too fun.  Robin Van Persie (formerly of Arsenal, now of Manchester Utd) putting on a little showcase of footie flair at his tournament in Rotterdam.  He's playing a little 3v3 with a couple other Dutch pros.  The ball control and precision touches are phenomenal.  There are a couple times where the little guys don't know where the ball went. 

29 May 2013

Childrens Book Spotlight

We've still been hitting up the library but I haven't really came across anything that made me stop in my tracks.  Here are one good one and one stinker to share...

"One Morning in Maine" by Robert McCloskey. 
Yes, I have a soft spot for McCloskey and all classic books.  But Isa loved it too, especially when she heard it was about a girl who loses her first tooth.  She had just done the same and loved hearing about another girl's experience with it.  I loved the illustrations of life on the coast of Maine, the drawings of trees, wildlife, water and main street business.  They are monochromatic windows into an earlier era.

"The Carrot Seed" by Ruth Krauss. Pictures by Crockett Johnson.
The book breaks the stereotype that all "old" books are great reads.  The illustrations are mundane and uninteresting.  And to say the story is weak or thin is a vast understatement.  I wasn't a huge fan of "Harold and the Purple Crayon" either but this book really not worth your time.

24 May 2013


I've been spending my two hours a day in the "power chair" doing some rehab on my shoulder and as I sit there, I've been watching a lot of podcasts.  TEDtalks put out "TED talks Education" special this month and there are some GREAT videos in it.  I've still got a couple to watch and have enjoyed all of them so far.  Highly recommended. 
One of the talks, a six minute chat from Angela Lee Duckworth, focuses on the roll of "grit" in student (and adult) success.  The next day I saw a headline about a commencement speech given by Michelle Obama that focuses on the critical trait of grit.  Watch or read it.

"And here’s the thing, graduates:  These qualities are not ones that you’re born with.  They’re not like the color of your eyes or your height.  They’re not qualities that are beyond your control.  Instead, you can dictate whether you’ll have grit.  You decide how hard you’ll work.  So I want you to make those choices right now, today, if you haven’t already done so.  Make those choices.  I want you to tell yourself that no matter what challenges you face, that you will commit yourself to achieving your goals, no matter where life takes you."

Some good reflection material as we count our days until summer break.  

21 May 2013

Flickr makeover

The news of Yahoo! purchasing the microblogging service tumblr for $1.1B was all over the news yesterday.  The founder, David Karp, took home $250M.  Not a bad chunk of change.  The NYTimes has a little article about him today.
But lost in all that hub-bub was the news that flickr got a makeover!  I didn't even know about it until I logged on last night.  Black is the new white, it seems.  Less wasted space, more & bigger photos. The design is a massive leap forward.  The biggest news is they are now giving ALL users 1 terabyte of free storage.  THAT is impressive.  So you can now upload your photos at full resoluation, and they will be displayed in full resolution and you don't have to worry about storage.  So why would I keep paying for a Pro account?  It seems the main item is to stay advertisement-free.  And to have access to statistics.  The Pro account has unlimited storage too, not that I have plans to go beyond a terabyte.  Interestingly, if you were not a Pro member and would like to upgrade to an ad-free account, it will cost you $49.99, which is double what it used to cost to be a Pro member.
I'm still getting used to the new site but change is good usually and, like the updated flickr iOS app, the change was quite a bit overdue. 

20 May 2013

Friday Fun Day

Intercession last week which means I had a great excuse to take a day off and spend Friday enjoying the day with Isa. There was a lot of running errands but without a doubt we squeezed in a lot of fun too.

 Breakfast at La Mie, on the patio.
 Reading aloud to Ms. B's class
 Nature Hike at Walnut Woods Park.
Lunch at Palmers West.
 Library Time.
 I-Cubs game.

Beckham's French Finale

I've always have a lot of respect and admiration for David Beckham.  This article "This David was a Goliath" highlights a few of the aspects of what is so captivating about him.  I read articles about what a role model and positive force he was when he came to LA, both on the practice field and in the lockerroom.  His work rate showed others how he ascended to the stratospheric heights that he did.
It looks like it was a great night at his retirement game.  He was named captain, notched an assist, and left the field in tears. The BBC has some nice shots from the game, his teammates painted their hair with England's colors as a tribute.
I'll have to hunt out some good video compilations of his career highlights later today.

15 May 2013

Tip of the Hat

Mid-90 degree temps here yesterday and it felt gooooood.  I picked up my freshly sharpened blade from Ace Hardware ($7) and got to work.  [Don't worry, I did not even touch the mower with my broken wing.]  I'd been at it for 20 minutes or so when a professional yard truck pulls up to the house next door.  It took them about 15 minutes to do their yard (it's pretty small) and as they were getting ready to leave, one of the guys (the one wearing the backpack blower) walked down my sidewalk all the way to the end and blew it off for me in both directions.  A small gesture that took him less than a minute, but it is these types of kindnesses that make people's days. 
So, tip of the hat to you, friend.

09 May 2013

Barn Board/Measuring Ruler Project

I am finally getting to post something about these fantastic barn boards!
Last fall homebase, minovia and I went back to an old shed on our old Farragut farm and checked out some barn boards that had been salvaged and stored before they burned the barn on our Riverton farm.  We moved off that land when I was 12 so we're talking about 24 years of sitting and collecting dust.  But they looked like they had potential so we put on the work gloves, laid down the seats in my Jeep and started piling them in.  We ended up being able to get a dozen full 1x12 boards in there with a couple more partial ones. 
They sat in the garage for a while until a fairly warm day in November when I got out a bucket, a bristle brush, some heavy duty latex gloves, dish detergent and some Borax and went to town on them.  I had read some blog posts about the best way to clean vintage boards but I noticed very quickly that I would have to scale back my scorched earth cleaning style.  I have no idea how old the paint on these boards was or even how old the boards themselves were and I could easily have scrubbed down to bare wood with little effort.  So I made a gentler mix of less Borax and switched out the coarse bristle brush for a rag.  From there on in things went great.  There was a lot of dirt that had embedded itself into the wood over the years.  And the untreated raw boards soaked up water like a sponge.  When I got finished I stacked the boards in the garage again, this time with spacers to let them fully dry out. 

 After that it was just a matter of deciding on something to do with them!
So, the rainy weekend we had a couple weeks ago provided a great opportunity for working on indoor projects so I thought I'd tackle the "measuring board" project I'd seen on Pinterest.  I looked around on a bunch of different blogs and got my plan down and set to work.  
With my first mark of the paint pen, I realized I was going to have to do something different.  The wood was so open and dry that the ink just bled like crazy, even when I switched from the Sharpie Paint Pen to a Sanford King marker.  So I got some Minwax clear finish and painted the board with it.  I let that dry for a day and then tried it again.  Perfect.  The sealant provided a barrier so the wood wouldn't soak up the ink like crazy but still let the character of the board out.  I used 1" marks for the inches, 2" for the quarter foot marks, 3" for the half foot and 4" for the foot marks.  I used a projector to shine Century Schoolbook numbers onto the board, and they are about 4" tall.  I traced them there and then filled them in with the Sharpie Paint Pen.  After it was all finished and dry, I hit it lightly with some 400 sand paper to take just a touch of the shine of the sealant off. 
Now I just need to hang it somewhere (six inches off the floor) and it will be ready to use!

Book Character Day (#0368)

Book Character Day (#0368) by regan76
Book Character Day (#0368), a photo by regan76 on Flickr.
I had to share this picture for two reasons.
One, because the girl is super cute in her Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit (and book).
Two, even better than that, though, it is kid behind her who is having a much less enjoyable morning and happened to look at the camera at just the right moment.  I laugh out loud every time I look at him.

08 May 2013

De Pinguïn

Got this sweet picture in my email yesterday from CMRG.  It's a sign in front of a bar in Amsterdam, which is where she is currently or maybe was there on a connecting flight?  Not sure.  I'm eager to see if there is any write up on her blog!

06 May 2013

US Cellular in the News

Two different news items about my cell service provider in a couple weeks:
First, I get a letter in the mail and the envelope is co-branded with US Cellular and Sprint logos.  Odd, I think, as I opened it.  Turns out that Sprint bought several US Cellular mid-western markets towards the end of 2012 and Chicago was one of them.  My account is still based out of the Chicago US Cellular system.  (which made me wonder if the US Cellular Park where the White Sox play is going to be renamed)  In the letter I was told that my account is being assumed by Sprint and I would be given perks, new phone, etc etc.  Or I could leave and find a different carrier without any penalties for breaking contract early.
Then a couple days ago, I saw the news that US Cellular has decided to offer its customers the iPhone...finally.  They have lost 5% of their customer based since their decision a year and a half ago to not carry it. 
So my decision now is...
  1. Choose to stay with US Cellular by switching my account from the Chicago system to an Iowa location.  Probably have to get a new phone number.  Would have to wait and see when US Cellular stores will actually start stocking and selling the iPhone.  
  2. Let me account switch to Sprint and see what kind of offers they extend to current customers.  minovia is also a Sprint customer.
Either way, my days of staying away from having a data plan may be numbered!

Edit:  Just checked out the coverage maps for both carriers.  Yikes, Sprint's coverage is not impressive once you get out of town or off the interstate.


03 May 2013

Preparing for the storm (#0323)

I didn't even have time to blog about all the fun things we planted in my garden on Sunday before I am having to blog about covering everything in containers and blanket to try and save them from the bizarre snow storm we've been in the middle of for the past couple days.
Hopefully everything will be ok and I'll have lots to share next week about how things look.

Under the Knife

Man, a week can fly by!  It's been a wild one.
I followed up the half marathon with a great morning of birding with homebase out at Walnut Woods where we saw all kinds of great things.  It was a great way to keep my mind off my upcoming surgery and, more difficultly, not being able to eat or drink all morning.
I don't think I've ever had general anesthesia before so that was a new experience.  Last thing I remember was them added it to my IV and the ceiling tiles starting to get a bit fuzzy and out of focus.  Next thing I knew I was waking up and super groggy.  Luckily I don't remember most of the odd things I'm sure I said but with homebase and minovia there to drive me home, take care of me, get me whatever I need, monitor my medicine, plug me into and out of my cooling machine, the recovery process was as pleasant as possible.  My stomach couldn't handle the strong pain pills, so it was just ibuprofen for me, but that has fit the bill with no problems.  I couldn't believe the difference a night made.  Monday evening and night were pretty rough but when I woke up on Tuesday, I felt like a new man.  Homebase brought great meals up with her so we all ate well, plus I had Pablo's burrito delivery courtesy of caboose, and I checked out some movies from the library so we had those to watch ("Pal Joey", "War Horse", along with "Promised Land" on iTunes).  Plus I could look out my windows and watch the birds at the feeders.  There was a moment when I was looking through my binoculars from my chair, with my blanket over me and it made me think of Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window."  Luckily I didn't see anything too suspicious going on out there.  Stoppable thought of the exact movie when we were talking later.  Shared experiences make you think alike I guess!  He also corrected me because I had originally and mistakenly thought the movie was "A Room With a View."
I really was getting pretty spoiled so on Thursday I headed back to work, arm in the sling (for another 4 weeks!) and was happy to be up and about and have some work to do. 
Thanks to all my support team and all the well wishes!

01 May 2013

Drake Half

What a beautiful day for a race!  Tons of sunshine (so much so that I got a little pink!) and stoppable came out and ran the first five miles of the race with me which was very enjoyable.  I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of the new route, it just seemed too commercial and not very accessible to spectators.  Plus all the major hills were in the last 2 miles!  Anyways, I felt pretty good all race long and was happy with my results.  The girl with the 2 hour pace sign passed me around the 12 mile mark but she only got a few steps in front of me and I was able to pass her back shortly thereafter.
Officially I finished in 1:57.16, which is an 8:57 pace.  My pace increased from the 5k mark (9:08), to the 10k mark (8:59) to the 15k mark (8:57). I was 700th overall of 1588 finishers, 66th of 111 M3539, 459 of 824 of males.