29 June 2013

The Last Burrito

After 15 years, my favorite eatery in Des Moines closed on Friday.  Pablo's on the skywalk was such a wonderful place.  Great flavors, hot food, good prices, and most importantly, a fantastic owner there to take your order each day with a smile, a joke, a laugh. 
When I took a new position as a Process Analyst in Staff Underwriting, I switched locations and began working downtown, connected to the skywalk.  On my first day on the job, my boss took a couple of us out to lunch and he introduced me to Pablo's.  That was 13 years ago.  I've been going there every since.
I searched my blog for "pablo's" and it was so nice to re-read all the times that I've mentioned that great place.  I've gone through times where I would go with a book or a sudoku and enjoy some time away from work, I've taken burritos to go to bring back to work after noon mass at St. Ambrose during Lent, I taken (or tried to) everyone I know to this great spot.  And I was still exploring the menu and 'off-menu' items. (Mole quesadillas were a gem).  I learned of Valentina sauce here and also the wonderful family of El Yucateco hot sauces.  Since it is a cash-only spot, I can't run a report in my budgeting software to see how much I've spent there over the years....and since it is 13 years, that may actually be a good thing.  I'm probably better off not seeing that number.  Whatever the amount, it was money well-spent.
When caboose forwarded the email news of Dave, the owner's impending retirement, we were both crushed.  When I got back from San Antonio, there was no question that we would eat lunch there on Thursday and Friday.  The line was huge both days and he was happy to see us.  I will miss the food for sure, but just as much I'll miss a great lunch getaway spot and a kind, funny businessowner to support.

Shower Faucet is a Snap!

Our master bathroom has a shower with a one-knob faucet that you pull straight at you to turn on the water.  It was hard to pull and hard to push back in.  minovia, although small, must be pretty strong because one day she pulled the handle right off.  I thought maybe it had just popped off or something but further inspection showed a broken plastic bit.  Since I know zilch about plumbing, the shower went unused for a few weeks until I had a contractor in to work on a couple windows and I could pick his brain a bit.  (Jeff Carmichel of Window Solutions...great guy).  He directed me to David down at
American Plumbing Supply in the East Village.  The store has been there since the '30s and without too much renovation by the look of the place.  It would be a fantastic place to wander and poke around.
I took my broken piece, he glanced at it, walked off and came back a few minutes later with a small piece of black plastic and a new knob.  He told me what I needed to do (and made it sound deceivingly simple).  Fifty bucks and I was on my way.
Incredibly, when I sat down to the work, the project was just as easy and went just as smoothly as he said it would!  I spent more time
figuring out where to shut off the water than I spent replacing the part.  I needed two tools for the whole thing.  Plumber's wrench to take off the nut and the bonnet nut.  Pulled out the broken cartridge.  Pushed in the new cartridge.  Return the two nuts.  Screwdriver to attach the new handle.  Presto!  $50 job.  Loved it.  So happy to have a quick success!

27 June 2013


Reading through the comments from college students at a symposium I presented at a couple months ago and came across this gem.  When asked what they didn't like about the overall event there was a wide range of answers but this one takes the prize:
"We had pizza for lunch and I had pizza the night before."

22 June 2013

That's a Wrap

A hectic last couple weeks has wrapped up another year and kicked off summer vacation.  Due to a massive project that is on an aggresive timeline I will be working off and on over my vacation, but it is a project I'm very excited about so I'm ok with it.  I'm going to be sure to pack in lots of fun times too.  Some short trips, some relaxation, some running, some biking.
And minovia and I are starting it off right by flying to San Antonio for an educational technology conference.  Can't wait.  This is my third trip to this annual conference and it is always fantastic.  Plus we are right on the Riverwalk, I've got some restaurants to check out, a great birding location to scout out, and a fun travel partner.  I'll report back next week with what I learn! 

21 June 2013

Seattle Reign (and the rest of the WSL Logos)

stoppable mentioned how cool the new brand image of the Seattle Reign was and how he liked the wordplay of 'reign' and 'rain' for Seattle.  I made a mental note to check it out and then quickly forgot about it.  That is until it can up on a blog I read.  Wow.  Seriously, wow.  I LOVE this logo, the branding, all of it.  SO fantastic.  It looks like a professional level team.  I do not mean to be sexist but many women's pro teams do not have a professional or classic look to their uniforms and logos.  For instance, check out the rest of the teams in the WSL. 
I'm sorry but if you are a fan of the Boston Breakers, FC Kansas City, or Sky Blue FC (which, seriously, what kind of name is that?), you can not be too thrilled to go buy a jersey or other merchandise. (Actually, I'm writing that without ever seeing their jerseys.  Maybe they are awesome and just the logo itself is awful.  If so, I apologize.)  Portland and Seattle are in a whole other level with their logo, their wordmarks, all of it.  Tip of a hat to them.

13 June 2013

A little catchup

I was uploading pictures over the weekend and it made me realize how much has been going on and how little I've been blogging!  Here's a speedy recap...
  • On Sunday I had caboose over and we had a little painting party in the backyard.  I had drained the rain barrels, scraped any paper off and wiped them down and gotten some Krylon Fusion paint (designed for use on plastic).  He went right to work and before you knew it, we were done.  The kid is good with a spray can! And I was THRILLED with the finished product.  It definitely is a great improvement from the science project look that we had previously.  They blend nicely with the brick/siding and I like the barrel bands that we accented them with.  I also added strainers (using tulle and a rubber band) over the spouts because there was a lot of sludge/detris in the bottom of the barrels.  There also was some algae on the walls of the barrel but the paint should help with some of that and if not I'll have to look for other options to fix it.
  • homebase and I took a nice drive over to explore the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.  It is a place I'd heard about and wanted to check out but I was mistaken and thought it was a bit further away.  It is really only a 20 minute or so drive, not much past Southeast Polk HS actually.  They are conserving and recreating the natural praire grassland environment and they have walking trails as well as a driving route that take you through the buffalo & elk pasture!  It was a windy day and didn't do any exploring by foot but the auto trail was great.  We saw some buffalo and I got a great picture of a deer that watched us roll by.  I also saw a bobolink, a lifer for me!  They have a well stocked gift shop as well.  Lots of great books, field guides, etc.  I brought a fun little puzzle of songbirds home for isa to try out!
  • Work has been hectic with end of the year stuff, then a two-day session on standards-based grading, then some work sessions to update our online education offerings and more pushing trying to get a big teacher tech PD learning platform off the ground.  More to come on that front when it happens.
  • minovia and I took a gorgeous Friday afternoon/evening bike ride from our house, through Ashworth
    Park, Waterworks Park and down to Confluence Brewery, just south of Grays Lake.  (One of the owners is originally from Imogene, back where I grew up!)  We sat on the patio, enjoyed some wings and a flight of samples and then got a half-growler to take home with us.  The perfect size and a cool shaped bottle that you bring back to get refilled.  They have great beers there.  I highly recommend.

10 June 2013

Children's Book Spotlight

A special issue spotlight this time!  I found several books on birds in both the the adult and children's sections that I checked out recently.  Three of the kids books were worth mentioning here.

"The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound" by Sallie Wolf. 
The journal drawings and quick sketches in this book bear such a resemble to the ones in "Keeping a Nature Journal" (a book that homebase & I both have and enjoy) that we both assumed it was the same artist & author.  When I was looking it up to write this post, I discovered it was not!  (The latter book is by Claire Walker Leslie).  Either way, it is a fun read and for some small person who enjoys sketching, nature journaling or just reading about birds and the outdoors, there is plenty to appreciate here.

"Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf" by Olivia Bouler.
Some people see something they are interested in and wonder how they can join in, get involved or make a difference.  Others just jump in and start doing something.  This 11 year old (now 16) is 100% in the second category.  After learning about the oil spill in the Gulf, she wrote to Audobon and inquired how she might best be of service.  She does fantastic watercolors of birds and decided to sell them off, raising over $200k in the process.  The pictures really blew me away in this.  Recommended.

"Backyard Birds" by Roger Tory Peterson.
This thin little field guide introduces a couple dozen common birds that people might see in or around their yards. The writing is interesting and offers more info than in his full field guides.  Not necessarily a "kids book", this one was enjoyed equally by isa and myself.  There's even the requisite checklist in the back to mark your progress!

06 June 2013

Kiva #4

I've had great success with my Kiva micro-loans so far.  All have been paid off in full and on time.  Last night I made my fourth loan, this time the funds will be heading to Rawalpindi (just outside of the capital, Islamabad), Pakistan.  There Bakhraid will use them to help her husband's welding business. The money will be used for welding & soldering rods as well as iron sheets and the loan is administered through BRAC.  Avg annual income there is ~$3000, so a loan of $200 is a good chunk of cash. 
Previous loans have gone to Ney, Raul, (both in Peru) and Charlevoix in Samoa.

"When the Beautiful Game Turns Ugly"

A powerful inside look at racism and soccer in Italy.  And really it happens throughout Europe, less so in the western areas, more prevalent in the east.