Monday, October 30, 2006

35000th Hit

Today, a Seattleite did a search on "Dustin and Kandice Amazing Race" and landed here. He/she (let's face it...probably he) was my 35000th hit.

We're pushing 20,000 unique visits and 10,000 first-time visits as well.

Keep 'em coming, y'all.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tampa HS newspaper censorship column

A good column by a St. Petersburg Times writer about the aforementioned censorship can be found here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Principal Prevents Important News From Appearing In School Paper

Jim informs me that a high school principal in Florida has prevented news of that school's achievement gap, including charts, from being published in the school's newspaper because it might hurt students' self esteem. The article, at least as the St. Petersburg Times reports it (they were not allowed to make copies of it) talks about the school's testing shortcomings and the plans to fix them--very important news to these kids' short- and long-term futures.

How the hell can we fix up educational inequities if we don't even talk about them?

Hang in there, student journalists. Sounds like you did good work. Keep writing. Maybe someday we as a country will give a damn.

Julia

She was in my junior American Lit/American History class a few years back. She was a sweet, smart kid who loved to dance. I had her one period and her twin sister Emily the next. Emily was another winner, but very different from her twin. Her passion was to become a firefighter.

Just before the end of school that year, Julia let me know that she'd been given a lead dancing role in a local youth theater's production of Singin' in the Rain. Singin' in the Rain is not only one of my all-time favorite musicals, it also is a special, romantic film for my wife (then the girlfriend) and I. Julia remembered my excitement over the show and emailed me over the summer to ask if she'd like me to set aside tickets. I said sure. I had tickets for Friday night, August 10th.

On Thursday, August 9, my dad had a massive heart attack. Doctors said we wouldn't know anything, including whether or not he would make it, for 48 hours. I hunkered down with my family at the hospital and figured I'd skip the show. My then-girlfriend (now-wife), fearing for my sanity if I stayed at the hospital nonstop, talked me into going.

Julia did fantastic work that night, and her fellow actors, singers, and dancers were amazing. It was the best kid show I've ever seen...by several orders of magnitude. Much to my surprise, I was actually transported from my very scary, high-stress world into a wonderful, fun place. I didn't think it possible, but it happened. It was quite accidental, but Julia's invitation wound up meaning a lot more to me than I thought it would.

I've occasionally encountered Julia and Emily in the few years since they graduated. Last year, as I did the big stair-climb for leukemia, I ran into Emily on my way up the stairs, serving as a first-aide volunteer and cheering us all on. I didn't need to be defibrillated, thankfully, but the nice hug I got certainly helped me get up the stairs. Just a couple of months later, Julia asked me for a recommendation to transfer colleges, but was scared over making the right decision. I invited her in to talk about it. I transferred colleges and thought I could put her mind at ease. We talked for quite a while about her future, how to handle the first few years out of college if she wasn't sure what she wanted as a career, and her desire to teach elementary school and to teach dance.

Yesterday I learned that Julia has a particularly aggressive form of leukemia. She can't have found out too long after we talked. It has been unresponsive to chemotherapy, and now she's waiting for a bone marrow donor. Her leukemia counts have risen alarmingly in the last few weeks, so Emily will be providing a bone-marrow transplant on Friday. This, however, is a stopgap measure, designed just to buy Julia some time to find a match on the donor registry.

These kids are 21 years old. Twenty-one.

My dad pulled through his heart attack after 17 days in a coma, a few scary post-coma months, and a surgery, my dad is doing well and bouncing his grandkids.

I want Julia to bounce hers too, and I want Emily to keep her twin sister and best friend. And I'd like to see Julia act on those dreams we discussed just this past spring.

All of you, please...thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Am I the last guy on my block...

to discover Jake Shimabukuro?

I heard his ukulele version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the radio today and was absolutely floored.

Incredibly, watching him do it on Youtube is even more impressive.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What good company

36% of Americans believe that torture is acceptable under some circumstances (cite).

The following are countries with a higher percentage than 36 who agree that torture is okay sometimes:

China
Indonesia
Iraq
Israel
Kenya
Nigeria
Philippines
Russia

I'm not thrilled with the human rights records of the lion's share of that list. I'd rather not associate with them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ick.

Batgirl has informed me that the Chicago White Sox have, for $500,000, sold their starting time.

Yup. 7-11 has paid them a half a million to start their games at 7:11 PM.

Next up: a lawfirm sponsors the fine print on the back of the ticket. Or Staples sponsors the ink on the front.

(Batgirl does far better at decrying this than I do.)

Another flamer

(And I do, of course, mean flamer.)

I'm always amazed at the way homophobes think about gay sex more often, and in more detail, than the majority of gay people I know do.

To wit. Just posted on a post I did a year ago about something I wrote in 2002.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Class discussion

My class discussions seem to have gone stale of late. The format, which I've used since I started teaching, is the same. The problems are the same: mainly, that I don't quite feel like kids are talking to each other, but sort of playing the "I am now talking in order to get my points" game. They're learning--looking at the text and saying intelligent things about it--but there ain't no oomph to it.

Today, I was at a gathering of teachers, watching an abolutely kick-ass lesson by a teacher in New York. Great stuff. Makes me feel inadequate, then immediately kicks me into gear to copy his work. And one of the things he said about his lesson was this:

"We want discussion with a purpose."

Whoa! That line totally blew my mind.

I think I've fallen into the idea that the discussion WAS the purpose. I'm teaching kids to intelligently articulate ideas and to listen to others.

But what if discussion was a vehicle instead?

This has my head spinning.

What if every small (I'm picturing 5 or 6 kids instead of my usual 8-9) discussion group had a task? They have to discuss a few small-ish questions and back them up with evidence, and then, when they're done, they crack open a massively big question which they are required to write an answer to? They have to reach consensus on the answer to the big-ass question and write a paragraph for public consumption. The discussion then has a purpose: to reach a consensus and write a backed paragraph explaining it. If they cannot reach a consensus, they have to spell out their points of disagreement.

The discussion becomes the vehicle; they're talking not so I'll write a note that they said something backed with text, but so that their public paragraph doesn't look stupid.

It's a work in progress, but I'm going to try this new philosophy: discussion as a vehicle to some other place rather than as an end point.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No time? Meme it!

Jack Bog linked to a meme that tests what kind of sense of humor one has. (Probably shouldn't do it at work, by the way.) I actually think it's very well done, and not just because of my result:











the Wit

(52% dark, 30% spontaneous, 21% vulgar)


your humor style:
CLEAN | COMPLEX | DARK




You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.



You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.



PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais







The 3-Variable Funny Test!





My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 51% on darkness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 10% on spontaneity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 11% on vulgarity






Funny. I think this is fairly on the money, but I couldn't even make it through a full episode of the British version of The Office. The episode I saw felt mean-spirited...too real. The American version, however, I watch every week. Steve Carell makes it cartoony enough that I can laugh at it more easily, I think. I still cringe, but I laugh.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Championship Series Predictions

Wow. I can continue to stick with my preseason picks. In April, I had Oakland, St. Louis, and the Mets in the LCSs. I didn't have Detroit, but geez, who did? And I had an Oakland/Mets series, and b'gosh, I'll stick to it.

Oakland over Detroit in 6.
Mets over St. Louis in 6.

(I almost always say in 6. That way, if it's not a sweep, I can be no more than one off.)

Sue Bird and Jesus

An Australian someone reached this blog using the above search.

I don't know what to say, except I worship both. (In the reverse order. C'mon, I'm not obsessive.)

On notice!





Proximate link: Jack Bog.

Ultimate link (and set-up-your-own site): Here.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Movie Review: Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses

I had occasion to view the straight-to-video film Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses this evening. This isn't a genre I'm entirely familiar with, but my 4-year-old niece convinced me that we simply had to watch the film, so I did.

The family situation was a little strange. King Rudolph, a widower (or perhaps not...the girls' mother was simply "no longer there," so perhaps she had headed off for a career in Silicon Valley?), lived with his 12 daughters, the eponymous princesses. As best as I could tell, he started off with sextuplets, then had two sets of triplets. All were fraternal, as no two had quite the same color of hair. The odds of a guy having 12 daughters and no sons: 4,096 to one. Clearly, this guy was doing something special to ensure both multiple births and only girls. His ex-wife must have been popping fertility pills while he dropped ice cubes in his jockey shorts or demanded some sexual position or whatever one does to increase the chances of having a girl.

I had a little trouble finding Barbie. Although she's in the title, she doesn't play herself. She playes Genevieve, the chronically tardy middle child. So the title is confusing...Barbie is one of the 12 Dancing Princesses. I kept waiting for her to walk in to give me the 13 people in the title. I mean, it worked that way in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, didn't it?

Wait! A paragraph too late, it just occurred to me that perhaps these were identical sextuplets and triplets after all. Although they had differing hair colors, they had identical bodies. Hmmm...hair dye, anyone?

Anyhow, when Duchess Rowena (BITCH!!!) arrives, everything goes to hell. She gives all 12 daughters grey dresses. GREY, I TELL YOU! What's up with that? But, in a lucky break, they solve some sort of puzzle that involves dancing on flowery icons and doing a twirl. They wind up in a magical land that involves boats that row themselves and invisible bands and loads of dancing and stuff. And they're away from that bitch Rowena. She is insisting that they're not princessly enough, so she makes them rake leaves. Yes. Rake leaves. Damn her!

Anyway, my niece was into the movie enough that she didn't notice me looking at the Mets/Dodgers Gamecast on the computer. But there was some sort of chase, a sword battle with invisible knights, and a poor, handsome cobbler (played by some guy other than Ken) who doesn't think Genevieve will give her the time of day. All 12 girls team up to foil Rowena's plans, even after she dupes the King into signing over his powers to her and then poisoning him. The kitty and the wacky parrot rough up the evil monkey. I hate evil monkeys. (But I'm glad this one got work. He can't be waiting around for a remake of Planet of the Apes. I mean, they'd cast an ape over a monkey every time.) The spunkiest little blonde daughter, Lacey, has stolen some fancy-pants Fountain of Healing elixir from the happy otherworld to bring the King back to live, and Genevieve weds the cobbler. Rowena winds up with a curse that forces her to dance forever, and some of it rubs off on her evil butler. So the evil Duchess, butler, and monkey are vanquished forever.

And my niece dances along to every number.

Thumbs up, I guess.

You go, Lords!

Kenyon football broke a 98-year-old record for most points in a game by defeating Hiram 69-34 today. Woot-woot! The record was set by a killer 1908 team that scored 63 points twice, against Wittenberg and Cincinnati (!).

Man, I love the internet.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why I can't read Bob Woodward's book

Even in just reading the excerpt in Newsweek, I became so enraged that I shouted out every horrible word I know. I can't handle it. And my wife has told me she couldn't be in the house if I read all 450 pages.

The book will go unbought.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

MLB Round One Picks

I'm faced with the dilemma I'm faced with almost every year. My preseason World Series prediction, Oakland over the Mets, still is possible, but over the last 162 games, I've concluded that it ain't gonna happen: based on recent events, I like the Twins to beat the Dodgers now. So do I abandon my old pick, thus appearing weak, or stick with it and gain points for my loyalty? I pick the latter. The President would be proud.

Oakland over Minnesota in 4.
Yankees over Detroit in 3.

Mets over Dodgers in 4.
Padres over Cardinals in 4.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who has won the bag o' chips?

Who will win the bag o' chips, me or pankleb?

I've already won a 12-inch sub from him for last year's World Series. And this bag of chips, I demanded, isn't one of those dinky ones you get from Subway. The loser will actually have to go to the grocery store for it!

I was cocky at the quarter pole. But he took the lead at the halfway mark. I was busy and scared to check and three-quarters. Now, the final results.

Traditionally, I consider a pick within 4 wins as "on," and between 5 and 8 as "off." 9 or more is "way off."

Number of wins are listed, in this order:

ACTUAL/PANKLEB/TRP

AL EAST

Yankees 97/95/90 Pankleb On, TRP off
Toronto 87/81/88 Pankleb off, TRP on
Boston 86/97/94 Pankleb way off, Trp off
Baltimore 70/71/71 Both on
Tampa Bay 61/68/76 Pankleb off, TRP way off

AL CENTRAL

Minnesota 96/84/81 Both way off
Detroit 95/80/80 Both way off
White Sox 90/85/94 Pankleb off, TRP on
Cleveland 78/85/91 Pankleb off, TRP way off
Kansas City 62/64/60 Both on

AL WEST

Oakland 93/92/95 Both on
Angels 89/87/89 Both on, (TRP exact, yahoo)
Texas 80/81/72 Pankleb on, TRP off
Seattle 77/78/78 Both on

NL EAST

Mets 97/90/94 Pankleb off, TRP on
Philadelphia 85/86/88 Both on
Atlanta 79/83/85 Pankleb on, TRP off
Florida 78/71/58 Pankleb off, TRP way off
Washington 71/68/73 Pankleb off, TRP on

NL CENTRAL

St. Louis 83/84/98 Pankleb on, TRP way off
Houston 82/82/82 both exact! Let's pop champagne corks!
Cincinnati 80/75/67 Pankleb off, TRP way off
Milwaukee 75/83/85 Pankleb off, TRP way off
Pittsburgh 67/78/73 Pankleb way off, TRP off
Cubs 66/87/73 Pankleb way off, TRP off

NL WEST

San Diego 88/81/83 both off
Los Angeles 88/88/85 both on, Pankleb exact!
San Francisco 76/78/81 Pankleb on, TRP off
Arizona 76/81/76 Pankleb off, TRP exact! Woo-hoo!
Colorado 76/72/72 both on

Now, a lot of meaningless stats:

Total on/off/way off:

Pankleb: 14 on, 11 off, 5 way off
TRP: 12 on, 8 off, 8 way off

When we agreed: 4 on, 1 way off

Playoff participants: We each picked 4 of 8
World Series participants: We separately picked A's over Mets, which is still technically possible.

And, the bag o' chips goes to:

Pankleb, 159 games off (average of 5.3 games per team)
TRP, 194 games off (average of 6.5 games per team)--totally screwed on Marlins, Cardinals, and Indians.

Congrats, Pankleb. What is your preferred chip flavor?