May 31, 2009

May 30, 2009

My commencement speech

Every year we get the same, cliche graduation speech...
Four years ago we came to PHS as young/goofy/ignorant/foolish/whatever freshmen. Now we're leaving as seniors who think we know everything.

We've made friends, and we'll keep some of them.

There were good time (insert in-joke here) including that time in the cafeteria/stairwell/hallway/classroom when (insert friend's name) did (insert embarrassing event here).

We have a lot more to learn from here.
It's not a problem that is, by any means, unique to Princeton, but it's something that drives me nuts every year. I at least respect when our valedictorians try to step off into uncharted territory and give something original. Sometimes it works brilliantly, and sometimes - like when one student brought up his annotated works of Shakespeare (or some other ye olde englishe authore) book out of which he continually quoted) it makes for a painful and mind-numbing ten minutes.

Personally, I think that we shouldn't reserve the graduation speech for the valedictorian every year. The skills that lead to a #1 class ranking are rarely the same skills that make for a dynamic speech writer or speaker.

We have an award-winning speech program and a number of impressive poets who would likely all give better, more engaging speeches that might actually entertain or inspire the crowd. It would be an easy enough process to have a few staff members audition speakers in the week or so leading up to graduation. Heck, we could even record the audition speeches and broadcast them on cable after the ceremony itself or include them on the grad DVD that we sell each year.

The best graduation speeches are rarely, if ever, a simple recap of the speaker's four years at the school - high school or university. They are a charge to go forward and accomplish something, a challenge to rise above the easy possibilities of the next step in life, an emotional recalling of the journey to get to the brink of that next step.

To that end, I offer up my commence speech for PHS's class of 2009.
Thank you, Mister Huynh for that introduction. Your dry wit will be missed.

Let me open with a simple and heart-felt congratulations and thank you to the families of these graduate candidates whom were are here to celebrate today. The congratulations is because you have raised - or helped raise - nearly four hundred of the finest young men and women that I have been privileged to know. The thank you is because you entrusted us, the Princeton City School District, with your most cherished possessions - your children - and allowed us to have a hand in helping you raise them. We thank you for that opportunity and are thrilled to have been able to work with you on our common goal of leading these young people to this night and beyond.

To that, I would add a second congratulations, this one to the graduates-to-be themselves. Many of you have reached this day only after impressive effort and dedication, completing homework with bleary eyes after getting home from late night play practices, studying for tests into the wee hours after a grueling soccer practice, finishing assignments in the morning after late night hours at work, sometimes managing to stop texting long enough to take the occasional quiz or perform the occasional lab experiment.

And now - be warned - I am finished with the platitudes. From here on out, I offer you no compliments whatsoever.

Because those of you sitting on the folding chairs before me




You are somewhere around eighteen years old, and you have earned a high school diploma that will be awarded to you in a few minutes, and yet if your life were to end right now, we would be able to write nothing more on your tombstone than
Here lies a young man who had potential to do great things.

You are at this point still an unformed blob of what you might some day become.

Until you actually become that something - or allow yourself to stay a blob of driftless, formless nothing - you are made fully and entirely of raw potential, one of the most useless and prevalent substances in the world.

In a few minutes, when you are asked to shift your tassels from left to right, you will be readying yourself to take your next step toward choosing whether to develop your potential or to remain a formless blog. For many of you, that next step will be to head to a university to continue your schooling, continuing to shape yourself. For others, you are looking for just another year or two of schooling to ready yourself for the job force. Others of you are going directly into the work force, ready to shape yourself in the crucible of 'real life'.

No matter where your steps from Princeton lead you, I challenge you to do more than survive, do more than earn enough money to support yourself, do more than remain that shapeless blob, cycling between days at work and evening in front of the television.

I warn you that it is exceedingly easy to slip into such a routine, finding yourself living day by day, getting up, going to work, finishing the day, heading home to flop onto the couch before sliding into bed and beginning the entire routine again. I tell you this because I was there, teaching, heading home, teaching again. Were I to have disappeared right then, I my tombstone would certainly have read that I had that potential to do great things and instead I had only done some good things.

I had no plan, no goal, no thoughts that I needed to do more with myself than continue in that work-relax-sleep-work again cycle for another twenty five years sliding toward retirement before my career had even barely begun.

At the time, I had no idea that there was more to accomplish, that there was something missing from what would become my legacy. It was entirely by accident that I stumbled into a leadership position with Princeton's Pasta for Pennies campaign, something that I can safely say is my greatest accomplishment, the difference between me having potential and actually having an accomplishment worthy of carving upon my headstone.

My challenge to you is to find that accomplishment for yourself.

For some of you, that might mean actively searching out a cause, but for many of you, this will simply mean being open to the opportunities that come your way, as Pasta for Pennies did to me. If you aren't actively searching for your legacy, you will need to be open and willing to give of yourself, to throw yourself into charities and help out programs in need, and eventually to decide what your great accomplishment will be - setting up a recycling program at your university, tutoring children in need, raising the next generation to be good people, somehow making the world better for your presence.

We - your family; your neighbors; your teachers, counselors, principals; the Board of Education - have dedicated these past dozen years to readying each of you to step beyond Princeton. Now we need you to do the rest of the work and shape yourself the rest of the way.

We have handed you the potential, readied you to finish the job but you are the one who has to make sure that no one can ever carve on that you had nothing but that potential.

So go forth and realize your potential, graduates.

Thank you.

May 28, 2009

Into the Briny not so deep

Now that's a contest...chipping from the roof of a thirty-four floor building down to PetCo Park's outfield to a bullseye. If he hits to bullseye, PF Chang's gives everybody in the country free lettuce wraps and $2000 to Baird's chairty foundation ($1000 in the inner ring, $500 in the outer ring).

So go get yourself some lettuce wraps, folks.

Check out all the details - like you care, seriously free lettuce wraps - here.

Check it, folks, free lettuce wraps.

Did I mention the free lettuce wraps?

Happy Anniversary

Today the oldest high school radio station in the world turns 60.

Major congrats to WNAS which came on air May 28, 1949 broadcasting that year's New Albany High School graduation.

Congrats to the home of the Bulldogs and where I first found a voice on the radio dial.

Feel free to listen in via their streaming feed today.

May 27, 2009

Heading south by southwest?

I'm trying to convince The Girl that we need to fly down to Austin for Austin City Limits music festival.

Three days off, flights to and fro, $85 per day per person for tickets, but look at the lineup we'd get to enjoy.

So, should I take the three days and rock out?

May 26, 2009

'Cause Lakes Asked

You better donate, man...

The semi-annual plea

Her feet are a mess, a true wreck.

She can't walk barefoot around the house because of the plantar fascitis, and after every run she has to roll her feet back and forth across frozen water bottles to help decrease the swelling.

But she's running another marathon, folks.

And she's doing it for charity.

In September, The Girl will set off on Wright-Patterson Air Force base for the US Air Force Marathon and a 26.2 mile saunter through what looks the be some of the least thrilling marathon terrain around - including 3/4 of a mile on one of their runways.

Looks like I won't be driving around to see her at a half dozen locations on this course like I did when she ran The Pig a few years back.

She has asked that I make the offer to you folks to make a donation to her fund raising efforts via her online fundraising page - though I do warn you that if you click over there, you'll actually get to know her as something other than The Girl.

Of course, her name has been mentioned once or twice (my mistakes) on this blog and there was that one time I posted a bunch of pictures of her.

She's none the wiser, though, eh?

Oh, and if you want to make her a pledge, her personal best time for a full marathon is 5:04. Anybody wanna offer up some money if she breaks the 5:00 barrier?

Oh, and just so you know that we're doing our part in the fundraising, we spent Saturday night at Taste of Cincinnati selling Barefoot Wine for five and a half hours, earning about $300 between simply hourly wages and tips at the booth. Weirdly, I managed to see one current student, one former student (with family), two coworkers, and two identical twins of coworkers - neither of whom I knew had identical twins. And The Girl is crafty - she's just my type - and sewing headbands and keychains to sell. Plus there are the pleas being sent via snail mail (which some of you will probably be getting, too).

Consider yourself warned, folks.

Though you could head that off by making the donation in advance.

May 25, 2009

Thanks, Chris...thanks, Jeremy

PaperMag asked a number of advertising folks to put forth an image with the goal of rebranding America, in the spirit - apparently - of the glory that America is about to become under the leadership of our Great Obama. (In all cynicism, I am thrilled with most of the decisions of our current Commander in Chief though I recognize that he's got a whole lot of work left to do.)

Some of the images are stunning. Others seem to have missed the point and just played nasty.

My four favorites...

May 22, 2009

LOLing all the way to the poorhouse

Neatorama's mystery sale has come through in delivering me some serious funny in the form of The Laugh-out-loud Cats Sell Out, a collection of modern day hobo comics from Adam Koford.

I recommend reading back through all of his archives as they're routinely hilarious.

Check out his tribute to Paul Newman on the date of the passing of the Blue-eyed Man...

May 21, 2009

Clearing the bilges

From the bowels of stumbleupon, neatorama, yesbutnobutyes, and probably a few other blogs that I check with regularity:

May 20, 2009


There comes a time in the school year - and the specific time depends on the weather - when I have one simple thought when I leave the building each day:
I'm in pants, and I'm not happy.
I'm in no way suggesting that I wanna walk around pantless, but from about early May until sometime around September, I'm kinda grouchy every time I have to wear anything longer than shorts.

That time has been here for about two weeks now.

Just so you know.

May 19, 2009

Down the hole, me droogs

White Rabbit - "Percussion Gun" with Letterman

I know absolutely nothing about this group other than what Letterman says in the intro, but I gotta get this song if not the whole album.

Thanks to Each Note Secure for the hit and the free download of the album track.

Too much, the mega bus

$1 to Chicago.

No driving, no stress, no worries.

$1 each way from Cincinnati to Chicago.

Leave the driving to them.

If you're thinking about a trip around the Midwest, then I'm gonna suggest checking out MegaBus's website because there simply isn't a cheaper way to get around. Plus there's the whole benefit of sharing the ride to drop your environmental footprint in the process.

My only concern is the presence of some bad reviews on some of the sites that I found online. I do appreciate this review, however:
You will find a wide variety of reviews on here because Megabus is indeed an unabashedly mediocre service. The buses tend to be craptastic and one certainly must NOT depend on any sort of timely or friendly service.

The point is: you get what you pay for.

The reason I'm giving Megabus a full Three Stars is, for all of its drawbacks, the damned thing is simple and CHEAP!

To assist those who may be new to this, allow me to offer...

~~Chuck's Top Five Things to Know When Considering Megabus~~

1. Book Early, Book Online
One of the recent reviews on here mentions how Megabus is actually comparable in price to Greyhound. This should not be the case.

Once again, the point is that this is a very inexpensive service. The earlier you book, the less expensive the tickets are. Literally. Book as far in advance as you can and you can even score a $1 rate!

**Special Note**
You can ONLY book reservations online and in advance so don't even think about trying to show up and pay a bus driver. It simply does not work that way.

2. Temper Your Expectations
Again, cheap rate = crappy service. If this isn't cool with you, don't use it. Come in with this in mind and you'll be fine.

3. Be Informed
One of the ways that Megabus keeps its rates down is by picking up and dropping off near (but not at) many major transportation centers. This makes for very odd and nontraditional connection points (which are nearly always poorly marked with ambiguous signage - if any).

Be certain you check your reservation on the Megabus website as close to your trip as possible because sometimes these pickup and drop off points change and that's the only way you'll know!

4. Put Away Your Watch
It's cheap for a reason. Expect pickups as early as 30 minutes before scheduled and -- more likely -- up to 2 hours late.

5. Do NOT Forget The Paperwork!
Perhaps most important of all: don't ever, evereverEVER roll up into the Megabus driver's grill without 'cho papers, yo. In all seriousness. Don't even try it!

Think of it this way: it's a reservation service (albeit an extremely low-end one). Since tickets are purchased online, the printed receipt displaying your long, complicated reservation code is the ONLY indication the driver has that you're seat claim is legit.

Keep these tips in mind and you'll not only be fine, but you might even enjoy yourself! ....ya cheapskate!
And this picture kind of makes me wonder...

May 18, 2009

ChemGuy on 'roids

(I apologize in advance for the rambling manner in which this is written. I certainly didn't outline my thoughts and arguments in advance, and I am - yet again - publishing a first draft.)

Professional sports are entertainment.

That's it, that's all.

Yes, most people play amateur sports for the fun, for the love of the game. Yes, a lot of people play pick-up basketball to stay fit.

But on the professional, major league level, the game isn't a game at all. It's a business in which adult men are doing what they can to entertain their fans.

And to that end, I'm not sure I care at all whether those men take performance enhancing drugs (PED).

I watch the games because I enjoy them. I follow the stats and standings because I enjoy doing that. I play fantasy baseball because I enjoy keeping in some contact with friends and enjoy trying to beat them in just about any competition that I can find.

And, I just can't come up with any way that my knowledge that players are taking steroids or human growth hormone affects any of that. I still get to see players accomplishing athletic feats that I couldn't possibly manage myself. I still get to see dramatic contests between opposing teams .

In fact, I probably get to spend more time watching many of the "cheating" players because many of these performance enhancing drugs allow them to spend more time on the field than on the disabled list.

In the past few years, we've seen a number of players admit to using or get caught using or be strongly assumed to be using PEDs - Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Ken Caminiti, Roger Clemons, Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, and numerous others. Baseball writers have debated whether these transgressions - proven, assumed, self-admitted - should bar a player from the Hall of Fame, whether certain statistical accomplishments (Clemons's and Bonds's most vociferously), and how baseball should move forward from this point - to punish players retroactively, to ban players for life, to promise amnesty.

And I find myself not caring one little bit about any of the issues.

Baseball's games have shifted in style as the eras come and go - favoring pitchers for a few years until the mound gets flattened, favoring hitters as pitchers are unofficially banned from throwing inside, favoring speedsters as astroturf came into vogue, then to bashers with good batting eyes as Beane-ball overtook the running game. And I enjoy every style.

No matter what comes and goes, what styles is played, what drugs are taken behind the scenes and in the clubhouses, I continue to enjoy following baseball and attending baseball games.

The games are played by men who are competitive to a fault, and that's what makes the games so entertaining to watch. These are men who are willing to take anything and try anything to gain a little advantage over each other, and I think I'm okay with that.

May 17, 2009

Episode 4: A New Hope

In the distance, a glimmer...

May 16, 2009

Clash of the true titans

I'm totally gonna see this...

May 15, 2009

A little Primer

I love the film Primer. It's an amazing, small, complex masterpiece, and one that reveals new layers every time I watch it.

And apparently you can check out the full film on Google video.

May 14, 2009

Today's time waster

Play a little time waster today, folks...fill a few minutes.

Thank heaven for stumbleupon...

May 13, 2009

One more fried thing

And while I'm talking about food, I desperately want these which I found while searching pete bakes! for the mock apple pie.

Heya, Crimson

My AP Chemistry class has now finished up their annual exam, and we're in the wrap-up portion of the year. I'm not pushing them too hard, but I'm still getting them to study chemistry. The way I do this is by allowing (requiring) them to perform a chemistry demo and explain the science behind it. The requirements are pretty simple:
  • It has to use chemicals we have or can get easily and legally.
  • It has to be safe.
  • It has to be a demo that I didn't do for them.
  • If has to be exocharmic.
They've tentatively chosen (final choices due tomorrow) some moderately interesting demos - some very fun, some I know well, some I don't, some not so thrilling.

I've got this one student - let's call her CrimsonMirage, for lack of a better moniker - who's all into baking, and I'm thinking she should do a demo that combines her two passions - baking and organic chemistry - and make a mock apple pie.

It's a simple enough procedure, largely consisting of making a sugar syrup with creme of tartar and lemon juice then boiling Ritz crackers in the syrup and putting them into a pie shell. Apparently the whole thing tastes convincingly of apple pie once baked.

Check out recipes...I'm kinda drooling now, I'll admit it.

May 12, 2009

Another shot of random

From the continuing web series Bunny, today's entry references another favorite of mine...

May 11, 2009

A little hipster haiku

It's my secret shame—
My love for 70's disco?
Not so ironic...

I know Atari
She knows only Nintendo
Generation gap

O, you thrift store lads
I thrill at your skinny pants!
Artfully mussed hair

My fantasy bar:
The juke box is all B-sides
All emo, all night

Vinyl collection
Original plastic sleeves

I only kissed you
Because I saw the playlists
On your damn iPod

McEnroe poser
Your terry-cloth wristbands are
Obviously new

Rock my Adidas
(Wes Anderson collection)
Never rock Fila

Thanks, Aunt Polly. But
Chili's gift certificates
Are no good to me

~From Hipster Haiku by Siobhan Adcock

May 8, 2009

It's pretty obvious that this is a Seussical production, eh?

For some reason, this movie rolls around in my brain from time to time.

I saw it last week at Kroger for $9.99. That's a little too high for something that could be awful but that I remember fondly from seeing one weekend when I was a kid.

Admittedly, that last one isn't actually from The 5000 Fingers of Dr T, but it's still funny.

May 7, 2009

That's high praise

I would argue that American Idiot is the greatest album of the decade. I know that's an incredibly subjective statement as there are thousands of albums released every year and its flatly impossible for anyone to listen to all of them. I know I haven't listened to more than probably a hundred albums that have been released this decade, but I am so amazingly impressed with Idiot, that few - if any - bands have put out anything as tuneful, as successful, as ambitious as Idiot in this decade or ever.

So, when the first review I read for their follow up, 21st Century Breakdown states flatly that...
21st Century Breakdown is even better, so masterful and confident it makes Idiot seem like a warm-up.
I'm there and ready. iTunes is offering a full album plus four extra songs pre-order for $14.99, and I just officially bought my first fully-digital album. In another week, I'll download the full album.

May 6, 2009

Smile, you're on Candid Camera

I hate hidden camera shows.

I hate them from Candid Camera all the way down through every one of its stupid frickin' descendants like Punk'd and Howie Do It.

Hate them.

May 5, 2009

Wanna see

Connections in the blogosphere

It's interesting how many folks I know via PHS who blog with whatever level of frequency they happen to be managing. Some of these are blogs that I check in with regularly. Some are ones that I comment on. Some are ones that I follow via RSS. I can safely say that I know every one of these folks...There's one other that I'm not going to point out at the author's request, but that author should know that I check that blog absolutely regularly. Holla, holla right at you and Athena.

May 4, 2009

The glories of River Falls

Dude, I miss the malls back home.

There were - still sort of are - two mirrored malls in the small town bordering The Hometown. They're major shopping complexes in the Kentuckiana area, drawing - I'm gonna make a quick estimate here - like a billion people every year to the mecca of commerce that is Eastern Boulevard.

I mean, they have Wikipedia pages, for heaven's sake.

(An aside: is it heaven's sake or heaven sakes or heaven's sakes, huh?)

I remember hitting River Falls on its opening weekend when I was a sophomore in high school.

I remember playing mini golf at the upstairs course for the first step in my bachelor party as planned by The Best Man.

I had my first two dates with The Girl there - Alice and L.A. Story - as well as one of our final dates when she cut me loose in college after seeing Jurassic Park. Still hate that film.

I remember stealing a a shopping cart on Fathers' Day eve from the Wal-Mart attached to River Falls.

I miss the aimless idling around the upstairs of River Falls, killing Friday and Saturday nights in small parts of our seemingly giant (probably eight or ten most weekends) group of friends.

Gamer, CoachSullivan, can I get a shout out for the demise of River Falls?

May 1, 2009

For when you need that late night taco taste

As I have mentioned before, I have a penchant for foods that some might consider less than good for me. Ice cream, donuts, and Doritos are like the Vince Vaughn friend who drags you out of your misery, takes you to a party, but ends up leaving you passed out in puddle of your own filth, regretting the fact that you ever opened the door to let him in.

That didn't stop me, however, from heading straight for the Late Night Taco Doritos when The Girl handed me free reign to choose the snack chip to accompany her night of burgers a little while ago. Oh, I was aware that these Doritos probably wouldn't be all that different from the hundred of other Doritos varieties. Let's be honest - every Dorito's flavor that I've ever had has fallen either into the cheese-salsa family or the ranch family. There aren't exactly a lot of Doritos food groups here in the US (unlike the Peking Duck or sausage flavors available in Germany). But I'm not looking for fabulous variety in my Doritos wanderings; I'm looking for a solid, slightly different offering within the same food family.

Unlike my last foray into food craptacularness, this one paid off in spades. The Late Night Taco Doritos are excellent with a nicely smoky, moderately hot flavor that is reminiscent of they're eponymous flavor. They would be easy to have devoured in a single sitting, but I did manage to milk them out for a week or so.

Next up, Last Call Jalapeno Popper Doritos this weekend.