March 31, 2014

Dorky connections...

I happened upon an NPR article testing out the internet video showing how to open a bottle of wine with a shoe and a wall.

Here's the original video...

...and the NPR attempted recreation...

Wait, I know what you're thinking. That guy with the curly hair, the guy right here are 0:56...

Isn't that the same guy who made the "Biologist's Saint Patrick's Day Song"?

Well, the credits to the NPR video list the folks featured in the video, including Adam Cole...

...and a quick search of cadamole (the poster and singer of the aforementioned St Pat's song) offers up this fourth hit stating that cadamole is Adam M. Cole - but weirdly this fifth hit that says definitively in 2010 that cadamole, a bio major from Stanford, does not work at NPR.

I'm thinking things have changed since 2010.

...oh, and I'm just assuming that you guys had the same questions I did when watching that NPR video. If you didn't, then nevermind...

March 29, 2014

Beverly Goldberg had always been the puppet master...

March 28, 2014

Reflections about teaching

Last week one of my former students interviewed me for a college project. The assignment required her to interview someone in the her chosen profession. The former student is heading to be a secondary science teacher, so she contacted me. I'm honored, by the way, and I'm always happy to offer some advice or perspective or something to someone thinking of heading into the teaching profession.

Over the course of the next while, I'm going to answer each of these questions her on my blog. Many of the answers, I would imagine, will have a kernel of the same answer that I gave my former student, but - especially in case she's tuning in around here - I want to warn that they'll not all be exactly the answer I gave her. If' I'm intentionally changing my answer, I'll say why.

Are there any questions from this list that seem particularly of interest to any of you? If so, I'll start with those. Or, are there any different questions about teaching you'd like me to answer? If not, I'll probably work through as I feel.
  1. What do you think your greatest asset is as a teacher?
  2. What is the hardest/easiest part of teaching?
  3. How do you make chemistry exciting to people that may not find it exciting?
  4. How does teaching affect your view of the world?
  5. What do you wish someone would have told you before you started teaching?
  6. How do you incorporate diversity or moral education in a science/math classroom?
  7. What attribute is most important for teachers to have? (knowledge, patience, style of teaching, desire to be with kids, etc)
  8. How do you feel about state testing?
  9. If you would do it all over, would you still be a teacher?
  10. Most rewarding part of your job?
  11. How do you deal with administration?
  12. How do you deal with teaching at a school like Princeton where kids come from completely different backgrounds and will learn in different ways?
  13. Are you a part of the union? does it help you?
  14. How does teaching affect your political views/values?
  15. Any classes you wish you would have taken?
  16. Do you have your masters? would you recommend that I get it? Right away?
  17. How do you feel education has changed over the years you've been teaching?
  18. How does teaching affect home life?
  19. life?
  20. Do you feel appropriately paid for the job you do?
Oh, and the image up top is from an Ann Taylor post on what to wear to a teaching interview. I searched for 'teaching interview', and that's the best thing I got.

March 27, 2014

Update umpteenth: Lego guesses the official images

The first official images of the Lego collectible minifig series of The Simpsons have been revealed. So, how're Calen and I going to feel for these figures?
  • Granpa Simpson - 2x2 square, bendy legs, not Marge's hair...his head feels like a traffic cone with a crown at the top - very distinct
  • Chief Wiggum - bullhorn, short night stick
  • Nelson Muntz - baseball bat, short legs
  • Apu - coffee cup (could be confused with Flanders's mug & Mr Burns's fish bowl), nothing else
  • Ned Flanders - toolbox, mug
  • Mr Burns - plutonium rod, fish bowl
  • Scratchy - axe
  • Krusty - pie, very distinct head with tufts of hair coming off sides
  • Ralph Wiggum - 2x2 tile, short legs (could be very easily confused with Milhouse), no big nose?
  • Homer - 1x2 tile, round donut tile
  • Itchy - club, distinct head shape with mouse ears
  • Marge - hair and head as one, hugely obvious
  • Maggie - teddy bear, baby body
  • Bart - skateboard
  • Lisa - saxaphone
  • Milhouse - 2x2 tile, short legs (could be very easily confused with Ralph), big nose
I'll be looking for Whitefang's figure review and the eventual feel guides that will appear online to get some better hints as to what the various accessories feel like through the bags, because I'm not looking forward to screwing up at an extra $1 per figure this time.

March 26, 2014

March 25, 2014

New Nickel Creek album - listen on NPR

NPR's First Listen series has a full-album preview of Nickel Creek's first album in eight years, A Dotted Line.

If you've any interest in their music - a full-out, genre-blending combination of bluegrass, jazz, alternative, classical, and just about anything else that Thiel and the Watkinses felt like putting in there - this is an absolute must. The musicians are brilliant, and the music - tunes and instrumentals - are outstanding. Early reviews are excellent, too.

March 24, 2014

Heds must roll

I'm a huge fan of punny headlines whether they're on the signs outside Tire Discounters, the marquees in front of churches, or atop the newspaper page.

The tumblr Heds Will Roll posts not-quite-used headlines that are universally outstanding puns.

March 22, 2014

Hey, look, a panda!

March 19, 2014

Why not Dracula Dinosaur?

I read somewhere once that one of the ways to garner great blog traffic is to keep the blog's focus tight so that people know what to expect each time they visit. Keep the focus tight and publish new content like crazy. Some slice of the public will eventually find you and your content fascinating.

Dinosaur Dracula has, as far as I can tell, a laser-like focus on pop culture crap with particular thematic foci on Christmas- and Halloween-themed goods (decorations, toys, food, movies) and general toy collections from the late 1980's.

Take a look, in particular at his posts on...

March 17, 2014

WFUV's in-studio concerts

I'm amazed at how many YouTube channels are local radio stations who are able to bring some pretty outstanding musicians into their studios for a quick concert.

This week's example is WFUV in New York and their YouTube channel.

They've brought in The Magnetic Fields (of maybe just Stephen Meritt)...

March 15, 2014

I'm hoping to go to a basketball game tonight.

March 14, 2014

These are a few of my favorite tracks

Today's 8Tracks playlist is my favorite songs, chosen in a bit of a roundabout fashion.

I took the default 25 Most Played playlist from iTunes, expanded it to 75 songs, sorted by album, and uploaded the most played song from each album.

I'm a bit surprised by some of the songs ("Cecelia", really?), but most of them are songs I think of as being pretty outstanding.

March 13, 2014

Comment of the Day

On my post regarding Ukraine and Crimea, the following comment was posted...

Who are those who are included in salvation? All men who believe and obey what the apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost are saved. It does not make any difference what denominational name is written on the church building where you worship, if you obey the gospel preached by Peter, then, you are saved, you are a member of the Lord's church, you are part of the church of Christ, you a member of the body of Christ, you are a Christian.

What did Peter preach?
1. Peter preached that Jesus was a miracle worker. (Acts 2:22)
2. Peter preached that Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God the Father.(Acts 2:24-35)
3. Peter preached that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.(Acts 2:36)
When the three thousand believe Peter, they asked "What shall we do?"(Acts 2:37)
4. Peter told them to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven.(Acts 2:38)

This is the same message Jesus preached. (Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved....)

THE TERMS FOR PARDON ARE: Faith-John 3:16, Repentance-Acts 2:38, Confession-Romans 10:9-10, Baptism (immersion in water) 1 Peter 3:21

All who meet the terms for pardon are saved regardless of the denominational name on the church building.
It included a blog address and the poster's name, neither of which I'm going to mention here because I'm not sure this is a man who needs more traffic.

And I do think he might have missed the point of the original post which was pretty much to say, "hey, here's some info about Ukraine that I didn't know until quite recently."

March 12, 2014

Update (the fourth): Lego guesses

The list of Lego Simpsons collectible minifigs has been released by Amazon UK.

Let's see how I did from my revised guesses.

First, my guesses after revision upon seeing the Evergreen Terrace house set...ones I got right in green, wrong in red...
  • Homer - alternate
  • Bart - alternate
  • Lisa - alternate
  • Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
  • Montgomery Burns 
  • Moe Syzslak - In retrospect, alcohol is certainly something that Lego is going to shy away from.
  • Milhouse Van Houten
  • Krusty the Clown
  • Barney Grumble - Same reason as Moe, I assume
  • Grandpa Simpson
  • Waylon Smithers - I'm very surprised that we're getting a Burns without a Smithers.
  • Chief Wiggum
  • Ralph Wiggum
  • Principal Skinner - All of the school adults were left out. I didn't see that coming.
  • Nelson Muntz
  • Groundskeeper Willie - All of the school adults were left out. I didn't see that coming.
...and the quasi-official announcement...ones I got right in green, wrong in red...
  1. Homer
  2. Marge - I didn't think we'd get a second Marge...
  3. Bart
  4. Lisa
  5. Maggie Simpson - ...or Maggie...
  6. Grampa
  7. Ned Flanders - ...or Ned...
  8. Ralph Wiggum
  9. Nelson Muntz
  10. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
  11. Chief Wiggum
  12. Krusty the Clown
  13. Itchy - Really?
  14. Scratchy - Really?
  15. Mr. Burns
  16. Milhouse
So, 11 correct out of 16 possibilities. The Marge, Maggie, and Ned misses I don't feel too bad about. I didn't think we would get second versions of them, but Lego is apparently okay with that. I should've know about Moe and Barney being too alcoholic for Lego's target demographic. I'm shocked at the absence of Itchy and Scratchy and the absence of Smithers.

The Toys N Bricks post where I got this news, by the way, was accompanied by an image that appears to just be the Simpsons figures from the Evergreen Terrace set. The only two 'officially released' images are these (from Lego Minifigures tumblr)...

March 11, 2014

The Life of Alfred

Thanks to Neatorama we have a glimpse into the life and mind of one Alfred Pennyworth.

March 10, 2014

Helping to clear a few things up

The Ukraine story has me absolutely befuddled. There is clearly a lot of history between among Russia, the Soviet Union, Crimea, and Ukraine, a lot of history about which I don't have even the remotest bit of knowledge. I had to ask a fellow teacher on Thursday to confirm my memories that there was at some point a Crimean War.

Leave it to John Green to clear up some of my confusion...

...and to NPR to help clear up some of the rest.
I am, as always, thankful for NPR's in-depth coverage of news stories.

March 8, 2014

It'll sort of come horizontally a bit.

March 6, 2014

"Not Our Fault" from Bob's Burgers

I am so geeked for the premiere of Cosmos this Sunday. Yeah, I love Bob's Burgers and all, but I don't think I've ever watched it anywhere but on Hulu anyway.

Update: Why this year was a failure

In regards to my recent post about wanting to see the aurora borealis, and it turns out that the lights were visible in Aberdeen where I spent a year a couple of decades ago.

I hate Scotland for having the lights now instead of then.

March 5, 2014

Reviews! Get your reviews here!

Mud - The rebirth of Matthew McConaughey continues.

The man is an absolute blast at this point, and he's actually a heck of an actor. In spite of his prominence on the poster and his big name as the primary draw for folks to check into the film, McConaughey isn't nearly the lead in this film. The lead is the far younger, Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan from Tree of Life, and he's spot on perfect in the role as a young man who throws his lot in with the titular Mud and his quest for the love of his life, a barely in the film Reese Witherspoon.

The movie is a quality slice of life on the Arkansas river, families living on hacked-together houseboats, and just barely hanging on. Mud shows up as a change for Ellis at a time when he's in desperate need of something to hang his hope onto. Mud's background is revealed in drips and drabs with Ellis helping him stay in contact with Juniper, bringing food to Mud's island, and 'procuring' the parts needed to get Mud's recovered (and oddly treed) boat in operating shape.

Along the way, Ellis learns that true love isn't always true love and that there might be a second chance for him and his father and mother. It's an impressive film and one that comes together perfectly for a conclusion that left me with a catch in my throat.

Easy A - Emma Stone's lead is an engaging character whose choices get far, far out of hand. She's a mature-for-her-age, highly literate, raised by her NPR-loving-far-too-understanding parents, and well-off high school student whose initial exaggeration (or, more truthfully, outright lie) takes on a life of its own very, very quickly thanks to her nemesis, Amanda Bynes (in her pre-crazy days). From there Stone offers to help out a few of her friends, and her troubles grow. For the cost of a $25 gift card to Home Depot, Stone tells the world that she knows a number of the male students a little more intimately than people might otherwise imagine. Along the way, Stone predictably falls in love (or at least strong like), realizes that reputation just might actually matter, and only ruins a couple of lives.

The leads are all personable and likeable. The plot seems fairly predictable, but I didn't see the resolution coming until it was right upon us. It's not a spectacular film, but you could certainly do a lot worse in passing a couple of hours.

My stack of comics is becoming daunting, so we'll go with quick reviews of most of the rest of this week's media.
  • The Lego Movie - Go see this immediately. Yes, it's loads of fun. For about 2/3 of the movie, I thought it was just going to be a fun, little lark, a cute distraction and nicely made corporate advertisement...and then (spoiler alert) Will Ferrell came out in person, in real, honest to live-action person, and the film became a brilliant muse on fathers and sons, on freedom and creativity versus control and order. (spoilers done) This one isn't to be missed.
  • Pacific Rim - I read the prequel graphic novel a couple of weeks ago, and it left me far more curious about the movie than I'd been when it initially came out. Plus it was a Guillermo del Toro production, so that's a positive thing. Then I watched the movie and was underwhelmed. It's a big budget popcorn movie with not much else to offer beyond that. Most of the flick is predictable or unreasonable enough to not be interesting. Meh...
  • Fables (vol 19) Snow White - This series continues to be pretty well perfect. The first half of the collection collects the back-up story of Buffkin's time in Oz, overthrowing the government, building the new government, and then trying to figure out what to do next. This story was mostly told in three- or four-page entries at the back of the issues, and the collection suffers a bit here because of the constant recapping, but the final, full-issue wrap up left me in tears. Buffkin has grown into a likeable enough character, and he will be missed, but I'm happy he got the heroic send off that he deserves. The second half of the collection has Snow White's first husband returning and treating his 'wife' in a very un-PC manner, kidnapping her, breaking her arm, and eventually taking the sword to her current husband, Bigby. I didn't think the story would go the way it did, and I can't imagine we've seen the last of Bigby. Either way, Bill Willingham continues to tear at the heart strings. We only have twenty more issues of the series to go, and I'm looking forward to them all.
  • Fables: The Deluxe Edition - I've been re-reading the entirety of the Fables series again. I'm currently through the first five volumes of the Deluxe Editions, and I'm eager to keep reading. The story holds together marvelously on the (I think) third reading. At $30 per deluxe collection (and probably 16 editions necessary to collect the full series - versus 22 or so non-deluxe editions), the price is a little steep for very few extras and no noticeable improvement in print quality, I can't endorse purchasing these if you already have the trade paperbacks.
  • Gravity - I'm thrilled that we got a big, new television so I could watch this in something vaguely resembling theater quality because I would have been peeved if I had to watch this on our old television. Sheesh... This one easily deserved to win for best director, and I'd've had no problems if it had won for best picture. It's brilliant, and I have no idea at all how Sandra Bullock didn't win best actress for absolutely carrying this film on her back. Great, great, emotional, tough stuff. I was in tears on three separate occasions. See this.
  • X-Men: X-termination - dumb...dumb...dumb
  • X-Men: Age of X - I didn't recognize at first that I'd read this one before. It starts as a pretty typically dystopian future version of the X-Men but turns into something more as the cracks in the story - in the world, really - begin to become visible to those in the world. In the end, it's actually pretty well written and interesting. The two issues of extra content collected here (I don't remember them from my first reading, wonder if it was a different collection) make me wonder just how far-reaching the effects were on the Marvel world.
  • Incredible Hulk (Jason Aaron, vol 1) - I read the second volume recently and didn't understand what had happened to split Hulk and Banner apart. Now I know, and it's an interesting tale, in which Dr Doom splits the pair successfully but leaves Banner wanting his big, green monster back, something that Banner didn't expect. We again get the idea of Banner being the really dangerous one of the pair.
  • Indestructible Hulk: Agent of SHIELD (vol 1) - Every new author of the Hulk seems to throw Banner/Hulk into an entirely different direction. The lack of long-term continuity has really limited how well people (me, at least) can get into the Hulk series (plural). Here we get Banner looking to do enough good to offset the bad that Hulk does in his madness. He offers his services as a weapon of mass destruction up to SHIELD in exchange for a fully-funded lab facility with a group of four scientist side-kicks. Banner invents for a while, then he hulks out and gets pointed at whatever SHIELD wants to destroy. This set-up won't, I imagine, last long, but it's a bit of fun for now. 
  • This Land Was Made For You and Me (but mostly me) - This book of illustrations showing what the fictional wealthiest people in the world do with their money (mile-long fireplaces, ski lodges on skis, Galapagolf, paintballing on the range) is funny for about two pages. Sadly it lasts a hundred pages. Don't let David Letterman's name on the cover fool you; this is boring.
  • Joe the Barbarian - It's so rare that I read a non-capes and tights graphic novel that finding a great one is a pleasant surprise. This one's spectacular and beautiful. The bulk of the tale takes place in Hypogea, a fantastical world where Joe's return has been foretold and whose presence seems a mystery to Joe, himself. He doesn't remember having ever been there before, but everyone there recognizes him and looks to him to save Hypogea. Told in parallel is Joe's attempts to get from his attic bedroom down to kitchen to get some sugar into himself so he can come out of his diabetic hallucinations. Can he save the world and himself in the process, or will he lose both? It's a brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated tale.

March 4, 2014

My life

It really is pathetic how frequently this comic from Three Panel Soul describes my life.

March 3, 2014

In honor of Titan

I'm not particularly thrilled with the convention of naming winter storms that the Weather Channel has adopted these past couple of years. I'm also not particularly thrilled with the choice to go this year with primarily Greek-mythological names as suggested by a Latin class at Bozeman High School in Montana.

Let's see if I can do better going with the theme of winter-/ice-/cold-themed comic book characters.

First, the characters, vaguely ranked from most important downward...
  1. Iceman/Bobby Drake (Marvel - X-Men)
  2. Storm/Ororo Munroe (Marvel - X-Men)
  3. Captain Cold/Leonard Snart (DC - Flash villain)
  4. Mr Freeze/Victor Fries (DC - Batman villain)
  5. Ice/Tora Olafsdotter (DC - Justice League/Global Guardians)
  6. Elijah Snow (Wildstorm - Planetary's fourth man)
  7. Snow Queen/Lumi (DC - Fables)
  8. Snow Miser (Rankin/Bass character)
  9. Frozone/Lucious Best (Disney - Incredibles friend)
  10. Weather Wizard/Mark Mardon (DC - Flash villain)
  11. Icemaiden/Sigrid Nansen (DC - Justice League/Global Guardians)
  12. Icemaster/Bradley Kroon (Marvel villain/Hostess Fruit Pie villain)
  13. Frost/Frost Noble (Image - hero)
  14. Killer Frost/Crystal Frost/seriously, that's her 'real' name (DC - Firestorm villain)
  15. Coldsnap/Alex Barros (Image) 
  16. Ice King/Simon Petrikov (Adventure Time)
  17. Icicle/Cameron Mahkent/Joar Mahkent (DC - Justice Society villain)
  18. Jack Frost (DC - Fables character)
  19. Blossom (Powerpuff girl - freezing breath) 
  20. Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno (Anime) 
  21. Snowbird/Narya/Anne McKenzie-Thompson/Virginia Dare - (Marvel - Alpha Flight)
  22. Killer Frost/Louise Lincoln/Catlin Snow (DC - Firestorm villain)
  23. Ymir (Marvel - frost giant king) 
  24. Mercurio (Marvel villain - seriously, check out his's outstanding)
  25. Endless Winter/Delores Winters (DC - Justice Society villain)
  26. Sylph/Jeanine Gale (DC - Super Friends villain)
  27. Polar Boy/Brek Bannin (DC - Legion of Superheroes)
  28. Icestar/Jonathan Grayson (Eclipse - Champions hero)
  29. Quisp (DC - Aquaman villain)
  30. Nightwind/Berta Skye Harris (DC - Legion of Superheroes)
  31. Idie Okonkwo/Oya - (Marvel - X-Men)
  32. Xraven  (Marvel - X-Men)
  33. Coldmoon/Wanxia (Marvel - Avengers)
  34. Chill/Ross Wexler (Marvel - DP7)
  35. Mandarin/Khan/Zhang Tong (Marvel - Iron Man villain - totally out of order)
Now, to the names based on that list...
  • A - Ami (#20, Sailor Mercury)
  • B - Barros (#15, Coldsnap)
  • C - Crystal (#14, Killer Frost)
  • D - Drake (#1, Iceman)
  • E - Elijah (#6, Elijah Snow, breaks pattern of alternating male-female names)
  • F - Frozone (#9, Best didn't feel right, L already taken)
  • G - Gramos (#24, Mercurio's home planet)
  • H - Harris (#30, Nightwind)
  • I - Idie (#31, Oya)
  • J - Joar (#17, Icicle)
  • K - Kroon (#12, Icemaster)
  • L - Lumi (#7, Snow Queen)
  • M - Miser (#8, Snow Miser)
  • N - Nansen (#11, Icemaiden)
  • O - Ororo (#2, Storm)
  • P - Petrikov (#16, Ice King)
  • Q - Quisp (#29, Quisp)
  • R - Ross (#34, Chill)
  • S - Snart (#3, Captain Cold)
  • T - Tora (#5, Ice)
  • U -
  • V - Victor (#4, Mr Freeze)
  • W - Wanxia (#33, Coldmoon)
  • X - Xraven (#32, Xraven)
  • Y - Ymir (#23, Ymir)
  • Z - Zhang (#35, Mandarin)
Left out
  • Weather Wizard/Mark Mardon - #10 - M already taken by Snow Miser
  • Frost/Frost Noble - #13 - can't name a storm Frost...N already taken by Nansen, can't move Nansen to Sigrid because of Snart, can't move Snart to Leonard because of Lumi
  • Jack Frost - #18 - can't name a storm Frost...J already take by Joar, can't move Joar to Mahkent because of Miser, can't move Miser to Snow 
  • Blossom - #19 - B already taken by Barros
  • Snowbird - #21 - N already taken by Nansen (see #13); A already taken by Ami, can't move Ami to Mizuno (see #18); M already taken by Mizuno (see #18); V already taken by Victor, can't move Victor to Fries; D already taken by Drake
  • Killer Frost - #22 - L already taken by Lumi; C already taken by Crystal, can't move Crystal to Frost; can't name storm Snow
  • Endless Winter - #25 - D already taken; can't name a storm Winters
  • Sylph - #26 -  J already taken (see #18); G already taken by Gramos, can't move Gramos to Mercurio (see #18)
Man, that leaves me totally stumped. I've searched the web for a list of cold- and wind- and frost- and ice-themed superheroes and villains, and I'm still stuck for a U. Any suggestions?

March 1, 2014

No, don't say salad.