September 27, 2014

You would think common sense would tell you that...

September 26, 2014

Update: A gag that never gets old

Nine times on film/video/acetate/digital medium, eh? Source

September 24, 2014

Have some faith

A redditor recently posted a story about the College of Faith and University of Faith, two 'schools' that seem to exist only on the football field to be straw men to larger, DII, DIII, and NAIA actual schools.

Some highlights from the post...
“College of Faith football program is in its 2nd year of college football. We don't have S.A.T. or G.P.A. academic eligibility requirements. Our football program competes against NCAA D2, D3 and NAIA schools. We are looking for some IMPACT players of all sizes to help grow this great program into something special. College of Faith academic programs is a Christ-centered, online college of higher education which main office is in West Memphis, Ark with an extension campus located in Charlotte, NC. College of Faith’s Charlotte extension campus provides Athletic program, academic and student support with christian understanding, hands on ministry outreach and paid On-The-Job STUDENT WORK experience while obtaining a certification or degree.” —Coach Dell Richardson


Are they diploma mills that take advantage of kids who want to play college ball but simply can't elsewhere? Are they colluding with the school (being paid) or, worse, being taken advantage because they are desperate for a chance to make in in college ball but will have no chance under their programs, academically or athletically? Or is it possible that the idea of slapping a rudimentary online school onto a football team has created a school that means well but is, in practice, a sham?

To some extent, I'm impressed that the level of discussion on the Reddit post stayed pretty high-brow.

September 23, 2014

What if Randall Munroe met Stephen Colbert?

I love xkcd like nobody's business. I even have a hoodie from their online store and own Randall's first book just because I wanted to support the man.

That being said, he's not the best interview on the planet.

September 22, 2014

How to make a tiny forest (without the 'how to' part)

I want to know how to do this, but the video - titled 'how to' - doesn't have a single bit of actual 'how to'.

Their website offers services but not things I can do myself.


September 21, 2014

Keep your eyes above the waves

September 17, 2014

The freakiest of trees

The Stanford Tree has gotten even freakier this year.

And I love it... it a whole, whole bunch.

The tongue, the flowered shorts, the gloves, the multi-colored palm tree leaves.

It's spectacular.

Not that the past ones haven't been awesome, though.

I especially dig the gold tree, the red tree, and the one that's mostly trunk just above the red tree.

Love the weirdness.

September 15, 2014

New music from Jeff Tweedy & son

It's still a week out before my pre-ordered copy of Sukierae shows up, but now I can listen to the full album thanks to NPR.

You should do the same.

September 13, 2014

Jimmy, it'll all work out for the best...a fresh start

September 12, 2014

Looking back FROM the 80's

Looking back at the 80's isn't a challenge. Right now, with so many children of the 80's in prime buying power age, nostalgia for the 80's is all over the place.

Today, however, I'm looking back and remembering that during the 80's people were already looking back even further. Phil Collins was singing "You Can't Hurry Love." Billy Joel was suggesting that we all "Tell Her About It." The Honeydrippers were asking if we remembered when we met.

And through it all, the stars of that era were looking back on the music from their childhood that they loved so much.

I'm always looking for artists and songs to add to this list, too, because it's not one I've ever figured out how to search for online. Anything with 80's nostalgia just gets me playlists that are like shooting fish in a barrel: A-Ha, Cyndi Lauper, so many easy to list 80's stars...but that's not what I'm looking for here. I'm looking for the 50s and early 60s as filtered through the stars of the 80s.

(Oh, and I wanted to include "Tell Her About It", "Uptown Girl", and "The Longest Time" by Billy Joel, but 8tracks only allows two songs per artist. So I had to cut one.)

September 10, 2014

Today's random ten...

Today's manicured, 'random' ten songs...
  • "It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy - This is a horrific, guilty pleasure. I love this horrible song like nobody's business. I swear I've played it in class a half dozen times over the years - the video, not just the song. I love it and hate it in equal measure. I did that just this past week, in fact.
  • "Soul Man" by Sam & Dave - Great song...horrible 80's race-switching movie
  • "Silver Thunderbird" by Marc Cohn - His entire career can be boiled down into one spectacular, eponymous album. I have no idea why nothing else ever matched up to it, but at least he made one perfect album. In the twenty-five years since then, he's released four middling albums...that's all.
  • "Warrior" by Steve Earle - ...not my favorite of his stuff...for spoken word, Steve Earle, I'll actually take "Down Here Below", but even the worst Steve Earle is still pretty outstanding.
  • "Daybreak" by Harry Nilsson - I always flash back to the first time I heard anything that I knew as being by Harry Nilsson, when The Girl was house-sitting for a teacher in New Albany - actually at a house out on the hill in the country a bit - and I stayed with her for the couple of nights. We were in college, home for the summer, and it was one of my first feelings of being an adult. Coincidentally, she'd checked out Nilsson's phenomenally great two-disc greatest hits. I've loved it ever since.
  • "My Best Friend's Girl" by The Cars - This one makes me think of the first time The Girl and I went to Eli's BBQ only a year and a half ago now. They had The Car's first album playing, and I remembered that it's a pretty great album.
  • "Jungle Love" by The Steve Miller Band - Welcome to WNAS, 88.1 FM, New Albany, Indiana in 1991 or so. This was a staple of the then-cd library from which we could choose music when I got my first radio dj time. I'm not as big a fan of "The Joker" and would go against the grain of lots of the other staffers and play this one instead.
  • "Sweet Thing" by Van Morrison - The Girl can't stand Van's more meandering songs on Astral Weeks, and that makes her miss out on this really, really nice song - and the rest of a pretty great album if you ask most folks. Then again, though, I'm down with Phillip Glass, too, and he tends to be a bit repetitive.
  • "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by the Vanilla Fudge - Ah, heavy psychedelic very much a defining part of an era. I came to this one via the 80's cover from Kim Wilde and only much later found out that it goes back to the Fudge and the Supremes. You could always count on Holland-Dozier-Holland to write a song that sounds outstanding in just about any version, any style, any era.
  • "A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)" by Van Hagar - Thank you, Josh Hoepner. Josh was in various middle school classes with me and brought me to the post-Diamond Dave incarnation of Van Halen, admittedly my preferred incarnation of the band. 5150 and 0U812 were heavy topics of conversation in 7th grade study hall, and both albums have stayed in my good graces for nearly thirty years since then.
Enjoy, everybody...

September 8, 2014

Update: QuizMeUp

I've been playing QuizUp since Spring Break this past school year.

As of late last week (when I typed this up), I'd played 3887 a minute per game, that''s...that's sixty-four hours of QuizUp-ing since then...2.6 full days...a lot of time, in other words.

But I'm happy with my efforting because I'm rolling in the achievements. Take a look at my stats, folks...

I'm clearly way better at some categories (those up near the top: name the element, periodic table, chemistry, movies: general, batman, grammar) than I am some of those that I had to scrape to get across the level 15 barrier (like British Royals, oddly Queen, Bob Dylan for heaven's sake).

The reason for the large number of categories with exactly level fifteen is because many of the achievements require getting to level fifteen in two entirely unrelated categories. For example, to get the GoKart Motzart achievement badge, I had to get to level fifteen both in Classical music and in Formula 1 racing. A number of those took just forever to earn...but earn them I did.

I've highlighted the six achievements that I don't have yet. One, Slam Poet, is the next one for me. It requires me to get to level fifteen in both Poetry and MMA. I know almost nothing at all about MMA, so that's going to take a while, and I know only a very little about Poetry, so that'll take a while, too.

Avatar will require me to get level sixty in five more categories. I'm guessing that'll be Movies: General, Batman, Grammar, and...I don't know about the other two. That'll take a while.

Unstoppable takes 10,000 games played. I'm about 40% there. Praetorian is about the same but with 10,000 victories, so that'll be a little longer. Both will take a long while to earn.

The others are Wandering Explorer - play in four countries - and In Orbit - play in ten countries. I've - according to the game, at least - played in three countries so far. I have no clue what those countries are other than the US. I have played as though I am in other countries, changing my flag to various nations in order to play people in different countries for the UN Assembly achievement.

I'm up to 104 ribbons or whatevers earned, but most of them come as being the best in the Seychelles for some month. It's kind of cheating by choosing to be 'from' the Seychelles. The average points per game of 112 is a bit of a drop from the 114 from before I went after the last couple of achievement badges - GoKart Motzart and a couple of others that took efforting.

So, if you're going to challenge me, feel free to do so by helping me work toward an achievement. Hit me up on Poetry, MMA, Batman, General Knowledge, Movies: General, Batman Movies, or Grammar. Bring it on.

September 5, 2014

Looking back

Every school year I have my students do a website scavenger hunt so they have to look around my class website at least once. Hopefully they'll find something useful and use it regularly throughout the year. If not, at least I tried.

One of the questions is always, 'what do you wish I had on my website that I don't have?'

This year, one of my students said that he would like to have my background there. So in stream-of consciousness, quasi-chronological order I offer up my background.

Let's see...

I was born in New Albany, Indiana. Actually, I was born in a hospital across the river, but my family was always a New Albany family, so let's just say I grew up in New Albany.

My parents were and are married.

My sister, Amellia, came along three years and a couple of months after I did.

We had a series of dogs when I lived in the house: a pit bull, a mutt, a German Shepherd, a standard poodle, a Rottweiler, a Brittany Spaniel. There were also some fish here and there, but they never seemed to last too long. No cats, no birds.

I went to Silver Street Elementary School, a school that has since been closed and that was about four blocks from my first home. The only real stories I remember from Silver Street are that, according to my parents, I asked in first grade if I could work ahead in the math book. My teacher said yes, and a week later I took it back and asked for the next one. Apparently I had finished the entire year's math by the end of first quarter or so. I started doing math with the second graders, and by Christmas time or so, I was simply in second grade with the latest birthday in the class.

Grandma and Grandpa - my dad's parents - lived a block or so past that, and my sister and I would usually head over there after school if we weren't walking directly home.

My other grandparents lived across the river in Louisville, about half an hour away. We saw them less frequently, maybe once a month during the school year but more than that in the summer, I think. Memory tends to blur the details, admittedly.

Junior High - not Middle School at the time - was a few blocks further at Hazelwood Junior High School. If I wasn't walking to Grandma's house after school, I would walk another couple of blocks to the high school where my dad taught and that I eventually attended after three years at Hazelwood.

My mom, by the way, first worked in Louisville when I was born, took time off when I was born - even volunteered in my elementary library a morning a week where she said she got conjunctivitis (pink eye) pretty much every week - and eventually became an executive assistant/secretary/second person in a two-person office until I was out of the house.

Dad was a social studies teacher until a year or so ago when he retired after forty-six years teaching in the high school he attended. He's a member of their Hall of Fame - and of the Indiana High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame, too, along with at least three of his former players. He was my coach for four years (two on varsity but never in the top seven), too. We successfully avoided having each other in the classroom. He bit the bullet and switched what he was teaching (his favored government for his less-favored US history) so that didn't happen.

I was a good student...or a really smart student, anyway. I wasn't prone to studying or to doing homework in advance or to taking great notes or anything, but I did well in school all through high school, eventually finishing fifth in my class of about four hundred graduates. I was a national merit finalist, too. I can take standardized tests like nobody's business. Yeah, I still know my SAT and ACT scores. I did well but certainly not perfectly, that's all you need to know.

I met The Girl in junior high school, seventh-grade English to be specific. We were in the same social circles for junior high school and started dating during our junior year. She was the first person I dated, and I was tentative to say the least. Plus, I couldn't drive because I was a year younger than the rest of the folks in the class, so everywhere we went is where she drove. We went to prom, and the dating kind of ended soon thereafter. We didn't break up, we just didn't see much of each other over that summer.

We started dating again as seniors, and I got to drive to prom - on a river boat, kinda cool - that year. When the year ended, we dated through the summer and headed separately to college (for me) and France (for her).

I was at Wabash College, an all-male, small, liberal arts school in Crawfordsville, Indiana, so the prospects of dating somebody else while The Girl was in France weren't great for me. Plus, I kinda liked her, so I stayed true to my overseas girlfriend. I joined the Lamba Chi Alpha fraternity, finished third (or fourth, maybe, I don't remember) in the intramural ping pong tourney, made a number of really good friends - some of whom I've kept, some I haven't, admittedly.

The Girl came back the next summer, and we started dating again. She kicked me to the curb by the middle of my sophomore year, and I got into a bit of a funk. Soon thereafter, for some reason, I decided that I needed to head overseas, myself, and found the University of Aberdeen program through Wabash's study abroad program.

So, oversees I headed - after a summer of a whole lot of tennis, eating right, losing a bunch of weight - to the University of Aberdeen. I made some friends, dated the second and third women that I'd ever dated, and had an absolute blast. Studying in Scotland was a giant, huge, big step for me. I think I've talked about it before, but I can easily say that the time away from people I knew, the chance to define myself however I chose and to find out what parts of my world mattered were all huge in realizing who I wanted to be. I've sadly only stayed in contact with one friend from Scotland, and he's a good friend who lives like a mile from my house now and was the best man in my wedding.

When I came back from Scotland, The Girl actually came looking for me. We've dated ever since, moving to Cincinnati in 1997 - right after she graduated from Indiana University and getting married in 2000.

I graduated from Wabash with honors - magna not quite summa, as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, honored with a chemistry major and a student teaching award - and took a job at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, home of the Braves. The Girl was a year behind in Bloomington at IU, so I was mostly killing a year, living forty-five minutes to the west.

After she graduated from IU, we moved together to Cincinnati, finding a third-story apartment a block from the UC campus (on Riddle Road.) I took a job at Mt Healthy, and The Girl landed as a long-term substitute on Allison Elementary in the Norwood school system and working twenty hours a week at Starbucks to get benefits as we weren't married yet.

We moved into a home on Philomena Avenue in Northside for a few years and adopted two dogs, LeRoy and then Harlan. While we were on Philomena, I moved from Mt Healthy to Princeton High School where I've been ever since...well, other than moving across the street this year.

And that's how I got to where I am...

Anything else you want to know?

September 3, 2014

Protecting the brand


I remember back when I stepped into the PHS website management business a couple of years ago, I posted a couple of posts about what I saw to be the needs of PCSD in the digital realm - consistent branding, centralization of design, elimination of non- or quasi-official web presences (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc) - and before that, as the district was transitioning to SchoolWorld's web management and hosting, I asked about things like a standard font, a style guide for the website.

(There, I'm finished patting myself on the back and saying "I told you so." I promise not to do it again for the full duration of this post.)

This summer the Princeton City School District adopted branding guidelines that included print media guidelines (fonts, logos, letterheads, slogans) and digital media guidelines (fonts, logos, specific account names and access). I finally got around to reading the guidelines, and I thought I would offer up my's my blog, I guess.
  • I appreciate the definition of the brand...celebrating diversity, pushing our students, joining the students & staff as 'learners.' I'll admit that I have no idea how this brand platform is reflected in the various choices made further along in the guidelines, but it's important to define who/what you are so that everything can come back to reflect that.
  • I don't get the Modern Nostalgia thing, admittedly. History, Purpose, Identity, and Destiny, either.
  • The Viking of choice - white horns, red back flap, grey band - is clearly the right choice. I miss the three-dimensional character and high-resolution nature of some of the Vikings, but the one they chose is a solid choice.
  • I don't care for the "single color (all scarlet) to be used for athletic branding" option, and I'm not sure what 'athletic branding' really is. I assume that the four-color Viking will still be seen on athletic things like the gym floor.
  • Interestingly, the floor in the auxiliary gym of the new high school has the grey-horned logo about twenty feet across on the floor. Maybe should have come up with this plan before painting the floor.
  • Also interesting that the Viking is always straight level not tilted slightly upward. This isn't address anywhere in the branding brochure, but there are a lot of Princeton things where the Viking is at a tilt.
  • The hat that I'm currently wearing (shown on the left) has the wrong logo in at least three ways: wrong horns, helmet band, back flap colors. It wasn't printed by Princeton but rather by a hat shop in Tri-County Mall back in the days before Princeton had a spirit shop in its most recent incarnation. The other hat I have was made by Princeton a few years back and is the right Viking.
  •  The thoroughness of the logo presentation - on white background, on colored background - is appreciated.
  • I'll miss the LHF Brewers Bold font in the Princeton City Schools logo. The Proxima Nova Condensed font is more contemporary but lacks elegance. I also don't like the kerning on the logo.
  • The two-color oval is interesting. I can't see it large enough to see if the red fades to grey or if it changes immediately. It also seems to have a lot of white space between the central logo and the oval. Interesting choice to do that.
  • The secondary logos - the crests - are very interesting. They're the only place with the Viking ship and the P encircled logos. They're also transparent which none of the other logos are. Again, an interesting choice to do that. It makes the logo as displayed in the center on that slide (the PCMS logo) very hard to read against the light grey portion of the photo background.
  • I still find it hilarious that the Little Vikes logo, a pretty blatant copy of the old Cleveland State logo, is still around.
  • I never knew there was an athletic hall of fame logo.
  • I've always hated the flying "P" logo, and I'm happy to see it go. The Viking horn as the top of the P was interesting, but the P always looked squat and deformed to me. I'm sorry to see that the Princeton Education Foundation would still be using it.
  • There's no definition of Princeton red or scarlet in a web color. It's R187 G0 B0, but no idea in hex what that is. I'm sure I can find out, but it's an oversight. Same with the gray.
  • Why, my that's a lot of different, approved fonts. Why is Trajan Pro there?
  • Interestingly, the font on the New Social Network Communication Plan slide isn't one of the approved fonts.
  • Only having one Princeton FB page is going to get, I would think, crowded with too many individual school postings.
  • The email signature is hilariously long, and I hate but understand the supposed need for the confidentiality notice. I doubt it would have much legal standing with the ease with which email is forwardable, but I understand it. I'm using it, though I've seen lots of modifications (color changes, font size changes) to other people's signatures at school. Interestingly, if I reply to someone, the signature is automatically included, but if they've used some font other than arial, my signature changes to their font. I don't know what's up with that.
  • The 24/7 Princeton Pride slogan lives. It's fascinating to me that the 24/7 - which came from the football numbers of two players who died during their Princeton years - is still around and has morphed into something used all the time. 
  • I'm sorry to see 'Go Vikes' not being acceptable anymore.
  • The letterhead with the watermark Dream Achieve is actually kind of attractive. I like it and wonder when we'll get a chance to use it ourselves. I'm still using letterhead from a decade ago and just keep updating the principals' names.
  • I wonder if the Gary Pack business cards were real creations or digital ones. I don't understand some of the letters there. T=telephone...M=??...W=email?...A=address
  • I'm surprised that the city is listed on the business cards as Cincinnati instead of Sharonville where the central office actually is.
  • Dr Pack is leaving us in a couple of weeks (but staying as a consultant for a year and a few months beyond that). I wonder if he has to turn in his business cards if they do exist in meatspace.
  • I find the background of the sample brochure hard to read.
All in all, I'm thrilled this project has been put together. There are certainly creative choices I might have made differently, but I'm no graphic designer and am barely even an amateur one.

The sell is going to be, I'm afraid, tough. Teachers are fiercely independent, wanting to use their favorite little graphic, their favorite font, their favorite font color, their favorite colors. I wish the branding police a lot of luck, persistence, and patience, because they're going to need all three, I'm afraid.

September 1, 2014

Collectible series #12 feel guide

LEGO Minifigures tumblr posted a full breakdown of his/her thoughts on and a series of individual images of each of the coming-in-October collectible minifigure series #12, continuing the numbering and just ignoring the Simpsons and LEGO Movie series.

Let's see what I'll be feeling for come October...(names are from aforementioned tumblr post and not yet official)...
  • Space miner - shoulder pads, I think...confirm with drill cone (does anybody know if the drill will be attached to the handle or separate?)
  • Swashbuckler -foil...very thin, small ball on end
  • Genie Girl - ''tail' legs
  • Pizza Deliver Man - 2x2 tile...confirm with round 2x2 pizza tile...
  • Dino Tracker - bow and arrow...confirm with syringe
  • Battle Goddess - round shield, no bump on front, handle on back...confirm with long spear
  • Fairytale Princess - slope dress...distinguish from wizard because she doesn't have a long staff...hat has attached hair
  • Prospector -pickaxe...I don't know that I'll recognize the hat yet
  • Hun Warrior - round shield with bump...confirm with sword
  • Lifeguard - apple...confirm with pig helmet
  • Piggy Guy - binoculars & flotation device
  • Jester - two 1x2 tiles...jester's hat
  • Wizard - slope dress...distinguish from princess because he has a long staff...hat should NOT have hair attached
  • Spooky Girl - teddy bear...long, straight hair
  • Video Game Guy - 1x2 tile...only one of them...
  • Rock Star - guitar
There may be a couple of tough ones to distinguish, but my aim is, as always, to go sixteen for sixteen. I went sixteen for eighteen on the LEGO Movie series and sixteen for seventeen on the Simpsons series. Let's keep up that pattern.