February 27, 2015

Lego wants

Figures I want that are already out and about...

I've all the Collectible Minifigures at this point other than Mr Gold (and I don't really want him - if I did have him, I would sell him in a heartbeat to finance all the rest of the habit) and two Olympians: brawny boxer and relay runner.

There are a number of Super Hero minifigures that I don't have just yet. Some of them are rare enough convention exclusives that I don't count on ever getting them. Most of the others I will pick up here and there on the grey market.

There's the Astor City Scientist from the Ultra Agent line. I just love the white version of the Hazmat Guy's suit.

Now, from this year's new Marvel sets, as seen at the 2015 Toy Fair...
  • I don't need another Iron Man, no matter the slight armor design changes.
  • I do like the new Ultron figures, though, those in the $13 set and in the $30 Hulkbuster set.
  • Speaking of the Hulkbuster set, it also has a Hulk megafigure, Ultron Prime, and Scarlet Witch. That'll be tough to balance whether that's worth $30, especially because I very much like the design of that Hulkbuster armor
  • Ultimate Ultron, Vision, and Black Widow are worth getting from the new Quinjet set. The slightly different Iron Man and Captain America aren't as much.
  • Nothing from Avengers Tower tempts me.
  • I'll probably pick up the full new Spider-Man set at $13 to get the two Spider-Man figures. It's Miles Frickin' Morales. How cool is that?
  • Another Spider-Man variation but a cool, Iron Spider one, and Sandman look great. The rest of the Supervillain team up does nothing for me. Rhino is dumb without his suit. Spider-Man looks the same as all the other Spider-Man figures.
  • Finally we get a right, proper Green Goblin instead of the stupid movie figure.
  • I'm not sure about the Ant-Man set. The figures just look like stupid, helmeted figures. I might feel differently after seeing the movie, but not yet. I do like the up-scaled Lego bricks to show that the figures are tiny.
In the DC sets from the same source...
  • Jokerland comes with a ton of figures. I don't dig the Harley Quinn with the bare sleeves, and Joker and Penguin look about the same, as do Robin and Batman. But the Teen Titans are awesome: Beast Boy and Starfire. Plus I don't have Poison Ivy yet.
  • The other set, BatBoat Harbor Pursuit come with an interesting Robin and Deathstroke, both worth getting. The Batman is an eternal issue, though, with every DC toy. We don't need a thousand variations on Batman and Superman. Give us new figures, new characters.
The very coolest thing in the new Lego announcements, though, might be the new 1x1 black brick that's 90% ABS and 10% carbon fiber. That has me intrigued, especially with its connection to the Lego app shown in the photo here.

February 26, 2015

Let's give it a go

Nice 80's movie montage. Let's see if I can get them all in order. Pausing is allowed, folks...

February 25, 2015

Color me tiled

I've been spending some time playing a new game recently, Color Tiles.

It's a simple enough game. Click a blank spot. If there are two tiles of the same color directly above or below, left or right, the tiles disappear. If there aren't such tiles, a buzzer sounds, and you lose a little more time off the clock. The goal is to clear as many tiles as possible in the limited time you're given.

My record so far is 192 while I just sat there for the last few seconds knowing I couldn't clear any more tiles from that bottom left cluster. Can anybody out there beat that?

February 24, 2015

Memories for sale

Princeton High School (PHS) was built in the late 1950's seeing its first graduating class step from the doors in the spring of 1959.

In the fall of 2013, Princeton Community Middle School (PCMS) students walked into the newly-constructed 6-12 campus of both PCMS and PHS. The next fall, that of 2014, saw high school students start their new era in the new PHS at 100 Viking Way, across the street from the old school.

This spring will see the start of demolition of that old school. It will have survived nearly but not quite sixty years, seeing probably fifty-thousand students pass through its halls over the years.

And what's left is for sale via an online auction through the services of Penny Worley Auctioneers.

Here are some of the highlights as I skim through the pages. (All of these comments were made on a snow day last week, 2/18. Prices, at least, probably should be updated before posting.)

The two most valuable items are a pair of vending machines (178 and 179) . Currently going for $400 each. I had no idea that Princeton owned those. I assumed they were all leased or just put there for a cut of the profits.

The remaining contents of my classroom are up for purchase as lot 1855. If anybody's curious, I can sign anything in there to increase the value.

The auctioneers do have a sense of humor, or at least the person writing the descriptions does. Check out this lot (1323) of 'footballs (partially deflated-Patriots style)".

I can't remember whether I got a 'silver' Viking pin or not, but this lot of pins (1579) certainly seems like something we should have moved across the street with us.

Above the memorial pond - in a courtyard that our students weren't allowed to even see for the last five or so years of the school's existence but where thousands of students ate lunch over the decades and which had a plaque honoring our fallen Vikings like Kelly Freeman to whom the pond was once dedicated (I've no idea whether the pond was dedicated to someone who was forgotten before Kelly) - there once hung a Viking head medallion that was probably four or five feet in diameter. The medallion was taken down when the pond was being rehabbed a decade or so ago by Judy Maciolli (now Judy Kelly and teaching with us again). For a year or so the medallion sat and aged outside before I rolled it into my room where it sat for a while longer before I passed it along to our tech folks who rebuilt the sign and trimmed the head from the medallion. Lot 1153 is all that seems to have survived of that medallion. That makes me really sad, though I have to admit that I passed it along and didn't follow it enough to complain.

Lot 566 is the only one that really tempts me to dive into the bidding. That would look pretty sweet hanging in...on my...next to...

I have no idea where I would hang a four-foot Viking head that doesn't even follow the branding guidelines.

So, does anybody want to buy my memories?

February 23, 2015

Triple trouble

A couple of weekends ago, I was with a friend who was working his way through an online crossword puzzle. He asked for help with five particularly tough clues. I present them to you here along with the answers (after the jump) and with a couple of questions on my own.

The five clues were identical, saying only "triple double." Each answer was fifteen letters long.

My questions for you before I reveal the answers themselves...
  • First, once you see the answers, can you explain how they are answers to those clues?
  • Secondly, is there any any reasonable way that anyone could be expected to go from the clues to the answers?
So, the answers...

February 20, 2015

This is all over the place, confetti.

Hello, H1N1

The threat of H1N1 didn't stop us from listening to any of these songs.

February 19, 2015

Two non-US-born-(kinda) guys ran for president in 2008

See, Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, and John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

Neither one was born in an original part of the United States.

Interesting but officially legal in both cases.

Let's think back to the music of 2008 for a moment, shall we, and remember those wacky times.

February 18, 2015

You know what? Working there might be fun.

...and hello, Gordon Brown

In 2007, Gordon Brown took over leadership of the United Kingdom from David Blair.

February 17, 2015

Say goodnight, Sadaam

See, in 2006 - the year in which these songs were released - Sadaam Hussein let slip this mortal coil.

February 16, 2015

I started my blog in 2005

Yup, been doing this almost ten years now...not the 8tracks thing, but the blog thing...

Not quite ten years as of today but ten years as of this year, anyway.

February 13, 2015

Who knew?

Cards Against Humanity has a blog.

Who knew?

Sometimes, admittedly and unsurprisingly, they're a bit .

February 12, 2015

Ctrl+Alt+Dance - premiering tomorrow night in Cincy

How cool, a movie shot entirely in Cincy that looks pretty professional.

And it's premiering tomorrow night.

I think if I weren't on my way to Gatlinburg, I'd try to go to the premiere.

February 11, 2015

Update: QuizMeUp

Updating my QuizUp progress...

I've crossed halfway to the Praetorian which requires 10,000 victories. I screenshotted my progress when I was just over halfway to that with 5007 victories. The other achievement in the distance for me is Unstoppable which requires 10,000 games played. Add in my 1559 losses and 95 ties, and that gives me 6661 total games played, nearly exactly two thirds of the way there.

I cut the photo off with the topics in which I've crossed the level-sixty line because those are the ones needed for the Avatar achievement. I have upped my average score to 116 from the 112-point average that you saw last time. Helps that I played a bunch of categories that I know well to get to Avatar instead of banging away against those categories that required level fifteen for the achievements.

The other two achievements that I'm lacking are going to require some traveling, needing me to play in four and ten countries each. Supposedly, I've played in three countries, though I've no idea why QuizUp believes that. I've only played within the cute confines of these here United States of America.

I dropped all the stats from the QuizUp website into a spreadsheet (Google Drive link, check it). Admittedly, I typed them into a spreadsheet because the QuizUp website presents its numbers as graphics not as copyable text. Here's what I found.

My best winning percentages (minimum of level 60)
  • Batman - 94.5%
  • Chemistry - 93.5%
  • Name the Element - 92.8%
Categories with the most wins without a loss
  • Animals - 6 wins
  • Riddles - 5 wins
  • Commercials - 5 wins
 Highest average points (no minimum level)
  • Math: General - 158 (1 game)
  • Mothers - 156 (1 game)
  • Name the Dish - 150 (1 game)
  • Back to School: Science - 149.8 (469 games)
  • Name the Element - 147.4 (542 games)
Most games required to get to level 60 
  • Actually, I can't tell. I don't know what the stats are exactly when I hit level 60. Name the Elements, for example, is currently on level 64, so saying it took me 542 games to get to level 60 would be wrong. Wish I could've gotten the stats at each milestone.
  • See, if I could get to level 60, I was probably pretty good at the category, so I was fine to keep playing at it.
Most games required to get to level 15 (I'm assuming if I wasn't great at it, I stopped at level 15. Hence anything that would've taken me the most games would be a category in which I stopped at level 15.)
  • MMA - 98 games (this felt eternal, a 9.2% winning percentage)
  • Poetry - 72 games
  • British Royals - 70 games
  • Formula 1 - 69 games
 Most games without a win
  • Harry Potter (movies) - 4 games
  • Baking - 2 games
  • App Logos - 2 games
Worst non-zero winning percentages
  • Bob Dylan - 9.1%
  • MMA - 9.2%
  • Dog Breeds - 20%
Highest non-hundred winning percentages
  • Action & Adventure (movies) - 94.6% (37 games - I am stunned that I have a winning percentage that high in this category.)
  • Batman (movies) - 94.5% (475 games)
  • Chemistry - 93.5% (494 games)

February 10, 2015

Testing...testing...more testing

A few weeks ago I met for our annual winter retreat with the Ohio Education Association (OEA) Board of Directors.

As one of our activities, we answered a few questions which we then discussed with another member of the Board. The question set I chose to answer started by asking if I was proud of my job and went on from there.

I am proud of my job. I do a job that matters. Every day I interact with a hundred and thirty students very directly and another fifty or so in passing moments in the hallway, and everyday it's my pleasure - my responsibility, really - to create a stable, loving environment for them.

Yes, I'm assigned to teach them chemistry (or material science or whatever), but there are so many more - and often more important - things that I teach on a daily basis. I teach them discipline and the - hopefully - rewards of hard work. I teach them about responsibility and about living up to your promises - or at least owning up when you don't.

I teach them how to be better people, how to work in groups, how to figure out problems, and fight through difficulties. I teach them the value of hard work and of occasionally taking a break from hard work.

I used to teach them about the value of charity, the value of working hard to help others, the value of working together to plan a charity campaign. See, we used to run a campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was called Pasta for Pennies - well, it is still called Pasta for Pennies, we just don't run it that same way at Princeton.

See, we used to get a group of students together in the early fall and let them run the campaign. We would call the meetings and make suggestions, but the students ran the campaign. They owned the process and the events. They made the plans. They did the legwork. Yeah, we followed up to check in on them, but the campaign was theirs. They convinced their friends of the value of the campaign.

But February became sacred. February became time for test preparation and not for fundraising. February had to be cleared, so our campaign - our nationally ranked, our morality-teaching, our quarter of a million dollar raising campaign - was shifted. We'd been here before the OGT, but we couldn't win against the state report card.

So we had to move the campaign from February when we'd run the campaign for nearly a decade into October which meant we didn't have time for them to own the campaign. October meant that the campaign became a thing that Lonnie and Becky ran, a thing that we asked the students to participate in but that they didn't own. October meant the campaign became a burden to the students instead of a gift, instead of a teaching tool, instead of a glorious opportunity.

Instead of taking the time to let the students develop leadership skills, to go into the community, build teamwork, work together, grow something that mattered to them, we started telling them what to do so that we could spend February preparing them so we could spend March testing them.

And our scores didn't go up.

And our campaign died.

Yes, it limped on for a couple of more years. We raised thirty-seven thousand more dollars in two more years, something we'd raised in one campaign the year before.

And then we quit because the thing we'd loved had been dying for two years.

Because the testing killed it.

The single thing that I've done with my students about which I was the proudest...about which I still am the proudest was killed by the OGT.

I can't even imagine how much more quickly the PARCC and AIR tests would have killed it.

This is my story of why I hate standardized tests.

We march through the current decade

As did 2011...

February 9, 2015

Why so anti-science?

Science is generally trustworthy.

Say it with me.

"Science is generally trustworthy."

See, not everybody in the United States understands that.

The Pew Research Center recently did a study looking at the general beliefs of the United States public and of the scientific community.

Turns out that the viewpoints of those two groups are radically different.

And that's a problem because we kind of depend on science for a whole lot of the awesomness that is our modern world.

Without animal testing, we would be without all of our modern medicines.

There are clearly a whole bunch of issues with public, wrong-headed beliefs that vaccines cost lives instead of  the truths that they save millions of lives and that the only research article that found links between autism and vaccines was entirely discredited. No, what kills people is the lack of vaccines (see California's current measles outbreak).

Even our Congressional leaders, the newest Congress, is among the most anti-science Congresses in history.

February 7, 2015

Cody Weinberg, the one with the 350SL?

February 6, 2015

Time for the Athens Olympics

And we close the week in 2004 with some of the best music ever.

February 5, 2015

Welcome to my twenty-eighth year

By 2003, I was firmly at Princeton High School. I'd already shaved my head for Pasta for Pennies and was making a bunch of new friends, some of which are still with me.

February 4, 2015

I palindrome, I

See, the number 2002 is the same forward as it is backwards.

February 2, 2015