Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don't Miss This Season Premiere

I thought today would be a good day to discuss hurricanes. No, not the type that sports green and orange and participates in armed burglaries or defecates in hampers. I’m talking about the other ones. You know, the ones that circulate around centers of low pressure and displace the nation’s underclass quicker than you can say “failed government response”. Yeah, those. Anyway, Thursday marks the official beginning of Hurricane Season 2006.

I’m not exactly sure what that entails. I mean do hurricanes actually know when they are in season? And more importantly do they know that we give them cute little names? Weathermen around here discuss it as though the gulf waters are calm and serene in late May as the hurricanes scrimmage against one another (or do whatever it is they do) all in preparation for unleashing their fury sometime after June 1st. I’ve decided this arbitrary date is put in place solely to permit the media the opportunity to build to an exciting June 1st climax, only to follow up with a three month denouement of continued fear mongering.

But I digress. The point of this little diatribe was to examine just how far we have come in a year. What we know is that last year was kind of rough one. Therefore, I thought we would first reflect in a good news/bad news fashion.

Good News: Houston opened its arms to several thousand evacuees.
Bad News: Houston saw a record spike in crime.

Good News: Texans like Barbara Bush donated large sums of money toward relief efforts.
Bad News: Texans like Barbara Bush earmarked those funds to be used solely for her son’s educational software program.

Good News: Some repairs and improvements have been made to New Orleans’ levee system.
Bad News: New Orleans still lies below sea level.

Good News: The Superdome has been refurbished and New Orleans will welcome home the Saints in 2006.
Bad News: Um, it’s the Saints.

Now as we move forward we know that for the 2006 north Atlantic hurricane season, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. That sounds scary, which is what they want, but in truth that is just above the average for a hurricane season.

We Houstonians also know that our government officials have been working hard to develop a new and improved evacuation plan. Not that there was anything wrong with the old one, it’s just that sometimes change is good. So after working feverishly to devise solutions we can rest assured knowing that all is well…right? Maybe not, here is the conclusion of our fine governor.

"The fact of the matter is, there is no magic formula for moving 3 million people," Perry said.

Yeah, we know it’s not magic. That’s why we didn’t elect David Blaine.

So if we can’t make it out of Houston, won’t someone please think of the children? Oh wait, they have. A company has devised a Velcro identification tag which can be affixed to a child’s shoe in case a hurricane causes the child to become separated. Christ, in my day we had to memorize our name and our parents’ names and our phone number and address just in case of such a situation. No wonder kids have gotten lazy. My favorite part of the article, however, is this beauty: "They're waterproof," elementary Principal Lillian Wiley said Friday. "I tested them out last night." Good work Lillian, good work.

But what about pets? Following Hurricane Katrina, we were all heartbroken as we saw animals clinging to trees, surrounded by toxic water, swimming madly toward rescuers that were not allowed to rescue them. Fortunately for us the fine folks at PETA have developed the following guidelines to keep your pet safe this hurricane season:

•Never leave animals behind
•Never tie up your animals during a storm
•Know what destination you're going to if you must leave your home
•When evacuating with your animal, make sure you use leashes and pet carriers
•Make sure you tag and if possible microchip your animal
What I like is that if you change the word “animal” to “elderly family member” the guidelines are just as sensible.

Ultimately, I hope this discourse has helped you to rethink your hurricane past and prepare for your hurricane future. But friends and family, don’t you worry about me. I know that come Thursday I will be hunkering down, gearing up and trying my best to determine if those identification tags will work on my flip-flops.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My First Pictography

Ok, so I managed to get some pictures of Baytown for all of my faithful readers. Amy and Dad you are not allowed to comment on my lack of photograpy skills. They call me Jeffie, not Ansel.

This is a front view of the lovely Fayle homestead.

This is the house from the back. I've picked up several sunburns while lounging back here. I failed to get a picture of the hole in the ozone layer that seemingly resides above this area.

This is a better view of the pool, which actually got very little use this weekend. It did, however, host a late night canonball from Lauren.

Lauren's mom has a green thumb. The rest of her fingers, however, are flesh tone.

This is a picture of the bayou that lies at the edge of the backyard. I'm not really sure what a bayou is and now I've lived here so long that it would be embarrassing to ask. All I know is that it is bigger than Holmes Lake and smaller than the Atlantic Ocean.

This is the baseball/softball diamond that takes up part of the backyard. The Adams Family "guys against the girls" games would have been a lot more official on this thing. Interesting side note - One day I noticed a little league game going on at this very field as Lauren and I pulled up to the house. Because Lauren seemed oblivious to this event I worried that I was having some sort of "Field of Dreams" experience where only I could see the players. She allayed my fears later by informing me that the Baytown little league teams actually use this field as one of their official sites. Very cool.

Finally, making his long awaited debut on my blog is Sam. He wanted me to assure my readers that the old "the camera adds 10 pounds" adage also goes for canines.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Required Reading

Because we are inundated daily with stories about athletes’ off-field troubles and in light of the Memorial Day holiday, I thought I would share with you the words of one of our country’s greatest athletes and greatest men.

The following is the text of Nile Kinnick's 1939 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. Sometimes it’s not just hyperbole. They really don’t make them like they used to.

"Thank you very, very kindly, Mr. Holcomb. It seems to me that everyone is letting his superlatives run away with him this evening. But nonetheless, I want you to know that I am mighty, mighty happy to accept this trophy this evening.

"Every football player in these United States dreams about winning that trophy, and this fine trip to New York. Every player considers that trophy the acme in recognition of this kind. The fact that I am actually receiving this trophy tonight almost overwhelms me, and I know that all those boys who have gone before me must have felt somewhat the same way.

"From my own personal viewpoint, I consider my winning this award as, indirectly, a great tribute to the new coaching staff of the University of Iowa headed by Dr. Eddie Anderson, and to my teammates sitting back in Iowa City. A finer man and a better coach never hit these United States, and a finer bunch of boys and a more courageous bunch of boys never graced the gridirons of the Midwest than that Iowa team of 1939. I wish that they might all be with me tonight to receive this trophy. They certainly deserve it.

"I want to take this grand opportunity to thank, collectively, all the sports writers, and all the sportscasters, and all those who have seen fit and seen their way clear to cast their ballots in my favor for this trophy. I also want take this opportunity to thank Mr. Prince and his committee, the Heisman Award Committe, and all those connected with the Downtown Athletic Club for this trophy and the fine time that they are showing me. And not only for that, but for making this fine and worthy trophy available to football players of this country.

"Finally, if you'll permit me, I'd like to make a comment which in my mind is indicative, perhaps, of the greater significance of football and sports emphasis in general in this country.

"And that is, I thank God that I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country would much more—much rather—struggle and fight to win the Heisman award than the Croix de Guerre."

On June 2, 1943, Kinnick was forced to ditch his plane following engine trouble during a routine training flight from the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was off the coast of Venezuela in the Gulf of Paria. When the rescue boats arrived at the crash site, there was no trace of the plane or of Kinnick and his body was never recovered.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Little R and R

Because my life is so stressful Lauren and I have decided to get away to the South Hamptons (Baytown, TX) for the holiday weekend. If I remember my camera maybe I will post some pictures upon my return.

I leave you with some more questions, conundrums and observations of the sardonic variety.

•I think lacrosse is the only sport that has more hazing incidents than it does fans.

•I thought if I didn’t watch American Idol it would just go away. Apparently I have a lot less pull in the entertainment industry than you might think.

•Should guys who wear cowboy boots with suits really be allowed to criticize my flip-flops?

•Would it take an act of Congress to halt the production and sale of cell phone belt clips? I mean these guys just won’t go away!

•“Thong panties” is a surprisingly un-sexy looking phrase.

•Is there a more unnecessary skill than cursive writing?

•A year late, but I’m still wondering…Seriously, is there anything we can do to ensure that the person/group/antichrist responsible for the song “Gasolina” never has another hit?

•You never hear about the “golden age” of tennis umpiring.

•Whenever something catches fire, they always say “the cause of the blaze is being investigated.” Isn’t the cause of the blaze always really hot flames?

Too Easy

Although Houston is one of the fattest, sweatiest, and most difficult cities to navigate, its citizens do know literature.

According to this article, two books that have not been checked out from Houston public libraries over the past two years are:

Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness. Published by FEMA.

•Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography

And sometimes the jokes write themselves.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Restless Brain Syndrome

It's like a curse.

•I knew Ken Lay would regret not calling Jim Adler.

•Did any of the girls featured on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 live to be 17? Is it wrong if I hope the answer is no?

•Is it safe to assume that U.S. gas prices are determined by the same people who control the college textbook market?

•Despite its humorous details, reading the story about UT running back Ramonce Taylor humiliated me as I realized that I’ve never had five pounds of anything in my backpack but books.

•Which of the following has made the life of a pedophile easier: or Smirnoff Ice?

•I bet our current president was really bad at the game Risk as a child.

•Why was Vinnie Johnson's nickname “the microwave”?

•Let me guess, when I say LaVar Burton you automatically think Reading Rainbow or “guy who wore a banana clip over his eyes on Star Trek”.

That is all.

Thought Salad

I started this thing as a canvas for the random musings of my overactive mind. Today you get a collection of the various items I've been pondering this week. In other words, these are the things that keep me awake at night.

•Given recent election results in Nebraska, is it again safe to say Osborne can’t win the big one?

•Right now a producer in LA is probably being a pitched a movie version of One Day at a Time.

•Every time we accept words like "bling" or "crunk" into the general lexicon we make the rhyming part of a rapper’s job much, much easier.

•If Albert Pujols is passing drug tests, I wonder if the devil is enjoying his soul.

•If I were a homosexual mobster would I secretly feel validated by this season of The Sopranos?

•If I had a job could I show up only at playoff time like NBA players or do they really stress year round consistency?

•As a perennial graduate student can I really get away with telling the Real World/Road Rules Challenge "Veterans" to get a job already?

•If you’ve been in Houston for nine months are you really still technically an “evacuee”?

•At an Ice Cube concert isn’t Ice Cube himself the “creepy, way too old to be at a rap concert” guy?

•Song you’ll hate me for later for having stuck it in your head – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, Wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh, wemoweh…

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

School Spirit and Finger Puppets: Texas Style, Part II

Here is Part II - Electric Boogaloo

Above we see basketball coach Tom Penders demonstrating the official hand sign of my current school the University of Houston Cougars. I know what you’re thinking, but Jeffie that looks just like “The Shocker”. And if you weren’t thinking that then you are either old, uninformed, or simply not a fan of sophomoric smut. For those of you now thoroughly confused click here, which then explains news stories such as this. Personally, I don’t think our sign looks anything like a cougar’s claw. Therefore, I propose that we Cougars trade our sign to Wichita State (Hint: They are the Shockers) for their baseball coach Gene Stephenson, or perhaps just Gene Stephenson’s mustache.

Baylor fans proudly flash the “Sic ‘em Bears” sign. This one is probably the most realistic of all of the symbols. I mean it actually does resemble a bear claw. However, considering the student handbook explicitly prohibits homosexuality (and fun for that matter), I expected something a bit more Godly. I’m not sure what, but perhaps a burning bush, a dove, arms raised in front of oneself like a cross, or maybe even a picture of Tom DeLay. That last one’s an interesting story you can research on your own. But, anyway, if you are ever in Waco, beware, because there is nothing more intimidating than hundreds of Southern Baptists with their hands outstretched like a grizzly stalking a salmon…God is Grrrr-eat!

Ok, I’m throwing this one up for Lauren’s sake as she is a proud graduate of Stephen F. Austin. Yep, I’m dating a Lumberjack. Their hand sign is “Axe ‘em Jacks”. Apparently they honor the “Father of Texas”…by holding up an axe. But not just any axe, an axe that looks surprisingly like a gun. So, let’s see here, an axe is pretty much the same thing as a tomahawk, but I guess borrowing the tomahawk chop from FSU would have just been silly and derivative. Instead they went with a sign that would be more at home in a gangsta rap video than a stadium parking lot. That’s right I said a parking lot, because rumor has it no one actually attends the games, they just tailgate and go home. But what do you expect from the school whose initials stand for Sex, Fun and Alcohol? Yeah, Lauren informed me of that little gem last night. Can you believe I took this girl home to meet my family?

Honorable Mention


Apparently riding a resurgent football team, UTEP has brought out a thumb and pinky “Pick ‘em” gesture. Whatever, I “Pick ‘em” to continue hearing Mike Price jokes for a long, long time.


Sources show that SMU fans once used the generic index and middle finger “V” for victory sign and tried to pass it off as pony ears. Wow, that death penalty must have really stifled creativity up in Dallas. If it were up to me I would go with both hands balled up into circles and held up to the eyes…You know for Eric Dickerson’s goggles.


Not even smart kids are above an occasional trip to Gestureville. Their sign allegedly involves a middle finger poked outward for “Peck ‘em Owls.” This one is still awaiting official university sanction for good reason.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

School Spirit and Finger Puppets: Texas Style, Part I

Here it is, as promised, Part I of a native-Nebraskan's view of the various hand signs used by Texas universities.

So, I’m going to start with perhaps the most well known of the hand signs - Hook’em Horns. The story goes that a UT cheerleader named Harley Clark first “invented” the sign and introduced it to the student body in 1955. I for one would have loved to have been privy to that conversation. I imagine it went something like this:

Harley Clark: Yeah, so last night I was alone in my room and I got an idea to put my hand like this (demonstrates confidently) and see, what do you know, it looks like a longhorn.
Reticent Hornfans: Um…yeah…so…?
Harley Clark: Well, I figure we can hold it up like this (again demonstrates confidently) while we root for our team.
Reticent Hornfans: But won’t that look, you know...ridiculous?
Harley Clark: No, not at all, because while we hold it up we will yell “Hook’Em Horns” or “Yee Haw” or maybe even sing a song to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” And there ain't nothing ridiculous about that.
Not So Reticent Hornfans: Word.

And so it was. Now, not a day goes by that I don't see the Hook’em sign. It is used as a greeting, a symbol of endearment, a taunt and often as an exclamation point to a drunken rant. It is also a symbol associated with the New World Order…but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Although they hate to admit it, it turns out that UT was not the first school to throw its hat in the elevated appendage and digit arena. That honor actually goes to their hated rival Texas A&M. In 1930 A&M regent Pinky Downs (you can’t make this stuff up folks) first yelled the famed “Gig’em Aggies” while making a fist with his thumb extended. Now I would have thought that Pinky would have extended his pinky, but what do I know. I honestly don’t see this one as much, as A&M grads are far more likely to stick their Aggie Ring in your face than to greet you with a hardy “Gig’em”. However, I have been assured that despite surface appearances, the Gig’em symbol actually looks nothing like something the Fonz would have busted out back at Arnold’s Drive-In.

Next, is the TCU Horned Frog. Admittedly, I know very little about this one and pictures were much harder to come by. I do know that it involves bent index and middle fingers and the protruding knuckles are then said to resemble the horns on a frog. Apparently TCU cheerleaders began experimenting with hand signs in 1980 on the way to a cheerleading camp in Tennessee. So, let’s get this straight. On a bus full of cheerleaders they experimented with... hand signs? Now either Cinemax has thoroughly misled me about cheerleaders, road trips, summer camps, and the 80s, or this particular bunch really put the “Christian” in Texas Christian University. Either way, the end result was the curled finger salute, which has come to embody Frog spirit...ribbit.

Now we have the most politically incorrect, yet truly Texas symbol – Texas Tech’s “Guns up”. The birth of this one can be traced to the members of a spirit organization called the “Saddle Tramps” (again you just can’t make this stuff up). The Saddle Tramps decided in 1971 to emulate the Red Raider mascot who discharges a pistol after each Tech score, by brandishing thumb-and-forefinger pistols of their own. I actually have a hard time making too much fun of this one. After two bitterly painful losses (70-10?) these pistol wielding hooligans own us right now and I’m out of ammo. Get it? They have finger guns and I’m out of ammo. Oh, nevermind.

To be continued...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bad Tats and Random Stats

Ok, first the bad tats.

Although everyone of them on this page is pretty horrible, I think this one is the saddest. Something tells me that this guy gave himself that lame moniker. And everyone knows you absolutely, positively cannot give yourself a nickname...Unless, of course, you are a rapper (I'm looking at you P-Diddy).

Now onto the stats - Did you know...

There have been two major league pitchers that share my exact birth date (1/2/77): Hansel Izquierdo and Scott Proctor. Interestingly they were a combined 5-1 in the majors.

Coincidentally, they both were on the hated Yankees’ roster at one point, although not simultaneously. Even more coincidentally, both Scott Proctor and I once attended Florida State, although again not simultaneously. Just plain eerie, Hansel Izquierdo’s last year in the majors was 2002. My last year of beer belly softball was also 2002.

It takes just two teammates to link my favorite player while growing up, Gregg Jefferies to my dad's favorite player Mickey Mantle (ok, I'm actually just guessing there on dad's favorite player for dramatic effect, so bear with me).

Here we go...Mickey Mantle played with Al Downing for the 1963 New York Yankees. Al Downing played with Rick Sutcliffe for the 1976 Los Angeles Dodgers. Rick Sutcliffe played with Gregg Jefferies for the 1994 St. Louis Cardinals.

Kerry Collins is 17th in the NFL in career passing yards, ahead of the likes of Steve Young, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw. He also has two fewer national championships than Tommie Frazier.

Only nine times has a QB passed for more yards in a single season than Neil Lomax did in 1984 (4,614 yards). Neil Lomax is also the only one in that group who currently rocks an artificial hip.

Former Husker (and family friend) Toby Wright still holds the Rams franchise record for the longest fumble return. Toby returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown at New Orleans in 1994. He also owes me a phone call I think.

Doug Flutie is the fourth all-time career passer in CFL history with more than 40,000 yards. He threw 44 or more touchdown passes in a season three times. In thirteen seasons in the NFL he threw for an additional 14,715 yards and 86 touchdowns. He also has just one more Heisman trophy than me.

And finally a random thought for the day:

Guy to keep an eye out for: "Guy who goes into a stall to pee in public restrooms when there are clearly open urinals".

Thinking About Hard Work is Hard Work

Recently the authors of Freakonomics covered a topic on their blog that really resonated with me. They examined the following question: When someone is very good at a given thing, what is it that actually makes him or her good? For instance, how did the athletes in the NBA or NFL get there and similarly how does a musician find his or her way to the New York Symphony?

Conventional wisdom seems to dictate that individuals are born with a certain level of talent for a given area and they then engage in tasks that may or may not develop this talent. This area is of particular interest to me given my time at Florida State. While there I was involved with a research/discussion team that included Anders Ericsson who is quoted extensively in the Freakonomics blog entry. Ericsson challenges conventional wisdom and claims that experts are made and not born. He argues that with 10 years or 10,000 hours of deliberate practice one can become an expert in just about any field. The key point is that Ericsson has empirical research to back up these claims. For instance, his early work, involved memory: training a person to hear and then repeat a random series of numbers. "With the first subject, after about 20 hours of training, his digit span had risen from 7 to 20," Ericsson recalls. "He kept improving, and after about 200 hours of training he had risen to over 80 numbers." Keep in mind the average person is thought to be able to recall and repeat from 5-9 digits.

Ericsson’s results seem to lend credible support to such parental clichés as “you can do anything you set your mind to” and “practice makes perfect.” However, perhaps most importantly, his work illuminates hard work as a necessary component to success. Ericsson would argue that most people naturally don't like to do things they aren't "good" at. So they often give up, telling themselves they simply don't possess the talent for math or skiing or the violin. But what they really lack is the desire to be good and to undertake the deliberate practice that would make them better. I’ve been beginning to wonder if this factor had long been forgotten by the younger generations. Apparently, I’m not the only one to ponder this notion.

Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri in a recent article discusses the near collapse of American youth tennis and its inability to produce champions on the world stage. Bollettieri contrasts this dilemma with the rise of young Russian players.

Of these Russian players Bollettieri states:

"They are more driven. They don't have the opportunities that our girls have here, like cheerleading, basketball, soccer, skiing, all sorts of things. Our kids have multiple options, and they also have to go to school. It would be interesting to see a study of the top 30 or 40 Russians, and just see how much education they have. They also come from backgrounds without a lot of money. If you give them a really hard, physical program - and they are hungry - and you can get 15 together who are pretty good and let them beat each other up, pretty soon you get some good ones. After awhile you'll get some darned good ones. Competition spurs improvement."

Similarly, Patrick Welsh, a high school teacher in Alexandria, Virginia compares the performance of foreign born and American students within his classes in a USA Today piece.

Welsh states:

"Kids who had emigrated from foreign countries — such as Shewit Giovanni from Ethiopia, Farah Ali from Guyana and Edgar Awumey from Ghana — often aced every test, while many of their U.S.-born classmates from upper-class homes with highly educated parents had a string of C's and D's."

He continues:

"What many of the American kids I taught did not have was the motivation, self-discipline or work ethic of the foreign-born kids. The sad fact is that in the USA, hard work on the part of students is no longer seen as a key factor in academic success."

Welsh also cites the research of Harold Stevenson and a multinational team at the University of Michigan which compared the attitudes of Asian and American students. They found that:

“When asked to identify the most important factors in their performance in math, the percentage of Japanese and Taiwanese students who answered "studying hard" was twice that of American students”.

I can offer further anecdotal support for this based on my travels through university libraries. The students who are spending their time studying and learning from these American academic resources are predominately of Asian and Indian descent.

All of this reminds me of a quote from Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. He gives the following advice to his daughters and I echo these sentiments to my students each semester. Friedman states:
“When I was growing up, my parents would say to me, ‘Tom finish your dinner – people in China and India are starving.’ My advice to you is: Girls finish your homework – people in China and India are starving for your jobs”.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

ABC Meme

Here it is, as seen at some point in most every blog I've read. I present the ABC meme:

Accent: Nope. I grew up in Nebraska. We invented the non-regional dialect. Although an angry lesbian in Florida once tried to convince me that I did indeed “talk funny”. She also said my spiky hair was “so 1995”. Touché, little lady, touché.
Booze: Don’t mind if I do. I like beer. Bud Light is my standby, but I also really enjoy Newcastle, Guinness and Stella. And yes I know that they call Stella, “Wifebeater” in Belgium. I live in America and besides I’m not particularly concerned with what my beer says about me here or abroad.
Chore I Hate: All of them. But getting an overstuffed trash bag out of my sturdy, slender, cylindrical trash can is surprisingly awkward and annoying.
Dog or Cat: I have assumed joint custody of Lauren’s dog Sam.
Essential Electronics: Laptop. iPod.
Favorite Cologne(s): What an odd question and one that I refuse to answer as all three readers of my blog might go purchase it causing us all to smell alike.
Gold or Silver: I prefer the look of silver, but I keep reading that the value of gold is reaching 30-year highs. So if you have precious metals that you are looking to handover, make mine gold please.
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska.
Insomnia: Usually. Hence the blog.
Job Title: My family is laughing at this one. Professional student I guess.
Kids: No not yet.
Living arrangements: Well I suppose I more or less split time between my apartment and Lauren’s.
Most admirable trait: A professor once professed me to be both cavalier and glib. I’m sticking with those.
Number of sexual partners: Move along, nothing to see here.
Overnight hospital stays: Thankfully, no.
Phobias: No, not really.
Quote: “I want to share something with you - the three sentences that will get you through life. Number one, 'cover for me.' Number two, 'oh, good idea, boss.’ Number three, 'it was like that when I got here.” – Homer Simpson
Religion: Really bad Catholic. But in case some kooky fundie is reading this, Jesus, Allah, Buddha ... I love you all!
Siblings: One older and one younger sister, if they still claim me.
Time I wake up: During the school year between 6 and 7. However, now that the scheduling gods have damned me to summer night classes it is much more lax and depends on my insomnia.
Unusual talent or skill: I used to be wicked smart at bar trivia. Oh and I have a pretty good ability to “cold read” girls (also useful at bars). Long story short, I can generally discover their “issues” in five questions or less.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Most of them. Veggies have odd textures and cooking most of them seems to only worsen this.
Worst habit: Not keeping in touch with old friends and throwing off uncomfortable clothes immediately upon entering the house. The two are unrelated.
X-rays: Ankle, shoulder and most of my fingers.
Yummy foods I make: Is yummy really the best Y word they could come up with here? Anything I “cook” on a grill seems to be edible, the yum factor I suppose, is up to the consumer.
Zodiac sign: Capricorn, but I know nothing about astrology such as which moon is in my wheelhouse or which star is ascending, etc.

Mismanagement 101

It seems as though the Arizona Cardinals have warned Matt Leinart, their rookie quarterback to stay out of the news and attempt to keep a low profile as he canoodles with Paris Hilton. The Cardinals are apparently embarrassed by this tabloid exposure. I’ll say that again, the Cardinals are now worried about the potential for humiliation.

This is the same Cardinals franchise who in 86 seasons, has:

  • appeared in just 7 postseason games
  • registered a 2-5 postseason record (if history is any indicator, the Cardinals will win their next playoff game in 2033)
  • appeared in two NFL championships games (most recently in 1948, a 7-0 loss to Philly)
  • won two NFL championships (in 1947, a 28-21 win over Philly, and in 1925, when the title was simply handed to the team with the best regular-season record)
  • fielded 25 teams with winning records
  • fielded 55 teams with losing records
  • won 11 or more games three times – and just once in the last 57 seasons (11-2-1 in 1925; 11-1 in 1948; 11-3 in 1975)
  • posted a cumulative 453-653-39 record (.410)
  • registered just one winning season in the last 21 years
  • failed to win 10 games every year since 1976 (10-4)
  • posted one playoff victory in the last 58 seasons

*Stats courtesy of here

Oh and by the way, Paris, I saw your video and you are less lively in bed than Terri Schiavo. Wow, I’ve just been waiting for the chance to let loose that astounding double play of pop culture fodder.

You Have the Wrong of Way

According to a recent survey Houston finished ninth on a list of the rudest drivers in the country. The study examined factors such as switching lanes without signaling (which we do) and making obscene gestures (which we also do). It did not, however, address my biggest traffic gripe. My major issue with Houston and Texas drivers in general, is their apparent misunderstanding of the left lane of traffic. Traffic in Houston moves continuously fast to quite fast and I rather enjoy this pace. What I do not enjoy is swiftly approaching Johnny Drive-Slowly while he hunts for his misplaced gas pedal and idles in the leftmost lane. I thought there was an agreement, or perhaps even a law dictating that this lane was for serious driving endeavors only.

I have made a few road trips within Texas and would probably take more were it not for this phenomenon. On my first trip to Austin, Adam and I wondered if these laid back country folk were actually trying to thwart us from pummeling our livers and cheering on the Big Red. More recently while driving to Dallas the roving left lane obstructions were again out in full force. It is maddening as I know they see me in their rearview mirror yet make no effort to get out of the way. At this point I tend to chalk it up to Texas arrogance. You know, “Texas – It’s like a whole ‘nother country (But we will not secede from the left lane)”. Or “Don’t Mess With Texas (Or we’ll force y’all to pass on the right)".

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What I learned in School Today

The other day in my Program Evaluation class we were talking about the success rates of various learning programs in schools. It turns out that research demonstrates that the most cost effective and efficacious program to promote learning and achievement is peer tutoring. Peer tutoring takes many forms. Sometimes high school students tutor middle school or elementary school students and other times, gifted students work with peers within their same school.

The rub is that these programs are rarely utilized anymore. The problem? Parents, teachers, administrators, politicians or other nervous Nellies fear what might happen if you leave a young student unsupervised with another, sometimes-older student. In other words, unsubstantiated fears have once again led to the demise of a promising tool that actually encourages scholarship.

The only lessons that students can take away from this scenario are: (1) Your fellow students are NOT sources of learning which can be sought out when necessary, and (2) The world is a dangerous and scary place.

My take is that sometimes you need to look under the bed to see if the bogey monster you fear is actually there, rather than pulling the covers over your head and assuming the worst.

Ceremonial First Pitch

Ok, So I've decided to jump on the blog bandwagon that is so hip with the kids these days. We'll see how it goes. I figure this is as good a time as any. I'll be turning 30, completing (hopefully) my last year of classes and dissertation and will eventually be moving beyond my prolonged adolescence. Maybe.