Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: Teachers Grading Parents?

An interesting and novel idea. Florida's Representative Kelli Stargel wants to give teachers the ability to grade parents. Here's some of her quotes;
We have student accountability, we have teacher accountability, and we have administration accountability. This was the missing link, which was, look at the parent and making sure the parents are held accountable.
I think it would be the best scenario, if parents could be made responsible... We have them only so many hours. The first lessons come from home.
My reaction? Where do I sign up? Out of 175 students this year only 35 parents showed up to Back to School Night. Take off some points there. Not checking grades online? Take off some points there. Constantly late to school? Take off some points there.

I don't know who Kelli Stargel is, but congrats to her for finally putting the light on the parents for a change.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Mathemusician

These videos are great. I guess they are only for math nerds because my wife could care less about it. The videos are very smart and there is a lot of information thrown at you very quickly. This one is probably my favorite because of the different ways she is able to come up with numbers 1-11. Funny and smart. Enjoy more HERE.

Thoughts Without Words: Another Spider-Man movie picture

I'm not going to turn this into a spoiler movie blog. But I do want to talk about the suit again.What the heck is this thing? I got nothing. The red streak down the legs is another reminder of the Ben Reilly suit, the same with the gloves. I think the most troubling is the red eyes. Oh well. I have a feeling the suit is going to suck, hopefully the movie isn't too bad. And on the plus side, it's better than X-Men First Class.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: Welfare for Illegals costing L.A. County $600 million

File this one duh.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich released new statistics this week showing social spending for those families in his county rose to $53 million in November, putting the county government on track to spend more than $600 million on related costs for the year -- up from $570 million in 2009.
Antonovich arrived at the estimate by factoring in the cost of food stamps and welfare-style benefits through a state program known as CalWORKS. Combined with public safety costs and health care costs, the official claimed the "total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers" was more than $1.6 billion in 2010.

"Not including the hundreds of millions of dollars for education," he said in a statement.
I don't know if this really surprises anyone or not. I have that little widget on the side of my blog which tracks the cost of illegal immigration. I think I am more surprised that someone from L.A. County actually came out and said something about it. People don't want to make cuts to services and programs to hurt families, but what about ones that don't belong here? Think about how much money would be saved by cutting all welfare services to illegals statewide.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who Decides: Best Disney Soundtrack

Yes, you did read that correctly. I am looking at the best Disney movie soundtrack. As a parent, I have had to sit down and watch a ton of Disney movies. And you know what I noticed? Each one has at least 2 really good songs. Think about it Snow White had Whistle While You Work and Some Day My Prince will Come. Pinocchio had When You Wish Upon a Star and I've Got No Strings. Dumbo had Baby Mine and When I See an Elephant Fly. And Cinderella had A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes and So This is Love. And there are a bunch of other examples of this throughout the Disney catalog.

What makes a soundtrack special is when you get that 3rd or 4th great song. So these 5 albums have at least 3 great songs or more.

5. Aladdin - What makes this great is that the first time we see Aladdin is also the first big song of the movie, One Jump Ahead. It is a great song that really has that big Broadway showtunes type feel to it. Of course you can't talk about the Aladdin soundtrack and not mention A Whole New World. This song is required singing at proms now it seems like, I have been teaching for 7 years at my current high school & I have seen this song done twice now. It is a great song. The vocal harmonies are perfect. The overlapping of lyrics really make this song a classic. For my 3rd song, I went with Prince Ali. I liked this song better than Friend Like Me. This one also has that "big time" feel to it, perhaps it is Robin Williams' performance that does it.

4. Tarzan - Let it be known now that I am a huge Phil Collins fan. Whether it be his solo work or his work with Genesis, he is awesome. So putting him in charge of a soundtrack was a stroke of genius by Disney. You'll Be in my Heart was the song that really got everyone's attention, but that was a little sappy for my taste. For me the true gems of the album are Two Worlds, Son of Man, and Strangers Like Me. Son of Man was great because it was really an upbeat fast tempo song, which really doesn't happen very often in a Disney movie.

But I do realize that the chances of Phil Collins getting a crack at a soundtrack wouldn't have happened without #3.

3. The Lion King - Let's face it this is the soundtrack that put Disney soundtracks mainstream again. Yes, Alan Menken did a wonderful job of creating some great soundtracks like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast just to name a few, but it was Elton John and Tim Rice that got the mainstream media's attention. I mean this album is full of hits; The Circle of Life, I Just Can't Wait to be King, Hakuna Matata, and of course who can forget Can You Feel the Love Tonight? All instant classics. Hakuna Matata almost shows how ridiculous a song can be. Think about it, this is a song about a made up fictional phrase, and you know what? It works. Once kids see this movie you'll almost be certain to hear one of them say Hakuna Matata. But for me, it's all about The Circle of Life. First song in the movie and it really gives off this grandiose feel to it. It doesn't matter if it's the Elton John version or the movie version, they are both great.

2. The Little Mermaid - When I started I really thought this would be number 1. Why not? I mean it brought back Disney animation in a big way. And a huge part of the success was the soundtrack. Part of Your World, Under the Sea, Poor Unfortunate Souls, and Kiss the Girl are all fantastic songs. If I was forced to pick out a favorite I would go with Part of Your World. Jodi Benson pours in so much emotion into the performance you really feel sad for this girl who just wants to experience something new.

On a side note, Ashley Tisdale did a cover of Kiss the Girl and turned it into a pop song. It's a great pop song, but definitely wouldn't have fit into the movie.

1. Enchanted - Yes, the same Enchanted I reviewed a while back. I am surprised this made it to #1. But as I was looking at the number of songs per movie I realized that Enchanted had 5 hits. True Love's Kiss, Happy Working Song, That's How You Know, So Close, and Ever Ever After. They are all great. Happy Working Song is a great sort of tribute to Snow White's Whistle While You Work. The lyrics are fantastic as well. Here is the first verse;
All right, everyone! Let's tidy things up!

Come my little friends
As we all sing a happy little working song
Merry little voices clear and strong
Come and roll your sleeves up,
So to speak, and pitch in
Cleaning crud up in the kitchen
As we sing along

Trill a cheery tune in the tub
As we scrub a stubborn mildew stain
Pluck a hairball from the shower drain
To that gay refrain
Of a happy working song

We’ll keep singing without fail
Otherwise we’d spoil it
Hosing down the garbage pail
And scrubbing up the toilet

How we all enjoy letting loose with a little
While we’re emptying the vacu-um
It’s such fun to hum
A happy working song
A happy working song
How great is that? So Close is the great romantic song on the album and is done really well. And you get another good pop song from Carrie Underwood with Ever Ever After...once again a mainstream artist recording for Disney. For me though, I still love That's How You Know. I talked about it in my review of the movie and didn't realize all the hidden references to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and even a future reference to Tangled in the song.

So that's the list. One thing I hope you noticed looking at the covers is that Alan Menkin was involved with 3 of the 5 albums. He does great work, so if you see his name attached to a project, do yourself a favor and check it out.

The Last Laugh: CFL Bulbs don't last as long as predicted

Compact Florescent Light bulbs (CFL) don't last as long as originally expected. When they first came out they were supposed to last 9.4 years and now studies have shown that is closer to 6.3 years...more than a 33% difference, nice.

Well at least CA didn't jump the gun and force people to use something that isn't as good as we first believed it to be;
California's utilities are spending $548 million over seven years to subsidize consumer purchases of compact fluorescent lamps. But the benefits are turning out to be less than expected.

One reason is that bulbs have gotten so cheap that Californians buy more than they need and sock them away for future use. Another reason is that the bulbs are burning out faster than expected.
hmmm...that sounds like my dad. He has so many freakin CFL bulbs it's actually quiet funny. And he looks for them when they are on sale for $1 and buys about $20 worth.

Well at least we are saving money...
As a result of these and other adjustments, energy savings attributed to PG&E were pegged at 451.6 million kilowatt hours by regulators, or 73% less than the 1.7 billion kilowatt hours projected by PG&E for the 2006-2008 program.

For the 2006-2008 program, utilities said they achieved energy savings from all their energy efficiency programs that were 151% of the goal set by regulators. But the commission's staff, armed with exhaustive studies, said utilities saved only 62% of the goal amount, hurt by the bulbs.

Nevertheless, anxious to move on to the current 2010-2012 program, the commission last month gave the utilities $68 million of rewards, on top of $143.7 million of incentive pay previously awarded. PG&E pocketed $104 million total.
So let me get this straight, even though PG&E hit only 62% of its goal, they still received $104 million? No wonder CA is broke.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Music Non Stop: New The Human Abstract song

The Human Abstract released another new song from their new album Digital Veil today, Patterns. It seems a lot less metalcore and more progressive than Faust, but whatever it's still pretty cool. I have some high hopes, but not too high after the mess that Midheaven was.

On a side note, originally you could only stream this song if you "Liked" them on Facebook. I don't have a Facebook and to me this comes off as pretty desperate. You want to get your music out to you fans, but first you have to click a "Like" button...really?

Venting the Anger: X-Men - First Class

Seriously...WTF?!?! I didn't like any of the previous 3 X-Men movies because they didn't follow the comics, I won't talk about the horrible suits. The first class of X-Men will always be Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel...that's it. None of this Storm, Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue, and whoever else they put in there. The first 3 movies were so messed up and then they tried to bring in Beast and Angel ... nevermind. Well it was announced last year that they were rebooting with X-Men First Class. Heck there is even a comic serious of the same name with the original 5 X-Men. Cool, right? Well today we were graced with the first official photo of X-Men First Class.What the...?!?!?! Who are these people? I recognize 3 people. Beast in the middle who looks like a blue afro-haired Vulcan and Emma Frost, who actually looks like she does in the comics, which by the way is very hard to pull off if you have ever seen her costume in the comics. And Mystique who looks like a head was photoshopped on some random body.

Where is Cyclops? Jean Grey? Iceman? Angel? Why is Mystique in an X-Man costume? Who is the red faced guy? And who is the other chick? I found out the guy to the right of Beast is Havok...yeah Cyclops' brother. So that makes sense, let's have a movie called X-Men First Class and have only one member be apart of it. Better yet, let's put in one of their brothers so it's like he is in it too.

This movie is going to suck worse than X-Men 3 or Spider-Man 3. I don't understand how you can't just make a movie about the original 5 X-Men.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tirades of Truth: Times of Grace - The Hymn of a Broken Man

So this past Saturday I got a late Christmas present in the form of a sign copy of the debut album from Times of Grace. Who? Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz that's who. Jesse was lead vocals of Killswitch Engage for their first 2 albums, which includes their ground-breaking album Alive or Just Breathing. I can't talk enough about how great that album is, you can read my thoughts on it HERE. And as far as Jesse is concerned, he is an awesome vocalist. He's in my top 10 vocalists...that's how good he is. And after this album, he is definitely moving up. Adam is still in KsE and according to interviews these songs were written while Adam was recovering from a surgery.

Onto the album. I have listened to this thing pretty much non-stop since Saturday and I gotta say it doesn't disappoint. If you are a fan of KsE, you will like what you hear. Parts of the album are very reminiscent of KsE (Strength in Numbers, Fight for Life, Live in Love, Hope Remains), you get the double bass, the weird vocal distortion that was used on AoJB. The lyrics are totally a throw-back to AoJB. They are powerful that's the best way I can sum them up. AoJB had some uplifting lyrics, and The Hymn of a Broken Man takes that concept and builds on it. Check out the lyrics from Live in Love;
Just live in love, believe in love

In my life I have seen all the ways they tried (to destroy mankind)
Break societies system, change the mercy, there's no compromise
Don't mistake kindness and compassion for weakness
It takes so much more strength to be selfless and live in love

I trust you live in selflessness and live in love

Through all the days, just live in love
Through all the pain, believe in love

(I change to think you not, it tries to function if this world...)
Take the time to think about your life, live righteous

I trust you live in selflessness and live in love

Through all the days, just live in love
Through all the pain, believe in love

The words we speak, the ones we don't say
Power you don't know you could say
Through all the days, believe in love

Don't you see, we are all
Don't you see, we are all
Brothers and sisters, we are one
Brothers and sisters, we are one

And I pray this is not in vain, all that you know about, all you can hide
All that you feel inside (Live in love)
All that you know about, all you can hide
All that you feel inside (Live in love)
All that you know about, all you can hide (Through all the days)
All that you feel inside (Live in love)
All that you know about, all you can hide (Through all the pain)
All that you feel inside (Live in love)
When this project was announced, both Jesse and Adam tried to distance it from KsE, for obvious reasons. I was expecting a rock album, but the dual vocals from Jesse are back stronger than ever. Adam's vocals are present as well, but it's Jesse that really shines on this album. His clean vocals were developed more over the years through Seemless and they work great here. His death metal screams are as good as ever if not stronger than his previous albums. The first track Strength in Numbers could have been on any KsE album and it really sets the pace for the entire album.

So the question comes up, is this just KsE without Howard on vocals? And the answer is no. First off, Adam throws in some pretty nice guitar solos, which are never present in KsE (for whatever reason). Secondly, the music does stray away from that metalcore sound that KsE helped create. Take a song like The Forgotten One. It is an acoustic ballad, with a country feel to it. No screams, just some beautiful music. And it's not alone, The End of Eternity never kicks into full speed and has some killer vocals on top of it, but parts of it are just breathtaking. Fall from Grace is similar to The End of Eternity in terms of tempo, but once again it's Jesse's vocals that make this track shine.

I can't forget to mention the fact that all of the instruments were played by Adam Dutkiewicz. I knew he played drums in KsE before moving to guitar, but the fact that he wrote the entire album speaks volumes of his talent. On top of that, he also produced the album. Now he has produced some great albums (All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, and Killswitch Engage to name a few), but he might be the most under-rated man in music today. He gets a bad rap for running around on stage with cape playing guitar, looking like an ass at times, but he is one talented man.

This is a solid album. From start to finish it is everything I was hoping and so much more. I loved their work on KsE, so why would I want them to stray too far from it? This is the KsE that should have been after The End of Heartache. It is enough of the old KsE, yet it takes some chances and pushes those boundaries that we fans put up. As I said in the beginning, if you are a fan of KsE, pick this up you won't be disappointed.

I hope this isn't a one time collaboration between these two. I am curious to see where this progresses from here. If I had to speculate, I would say probably more of the slower tempo songs. Anyway, it's been a long time since I started off the year with such a strong album, it will be interesting to see where it ends the year.

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: New Season of SW: The Clone Wars

I talked about this a couple of weeks back after this trailer was released.

It looked good...especially the ending. But 2 episodes in, I'm not really feeling it. I know this was supposed to be a movie (1st 3 episodes) and seen together. However, being that we have to wait a week in between each episode it makes the whole story feel disjointed. The story is slow to develop and the Jedi have only been seen in the first episode for a few minutes. Other than that it has been all Dooku and Asajj Ventress.

The plot is nice to see the Emperor realizing Dooku is trying to overthrow him, so he orders Dooku to kill Asajj. And in turn Dooku gets a new apprentice who seems to be pretty bad ass himself.

I feel like I am in the minority because I like The Clone Wars. It's a great concept to tell all of the stories from the Clone Wars. You can see the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin develop and makes the battle in Episode II & Episode IV actually mean something.

I wish that they would do something similar to this except make it between Episode III & IV. I know they are planning a live action series, but I think that the CGI is so good. There are just so many places to screw up with live action.

There is still part 3 of this "movie" so I am still hoping for something big. And I will probably watch it again when CN puts them back to back to back. Oh well I'll update this post in a week.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: I Can Has Gravity?

Ok the title is from the video, which in turn is taken from the great website I Can Has Cheezburger? If you have never been there...check it out.

Well this is a short video dealing with a cat's ability to land on their feet, but in zero gravity. As you can see harmless, but kind of funny.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Free Speech for the Dumb: Governor Chris Christie

Now I like a leader that's not afraid to stick his head out and come up with some "out of the box" thinking. With that said, I hope that after the facts are presented logic will prevail. Unfortunately, it looks like NJ Gov. Chris Christie hasn't had that "a-ha" moment. From his state of the state speech;
The time for a national conversation on tenure is long past due. Teaching can no longer be the only profession where you have no rewards for excellence and no consequences for failure to perform. Let New Jersey lead the way again. The time to eliminate teacher tenure is now.
Does anyone realize that all tenure gives a teacher is due process. This whole argument about "a guaranteed job for life" is just nonsense. Is the process to fire a teacher lengthy? Yes, but there is a process in place to fire a teacher. At my school a teacher should have been fired, the union rep told the administrators go ahead, we can't stop you. What happened? Nothing, they didn't fire him. Is that tenure's fault or the administration.

People want to run schools like business. Well if that's the case let me do the following;
  • be able to pick my students (employees)
  • no special ed students either, they usually don't perform well on standardized tests
  • be able to "fire" my students within the first 6 weeks of a semester
  • for tardies/absences
  • for failing to do homework
  • for failing to participate
  • for failing a test
Sounds kind of "out there"? It's not. I worked as a supervisor at UPS (a real life private business) for 5 years and we were able to pick and choose who we wanted and fire those that couldn't perform. And because of that we ran a smooth operation. If we had to take anyone who came through that door, UPS would not be successful.

People who aren't in education, don't get it. They don't. Where there is a bad student, chances are there is a bad home life. We see these students 55 minutes a day. What are they doing the other 23 hours? Drinking/drugs? Staying up late? Not doing any homework? Watching over their siblings? Working? Playing sports? Community service for college?

There is a lot of problems wrong with education, but I would say most start in the homes because the parents want to push all their problems onto the schools.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: New Spider-Man & Captain America movie costumes

Well I wasn't going to talk about the movie designs, but then I realized that I have talked quite a bit about comic book costumes, so why not some more.

First up is the new Spider-Man suit.At first glimpse it looks ok, but then the comic book nerd in me starts to pick it apart. Where is his little red belt (which never really served a purpose)? What's up with the little designs on the gloves? Are the spider legs going all the way down to his waist? And are those web-shooters on the outside of his suit? Well at least he has web-shooters again.

The Toby Maguire Spider-Man suits were not perfect by any means. The webbing on the suit always seemed a bit much...too silvery. But other than that, they nailed it. I won't talk about the Spider-Man 3 "black suit" because well... it sucked. And if I talk about it anymore this will turn into a Venting the Anger post. It is the worst adaptation I have ever seen. Ok enough of that.

It seems like they are trying to throw a little of the Ben Reilly Spider-Man suit into the mix. And I will be honest with you, there's nothing wrong with that. It's a good design. And if you aren't going to go with the original look, you might as well try something new. But look at the new suit and Ben Reilly's. No belt, check. Web-Shooters on the outside, check (not as bad as Ben's). Spider legs go all the way down, check (although once again not as bad). If I was going to stray away from the normal Spider-Man suit I would also look at this one. Change up the funky legs and you have a winner. I think the execs want to go away from the Toby Spider-Man movies that they are willing to tweak the suit a bit to distinguish itself from those movies.

Next up, Captain America.
I have nothing bad to say about it. They do a good job of making it look realistic. I mean he was a soldier during WWII. I'm not happy about the brown helmet under his helmet, but other than that...this looks good.

I will update this as more pictures come out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Venting the Anger: DataDirector

So it's finals time and it's been a little different over here this year because of the furlough days being reinstated and the schedule being different...I'll get around to it I promise.

For the first 5 years of teaching I used a program called Edusoft. It was a nice program that let you upload the tests to a website and all you had to do was scan them into the computer and it would grade them for you percents and all. Sounds like a scantron test right? Well, it did so much more. You could break it down by standards, most missed question, advanced through far below did a lot of nice things. Here were some other pros:
  • Only one teacher needed to be logged into the scanner to scan tests. In other words, it Teacher A was logged in Teacher B could come along and just put his tests in too to be scanned.
  • You didn't need to separate the tests. That meant every test I gave could be scanned together. All my Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2 tests could be scanned at once with all of the multiple forms. And Edusoft did the rest.
  • You could make copies from one sheet. Print out the answer document from the website and the students just had to bubble in their name and it was good to go.
  • You could take any multiple choice test you had and upload the answers to the site and then print out an answer sheet for it.

I was so into Edusoft. I had tests all over the place. I uploaded tests I was like a freakin' cheerleader for Edusoft. I was telling all the other departments how great this thing was and how much time it saved me. And then came the dark times...two years ago Edusoft was bought out by DataDirector...well that's what we were told because Edusoft's site is still up and running. We were told that it would be so much better for us. It would have more data for us to analyze than Edusoft. It would be faster and it would have more questions for us to use. Of course it didn't do anything else like;
  • you could only scan tests now if you were logged into the scanner. No more Teacher B scanning with Teacher A.
  • Even Teacher A gets screwed. You now had to select each test you were scanning. So now you had to separate all the different versions, scan one. Select another test and scan again...and so on.
  • You had to print out an individual answer sheet for each student. To top it off, where ever the answer sheet was printed, you had to scan your answers with that scanner.

There's so much more wrong with this damn program. And I haven't used it for over a year because the first time I tried to use it, it took me 3 hours to grade 34 benchmarks (45 questions each). I jumped off of that thing and ran as fast as I could. We have WASC coming and they want data to back up everything we say. Well I haven't used it for over a year so I had to do the old tally marks for my data.

It's like I said with Aeries Grade Book. Technology should make our lives easier and improve over time. This is such a huge step backwards that I don't even use it.

I bring this up because I ran out of scantrons so instead of using DataDirector I created some generic bubble answer sheets and cut out the answers to make an overlay. It took me over an hour to do that for all of my finals, but I refuse to use something that takes us backwards.

Eye of the Tiger: workout 1-11-2011

Bench: 175lbs 10 reps X 4 sets
hammer curls: 35 lbs 6 reps X 4 sets
preacher curls: 25 lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
tricep dumbbell: 35 lbs 12 reps X 4 sets
military press: 25lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
tricep dips: 10 reps X 4 sets

Elliptical: 60 minutes manual mode 7.4 miles

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Eye of the Tiger: workout 1-9-2011

Crazy 8 curls: 10lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
bent over triceps: 10lbs 12 reps X 4 sets
4 way arms: 10 lbs 6 reps X 4 sets
curl bar: 25 lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
triceps: 35 lbs 12 reps X 4 sets
upright rows: 25lb 8 reps X 4 sets

Elliptical: 60 minutes strength training mode 7.3 miles

Music Non Stop: new DevilDriver single & Deadlock teaser

Dead to Rights is the first song off of their new album, Beast. Sounds like typical DevilDriver which is a really good sign. I thought Pray For Villains was really catchy in certain places, but didn't live up to The Last Kind Words, but what could right? Anyway...enjoy.

Next up is Deadlock. I thought Wolves was an excellent album, but Manifesto might have pushed the boundaries a bit too much with the rapping and sax solo. Like I said elsewhere, it's hard to tell what this album will be like from a 2 minute teaser...why? Because they throw in so much stuff into a song a little teaser isn't going to come close to telling you what's there.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Inside Four Walls: Geometry Re-Scale Project

What is this? An actual Geometry lesson being posted here? Yes it is.

This is a project that I saw during my time as a student teacher at Claremont High School. I saw a big box of soda and asked what it was and the teacher told me her Geometry students re-scaled an object to help with understanding similar figures.

So when I was on my own and we did the chapter on similar figures/polygons, I remembered her project. The great thing is that we finished the chapter right before Christmas break, so I thought they could take those two weeks to do it. It worked out great and I have been doing it for 7 years now.

The directions are pretty simple. Take an object and determine a scale factor for the project. Then re-size it, smaller or larger. Most go with larger because it looks better. The other thing is that there can be no computer graphics used or you can't get full credit. I want to see some hand drawn artwork. There is also a question sheet for the project, which is very easy to do. There is one question that asks about the perimeter to make the connection that the perimeter will be proportional to the scale factor.

I should take more pictures of my projects because as I was looking through these I realized I don't have a lot photographed and that's a shame because they are really well done.

My first year's best project. I still have it and it is still holding up well. The other side had a straw, it was lost in one of my moves. The top even had that little foil covering the hole, but some student poked it out.

Giant air-freshener I received this year. What makes it great is that the student sprayed it with a pine scent to make it smell like a real car air-freshener. Plus side, my room smells better.
Probably my two favorite projects. The one on the left was done 5 years ago. I can't remember what the scale factor is on it, but at the time it was the most detailed project I had ever received. The back is awesome. So fast forward to this year and I have her little brother in my class. I tell him it would be cool to have another Mike & Ike box the same size. So he does the tropical flavor. He used the exact same method his sister used, which involved getting the original box opened up and transferred to graphite paper. I always thought they used a transparency and overhead, but apparently not. So what makes this ever cooler? The bar code on the back actually scans. We used those bar code apps on smart phones and it found the product. Pretty cool.

By the way, on the edge of the original Mike & Ike is a big Hersey's chocolate bar. It is painted like the others and usually fools most people. They think it is a huge chocolate bar. And yes, that is Yoda in between. He is like a magic 8-ball, ask him a question, squeeze his hand and he gives you an answer.
Last but not least is the one project that gets the most attention. I had a student rescale a pencil 10x's bigger. Everyone thinks I bought it. I keep it hanging above my desk now. There is writing on the other side that matches up with the original pencil as well. The metal tip for the eraser is an old can of soup. The eraser is starting to peel off now and I need to re-glue it. The tip was broke by the custodians one summer. I was moving rooms and left it in another teachers room. When we came back 3 weeks later it was moved into the corner from cleaning the carpets. The tip was broken. I glued it back on, but you can see the crack still. Pisses me off.

I have a bunch more that I really like, a Cup of Noodles box, a Jello Box that was made from all construction paper...amazing job actually. I probably have kept 10-15 projects over 7 years. I keep more than that each year, but most rotate through from year to year. This year I had a student enlarge a Rubik's Cube that one direction. I am sure it is a matter of time before I get one that moves both ways.

If you are wondering how I am able to keep them, I bargain with the students to "buy" them off of them for extra credit points. It gives them an opportunity to practice their bargaining skills. I like to watch them take pride in their work and give their reasons why their project is worth so many points. I have had some students say no thanks to the extra credit and they keep it because of all the hard work they put into it. And I respect those students for holding their ground no matter what I try to offer.

I will try to get some more pictures of my projects later.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Eye of the Tiger: workout 1-5-2011

1 hour elliptical @ school

Venting the Anger: College Football

I've talked about college football and the BSC before, so this should be no surprise to anyone who knows me. But college football is a joke!

How can anyone take it seriously? I'm not saying that schools like Boise State or TCU are getting screwed, because that's an argument everyone makes. I won't even complain about the lack of a playoff system. Even though a team like Stanford or even Alabama (ranked 16th) would have a serious shot at winning it all. I won't even talk about how the Big 10 is constantly over-hyped every year. And then they go 1-5 in their bowls games, with a couple of those being absolute blow outs. I won't talk about the match-ups and how they are determined by a schools ability to "travel" and not about getting the best football match up. Why would you put Oklahoma against UConn, when you could have put in Stanford? Put UConn against Arkansas or someone else. BTW, I feel that they gave OK an easy match up to give them their first BSC win.

What I am pissed out today is how blatant college football is win it comes to punishing players. Cam Newton's dad took all this money and the school declared him ineligible right before the SEC title game. What does the NCAA do? Say he didn't know about it and says he can play in the title game. Or last night, Ohio State found out that 5 players took money this season. So of course they are going to be suspended. But when start the suspension? How about right away to show how serious you are on taking money? Nope. Let them play in the bowl game, then promise to come back to school and get suspended next season. What a joke! This is why I can't stand college football.

Eye of the Tiger: workout 1-4-2011

Bench: 175lbs 10 reps X 4 sets
3 way curls: 25 lbs 5 reps X 4 sets
preacher curls: 25 lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
tricep single dumbbell: 10 lbs 15 reps X 4 sets
military press: 25lb 8 reps X 4 sets
tricep dips: 10 reps X 4 sets

Elliptical: 60 minutes manual mode 7.2 miles

Monday, January 03, 2011

Eye of the Tiger: workout 1-3-2011

Elliptical 1 hour @ school. Distance is not accurate. It said I went .91 miles. That's right one hour on the machine and not even one mile.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Who Decides: 2010 Albums of the Year

2010 was a bit of a down year. There wasn't that much to get excited about, but the albums that are in the top 10 are really good, sum will easily make the albums of the decade list in 8 years...if the blog is still up and running. I managed to review a few of these albums as the year wrapped up, so hopefully I won't have to talk about each album as much as I did in the past.

A couple of honorable mentions to Eluveitie with Everything Remains As It Never Was. It was a return to Slania-type folk/melodic death metal. In fact, they probably threw in more folk than before. If you liked Slania, check this one out. This is probably my favorite song off the album, but it's also the slowest.

And the God of War III EP. This thing had songs by Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Dream Theater, and a couple others. The mentioned 4 band songs were awesome. Opeth going back to some 70's progressive feel and DT going instrumental. And what about Trivium? They kept going in the same direction that they started with Shogun. I couldn't include it because it was just an EP. But it is definitely one of the better releases this year.

10. Angelus Apatrida - Clockwork: This is retro thrash. It was between this band and another called Vindication. One sounds like Megadeth the other Testament. I went with the latter. Nothing really special here. It's classic bay area thrash with great solos and some early Testament style vocals. Like I said, solid, but definitely didn't break any new ground.

9. Pendulum - Immersion: Kind of the black sheep of the list. This band falls under the "drum & bass" genre. It's has that techno/trance/rave type feel to it at times. I found out the album from the song Self vs. Self which had In Flames on it.

To be honest it's an In Flames song on another album because the rest of the album sounds nothing like that. But that's ok. It's really not bad. It reminds me of 80's new wave at times in fact. Believe it or not, I have a soft spot for bands like Tears for Fears, Human League and the likes. Hopefully Pendulum will continue to push the lines of drum & bass to include more metal aspects.

8. Charred Walls of the Damned - Charred Walls of the Damned: I talked about their album HERE. Solid classic metal album. This is a must for Iced Earth fans as well, even if you are fans of Matt Barlow era Iced Earth.

7. As I Lay Dying - This Powerless Rise: there is nothing wrong with this album, it's just not close to being as good as their previous album. No surprises here. If you liked their last one, the same thing is going on here too. I can't complain about it.

6. Eye of the Enemy - Weight of Redemption: can't believe I never talked about this album. It is near perfect for a debut. The production is top notch. It's better than some veteran albums. Eye of the Enemy plays what I call modern thrash, think DevilDriver. The riffs are vicious and the drumming is intense. Vocals have that harder edge to them without going total death metal. There is some interesting use of techno elements, but nothing to write home about. It pops up once or twice and it doesn't take anything away from the song. This is a band to keep an eye on (no pun intended). How many bands can write an 8 minute song to close an album and make it feel like a typical 4 minute song? Not many. Just go to the 3:20 mark to hear some killer music.

5. Arcania - Sweet Angel Dust: Another new band. This band could have used the production that Eye of the Enemy had. That is probably the one downfall of this album. I reviewed it HERE.

4. Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy: This was a bit of a disappointment at first because it wasn't close to The Godless Endeavor. Plus the solo albums from Jeff Loomis and Warrell Dane made the expectations really high. Well after I listened to it, I put it away thinking "this sucks", then I revisited it a couple of weeks later and was blown away by it. It reminds me a lot of Dead Heart in a Dead World because it isn't all thrash. It has some moments that are thrash, but others are that sort of mid-tempo memorable songs. Each song has a hook that grabs you right away and doesn't let go.

3. All That Remains - For We Are Many: I didn't get a chance to review this album during the year, but here is a quick summary. Better than Overcome, but not The Fall of Ideals. It's a solid album. They took the hooks of Overcome and tried to bring in a little bit heavier feel to the album, but it didn't get all the way to The Fall of Ideals. Out of their 5 albums, it is probably their 3rd best, behind The Fall of Ideals and their debut.

2. Bullet For My Valentine - Fever: I reviewed it HERE. Did I say Nevermore had hooks, this thing is like a bait shop...that's a horrible joke, but the point is every song is great. This is a band that I truly thought I would never like, now after their last two albums, I am actually looking forward to see what they can do next.

1. Blaze Bayley - Promise and Terror: I reviewed it HERE. Great throw back to classic metal. No death metal vocals, no breakdowns, just classic heavy metal. Great album. Check out that riff at the 2:40 mark.

That's it. I have mentioned it already, but 2011 looks really good. I think it will be one of the better years for music.

Eye of the Tiger: workout 1-2-2011

New tag, this is mainly for me to track my workouts. It will also force me to do it because if I'm posting, and no workout that means I'm slacking off. No words for these just my workout.

Bench: 175lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
4 way arms: 10 lbs 5 reps X 4 sets
curl bar: 25 lbs 8 reps X 4 sets
triceps: 35 lbs 12 reps X 4 sets
upright rows: 25lb 8 reps X 4 sets

Elliptical: 45 minutes manual mode 5.4 miles

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Future Uncertain: 2011

That time of year to look into the future and make some predictions...

I looked at some of these a couple of weeks ago. You can check it out here, with some videos. Here is a quick run down.

Deadlock - Bizarro World. I have never been disappointed by them. Shocked, yes. Disappointed, no.

Dead By April. I have a soft spot for these guys and if they go a little heavier this will be one addicting album.

The Human Abstract - Digital Veil. I missed this one when I looked at 2011 a couple of weeks ago. They sound like they are back on track Nocturne-style and not Midheaven. Check out Faust.

Lazarus A.D. - Black River Flows. My favorite "new" thrash band.

Times of Grace - The Hymn of a Broken Man. Pre-ordered already, signed dvd/cd version too. Can't wait.

Trivium, that song for the Gods of War EP was awesome...hopefully a sign of things to come.

DevilDriver - Beast. Pray for Villains had some great songs, but overall a bit of a let down after The Last Kind Words.

Nightrage - haven't heard anything official, but here's hoping.

Into Eternity (maybe) - same as Nightrage.

In Flames - A Sense of Purpose was bland compared to Come Clarity. Add on that Jesper is gone, this could be bad. No real expectations here.

I already talked about Outsourced. I will hit the new Avengers cartoon. Star Wars and maybe even the new Tron cartoon if it comes out this year. I also still need to talk about The Middle and a few others.

nuff said.

As for my blog,
I will start posting my daily exercise routines here. I have taken about 3 weeks off due to illness and vacations. Hopefully, posting here daily will help out my motivation.