Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If You Had to Move...

Yahoo released Kiplinger's list of the ten U.S. cities most ready for the coming decade today. The list is as follows:

1. Austin, Tx.
2. Seattle, Wash.
3. Washington D.C.
4. Boulder, Co.
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
6. Rochester, Mn
7. Des Moines, Iowa
8. Burlington, Vt.
9. West Hartford, Ct.
10. Topeka, Ks.

The article brings up some very good points about the urban areas they list. I am also impressed that they refrained from simply listing all sun-belt and western cities as is the fad. There were also some surprises in there for me!

I always knew Des Moines was a nice, well-off place but they really have their act together more than I apparently give them credit for. Rochester, Mn. is home to the famed Mayo Clinic (at which a childhood friend of mine just landed a job after med-school! Go Mark!) which brings in over 2 million patients from out of town a year. Rockester by the way is slightly SE of Minneapolis. Some more surprises were Burlington Vt. and Topeka Ks. These are truly not flashy picks from the editor, but they're looking at the actual engine and numbers, not palm trees and fluff. This is again why I am relatively impressed with the article. Such lists usually include a hand-ful of Florida cities and places along the lines of Phoenix and Las Vegas due simply to growth patterns.

Here's the link to the article:

Now, here's my question to you; if you had to move to just one of them which one do you choose? This is a tough choice for me. I would really love to move to Austin and/or Seattle. However a friend recently completed grad school in Colorado and has been raving about it, so Boulder would be up there for me too.

I encourage you to post your answers (or at least your top choices) below!! Don't be shy, let us know!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer's Heat...

It's here again, and it's letting you know it. This time last year I remember wearing a sweatshirt past 5pm. Not this year, this year shorts and a t-shirt are still too much. Today's temperature is 87 degrees, sunny, with a humidity index near 70%. Anything with the word "sweat" was totally different.

I woke up at 8am with the sun shining. As is usual in summer, I was immediatly able to open my window with moderate temps outside. I woke up and got myself together. At 10am I was ready to get outside for a run. You could cut the humidity and stagnant air with a knife. The run went well, until I turned onto the final mile-long straight-away. It faced right into the un-impeded sun and was all searing, black asphalt. Wow, will that kill you quick. By the time I got home the sweat was coming off me in sheets and I had to drench myself in cool water to reduce my body temperature.

So there it is my friends, welcome to summer in Michigan. It'll be sunny and in the upper 80's all week here. I got quite a bit of sun today, which I'm sure my students will remind me of tommorow. I would however gladly take this weather over 30 degrees all the time. It really is a lot more enjoyable.

It does make you those who get this year-round or 9-10 months a year really appreciate it? Do they know what 4 months of dark, cold temps is like? I mean I enjoy the snow as much as the next person, but after a while it gets old. You want to be able to go outside without cleaning off or scraping your car, without bundling up everytime. You want some natural vitamin D from the sun. This is why the "sun-belt" has thrived or the past several decades. You wonder if those who have been there a decade or more have lost their appreciation for it...maybe have them move to Marquette or Buffalo for a winter??

I'll leave you with that thought. Have a great Sunday night.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Texas School Board Votes to Re-Write History and Truth.

So, if you haven't heard some uber-conservative influences on the Texas School Board have gotten a recent vote to go in their favor. That vote was monumental and will affect the whole country. That vote deals with what is written in school text books, specifically history. This vote forces changes to the content.

The changes include additions such as mentions of the conservative movement starting with Regan in the 1980's, full mentions and descriptions of the NRA (which is one I am fine with as they have always played a huge role in our nation's history), and one of the worst I feel is talking of the so-called and self-termed "moral majority". The "moral majority" fodder is the as same elementary school-yard bickering. One side basically saying that "we're the good guys and superior to you" simply because of the method in which they choose to follow Christianity. Implying that those who do not follow as they do are immorale and will burn in hell for eternity. And you thought the Salem witch trials were over??? LMAO!!! Finally, another addition is the idea that the founding fathers did not intend for our country to have separation of church and state. Debating is fine, so as long as both theories are equally represented, it works. It is afterall up to the individual citizen to choose their religion and how they follow it, not the government.

Other changes include cutting the term "imperialism" and replacing it with "expansionism" when it comes to the expansions and annexing of western lands from native americans by the US government in the 1800's. Replacing these terms are only meant to ease the consciences of those who might be ashamed of some of the methods in which our fore-father's created the country we now live in. This is a little make-up on a permanent black-eye, and can only serve to mask a historical truth. You can't change history, or truth.

There is more to the story, but you can read up on it here:

This is but another salvo fired in the ever-deepending ideological divide in this country. Sadly I fear that in little more than a decade we might face serious issues as a country in terms of stability (in all matters) due to this non-sense.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The NHL's Wonderful Opportunity

Good evening to all those bored enough to want to read this. I do have for you however a wonderful and passionate soap-box rant lined up!

So last week was a bittersweet week in hockey for me. My Red Wings were eliminated by San Jose in five games. Definitly not how we all expected that series to go.
However, we were given hope born anew in a young and firey Montreal Canadiens team that refuses to quit and is reaching maximum potential at just the right time. Led by Mr. Halak, their red-hot rookie goaltender and a great young scoring talent in Mike Cammillari (Michigan grad) the Habs have all of Quebec in a frenzy and have done what many considered impossible this year, especially by an 8th seed.

First, the Habs eliminate the President's Trophy winning Washington Capitals in the first round in an exciting seven-game series. We were proud and elated to no longer have to hear endless talk to Alex Ovechkin. But then, the hated Pittsburgh Penguins stood in their way. The Penguins and their young weasel..eerrrr captain Sydney Crosby are the defending Stanley Cup champs. Surely the Habs would fall. Seven games later and with rioting in the streets of Montreal these young Canadiens had slayed the NHL marketing dragon that is Crosby and his henchmen. All of Canada (and the rest of the NHL) celebrated wildly. Take that Bettman.

They now face the upstart Flyers from Philadelphia. These Flyers were just the third team to come back from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins last week. It will still be a moral victory for hockey purity if Philly makes the finals, however that would play second fiddle to the riotous pandemonium of joy that would ensue a Canadiens finals appearance, the first since 1993. All of Canada would be going nuts, and the NHL's winningest franchise of all time would have the opportunity raise it's 25th championship banner to the rafter of the Bell Centre.

In the West, the Sharks square off against a proud member of the Original Six, the Chicago Blackhawks. The 'Hawks have made the West Finals for the second year in a row, and with a series victory could assure the NHL has either a Canadian or Original Six franchise in the finals for the sixth straight season. Despite being Detroit's in-division rival, I am really pulling for them in this series. They need to represent the West. They've already got a head start and took a 1-0 series lead this afternoon.

So here is the great opportunity for the NHL. Without it's stars it has the chance to see it's winningest franchise be the first team from Canada to win the cup since these very Canadiens won it back in 1993. It also has the chance to see another Original Six team win it's first cup since the 1960/'61 season. The Blackhawks drought is now the longest in the NHL. The drama will be exceptional and action will be intense. Will you be watching?

Goodnight and Godspeed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beer Review: Travis' Homebrewed Red/Amber Ale

So a buddy of mine started home brewing a couple months ago. His second batch of beer happened to be an amber/red ale. Here's my evaluation:

A- Pours a nice, rusty colored amber. Slight chill haze, other than that somewhat clear. I nice white, frothy head rises to an inch high and slowly levels off. Good lacing left on the glass. Love the deep hues on this one!

S- This one's a malty beer for sure! It has a great nose on it. Lots of caramel malts and light toffee scents. No hoppiness to be had.

T- Very palateable. The taste is lightly of malts, some barley, lots of cereal grains in this one. Some of the malts do seem a lightly roasted as well. There's a peaty character in there that is hard to identify. Why is it hard to identify? Because the flavor compunds of the beer dissapear way too fast. You get a nice light hit, and then they vanish. Virtually nothing on the finish. Is it the mild character that's throwing me? The taste is good, it just goes away waaay too fast.

M- Very clean, crisp and refreshing. Did I just sound like a Bud Light ad? This one is good, it is exactly what it should be. It's not a cloying hop-bomb, or a all-encompassing stout.

D- Very drinkable. One could session this beer without any thought or hesitation.

Overall? Good beer! I guess I've come to expect a heavier amber from the likes of Bells, but this one is certainly good. I could easily enjoy this in summer and winter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Evening Ponderings

As I sit here this Monday evening while a load of laundry is in the wash, I once again realize just how fast life is. It's virtually 7:30 already, and in hindsight I barely noticed my weekend (even though I did a really fantastic job of enjoying it).

I got out of work at 3;30, headed right home and started a good workout. Heaven knows after Sunday's pig-out fest I needed it. I then proceeded to shower, and head to Meijer for the weekly shop. This killed about 40 minutes, and it was home to enjoy Muligatauny (sp?) curry chicken and rice with madre. Post dinner clean-up help, laundry started, and here we are. I had the chance to go to Allendale tonight, but I had too much to do and the drive wasn't worth it as I'd just been yesterday.

Then I realized I hadn't updated this beast in a week. I guess that's what happens when you re-discover your uber-social-life side and get out to see friends on the weeknights more often than not. I'm heavily thankful for my friends here, as the social aspect is a great escape and boost lately. If I get a job out of state, far away, I sort of fear the initial lonliness of life without close friends to hang out with. I know one day it may be inevitable, but from what other friends and cousins have told me, it's not that fun to not know anyone your own age in a strange new place.

I realized late last week and today just how mentally "checked out" my 5th graders are. They have a serious lack of academic concern, and have a full case of senior-itis. I guess we were all like that. It's just quite tough to get through stuff that normally would be second nature to them, is now like drilling a cavity.

Not having done too much job hunting in the past week (since learning of my impending unemployment come June 11) I'm fairly optimistic about the summer still. Hell, one has to stay optimistic in this world or not much seems worthwhile, ya dig?

Have a good evening.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Summer Plans?

So I learned today that my summer plans will likely be drastically different than I had anticipated. I was informed that my former temporary summer employer was going to be unable to bring me back this year. What consequences does this have?

This means that if I am not able to find either a new, full-time position by June 10th or something for the summer at the least, I will be on unemplyment. This does open me up to far greater job search/job search travelling possibilities, so in that much I am excited. It will also give me a greatly needed chance to investigate grad school further and have actual meetings. To sum up the situation, I guess I would say that I am far more excited about the positive possibilities this creates for me than otherwise. Maybe, just maybe, I might actually get to work on a real website of my own...

I would like the chance to travel more, and if I had an opportunity this summer I would certainly take it. So far 2010 has been quite woeful in terms of travelling compared to 2009 (which I think holds the record, so it may be unfair to hold it against).

In other news, a little over a week in and with a month to go, I am greatly enjoying my new reponsibilities at work. I truly appreciate the consistancy, which is a positive departure from the normal subbing scene. It's great to work with an old-time acquaintance in the last month of her career before she retires happy. I enjoy the kids everyday, and I am not lying. They may be smart-mouths some days, they may challenge me, confuse me, and sometimes get me irritated. Through it all, they can and do continually make my day better. Life has many challenges, especially if you are a kid in a sometimes disadvantaged situation with no outlet for his/her emotions. For the past several months I am beginning to see the 5th graders begin that awkward emotional and psychological stage a young person enters as they prepare to leave one "age group", and graduate to another. Middle school awaits them and they can sense their time as "true" kids is vanishing fast (as so often does in our times, children become adults sooner and sooner). They will certainly have that stage as they leave the eigth grade for their freshman year of high school. They will have an even more prominant stage in their fading months of being a senior in high school. For some, (hopefully more than not) college will lie ahead. For others, the workplace will be their destinations for the time being. You may say, "Pete, that's a decade away!", well trust me my friends that decade goes by far faster than any of us EVER concieved. Hold fast to your youthful spirits, they may be what keeps you sane the rest of your life.

Come June 11, I will truly miss these kids.

Oh, and on a side note, I have now been a college graduate for three years. How scary of a realization is that!

Goodnight, and few good tunes from the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band to send you home...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May 1st!

Welcome to May folks! Wow, is it really May already!?

This past week was very busy for me and the times I had to get something on here I didn't have the energy. Last weekend was quite busy and fun, out with a friend friday night and then a bonfire Saturday.

This week I had something every night M-Th after work. Monday I helped a good friend move into her new apartment until 11:45. Tuesday I had a friend with something rather traumatic happen to him, so the situation warrented social interaction. Wednesday was just plain for kicks and Thursday was completely unplanned. I had yesterday (Friday) "off" from social interaction for the first time since the previous Sunday. It was sorely needed as it allowed me to just relax.

Today I headed out to Allendale around 1pm to meet my friend to get some tree cutting done on his property for fire wood. Well, about 1:30 I get a call from a 616 area code number that I do not recognize. Instinctively I want to ignore it and see if they leave a voicemail. However, something in my being told me I needed to answer this call. Well, it turned out to be my mother. She was out volunteering and had flushed her keys down the toilet accidentally. Not only her car keys, but her house set as well. I can't make this stuff up. My buddy and I needed to go to Lowe's anyway, so we headed into town to get her an extra set and all was good in the end.

Now I sit at home sore as ever after cutting down 6 trees and cutting them up with a hand saw. We burned a bunch of small shrubbery that needed clearing, as well as grill some brats.

All in a days work I tells ya. Thank goodness the rain held off and it was relatively nice! Happy Saturday!