Sunday, August 31, 2008

She Was Against the Bridge-to-Nowhere After She Was For It

Apparently, John McCain's VP choice, Gov. Sarah Palin, did not exactly tell the whole truth when she claimed that she said: "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere."

The Anchorage Daily News has the real facts on her flip flip faux pas. It appears that she was for the Bridge-to-Nowhere at first.

Here's a quote from Palin back in the day: "I think we're going to make a good team as we progress that bridge project."

I'm sure it won't be long until she says: "I was against the bridge after I was for it." That didn't fare to well for John Kerry, but maybe it will work for her.

Read the article for yourself.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The world is excited about the prospect of change

For the first time in my life, I feel a connection to a political candidate, someone who represents my views and my philosophies, someone who embodies the epitome of class, decorum, self-reflection, and level-headedness. Barack Obama has an heir of old school class that is absent in red and blue politics these days.

I have never experienced a politician who could ignite excitement and energy – instill hope – in the masses like Barack Obama. The man overfilled an athletic stadium, turning thousands of people away. People lined up for hours just to be a part of something special, just to hear a politician speak about his vision for America. It is overwhelming and uncommon. The American people, like no other time, care about politics.

Barack Obama came out and not only spoke philosophically about his platform, but gave details – meat – about how he plans on moving The United States forward. He did two things last night:

  1. He addressed every single issue that the voters wanted to hear (lower taxes on the middle class, ending tax cuts for big oil, ending tax incentives for businesses that ship jobs overseas, promoting tax cuts for business that create more jobs in the US, tax incentives for small business, ending the war, gun control, abortion, locating Osama Bin Laden (something the Bush Administration never cared about), creating policies that will bolster our failing economy, and civil rights for all persons (not just white, straight, Christian males.)
  2. He established a strong presence, one that demonstrated his readiness to oppose John McCain and the policies where McCain sides with the failed Bush administration.

The man was powerful, positive, and complimentary to his opponent while outlining how the two are different. It is a very exciting time in our history and I am proud to be a supporter of a new direction. I am elated, overjoyed, with my candidate. Never have I been so excited about politics. It’s a nice change to have a Democrat I really believe in. That hasn’t happened in a while. I am an unapologetic supporter, a believer in our future with Obama.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Democratic Convention … So Far

I don’t know what some pundits/bloggers were watching, but I thought Hillary and Bill both did a bang up job endorsing Barack Obama. I am particularly impressed with how honorably the speakers are conducting themselves. They are not throwing mud or attacking the John McCain. The tone is very positive and I think that is the way politics should be conducted.

Now Joe Biden probably gave the strongest speech, but he talked first about the goodness of John McCain, and was complimentary of his service and his patronage to America. That is something they have all done. Biden did, however, speak frankly about the differences between the two candidates, which is perfectly acceptable.

It’s funny, because the high road is what John McCain always said he would take. That is what first impressed me about him, drew me to him, got me excited about a Republican candidate. I have always thought very highly of McCain. As this election has progressed he abandoned what I loved about him and backtracked on his greatest qualities. I am sorry to see that, because I think he will look back and regret that decision. I do think, deep down inside, he is still a good and honorable man. I think he’s just lost his way due to the pressure to win the election and appease his base. It has to be a hard balance. That’s why I say there is no such thing as a Christian politician, regardless of the side.

I hope the Democrats continue this positive trend, and talk positively about their formidable opponent, andsimply draw distinctions between the candidates’ position on issues and not on other things. Really, who cares how many houses a candidate owns. I do suppose that not knowing is an issue from the perspective of relating to the average joe, but all politicians are rich and have that problem anyway.

Right now, the top three issues for me are:

  • The Economy
  • The War
  • Civil Rights (ethnic/racial, gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion)

I just don’t see how anyone could view the economy has strong. “I don’t believe we’re headed into a recession. I believe the fundamentals of this economy are strong, and I believe they will remain strong” (John McCain, GOP Debate, Myrtle Beach, FNC, 1/10/08). If he really thinks that, then maybe he really does not understand the plight of the middle class.

I am very excited about Barack’s speech tonight. The Democrats are hosting a watch party at the Clarion and we want to go badly. Unfortunately, 8 pm is dangerously close to the daughter’s bedtime. Besides we have a funeral tomorrow in Lebanon and we have to get up early. So it’s most likely that we will spend the evening facilitation our nighttime routine and watching the Obama speech in our jammies. It’s unfortunate because the hotel has wifi and we could blog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Powdered Meat Substitute

It’s about protein smoothies these days. I use them as part of my attempt to lose weight. Not skinny mind you, but just be a healthy BIG MAN, if you catch my drift. My dietician recommends that I use a more protein-heavy diet. Not the Atkins, because she still wants me to eat carbohydrates. Something more along the South Beach Diet is more like it.

Heavy on the protein and veggies, average on the fruits, light on the carbs is how I understand it so far. The protein powders come in sweet flavors, so they are perfect for between-meal snacks. I’ve been adding fruit, peanut butter, yogurt, milk, crushed ice, and sometimes powdered fiber to make a dandy smoothie.

Since I have all night classes this semester, I have to eat early and can get snacky during class. So I’ve been taking protein shakes with me along with my water. So far it works pretty well. They are also good for my little pseudo-vegetarian daughter so insure she gets enough protein in her diet.

Right now, I am using Unjury brand protein powders, but if there are any better ones out there let me know. I am happy with this brand so far. Each scoop offers 20 grams of protein and only 3 grams of carbohydrates.

Dems Get Together for Thursday's Convention Festivities

(Updates in Red)

The Barack Obama Campaign for Change is sponsoring a watch party in Greene County for the Thursday night Democratic Convention. The event begins at 7 p.m. but Obama's speech begins at 9 p.m. Free food and a cash bar are available.

You must sign up to attend. To do so, contact Erin McCann at 417.496.2883.

Democratic Convention Watch Party
Thursday Night
8 p.m.
Clarion Hotel Convention Center
3333 S. Glenstone Ave.

There will be watch parties in outlying areas as well: Branson, Billings, Nixa, Marshfield, Bolivar and Warsaw.

(The Clarion Hotel's convention center does have wifi, according to the Clarion representative I called this afternoon.)

Top Ten Things That Sound Dirty in the Bible, But Aren't

It's time again for your weekly scripture reading, this one coming not from Cracked but from Jason Rohrblogger, our top ten-loving comedian.

This time the scriptures only sound dirty, but are not meant to. Unlike a previous set from The Song of Solomon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Superheroes & Mental Math: Engaging Kids in the Classroom

As you may guess, my future classroom will not be filled with pretty little posters of cute kittens hanging on a branch with the caption: “Hang in there, baby.” Oh no, my classroom will be decorated in heroes, both super and the non-super variety. One of my focuses is on helping students find passion and purpose in life, to understand the bigger community, and to find peace in doing for others. We are in search of our inner hero.

I happen to use comics as a significant catalyst to achieve my end goal. How about linking that bigger goal back to the curriculum, and to mathematics specifically? Enter HeroClix by WizKids. HeroClix is a superhero game played on a foldable map. It is strategy game very similar to Risk, but with more mental mathematics. The game pieces consist of 3-dimenstional superheroes on a round base. The base has a window with that superheroe’s statistics showing through. Whenever that superhero is attacked and is injured, then the dial on the base is moved or clicked, and a new stat appears. If the superhero takes enough damage, then he or she clicks a KO (knock out) and is taken off the board.

A map with characters.

Here’s the thing: Mental mathematics determines everything. Players must be able to cipher in their heads in order to determine if they should make an attack on another player, how large a dice roll is required, and how many clicks of damage a superhero takes. Some examples of mental math used are: Doubles plus or minus 1, Doubles plus or minus 2, Counting on, Adding 10, Adding 9, and Adding 8,

Unlike educational games that are designed for the classroom, and games where kids know they are being tricked into doing mathematics, HeroClix is an authentic game played by kids and adults at real tournaments across the nation. There is no trickery involved; it is the real deal.

The game rules can be very complicated, but they do not have to be. Each superhero has a set of powers that can also come into play. However, the game can be played sans powers, which makes play easier to learn and faster to play. As well, HeroClix has created the Alpha series, which has simpler rules and is geared for ages 8 and older.

Confused? I know what you mean. It’s really not that bad at all and it is a huge draw for kids, especially boys. Did you catch that? It’s worth your time.

Most comic book shops have HeroClix game days, where people come in and play. The sage players are very good to slow down and assign a mentor to teach you the essence of the game. My 8-year-old daughter and I bought some HeroClix and recently went to our first HeroClix tournament at my local comic shop. When I told the players that I was a teacher and I wanted to introduce HeroClix to my students, they teamed up and went through their stash. They culled out over 200 game pieces, 5 maps, and a pair of dice then donated it to my future classroom.

Why would they do this? You see, HeroClix is sold in boxes with several game pieces inside. You don’t know what game pieces you are getting. Consequently, you end up with multiple pieces of the same figure. That means that most players have extra pieces they do not need. These guys take this game seriously and have hundreds, if not thousands, of game pieces. So it is easy, and quite common, for them to donate extra pieces to newbies. These folks love their HeroClix game and want to share it with others. I am certain that they would even volunteer to come to your classroom and teach you and the kids to play.

Amazingly, it’s not as geek-filled a game as it sounds. I brought it home, sorted my figures and put out a map. My daughter begged my wife to play and she agreed, albeit reluctantly. At the end my wife said it was a lot of fun. During every turn I helped my daughter make decisions. She did the math and rolled the dice.

Playing HeroClix in Tulsa, OK

Small maps can be played in 15-30 minutes, perfect for that rainy day of indoor recess. A teacher could use two or three game pieces on the document camera to demonstrate the need for mental mathematics abilities and to teach the addition and subtraction strategies. You could even have small tournaments in class to give kids some mental math practice.

The game also promotes diversity as there are characters that are female, persons representing minorities, and those with disabilities. If you are looking for a way to bring superheroes into mathematics, then consider HeroClix.

During my trip to DefCon 7, I introduced the game to my sister’s family. We stayed up until after midnight playing and had a fantastic time. We even donated some pieces and a map to the family for putting up with comicness all weekend.

Another Instance Where McCain Abandon’s His Independent Roots

This blogger notes his problems with McCain abandoning his Maverick roots, opting for the party line in an attempt to win the White House.

The issue: McCain is now using the political practices that he abhorred and denounced when he truly was a Maverick. The McCain campaign is trying to keep third party presidential candidate, Bob Barr, off the ballot. Back in 2000, McCain made a Maverick-style promise to “never consider, ever consider, allowing a supporter of [his] to challenge [his opponent]'s right to be on the ballot in all 50 states."

In the same article, McCain, as went on to say: "Let's not have the kind of Stalinist politics that the state of New York, the Republican Party, has been practicing."

Some harsh words. I wonder if he holds the same opinion of his tactics today? I’m not crazy about those kinds of tactics, but they are common practices in all of politics. The difference here is that McCain strongly stated he would never do such a thing. I would have believed him back then and even a few years ago. Now … I can’t say that much.

As I stated before: The very respectable and admirable Maverick is dead. Everything I ever liked about the candidate is decaying at breakneck speed. It is so disgusting to see the machine chew up what once was a great man and turn him into a automaton. We’ve seen it happen to many a great teacher, social worker, nurse, doctor, and host of other helpers of the people.

Skedaddle On Out of Here, Little Girl

Last week the daughter and I went shopping for school supplies. She wanted (and needed0 a new bicycle. Her old one was entirely too small. Bless her heart, she was peddling with her knees to her chin.

So we told her that she could have a new bicycle, but she would have to pay for it. My daughter saves her money. She does not get an allowance, but she does get money from family members for birthday and Christmas. She used her money to buy a new purple mongoose with trick pegs and a purple helmet with pink and purple flames. I am so proud to see her engaging in responsible economics. The rest of the money was put back in her bank.

All my classes this semester are graduate level, which means they are night classes. So I have the day to do homework, research and work on my other projects. Yes, yes, and blog too. That is important.

Then it hit me: Why not ride our bicycles to school instead of taking the car? My bicycle is equipped with a basket and a back rack and she has a backpack. I got this morning, fixed breakfast, then strapped all her school supplies to my bicycle. She donned her backpack and off we went. It’s about a mile to school, give or take. She is not the most confident bicyclist, but she is getting better and has practiced a lot since she got the bigger bicycle.

I forgot my watch, so I don’t know how long it took us, but we had a great time. We rode on the sidewalk as Woodlawn is an oft used minor thoroughfare in that part of town. People drive fast on it and it can be dangerous for a wobbly bicycle driver.

She did great: happy and content, patient and cheery. We parked her bike in the school yard cycle rack, which was nearly full when I left. I taught her how to use a bike lock and then escorted her inside. It’s so exciting, the first day of school. Then I peddled home. Plan on doing the same, but in reverse, tonight when I pick her up. I doubt we can do that in the winter, at least not everyday, but we should do it while we can. It’s good exercise and daddy-daughter time.

Sorry I didn’t think to take a snap shot.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Really, He Sucks That Bad!

I like those criminally-based post-apocalyptic, Road Warrior-styled movies with lots of action and bloodshed. What self-respecting man doesn't? I wouldn't even consider seeing DEATH RACE in the theatres, but initially I entertained the idea of adding it to my Netflix queue.

Then I realize something sad, something disturbing, something that makes me shudder and dribble a bit of urine down my pant leg. DEATH RACE is written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the same Paul W.S. Anderson responsible for such abdominal-cramping, molestations of celluloid as MORTAL COMBAT and EVENT HORIZON.

No thank you, my friends, I shall pass. I won't even waste a netflix queue slot for this guy. The only reason I botheredd with a blog post is I was bored. So bored that I wasted keystrokes on the pitiful excuse of a movie maker.

Now This is Olympic Gold Gymnastics!

My dad sent me this comedic gymnastics video routine by Paulette Huntinova (Paul Hunt). Truly Olympic gold if I've ever seen any. You can click here to see other routines of his on the YouTube beast. It's really worth your time and your funny bone with thank you. Her (or his) balance beam routine is really funny.

If this isn't enough to satisfy you, just search "gymnastics bloopers" on YouTube to find all kinds of tumbling mishaps.

Keystroke of appreciation to FJ Sr. for sending Paulette Huntinova to us in the first place. It makes our day-before-school day.

5 Superpowers from the Bible that Put Marvel & DC to Shame

It's Sunday and it has come to our attention that you, yes you, have been very naughty this week. You need your Bible verses for the day. How about this funny bit about the 5 Superpowers from the Bible that Put Marvel and DC to Shame.

My favorite is Ezekiel and his Zombie Army. Who knew we had zombies in the scriptures? Wicked!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

John McCain Kicks the ‘Least of These’ in the Grapes. It’s Nothing New for People with Disabilities

Sen. John McCain’s chief disability policy staff person (unnamed) announced to the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) that the senator was changing his position on the Community Choice Act. The group rejoiced. Then at the Disabilities Issues Forum in Ohio, during the anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, he swapped sides again. Right after the group announced his previous plans otherwise. All this according to a letter from the NCIL we obtained from an operative.

You see, those pesky retards and handicaps, cripples and helmet-wearers keep getting in the way of the almighty dollar. Those people! They want freedom; you know the freedom that is awarded to all. These persons with disabilities want to live in the least restrictive environment possible, rather than the dungeons and dung heaps of the institution. Not great places, institutions. Lots of abuse and neglect happens inside those walls. I mean really, who among us would want to live in an institution?

Some persons with disabilities need to reside inside the walls and structures that an institution provides. There are just cases where persons cannot live in other environments, but those make up a very small amount of the population. We have seen many a person come out of the institution (because of the Olmstead Act) despite the cries of families or others, and those persons have been very successful.

Sometimes that means a person lives in a nursing home, group home, an individualized supported living arrangement (with or without a roommate), or with family. All of these scenarios usually require staff members who assist the persons with daily needs. This may nothing more than helping the individual with finanaces, or may be as in depth as providing daily hygiene, and cooking all meals.

I have written many times about my friend, T-bone, who was paralyed from the shoulders down, much like Christopher Reed. He lived on his own, had staff, and worked part time. He paid taxes and contributed to society in many ways. He did receive Medicaid, which provided for his health care needs. Changes in the laws forced him to quit and live completely off the state.

On the heals of the recent presidential forum at Saddlebrook church, I am reminded of Matthew 25:40

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Somehow we protect the sanctity of life when it is a fetus, but not when it is a person with a disability. They are all milkers, fakers, liars, system suckers, teat juicers. Don't you just love bias and hatred, especially against people with Autism, Down Syndrome, spinal cord injuries, and the like?

Unfortunately, the so-called Maverick has abandoned his independent streak and sided with the Republican party line. People with disabilities tend to be the poorest of the poor and one of the smallest voting blocks. Who cares about them when you can garner votes instead. Disability bias is pumping through the veins of American society.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Superman Gets 2nd Celluloid Ride

CONFIRMED – Superman will get another shot at the big screen. That may or may not include Superman Returns director, Bryan Singer. The plan, according to Warner Bros. pres Jeff Robinov, is to build a foundation of individual characters and move toward a multi-character flick.

They recognized that Superman Returns didn't fly to well. Here's a hint: If your central character is deathly allergic to a substance (krytonite) then having him lift an entire island infused with the stuff is not what we call top-notch writing. Duh.

It does appear that they learned a thing or two from The Dark Knight, and are planning on exploring the more brooding sides of the characters. That probably works better for some characters than it does others. The dark side of Superman just doesn't seem right.

Harry, @ AICN, has plenty to say on the subject.

School Supplies are Expensive

The daughter and I bought school supplies today. It cost us nearly $200. From year-to-year I forget how much school supplies cost. We bought the essentials: backpack, lunchbox, and only the things on the school supply list from her new teacher. A lot of the cost is in tissue, antibacterial soap, antibacterial hand sanitizer, paper products, and the like.

We don’t usually buy the best, but just what she needs. Except, I do buy her Twistables, the nice twisty crayons and colored pencils. That is the way to go. One of my fellow soon-to-be teachers turned me on to them. The never need sharpened. You can get them in crayon and colored pencil too. Also, we opted away from traditional pencils and went with all mechanical pencils. I hate dull pencils and I hate having to sharpen them constantly.

The daughter’s new third grade teacher allows mechanical pencils so long as they are the non-refillable kind, which makes sense. That lead can be awkward for little hands. So I bought her 3 dozen of them and can buy more later if she needs them. Not very environmental, I know, but handy.

(Here’s a secret: I bought refillable mechanical pencils, but didn’t send lead. So she can bring them home and I will fill them for her. If she manages to bring them home in the first place.)

So how are poor families supposed to be able to afford between $150-$200 worth of school supplies per elementary child? That does not include clothing or sneakers. That's why so many teachers buy extra supplies out of their own pockets and why some teachers dump everyone's supplies in one community bin.

That makes some parents angry, although it seems a bit selfish to not want your child to share. That's just me. Maybe some people's Messiah would prefer the kids to selfishly hoard their own supplies and screw the ones that go without. Mine says something about what we do for the lesser of these, we also do to him. So sharing school supplies with the poorer children is an easy decision.

The 9 Most Kick Butt Bible Versus

Our friends at Cracked have done it again, giving us a taste of the Mixed Martial Arts-loving side of the Lord. Our heavenly Father is one arse-kicking, sword-sticking, foreskin cutting dude. All of it, my Internet friends, comes straight from the King James.

Tis your Bible study for the day. Enjoy and may the Lord be with you and not against you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Texas School OK’s Conceal-and-Carry Policies for Teachers

Judas Freaking Priest! Not only does Texas have an express lane to the death penalty, but now the district in Harrold, TX approved conceal-and-carry policies for teachers. If the teachers will actually do it this year, and how many may do it, is unknown.

As a matter of full disclosure I am a supporter of gun rights, own several firearms, have shot since I was 6 years old, but I am not a member of the NRA.

According to the AP story, Superintendent David Thweatt had this to say:

"When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog," Thweatt said in Friday's online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

If the above statement makes sense to you, then you are too damn dumb to argue with. The implication is ridiculous. As if school shootings started because we outlawed guns in schools. The government’s anti-gun laws are at fault for school shootings? We didn’t have guns in school before that. Not really. We did have kids with rifles in the back window of their pick-ups so they could hunt after school. Other than that, we didn’t have some kind of cowboy free-for-all, gun-toting faculty.

The school does make some requirements for teachers who wish to carry:
  • Texas conceal-and-carry permit
  • Authorization from the district to carry
  • Training in crisis management and hostile situations
  • And anti-richochet ammunition

I suppose proper handgun safety training is too much to ask? How about psych evaluations? If teachers are going to act as law enforcement officials, should they not receive such training?

School Says 'SUSPENSION' to Pink Hair

A DISTRATION – It is the catch-all phrase that educators use when they do not approve of a student’s behavior, apparel or hair. The all-encompassing term is the lowest common denominator of behavior interventions. It can be true, of course. Some student behavior is indeed a distraction to the educational process. Clearly, pink hair does not fall under this prevue.

The low down (thanks to KY3):
  • 12-year-old child’s father dies from cancer
  • Pink is the banner color of cancer
  • Child dies hair pink to honor her father
  • School suspends her: Pink hair is a distraction

I have substituted in elementary schools off and on for years and I have seen many a hair style: pink, purple, green, blue, Mohawks, faux hawks, and all sorts of corn rows and sticky-out doodads. None of it, and I saw not a single one, was a distraction to the educational process. Tight-fitting, low-cut, boob showing tit bibs are a distraction. Skin-tight spandex shorts that show off the genitals (be it a fella’s package or a ladies camel toe) are distracting. Shirts displaying hate speech – God hates Fags or Christians Suck – are distracting to the learning environment. It’s hard to learn in an environment where you are hated.

Pink hair as a distraction, on the other hand, is nothing more than a veil of deceit. It is a way to enact one’s personal code onto others. A principal dislikes or disagrees with the bright coloring of one’s hair. Most likely it is on based on some religious morality and idea of how children should look and dress. But a distraction to the educational process it is not.

Perhaps there are other issues beneath the surface here. Regardless, pink hair should not be the basis for any suspension. Period. The administrator is wrong and I suspect he or she will end up having to backtrack.

Interestingly enough, a child’s hair has been a contentious matter before.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

You Go Girls!

Ever heard of the Night Witches – the all-female bombers during World War II? I was skimming my recent issue of PREVIEWS, the comic/toy/gaming magazine when I came across this gem. Writer Gareth Ennis is penning a comic about these brave ladies titled GARETH ENNIS' BATTLEFIELDS: THE NIGHT WITCHES #1.

Late summer, 1942. As the German army smashed deep into Soviet Russia and the defenders of the Motherland retreat in disarray, a new bomber squadron arrives at a Russian forward airbase. Its crews will fly flimsy wooden biplanes on lethal night missions over German lines, risking fiery death as they fling themselves against the invader – but for these pilots, the consequences of capture will be even worse. For the pilots of the 599th Night Bomber Regiment are women. In the deadly skies of the Eastern front, they will become a legend known, to friend and foe alike, as the Night Witches.

Originally, I got into comics as a way to infuse my daughter with my geekness and love of sci-fi and fantasy. For me, the goal was to find strong female characters for us to read together. I love nothing more than to find girl-power oriented stories. Now I doubt this title is for an 8-year-old, but someday she will be of the right age and I will have a stockpile of strong females to throw at her. (I do have plenty of strong female comics that is appropriate for her age level.)

It is my impression that Ennis will do other "battlefield" story lines, which should prove very interesting. Dynamite puts out some great comics so it deserves a look.

We need more female-oriented, non-fiction comics especially in classrooms.

32 pages
Full color
Rated Teen+
Available October 08

Calling Up The Old Warrior Blood of D&D

Age of Winters

Gods of the Earth

My cousin introduced me to two CD’s the other day. We both enjoy metal although he is a much bigger fan – a rabid fan he could be called. The band is known as THE SWORD and they are, according to him, a meta-metal band. I’m not sure what that means, but the band sings a lot about orcs, aurochs, frost-giants, and the like. Click here for their My Space page.

Some of the metal bands in Europe have screeching falsetto lead singers. Oh, I hate that. Not THE SWORD. The men sound like men and one can actually discern the words.

Recently, the band was touring with and opened for Metallica. Surely you have heard of Metallica? That would have been cool to see.

As you can see, they are normal looking guys. No goat's blood or dead chickens. No painted faces. Just some cool metal rockers who love fantasy enough to sing about it.

One of my favorite songs is The Frost-Giant's Daughter. Here are the lyrics:

Iron ships on seas of blood
Black winds fill their silver sails
Iron swan rises high above
In crimson twilight through the earthly veil

Legions of vermin surround me
Malefic taint in their eyes
Madness gives sway to delusion
In defense of a fortress of lies

The iron swan floats amidst the reeds
It's shadow long upon the water
It gives a cry for what can never be
Which draws the eyes of Odin's daughters

Scion of storms, ageis of rime
I call on the powers of old
Unleash your vengeance to punish the crimes
Of those who I name as my foes

Click here for the lyrics to both albums.

Obama House Party

I attended an Obama house party Monday night. Just so happened to be held at my own abode. It was mostly a blogger event, which was pretty cool. An Obama house party is not a debate and not a mixed-company event. That is to say, it is an event for Obama supporters (and perhaps presidential fence riders). So if you are a conservative blogger, don’t feel slighted. It was not your cup of tea. Too many of happy-go-lucky, baby murdering, pinko commies in one room.

It was an enjoyable event and we talked to the Obama staffer about the unique world of blogging and how it can contribute to the political landscape. It is always fun to sit and talk politics with like-minded folks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sugar Britches Added

Her pants are sweet and her blog is green. Have fun with this blogger who is newly added to the blog roll.

Monday, August 18, 2008

MSU Students on America's Got Talent

A group of mostly MSU students, known as Cadence, made it on America's Got Talent July 2. The group was voted on to the next round, which will air on Aug. 26. 

MSU Office of Student Activities is hosting a watch party that night, 7 p.m. in the PSU food court and will air the results show live in the PSU theater on Aug. 27. 

Members are: Jason Eaton, Brandon Alexander, Rob Lowery, Andrew Lewis, Jason Polsgrove, Tommy Oerding, and Paul Rose. 

Much thanks to a FJ operative who sent the MSU email to me. 

10 Comics You Should NOT Share with Your Kids

I'm all about comics. I sat down and read some of new Thor 1-10 series plus the Thor: Ages of Thunder one-shot. This is a kickin comic if you love mythology, Norse mythology in this case. This Thor is a Marvel character, which is only loosely based on real Norse mythology. The story is by comic master, J. Michael Straczynsky. We are a fan of his and we dig Thor. That makes for a good read.

With the help our friend, Kevin, we were routed to the 10 Great Webcomics You Should NOT Share with Your Kids. Submitted for your grown-up comic pleasure.

From Waiter to Teacher

Friend of Fat Jack, Paul Epps, was featured in the Sunday edition of the News-Leader. A great story about a mid-life career change from waiter to teacher. We need more like this guy. Sixth graders will be lucky to have Paul teach them about science and the complexities and beauty of life.

The 6 Raunchiest, Most Depraved Sex Acts (From the Bible)

One of my favorite comedic sites is Cracked. These writers are some kind of funny. Holy crap! The site is R-rated, so don't read it in front of your kiddos. The one that caught my eye today is referenced in my headline. I could not pass that article up. That Bible of ours can get naaaasty. Just further proof that humans are degenerates.

Enjoy your Bible reading for the day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On The Presidential Forum

I’ve been thinking a lot about the presidential forum the other night on MSNBC. I have been especially concerned with the commentary. Makes no bones, McCain came off better than he has in a very long time. I enjoyed listening to him. He felt human and real and even a bit vulnerable. It was a great venue for him.

The commentary about Obama is unfair and I think it has a lot to do with world views. Allow me to ramble in big generalities for a moment (and let’s remember that these generalities do not apply to all). Conservatives tend to be very black and white about issues: this is right and this is wrong and that is all there is to it. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be very grey about issues, seeing variations. I think that difference was seen by the commentators as weakness or flippancy on the part of Obama. That is an erroneous assessment; he is merely representing a different worldview, one that is common for more liberal-minded folks.

A perfect example is the discussion on when life begins. McCain stated simply it began at conception. Period. For Obama, and for many of us, that is not such a clear-cut answer. His hem hawing was not wish-washy or flippant, but was an honest display of the turmoil that occurs for liberals when defining such a grey issue in our minds.

I related to his answer and understood his reaction. The so-called liberal media did not. That’s because they are there to make headlines and not for clarity. That’s another issue. When I was young, I thought a lot like McCain and my father: Life was clear, defined, categorized, and the boundaries between right and wrong, good and evil, were very distinct for me. As I have aged and my worldview has changed, those lines have blurred.

For instance, I am a liberal that does not support abortion is most cases. Late term abortions disgust me. Abortions in the first trimester, on the other hand, are a different matter for me, although I still do not like the idea. Stem cell research does not bother me, although I understand why it bothers others. So when is life defined? That is a hard question for me and I think it is for lots of liberals.

That was the most interesting and compelling two hours of presidential television I have seen in a very long time. I enjoyed so much seeing the real candidates. Although both meandered into stump speeches and tangents, only Obama was asked to stop. That’s not too big a deal.

Yeah, I Watched the Olympic Games

I don't watch most sports: basketball, baseball, football, and especially that painful experience known as golf-on-tv. I'm weird that way I guess. I have, however, watched a great deal of the Olympics. There's something about the summer games that I find enthralling. Everything good about sports (not that there is much in our professional and amateur sports these days) seems intensified with the Olympics.

I do confess that I enjoy watching martial arts competitions when ESPN manages to show them. Anyone know why karate tournaments are sponsored by Paul Mitchel. I mean, what the hell? There's no hair care in Karate. I also dig Ultimate Fighting although I recognize that it is brutal and, shall we say, neolithic. I don't care. I love watching two dudes, hopped up on steroids and pain killers punch and kick each other bloody, and to the point of breaking bones or passing out, with nothing but six-ounce gloves on. It is the closest thing to a street fight and it is on TV.

And just so we are clear, Tae Kwon Do should not be an Olympic Sport. All-martial arts competition would be good (and fair) but TWD is a pansy, boo-hoo sport that cries about punches to the face and crotch shots. Big ass babies. A real sport would knock each other stupid. Really, who does jump-spinning-back-kicks in a street fight? Nobody. It's stupid.

Jason Rohrblogger has a top ten list of rejected summer games that seems apropos. My favorites are: Synchronized Bitching and Water Boarding.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Too Tired for Multiple Posts; You'll Have to Live with This Complilation

  • John McCain beat Barack Obama in the faith-based forum tonight on MSNBC. The live event was from one of those big honking mega churches in California. It was a great forum. Obama went first, getting an hour with the pastor, one-on-one. McCain followed the next hour. If only the presidential debates could be held with such decorum, civility, and damn good questions.
  • Did you know that MAD Magazine (published by DC Comics) also has a MAD KIDS? If you are like my brother-in-law, then you grew up devouring anything comedic and smart ass. Not all kids like superheros; MAD KIDS provides that humor that some young ones need and want. If your kid loves parodies, comedy, or is in general a smarty-pants, consider MAD or MAD KIDS.
  • I don't give a flying flip about the hiring of Greg Burris, but one radio host and some bloggers cannot get enough of the story. I don't get it. In fact, I care so little that I shan't speak of it anymore. Four sentences is probably too much.
  • I got a new iPod Touch from a loved one. After several weeks, it is just as awesome as it was the first day.
  • If you see WALL-E, listen for the multiple Mac sounds.
  • Tomorrow is my grandmother's birthday celebration. We are eating at the upscale hog trough, you know the one inside the big fishing hole.
  • Teenagers are a pain in the rump roast. I can't say any more except that I still love the naughty little buggers.
  • We are hosting an Obama House Party on Monday. More on that later.

Big Fat Double Feature

Skinny Kitty wanted, desperately I might add, for us to go to some farm and milk cows today. It was a nice day and all, but it is my vacation, I have very little left, and I was not in the mood to yank on cow ninny.

I offered a solution: How about catching a double feature? The daughter was game; she has been begging to see WALL-E and the Clone Wars also came out this weekend. I didn’t read any reviews beforehand; I should have.

We saw Clone Wars at 11:30, then dashed down the hall to see WALL-E. At least we ended on a good note. Clone Wars was nothing more than a overly-long battle with a bit of smart lip thrown in by the only thing cool in the movie: Anakin’s padawan learner, Ahsoka.

She was a very young padawan learner assigned to Skywalker, despite his complaints. She was a precocious little Jedi-to-be, talking trash and trying to outdo her master. I love girl power. She was the only redeeming character or quality to the movie. Otherwise, it was a big fat flop, garnering a 19% at Rotten Tomatoes.

WALL-E, on the other hand, was very good. Compare its 97% fresh rating and that should give you a clue. The adorable little robot said very little in the way of words, but the movie had plenty to say about the environment, taking care of our bodies, and personal responsibility. It was charming, sad and adorable.

We’ve had supper – baked pepper chicken with veggies and one piece of bread – and now we are settling in for a night of reading. We could have, and probably should have, made better use of the nice weather. I cannot really argue with that, but I can say that we have had a great family day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

In need of a Harry Potter fix? So am I. I miss the beloved series that ignited a love of reading in hundreds of thousands of children. Thanks to J.K. Rowling, we have another book to look forward to come December 4: The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a book of five fairy tales.

So states
Offering the trademark wit and imagination familiar to Rowling's legions of readers--as well as Aesop's wisdom and the occasional darkness of the Brothers Grimm--each of these five tales reveals a lesson befitting children and parents alike: the strength gained with a trusted friendship, the redemptive power of love, and the true magic that exists in the hearts of all of us. Rowling's new introduction also comments on the personal lessons she has taken from the Tales, noting that the characters in Beedle's collection "take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe," and "that magic causes as much trouble as it cures."

But the true jewel of this new edition is the enlightening and comprehensive commentary (including extensive footnotes!) by Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, who brings his unique wizard's-eye perspective to the collection. Discovered "among the many papers which Dumbledore left in his will to the Hogwarts Archives," the venerable wizard's ruminations on the Tales allow today's readers to place them in the context of 16th century Muggle society, even allowing that "Beedle was somewhat out of step with his times in preaching a message of brotherly love for Muggles" during the era of witch hunts that would eventually drive the wizarding community into self-imposed exile. In fact, versions of the same stories told in wizarding households would shock many for their uncharitable treatment of their Muggle characters.

Professor Dumbledore also includes fascinating historical backstory, including tidbits such as the history and pursuit of magic wands, a brief comment on the Dark Arts and its practitioners, and the struggles with censorship that eventually led "a certain Beatrix Bloxam" to cleanse the Tales of "much of the darker themes that she found distasteful," forever altering the meaning of the stories for their Muggle audience. Dumbledore also allows us a glimpse of his personal relationship to the Tales, remarking that it was through "Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump" that "many of us [wizards] first discovered that magic could not bring back the dead."

Both a wise and delightful addition to the Harry Potter canon, this new translation of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is all that fans could hope for and more--and an essential volume for the libraries of Muggles, wizards, and witches, both young and old.

All net proceeds, according to, will be donated to Rowling’s charitable organization, The Children’s Voice Campaign.

There will be two editions.
  1. The Collector’s Edition, exclusive to Amazon ($100)
  2. The Standard Hardcover Edition ($12.99 regularly. It is offered at $7.59 now)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Two Wheels

Blogging dynamo, Andy Cline of Rhetorica, has started another specific blog. This one is all about the healthy bicycle lifestyle. He makes us sick; he really does – skinny piece of crap. Go check out Isocrates.

We like the good doctor and see him often on campus. He's always smiling and eating soup. He engages his students in blogging and challenges them to think beyond the headline. We like that about him. Teachers who challenge their students excite us and make us proud to be a pre-service teacher. He also has a level head, which makes him a real asset to the blogtrough.

Andy bicycles everywhere. We see him at in center city at the Patton Alley Pub and then on the south side at Target. And he's always with the helmet. See what I mean about the level head?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Missing in Action: Blogger Falls Off the Face of the Earth

Anyone know what happened to The Snarling Marmot? She took a blogging hiatus, then her blog was dropped all of a sudden. Sent an email but it has gone unanswered thus far. Just curious if she is doing okay. Jack is concerned.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Comic About Radio

Some of our local bloggers are big radio buffs: Chatter, Desdinova and Jason. There are likely others that I didn't realize were radio junkies. For you I present the graphic novel RADIO: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE.

For the rest of the world that doesn't give a crap about radio anymore, just never mind.

Organizing Spaces

Ever since we remodeled the kitchen the rest of the house has looked rather shabby and unusable. We realized that the other rooms did not function properly; they did not flow. What better time for a house makeover than when I am not in college?

My Mom, the amateur interior decorator, came up with bags packed. The promise: She was not leaving until the house was organized and clean. Her standards of clean and ours differ a bit. When she says clean, she means the curtains are washed, the furniture is moved out and the floors are scrubbed. Oh yeah, and ceiling fans are dusted. She is not a fan of the Dust Bunny Snow Storms, and she nearly stoked out after reading that story. As you can see by the picture above, she remedied the ceiling fan debacle by shaking her finger until I got up on a ladder and scrubbed the dirty little devils. I did as I was told.

Mom came on Monday, the day after our vacation, and stayed until Friday night. We went through every room in house save the daughter’s bedroom: kitchen, living room, family room, master bedroom, office (which was a nightmare), the utility room, both bathrooms, the porch, and the garage. We worked sometimes until 11 p.m.

It was especially fun as I don’t get to spend time with my mother unfettered. For five days we worked together and it was really enjoyable. She worked me hard. I think I moved every piece of furniture in the house multiple times, but it did get organized. It was our own version of Trading Spaces except I didn’t work on her house.

Incidentally, we bought those Hercules Hooks that you see on TV. They really work well, especially when you have a lot of pictures to hang. We did and we used the thunder out of those things.

Come Thursday, Skinny Kitty’s mother called and wanted to have a garage sale. What to do; what to do? We opted for the sale at the same time so we could clean the garage too. At noon today, all was done –my mother left Friday night and the sale ended on Saturday. The left-overs were taken to the Salvation Army. Now we just relax and reap the rewards of a clean and very organized house, one that functions and flows well, a home that is peaceful and calm and tranquil.

It’s not all candy and popcorn, though. I had to give some things up, which my mother reminded me as the price of having a small house. I get dressed in half the rooms of the house. My shirts and pants are in the bedroom. My socks and underwear are in the office, while my shoes are in the utility room. I do have a chair in the utility room, which is nice. Then my toothbrush is in the half-bath by the garage. I don’t mind too much. I need the exercise anyway and the organized house makes the wife happy. That makes me happy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Celebrate Our Commonality

In this crazy melting pot of ours where there are many races, religions, political bents, cultures, languages, beliefs, and value systems it can feel as if we have nothing in common, no unity, no bonds to hold us together as a larger community. We do have a thing known as American culture, the foundation of which is democracy.

We do not live in a totalitarian society; we do not live under a violent dictatorship. We are a democracy and we can celebrate the unity and commonality that freedom brings us. Today we can celebrate that which brings us all together by casting our ballot.

Celebrate our culture, participate in democracy and vote.