Thursday, August 04, 2016

111 Things About Me - 2016 edition

One way I get to know my students is by having them each complete a list of 111 Things About Me assignment.  They simply have to list 111 things about themselves.  Why 111?  I just came up with that number.  No real reason.  It's long enough to have students eventually come up with some interesting stuff, but it's not too long to be daunting.

I tell them the list can contain random facts, trivial stuff, vital stuff, and all the good stuff they want.  This is just a tool for me to learn about them and then find things that I can connect readings and lessons to.

If I find out a student once lived in the south but moved up here because her dad got a job with Digi Key, then I know I can rely on her to give us some background knowledge on the south when we read "A Rose for Emily" or To Kill a Mockingbird.  If a student lists their favorite film as Star Wars, then I know I can connect with them when we study archetypal theory.

I always write a list too and share it with them.  It's a way for me to invite them in while, at the same time, letting my freak flag fly.

Here is the version of this year.

1  I’m married to the most amazing person in the world.
2  I fell in love with my wife the very first time I saw her
3  We have four children (Casey, KoKo, Kenzie, and Cash)
4  My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
5  My daughter’s middle name is Scout, after the main character in To Kill a Mockingbird.
6  I have never read the “follow up” to To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman.
7  My favorite nonfiction book is Linchpin by Seth Godin.
8  My favorite audio book is Tribes by Seth Godin.
9  My favorite graphic novel is The Crow by James O’Barr.
10  My favorite comic book/graphic novel series is Hellboy by Mike Mignolia.
11  I have too many favorite movies to narrow down to just one, so here are several
12  The Incredibles
13  Pulp Fiction
14  Se7en
15  Friday
16  Inception
17  Star Wars (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens).
18  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
19  The Shawshank Redemption
20  Toy Story III
21  Training Day
22  American Beauty
23  Little Miss Sunshine
24  Sleepy Hollow
25  My favorite cartoon series is Star Wars Rebels
26  It took me 40 hours to put my Lego Death Star together
27  I just ordered the Lego Ewok village for my room
28  I graduated from Red Lake Falls in 1992
29  I graduated from Northland in 1994
30  I graduated from Bemidji State University in 1997
31  I again graduated from Bemidji State University (this time with my Master’s degree) in 2006
32  I teach a night class at UND during the fall semester
33  This will be my fourth year teaching Teaching and Learning 250 Tuesday nights at UND
34  My favorite football team is the Cincinnati Bengals
35  I was 17 the last time the Bengals won a playoff game
36  I will be 43 in 21 days
37  This will be my 19th year at Lincoln
38  It will be my 20th year if you count student teaching
39  I student taught with Mrs. Semanko
40  My favorite short story is “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
41  “The Lottery” is another great short story.
42  My favorite horror story is “Pig Blood Blues” by Clive Barker
43  My favorite Stephen King short story is a tie among “The Man in the Black Suit,” “N.,” and “Crouch End.”
44  The summer after my freshman year, I read 35 novels over summer vacation.
45  My favorite horror novels are as follows
46  Pet Sematary (Stephen King)
47  Watchers (Dean R. Koontz).
48  I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)
49  Wolf Hunt (Jeff Strand) I just read this this summer, and it is hilarious.
50  The Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris)
51  ‘Salem’s Lot (Stephen King)
52  The Nightrunners (Joe R. Lansdale)
53  The Books of Blood (Clive Barker)
54  World War Z (Max Brooks)
55  The Traveling Vampire Show (Richard Layman)
56  The Illustrated Man (Ray Bradbury)
57  Both of my parents are dead
58  They died from lung cancer
59  My mother smoked Kool’s and my father smoked filterless Pal Mal’s
60  My mother was my best friend
61  We moved to the country when I was 11
62  My father loved to bale alfalfa hay
63  I had a Honda 3 wheeler
64  Like many young kids back then, I almost killed myself on it several times.
65  Moving out to a farm was actually a great thing for me
66  I spent massive amounts of time reading and writing
67  I didn’t know it at the time, but with all that reading and writing I was working on my 10,000 hours to reach mastery.
68  My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Christianson, changed my life
69  She read one of my essays to the rest of the class
70  After that, I knew I wanted to do what she did
71  Dr. Drake at NCTC was another incredible professor
72  Dr. Christensen at BSU was yet another great professor who impacted my career
73  Dr. Helen Bonner, though, probably had the greatest impact on my writing in her Advanced Prose class at BSU
74  In grad school, the late Susan Hauser, had an incredible impact on my writing too
75  Dr. Kim Donehower, at UND, also had great influence on both my writing and teaching when I was part of the Red River Valley Writing Project
76  I attended the RRVWP twice (2004 and 2007)
77  This summer my wife and I helped chaperone the choir trip to New York City
78  It was my second time chaperoning the choir trip (my first time was in 2004)
79  I was insanely jealous of my wife whose group took her to the Museum of Modern Art
80  While they were at the MOMA, they texted me pictures of all of my favorite works of art.
81  One of my all time favorite pieces is “Drowning Girl” by Roy Lichtenstein
82  I also love the works of Mark Rothko and Piet Mondrian
83  I played summer baseball with Mr. Zutz in RLF
84  I also attended NCTC and BSU with Mr. Zutz
85  Mr. Zutz is now my neighbor
86  We have two pets, a dog (Kozy) and a cat (Mischa)
87  My favorite vacation place is Custer, SD.
88  My favorite college football team is the Colorado Buffaloes
89  My wife’s favorite team is the Green Bay Packers.  Do you know how annoying that is?
90  One of my favorite times of the football season is actually the preseason, which begins in a few days.  Hope springs eternal for everyone.
91  By far, though, my favorite time of the NFL season is the draft.
92  I have taught a wide variety of classes at LHS
93  American Lit
94  British Lit
95  Science Fiction
96  Creative Writing
97  Composition I (which is now Foundations)
98  Composition II (which has now become a part of Lit and Lang 11 and 12)
99  Lit and Lang 9
100  Lit and Lang 10
101  College Comp
102  College Comp II
103  Journalism / Yearbook
104  My favorite holiday is Halloween
105  I spend the majority of my summers at the Porpoise Key Club pool with my kids
106  My step-son, Casey, is moving to Sioux Falls, SD
107  My step-daughter, KoKo, lives in Brainerd and attends St. Cloud State
108  My wife works at Thune Insurance
109  My wife and I saw Hozer last year in early September, and it was awesome.
110  I have seen Def Leppard three times.
111 My first concert ever was Metallica at the Hyslop at UND in the summer of 1989

Summer School is a Wrap

My 14th year of teaching summer school will be done at 12:30 today.  The ALC is a unique experience, but one that I have enjoyed.  It is pretty much the only place I get to teach electives.  So I was able to teach Science Fiction first session and then totally make up my own curriculum for Science Fiction II second session.  What a blast.

I also had fun teaching Young Adult Lit (any time you get to teach the Will Weaver stories "WWJD" and "The Photograph," it's a great class), Composition (which at this point in my career is the class I have taught more than any other), Creative Writing (which I am all too happy to teach just once a year), and MN Authors (any time you get to teach the Will Weaver novel Claws and the Gary Paulson novel Winterkill, it's a great time).

It has been a jam-packed summer.  It all began with Kristie and I helping chaperone the choir trip to New York, which was amazing.  Then by the time we returned, summer school was already in its second week, so I hit the ground running.  Now that it is over, though, I will have my one week summer vacation before football practice starts.

But I plan on spending the bulk of next week - with the help of Kenzie and Cash - putting my room back in order so it's ready for inservice week.  And there is the matter of us putting my latest Lego set, The Ewok Village, together.  I splurged with a chunk of my runner-up WEM award check.

By the time inservice rolls around, Teaching and Learning 250 at UND will be starting too.  Gone are the summers, back when I lived on the farm, and June, July, and August just seemed to crawl by.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Top Ten Wins

10.  The 2013 home victory over the Vikings, 42-14.  As my friend Josh would say, why you always troll the Vikings?

I don't.  But this was a great game.  Especially after the debacle that was the last time we played the Vikings in 2009 in Minnesota.

The highlight of this game for me was Gio Bernard's huge catch and run on a little dump pass.  One of the best plays of that year!

9.  The 1995 27-9 victory over the Steelers - in Pittsburgh - over the Steelers.  Thought the Bengals came in at 2-4 (and the Steelers would rebound after this loss and make a run to the Super Bowl), they hit took the field by storm for this Thursday night game and never let up.  Jeff Blake's deep ball talents were on display as he finished the game with a perfect quarterback rating.  This game typified what was so great (one of the very few things that were even good about these Bengals teams in the 1990s) about the Bengals' offense: they could throw the ball all over the field.  Blake would go on to make the Pro Bowl and Carl Pickens would go on to catch 17 touch down passes and Darnay Scott would emerge as a serious deep threat (though his hands were always questionable) and Tony McGhee was always a decent tight end threat.  If they just would have had some coaching and a defense, this team could have made the playoffs.

8. The 2012 victory over the Steelers - in Pittsburgh - to guarantee a playoff birth, and, best of all, to knock the Steelers out of the playoffs.

The Bengals sat at 8-6.  So did the Steelers.  The winner would secure a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.  And though the Bengals couldn't must anything on the ground and little threw the air, they pulled off a gutty 13-10 win on the road.

The highlight of the game was Big Ben launching a deep pass late in the game that was picked off by his nemesis, Reggie Nelson, and returned into Steelers territory.  Thanks to a connection on a beautiful deep out pattern by AJ Green, the Bengals drove in to field goal position where Mike Nugent sealed the win.  Where was Nugent back in 2006 when we needed him?

7.  The 2004 come from behind victory over the Ravens at Baltimore 27-26.  This proved Carson Palmer was legit.

The Bengals were 5-6 under a struggling Carson Palmer, who was in his first year starting at quarterback for Cincinnati.  Though he did through an interception that was returned for a TD, he did rally the Bengals to pull out a one point victory against that vaunted Ravens defense.  All Palmer did was light the Ravens up for 24 fourth quarter points.  Palmer used his two big weapons - Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh to drive the final 60 yards in 7 plays with under 1:42 to set up the wining FG.

This set the stage for what was a Pro Bowl year and a division championship year in 2005 for Palmer.

6.  The 2015 28-24 come-from behind road victory over the Ravens.

The Bengals jumped all over the Ravens before Steve Smith exploded.  The Bengals trailed 14-17 in the 4th quarter.  It was the first time they trailed all year despite this being their third game.  They trailed for all of 8 seconds.  Thanks to the amazing AJ Green.


This left the Bengals 3-0 and helped propel them to their 8-0 start last year.

5. The 2015 27-24 overtime home victory over the Seattle Seahawks where the Bengals erased a 17 point fourth quarter deficit.

This game had it all.  AJ Green going off on the Seattle secondary.  Andy Dalton finally coming up big in a critical situation. And it had my favorite play of the entire year - Mike Nugget's last second field goal to send the game into OT.  Dalton drove the Bengals down the filed to get them in position to go ahead with a touch down.  But he was hit on a scramble and brought down for a minimal game. This is usually no big deal.  However, Cincy had no time outs left, so the field goal team had to hustle onto the field with only about 16 seconds to go - and no way to stop the clock at all - and execute the field goal, which they did as time expired.  This capped a 17 point rally by the Bengals.

4.  The 2005 38-31 victory over the Steelers - in Pittsburgh - to guarantee their first winning season since 1990.

This was a great game that went back and forth.  Thanks to a bevy of turnovers from Big Ben, Cincy was able to come out ahead.  This included the final Bengals' touchdown from Rudi Johnson, a 14 yard run against an all-out blitz from the Steelers, to put the Bengals up 38-28.

This basically won the division for the Bengals for the first time in 15 years.  It also guaranteed they would have a winning season since 1990 too.

3.  The 2003 24-19, Chad Johnson guarantee win, over the undefeated KC Chiefs.  This meant that the Bengals were legit under Marvin Lewis.

This game basically put the Bengals and Chad Johnson on the map.  This was Lewis's signature win of his first year.

Cincy hosted the 10-0 Chiefs.  Despite being a subpar 4-5, Chad Johnson - who hardly anyone had ever heard of before despite his first 1,000 yard season a year earlier - guaranteed a win.  This brought a frenzy of media attention to the Queen City and the yet unknown Johnson.  I saw a pregame show on Johnson that featured him wandering around the stadium in the middle of the night and basically living there.  Where did that hunger go?  This was the best of times for Johnson and the worst.  He would ink a very lucrative contract extension earlier in the week, but this brought out a dark, me-me-me, side in Johnson that would later lead to his trade from the team.

Though the spotlight was on Johnson, it was Peter Warrick who stole the show with a punt return for a TD and a fourth quarter TD of 77 yards.  Rudi Johnson also ran over the vaunted Chiefs defense.  And the Bengals defense forced 10 straight punts from the Chiefs before their offense would finally get rolling and make a game of it.

2.  1981 AFC Championship - 27-7 over the Chargers in what is known as "The Freezer Bowl."

This was the game that made me fascinated by the Bengals.  I was watching it - or sitting through it as I did on most Sundays as my family watched football on TV.  Something about those orange and black jerseys and those awesome tiger striped helmets won me over for life that day.  Ken Anderson out dueled fall of fame Dan Fouts in this frigid game that sent the Bengals to their first Super Bowl.

1.  The 1988 AFC Championship - 21-10 over the Buffalo Bills.

This has to be the best Bengals' win in team history.  The entire city was captivated by the Bengals, who had been a miserable 4-12 the year before but had the best record in the league at 12-4.  They were undefeated at home and had the league MVP in quarterback Boomer Esiason.  They had a deep threat in Eddie Brown.  They had the biggest offensive line in the league, led by Pro Bowlers Max Montoya and Anthony Munoz.  They had a two headed monster at running back in the scat-back / do-everthing James Brooks (who scored 14 touchdowns rushing and receiving and who almost broke 1,000 yards rushing while averaging over 5 yards a carry) and the rookie sensation Ickey Woods, who rushed to a league leading 15 touchdowns, which he capped with his "Ickey-Shuffle."

Ickey would rumble for two late touchdowns and Brooks caught a short TD pass to account for all the scoring.  All Pro safety David Filcher sealed the win with an end zone interception as time expired.

This sent them to their second Super Bowl, this one again against the dreaded 49ers.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Top Ten Losses

As a Bengals fan - and one who endured the most wretched decade (the 1990's) of football by any franchise not named Cleveland - it is hard to isolate just 10 losses because that was a respectable season in the 1990's.  However, I'm focusing on those heartbreaking, gutwrenching, I'm-going-to-be-ill losses.

If you're a vikings fan, the fourth down TD pass vs. Arizona to knock them out of the playoffs counts.  The loss to the Dirty Birds in '98 counts.  And most definitely Brett Favre's last second interception in FG range vs. the Saint in '09 counts too.

If you're a Green Bay fan, you know it too - when Roger's was hit and fumbled vs. the Cards or when Fitzgerald rumbled for a huge play in OT vs. the Cards again or when Favre again threw a last second interception vs. the Giants to send New York to the Super Bowl vs. the undefeated Pats.

And if you're a Pats fan, you know that feeling when Manning launched that deep pass to David Tyree for the "Helmet Catch" or again when Manning threaded a pass to Mario Manningham in 2012.

And Seahawks fans you know it from the worst goal line play call in all of football: Russel Wilson's interception int he 2015 Super Bowl.

And remember as a Bengals fan, these are the games that Cincy just let get away.  I'm not talking about the 40-0 pastings to the old Houston Oilers or Steelers.  These are the heartbreakers.

So here are my top ten most gut-wrenching losses -

10. The 2013 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Oh what one lousy quarter can do.  The Bengals were keeping pace with the Cards on the road in Arizona.  They were up 14-7 at halftime.  Then they laid a total egg in the third quarter, falling behind 31-14.  They were able to climb back in the game in the fourth quarter by scoring 17 points.  They drove deep into the Cards' redzone, trailing 31-28, Cincy was in prime position to take the lead and run some time off the clock.

Then on a third and four play, Cincy called a pass/run option.  Instead of handing the ball to Gio Bernard, who likely would have easily gained the yardage for first down.  Instead Dalton threw to the end zone to AJ Green on a go patter.  They even got the match up they wanted as they had Green on a back up corner.

They missed by just an inch as Green's foot just came down out of bounds.  They kicked the field goal but let too much time for Palmer and Fitzgerald to go right down the field - mostly picking on our third corner, Leon Hall, to get in position for the last second field goal.

This loss was brutal because the Bengals missed out on home field advantage in the playoffs by one game.

9.  The 1989 last second road loss to the Houston Oilers.

This was a Monday Night Football game in what was then known as "The House of Pain."  The Bengals - who were struggling to win games despite starting out 4-1 and going 5-1 in the division.  This was their loan loss in the division.

The Bengals hated the Oilers back then (they would trounce them 61-7 just a few weeks later), and they always struggled on the road here.  But this one was one that they let get away.  Despite huge plays - a long touchdown pass to tight end Rodney Holman and a long TD run by James Brooks, the Bengals gave up a last second field goal to lose 21-24.  Had they won this game, they'd have gone 6-0 in the division and made the playoffs.

8.  The 2003 last home game vs. the Browns

This was Marvin Lewis' first season.  The Bengals were coming off a brutal 2-14 season and a decade of pure misery.  But in his first season, Marvin had the Bengals sitting at 8-7 with a final game against the Browns at home.  They had to beat the Browns and then hope the Steelers would beat the Ravens that night and they'd be in the playoffs as division champs.

But they laid a total egg, losing 22-14.  Cincy finished 8-8, which was much better than anyone ever expected after going 2-14, but this would have been their first winning season since 1990 had they beaten the Browns.

7.  The 2006 last home game vs. the Steelers

It must be something about home finales.  The Bengals were division champs the year before (despite losing their home finale against the Bills, by the way), but Baltimore clinched the division.  Still, Cincy had come on late and needed a win in one of their last three games (a Monday night game vs. Indianapolis, a Christmas Eve road game vs the Broncos, and the final home game vs. the Steelers, whom the Bengals beat in Pittsburgh in the second week of the season).

The Bengals just needed one win . . . but they couldn't pull one off.  They were close to taking down the Steelers.  The Bengals were on their way to Bungling the game away.  But then they forced a turnover, just as the Steelers' running back was heading into the end zone.

Then they drove down to score a touchdown.  This was destiny.  For the year before in the playoffs Carson Palmer tore his knee on his first pass - a 77 yard bomb to Chris Henry, who also hurt his knee on the play.

And on this drive Palmer happened to hit Henry for another 77 yard gain.  Cincy was in field goal position to take the lead with a last second field goal.  But Shayne Graham missed.  The game was headed to OT.

On their first play in OT, Big Ben hit Santonio Holmes for a 70 yard touchdown and the game was over.  So were the Bengal's playoff hopes.

6.  The 2006 last road game vs. the Denver Broncos.

Again, Cincy just needed on win to return to the playoffs as a wild card in 2006.  This game was a heartbreaker as I watched it at grandma Gail's in Grand Forks.  Things started off strong as then rookie Jake Culter threw an INT that the Bengals returned to the one yard line, but then Palmer through an interception trying to force a pass in to TJ Houshmandzadeh.  That wouldn't be his last interception of the day though, as Champ Bailey would make life rough for the Bengals' QB.

The thing that made this loss so tough was that the Bengals outplayed the Broncos.  They were up 17-
14 at the half.  They threw for yards and they ran for yards.  Their no huddle offense was killing the Broncos defense, but turnovers and mistakes killed the Bengals this afternoon.

On one play in the second half, the Bengals' no huddle had the Broncos' defense totally exhausted.  They were going up tempo and the defensive line wasn't even set when Palmer handed off to Rudy Johnson who ran around the right side for a big gain.  They only guy ready on the entire Broncos' defense was John Lynch who hit Johnson with a forearm to jar the ball lose and cause a turnover.  Still, the Bengals were able to drive the length of the field and score a touch down with just a few seconds left to tie the game at 24.

Or that's what I thought.

I remember saying, "They still have to make the extra point."

And the snap sailed through the holder's hands.  We were down 23-24.

The Bengals did manage to recover the onside kick . . . but their rookie line backer Ahmad Brooks was offsides.  Game over.

5.  The 2009 home opener vs. the Denver Broncos.

The Bengals were on the verge of losing 0-6.  Then Palmer was able to finally get the offense to come alive and score a TD with just a few seconds remaining.

I was in the bathroom at the Hillsboro Burger King when I got the update on my phone.  I was the least shocked fan in all of football that day.  I knew if the Bengals could piss away a game, they would.

And that was exactly what they did.  The Broncos scored on an 87 yard Hail Mary when Leon Hall accidentally tipped the ball high into the air and it sailed right into the arms of a wide open Brandon Stockley who then into the end zone to seal the win for the Broncos 12-7.

It is a play that you just have to see to believe.

4.  The 2013 wild card playoff loss to the Chargers.

This maybe hurt worse than all the others.  Even the Super Bowl.  I mean the Bengals have lost 7 straight playoff games, an NFL record.  But this game.  This game should have been the one where Cincy ended the drought. But Dalton played his worst game of the season, fumbling the ball away and throwing desperate interceptions.  Likewise, the defense, which ranked in the top five overall, couldn't force San Diego to punt.

So a team that shouldn't have beaten a Kansas City team who was resting all of their starters, needed a miracle to squeak into the playoffs.  And the got it when the refs didn't note they had an illegal formation on a fake punt.  And this team absolutely throttled the Bengals.

3.  The 2005 wild card playoff loss to the Steelers.

2.  The last second bungling loss to the Steelers last year.

Just like 1988 and 1981 (Super Bowl season for the Bengals), Cincy was coming off a 12-4 season.  This year was different, though.  After leading the team to a 10-2 record, Andy Dalton broke his thumb on the first drive of a loss to the Steelers and was done for the year.  Still, AJ Mccarron stepped in and played well vs. the Steelers.  He beat San Fran and Baltimore.  And he lost a close game to Denver in OT, a game had they won, they would have had home field advantage for the playoffs!

Still the Bengals gritted an ugly game out vs. the hated Steelers.  Late in the game, Mccarron threw AJ Green his first TD pass in the playoffs, to put them up 16-15. Hue Jackson then called the worst two point conversion play in the history of two point conversions (why didn't he run wild cat with Mo Sanu at QB?).  Instead of being up by a FG, the horrific play call left the game at 16-15.

On the ensuing play, Vontaze Burfict, who had missed the first 6 games with a knee injury, and who was playing the game of his life (a fumble recovery, a sack on Big Ben that resulted in him having to leave the game) intercepted the Steelers back up QB.  They had the ball deep on the cusp of the redzone.  Kicks a FG and you're up 19-15 and the Steelers have to score a TD, which they had been struggling to do against this defense all night.

On the next play Mccarron handed off to Jeremy Hill who slashed threw a hole for a solid 8 yard gain.  The only problem: he had the ball stripped out just before his knee touched.  Now it should be noted that the only reason Hill, who was plagued by fumbles all year, was carrying the ball because our closer at RB, Gio Bernard, was knocked out of the game by a vicious hit (and now an illegal hit) by Ryan Shazier.

Still, the Steelers had to drive almost the length of the field with an injured Big Ben.  And they did just that thanks to two brutal personal fouls by Burfict and Adam Jones.

Game over.  The magical season over - yet again - in the first round of the playoffs.

1.  Super Bowl XXII - a four point loss to the 49ers, 16-20.

Oh, the horror.  The Bengals were up late in the game 16-13.  They kicked a go ahead field goal with 3:20 in the game.  They kicked off, and thanks to a penalty, found themselves pinning the Niners on their own 8 yard line.  That means the 49ers had to go 92 yards in 3:10.  They only needed roughly 2:40 seconds to do it.

Boom.  The championship, after a magical 12-4 season in which their offense was the best in the league and their defense was remarkable in the playoffs, was gone.  On top of that, they have won one playoff game since this moment.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Be careful what you post . . .

Just because it is a meme, and just because it says something you passionately agree with, doesn't mean that it is factual.

This goes for both sides of the Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter/All Lives Matter.  This goes for Trump/Hilary.  This goes for far left and far right.  This goes for the young (who should know better) and for the old (who really should know better).

These are skills I attempt to teach my juniors and seniors, so when I see respected people posting things that they believe strongly, yet are sketchy when it comes to being factual, you are ripe for being used as an example in class.

So before you share a meme or sponsored video that you really like, just be careful to do your research.  After all, I'm guessing you'd want your kids or employees to do the same.

Example - I love the idea that Einstein stood up for his religious beliefs, but it is very, very unlikely to ever have taken place.

This is a good site when it comes to examining this and actually doing some research.  I like that they state right away that they love the message.  They just aren't quite sold that it was Einstein involved.

This is one of my favorite examples.  It even says "True Story" in the title!

But if it just seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

Here is another meme that is also one of my favorites - because so many people want to believe it to be true - yet it is totally false, garbage.  Yet, I've seen it spread of Facebook again and again because people are convinced it must be true because it supports something they believe, OR - and this is most terrifying - they just don't care that it's true; they just want to believe what they want to believe and they're willing to grasp at any propaganda that supports their beliefs.

But again, there is little evidence to support that Einstein ever did, in fact, say this.  Here is another author who delves into this to find the truth.  It does seem that this quote is loosely based on a film, not anything factual.

Just remember - because it's a meme and supports your beliefs, does not make it true!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

An older post that appears as relevant as ever

This is amazing.  This man appears to be a wonderful leader and a true hero.  But for every great man like this, there are also others like the police officer profiled below.

Given the tragedies that have occurred for both innocent victims (such as the Minnesota man who was shot) and for the innocent police officers who were killed in Dallas, this post seems just as relevant today as it was when I initially wrote it last summer.

There is Teach for America to make up for some of the folks who should never have gone into teaching (either they don't have the skills, work ethic, the personality or the empathy).  In Teach for America, the best and brightest from our best universities can apply to the program.  If accepted, they undergo training (not nearly enough training, but still some training) and then they are sent into inner city schools to teach for two years.  The payoff?  Their students loans are forgiven and they are paid according to the teacher pay scale.

This has a few benefits - first, it exposes students to some of the best and brightest minds our country has to offer (as opposed to suffering "the dance of the lemons," where often cases the worst, most ineffective teachers are simply reassigned to the worst schools).  Second, it shows many young professionals, the majority of whom will go into the private sector as lawyers, investment bankers, and so on, how challenging teaching (especially in urban areas) can be.

As I see more and more stories like the ones below, I'm starting to think maybe we should have a Police for America.

I mean out of all the great police officers I know, I have never heard one threaten to "put a hole" in anyone's head.  I've been treated kindly and respectfully and am alive today thanks to the highway patrol and EMTs that took care of me after a particularly nasty car accident.

However, is there any excuse to treat someone like this?

I get this off duty detective's anger.  Yes, the kid was going down a one way the wrong way, but is that an excuse to treat a citizen (who the officer has sworn to protect and serve, by the way) this way?

Imagine if this was your son or daughter?

Or being harassed like this?  I get that this man dislikes the tone the young man is taking with him, but while he isn't being blindly obedient, the man is not being disrespectful, nor in my estimation deserving the treatment he is being given.

If the officer dislikes having every thing he is doing being criticized and scrutinized, he should spend a week teaching high school kids!  (And no, I honestly don't wish I could do this to any of my students).

Since I wrote this post, I did a little research and found that the officer in the video did resign.   It's amazing how a temper can bring an end to a 30 year career just like that.


I still have to think that the stories, again, like this one, that are emerging illustrate the few (okay, maybe more than a few) bad apples who should never be graced with a badge or any sort of power.  But that can be said for any profession (teachers, doctors, and so on).

I believe there are far more officers like the ones below than the two goons above.

Such as this officer.  How would the detective who threatened to "put a hole in the head" of the young man in the first video have reacted in this officer's shoes?

How awesome is this?


And this?

And my favorite example -


The Best Songs You've Forgotten or Never Knew

I am an adamant believer that boredom is a myth.  There is always something to do.  If you're like me - an "indoors man" - that something is preferably in the comforts of your air-conditioned home and involves some form of media.

That leads me to a post I've been meaning to write for a long time, as it's a topic that has long interested me.  I grew up in maybe the heyday of radio popularity.

I remember as a kid - probably in the early 1980's - getting my first "headphones" for my birthday.  It was a radio (which my mom bought from Thompson Hardware in town) - no cassette player - that would rarely come in.  I recall biking around the neighborhood and just drifting from station to station, content if I could just find a radio station that actually played music to come in.

A few years later, I saved up my money and bought a Soundesign cassette player from Kmart.  Here is the exact brand and model too!  I recall the first tape I ever bought, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor to listen to on it.  I was close to buying 4 by Foreigner - as my cousin Kent had rocked out to "Urgent" and "A Girl Like You" when he and his family visited us from Colorado.  The second tape I ever purchased, this one from Hardware Hank in Red Lake Falls, was Thriller by Michael Jackson.  Everything changed for me, though, when I bought my third cassette: Pyromania by Def Leppard.  I became fascinated by them because one of our neighbor's Wade Schultz, had a Pyromania T-shirt, and it was the coolest cover I had ever seen.  The album itself, which every track is excellent, had me hooked.  I loved the tape so much that I took my Soundesign speakers I had bought from good old Larson Music in TRF and taped them to the handlebars of my red and white BMX to blast "Photograph," "Too Late for Love," and "Rock of Ages" across the neighborhood wherever I biked.  The good old days!

Of course, this was at the beginning of the hair band trend in rock music.  I would soon fall in love with Quiet Riot, though Mom would never let me buy their album Metal Health because it had a "bad" song: "Love is a Bitch."  She did, though, let me get Van Halen's 1984, despite the offensive cover of an angel smoking a cigarette.  But Mom loved "Jump," so apparently it was okay.

That had me hooked.  Soon I was listening to KJ 108 and Power 95 and Q 98 every chance I could get.  I avoided the trendy, pop heavy XL 93, Magic 96, and Y 94 as much as I could.  Except for XL 93 who had a rock block show Saturday evenings where they actually played hard rock and heavy metal.  I was interested in one band they had on one night, Hollywood Trix, who was leaving for LA soon to try and make it big with the likes of Guns N' Roses, LA Guns, Warrant, Ratt, and so on.

I even recorded a couple of their songs, one of which was "Redrum."  Little did I know that my brother-in-law was the lead singer of the band!  Small world.

Since I grew up in the heyday of radio, I had many songs ruined because they were literally played too much by the four or five radio stations I listened too.  This didn't apply, though, to my favorite band, Def Leppard.  Their massively successful follow up to Pyromania, Hysteria, which came out in 1987, once had four songs playing at the same time on four different radio stations that I listened to!

So songs like "Money for Nothing," "Everybody Hurts," "In the Air Tonight," and "Born in the USA" just became overplayed so much that I couldn't help but grow to hate them.

But there were some truly excellent songs that I loved that no one ever played - or weren't even released as singles.  Here is a list of the best songs that I think few people have ever heard of or songs that people just plain forgot about.

"All Night Thing" - Temple of the Dog from their self titled, and only, album.

Temple of the Dog was an old fashioned "super group" of the grunge era, even though the bulk of the band (made up of former members of the band Mother Love Bone as a tribute to their lead singer, Andrew Wood, who overdosed.  The members went on to form the bulk of Pearl Jam.  They joined forces with Wood's close friend and former roommate, Chris Cornell, frontman for the band Soundgarden).  Their album is a classic, but "All Night Thing" stands out to me as it is so unlike anything either Pearl Jam or Soundgarden have ever recorded.

"Welcome to the Boomtown" - David + David from Boomtown.

Thought this song and album came out in 1986, I didn't actually buy it until my senior year when my taste in music became much more eclectic.

I believe this was featured on Miami Vice, which always liked to feature up and coming musical groups.  There is just something about this song that captures the emptiness and commercialism of the 1980's.

"Fire in the Sky" - Ozzy Osborne from No Rest for the Wicked.

I've never been a huge Ozzy fan.  I blame Mom for this.  As one of the first albums I bought when we moved out to the farm in 1984 was Bark at the Moon by Ozzy.  Mom listened to it, and she actually liked it!  That about ended by love for Ozzy and his over-the-top Alice Cooper-esque musical style.

But I did get Osborne's No Rest for the Wicked as part of a tape club I was in.  I wouldn't have normally bought it, but when you have to select 10 cassettes from a list of 50, your options are limited.  So I found myself with this album, which actually is pretty solid.  I think it's the first one to feature the excellent guitar work of Zakk Wylde.

"Fire in the Sky" is the story of a little kid who has this imaginary world in his head that he built up to protect him.  That concept appealed quite a bit to me as a tubby, awkward kid.  But then something goes wrong for the young man and his imaginary world ends up in flames.  I always imagined the young boy being bullied in school or angered by his parents divorce.

"Breathe a Sigh" - Def Leppard, from Slang.

The '90's were brutal for my favorite band.  This is ironic because I really thing that the 1990's music - known as grunge or alternative - was the best ever made.  I will take the work of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Blind Melon, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Nirvana . . . Just killer music compared to the commercial and synthetic stuff churned out in the 1980's.

So when - in my opinion - the best of the hair bands, Def Leppard, tried to release their version of a "grunge" album in the mid 1990's, it was a bitter disappointment.  However, I think it is one of their actual best albums.  The songs are well crafted, not nearly as commercial and over produced as the songs on Pyromania, Hysteria, and Andrenalize.  The songs are more sophisticated, but as heavy as the songs on High N' Dry.

The sad fact, though, that Leppard couldn't quite transition all the way to the more harder style of grunge.  As a result, they did have several ballads on the album.  In the '80's and early '90's this worked great for them: "Love Bites," "Hysteria," "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad," "Two Steps Behind," and "Miss You In a Heart Beat" were all huge top-ten hits for the band.

But those ballads all pale in comparison to the ballad, "Breathe a Sign" on Slang.  Had this song been released in 1988 it would have sold a million copies and been played every hour on the hour.  But since it came out in a time when no one cared about the hair bands and their whiny ballads anymore, the song was ignored.  But it's some of Leppard's best work.

"Speed of Light" - Queensryche Operation Mind Crime II

One of the best albums of the late '80's was Queensryche's concept album Operation Mind Crime.  I was thrilled to discover that 20 years later, Queensryche was releasing a sequel.  Though the songs don't hold up to the original, this song does.

Operation Mindcrime, of course, is the story about a group of political extremists who want to overthrow the government via assassinating key political and religious figures.  The main assassin is the protagonist of the story.  At the conclusion of Mindcrime, he is arrested and sent to prison.

The sequel opens with him having served 20 years and being released.  This song is the moment when he realizes who much the world has changed since 1986.  I can just imagine him standing in the middle of Times Square and seeing how the world now moves at the speed of light.

"Everything's Ruined" - Faith No More from Angel Dust.

Faith No More is more known for their hit "Epic" than the follow up to that album.  But the track "Everything's Ruined" is a great metaphor for materialism and parental pressures to fit in.  This is a surprisingly intelligent and sophisticated song.

"Three Strange Days" - School of Fish from School of Fish.

I first head this song as I was driving around with some friends pondering if we should go to the state hockey tournament or not.  I didn't know it at the time, this would have been early in the grunge movement - early 1992.  I heard this song and it was unlike anything I had ever heard before.  If I still hear it from time to time, I am brought back to the moment I first heard this song.

"I Want You" - Third Eye Blind from Third Eye Blind.

This song - as far as I know - was never released as a single from one of the biggest albums of the late '90's.  You will certainly know the big hits from this album - "Jumper," "Semi-Charmed Life," "Graduate," and "How It's Going to Be."  But this might be the very best song on it.  I love how it captures - in a very haunting way - the relationship between the two people in the song.

"Not Enough Time" - INXS from

This was INXS's last hurrah was they were one of the bands - like Def Leppard - who had their world crushed by grunge.  But this song, had it been released a decade earlier, it would have been as huge as "Need You Tonight" or "Never Tear us Apart."

"Misty Mountain Wonderland" - Fleming and John

I first heard this when I was shopping in American Eagle in 1994.  I was struck by the song because I thought I was listening to a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop."  Then before I knew it, I realized I was actually listening to a Christmas song.  I was blown away, and I have never forgotten the song.

It is also one of the most interesting covers I've ever heard.  Fleming and John take Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" and arrange it to "Walking in a Winter Wonderland."  The result is brilliant.

"Thorn in my Pride" - The Black Crowes from The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.

One of my favorite bands has always been The Black Crowes.  But the grunge era wasn't kind to them either as their old school blues and funk rock style would have been better suited for the 1980's. However, this song is so cool and original I never tire of hearing it.