Thursday, January 31, 2008

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It's been a long primary season so far. Candidates have come and gone, and millions across America remain unsure who to choose. Who can unite such a fragmented country? Who can bring us back together after eight years of trust in the government - not only in the President, but in Congress as well - have slowly been whittled away?

At times like this, America needs someone to look to for guidance. They need a voice they can trust. Someone to tell them who they can believe in. Someone to tell them how they should think. And I, dear readers, am just the person to provide such an announcement.

America needs someone it can trust, after years of general mistrust in our elected officials. We need someone who we can count on to be honest with us. Perhaps more importantly, though, America needs someone who can restore our sense of involvement in government. After all, is this not a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? We need a leader who is not a leader of one party only. America needs someone to unite behind. Someone who can get us excited about an election and the prospect of the future. We need a leader who can restore hope to America. And that candidate, I believe, is none other than Barack Obama.

Obama's message has consistently been one of hope. Critics deride him as a dreamer. Many say his ideals are unrealistic in a world full of negativity and fear. But millions across America believe him. Millions are joining together in an effort to restore a sense of optimism to America, something that has been sorely lacking in this country for too long. An Obama presidency would usher in a new age in American history. Leaders across the globe have expressed excitement at working with a potential President Obama.

I could go on. But I'll leave it at this tasteful logo and my formal endorsement of Barack Obama for the next President of the United States.

Barack Obama Logo

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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Our bathroom drains have been pretty backed up since we moved in, so I decided to take a crack at them. After taking a look inside the pipes, I decided that going in manually wasn't the best course of action. (Suffice it to say, it was pretty gross.) I headed to the store to find a decent clog remover, and stumbled upon this:
It was like manna from heaven. All I had to do was pour it down the drain, wait fifteen minutes, and voila! Clear pipes! And only five dollars! It was like pouring nightmares down the tubes!

Here's what people like me are saying about Liquid-Plumr Foaming Pipe Snake:


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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Since my birthday a few weeks ago, I've been growing out a beard. I thought it looked pretty cool, but it was driving my nose crazy, so I decided to shave it off on Sunday afternoon. I nearly didn't recognize myself - I looked like a 12-year old without it. Weird.

I would have posted this memorial of my beard yesterday, but somehow, it didn't feel right with the slew of tributes to Gordon B. Hinckley yesterday. Today, the beard can be remembered in its own right.

Two imponderables for the day:

1. For whatever reason, the heat was off in my classroom over the weekend. I came in this morning to find that the temperature was only 47 degrees. That's almost criminal. It's been on for over two hours now, and the temperature is still only 52 degrees.

2. Genuine. and I each got emails this morning informing us that we someone had purchased us something from our Amazon baby registry and that it was on our way.

Neither of us started a baby registry. We're just as surprised as you are.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

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Friends have been trying to convince me to read the dinosaur comic for some time now, but until today, I've been hesitant.

Until today, that is!!!

Ha! Dinosaurs! And they talk!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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Last November, some friends and I hosted the first Tournament of Champions. 64 names were submitted, including historical figures, contemporaries, and fictional characters. We created a bracket and had them square off in a series of deathmatches. We voted on who we thought was best equipped to win the fight and had them advance accordingly. We also posted a large version of the bracket on our front door.

It turned out to be far more popular than we could have dreamed.

People would walk by the front door shouting things like, "Yoda over Treebeard?! Are you kidding me?" Dozens of people asked if they could be judges for the next tournament. Dozens more offered suggestions for future participants in the tournament. In an effort to accommodate as many people as we could, we hosted the new tournament online, with a feature to allow for internet voting.

It turned out to be far more popular than we could have dreamed.

Registration is open to anyone who wants to take the time to sign up with the website. Just visit and create a username and you're set to go. Even though the internet vote only counts as one of nine total votes, it's already had a huge impact on the results. Your vote matters here. Do you think that Ungoliant from The Simarillion could defeat the Big Boo from the Mario series? What about Mr. Rogers against the Thing? Sign up and make a difference.

Last year's finals pitted The Tick against the Balrog of Moria. This year promises to be just as exciting. Come and be a part of history!

Friday, January 18, 2008

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It's safe to say that this is easily the worst I've ever felt after finishing a day of school. The students in my fourth period class weren't mean like my English classes were, but just rude. Every time I started talking, they just started talking right along. Even when I stopped the class to tell them to quit it already, they would keep talking while I was telling them to shut up. I felt like I was being ignored entirely and treated as less than a human. It hurt, and when I stopped the class at the very end it took just about everything I had not to just sit down and cry. (I haven't cried since eighth grade. That was nearly eleven years ago.) My head hurts, my heart aches, my stomach feels like it wants to crawl up through my throat, I'm exhausted, and Pandora playing Doves at me isn't helping any. I felt completely miserable. (notice the lack of parallel structure there! different tenses! conflict! can we expect resolution? yes!)

And yet (see! resolution!), when one of my students from an earlier class came in to ask about a problem with his grade, not only was I helpful and friendly, but I sincerely wanted to help him out. All of the earlier insanity was completely forgotten. I wanted to do anything I could for him.

As insane and emotionally masochistic as this career seems on the surface, it's the right place for me. One way or another, that keeps being confirmed for me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

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I had a dream last night in which I was reading my news magazines online in the morning to find that Barack Obama died of a massive heart attack during the night. The news came as a shock and devastating blow to me. I tried to convince myself that I was only dreaming, and even managed to wake up in the dream, only to find that I wasn't dreaming. It had actually happened.

Needless to say, I read my news magazines extra close this morning to make sure Obama was still alive. It had a bigger effect on me than I would have imagined. Suppose it's safe to say that I'm an Obama man.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

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My English 10 classes are working on personal narratives right now, so as a warmup today, I had them free write on their experiences with the "other sub" that they've had for the last couple of weeks. Most of them had pretty negative experiences (students, as a rule, tend not to like subs), so it made for pretty entertaining reading. I'll reproduce my favorite one here.

Having a sub was really not fun. Although, then we had a lot of free time. It was cool not haveing to do much of anything. But with a sub I learned little to nothing. So that was a down-side. Especially the old lady. She was old. And a lady. And boring. Why was old lady boring? Cause she was old. And a lady. Lady is the first word in Lady bug. Those are red. Red like roses. People give roses for dances. I like dancing. Especially when people break dance. Thats so cool. And they always have some cracker getting showed up. Like on this one movie. Hoo-rah. It was cool. Cool like ice cream. "You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream." I like that saying. Screaming is what they use at emo music. Emos are lame. Lame like crackers. My friend thinks crackers and ranch are good. But its not.

I would have laughed out loud if I weren't sitting in the computer lab with them. I like these kids.

Monday, January 07, 2008

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How the NFL playoffs might have turned out if they were governed by the BCS, the oft-maligned system that determines the matchups in college bowl games:

BCS National Championship: #1 New England (16-0) vs. #2 Green Bay (13-3)
Rose Bowl: #6 San Diego (11-5) vs. #3 Indianapolis (13-3)
Sugar Bowl: #12 Tampa Bay (9-7) vs. #7 Seattle (10-6)
Fiesta Bowl: #4 Dallas (13-3) vs. #5 Jacksonville (11-5)
Orange Bowl: #8 Pittsburgh (10-6) vs. #10 Washington (9-7)
Capitol One Bowl: #9 New York (10-6) vs. #13 Cleveland (10-6)
Cotton Bowl: #11 Tennessee (10-6) vs. #15 Minnesota (8-8)
Gator Bowl: #14 Philadelphia (8-8) vs. #17 Arizona (8-8)
Outback Bowl: #16 Houston (8-8) vs. #19 Buffalo (8-8)
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: #20 Chicago (7-9) vs. #21 Denver (7-9)
Sun Bowl: #22 Cincinnatti (7-9) vs. #23 Carolina (7-9)
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: #18 New Orleans (7-9) vs. #24 Detroit (7-9)

Ground rules - a team needs at least seven wins to qualify for a bowl. I would have cut it off at eight, but there were enough deserving teams with only seven wins that I let them in, too. Division champions received automatic bids to BCS bowls. Rankings were taken from, with the exception of Green Bay, whose ranking rose from fifth to second (just like LSU!) so they could play in the title game. Following are reasons why, all of which line up with BCS policy:

1. No rematches in the title game. (disqualifies #2 Indianapolis and #3 Dallas, both of whom lost to New England)
2. No two teams from the same conference can play each other in the title game. (disqualifies #4 Jacksonville)

Thus, #5 Green Bay jumps three spots to #2 and the right to face New England in the BCS title game. I'll spare you my predictions for the outcomes of all of the games, but suffice it to say that New England is the national champion, but that by far the most compelling game would be the Fiesta Bowl, with the Rose and Cotton Bowls just behind it. (High on the list of boring bowl games: the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

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Yup, I got married over the holidays. Pictures to come once we get good ones. These will be notable, inasmuch as they will be the first pictures of me including my face on this blog. Heady stuff.

To tide you over in the meantime, I'll provide you with a review of our honeymoon (with gory and intimate details removed, don't worry). Ratings out of a possible five stars.

The hotel in Portland. My parents put us up at the Westin Hotel in Portland, which was pretty ritzy. The bed had a layer of down on the top which would have made for a wonderful night's sleep, had either of us been able to get any rest. (CENSOR'S NOTE: OPTIMISTIC. IS NOT REFERRING TO ANY SEXUAL EXPLOITS. NEITHER HE NOR GENUINE DRAFT. WERE ABLE TO FALL ASLEEP THAT FIRST NIGHT DUE TO THE LATENT STRESS OF THE ORDEAL OF THE DAY. HONESTLY, YOU PEOPLE.) They even had complimentary bathrobes which would have been wonderful, had either of us noticed they were there until just before we checked out. (Four and a half stars)

The train up to Seattle. We took the AmTrak Cascades route from Portland to Seattle for about $20 a seat. At that rate, it's cheaper than flying or driving, and the train was a pretty enjoyable experience. Tons of leg room, and you don't even have to wear a seat belt. Plus, the absence of a vomit bag in front of you is a promising indication for what sort of ride you can expect. (Four stars)

The hotel in Seattle. We stayed at the Ramada Inn Downtown, which I found through Travelocity. The hotel room looked pretty nice online, and seemed pretty nice once I got in. It certainly wasn't the Westin (which was not only a few blocks from us, but also served as the iconic cover art for Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), but it was nice enough. The only downsides were that the cleaning fairies came by a little too early most days (we learned to have that "Do Not Disturb" sign out the night before) and that the complimentary copy of USA Today was not delivered to our door, as promised, but rather available for pickup at the front desk.

The carpets were very nice, though. (Four stars)

The Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. The EMP, primarily funded by billionaire Paul Allen, is a museum dedicated to rock music and seems to feature mostly Jimi Hendrix. It's cool for a bit, but after seeing the same images, it gets tiresome quickly. The Sound Lab upstairs is fun, as it gives you the chance to play around on instruments yourself, but the exhibit is so popular that if you don't have fifteen minutes to wait for a booth, you won't get a chance to play with anything. Probably the best part of the EMP was Revolutions, a restaurant that featured very good food and several Nirvana music videos. (Four stars, but only two without the restaurant)

The attached Science Fiction Museum, however, was pretty cool. The exhibits were extremely entertaining, featuring things as varied as a model of the Death Star to blown-glass spaceships to a display case of weapons from movies. More than once, Genuine. lamented the fact that we couldn't bring a camera into the museum. Also, the monorail goes right past the front gate. (Four and a half stars)

Pike Place Market. An open-air market on the waterfront of Puget Sound, Pike Place has an eclectic mix of novelty stores, cafes, and fish that is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. One market features employees throwing fish to each other across the display case that always attracts a crowd. If you're a bargain hunter, there are tons of shops that you should check out. Since neither of us are, particularly, we called it a day after finding the Daily Dozen, a small donut shop that might be the best-kept secret of the whole place. (Three stars)

Fun Forest. A small arcade and amusement park just below the Space Needle. We came here the night of New Year's Eve looking to pass the time until midnight. It wasn't anything special - you might have found a place like this in hundreds of cities. But riding the Ferris wheel, snagging crappy stuffed animals out of a crane game, and braving what may have been the world's smallest roller coaster six times was way more fun than I, at least, expected. This could have been the highlight of the whole trip. (Five stars)

The Seattle Children's Museum. Both Genuine. and I have fond memories of visiting Children's Museums when we were young and making giant bubbles, climbing walls, and the like. When we saw one in Seattle, we both leaped at the chance to go. However, the lady at admissions said we could only get in if we had a child inside. Denied. She took a picture of me frowning and looking furious at the entrance. (Zero stars)

The Space Needle. 500 feet tall and overlooking the city, perhaps only Starbucks is a more widely-known symbol of Seattle. However, at $16 a person to ride the elevator to the top and a whopping $45 a person to eat at the revolving restaurant, we ultimately declined to visit it. We got some pretty cool pictures, though. (Two stars)

The Pacific Science Center. Another fun science museum that has entertaining and interactive exhibits, just like the ones you visited as a kid. We visited the planetarium, though we were so tired that we both fell asleep. This would have been a lot more fun if we'd visited it on the first day we were there; by the time we made it, we were both so exhausted from walking around the city for days that it was just tiring. (Three and a half stars)

The ABC Family Channel. When we were tired from walking around all day, we would usually head back to our hotel, crawl under the covers, and turn on the TV. We probably watched four movies and as many episodes of Monk while we were in town. Not something I would have enjoyed normally, but we were so tired and punchy that we ended up giggling and making bizarre jokes for most of the time. It ended up being a lot of fun. (Four stars)

The University of Washington. An amazing campus. This place has buildings that look like gothic cathedrals. Coming from a school whose buildings are intended to be primarily functional, seeing some mostly aesthetic buildings was a treat. It's probably not somewhere I'd ever like to go permanently (Tolkien Boy, our guide, said that most of his tuition probably went toward architecture), but it was really cool to visit. (Four stars)

Freemont. Seattle's token quirky neighborhood. Freemont features a sculpture of a troll under a bridge devouring a VW Beetle, which was fun. Genuine. even found a hobo sleeping behind the head and took a picture of him. The world's largest stature of Vladimir Lenin outside of Russia can also be found in Freemont. It was fun to see them, but after that, we couldn't find much else to do. Maybe just look at pictures. (Two and a half stars)

I'd give the whole experience somewhere around three and a half to four stars. It was great getting to spend a week together, but so much walking had us exhausted. Still, the city comes recommended. Also, the marrying. That's been fun, too.