April 29, 2008
April 28, 2008
April 25, 2008
TEN GREAT THINGS ABOUT GREELEY
10. Teriyaki Bowl: Even now, ten years after I first ate there, it's cheap and simple teriyaki chicken bowl is still the best bang for your buck, with the most delicious rice known to man.
9. University of Northern Colorado: My alma mater, and a wonderful place to receive an education, with a lovely and constantly improving campus. Go Bears!
8. Tropical Sno: If you want a sno-cone, resist the urge and enjoy delicately shaved ice with hundreds of flavor combinations--or, if you're feeling wild, choose a volcano with soft-serve ice cream in the center.
7. Glenmere Park: Beautiful and tree-lined, it's the perfect place to stroll with a friend, boyfriend, husband, or sister.
6. Streets & Avenues: Greeley is laid out on a numbered grid, making addresses pretty easy to find. If you give me the address 2255 18th Avenue, I just have to find 22nd Street and 18th Avenue. (This works about 90% of the time.)
5. The Finest: The only used-music store I frequent. I have uncovered numerous gems at their parking lot sale--the most fun you'll ever have sifting through $1 CDs.
4. The Stampede: As a Wyoming native who survived many a Cheyenne Frontier Days, this is seen as a bit of an impostor. Still, it's always fun when your grocery store clerk wears cowboy clothes for a week out of the year.
3. The Smell: It really isn't bad at all. Maybe once a month you can smell something, but it's pretty rare. When you do catch a feedlotty whiff, it simply reminds you that here we are still part of the West.
2. Libraries: Greeley has three great libraries--Farr, Lincoln Park, and Centennial. Farr is still pretty new, and the other two are recently remodeled, so they are delightful places to linger over magazines or books.
1. Bittersweet Park: This is "my" park. I've walked probably two hundred miles around it in the last five years, and I feel I know every tree, bench, and inch of sidewalk. When they change the sculptures, I notice and critique. Now that it's spring, I can begin to re-learn each inch.
What's the best thing about where you live?
April 24, 2008
I've been reading Land of Lincoln, by Andrew Ferguson, a book that deals with just how Americans feel about Abraham Lincoln. Then, I started A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans by Michael Farquhar, whose previous treasuries I've loved, and mid-way through I run into a stack of characters related to the Civil War. Last night, I started Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz, a funny and disturbing portrait of those still fighting the "War Between the States." I didn't try to hone in on a single topic in my reading, but somehow, in the midst of the Obama campaign, I found myself immersed in what Americans have felt, and still feel, about the Civil War and the Great Emancipator.
Honestly, I'm glad I stumbled into this reading collision--I'm planning to keep alternating my way through the books, and hopefully I'll gain perspective and insight. One thing I've learned already is just how isolated I am (we are?) out here in the west from this issue. I've also learned just how much fun it is when you read about someone you just read about in another book an hour ago. Have you ever had a book collision?
April 22, 2008
Of course, there is always the frequent fliers, one of whom, immediately after I removed his handcuffs, pulled off his left boot and dumped an entire pint of his own urine on my booking floor. There's your dog at large arrest, iœ fishing without a license,over the limit, and the occasional inmate who acknowledges they did something wrong, want to do their time, and get on with life. It's easy to say this last group is my favorite, but I'm still holding on to the myth of my childhood.
Ten hours into a 12.5 hour shift on the 7th day straight, after dealing with all that the criminal world has to offer, I'm still waiting for my favorite criminal: the Hamburgler. It's 4am and I could use a cheeseburger and fries!
I supported your economic stimulus package, friggen Mayor McCheese, but as you are soft on crime, you just lost my vote.
Editor's Note: Mr. Cool must be tired, as this was his toughest post to edit. We'll save the who/whom/which discussion for later, Mr. Cool. Also, I'm struggling too--I just started my first intarsia project, and I was sailing along, when I realized six rows in that I had read the chart backwards. Now I'm trying to decide if a backwards lowercase "a" would look cool on my felted purse, or not. Sigh.
April 20, 2008
* Judges 20:11 KJV: So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
* 1 Samuel 18:1 KJV: And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
*1 Chronicles 12:17 KJV: And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it.
* Colossians 2:2 KJV: That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ
* Job 10:10-11 NIV: Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?
* Psalm 139:13 NIV: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
Knitting in the Bible, based on my quick study, seems to be very intimate. A deep, intense attachment of soul and body, connected through love. The very creation of an infant is connected to knitting, as is the connection between friends and followers in Christ. It is interesting to think that whenever I have children, while I knit booties without, they will be being knit together within.
April 19, 2008
Soy and bamboo are newcomers to the yarn parade, cotton has been around for awhile, but wool is the king, queen, and crown prince of yarn. Everyone loves woo. My new friend, Sophie the Sheep, will be modeling with a few of my favorite woolly yarns. Currently, these yarns are in my "stash," or hoard of yarn. Only one set has a specific project. See if you can pick the project-promised yarn!
Here we see Sophie lounging next to some lovely 100% Wool yarn. This yarn is a very soft, lofty, squooshy yarn. Squooshy is a technical term that refers to the extra oomph of squish you get when you squeeze the yarn.
Sophie is trying to visit with the sheep pictured on the label of this Patons Classic Wool Merino Yarn. While merino are reputed to be quite soft, this 100% wool seems a bit rougher than the wool above. It has smooth feel, but the texture, when running through my fingers, has a bit of a catch, a bit of a "this used to be an animal's hair" feel.
Sophie is just peeking out from behind this Patons Jet, because this yarn is a blend. It's only 70% wool, blended with 30% alpaca. Hopefully you are all familiar with alpacas. I've never touched them, but they must be very soft and fuzzy, because this yarn is the most tender, comforting, extra-squooshy yarn in my stash. You could use it as a pillow.
April 18, 2008
April 17, 2008
After the greatest aggregate technological feat in history, the Apollo Space program, few technologies compare in engineering, practical, and social triumphs. One of those wonders just happens to be the German Autobahn. What’s not to like: no speed limit, no tail-gating, no road rage, little traffic, less frequent construction, fewer teenage drivers, and an overall safer driving experience. As an American, I am in love with the freedom of driving – to the point of self-destruction some would say – and I want the Autobahn.
If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we have the American version of the Autobahn? First, let me explain why I think the Autobahn is awesome, despite it’s biggest fan and support (good old Adolph himself). I like to drive fast, because it’s fun. The licensing process is difficult, expensive, and takes up to $5,000 to complete the driving and testing requirements to be sanctioned. While this seems goes against our ideas of freedom, it means fewer and more proficient drivers: equals safer roads, so you can go fast. The roads are strictly enforced by uniformed and undercover officers, cameras, and self-policed by concerned citizens. Fines for tail-gating, weaving, or failing to “drive right” lead to graduated fines based on income (so Johan Shmohan may pay $50, while Count Von Sucksberger may pay $20,000 for the same offense!). Also, road rage is kept to a minimum via the charge of “criminal insult” which covers threats, vulgarities, non-verbals (“you know, the finger…”), excessive honking of the horn and could cost you $200. (In case you are curious, all the sums have already been converted from the Euros and Deutschmarks thanks to the History Channel.)
In Colorado we have roads with grades as steep as 5-35%, while the Autobahn’s gradient never exceeds 5%, ever. The Autobahn’s road deck is 16 inches, tripling our measly American 5 inches. The Autobahn’s beauty and engineering are unsurpassed as roads go, and are capable of landing a Boeing 747. No too shabby, or so though Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who as President spearhead the American Interstate System – one of his demands on the new road system was that 1 mile of each 5 mile stretch was to be straight and level to accommodate emergency airfields in war times. Ike is one of my favorites Presidents, and a man of significant leadership and character. Anyway, back to das road…
Unfortunately, most of what we think we want (more money, more freedom, free gas, a bigger house, putting men on the moon, world peace, and the autobahn) is shrouded in myth and we rarely get the truth. It was built with the help of slave labor from concentration camps, its purpose was to show the dominance of the German people, was and is ridiculously expensive to construct and maintain in life and taxes. Besides, if you think gas is expensive here, try $8 a liter. So, I like the Autobahn, and I really like strict enforcement and the sliding fine scale. But, am I willing to pay the price – I think so, are you?
Okay, so very little hilarity has ensued, and even less was Bavarian style, so I’ll pull out my “throw down” blogget I keep on my left ankle…
In an effort to stay moderately healthy, I returned from a pleasant run at the local park and grabbed an apple to satisfy that post run food craving (significant proof I need to run). So, I pull a wonderfully crisp Gala from the fridge and begin to munch. Bite three yields that little sticker proclaiming state of origin and lot number (Oregon, #1354). So, what does this prove? I don’t wash produce before I eat, and why should I? I don’t wash the cheese I eat, the crackers I munch, or the lunch meat in my sandwich. Besides, a little DDT never hurt anybody…apparently my fact checkers say DDT is very bad and was pulled from produce decades ago.
Regardless, I’m good to go. Besides, if I’m going to worry about what contaminates touch my skin, I’m better off washing the packaging – who knows what sort of crazy bug comes latched to the shrink-wrap on my socks made and packaged in Costa Rica, or the bird flu carrying bug that escapes from the bouncy ball purchased at Target but produced in China (ala classic Simpson’s Episode “Bart in the Bubble”). Should I wash my produce, probably, but I’m not going to. If I give into the CDC, who’s next, the EPA, FDA? Besides, I work in a jail, and despite my wife’s horror, my standards of cleanliness have been lowered. Sad but true.
April 16, 2008
If you had only one more meal left to eat on earth, what would your last meal be?
My answer hasn't remained consistent throughout the years, changing frequently, but one part always remains consistent: meat and potatoes are involved. As I think deeply this morning, considering the flavors that I want to linger on my palate as I shuffle off this mortal coil, I believe I'm going for this meal:
*Mom's Beef Stew, with potatoes, carrots, and tender beef
*Homemade Biscuits, with butter and honey (since it's my last meal, I demand warm biscuits)
*Peas, my favorite green vegetable, liberally sprinkled with kosher salt
*Toll House Pie, with vanilla ice cream
Yeah, that sounds good.
April 15, 2008
Students ask me a lot about which eras of the past I'd visit. It always sounds so fabulous to visit the people and places I've studied and enjoyed. But (there is always a but when it comes to time travel), I have a very sensitive nose. As part of my Five Senses Project, I'm going to treat you to descriptions of why I'm pretty happy to live now, in the age of deodorant, scented candles, and lavender soap. I present my Top 2 times and places I'd like to visit, and their olfactory negatives, along with one ancient spot with a fragrant aroma.
1. Apollo 11: 1969 had regular hygiene, right? Sure, but here's an excerpt from Michael Collins' book Carrying the Fire, describing the last stage of Apollo 11's journey home: " Meanwhile, this fastidious man and his two equally picky companions must slop about in crowded and ever more smelly surroundings. The right side of the lower equipment bay, wherein are located old launch day urine bags, discarded washcloths, and worse, is now a place to be avoided. The drinking water is laced with hydrogen bubbles (a consequence of fuel-cell technology which demonstrates that H2 and O join imperfectly to form H2O). These bubbles produce gross flatulence in the lower bowel, resulting in a not-so-subtle and pervasive aroma which reminds me of a mixture of wet dog and marsh gas. It seems degrading for Columbia to reach this smelly-old-man stage . . ."
2. Elizabethan England: A bit of a no-brainer, as there was no waste-disposal or sewer system. All trash and human waste was just dumped out into the street, to join all the animal waste congregating there. A lack of refrigeration and a culture bent on eating lots of meat added a bit of a rotting odor as well. Add to that the fact that people didn't bathe that often, and you get a pretty clear view of the smell.
The One Ancient Spot that Smelled Good: Ancient Greece
I'm actually teaching about Greek mythology, along with The Odyssey and Antigone right now, so I've been doing a spot of research, and I discovered this quote: "The archaeologists used fragrances extracted from traces left in containers at the site to recreate ancient aromas with the same techniques used in the past," said Maria Rosaria Belgiorno, the leading archaeologist. "Today, we are used to chemical and alcoholic scents, but these are fresher ones, smelling of herbs and spices, like almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, bergamot — and not flowers,'' said Belgiorno, who is also the curator of the exhibit at Rome's Capitoline Museums. "The perfumes were made through the lengthy steeping of the spices in water and oil and other ancient techniques".
Apparently, the ancient Greeks actually did smell good! Maybe I should fire up that time machine after all!
April 14, 2008
April 11, 2008
We hear so much on a daily basis--the hum of power, the click of keyboard keys, music filtering through earbuds, nature struggling through modernity--but to me one of the most important things we hear are voices. A person's voice can be as big an identifier as her outward appearance. A common experience we have all shared involves hearing a recording of our voice and blurting out, "What?! I don't sound like that, do I?" and then fearing the answer.
I like my voice, but I like it best every year in January/February, when I get a cold (I've caught this same cold for about fifteen years) that descends right into my throat, dropping my voice about an octave. To me, I sound like a sexy, late-night DJ. Every time I get this cold, I start thinking about picking up the smoking habit, so that perhaps I could maintain this voice. (Don't worry, mom and dad, I won't!) As time goes by, I am more appreciative of the flexibility of my voice, and am grateful for my genetic tone and control. To be blessed with a strong voice is a blessing indeed.
An example: today, in my CP (honors-ish) English I class, we were watching Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet, and I was confiding to a student my crush on Michael York, who plays Tybalt. I informed her that he also plays Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers films. After the next Tybalt scene, she said, "You know, after you said that, I recognized his voice. He has such a strong voice." Of course, she's right, and even forty years later, his voice remains the same, even as wrinkles and grey hair have clouded his appearance.
Amanda's Top Ten Voices
10. Michael York (it's unforgettable, and deeply sexy)
9. Maria Callas (her Habenera from Carmen is burned in my brain)
8. Kathleen Turner (this is what I sound like with a cold--it's the best cold ever!)
7. Nina Totenberg (her recreations of the Supreme Court are inspiring)
6. My Mom (she is the reader of every childhood book--I hear the Chronicles of Narnia in her voice)
5. Harrison Ford (sandpaper rough with the constant hint of sarcasm)
4. Garrison Keillor (this might be because I grew up on Prairie Home Companion, but I love his slow baritone)
3. Alan Rickman (perfect Snape, perfect in anything)
2. Alison Krauss (a critic once accused her voice of being too perfect--what does that mean?)
1. James Earl Jones (simply the most powerful, commanding voice on the face of the earth)
Who would end up on your list?
April 10, 2008
If the snow had been a bit heavier today, a nice long post would be here. Sadly, I had to work all day, and I have to grade tests all night.
April 09, 2008
- *bidding on abandoned storage units
- *taxidermy, specifically on giraffes and CO animals
- *cell phones/texting
- *how to get away with murder
- *stealing items from Home Depot
- *the best way to deal with pesky geese (a whacking day of sorts?)
- *weird students (always a popular topic)
- *math movies
- *alarm clocks
- *work gossip (who's the new Vice Principal?)
- *museum exhibits
- *my inability to knit when one guy drives, due to my fear of stabbing a knitting needle through my hand
- *which smells worse, turkey farms or a feedlots (we drive by both)
Have you ever carpooled? Any great stories?
April 08, 2008
As with our brave soldiers, sailors, marines, airman, firefighters, and other law enforcement personnel – my colleagues and I walk into work each day with the distinct possibility of dying a brutal and violent death (not something we like to contemplate, but a truth that must be acknowledged). While we choose not to dwell on this issue, it must nonetheless be dealt with for us to function at our called duties, so we cope, some with drink, others with fitness, families, hobbies, or adrenaline – but the coping skill that unites us all is humor. We do a job that 97.4% of the nation could not, and would not, do by choice or inclination and we keep our humanity and sanity by laughing at those who are smart enough not to be doing the job we do, but yet so dumb that they wind up on the wrong side of the right and the just.
We’ve all seen, or at least heard, that COPS clip where after the individual is searched by the Police and having found a rock of cocaine proclaims “those aren’t my pants!” Why take personal responsibility for one’s actions when you can yell from the roof tops that that illicit substance doesn’t belong to you, but is a friends’, who is such a good friend that he would let you borrow his pants, but not so good of a friend that you can remember his name – you guys must be real close and trusting, to share pants but not names. HA, me thinks thee protests too much…but those are nice pants so it could be true.
So, when we are presented the face of true stupidity: the man who tells me the murder weapon found in his car isn’t his, the women who claims the bra she is wearing (one of the most intimate items of clothing) which contains methamphetamine isn’t hers, or the juvenile who walks into my booking area wearing four separate pairs of pants swears up and down the bloody baseball bat confiscated by his principal was left by the previous occupant of said pants – which pair I never did get an answer – we just laugh, laugh, and laugh.
It may seem cruel to laugh at those caught in the cycle of violence and stupidity, and it is (for “but by the grace of God go I”), but it is also one’s saving grace (as I firmly believe the gift of humor is a gift from God himself). My colleagues and I will continue to laugh, cause that’s all we’ve got. If I tried to make sense of it all, I would go crazy. Endowed with a world class mind and middle class ambition, my vast understanding of social and criminal forces can explain the causes of illegal activities – but even I’m not smart enough to understand and explain how they always lose their shirt between the house, the bar, and the jail, why hardened killers still cry on the phone, why adult men resort to fisticuffs over a single cookie, or why they think the judge cares if their orange shirt matches their orange pants. I can’t explain it, so I laugh.
Next week, the Autobahn – where hilarity will ensue – Bavarian style.
April 07, 2008
While browsing Google News, I discovered an article in the Washington Post concerning the Obama/Rev. Wright issue. Apparently, it still hasn't vanished from the news cycle. Older, white voters are concerned about Obama's patriotism, as he simply sat in church and listened to his pastor's diatribes without leaving. Some voters apparently have been appeased by his speech, but some are still concerned. Many, including Hilary, have called for Obama to fully renounce and reject his association with Rev. Wright.
Why, I ask? Shouldn't we as Christians, as humans at the very least, be proud and respectful of a man who refuses to reject a brother? We are called upon to respectfully correct an errant brother, but I don't think we're called upon to reject them. Jesus might have said, "Get thee behind me, Satan," to Peter, but he still saved him and washed his feet. Obama is simply saying (to me) that while he strongly disagrees with Wright's comments, and has told him so, he also doesn't need to reject him.
My other quibble with this "issue" is the belief in free speech. In recent times, it has seemed that free speech and patriotism do not walk hand in hand. I believe America was founded upon the idea that we can disagree. Many of us may pray that God will bless America, but we should also understand that we do not deserve to be blessed, and that many people might have a real reason to hope that America will be damned.
My pastor has been an incredible gift to my spiritual life, and he is an inspiring speaker. He has encouraged and challenged me. I would not abandon him for a bit of anti-patriotism, and I am glad to see that Obama has not abandoned Rev. Wright. I am frustrated that this is even an issue.
April 04, 2008
So, I told Mr. Cool I'd spend tonight doing laundry, cleaning, and knitting on his scarf. Instead, I've spent the time watching Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace and surfing Ravelry. So, right now, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are fighting Darth Maul, and as much as I claim to hate these "prequels," I have to admit that the lightsaber fighting is amazing. That, and I have seriously loved Liam Neeson for years (my mom saved me the Qui-Gon pepsi can). I believe this is the second time I've seen this film, and I've only seen Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith once each. The number of times I've seen 4-6 cannot be counted.
Why the discrimination? Many, many fellow geeks have joined me in frustration about the plots, poor acting, and self-love exhibited by Lucas in his prequels (ooh, nice jump Obi-Wan!), and I'd agree with that. I would also say that the "first" Star Wars films suffer from the same problems. Is Hayden Christenson as Anakin any worse than Mark Hamill as Luke?
What continually saves the first films is the presence of Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan (just as Ewan McGregor manages to save the later films as the same character), and, of course, Harrison Ford. Mr. Cool and Sister Cool could fill you in on my current rant that Harrison Ford is under appreciated and maligned. He should have, like, five Oscars. You know the line in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo responds, "I know," to Leia's "I love you?" Harrison came up with that. He improvised that response. The script had him saying, "I love you, too." And in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when he just shoots that guy? That was Harrison improvising because of an injury.
What are your Star Wars feelings? How much do you love Harrison Ford? Let me know!
Edited to Add: As Phantom Menace ended, I noticed for the first time that its conclusion is very similar to the end of New Hope. Interesting. Almost made me like it, a little. Maybe.
Spring Break #1: London, England 2003
Mr. Cool had an excess of student loans during his first year of grad school, so he had the wacky idea that we head to London. As an English teacher, this is a visit to the mothership. It was amazing and incredible--we focused on London and did everything we could. We visited the Tower of London (great jewels), Westminster Abbey (crowded with royal graves), St. Paul's (amazing climb to the top), the new Globe (Shakespearean wonderland), the Tate Britain (PRB forever), the British Museum (Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles), the British Portrait Gallery (all my favorite royals), Trafalgar Square (climb the lions), Buckingham Palace (changing of the guards), we boated on the Thames, took a double-decker tour of the city, walked around Hyde Park, took the Tube everywhere, ate fish and chips, visited pubs, had Indian take-away, took tea at The Orangery (yay, clotted cream), left from Paddington Station (even a statue of the bear himself), and enjoyed every bit of the city. If we went back, we wouldn't mind just doing a repeat of the entire trip!
So, that's it, my #1 Spring Break. Sorry there aren't any pictures of the Cools in London, but we photographed the trip on disposable cameras, and I'm feeling a bit too lazy to get the scanner working. I've realized while counting this down, that many of my best trips have been at other times other than Spring Break, but this trip would still be #1, no matter what. What's your best trip ever?
April 03, 2008
. . . we choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."~John F. Kennedy
Last night, Mark and I watched In the Shadow of the Moon, a documentary from last year that incorporates fantastic NASA footage and interviews with the surviving moon mission astronauts. It was uplifting and epic, much like the entire Moon Mission. In addition to presidents and royals, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs are my historical obsessions. When I was a sophomore in HS, I was at a loss at an airport bookstore, so I bought Lost Moon, Jim Lovell's account of the Apollo 13 mission. I was hooked. I have read dozens of books and watched many films on the space program. In the Shadow of the Moon was amazing, and I recommend it fully, along with Tom Hank's HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon. The more I study it, the more it becomes the time period I would probably visit in a time machine. And my parents were there! Anyway, I'm now trying to figure out how to name any future sons after Michael Collins and Alan Bean, my favorite astronauts.
Spring Break #2: Staying Home
My Spring Breaks have not always been fantastic adventures. Frequently they have involved staying home in either Wyoming or Colorado. I have always enjoyed staying home, and I've had some adventures here. I've seen exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (yay, Vikings! Yay, Gold!), I've gone on free tours at Coors, Budweiser, Celestial Seasons, and the Olympic Training Center in C. Springs. I've read books, played games, worked on projects, graded, planned lessons, hung out with family and friends, and recharged. Sometimes, staying home is the best adventure.
April 01, 2008
Spring Break #3: Multiple Spring Breaks 1980-2007 Scottsdale, AZ
My great-great aunt & uncle purchased a place in Scottsdale in the 1970s or 60s, I think, and the consequence was that we spent many of our spring breaks there. The first pictures of me in Scottsdale involve a very small Amanda. I love it for the smell of blooming flowers, the palm trees, the swimming pool across the street, ice cream at the Sugar Bowl, mystery novels at the Poisoned Pen, shopping at the Scottsdale Galleria, breakfast at Randy's, and the memories. There aren't any grapefruit or orange trees in the backyard anymore, but it still reminds me of trips with my parents, sister, Aunt Margie and Uncle Earl, and my grandparents.