Friday, August 19, 2011

Soccer's still acomin'

More proof that soccer is slowly creeping up on and threatening to take over hockey as the 4th major league sport in the United States came last week. NBC and MLS announced that beginning in 2012 NBC and the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) will be broadcasting MLS games for three years. This deal takes MLS away from the Fox Sports Network. ESPN will still air their slate of MLS games and the MLS Cup. But now MLS and several National Team games will be shown on a network that has twice has many households than the FSC. Plus, seeing MLS on NBC itself will be a huge boost for the game.

Attendance is up this year for the MLS. It has more corporate sponsors than ever before. The USMNT attracts a huge following. MLS is now outdrawing the NHL in average attendance. In fact it's threatening the NBA. The big hole it has to make up is in TV ratings. MLS still lags behind the NHL and is way behind the NBA in television viewership.

But it's coming. Fox has broadcasted the UEFA Champions League Championship game two years in a row on it's regular network. Within ten years MLS will be considered a full legit major league on par with the NBA and NHL and right behind MLB and the NFL. The Beautiful Game is here and it's not going anywhere.

photo: Jackson at his first MLS game at beautiful Pizza Hut Park, home of the Western Conference Champions F.C. Dallas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Blogger Minimalism

Leo Babauta is one of my favorite bloggers. But he would not like how my blog is arranged. He would say it is too cluttered. See HERE why I believe this to be true.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Jest Not

I rarely give up on books. When it comes to books I'm task oriented. I wanted to get to the end and check it off my list. Although when a great read comes along I slow down to enjoy the ride. I'm also a bit of an optimist, especially when it comes to books of good reputation. So I figure the first part may be a bit slow but if I keep plowing through it may be well worth it by the end.

But I finally gave up on Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. My Kindle says I only made it 20% of the way through this thousand page behemoth. This book was one of the most famous fiction works of the 1990's. It's author, Wallace, a literary star. His suicide three years ago only magnified his literary reputation. Earlier this year one of his posthumous works was released to great fanfare and acclaim. Many of the authors and literary critics I admire most are big fans.

So I took the plunge a few months ago and quit after about 50 pages. A month later I began again. I made it significantly farther (or further?) but finally gave up last week. I got tired of the pretension and literary gimmicks. Some consider his numerous endnotes a fascinating literary device. I found them annoying despite the fact that the Kindle makes reviewing the endnotes a snap. I grew weary of show-offy vocabulary that seemed thrown in simply for effect. Believe me, I love obscure, polysyllabic words as much as the next guy but not when they seem arbitrary and disrupt the narrative. Of course, disrupting the narrative flow was what Wallace said the endnotes were for so maybe that was his point.

So I probably just ticked off a bunch of literary hipsters with my dismissal of their hero. Granted he's much more of a novelist/writer than I could ever hope to be. I did see real talent, amazing talent. I saw flashes of brilliance. But the story and the characters never grabbed hold of me. I'm sorry I don't dig Jest. I'm not deleting it from my Kindle. Maybe down the road I'll give it another shot. I am capable of reading difficult works. I read them all the time. I love Joyce, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Kierkegaard and whoever you want to throw at me. Just not this guy and this book. Maybe I'll check out one of his other works.

He certainly doesn't belong in the triumvirate of today's super-novelists David Mitchell, Douglas Coupland and Dave Eggers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Race

So the GOP race is shaping up. Here's my observations so far. Of course it's early and things can change dramatically.

Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain have little support and no chance. They're out.

Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul have rabid support but it still lies on the fringes. Most Republicans know that Bachmann has no chance to beat Obama. They're out.

Pawlenty and Huntsman have no buzz although that could change with a surprise win in one of the early states. But I think neither will capture the nomination. They're out.

Palin probably won't run. She's just out for the attention (showing up when Mitt announced and in Ames on the day of the GOP debate). She has virtually no chance to capture the nomination. Her star reached it's apogee last year. She has or is about to jump the shark. She's out.

So that leaves the race to Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. I believe this is a two man race. I'm not sure about Perry's ability to raise cash outside of Texas. And he will have a tough time when he gets the type of scrutiny he has never had in Texas. Even Republicans in Texas don't like the guy. He's only won because there's not been any alternatives or the field's been split. He once won with only 39% of the electorate. But he has positioned himself as a Tea Party conservative and that may be appealing to a great many Republicans who don't know him as well as Texans.

Mitt probably stands the best chance at beating Obama but he may have a tough time getting the nomination. Most conservatives are suspicious of Romney. He does seem to flip flop on issues like abortion and health care. But he is an ATM machine and has loads of cash.

So I can't guess who the nominee will be. But at this point is sure looks like a two-man race between Romney and Perry.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Converting Youtube to iTunes

One of the best ways to preview new music without purchasing it first is by checking out the artist's youtube page. That way you won't have wasted your money with a one-hit wonder. Youtube is one of my favorite music resources. I also download documentaries, shows and interviews and upload them to my iPod to watch on trips and whenever. There's a lot of free software programs that enable you to convert youtube videos to iTunes but one that has worked well for me is DVDVideoSoft. I first read about this site on cnet so it should be safe. I've been using it for a few years now and have never had a problem.

You can download a whole suite of software for free with one click or pick and choose what you want.

Their website is HERE

video: I haven't posted a video of JDW in awhile. This is Jackson earlier this summer playing around in slick rock...a creek area in Indiana on Dram's farm.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Yes. I am offended by you.

While we were at Seaworld San Antonio I saw a middle aged  man wearing a t-shirt with a Confederate flag on it. Beneath the flag was written "if you are offended by this flag you need a history lesson."

I really wanted to go up to the man and say "Sir, I am an historian and here's a lesson for you..." But since I was there with my wife and son I ignored the ignoramus and went on with our fun.

But here's the deal and there's no getting around these facts. The Confederate flag represents a regime that supported human bondage. No if's, ands or buts about it. The Confederate flag represents a regime which betrayed the United States of America and then fought and killed to have the right to enslave other human beings.

If you are offended by that you need to go back and study your history.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Beginning of the End

Well. Today is the beginning of the end. The end of summer. This is our last week before teachers report to work. I always have mixed feelings about the end of summer. I am excited about the opportunties a new school year affords. One of the best things about being a teacher is getting a fresh start every nine months with a new school year. And I have some interesting opportunities in store for 2011-2012.

I will have two students returning who scored 5's on AP exams which is phenomenal. I'll be coaching a student who qualified for the state UIL tournament last year as a sophomore. Hopefully we'll make another run for Austin at the state tourney. There's always a great crop of students ready to tackle AP every year. I always make changes to my curriculum and syllabus so it should be a fun year.

But I also know that once summer is over the madness begins. Two nights a week I'll be in class at SMU. Jackson is starting soccer for the first time. In the spring I'll once again be calling games for KHS soccer as the PA announcer. Plus there's the usual busyness that springs up unpredictably.

I get to spend less time with the family during the school year. We are spoiled getting to spend every day together during the summer. It is hard to be away from each other during the day.

So I'm going to try to enjoy my last week. Hopefully I'll wrap up my recovery from last week's oral surgery and be ready to go!

photo: Jackson and his best friend Jack sword fighting last week.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Believer

I've subscribed to a variety of magazines during my life. Boy's Life, Golf, Golf Digest, Road & Track, National Geographic, Adventure, Backpacker, SKI, Skiing, Sierra and many more. But I find my time limited these days so all those have gone by the wayside in recent years.

I'm only subscribing to one magazine nowadays...The Believer. The Believer is a literary journal from McSweeney's Publishing run by Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida. It features short works of fiction, poetry, micro-interviews and social commentary from the best and brightest in the literary world. I always find it inspiring me to open up my moleskine and start writing. It will take you away from much of the insipidness that exists in today's journalism and writing.

Good stuff and you can check it out HERE.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Microlending in Tajikistan

I've been microlending to Kiva for several years. It's a great organization. Lend $25 to help an third-world entrepreneur get out of poverty. It's easy to set up. Try it! Here's my current loan...

Inoyat Ayubova: Istaravshan, Tajikistan. She sells clothing. Take a look at her story HERE.

Friday, August 05, 2011

One for One

Tom's has been around for awhile. They donate one pair of shoes to someone in need for every new pair you buy. I'm finally diving in. The next pair of shoes I buy will be from Tom's.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Trip Advisor Reviews

I always check out before heading out on trips. They have comprehensive reviews and info about hotels, restaurants and attractions. I have found it an invaluable resource. I now take the time to write my own reviews for trip advisor after I have visited a place. You can find all my reviews on the trip advisor link to the right.

photo: Kimberly with the Dallas skyline in the background during our recent stay at the Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

SMU - Comparative Revolutions

This is the class I will be taking on Wednesday evenings this fall at Southern Methodist University. The photo is a picture of Dallas Hall (the oldest building on campus) where the class is held.

Comparative Revolutions: An Historical Perspective (AMS) (GLO) (HRJ)
SOSC 6367
Class # 5023
3 Credit Hours

What is the nature of modern political revolutions?What are the conditions which tend to produce a revolutionary explosion? What are the characteristics of revolutionary leaders? Why do people follow them? By considering answers to these and other related questions, this course attempts to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of special interest in our age of monumental upheaval and rapid societal change. Drawing especially on the American, French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions as case studies, a comparative analysis underscores the common denominators of the revolutionary experience.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

SMU: Creativity - Historical and Personal

It's shaping up to be a busy fall. This is the class I will be taking at SMU on Tuesday evenings. I took the professor, Dr. Gary Swaim, last semester and he was great. This course counts as a writing intensive requirement. The building pictured is the new Simmons Hall where many of my classes are located at SMU.

Creativity: Historical and Personal (WI)HUMN 7336
Class # 5036
3 Credit Hours

This seminar will focus, in particular, on two periods in history: the Renaissance and our current moments in time. The two time periods are bound together in unique ways by creativity. Through a historical analysis of aspects of the Renaissance (among the most creative of Western cultural times), we will explore methods for advancing our own personal creativity. Materials for the seminar will be highly interdisciplinary, and we will aim to apply the ideas of creativity to each student's current interests.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Dog Days

Supposed to be near 110 degrees in Dallas today. DFW is now in the midst of the second longest consecutive triple digit heat day streak in Dallas history. In two weeks we could break the infamous 1980 summer streak.

It's the first of August and we now only have two weeks left until teachers report.

Congratulations to my Uncle Richard for the release of his new novel, POX. Check out his author website and excerpts from the novel HERE.

Photo: Me hanging out in Austin on the corner of Congress and Willie Nelson Blvd with our hotel in the background.