Thursday, December 29, 2005

UK Football

My brother dressed for the Tenessee game over Thanksgiving. Posted by Picasa


Mom brought Dad an apron from Italy. Posted by Picasa

Scorcher Torture

A picture from my first bike race, the 40-mile Scorcher Torture in McAllen, way back from September that I never posted. Posted by Picasa

Christmas in Utah

Since Jen didn't get time off for Christmas, the family went and spent the holiday with her, Dillon, and the slopes at Alta. Here we are on Christmas eve with our matching PJ's courtesy of Mrs. Claus. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rafael on Buffets and Thanksgiving

I have several students who come up to eat their lunch in my classroom most days. Rafael is one of them and he loves to tell stories, particularly about food. Jill and I are constantly entertained by him, so we asked him if he would record a story for us.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, October 24, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, October 23, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Just Du It

I competed this morning in the Lonestar Pacesetters' "Just Du It" duathlon in Harlingen. It was a 5K run, a 17.2 mile bike ride, and a 5K run. I finished second overall in the male category and only got beat by one two-person team. In the first 5K, I ran about 17:50, then I averaged 20.4 mph on the bike for just under 51 minutes, then ran about 19 minutes for the last 5K. The guy who won completely destroyed me on the biking portion and had a good 5 or 6 minute lead going into the final run, so there was no hope of catching him. I had a lot of fun and felt really good about the race because it makes me feel like I'm getting back into decent shape. Now the training for my February marathon continues.

More fly-catcher

 Posted by Picasa

Scissor-tailed flycatcher

After today's duathlon in Harlingen, I got some cool pictures of the scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus). That is a seriously long tail! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 13, 2005 | 09/18/2005 | In a battle of wits with kitchen appliances, I'm toast

I laughed so hard when I read this. Particularly the paragraph that is clearly talking about my father:

There are three buttons labeled POWER, but there are times -- especially if my son and his friends, who are not afraid of features, have changed the settings -- when I honestly cannot figure out how to turn the TV on. I stand there, holding three remote controls, pressing buttons at random, until eventually I give up and go turn on the dishwasher. It has been, literally, years since I have successfully recorded a TV show. That is how ''smart'' my appliances have become.

Can it be true?

Since four of my best high school friends now live in New York City, I was planning to visit anyway. But now it gets even better!
Playbill News: Guettel and Goldman to Team on Princess Bride Musical

Friday, October 07, 2005


As I was pulling into school this morning, they were interviewing Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach For America) on NPR's "Morning Edition."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Indigo Snake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saw one of these on the trails while running yesterday!

Indigo Snake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I've completed the first two weeks of school of my second year of teaching. I'm teaching one section of chemistry and four sections of freshman (conceptual) physics. 100% of my freshmen are in ESL classes and most of them speak very little English. While working around the language barrier to teach science will be a challenge of its own, the second year in general is SO much easier. Classroom management is so much more pleasant and easy and my classroom is much more efficient. In this picture, you can see one of the many strategies I'm using to help with the language barrier, the word wall.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

We had 11 TFA Teams compete in the River Rockets Duel of the Dunes adventure race on South Padre Island today (not pictured: Heather, Tammy Jo, Shannon, and Lindsay). To see more of our pictures click here.

Alex and I won the Duel of the Dunes adventure race on South Padre Island today!

Sunday, August 21, 2005 - Keeping enemies close at the Google Dance - Aug 20, 2005

Matt Cutts is from my hometown!

The Web site administrators, known as webmasters, and their consultants paid particularly close attention to Google engineer Matt Cutts, the company's main liaison with the webmaster community and this party's star attraction.

"That's the Mick Jagger of search!" exclaimed e-marketing strategist Seth Wilde as he strolled by Cutts and his audience of webmasters.

Cutts, who has worked at Google for five years, sees it differently.

"I feel more like the Rick Moranis of search because I end up dealing with so many quirky and weird cases," he said. - Keeping enemies close at the Google Dance - Aug 20, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gotta love that conviction.

"I picked this school because it was different and because it had a dress code," student Angie Sweeney said.

Still, she says she plans to wear jeans and flip-flops when classes start August 24 "just because I can now." - Liberty University loosens dress code - Aug 16, 2005

Monday, August 15, 2005

Rest of the summer pictures.

I've now gotten around to posting the last of our pictures from the summer trip. There are three albums and you can click on each one below to see the pictures:

Rest of Oregon to Monterey.

Monterey to LA.

LA to the end.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oops! The brakes gave out on Lori's brother!

Cycling, Running, and Kayaking

I just started running again yesterday after coming off of what I believe to have been a stress fracture in my foot. These two days I've just covered half a mile each day on soft surfaces and I'll step up to a mile tomorrow as I gradually build up toward the marathon I plan to run on Feb 5, 2006: the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans, LA. I've been active on the cycling since I returned the valley, riding with the River Rockets almost every day. We had close to 20 people riding tonight and my tires got tied up in what turned into a small pile-up, but fortunately, I was able to keep my balance. Alex SFR, my teammate for the upcoming Duel of the Dunes adventure race and I practiced kayaking in a borrowed inflatable in the resaca behind my house today. We have a lot of work to do before the race on August the 28th. Tomorrow brings more running, cycling, and sand volleyball. Too bad school has to start soon.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Amazon's Nonprofit Innovation Award

Teach For America is one of then 10 finalists in's Nonprofit Innovation Award. The organization that raises the most money through the Amazon site by September 30, 2005 wins the Award and a matching grant of up to $1 milion. Want to help our movement to eliminate educational inequity in America grow? Click here to donate!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

As I'm getting unpacked and organized for the year ahead, I cleared space to put my new bike. I just ordered a Cannondale F400, my first decent mountain bike. I should have it sometime later this week.

Friday, August 05, 2005

An entertaining read from Roseburg, Oregon's very own paper, The News-Review. (Click on the picture to enlarge it for reading.)

End of Road Trip

Lori and I concluded our summer road trip on Wednesday, covering 10,425 miles over 64 days. We hit seven national parks and stayed in 22 generous households. Between camping and staying with friends and family, we spent only $100 on camping throughout the entire trip. When I get the chance, I'll upload the rest of our pictures, which will bring the total number of pictures from the trip to about 1,000.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Kentucky through St. Louis, MO

Here are our pictures from our stay in Kentucky and the beginning of our journey westward as we encountered the Gateway Arch. Click here to see them.

Canadian Fishing Trip

8 of us went to Fireside Lodge in Northwestern Ontario to celebrate Granddad's 92nd birthday. We caught over 500 fish and 4 of us made master angler by catching smallmouth bass of at least 18 inches. Scott and I, who "don't know how to fish," made up 50% of the master angler crew. Click here to see all of my pictures from the trip.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Summer Road Trip

Lori and I have started our two-month 8,500 mile road trip. We're currently in Chapel Hill, NC. We're posting our pictures here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Look at that food (and those girls)!

We bought an outdoor table and chairs tonight and it has taken the roomie dinner to a whole level. Here are the residents of 1705 along with Lori having an excellent steak dinner cooked by Ali on the grill.

Pedal to Padre

Today 10 TFA teachers participated in the 2005 Pedal to Padre event put on by the River Rockets. There were over 500 riders and it was an excellent event. We rode from the events center in Brownsville, regrouped in Port Isabel at the Lighthouse, and then everyone rode over the causeway (pictured here) together before meeting at Louie's Backyard for food and a party. Then we moved to the beach for some swimming and sun. See the rest of my pictures here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I like this picture I took of the resaca in the back yard during dinner as night fell.

We started doing roommate dinners a few weeks ago and it has been marvelous. Each of us cooks one night a week. It means we cook less, cook better, eat more variety, eat healthier, and actually spend time at the table talking. In the last few weeks we've used the table (as opposed to the kitchen bar) more than we probably did all year and we're pumped about keeping it up for next year. Speaking of which, this is the first picture of my lovely roomies, Jana, Ali, and Corbin. Tonight I cooked and we had creamed spinach salmon, fresh brocoli, cantaloupe (with the Mexican acoutraments of lime and chile), sourdough bread, Pinot Grigio, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Yum!

The student taking pictures for me didn't quite catch the flames erupting from the whoosh bottle, but I love this picture because I look super-goofy (as if I never do any other moment of the day) and you can see how much my students enjoyed the demonstration.

This is a dance to "We Didn't Start the Fire" as I prep the whoosh bottle with isopropyl alcohol for our combustion reaction.

And the foam goes on.

The catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide.

And it keeps absorbing!

A whole cup of "pee" held above my head doesn't even drip!

Here Abel and Tonio held my diaper while we found out how much "pee" it can hold.

We started classifying chemical reactions today. It was a bit of a chemistry magic show and my students really enjoyed it, as I did everything to music and they saw some things they didn't expect. This is a picture of three-cup monty with water that ends up "disappearing" when it gets absorbed by sodium polyacrylate (they polymer found in ultra-absorbent diapers).

Monday, May 09, 2005

I went to Austin for 5 days to watch the state UIL One-Act Play competition to see what the top plays in the state are like (they were absolutely incredible). During our visit, we went to the Texas State History Museum. Here I am pictured with John and Bernie, the other two directors of our one-act play this year, under the giant Lone Star in front of the museum.

Here's a picture of my 6th period class testing their shoes that they designed for walking on eggs. This group broke 8 out of 90 eggs. The record was one broken egg; nobody quite made it across without any cracks.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Century Ride

I rode my first century ride (100 miles) this weekend, but it actually ended up being 113 because the course was not properly measured. I rode from downtown Brownsville to Roma, TX (the entire length of the Rio Grande Valley, that is). There were three other TFA corps members who completed the ride, two of whom were on mountain bikes (Nicole, Sandy, and Jenny: you all are studs). Another Greg did the first 62 miles with us and Lori did the last 51, from Mission to Roma. It was a long day in the saddle, but it was a leisurely pace for me, so it was a fun day. Once we got to Roma, Jenny's roommate, Christina, cooked us all a fabulous dinner before we headed back to Mission to crash for the night.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Monday, April 04, 2005

One-Act Play and NSTA Convention

Last week, I only taught one day of school. Monday we were off for Easter, so I taught on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, we had UIL one-act play competition and then I left for Dallas with my co-teacher Jill for the National Science Teachers Association Convention.

The one-act play has consumed a big chunk of my time for the last several weeks. I've been co-directing the show "Voice of the Prairie" for competition. We advanced from the Zone meet with our show and then competed in the district meet from which we will not advance. Our actors did a fabulous job during the district competition, though, and our lead received the best actor award. Working with the play was exhausting, but also a lot of fun. It was definitely different to be on that side of theatre. In May, I'm going to Austin to watch the state competition so we can see what kind of shows make it to that level.

The NSTA convention was definitely the best professional development that I've ever been to. There were something like 10,000 teachers there and a bajillion sessions going on at any given time. Sure, there were some bad sessions, but it was nice to be able to get up, leave, and go to something more worthwhile. I got several knew ideas for projects, methods of instruction, etc. I also got a ton of free junk from the exhibit hall (absolutely huge!) to give away to students as part of the Opportunity Tickets incentive system. Unfortunately, I did not win the Toyota Prius :(

Jill and I ran into Brent Maddin and James Saunders from the IDEA Academy on the first day, so we spent a lot of time hanging out with them after regular conference hours. Jill's attendance at the conference was paid for by a grant from Exxon/Mobil, so I bummed along to her reception on Saturday night where I ate lots of good food. While Jill was off having her picture taken, I started talking to a guy named Howard, who is a young educational consultant from South Carolina. He ended up inviting Jill and I to use two of his 3 free tickets to the FCDallas MLS soccer game, which we happily accepted. His free tickets were from the star forward, Eddie Johnson, who is a friend of his. After the game, we got to go down on the field and meet Eddie and we even got invited to go out with them that night, but we declined since we had already committed to stop by and see one of Jill's friends.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Lori on the Rio.

Lori and I rode our bikes from her house to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge today (15 miles) and went on the 4-mile canoe trip on the Rio Grande, after which we rode our bikes back to Weslaco. The highlights in terms of birds were the Ringed Kingfisher and the Green Kingfisher, both of which are Rio Grande Valley specialities in the US.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Excellent Schools Visit and Opportunity Tickets

Yesterday, I visited the IDEA Academy in Donna, TX on one of Teach For America's excellent schools visits. I finally got to see Brent Maddin in action, who is one of the legendary Teach For America alumni in terms of teaching science and from whom all of us have stolen tons of resources. I have always heard really great things about the IDEA Academy (a charter school started by TFA alumni that is incredibly well performing), but it was a whole 'nother thing--wow, that phrase is really awkward when written down--to actually see it in action. Because the school is small and because everything is done the same way throughout the school, the differences between that school and mine are incredibly obvious. Their classes are 1.5 hours long, and I saw every student on task for 1.5 hours. Working in groups, they weren't talking about anything but the work, and everybody was really excited about learning; the culture there is simply incredible.

What was frustrating about my visit was that while it was an idyllic learning atmosphere, that didn't provide many concrete strategies for making my classroom more like it. I talked to Brent about how I can work on improving that culture within my classroom even without the school-wide systems. He told me that I should start giving out positive incentives in the form of opportunity tickets. Whenever somebody is on-task and doing what they're supposed to be doing, thank them out loud and hand them a ticket.

Brent promised me huge results in a week; I saw them in a day. I started handing them out to people who were working at the beginning of class. Within seconds, almost everyone started working immediately and they didn't even know what the tickets were for yet, but they figured that they must have been good! They then got really excited and stayed on task once they found out what the tickets were for. When I give them a ticket, they write their name in it and drop it in the class jar. Then periodically, I'll raffle things off: a few bonus points, a bathroom pass (they were really excited about that one) , a homework pass, etc. When I need to punish people in my 4th period class, I hold them a few minutes into lunch, so today I drew for somebody to leave a minute early and he was thrilled! So far, they're totally invested in the system; hopefully it will stay that way.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Mr. Scott

Lori just sent me the first picture that I have of my in my classroom. Somehow, Mercedes ISD thinks that Valentine's Day is a holiday (although you might make it a holiday too if you saw how many flowers they had in our building; it was insane!), so she came and observed me teaching in my first period class. This is me getting ready for a day of teaching about bonding. You wouldn't know the lesson was about bonding unless I told you, because I haven't written the objective on the board yet!

Jalapeno 100

A couple of weekends ago, I rode the 50-mile tour of the Jalapeno 100 in Harlingen. Here I am decked out in team gear with most of the group that rode together from the Brownsville River Rockets.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Start

My whole life, my father has told me to keep a journal. I know that he's right (aren't they always?), but that nugget of knowledge hasn't been enough to keep me dedicated to it. I've tried a few times, but one of the biggest thing that holds me back is that I'm always trying to catch up on things that I should have written down in the past, rather than just jotting down what's going on now. So my new resolution to keeping a (b)log of the events in my life is to not even bother if I don't get around to it right away. Then, if the mood strikes me, maybe I'll write something down from the past. Otherwise, I'll just ramble (as I am now) about the most recent events.

Mom was here this weekend and we checked out a bit of the Charro Days events, namely the Sombrero Festival. After I dropped her at the airport today, I went for a run at South Padre Island. After going out one direction for about 3 miles, my IT band started killing me, so it wasn't exactly the most fun return trip. This, of course, happening just as I am resolving to get back to running nearly as regularly as I did during the glory days of college.

First Post - Sushi

This is Jill, Chris, and me making sushi and having fondue on February 6. Chris brought the makings for the sushi and the headband is a gift that Jackie sent me from Japan (I have no idea what it says or if it's on upside down).