Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Quizling

Apparently I have a lot of these in conjunction with my work...

On Wednesday we had a big staff meeting to get everyone together and meet the new staff members and Americorps volunteers. As part of it we had a lot of ice breakers and other community building exercizes, including a quiz. The first page was all about CommonBond terminology, so I'll skip that one, but the next two pages were much more friendly to outsiders. Here we go!

Culture Quiz
We work with a lot of youth inour positions and it seems, at times, that they know a lot more than we do! How hip are you to these pop culture terms? Write your definition for each term in the space below.

1. Emo
2. Bromance
3. Crunk
4. Bling
5. BFF
6. Soul Patch
7. Dunzo
10. Bogart

City Trivia
CommonBond has family sites in a number of cities. Write the name of the city to its best description.

Choices include:
Golden Valley, MN     Little Falls, MN     Bloomington, MN     Milwaukee, WI     St Paul, MN
Edina, MN     Cedar Rapids, IA     Maplewood, MN     Sleepy Eye, MN     Northfield, MN
Minnetonka, MN     Plymouth, MN     Red Wing, MN     Maple Grove, MN     Minneapolis, MN

1. Several major corporations, including General Mills, base their operations in this city:
Golden Valley
2. The company that invented post it notes is headquartered here:

3. Former governor of Minnesota and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura and his family used to call this city their home:
Maple Grove

4. The rollerblade was created in this city:

5. America's best place to live in 2008 according to Money Magazine:

6. Charles Lindbergh's home town:
Little Falls

7. Named after a Sisseton-Sioux chief with a droopy eye lid:
Sleepy Eye

8. Home to one of two "dead letter" offices in the U.S.:
St Paul

9. The headquarters for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles is here:

10. John Denver wrote some of his greatest hits while living here:

11. Jim Ramstad, U.S. representative of this suburb, announced his retirement from Congress here:

12. Ashton Kutcher was born here:
Cedar Rapids

13. The small city was the origianl home of Hamline University:
Red Wing

14. This city is the site of the last bank robbery of the Jesse James Gang:

Answers are below the question- just highlight.

Friday, September 25, 2009


As I mentioned earlier I am currently involved in a GED training course sponsored by the Minnesota Literacy Council, and it has been one of the best and most interesting trainings that I've ever had. Every lesson has had a good blend of lecture and class involvement time and has had an air of Prussian efficiency, if such a thing exists anymore. No time is wasted, everything goes according to schedule, and the teacher is awesome.

One of my favorite activities that we did in class was the Trogs lesson. The point of it is to get the tutors to understand what it's like to read English poorly, and it does its job very effectively. Since it was so fun, I decided to copy it over onto the blog and have you all try it. If the pic is too small, just click on it for the fully blown up version. Have fun!

Until next time...

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
-unverified quote supposedly by Mark Twain

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Terrible Yellow Eyes

As you may have heard, they are making a movie version of what is probably my favorite childhood book: Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak. I am understandably pretty excited about this as
a) the trailers look good
b) It's where the wild things are
c) Max is the hero!

Going along with all this craze is It's a collection of tribute art about WtWTA and some of it is pretty amazing. The piece at the start of this article is from there, and so is this one:

It's a retelling of Where the Wild Things Are as The Magic Flute, which is pretty amazingly complex and well executed. More stuff like this and other awesome things are on the site. Go check it out!

Also, a trailer for the movie, in case you haven't seen it yet:

Until next time...

"...this curious & pathetic fact of life: that when parents are old & their children grown up, the grown-up children are not the persons they formerly were; that their former selves have wandered away, never to return again, save in dream-glimpses of their young forms that tarry a moment & gladden the eye, then vanish & break the heart."
- "Memorial to Olivia Susan Clemens"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happiness is....

... having your computer back!

After the whole debacle about getting me my free shipping, I was worried and halfway convinced that ASUS would not only take a lot of time, but also find reason to charge me for repairing the damages done to my laptop. Well, I got the laptop back today, only a week after sending it out, and I wasn't charged anything at all!

So ASUS: it still doesn't make sense to me why you can't just send an e-mail to my Gmail account, but I forgive you for the other stuff. You made my computer work again. Now if I can only get my touchpad working again...

Speaking of that, if anyone has an idea of how to fix it I would be most appreciative. And yes, I've already downloaded the latest drivers to no avail...

But yeah, I should be able to post pretty regularly now. Exciting!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

District 9: A Review

District 9 has been out for a while, but I figured that some of you might be interested in seeing it/simply dismiss it as "an alien movie." It is much more than that. In my previous post I believe that I used the term "Hotel Rwanda with aliens" and I meant it. This is the most realistic, gut wrenching movie involving aliens that I have ever seen as it takes the entire premise and turns it on its head.

The movie begins (and is interspersed) with documentary style interview with various people and their views on the events of the movie. We learn that 20 years ago a large alien space ship entered Earth's atmosphere and came to rest over, of all places, Johannesburg, South Africa. The South African government breaks into the ship after several weeks of waiting to discover that the craft is basically derelict and the occupants are barely clinging to life. In a humanitarian move the gov't brings the aliens to earth and sets them up in what becomes the eponymous slums known as District 9.

The aliens in this movie are an oppressed minority that are generally looked down upon by humanity. While possessed of great technology, they do not have the capacity to create more, and most seem to be devoid of any kind of motivation to use it. They are easily taken advantage of by Nigerian crime lords, the decidedly questionably moral company Multi-National United and any others that come across them. More importantly, because they are in fact not human humanity seems on the whole to not deem them worthy of humane consideration. There technology is also almost worthless to humans as only beings with alien DNA can use them, leaving the aliens (racial slur of choice: Prawn) with few to no bargaining chips on the table.

The movie is very graphic, realistic and at times depressing. The actions scenes fully take in how horrible the combat is, especially when the awesome might of alien technology is used against a human target. And even then, you realize that most of the movie is simply about survival: survival of the main character, survival of the aliens, survival of hope. The atrocities that humans inflict on the aliens is rather incredible in its brutality, vehemence and conviction, recalling and surpassing anything that happened in any human race conflict.

That isn't to say that everything is horrible in the movie- the seemless blending of computer generated imagery and real world footage is simply amazing and the absolute best job that I have seen of it in any film whatsoever. Everything feels real- the whine of ships' engines, the awkward gait of the aliens, the rust on everything, the lighting, firing and damage effects of the alien weapons, the omnipresent site of the alien mothership- all feels solid and truly there. And I guess that that is part of the reason that it is so horrible at times, as it feels that this could easily happen.

Because it was so realistic and because it has a pretty damn good story overall, I really liked District 9. I'm not sure if I would see it again, but seeing it once was an excellent experience. Just make sure that you know what kind of movie it is before going in.

But, words only do so much. Here are a few of Neil's previous works so that you can get a feel for what kind of movie it is.

Until next time...

"It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could 'a' laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course, it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest."
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back Again

Well, I originally intended to wait for my computer to be fixed before I started blogging again, but that seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time. So here I am, yet again.

The new term of Americorps service began two weeks ago, and so far the new corps looks to be shaping up rather well. A new thing that we're trying this year is being social outside of Corps activities, and so far it seems to be a success. There's talk of going to the Summit brewery in a few weeks for a free tour for some free beer which I am particularly quite excited about. The corps also seems much geekier this year, which makes my alpha geek status an asset rather than an albatross.

I've also started doing some training on teaching finally! Only a year late, but better late than never I guess... It's with the Minnesota Literacy Council and is targeted at teaching us to teach adults how to read, write, do math and prepare for the GED, but there is plenty of material about classroom management and whatnot that I believe will be very useful for my basic computer class as well.

But not everything has been work related. I've been hunting down grad schools, studying for the Physics GRE again, and doing plenty of hanging out. Of particular interest:

- I was involved in a theater production! Bedlam Theatre, one of the more liberal establishments out there held a variety show called Super-ROMP and apparently always has a segment called the Five Minute Movie. This year's selection: Wrath of Khan. I got to play the part of First Officer Chekov and the Starship Reliant and it was very fun (if exceedingly chaotic and crazy).

- Went to a wedding on Wednesday September 9th where there were exactly three people that I knew and none of them were related to the bride or groom. Apparently one of Rachel's old family friends was getting married and chose her to be the maid of honor. Speaking of which, I need to get a pic of her in her dress up here, because WOW... The couple and their friends were all total dorks which was awesome, and the wedding was held in a large park with a vey nice vista to serve as the backdrop. We also got to take one of the three wedding cakes home, which was incredibly awesome! General note: allowing the wedding guests to blow bubbles rather than throw rice is a very nice and smart alternative. Plus it makes for some great photos!

- Went to go see the Muppet Movie last night at the Uptown Theater. I had never seen it before and Rachel was super excited about seeing it on the big screen. Have to say that I loved it and all of the exceedingly random celebrity cameos that populate it, plus general insanity of the different muppets and the plot line.

-District 9:  a gut punch of a movie if there ever was one. Expect a full post on this awesome but emotionally draining movie. And yes, I did just use emotionally draining to describe an alien movie... think Hotel Rwanda but with aliens.

That's all for now... will attempt to do some regular postage of stuffs. Until next time...

"Let us adopt geologic time. Then -- time being money -- there will be no more poverty."
- Mark Twain's Notebook, p. 137