Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

This new year will hold a LOT of changes for us, but we're looking forward to facing them together. Surely God has a plan for us.

Perhaps our motto for 2007 could express wisdom similar to an Egyptian brand of beer once said, "What does not kill us, makes us stronger." Plenty of turmoil this year, which makes us look forward to a happy (an perhaps less eventful) 2008.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sam's Surprise Farewell Party


Sam I Am
Originally uploaded by Ben+Sam
Friday night Sam thought she was going over to scrapbook with Jamie. However, Jamie had planned a super-secret surprise going-away party for Sam.

Jamie created a list of 20 things to photograph (see the list here) that the group all walked around downtown to find. It was a good time and a nice way to send Sam on her way.




Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Big Announcement

It may be a moot point, since this blog enjoys a readership of approximately 5 people, all of which have probably heard this news already. Oh well...it's such a major lifechanging event that there's no way I could leave it out of the blog.

A couple of months ago Sam interviewed with Pfizer in Groton, CT (where her parents moved) for a position in the Clinical Pathology Lab. She (of course) was offered the position, and has accepted it as well.

While this means major upheavals and doing a few things we don't really enjoy doing (1. Moving away from family, 2. Leaving Ben's Whitmore Lake teaching job, 3. Moving (it sucks)), the opportunity was something that she simply couldn't turn down. She has described this position as her "dream job," and I don't like to be one to stand in the way of anyone's dreams, especially my wife's.

Sam starts her new position on January 7, and we're driving out to Connecticut on the 3rd. We decided that I'll finish my school year before moving out, so in the meantime we have about 6 months living 736 miles apart. We're both a little worried about that piece- but as Ice Cube says, "Life's not a track meet, it's a marathon." 6 months isn't all that long, right?

I'm excited to live outside of Michigan (I'm the only family member to never have live out-of-state), but wish I could take our friends, family, and my job with me.

This blog may become more prominent as we move further away from those that read it, I guess I'll have to work on updating more frequently!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007 Pictures

So, I've been playing around with Flickr (if you couldn't tell), and here are my pictures from Christmas this year. Enjoy!




Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

New Flickr Account!

OK...so it's not really new, but I've started putting all our photos on it recently. Originally I created an account to use with my high school classes, but my idea for using it didn't pan out.


I added a little widget on the right that starts with the pictures I've uploaded most recently (too bad it doesn't go in chronological order). 

To view all the photos I've uploaded, click here!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chloe Stepping

Meika already did a bit of a post on Chloe taking some of her shaky first steps. But I have a little more proof for everyone to see.


video

video

She'll be cruising by Christmas if you're not careful...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Summing Up: Camping!

The third weekend in September Sam & I decided we needed a retreat. We headed up to Port Crescent State Park for a weekend getaway. We arrived late on Friday, set up camp, and went right to bed. It was a nice calm night when we went to bed. By the time we woke up, it was a clear but blustery day. Check out the whitecaps!











It was a little chilly, but overall a pleasant day. We cooked up some dee-licious food (thanks to Backpacker magazine recipes), headed into Port Austin, and just hung out enjoying the beautiful surroundings and each other's company.


We decided we really need to get away from it all a little more often... 


















Sam crossing the terminus of a mighty river













Hangin' by the campfire


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Worst Video Post Ever

Here's an attempt to make up for not posting for a couple days during the "Post Every Day in November" campaign. I apologize for the quality. And by quality I'm not referring to anything technical, but rather the performance. Remember, I really am smarter than I appear. I promise. :-)
video

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Absurdities at Meijer

Maybe I'm in a weird mood today. Perhaps I'm a little slap happy. Maybe I was inspired by a email Sam sent me about 1977 apparel. Anyway, a quick trip into Meijer for a can of spray paint turned into a foray into the world of the absurd:

When you want to teach your children how to act spoiled & rich (Biblically, of course), here's the perfect solution. It has many improvements over a normal Bible. It's pinker. It's sparklier. It's no longer authored by some all-powerful, all-knowing entity. Now it's authored by the much more down-to-earth Sheila Walsh. After all, what could the King of Creation teach you about being a princess?















Next up: Bible Action figures! Yes! You too can play as Daniel in the lions' den! You too can make the ferocious lions do nothing while Daniel is around! I bet G.I. Joe wouldn't get out so lucky. If you look closely at the fine print on the box, it notes that if your child does act out Daniel being eaten by the lions, they in effect are teaching a heresy and could potentially be excommunicated. Daniel isn't the only model available. You could also own your own Esther, three wise men, David, Goliath, Noah, Mary & Joseph (with free baby Jesus in the manger), and Angel with Shepherd (comes with 2 sheep. Alas, no chorus).













Let's say you work for the U.S. Postal Service. You have a disgruntled co-worker whose name you've just drawn for the office Secret Santa. What to get them? The perfect solution: "Boss Hunter!" For just $4.99, you too can promote homicidal actions toward your office superiors! As the game notes: "Revenge is Sweet!"










Fourth: When you're wandering the aisle of Meijer, often you suddenly get cravings you might not've thought you would have otherwide. Meijer, however, is always prepared! Let's say you suddenly get a craving for a large log of preserved meat of questionable quality. Perfect! They just happen to have a huge pallet of Summer Sausage! Never mind that it isn't summer anymore; never mind that there's no guarantee of what's inside it, it's salty, it's preserved, it's sold in 2 pound logs by the pallet-full! Yum!










Finally: the perfect stocking stuffer for the troubled marriage. Headphones you can connect wirelessly to your television & stereo. "LISTEN...without distrubance!" As you can clearly see from the picture on the box, when the wifey is getting a little too bossy, just turn on the TV, turn on your wireless headphones, and make her sit there and watch the TV without any sound! You can't hear her talk, and she can't hear the TV! It's the perfect solution to a marriage suffering from too much communication!
















Seriously though, Meika and I surely must be on similar wavelengths today. I had decided to post on my trip to Meijer today before leaving the store. Just before sitting down to start this post, I just happened to check her blog. Turns out we're topically similar today. Also, if any legal representatives for Meijer happen upon this blog: I really like Meijer. Yay, Meijer!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Perhaps this is cheating...

...but I rationalize it because, if you look closely, you'll notice I didn't actually post on Nov. 1, so I'm already out of the running for all the cash & prizes!


This one's for Sam. She was so proud of her Cubbies (before they got swept of course). But who remembers that anyway? :-)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Summing Up: Tigers vs. White Sox (9/5/07)

The first week of September saw the beginning of the school year, a visit from Mark, and a Tigers game. Mark checked out our new digs and the three of us went to a Tigers/White Sox game on Wednesday night.

The game was a good one. Kenny Rogers started (not the musical, chicken-selling Kenny), and the game was close. In the end it went into extra innings with Timo Perez of the Tigers hitting a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th. We were about to leave in the 10th, but decided to stick it out at least through the end of 11. Luckily, we didn't miss any of the excitement, though we did get home pretty late, since the final out wasn't recorded until 10:49 pm then we had about an hour's drive to get home.

Kenny Rogers on the mound.


















The final box-score.














It turned out to be a beautiful night for baseball (besides the group of real estate agents leaning over Mark), and our last game at Comerica Park for the 2007 season. Boo.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Summing Up: The School Year

Since my last major string of posting, several major things has happened. Probably the most notable has been I am now teaching every day. Yes, school has come back into session within the last 67 days! Interestingly enough, in the past 67 days there have only been 43 actual days of school.

This school year is notable in the fact that it's the first year I'm not teaching any classes I've never taught in the past. Even more notably, I'm not teaching any classes I haven't taught for at least 4 years before this year. In theory this should make this school year a breeze. However, I always seem to have the desire to completely change things. This year my big push is including authentic assessments & using artifacts (something the student creates) to demonstrate mastery instead of simply written tests. While these can actually make the school days easier (since students spend some time in class working on their artifacts), they require a decent amount of planning beforehand, therefore increasing my school night workload.

Maybe when I'm 60 I'll settle down and go with what I've done in the past... :-) As it is now, I enjoy creating the new artifacts & attempting to teach using newer technologies (they don't always work as planned). If the goal is to create lifelong learners, I feel it's necessary to get students used to using newer technologies, so they're more comfortable trying them out even when they're 65+ years old. As of 2005, just 27.7% of people 65+ years old had computers with internet connections. Think of how really useful the internet could be for populations that aren't as mobile. The internet can provide all sorts of services and shopping that would otherwise take days of driving around, yet only just over a quarter Americans over 65 have daily access to these services.

Coincidentally, the 43 day old school year is currently just 27.7% of the way through, and looking pretty good.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Summing Up: Connecticut for Labor Day

Sam and I went out to Connecticut to visit her parents over Labor Day. They just moved out east from the Ann Arbor area as a result of Pfizer closing up shop here. We flew into Providence, RI, so I have now officially visited 30 out of 50 states (plus D.C.!).

The summed up itinerary:

1. We visited Yale




















2. We looked for towns that inspired Star's Hollow (the town from Gilmore Girls)

3. We ate out at several local-flavor places














































4. We went to Block Island, R.I. (think Mackinaw Island, but with scooters instead of bikes)





























5. We toured some historical sites (click the plaque to read about spreading "desolation & woe.").

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Hello. Perhaps you don't remember me. I'm Ben, and I'm the owner of this blog.

It seems that I've been neglecting this blog. It's malnourished and badly in need of more posting. Though it may be on the brink of starvation, I believe I can bring it back with a healthy dose of posting over the next several months. To begin, I'm going to attempt the NaBloPoMo challenge mentioned by Meika. I'm not sure how well it'll all work out, considering I haven't posted on this particular blog since August 27, 2007 (at least it was still this year).

Not posting for 67 consecutive days (almost a Gherig-ian feat!) comes with definite pros and cons:

Pros:

  • There are a lot of things that've happened in the last 67 days I can post on.
  • Readers may have low expectations (therefore failure will be easier to handle?)
  • No worries about losing the "flow" of the postings (as in switching topics or themes).

Cons:
  • I haven't posted for 67 days. I don't have a pattern of behavior to fall back on.
  • The reason(s) behind the 67 day lay-off (school, classes, busy schedule, laziness, tiredness, lack of voice, etc.)
  • Thanksgiving (we'll be at the Weiss', so I guess I can just appropriate their computer)

Fun stats:
  • 67 days is equivalent to:
    • 18.34% of a full year
    • 1608 hours
    • 5,788,800 seconds
  • 5,788,880 tons is close to the total output of carbon dioxide for the country of Kyrgyzstan in a year.
    • In comparison, the yearly U.S carbon dioxide output is 6,049,435,000 tons.
  • If I hadn't posted for 6,049,435,000 seconds:
    • It'd be the year 2199
    • I'd be celebrating my 220th birthday (for reference, the U.S. Constitution was signed 220 years ago).
In conclusion, I think we can be thankful I've followed the example of Kyrgyzstan instead of the good ole U.S. of A. :-)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to School & Labor Day Preview

Wednesday of this week was the first day teachers had to report at Whitmore Lake High School for the 2007-2008 school year. It'll be my 6th year teaching already. I pretty much feel ready for school, though I haven't worked out a lot of specific plans as of yet. It all comes together in the end.

Sam and I are also flying out on Friday to visit her parents in their new Connecticutian home. I'm not sure how to manipulate Connecticut into an adjective or pronoun as of yet. Are her parents now Connecticutians? Connecticuts? Connoosiers? Somebody needs to look that up.

So far our plans for our weekend out east include a trip to Block Island in Rhode Island (which will be the 30th state I've visited), checking out some restaurants her parents have tried or heard were good, visiting Yale, and seeking out Washington Depot; the town that looks eerily similar to Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls.

We'll miss the rest of the Wildeboer family at West Lake. :(

**Upon Further Research**
It turns out, the official name for a person from Connecticut is Connecticuter. However, many other terms exist, such as "Connecticotian" (used by Cotton Mather), "Connecticutensian" (used by Samual Peters), and "Nutmegger" (I have no clue). Personally, I think "Conn Person" has a nice ring.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Whitmore Lake Softball Champions!

Sam and I have been playing softball on Tuesday nights through Whitmore Lake Community Recreation on a team composed primarily of teachers and their spouses. This past Tuesday was our last game. We already had the league title wrapped up, but this game played like a winner-take-all contest.
We were down bad (7-1) before bringing it back to within two, when our opponents bombed a grand-slam home run on us. At that point most of us figured we'd have a difficult time coming back again. However in the bottom of the final inning, we managed to score several runs to pull of the come-from-behind walk-off win.

We got t-shirts and a trophy for being the league champs.
The team posing with the trophy.
A closeup of the trophy while we celebrated at the Bobber Down Grill, who also sponsored our team.

Monday, August 20, 2007

HomeComing for the Weiss'

Meika and Mike returned to the United States on the 11th (bringing Chloe to the U.S. for the first time), but Sam & I missed them due to our trip to Texas. On Wednesday I headed up to Bay City to meet them at my parents' house. Unfortunately Sam couldn't make it because of work. :(

Heeerrrrreee's Chloe!

I was trying to get her making gagging faces as Meika was spooning her some spinachy baby food. I didn't quite catch it...

Those aren't bogies, they're just remnants of the previously mentioned baby food.

Dad thought the occasion called for Oyster Shooters off of his "Oyster of the Month" calendar he received for Christmas.

We were all a little unsure of the drink...mainly seasoned tomato juice, vodka, and an oyster. Cheers!

Bottoms up!

Here the three of us are trying to decide if we liked it or not. I decided one was plenty, but despite their faces, Dad and Mike went for another one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (our 8th stadium)

Mindi & Greg have season tickets for the Texas Rangers, so on Saturday night we headed out to Arlington for a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was recently renamed (on March 17 of this year), and was previously known as Ameriquest Field.
The outside of the ballpark as we walked up.

Before the game they inducted Rusty Greer into the Rangers Hall of Fame, so they decorated accordingly.
The hand-changed scoreboard in left field.
Sam's favorite baseball player: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Note how is name barely fits on the back of his jersey...

Sam doing her best Nolan Ryan impersonation. The statue was in the outfield concourse.
Besides a statue of Nolan Ryan, there was also a kids park with different games for kids to play.
Mindi & Greg's tickets are in the front row of the middle deck, which was pretty nice. Here we are with our feet up watching the game.

Sam & Mindi having a good time.
Here's the Rangers' mascot...a scary horse-man.

A view of the field over the visitor's bullpen.
In the end, the Rangers lost 3-0. Here's the final line from the scoreboard.
After the game was a fireworks show. It lasted quite a while and was pretty good.

Two to Texas

This past weekend (Aug. 10-12) Sam and I headed out to Texas to visit her best friend Mindi. Mindi and her husband Greg currently live in the Dallas area. They will probably be moving to Alabama fairly soon, so Sam wanted me to visit them in Texas and stop by and see Baylor while we were there.

We arrived on Friday and Mindi & Greg made dinner for us, and then Greg made some martinis for everybody. Sam was pretty excited to see Mindi, as you can see in this picture.

On Saturday, we headed down to Waco to visit Baylor, where Sam, Mindi, and Greg all went for undergrad. The Baylor mascot is the bear, and it turns out that Baylor actually has 2 real bears on campus in their Baylor Bear habitat. When we stopped by they were trying to evade the heat by laying in their dens, so we didn't get a very good view of them.

It had been awhile since Sam had visited Baylor, and in the meantime they built a huge new science center, which made Sam a little jealous that she missed out on that (she graduated with a degree in Biology).

They also built a new Forum for sororities- a place for them to meet and do their sorority stuff since Baylor doesn't have residential sororities. Sam was a Kappa Delta, whose letters you can see on the far right of the building's facade.

And here of course is the famous golden-topped building of Baylor. It's actually called the Pat Neff Hall, but it's famous.

We also stopped at a couple of Sam's favorite restaurants (Taco Cabana- a.k.a. Taco C.; and Jack in the Box- a.k.a. JiB) which aren't available in Michigan.

When we got back from Baylor, we went to the Saturday night service of Mindi & Greg's church- Fellowship Church. It's a very large church- if you'd like to see it for yourselves, I believe they broadcast their services on the USA network Sunday mornings at 7:00 am.