Ballin’ for JB

How have I not rated this yet?!?  I have no idea, but I’m excited to kick off the return of Rate Your World with one of the best events from the past few months.  I’ve updated very little since Javaris’s death, and I hope this follow up is proof of the impact he had on the community, as well as what his memory has done for the strength of the Pride.  Not only the Pride of 2012, but the entire school, 5-12.

Our Women’s Empowerment club on campus (which I am privileged to advise) made the decision shortly after Javaris’s death to host a Student vs. Teacher basketball game fundraiser in his memory.  I was immediately on board as I love anything that involves competition, beating students, and any excuse to talk trash to my kids.  In a loving way, of course.  The idea was to raise enough money to help cover costs of the funeral, as well as the sign that will soon be hung on the gym dedicating it in his name.  Boy did they ever do a great job.

The result= over $1,000 raised, an amazing evening of basketball, and an opportunity for everyone to remember Javaris and his love of the sport.

While I got to play (as is about to be shown), I also got to play with my new camera and editing equipment… hopefully this video will show you the many reasons I rate this event a 10.


Northwest Halifax High School Track Team


A friend of mine from Teach For America was placed at Northwest Halifax High School the same year I entered the corps (2006), and has since done AMAZING things for their track program.  In 2007 (his first year at the school) their girl’s 4x100m relay team took 4th in the STATE, and they’ve returned to the State meet every year since.  Those who have taught, or been involved in sports growing up, know the positive impact this can have on students, both in their investment in school, as well as future opportunities in college and beyond.

Mike has done so much for these students, and now is close to earning $50,000 through Pepsi Refresh to resurface their school track.  What a great way to continue the track success at the school, as well as reward these students for all their hard work.  Here’s what you can do:

Check ’em out…

Thanks for all your support guys 🙂

North Carolina Adventures


You all know how much I love my Sunday morning climbs, usually at the Chapel Hill Community Center.  I must admit, however, that not much can beat a Sunday morning climb at Pilot Mountain when it’s 78 degrees and not a cloud in the sky….


A bit deceiving, as you can’t actually see it in this photo, however because of its awesomeness we were able to fit 5 people, a dog, a crash pad (see below), and five peoples’ worth of climbing gear (including four ropes and two full racks) into my somewhat tiny Subaru sportwagon.

You could probably fit about two people in the roof-top carrier alone…

-1 for our inability to keep all the straps tied down, frequently causing crazy sounds coming from the roof…

-1 for the gas mileage that results from that many people/that much gear into my tiny car with previously great gas mileage…


Gotta admit, I’m a big fan.  Some of his best shots… (in my opinion)


It only takes one my friends…

I’ll save the last point for when I win an award given by someone outside the framily…

Until then, just living for the tens 🙂

This Blog Post…

I don’t cite other blogs very often on this blog (for fear that those of you follow only this one will realize there’s a bigger and better world of bloggers out there), but this time I just couldn’t resist.

This blogger was in one of my Discover DC groups (I want to say the first year, but let’s be honest, I’m getting old and I can’t really remember), and later transferred to Ohio State (I take no credit for that switch- I did everything I could to help him ‘Discover DC’).  Now he’s a first year Teach For America teacher in New Orleans, and blogging about his experiences there.

First of all, the blog name is the BEST ever.  My ‘Big Goal’ (or BG if you will) during my TFA summer institute was to learn to speak fluently the language of acronyms, something Teach For America is VERY fond of.  I got my CMA group involved, and by the end of the summer our agendas were only acronyms, and I could read several lines of only capitol letters with very few errors.  I’ve since lost the touch, but still enjoy trying 🙂  Hence why I enjoy the blog title ‘Relentless Pursuit of Acronyms’ as much as I do.

Okay, enough about how good the blog is, as I’m actually rating one particular post that I just discovered tonight.  It’s getting a huge 10 and a ‘must read’, so I’m reposting here (hope you don’t mind Matt :))

Make sure to check out the original post here and leave nice comments 🙂

I Believe Dat

As I’m sure you all know, the long suffering New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 on Sunday to win the Super Bowl. Much ink has been spilled describing what this means to the city and for professional football. Many sportswriters much better than I have already covered that story, so I won’t waste your time with it. Instead, I’d like to offer up how the Black and Gold’s march to the Super Bowl has impacted me and my classroom.

Growing up near central Ohio, I had the misfortune of being a Bengals fan. From 1993 (when I was 6) to 2004, the Bengals failed to finish better than 8-8. I blew my meager allowance on a Peter Warrick jersey and Carl Pickens football cards. I lived too far away from Cincinnati to actually go to a game, but I dutifully watched as many as I could from TV. Times were tough now, but I knew eventually the Who Dey nation would have their day.

That day never really came though. In 2005, my senior year in high school, the Bengals finally broke through, winning the AFC North and booking a trip to the playoffs. On the 2nd play from scrimmage, star QB Carson Palmer took a shot to the knee, and never recovered. The team fell into a spiral of defeats, and more embarrassingly, increasingly serious criminal charges. By 2007, after more Bengals were appearing in the police blotter than the box scores, I decided I had enough. The Bengals jersey was folded up and placed in a dark corner of my apartment closet. I declared myself an NFL vagabond, searching for a new team.

I moved around the country a little bit, trying out the local team, but the Redskins and the Raiders didn’t really feel right. I didn’t have the right emotional attachment to the team. I took a few seasons off from serious NFL devotion, and decided if I couldn’t latch on to the team in my next city, me and pro football might be done. As luck would have it, TFA placed me in New Orleans, so I decided to pick up the Saints.

We love football in Ohio. High School’s of only a few hundred students often draw several thousand for Friday night games, and Ohio State packs in over 100,000 every home game. I’ve never really witness such passion for a pro team though. What New Orleans’ has for the Saints dwarfs whatever is going on in Buffalo, Cleveland, San Fransisco…everywhere except perhaps for Green Bay. it is impossible to not be swept up in it. By week 5, once a serious buzz was starting to gather around the team, I couldn’t help but let myself get swept up in Saints fever.

Me and my students have had a hard time getting on the same page. We don’t seem to have very much in common…in interests, life experiences, background, or even values. When I came here, I couldn’t tell a crayfish from a crocodile, and they couldn’t find Ohio on a map (some stubbornly still insist I’m from Hawaii). We had very different ideas about what we wanted to get out of school. We shared few common interests (I wanted to teach multiplication, they wanted to ask about my girlfriend. I wanted to teach them how to pass the LEAP, they wanted to show me the correct way to Moonwalk, etc). About the only common ground we were able to establish was a love of football, and by extension, the Saints.

We used the Saints in class as much as possible. There is a huge poster of Drew Brees in our makeshift gym. BLESS YOU BOYS, and headlines from every Saints victory adorn our cafeteria trailer. My students sometimes write WHO DAT instead of their name on assignments, and lately, have insisted that I call them by certain player’s names instead of their own (Reggie Bush sits next to Darren Sharper, who sits next to Pierre Thomas, who sits next to Nancy. She didn’t want to participate in the name changing). Like many other teachers in the 504, I tried to incorporate the Saints into as many lessons as possible. I think that is the only way my kids learned about averages.

I didn’t put in the 43 years of suffering that the locals did…but I hope the church of the Saints takes converts, because I burst into euphoria like everybody else after Porter returned that interception.

There have been some wonderful, exciting experiences since I moved to New Orleans…but if I am being totally honest, most of it has awfully rough. I was unemployed for a month and a half, my classroom has mostly been a mess, my car has flooded, and I’ve been terribly lonely. There has only been one thing that has consistently been good since I moved here…The Saints. I knew that no matter how bad I was professionally beat down during the week, and no matter how sad I got on the weekends, I could count on Sunday afternoon to pick me back up. I know thousands of people in New Orleans felt the same way.

Thank heavens for the the Saints, for giving me something to hang on to and believe in, when everything else seemed to fall apart. That season is why I follow sports, and I hope that everybody who passionately follows one can enjoy a season like it. Everybody should get a chance to sprint outside like I did Sunday, embracing random strangers on Magazine Street and screaming WHO DAT at the top of my lungs. Everybody should get to see a victory parade.When the winds blew and the rains fell, Believing In Dat helped keep me and my students going.

Believe Dat. Its whats its all about.

Adventures on Franklin St.

Last night after watching some brilliant Olympic events, Scott, Laura and I headed down to Kildare’s Irish Pub on Franklin Street to see Tripp, one of my favorite local bands.  Per usual, some interesting ratings came along with it…


I’m a little bit confused why you would hire a live band, and then continue blasting music on your speakers… +1 because the band played loud enough that once they started you couldn’t hear the other music.


This meant I got to watch Apolo’s finals race for his first medal this Olympics (which proved my point about the precariousness of speed skating once the 2nd and 3rd Korean skaters crashed meters before the finish, giving Apolo the silver)!  However, it also meant that half the people at the bar were facing TVs rather than socializing or paying attention to the band… not sure how I felt about that once Apolo was done.


When we first discovered Tripp last winter, one of our favorite parts was the awesome guitar player with the dreads.  Sadly, he has left the band and I no longer get to enjoy his impressive showmanship.  However, last night when Tripp took a break from playing, the guitar player and his new band, Swaso, played.  LOVED IT.

Everything from Prince to Taylor Swift, it was a pretty impressive range of covers.

The crowd was super into it, and at one point he ended up on top of a bar table playing his guitar with his teeth.  And it still managed to sound good.  No idea how that happens, but they definitely rocked.

If you’re interested in checking them out, they’re playing next Friday at the Cat’s Cradle.  If my parents weren’t in town I’d definitely be there, so it comes with a high recommendation from me.

SWASO’S OTHER GUITAR PLAYER (or was it a bass?  I can never tell…): 3

I’m sure he was good as I definitely didn’t hear any bad sounds, but not nearly as entertaining as Hugh and played the whole time with a weird ‘I’m so sexy’ smirk on his face.  Not sure what that was about, but wasn’t digging it… Tried to capture it on film, but without flash it only showed up as a blur.  You’re gonna have to trust me on this one, or check it out yourself on Friday.


At one point during the night we noticed a huge space opening up in front of us (rare considering how crowded it was) and discovered there was a fight about to happen right in front of us.  In fact, it was already happening but hadn’t yet elevated from screaming to hitting (I was prepared to intervene and use my impressive self-defense skills to kick some butt).

I felt bad for them, as it seemed a bit awkward, but at the same time we were HIGHLY entertained by it.  Clearly too drunk to care who was around and listening.  All in all it provided for some good laughs, and no was hurt while we were there 🙂

Her yelling…

And then storming away…

Not for long… now back to do some more yelling.  Eventually he gave up and stormed off and she was left awkwardly alone.  I think she was kinda asking for it.

I suppose that’s enough creepy eavesdropping for one evening.  Until next time, just living for the tens (and obsessively watching Apolo work his way towards a world record!) 🙂

Hello Vancouver!

The Olympics are one of my favorite events ever.  Second only to the televised version of the Ironman (I’m such a sucker for all the underdogs), I do love that it provides two weeks of competition, backstories where we learn more about all our favorite athletes(my favorite part) and emotional victories (my second favorite part).  I love it so much I’m legitimately concerned how I will get any work done in the next two weeks.

While I did miss some of the Opening Ceremonies last night (let’s be honest, I pretty much missed all of it) in order to spend some quality time with good people, I’m raring to go today 🙂


Absolutely my favorite event of the winter Olympics.  This began in 2002 when Apolo Anton Ohno entered the scene and I fell in love.  Not only was he a great US speed skater to cheer for (now that the days of Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair are gone), but he also happens to be incredibly attractive, a huge factor when you’re 18.

On top of Apolo, there’s also the excitement and grace that comes with short track speed skating.  When people take over the lead it’s always a graceful little nudge into the pack, and can happen at any time.  The races are totally unpredictable, even if you have favorites.  This also has the potential to make it heartbreaking (see Apolo circa 2002).

The races don’t last too long, so you’re completely engaged the entire time.  Plus, you get to watch your favorite skater multiple times per event due to the different heats.  Again, an advantage when your favorite skater is that attractive.

-1: the unpredictability makes me really nervous…

-1: the danger factor.  Some of those falls look pretty dangerous.

Needless to say, I’m preparing for Apolo’s first race that will happen in a matter of minutes…


Everything I could have hoped for 🙂  Hung back (literally, last) for almost the entire race.  With four laps to go he pulled to the front around the OUTSIDE.  That’s right, while most skaters make their move on the inside (clearly the easiest and quickest way), Apolo is so good, and so fast, that he pulled around everyone and zoomed to the front.  He then had the time to turn around and check where everyone else was TWICE before completely killing them. Will update with a YouTube video as soon as it’s posted (which I’m sure it will be within 24 hours).

I love it.  SO excited for more!!!  (And according to NBC’s convenient Apolo countdown icon in the corner of the screen, I only have 17 minutes to wait :))


How unlikely that Canada would have significantly less snow than DC and Pennsylvania, and would suffer from 50 degree days the month of the winter Olympics.  They then had to ship in snow and actually cancel events.  What if it doesn’t get any warmer?  I’m curious what their alternatives are for downhill skiing if the snow continues to melt…


I have to be honest, I’m actually pretty pissed about this one.  So much so, that if I could give negative numbers, this one would definitely dip below 0.

For those who haven’t heard, during practice runs a Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, crashed and died.  What a horrible and tragic way to start the Olympics.  But what makes this even worse are the warnings they received prior to athlete’s arrival about the safety of the track.  It reminds me a bit of the Titanic, where they had the information to prevent the tragedy, but chose not to.  Interesting how they quickly made adjustments to the track after the death, in my mind admitting guilt and finally taking action.

Sorry to end on a sad note, but that kind of stupidity needed a rating.

Off to support my favorite speed skater!!!


On the way home from the airport we stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up some last minute Superbowl snack foods before everyone came over.  That’s when I saw this…


What a good idea! Recently I’ve noticed in stores everywhere that it’s near impossible to find someone to help you out.  I’ve found myself actually googling on my phone ‘where do I find wheat germ?’ rather than try and find someone to help me out.  It’s just not worth it.

That’s why this is so brilliant.  Even though I only saw one of them wandering around, you knew exactly where she was, and it seemed she was eager to help.  Unlike recent experiences I’ve had at the grocery store… ‘Muesli?  Don’t know what that is.  Good luck.’  Really?  That’s it?  Good luck?  Oh boy.

From there we decided to grab lunch on the way home.


Had never heard of this place before, but the idea of a soup/salad buffet sounded brilliant.  Lots and LOTS of salad toppings, about 8 soup choices (including shrimp bisque and an incredible cauliflower soup!), several pasta dishes, AND dessert for only $8.95.  Not bad!

-1: No hummus for the salad.

-1: My inability to control portions, inevitably overflowing my plate and spilling all over the table.

-1: That horribly full feeling I left with.


Didn’t really need it (-1), but when I saw they had rainbow sprinkles I had to get something to put them on (it turns out eating sprinkles with a spoon leads to a rather weird film all over the inside of your mouth).  Added a couple scoops of oreo and was good to go!

Despite the face, Scott wasn’t as big a fan of the ice cream as I was.  That just meant I got to eat the sprinkles off his 🙂

Finally it was time for the big game 🙂

The party was at Scott’s in Wake Forest, and about 15-20 people came out which was awesome.  And really good people which made it even more awesome 🙂

Homemade pizzas, LOTs of snack foods, and a pretty good game.


It’s official, my guac has now won an award 🙂  What was Bill thinking challenging me?  Jay’s lucky he bowed out at the last minute.

I give Claud credit for the pretty decorating 🙂


I guess the quarterback was good and all, but seriously, I think the game should have gone to the kicker.  3 over 40 yards, and then several touchdown kicks (yes, I know my lingo is spot on), I’m convinced they wouldn’t have won without him.  He kept ’em in the first half.  Way too cliche to just give it to the quarterback.  WAY too cliche.

All in all a pretty fabulous night 🙂