Friday, December 26, 2008

Xmas 2008

Ahhh, it is so nice to be a family man at Christmas. Watching the girls open their stuff...Amy waking up at 3:30 am when Madison got up...We started opening presents before 6 am. I don't know how Amy held her off that long.
My beautiful girls had a lovely Christmas.
(And I finally got The Prisoner DVD set--woo hoo!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day!

Well, Ice Day actually. The Midwest was hit by a bunch of freezing rain.

Starting Christmas Break a day early.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Lambeau Field

Tickets to Lambeau Field? In December? I'm a Bears fan! How could I?
Easily. I went to Lambeau Field because I love this game of football. What football fan could turn down a trip to Lambeau in December, probably the best place to watch a game in all of the NFL? Not this fan.
Temperature at kickoff was 16 degrees. There were 70,245 in official attendance. I was wearing three shirts, two fleeces, my coat, hat and gloves. And I was having one of the times of my life.
This was an early Christmas present. In Amy's office, the ticket became available, regular price. I went up there with two of Amy's co-workers the night before, so we could get to the field extra early.
Wow, what a great time.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I am the new District Leader for the Illinois Valley for the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE), a part of the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE).

It was also our annual convention just last weekend up in Oak Brook, Illinois. I learned a ton of new things, like the fantastic idea of the "novel reduction." I can add that to literature circles and then actually do independent reading of whatever the heck book they want to read. Cool. Plus, I got to meet keynote speaker Tim Duggan, a professor who puts out CDs of Shakespeare and poetry with real music. I also got to meet and hang out with the hilarious Illinois Author of the Year, Simone Elkeles.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Squib Kick

I am a big Bears fan--have been since even before Superbowl XX. I have always admired Walter Payton (and I think his all-time rushing record would still be up there if he had been on a better team for several of those years--Emmitt Smith benefitted from being on a great team around himself).

Anyway, yesterday I watched the Bears beat the Atlanta Falcons with only 11 seconds left. I probably jinxed them because I said, "Bears win!" Then I watched them lose on a fabulous throw by Matt Ryan with only one second left and a field goal.

But it was because of that damn squib kick. That put them in range of that nice little thirty yard pass to set them up for that field goal.

I'm not taking anything away from the Falcons. They won the game, even under the most adverse of circumstances (and Elam should have kicked that other field goal anyway). The Falcons kick returner also had just had a remarkable return, which is what the Bears were afraid of, I guess.

But to squib kick it, not to give their kick coverage unit the ability to stop the returner back at the 20-or-so, like about 90% of kicks in the NFL, they set themselves up to lose.

This is the equivalent in a game of eightball where you leave the cueball for your opponent with a perfect and easy shot at winning.


This is just another instance of watching a game and wondering if I could make better play calls than the coaching staff--just wondering.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fw: My Choice: Governor Sarah Palin

Matt Butcher 
"If it don't kill you, it only makes you stronger."--Nietzsche by way of Bruce Willis

The Butcher Shop

--- On Fri, 8/29/08, John McCain <> wrote:
From: John McCain <>
Subject: My Choice: Governor Sarah Palin
Date: Friday, August 29, 2008, 12:02 PM

My Friends,
I am honored to announce that I have chosen Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as my choice for the Republican nominee for Vice President. As a father with three daughters, I can't express how proud I am to choose the first female Republican Vice-Presidential nominee.
Sarah Palin is a trailblazer and a reformer. As the first female governor of Alaska, she challenged a corrupt system and has been a tireless advocate for reform - passing a landmark bill on ethics reform. She has taken on the old politics in Alaska and reformed the state's energy industry. She rejects wasteful pork barrel spending. She's fearless - exactly the type of leader I want at my side and the type of leadership we will bring to Washington.
My friends, together Sarah Palin and I make the strongest presidential ticket and I know that she joins me in asking for your support as we head into our Convention week in Minnesota. We're shaking things up in this campaign - and Governor Palin and I are ready to bring real reform to Washington.
The polls indicate this will be a tight race as we head into the fall campaign against Senators Obama and Biden. I expect the polls to remain close all the way up to Election Day and that is why any help you can give today will go a long way to make history on November 4th.
You may already know that I have decided to accept federal matching funds for the final months of this campaign- keeping a campaign promise I made. But that means that August 31st marks the last day I can accept your primary contribution. Will you make an immediate donation of whatever you can give- whether it's $50 or $500 to ensure Governor Palin and I win in November?
You can be assured that as President and Vice President, Governor Palin and I will always put country before all else. We are ready to lead and I ask that you join our campaign today. Your support is deeply appreciated.

John McCain
P.S. I have chosen Governor Sarah Palin as my running mate and today we will hold a joint campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio. Please tune in to any of the cable news stations to watch this rally at noon eastern time. After watching the rally, I hope you'll visit my website to financially support our ticket as we head into next week's Republican Convention. Thank you.
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Why John McCain

Comments from Matt Butcher:
I just supported John McCain.

Why John McCain

Bio: About John McCain
Video: Courageous Service

    On The Issues

Jobs for America

The Lexington Project:
The McCain Energy Plan

McCain on Iraq
Tax Cuts
Health Care
Government Spending & Taxes
National Security

John McCain is an experienced conservative leader in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. He is a common sense conservative who believes in a strong national defense, a smaller, more accountable government, economic growth and opportunity, the dignity of life and traditional values.

Election 2008: What's at Stake?

America faces a dangerous, relentless enemy in the War against Islamic Extremists - We face an enemy that has repeatedly attacked us and remains committed to killing Americans and the destruction of our values. This election is about who is best prepared to lead and defend our nation and its global allies as Commander-in-Chief from day one. This election is about making sure we have the experienced leadership to guide us to victory in this war, protect the nation against future terrorist attacks, and support our troops and first responders who are on the frontlines of the war. This election will decide whether we choose to fight or announce surrender. It will decide whether we have a president who dangerously weakens U.S. security or strengthens it; whether we will flinch and retreat or fully engage the enemy on multiple fronts. We need decisive leadership with the vision and experience to guide our country and the world through this challenge. Having a courage ous Commander-in-Chief who is willing to lead us in this war, rally our democratic allies and defeat our enemy to secure a broader peace is what's at stake in this election.

America is at an Economic Crossroads - Government spending is out-of-control. A Democrat elected President will join hands with a tax-and-spend Democratic Congress and subject Americans to enormous tax increases. Even now, the tax code is too complex and too burdensome. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - the government's promises to seniors and those in need - must be modernized. Too many American workers are unprepared by non-performing schools and shackled by outdated government employment assistance programs. America needs experienced leadership to guide the U.S. economy to greater prosperity, control government spending, keep taxes low, save Social Security and protect the American worker. Americans want a leader willing to offer straight talk and make the hard calls necessary to ensure a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. The long-term strength of our economy and financial stability of American households are what's at stake in this e lection.

Americans have lost faith and trust in their government - Americans have lost trust that their government and its elected officials will serve the Nation's interest and not their own. Special interests have too much influence in Washington. Americans want a courageous leader who will stand up to the trial lawyers and labor bosses and other special interests, govern by principle rather than political expedience, keep their promises, and solve problems instead of leaving them for our children. Restoring Americans' confidence in their government is what's at stake in this election.

Americans want judges who will strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench - The next president will appoint many federal judges and perhaps even a Supreme Court justice. The recent victory on partial birth abortion is an example of how important the Supreme Court is in protecting our values and interpreting the law as it is written. America needs a president who will provide strong moral leadership. A Democrat president will appoint judges who make law with disregard for the will of the people, but to the cheers of those advancing a liberal social agenda. America needs a leader who recognizes that that the people and states should decide what's best, not the courts. The future of the U.S. Supreme Court is what's at stake in this election.

What are the Bold Solutions?

Winning the War Against Islamic Extremists. Radical Islamic extremists are a relentless threat to America, its citizens, and the values we share. In the words of the al Qaeda leadership, Iraq is the central battleground of this war. We face a fork in the road. John McCain will pursue our opportunity for victory in Iraq, strengthen our hand in the larger war against Islamic extremists, and make our nation more secure. Democrats will fold our tents, embolden our enemies, throw the region into instability, and increase the risks faced on our home soil. To concede defeat now would strengthen al Qaeda, empower Iran and other hostile powers in the Middle East, unleash a full scale civil war in Iraq that could lead to genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. John McCain is best prepared to lead and defend our nation and its global allies as Commander-in-Chief from day one. He has the experience and le adership to defeat our enemy and secure a broader peace.

Reforming Health Care for All Americans. Real reform will put families in the driver's seat of our health care system. The road to reform does not lead through Washington and a hugely expensive, bureaucratic, government-controlled system. John McCain will harness competition to offer more affordable insurance options for as many Americans as possible, leveraging the innovation and cost-effectiveness of our nation's firms to put an end to existing rigid, unfriendly bureaucracies. He will build a national market where insurance is more available, portable, and accessible across state lines; in which patients' rights are respected and their information under their control; and one in which people may save more in tax-exempt Health Savings Accounts. He will assist those who need help in getting private insurance.

John McCain will provide incentives for a national market - including the reimportation of pharmaceuticals - that offer greater transparency about effective patient care, options for preventative care and therapies, and prices so that competition makes it easier for families to navigate toward quality and low cost. He will demand reform to medical malpractice laws to curb abusive lawsuits that squeeze doctors, prevent innovation, and drive up the cost of health care. We need more transparency of prices and quality measures so that patients can make informed choices.

Reforming Government. Americans have lost trust that their government and its elected officials will serve the Nation's interest and not their own. Special interests have too much influence in Washington. John McCain will bring spending under control, veto wasteful, pork-barrel spending bills every time, and keep taxes low. He will reform a tax code that is too complex and too burdensome. John McCain will modernize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He will bring accountability, choice and competition to underperforming schools, so our children are equipped to take the best jobs of the 21st century. John McCain is the only leader willing to make the hard calls necessary to restore faith in our government and build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.

John McCain...Reform · Prosperity · Peace

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John McCain 2008
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Sarah Palin

I like the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's vice president.

I was there in Alaska when she was running for governor and got to watch some of the debates. She always seemed cool and confident. Professional. The rest of the state was pretty darn excited.

And it highlights at least one argument. Anyone caught saying she doesn't have the experience better think then that it is actually better than Obama's experience. Two years as governor has to be better than two years as senator. And she is only the VICE presidential pick. What does that then say about Obama? This should be a masterstroke--you can't say she isn't qualified without also saying Obama isn't qualified. And he is running for president.

Vote McCain - Palin 2008!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Join me - run SETI@home!

The Butcher Shop:

Did you know that you can use your computer to help University of California scientists find the first evidence of life outside Earth? It's called SETI@home. The program analyzes data from the world's largest radio telescope, looking for signals from other planets and stars.

I'm running SETI@home on my computer, and so are hundreds of thousands of other people in 240 countries around the world. The SETI@home web site lets you meet them and exchange messages.

Running SETI@home is easy. All you have to do is install a program on your computer; it takes about 5 minutes, and it's simple and safe. Just visit the SETI@home web site. Thanks, and I hope to see you on SETI@home -


A Comment on the Electoral College

Something caught my eye and I meant to write down my feelings for it quite a while ago. I noticed a strange inconsistency in the electoral college during this year's primaries.

I live in the state of Illinois. I was born on the south side of Chicago (well, in Evergreen Park--close enough). However, I now live in Central Illinois. Farmland. Small towns, for the most part. The district I teach in has an entire enrollment K-12 of about 800 students. I live in a bit larger area, Bloomington-Normal, roughly 125,000 people in these twin cities.

I saw this picture of the electoral college and saw a lot of red. A lot of red. But then I remembered that in the 2004 election, Kerry won Illinois. Kerry is blue. How did Bush lose Illinois with all that red?

Cook County. Chicago.

Kerry won Cook County with 70% of that county's vote. That's a huge margin. The other counties he won by much lesser percentages: Alexander, Calhoun, Champaign (only had 50% to Bush's 49%), Fulton, Henderson, Jackson, Knox, Madison, Mercer, Peoria (by 70 votes), Putnam, Rock Island, St. Clair, and Whiteside. That's only 14 of the 102 counties.

So Kerry carrying Cook County with 70% or 1,439,724 votes to Bush's 29% or 597,405 (because somehow Libertarian Badnarik won 1% or 11,478 votes) was a logistical landslide that was able to help Kerry win the rest of the state.

On a sidenote, Bush won one of the other big counties, Will, with 52% of the vote; DuPage, with 54% of the vote. These are not landslides. Even with the big populations of these counties, those slim percentages didn't help overcome that margin from Cook.

The rest of Illinois' counties are quite small. This is the heartland. This is small town America for the most part. Huge tracts of farmlands between sparsely populated areas. Cook County is a different world, urban and gargantuan. Kids from my school district have specifically said how the times they visited the big city it scared the hell out of them.

My point of all this? Is it fair that one county carries an entire state?

Even when that county is not indicative of the rest of the state?

I know all this is moot. The rules are the rules. Is it right that one urban city overtakes the entire rest of the state? I don't want to take away Kerry's votes--fine, he won the urban area, indicative of Democrats. But could or should those electoral votes be separated?

I don't know. I just wanted to examine for myself how a mostly red state lost to the blues.

It's just something to live in my county, McLean, knowing that Obama will carry Illinois with ease, yet in 2004 Bush won McLean with 58%. Obama will probably lose this county by the same margin. I live in a county that votes Republican yet in a state that will vote Democrat.

Am I adequately represented?

(Information taken from

Support Balanced Energy Policy

You'd think we would have learned a big lesson from the energy policies of the 1970s and '80s, which led to higher prices and long lines at the pump. But some members of Congress are proposing that we bring those policies back! At a time when we need as many energy resources as we can get, they're actually suggesting that we do things like limit domestic production and mandate reduced consumption. It just doesn't make sense...and Congress needs to know that.

I made sure my legislators know exactly how I feel about these potentially damaging proposals. I took action here, and I urge you to do the same. It just takes a minute, but it can change the future of energy for America. Please visit and take action today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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More Devoured Comics and Books

I just finished Tolkien's The Two Towers several nights ago. Brilliant. And being so in the mood for it, it just fit completely. That ending with Frodo and Sam fighting the giant spider Shelob was extremely well done and suspenseful. Excellent. And I am diving right into The Return of the King now.

Read a couple of short stories in preparation for class:

"Blues in the Night" by Jennifer Jenkinson--I found it off of and it was a romance story. I was trying to find something for teenage girls. Unfortunately, it had to end with way too much physical romance. So that one's out.

Also found "Gossamer" by David Gaffney at that site that is okay. An interesting story about a guy that poses as a night janitor at the place he works to find out what goes on at night. Pretty good.

"Sherlock Holmes in The Case of the Cardboard Box" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is actually a great Sherlock story. Very tidy little answers on what is completely misunderstood at first, then it all falls together, making it seem like you should have seen it the whole time. This is one of the good ones.

"Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family" by H. P. Lovecraft. Not one of his better tales but short and sweet. I swear, this guy could prove that Bigfoot existed, or Area 51--reading his stories feels like reading history.

Comics read lately:

Longshot #1 (Marvel, 1985) off the digital comics website--how I hate that interface but always wanted to read this.

Logan #1 (Marvel, 2008) part of the new series of Wolverine and his origins, I guess. I read it online for free thru Marvel's digital comics--it was one of their weekly freebies, you know, to get you to buy the next one. It works though because I seriously want to find out what happens next. I am intrigued by Wolverine's past. He is such a deep, three-dimensional character now.

The Invincible Iron Man #1 (2008) also off the digital comics website. Neat story that I now have to go out and buy the rest of the story, so I guess these free digital comics work in that they hook you like drugs.

Conan the King #21 (Marvel, 1984)

The Black Hood #4 (DC, Impact Comics, 1992)

Thor #263 (Marvel, 1977) amazingly, the sequel to a quarter bin comic I bought two conventions ago. Unbelievable conicidence. I didn't even know it when I bought this one.

The Adventures of Superman #617, 618 with Mr. Mxyzptlk in real bad-ass mode.

Ezra #1 (Arcana, no year 2007 or 2008) Sucked. Absolutely bad. No idea what is going on, story choppy and what appear to be two stories end without knowledge of ending--is one a preview? The only redeeming factor is the cool cover by Studio Mute Ant.

Super Powers, Volume 3 #1-4 (DC, 1986) four issue limited series about Darkseid getting back his power on Apokolips...these Super Powers mags I think were supposed to be introuctory for kids.

From the Reign of the Supermen storyline:

Green Lantern #46
Action Comics #691
Superman: The Man of Steel #26

The Adventures of Superman #505
Superman #82

The Phantom Zone #1 (DC, 1982) written by the great one Steve Gerber! Gene Colan draws! It's Superman! It's a treasure!

Detective Comics #613 Batman kicks two guys into a garbage truck when it is on.

L.E.G.I.O.N. '94 #63 (1994) with Superman and Lobo

Green Arrow Annual #5 (DC, 1992) part of the Eclipso series of annuals that year.

Robotech: The Macross Saga #12 (Comico, 1986)

Power of the Valkyrie #1-4 (Arcana/Bluewater, 2006-07) one of the worst comic series I ever read. I hate the writing of Darren G. Davis.

Strikeforce: Morituri #11, 12, 13

Detective Comics #476 (1978) with those Joker clown fish that I swear must have been an inspiration for that one Batman: The Animated Series episode.

Detective Comics #480 (1978)

The New Teen Titans #1 (1984) , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

The Adventures of Superman #623 (2004) what a great story on the inspiration of Superman

Superman #345 (1980)

Action Comics #719 (1996) with the Batman and the Joker and a devious plan that almost makes Superman kill the Joker to save Lois' life.

DC Comics Presents #66 (1984) Superman and the Demon tackle Blackbriar Thorn

The Brave and the Bold #128 (1976) Batman and Mister Miracle foil a plot by Granny Goodness

Neverland by Dave Kiersh published by Bodega is a strange tale of a strange man about ready to settle down from this childish ways in order to love someone. It's an interesting cartooning style and a strange way to tell the tale, sort of through a dream. Worth picking up.

Monday, August 18, 2008

matt butcher wants to tell you about My Coke Rewards

My Coke Rewards