Author: Tammy Schneider

February 20, 2019 Off

Learning About Life Through Sports: Why All Students Should Participate in High School Athletics

By Tammy Schneider

When a teenager is attempting to complete his or her high school years, it seems as though there is just not enough time in the day to accomplish many of the goals he or she desires. Some students struggle through remedial classes, barely getting by, while at the same time other students may have a full load of honors or advanced placement courses. Whether your child is the first type of student, the last type of student, or any other type in between, he or she is feeling the same amount of stress as the other. The idea of creating a schedule to complete all of the tasks received throughout the day seems nearly impossible to the average student. How is one supposed to balance homework in every class (of which each individual teacher feels is the most important class of the day), a social life, driving lessons, eating, and of course, that insignificant activity known as sleep? Then, there is sports. The activity that every guidance counselor attempts to get each one of his or her counselees interested in. With everything else for high school students to worry about, how does anybody expect them to find time for two to three more hours of practice or games per day? It seems like a lot to ask, however, as a high school teacher, I have seen sports have a bigger impact of some students than any other part of their high school careers. While the competition is fun and rewarding for many, it is the life lessons that come from sports that truly make high school athletics such an integral part in the physical and mental growth of our youth.

Responsibility, Structure, and Good Grades:

High school student athletes learn how to use their time wisely more than students who do not participate in sports. There is a structure that is embedded in the student athlete that is not normally seen in the average student. While there is less time in the day to complete all of the required tasks, many people have seen the students pick their grades up during the sports season. One reason for a grade increase for some is that, in most cases, there is a minimum grade point average requirement in order to even be eligible to play. This rule forces the students to concentrate more in class and actually be responsible for maintaining their grades in order to play the sport(s) they love. I always received better grades when I was in season, and I attribute this to my schedule being set for me. There was no downtime to get lost in doing nothing, and then realizing that it was time to go to bed, forgetting about the homework that was due the next day. My schedule during sports season was structured: Wake up, go to school, go to practice or game, eat dinner, do homework, talk on the phone with my friends (if there was time), go to bed. That may seem a bit extreme, but I loved it. Baseball season was the most exciting time of the year for me, and I always knew that on weekends I could hang out with friends.

Friends with the Same Motives:

One of the biggest advantages about being a member of a high school sports team is the relationships built with teammates. High school is usually a time when even the most well-behaved children experiment, and at some point, they get themselves in trouble. Almost every kid goes through a period of rebellion when he hangs out with the "wrong crowd", eventually causing him to challenge authority and make a few mistakes. A parent's hope is that the mistakes are kept to a minimum and that they do not break any laws. By playing sports, each athlete can rely on his teammates to keep each other out of trouble. They all have the same motives: stay eligible and do not anger the coach by getting in trouble for doing something stupid. I am still friends with some of the people I played baseball with in high school, and that is because there is a bond formed that is not easily broken. For over two months, you literally spend every single day together and that leaves you no choice but to befriend one another. You end up looking out for each other, making sure your teammates are getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and if there is a situation that could lead to trouble, you know your teammates have your back. I currently coach baseball and basketball at the high school in which I teach, and one of the first things I say to each team at the beginning of the season is "for the next couple months, you are family. Make sure you look out for each other." Because of that bond, it is extremely rare for a student athlete to get in trouble.

Life Lessons:

What may be the most important reason for a student to play a sport in high school is that it may teach the student more about life than any course he or she can take during the school day. These lessons go beyond addition, subtraction, Shakespeare, the Civil War or the Periodic Table of Elements. They will not help them with their homework or give them scores to get in to college. However, they will teach them how to handle situations that will inevitably pop up in the years to come. The first lesson is that it teaches the students to work as a group for the common good of the team. It is human nature to be selfish, but when you look at a successful high school sports program, each member is working together to accomplish the team's goals. If the team fails, then the team takes the blame, not an individual. These are important lessons for the students to learn. Many high school students, and people in general, will make excuses for failure, oftentimes blaming it on somebody else; however, a sports team does not allow that to happen.

Another life lesson that can be learned is how to win and lose in a humble manner. In life, there will be times when unexpected failures occur. This could be in school, at work, or even at a party with friends. Being able to accept these failures and find a way to fix them is a way to make the student athlete a better person. Bosses do not expect their employees to be perfect, but they do expect them to admit and rectify any errors they make. This is the same in sports. A coach does not expect his players to be perfect, but he does expect them to practice in the areas where they are deficient. This work ethic, instilled by the coaches, will go a long way in making the student athlete a hot commodity when he or she enters the business world. While accepting losses is important, the way one handles himself after a win is mutually important. High school sports teaches the athlete to be gracious and humble after a win. This involves shaking hands with the other team, while wishing them luck in the future. The ability to swallow your pride and accept defeat, while wishing the winning team luck may seem insignificant, but it forces the student athlete to learn how to handle a loss. In this case, it may be an athletic event, but in the future that skill will help if the student receives a poor grade in college, or maybe he gets passed over for a promotion later on in life. These skills of accepting defeat, congratulating the opponent, then working harder and going back to the drawing board to come up with a more successful plan for the future are all invaluable in the growth of the student athlete as a human being.

Despite the stress involved in undertaking a sport, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. High school Athletic Director/guidance counselor Wayne Mones believes that "having a passion in anything positive enhances a student's ability to grow as a person." Being both the Athletic Director and a guidance counselor, Mr. Mones is able to see firsthand the positive effect sports has on his students. He tries to convince every one of his students to participate in a sport. He says that sports also opens up more opportunities for the students when they are trying to take the next step in their education. Colleges look for extracurricular activities when deciding who to select to attend their establishment, and participation in sports proves to the college that the applicant has learned many important skills like building relationships, making commitments, working as a team, and balancing a hectic schedule. These are all qualities that contribute to a person becoming a successful adult. So, if you are a parent of a high school student, talk to your child about participating in athletics. Do not take sports away as a punishment, as it may have the opposite effect on your child. For many athletes, their high school coaches act as their mentors well into their adult lives. If you persuade your child to play a sport, you will find that he or she will develop into a respectful, committed, and humble adult.…

February 13, 2019 Off

The Field House: Another Crappy Sports Joint for Bradley University

By Tammy Schneider

The Field House has recently engulfed what was once Gorman's Pub. Located on 1200 West Main Street in Peoria, Illinois, this tavern used to be a delight of sorts. It had a great atmosphere, tall drinks with every order, the occasional band that I'm sure it still has, free Pizza night, and great seating arrangements.

What has transcended over the establishment is now nothing more than the ten-billionth sports bar in America. Really cool, huh? Especially with thirty-trillion flat screen televisions they have mounted so that you can watch the game you can't hear over the reverberating music that's pumped high enough to give your ears blisters.

The seating arrangements have been gutted of any nice booths while the tables are those elevated things that have you stand more than it has you sit. I suppose the benches in the backroom are nice, but they ain't what I came in the bar for. Really the new design is set up to herd cattle rather than service drinks. And as for the drinks, while the mixers are poured generously, they no longer automatically serve the tall glasses. That was a former charm of the building.

All of the framed memorabilia is gone. The lightening is gone. The homey feeling is gone. All that remains is a clone of everything that is wrong with America.…

September 30, 2018 Off

Wolf!

By Tammy Schneider

Wolf!

So you thought I would play,
And then I would pay.
Maybe you also thought,
I am some kind of fool,
And you are just too cool.
Well this is a small world after all.
And when there’s a wolf in our midst,
There does arise a panicked call!
Me I don’t panic, not anymore.
I go and get me my wolf gun,

 

What is it to assassinate just one more.
Don’t you get it? You’re the fool,
And we will track you down,
And snare you with your falsehoods,
And kill you, not so softly,
With your own toxic words.
Get wise, you better run and you better hide,
Cuz we got your true identity,
And it’s on the wind,
There’s a wolf in our midst,
And we’re gonna get him!
5/4/2004…

September 11, 2018 Off

Duke Spirit rouse the Bowery Ballroom. British Invaders win new fans opening for Eagles of Death Metal.

By Tammy Schneider

A few audience members were previous fans of the band and thus visibly excited, but to begin with, the majority of the audience were as enthused for this group as for any other opening band. However, by the end of their set, the Duke Spirit showed off how regularly they’ve paid their rock dues.

Duke Spirit History

The band came together in 2002 in London, England, pairing school mates and roommates. In the six years the band has been together, they've produced two albums. A more apparent fan following occurred with their 2008 recording, Neptune, and their single, The Step and The Walk. Their sounds incorporates a bit of punk, a few pop influences, and even resembles some of their British forefathers.

Working the Bowery Ballroom Crowd

As a quintet, each member brought something different and equally imperative to the stage. Working together as a cohesive unit, the band seemed both gracious and ready to prove they were no ordinary opening act.

Clad in a black outfit of stockings, high-heeled boots, and a jumpsuit with feathers, lead singer Leila Moss brought to mind comparisons of Deborah Harry of Blondie, Maja Ivarsson of The Sounds, and even Wendy Williams. Armed with various additional percussive instruments, she leaned over the monitors onstage and kicked wildly. Strutting and shimmying, from stage left to stage right and back, Moss played the role of front woman to the hilt.

Drummer Olly Betts, in contrast, was dressed in a suit without jacket, with hair perfectly coifed. Looking flawlessly put together seemed easy for this hard-hitting man of many beats. Besides plainly keeping time to structure the music, Betts incorporated precision and exact timing, with full force intensity, to present a powerhouse of percussion.

Luke Ford and Dan Higgins often dueled and echoed one another, with their melodies, on rhythm and lead guitar. Ford, dressed in all black and looking reminiscent of Joy Division, swung his guitar back and forth in place, while Higgins played a bit more aggressively, in a full suit.

Winning over Eagles of Death Metal fans

By show’s end, it seemed the audience was not only moved by the music, but moving to the music, and well into the groove to welcome Eagles of Death Metal. The Duke Spirit, having performed their job, thanked the crowd and played one last tune before exiting the stage for the night.…

August 23, 2018 Off

Pig: Nature's Perfect Food

By Tammy Schneider

Pork roast, bacon, cheek, chops, ribs, cutlet, ham, pieds de cochon, hocks… the list is near endless and all of it is tasty. Some cuts are lean (loin), some heart-stoppingly fatty (pork belly) but with the proper cooking techniques can result in culinary treats.

Cooks delight in finding new uses for the various cuts. A beautiful leek and goat cheese tenderloin roulade, sous vide and roasted pork belly with Moroccan spices, a nicely grilled pork chop with apple chutney. Exploring the uses is half the fun.

Less Used Cuts, More Flavour

More and more the rarer cuts are showing up on the shelves of local markets normally at prices far below the ‘choice’ cuts most are used to. The humble hock, slowly braised then basted with Korean flavours and grilled is a taste sensation which can be pulled apart and chopped and added to noodle dishes, soups or tossed in a stir fry.

The shoulder (oddly referred to as ‘butt’) makes for excellent sausages. A classic saucisse (Toulouse sausage), can be as simple as ground butt, side pork for extra fat and some salt and pepper. Making it with natural pork casings (pig intestinal linings), and uses even more of the animal.

Some unpasteurised cheese, a hunk of fresh bread and paper-thin slices of Iberco ham washed down with a nice wine can make a lovely summer day just that much better though covering one’s self to the elbows in barbeque sauce while digging into a pile of back ribs proves just as delightful.

The Pig is a Noble Animal

The noble pig deserves our respect and adulation. Discovering just one more use for one of its many tasty bits is one of life’s little pleasures.

Roast Pork Recipe with Leek and Demi-Glace Sauce

  • 5 lbs trimmed pork loin
  • 1 white of leek, cut in very thin rings
  • 1 cup demi-glace
  • 2 cup pork stock
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • parsley, fresh
  • thyme, fresh
  • 4-6 cups mirepoix, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Brine the pork in an 8% salt brine (80g of salt for every litre of water), for 2-4 hours.
  2. Remove the roast from the brine, rinse and pat dry.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  4. Rub the pork with olive oil and liberally season with salt and pepper.
  5. Brown all sides of the roast in a hot roasting pan. Remove the pork, add the mirepoix, parsley stems and thyme stalks. Place the pork on top of the mirepoix, cover the pan with tin foil and place in the oven on the centre rack.
  6. Cook for 1 hour, remove the tin foil and cook for a further 45-60 minutes, until the internal temperature hits 135F.
  7. Remove from oven, set pork aside and cover, place roasting pan on stove across two burners on high. Deglaze the pan with the wine, using the pieces of vegetable to loosen any goodness.
  8. Reduce by half, add stock and demi-glace, reduce by half again.
  9. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve in a sauce pan and add the leek rings. Reduce until it coats the back of a spoon and the leeks are cooked through.
  10. Slice the rested pork into 1/2 “ slices. Sauce. Serve. Enjoy.
July 27, 2018 Off

Beginning a Workout Program

By Tammy Schneider

Disclaimer: The advice in this article is intended to help individuals begin a workout program while minimizing the risk of injury. Any injuries or dissatisfaction resulting from the advice hereafter is not the responsibility of the author.

Whether you are a complete beginner or returning to the workout scene, exercise is a great way to improve your physical and mental health. As you may have already learned, the beginning is the hardest part of a workout program. Once this bridge is crossed, a workout program becomes not only bearable, but enjoyable as a great way to relieve stress and improve confidence. The following advice is intended for beginner’s who hope to make gains in their physical fitness while minimizing the chance of injury or illness. A proper workout program for a beginner should include both cardiovascular and strength training. Stretching is a secondary but important part of an exercise program as well.

 

Cardiovascular Training

A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The purpose of cardiovascular training is to increase a person’s heart rate for a period of time. As the heart becomes more accustomed to this, the person develops an ability to perform vigorous activity for a greater duration of time at a greater intensity. As a result, any activity that accomplishes this is considered cardiovascular. For this reason, choosing several enjoyable physical activities will help kick start your workout program. Taking your dog for a walk, playing Frisbee with a friend, or shooting hoops with a family member are all excellent ways to get moving in the beginning. As your ability to tolerate greater amounts of exertion increases, finding more intense activities will be beneficial.

The following is a list of activities you may find enjoyable and challenging: running or biking (on trails or pavement), playing racquetball or tennis, or using cardio equipment at your local fitness center. The important thing to remember is to have fun in the beginning. You may even want to invite a friend. As your tolerance increases, do not be tempted to push yourself too hard. If you do, you will likely become a victim of physical or psychological burnout. The body and mind are only capable of so much, so fast. Take it slow and make only small, gradual increases. If you notice any pain, or begin to feel uncomfortable, take a break. Runner’s, for example, are encouraged not to increase their weekly mileage by more than ten percent. In summary, take it slow and have fun in the beginning.

Strength Training

Several decades ago, strength training was done primarily by athletes. Today it is becoming more and more frequent for everyday people to start strength training programs. This is not surprising when we consider the daily activities most people engage in. We carry groceries, pick up children, and engage in hundreds of other activities which require physical strength. To make these activities easier and reduce our chances of injury, we can all benefit from a strength training program.

By far, the best way for a beginner to start a strength training program is with the help of a licensed personal trainer. This can help ensure your training is being done safely and properly so that you can make the greatest gains with a reduced chance of injury. Many gyms offer one or two free sessions with a new membership. If they do not, ask them about the possibility of this. Whether or not this is possible, remember the following basic principles throughout your training. Find strength training activities for your entire body. Overworking opposing muscle groups (such as biceps and triceps) can lead to injuries. Do not lift more than you can comfortably handle. It is better to lift less and make small gains than to endure an injury resulting in no gains or a loss in strength. Considering this, make sure the amount of weight you are lifting is enough to be challenging. If your muscles are not being challenged, you will not see real improvements in strength.

Warming Up, Cooling Down, & Stretching

To prevent injury, be sure to take time to warm-up before your workout and cool-down after your workout. This should include light cardiovascular activity such as walking or jogging and at least some stretching of major muscle groups. This can be done in as little as five minutes, and will likely improve the main part of your workout.

Exercise is an excellent way to improve both physical and mental health. Whether your intent is to lose weight, build confidence, reduce stress or try something new, the benefits of exercise are endless. Enjoy your workout!…

May 25, 2018 Off

Sport Wrist Watches

By Tammy Schneider

Love of a sport can take many forms, some more socially acceptable than others. Painting your face the colors of your favorite team may be frowned upon in some workplace situations. Sharp sport wrist watches, however, are always in fashion and fit in great at the office.

There are sport wrist watches available for fans of almost every sport, from baseball to basketball to stock car racing and beyond. Each of these is a high-quality durable timepiece, attractive enough that you might buy them even without the sports tie-in. But the fact that they are adorned with the logo of your favorite team adds an additional layer of value to them.

It's Always Game Time

Sport wrist watches allow one to be reminded of one's private life and passions in the middle of the dreariest of work days. Stuck in traffic or an endless meeting, one peek at the wrist and it's a weekend morning, minutes before kickoff.

Available for both professional and collegiate teams, these watches make great gifts as well. They show spirit and enthusiasm in a tasteful manner that is appropriate for every situation. Consider sport wrist watches when searching for the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life.…

April 30, 2018 Off

The Great Divide of Radiohead's OK Computer

By Tammy Schneider

Radiohead – OK Computer (Cassette) - Discogs

Let’s face it: “Creep” was and is a good song. If you say that you don’t feel awesome when the distortion kicks in for the first time before the chorus, then you’re probably lying to yourself. However, there are plenty of Radiohead “purists” out there who disagree and even reject their entire debut album, Pablo Honey, as part of the Radiohead canon. Still, many Radiohead fans will say that the quality of their music began to decline after the release of The Bends in 1995. This debate surely has a great deal to do with the disconnect created by their landmark 1997 release, OK Computer.

The Bends saw lead-singer Thom Yorke and company looking deep within to find their inspirado, often flirting with outright lyrical depression much as they had with Pablo Honey. While the lyrics often remain morbid on OK Computer, it is not an internalized gloom they are drawing from but rather an external paranoia. “Phew! For a minute there I lost myself,” Yorke croons again and again at the end of the gestapo-ballad, “Karma Police.” The robotic spoken word of “Fitter Happier” satirizes the conventional middle class drone and further emphasizes the theme of a growing disconnect between society, human interaction and emotions.

While the lyrics alone separate OK Computer from its predecessors, it is the music that makes this album a standout in Radiohead’s catalog and perhaps their best work. They had merely hinted at this sort of diversity, creativity and musical range in their previous albums. The songs on this album sound absolutely full to the brim with textures so vivid you can touch them.

Lead-guitarist Jonny Greenwood had never before been able to summon the tones and effects present in such songs as “Subterranean Homesick Alien” and Radiohead’s first true piece of theater, “Paranoid Android.” It pays off. With Greenwood’s guitar sorcery in the spotlight the songs take on a life of their own and make for a listening experience that is unique and exhilarating.

Silence is even utilized masterfully, providing space to breathe on the bare bones finale “The Tourist,” and nearly unbearable tension on “Exit Music (For a Film).” The diversity of moods, which help the album hold up under repeated listens, range from the beautiful disappointment of “Let Down” to the disturbing psychosis of “Climbing up the Walls.”

OK Computer is Radiohead’s early career masterpiece. It was the album that solidified them as critical darlings and ensured them millions of fans throughout the world. While The Bends hinted at a desire to cast aside the conventional post-grunge Brit-pop style, it still clung to it instinctively. The Bends is generally not considered their masterpiece, but it certainly gave them the confidence to make an album like OK Computer. And with the absolute faith of their label and a massive fan base, OK Computer allowed them to make Kid A which allowed them to make whatever the hell they wanted. Yet OK Computer has become a musical Demilitarized Zone among Radiohead fans. Early career fans say that OK Computer is good but led to the “atrocities” of their later career; so-called “purist” Radiohead fans say the album ushered in the the band’s glory years. Either way, OK Computer stands as a bastion for 90s rock music and should be on any list of best albums of the decade.

www.buy.com/prod/ok-computer/q/loc/109/60135192.html

www.jr.com/product/music/pm/_256883/

www.rhapsody.com/radiohead/ok-computer

www.tower.com/ok-computer-radiohead-cd/wapi/105789668

www.overstock.com/Books-Movies-Music-Games/Radiohead-OK-Computer/67570/product.html…