Jeff Presents...

Consulting, Communication, & Creativity
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Websites, Links, and Clickable fun!
So, a lot of folks asked for the blog sites to come back. Ask and you shall receive! Some technical concerns prevented me from putting all of this together with the blogs, so now the songs, reviews, and websites get their own page!
 
Here you'll find reviews of books (both educational AND not), magazines, tv shows, movies, and other personal lists that are meaningful to me. As well, you'll find some cool websites. While good sites come and go faster than a shrimp taco special at Wendy's, many are worth mentioning and trying asap! Here are some of my personal favorites. This page will be updated regularly - Enjoy!

 



 

Websites
  • The Cutest 1 Year Old Around (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HssBBGu5Q40) - My first attempt at a YouTube video for personal stuff. Yes, the singing is me - no, I don't call myself a singer - yes, I'd turn it down too if I were you :-)
  • All My Favorites (www.allmyfaves.com) - Somebody took the 150 most commonly used sites on the Net and placed them all on one page. This is a GREAT homepage for anyone in a hurry. Plus, you get 5-7 "websites of the week" to try new stuff out.
  • eCollege AT&C blog (http://blog.ecollege.com/WordPress/) - The Academic Training & Consulting team at eCollege blogs about all things related to online education: research, teaching, learning, etc.
  • A Vision of Students Today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o – In preparation for my visit to congress in 2 weeks, I wanted to present this video. This piece was put together by over 200 Kansas State students - working collaboratively. They surveyed themselves to try and make sense of education today. It’s well worth watching…
  • http://www.ted.com/talks – This is the first place I saw the iPhone interface technology developed by Jeff Han! More recently, I loved JJ Abrams talk, the photosynth demo, and Sir Ken Robinson’s description of creativity. (It lead me to recommend him for our eCollege conference in late March!) Check this great site out!
  • Unbox (http://Amazon.com/unbox) - Looking for an easy way to download movies and tv shows to your computer like a rental? (Or to buy) Unbox auto-deletes the rented files when you're done. While browsing isn't super easy yet (it's much easier through the website than the player), it's still a cool and easy service. Especially for those of us who are on a plane 100,000 miles every year!
  • The Authentic Assessment Toolbox (Jonathan Mueller) – This masterful website takes you through the process of creating a hierarchy of outcomes. From mission statements to content assessment, this website is a great explanation of how any school (or business) should create deliverables. It helps differentiate what is measurable and what is not and ultimately should be visited by anyone dealing with outcomes, standards, goals, objectives, etc.
  • http://citationmachine.net - Great resource for perfect APA or MLA citations!
  • The Clandestine Chef - www.clandestinechef.com – What an amazing experience. (Sorry, if you’re not in Denver, you’ll need to find someone near you who does this same thing…) Enedina showed up at our house - we had 4 people there for a cooking class. She brought utensils, all the food, even a cuisanart! And we embarked on a delicious 4-course meal that we helped prepare. She taught us how to supreme an orange (I’ve been practicing!), how to add “special ingredients” to bring out food flavors, and how to correctly hold and use a knife! I HIGHLY recommend this service if you can - it’s a great birthday gift, Valentines occasion, or just about anything you could imagine!
  • http://cim.ucdavis.edu/eyes/version15/eyesim.html – This is one of my favorite simulators of all time. It’s simple, to the point, and has been around for a while. The folks at UC Davis really outdid themselves creating this - I show it to course developers around the country for a good starting place for multimedia elements.
  • Happy Cow- http://www.happycow.net Anytime Keena and I prepare to travel just about anywhere, we check this website first. It is a fantastic resource for healthy food, vegetarian cuisine, and even vegan fare. By the way…notice how FEW places are in and around Denver, CO. Watercourse (www.watercoursefoods.com) is one of the best choices in the country, but that’s about it for Colorado’s hub. What gives???
  • Scrabble Blast- (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=scrabble+blast) - this popular game (you can play it online or download a copy for yourself) and I think you’ll be hooked quickly. Granted, this is coming from a school “Scrabble Club” member. Geekier people you’ll never know, but word-smythes all, we love our rhetoric…
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qqE_WmagjY – I hope this site stays active for a while. YouTube videos have a shelf-life that’s pretty short! But this Carol Burnette Show classic is one of the funniest moments on all of tv. Tim Conway begins riffing to the point that Burnette can’t even look up for fear of showing her laughter. By the time he knocks them out with the personal sound effect, only Vicki Lawrence can combat the humor actually making Dick Van Dyke fall on the floor. It’s worth 5 minutes to watch comedic gold!
  • http://docs.google.com – Hopefully not new to anyone, this site allows you to work on the same document from multiple, remote locations all at once.
  • www.ecollege.com - I have to give a shout out to my business! (Don't forget out teaching & training institute - http://eteaching.ecollege.com)
  • XDrive - www.xdrive.com - There are a few sites out there that let you upload massive amounts of files to their site, send links of those files to your peers, and store information there forever...for free. The first I ever heard of was XDrive - there's the free version and then the pay for more space version. It's just nice to hold important stuff where a fire can't destroy it and where I can access it from any computer...anywhere!

Music
 
  • Last Plane Out - Toy Matinee Unfortunately, this band with ties to Sheryl Crow, Julian Lennon, and Richard Page had only one album, with one hit. But it was a really good hit and a really good album! This song could be the anthem for any "Green Campaign" on the planet, it's worth hearing before there really is a last plane out!
  • These Are The Days - Van Morrison – Everybody knows Moondance and Domino. But my favorite album is “Avalon Sunset” - The lyrics seem to point at finding something that has been searched for over many years. But the music is rich and gorgeous. Awesome music for sitting by a fire and holding your baby girl close until she falls asleep.
  • Waiting for My Real Life to Begin - Colin Hay – The “Scrubs” team know their music, that’s for sure. This guy has some awesome acoustic songs with fantastic lyrics to make you think about life, love, and why…
  • Live Like You Were Dying- (Tim McGraw) I have to hand it to any singer that can get me to like a country song. This would be the one and only song from this genre on iTunes for me. But what a song it is. I know it’s been around a while now, but everytime I hear it, I think about my family, my choices…my life. He took a tough subject and tackled it head on, which makes you feel empowered and reflective at the same time. Awesome song.
  • Whirlpool - Seal (www.seal.com) I’ve seen Seal live twice and his shows are amazing. But what I like about this particular song is that I can play along on my acoustic! The way he threads a melody on top of a beat-based acoustic guitar line is absolutely wonderful to me as both a listener and a player. (Added bonus, my 7 month old daughter seems to like this song when I strum it. She watches the strings go back and forth with open eyes and a focused intensity!) There are various versions of this song out there - some of the acoustic ones are fantastic!
  • The Reason - (Hoobastank) I’m the first to admit it…I’m a sap. I actually like romance. But, at the same time, I’m pretty selfish. I have my own ways of doing things, my own ideas, etc. So, when it comes to relationships, I’ve had my share of negative experiences, some of which were because my selfish side was at war with my romantic side. But this song depicts what happened to me when I met Keena. I think of this not as the ultimate love song - but as my anthem. The chorus sums it up: “I’ve found out a reason for me - To change who I used to be - A reason to start over new - And the reason is You.”
  • We’re Ready - Boston (http://www.bandboston.com)– I first bought the album “Third Stage” illegally in the Philippines when I was 17 years old. It was a yellow tape with a xeroxed cover on it. Since that time, I have bought the cd (legally) about a dozen times, giving it to friends and family. As much as I love all of Boston’s stuff, this album is the ultimate memory trigger for me…with this song being the pinnacle. My best friend and I cranked this as we drove around doing ”nothing” in high school. That same buddy actually was able to set this song as the morning alarm, using his roommate’s thousand dollar stereo in college. I played this album in my first apartment and I still play it today, trying to airband every possible instrument for my daughter.
  • Moto Perpetuo Op. 11 - Wynton Marsalis (http://www.wyntonmarsalis.org/)– This album (Carnaval) is probably most known for The Carnival of Venice rendition played impeccably. However, when you understand that Marsalis plays this Paganini classic using circular breathing - that is to say that as he expels air from his lips he intakes it through his nose without ever stopping - that’s when you marvel at this amazing song. You’ll also find sad surrender to his blues rendition of Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child. From a trumpet major in college who could only wish to be as great as Marsalis…this album is brilliant.
  • Circle: Big Head Todd & The Monsters - A great way to ring in the New Year.
  • Someday - Steve Weeks (www.steveweeksmusic.com)– My 6 month old daughter is just starting to enjoy melody and rhythm. Since I can’t take the Wiggles for more than 2 minutes, I had to find something “cooler” - enter Steve Weeks. His stuff is acoustic (think BNL) and his rhythm is pretty varied. Great for kids but something I can listen to longer than a a city block.
  • Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel – The lyrics in this song can bring me to tears. Yes, the musicality is undeniable, but the poetic quality and message are profound.
  • I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You - Colin Hay - If you read my blogs, you might know that we almost lost Keena about four years ago. The doctors said her disease (Crohn's) had not only dropped 45 pounds off her already tiny body, but her organs were about 12 hours away from ceasing. It's a profound experience to come that close to losing anyone, especially the love of your life. So, when I hear this song about love and loss, even though the context is different, it chokes me up. (But in a good way!) I am so grateful that Keena is still here so that this song is only imagination and not reality...

Books & Magazines
 
  • An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England - (Brocke Clark) What a wonderfully painful protangonist Clark weaves into this tale of trouble, dispair, and tremendous humor! You cannot help ask the question, “What would my own life have been if I’d burned down Emily Dickenson’s house, accidentally killing two people in the process?” The story begins after our hero (???) gets out of jail for just such a crime. However, life doesn’t go quite as he would have liked as he can’t out run his problems.
  • Wired - (www.wired.com) If you aren’t getting Wired magazine, you are missing out on some of the best commentary of our e-World that I know of. The stories are inspiring, the future predictions are incredible, and the tips are as helpful as any magazine you’ll find. And it’s not just a geek’s paradise. There are articles on ultra-marathons, underwater forestation, and how to drive farther on a tank of gas. You really are missing out if you aren’t Wired.
  • The Templar Legacy: Steve Berry - 4 out of 5 stars. I’ve just enjoyed reading fiction over the break for a change!
  • Born Standing Up: A Comics Life (Steve Martin) - What a really enjoyable read. I've always really admire Steve Martin. Not just for his movies (although my wife and I quote lines from The Jerk, Roxanne, and Three Amigos constantly) - but for his great career as an entertainer. I've read most of his books, one of his plays, and I've seen several of his shorts. (Check out "The Waiter - it's wonderful!) But this book shows a different side of Steve Martin - not the crazy, King Tut guy - the reflective and brilliant man who dissected his routines like a rug maker pulling yarn. Every piece was in its place for a specific reason. The people he mentions quite casually is impressive and the stand-up life he lead was bittersweet.

Movies & TV Shows
  • Big Bang Theory - (CBS - http://www.cbs.com/primetime/big_bang_theory/) What a GREAT comedy. This takes geekdom into a new dimension so that everyone can enjoy it! With references sure to appeal to the educated and the not-so educated, this has been a joy to watch. My wife and I download the episodes and watch them after Addie goes to sleep. It's an awesome way to still enjoy some comedy in the uneventful summer!
  • Prison Break - (Fox - www.fox.com/prisonbreak) As much as I love comedy, a great story is my real cup o’ tea. And of the shows currently on (despite the Writer’s Strike), Prison Break blows the rest away. In fairness, I like LOST a lot. But, the show seems to trod along, barely getting to the poignant story points each episode. In contrast, Prison Break gives you 3X as much each episode! My wife will look at me halfway through the show and say, “I thought they’d draw that out until the last show of the season! Not halfway through one episode…” This show really moves! Get the DVD’s of season 1, catch up, and start watching. It’s a great ride. (I must admit, there is one show I would put above PB - I am loving “Life” from NBC. But, I have no idea if it’s coming back next year. Plus, it hasn’t been on for a few months, so I’m not sure if it was a flash in the pan or what…NBC - KEEP THIS SHOW ON THE AIR!)
  • Cloverfield & I Am Legend- (http://iamlegend.warnerbros.com & www.cloverfieldmovie.com) First off, I LOVE movies. I always have. Yes, I’m an avid reader, but there is something thrilling about the cinema to me… I actually dream in movie. So, as for a “review” - Cloverfield was as clever a movie as I’ve seen since Memento or Sixth Sense. It was a great idea and the ending was absolutely plausible. The one question I wish they would have answered better was why the guy refused to put the camera down in the midst of chaos… As for I Am Legend, this also was a good movie. Will Smith is as good as they come and the plot was engaging from start to finish. I was surprised, but not disappointed, by the religious undertones near the end.
  • Iron Man - Marvel Comics: As most of you know from reading my blogs, I am a HUGE Spider-Man fan. I've collected his comics since I was 6. But, I have to admit, this movie was the BEST comic book adaptation I've ever seen, beating even my beloved Spidey. It was self-depricating, had some tender moments, was filled with believable action, and had fantastic special effects. What a great movie for me to see after my time off as a new dad!
  • The Office - NBC - This year's Season Finale was incredible. I can't remember laughing so hard at such awkwardness in a long time! (The new HR rep believing Kevin is "special" was brilliant!) If you don't get this comedy, until you work in an office with managers and co-workers who resemble the characters, don't bother. But for the rest of us, this snapshot over the edge is a great way to spend 30 minutes every week as we try to stay sane for our own version we trod off to every day. (BTW - if this isn't uncomfortable enough for you, check out the original BBC series with Ricky Gervais. Painful hilarity.)
  • 21 - The Movie - I read this book (which was fantastic!) "Bringing Down The House" a couple of years ago. The book was fantastic, although a really quick read. The movie, as with most Hollywood creations, changed the ending pretty significantly. But, unlike most movies, I didn't care! The book's ending would be hard to convey in movie format - it just ended. The movie was clever with the ending, even if it was fictional. But the rest of the movie did a great job showing how the system these MIT kids created actually worked and how enticing it would be to try.