By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 24, 2011 at 1:09 PM

A smart read, a refreshing drink and even more is what's in store for you in this week's list of stuff we like.

"The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership" by John Merrow (Learning Matters Books) -- It's hard, in Wisconsin, to read this book by veteran NPR education writer John Merrow without thinking that, like most of what's written about education on the printed page these days, it's already out of date. But while the author couldn't foresee the changes that the November election would bring, Merrow's book, of course, merits a read. In it he explores what makes a great teacher and he looks at how teachers are judged, viewed and evaluated. He's got decades of anecdotes to illustrate his points, and, best of all, he makes no bones about what his years studying the world of education have led him to believe. In the end, he says, there are those that say making teaching a better job will improve education in America. The other side says better people working as teachers are what's required. "When teaching becomes a better job as described above," he writes, "the brain drain will no longer be a problem -- and we will likely discover that many teachers now in the classroom have been better people themselves all along." What you need to do now is go back and read what he "described above." -- Bobby Tanzilo

IZZE sparkling juice -- With eight flavors and just two ingredients, IZZE is a delicious and good-for-you soda alternative and just a pretty awesome drink in general. I've been hopelessly addicted to the Sparkling Blackberry for years now. The original bottles of IZZE juices are 70 percent fruit juice and 30 percent sparkling water, which is the perfect ratio to keep from watering down the flavor. Each 12-ounce bottle even counts for two of your daily USDA recommended servings of fruit. If that's not good enough, they even have IZZE Esque, a low-cal version with a 25/75 juice-to-water ratio, and IZZE Fortified, with vitamins C, B6 and niacin. -- Renee Lorenz

Vientiane Noodle Shop-- The tiny no frills Vietnamese restaurant at 3420 W. National Ave. offers impeccable service and a can't miss menu, all at ridiculously low prices. While the bigger and more elaborately decorated Phan's Garden may get more attention, it's worth driving a few more blocks for a delicious meal and a relaxing dining experience. -- Bob Purvis

Guacamole at Jose’s Blue Sombrero -- The chunky, flavorful made-at-your-table guacamole at Jose’s Blue Sombrero, 20371 W. Bluemound Rd., is so filling and delicious it could serve as lunch by itself. The guacamole is made to order -- from mild to spicy -- and with or without a variety of ingredients depending on the diners’ tastes. Ours was fresh, chunky and lemony and so addictive that I wasn’t hungry when my burrito arrived. Next time, however, I’m taking a dining companion who likes hot food as much as I do so we can order it with extra jalapenos and hot sauces.  -- Molly Snyder

SuperTooth Disco Bluetooth stereo speaker -- There’s more to the Bluetooth technology than hands-free earpieces and wireless keyboards. The new SuperTooth Disco stereo speaker demonstrates this, albeit its silly name. Now, instead of connecting your Bluetooth A2DP enabled laptop or mp3 player (or in my case, iPhone) via a cord to a plastic-y speaker, you can wirelessly stream your music to this substantial, 28-watt speaker with bass boost. The results are portable, cordless, wireless, clear and loud music -- ideal for camping, tailgating, chilling in the backyard and more. Just by reading the specs, I wouldn’t think I’d be blown away by a 12-watt sub and two 8-watt stereo drives, but for a little speaker, this sounds quite good. For many, this could be your home speaker system, but for the more audiophile-inclined, it’s better on the go. It comes in a soft case for traveling, but would look plenty good naked on your bookshelf. Pairing is very easy, and at about $132 online, it’s a good value for this much sound, clarity and convenience. -- Andy Tarnoff

Perch fish fries -- I'm all in with the yellow lake perch fish fry this Lenten season.  See ya, cod.  Had an amazing one last Friday at St. Paul's Fish at the Milwaukee Public Market.  Perch just seems to taste a better this season.  Not sure why.  But, if you're a typical all cod all the time kinda fish fry person, try perch this Friday.  Trust me.  -- Jeff Sherman -- One of my goals for 2011 is to get a better grasp of advanced baseball statistics. Sure, I know all about on-base percentage, OPS, WHIP, etc ... but VORP (value over replacement player) still sounds like a science-fiction villain to me. is a great resource for an alternate take on MLB from some very non-geeky stats geeks. Good, solid writing with a lot of information in a format easy enough for anyone to understand. FanGraphs also has an iPhone App (sorry, Android users ... not yet, but hopefully soon) that provides really good in-game information ($3.99). If you're a baseball junkie, add it to your bookmarks. -- Andrew Wagner