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Showing posts from 2003

J.R. Cash

Whenever somebody asks me, "Do you listen to country music?" I would always reply, "No, but I listen to Johnny Cash." I was one of the New Cash Fans that started listening when Johnny Cash teamed up with Rick Rubin to release "American Recordings" in 1994. There was just something engaging about the music - simple, understandable, and pure. I'm a proud owner of all four of his American releases, along with his "Live at Folsom Prison and San Quentin" album, and those five won't be the last Cash albums in my collection.

It wasn't like we didn't see Johnny's death coming. Not because of his continuous illnesses, but because of the recent loss of his wife, June Carter Cash. She wasn't supposed to die first, and it wasn't hard to imagine that without her his next bout with pneumonia, or diabetes, or any of his other ailments would be his last. And so it was.

June 6th

I last updated on June 5th. So what happened on June 6th that kept me from updating? Plenty. That day I sent a formal application and arranged for an interview to be a high school math teacher in Florence, Colorado. I interviewed on the 11th and was offered the job later that day. I accepted a day and a half later, and here I am, having recently completed my first week at school. Easy, huh? Along the way I managed to buy a house and move, and those types of activities took priority over updating my website. But now I have a boatload of stories and anecdotes, and hopefully I'll be writing them here in the coming weeks. I plan on saying "The other day..." a lot, even though I might be writing about something that happened 2 months ago. But who really cares, right?

Currently reading

I generally don't try to get into too many books at once, but here's what's keeping my bookmarks busy:

Everest: A Mountaineering History by Walt Unsworth (This is the single most complete record of Everest history available - 700+ pages!)
Life and Death on Mt. Everest by Sherry Ortner (An anthropologist's look at Sherpa culture - very much an academic read)
Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why America's Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can't Read, Write, or Add (One of my favorite assigned readings 5 years ago in my teaching courses - I decided to re-read it to see if I feel the same way)

I've recently finished:
Everest: The West Ridge by Thomas Hornbein (My 2nd time reading this one - I read it in "celebration" of the 40th anniversary of the 1963 American Everest Expedition)
National Geographic, May 2003 (This single issue rivals many Everest books, mostly for its great pictures, amazing maps, and well-selected writings)
Colorado's Fourteeners: …

"Knocking the bastard off"

In case you haven't heard, today marks the 50th anniversary of the first successful climb of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. With the exception of man landing on the moon, reaching the summit of Everest might have been the most significant achievement in exploration during the 20th century. I've read three books by Hillary and both books by Tenzing Norgay, and it is simply a good story with a rich history, interesting characters, and that sense of adventure that is inside nearly all of us.

A lot has changed on Everest in 50 years, especially with the onset of guided climbing and increased access to the mountain. Most of the old-timers don't think most of those changes are for the better, and a lot of younger climbers agree with them. Will that stop people from trying to reach the highest point on Earth? Of course not. Everest is only getting more popular, and that trend is unlikely to change. Of course, if you are looking for high adventure in …

A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist...

I was flipping channels earlier today and what did I find? Knight Rider! That was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid, and I was giddy as a schoolgirl when I found the reruns on today. Not only was it on, but today they showed the pilot episode, which I had never seen. You can catch Knight Rider on the Sci-Fi channel at 5 pm eastern. Check out the Sci-Fi Knight Rider website at http://www.scifi.com/knightrider/.

The Shooter

Here's a great story... Former major-league pitcher Rod Beck is working his way back to the majors after arm surgery, and instead of finding a nice house or apartment in Des Moines while he plays for the triple-A Iowa Cubs, he's bought an RV and is living at the stadium, just past the outfield wall. Even though "The Shooter" nearly gave us all heart attacks every time he closed games for the Cubs in 1998, you have to love a guy who obviously loves what he does for a living.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/s/2003/0515/1554407.html

Baghdad - no longer attacking, now defending

The major story of the past day has been the apparent control of Baghdad taken by U.S. and coalition forces. The major question that has lingered since and even before the war started was "When will it end?" I'm not sure that question can be answered - it's not like a cease-fire or treaty is going to be signed and all the troops will go home. Even Baghdad is still "an ugly place" according to Major General Renuart at Central Command. So while the "end" of the war is a bit fuzzy, I think what we saw yesterday was an important shift from attacking Baghdad to defending Baghdad. That's certainly the feeling I get when I see the reports from the Iraqi capitol, and that seems to be the shift evident in the rhetoric from the administration. Now I think people need to be patient - I have a hard time imagining a day as significant as yesterday until Iraq holds its first democratic election, and that will be a relatively long way off. There will …

David Bloom

Like a lot of people the past few weeks, I really enjoyed watching David Bloom and his reports from the front lines of Iraq. Sadly, he died today of non-combat causes. While a death of a soldier is always terrible and unfortunate, somehow it hits a little closer when you lose one of your favorite storytellers. I've been listening to people talk today about the kind of person David Bloom was, and like so many other similar cases, you don't realize how great somebody is until they're gone.

From MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.com/news/896267.asp?0cv=CA01
From CBS' Bob Schieffer: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/04/06/opinion/schieffer/main547988.shtml

Peter Arnett Update

Just hours after getting the axe by NBC and National Geographic, you can now find Peter Arnett working for the British tabloid "The Mirror", found online at http://mirror.co.uk. I'm not too sure about the reputation of The Mirror, but I get the feeling that Arnett will be free to report as he wishes.

His newest article can be found at http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12795678&method=full&siteid=50143.

If you like the mirror, you may want to check out the UK-based "Independent" at http://www.independent.co.uk. I particularly enjoy Robert Fisk's articles (even if I don't always agree with him). I wrote about Robert Fisk about a year ago at http://downclimb.com/johnson/2002_04_01_archive.shtml#75211620. If after reading his articles you feel disgusted by the contents, turn on an AM radio station in the afternoon and listen to Rush Limbaugh for a few minutes, then turn him off and search your mind for a "personal balan…

Peter Arnett and the TV War

I haven't been commenting on it, but yes, I've been taking in enormous amounts of war coverage. That's really not surprising, given that I watch a lot of news in the first place. While stories of people getting killed are upsetting enough, I was quite bothered by the firing of Peter Arnett by NBC and National Geographic. I heard some of Arnett's comments to Iraqi TV and thought they were inappropriate, but not worth him being fired. It's funny how our right to freedom of speech protects us from wrongful termination, yet as a journalist Arnett lost his job because his bosses felt he lost his objectivity, which is usually thought to be essential for good journalism. Then again, who benefits more from free speech than journalists?

As for my viewing patterns thus far, I still rely on MSNBC for most of my news (I swear Lester Holt works 20 hours a day) but I've come to really enjoy Aaron Brown and General (Ret.) Wesley Clark on CNN's NewsNight. For analysi…

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

I don't know what Dusty Baker told his team before the game today, but he can keep this up. A 15-2 win over the Mets in New York with the temperature hovering just above 40 degrees? Kerry Wood was on his game, Corey Patterson is making an early season run at the triple crown (.667 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI), and the bullpen was outstanding. Oh yeah, that triple crown reference is just a joke - I know nobody can keep that up. Likewise, I don't expect the Cubs to always score 15 runs per game, but it was a great way to start a season. All that and Stoney too!

March Madness

Got your NCAA basketball tournament brackets all filled out? I do. I filled it out as fast as I could cut and paste, but that's fine with me. Like most people, it just makes following the tournament a little more fun. Now if I could only predict the brackets for the 330 Division I wrestlers competing this weekend in their NCAA tournament...

The Colin Quinn Theory (Update)

I just looked it up, and yes, I have talked about Colin Quinn before (see post below for reference). I knew I had seen him in some kind of show recently, and I had forgotten all about it. Apparently Colin Quinn had his own, prime-time, live TV show on NBC only a year ago, but it had totally faded from my memory. You can read for yourself here. The Colin Quinn Theory continues...

The Colin Quinn Theory

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but since Colin Quinn has a new show coming on in 2 minutes ("Tough Crowd" on Comedy Central), now's a good time to let the world know. I think Colin Quinn is great, and he does some really funny stuff, but none of it lasts. His stint on Saturday Night Live? Good, but gone. His movie career? In and out. I think his longest stint anywhere was his sidekick gig on MTV's "Remote Control" in the late 80s.

"Tough Crowd" has now started and it borrows heavily from the format established by Bill Maher on his now-defunct "Politically Incorrect", except all four guests are comics, and the show is as much about being fast and funny as actually discussing the issues. (I think I'm cheating...I swear I saw this show on a few months ago...either that was a trial period or my ESP is getting much better.) It's pretty good, especially if you're like me and like comics and stand up comic…

Chip and Stoney

I turned on the TV today and what did I hear? The sweet, sweet sounds of Steve Stone doing Cubs color commentary. It's as if my worries melted away for a moment and all was right with the world again. Even though I played some baseball as a young lad, I think I've learned more about how the game of baseball should be played from Steve Stone than any coach I've ever had. I grew up listening to Harry Caray and Steve Stone, and with Harry's enthusiasm and Stoney's knowledge of the game, I became a baseball fan. Well, not just a baseball fan - I became a Cubs fan. While there are many good color commentators out there, there's something about the way Steve Stone describes the game and interacts with his play-by-play man that I really like. I managed to get by the past couple of years without Stoney, but I sure am glad to have him back.

Oh yeah - the Cubs won, too. :)

News News

I watch news on and off pretty much anytime I'm watching TV, but I thought I'd lay out the highlights of a typical day. I'm not saying I watch all of this, but these are generally the shows I turn to when I want to know what's going on. All times central.

5:00 AM - 8:00 AM - Imus In The Morning (MSNBC)
You don't have to agree with Don Imus to enjoy his show, which is good, because Imus generally chooses to shake things up by being disagreeable. Three things make this show work - Imus' provocativity (this may or may not be a word, but you get the point), great guests, and it's a radio show that happens to be on TV. If you want to see sharp-dressed people all made up for a national TV audience, turn to any one of the major networks. If you want to see somebody who looks more like you do when you roll out of bed, watch Don Imus.
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM - Various MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, and The History Channel
Even with everything going on in the world, if you watch a…

Not-So-United Nations

Yesterday was the big day at the United Nations, big enough to fill most of the news coverage for the rest of the day. Some called the report of Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix to be "shocking", but you honestly can't be all that surprised by a guy who doesn't want to be held accountable for starting a war, whether he might personally be for it or not. I thought he gave a pretty honest and straightforward report, and maybe the only real surprises of the day were the rounds of applause following the statements made by the representatives from France and Russia. Anti-war seems to be a popular stance right now, and if it weren't for things like guns and missiles and armies, especially in the hands of people who might use them, I think that even the strongest hawks would agree that not having wars is a good thing. Too bad the world doesn't necessarily work that way, and some will always turn to violence as a means of solving their problems. It seems t…

Columbia

In my post a few days ago about the State of the Union, I concentrated mostly on not the speech, but the coverage of it. The news is the window through which I see the larger world, and without that window I would have no knowledge of important events beyond my personal reach. News can come in many different forms, everything to Tom Brokaw on my TV to a friend passing along a story they heard from someone else. Regardless of its source, I'm always thirsty for new knowledge, and I like feeling like I know what's going on around me. When I was writing last week about this fascination I've had with the news, I tried to remember the major news stories that stick out in my earliest memories. I vaguely remember the 1984 Summer Olympics and that year's presidential election, but too vaguely to remember anything specific. Last Saturday I received a grave reminder of the first news story that made a significant impact on my life.

My interests as an 8-year-old were pretty …

Baker's Dozen

Why is a baker's dozen 13 of something? I think it should be 11. I realized this today as I was making cookies...for every 12 I put into the oven, only 11 made it into the cookie jar. Warm and gooey cookies are just too good to resist, and I wouldn't blame any baker for eating a few of them soon after they come out of the oven. Finishing with groups of 11 is easy - put 12 on the cookie sheet (which fits really well, 3 rows by 4 columns), bake them, take them out, eat one, and put the other 11 in the cookie jar. How could you end up with 13? Put 14 on each cookie sheet? What's that, 2 rows by 7 columns? That wouldn't fit most cookie sheets very well. A checkerboard pattern of 3-2-3-2-3 might fit pretty well, but that is exactly 13, so then you can't eat any of them. As the baker in this case, I find this unacceptable. I suppose you could just make as many cookies as the batch allows, then eat however many it takes to leave youself with a total that is a m…

State of the Union

When you read, watch, and listen to as much daily news as I do, things like last night's State of the Union address take on an increased importance. Not so important that I missed any of "The Shield", but important enough that I recorded the last few minutes of the speech, the Democrat's response, and the ensuing debates on MSNBC's Hardball. So after watching Vic Mackey rough up the bad guys, I got caught up on all the stuff I missed. I'm not really into sharing my own personal political opinions, but I do enjoy the rhetoric of politics and the news.

I've always been a fan of NBC. I don't know if it makes much sense to have an allegiance to one network over another, but I'm sure there are a lot of advertising and marketing executives counting on just that. Maybe it was because I was a child of the original "Must-See-TV" (Cosby, Family Ties/Different World, Cheers, Night Court, LA Law), or because Tom Brokaw is my favorite of the nig…

Sports Roundup

Anybody see the Texas-Kansas game last night? By far the best basketball game I've seen this season, especially after watching that 37-point turnaround that Arizona had on Kansas just last Saturday. Yes, I'm a Kansas fan. I remember rooting for Danny Manning back in 1988, and although my dedication has wondered, they're still my favorite college basketball team. I'm from the same hometown as Nick Collison, so I pay more attention now than ever, and last night he played the game of his career - 24 points and 23 rebounds against a very good Texas frontcourt. Kansas isn't nearly as consistent this year as they were last year, but come tournament time I don't think any team will want them in their bracket. (The same can be said for about 15 other teams...isn't college basketball great?)

Big win last Sunday for the UNI wrestling team as they beat Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum. ISU isn't exactly having their best year, but it's a high-quality win f…