Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lessons Learned .....

"We have gone from a reactive organization ... to a proactive organization," said FEMA chief David Paulison this weekend.

That's good news for residents of America's Gulf coast as they brace for
the arrival of Hurricane Gustav, and a good indicator that governments and emergency service agencies - at all levels - have learned some valuable lessons from the Katrina debacle of three years ago.

According to
this report from the Associated Press, Federal Emergency Management Agency's Paulison and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have already visited the region to monitor developments, and Chertoff was returning on Sunday. Equipment and people were put in position and safe shelters readied, with cots, blankets and hygiene kits en route. Meanwhile, the military was flying 1,500 civilian critical care patients from Louisiana and Texas to safer locations over the weekend.

Paulison - who, apparently doesn't share his predecessor's overriding concern over whether or not his shirt sleeves should be rolled-up when meeting with the press - said during a briefing Saturday that the entire mobilization is "much, much different than we saw three years ago." The kind of resources being put in place now and the coordination with local officials, all before the storm, are things that didn't happen until afterward last time, he said.

That includes mobilizing the National Guard now. From my own first-hand experience, this can make a critical difference.

In 1972, during Tropical Storm Agnes, Pennsylvania cities on the banks of the Susquehanna River were smashed and inundated when the dikes on both banks gave way. I was on the west bank, in the city of Kingston, when it happened. Unlike New Orleans in 2005, the National Guard was already on the scene - aiding state and local efforts, carrying supplies and personnel by chopper back-and-forth across what had become 3-mile-wide river, trucking people out of harm's way to relief centers, and closing the area down to looters and others who sought to take advantage of the situation.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon kept in close touch with our flood-ravaged region and dispatched a man from Washington to coordinate relief and recovery efforts. The word today is that the Bush administration will show the same level of commitment and concern. The president, according to that same AP report, has already checked in with governors and federal officials Saturday to make sure Washington was doing all it can. He prepared for the possibility of travel to the region and designated a number of areas eligible for federal help ahead of Hurricane Gustav's landfall.

It's been noted that the Bush White House was badly burned by its fumbling response after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August, 2005. This time, a Bush spokesman reports, the president is already receiving regular updates from officials and aides about the storm's path and the government's preparations, and planned to visit the FEMA operations center. The president asked each governor if the federal government was providing the help they need and pledged "the full support" of his administration, the spokesman added.

In fact, it is now being reported that
the president will skip the Republican National Convention and will instead monitor Hurricane Gustav from Texas. Political punditz out there might suggest that's a good thing for the Republican Party.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't ... but either way, it's still good news for those in Gustav's path.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Green Marketing .....

it can mean a number of different things at Midland H-E-B. A couple of examples I saw this weekend were pretty smart.

You encounter the first kind of green marketing long before you enter the doors of the store, as you're walking across the parking lot and a chance puff of wind, from the right direction, fills your nostrils with a wonderful aroma. If you're from New Mexico, you recognize it as a sure and certain indicator that summer is over and fall is upon us... you think of "home" in the Land of Enchantment and all that entails - especially at mealtime.

It's the smell of green chile peppers, fresh-picked from the field around Hatch, in southern New Mexico, and being roasted for you as you wait ... an annual tradition in New Mexico, and now available for Midlanders, courtesy of H-E-B. and the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.
Of course, you can purchase the chiles raw, then take them home and roast them yourself. But I'd rather watch and listen to the barrel spinning, while jets of flame shoot through the mesh walls and roast the skins of the peppers tumbling inside. All the while, you're visiting with whoever is in charge of the operation at the moment (when I took the above photo, it was Victor, the gentleman on the right).

And while you buy the chiles, everything else is free - the roasting service, a booklet of recipes, a sheet of instructions for freezing fresh-roasted chile, and a free DVD - "Get Your Fix: New Mexico Chile Cooking Demos."

Kudos, H-E-B and the State of New Mexico, for outstanding green (chile pepper) marketing!

Another example, this one inside the store, was more like what might come to mind when you think "green marketing." By now, you've probably seen plenty of those green fabric tote bags that H-E-B has been selling, which people can use and re-use for carrying groceries home - rather than disposable plastic bags. I know I've seen plenty of them ... and not just going in and out of the store, but around town, being used whenever someone needs a handy, sturdy tote-bag (which also helps spread H-E-B's brand around town).

Well, now, this bit of green marketing is going orange ... a particular shade of orange that holds special appeal for boosters of the University of Texas, a slogan and a logo have been added to these particular tote-bags to boost that Longhorn appeal. I'm wondering if we may someday see some maroon bags as well. But however it ends, it has begun well, and I'm hoping somebody in the marketing department at H-E-B's corporate office has been adequately compensated for another good example of green marketing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Our Man in Iraq? .....

If you haven't visited Wallace at Streams lately, you should definitely check out this latest post of his ... an exciting prospect.

The Power of Spectacle .....

The New York Times called it "one of the most unusual sights in the annals of American political conventions" ... it was, and it was grand!

"For the first time in memory," the NYT's Mark Leibovich wrote, "a spectator at a convention nomination speech was treated for sunstroke. Fireworks replaced the traditional balloon drop, sunlight supplanted klieg lights. Parents brought children from as far away as Africa, and delegates munched Bronco Brats and clicked cellphone pictures of a political carnival that bore no resemblance to any convention finale that had come before." You can read the rest of his report

I must tip my hat to everyone involved in the conception and design, the prep-work and the production of last night's finale to the
2008 Democratic National Convention. For all the chuckles from the punditz (in-print, on-air and especially online) regarding their choice of venue for the final evening, it produced a stunning and spectacular evening that created positive and indelible images of the candidacy that, I'm sure, the Obama camp hopes will carry over to November.

Images and spectacle, bread and circuses ... it's a recipe for success in the arena of statecraft and politics that is as old as society itself. Sure, there are those whose words transcend the event, and become a part of us ... Martin Luther King could do it ... so could John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Lou Gehrig. It's said that Napolean Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth I and Julius Caesar could, as well.

But there are also those occasions, where the setting, the context places an added emphasis upon the event, long after the words are mostly forgotten. For example, one year after the invasion of Iraq, President Bush was set to announce 'Mission Accomplished' and to honor American military personnel for their service. He could have done it in a suit and tie, from the Oval Office or the White House press room ... he could have done it from a podium on the dock as the ship came to berth ... but instead, he chose to don a flight suit, climb aboard a S-3B Viking, and land on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech. And while we may not be able to quote snippets from his speech, as we might others from American history, we will always remember the image and the spectacle of it all.

(TRIVIA NOTE: Did you know that the Lincoln was commanded at that time by a West Texas native? It's true ...
Rear Admiral Kendall L. Card, USN of Fort Stockton, Texas.)

In closing, I must also give credit to the DNC organizers for when they staged the event, as much as where. Barrack Obama - the first black man called by a major political party to serve as their candidate for President of the United States - accepted his party's nomination
45 years to the day after Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech" in Washington, D.C. Coincidence? I don't think so.

"No one said this exactly, but imagination was the quiet star of this day, that thing that leaps over walls and moves the fences of our limitations," Kevin Merida of the
Washington Post wrote. "Forty-five years ago, many of those who jammed the Mall in Washington to hear a young Baptist preacher exhort the nation to be better were just trying to get the foot off their necks, win the right to vote, stay at a highway motel, eat at a decent diner. They were trying to send injustice packing. Not elect a black man president. Most had not yet envisioned that." You can read the rest of his report HERE

It's good to have image and spectacle ... but a little historical perspective on your side won't hurt either.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Rhetorical Anniversary .....

It was 45 years-ago today, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of America's - perhaps, the world's - great speeches.

It makes for great reading ... and even greater listening.
Here is a link to both the text and the audio/video, on

Community College Community .....

While the title of this post may generate inquiries from the Department of Redundancy Department, it also serves to describe the Midland College campus, late Wednesday morning.

That was when MC (where I work as a website editor) dedicated its brand new academic building, naming it for
F. Marie Hall, a woman who has maintained a strong philanthropic presence both locally and throughout the state, especially among institutions of higher learning.

Turnout for the event was greater than some of us had expected, and that was a pleasant surprise. Hundreds of people came to tour the new building, and to express their appreciation for those who played a role at one point or another in the building's design, its construction and its application. It provided a wonderful opportunity to observe - first-hand - the "community" in community college.

Charlene Romero-McBride, a longtime stalwart of Midland business, education and culture was there, among the Midland College Board of Trustees. I first met Charlene 20+ years ago when she was head of the Midland Hispanic Chamber, and I was KMID-TV's rep to that group. Later, I would work for her as a contributing writer to the Midland-based bilingual weekly, Nueva Vista.

Ramon Bilhimer was there among the friends of Miss Hall. Ramon and I are members of the First Prez-Midland family, and she and I were part of the team of Midlanders that traveled to Thailand earlier this year on Christian mission. She is a caring and committed Christian servant who has shared the Word in many ways, in many places.

Dr. David Daniel, our recently-retired MC President was there. Previously, I shared
this post about my interview with Dr. Daniel, part of my application to work at MC. You might want to check out this video clip of his tribute to Miss Hall at Wednesday's ceremony.

Students were everywhere, pausing on their way to-and-from class in the new building. There was also a group of students who came by to support their teacher, Alberto Madrid, an adjunct faculty member of the Music Department, as he performed on acoustic guitar for the reception. His music included everything from traditional Mexican ballads to Dan Fogelberg, and he was wonderful.

There was a huge turnout by the media covering the event. Radio's Jesse Grimes was there, and
so was the newspaper's Ruth Campbell and Tim Fisher (here is their report), and a full contingent from the TV stations ... which gave me an opportunity to touch-base with a couple of former co-workers, NewsWest 9/Telemundo's Victor Lopez (here and here are his reports), and CBS7's Bill Warren (here's his report).

(Total multi-media coverage was assured by the presence of fellow blogger Jimmy Patterson of Sticky Doorknobs, who was there in his capacity as web editor for the MRT. That's his video clip on the link above.)

... friends and acquaintances from work, from church, from our neighborhood, from one son's karate class and another son's soccer team, from both boys' schools ... the community was there ... the community college community.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Conventional News? .....

This post by Eric at Fire Ant Gazette, and the ensuing discussion, got me to thinking about what does - and does not - merit news coverage these days.

The discussion began with Eric's observations of television news broadcasts from this week's Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado ... and included a question from one of his readers about why such events are broadcast in the first place.

Good question ... at least in the context of what these national political conventions have become ... which is quite a bit different from what they once were.

And it's not just the conventions that are changing, but the campaigns leading up to those conventions, as well. Remember earlier this year, when McCain became the Republicans' "presumptive candidate" and some Democrats were worrying about the negative impact of the ongoing debate between Obama and Clinton? At the time, I found myself wondering if an extended campaign - one that might go all the way to the convention before it's resolved - was necessarily a bad thing. In my own humble and uninformed opinion, I suggested, it might a good thing, at least from a news journalist's perspective. And in the long run, it might be good for news consumers, as well.

In recent years, political parties have bemoaned the fact that news networks don't devote the time to convention coverage that they once did. It's true, they don't ..... though not necessarily for the same reason suggested by the party leadership. There's nothing like an early, quiet end to the primary campaign to take away just about any news value to the convention ..... 'So-And-So' has officially received the party's nomination for president? ..... well, duh ..... wasn't that settled, for all intents and purposes, in April?

A decision early in the primary campaign means that, by the time the national convention comes along, all we are left with is essentially a week-long un-paid political announcement, carefully crafted and scripted for news consumers ..... a PR sheep in news wolf's clothing.

It hasn't always been that way ..... you don't have to be as old as me to remember when the national convention could easily become a rough-and-tumble, raucous affair where the candidate, and planks of the party's platform, were yet to be settled. "Ohio passes," anyone?

Me? I don't expect any surprises from either major party, and probably won't be watching the broadcasts that much. For me, the real drama kicks-in just a couple of months from now, as voters select the next President of the United States. Who will it be? I don't know. I'll be able to say better on November 5 ..... or later, if the State of Florida disagrees with the results this time around.

Until then, let's talk women's beach volleyball, how about?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Must-See Tee-Vee .....

... last night at Casa Fire Ant, I suspect, was the finals of the women's beach volleyball at the 2008 Summer Olympics. I KNOW that was the case at our household.

Eric at
Fire Ant Gazette has expressed more than a little interest in this particular sport ... and has posted a number of times this week on what he has - and has not - appreciated about coverage of the Olympics. As is usually the case for Eric, those observations are usually dead-on.

I'd like to add a few of my own ...

Trucking Cameras - It's a technique as old as filmmaking itself, but it has reached new technological and artistic heights. A camera and photographer sitting in the back of a truck as it paces a runaway stagecoach, has given way to being mounted on top of a golf cart as it moves up-and-down a football field, which has given way to remote cameras (sans photographers) on motorized track cars. The image of runners approaching the finish line, from a smooth, eye-level, trucking shot is absolutely beautiful.

Multiple Broadcasters - Once upon a time, when the Olympics were broadcast on just a single station, air-time went to live broadcasts of competition in the "A List" sports ... with leftover time devoted to taped highlights of the rest (if that). The dramatic growth of cable networks has changed that, and we are presented with two - or three - options (NBC and its corporate kin) for what sports we want to watch ... or just discover.

CG Enhancements - We've seen this develop for years, now. Pioneered by ABC and ESPN, it has pretty much been embraced - and developed still further - by everyone, especially in sports broadcasting. I loved the graphic they developed of one of
Laura Wilkinson's platform dives, a flawless series of stop-action images of that dive, melded into one image. I also liked the addition of the world record bar to the swimming events, as competitiors not only raced each other but the world record for the respective event.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some Call Them "Weasels" .....

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Taliban insurgents killed 10 French soldiers and wounded 21 in a major battle east of the Afghan capital, the French president's office said on Tuesday, the biggest single combat loss for international forces in Afghanistan in more than three years. Read the rest of this story on

I've never been comfortable with American neo-cons' criticism of France's refusal to join the "Coalition of the Willing" in the Iraq War ... downright nasty, I've thought, and downright wrong.

Part of it comes from looking back ... regardless of France's motive, we owe a great debt to their intervention and assistance in the American Revolution. And while we have repaid that debt on more than one occasion, it still provides the basis for an alliance that has endured more than 200 years.

But, part of it also comes from looking around in the here and now. French President Nicolas Sarkozy - who recently answered a NATO/U.S. call by sending 700 more troops - is traveling to Afghanistan in response to the deaths of the French soldiers. "My determination is intact. France is determined to continue the struggle against terrorism for democracy and freedom. The cause is just," Sarkozy said in a statement ... not quite what I'd expect from a member of the "Axis of Weasels"

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Friday, August 15, 2008

Betty King, "That's a Wrap" .....

While browsing local news websites, I came across this brief notice that an old friend - of mine, and of the community - has passed away.

You have to be of a certain age to remember Betty King, and to remember the era in which she worked ... an era when the workplace was undergoing changes ... an era that made a woman's accomplishments in that workplace especially remarkable.

Me? I got to know her after all that, when she was already an established and well-regarded figure in local television broadcasting and sales. That was 20+ years ago ... but one doesn't easily forget someone like her. I was a brand new writer and production assistant at KMID-TV in the 1980s, Betty was moving back-and-forth between the front office and the studio. For a number of years, she was the host of Good Morning West Texas, a short public affairs feature that aired at the bottom of the hour, in which Betty interviewed guests about everything from art galleries to rodeos, fundraisers, school programs and so much more. One annual guest was Santa Claus ... every year near the end of December, no matter how busy the Christmas season might be, he somehow managed to squeeze Betty's show into his schedule ... I guess Betty had some pull with this ol' Kris.

Back in the front office, in advertising sales, she enjoyed a longtime, devoted relationship with her clients. She took care of them, and they stayed with her ... not a bad way of doing business, really.

She was also an advocate for the local arts community, as well as an active participant. Older friends of Midland Community Theatre and other venues will remember Betty. As Public Service Director at Big 2, I was often called upon to produce/air a PSA for one of our local theaters - in fact, I thought one that we did for "Little Shop of Horrors" turned out pretty well, and I went on to enter it in the ADDY competition that year ... but no luck.

One of my favorite images of Betty will remain those days she went out for lunch with Tom (who was himself a local on-air personality). She'd be waiting inside the lobby at Big 2, and he would pull up right in front, in a classic Cadillac - one of those big ones with tail fins, a convertible with the top down. In she'd hop, and off they'd go - and 'all is right with the world,' I would think.

... and that's a wrap ... we'll miss you, Betty.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good Night and Good Luck, Pt. 4 .....

It's another day ... and another departure for a friend of mine in West Texas television news. It's time to say good night and good luck, goodbye and God bless to Anisha Williams.

Anisha produced her final segment of NewsWest 9 Sunrise earlier this year, and since then has been working as a media specialist at Midland College. But now Anisha is making an even bigger move, beginning the month of September in a new job and a new town, producing for KSLA-TV, the CBS network affiliate in Shreveport, Louisiana.

It will be a homecoming of sorts ... Anisha came to West Texas from Louisiana, a graduate of the venerable Grambling State University. Like so many who come to this market, Anisha's a youngster ... well ... compared to someone as old as ME, she is. But she's also a hard worker and a quick learner ... and tackled some of the worst hours in local television news as morning show producer. This involved a lot more than just borrowing tapes from the previous night's ten o-clock broadcast, and re-writing the scripts to bring them up-to-date ... as Channel 9 expanded its coverage of overnight news developments, that meant more completely-new material to be produced for broadcast in the morning.

Anisha will need every one of those qualities in the months ahead, as she helps launch a new program - a 9:00 a.m. television news broadcast, with an online component, geared towards those who are turning their television on, or booting their computer up at this time in the morning. I have a good appreciation for the challenge she faces, having myself been a part of creating West Texas' first successful local morning news program, identifying an audience that did not yet exist, and crafting a product for them ... it wasn't always easy, but it sure was a blast.

So many, many times, when someone finds out I have worked in television, they will comment, 'there always seems to be a lot of turnover ... and they're absolutely right. West Texas/Southeast New Mexico is a small television market, and what we call a 'teaching market.' Young people come here from all over the country, fresh from journalism school or an internship (or an even smaller market). They gain some experience, hone their skills, develop their resumé and their contacts, and then move on to bigger and - it is hoped - better markets. It's the same for those off-camera, such as Anisha, whose work is appreciated every day ... but is seldom seen ... or given adequate credit.

Sure, you're glad for them when they get 'the call' ..... but there is some sadness too. You're sorry to see them go ..... but you wish them nothing but the best.

A good woman and a good friend ..... good night and good luck, Anisha.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's With the Sports Blog? .....

I find myself surprised at the tone a local sports blog has taken towards the 2008 Summer Olympics.

While the MRT Sports Section covers sports (the stats and the facts), the
MRT Sports Blog often covers sports phenomena (the observations and speculations) ... which can be every bit as interesting, and has made me a daily visitor.

But lately, we've had a divergence of opinion. Nothing wrong with that - it's one of the attractions of the blogosphere ... their blog and their opinion, my blog and my opinion. And differences-of-opinion notwithstanding, I plan to continue visiting their blog regularly.

"I have made it my personal goal not to watch a minute of the coverage," Oscar wrote in
his latest post ... and I found that kind of sad. The alternatives he offers are things that can be done nearly every day, every year ... while the Summer Olympics come to us for just two weeks, once every four years, bringing together an incredible collection of the world's greatest young athletes. And thanks to the unprecedented depth and breadth of television (and online) coverage, and recording abilities, we can play with the kids, read a book, walk the dog, go to a ballgame ... and still have time to sit down and watch our favorite sport.

And even though the Olympics are no longer a Cold War battlefield (as Len noted in
this post), there is still much to entertain and excite ...

... and to discover ... and to inspire. Younger Son has been tuning-in. An acquaintance of his from COM Aquatics is a coach on the U.S. gymnastics team, and he's hoping to catch a glimpse of him. And speaking of aquatics, Younger Son has been thrilled by what he has seen on television, and has asked about moving from rec swimming to team swimming ... Midland has a great program for that.

And not just swimming, either. Even though we've only seen previews of Olympic track-and-field, Younger Son already wants to give some of the throwing events a try now that he's entering junior high. Meanwhile, Elder Son - who's a soccer player, himself - has been enjoying that competition, a fresh round of 'international friendlies' that only occurs once every four years.

And not just sports, either. The opening ceremony - for all its lip-syncing and computer embellishments - was pretty spectacular ...
and don't just take my word for it. China's pulling-out all the stops to market itself to the world ... and even taking all the propaganda into account, it's been effective. Both my boys have asked me about my own trip to southeast Asia, earlier this year, and what it was like. They have also expressed an interest in going there themselves someday, following the paths trod by their father and their grandfather ...

... someday, maybe they will.

For all this and more, I must respectfully disagree with the proprietors of the MRT Sports Blog ... whether you're a fan of sports in particular, or an observer of the human race in general ... casual or fanatical ... there is something to enjoy at the Summer Olympics. Tune-in or log-in ... even if just for a little while.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Prayer for Zoie .....

The pages of Sounding Forth are often filled with hilarious accounts of Janie's four-legged friends and their escapades ... but not today.

this latest post, Janie tells us, "We lost our precious, curious, crazy, makeuslaughtilwecried with her antics, Zoie the Wonder Pup around 7:20 a.m. Tuesday morning."

Dog-owners, of course, will understand what Janie's going through right now ... but so would anyone who can appreciate that specially-shaped void in our heart that is filled so very well by a special companion, whatever form that companion might take.

Although, statistics report, the cat has supplanted the dog as the #1 pet of choice, it's hard to imagine the dog ever relinquishing the title of 'Man's Best Friend.' The dog is our oldest friend, as well ... the first to cross over that intangible line and join us in the realm of domestication ... and the stories of devotion between human and canine are legion, ranging from "Ol' Yeller" and "Greyfriar's Bobby" to Ulysses' "Argus" and the residents of Clifford Simak's "City."

"The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog," said George Vest, in 1855, speaking to a jury that was hearing a lawsuit brought by a man whose dog had been killed. "When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens."

CLICK HERE to read the rest of Vest's closing argument to the jury ... Then, take a moment to say a prayer for Zoie the Wonder Pup, her family and her friends ...

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Summer of Daniel .....

As summer winds down and preparations for fall crank up, many of us at Midland College are getting ready for thousands of arrivals, and one departure.

That one departure, though, is a significant one ... Dr. David Daniel is stepping down as President of Midland College, effective in mid-August. This will bring an end to seventeen years as one of West Texas' top educators, and the longest tenure of any of our three MC presidents ...

... by whatever standard you apply, it has been a remarkable tenure. Following in the footsteps of Al Langford and Jess Parrish, David Daniel has taken an active and imaginative role in developing this school and the community it serves.

It was during his tenure that the Davidson Distinguished Lecture and Cowan Performing Arts series were inaugurated; that a bachelor's degree program was added to the curriculum; that the Cogdell Center was established in south Midland and the Advanced Technical Center in midtown; that the Williams Regional Technical Training Center was established in Fort Stockton; and a multi-million-dollar bond issue was passed to fund a campus-wide program of renovation and new construction ...

... and those are just a few of the high points.

Not surprisingly, people are sharing a lot of 'Dr. Daniel stories.' Here's mine ...

One of the more remarkable job interviews I ever took part in, was with Dr. Daniel, which took place earlier this year. I had returned to the United States just 24 hours earlier, and most of me was still operating on Thailand-time when I went in to interview with a committee for a job at MC. This was followed by a second interview with Dr. Daniel, in his office, accompanied by Dr. Eileen Piwetz, one of the college's VP's. We found Dr. Daniel at his desk, writing 'thank you' notes to a list of people who had participated in some college function - he set that aside, and the interview began.

He noted that I was born and raised in the east, and we talked about that some, and about his own experience 'back east.' He also noted that my resume included a stint as editor of the newspaper in Fort Stockton - a community with which he was very familiar - and we talked about that, and about mutual acquaintances we shared. But then we turned to my college transcripts, and he noted a bad grade I earned in "Human Evolution" almost 30 years ago at the University of New Mexico, and we talked about that. (So remember, kids, when someone warns you about a "permanent mark on your academic record," they mean it!)

Then it was Dr. Daniel's turn to talk, and he shared with me his vision of Midland College, and what he expected of the people who worked there ... paused for moment, then said, "and welcome aboard." I'm afraid I did a double-take, like something you see in the cartoons, before I finally got around to realizing I was hired.

My tenure under Dr. Daniel has been a brief one ... but I am genuinely glad we were able to connect. In just this short time, I have come to appreciate the role he has played in nurturing the community college community of which I have become a part.

Thank you, Dr. Daniel ... good luck and God bless.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

哇 .....

Looking for a good action-packed, summertime popcorn-churner, we gave "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" a try this weekend ... we'll try again next weekend.

The operative word here is "good" ... some things about this film - the third in "The Mummy" franchise - were good, a couple were very good, and others weren't good at all.

The CAST was all of the above ... Brendan Fraser and John Hannah reprise their roles from the first two films, and they were good. Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh - both giants of Chinese cinema's new-generation wuxia films - appear in this third go-round, and they are very good. Also appearing this time are Maria Bello and Luke Ford, and they weren't good at all.

SETTING? Very good, with plenty of location shooting in China. SCRIPT? Not so good - cluttered at times and scattered-about at others. SPECIAL EFFECTS? Very, VERY good.

The trailers have given you some idea of what to expect from the film ... but be prepared for some even better moments - at least while the CG characters are filling the screen.

So, yeah ... go see it ... but maybe do it during matinee hours and save a few bucks.