Friday, February 27, 2009

Blog Watched

It's a funny thing, really, when criticism comes your way, and you're unsure whether or not it's point is valid, whether or not it's motive is pure, and whether or not you really care about it all.

I find myself in such a position now, as a result of
this post of mine at Archaeotexture, and this responding post from none other than the proprietor of Newsroom Stew's Blog.

I guess I could go on and on about previous posts of mine that were complementary towards the city, it's government, and the application of said government ... none of which have generated response of any kind.

But do I really want to? Do I really want to place myself in a pigeonhole of someone else's definition, and adopt the "unwritten" rules of someone else's composition and application?

In this case ... no, not really. I've had my say ... he's had his ... and that's that.

Regardless of my position with a similar (and also very diffrent) entity, I reserve the right - not just as a virtual pundit, but as an actual citizen - to compliment our local transit authority on the services it provides, plead with county commissioners to enact a burn ban, praise the city's health department in its role of welcoming refugees, support the school district's policy towards magnet school admissions, share photos of city officials participating in celebrations, raise concerns over votes by the same officials that might impact the welfare of homeowners ... and occasionally cite something especially strange from the Weekly World News.

Okay ... so that last doesn't have anything to do with local government, but it's fun!

And, really, it's an amazing coincidence that my blog gets noticed - and gets somebody stewing over one of my posts - at this particular time ...

... more on that, soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Attaboy, Ronnie!

Congratulations to Ronnie Marley, editor of newswest9.com, this year's #1 station website in Division IV of the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters!

It was Ronnie who took over as web editor at KWES when I left ... almost two years ago, now. And he has done a smashing job! All I ever managed at TAPB (as editor of newest9.com and, before that, as editor of
mywesttexas.com) was a couple of 2nd-place finishes, and a couple of honorable mentions.

The Texas Associated Press Broadcasters (TAPB) is "a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the gathering and reporting of news by radio and television, and to the continued cooperative sharing of news material gathered by individual members through The Associated Press. The organization is further dedicated to seeking the improvement of professional standards in radio and TV news reporting and journalism in general."

Attaboy, Ronnie!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One Thing I Gained from That "Black Gold" TV Show ...

... was appreciation for the fact that, at least nobody would go drilling for oil in my - or anybody else's - city neighborhood.

... uh, well,
such is no longer the case thanks to Midland's mayor and city council.

Here's a good take on their decision, and its potential impact from from Eric at Fire Ant Gazette, who will now have a well for a neighbor.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wild and Wiki

Many are familiar with Wikipedia ... but not as many are familiar with the energetic exchange, the give-and-take (and, sometimes, cut-and-thrust) that comes with editing Wikipedia content.

Most of my experience on Wikipedia has been of a positive and productive sort. Usually, I have seen the sense in edits performed on my submissions, and found myself in agreement with them. A few times, I haven't ... but even those were resolved amicably, and usually to the satisfaction of all involved.

But that's not always the case ... and an interesting example of this might be found in the ongoing discussion over Wikipedia submissions devoted to a West Texas institution - the American Airpower Heriage Museum of the Commemorative Air Force.

Here is the museum's page on Wikipedia
Here is the Revision History of that page
Here is User Talk from CAFAirpower, stemming from that Revision History

Those of you who contribute to Wiki from time to time may have stories of your own to share ... the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Whatever, I'd like to hear them.

... and the Rebirth of Tut ...

A day of special significance in my earlier life and vocation as an archaeologist ... on this day in 1923, the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen's recently unearthed tomb was unsealed in Egypt by Howard Carter.

There was something of the adventurer in Carter, which comes through in his own first-hand account of his discoveries and revelations in a forgotten corner of the Valley of Kings. His words have played some part in the decision of many who chose to follow in his dusty footsteps.

"With trembling hands, I made a tiny breach in the upper left hand corner... widening the hole a little, I inserted the candle and peered in... at first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle to flicker. Presently, details of the room emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold - everywhere the glint of gold..."

"... I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 'Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes, wonderful things."'

Even for those who have not taken up the trowel, it's heady stuff ... the stuff of legends ... the stuff of cinematic fantasy ... but THIS was the real thing, and it still catches hold of our imaginations, and it doesn't let go. Here is how the news of that day was brought to the public's attention, on the front page of the New York Times

The Birth of Bodoni ...

Giovanni Battista (Giambattista) Bodoni, the "King of Printers" whose fonts came to embody the rational thinking of the Enlightenment, was born on this day in 1740.

His printing reflected an aesthetic of plain, unadorned style, combined with purity of materials ... his style attracted many admirers and imitators ... and his influence on typography was huge through the end of the 19th-century. Even today, it is still in use, still admired, and still inspires new creations.

Probably the best online source on Bodoni, is the website of the Museo Bodoniano in Parma, Italy ... but ... Capite l'italiano? ... No? ... then try this article from bnet Business Network, and Bodoni's write-up in Wikipedia.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Girl I Left Behind Me ...

As I embarked on my soccer sojourn, she kept the home fires burning, and kept Younger Son working on his science project. On a daily basis, I am reminded that most of us guys 'trade-up' when we eneter into that wonderful, matrimonial state ...

Happy Valentine's Day to My Favorite Landman!

Too Late to Do It Today ...

... but if I'm going to make this trip more often, I'm going to book more time to stop and visit the Dan Blocker Museum in O'Donnel ... and the Farm Museum in Hale Center ... and the Dawson County Museum in Lamesa ... and ...

You Know the Lubbock City Limits Must Be Ahead ...

Because right now, you're driving by a BUNCH of liquor stores, lined up chhek-by-jowl alongside the highway.

No Starbucks ... But Just About Everything Else ...

Arrived in Plainview to find their drive-thru Starbucks was one of those lost in last year's closings. Oh, there are plenty of other choices ... though Iwas REALLY looking toward to that Starbucks.

It'll Be a Long Trip Back on the Bus .....

Final score ... Amarillo High JV - 6, Midland High JV - 1. That should make an already-long bus trip home seem a little longer.
:-(

It's Official Now ... But Not So Good .....

There is no joy in Dawgville at the moment. At the end of the first half, the Sandies lead Midland High, 1-3.

So Far, It's Un-Official .....

We have everything weneed for a boy's JV soccer match. Midland High Bulldogs? Check ... Amarillo High Sandies? Check ... Coaches? Check ... Parents and fans? Check ... Ref's? ... uh, ref's? ... uh-oh.

Georgia in Texas ....

Driving through Canyon, you are reminded that, between the urbane settings of New York and the enchanting landscapes of New Mexico, Georgia O'Keefe lived and worked, learned and created right here, in the Lone Star State.

Well, That Pretty Much Covers Everything .....

TxDOT's new rest center alongside I-27 in Hale County has shaded picnic tables, restrooms, vending machines, tourist information, WIFI ... and tornado shelters.

Bound For the Tall City .....

Buses of all shapes and sizes are bringing hundreds of high-schoolers from around West Texas, to Midland for the SkillsUSA Competition at MC's Advanced Technology Center (on Cuthbert Street) and Building Trades Center (on Florida Avenue).

Lamesa Must-Stop .....

... is The Country Store, located in an old factory at 603 N. Lynn Street. Feed and grain, tools and hardware, arts and crafts, guns and old cars ... and a heck of a lot more! It really is an interesting visit.

I'm Cool With It .....

It's cold this morning in the Tall City ... but it's even colder 'up north.' Not quite a Yankee-kinda cold ... but darn near.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

286.8

286.8

It Ain't Broke ... Don't Fix it ...

For me, one of the more interesting articles in today's MRT, was this one by Ruth Campbell, about parents of private school children asking that the rules be changed for admission to public "magnet" schools.

The family that spoke to the Midland ISD Board of Trustees claimed the existing policy is discrimanatory and presents substantial hardships on those who choose to forego public education in favor of a private institution.

Note to MISD Board

Re: Magnet School Admission Policy
It ain't broke and it don't need fixin.'

I am the parent of children who passed through MISD's Washington Math & Science Magnet School, and can understand the appeal such a school and its curriculum would have for parents. Don't get me wrong ... our home campus was good, and My Favorite Landman and I did everything we could to keep it that way, by fundraising, volunteering in the classroom, and supporting the school faculty and staff in every way we could. But Washington was even better, and I think it is one of the more brilliant and effective additions that the district has made in many years.

Sure, we could have sent the kids to some private school, repeating over and over again that tired old mantra about how terrible our public schools are. But, somehow, it just seemed to make more sense to take something you've already paid for, and do everything you can to make it work, rather than run off and pay for something else.
(Gentle Readers, don't get me wrong here ... there are those with different and valid reasons for 'going private.' I'm addressing a more specific group who threw in the towel before they even took a punch in the fight, based on what 'everybody knows' about public schools.)

And, PLEASE, don't tell me the most recent magnet school was a sudden, total surprise. This was part of the bond issue that Midland voters approved years ago ... and it's been in the works (first, at the organizational level and, now, at the construction level) ever since.

My suggestion to parents of private school children interested in a public magnet school ...

● I understand your interest, and I'm glad you're considering a move back into the school system.
● Keep your kids in private school for the remainder of this school year (having grown up in a military family, I know how disruptive a mid-school-year move can be), and enroll in your home campus this fall - just as we did.
● Next spring, place your childrens' names in the lottery - just as we did.
● And in the meantime, take the commitment and concern you feel for your children, and put it to work for your local public school campus - again, just as we did. Our public school system can't help but beneft from your energy and enthusiasm on behalf of education. That is a tide that will truly raise all boats ... not just your own.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Film Favorite

Ronald Colman, award-winning actor of stage and cinema, radio and television - and one of my favorite stars of the cinema - was born on this day in 1891.

Colman was a man of another time and another place then those we now know, but his performances continue to capture us and move us. Maybe it was his good looks ... maybe it was his charm ... maybe it was that voice of his, and his wonderful delivery, which served him so well when he made the move from silent films to 'the talkies.' Or maybe it was all of the above, brought together in one very special package.

We might never have come to appreciate him, if he had pursued his original intention to study engineering ... or if his service in the Great War had taken a tragic turn. Things were different back then, especially in England, where few were content to remain at home. Colman - along with fellow actors Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall and Basil Rathbone - enlisted in the army, and was among the first to fight in World War I. In 1914, at the Battle of Messines, Colman was seriously wounded by shrapnel in his leg, which led to his being released from service.

You have to wonder, though, if that service left an indelible mark upon Colman and upon what he would bring to the characters he played in the course of his career. Some of my favorite performances by him are all characters who have been out in the world, and have come home with weariness and wounds from that experience ... Robert Conway in "Lost Horizon," Dick Heldar in "The Light That Failed," John Smith in "Random Harvest" and Sydney Carton in "Tale of Two Cities"

But whatever the role, Colman always brought a sese of grace and style, even panache to his portrayel that was not easily duplicated, no matter how often filmmakers might try in later re-makes.

There aren't very many (non-subscription) online resources for Ronald Colman (at least, when compared to other stars). There is his Wikipedia Write-up, and pages devoted to him on Internet Broadway Database and Internet Movie Database.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Don't Like Kurt? Then Don't Bother ...

But if you do like Kurt Vonnegut, then check out this post from rtcrooks at Sloshspot Blog, on motivational posters. Be warned, though ... they ARE vintage Vonnegut.

You Might be a Yankee ...

... if you watched coverage of Pittsburgh's championship celebration, and did NOT ask, "What's Ben wearing?"

Marking the Birth of a Martyr ...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and theologian martyred through his resistance to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, was born on this day in 1906. It was the begining of one of the more significant - if tragically short - lives of the 20th-century.

There was nothing cloistered about this cleric. He attended college in his native Germany, earning a PhD in theology at the age of 21, and took to traveling. He studied at a seminary in New York City, and attended Baptist church in Harlem, where he was introduced to the African-American spirituals that he collected and took back to Germany. He also traveled in India where he met Gandhi and studied the principle of non-violent resistance.

Non-violent, perhaps ... but serious nonetheless, as he returned to his native Germany, co-founded the Confessing Church, and ended up joining a resistance movement that opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. "Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church," Bonhoeffer once wrote. "Our struggle today is for costly grace."

And it did, indeed, prove to be costly. Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943, and again - for the final time - in 1944, after a failed assassination attempt on Hitler's life. He was imprisoned in a series of concentration camps. Bonhoeffer was tortured, then executed under brutal circumstances in the camp at Flossenb├╝rg on April 9, 1945 ... ending a life, but not a legacy that endures and inspires to this day.

Online resources include
this page devoted to Bonhoeffer created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the website of the International Bonhoeffer Society, the Bonhoeffer Reading Room at Tyndale College & Seminary and Bonhoeffer's Wikipedia entry.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Now Showing in Midland ...

It's a colorful new application of a centuries-old expression of art and faith ... and it's showing right now in the Tall City.

At the dawn of the 21st century,
Saint John's Abbey and University seek to ignite the spiritual imagination of believers throughout the world by commissioning a work of art that illuminates the Word of God for a new millennium ... The Saint John's Bible.

In the Middle Ages, monasteries helped preserve knowledge and culture for the sake of the greater community. By commissioning a handwritten Bible, Saint John's revives a tradition and affirms its commitment to the study of scripture, to the book arts and to educational, artistic and spiritual pursuits.

An exhibit of reproductions from the first hand-crafted Bible commissioned by a Benedictine abbey in more than 500 years, is now on display in the Garden Gallery of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, located at 800 W, Texas Avenue (the corner of Texas and A streets), on the west edge of downtown Midland. The exhibit is free and open to the public, and will run thru February 22.

Also free and open to the public will be related lectures by Dr. Kent Lydecker, formerly of the Metropolitan Musem of Art, on Thursday, February 19, at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, February 22, at 9:45 a.m.

Call 684-7821 for more information.

Must Be a Friend of Eric's ...

Dr. Edward O. Wilson - researcher, naturalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author - is coming to Midland in September ... and, boy, does he have a thing for ants!

Actually, it's for all life on Earth ... but especially ants. I've read some of his work ... but I've been learning more lately as part of my work at Midland College. Wilson is a legendary biologist and widely considered the father of the modern environmental movement. Named one of America's 25 Most Influential People by
TIME magazine, and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he has made a giant contribution to our understanding of the rich spectrum of Earth's biodiversity. In his lectures, he makes a persuasive, eloquent plea to government, corporate and religious leaders to address the damage we have done to our planet before it's too late.

We'll get a chance to hear for ourselves on September 17, 2009, at 7:30 p.m. in Midland College's Al G. Langford Chaparral Center, when Wilson will present "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth" as part of MC's Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series.

Happy Birthday to an Artist ...

Norman Percevel Rockwell, a 20th-century American artist whose works were embraced as icons of American life and ideals, was born on this day in 1894.

It's true, Rockwell's work was dismissed by a number of critics and artists of his day. One large body of his work - illustrations for magazine covers that presented idealistic or sentimental portrayals of American life — were targets-of-choise, labeled as bourgeois kitsch, disconnected from reality, and even "Rockwellesque." Some of his critics sneeringly called him an "illustrator" instead of an artist ... which was fine, really, because that's what Rockwell called himself.

But in the larger, more widespread and popular circles, Rockwell was appreciated to the point of reverence. His many, many images of Boy Scouting were held in high regard by my mom, a woman who has served nearly half-a-century as a Scouter. His images have been recreated in every medium there is, and originals of his works are much-sought-after (there's one in Midland's Museum of the Southwest, I think). And over the course of his career, Rockwell was commissioned to paint the portraits for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.

Me? I like his works.

Good online sources about Rockwell include his
Wikipedia write-up, his official website and the museum he established in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Monday, February 02, 2009

And Phil Says ...

Whither winter? There's only one gen-yoo-ine and official representative of Marmota meteorologica that can tell us ... and that's Punxsutawney Phil ..... don't be fooled by imitations.

"Phil Says "Six More Weeks of Winter!"


According to
this Wikipedia write-up and the variuos sources to which it links, the roots of this annual celebration are very old, even ancient, and reach deeper than even the most persistent of groundhogs can burrow.

Note to Racquet Club of Midland ...

Vos erant festinus in condita vestri website strenuus ...

The Bridge: So, How Did It Go? ...

Last weekend, one of Midland's old churches open its doors on a new venture, and a new addition to the Tall City's community of faith.

So, how did it go?

It's called "The Bridge," a new worship service that's been added to the schedule at First Presbyterian Church-Midland.

"The Bridge is an ancient-future worship experience at First Presbyterian Church, each Sunday morning at 11:00 in the chapel," The Bridge's website explains. "Our desire is to engage God's ancient words in a new way, all for the purpose of entering into the presence of God ... Wherever you are in life's journey, we hope that you'll join us at The Bridge, as we put our trust in God who is with us."

So how DID it go? ... "Everything worked! People sang and prayed and it was all good! God was glorified and his presence was everywhere," John reports in this post at "Into the West Texas Sun," a recent addition to Midland's corner of the blogosphere where he has been documenting the preparations - conception and organization, staff development, construction and rennovation - have been well under way for the better part of a year.

The Bridge is not replacing any of the current services at First Prez - it is an addition to the church's schedule of worship, taking place in the Chapel (the church's original sanctuary), while a traditional service is under way in the Sanctuary itself. Both services will be preceded by shared fellowship and refreshments in Lynn Hall. For more information, please call John Van Dusen 684-7821, Ext. 176.

Happy Groundhog Day! ...

Whither winter? There's only one gen-yoo-ine and official representative of Marmota meteorologica that can tell us ... and that's Punxsutawney Phil ..... don't be fooled by imitations.

According to
this Wikipedia write-up and the variuos sources to which it links, the roots of this annual celebration are very old, even ancient, and reach deeper than even the most persistent of groundhogs can burrow.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Steeler Nation Triumphant ...

Capping a remarkable fourth quarter, Santonio Holmes made a brilliant catch for a 6-yard TD with 35 seconds remaining to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a record sixth NFL championship title, in a 27-23 come-from-behind victory over the gutsy Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43.
STEELER NATION !!!

The GREATEST Halftime Show EVER! ...

'The Boss' delivers promised party at Super Bowl
TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA - Bruce Springsteen looked into the camera Sunday night and told the people watching at home to “put the chicken fingers down and turn the television all the way up!”

CLICK HERE for the rest of the story.

Oh, Yeah ... YEAH !!!!! .....

What a way to end the half! The Pittsburgh Steelers now lead the Arizona Cardinals 17-7 in Super Bowl 43 after James Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a TD, the longest such play in Super Bowl history!

STEELER NATION !!!

Ads from an Ant's Perspective ...

Eric at Fire Ant Gazette is observing an annual e-tradition, live-blogging the Super Bowl ads. Below is a selection of the ads that have lit-up the screen this evening. Hey, Eric, send some guacamole my way!

Oh, No !

The Pittsburgh Steelers find their lead over the Arizona Cardinals narrowed when the 'birds score a touchdown, making it 10-7 in the second quarter of Super Bowl 43.

STEELER NATION !!!

OH, YEAH !!!

The Pittsburgh Steelers now lead the Arizona Cardinals 10-0 in Super Bowl 43. Somebody get me a towel, and make it terrible!

STEELER NATION !!!

Oh, Yeah!

The Pittsburgh Steelers, now lead the Arizona Cardinals 3-0 in Super Bowl 43.

STEELER NATION !!!

Steeler Nation! .....

With one hand now covered, it's time to move on to the next. I'm pulling for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the most storied franchise in the history of pro football, to bring home their sixth championship ring Sunday afternoon, when the meet the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43.

STEELER NATION !!!