Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obit Quote

From The New York Times obit on Geraldine Ferraro, Sunday, March 27, 2011:

In any event, she said, the political realities of 1984 had made it all but impossible for the Democrats to win, no matter the candidates or their gender. “Throwing Ronald Reagan out of office at the height of his popularity, with inflation and interest rates down, the economy moving and the country at peace, would have required God on the ticket,” Ms. Ferraro wrote, “and she was not available!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A City Washed Away

I post this video because it better displays the power and devastation Japan was up against than any other video of the disaster I have seen. It just makes you want to help. I assume the person taking the video is on top of a building. I am amazed it doesn't collapse. The building across the parking lot remains standing. Also incredible. But everything else is washed away. The power is jaw dropping. The consequences are heartbreaking.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Damn You, MSNBC

All I want right now is to get some information about our newest war in the Middle East, err, I mean, Africa, and I am surfing the cable news channels (all of them), but freaking MSNBC, you're showing "Lockup"? C'mon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freelance Whales

Okay, so I am probably discovering the band Freelance Whales very, very late, but I don’t care, it’s a new band to me and I really like their sound. I had the TV on for a few minutes this morning and I heard a song that sounded so great I quickly wrote down the first line so I could look it up later and find out who was responsible for it.

I did the Google search and found Freelance Whales and all their quirky sounds. I watched a video of them performing at SXSW 2010 for NPR Music. They were performing Generator (First Floor), which at this infant stage of my appreciation for them, I can tell this must be one of their more popular songs, or their most popular song. After all, it was playing during a Starbucks commercial.

While watching them jam away I was reminded of Arcade Fire (although Freelance Whales is a smaller group), but in their performance they had this awesome connection like they were all sharing the same brain to tell them when to start into the song or when to pick it up or slow it down. Arcade Fire is extremely good at this. I know this comes from a ton of practice and memorizing all the songs and reading each other’s signals, but not all groups do this very well. So, Freelance Whales definitely caught my eye because of this.

And there was one more thing, they looked very Portlandish. A couple flannel shirts, a couple glasses leaving you to wonder if the people wearing them actually need them, some tight jeans, and one pair of pink leggings. It appeared to be a carefully crafted image that is no longer unique and now the fodder for jokes in Portlandia. And then I read that they weren’t from Portland. They’re from New York. All of a sudden I liked what they were wearing and I liked them a heck of a lot more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In the Heart of the Bisti

Kate and I were in New Mexico over the weekend. We had a great visit with my parents and we saw some extraordinary land called the Bisti Wilderness. Here are some pics of our hike there.

This looks like a leg coming right out of the ground.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Why I Didn't Tell You

This time around, if things went the same way they did last year, I didn’t want to tell anyone about not getting into grad school, not even my in-laws. I just didn’t want to deal with that public failure again. Last year hurt, a lot. Going into the process, I didn’t think I wouldn’t get in anywhere, but after 4 or 5 rejections, I realized 10 rejections was possible, even likely.

A writer’s ego is a very fragile thing. Sharing about the rejections over and over again, I felt like I was announcing through a large megaphone from the top of the world, “My writing sucks and no one likes it.” It’s hard to describe how that shattered my motivation and made me dislike—even hate—things completely unrelated to my attempt at getting into grad school.

After months of recovery and having to focus my attention elsewhere, it was autumn in Colorado and with a lot of support and guidance I reevaluated grad school and my interests. I chose a few schools to apply to, all of which wouldn’t prevent me from doing some writing, from letting me develop my voice, and share my opinion in some format. Essentially, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to grad school just to go to grad school and because I didn’t get in the first time. So, I committed and vowed to give it another go, telling only my wife, sister, and parents. No one else.

However, doing this again meant dealing with this menace from my past. The GRE. As you may recall, I first took the GRE in April 2009, prepping in advance for my first attempt at grad school. I wrecked my car on the way to that test and was seated for the first part (the essays) less than 40 minutes after a four-car accident on the interstate. I managed to do okay on the test, or at least I convinced myself that the results were good enough, especially given the situation. That held for a while, but for me, applying again meant doing everything better this time around. I signed up to take the test on December 9th.

Shortly after the New Year, I wrote a brief summary of 2010, mentioning the highs and the lows of each month. For December I mentioned, “I celebrated a private accomplishment.” That accomplishment, improving my score in every category of the GRE, gave me a helpful dose of motivation to finish this round of applications. I did so in the first couple weeks of January. And I did so with no expectations this time around and with no sense that I deserved this. I guess that was more me protecting myself than wholeheartedly believing I truly didn’t deserve to get into grad school.

And last week I opened an email and I didn’t have to worry any more about weathering another round of rejections. I admit to taking a little pleasure in keeping this all a secret until now. It was a storm I was prepared to face privately and now it’s a little piece of success I am happy to share publicly.

Friday, March 04, 2011

It is my pleasure to inform you that…

I don’t have to spend another year wandering and wondering what if?

The eleventh letter doesn’t begin with “I regret to inform you…”

I don’t have to file this letter away with the other ten I still have.

Perseverance pays off, which is good, because I apparently had some to do this all over again, to take the GRE…again, and to pay the application fees again, to contact professors who may or may not remember me again.

I didn’t have to look up at the sky and curse. I, instead, closed my eyes and sighed, releasing burdens taken on long ago.

The first word I read was, “Congratulations!” That one word, I don’t know why I had to see it so badly, why that combination of letters could change my thinking in a split second, but they gave me hope, a smile, laughter, and tears.

I read the first paragraph over and over again before moving on to the second. “It is my great pleasure” (to eradicate doubt for the time being it could have said) “you have been accepted to the Master of Arts in International Studies program” and “I would like to invite you to be a part of the University of Denver community.”

I still feel like Michael Phelps, Jordan, Usain Bolt, and Arnold. But all for different reasons than last year. All for different reasons.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A Panther Going To NCs

Going to NCs (NCAA Championships in D1) for swimming is a huge deal. NCs is one of the fastest meets every year, including international meets. If you go to NCs for swimming you are very successful. If you final at NCs you're close to, or in, the top tier of swimmers in your event in the world. So, it is no small deal that UW-Milwaukee has someone going to NCs this year. She's a freshman and already a three-time Horizon League individual champion who holds the conference records in all three of those events (100 and 200 Breaststroke and 200 IM).

Read about the story here. I had to put a shout out to Kyle and Emily on the blog for an amazing season that isn't over yet!