Friday, October 27, 2006

Congressman Harding

At the Truman Banquet held in Idaho Falls this past May, I had the privilege of meeting and speaking with former Congressman Ralph Harding (D-Idaho).

I was sad to learn this morning that Congressman Harding has passed away.

My thoughts are with his family and I can say for certainty he will be missed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Omens We Heed"

**Editor's Note: I ran across this last night as I was reading Assorted Prose by John Updike. Having never even seen it before, I was particularly intrigued by the concluding statement and quite glad I ran across it when I did.

The Assassination--November 1963
By John Updike

It was as if we slept from Friday to Monday and dreamed an oppressive, unsearchably significant dream, which, we discovered on awaking, millions of others had dreamed also. Furniture, family, the streets, and the sky dissolved; only the dream on television was real. The faces of the world's great mingled with the faces of landladies who had happened to house an unhappy ex-Marine; cathedrals alternated with warehouses, temples of government with suburban garages; anonymous men tugged at a casket in a glaring airport; a murder was committed before our eyes; a Dallas strip-tease artist drawled amiably of her employer's quick temper; the heads of state of the Western world strode down a sunlit street like a grim village rabble; and Jacqueline Kennedy became Persephone, the Queen of Hades and the beautiful bride of grief. All human possiblities, of magnificence and courage, of meanness and confusion, seemed to find an image in this long montage, and a stack of cardboard boxes in Dallas, a tawdry movie house, a tiny rented room where some shaving cream still clung to the underside of a washbasin, a row of parking meters that had witnessed panicked flight all acquired the opaque and dreadful importance that innocent objects acquire in nightmares.

What did it mean? Can we hope for a meaning? "It's the fashing to hate people in the United States." This quotation might be from one of a hundred admonitory sermons delivered after President Kennedy's death. In actuality, it occurs in an interview granted in 1959 to a United Press reporter, Aline Mosby, by a young American defector then living in Moscow, Lee Harvey Oswald. The presumed assassin did not seem to be a violent man. "He was too quiet, too reserved," his ex-landlord told reporters. "He certainly had the intelligence and he looked like he could be efficient at doing almost anything." In his room, the police found a map on which was marked the precise path that three bullets in fact took. The mind that might have unlocked this puzzle perfectly aimed, perfectly aimless murder has been itself forever sealed by murder. The second assassination augmented the first, expanded our sense of potential violence. In these cruel events, democracy seemed caricatured; a gun voted, and a drab Dallas neighborhood was hoisted into history. None of our country's four slain Presidents were victims of any distinct idea of opposition or hope of gain; they were sacrificed, rather, to the blind tides of criminality and insanity that make civilization percarious. Between Friday and Monday, three men died: a President, a policeman, and a prisoner. May their deaths be symbols, clues to our deep unease, and omens we heed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Acknowledgments

This morning in my head I began to compose the introduction to a book I hope someday to write. This morning I also walked into a very familiar building, down the stairs to a familiar hallway, only to be reminded that what was once familiar at the end of that hall no longer was there. Something I used to do every weekday morning of my life, I wanted to do again today. Autumn has an unusual influence on my thinking. I suppose it always has. It is my favorite time of year and October is my favorite month, but something about the fall this year is distinct. I feel as if a part of me is departing from the past and embracing the future. I wish I could explain it in more concrete terms.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a lecture at Idaho State University given by a man whose impact on my academic career I have often ignored. Prior to the lecture I spoke briefly with Senators Marley—and I say “Senators” because my first conversation was with the former History professor Bert Marley who served in the statehouse and the second conversation was with my former teacher Bert Marley who also served in the statehouse. In that same audience sat a man who has also had an unbelievable impact on my academic career, a Political Science professor. The only man that wasn’t in the room who has had and continues to have that sort of influence on my academic career was Richard Stallings…the topic of the book I will one day write.

Recently I wrote an article for the local paper on my “insight” into the Stallings Collection. The Stallings Collection is an assortment of legislative files, casework, and correspondence from the career of Richard Stallings spanning 4 congressional terms and filling 266 boxes. The 1600 word article I wrote did not do justice to my feelings on the collection or even Stallings himself. I have come to admire Richard Stallings in a way that I can only compare to my admiration of one other politician—Adlai Stevenson. If you know me, you know the magnitude of that statement.

I’ve also come to deeply respect archivists. It is no easy task cataloguing a congressional collection and in learning the process I have learned how truly gifted archivists are. This project has given me direction academically that I suppose I’ve lacked for most of my time at Idaho State. Never really wanting to teach, I always wondered what I would do with a slew of degrees in History. I now know. I know that after ISU there is graduate school. A master’s degree in some sort of history or archiving and maybe even a PhD await me. I will one day write a book on what I am working on now and maybe even a biography of Stallings. Hence the reason this morning I was contemplating the introduction to a book.

I have come a very long way from being a Special Education major.

The second part of this is my adventure into familiar territory this morning on the path to an office that no longer belongs to a familiar face. As I think about how far I have come from my original academic goals, I can identify the people who have led me down this path. I had an English teacher who spoke to me prior to me walking out of the College of Education and out of the field of Special Education. Her influence is immeasurable. I have had one exceptional History professor who has taught me more about myself than about her respective field. And I had the reminder of two teachers prior to these that gave me hope, strength, encouragement, and support when I needed it most. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am either.

I have come a long way from believing I could do everything on my own.

This evening instead of recomposing the introduction to a book in my head, I was composing the acknowledgments page. If and when I ever do write a book I will have many people to thank—people that today don’t even know how appreciative of them I am.

Postseason Heartbreak

Three postseason related matters: 1) Molina is now in the category of Kirby Puckett as far as postseason heartbreaks go for me; have I mentioned I despise the Cardinals? 2) Endy Chavez can catch! and 3) It occurred to me for the first time this evening that the Yankees/Tigers matchup this year is the same matchup portrayed in one of the greatest baseball/sappy romance movies ever--For Love of the Game, with Kevin Costner.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

October is my favorite month. As they say, I live for this!

You have to wonder if Frank Thomas is done now. The A's lost today to the Detroit Tigers which means the Tigers are moving on to the World Series and perhaps the Big Hurt is headed for retirement. You really can't be sure with these guys, though. Case in point--Julio Franco. I assumed he would retire, hell, the man is 48 (that's not just old for a baseball player, but for any pro-athlete), but he's still around these days pinch hitting for the New York Mets. Maybe there's hope for Thomas afterall and the money is always there for guys like Frank and Julio. So many GM's have a bigger sense of baseball history and love these guys for who they were--not who they are now. If I were a GM, there's no telling how much money I'd spend to have the older guys around--guys like Smoltz, Piazza, Thomas, and if Ryan and Ripken were still around I'd probably snag them too.

I get pretty crazy about baseball when the postseason rolls around. What? You hadn't noticed? Really? So the other night I was trying to think up a list of my top 10 favorite players. Do you know how hard that is? I can tell you for certain that Hank Aaron is #1. No question there. The more I thought about it the more I thought I had to pick Ozzie Smith, but then I thought about Johnny Bench. Finally I just decided I could only make a list of my top 5 catchers: #5 Javy Lopez, #4 The Pudges (Ivan Rodriguez and Carlton Fisk), #3 Mike Piazza, #2 Roy Campanella, #1 Johnny Bench. Honorable mentions go out to Estrada, Lo Duca, and Varitek, but none of whom I consider old enough to count, yet.

Thursday night I attended a lecture at ISU by Dr. Ron Hatzenbuehler--it was awesome! And I say this not only from my nerd perspective, but from the position of someone who firmly believes one of the greatest things about campus communities is the opportunity to attend these sorts of events. Keep an eye out for great happenings on campus and I highly encourage you all to attend.

There was something else I wanted to add to my usual Saturday randomness, but I can't seem to remember what it was--didn't have to do with baseball, this much I know. Hmm...oh well. I'm sure there will be another post soon. Until then, catch some baseball.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just Because I Love Boston

Boston
by Augustana
In the light of the sun, is there anyone? Oh it has begun...
Oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
This world you must've crossed... you said...
You don't know me, you don't even care,
She said
You don't know me, you don't wear my chains...
Essential yet appealed, carry all your thoughts across
An open field,
When flowers gaze at you...they're not the only ones who cry
When they see you
You said...
You don't know me, you don't even care,
She said
You don't know me, you don't wear my chains...
She said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California, I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly em out to Spain...
I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice...
Boston... where no one knows my name...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Postseason Paradise

I'm not a Detroit Tigers fan, or let's say I wasn't until recently, but I am sure gloating over their series win defeating the Yankees. Evidently many are in this boat. Afterall, isn't the postseason the greatest time to hate the Yankees? As far as the ALCS I now am no longer rooting for the Tigers, but the A's. Yes, me, I'm hoping for the A's. How strange is that? The greatest part about this postseason is the unexpected.

I'm not an Oakland fan--never have been, but if you can bring Frank Thomas back to a winning team and let him strut his stuff at his age (yes, he is old for a baseball player) then more power to you. Detroit brought Kenny Rogers back, showed off his softer side, but he's not Frank Thomas. And in addition to Frank Thomas, the A's have Jason Kendall who is undoubtedly one of the greatest catchers of our time and he has never been to a World Series. Maybe this is his chance. Though as far as catchers go I really like Pudge as well... I had Barry Zito and Eric Chavez on my fantasy team last year and they secured me a spot in the top 3 (so what if there were only 4 teams, just kidding).

I'm not a Cardinals fan--I hate the Cardinals. So as you can imagine I won't be hoping for the NLCS to be in favor of St. Louis. And I loved the Mets once upon a time--back when Piazza played for them. And as I have said before of that division there is only one team I can't stand and that is Florida. To a certain extent I have always been a Mets fan, not in the same way that I am a Braves fan or in the way I loved the Expos, but a fan nonetheless. David Wright is just adorable, as far as cocky baseball players go, and Paul Lo Duca is a damn fine catcher. Any Braves fan can be excited to see Glavine on a winning team again, though anyone who trades to a New York team from Atlanta is a traitor in every sense. But the Mets are not the Yankees, thank the Lord!

I'm not a Dodgers fan--Dodgers fans are nearly as bad as Yankees fans, but I sure loved the Dodgers this year. When the Braves are having a losing year, which mind you, doesn't happen that often, or at least it hasn't in the last 17 seasons, it is refreshing to see a ton of ex-Braves on one team. The only thing that could have rounded out the Maddux, Furcal, Lofton, and Drew lineup would have been the appearance of Javy Lopez. Count this as the first and possibly only year I cared at all that the Dodgers were the Wild Card.

Tonight on Fox you can catch the Detroit/Oakland game and tomorrow night the St. Louis/New York game.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

The latest wins and losses of the postseason deserve their own post, but I just have to say God bless the Detroit Tigers!

Also coming in as one of those topics that deserves its own post is a conversation I had with a Republican friend, er, acquaintance of mine. Without giving away too much, let's just say that Julie over at Red State Rebels has it right when she assumes the Republicans associate a Grant win with losing control of Congress.

As usual, I have found myself rather entertained by Orson Scott Card. Until I read his latest post, I didn't think there was a single person in the world as anal about teeth-brushing as I am--much less as concerned with the "gunk" that builds up in the toothbrush holder...evidently Mr. Card is just as anal about teeth-brushing and proper bathroom cleanliness as I am.

On an entirely different subject, this morning I was sitting in IHOP having breakfast with my little brother and this guy gets up from his table, notices my Idaho Democrats: This is the Year t-shirt and says "Idaho Democrats?!? Rock-and-roll!" It was one of the stranger encounters I've had in IHOP, but nonetheless gave me hope. The guy couldn't have been much older than I am and seemed sincerely excited for November. Indeed, this is the year.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

A Little Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young for Lunch

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can liveby
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well,
Theirfather's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked,
the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why,
if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they loveyou.
And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why,
if they toldyou, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh
and know they love you.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Big Hurt & the Has Beens

Have I mentioned how unbelievably happy I am about the postseason? Today it only got better. You've all heard the "has been" talk and how all the old guys are in the postseason. Really? Has beens? You've got to be kidding me!

Sure, Piazza, Klesko, Cameron, Roberts, Thomas, they've all been around for awhile, but they're still hot. Did you see Frank Thomas today? The A's are quite lucky to have him. And he is clearly still the Big Hurt. Nobody can argue with that.

The Padres aren't doing so well, but the Big Hurt is back in a big way. This is awesome!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Postseason

I have been doing homework for approximately 17 hours straight--well I did take one break before this one, but really 17 hours? Whew! And the sad thing is I'm not done.

But I wanted to bring your attention to the MLB postseason lineup. The results are in:

American League East: Yankees (surprise, surprise)
American League Central: Twins (weird)
American League West: Athletics
American League Wildcard: Tigers

National League East: Mets
National League Central: Cardinals (no surprise here either)
National League West: Padres
National League Wildcard: Dodgers (wow)

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I love the NL East. I'm happy with any of those teams (except of course the Marlins) and in a year when the Braves couldn't get it together and the Nationals, well they suck, I'm pretty stoked about the Mets. Plus, David Wright is just adorable. And Pedro is out for the postseason. Does it get any better?

The Tigers loss today kind of has me worried for the American League, but lets just say this--I'll be happy with anyone but the damn Yankees.

While I was driving home from a 6 hour adventure at the library I thought up my own fantasy postseason. Wouldn't this be great??

American League East: Orioles
American League Central: Tigers
American League West: Mariners
American League Wildcard: Angels

National League East: Braves (of course)
National League Central: Cubs
National League West: Padres
National League Wildcard: Nationals

Yes, wishful thinking considering the Nationals finished in last place for the third consecutive year. But how sweet would it be to see the Cubs, Padres, and Orioles all make it to the postseason?

And for what it is worth, I secretly like the Padres. They have Brian Giles, Mike Cameron, Ryan Klesko, and Mike Piazza. How can you not secretly be hoping this isn't a fluke?

Alright, that's it for me. I love October!