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The personal journal of technology journalist and conference speaker Randall S. Newton.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Daniel Sepulveda, Hero of American Youth

Former Baylor punter Daniel Sepulveda is the two-time winner of the Ray Guy Award, for best punter in college football. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and played his first official NFL game last week. The result is explained in a blog called Northbound in their piece "Daniel Sepulveda, Hero of American Youth." Several punting opportunities calling for different skills and high accuracy; Sepulveda delivered every time.

If punters can become superstars, put your money on Daniel Sepulveda. (I have historically disliked the Steelers, but with the Seahawks in the National Conference now, I might re-evaluate.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Loomisboy Suffers Inextricable Cougar-Bear Karmic Link

[This is a letter to the Editors of BearMeat, a sharp-tongued and barely lucid blog about Baylor Sports and alt.waco.culture. The three reincarnated fools who run BearMeat appointed me Assistant Editor of Research and Fan Club President recently. I now give them cause to regret their actions.]

Dear BearMeat Editors,

On the afternoon of Sept. 16 2006 I was struck by a bolt of karmic lightning and have been suffering from the ethereal equivalent of delirium tremens ever since. Gentlemen, I fear for my sanity. Allow me to explain, if explanation is possible. Perhaps you can help.

On that fateful day in 2006 I was standing in front of my home, doing my best to avoid any report of the Baylor-Washington State game in progress. (You will remember when you appointed me as Assistant Editor of Research and Fan Club President that I am a Cougar by birth location and a Bear by life path). Just then my sister and her husband pull in the driveway. Janine rolls down the window (do we still "roll" windows in this modern era?) and says, "Why aren't you listening to the game?" in that voice only a kid sister can use and get away with.

(In the eastern two-thirds of Washington, on Saturday afternoon there is no need to explain what game. Of course she means the Washington State University Cougars. Our Division I teams are few and far between in this part of the world, unlike Texas which seems to have them in every hamlet. There is rumored to be a pack of dogs west of the Cascades with pretentious ambitions toward college athletic prowess, but all of us in area code 509 know that Coasties are notorious liars. The only football team of note over there plays in the NFL.)

(Can you tell by the many parenthetical interruptions that my very sanity is at stake here?) I told Janine that I was too conflicted to listen to the game. (As I alluded to above, you will recall that I was born, raised and continue to live in Cougar country [where real cougars actually roam with impunity and occasionally kill real {albeit either young or stupid} people]. I found my way as a youth to Bear Country [where the only bears are caged females who exist to amuse frat boys with too much time on their hands {and yes, you can read too much into that last line}]. Separated by the 2,500 miles of mountains and prairies between Loomis and Waco, I learned to embrace two college football loyalties. My simple bliss was interrupted only once, in 1994 when the two met in the Alamo Bowl. I sat mute in front of the TV and couldn't speak for hours afterwards. I assumed such a football eclipse would never happen again, and went on with my life.)

"Well stick your head in here and listen anyway" she commanded. It was the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, and the game was not yet decided. You will recall what a nail-biter it was, settled with only 9 seconds remaining as WSU scored a field goal and held on. As Bob Roberts, the golden baritone of the Palouse for more than 40 years, announced the Cougar victory, I was suddenly transported to another plain of existence. I could see myself, head sticking in car window, listening to the game. At that moment the duality of my fanboy life appeared before my eyes, and I realized that by listening to the game I had shifted a delicate eternal balance. From that moment on, the fate of my two favorite teams were inextricably linked -- and I was the karmic link. Both went on to have rotten seasons, adding insult to misery.

I have fought hard to put that moment -- and that season -- out of my mind. But the start of the 2007 season finds me as firmly convinced of the karmic link as ever. Baylor and WSU are both 1-1. Both had rotten openers on the road, then came back in week two to post glorious victories. Both wins were led by record-setting performances at quarterback. I am now hopelessly resolved to the fact that Baylor and WSU are -- because of my very existence -- twins in parallel universes, with me stretched between them as 10,000 volts of karmic energy surge through me to connect the two sets of warriors.

I sense my destiny in all this is only the continuation of something much bigger than Loomisboy, BearMeat or any pathetic blog entry. When WSU visited Waco for the first meeting between the two teams (1952), the noble Cougars brought black athletes into Baylor Stadium for the very first time. The four were forced to stay in a separate hotel, but as one of them later said, "We fraternized in the black community and were treated well." (Do realize that four black players at WSU represented a sizeable percentage of the black population of eastern Washington in those days.) In 1966, when Baylor traveled north to meet the Cougars, The B's first black player, an ordained Baptist minister (no less) by the name of John Hill Westbrook scored Baylor's winning touchdown.

The two teams meet again in Waco in 2008. Part of me wants to gather some friends and do a road trip to Waco (driving time one-way, 48 hours). Another part of me wants to gather my children and do a road trip to West Edmonton Mall (driving time one way, 16 hours) a world away from any thought of college football and fanboy karmic links. I would hate to be the cause of a karmic bolt of lightning striking whatever row of Floyd Casey Stadium I might be seated in that day.

Your erstwhile reporter,


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Arctic Ice Disappearing at Unprecedented Rate

As The Guardian reports, arctic ice disappeared this summer at a rate never seen before. Excerpts:

Mark Serreze, an Arctic specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Colorado University in Denver, said: "It's amazing. It's simply fallen off a cliff and we're still losing ice."

The Arctic has now lost about a third of its ice since satellite measurements began thirty years ago, and the rate of loss has accelerated sharply since 2002.

Dr Serreze said: "If you asked me a couple of years ago when the Arctic could lose all of its ice then I would have said 2100, or 2070 maybe. But now I think that 2030 is a reasonable estimate. It seems that the Arctic is going to be a very different place within our lifetimes, and certainly within our childrens' lifetimes."

If you thought my idea to buy land in Svalbard was nuts (see "Beating the Great Arctic Land Rush in Svalbard" from January 2007), I'm ready to say "I told you so." I have plans to be in Europe next month, but right now those plans do not include Svalbard. Maybe I should rethink my journey, before land prices start rising.

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