Friday, June 20, 2008

Lewis and Clark

Today is a history lesson because on Monday, June 23, I will be departing Raleigh-Durham for Great Falls, Montana. The seminar I am attending is on Lewis and Clark and is through the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). We will be studying Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery as they voyage west through unknown territory.

Louisiana was one of the hallmark moments in American history. Thomas Jefferson sent a delegation to France to purchase the strategically important port city of New Orleans. New Orleans, with its location close to the Gulf of Mexico, controlled all traffic in and out of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi not only was the western boundary of the fledging United States, but an important means of transporting goods from the Ohio River Valley.

Napoleon, facing mounting costs of wars in Europe and maintaining an empire in the western hemisphere, made a desperate offer of 15 million dollars for not just New Orleans, but the entire territory of Louisiana. In what would later be a very controversial decision, Jefferson approved the appropriation of funds to purchase Louisiana.

The Louisiana Purchase resulted in:

  • Doubling the size of the United States, which begins the perpetuation of the idea of “Manifest Destiny
  • One of the first major tests of Presidential powers. Many people in Congress believed that Jefferson overstepped his powers in acquiring land without Congressional approval.

  • Political, social, and economic issues that come with the acquisition of such a large swatch of land.
  • In order to better inventory and survey the land, prepare for the Natives and determine the value of the purchase, Jefferson employed Meriweather Lewis and William Clark to lead a team called the Corps of the Discovery.

The Corps of Discovery departed in 1803 north of St Louis on a mission to map the newly acquired land and record and observe the plants, animals and people of the new territory. The Corps were led by army veterans Meriweather Lewis and William Clark. With them were an additional 31 individuals (and one dog, Seaman) who who were willing to brave the unknown journey west into some of the most scenic and wild places in North America.

From the bayous of Louisiana to the scenic vistas of Glacier National Park, the Louisiana Purchase added an incredibly diverse topography to the United States. Journeying from the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark lead a three year voyage of discovery, adventure and hope through new frontiers and with new people. Next week, I get to experience some of their journey through experiences in and around Great Falls and a few days retracing their voyage along the Missouri River.

For more information on Lewis and Clark's adventures, check out these websites:

Discovering Lewis and Clark

National Geographic: Lewis and Clark Interactive

PBS: Lewis and Clark

National Park Service: Lewis and Clark Historic Trail

Monday, June 16, 2008

The US Open at Torrey Pines

Though I am admittedly a hacker, I love golf. I love the tradition and history of the game, the challenge of each shot on each hole, the scenic layouts of certain courses and the fellowship of golfing with my friends. Needless to say, I was enthralled by the action at this past week's US Open Championships. From the opening pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott on the first day to the playoffs today, this was an Open for the ages.

A few notes:

1) I can understand Phil's frustration. The quadruple bogey on Number 13 Saturday ruined him. Just a bogey would have brought him to plus 3 after Sunday and tied for sixth. Instead, he finished tied for 18th with a +6. We once played golf at Connestee Falls and watched our putts roll off the green and several yards down the fairway. Went from putter to wedge. Not a good hole that day.

2) In case you haven't heard, Tiger Woods had surgery on his knee right after the Masters. He was obviously in pain, especially on Saturday. A lot of people said that the media was overplaying his injury, that it's just golf. I would beg to differ. Golf is so much about balance and control and your knees are just a little bit important for that. Golf is a game of precision.

I would argue that Tiger playing with a hurt knee was more impressive than Curt Schilling's bloody sock, Emmitt Smith's separated shoulder in the 1994 NFC Championship game, or even Kerri Strugg's miraculous vault on an injured ankle in the 1996 Olympics. While these injuries might have HURT MORE, I don't believe they affected the performance in their sports as much as a bum knee in golf might. Some injuries in some sports can be played through.

I watched Justin Harrell play against Florida with a torn bicep! I have no doubt that he hurt, but he could still perform at an acceptable level. There's no way you are performing with that injury if you are a golfer or tennis player. It's not about toughness, it's about physiology.

3) We are going to talk about Tiger's performance for a long time. Saturday was amazing. That birdie putt from near the fringe on 13 (the same hole that ate Mickelson) was phenomenal. Then he holed 17 from the bunker and a 30 foot birdie on 18 to clinch the lead. The putt on Number 18 Sunday to tie will be also remembered (if only for the insatiable fist pumping). Check out these highlights from Saturday:

4)Get rid of the 18 hole playoff for the US Open. Playing Monday is so anticlimatic. It was close today, but what if Tiger had birdied three in a row and Rocco bogeyed those and was 6 behind? That equals: Yawner. If there is a tie, they should draw a number from a hat or bucket and play three holes. If 12 is drawn, you play 12, 13 and 14. If there is still a tie, go on to 15. I don't like sudden death, it does not give enough room for the better golfer to emerge. 18 on Monday is too much though, especially if one golfer falters.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ryan Kirkpatrick on Flotrack

My buddy Ryan's interview on Flotrack after the US 8K Championships in NYC on March 15, 2008. Ro finished 9th in a time of 23:20.30. Ryan is attempting to qualify for the Bejing Olympics and is running the 5K at the USA Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR. Watch him if you get the chance on June 27.

Never Alone// Hebrews 13:5

I stumbled upon this picture browsing "Interestingness" on Flickr. I like the cleverness and creativeness of the photo and the message of the artist. Photo credit goes to the very cool Demi-Brooke.

Hebrews 13:5-
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Gain of Pain

So yesterday, my friend Matthew and I went for a mountain bike ride in Bent Creek. We ended up deciding to ride the Greenslick trail, especially since they had just done some maintenance on it the previous weekend. We rode Laurel Branch Rd until it connected with Sidehill Trail. Laurel Branch, though double track, is quite a spin to get to the intersection of Sidehill and Greenslick. From there, Sidehill is a long, continuous climb to Ingles Field Gap and Boundary Road and then another 1.2 miles uphill to the top of Greenslick Trail.

The climb was quite a workout and Matthew is a much better endurance athlete than I am. Needless to say, on this hot and humid afternoon, my legs and lungs were burning climbing up the mountain. But I love the downhill. My reward was a fast and fun descent that made all the climbing worth it. Without the effort of the climb, there is no reward.

Another favorite of mine is riding my bike from my house to the top of Jump Off Rock in Laurel Park. It takes me about 30 minutes to get to the top (23 is my record), but only 12 minutes to come back down in a fury of pavement. Again, the reward of speeding down Laurel Park Highway does not happen unless I suffer my way up that steep grade to Echo Mountain Inn and beyond.

I think that one of the mistakes we make a lot as a society is we try to make everything "safe". No one gets hurt, everyone wins. But with that there is no reward and no growth. The more I suffer going up the mountains, the easier the climbs gradually become. It's the growth that comes with the pain in which we truly benefit. When we sanitize everything so no one gets "hurt", we've neutered the very means by which we blossom as individual and a society.

My friend Rachel brought me some little tomato plants to plant at my house. Since I have no green thumb, she was giving me tips. She said that you have to be "brutal" to the plant, clipping its leaves to the stalk and planting the stalk. Though it may seem like to are murdering the plant, where you cut will actually take root stronger and better than if you never cut them before.
161/366 - 10 Jul [Tomato]
Last year, my neighbor Don and I pruned the azaleas in my back yard. They were over four feet high and he pruned them down to stumps. He said "trust me, they'll grow back". Gradually, those stumps became shoots. They endured the drought and the winter. This spring, they had the prettiest blossoms in years.

The struggle up the mountain is good; it will yield a reward if we are persistent. The pruning of the leaves and branches is worthwhile; it will result in growth and bloom if we are patient.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Watershed to Dalton, GA

Watershed Youth is heading to Dalton, GA for this year's high school mission trip. It is a Hispanic outreach of service and fellowship. You can follow the Grace kids through this link:

First Blog Interview: Ms Case

Something I am going to try to do in my blog is introduce you to some of the interesting people around me. I don’t know how often I am going to do this, maybe twice a month or so. Today I am going to introduce one of the most amazing people in my life: Ms Dot Case. Ms Case “adopted” me when I arrived at North Henderson in the fall of 2000. She teaches US History and AP US History and AP Government. I have been lucky enough to be next door to Ms Case for my entire teaching career. She has fought and stood up for me, encouraged me, brought me cake, cheered for my athletes and has been outstanding to me just like she has to hundreds of other students at Edneyville and North Henderson High Schools over the past 37 years.
HKU: What is your full name?
Dot Case: Dorothy Leigh Reid Case

HKU: Where were you born?
DC: Asheville, but I have lived my entire life in Henderson County.

HKU: How many years have you been teaching?
DC: since 1969

HKU: What do you like most about teaching?
DC: I love the kids and the variety of everyday. I like seeing young teachers develop into good teachers. I love history, I get to do what I like. I like to see kids reach their potential.

HKU: How has education changed since you started?
DC: Because of kids working and cars, the school is not the center of the community anymore. Kids participated more, but now because of increased freedom they have jobs. They are more technological; kids have more going on but are less motivated. Our facilities are better, the class load is less. I had 36 in my class when I started. Kids are smarter because of technology, but don’t use it [smarts] as much. There are more opportunities for college scholarships for our students.

HKU: If you weren’t teaching, what would you have done?
DC: (long, long pause…she really thought hard before she replied) I don’t think God called me to do anything else. Just like preachers are called to preach, I believe I was called to teach. If I could do anything else right now, I might be a lawyer or politician.

HKU: What are the challenges you see in education?
DC: Keeping young teachers in the profession. There are too many roadblocks with money and discipline.

HKU: If you were principal, what would your school be like?
DC: The dress code would be stricter, possibly even uniforms. Hopefully that would do away with some of the class stigma. I won’t make rules I don’t enforce and the school would know I mean what I say. Teachers would be supported and I would be fair to both kids and teachers. I would give credit where credit is due, start traditions and kill myself being at every event my students are in.

HKU: Who are your heroes?
DC: I am a teacher because of one of my teachers, Mr. Woodson, who was awesome and I wanted to be like. Elaine McCall, my supervising teacher was strict, fair and tough. Mom and dad for my Christian background. Mrs Briggs, my Christian mentor.

HKU: Who’s your favorite teacher in the department [with lots of winking by yours truly]?
DC: I always wanted 4 boys but never had children. So I feel like the Lord has blessed me with four wonderful boys that I call my own. [this was the diplomatic answer. Ms Case works with myself, Coach Coren, Coach Rice, Coach Manuel and Coach Inman]

Social Studies Department at North Henderson:

l-r: Bill Rice, me, Chad Inman, Dot Case, Luke Manuel, Ronnie Coren

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Natalie's Hair

Natalie Nock is such a cool kid. When lots of kids her age are thinking about what's best for them, Natalie decides she wants to raise money for cancer. If she can raise 2000 dollars, she'll shave her head. With the help of the community and North Henderson High School, Natalie met her goal. This is her right after her haircut.

Here she is earlier in the day:

It's such a great reminder of how well we have it and a wonderful tribute to cancer survivors. Natalie's hair will grow back; for someone undergoing chemo, their hair is the least of the their worries.

It reminded me of a week I spent one summer working at a camp in Maryland called Camp Friendship. All the campers were children with some sort of cancer (and their siblings). Many of them were not expected to see their eighteenth birthday. Yet they were some of the happiest people I've been around. The things that worry us and get us down daily don't bother them as much. Today, and each new day is the gift, so let's celebrate that.