Wednesday, January 28, 2009

THE: GSQ presents The Lion in Winter

Guadalupe Stage Quartet produces “The Lion in Winter”

On Christmas 1183 at Chinon Castle, in what is now French territory, a royal family gathers at the abode of King Henry II, ruler of all England and most of France. Henry III, heir to the throne has died over the summer, and the entire family gathers for the holiday, each plotting to take, inherit, regain or usurp the throne. Henry’s wife, Queen Eleanor returns from her dungeoning up to spar with the king’s mistress, Princess Alais, brother to the King of France.

The French king, himself a teenager and newly crowned, but wise beyond his years, demands a marriage or expects to retake his father’s dowry. And the three royal sons, Richard the Lionhearted, Geoffrey and John, run the whole family ragged making insidious alliances and bargains. Who then ends up with the crown? Who ends up with the land? And who, pray tell, ends up with the young princess?

Intrigued? Then come see the Guadalupe Stage Quartet’s new stage production of James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter” opening Friday January 30th at Warrior Theatre in Ingram. The two-act comedy won’t answer all your questions, but you’ll be delighted by the answers that almost, but no quite, come to fruition.

The show is directed by Marie Cearley, a GSQ founder, assisted by Justin Shotts, and is produced by GSQ founder Holly Riedel. Madelyn Beadouin is the stage manager for this show.

Appearing as the elegant peacemaker Queen Eleanor is Holly Riedel, Tony Gallucci is the harried, vengeful and brutal Henry II, Richard is played by Irec Hargrove, Geoffrey by Chris McCrae, and Brian Ross is John. The mistress Princess Alais is played by Prari Blair, and her brother King Philip of France is played by Matt Poole.

The Guadalupe Stage Quartet was formed in 2006 to present fine dramatic performances in area theatres, and was the brainchild of founder Roy Burney, who died before the first production could be mounted. “The Lion in Winter” was one of his finest moments on stage. The remaining members of the “Quartet”, Riedel, Cearley and Gallucci, have dedicated all their performances to his memory. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the show go to funding ITM Thespian educational experiences and a scholarship in Burney’s name which is given annually to a senior Thespian.

Shows are Friday and Saturday, January 30-31 at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, February 5-7 at 7:30 p.m., a Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m. on February 8, and Thursday through Saturday, February 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, and group rates are available by calling 830-377-8957.

The theatre is located next to the Ingram ISD Administration building at 510 College Street. Stay right (north) on Tx 27 at the Y in Ingram at Moore Lumber. At the next light, at College Street, turn left. The theatre is on a hill on your right a couple of blocks down College.

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TRI: A story

Everything Connects
By J Hutcherson

Five January's ago, the NSCAA Convention was held in Charlotte. I grew up near there, and I spent a week getting dropped off by my Dad like it was middle school. Well, a middle school populated by people wearing tracksuits and calling each other 'coach.'

That was also the only time I've ever finagled a press credential. I got my Dad in as a photographer to cover the MLS SuperDraft. He was taking a course and he needed to cover an event as part of the work he was doing.

Even on Freddy Adu's big day, Major League Soccer didn't mind. Adu introduced himself to my father that afternoon. The poise that kid had was unreal. In real life, my dad was a trial lawyer, but that day he got to be a pro sports photographer.

Had it been familiar to him growing up, I think my father would've understood soccer. He played baseball, a game of complexities. Soccer stresses getting the simple things right. Step-overs will never be as important as passing and keeping shape.

In a courtroom, my father knew the value of keeping language simple, even when making a complex point. He was good at it. I'm far from the only person who thinks so.

He had the skills: a gift for speaking, an ability to read his audience and adjust accordingly, and a scholarly understanding of the law. What he also had was a basic empathy for people that most would write off. My father saw the worst this country's criminal justice system has to offer, day after day for over thirty years. It had to have gotten to him. I know it got to him. He didn't let it define him.

Pancreatic cancer isn't subtle, and we'll leave it at that. Diagnosed in mid-September, he died on Tuesday.

How I hope to remember my father is one of the last days he went to his day job. He no longer had an office, he couldn't drive himself, and he was very tired. I was at a stop light when I saw him walking to the sidewalk where I was going to pick him up.

He stopped, sat down on the concrete riser that surrounds a tree in the courtyard of what was the post office when I was a kid. Holding his briefcase, wearing a suit that was already a couple of sizes too big, he could have been at any stage of his working life. He was smiling. It was a good day. No complaints.

That was my father.

Do us both a favor and, if you haven't already, spend some time on as they work to help Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams' wife Marcia in her fight with leukemia.

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ENV: What science gives, science takes away

There's nothing quite like good science!

First the article --

Web site posts recordings of Guam's lost bird species
By Bryan C. Sualog • Pacific Daily News • January 25, 2009

Guampedia has added recordings of Guam's native birds to its Web site for everyone to hear.

The files recently were added to the series on Guam's Native Forest Birds section, said Guampedia Managing Editor Shannon Murphy.

Guampedia was given the recordings, made by the Navy in the 1950s, by the U.S. National Park Service. The Navy recorded the birds in the 1950s before the brown tree snake decimated the bird population, she said. "Now the jungles are silent."

The recordings were done near Ritidian with listening devices originally intended to find spies, she said.

"Now everyone can hear Guam's native birds, though most of them are extinct or only surviving in captivity," she said.

And then the first comment [this morning] in the comments section [Doug Pratt is a superb bird artist and a highly respected ornithological authority on the birds of Guam]

This article is correct that bird recordings are available on Guampedia, but it is wrong about nearly everything else. These are recordings made by me on Guam and Saipan in the 1970s blended together to imitate the possible sound of Guam's pre-human forests. They are played regularly in the visitor center of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge, which must have been the source. The bird sounds are not identified to species in Guampedia. The Navy/spy story is nice, but it's fiction. -Doug Pratt

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ENV: Finding Mount Mabu

Google Earth reveals hidden oasis

Space may be the final frontier, but scientists who recently discovered a hidden forest in Mozambique show the uncharted can still be under our noses. BirdLife were part of a team of scientists who used Google Earth to identify a remote patch of pristine forest. An expedition to the site discovered new species of butterfly and snake, along with seven Globally Threatened birds.

The team were browsing Google Earth – freely available software providing global satellite photography – to search for potential wildlife hotspots. A nearby road provided the first glimpses of a wooded mountain topped by bare rock. However, only by using Google Earth could the scientists observe the extent of woodland on the other side of the peak. This was later discovered to be the locally known, but unmapped, Mount Mabu. Scientific collections and literature also failed to shed light on the area.

“This is potentially the biggest area of medium-altitude forest I’m aware of in southern Africa, yet it was not on the map”, related Jonathan Timberlake from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew), who led the expedition. “Most Mozambicans would not even have recognised the name Mount Mabu.”

“The phenomenal diversity is just mind-boggling” —Jonathan Timberlake, RGB Kew, expedition leader

Following scoping trips, a team of 28 experts from the UK, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Belgium, Ireland, and Switzerland ventured into it last autumn. They included scientists from BirdLife. The group was able to stay in an abandoned tea estate where the road ended, but had to hike the last few kilometres into the forest to set up camp. They had to contend with steep terrain and dense vegetation.

Inside, they found a wealth of wildlife, including three new species of butterfly and an undiscovered species of adder. The scientists believe there are at least two novel species of plant and perhaps more new insects to identify. They took home over 500 samples. “The phenomenal diversity is just mind-boggling”, exclaimed Jonathan Timberlake. Despite civil war from 1975 to 1992 ravaging parts of Mozambique, the landscape was found virtually untouched.

The site also proved to be important for birds, especially Endangered Thyolo Alethe Alethe choloensis, which is common throughout. “This may be the most important population of Thyolo Alethe known”, remarked Dr Lincoln Fishpool, BirdLife’s Global IBA Co-ordinator, who joined the expedition. “At other sites, forest is rapidly being lost or much of the habitat is sub-optimal”. There were six other Globally Threatened birds among the 126 species identified. Of these, Vulnerable Swynnerton's Robin Swynnertonia swynnertoni is particularly significant - bridging a large gap between known populations. Mozambique’s only endemic species, Near Threatened Namuli Apalis Apalis lynesi, was also seen. This was the first record of it away from nearby Mount Namuli.

Conserving Mount Mabu is now a priority. The forest’s value as a refuge to villagers during the war has thus far helped to protect it, along with poor access and ignorance of its existence. However local people are returning to the area and Mozambique’s economy is booming. There is a risk the forest will come under pressure to be cut for wood or burnt for crop space.

“Mount Mabu effortlessly qualifies as an IBA” —Lincoln Fishpool, BirdLife’s Global IBA Co-ordinator

RBG Kew is working to protect the forest, as part of ongoing efforts with the Mozambique government. BirdLife has plans to recognise it as an Important Bird Area (IBA), “Mount Mabu effortlessly qualifies as an IBA”, said Dr Fishpool. Ground-level measures could be most effective conservation for the immediate future: “Remoteness is currently its best protection. We hope to work alongside the local tea-estate managers who are conservation-sympathetic and want to maintain the status quo of the forest”.

As for Google Earth, Jonathan Timberlake says the digital imagery has helped scientists realise more about the world. It may reveal further unnoticed pockets of diversity, especially in areas like Mozambique or Papua New Guinea. “We cannot say we have discovered all the biodiversity areas in the world”.

The expedition was led by RBG Kew and involved scientists from the Mozambique Agronomic Research Institute and the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust in Malawi, as well as BirdLife International. It was funded by the Darwin Initiative.

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ENV: Carnivorous Dung Beetles

from TP&WD Entomologist Mike Quinn:
Carnivorous dung beetle shuns dung and decapitates millipedes
Posted on: January 21, 2009 8:30 AM, by Ed Yong


Trond Larsen from Princeton University discovered D.valgum's unusual
diet by baiting several pit-traps with all sorts of potential snacks,
from dung to fruit to millipedes, both dead or alive. Over a span of
11 months, the traps lured in over 100,000 individual dung beetles.
Thirty-five species would scavenge on dead millipedes, but only five
tackled live ones. And out of these, only D.valgum ignored all other
foods - it only cared for traps baited with live millipedes.

By making small nicks in the millipedes' shells, Larsen showed that
D.valgum is an opportunistic hunter, and was over 60 times more likely
to attack injured prey than healthy ones. Even so, the beetles were
more than happy to tackle millipedes up to 14 times their size and
they would fight each other over potential kills.


more links:

Dung beetles are evolving into vicious carnivores, scientists find, United Kingdom - Jan 21, 2009
Humble dung beetles are evolving into carnivores, according to a study
which found them attacking and eating millipedes 10 times their

Little beetle is big chopper
BBC News, UK - Jan 20, 2009
By James Morgan It was rooted at the rear end of the food chain, but
now the humble dung beetle is biting back. A ferocious scarab species
has been filmed ...

Enough of This S#%t! Dung Beetles Morph into Millipede-Eaters
Discover Magazine, NY - Jan 21, 2009
It's hard to get any respect when you eat feces. Maybe that's why one
species of lowly dung beetle has forsaken its namesake for a more
glamorous place on ...

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Fujian Birdwatchers take Chinese Crested Tern message to schools
BirdLife International, 12-01-2009

With an estimated population of not more than 50 birds, the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini is one of Asia's most threatened birds. Only three regular sites are known, two used for breeding (Mazu and Jiushan Islands, off the coasts of Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces respectively), and one for staging (Min Jiang Estuary, Fujian Province).

The greatest threat to the tern's survival is egg collection by fishermen for food, which continues even though the Mazu and Jiushan Islands breeding sites are both within protected areas. According to the International Single Species Action Plan [1], prepared for the Convention on Migratory Species under the supervision of BirdLife's Asia Division, the immediate priority is to strictly enforce the relevant conservation laws, accompanied by an education programme targeted at local communities, especially fishing communities.

The Fujian Bird Watching Society had already begun its own surveys of Chinese Crested Tern when it approached BirdLife/Hong Kong Bird Watching Society China Programme for support. The result, thanks to a grant from the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, was the action for the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern project, which aims to locate undiscovered breeding colonies and feeding areas along the coastline between Fuding City and Pintan Island in Fujian Province.

The project, which will last 18 months from July 2008 to December 2009, is also conducting education and awareness work at schools and local communities around key sites in northern Fujian Province, and raising awareness of the need for strengthened law enforcement and other actions among stakeholders in Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces.

"We hope that the students will be able to influence their parents" —Mr Yang Jin, President of Fujian Birdwatching Society

Twelve volunteers from the Fujian Bird Watching Society are involved in the education and awareness work at schools and local communities. In the first three months of the project, they prepared a variety of materials including posters, banners and exhibition boards, flags for the Volunteer Chinese Crested Tern Conservation Groups, materials for talks, and a video of Chinese Crested Tern, with an information leaflet about the tern and other seabirds to follow.

The opening ceremony for the project was held at Fuzhou Wushan Primary School, which is attended by children of government officials. "We hope that the students will be able to influence their parents", said Mr Yang Jin, President of FBWS. Two hundred students and teachers attended the ceremony and the accompanying bird photo exhibition and talks, and information about Chinese Crested Tern was distributed. The event was reported by The Ta Kung Pao Hong Kong, Southeast Morning Post, Fuzhou Evening Post, Southeast Post, Fujian TV, Fuzhou TV and Fujian People's Radio, among others.

A workshop in early November trained members of the volunteer groups in communications techniques such as organising talks and environmental games, and answering questions from the public about Chinese Crested Tern. After the workshop, five volunteers visited the Changle Jinfeng Secondary School, the school nearest the Min Jiang estuary. Forty students and teachers, including the school principal, joined in activities which included birdwatching, talks and a bird photo exhibition.

Education and awareness work has continued, including visits to a school in Mawei region, to the communities in Lianjiang and Ningde, and to two fishing villages in Fuding City. Further work in Fuqing, Pingtan, Louyuan and Xiapu is planned for early 2009.

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ENV: Giant Moa Crap

Feces reveal much about giant extinct bird

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan. 13 (UPI)

Scientists in New Zealand say they have found feces from giant birds that became extinct thousands of years ago.

The feces were uncovered from beneath the floors of caves and rock shelters in southern New Zealand, Professor Alan Cooper, Director of the Australian Center for Ancient DNA.

The feces trove is allowing scientists to build the first detailed picture of an ecosystem dominated by the giant moa, a bird which weighed as much as 550 pounds, stood nearly 7-feet tall and dropped feces as long as 6 inches, Cooper said,

DNA analysis shows the moa grazed on tiny herbs, in contrast to the widely held view that they were shrub and tree browsers, Cooper said, adding the research raises questions about ancient life in Australia, which has a similarly arid climate.

"Australia should probably have similar deposits from the extinct giant marsupials," Cooper said. "A key question for us is `where has all the Australian poo gone?' "

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ENV: Brown Pelicans

Brown pelican die-off shows challenges in environment
By Gary Langham, Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From Baja to Oregon, disturbing reports abound of brown pelicans lying sick in backyards, staggering across highways, or washing ashore dead. Hundreds of birds have been brought into wildlife care centers for treatment — and many others for autopsies.

Even to those of us who aren’t bird enthusiasts, these images are haunting. That’s because for Californians, our magnificent coastline is part of our natural identity, and the majestic brown pelican is a treasured part of that.

Researchers are scrambling to figure out what’s causing this widespread problem with the pelicans, but, in the end, the lesson we’re most likely to learn is just how precarious are the marine ecosystems that support these glorious birds. It’s a lesson we seem to have to keep learning over and over again, much to the detriment of the pelicans and other birds and wildlife.

The irony in all this is that these are supposed to be great times for the brown pelican. After DDT drove the bird to near extinction in the 1970s, the bird was designated as endangered. Under protected status, the brown pelican has rebounded beautifully, numbering more than 140,000 along the Pacific coast.

This success has prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward with delisting the bird, a moved that Audubon California and several other conservation organizations support as a victory for the Endangered Species Act.

Another vexing aspect of this mysterious incident is that we may never be able to satisfactorily identify what is making the pelicans sick.

Whenever birds that rely on the ocean for food, such as pelicans, suddenly start dying like this, one of the first causes that scientists suspect is domoic acid, which can cause deadly neurological effects in birds. Birds and sea mammals ingest the acid by eating fish and shellfish that consume small organisms, like algae with domoic acid. The acid builds up in the fish and then the birds.

While some of the pelicans tested thus far have come up positive for domoic acid, no one is saying that this is the main cause of the problems. Many of the affected birds show none of the normal signs of domoic acid poisoning, and if there was a widespread increase in domoic acid in the food chain along our coastline, we should see similar impacts on other birds and mammals, which we haven’t.

Which brings us back to a discussion of the precarious nature of the coastal ecosystem itself, and the continued threats that species like the brown pelican face every day. Even though its numbers have rebounded, its breeding grounds face near constant threat from human activity, particularly in the form of development and pollution. Moreover, the brown pelican needs fish to survive, which links the species to the continued health of marine fisheries.

When something is wrong in the environment, it is often the birds that are the first to tell us.

But since birds can’t speak English, they are left with only one simple way of sending us a message — dying.

Like many other sensitive species, the brown pelican is tightly boxed in, and all it needs is a nudge from something like domoic acid, a virus outbreak, a food shortage, an oil spill, or a poorly planned shoreline development to squeeze it out of existence.

It’s entirely possible that we’ll never be able to find a specific human cause for these illnesses. And if that’s the case, we’ll be letting ourselves off the hook too easily.

We’re the ones who put the pelican in that box, and we’re the ones who — despite our best intentions — never quite seem to truly set it free.

— Gary Langham, Ph.D., is director of bird conservation for Audubon California. He is also a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley, most recently teaching ornithology.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OBT: John Updike

Iconic writer John Updike dead at age 76
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist published more than 50 books in his career
The Associated Press, updated 12:37 p.m. CT, Tues., Jan. 27, 2009

NEW YORK - John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday at age 76.

Updike, a resident of Beverly Farms, Mass., died of lung cancer, according to a statement from his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.

A literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists, the tall, hawk-nosed Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir "Self-Consciousness" and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams. He was prolific, even compulsive, releasing more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s. Updike won virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest,” and two National Book Awards.

Although himself deprived of a Nobel, he did bestow it upon one of his fictional characters, Henry Bech, the womanizing, egotistical Jewish novelist who collected the literature prize in 1999.

His settings ranged from the court of “Hamlet” to postcolonial Africa, but his literary home was the American suburb. Born in 1932, Updike spoke for millions of Depression-era readers raised by “penny-pinching parents,” united by “the patriotic cohesion of World War II” and blessed by a "disproportionate share of the world's resources," the postwar, suburban boom of "idealistic careers and early marriages."

He captured, and sometimes embodied, a generation's confusion over the civil rights and women's movements, and opposition to the Vietnam War. Updike was called a misogynist, a racist and an apologist for the establishment. On purely literary grounds, he was attacked by Norman Mailer as the kind of author appreciated by readers who knew nothing about writing.

But more often he was praised for his flowing, poetic writing style. Describing a man's interrupted quest to make love, Updike likened it “to a small angel to which all afternoon tiny lead weights are attached.” Nothing was too great or too small for Updike to poeticize. He might rhapsodize over the film projector's "chuckling whir" or look to the stars and observe that “the universe is perfectly transparent: we exist as flaws in ancient glass.”

In the richest detail, his books recorded the extremes of earthly desire and spiritual zealotry, whether the comic philandering of the preacher in “A Month of Sundays” or the steady rage of the young Muslim in “Terrorist.” Raised in the Protestant community of Shillington, Pa., where the Lord's Prayer was recited daily at school, Updike was a lifelong churchgoer influenced by his faith, but not immune to doubts.

"I remember the times when I was wrestling with these issues that I would feel crushed. I was crushed by the purely materialistic, atheistic account of the universe," Updike told The Associated Press during a 2006 interview.

"I am very prone to accept all that the scientists tell us, the truth of it, the authority of the efforts of all the men and woman spent trying to understand more about atoms and molecules. But I can't quite make the leap of unfaith, as it were, and say, `This is it. Carpe diem (seize the day), and tough luck.'"

He received his greatest acclaim for the "Rabbit" series, a quartet of novels published over a 30-year span that featured ex-high school basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom and his restless adjustment to adulthood and the constraints of work and family. To the very end, Harry was in motion, an innocent in his belief that any door could be opened, a believer in God even as he bedded women other than his wife.

“The tetralogy to me is the tale of a life, a life led an American citizen who shares the national passion for youth, freedom, and sex, the national openness and willingness to learn, the national habit of improvisation,” Updike would later write. “He is furthermore a Protestant, haunted by a God whose manifestations are elusive, yet all-important.”

Other notable books included “Couples,” a sexually explicit tale of suburban mating that sold millions of copies; “In the Beauty of the Lilies,” an epic of American faith and fantasy; and “Too Far to Go, which followed the courtship, marriage and divorce of the Maples, a suburban couple with parallels to Updike's own first marriage.

Plagued from an early age by asthma, psoriasis and a stammer, he found creative outlets in drawing and writing. Updike was born in Reading, Pa., his mother a department store worker who longed to write, his father a high school teacher remembered with sadness and affection in “The Centaur,” a novel published in 1964. The author brooded over his father's low pay and mocking students, but also wrote of a childhood of "warm and action-packed houses that accommodated the presence of a stranger, my strange ambition to be glamorous."

For Updike, the high life meant books, such as the volumes of P.G. Wodehouse and Robert Benchley he borrowed from the library as a child, or, as he later recalled, the “chastely severe, time-honored classics” he read in his dorm room at Harvard University, leaning back in his “wooden Harvard chair,” cigarette in hand.

While studying on full scholarship at Harvard, he headed the staff of the Harvard Lampoon and met the woman who became his first wife, Mary Entwistle Pennington, whom he married in June 1953, a year before he earned his A.B. degree summa cum laude. (Updike divorced Pennington in 1975 and was remarried two years later, to Martha Bernhard).

After graduating, he accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University. During his stay in England, a literary idol, E.B. White, offered him a position at The New Yorker, where he served briefly as foreign books reviewer. Many of Updike's reviews and short stories were published in The New Yorker, often edited by White's stepson, Roger Angell.

By the end of the 1950s, Updike had published a story collection, a book of poetry and his first novel, “The Poorhouse Fair,” soon followed by the first of the Rabbit books, “Rabbit, Run.” Praise came so early and so often that New York Times critic Arthur Mizener worried that Updike's “natural talent” was exposing him “from an early age to a great deal of head-turning praise.”

Updike learned to write about everyday life by, in part, living it. In 1957, he left New York, with its "cultural hassle" and melting pot of “agents and wisenheimers,” and settled with his first wife and four kids in Ipswich, Mass, a “rather out-of-the-way town” about 30 miles north of Boston.

“The real America seemed to me 'out there,' too heterogeneous and electrified by now to pose much threat of the provinciality that people used to come to New York to escape,” Updike later wrote.

“There were also practical attractions: free parking for my car, public education for my children, a beach to tan my skin on, a church to attend without seeming too strange.”

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

ATH: Ex-Team, Ex-Player

Pulling their weight
From staff reports, The Daily Times, Published January 8, 2009

During his eight years at Tivy, boys soccer coach David Swonke has seen his beard grow longer and grayer over time.

Being coach of the Antlers for close to a decade, Swonke seems to take the team’s mascot seriously.

“(We’re) scrappy, like a bunch of deer running around in a field hunting for corn,” Swonke said. “... It’s just like deer in the field, they’ll run everywhere. They’ll be over here, and over there, do what they have to do. And that’s about what we do out there on the soccer field.”

Whether or not its effort in the field truly emulates Tivy’s real-life mascots that populate the Hill Country, the latest version of the Antlers is sure to provide plenty of excitement this season.

“We play total soccer where everybody plays all positions. We move through the field and for someone watching it, it may look like a bunch of deer running around,” Swonke said. “The style that I have here is from my experience, which is the Latin America style — we do a lot of wall passes, 1-2s, then we’ll do a through ball.”

Featuring just six seniors, most of which will be playing their first season on varsity, the youthful Tivy squad will be thrown into the fire by beginning its 2009 season in the talented Rebel Cup tournament at Buda Hays today through Saturday.

“A lot of growing up has to be done,” Swonke said. “These are youngsters and the desire and heart is there. Experience is tough to come by playing against teams that play year-round.”

Swonke was referring to his ultra-competitive District 53-4A competition with the likes of Boerne Sam Champion, Alamo Heights, Cibolo Steele, Schertz Clemens and Fredericksburg, all of whom made the playoffs last season except for the Battlin’ Billies.

But if the young Antlers have hope to improve on their one-win season last year, Swonke said he’ll be counting heavily on his six seniors including returning fullbacks Robert Garcia and Carlos Aguilar.

Aguilar earned second-team all-district honors as Tivy’s only representative and Garcia is in third year playing soccer.

“Team captains lead and as the seniors go, so goes the team,” Swonke said. “(If you have) good leaders, the team rallies around them.”

Swonke also has high hopes for a pair of fellow seniors including Alejandro Araiza, who’ll be playing his first season of organized soccer, and Chris Moreno.

Joining Araiza as newcomers expected to contribute a lot this season will be junior midfielder Maricio Alverez and freshman Eric Beltran, who will begin the year in goal for the Antlers, who lost last year’s goalie Walter Rivera to graduation.

Although they were considered mostly young last season as well, Tivy lost a considerable amount of offensive players to graduation including Albert Cordova, David Long and Anthony Bosserman.

But without those consistent contributors, Swonke went back to his deer analogy regarding the rest of his team.

“The rest, well we just have to see what big buck steps up is ready to play,” Swonke laughed.

OLH working to finish out strong

Several weeks already into its season, the Our Lady of the Hills boys soccer team is experiencing growing pains having started 0-4.

“It’s a young team, but they’re just struggling this season,” admitted second-year OLH soccer coach Shane Hefferman. “And its nothing that other teams are doing, its problems that we’re having.”

Competing in the largest district in TAPPS — Division III, District 3 — which contains nine teams from 3A, 2A and 1A, the Hawks face a major uphill battle if they hope to make the playoffs in their first season in a district.

OLH started this season much like they did last year — Hefferman’s first at Kerrville’s only private school — losing its first three games before finishing 6-1 in its final seven games.

Hefferman, who played soccer at Tivy before graduating in 1994, said he’s seen his favorite sport begin to take off in the Hill Country, though it still has a long way to go.

“I think soccer is on the rise,” Hefferman said, calling it a “kind of slowly but surely process.

“It will take some time to get there.”

2009 Tivy Antler Soccer Schedule


Fri., Jan. 25 Alumni (Scrimmage) Home 12:00

Tues., Jan. 6 Bandera (Scrimmage) Bandera 5:00 7:00

Thur. - Sat.

Jan. 8 - 10 Rebel Cup Tournament Hays (Buda) TBA

Tues., Jan. 13 OPEN

Fri. - Sat.

Jan. 16-17 East Central Invitational Away TBA

Tues., Jan. 20 St. Anthony Away 5:00 7:00

Fri. - Sat.

Jan. 23-24 Seguin Matador Tournament Away TBA

Tue., Jan. 27 Uvalde Home 5:00 7:00

Fri., Jan. 30 St. Anthony Home 5:00 7:00

Tues., Feb. 3 Medina Valley Away 5:00 7:00

Fri., Feb. 6 Bandera Home 5:00 7:00

Tue., Feb. 10 *Alamo Heights Home 5:00 7:00

Fri., Feb. 13 *Steele Away 5:00 7:00

Tues., Feb. 17 *Boerne Champion Home 5:00 7:00

Fri. Feb. 20 *Clemens Home 5:00 7:00

Tues., Feb. 24 *Fredericksburg Away 5:00 7:00

Fri., Feb. 27 *Alamo Heights Away 5:00 7:00

Tues., Mar. 3 *Steele Home 5:00 7:00

Fri., Mar. 6 *Boerne Champion Away 5:00 7:00

Tues., Mar. 10 *Clemens Away 5:00 7:00

Fri., Mar. 13 *Fredericksburg Home 5:00 7:00


Head Coach: David Swonke Assistant Coach: Brent Neal

Athletic Director: Mark Smith Principal: Robert Jolly

Athletic Trainer: Jesse Hinton Superintendent: Dr. Dan Troxell

Asst. Trainer: Amy Sralla

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

MSC: Tribute to Robert Earl Keen!


One of Robert Earl Keen’s biggest charms both onstage and off is his regular guy modesty. So when MusicFest chose to honor him last year as part of its annual “Tribute to a Legend” series, he admits with a chuckle that at first he was “kind of stunned. And then I wondered: What are they wanting to do here? Are they trying to get me out of the way?”

Hardly. Though Keen may not be ready to consider himself a legend and rest on his laurels, an entire generation of Texas and Oklahoma musical artists as well as his fans know just how pivotal he is to the now thriving music scene that followed in the wake of Keen’s rise to prominence out of the Lone Star State in the early 1990s. And the live recording from that January 2008 show, Undone: A MusicFest Tribute to Robert Earl Keen, salutes his historical impact and influence through the power of his songwriting.

On the two-disc, 27-song set, Texas/Red Dirt music scene luminaries including Cory Morrow, Cody Canada, Reckless Kelly, Randy Rogers, Roger Creager, Brandon Rhyder, and Jason Boland--along with Idaho-based Western music stalwart Muzzie Braun, Kentucky-bred Texas favorite Chris Knight and numerous other artists--bring their musical talents and admiration for Keen to 22 of his compositions. Rounding out the collection are five numbers by Robert Earl and his band, including his never-before-recorded song, “Goodbye Cleveland.” Undone includes a special 20-page booklet that features testimonials from Keen; Dr. Gary Hartman from the Center of Texas Music History at Texas State University; and John Dickson, MusicFest/Right Ave. Director. The packaging also includes the live on-stage commentary from Keen and the other artists which highlights the live experience.

Undone amply attests to Keen’s songwriting talents, which along with his savor faire as a performer were the sparks that ignited the Texas/Red Dirt music movement.

Like such songwriting icons before him as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark as well as his contemporaries like Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and his Texas A&M college pal Lyle Lovett, Keen followed the generally accepted route to career success by heading from Texas to Nashville in the 1980s to ply his wares via the Music Row system. But when his music didn’t fit there, he returned to his native state.

Initially planting his Lone Star flag of musical independence in the front room of Greune Hall with a Sunday afternoon residency, Keen began forging a performance circuit throughout the region and beyond while building his band and releasing his own independent albums before this was a common avenue to take. By the mid-1990s, he had become one of the hottest musical acts in Texas and a leading light of the emerging Americana music movement nationwide, and such esteemed acts as The Highwaymen and Joe Ely had both recorded his signature song, “The Road Goes On Forever.”

“I wasn’t really aware that I was doing anything other than playing as much as I possibly could,” Keen recalls. “So when my career took off, it was a real surprise.

“Then when there was such a huge group of people who said that they came to my shows and that’s what got them going, that was an even bigger surprise,” Keen says.

Wade Bowen explained on stage during the tribute concert that after seeing Keen play for the first time he “decided right then and there I wanted to do this with my life and write songs.” That phenomenon started with college students like Jack Ingram in Dallas and Cory Morrow out in Lubbock, who were followed by a watershed of singing and songwriting talents from across Texas and Oklahoma. All of them were motivated to grab a guitar, start writing songs and take the stage thanks to Robert Earl Keen. He had changed the equation for achieving success as a Lone Star singer-songwriter.

On Undone, a number of the artists Keen inspired pay him homage and offer thanks for showing them the way and cultivating a scene in which budding songwriters can succeed and thrive, just as Keen did. And in his typical self-effacing fashion, he confesses that he felt “mixed reactions to the whole thing until I was sitting there listening to them play these songs. It was an outstanding show, and emotionally overwhelming to hear them do my songs better than I ever did.”

There is a wealth of material to be enjoyed on the album, lovingly rendered by Keen’s admirers in a fashion that breathes new life into his classics--vivid story songs peopled by unforgettable characters; tender and emotive numbers that reach the deepest places in the heart; and crowd-rousing good time songs that match their rowdiness with a cautionary subtext.

The distinctive spirit of Texas and the Southwest resonate throughout Keen’s carved-from-oak solid compositions with their back porch storytelling eloquence and once again confirm his major contributions to the Lone Star songwriting tradition.

Undone not only documents an once-in-a-lifetime gathering of talent, but will also benefit The Center for Texas Music History from its proceeds. And with the album’s January 6 release, that historic show lives on forever and the tribute never ends.

The CD is available now at the MusicFest General Store and also available this week at brick-and-morter music stores nationwide and online.

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ENV: Pink Iguanas!

Rare pink iguana evaded Darwin
Hefty iguana found in the Galapagos Islands has been around a long time
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery Channel, updated 6:31 p.m. CT, Mon., Jan. 5, 2009

When English naturalist Charles Darwin explored the Galapagos Islands in the early 1800s, he, and countless scientists since, overlooked a hefty pink iguana.

The iguana, referred to as "rosada," meaning "pink" in Spanish, has black stripes and is believed to be extremely rare. It was discovered at Volcan Wolf, Isabela Island's northernmost volcano, which Darwin missed during his five-week stay at the archipelago in 1835.

Galapagos National Park rangers first stumbled upon the striking land lizard a few decades ago, but this week's study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to officially document the iguana.

"Although 1986 was the year of the first sighting, our work discloses to the world the existence of this new species for the first time," lead author Gabriele Gentile told Discovery News.

Gentile, a researcher in the Department of Biology at Tor Vergata University in Rome, and his colleagues took blood samples from several Galapagos iguanas, including the better-known yellow species. They extracted DNA from the blood to illuminate how the different species are related to each other and when each emerged.

The scientists discovered that the pink-and-black iguana has been around for a very long time.

Based on this study and earlier work, Gentile and his team believe that 10.5 million years ago, a common ancestor to both marine and land iguanas from Central or South America colonized the Galapagos Islands. The marine and land iguanas probably diverged at that time.

Most researchers have thought that all major iguana species differentiated much later during the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million to 10,000 years ago). That wasn't so, according to Gentile and his team.

"The pink iguana alters the current thinking about the origin of land iguanas from the Galapagos," he said. "It is the only remnant of an evolutionary lineage that originated from the land iguana lineage much earlier, about 5.7 million years ago, than the Pleistocene, which is when the rest of the present land iguanas started differentiating throughout the archipelago."

The pink iguana has been placed at the very bottom of the archipelago's land iguana family tree. The researchers believe it emerged even before some of the islands in the area fully formed.

Adding to the iguana's eccentricities is the fact that it has unique head scales and a prominent crest. It also bobs its head — a behavior associated with territory marking and courtship — in a way distinct from other iguanas.

"The pink iguana shows a particular and distinguished display characterized by multiple series of very rapid ups and downs of the head," Gentile said, adding that a new paper on the bizarre bobbing is in the works.

He and his team also say the colorful iguana should be recognized as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, due to hunting by humans, introduction of non-native animals, and habitat loss.

Gisela Caccone, a senior research scientist in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University, and her colleagues recently discovered a new species of Galapagos giant tortoise not far from the islands' Charles Darwin Station.

She told Discovery News that "the thing that continues to surprise me is the fact that even in the Galapagos, a place that is the 'Mecca' for evolutionary biologists, we still have undiscovered biodiversity not only amongst small organisms, but even for large vertebrates, as these iguanas are."

Jeffrey Powell, also at Yale, echoed Caccone's view.

"This is one more example that, despite their prominence in the history of evolutionary biology, there is still much to be learned about the fauna and flora of Galapagos," Powell told Discovery News.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

ENV: Pygmy Killer Whales

Hawaii's pygmy killer whales stay close
Study tries to examine the least understood marine mammal species
The Associated Press, updated 9:25 a.m. CT, Fri., Jan. 2, 2009

HONOLULU - A new study of pygmy killer whales — one of the least understood marine mammal species — shows that those living off Hawaii tend to stay close to the islands and don't swim out to the open ocean.

There are very few of the whales, probably less than 200 individuals, in this distinct pygmy killer whale population off the islands.

The population's limited number make it more vulnerable than other whale populations to potentially harmful human behavior, including fishing and Navy sonar, said the paper published Tuesday in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

"It's just much more likely that human activities could impact the population, hurt the population," said Robin Baird, a marine biologist with the Olympia, Wash.-based Cascadia Research Collective and one of the study's authors.

The study was based on an ongoing photo identification project launched in the mid-1980s by Daniel McSweeney of the Wild Whale Research Foundation in Holualoa on the Big Island.

The study's authors examined 3,431 photos of pygmy killer whales taken over 22 years. Most of the whales were spotted off the Big Island, though a few were found off Oahu, Lanai and Niihau.

The authors used the photos to distinguish the whales by their body scars, dorsal fin shapes and other distinctive characteristics.

The study showed researchers repeatedly came across the same whales, including one individual who was spotted over a 21-year period.

The analysis also showed pygmy killer whales appear to be social animals, with many staying close to other individuals for at least 15 years.

Their stable, long-term relationships resemble the social behaviors of killer whales and pilot whales, the paper said.

Understanding the toothy whales
Pygmy killer whales are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Yet they are among the least understood toothed whales, in part because they generally live in the open ocean and so are harder for scientists to study.

Baird said Hawaii's group was the only known case of a pygmy killer whale population that remained isolated in one area and didn't venture out to the open ocean.

On average, the researchers spotted pygmy killer whales about 3.7 miles from Hawaii shores. The furthest offshore sighting was at 9.3 miles.

Baird said Hawaii's pygmy killer whales, like Cuvier's beaked whales and almost 10 other whale and dolphin species living in island waters, don't venture far because there isn't much food for them just outside Hawaiian waters.

The islands are their most reliable source of food, so they stay nearby.

Hawaii's pygmy killer whales are so rare, however, that they accounted for only 11, or 1.2 percent, of 889 whale and dolphin sightings the researchers made off Hawaii between 2000 and 2007.

Small in number
The pygmy killer whale's small numbers stand in contrast to the humpback whale. It is an endangered species yet as many as 10,000 individuals migrate to Hawaii's waters from Alaska to breed and calve each winter.

Baird said the small number of pygmy killer whales made it difficult to monitor for harmful effects of human activity.

"They're encountered so infrequently that any particular population of the species could be dramatically declining and we would never know it," Baird said. "That's one of the problems with very rare species."

The study said there has been no documented case of a pygmy killer whale being hurt by sonar. But it also said there's low probability anyone would be able to document such harm given the whales are so rare and because they generally spend their time miles offshore.

Environmentalists argue the Navy's mid-frequency active sonar can disrupt whale feeding patterns, and in the most extreme cases can kill whales by causing them to beach themselves.

The Navy acknowledges its sonar, used to hunt enemy submarines, may harm some marine mammals. But it says it takes steps to protect whales, including having ships power down their sonar when whales are nearby and posting marine mammal lookouts on deck.

Fishing is the another potential human source of harm to pygmy killer whales.

The study said there has been no report of a pygmy killer whale dying as a result of Hawaii's long-line tuna and swordfish fishery. But the mouth of a pygmy killer whale that stranded on Oahu in 2006 had hook and line marks, indicating fishing lines affect the animals.

Marine Mammal Science is published by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

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